Welcome to "The Diary of a Miner"; a blog detailing the adventures and mysteries that I, Syeonyx, embark upon in my quest to further my mining and survival skills! It'll be tough, there will be good times and bad times, but I'll always be alive to post my adventures... probably...

Commandeering the situation

     The Guardians emerged from the smoke, instantly identifying us as the threat, and engulfing themselves in massive orange flames. Their bodies roiled and burned, as they continued to approach, but I steeled myself for what was needed of me. I could see THEXIS getting ready to act when THEROS gave the signal, but until then we had to be patient. Then, out of nowhere...

"NOW!"

Simultaneously, me and THEXIS lunged forward towards the Guardians with our fists, striking their surprisingly frail bodies, stabbing through the flames, before quickly withdrawing and returning to THEROS's side to see the effects. For a moment nothing seemed to happen; the Guardians had stopped before us, but were still covered entirely in fire, eyes locked onto us, but after a moment or two, their movement became staggered, so much so that they eventually fell to the floor in two heaps. The smoke began to subside, the flames died away, and the guards were visible now at the corner of the corridor, looking at us stunned. I was still a little taken aback by how effective that had been, but I was glad THEROS had orchestrated that. I don't think that would ever have occurred to me in a million years, despite us knowing it did work...

"What the... What did you do?!?!"

Me and THEXIS produced the blowpipes that we had concealed in our hands, and then the darts in the other. We had taken a dart from the blowpipe, put it into the palm of our hand, tip facing outwards, and then had lunged at the Guardians with the darts. From the guard's point of view, it would look as though we had just randomly flailed at them, but it was likely they hadn't seen that at all because of the smoke. Looking down, I gently tapped one of the Guardians now laying on the floor with my foot, to make sure it was out cold. It shifted slightly from the force of the nudge, but otherwise made no further movements. The harsh, metallic breathing sound they usually made had also reduced, to a subtle background echo, which told us they weren't dead.

"We came prepared... Somehow I thought you would too... A sedative in dart form, propelled through a blowpipe which has the potential of knocking a Creeper out for a good hour! Want a demonstration?"

"Get them!!!"

The other two guards carrying the swords began to run towards us, attempts at menacing grins plastered to their faces. A swift motion of our arms, and two darts went sailing towards them, stopping them dead in their tracks. One slowed down and then dropped to the floor, whilst the other continued running, eventually losing his balance and tumbling into a sprawled heap... THEXIS bent down and picked up one of the swords that the guard had dropped, and pointed it at the leader in a threatening way.

"Give us any and all Eyes that you possess, or we'll leave you and your men with the Guardians when they wake up! It's very simple: we can do things the easy way, or the hard way..."

I smiled slightly to myself at this strange twist of irony that now played out, all the while watching the leader try to comprehend what had just happened. He looked at at the slumped, unconscious forms of his fellow guards, and then ran. THEXIS began to go after him, but THEROS stopped him.

"He chose the hard way... We can deal with them later, but for now we need to head back to the base camp and take these two Eyes. Check those two guards to see if they're carrying anything we could use..."

Leaving the darts in place this time, almost as a reminder or an insult to them, we checked their pockets but found nothing of interest or value to us. With three Eyes now in our possession, we headed towards the corridor and back out the way we had come.

"We've got some way to go yet before we're in the clear, but I think COLUS will be happy with us. Three Eyes are ours now and it'll be easier to hide them. We'll need to be careful about HoN Co. using guard teams to look for us now..."

I was a little conscious about leaving the guards unconscious beside the two forms of the Guardians, but they hadn't even touched this Eye, so they were unlikely to be harmed... As we followed the passage back, I felt an almost overwhelming sense of pride in myself. We had done brilliantly in a position where we started off with a poor hand. Surprising what we can do when pushed into a corner...

----


     We sat around the fire, laughing and talking in excited voices. We had walked a decent way back along the passages and back down the wooden staircase; we hadn't seen the leader since he'd turned tail and ran, so we had had a leisurely walk across to the West, where we would eventually make our way back North to the base camp. We'd settled though for the night with the high spirits and much to talk about, although we'd spent a good half an hour or so just expressing how well we thought the others had done!

"I'm glad you dealt with the talking back there because I think we'd be dead if it had been me..."

"Are you kidding me?!?!?! If it hadn't been for you and Syeonyx with the darts to take out the Guardians and then the guards, we'd definitely be dead!"

We continued to laugh and joke into the night; we made fun of the HoN Co. guard that had ran off with his tail between his legs, back to 'mummy', and how the other two would probably be awake and incredibly disorientated by now. With the slight amnesic effect the sedative had, the guards wouldn't remember anything about their encounter with us, or how they ended up weaponless and surrounded by two totally passive Guardians! They would be freaking out quite badly! Eventually we began to tire, and we settled in for the night. THEROS had found a nice place off the original path we had been walking along to make sure the guards didn't stumble across us. It had definitely been an eventful day, one I wouldn't want to replicate in a million years!

Syeonyx signing off

At loggerheads...

     We stood in front of the three HoN Co. guards, who were now together in a line before us. No-one said or did anything for some time; I watched as the one I assumed was the leader look at us from top to bottom, assessing us probably as a potential threat, both individually and together. Finally, he put his hands behind his back and began to pace back and forth in front of us, a small smile creeping onto his face as though a plan had just come to him.

"So... I assume it's a pretty stupid question asking you why you're here? I know what you're after, and I'm pretty sure you know the same about us... That leaves us with a big problem. Now what do we do about this... Problem?"

We stood motionless and silent before them, not saying a word, although I couldn't tell whether it was out of fear or defiance. I felt a mixture of both...

"Remaining silent isn't going to help you, you know... In fact it could save your lives. Why I could kill you now where you stand, take the Eye of Ender you have in your possession and use the map that you have in that bag to find your little base camp you've set up. Obviously that's the hard way."

The guard pointed at THEROS, and then to the bag he was carrying; THEROS didn't seem to react at all, not even flinch, but I noticed his grasp on the bag tightened slightly. The guard must have noticed this as well, as he seemed to ease up on the intimidating approach and move towards a more peaceful resolution. I knew that was highly unlikely considering our circumstances, and judging from how I felt, our positions from where we stood remained unchanged.

"Put it this way: if you hand over the Eye you have to us now, we can take this one here and be on our way without a moment's hesitation. Consider yourselves loose ends... We'll let these creatures deal with you..."

"That would never work..."

I turned slightly to look at THEROS, and the rage on his face was now visible; his jaw was clenched tight, and when he spoke, the words were muffled slightly by the small amounts of spittle than had accumulated. The guard turned to face THEROS directly, before walking directly up to him, a look of mock surprise on his face.

"Oh... Really? Is that a... Threat...? I don't think you're in the position to be making..."

"It was a warning..."

"How so...?"

"The Guardians wouldn't attack us. We wouldn't be the ones taking it, so they wouldn't bother with us... They would go after you..."

"Nice try, but that's not going to work with me... Lying isn't going to get you out of this one..."

"Who's lying...?"

There was another moment of silence as the guard studied THEROS further; from the look on his face, the guard considered this as more of a game than a serious situation. Obviously he was the one in charge, so he called the shots, but even so there were lives at stake regardless of the outcome. If we took the Eye, we'd be attacked by both the Guardians and the guards. If the guards took the Eye, they'd be attacked by the Guardians and probably us. We were at a stalemate... Eventually the guard seemed to settle on an idea after summing THEROS up in his mind, the sly smile returning to his lips.

"Simple then... We need a head start to get running, so you pick up the Eye and throw it to us in the corridor. You'd have no choice as you'd be killed otherwise. Think of it as us doing you a favour..."

"That seems a little unfair for us don't you think? Why don't you just destroy the cages and take the Eye...?"
>
"There's no negotiation to this... And you think we haven't tried...? These things are impervious to practically everything we can throw at them."

The guard walked over to the one to our right and thumped it forcefully with his right fist. The slight clang of metal reverberated around the room, before ebbing out into silence again.

"Well...? Are you going to cooperate, or are we going to have to do it the hard way...?"

"Fair enough... But you're not having the map, or our Eye..."

"I wasn't asking for them..."

After a moment of silence again, the three guards moved past us into the corridor, waiting just at the corner within throwing distance of the Eye. We walked forward towards the basin, trying to understand what was going on...

"THEROS?!?! What do you think you're playing at?"

"Don't worry, I have a plan..."

As we walked over to the basin, THEROS mumbled the plan quietly to us. It was brilliant! It was genius! It was... Suicidal! Nonetheless we had nothing else to go with. THEROS bent down to the basin, whilst myself and THEXIS turned to face the guards, flanking THEROS on either side. I allowed a smile to creep onto my lips, and locked eyes with the leader. He smiled back, knowing full well he had won this one... How little he knew. THEROS scooped the Eye up from the basin, and immediately, vast amounts of swirling smog began to pump into the roof from between the bars in the cage.

