Chapter 2 - Realisations
I managed to fight my way through the crowd of people, to the top of the "queue". Perhaps getting in wouldn't be that difficult – most of the people here were just civilians, hoping to get away from their incredibly boring life. I knew exactly how they felt. I, however, was a miner. I was fitter than most, from the long hours spent down in the mine, and more muscled. The Council would most likely pick me over most of them.
When I reached the front, a man with a clipboard was taking down names. He looked extremely stressed. I gave him my name, and he looked me up and down before jotting something on the clipboard. I peered over and sneaked a glimpse of the board. My name was in a column with just a few other names, separated from the majority.
I went home with a spring in my step. I, Mike Callahan, was finally nominated for something! Of course, there was no guarantee, but come on – that list only had about 5 people on it. I stirred the soup on the boil and ate dinner, by myself, for the last time. I slept easy that night, knowing I had finally done something to change my miserably boring life.
The next day, it was Tirdas – my day off! I slept late, ate a bowl of expensive mushroom soup with a hunk of bread and strolled down to the dock. I loved the dock. It was so peaceful and calm, with the seagulls wheeling overhead and the waves softly caressing the beach just beyond. I took a deep breath and thought about the volunteer work. "You may not come back", he had said. Probably nothing, to scare away half-hearted workers who didn't really want to do it and would probably drop out at the last minute.
On that dock, the sea breeze ruffling my hair and the wood groaning beneath my feet, life didn't seem so bad. It was repetitive, and some days I didn't have enough to eat, and I would probably starve for a few days after that soup, but I had a roof over my head. I had a soft bed and clothes to wear. I had a steady job and a reliable future. I took another deep breath of the salty scent of the sea and turned away from the glimmering ocean. I slowly walked up the hill to the library and took out a book on Minecraftian history. I was reading it as I slowly walked back to my house, and bumped into Firenze on the way there. He looked worried and asked me to come with him. He took me to his house, up to his personal library. He sat behind his desk and leant his lightly bearded chin rest of the tips of his interlaced fingers.
"Um... Firenze?" I said nervously after about a minute of his silent brooding. He looked up suddenly, his electric blue eyes focusing.
"Ah, Mike. Yes. Apologies, my friend, for pulling you off the street like that, but I need some help and I have no idea who else to turn to," he said, his usual poetic speech not altered in the slightest by the apparent urgency of the situation – which, by the way, he had left me completely in the dark about.
"It is about that strange rock that Mr. Mandlebune found. I have discovered a potential use of it to create a highly dangerous object. I warned the Council not to attempt to create this object under any circumstances, but I fear they will merely ignore me, as they have done so many times before."
"The obsidian? Oh yeah, they said they needed some volunteers to help them with a "project" you were doing...?" I said. I wasn't exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it was slowly falling into place what I had gotten myself into.
"They did? Those... argh!" cried Firenze. "Those idiots! They never listen! I warned them not to hunt the Ursa Minor, and what do they do? They hunt the Ursa Minor, and then fifteen of our strongest warriors die before the rest have the sense to run away. I warned them not to investigate that village, and then ten men go missing!" He jumped up from his chair, strode to the door and was about to open it when he stopped and started pacing the room.
"I cannot stop them merely by words. They will not listen to me. I must take action," he muttered. "Yes, action. But what can I do? I am not a warrior or a thief. I am a mage. What can a mage do?" He sat down again and leant his head in his hands. I put a consoling hand on his shoulder.
"Calm down, Firenze. You're overreacting. How bad can this thing be, anyway?" I laughed weakly, but it rang hollow and false in the gloomy silence.
"Overreacting?" he said. He laughed manically and leant back in his chair. "Overreacting?" he repeated. "This is the single most deadly object in Minecraftia. Anyone who uses it is doomed to certain death. And that means whoever they choose to "volunteer" is going to die a horrible, painful death at the hands of a terrible monster."
I stared at him, his words taking a while to register in my brain. Then the realisation of what I had gotten myself into lodged painfully in my mind and my stomach knotted at the thought of what I had to do.
"D'Arvit," I swore. There wasn't much else to say.
Cookies for anyone who got the Ursa Minor reference! Also, a cupcake for anyone who got the "D'Arvit" reference! And don't worry, Pinkie didn't make it.
A fudge sundae for anyone who got that fanfic reference. Wow, I'm gonna be giving out a LOT of stuff.