Chapter 1: Hiding in the Dark
A/N: My first Minecraft fanfic, it's got a lifelike kind of touch to it, less game mechanics but it's still the same old Minecraft style. EDITED.
A light breeze of cool mountain air blew across the face of a skilled miner, the wind gently flowed over his features and made his loose fabric dance with the current. He was dressed in a teal blue t-shirt and plain old blue jeans, not your average attire for mining but this guy preferred it that way. He sucked in the crystal crisp mountain air and a smile formed on his face, it widened from the beautiful sight of a forbidden looking land mysteriously encased in a mountainous cradle. He looked down from the cliff face and his gaze followed the forests and hills below to a vast and open land into the distance, land that was seemed to untouched by humankind. It was an untamed beauty like no other. It was a sight he couldn't help but feel a sense of power flow through him, as if the land it's self was emitting some strange force from it's shear splendor alone. Oh how he wanted to see more what was beyond his sights, perhaps more wondrous and stunning landscapes for his eyes to feast and possibly a place for his perfect home. What could be better than fresh undisturbed land for any experienced miner? This was surely his newest pursuit and he needed to head back down the great dirt and rock heap to rest and stock up at the nearest village below for the evening.
Steve made his way through the large town at an unhurried pace looking for any kind of vendor or blacksmith to refresh his supplies, but all he seemed to have noticed in his walk was the lack of villagers, animals, and any street lamps, or any light source for that matter. In fact, part of the village was hidden in shadow by a cliff jutting out of the mountain high above; it was going to be dark soon but there were no lit torches out yet. It was strange. What's a village without people? Why was it so dark and bleak looking here? There were plenty signs of habitation, wood from most buildings looked rather new; the small vendor stalls along the sides of the streets were managed well and there were even a few merchants here and there as well as people but there wasn't many he could see. Surely this decent sized town was run by a handful of townsfolk. So many more questions began stirring in the miner's head as he kept up his steady pace. The unnerving silence that seemed to plague the community here was definitely abnormal and alarming, there wasn't even children running about in play though there were a few kids nearby.
A woman and her two young children gasped when Steve walked past them on the street, they made no sound as they gaped at him in horror and then quickly fled into their home after seeing the newcomer. A few other villagers swiftly retreated as well when Steve turned to look at them, some even tripped up and stumbled but scurried away in haste. Merchants ducked in their stalls, grown men cowered at the sight of him and avoided eye-contact, and whosoever was near a door took refuge behind it. They were scared of him? That didn't make any sense. Their faces were filled with what looked like tormented horror, dread for the most part. It was weird but he decided it was best to shrug it off and headed inside of a nearby tavern to see if there was a way into the great valley that was well guarded by the perfectly cut cliffs, as well as a place to get more supplies whilst he was at it. His chest pack on his back felt really light for a mining and exploring trip.
There was three villagers he took notice of as he walked through the door; two middle-aged men seated in the furthest corner drinking in silence and the other was an aged bartender with frosted gray hair. He was blankly staring through a window behind the counter while wiping a glass cup with a worn rag. The man quickly averted his attention to the noise maker and nearly dropped the glass at Steve's sight, his eyes widened and he blinked a few times before he let out a heavy sigh of relief as it was just another passerby.
"Um hello?" Steve decided to speak as he shut the door behind him, almost wishing that he didn't after he heard his voice echo loudly through the small building. The people in that village were just freaking him out, they were way too reclusive and fearful. It made him wonder if there could be some quiet killers or something vile living here and running the place with an iron fist and it made him feel uncomfortable a little, he was armed but had no intention of getting violent unless it came to that point. His theory could prove the lack of people and why everybody was so lost in a sense of misery and fear, it was still farfetched though; or at least by 'his' friendly presence. To him it was a complete mystery as to why people living so close to a beautiful place were living in it's shadows, they were so easily disturbed too. He just couldn't understand why they weren't living in the wondrous land but in a village hiding by the light obscuring cliffside.
Steve walked up and took a seat at the tavern counter and the bartender promptly moved over to him while looking through the window behind him and back to the drifter, he was seemingly paranoid. "Hello. Welcome drifter, may I get you something?" The old man said, twisting his head to the window again and watching as the sun began to slowly descend in the sky.