"Throw it! Throw it to me now!"

"No!"

The leader looked confused, as THEROS remained between us, still holding the Eye, looking at the strange but powerful object resting in his palm.

"You idiot, they'll kill you!"

"I don't think so..."

I readied myself, as the smoke circled the room, once twice, thrice... Then it slowed, beginning to settle right before us, blocking the view to the corridor, and sealing us from the exit. The smoke approached us, the metallic breathing began, and the yellow flesh of the creatures began to glint and shine as they emerged from the smog.

"NOW!"

Syeonyx signing off

Face to face...

     We made our way to the base of the strut; I was conscious of the possibility that the HoN Co. guards could be close by, but once I could see the stairs were clear, and there was sign of any talking, THEROS began to ascend.

"Where do you think this will put us in terms of distance to the main structure? We can't be that far away if the larger portions are just over there..."

THEROS turned back to THEXIS and motioned with his finger to keep quiet. I remained motionless and silent for a moment, thinking that THEROS had heard voices again, but when he began moving further up straight away, he just wanted to ensure we didn't give our position away. Additionally if the HoN Co. guards were here and didn't know about us then we could retain an element of surprise. I felt a little vulnerable walking up the edge of the stairs, a steadily increasing height growing to my left; I told myself that everything would be okay provided I didn't look down. I don't have a fear of heights, not normally, but I'm pretty sure it's not the heights that scare people. I'm more scared of falling off! But I wasn't presented with an alternative when I had to manoeuvre myself along a small section that wound back on itself. Gulping slightly whilst looking at the dizzying vertical drop, I calmly breathed in and continued. When the small lip of the bridge was within my grasp, and I swung my legs over onto the main walkway, then I was able to breathe easy again.

"Right, we approached from that direction, from where the lava lake was, so logically we should head in this direction where the larger structure should be..."

"Logically yes. Also, the other three routes not only take us away from those, but they are also surrounded by Nether stone. If the last structure taught us anything, it's that that is the wrong direction to head in."

THEROS led the way once more down the only route that didn't lead to a claustrophobic tunnel or passage, back along the way we had come, only this time at a much greater elevated position. As we neared the far end of the bridge, the larger structures began to take shape ahead of us; we were definitely heading in the right direction. However as I looked out across towards the far end of the bridge, I could make out what appeared to be a break at the end. Instead of leading down to a set of stairs, which would require a smooth edge, the very end of the bridge was broken and mangled, as though something had fallen onto it or it had collapsed a long time ago. I was beginning to wonder if this was the right way to go, but I continued to follow THEROS until the very end. I got the impression that both THEROS and THEXIS had thought the same thing...

"Oh... So it leads down to where we need to be...?"

"I don't know, but look down there! A light source... That's either the lava basin or the torch trail left behind by the HoN Co. guards..."

"But the guards hadn't left a trail of torches before... So... It can only be one thing..."

Looking down to where the crumbling remains of the bridge led, I began to think we had actually found the entrance; the light coming up from below did seem a little dim to be torches, and the edging of the roof section showed characteristic markings that were only present where the entrance was. Only one way to find out, and we could just head back out if it was wrong...



Carefully making our way down, we soon found out that the source of the light was indeed the lava basin that was seated in the centre of the large entranceway. Moving down the single corridor that led away from the entrance, we found it to split as normal a little further down than usual, however we remained with the theory that the path straight ahead of us was the right one. This passage was very long and winding, much like the ones we had encountered before, but it also had a degree of variation in terms of alternate paths to take. This threw THEROS slightly, until we went with the 'head down the left path' rule, which from my opinion seemed to contradict the first. Taking the second path to the left from a crossroads, we met with another corner, this time leading around to the right. Turning to head down the new section of passage, we stopped immediately! We stood silent and still, staring into the room that we could now see contained the Eye of Ender. Only, that wasn't the only thing in this room... Three guards stood around, two near one of the Affinitas cages carrying swords, whilst a third stood to the right of basin, not carrying any weapon that we could see. They were talking amongst themselves, and only a few bits were audible at the distance we stood at...

"Do we just take it or..."

"We could do what we did before...? Take it and run... Worked last time..."

"Or, we could destroy the cages and then take it; stop them from having a chance to spawn..."

"No, that might actually cause them to spawn before we touch the Eye... We just..."

The guard next to the basin stopped talking and looked at us from where we stood. We knew he could see us, and we watched as he mouthed the words 'Lone 7'...



"Finally... We've been following you for some time... Come forward or we'll kill you where you stand... Now!"

Moving out from the shadows, we entered into the room, confronting the three men that now stood at the front of the basin, swords ready. THEROS motioned for me to keep quiet, presumably to let him do the talking. I was more than happy for him to do just that... I wouldn't be able to speak even if I tried...

Syeonyx signing off

Day 151: Playing catch-up

     Oddly enough, last night I didn't have the same dream that I have had four time previous... I still can't tell if there is any meaning to them, and I've yet to even decide if it's worth telling anyone about them. I know no-one would laugh at me, that's not the issue, but whether they would believe me is... Well, not actually believing me; it's not impossible for me to have had those dreams, but whether they think there is anything to them aside from them just being dreams... For all I know there very well could be, but it just seems so hard to determine which is the correct one... Then again it could just be a serious of different outcomes depending on who or what activates the portal. If that is the case then the only thing that needs to be determined is why I am the only one having these dreams...? After waking up, we set off almost immediately, stopping only to pack up our gear and ready some food we could eat as we went along. THEROS seemed desperate to start off the day quickly, and within half an hour or so of waking up, we had already walked a great deal of a distance.

"What are the chances we'd end up coming across the guard team that are ahead of us? Like how would we deal with them if we found them up ahead setting up a camp or just further along the trail...?"

"Same way we always do, surely. The blowpipes! Knocking them out from a distance would be a lot better than stalking them otherwise they could see us and deal with us before we get the chance..."

"Is that the plan then...? If we see them up ahead we take them out with the blowpipes and move ahead of them?"

"Definitely! If we do that it buys us at least an hour's travel time to move ahead of them and get to the next structure! It doesn't matter so much about who has the next Eye as we'll both be in the same position..."

"True, but I'd feel more comfortable if we had more than them... It'd make it harder for them to take the ones we would have then."

"Yeah, but what's stopping any Elite guards nearby from either knocking us out or killing us, and taking the one we have now, and then heading back to our base to get the other one?"

"Keep it down! We can't say stuff like that out loud! We don't know who's watching or listening! I suppose there's nothing stopping them if they are close by, and we wouldn't have much of a choice to be honest."

The wall we had been following along our right now began to bend around even further across, causing us to change our path. I was getting the impression that THEROS was sticking close to the wall to ensure the overlying shadow hid us from anyone that might either be ahead looking back, or following behind us. I was still under the impression that if there was anyone else out here, the HoN Co. guards included, we were still following them, not the other way around... It wasn't long though before we were forced to follow the wall a little more closely than I would have liked. The pathway narrowed significantly, exposing a long drop to a fiery death below. At some parts we were practically hugging the walls to ensure we didn't fall or stumble off the edge, but luckily they were few and far between. Eventually we had reached a section of the wall that had curved sufficiently for us to now be heading pretty much due West... According to the map that THEROS was now studying, we were very close to the South edge of the map, and in danger of dropping off entirely. Luckily the long drop to the lava below was stopping us going any further South.

"How much farther do we need to travel? Surely it should be close by?"

"It is... Very close... In fact we should be able to see it..."

Looking out across what little expanse of dark stone we could to the West, we tried to look for the structure. Then I got the idea it would be easier to see it if we searched the lava lake below us and looked for the struts that held up the bridges. It wasn't long before we found it, and a few minutes later, we stood before the last structure!



     We had continued along to the West following the wall and running alongside the passage of one of the exposed tunnels of the structure, pretty much parallel for some time, trying to find a way in. Looking out across to the far South side we had hoped to see a slightly larger bridge network, but we just saw a large collection of enclosed buildings which suggested the actual main structure. That would mean, logically, the bridges would span further out towards the North. We continued to follow the wall, hoping to find a break in it somewhere to allow us to travel North, but for the time being we were stuck heading due West. Eventually the break in the wall we were looking for was visible, allowing us to head in the desired direction, but we stopped a moment, a little confused. Large columns of Nether stone brick propelled themselves down from the ceiling and met with the stone floor.

"These must be the struts that hold up the bridges... It must have been built partially over land for easy access, although that kind of contradicts what we've seen with the others."

We headed North West through the large obelisk-like towers of stone brick hoping to find a more direct route onto the bridge network so we could get inside. But there were no signs of a staircase that we could exploit, nor did the Nether stone seem to angle upwards to allow us to travel back on ourselves... Then I stopped... THEROS and THEXIS continued walking, but I was more intrigued by an odd light source up ahead. Peering into the distance, I could make out a series of torches that seemed to illuminate one of the struts that supported a bridge section. Thinking this was odd, I moved a little closer to get a better look and realised what I was looking at! Calling THEROS and THEXIS back, I pointed up to what I could see and a THEROS smiled.

