Suddenly, there was a creepy noise and a black, slender figure with purple snowflakes swirling around and a creepy hood pulled up over his head walked into the room. Well, no, he didn't walk in, he just appeared out of nowhere, sort of. For a moment, Testificate thought he was holding one of those pearls too. The creature - Testificate thought maybe it was called an "Enderman" - said something in a bizarre, indiscernible language and three of the fiery things - Blazes? - left the room. He turned towards Testificate. Testificate tried to look him in the face.
"Do not look me in the eye," said the figure, "unless you have a death wish, Testificate." So that was his name. "You and your pal Steve have been a thorn in my side for too long," the figure continued, "well, now it ends. Steve will be executed in 72 hours, and I will make you watch your friend die at the hands of my Nethermen. Entertainment is short down here, and we will welcome his painful death. As an added bonus, we will make you a Zombie Villager and force you to kill each other! Do you have anything to say?"
"Yes," said Testificate, "who on earth am I, who are you and do I know this Steve."
The Enderman growled. "Don't toy with me, Testificate," he snarled, "you know perfectly well what is going on."
"No," he said, "I don't."
The Enderman turned to one of the Blazes. "I assumed that we should wipe his memory as per proce-" The Enderman screeched and suddenly the Blaze fell to the ground screaming.
"Yes," said the Enderman, "feel the pain, you fool." The Blaze burst into flames and a golden rod clattered to the ground. The pig people - Pigmen? No, Zombie Pigmen - stood impassively.
He didn't know who this being was, but he hated him. He reached for an arrow to throw at him, but instead he threw the cracked pearl. It missed him and flew down a shaft.
"Your Ender Pearl is broken, Testificate," he said, "escape is impossible. When you do remember, remember this." An image flared in his mind - three or four boys running away from a smoking crater as other Villagers fled and Zombie Pigmen followed. One of them had a weird amulet around his neck. He winced, somehow recognizing the amulet. Inside, somehow he knew there was a darkness - in fact, the same darkness that stood before him right now. There was an Enderman inside that amulet, and a powerful one at that. He imagined the boy slaying Villagers relentlessly and morphing into a tall, slender creature. The Enderman laughed mercilessly. "Soon, we will make you know the truth, and you will wish you still had amnesia."
Suddenly, there was a flash of purple snowflakes and the prison faded from view as the Enderman yelled in fury. The next thing he knew, he was deep underground holding his cracked pearl. He had no clue what had just happened, but he knew this Steve was the key. Apparently, Steve was his friend, and he wouldn't let his friend die.
Behind him, more Zombie Pigmen rushed out with golden swords flashing. He threw his pearl again but nothing happened. It must have been broken. He grabbed it up and ran for the fiery light at the end of the tunnel. He came to a sea of fire and jumped up, grabbing onto an overhanging ledge. The Pigmen fell in, but it didn't seem to bother them. He jumped onto some sandy material next to the lava, but it hurt with a passion, so he ran onto the Netherrack - "How did I know what it was called?" he thought - and looked up. Testificate gasped. If there was any question of it before, he knew that he was definitely in hell - or, more accurately, the Nether.
Testificate was talking to the mysterious stranger. He had appeared in the camp four months before, as he heard. Testificate had joined the Cyan Shirt League only two months ago.
The stranger had recovered and was talking with Testificate. "So," he said, "I think you deserve an introduction. I'm Steve."
Testificate gasped. "THE Steve? Legendary hero? Son of Notch? The guy who once accidentally walked into a dungeon with a hundred zombie spawners and came out with a new rotten flesh collection?"
He smiled. "I'm not really the son of Notch, but that's me."
Testificate laughed. "A friend of mine is named after you," he exclaimed, "so what are you doing here?"
He sighed. "I just escaped from the Ether." Testificate stared. "THE Ether."
Testificate shook his head. "Don't follow."
Steve sighed. "We need to talk."
To Hell and Back: A Villager's Oddysey
Chapter 1: Death by Giant Accordion
Testificate dodged a fireball. Above, a hideous jellyfish thing flung fireballs. There were Zombie Pigmen riding it. A reddish looking Enderman - perhaps a Netherman? - appeared and attacked him. Testificate fell back against the fortress wall and found a mysterious stone. He picked it up and suddenly, a cold chill came into the hot air of the Nether. The Netherman was frozen and Testificate kicked it back into the lava. When something is frozen and then heated again, the expanding and contracting plays havoc with it. The Netherman shattered into shards of ice and disappeared in a puff of steam. Testificate nodded and ran into the little chamber where he had found the strange stone. Testificate fell to his knees and took deep breaths, trying to collect himself. Somehow, he had escaped. Now he needed to figure out where to find this mysterious Steve.