The miner had definitely noticed the man's paranoia, he seemed rugged and like age has weathered him down; but the scars this guy had were deep and they covered the bartenders exposed hands all across his forearms. Steve tried to not let that little observation distract him from the question. "Oh, no thanks. I'm here for some supplies and food… Oh and a sword too. Mostly mining material like torches and pickaxes, my iron pick one broke a couple days ago and I am in need of a new one. A new iron sword would be nice too, I should have enough emeralds on me to cover the costs." He rubbed the back of his head in a sudden wave of apprehension, the room was oddly dark and the quiet guys in the corner were shooting odd glances at him and whispering something between themselves. He couldn't hear what they were saying but the looks given to him made it out to be of a negative input meant for him. "But it seems that there's no traders or blacksmiths here." He finished nervously.
"That is because there is none, there hasn't been any here in years!" The bartender was quick to speak as he placed the glass cup down and started to wipe the counter. "In fact our village will not allow such people to come and stay here and nor should any newcomer, such business is not permitted here anymore. You need to take your rest and leave as soon as possible, you'll find no mining material nor weapons in this place friend; especially not pleasantries. This village doesn't need anymore trouble than it already has."
"What?" Steve shot out of his chair with disbelief of such abrupt disrespect and slammed his hands on the wooden tabletop in protest, he hasn't heard but a few words from one man and was already being pushed right out the door; he just arrived and only came to get a few items and answers. It didn't help that what the old bartender said didn't make any sense, was everyone in this town like this? Rude and fearful? With narrowed eyes the miner huffed at the outrageous hospitality. "What's wrong with you people? Doesn't trading and selling goods help the village grow? How do you even protect yourselves if you don't have a blacksmith to create weapons?" The miner leaned up and held his arms out as if to gesture the entire town. "And just why is everyone here acting like zombies and skeletons hiding from sunlight? Why isn't there any torches or light for that matter?" Steve took a quick look around and noticed that there was nothing to light, the only light was from the dimming sun that was creeping over the horizon; it's weakening waves of light painted the skies in a purplish red hue. "Why is everybody acting like this? Why am I avoided like a plague? I just came here for a few things and I never meant any harm, this is outrageous!"
The older man calmed from the truthful words and began to wipe down the counter with a rag again. "Sorry for my disrespect, I've lost patience over the years." The Bartender stopped after finishing and moved back to the window and stared out to the disappearing light.
"Patience?" He inquired after the man's tone changed so quickly.
"Yes, I keep forgetting about those who come and go and those who come to tread were no man should ever step foot. So many had… had been foolish. I can only hope that you aren't one of them. But judging by your need of a weapon and mining gear near these parts- I suspect that you are one of them, another unfortunate soul."
"One of them?" Steve raised a brow and stared out the window too, hoping not to see any monsters creeping about …yet.
"Yes. The valley beyond the shear cliff that protects us holds a land that so many want to tame, a place were no mortal has stepped in and ever came out alive. The tainted land of the North."
"Wait? What are you talking about? Is everyone here insane? That place is perfect!" He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Haven't you climbed this mountainside here and seen it for yourself? It's amazing." He pointed in the direction of the mountain to gesture where he saw such a natural spectacle of creation.
The bartender sighed and turned back towards the eager man. "So I take it that you want to go there and mine there, am I right?"
"Yeah. Well probably live there too." He added with a faint smile.
The older man only swayed his head back and forth dismissively and the miner frowned. "What a fool you are then. The name is Warren Willis by the way. I think you should at least know the last man you'll ever meet before your un-timed demise."
The miner gaped. "Fool? Un-timed demise? You guys are crazy, and it's getting dark! Why isn't there any lights? Do you want to lure in the Creepers?" Steve reached back behind him and pulled out a torch from his chestpack and a lit it with some flint and steel that he fished from his pocket. The tip of the wooden pole lightly illuminated the room, Steve softly blew air towards the flames and the fire grew bigger and the tavern was now five times brighter.