"I think we just found our way in!"

THEROS seemed happy that we had found a way up to the bridge. I was still grappling with the idea that a wooden staircase wound its way around the base of the strut, right up to the top. HoN Co. was here! They had beaten us again!



Syeonyx signing off

A-MAZE-ing sense of direction...

     As we ran back towards the entrance, THEROS kept waving back at us to remain as quiet as possible. I wasn't sure how quiet we could be running along a stone floor, but I tried none the less. I get the impression that he was doing it to try and catch the sounds of other footsteps or voices, and to mask our approach towards the entrance. Luckily there had only been one path leading straight ahead from the lava basin so there were no other paths to be distracted by. That and we had left a trail of torches along the walls back to where we had entered. We rounded a corner, almost out of breath and wheezing slightly, the lava basin now in sight, but we couldn't see the guards anywhere near it, nor could we see them up ahead. As we stopped a few feet from it, THEROS was the only one not nearly bent double from the sprint; he looked around with a look of total bewilderment on his face...

"Where are they? They should be... here..."

"Maybe they were ahead of us slightly? Maybe we missed them by too much..."

"Then why could we here them? If they were returning from the room with the Eye of Ender in it, why had we not met them heading there or back...?"

"... Good point... Maybe they went another way... Although there was only one path leading to the room and we had taken it..."

"Is it possible that we heard them through the floor or an adjacent wall? I think this place runs directly above the tunnels and passages we had led ourselves around before..."

"I doubt it... They are bound to be very thick walls and floors, definitely not thin enough to hear voices through. Are you sure you weren't just hearing things? We didn't hear anything..."

THEXIS pointed at me and I shook my head. I hadn't actually heard anything either but it was worrying that at the time it had spooked THEROS sufficiently... There was no smoke without fire, although t was odd that there now seemed to be no trace of anyone other than us despite essentially everyone taking the same path.

"Maybe if we hurry back down to the sub-levels back towards the exit, we might catch them up..."

"But that place is a maze. If we make it back to the exit without getting lost I'd be surprised, but doing that whilst running and trying to pursue some guards we can't even prove are there..."

"I'm not giving up now! Come on, let's go!"

"More running...?"

THEXIS's whine was quickly stifled by the sternest look I've ever seen THEROS give to someone, and a few seconds later we were running back through the maze of corridors and passages, every single one looking identical. How THEROS was able to determine which way to head back was beyond me... Then again he did have that condition which allowed him to retain a much greater volume of detail to visual images, hence him being an excellent navigator and cartographer... Glad it was him and not me... I would have got us lost by now!

----


     We lost them... Well, we lost them if we actually were following someone, but we couldn't prove that... Somehow - I don't know how- we found our way back along the massively long bridge that led out onto the hill we had had to scale first. Me and THEXIS were still a little amazed at how quick we had managed to get out as well, and we hadn't stopped running the entire time either. After we reached the end of the bridge, THEROS looked over the edge in all directions, trying to find the guards that we were meant to be following. They were nowhere to be seen... We got the impression that THEROS was convinced we thought he was going loopy, but I doubted it; he always seemed so sure of himself, and why would he make something like that up, especially now?

"They were here at some time within the last few minutes, I'm sure of it!"

"How can you tell? All we can go on is the fat that you heard voices that we never heard... We never saw them, and you never heard them after the initial voices..."

"They were there, we must have been on another level then so that's why we couldn't see them... We need to go after them!"

"No, we need to rest... We practically ran that entire section of tunnel, and it's getting pretty late. They are likely to have two now, according to you, but we have two as well."

"Exactly! We need to get to the last one before them!"

"Look, they are only human, just like us. That means they are likely going to need a rest too. I say we rest now and head to the next location after that rest. They are either going to rest at the same time or after us, so provided we set off early tomorrow, then we should get there before them."

I pointed out that it didn't matter who really took the last Eye as both sides no possessed at least one Eye. That meant no side could activate the portal without a certain degree of cooperation or stealth... In COLUS's case it was likely to be the latter, although with HoN Co. they could easily just send their Elite in to take them. Now though I had begun to understand where THEXIS was coming from about hiding the other Eye we had in a separate location. If HoN Co. came across us now whilst we were unprepared then we could end up with none of the Eyes, and maybe even dead.

"Syeonyx is right. We can't activate the portal and neither can HoN Co. so we're at a stalemate. If we head out early tomorrow we have a chance of getting there before the guards do, but for now we just need to rest."

THEROS eventually gave in; instead of heading back to find a tower, we set up camp at the very end of the bridge. Once we had a fire going, and had our sleeping gear laid out, I was finally able to relax, and that was despite my surroundings. I was hoping that THEROS had just imagined those voices, but with the lack of the Eye we were looking for in the basin of the room we had headed towards, I can only assume they had taken it. Only how long ago we didn't know, but we had to be close to them, surely...

Syeonyx signing off

Late... Again...

     This structure was definitely different to the other ones we had visited previously; so far we had spent all of our time travelling up and down immensely long tunnels and passageways, only finding them to either end with a perfectly smooth Nether stone wall, or for it to turn off and ninety degree angle around a corner. We hadn't seen any other crossroads, nor had we seen any stairways leading up or down, and no sign of the lava basin that indicated the start of the main structure. We had assumed that we were already inside the main area, but we had no reason to assume we were anywhere near to it yet! We could just be in a labyrinth of passages that would end up leading to where we would need to get to, but so far we hadn't found anything to suggest that either.

"If we're not careful we could get incredibly lost in here... We're not leaving any type of trail behind us so how do we know where we've been before and where we've not been?"

"If you'd have noticed you would have known I was taking us through using the 'left-side wall' system. Follow only the left wall around any maze or tunnel structure and you will inevitably make your way to the end. The only way you could get lost is if there was only one way in and out..."

"That's still a possibility... Besides, we're not looking for the way out, we're looking for the room with the Eye of Ender in it..."

"Well we need to hope that we find it fast, or at least one of those towers that are always here. We'll need to rest up for the night soon."

"I don't think we need to. Those HoN Co. guards have a big enough lead on us without us stopping for rests. We should keep going until we find it."

Rounding the next corner that we came to, I half expected to be faced with the view of the large open room with the Affinitas cages flanking the basin in the middle. But instead it was just endless tunnel after endless tunnel. Eventually however, we came to a much smaller section of tunnel that ended with a small set of Nether brick stairs heading up. THEROS went first leading the way, followed closely by me and then THEXIS. As we ascended, I hoped that we would leave the Nether stone behind and get back to the dark purple brick walls that suggested we were in the right place, but once again we were faced with the same Nether stone surfaces. We left the stairs behind, continuing on with our monotonous march around the structure, in search of the room that would hopefully still contain the Eye of Ender.

     We've found it! Well, not the room, but we've found the small lava basin that points towards the entrance of the main structure! As almost further proof, the structure beyond it was only constructed from Nether bricks! We had to come down a very long corridor and up another set of stairs to find it, but now that we had things would go much better from now on!

"Now that we've found the lava basin here, we can employ the 'straight path' part of our exploration and take the path straight ahead of us."

THEROS led the way forwards down the path straight ahead of us, following the twists and turns that wound around. It was odd, but I felt more comfortable here than I had in the strange passages and tunnels beneath us. I think it as linked to the fact that I was now in a place that I recognised and I was better able to deal with a situation in a place I recognised.

Now that there weren't any fires along the walls to help us see by, we were forced to use torches again to light our way. THEXIS seemed happier with this method anyway as it also allowed us to track our path back to the entrance. Then logically, all we had to do was follow the right wall back the other way to get back out, going in the opposite direction. I'd obviously leave that to THEROS as he was the one leading the way. Part way along the passage however, THEROS stopped abruptly and held up his hand. We followed suit and stopped just behind him. We stood in silence for a moment or two, trying to figure out why THEROS had stopped us so suddenly. He seemed to be acting rather odd; a frown furrows his brow, as he seemed to strain his ears in one direction, listening for something that we couldn't make out. After a moment or two, he turned to us rather oddly...

"Did you hear that...?"

"Hear what? I couldn't hear anything..."

"Voices... I could hear voices just up ahead... There was more than one of them... A group of people..."

"The HoN Co. team? Do you think they're here already?"

"It's possible; they did have a lead on us, and if they're disciplined, they could probably cover a larger distance than us in a shorter time. That and the fact that they've likely got a duplicate copy of the map and coordinates..."

"We'll just need to be careful around here then. Don't make any unnecessary noise, and try to keep a look out for any unexpected movement or sounds."

