Saturday, December 1, 2012

Part 37: Island hopping

In the morning, I dashed from my shelter, my headlong sprint somewhat impeded by the thick forest of trees, and by a decent amount of lag.  Very fortunately for me, there was nothing scary outside, this morning.

I collected Boxter from the shelter, finding him very bouncy this morning - whenever we stepped off a small bit of topology, we would rocket into the air as if Boxter had been shod with rubber.  It must have been the aftereffects of all that bouncing exercise he did last night.

I had been worried about finding the path I'd cleared yesterday but it turned out to be easier than I had expected - the path was in fact the only passable route.  Soon I found my torch marker from yesterday, and after that, I reached the beach itself.

The torch has apparently attracted a pair of forest chickens.

 At first, the going was good - nice and open terrain - but this was short-lived, as the beach narrowed and the shore steepened.

And sharks.
 Contemplating the sub-par territory ahead, I spotted horses and we veered over to take a look.

And sharks.

 These were all Boxter clones, and they viewed us curiously as we edged past.  Maybe Minecraft horses can tell the difference between one another, but I have to say I'm always baffled.  The only way I know which horse to jump on is that I've put a saddle on mine.

And I haven't seen a mini-horse for a while, come to think of it.

 Just past the horses, the coastline began to break up into an archipelago of tiny islands.  Sharks patrolled the waters, not bunched up into groups of two or three like lions or bears, but ruthlessly ranged up and down the coast.  It would not be a good idea to risk a water crossing.  So instead I doubled back.

Too scary!

And doubled back again.

Too scary!  (Also, notice the shark)

And doubled back again, skirting an increasingly tricky shore, where sharks waited for us to dip a single hoof in the water.  Boxter was doing his bouncing thing again, which made it hard to stay on target.

The presence of lions made things even hairier.

 Following the coastline, I noticed an impressive mountain rearing up in front of us.  I was intrigued until we got a little closer, and I suddenly recognized the mountain.  I checked my compass.  Oh.  We'd arrived back at the very same mountain where we'd spent last night, having been subtly and gradually deflected from our northward bearing.  I'd spent half the day going in a giant circle.


It was clear that to break the cycle, I'd actually have to wade across a strip of water and get onto a new bit of land.  Nervously I picked a spot where the channel was shallow, narrow, and as shark-free as could be managed, and we waded in.  I expected to be submerged, but upon entering the water, Boxter began his bouncing routine, and we bounced our way across.  I'm not sure whether we were actually swimming, bouncing off the bottom, or skimming the surface like an improbably-shaped skipping stone.  But we made it.

Almost safe!

On the other side of the water, with the trees maybe hopefully thinning out, I found a suitable cliff face for a shelter, the first I'd seen in a while.  The country looked flat, so I would probably be well-advised to take this opportunity.

It even has a decent amount of lawn for me to run across in the morning.

I dismounted, and immediately Boxter took off along the side of the hill.  I began digging, expecting that he wouldn't travel too far, but his neighs quickly receded into the distance until they were almost inaudible.  I decided I'd better go get him.


The spot where he'd stopped looked as good as the one I'd just left behind, though.  Since Boxter had shown uncanny shelter-finding abilities in the past, I decided to give this spot a try.

I just noticed that Boxter appears to have no brow ridges.

 Almost immediately, I hit a rich vein of coal.  Nice touch, Boxter.  I dug a shelter of the same design that I'd been slowly developing over the past several nights - two blocks wide, and five blocks high for the first three blocks back, then four blocks high for the next few.  I placed a two-block barrier in front of the entrance, then went to get Boxter.  It was going to work this time.

My patented masterpiece: the Shelter2000.

Amazingly, it did.  I rode Boxter up and over the barrier, and we were in the cave.  When we dropped off the edge of the barrier, Boxter landed and started bouncing.  This was odd, but he'd been doing this sort of thing all day.  I hoped I wouldn't embed my head in the ceiling if I dismounted mid-bounce.

Bounce bounce bounce

Instead, I found myself looking up at the ceiling from far below, wondering where my horse had gotten to.


I looked straight downwards and got my answer.  Somehow Boxter and I were occupying the same point in space.  We had melded into some strange centaur-like creature.


I looked straight ahead, and there was Boxter's head and mane, now seen from far below my usual perspective.  I should have switched to the 3rd person camera to get a picture of what it looked like.  For once, Boxter held still and stopped bouncing, apparently as freaked out by the whole thing as I was.  Or else he was trying to infuse some horse sense into me by physically fusing us.

And whoa.

 I stepped away, with no apparent ill effects, and began to replace part of my cobblestone barrier with glass, just in time to watch the sunset.

View's not bad tonight.

Boxter followed me closely and curiously, and eventually to avoid hitting him with my pickaxe, I began enlarging the room, starting with a me-sized side passage.

HI.  (now I can't unsee the weirdness of his eyes being so far up on his head)

 There was a slight problem when I attempted to connect the two rooms by breaking through the block that held the single torch.

One of the most terrifying sights in Minecraft.

In my mind, the room instantly filled with zombies, skeletons, and creepers.  It was all I could do to stay calm long enough to place a single torch.  Miraculously, it appeared that Boxter and I were still safe.

I spent some more time enlarging the room, although I was forced to patch the ceiling in several places where it turned out the hill wasn't quite tall enough - each time I removed a square to show sky, my stomach made a leap for my throat, and my fingers froze, envisioning zombies raining down from above.

Finally, I turned to the delicious task of mining the coal from the floor.

Boxter did end up taking a bit of pickaxe damage, so I distributed sugar cubes.

Whenever I got out of the hole to craft another pickaxe, Boxter amused himself by pushing me back in.

View from the bottom of the hole, where I'd just been shoved.  There's the ceiling I patched earlier.

 Finally, the moon began to set, and I was treated to another view of a creepy floating spectre, this time perched serenely in a tree, watching the horizon.  Instead of encountering more and more pegasus as I journey north, it appears I'm finding flying creatures of a distinctly less pleasing variety.

Spooky cow!  This one was too far away to hear, at least.

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