Warren began to visibly fret as the room filled with the warm glow, he lightly shook with an expression of pure horror. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? PUT THAT OUT!" He immediately grabbed the countertop and leaped over and ripped the flaming wood from Steve's grasp, he then threw it to the floor before stomping on it with such ferocity and determination to suffocate the flames as fast as possible. He snuffed out the fire before proceeding to kick the smoking hot stick into the corner of the hostelry. "ARE YOU INSANE!" He shouted in a low voice but with the intensity of his point.
The other two villagers shot out of the building in a panicking fashion; not caring if they were knocking over chairs and tables in the process to escape, they flew out the door and one slammed it shut on the way out.
"No, that is what I was asking you!" Steve countered from his torch being busted up and wasted, it was almost unbelievable.
"Ughhh." Warren rubbed his temples and made a quick and low prayer to Notch, hoping that their village would not be struck by the Demon of the tainted valley for the town's sinful incident. "I should of told you sooner, now 'He' might be very upset with us." He finished with a tone or dread, his facial expression matched it.
"He? What's going on in this loony town?" The miner raised a brow in confusion.
The bartender blinked then glanced at the younger man. "You don not know of the tale of 'Him'?"
Steve sat on the edge of a table end and crossed his arms. "You're losing me." He sighed and rolled his eyes in annoyance. He was starting to regret even coming to this place now, it seemed better to have just gone home; explore the un-mined land another day with the material on hand. He could easily get the stuff he needed elsewhere but the travel would be long and the supplies would weigh him down on his way to the unmarked territory. It's not worth the waste of time and energy to go all the way home and come straight back, but it would seem as though he'd have to make his own tools if he stayed the night. It was probably the only way that he was going to get anything to use to mine.
He moved his blue eyes from the ceiling he was gazing absentmindedly at and saw Warren with his back to him; he was staring out that window again. "Who's him?" There was no reply at first, just the old man shuddering lightly and taking a light and brisk mouthful of air. "Hey, you still there?"
"Herobrine." Warren abruptly whispered. He then carefully spun on his heels and glanced around the room in panic, making sure that name didn't somehow summon the cursed fiend to his establishment.
Steve blinked in sudden curiosity and brought a hand to rest on his chin as he thought about it. "Herobrine? I think I've heard of that name before. I think mom used to read ghost stories of some guy with that name or something like that. … I was never scared- just to let you know." His voice obviously cracked on the last part of his sentence but he tightened his posture to cover it. It was a name in those old stories that actually used to scare him to death as a kid and he always would hide under the covers until the dawn broke. "But that was just a stupid scary story to get me to stay in bed, nothing but an old fake annoying tale. Oh and look!" Steve pointed out the window. "That's great! It's practically night, now I have to fight zombies to get into a nice comfy bed, thanks." He sarcastically added.
The older man shook his head in disagreement, he was almost pale in fright. "No, he's real and he's the one who afflicts our people and the valley beyond this mountain. In fact, any torches lit in our town will surely incur his wrath upon our people and he'll likely take another's life; just as he has for many many years since this village was built here. We'll suffer if he comes tonight."
That was some disturbing news, not that he believed in it or anything though. "Sorry, I'm having trouble believing this."
"But it's true!" Warren shouted. "Haven't you noticed the small number of villagers we have? Why we constantly live in the dark? Why everyone here hides in fear everyday? If you want the answers as to why we are like we are and why this place is in shadow; it's him. Herobrine has come to us in many different ways with his severe tides of punishment from something as trivial as a small lit torch; from destroying pieces of our town to setting it on fire. He has the occasional hordes of mobs he unleashes and or he'll invade our dreams and strike us with horrid nightmares of pain and suffering to the point that it drives us mad. He has even gone as far as to take one of our own villagers for a day's time and then they were found dead in the central square of our town the next morning, all because we lit a single torch here!"
"Okay, now it's getting too hard to believe. I'm sorry, but this ghost story isn't going to stop me from going to that ore-rich paradise." Steve was very determined, there wasn't no place he couldn't mine.
"You'll die! Leave now, I implore you!"
"You know what?" Steve leaned up from the table and narrowed his eyes lightly. "I think I know what you're doing here. Yeah, I know exactly what you're doing cause I've been tricked out of a good mining spot before and this is starting to sound like the same situation."