We continued to make our way down the passage, following it around the corner, to be confronted with the very room we were looking for! The basin sat in the centre of the room, sunk into the floor, but the presence of smoke suggested someone had beaten us to it again. THEROS moved to the centre of the room, slowly and carefully, just as the two Guardians emerged from the swirling smoke. They kept looking at him the entire time he moved; THEROS stopped and looked down, before quickly turning around.

"They've taken this one too! Quick, we've got to get to the entrance quick! Maybe we can stop them and take it back before they leave!"

"What'll we do if we confront them? They're bound to be armed... I doubt they'll let us take out our blowpipes and knock them unconscious..."

"We'll think about that when we get there. Until then, run!"

Despite the noise and sudden movements, the Guardians remained calm and almost completely motionless. I was beginning to think that they were definitely passive, only attacking those that stole what they were meant to be guarding. As we ran down the corridor, I kept sneaking glances back to see if they were pursuing us, but there was nothing but the colour of dark purple lit by the occasional torch. Let's hope we were able to cut them off before they reached the entrance. Then we could launch a surprise offensive! Although what that would consist of I didn't know...

Syeonyx signing off

A new experience...

     We had all begun to worry now about how far ahead HoN Co. might be from us... We hadn't said much since when we had rested, and it was beginning to show that we felt slightly defeated at the loss of one of the Eyes of Ender. It wasn't the end of the world, but we definitely weren't working to our maximum capacity that we could do. We had two of the Eyes so far, which was still much much better than nothing at all. We had at least pushed both sides to a stalemate until one of us decided on a plan to find and take the ones they didn't have from the others. HoN Co. had one of the Eyes, we had two, so we would need to plan at least one retrieval mission to take the Eye back with us to Minecraftia. Then again there were still two Eyes left to take. Let's just hoped that HoN Co. didn't get any more, otherwise they might get the same idea as us and hide them in separate places.

"What if it wasn't HoN Co. though...? What if there was no Eye of Ender, or if that one that was supposed to be there is already in the portal?"

"I don't think it'd be that... There's no-one else looking for the Eyes besides us and HoN Co. - not that I know of - and if it was one of the Eyes of Ender that was already part of the portal, why had HoN Co. marked it on the map? Presumably they were the ones who found the first seven..."

"Yeah, but we don't know that... It could have been someone or something else... Long ago... It's not entirely impossible."

"True, but whoever or whatever did that has saved us a lot of work in the long run. With us possessing two of them, with two left to be found and HoN Co. possessing one, we've got the right number to activate the portal."

We continued following THEROS, who had deviated off the due South path slightly, and was now heading ever so slightly East. Asking to borrow the map, THEROS produced it from his bag and pointed to where we were instantly, before passing it back to me. From the previous location, from where we were and the slight angle bent towards the East we were heading in, I guessed that we were on a pretty accurate path to the next place. Passing the map back, I began to take in the scenery and try to get away from the slight depression that had seemed to drape itself over us since losing the third Eye to HoN Co.... We had managed to more or less maintain our vertical positioning, mainly travelling along a flat pathway that only had a few bumps and hills. We had come to the occasional obstruction where we had to deviate slightly from our path to get around it. We came to another, and once we manoeuvred around it, we stopped and looked up. A large hill stood before us, with small fires burning away throwing meagre amounts of light around. In this light, we could just make out the distinctive dark purple-red colour of the Nether stone bricks. We had found it! And no sign of HoN Co. guards either!

We slowly and carefully scaled the hill, avoiding any large drops back down and the fires that continued to burn unabated. Once we reached the top, we found that the Nether stone bricks actually formed an incredibly long bridge extending way off to the far South. Climbing onto the main walkway way, we paused a moment to look down the entire length of the construction, wondering if we had actually found what we were looking for...

"Is this it...? Don't get me wrong, it definitely looks like it is, but aren't bridges meant to go over stuff...? Like lava? Not through massive walls..."

"Well it's obviously more of a tunnel then."

"No... A tunnel would suggest the entire structure would be encased in the same bricks, but this is just a walkway extending into a large, long hollowed out section of wall... made from a separate material..."

"Does it matter all that much? We've found what we were looking for, so be happy with that."

Wrapping up the bizarrely pointless conversation, THEROS led the way down the enclosed tunnel; it seemed to go on forever, but there was no need to light any of it. Oddly enough there were a few fires already burning away in the walls were the Nether stone had been chipped out. They provided more than enough light to see by, but the whole experience of being on a bridge whilst being enclosed was a little strange, I had to admit. The bridge / tunnel was immensely long, much longer than any of the others we had encountered before, but it was lit sufficiently the entire way through. We eventually came to a crossroads where we had expected the structure to open out a little more, but instead each direction would take us even further into a massive hollowed out structure.


"Which path do we take now? I somehow doubt your 'take the straight ahead path' rule is going to work here..."

"No, that was for when we had identified the entrance to the main structure from the lava well. And besides, it's more of a guideline than a rule. With his I suggest we start with the simplest and most logical operation: start left and work our way around."

"Fair enough, but how are we going to identify which paths we've taken and which we have left? Torches aren't going to help us here..."

"We'll get to that hurdle when we have to hop over it..."

THEROS led the way once again, taking the left path hoping we would find some way to indicate which paths remained unknown to us. From the silence that followed, I could tell that both THEROS and THEXIS were hoping that we got to the Eye of Ender before the HoN Co. guard team... So did I.

Syeonyx signing off

Day 150: Stalemate

     It turns out I did have that dream again... Once again it was completely identical, up until the final parts; the portal raised above the base of the tower, once it settled, hovering in mid-air, it began to suck everything into it! Massive chunks of rock, trees, parts of the tower base and multiple guards were sucked into the rift of the open portal. It was horrifying to watch as everything within the vicinity was sucked into oblivion. Then I woke up like before... I sat there for a moment trying to make sense of what I had just dreamt, but it seemed to make less sense than the previous three endings... Two of the endings seemed to go along with the two uses of the Keystone if we managed to finally procure it from the The End, but the last two made no sense at all...

----


     From the tower, we set off down towards the main structure, hoping to make this one a lot easier than the others before. After this one we would have thee Ender Eyes in our possession, and only two more to go. That would hopefully please THEXIS as that would be three times the leverage we would have had if we had wasted time returning to base camp. The long night's rest seemed to do us all good; despite the monotony of the task before us, travelling the labyrinthine passages and tunnels in search of that one room, we all seemed to act and move with a more fluid, relaxed nature about us. It was difficult to do that at the best of times, let alone in the heart of a millennia-aged structure suspended way above a lava lake in the depths of hellish dimension! Even THEXIS seemed to be getting into the rhythm of things, despite my intervention of his intended plan... THEROS also seemed to act as though he was more at home with the idea of scouring the structures for the Eye of Ender we were looking for, and moved with purpose and direction. If I didn't know better, I could have sworn he knew where he was going!

"Right, we've been in this situation before, and in both instances, the direction we needed to head in was straight ahead. Let's go that way first and see if we save some time..."

We had been met with a four-way split, with stairs leading down to the right, and small passages instantly leading around a corner to the left and straight ahead. Following THEROS straight ahead, we continued along the path until we reached the corner. We stopped... That wasn't right... Up ahead we could see torches all along the walls, and a large light source up ahead... Had we been here before...? Continuing down, we maintained focus on the end of the corridor; as we drew closer we realised that we had found the room like we had twice previously, but it was different... Up ahead was the same shaped room we had encountered before, with a small enclosed basin sunk into the floor, flanked by Affinitas cages. Much like before there were torches still burning, placed all along the perimeter wall. But two things didn't add up: why were there already a series of torches lining the wall to the room, and why were there two Guardians spawned within the room before we reached it...?

"What the... Why have they spawned already...? I thought they only appeared when someone or something took the Eye...?"



As we moved closer, the Guardians became aware of us, but did not attack. Just in case, THEROS and THEXIS drew their blowpipes and readied a dart. The Guardians did not react in the manner we had assumed; they floated there, breathing heavily, just staring at us... For a while, no-one moved, no-one said or did anything... Then THEXIS began to move forward, slowly approaching the basin in the centre of the room. The Guardians both watched him as he moved towards it, as though waiting for the moment he would take the Eye, but even when getting there THEXIS never bent down... He stopped and looked down, before turning and looking back at us. THEXIS then noticed that the two Guardians were still watching him, before he slowly made his way back over to us.

"Why didn't you pick it up? We could have covered you or drawn their attention..."

"It's not there..."

"What...? The Eye?"

"Yeah... The basin's empty... There's nothing there... Someone's already taken it..."

"Damn! Well... That would explain why the Guardians are already here..."

The Guardians still hadn't moved or attempted to attack us. Maybe it was because they knew we didn't have the Eye of Ender, and as they no longer had anything to protect, there was no sense in attacking...

"There's no sense in staying here... We should head to the next location... We can only hope we get there first this time..."

