Chapter 10 – A heated battle

The sights the group sees when they exit the mysterious purple gate is astonishing. The Nether, which they have arrived at, is best described to be the underworld of Minecraft. It’s a giant cave made out of jagged, red rock. Lava falls pour down into giant lava lakes. Weird glowing, yellow crystals that reminds of corals stick out from the ceiling. Mushrooms grow erratically around, and strange, zombified pigmen are walking about, grunting randomly towards each other, not paying too much attention to the odd group of people who just entered the realm.

“Whoa,” is all that Sharon can say, impressed by the game once more. Greenmushroom notices something else, namely another gateway. “Where does that one lead?” he asks Silver, who no doubt know. Silver is more than happy to answer.
“That one leads back to the base on the island. Space is compressed in the Nether compared to the overworld, by eight, actually.”

Both Martin and Silver like to spout out random trivia for whatever they are doing, especially when they are playing video games. Of course, most of the time the trivia is a bit inaccurate, but this time he remembers it correctly.

“Right, so you were going to explain something?” Ashling wonders.
“Oh yeah!” Silver suddenly remembers. “But it’s not good news,” he adds.

“But first…” Silver says and heads towards the cave wall and digs out a small cubbyhole, making the entrance in such a way you cannot see in from the outside. He waves for the others to enter, which they promptly do. Sharon is a bit confused, but trusts Silver.

“So that the Ghasts can’t see us,” he says, not elaborating on what Ghasts are in Minecraft. Instead, he explains much more scary things.

“It’s the Endermen,” Silver begins. “That AI boost they got is crazy, because they seem to have become smarter than what we can handle, especially now since they apparently managed to teleport away The Superhero. Originally Endermen could only pick up certain blocks and place them somewhere else, but now it is people, and even chunks.”

“Chunks? Chunks of what?” Sharon is visibly puzzled, although she’s sure she’s not going to like the answer.

“Of the world,” Silver says, putting the emphasis on ‘world’. “This game is built upon chunks, 16 by 16 by two hundred and fifty something… five, I think, blocks. The world is procedurally created with new chunks when someone gets close to the world edge. Data storage and all that, but I digress.”

Silver takes a breath before continuing. “So, the Endermen can now move chunks and they have done so, creating the weirdest tower I have ever seen in Minecraft, not that there’s anything bad with it, it just looks really weird. They have also turned more aggressive, but at least they still retain their weakness to water.”

“Can’t we just lower the AI if it’s too difficult? That would be possible, right?” Ashling suggests. Silver nods. “Yes, but only the guy in charge of the server console can do that.”
“Isn’t that Martin? But he’s dead,” Sharon says.
“It’s The Superhero, and he’s gone,” Silver corrects. “Besides, we can still win this, all we need to do is enter The End and defeat the Enderdragon, I hope.”

“The End?” Ashling wonders.
“Enderdragon?” Greenmushroom shudders.
“Yes and yes,” Silver confirms.

“So, how are we going to make it to The End of this game?” Sharon asks, not entirely sure if The End is referring to a location or the end of the game. Although, she has a feeling it’s a bit of both.

“We need Eye of Ender,” Silver explains. “Enderpearls combined with Blaze powder. They are used to find, and open, the portal to The End. And before you ask: we get Blaze powder from the Blaze enemy, located in Nether fortresses here in the Nether. This is where things get challenging, as Blaze are very dangerous, especially in Hardcore mode, and even more so with the AI boost. I’d rather not do it, but it’s either win this game or restart the server.”
“I vote for a restart!” Greenmushroom hastily says, waving his hand.
“Which we can’t, because the guy in charge of the server console is gone,” Silver answers as if he had anticipated someone to vote for the latter option.

“So, where in the Nether can we find fortresses?” Sharon asks. Silver shrugs.
“It shouldn’t take too long to find one, but I can’t guarantee it will have a Blaze spawner in it.”
“Well, we won’t get much done from in here, will we?” Sharon points out, ready for a proper adventure, inside another dimension no less. Somehow she can accept this better than the rest of the physics in Minecraft.

The group gets ready to head out, but as soon as Silver reaches the opening out of the small cubby, he’s stopped by Ashling.
“By the way, Silver. What are those Ghasts you were talking about?”
Silver looks at him for a brief moment before answering: “Huge white floating squid-like monsters that shoots fireballs at you. It’s possible to reflect them, and even easier to dodge. They shouldn’t be too much of a problem.”

*

Boom!

And just like that, the simple netherrack bridge Silver built over the massive lava lake got a chunk blown away. A Ghast had suddenly spawned and started to fire. Half of the party had made it safely over to the other side when the bridge had exploded, the half being Silver and Ashling.

The Ghast fires another fireball, aimed at the half of the group that was left behind. Not feeling confident in trying to reflect the fireball, Sharon and Greenmushroom decides to back away from the bridge. The Ghast hovers around in the air above the lava lake, only opening its eyes just before shooting of another ball of fiery death.

“Silver!” Sharon shouts, hoping that the Minecraft veteran has an idea of what to do.
“We got no range weapons, try to hit the fireball with your sword, it will reflect it!” Silver shouts back.
“No thank you!” Sharon shouts, causing Silver to roll his eyes. He will have to think of something else. In the meantime, the Ghast keeps trying to hit with its fireballs, but the two dodges, making each fireball hit the ground, causing it to explode and catch on fire.

