A Living Sacrifice
Rating: T for violence and massive amount of angst
Characters/Pairings: Guide-centric, protagonist, one-sided(?) feelings
Spoilers: Have you been to the Underworld yet? Do you know how to summon the boss in the Underworld? Do you know what happens when you do? No? Well, this fic is pretty much that so if you want it to be a surprise (and I don't know how you would, I always have the Terraria wiki open), then come back when you've done all that.
Disclaimer: 2D Minecraft is not owned by Notch. It is, as a matter of fact, owned by Re-Logic Games.
Notes: See end for notes.
"Greetings, buddy. Is there something I can help you with?"
This was my job. This was my role.
"Where am I? Who am I?"
Terraria. The Hero.
These were the things I knew. These were the things that were important.
The Hero's name was not important. The Hero's gender was also not important. The most important thing about the Hero was that the Hero was the Hero. And if the Hero was the Hero – well, that meant the Hero would be the one spoken in prophecy to save us all, save us within this vast realm of flora and fauna, plagued with what seemed like an eternal wave of monsters and beasts.
"Who are you?"
My name was not of importance either. Granted, I did tell the Hero who I was when the Hero asked. That didn't mean my name; I could have been Jeff, Dustin, Logan, and it wouldn't have mattered to this soul who looked far from the savior of Terraria when I first found them. No, all the Hero was concerned about was who I was – who I was to them, who I could be to them, who I would be for them.
"I'm the Guide."
I remember how the Hero's hand had left the short sword at their sheath; how their eyebrows had raised peculiarly at that moment, unsure of what to think about that
I didn't think anything of that back then.
"The Guide," I corrected.
The perplexed look that had followed afterwards told me so much about the Hero – wide eyes blinking, eyebrows furrowing. Then, the Hero's gaze had settled, and the Hero had stood up from the dirt, dusting their clothes off.
A hand had been held out towards me in invitation, under the warmth of the high noon's sun.
"Will you be able to guide me, then?"
Such blind faith for a stranger was promising. It almost felt wrong.
"If you want to survive," I responded, and beckoned towards the pick and the axe behind this fellow stranger. "You will need to create weapons and shelter. Start by – "
No sooner had the words come out of my mouth that the Hero had grabbed the axe and was already swinging it at the base of a tree. Determination was fiercely evident upon their facial features, and when the first tree finally fell, they leaned back against the staff of the axe, taking only a moment to breathe in heavy gulps of air before lifting the axe back up and slamming its head straight into another trunk.
"...chopping down trees and gathering wood."
For some lost, weakened soul who would bear the burden of protecting our world, they were certainly set on getting started right away. It replenished a thirst within me that I had long thought were wistful thoughts at the back of my mind for the short time I had been in Terraria.
Perhaps the Hero would be capable of saving us all. Perhaps the prophecies were right.
No. Both of them could not each be correct. Not when they contradicted each other. But the contradiction was not important. In this world, the end will justify the means.
Yet that knowledge alone did nothing to stop the grin that threatened to pull at the corners of my lips, the hope that bubbled in my heart, that Terraria could be freed from corruption and darkness. And maybe it was the Hero's blind faith that pressed me to swallow any doubt I had behind a carefree smile, because if they had faith, then so did I.
And I made sure it was known as I offered the Hero everything I knew.
It was the most I could do. The Hero was the Hero. I was only the Guide.
The Hero had wanted me to sleep the moment they had gathered enough to build something small and by no means fantastical, but it would do. All the walls were covered, and the wood held together fairly well.
Not for the Hero, though; they were set on finishing what they had started, making it as stable and comfortable as possible for a temporary means of shelter to house two people. It was their obligation, they had retorted.
That was the first day the Hero had placed their trust in me – as well as the first day the Hero had ignored what I had to say, refused any help I was willing to offer, saying that they could handle it fine by themselves.
That was before the Hero had lost their sword to the rogue slimes rather quickly.
Sleep had waited until the Hero had stopped trembling in a corner, regained their composure and health, and built a proper workbench by the time the sun rose. In only a week's time, the Hero had managed to build a decent home.
Us, the Hero had huffed as they blew wood chips off the surface off the newly constructed door.
The eighth day after that week was the day I woke up to find a gaping hole in the dirt a short distance away from the house. I could see the flickering lights of flame when I squinted, and for an aching moment, I was tempted to run down there with a bundle full of torches and kindle just in case this fool had gotten themselves killed.
That was not my job, though. I was only the Guide, not the Hero; let alone the Hero's sidekick.
That was the first day that the Hero had come back with copper, face ghastly and eyes bulging. I was surprised when the Hero had brought back some other things as well, including clay and coins. The coins would be very useful, especially if the Hero managed to find enough silver. About fifty pieces of silver would probably work to attract some desperate merchant with the scent of precious metals and capitalist opportunities.
It was in the middle of explaining this to the Hero that they had collapsed on their knees inside of the house and sobbed wretchedly. Tears ran down their red, bruised cheeks as they blubbered almost pathetically about the horrors that lurked below, not even before the caverns. Stories flew out about undead corpses that had followed the Hero through the dark and damp tunnels, pushing out of the dirt and making guttural noises; the bats that screeched and swarmed the Hero's head; the sound of sifting dirt and gravel before giant worms nearly barreled the Hero off cliffs.