We turned to leave, keeping an eye on the Guardians up until the last moment, before turning around to leave them behind. The Eye of Ender had been taken? Of course! The HoN Co. guards! They were probably a recovery team searching for the Eyes as well! HoN Co. would likely have a backup copy of both the map and coordinates! We continued to head back towards the entrance, back towards the East where we could continue the search for the next Eye of Ender. We would have to deal with the one in HoN Co.'s possession at a later date. It seemed now we had reached a stalemate...

----


     We decided that we needed a rest for an hour or so; from the last structure we had already walked a good distance, and we still had a long way to go. The next structure was a little further South than we had initially anticipated and THEXIS thought it might be a good idea to skip the rest and continue on. He listened to reason when THEROS pointed out that we needed energy in the form of food, and forgoing that could put is at a disadvantage, especially if we ended up running into the same HoN Co. guard team... Since this morning however, the mood between us had plummeted immensely; no-one was talking at all, we just sat in silence around the fire waiting for the food to be cooked through. We all knew that we weren't defeated. Far from it in fact; we still had two of the Eyes of Ender which meant HoN Co. couldn't activate the portal without ours. Admittedly that meant we couldn't activate it either without theirs, and I doubt they would be up for a friendly meeting to activate the portal together...

"At the most it's a stalemate. If we manage to recover the remaining two then we should still be able to hold up a slightly greater chance of activating the portal first. If we do what THEXIS said and hide them in separate places, then we massively increase our chances of at least maintaining this stalemate. At least until we figure out what we need to do..."

"We had better get going soon then. We've only got two at the moment, and if that guard team is off to the next location, they've got quite a lead on us, unless they went back to their base..."

We packed up and destroyed all trace of our presence before continuing along to the next location, still heading due South. Let's hope we got there first.

Syeonyx signing off

Close call...

     Standing close to the edge of the lava lake, we stared out towards the gigantic struts that stood supporting the giant bridge network that criss-crossed towards numerous structures. We could see multiple sections of the bridge that seemed to end rather abruptly as a crumbled section of fallen Nether Stone, whilst other sections ended with the fenced off area that suggested enclosures. That meant there could be Guardians close by, as well as the possibility of Affinitas cages... That wasn't our main issue though; looking along the edges of the bridges, we each tried to identify a way to gain access to it, but it seemed to be totally cut off. There didn't seem to be any direct close connections between the bridges and and the outer edges of the lava lake. We had noticed though that every one of the structures we had encountered was was sat way above lava, probably as an added security feature, but this structure seemed to be a remote stronghold all on its own...

"Can anyone see a way across to it? I didn't think so... There are a few other bridges that we cannot see the ends of, but they seem to be quite a hike from here to get to them..."

"We may have no choice... We need to gain access as quickly as possible so we can move on to the next structure. As well as that, we're coming to the end of another day; I don't know about you two but I'm beginning to flag slightly..."

"We should head over to the far Eastern side of the lava lake and then hope we find a way across to the main structure. It would be too dangerous to camp out in the Nether, especially when we're that close to one of those structures."

Remaining still for a few moments longer, we quickly scanned the area ahead of us in the hope that we had missed a path that we could exploit, before resigning ourselves to the fact that we still had a way to go yet. Turning back to find a way across to the far Eastern side of the lava lake, we followed THEROS hoping we would get to stop at some point soon. I think we were all beginning to flag now...


----


     That was an incredibly close call! We managed to find a way across to the Eastern side of the lava lake and were surprised to find our path to the South completely clear of obstructions. Being safe however we stuck to the shadows and ensured that we didn't do anything that might draw attention to ourselves. As we continued to climb higher to be able to later reach the structure, we came across a small group of people who we initially couldn't determine the identity of. They had to be HoN Co. guards as no-one else was in the Nether, to our knowledge, and true enough as we crept closer we were able to see they were HoN Co. guards. There were four of them walking together as a group heading North, as though away from the structure we were slowly making our way to. At one point they stopped, and one of the guards pointed in our direction. We froze... The other guards looked in our direction too; one seemed to squint to get a better look, before waving a hand in our direction and saying something to the guard that had pointed at us. The other three guards continued to move on, but the first guard stood still for a while, continuing to stare up at our location. We couldn't tell if he knew we were there and he was waiting for us to make a mistake by moving, or if he genuinely had no idea at all. We remained motionless the entire time he stared at us, and we continued to do so until he was out of sight. We each let out a sigh of relief, and stood up properly, continuing to head South, this time at a faster pace.

"It seems they're definitely searching far and wide for us... Luckily they seem to be searching in the completely wrong direction! Let's hope it stays that way..."

"How do we know they weren't a team sent in to recover one of the Eyes of Ender...?"

"We don't... We just have to hope that's not the case."

We carried on South for some time longer before the large wall to our right began to thin out and then disappear, exposing the lava lake we had once been on the edge of a few hours earlier. As we drew closer to the edge of the cliff with a plummeting drop to the lava below, we were able to make out the structure off in the distance, more towards the centre of the lava. Looking around, we tried to find a way across, when we turned around and did a double take. There was a bridge. A bridge connected to the edge of the cliff. An intact bridge connected to the cliff, leading all the way to the main bridge network.

"Excellent! Let's get across and find a tower to settle in for the night. Perfect timing, if I do say so myself!"

We managed to find a tower pretty close to the main structure; the presence of a small lava basin in the centre of the entranceway suggested the location of the main structure, and the tower was set off just off to the East a little. We had crossed the bridge system without any bother at all, and now we could settle down for the night. I wonder if I'll have that dream this time...?

Syeonyx signing off

Choice of paths

     As we finally caught our breath, we turned to THEXIS who was still holding the Eye of Ender in his clenched hand. Unfurling his fingers, we stood in silent awe staring at the near-spherical object that lay in his open palm. THEXIS slowly and carefully put it away into the bag before we began a long discussion about the next phase of the operation. We narrowed our options down to the two most logical choices we had available to us: either we head back to the base camp and drop the Eye of Ender off, before setting out for the next one, or we head straight for the next structure from our current location. Both options had their advantages and disadvantages, and once again it seemed as though we were all at different minds about which to choose. THEROS wanted to head on to the next location, using the map to support his point, whilst THEXIS opted for the return journey idea, back to the base camp.

"If we head back we'll be wasting valuable time! We can't guarantee that HoN Co. aren't ahead of us as it is, so going back to the camp would be futile, especially when you consider how close to the next location we are..."

"It doesn't matter if HoN Co. is ahead of us or not; we now have two Eyes of Ender in our possession so they cannot possibly open the portal to The End without us!"

True, but the first Ender Eye we recovered is already secure. We have enough leverage against HoN Co. with that one. We don't need to secure two in exchange for precious time!"

"The greater our leverage the better, surely! If we take this back to the base, it can be hidden in a totally separate place to the first one we recovered."

"But what's the point in travelling all the way back to the base camp when it's much easier and faster to head on to the next location? If we head back, we'll have to rest out in the Nether, totally exposed, which is much more dangerous than losing that Eye!"

"There's only one way to settle this then... Syeonyx? Which idea do you think is the next best step...?"

I had a feeling it'd boil down to me having the final vote... I could see the logic in both methods; if we secured two Eyes of Ender then we had a considerably greater leverage against HoN Co., but it was wasting a lot of time. However, if we continued on to the next location, we would save that time we would originally have lost, but we risk either losing or damaging the Eye we have. Looking at the map that THEROS held out to me, he pointed at where we were, and I was surprised at how right THEROS actually was; we were considerably closer to the next structure than we would be if we were to head back and then backtrack to the same point. The remaining three locations spanned the outer Eastern edge of the map, which meant a massive amount of travelling was required. I pointed out that if I went with THEROS' idea, we wouldn't be returning to the base camp for a long time.

"If we head East, we stay Easy, slowly heading South until we've got each of the Eyes of Ender, before returning to the base camp. We have more than enough supplies to last us that long if we ration them."

Thinking it over a little more, I eventually went with THEROS' idea; I could see THEXIS' shoulders droop slightly as he heard my decision, but I backed it up by supporting THEROS' idea about being closer to this than we would normally be. If we stayed on track, we could definitely make the next location before the end of the day.

"Fair enough... I can't say I'm comfortable with it, but I suppose it is a majority vote... Lead the way..."

Putting the map away, THEROS turned off to the East and continued to head over the stone, perpendicular to the bridge we had just crossed, in the direction of the next location. We had a decent distance left to travel, but it was minute in comparison to the distance it would be to trek all the way back to the base camp. Plus I wasn't really going to enjoy the return journey back over the terrain we encountered to get here. It should be easier as we head across to the far East and the slowly heading due South. Once we reach the last one, we can head more or less North West, back towards the camp.

----


     We had been walking for some time now, and we were beginning to wonder if THEROS was taking us in the wrong direction. Obviously we couldn't just assume that as he was the best navigator amongst us, but reaching the next structure was taking a long time. We hadn't even seen the large bridges or struts to suggest the structure was further up ahead. At one point after heading East we did take a rather sudden direction change to the right, essentially heading due South now, but we still had yet to find anything where the next Eye of Ender would be.