“Think Swede, think…” Silver mumbles to himself. He doesn’t like pressure.
“Hurry!” Greenmushroom shouts and dodges the next fireball to the side, causing him to get separated from Sharon by a wall of fire.

The Ghast fires again, yet another fireball that heads right towards Greenmushroom. The poor mushroom didn’t dodge fast enough, and was caught by the edge of the explosion, putting his hearts dangerously low.

Something dawns for Silver. “It targets Greenmushroom,” he almost whispers.
“Yeah?” Ashling comments, surprised. He’s bothered that there isn’t much he can do to help at the moment.
“Green. Mushroom,” Silver says, a smile slowly forms.

Greenmushroom dodges another fireball. The amount of space he can dodge to becomes less and less with each fireball, blowing away bits of the ground and igniting dangerous fires.

Silver gets to action and shouts: “GM! It targets the camera! Press F5! Move it!”
At first, Greenmushroom looks at him confused, but then nods.

The Ghast lets out another chilling, childish scream and fires off another fireball. But this time it flies way above Greenmushroom, much to everyone’s surprise, even Silver’s who wasn’t sure it would work or not.

“What just happened?” Sharon asks, puzzled over this new development.
“Greenmushroom changed the camera view by pressing F5,” Silver explains. “Just don’t-”
“Oh no, geddit off geddit off geddit off! Undo! Undo!” Sharon suddenly starts running in circles, flailing her arms about. Silver facepalms, followed by Ashling doing the same.

“Stop running before you fall into the lava or run into the fire!” Ashling shouts. Sharon responds by throwing herself to the ground and grabbing hold of it.
“I can see my face!” she shouts in disbelief and with fright. “Make it stop!”

Meanwhile, the Ghast keeps firing above Greenmushroom, who’s not trying to move his camera too much, just to be on the safe side. He can only hear the panicked shouts of Sharon from beyond the hollowed out ground and fire.

“Just press F5 again or however you did it the first time!” Silver shouts, not completely sure himself how one presses F5 with no keyboard present. Maybe focusing or something, but he doesn’t really want to find out for himself.

“I don’t know how I did it the first time!” Sharon shouts back in panic and anger. She moves away her head, but that only results in her seeing it from a bit farther away, and it’s still straight towards herself. She suddenly calms down. “Wow, I look ridiculous.”
She turns her head to inspect herself more, but the face is always straight into the camera view.

“Well, at least she’s not panicking anymore,” Ashling says to Silver, who let’s out an unsure chuckle, not knowing how else to react to Ashling’s comment.

“Hang on, I think I got this,” Sharon says and looks focused. She then shakes her head and stands up, almost with a backwards fling. She stumbles back for a bit and then looks around. “There, all fixed,” she says with a smile. “Now, what do we do about that Ghast?”

“She recovered really quick,” Ashling comments to Silver, who agrees. “Almost a bit too quick…”
Either he’s on to something or he just said it for its drama value. Knowing Silver, it could be either.
“Hang on, I got an idea. Cover me!” Silver says and moves towards the edge of the cliff.

“GM! Keep distracting the Ghast!” Silver shouts to the accompanying mushroom.
“If you want me to keep looking where I’m looking, sure thing!” he answers and gives a thumbs up in the others’ general direction.

“Silver, what are you doing?” Ashling asks as he watches Silver carefully put down blocks at the edge of the cliff and starts to form another bridge. This one doesn’t seem to be towards Greenmushroom and Sharon, though.
“Just make sure more Ghasts doesn’t show up. I’m going to kill the Ghasts,” Silver answers as he makes his way slowly towards the Ghast.

“Silver, look out!” Ashling suddenly shouts. Silver spins around to see a fireball heading straight towards him. In his panic he hits the fireball with the swing of his arm, and the fireball is reflected and flies into a wall. The fireball was fired by the same Ghast who was attacking Greenmushroom, and it seems the enhanced AI made it possible for it to know when it’s in danger.

It fires another one toward Silver, but this time he’s more prepared for it. He gets ready to slash back the fireball towards the Ghast. If he misses, he will get thrown off and the bridge he’s standing on will get destroyed and he will fall into the massive lava lake below. Needless to say, he’s nervous.

He swings his sword.

The fireball is reflected and hits the Ghast before it has time to escape. The Ghast falls to the side and into the lava lake, disappearing in a puff of smoke, as all enemies in this game do when they die. Silver laughs in relief and then carefully makes his way back to the cliff. Ashling is already repairing the bridge for Greenmushroom and Sharon.

“Hey, Silver. Does the Nether fortress look like an aqueduct of sorts?” Greenmushroom wonders, having climbed out of the burning hole caused by the Ghast’s initial attacks.

“Yeah?” Silver answers.
“Found it,” Greenmushroom smiles and points out through the hole of the Ghast’s latter attacks caused by tricking it with the camera. Silver gets over to Greenmushroom and looks through as well.

On the other side of the wall, partly over ground and partly over lava, a dark red fortress made out of long bridges and square outposts stand. Zombie pigmen are roaming about and patrolling on one of the towers is some flying fire creature.

“Well done!” Silver smiles. “Let’s get this show on the road.”

Next chapter

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