It only made me realize that this meant that the Hero did not rest even once that night and day.
The Hero had deemed all of it Hell.
"The underground," I corrected.
The glare they had shot me was practically piercing, sharp as the sword they had lost to the slime monsters that hopped through the waters and onto the land. All it did was remind me that the Hero should probably collect some iron the next time they decided to go mining.
"Underworld, underground." The Hero's voice had been heavy, shaky, and bitter. "What's the difference?"
The Hero had been expecting me to launch into a long-winded explanation of the difference. I saw it in that brief flicker within their glassy eyes when I had barely muttered:
"Oh, you'll know when you're ready."
How soon would the Hero ever be ready? Would the Hero be more ready than I would ever be?
I flashed a grin soon afterwards, however, and continued on. "It's a very deep difference, figuratively and literally speaking. But hey, look on the bright side! Now that you have some ore, you'll need to turn it into a bar in order to make items with it."
The Hero sniffed.
I stood up from crouching next to them.
"Well, it requires a furnace..."
By no means were those days considered happier times.
Simpler times? Maybe. Maybe not. The Hero was struggling with everything, as was to be expected by somebody who was only human. I noticed the Hero's temperament, fear, and vices often overshadowed their better qualities, but perhaps it was just me beginning to get on the Hero's nerves, wondering why they ever let me tag along with them in the first place. Still, the support I showed did not waver as I told the Hero everything I knew, not once letting any trace of doubt at the back of my mind surface.
Surface, because it was definitely there, threatening to burst. But my eyes saw more good than my mind thought.
By the end of the second week, the Hero had returned back with silver ore. They had slammed their hammer into the bars they had smelted in the furnace until the metal had conformed into the shape of the new sword they wanted. The leftover copper that the Hero had was crudely pounded into a full set of armour shortly after, and the efforts were rewarded with a roasted rabbit, as well as some sort of salad with mushrooms and edible plants that I confirmed were not going to kill us after consumption.
By the time night had arrived, any chances of sleeping peacefully that night were dashed by the creak of the door. When I looked up from my corner of the house near the furnace, I saw none other than the Hero; fully suited, torch in one hand, sword in the other, pick and axe secured to their back.
This person was starting to look more like the brave warrior that the Hero was destined to be – if not stubborn and short-sighted and reckless enough to kill me.
That afterthought crossed my mind a lot more lightly than I thought it would.
"No offense, I'm sure you're all ready to fight now – but you should stay indoors at night. It's very dangerous to be wandering around at night."
There it was; that familiar scoff I had begun to get far used to hearing when the Hero clearly disagreed. The Hero turned their back on me as they proceeded to step out the door.
"I'm doing this whether you like it or not. You're only the Guide."
I don't know why that stung more than I thought it would. The Hero was absolutely correct. I knew this, and they knew this.
"We have enough wood to make a bed."
I looked up.
The Hero's head tilted just enough to the side to cast an eye towards me.
"We can make bedframes when the sun rises, but we need some type of fabric because I'm tired of sleeping on the cold floor where the bugs roam, and I'm sure you are too." The Hero's gaze hardened. "So then, what do we need to make this happen?"
It had surprised me at first; taken me aback. In fact, it had taken me back to the first time we had met. I remembered that hope I felt, that trust that one lost and desperate soul had placed into the hands of a stranger in exchange for simple guidance.
This was the first time since that day that the Hero had requested me to help them.
"Have you seen the cobwebs underground?" I sat up. "If you go underground, make sure you grab as many as you can, and you can build a loom and make some silk. Then you can make a bed – after you make a sawmill."
The Hero had nodded.
Short, curt, devoid of emotion. It was no formal, proper "thank you" by any means, but it was a start.
The Hero turned their back on me once more, and the door was closed.
It was only five seconds later that I had sprung up on my feet and jump to the door to swing it open. The Hero was already running toward a small horde of zombies, as well as those terrifying demonic eyeballs that took to the skies when the sun went down.
There was no point in screaming for the Hero to wait, so I opted for a more direct approach.
"Falling stars!" I shouted, hoping I wouldn't attract the attention of any of the zombies lurking around. "Stars fall all over the world at night, and they can be used for all sorts of useful things! If you see one, be sure to grab it before they disappear after sunrise!" Deep breath in, before I bellowed, "I promise that you won't regret it!"
I was hoping I wouldn't regret it either.
I'm not sure exactly how much sleep I had that night. But when I woke up late in the afternoon and saw the Hero building the sawmill, with plenty of cobwebs, potions, and brightly glowing stars overflowing from a sack next to them, I decided my insomnia was worth it.
I beamed shamelessly.
"I told you so! Hey, how many of those stars did you grab, by the way? If you gathered at least ten – "
That trademark withering glare replaced the concentration on the Hero's face swiftly.
"Oh, right, forgot that in my excitement there! Don't mind me then, but remember, if you have any questions – "
"Like when do you ever shut up?"
"Exactly! And just so you know, the answer is never."
In the end, there had only been enough silk to construct one bed. It was beyond mercy that the Hero insisted I have it before they passed out in on their workbench.
The Hero, slowly but surely, was easing in to the calling of becoming the Hero.