"Huh? No. That's just foolish to assume-"
"Oh- I think it's a sick joke." Steve fully stood up and made his way to the door, squeezing his fist tight from a bad memory bubbling up. "An 'old' friend of mine has indeed fooled me out of a rumored cavern loaded in diamond ore by saying that it was way too dangerous and that lives were lost in the attempts to mine for the ores. I- being the nice and trusting type had assumed that those rumors were true and our mining group 'split' to go mine in our own little areas, or so I thought." The miner made it to the door and grabbed the handle before he turned to face the ill-hospitable man. "I believed that it was too dangerous to explore so I mined in a hallowed out stone heap alone miles from the that cavern. But- my 'friend' was instantly rich after his excavation in that 'dangerous' spot, word had spread quicker than a blazing fire. So it was a lie and he has avoided me since. Him and his 'real friends' had mined all of it and left me out in the blue, empty-handed. It was devastating from my perspective, I barely found enough coal to make a torch from my mount. Therefore, I'm not falling for that little trick ever again. I bet there's tons of gold and diamonds in that valley and this little act your town puts on- and that stupid little kid's story is just run off miners. Well I'm not falling for it!"
"Wait, don't!" The old man reached out to him.
"I'm going. My mother and my younger sister are depending on me." He pulled the door open but lingered for a moment after a flash of his family popped up in his mind. "They're struggling to make ends meet without dad and I can barely mine enough to keep up the rent for them back at my village. I want to help them out, to get them a safe home for themselves. Dad would of wanted it that way, my brother too. We don't have much." He finished with a solemn somber tone.
"Okay!" The old bartender shouted and let his arm rise up to meet his aching temple. He finally gave in to another sad sack story of a brave adventurer hopelessly perusing wealth for the right reasons, though there were many out for riches out of their own greed. This guy however; was bound for doom, it was worse that he was out to support his family that needed him. The old man himself was trying to support what little family he had of his own, he knew this miner's reason and believed that what he wanted to do was out for the righteous heart. There had been many like this one who had gone through though and never returned. He would just end up like the rest; dead and rotting out there somewhere, the guy wasn't going to bee seen or heard from again whether he had found the passage or made one. But still- Warren felt bad for the man and decided to show him the way since there was no convincing the young and resolute, that and the fact that an open hole from the village to that damned land was very unsettling.
He grabbed an Iron axe from a chest behind the counter and held it tightly in his hand. "But at least allow me to show you the way. The last thing our village needs is an open door for that walking curse to come strolling through so freely, especially if he's leading a horde of monsters along with him." Warren moved away from the counter and walked up to Steve with a bit of a daunting stance.
Steve could tell that this old guy must have had plenty of experience with fighting the mobs considering he had quite the muscularly for his age and not to forget the many scars on his arms. That alone was evident enough, but of course the town had to of had some form of protection. The stupid settlement had no lights to keep the mobs at bay, so there's bound to be a horde just waiting on them. Steve almost started to believe the story considering how serious and how rough Warren's condition was, but he let it slip his mind. There was nothing going to stop him from exploring the wild land and mining some riches, he had half a family back at home depending on him. Steve nodded to the older man and pushed the wooden door open with hesitance, he reached down at his side and his hand clasped onto a wooden sheath; his fingers trailed upward a bit and wrapped around the handle of a sword.
As they stepped out there were several forms moving about in the dark with their silhouettes almost camouflaged in the cover of the fading dusk. Groans could be heard in the distance as well as clacking bones and screeches by menacing monsters; creatures that flourish in the night and prey upon anything living thing they can get, particularly humans. The only thing that was seen upon exiting the door were the multiple pairs of purple glowing eyes, Endermen. Steve quickly averted his gaze away from the tall black and lanky humanoid figures to stone road, he wasn't sure if they caught his eyes landing upon them when he came out of the building; it's real hard to avoid seeing them when there's plenty of other dangerous mobs to keep a look out for.
Warren on the other hand; stiffened his stance and flexed his fingers a bit on the handle of his axe looked right at the eyes of the Endermen, he was ready to kill everything that treaded their village, especially the agents of that Demon.
