A/N: Hey again. Just as a short note - any "…" you see on a line by itself is my way of switching the point of view. I don't know how else to do it. :^\ - odd face

By the way, I'm going to be participating in this year's Camp NaNoWriMo starting tomorrow (Google it if you've never heard of it). I'll still be working on this story at the same time - just a heads up in case uploads are prolonged for a bit.

Chapter 13

What was once a thriving, cool, green jungle was now a dead, sweltering mess of orange and red. Not a leaf was left as the fire swept in to consume everything in its path. The roar of the flames was deafening but still not loud enough to mute the cries of jungle life. Farm animals and ocelots screamed and squealed in agony and panic as the flames burned away at their skins; they ran around in search of a pool to stop their torment, but the water had dried up, leaving them to suffer until they could take it no more and died. The stench of burned flesh and fur was nearly intolerable.

"DC!" shouted Loki. "Come close to me so I can teleport us out of here! It is too dangerous to risk running through the fire!"

DC did as he was told, horror-stricken at the devastating sight. Stevie jumped into Herobrine's lap and whimpered at the sound of its dying brothers and sisters. Loki closed his eyes, and the group was teleported to the edge of the jungle. Unfortunately, the destruction was all the more apparent here. The group couldn't believe their eyes.

It was as if they had never left the Nether. Not a speck of green was left - no grass, no flowers, no wildlife at all. The ground had been replaced with the reddish stone that had made up the hellish underworld. Spots of ground consisted of dirt-colored, swirling meshes that looked suspiciously like a group of screaming faces. Although the night sky still covered the world in darkness, the flames that crowded around the landscape lit up the surroundings for all to see, the type of light that provided sight but no comfort. What was more shocking was the fact that all the ponds and other bodies of water were now filled to the brim with bubbling, orange lava. DC realized that Notch was right; the world really was collapsing. How on earth did Alastor do it?

Herobrine could feel the heat of the world on his face. "What has happened to everything?"

DC quickly filled him in with the details, and then he remembered the god's instructions. "We have to go back to the Nether!" he exclaimed.

Herobrine quickly rushed to protest. "Are you out of your mind?" he gasped.

"I do believe I brought you two away from that place for a reason," joined in Loki. "You want us to go back?"

How was DC going to break the news? "Chances are you won't believe me, but I had a dream earlier tonight… and Notch spoke to me through it."

Loki appeared a bit confused, but Herobrine found interest in his announcement. "Go on," he urged. "What did he say?"

DC gulped. "Well, first he warned me about the destruction that was about to take place… and then he…" No, I can't tell them that. Not yet, anyway. I don't know how he would react.

It only sunk in at that moment; DC wasn't the creeper he thought he was. This blind man in front of him wasn't merely a stranger; he was an old friend… albeit one that had murdered him, although it had been a complete accident. His head couldn't wrap itself around this. It was too surreal. After all, if this man was a friend, and if everything that had happened in the past indeed happened, then shouldn't he be able to remember it all?

Why couldn't he remember anything?

"Are you okay?" broke in Loki.

"Hm?"

"You suddenly stopped speaking."

"Oh." I'll tell them when this mess is sorted out… Now isn't the time. "I'm fine," he lied (for he was anything but). "I was just trying to remember everything Notch had said."

"What else did he say?" asked Herobrine.

"He said there is a way to defeat Alastor."

"That's brilliant!" cried Loki, although Herobrine fell unusually silent at the news. "How?"

"You know that stone on top of his staff? The blue one?"

"Yeah."

"It's Notch's godstone… and we need to take it."

It was Loki's turn to fall silent. Stevie took the opportunity to have a wash atop Herobrine's stomach.

"I know the idea sounds ludicrous, but it's the only way. That stone will allow us to drain Alastor's aura… or should I say auras. Anyway, once we trap his soul in the stone, we throw it in the magma lake - Notch said it can only be destroyed by fire."

"And then what?" rasped Herobrine.

All heads turned to the blind man.