It became like this soon afterwards. The Hero would approach me and shove something in my face, demanding to know what it could be made into, what they had to make it with other than whatever material they currently had, how much of it they needed, which tool they needed to make it, and anything else they needed to know before they started crafting.
I was not hesitant to provide all the assistance I could. I was enthusiastic about it, and the Hero knew this. It did not mean the Hero warmed up to it very much.
There were moments when I was fully aware that I was annoying the Hero. It wasn't that I wanted to but I was so used to seeing the Hero be so snappy and demanding that really, it was to be expected. I tried not to annoy the Merchant and the Nurse – who had moved in when the house had been expanded to accommodate – but I knew there was something about the way the Merchant snickered and the Nurse huffed that proved my efforts futile.
Not that I really cared, considering that I knew this world like the back of my hand and they didn't.
Maybe it's because I talked too much.
Maybe it's because I don't talk enough.
"How do you know everything?"
I looked up from my table to the opened door. Standing in the frame of it was the Hero, who had upgraded to silver armour as well as taken an interest in archery, given the iron bow they held in their hand and the quiver of wooden arrows attached to the giant bag on their back.
"Well, they say there's a person who will tell you how to survive in this land," I murmured, before I snapped my fingers. "Oh, wait! That's me."
"I'm the Guide," I responded, as though it was obvious. "I kind of have to know everything, you know."
There was that scoff again, the one that naturally came out of the Hero's mouth so easily, and for a moment I wondered if the Hero threw it so freely in the face of danger. That narrow-eyed glare that could kill the sunflowers in the excuse for a garden we had in the place we called the backyard.
"I don't really like knowing that you know everything, you know."
Did they think I liked it any more than they did?
"Do I know?" I simply quipped, nonchalant and innocent to the point of not.
And they opened their mouth, the side of their lips twisting in accusation, ready to demand proper answers.
Except at that moment, a wolf howled, the birds shrieked, and the skies blackened with a sickeningly red tint. The Hero's eyes had widened as they had looked out the window. Even before I could say anything, the Hero had run downstairs, telling the other two members of the household to get to their rooms immediately. The Hero's pleas were ignored as the Nurse snapped back in the most biting of tones I have heard her speak in.
It was then that the doors were opened and two zombies almost made their way in, before their heads were lopped off by the gleaming silver sword of the Hero. That time was when the Nurse and Merchant obeyed, locking themselves within their rooms while I watched from the stairwell. The Hero had looked up, face painted with panic – with just a dab of determination.
"What is this?" the Hero hissed. "Full Moon?"
"Blood Moon," I corrected, and I realized then that my fingers were gripping the rails of the stairs hard enough that my knuckles turned white. "You can tell a Blood Moon is out when the skies turn red. There's something about it that causes monsters to swarm!"
The doors opened again, and the Hero did not hesitate to slam their whole body against the door, breaking off an unfortunate zombie's arm.
I took one step down the stairs.
The Hero rebuked me immediately.
"Stay right where you are, I've got this!" The Hero clenched their teeth. "You're only going to get in the way!"
Then they had pulled out several arrows from their quiver, and I only realized that they had doused the tips in gel when they brought it up to a torch on the wall and ignited it. The Hero threw the door open, and fired them all off.
While the smell of burning, rotting flesh began to linger towards the house, the Hero took this opportunity to grab every brick and stone possible. Even before I was able to tell the Hero that they should block the doors with them so that the zombies couldn't open the doors.
Maybe I do get in the way more than guide. Maybe, in the end, I really wasn't necessary.
If only that could be true.
The second time the Hero had let their resolve be shattered was when they come back from the realms of the land no one dared ventured into alone, even if we thought we were trained enough to face what dwelled there.
Corruption. Those parts of Terraria that could take the most lush and healthy of grass and destroy it, sucking every molecule of oxygen and nutrient out of each blade, mutating it and everything it touched. Not one plant, not one animal, not one being came back from the Corruption without being corrupted themselves.
Except for the Hero. The Hero, armed with greater equipment than ever, had ventured to these cursed lands during the day, when the sun was high.
They did not come back until the sun rose again after the night – as well as a swarm of demon eyes following their behemoth leader – had passed.
None of us within our house held back our relief when the Hero had arrived back in one piece. The Nurse had scolded while she healed the Hero's wounds, the Merchant had argued that buying his inventory would certainly help the Hero the next major battle, and I – as always – had lectured about how dangerous it was out there and what the Hero should do next time.
The Hero had suddenly bolted up, snatching the pink vase from the center of the table they sat on and hurling it at the closest wall. Then the Hero had snapped at all of us, before they stormed upstairs and locked themselves in their room.
My room was next to the Hero's. I had heard the sobs that started off repressed at first, before they flowed freely; strangled noises of doubt and regret and everything else that the Hero was not supposed to have, that the Hero knew that they had to let go of.
This was not my fault.
I only told the Hero about the strange demon alters that lurked below when they presented me lenses and asked what could be created from them. I had believed that the Hero was ready for their first major battle. I had believed that the Hero could handle the Corruption and the Eye of Cthulu.
Just not in one night.
I had never believed that the Hero had done it, succeeded, and lived to tell the tale of it in one night. And the mere fact that the Hero had done this, and that the Hero was still giving every bit of their damn effort to keep everything together, only made me believe in them even more. That if they wanted to, they could save each and every one of us.