Three of the Endermen within his sights suddenly howled by his daring gaze and disappeared from their places, Steve then looked to his side to see the bartender now moving forward and swinging the axe into one of the loud screeching creatures once it reappeared before him. One of the other purple-eyed fiends had rammed into the old man when his guard was down and he went crashing to the gravel street with a loud thud. Steve reacted quickly and pulled his stone sword from a scabbard hanging off his belt and pierced the Endermen through the back before it could dig it's tiny but sharp claws into the downed man, the mob hissed in agony before exploding into a pile of black dust from the fatal wound.
"Not too smart on strategy are you?" The miner reached out and grasped the old man's forearm then pulled him back on his feet. "I'd suggest not picking any unnecessary fights when there's plenty from other mobs that aren't as easily avoided."
"I've had far more experience with these beasts 'sonny', way longer than you have. My approach though- is a little different." The old fighter joked, he then jerked back and stumbled a few steps backwards as an Endermen abruptly appeared before him and tried to swipe at him. The ageing fighter swung his huge axe at his side and used both hands to wing it up over his shoulder and move it forward and upwards with great strength and momentum; he swung the sharp blade right at the nearing mob and nearly cut in right half in one swing. The Endermen stumbled back with black fluid painting the ground beneath it, the wailing creature kneeled over to hold it's wound before finally giving out and collapsing onto the ground dead.
With the more dangerous mobs now taken care of; Warren turned his attention to a Zombie stumbling from around the curb of a house, there were plenty more not too far from it; the woods surrounding the village was probably loaded with the undead fiends. He ran at the creature and hacked away at the limbs of the mob, he found it as easy as usually whilst cutting through decaying flesh; he had no trouble ending the rancid humanoid.
Steve tried to keep Warren's back guarded as he dealt with a Zombie and blocked an attack from another charging Endermen; it looked like the first one that survived the attack and had rested enough for another strike. He swung his sword and slashed his blade diagonally across the Endermen's torso, more black fluid-like substance seeped out of the wound and weakened the mob. The black being wailed again and flashed away to escape; hopefully for good this time. The miner felt a smirk form on his face; there were still many more mobs about but he felt rather confident with this tough old guy helping him along, he was pretty refreshed and ready for fight after a long easy day of trekking new territory. He didn't know if his sword could hold up for too much longer but it seemed okay so far, it was a blade of luck anyway.
Steve ran at a nearby Skeleton preparing it's bow with an arrow; it was facing Warren, but it was also pretty close to him and he didn't need a sword to bring this type of monster down. The miner tightened his facial features as he neared the mob and swung his leg outward with his boot colliding into the ribcage of the pile of bones, he rammed the tip of his foot through the boney structure and snapped the spine and the support of the mob in two and it fell a part as it was forced to topple at it's side in the strong kick. The miner watched as the Skeleton crumbled into a pile of broken bones, that was until a groan came at his side, a Zombie came stumbling in his direction to take the fallen mob's place. He prepped his weapon again and sighed with annoyance of the staggering fiend, he really didn't want to use this particular sword more than he had to; it was special to him. It looked as though he didn't have a choice though.
"You've been fighting mobs for a while now haven't you?"
Steve looked out the corner of his eye to see the older man now backing up to him and keeping his right side guarded in the process, it would be easier to fight side by side so he was glad that the guy was close by. "So, about this passageway to the valley?" Steve jumped forward and brought his blade between the Zombie's shoulder and neck, causing the monster to moan loudly and fall limp; he ripped the blade out of the thing's torso and watched it fall to the ground with a heavy thud.
"It's-IT'S-" Warren immediately stumbled backwards with wide eyes and then spun swiftly to run only to bump right into Steve in his hasty endeavor for escape.
"Hey!" Steve almost lost his footing and staggered forward a bit before shooting upright in regaining his balance, he then tilted his head back to see why Warren had bumped into him.
The bartender shouted and Steve fully spun to see the armless creature quickly coming upon them.