"Is it possible that it's way above or below us? I know we're quite low as it is, but there is the possibility it's above us somewhere..."

"It's possible, but surely we would see the struts of the bridges spanning down to our level. Each of the structures we've found so far has been suspended above a lava lake, which I initially assumed was for added protection... Maybe I'm wrong..."

As we continued to follow the edge of the massive lava lake, a large portion of the wall just up ahead began to show small cracks and holes in it. As we drew closer, we could make out something different up ahead behind it, and when we were close enough, we realised we had found the next structure! It had been perfectly hidden behind a large surrounding wall of stone which blocked our view from up ahead. But now we faced a similar problem to before: we were quite low down, and the large struts that supported the bridges climber quite high into the air. We were going to have to find a way up to that before we could get in.

Syeonyx signing off

Day 149: Two down, three to go...

     No nightmare last night! Although I can't tell if that's a good thing or not... The previous times I've had them they've been so vivid that they've been impossible to forget. The amount of detail I could retain even hours after I'd woken up was remarkable, so it was highly unlikely I would have forgotten having one last night. I don't know whether that means more than the actual dreams do... I was expecting to have a different ending this time around, but at least I was able to wake up calmly. Being the first to wake up this time, I set the remains of the fire from last night going again before beginning to cook a small portion of our supplies that we had left. A few minutes later, THEROS and THEXIS woke up, pretty much at the same time. Once we had breakfasted the small amounts of bread and meat we had rationed ourselves, we packed up and set off to begin another day's exploring.

Instead of heading directly down the stairs we had ascended, we decided it would make more sense to explore the area just around the corner from the tower. Shortly after setting up the camp last night, we realised the tower was actually connected to a small section of passage that led away into further darkness. We had left it until today to explore as we didn't want to tempt fate. We set off along the corridor, expecting it too to split into numerous pathways and passages to further confuse us, but instead it remained a straight, unbroken pathway heading further and further away. It wasn't long however until we did have to stop; instead of a crossroads, the passage ended rather abruptly at another massive plummeting drop. Peering over the edge whilst hanging onto the wall, I felt slightly nauseous at how high we actually were... Either that, or the horrid prospect of having to suffer an incredibly high fall before landing in molten lava! I couldn't tell what was worse: the death from the lava, or the long wait whilst to fell, waiting to hit the lava's surface...

"Back the way we came then... These dead-ends aren't as bad as you think. It means we're making progress, as the more tunnels and passages we mark off as being the wrong direction the closer we get to where we want to be."

We set off back down the very long passage back to the top of the tower where we then descended the stairs back into the base of the main structure. From there we headed down the one corridor that wasn't completely lit up, where we hadn't managed to explore yet. Once again, the corridor split up into a series of alternate passages and it was becoming easier and easier to get lost if we weren't using the torches. Luckily we had a plentiful supply and they provided both light and direction for us.

"What are the chances that HoN Co. has reached one of these places before us?"

"It depends... If they've only recently arrived here, then they're likely to have been occupied with constructing that massive base before setting off looking for anything. Then again, if they've had time to experiment..."

"Well it doesn't matter too much if they have got one or more of the remaining ones, as without the one we have they cannot open the portal to The End. At least we have that to fall back on. If we find any more then that's even better. If we can find them all then brilliant!"

"True, but I have no idea how we'll prepare for a journey to The End. We have no idea what to expect! How do we even know if these Endermen are on our side? What if it's a trick?"

"How do you mean? Like the Endermen are using us to escape The End?"

"Exactly! What if they were trapped their by some other ancient creature and then the Eyes of Ender were used to seal it and then protected by the Guardians...? It's definitely something we'll have to consider..."

"Yeah, but how do we prove it? How can we be... Another one?"

We stopped and looked where THEROS was looking; another staircase led up to a higher floor, with the strange mushroom things growing around the edge. This place was beginning to confuse and infuriate us all, and it didn't help when it was essentially a maze that worked on multiple levels too!

Ascending the stairs to the top, we were surprised to find an entirely new level with a roof over the top. We were expecting to find a small tower or a dead-end, but instead it led straight into another passageway that continued further on. Continuing along the passageway, we reached the end where it then sharply turned off to the right, where we hit exactly what we were looking for! Before us, the passage continued on a small way before opening up into the a similarly designed room to the first one we found. As we drew closer, I realised that the room was likely to be exactly the same; it was almost perfectly circular in shape, with a strange fenced off basin in the centre, flanked on either side by two Affinitas cages. We reached the entranceway and stopped, none of us daring to go any further...

"We're going to need to be careful about this. Those cages are capable of spawning Guardians into this world... We don't know how or when that happens, but we can't risk spending too much time in there."

"Last time it seemed they were spawned the moment we took the Eye from the basin in the centre... So it seems that the simplest solution would be for one of us to go in and take it, while the other two remain here. We need to be ready to run pretty quickly."

"I think you should go and take it this time; Syeonyx got the last one, and I'm the only one who's likely to remember the correct route out of this place. When you take it, run and follow me exactly! We can't afford to become split up."

"I don't like it, but we don't have any other choice..."

THEXIS moved into the centre of the room and looked around nervously. Bending down, he kept looking to the left and right at the cages, before reaching down and slowly taking the Ender Eye from the basin. Lifting it out, THEXIS stood up abruptly and stood staring at the cages. Nothing happened... We motioned for him to come over, but he remained where he was. Then the smoke began to appear; swirling smog began to seep from the bars of the cage and circle the room.

"THEXIS! NOW!"

I waited for THEXIS to start running before following THEROS out the way we had come, back down the passageway. THEROS didn't stop for what seemed like ages; we continued back down the stairs to the lower floor, winding our way back around a seemingly infinite maze of passages. Once we reached the entrance, we headed back across the bridge that had taken us to the structure, and didn't stop until we reached the far side. Once back on the Nether stone, we stopped suddenly, all bent double trying to catch our breath...

"That... That was too close... Phew... I hope this gets easier, although... Although I'm not holding up any high hopes..."

Syeonyx signing off

Day 148: Keeping our distance

     I had that same dream again, and I'm beginning to wonder whether there is any element of truth behind it... The first time I had it, the portal was activated; the rift was a brilliant purple, and after rising out from the base of the tower, a massive creature emerged. I woke up immediately after that... The last time I had the dream, it ended a little differently; the portal was battered and crumbling, the rift flashing rather than remaining the usual purple colour, and after it had risen from the tower, the rift dimmed and the entire master portal shattered. Well this dream was different again! Well, it was exactly the same up until the same point as the previous two, where in then took on a whole new ending of its own. When the portal rose out from the base of the tower, it looked how it had in the first dream; it was stable, and the rift remained the iconic startling purple colour. But before anything else could happen, a single Enderman began to rise out from the sand, like a ghost. It continued to rise until it was level with the portal, before stopping and looking down at us. Slowing closing it's eyes, it began to raise it's arms above it's head. Then more Endermen began to rise out from the sands, arms outstretched to the sky until they were all level with the first. There were about fifty in total, and they began to huddle together.

In amongst the huddle, a bright light emerged, streaking across the air around us in all directions, before bursting out into a massive column into the sky. The pale violet light faded, and the Endermen slowly retreated from the huddle, to reveal a large stone-like object that sat hovering in mid-air, slowly spinning like a top... The first Enderman picked it up and threw it quite forcefully into the rift of the master portal, causing both to shatter into millions of tiny pieces. The Endermen slowly faded from view, and then I woke up... I really need to tell someone about these dreams, but I can't tell if there's meaning to them, or it's just my imagination playing with the thoughts going around in my head...

----


     I woke up with a start; leaving the dream had this startling effect on me, causing me to wake up suddenly each time. I wasn't able to tell if it was morning, or how long I had been asleep at all, but I could see THEROS was already awake and preparing what I assumed was breakfast... He seemed a little freaked out when I woke up so suddenly, but I decided to keep the details of my experience to myself, only telling him that I'd just had a nightmare.

"It's not surprising at all in this place. If you haven't got your wits about you, it could likely turn a sane man mad... Wake THEXIS up; we've got a long day of exploring ahead of us..."

I turned and nudged THEXIS who woke up surprisingly easy, before beginning our breakfast. Once again we sat in silence, as though appreciating our surroundings, or just appreciating the one time where we might not experience quiet again for some time... After we were done, we packed up out sleeping gear and headed down the stairs to the base of the tower. As we emerged from the entrance, we found ourselves at a four-way crossroads once more, however it was much easier to determine which direction to head in; straight ahead of us was back the way we had come last night, to our left was a very short section of broken bridge which seemed to end rather abruptly, and behind us took us back up to the tower. That left only the right path, so we took that. Heading across it, we soon came to another crossroads, with the left path out automatically as it too had crumbled into the lava below. The path straight ahead seemed to head towards a larger collection of interlinked structures, whilst the right path headed up to a small enclosure which we could immediately recognise.