I trusted the Hero, no matter what. I believed the Hero, in the Hero. I believed, with a burning passion within my heart, that the Hero was the Hero, and the Hero would protect Terraria, purify the taints of the Corruption, and save each and every good thing walking on its earth.
This was my fault. The guilt that sickened my stomach was enough.
Because even though there was this part of me that begged that the Hero should not trust me as much, I knew as a Guide that the Hero would, and I knew as a Guide that I needed to accept that responsibility.
But in the end, it was all up to the Hero to finish it off, to get the job done by whatever means necessary, to do it by their own hands. And I would guide them to that victory, even if I could not be there in the end.
Even if I would not be there in the end.
"I need a grappling hook."
I had looked up from a book to see the Hero holding out an iron chain and some iron bars.
"You can make one from three of those chains, and a hook," I explained, closing the book I was reading – what was it about? – and setting it down next to the bed. "Skeletons found deep underground carry hooks. You'll probably find them there."
The Hero had nodded, before they turned to walk out the door. Just as I reached over to pick my book back up, though, they turned back around.
"Thanks," the Hero said.
Then the Hero left.
How to Harvest Unicorn Horns. That was the name of the book, I remember now. For that whole day after the Hero had departed to find what they needed, I was unable to focus on that book or anything else as I waited eagerly for the Hero to return.
"There are these...spheres."
I raised my eyebrow at the Hero from across the dinner table, chewing a whole mushroom I had been fortunate enough to receive in my stew. The Hero rolled their eyes before they continued.
"Orbs. Orbs that I found underground." The Hero lifted their chin up. "Where the Corruption is, near the demon altars. What are those?"
Ah. Those orbs.
"Shadow orbs can usually be found in the chasms around corrupt areas," I murmured, placing my spoon back into the soup. I blew the steam from my spoonful almost thoughtfully. "Find and destroy any that you find. Smashing a shadow orb will cause a meteor to fall out of the sky."
There was coughing from in front of me, and I repressed a snicker as I saw the Hero's eyes bulge as they pointed their spoon my face.
"A meteor? From space?"
"Where else are they gonna come from?"
The smirk vanished.
"But are you ready to go back there?" I asked softly.
The silence was heavy, and the Hero took their sweet time replying as they finished their soup and stood up, walking upstairs. It was only after I finished my own bowl that they came back with a sack of cherry bombs and a few sticks of dynamite.
"I think I'm ready," the Hero responded.
That evening, a giant roar woke us all up.
We bolted out of our beds and peered out our windows, staring off into the distance where we knew the Corruption was. A giant, corrupt worm surfaced from the earth, flying into the sky and tunneling back down. Its many eyes moved in every direction, and for a fearful moment, I wondered if it would surface under our horse, devouring us all.
Then, we saw many explosions, and we realized who that was on top of a steep hill flinging explosives at the Eater of Worlds, before pulling out a stick of dynamite and jumping over the worm's head. The Hero dropped it down, throwing in a few torches, and the worm was completely decimated in five seconds, bursting into rotting chunks.
Not one of us held back our cheers and whoops that moment.
The Hero had thrown something at my face when they got back home. Upon closer inspection, it was a black, sleek object leaking out a sinister, purple-tinted aura.
"A Shadow Scale," I confirmed, and the Hero glowered at me through a black eye and a bleeding lip. "These are hard to get."
"Damn right it was hard to get, you ass!" the Hero snapped, throwing off their armour onto the ground while the Nurse rushed to get bandages and poultices. "You told me a meteor would fall out of the sky, not that I'd summon that! Why would you not tell me that?"
Oh. Well, perhaps I did miss out on a small detail.
"Buddy, relax," I replied coolly, picking the giant scale back up. "Look on the bright side: you're back without any missing limbs, and you can make really good armour now that you have one of these!"
The blood drained from the Hero's face.
"What do you mean, one of these?" They took in a deep breath, before forcing the rest out of their mouth with a shaky fist. "Don't tell me you need more than that."
I clicked my tongue and shifted my eyes.
"I've killed almost everything and anything in the corrupted realms! So far, that's the only thing that drops those! Are you telling me I'm gonna have to kill more of them to get them?"
"Well, if I said 'yes', that means I'd have to tell you that you do need more than this."
The punch I received to the face was easily fixable by the Nurse, but it was well worth it to hear the Hero's voice no longer waver.
As long as the Hero's confidence remained, my own confidence in the Hero would also not waver.
Once, we had a party for the Hero. The Hero had brought back some of the rarest gems and minerals only found in the deepest parts of the underground, sharing whatever was not needed with all of us. A whole barrel of ale had been emptied out, and last I remember was us singing campfire songs and dancing around at least five different coloured torches while the Hero shot these fascinating arrows into the sky that would explode into sparkling, rainbow fireworks.
I remember feeling like everything would be okay, and I wanted to keep living like this forever. That was one of the better days back then, a day I could actually call happy.
The next day was far from it.
The Arms Dealer was hungover. Hungover and easy to anger – as were all of us – but it was the Arms Dealer in particular that had my attention because he was often very angry. Or maybe he was often very angry with me. I knew for a fact that the Arms Dealer hated me. I had enough evidence to support this.