"What happens when he is dead? The world has already been destroyed. His wish has almost been fulfilled. What good would killing him do? It would be nothing more than an act of revenge. It's meaningless."

"You're standing up for him, aren't you!" exclaimed Loki. "I can't believe it. After everything he did to you? To us?"

"You're forgetting that this happens to be my fault. None of this would have happened if I had just died in the first place."

"Are you still sulking about that?" cut in DC. "We get it - you went insane and murdered thousands of people, and I think we all agree that what you did was a horrible thing. But what good are you doing when you're just regretting things? You don't even know that this wouldn't have happened if you weren't here; in my opinion, Alastor would have done something one way or another, whether it was brought on by you or not."

"What are you saying, then?"

"I'm not saying anything. I'm telling you to get over it and cooperate with us."

He was taken aback by his own bluntness, as were the other two. Still, it had to be said - something had to be said. They had to move forward, for the sake of the world.

"I'm an evil man," protested Herobrine.

"You may have been," agreed DC. "But here's a chance to redeem yourself. Help us defeat Alastor. You want the world to return to normal, right?"

"Of course I do! It's just that…"

"What?"

"How are you not angry with me? With what I did? How can you not hate me?"

"Do you really think we have time for hatred? The world is being destroyed, Herobrine!"

"Besides," added Loki. "You yourself said that you fully regret your actions. What more could we ask for than remorse?"

Stevie licked the man's hand, as if it understood the conversation that was taking place.

Herobrine sighed. "You're right. Alastor's damage must be stopped."

DC nodded. "Right."

"How did you say we stop him again?"

"Somehow, we need to get the godstone from his staff and use it to drain his soul."

"You mean that staff he carries with him all the time?" emphasized Loki. "There's no way we could sneak past him!"

"Yes… unless someone were to, say, teleport…" said Herobrine.

DC glanced at Loki. Loki set his gaze towards the ground. "I don't know…" he mumbled. "I can only teleport once within an hour. Any more than that and I might pass out. Although…" He tilted his head thoughtfully. "It could work if you two were placed in hiding."

"Why?" asked DC.

"Trust me," he replied with a wink. "This will work. We'll return to the Nether, and I'll place you two in a dug-out hole in the wall (don't worry about the creatures of the Nether; they're harmless unless you provoke them). I will teleport to Alastor's location and retrieve the stone, and then I'll teleport back to you. If we are swift, it shall work."

"What about Stevie?" asked DC.

"Who? Oh, the cat."

"I don't know if I want it taken with us. It might be too dangerous. I don't want anything to happen to it."

"You're right." He set down Herobrine on the ground and scoured the land with his glowing eyes. After a few moments of searching, he picked a small, close hill to hide the cat, excavating a small hole in its side with his pickaxe. "Here you go," he said, gently dropping Stevie. "Stay here while we're gone, okay? We'll be back for you in awhile."

DC couldn't help but feel a tugging at his heart as he saw his new pet's pleading face. "We promise," he told it. "We won't leave you for long. You'll be safe here… Okay?"

Stevie whimpered but gave a nod of agreement. It backed up into the corner of its shelter and sat down, obviously nervous to be left alone.

The group heard a grunt behind them. Whirling around, they saw Herobrine struggling to stand up. "What in the world do you think you are doing?" inquired Loki in disbelief.

"What does it look like I'm doing? I'm standing up. I regained a bit of my strength back during these past couple of days." He stood up straight and winced. "Emphasis on a bit."

"Sit back down; I can still carry y-"

"I can walk - really. I'm sick of feeling helpless all the time."

DC could relate.

Loki sighed. "Fine. Wait just a moment." He picked up a long, sturdy branch that had broken off from a tree. "Use this."

Herobrine gladly took the branch. "Thank you. This will help."

DC took one last glance at Stevie. "Shall we go, then?"

Loki nodded. "We shall."