As he regained bits of memory, he knew that Steve was very important - a hero, no less, a legendary hero. Testificate also knew that he once belonged to a group called the Cyan Shirt League, whatever that meant. He decided that his first goal was to find and rescue this Steve, and then find a way back to the Overworld. He suddenly remembered what the Overworld was like - fresh water, oceans, green meadows, mighty jungles, spectacular mountains and peaceful sheep and cows. There were also dangers like skeletons and zombies at night, explosive creepers, long forgotten temples and mineshafts, deadly caves and strongholds. But it was largely a world of beauty. A little village came to mind, a place called Oaktown. But Testificate didn't call it Oaktown, he called it home.
Suddenly, he heard a strange noise, a sort of shrieking, squishing gurgle. He whirled around to find what appeared to be a giant accordion behind him. It struck him and he fell back, reaching for a nonexistent sword. He pulled out an arrow. The accordion now looked more like a cube, and he recalled that this was a magma cube. Testificate suddenly remembered being with Steve, fighting off a pair of Magma Cubes in this very tunnel. Steve dropped a sword and they fled. It jumped again and once again, the thing looked like an accordion. Death by giant accordion couldn't be a pleasant way out. Testificate jabbed it with his arrow and a bit of reddish blood came out. Magma cream, Testificate knew, but how did he know that? The cube screeched and crushed him in its accordion. Testificate flailed and his hand brushed something cold and metallic. The sword! He grabbed it by the hilt just as the very life was being crushed out of him and swung, catching it in the… well, not the head, it didn't have one. Perhaps the… no, not the side. Was it side, front, top, back or keyboard? Well, wherever Testificate hit it, it did the trick and the cube deflated and gurgled. Testificate was soaked in magma cream as it slowly died.
In spite of himself, he laughed. He got up and examined the sword. It was black as night and there was a sparkle to it like stars in the sky. It was definitely very sharp and it felt darkly powerful. The scabbard lay a few inches away. Testificate sheathed it and put it on his belt. He examined the stone as well. It was cold as ice and transparent too, and if he focused hard enough, he could hear a cold, icy voice inside. He wondered why he hadn't used the amulet on the magma cube. He decided it was instinct. Maybe his instincts were right. There was a certain power to the stone that felt dangerous. He decided to use it only as a last resort. He felt hungry, so he decided to go find some food. He turned towards the darkness and somehow knew he needed to find Nether Warts. He headed off on the trail of adventure.
Testificate and Steve sat down in a little hut next to the Cyan Shirt League graveyard. Testificate sighed. "Too many people died at the hands of the Endermen," he decided. He turned to Steve. "So, what is this Ether?"
Steve sighed. "Notch and Jeb," he began, "do you know what race they belong to?"
Testificate nodded. "Humans."
"They aren't the only humans," Steve continued, "there are many others that are toying with our world. Some alter it and make shadow worlds called "mods." Now, you know the three dimensions."
Testificate nodded. "Of course I do. The Overworld, the End and… oh yeah, the Nether!"
Steve nodded. "Some mods include more dimensions." Testificate raised an eyebrow. "For example," Steve continued, "in one such mod was a hostile paradise, as the humans called it. It was a sky world called the Æther, or the Aether."
Testificate was puzzled. "Why in the past tense?"
Steve sighed. "Me and my brother explored this Æther extensively, and soon we discovered it harboured a dark power, a force manufacturing mysterious doorways. My brother was captured and imprisoned within the Mind Amulet, a powerful object that trapped him in his own dreams. I just barely escaped, and I was nearly killed. That entity was called the voice in the darkness, and he has warped the Æther into a dark realm. It is now called the Ether. Æther means a high and heavenly realm of pure air, though that was far from the truth, even before the voice appeared. The Ether is the word for nothingness, for it is now a dark void." There was silence. In the dark of night, Testificate heard a creeper hiss. Somewhere far, far away, a dog barked, echoing into the silence.
Chapter 2: How Not to Ride a Ghast
Testificate would later reflect that maybe going back into the Stronghold wasn't such a hot idea, but he was unbelievably hungry and the heat of standing only meters above a gigantic ocean of lava can make a person delirious. In any sense, he wanted to have some sustenance, so he went to look for Nether Warts.
His sword sparkled black in the dim light, and the stone - an amulet - glowed a brilliant white and it felt cold to the touch, as if someone or something was breathing on it with a breath as icy as an Arctic wind.
Testificate heard a noise and whirled around to face a black, sooty skeletal entity. He recalled it was called a Wither Skeleton. It had a sword made of what looked like rock. Testificate was definitely not good at swordplay, so he turned and ran. It was catching up to him, though. Suddenly, he remembered that Wither Skeletons are three meters tall and can't fit through two meter high doors. He turned to the left, where there was a short doorway. He leaped through just as the skeleton's sword grazed his shirt. He whirled to find the skeleton comically trying to squeeze through the doorway. He sliced through its backbone and it collapsed into a pile of bones and coal. Testificate picked up the sword and scabbard and put them on his belt. Couldn't hurt to have more than one sword. Instinctively, he smashed the skull, recalling a painting of a monstrous creature with three heads. He turned around and came face to face with a Blaze.