One example was when I was running my mouth at least a hundred words a minute on why he should not shoot me when he had pointed a gun straight at my head and threatened to blow my brains out.
Before he could even pull the trigger, the Hero had kicked the door open and stormed straight inside, carrying sunflowers, purification powder, and a wet goldfish, and slapped him across the face hard with the last item.
"Look, I know a bunch of you want dibs on him." The Hero had tightened their grip around the Arms Dealer's shirt, yanking him up so that they glared at each other nose-to-nose. "But if anyone is going to kill him, it's going to be me."
And I knew as I retreated to my room and locked myself in that the Hero had meant it as a warning to the Arms Dealer. The Hero, against every sarcastically-laced rebuttal and every indignant shout about how they crafted something wrong or how I gave them the wrong recipe, had just protected me. The Hero had saved my life. And I should be grateful for that; hold onto the fact that the Hero saw some value in me as to not let anyone else touch me and end my life before it was supposed to end.
Except the Hero's words had broken something within me, because while the Hero could save me this time, there will come a time when the Hero will be unable to save me.
Suddenly, I wished the Hero was not the Hero. I wished the Hero had died, long time ago. These thoughts were vehement, poisonous, like a snake biting down on my skull and seeping venom within my brain. I was angry, furious. I could feel my lower lip trembling, my eyes watering, the lump in my throat making its way up.
I didn't want this. I never wanted my path to align with the Hero's. I never wanted any of this.
Yet the part of me that so fervently believed and admired the Hero would not let me think that because it believed so much in the Hero that what I wanted did not matter. No, nothing I did mattered. It was the Hero's actions that would.
That was the first night of many nights, where my knees would buckle below me and I was the one who broke down and sobbed.
A few months after slaying dangerous, destructive beasts that threatened to rip the world apart, the Hero had decided to take a few more months off to on the decision that a town would be built. The Hero constructed houses for all of use rather than just one building – creative and intricate works of architectural artwork. Some were suspended from the ground, some glimmered with glass walls, and some even had water within them.
The Hero had kept the first shelter they had ever built, though, in case anyone wanted to stay there or take refuge during a Blood Moon or a goblin invasion – which our latest addition to the team, a goblin himself, had great senses for detecting.
I had chosen to stay in the Hero's safehouse. The first reason was because I was sure the Arms Dealer hated me the most out of anyone and wanted to put a few good bullets into my skull.
"Fair enough," the Hero agreed.
The second reason was because I felt the safest with the Hero around. The Hero had just scoffed in response to that, as expected.
"The feeling is mutual," the Hero drawled. A simple, flippant remark; nothing more than sarcasm.
I wanted it to be more than sarcasm. I held onto it like it was the only thing keeping me together. Because maybe the feeling really was mutual. Because maybe this house was not simply somewhere to run and hide in when the monsters appeared.
This house had been built on something more than physical dirt, on more than guaranteed safety. This house had been built on that one thing that had kept me alive, that had kept the Hero alive:
Blind faith. Trust. Hope.
It's already been a year, and the time has passed by so much faster than I had imagined it would. In those days, all I had hope, and it sickened me.
Was it so wrong for me to wish that the Hero saw me as something more than the annoying, infuriating and cowardly Guide; a nuisance more than assistance? That perhaps that everything I've ever told them, everything I've helped them craft, made some sort of an impact? Represented how much I wanted them to succeed, to survive, to live on so that others would live on too?
Was that so wrong? Believing in something that could be true only because the possibility of it being true existed? That based on this fallacy, it should fill me with more hope than it did dread?
Why did I believe so much when I knew that there was no reward for my effort when the time came for the Hero to fight the final battle?
Because there was never supposed to be a reward for my effort.
The reward would be Terraria if the Hero was to save it. That would be the greatest reward for any of us fortunate to have even gotten this far without being slayed by the monsters out there. If the Hero met the end, we would all meet their end. If the Hero brought the end, we would all see a new beginning. Corruption would fade, Hallow would come, and we would be okay.
As much as I was part of Terraria, I wish I was not part of 'we'.
The Hero once brought back nothing but gold in their inventory. Literally, everything was gold: gold ore, gold bricks, gold bars, gold chests, and a crown. They also had feathers and expressed great interest in doing something with them to make wings; get back at those stupid harpies for nearly making me fall to my death, the Hero had muttered.
"And this is the Midas Room," the Hero had boasted smugly as they finished placing the last gold brick on top of the obsidian roof of the statue room underneath. The Hero pushed a lavish throne next to a perfectly symmetrical alignment and number of gold chests, before they plopped down onto the red silk cushioning and sighed as they leaned back into it. "Where I am the king. And as we all know, the king has the highest power over anything – except in chess. Chess could go to hell for all I care."
It was moments like these where my protests of laziness and going off-track from their duty as the Hero were ignored. My argument was usually that since they were the Hero, it was their job to be that Hero everyone expected the Hero to be.
In which the Hero would arch and eyebrow and responded callously,
"We're only human."
And it rendered me speechless – speechless, a word I thought should never be in my vocabulary – when the Hero had said 'we' rather than 'I'. Even more surprisingly was when the Hero smirked and held out their hand. "Would you like to be promoted from pawn to queen?" they jested.
A hand held out towards a stranger in invitation. The inclusion of me, intentional or necessary, of every activity the Hero had to do within their home. "Our home", as they began calling it eventually.