He led the group with his exceptional sense of direction as they backtracked their way to the portal. It took longer than the last time, since they now had burning obstacles in their way. What they noticed was that Nether creatures were somehow appearing in the Overworld, including those pig-like monsters with swords. Ghasts were floating in hordes in the sky, shooting balls of fire at the exposed group with a maniacal cry, forcing them to quicken their pace so they would not be hit. By the time they reached the portal, they were unnerved and out of breath.

"Quickly!" huffed Loki. "Into the portal!"

They wasted no time in scrambling into the gateway to hell. Just as they disappeared into thin air, a ghast launched its fireball at the portal, destroying the substance between the frame. Now there was no turning back.

DC immediately wrinkled his nose when he saw the familiar sight of the Nether come into view. He had almost forgotten how much he hated the place.

"I'm surprised Master hasn't been waiting for us to return," remarked Loki, "but never mind that now. Let's get you two hidden."

He quickly chipped away at the red stone a little ways from the portal, with Herobrine's help (now that he was able to walk). In no time at all, they had dug out a low tunnel leading to a man-made cavern. Loki lit the place up with their remaining torches and stepped back, satisfied with his work. "I think I'm improving my skills as a builder," he said in amusement.

Once Herobrine and DC were safely tucked away in the cavern, Loki took a block of the stone and partially filled in the tunnel's entrance. "Remember - you must stay put; otherwise, I won't be able to visualize your location so I can teleport back."

So that's how he does it, thought DC. "We'll be here," he assured him. "Be safe, Loki."

"Good luck to you," added Herobrine.

"Thank you." With that said, he completely filled in the tunnel's entrance. Both DC and Herobrine hoped they would see the Enderman's friendly face again.

Loki leaned against the wall and let out a slow breath, physically and mentally preparing himself for what lay ahead. Teleporting twice within the hour? His brothers would surely call him mad… Not that they ever spoke to one another anymore - Master had put a stop to that when… He shook his head. Now was definitely not the time to bring up bad memories.

Alright. He was ready. A few steps brought him to the edge of the mountain, where he peered at the daunting fortress in the distance. No doubt Master was still in his prized throne room; where else was there to go in hell? He was taking a chance in assuming, of course. If he was wrong, then he would be presented with the task of searching the entire stronghold for his target, and that was something that presented a heap of hazards in itself.

Maybe he wasn't ready after all.

Could he really do this? Was his body capable of withstanding such strain? He had always been frail compared to the rest. Born with a weaker heart, he was told. Teleportation was nothing short of difficult - he had been advised against attempting it altogether - but he had refused to stand aside as his brothers trained to perfect the trick.

Why was he doubting himself now, of all times? He had done this before - hundreds of times! Surely it wouldn't harm him. It couldn't. He was young and strong - not as strong as the others, maybe, but still strong. He thought about the freedom it would bring to his brothers. They needed their free will returned to them. He was sick of watching them suffer under the hands of tyranny. He wanted to see them as free Endermen.

No more thinking about this. He was ready. With a deep breath, he envisioned the throne room. Walls of gold, a blue-tiled floor, a strip of red carpet leading to the chair where his master sat. Take me there, he urged his mind. Take me to my master.

The two sat in the cavern, uneasily awaiting the return of the Enderman. DC decided to say something to break the awkward silence that always seemed to follow him. "I hope he comes back alright."

"As do I," agreed Herobrine.

Silence again.

"May I ask you something, DC?"

He gazed at the troubled look on the blind man's face. "Yes."

"Is it at all possible that you - I'm sure I'm talking a bunch of nonsense - I mean… Do I look familiar at all?"

DC could've sworn he felt his heart jump into his throat. "I-you-what?" was all he could answer.

"I know my question is an odd one, but I can't clear this feeling of familiarity whenever I hear you speak. You have the same name as my old friend… and the same voice. Am I merely losing my mind, or are you -"

He didn't have time to finish his sentence, as a monstrous roar interrupted him from outside the tunnel. A supernatural amount of strength ripped the entrance's blocks away, crumbling them into pieces.

DC squinted through the debris at the figure looming in the doorway. "Steve?" he whispered.