"If we take the right path first, we can come back and check out those up ahead..."

We headed off to the right towards the enclosure, where we suddenly saw a large amount of smoke emerge from. The familiar sound of heavy breathing was audible now, and from out of the smoke emerged two Guardians! We stopped dead still, a few metres away from the base of the stairs, hoping they wouldn't consider us a threat at this distance. Remembering what COLUS had said, I watched the Guardians intently, noticing that they didn't seem all that bothered about us, so they were likely guarding the cage that spawned them...

We continued to watch them for a few minutes; on a couple of occasions they seemed to look straight at us, but whether they could see us or whether they didn't consider us a big enough threat to attack was left unknown. Eventually THEROS indicated to head back across the bridge to the crossroads where we could then head towards the huddle of structures. We still had a massive way to go to find the Ender Eye that was meant to be sealed away here. That was if there was one here at all...

     On the other side of the bridge, we found another entrance that mimicked the first we had encountered exactly; a large archway spanned each open bridge section, with a large hole cut from the centre. This led inside to an area that was surprisingly well lit considering the intensity of the darkness in the rest of this place. As we moved closer inside, we found the source of the light to belong to a small lava pool that stood dead centre in the room, bubbling and roiling away. There had also been one of these in the entranceway of the first structure we had headed into. Maybe there were patterns to the design of these places. Maybe these pools of lava indicated the start of the main structure; ahead of us we could see a series of pitch-black corridors and tunnels, so we had finally found the main structure where the Eye of Ender was supposed to be...

"We'll take each corridor in turn, starting from the left working our way to the right. We should remain on the same level as well, taking any stairs heading up or down later after we've cleared this level first..."

Heading in from the main entrance, we noticed that both the left and right paths led to sets of stairs leading either up or down. That left only the path ahead of us, which remained on the same level. Much like before, we followed the twists and turns of the passages that wound their way through the structure. Our method of lighting the passages up as we went was also a very effective method of ensuring we didn't get lost. It had worked remarkably well before so it was definitely a tracking method not to be sniffed at. We continued to make our way through each of the passages, finding that they each split off into their own forks, causing us to take each on logically. Some ended rather abruptly with eye-watering drops to the lava below, whilst others ended with a blank stone wall... We were beginning to think we weren't getting anywhere, as we had passed a number of small sets of stairs leading up which only led to small towers that overlooked larger portions of the building. We had yet to find anything of value, or any indication of which direction to head in. On a number of occasions we had heard the heavy breathing, suggesting Guardians were close by, so we had to ensure we didn't accidentally threaten them with our presence. On a number of occasions we had actually seen a few, their strange light-emitting bodies visible through small cracks in the stone, and between fence posts. On a number of occasions we thought we had found good places to stop and rest, but we found that Guardians had already taken them, causing us to move on. We'd have to stop again soon.

----


     We had been on the move for hours! We were unable to find any place to rest at all, nor had we found the location of the Eye of Ender we were looking for either. We had managed to work our way around probably miles of tunnels without getting anywhere! In the end we had decided to call it a day; we were exhausted and we had recently stumbled across a large tower that was void of any Guardians or other creatures. Taking this opportunity while we had it, we set up a small camp. We would have to wake up slightly earlier to make sure we had a good chance of exploring more of the structure tomorrow. For now though, we were just going to rest up.

Let's hope I don't have the same nightmare... Otherwise I'm probably going to have to tell someone about it...

Syeonyx signing off

Structure number two...

     THEROS had opted for a slightly more dangerous route; as we were having to take a rather long and arduous detour, we were forced to skirt dangerously close to the lava lake edge. There was the option of going way up above it, but from the looks of the ground from below, it didn't look very safe. Plus, if we ended up round the other end where we can get to the structure, we may not be able to find a way down to it. It'd be easier to go low, and head upwards using the pickaxe as and when we needed to. It was a lot safer considering... Then again we had to consider how safe the actual stone around the edge of the lava lake was; we couldn't guarantee it was any better, but at least it was less likely to crumble resulting in us falling to our deaths. As we travelled further and further North, the Nether stone above us grew denser, as the stone beneath our feet grew more and more sparse. It was beginning to thin out, and we were being left with less and less manoeuvring room.

“If we go any closer to the edge of this lava lake, we’ll be cooked alive!”

“I don’t know about you, but I prefer that option to falling a long distance and then ending up dying in lava… Besides, I can’t guarantee we’ll end up where we need to be going on the higher path, and it would mean we’d be spotted easier that way…”

“Fair enough, but I still feel uncomfortable…”

“It’s not far left to go now. We just need to head a little further to the North and there should be a small area that opens up to a higher level. We should be able to gain access to the structure from there…”

We continued all the way along, risking falling into the lava on more occasions than I was comfortable with. Some parts we had to tunnel our way through to the other side, but with my diamond pickaxe that wasn’t exactly a big problem to deal with. As we made our way along the very edge of the lava lake, we were able to still make out the looming bridges off to the East, with the struts plummeting down into the lava below. If we could ensure we were always able to see the bridges of the structure we wanted to get to, and then we had very little chance of getting lost or sidetracked. After a further hour we had managed to make our way up to a small platform way above the lava, and we had changed direction, now heading back on ourselves in an arc. We had ascended to the point where we could now make out the actual walking platform to each of the bridges, and before long, we had managed to come face to face with a large Nether stone brick wall. A large stone column stood close to the wall, which we initially thought we could use to scale the wall and enter inside, but it was nowhere near close enough to be able to do that…


“We’re going to have to go around a bit further. There are likely to still be places where the bridges are accessible.”

We were forced to skirt around the edge of a very thin, crumbling stone layer that hung out over the lava lake quite precariously.

“I see what you mean now about the distance of the drop… Not something I want to experience any time soon…”

The thin layer of stone began to thicken however the farther we travelled, and it wasn’t long before we could make out one of the long bridges spanning the huge distance between the structure we wanted to get to and a part of the surrounding terrain we could already make.

“That would be our best bet. It also looks to be the only way out too, so we’re going to have to be a lot more vigilant in terms of security…”

“Well it’s too late to begin searching for it now… We’ll have to begin tomorrow.”

“That would be the safer thing. We should find a tower or a high location to scout the place out before we settle down for the night. There’s no point in starting an actual search of this structure if we’re likely to fatigued…”

We took a moment to admire the magnificent view before us; the massive bridges spanning almost the entire length of the lava lake; the struts sticking up supporting the main bridges like legs of a giant sleeping beast. Thinking about it like that made a shiver run down my spine… I really hope not…


As we made our way across the relatively short distance to the edge of the bridge that spanned across to our side of the stony terrain, we made sure that we didn’t draw any unnecessary attention to ourselves. It wasn’t all that difficult despite where we were; there were no creatures anywhere near the bridge and we hadn’t even seen a single guard team at all along the entire journey. I was beginning to wonder how little they knew about our movements… Or how much… We could be being watched right now by a group of Elite guards, which means we wouldn’t be able to see them. Although to be honest, we couldn’t guarantee we could see them even if they were visible, but just hiding in the shadows…

“That tower up there looks to be the best bet. We just need to find a suitable way up to it… There are bound to be a set of stairs or something leading up, but we need to be careful not to stumble across any of those Guardian creatures along the way. We can deal with them tomorrow…”

An oddly familiar entranceway greeted us as we approached the structure, and I began to wonder how closely constructed each of these structures were on a single model. There were definitely similarities in the construction of certain parts of it, which suggested intelligent design, or that the structures used to be linked together. Or both, now that I come to think of it… We made our way immediately to the right where we found a short series of steps that led out to the top of the tower where we could look down upon the rest of the structure. We had a pretty good vantage point from here; despite the fact that we would be resting most of the time, it would allow us to set out a possible plan of action for tomorrow, maybe in the morning.

“I’ll get a fire going…”

We placed our bags and equipment around the central position where THEXIS began to start a fire. I was initially worried that it may draw attention to us, especially due to how dark parts of the Nether were. Light travelled quite some distance in this dimension, so we had to be careful not to accidentally signal a HoN Co. guard team to our position. Then again, if they were able to make it to our position within the same time as us, we would have something to worry about… I looked out across the edge of the tower, to the bridges and network of rooftops below, admiring the view more than scouting out the area. It was a startlingly beautiful place considering the types of creatures that lived here, and the fact that we were here for a single purpose. We didn’t have time to simply admire the view, but with nothing else to do but rest up, I took the opportunity to do just that.

Syeonyx signing off

The long way around...