It was moments like these, where the Hero was at ease, fully relaxed and rested and happy, that made me wish that I – that we – could be more than only human.
Then one day, the Hero had embarked on a mission, a goal. The goal would be that they would dig "the biggest hole they have ever dug in their life" and find some type of grand thing that they had never found before.
"Where should I start?" the Hero had asked, loading the last few stars in their cannon before they slung it around their shoulder.
I actually stopped to think about this.
"There are many treasures to be found in the jungle," I suggested. I added a coy smirk. "If you're willing to dig deep enough."
Scoff, check. Withering look, check.
"You don't think I can?" the Hero drawled
"Well – "
Before I could give any punchline or continue the banter, the Hero smirked back, just before it spread into a reckless grin, eyes burning with determination.
The next words were completely unplanned and were not supposed to be spoken.
"I do," I blurted out.
I saw the Hero's shoulders tense.
More softly, meekly, I added, "I always have."
The minute of silence that followed was nothing short of awkward.
It was the Hero that broke it.
"Have you ever had a freckle or a mole? That was on an embarrassing part of your body that you don't want to admit has that freckle? The one that never needs to go away unless you surgically remove it?"
The helmet of the Shadow Armour was placed on.
"Some people learn to live with it, appreciate it. Even if they don't want to talk about it."
And with that, the Hero departed.
I could not help but lie back in bed and just...let myself be taken by this euphoria, these genuine emotions that elated my spirit like the balloons that helped the Hero jump higher, like the wings that the Hero so badly wanted to craft so they could fly and not worry about falling. How once, the Hero had left the house, fully armed with almost everything as the goblins were approaching, and how the Hero had whipped their head around and said, "If you die before I can make these wings, I am going to light you on fire."
Perhaps I was not so useless after all. As long as the Hero saw me as a worthy adversary, no matter how many insults would be hurled in my direction – or how many light bruises I would get if physical things would be hurled in my direction – that was all I needed. That was all I needed to convince myself that that was all I needed.
That was then.
This is now.
The Hero had come back with a pale face, doing their best to keep their composure as they walked inside and closed the door quietly. Their Shadow Armour had been singed, mostly at the feet. The Hero leaned against the door, and they stared off into the empty air, hands gripped on the sword so tightly that if the Hero tightened their grasp on the hilt any more it might actually break.
I couldn't help but chuckle as I approached the Hero.
"Did the vine snatchers prove too much of a challenge for you?" I teased. "Come on, buddy, show me what you found!"
A flower was presented, and it was soon engulfed in flames within the Hero's hand. I tilted my head curiously at why the flower itself did not burn out, and the name of it was on the tip of my tongue yet I couldn't figure it out for the life of me.
"You found that underground?"
The Hero shifted their eyes away from me.
"Underworld," the Hero corrected.
The heat from the Fireblossom was not enough to warm the coldness that shocked my blood.
"You were right about Hell. Deep difference, figuratively and literally speaking." The Hero inhaled sharply. "So, what can we do with this?"
Nothing, don't go back.
"Do you have obsidian?"
You aren't ready, buddy, your armour isn't enough.
"Yeah, I do. But, I don't want to forge it into a skull; I want to keep the mining helmet. You know I hate the taste of shine potions anyway."
I know, but just don't go back. I don't care if the Corruption is spreading quickly and if you don't bring the Hallow it'll be too late for Terraria.
"Obsidian skin potions will probably taste worse, but you'll be able to step on any hot blocks down there. If you have water-walking potions, those will help you walk on lava."
It's dangerous. You won't make it. I won't make it. It's too soon.
The Hero took a deep breath in, before they exhaled. A grave seriousness darkened their eyes as the Hero looked straight into my eyes.
"What else do I need to know?" the Hero questioned softly, suspiciously.
Nothing. Just don't do it. Don't fight the last battle. Put it off.
"When you're ready to challenge the keeper of Hell..."
Don't leave me, please. Don't leave me alone.
"You will have to make a living sacrifice."
I don't want you to go.
I ignored the horrified expression that spread on the Hero's visage as I continued.
"Everything you need for it can be found in the underworld," I breathed.
I don't want to go yet.
And with that, I turned my back to the Hero, I turned my back to everything I had believed in, I went back inside my room, and closed the door. I sat down in my table, looked at the stack of things I still had with one to three bookmarks crammed into the pages, piled on top of the table.
They needed to be finished. I wanted to finish them. I grabbed one, I opened it, I forced myself to read every single word, every small detail. I tried to absorb it all, let the information settle within the knowledge I had of everything, because I knew, I knew, damn it, I knew and yet like the pathetic, adoring fool I was I denied it for so long and now it was here and I wasn't ready.
The book slipped from my trembling hands as I bawled, ugly wails leaving my dry, cracked lips.
The Hero was nervous. Who wouldn't be nervous when you were to go down to Hell and fight the most fearsome, most dangerous creature that was said to be indestructible, immortal?
