Sunday, April 3, 2011

Part 14: OK, maybe I'll go back to making roofs

The sun rose on another Minecraft day as Boxter the Horse and I looked nervously through the window at more mountains and trees.  It had been a relatively peaceful night, but there was no telling what I would find outside when I busted through the glass.

As it turns out, the answer was: not much.
I then fell to the task of extracting Boxter from the shelter, which I did with my usual degree of ineptitude.  My major difficulty seems to stem from consistently underestimating how much more room Boxter and I take up when I'm riding him than our actual volumes combined.  Result: bonking my head on the roof repeatedly, scrabbling on the edge of cliffs, dismounting to try and widen the exit, accidentally remounting and bonking my head on the roof again, etc.  But eventually we escaped.
Yes, cobblestone ceilings appear to be bad for people as well as horses.  I actually took damage from this one, when I managed to embed my head in the ceiling while dismounting.
We had our usual difficulty navigating the thick forest and mountains, again caused chiefly by our combined volumes approximately equaling that of a beluga whale.

But then it got worse: we suddenly found that we could go north no more.  This could spell doom, or at least interminable delay, to the trip northward.  A deep sea, patrolled by sharks.  No opposite shore in sight.  How long would it take to build a bridge across something like that?
But before resorting to constructing a transcontinental bridge, there was one more thing I could try.  I changed the Minecraft render distance to "far" rather than the speed increasing "medium" that I'd had it set on.
Oh.  Much better. 

We circled to the west and followed the continent farther north.  Almost immediately we entered a hilly savanna/desert.  Sadly, our path northward led not over the gentle treeless hills (which were off to the west), but over the tree-covered mountains.  Of course.
Nothing in particular happened here.  I just thought that hill to the left with the tree was really cool.
Progress was slow, and soon it was time to think about building a shelter for the night.  I had been digging pits in low ground for the last few nights, and I wanted to try building on the high ground so I wouldn't have to make the walls quite so tall.  Plus I wanted a view - I was tired of looking at tree trunks.  I picked a spot on the top of a hill where bare stone was showing through.
Look, Boxter!  A pit with sort of natural sides, and stone floor already!  Plus no trees in the immediate vicinity!  Boxter was not impressed.
I had no better option, though, so I chased Boxter down, put him back in the pit, and began building walls as the sun began to set.
The sky darkened as I worked, and it gradually dawned on me that there was something wrong with the pit I was working on: there was no Boxter in it.
Where was he?  I looked around in panic.
Oh.  Looking down at me from the hilltop, mocking my pit-building ineptitude. 

I returned him to the pit, now a little jittery.  I finished the walls and jumped into the pit to join Boxter.  Giving him a haystack to settle him down for the night, I then installed some windows so he could enjoy the view from our hideout.  A hideout with a view is a rarity, and I wanted to make the best of it.
It was pitch-black outside and neither of us could see anything.  Oh, well... time to start mining.

I hadn't gone far before I started hearing lava sounds.  This is a bit odd, since we were significantly above sea level, and lava usually appears deep down.

Before long I noticed something even odder: some stone blocks that utterly ignored my attempts to break them with a pickaxe.  To all appearances they were ordinary stone blocks, yet my pickaxe swiped straight through them, and I couldn't place torches on them... they seemed to be arranged diagonally, and I could break the blocks behind them, but not these blocks themselves.
I poked at the blocks for a while in a mingled state of scientific curiosity and fear.  I looked back once at Boxter to see if he might be somehow magicking the blocks with his powerful horse mind, but he was staring placidly out the window.  If he was using horse magic to mess with me, he was giving no outward sign.  One thing I knew was that I wasn't stepping down there with the Mystery Stone, or going to attempt to walk through it.  The lava sounds were quite loud now and it did not escape that my notice that pickaxe permeability, opacity, and lava sounds were all properties of lava itself.  Whatever was happening here, the possibility at least existed that the Mystery Stone was in fact lava that chose to look like stone blocks for reasons of its own. 

I had worn out my pickaxe, so I climbed to the upper level to set down a crafting table and make a new axe.


What the heck?  What the heck?  Was a skeleton shooting at me somehow from outside the pit?


Wherever it was, it was hitting me.  I calmly - TWANNG - OUCH - gave the mouse wheel a spin to switch to my sword.  Attempted to switch to my sword.  Instead I overshot and found myself brandishing a compass.  TWANNG !

All right, no problem.  Another cool, calm, twirl of the mouse wheel and - TWANNG! - I could draw my sword and - TWANNG - OUCH! - not a stone block, I mean, a sword, and - TWANNG! - not panicking here, just - TWANNG - OUCH! - trying to calmly - TWANNG!! - where the heck IS that skeleton OH GOD IT'S STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO ME

I finally gave up on the mouse wheel and mashed number 1 on my keyboard, which switched to my sword (should have done that at the start), and whacked frantically at the skeleton until it disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving behind only an arrow and a single bone.

The skeleton is MADE of bones.  It has unlimited arrows.  Why does it only drop one of each?
That could have gone better. 

I was quite low on health now, and drew my reserve stash - a bowl of tasty mushroom stew that I'd been carrying with me for two weeks now.  My health restored, I went to check my inventory and take stock of my armor and -


Augh!  After a moment of frantic spinning, I located the skeleton, which was also IN THE PIT WITH ME, and swiped furiously at it with my sword until it too was dispatched.

Puff of smoke from disappearing skeleton.  No screenshots of the actual skeleton, due to being very busy at the time.  Also, it looks like I somehow cornered the second skeleton in the exact same spot as the first one.      

At this point my confidence in the safety of my shelter was rather low.  Had I failed to build the walls high enough, allowing the skeletons to climb in?  Was the Mystery Stone somehow spawning skeletons?

I huddled behind my sword for the rest of the night.  At one point, slight motion caused me to jump in alarm.  Closer inspection revealed that it was merely a bunny rabbit joining us in the pit.

I hope that's an ordinary rabbit.
Well, at least that solves the problem of how the skeletons got in.  It was almost morning, but unfortunately, I could hear spiders outside...

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