     From the base camp, we headed straight for the wooden platform and rigging as the next location we were going to was way off to the North. It seemed to be the most logical route to take, but we had to be careful not to run into any guards that might be patrolling nearby. We still hadn't encountered the guard team that were apparently looking for our camp, but then again that wasn't a bad thing. However, with COLUS mentioning the HoN Co. base storing some sort of high-tech armour area, it was entirely possibly that they had involved the Elite. If they were looking for us, we wouldn't even know about it until it was too late! Worse still, they could monitor our activity and then send the guards in to attack us when we seemed most vulnerable. We were careful not to draw attention to ourselves, sticking to the shadows off from the main road where the guard patrols may be heading along. Once we passed it, we were able to follow the curve of the main wall, continuing on North.

"The next location is just a little further North of the first structure we found, but I wasn't able to make it out when we headed towards that network of bridges... I'm beginning to wonder if the scale is still wrong, or if it's hidden by stone or something..."

"Well we'll find out soon enough, although are we likely to reach the actual structure before the day is out?"

"At a push we should be able to, but I've been looking at the map and I've been wondering if we're going to have to take a rather large detour..."

"Why? Is there something in the way? Is the path blocked?"

"That's one way of putting it... Another way is to assume there isn't a path to block... From what I can make out, the next structure is set way above the same lake of lava..."

"And there's no direct path up to it...?"

"Exactly... We can make it onto the structure from a small path that leads around, from what I can gather, but it means taking a huge detour around the lava lake, up to the North and then backtracking South back to the structure..."

After about an further hour or so of walking, the wall along the left-hand side opened up to a large open chamber with a massive ceiling. Large lava falls dropped down from above, spilling small pools onto the Nether stone below, where it spread out and flowed together to form an almost complete flowing lava river. Despite all the lava and the large fires that burnt without containment, the Nether wasn't an overwhelmingly hot place at all. It was really really strange as I was expecting it to be insufferable, but the temperature barely rose above just uncomfortable...

     We had been walking for a few hours now; we had reached the edge of the massive lava lake that the two structures were meant to be suspended way above, but we had yet to encounter either. Although THEROS said that judging from the distance we were from them, it was unlikely we would see them from where we were. We had decided to rest for some time, in a secluded place that was only exposed to the lava lake from one direction; it gave us protection from any wandering guards or strange creatures, and gave us a startling view of the alien beauty of the Nether which we rarely had time to appreciate. We took the risky option of attempting to cook some meat on one of the fires that was already ablaze on the Nether stone. We had decided it was worth it because we couldn't risk leaving a possible trail for someone or something to follow, so the less we used the less we left behind.

"Fire is fire... I don't see how it can hurt us in any other way that normal fire can't."

We settled down for the break, looking out across the massive expanse of bubbling lava; it was oddly serene despite the chaos of the heat and intensity around us, with the dark Nether stone contrasting starkly against the brilliant light that was released. We ate in silence, just appreciating the view. When we were finished, we packed everything that remained away and set off towards the North again. We still had some distance to go, but we shouldn't be too far away from it now.

"Yeah, looking at the the terrain around us, I don't see how we can make it over to the structure any other way than already stated..."

We decided to remain nearer to the edge of the lava lake rather than follow the wall along. That way if there was a different way across, we were more likely to spot it rather than having to go all the way around. Then again, judging from the mass expanse of bubbling orange and red before us, I didn't see how that was going to be possible. But it wasn't long before we spotted something that made us realise how far we really had to travel. Up ahead over the lava lake loomed a massively large structure; much like the other one, it seemed to be constructed of the same strange Nether stone bricks, and large pillars rose out of the lava, climbing way up to form the basis for the bridges.

"That's where we need to go, and this is where we are now... We need to track this structure all the way along this Northern section here to get to it..."

THEROS traced the route over the map, indicating where we were most likely going to be able to gain access to the structure. Putting it away afterwards, we continued on hoping to make it there before we needed to stop again.

Syeonyx signing off

Day 147: Round two

     We all stared at COLUS for a few moments, trying to take in what he had just said. Spawners? What did he mean by that? They spawned creatures into the world? Was that as literal as it sounded, because it made out that we had a lot to worry about from now on.

"They don't draw certain creatures to them to protect whatever is there, they actually have the capability of spawning certain creatures into the world."

"So... Like... They can spawn Creepers or the undead into the world at any point they want?"

"It certainly seems that way. The files we found suggested that HoN Co. found this technology and modified it for their own gain, so not only can they control what is spawned, but how regularly, however the name 'Affinitas' is still fitting."

"How so?"

"Well we initially thought the cages were used to draw creatures to them. Instead they are used to spawn them in, only the modified ones have the capacity to keep the spawned creatures close to the cage that spawned them..."

"So they are still used for the same purpose, only with drastically greater consequences...?"

"Definitely. We can't determine whether the cages work by either trapping the creatures, which reduces the range from which they can leave the cage, or they just have this desire to protect it. Either way, the recent cages we've seen have definitely been HoN Co. modified..."

"What about the ones in the structure that we found? The ones that were spawning these Guardian creatures?"

"No, those are the natural ones. When HoN Co. came to the Nether, they spotted the potential of them, and took the technology with them, but they have yet to be able to modify one that can spawn Guardians..."

“So HoN Co. can spawn and control the behaviour of the creatures, not only in the Nether, but back in Minecraftia as well?”

“Unfortunately so… And the lack of these creatures around here suggest that they’ve been further experimenting with the different types of Affinitas cages they can make…”

It was a lot to take in, and Amie was quiet the entire time we discussed it. We decided that we couldn’t achieve much for the rest of the day, so we decided to rest up and start afresh tomorrow. Hopefully we could plan out the next phase of the operation from then…

----


      Despite the surprising amount of information we have had to take in over the past couple of days, and the severity of it all mounting against us, I slept surprisingly well! Me and Amie opted to sleeping together again; I get the feeling that she needs some form of security to ensure she feels safe, and it’s obvious that we have the same feelings for each other, so I’m fully willing and capable of providing that security. Before meeting the Lone 7, I was someone who loved to be alone; someone who cherished the idea of living off the land with no-one else in the world to worry about, and with not a single care in the world. But it seems that all it takes to turn someone’s opinion around is love… Or at least, I believe that to be the case. After waking up feeling incredibly refreshed, I had to once again remind myself where I was; the dark, depressing surroundings of the dark, red stone around us reminded me that we were still in the Nether, and that there was no sign of us moving back any time soon. During breakfast, we discussed the plan for the day, settling out everything, although mine, THEROS and THEXIS’s day seemed to be pretty much the same as the previous one…

“You three will set out for the next location marked on the map and hopefully retrieve the next Eye of Ender. You’re likely to be on the lookout for a similar structure as to the last one you found as the files we retrieved seemed to indicate these to be the best places to start looking. They are natural structures that were here way before HoN Co., and if it gives them enough reason to be curious, it’s enough for us too!”

“What about the rest of you? Are you going to attempt another look at the HoN Co. base?”

“Some of us are. OROTHO and Amie will return to Minecraftia with the Eye of Ender we have recovered and keep it in a safe location. If they found our base camp, we don’t want them trying to take it back by force. If you inform UOPETA of this, then we can keep at least one of us in Minecraftia with knowledge of where it is. The rest of us will stage another operation to find more information at the HoN Co. base, and investigate the experiments they are carrying out.”

“Have you managed to avoid the guard patrols that have been going back and forth from the base?”

“So far, yes. There have been a few instances where we thought we had been spotted, but they turned out to be false alarms. We’ll need to be more vigilant in the future.”

We finished up our breakfast before collecting our equipment and heading out for the day’s quest ahead of us. Looking back at the map that was still in THEROS’s possession, we had a slightly further distance to travel this time; the locations seemed a lot more spread out than we had initially expected, but then again it would make sense to ensure they were scattered out across the area rather than keep them in a single location. The next location was this time way off to the North which would require a large amount of walking, but we were hardly expecting to breeze through this mission. If we managed to possess the remaining five Ender Eyes and pass in The End without HoN Co. finding out, we could easily have the master portal destroyed within the next few weeks! Considering the whole operation had previously taken over a year, it was finally a time where the end goal was in sight.

“Amie, OROTHO? When you head back in, ask UOPETA if there has been any reply from SERVERE within the few days we’ve been gone. I’m a little worried that it’s taking this long, even with the time lapse between dimensions…”

Amie and OROTHO headed off towards the portal, with the Ender Eye wrapped up in cloth, stored in the bottom of a bag. We couldn’t take any chances with it; it seemed a very robust item, but there was no use in risking leaving it in places where it could be broken or stolen, hence the removal of it back into Minecraftia. We should easily be able to keep track of them that way, provided we were able to find the remaining four. If we could, then we had the potential to open the portal, enter The End, take the Keystone and destroy the master portal once and for all! Odd though that last night I didn’t have the usual nightmare… Did that mean anything? It didn't matter anyway... We had other, more important issues to take into account. We set off from the base camp with a new set of supplies, fully loaded with the right information and knowledge to deal with these Affinitas cages and the Guardians of the Nether...

Syeonyx signing off