Everyone was nervous. The Nurse had tried not to cry but failed, sobbing into the arms of the Demolitionist. The Arms Dealer was angrier than ever, saying that if the Hero ended up dying, he'd go down there himself and kill the Hero himself. The Merchant didn't even hassle the Hero to buy anything, looking grim. The Mechanic and the Goblin Tinkerer would not release their tight embrace around the Hero for the longest time, until the Clothier cleared his throat, saying nothing and only communicating by eyes that held a dark, regretful past. The Dryad had given the Hero her final blessings, as well as a chaste kiss to the cheek that the Hero said smelled like flowers, mint, and magic.
These were the people that would be saved if the Hero succeeded. These were the people that flourished Terraria, and in return, they had offered little to everything for the Hero that would hopefully save them from the Corruption and the hordes of Hell.
Then there was me.
The Hero had opened the door to my room without knocking, helmet in hand. All the equipment that they planned to bring down with them was in the bag hanging from their back, or on the belts outside of the very strong armour. They saw me, curled into a ball in my bed, and I had looked up, my eyes strained and my cheeks still wet before I forced a smile.
"Look at you, buddy," I forced out, and at the very least, my praise was genuine. "I'm so proud of you. You look like you could take on the Twins and the Eye of Cthulu at the same time. I have no doubt that – "
"You know," the Hero whispered.
It didn't mean anything. It did not.
"Yeah, I know that you're going to slay some underworld creatures," I babbled on, sniffing and wiping my nose obnoxiously with a sleeve. "Kind of hard not to think that with all the gear you've got."
"You know," the Hero repeated harshly. The Hero's face twisted, and their voice became a hiss. "You know, don't you?"
No, I don't. No, you don't.
Because yes, of course I know, but you don't have to know – let alone know that I do know – because that wasn't what you were supposed to do.
"I'm the Guide, remember? Come on, I have to know – "
"That you're going to die?"
"Before I used that mirror, before I left Hell...I saw a doll." The Hero inhaled sharply. "Dangling from the claws of one of the demons flying around down there. It almost killed me." They exhaled. "If I had defended myself and killed it, the doll would have fallen into the lava."
This was my job. This was my role.
"It looked like you."
These were the things I knew. These were the things that were important.
The Hero's name was not important. The Hero's gender was also not important. The most important thing about the Hero was that the Hero was the Hero. And if the Hero was the Hero – that meant the Hero would be the one spoken in prophecy to save us all, save us within this vast realm of flora and fauna, plagued with what seemed like an eternal wave of monsters and beasts.
"You're the living sacrifice, aren't you?"
Except for me.
My name was not of importance. I did tell the Hero my name when the Hero had first asked. I could have been Alex, Seth, Evan, and it wouldn't have mattered to this soul was ready to save Terraria and all of its denizens. No, all the Hero should be concerned about was who I was – who I was to them, who I ended up being to them, who I had been for them.
"You're my Guide."
"The Guide," I countered.
"My Guide," the Hero corrected. The Hero stormed over to my bed, the volume of their trembling voice rising. "You guided me! You helped me! You told me everything that I needed to know!You told me how to make this, what I could do with that, and what I should do next! And yet, after all of that, you wouldn't tell me that you knew from the very start, that you were the key instrument to defeating the embodiment of fire and brimstone, of darkness and evil? Why, damn it, why?"
"Because you don't have to know that!" I finally balked, bolting up from the bed and locking my eyes onto theirs. I swallowed a lump down my throat as I shook my head. "You don't have to know that my job as the Guide goes beyond telling you how to make this, what you could do with that, and what should you do next. That those things are the only things that should matter to you, because eventually, another guide will find you and provide you all of the questions you want answers to."
The Hero looked betrayed, torn. I let out a scoff, bitter and wry.
"Did you honestly think that you'd come this far if I had told you that it'd cost you the life of a party member?" I uttered. "Why do you think I didn't bother to care when you and everyone else saw me as nothing more than an annoying know-it-all who wouldn't shut up? That was my job. That was all I was supposed to do. That was all you were supposed to know."
There was never supposed to be a reward for my effort.
The reward would be Terraria if the Hero was to save it. That would be the greatest reward for any of us fortunate to have even gotten this far without being slayed by the monsters out there. If the Hero met the end, we would all meet their end. If the Hero brought the end, we see a new beginning. Corruption would fade, Hallow would come, and we would be okay.
As much as I was part of Terraria, I was not part of 'we'.
The Hero would not be capable of saving us all. That would mean the prophecies were right; the contradiction, which had become important to the Hero but not to me, was that I was not going to be part of that whole. In this world, the end justified the means.
"And you expect me to believe you're okay with that?" the Hero hissed.
"Who said anything about being okay with it?" I snapped back, ignoring the salt of my tears trailing down past my lips. "But this is what has to happen."
"I will not accept that as an answer."
"You asked a question, and I gave you an answer. It's valid and you should accept it."
The helmet was chucked to the floor as the Hero cursed and swore.
"There has to be another way – "
"There isn't!" I choked back a sob. "Don't try to deny it, just don't! I've thought, I've tried, even before I surrendered to the call to guide you on this journey. Do you think I didn't try?" I gave the Hero a broken smile. "I didn't want this. I never wanted my path to align with yours. I never wanted any of this. But why should it matter what I think? I'm just one person who wants the best for this world, and it's not me who will make that happen."
The Hero was shaking now as they lowered their gaze.
"You're not just 'one person'. You're part of my team, my party. You were supposed to follow me to the end!"
I shook my head again with a sordid laugh.
