Thursday, February 17, 2011

Part 4: This time for real! The journey begins

At long last, the big day arrives!  I was actually quite surprised when, after scraping together my supplies for the umpteenth time thanks to the many many software problems, I made my way to Squares's pen and found him bouncing happily inside it.  Hardly daring to believe my luck, and wanting to waste no time, I jumped on his back and we were off in a clatter of hooves, leaving the morning's lingering creepers behind in the dust.

We stopped for a totally-not-staged couple of photos on the top of nearby tall sand dune to mark the big day.

We are majestic!  Squares is a unicorn!  My feet look silly poking out on either side of his neck!  At least I think those are my feet.
The territory ahead.  The tall pillar at the far left is a natural formation, believe it or not.  I think those things from the previous picture must be my feet because there's definitely nothing in the stirrups.
We head north.  The landscape just close to my base is pretty easy-going, except for a steep climb down a sand dune.  There is a moment of anxiety as I fear that Squares will crash headlong into a stand of cacti.  He has never seen cacti before, and seemed to be determined to make friends with them.
No, Squares!  We don't nuzzle the cacti!  They are not friendly.
The next major obstacle was a forest.  I think I've mentioned before that Squares believes himself to be rather larger than one would guess upon looking at him - and thus two trees planted a few meters apart might as well be a solid cliff face as far as he's concerned.  We careened madly around the forest, trying to find a path through.  To manually clear a path I'd have had to jump off, beat wildly at the foliage, and then go chase down Squares who by that time would be somewhere on the distant horizon.
Augh, trees!  Squares doesn't do forests.
On occasion we somehow ended up in the treetops, Squares evidently delighted with the view, and me fretting about how we were possibly going to get down again without taking falling damage.  We took a lot of falling damage.
In the treetops.  How did we even get up here?
All this while, Squares was keeping up a steady stream of neighs, whinnys, and snorts.  I'm not sure why, since there were no horses nearby to talk to, and the neighing only served to announce our presence to any lions, bears, or creepers that might be in the vicinity.  He could be offering commentary on the landscape that we were passing, but given his mental faculties, it was probably more likely something like, "I'm a horse!  I'm a horse!  I'm running!  Wheee!"

Mountains were next.  Although climbing them is actually pretty fun due to Squares's impressive jumping abilities, descending them is somewhat of a challenge on horseback, which become evident in the screenshot below.
I'm not sure how we made it down this mountainside without killing ourselves. Or what I was hoping to do with that torch.
I can't see the ground below, and Squares, having the self-preservation sense of a bagel, is no help whatsoever.  I could tell him to step off a sheer cliff face, and he would happily race to our doom, commenting, "Wheee!  I'm a horse!"  Somehow we managed to weave our way down.

It was now barely past noon, and I was already getting nervous about stopping for the night.  I had sort of run through some scenarios of how to build shelters for Squares and myself, but hadn't actually tested anything, and thought it might be a little tricky my first time.  I found a convenient cliff wall that could serve as one side of a shelter, with as a bonus, very thin grass with stone right underneath, so I could build Squares a pen with a non-grass floor.  A non-grass floor is important because lions and bears and other horse-eating creatures will spawn on grass.
The spot I chose for our first night's stop.
I walked Squares against the cliff, got off, and fished through my inventory for a hay bale.  Hay bales not only fully heal horses (I wasn't sure how he was doing after all that falling damage) but also make them stay contentedly put until the next time they're ridden.  My plan was to give Squares a hay bale, then build a nice shelter around him, then dig myself a shelter in the cliff face and spend the night mining.

By the time I got the hay bale out, Squares had bounced well away from the cliff face.  I got on, walked him back, got off - and he immediately bounced away from the cliff face again.  After another couple of tries, I gave up and gave him the hay bale when he was merely in the vicinity of the cliff.  I would just build a four-sided pen for him.

I got two and a half sides of the pen done before I accidentally right-clicked too close to Squares, and ended up on his back.  "Whee!  You want to play!  I'm a horse!"  Bouncebouncebounce.  I got off, and Squares bounced out of his pen.  I got back on and tried to steer him back into the pen, but now Squares had decided that the opening was much too small for Squares the Mega-Horse, and was having none of it.  I got off and enlarged the opening.  I chased down Squares.  I maneuvered him back into the half-pen, then tried to stand beside him and block up the opening.  Two blocks later, I had accidentally right-clicked on him again, and was once again staring at the pen from horseback, unable to place any more blocks.  "Hi!  We're playing again!  I'm a horse!"  I got off, and Squares immediately bounced out of the pen.

By now the sun was beginning to set, and I was starting to get worried.  Instead of trying to box Squares in, I switched strategies and tried to dig a pit, hoping to lure Squares inside and close it up over our heads.  It worked for a while - Squares can only jump 1.5 blocks when I'm not riding him, so I was able to dig a pit that was two blocks deep, chase down Squares, and drop inside the pit with him.  He bounced in the pit next to me as I tried to reach past him to make a roof above us.  I placed a few blocks, then accidentally right clicked on him again.  When I'm riding Squares, he can jump 3 blocks, so we were out of the pit in a flash - in the confusion I right-clicked again, and I ended up back in the pit, looking up at the stars, and listening to Squares bouncing around outside.  "I'm a horse!  I'm a horse!"

This is bad.
I sat there in the pit for a second, looking up through the half-built roof at the stars.  This horse journey was a bad idea, and I have just royally botched the very first night.  If I blocked up the roof now, I would be safe.  Safe from all the zombies and skeletons and wolves that were just now beginning to appear.  But Squares would get eaten by the first monster that came along, because he would go straight up to it and ask to be friends.

I climbed out of the pit and went to look for Squares in the dark.  Fortunately he was bouncing in the torchlight just outside the pit.  I steered us back into the pit and - fighting panic - somehow managed to get the roof closed up.
I stood there for a while, smelling Squares's horsey breath inches from my nose.  Upon finding himself in a low-ceilinged cave with no exit, he began to while away the time by bouncing vigorously, occasionally announcing to the world that he was a horse.

Eventually I tried to move, and discovered that I couldn't go an inch in any direction - Squares was pinning me against the wall.  I tried to dig myself a little room behind me - the first block immediately revealed the dark night outside.  I closed it up and turned around to face Squares again, still unable to take a step.  I started jumping up and down along with Squares.  It felt strangely therapeutic.  I eventually stopped bouncing and found a block that I could safely clear away without exposing us to the spider that was now making its slurping noises outside.  Now that I could move a little,  I spent most of the rest of the night trying to sidle past Squares to get to a chunk of coal just behind him.
Rrrgh - Mffff - move it, Squares!
Toward dawn I heard a new sound that I at first identified as "Cow with something very wrong with it".  It was like a low drawn-out moo, all wavering.  I looked at Squares.  "Was that you?"  He looked back at me innocently.
Squares was not the source of the spooky cow noises.
The sound came again, but this time it sounded like a teenager trying to scare kids at a slumber party.  "WoooOOOOOoooo"  It was coming from outside, and it was a new creature that I had not seen or heard before.  It kept up its hair-raising sounds until dawn, when I heard its equally hair-raising death cry.

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