Both of the guys looked at each other with a bit of hesitation, there's was little time to think with a very dangerous mob approaching. But after a quick glance back at the green monster; Steve nodded in approval after sort of predicting what Warren had in mind. It was a reckless attempt but if they moved fast enough then they'll slay it before it could go off and blow them to bits. Both of the men reared their weapons up into the air and charged straight at the four legged beast with determination in their eyes and swung their weapons down together in unison; trying to kill the creature before it had the chance to explode. As they sliced through the side of the Creeper's quaking form; a loud hissing noise overlapped it's pained hiss and a sudden white blinding light consumed their vision along with a powerful fiery pulse that had them flying backwards by the force of an explosion.
"Uggghhh…." Steve painfully groaned, his entire body ached and he even felt the core of his bones throb from the intense force. He laid flat on his back as his vision blurred in and out and his head spun to add to the agony. He sealed his eyes shut as another wave of pain flowed down his spine and through his limbs; from his head to his toes and fingertips, but he was sort of okay he thought. His limbs seemed to be intact since he could still feel the magnifying pain in them perfectly, otherwise they'd be numb. He slowly forced his eyes open to the dark of the night after remembering that there were plenty more mobs that could suddenly be upon him and he saw someone or something just standing at his side. It looked like a shadowed figure of a man with white glowing eyes, quietly towering above him and eyeing him closely; as if studying or observing him in curiosity. At first he thought it might have been Warren, but that couldn't be, not with glowing eyes. "Glowing eyes?" Perhaps it was an Endermen?
Steve hissed from the ache in his head and carefully and cautiously moved a hand up to cradle the pulsing spot on the right side of his cranium, he must be seeing things with this ache. An unusual Endermen. No, that couldn't be it, it was a little shorter than the black mobs. And white eyes? Why did that suddenly seem familiar? Was it human? A mob? Something else entirely? Steve blinked in disbelief and the figure was suddenly gone. All that was left was the outline of the trees, the starry sky, and a bright moon to complete the scene. Steve sat up and looked around to find himself on a few blocks of fresh dirt, Warren was belly flat several feet from him. "Warren?" He crawled over to the unmoving body and shook the elder's shoulder which was wet, blood was his first thought. "Warren!"
The old man pushed himself out of the dirt and dust and patted himself off, huffing from his injuries he stood up without any struggle.
"Wow, if that didn't shake you then what does?" The man was as tough as an iron golem.
The Bartender sheepishly smiled despite an open wound on his shoulder. "I think we should find another strategy for fighting Creepers huh?"
Steve laughed then struggled to pull himself up until a hand came down for him. He grabbed Warren's hand and fully stood up, staggering as he did. "Okay, how about showing me the passage way tomorrow? I think I can be patient for now."
"Yeah. Come with me to the Inn. I think I've had enough of fighting tonight. I'm sore all over after that explosion. We got lucky that we weren't blown to pieces." Warren plucked his axe from the ground and they dragged their aching heels towards the gravel road, he suddenly stopped after getting an uncomfortable feeling that something just wasn't right. "That's interesting."
"Hear that?" He brought his palm to his ear, but heard nothing.
Steve tried to listen in but he didn't hear anything either. Well, there was a slight rininging sound from the Creeper explosion but no moans or groans that Zombies usually produced, not even the eerie sound of bones clacking together from Skeletons or screeches from the oversized arachnids. "You're right. I don't hear anymore monsters."
"That's …very strange, I don' see or hear any of them." He said as he looked around with his eyes caredfuuly scanning the village buildings and the spaces between, his gaze even moved back to the woods and saw nothing when the trees always had silhouettes parading around them after dusk.
"Where did they go? The last I remember; there was like a ton of mobs everywhere, we only killed like a handful but I know this place was completely surrounded by many of them when we came out."
"Yeah." Warren agreed with a suspicious tone. "I think we should be getting while the getting is good then."
"Definitely!" Steve happily agreed. He followed Warren and kept his eyes wide open; should any mob decide to ruin this moment of peace. A sudden cold chill crawled down his back and he snapped his head around to an empty plot of land, he couldn't help but feel as though he was being watched; as if someone was behind him and staring him down and breathing down his neck. It was a very unsettling feeling of great fear that crept over him but he continued to follow the bartender. This mystery could wait until later; in the protective morning sun.
Edited and updated as of 3/31/15 -5 pages to 8