"Buddy, the only part of me that's going to be there in the end is when that doll hits the lava and the keeper is summoned. This isn't supposed to be one of those stories where your party follows you until the very end – this is all on you." I sighed. "You're the Hero. I'm only the Guide."
"My Guide," the Hero corrected once more, and I watched as their own tears fell from those normally determination-filled eyes.
And I couldn't help but wonder, despite everything happening – how long has it been since I have seen the Hero cry over something, cry like this?
"You would let yourself suffer this much?" the Hero seethed. " Let me believe that I was capable of taking one step further towards purification, because you know that you aren't going to see the new world prosper and flourish? Let it threaten to rip your heart apart the moment I walk out that door, because you know that at any point tonight you're going to die and you don't even know when? Knowing you can't even count the hours let alone the seconds you have left to live?"
There were hands holding my own, and I wished they weren't so warm as they gripped tightly, as though if the Hero let go of me, they would plummet straight down to the underworld to do what they were supposed to.
"Answer me, damn it!"
But I couldn't.
There was nothing that I could say to that because that was the answer.
That was everything I could have said but did not have the tongue for. My words had been stolen, spoken by another tongue that did not belong to me. No, it was the Hero, speaking the words their Guide should have spoken to them. It was the Hero, understanding what it really means to be a Guide one day too late.
And as the Hero looked up at me, lower lip trembling as I resisted crying as well, we knew that.
The Hero had answered their own question without the Guide.
I was no longer needed until the Hero would find their way from the underground to the underworld.
Those hands let go, and I wanted so badly to take them back, pull those arms towards me, grasp the only thing I had left with me and just stay like that forever, go back to those simpler times that were happier times now when all I had to worry about was teaching this soul how to make a workbench...
The helmet was picked up.
"Then this is the last time I will see you," the Hero breathed.
I could only nod.
One more tear rolled down their cheek as they shook their head.
"You said I was the one who had to make the biggest sacrifice?" the Hero murmured. The Hero shook their head. "No. I might be the Hero to you, but it won't be me who will make the biggest sacrifice. And you know that."
This would be the last time, even if it was forced, that I would see the Hero smile at me.
"Thank you for everything."
The helmet was placed on, and this would be the last time I saw the Hero's face before their back was turned to me.
"Goodbye, my Guide."
This would be the last time I would hear the Hero's voice.
This would be the last time I would fall apart and cry as my door closed.
Perhaps in another world, in another incarnation, I could be there at the very end like the Hero wanted me to.
I could survive with everyone else as I watched light burst through darkness. I could see the coming of the Hallow, balancing out the Corruption and bringing more magic into Terraria.
I could see the Nurse and the Mechanic bickering during a Blood Moon while the Demolitionist and the Arms Dealer tried to see which was more effective against a zombie: dynamite or a Minishark.
I could see the Tinkerer, fiddling around with heaven knows what before he ducked as it flew around the room.
I could see the Merchant still trying to sell the Dryad those creepy statues of angels, while the Clothier told them to shut up so he could finish weaving an ornate robe.
I could see the Hero, coming back and heading straight to where the Hero knew I was to show me new materials. I imagined exactly what the Hero would say:
What the hell is this stuff? Do you know how many unicorns I had to kill to obtain these horns? When are we going to make these wings? I want to have wings!
I imagined me watching the Hero fashion together a set of angel wings after a long day, and the excited grin that would cross the Hero's face as they took off for the night into the sky, before coming back with all sorts of materials from the skies where the harpies dwelled. We would walk to the Midas Room, place what was extra or what we didn't need just yet into one of the golden chests, before the Hero would plop on a crown and sit at the throne, waving a shiny gold sword the Hero no doubt had acquired from Hell after they beat the Wall of Flesh and bragging about how far the Hero has come.
I imagined that smile again, a smile for me, and those words thanking me for everything once more.
And with that, I banished those visions of what could not be as far away from my mind as I could. I allowed complete darkness to cloud over my thoughts and consume them whole. I bowed my head and squeezed my eyes shut.
I had trusted the Hero with more than my life. This was the last thing I could offer to the Hero.
And the Hero had acknowledged that.
That would be more than enough for me, because all that was left to do – as was the routine once the Hero would leave the house – was wait for the Hero to return triumphantly.
All that was left to do
Goodbye, my Hero.
So the Steam summer sale happened, and Terraria was a game on sale for $2.50 compared to $10.00. My friends wanted me to get it, so I did since it was only $2.50.
This game is ruining my life.
This fic is the evidence of that because you're not supposed to care about any semblance of story in these type of games. But I remember realizing really late into the game that you could actually ask the Guide for help, so I did. The way his dialogue came off when he told me about how to fight the Wall of Flesh just made me think, "oh my God. You KNEW, didn't you"? So I expressed my feels through a Tumblr semi-creepypasta. It obviously wasn't enough because then this fic happened.
It wasn't supposed to be first person or Guide-centric at first, but I saw how much people hated the guide, so I decided I'd try to work with what arguably has to be the most useful member of your so-called party and flesh him out into this giant ball of angst. Thanks for reading!
P.S. The Midas Room is actually something I built in my own world. It's made of gold bricks, gold brick background, has 4 chests on each side of the throne, two gold chandeliers, and a throne. It's so pointless but it's so PIMP.