I'll just censor the next bit, so it comes out as "HOLY BLEEEEEP! Oh my BLEEPing Notch!" or something along those lines.
Anyways, for obvious reasons Testificate ran as fast as he could. A Blaze fireball grazed his shoulders and he gripped the amulet, just in case. Ahead of him, three Zombie Pigmen were coming closer, and the way he came from was guarded by dozens of Wither Skeletons, as well as a few normal Skeletons with bows. Bows. Oh dear. An arrow entered Testificate's right arm before he realized what that meant.
"BLEEP!" he sort of said, and he ran for the best possible solution - the Zombie Pigmen.
He sliced off a porky head with one sword and stabbed a chest with another, then before the third one had time to react it was sprawling on the floor after a kick to the groin. Testificate ate some pork - somehow pre-cooked - as he ran and found himself holding three gold nuggets. Might come in handy in the future. The third Zombie Pigman had recovered and was chasing him while riding the Blaze.
Suddenly, Testificate's feet fell out from under him. He was at the end of the tunnel and below was just lava. He hauled himself up to find that they were all coming closer. Not a good thing. He noticed a mewing sound and realized he was in a Ghast paddock. Without thinking, he took the only option - he jumped onto the saddle of the nearest Ghast and grabbed up some stirrups. He grabbed the reins and with a cry of "See ya, suckers!" he flew out of the frying pan and right into the fire.
Now, there are a couple rules to riding Ghasts. Rule number 1 is never, ever jump on a Ghast unless you know that Ghast very well, you have a year or more of training on Ghast riding or you're the Ghast Whisperer. Here's why. The Ghast panicked and attempted to buck Testificate off.
Testificate then broke Rule Number 2: Never try to prevent falling off by digging in your stirrups. The Ghast made a sound like nothing Testificate had ever heard outside from the time that his cat, Jimmy, had fallen in the toilet. He frowned. How could he remember that and barely remember his best friend? He had no time to ponder that, though, because the Ghast wanted to kill him. And the Ghast was not alone. Behind, Testificate could hear the screech of Blazes and the mew of Ghasts. Then, a fireball singed right over his head - or was it under? Impossible to tell with the amount of times the Ghast had gone upside down - and burned off three hairs.
That was when Testificate broke Rule No. 3: Don't panic. He desperately tried to regain control, but the Ghast was zooming towards the lava below. He decided that since obviously the stirrups wouldn't work, he would have to use the reins.
He pulled up just in time to escape the lava and master Rule Number 4: Use the reins, not the stirrups, as well as Rule Number 5: Don't let the Ghast take a fire bath. He turned around to face the twelve pursuing Ghasts. About two dozen Blazes hovered ominously as well. Rule #6 is not to kick it in the stomach with your stirrups or it will shoot a fireball, but at the moment Testificate really didn't have a choice. He instinctively kicked and a pair of fireballs knocked down three Ghasts. Their pigman riders fell into the lava below, but they didn't seem too upset about it.
By now, the arrow had come out and was burning somewhere in the lava below, and he was starting to think rationally thanks to the pork. He knew they were about to fire, so he made himself a moving target. He danced around a gigantic waterfall of lava and made for an outcropping of Glowstone where a Netherbrick mine had been set up and glowstone dust was being hauled down to a little complex via Minecart and Hopper. Four fireballs barely missed and Testificate blocked a fifth with his sword. For a moment, it clung ominously to the side, then he flung it back at the Ghasts and it incinerated one, rider and all. A strange sign suddenly appeared in his mind reading "Achievement get! Return to sender." Testificate had no idea at all what it meant. However, this was not the time. He fired back and missed twice, but killed three Blazes in one hit. A single pigman jockey fell burning towards the lava. At that height, the impact was deadly. A fireball grazed his shoulder and struck the mining station, sending minecarts flying into the lava below. One almost hit Testificate in the head. He recovered his senses and decided to land. He couldn't stay airborne much longer. He leaped off while the enemy Ghasts and Blazes were on the other side of the collapsing station and ran into the building. He grabbed onto a minecart as the ground gave way and braced himself for the jarring impact when he struck the remains of the rail.
Testificate stood in the cave where Cody and Angela were investigating the mysterious obsidian frame with the purple, glowing fog.
"Any luck?" asked Steve. Not the hero, the Cyan Shirt League commander. He really needed some sort of name change.
"Nope," said Cody, "we're still perplexed. Everything we put into it just vanishes."
Testificate walked closer. "Have you sent a person through yet?"
Angela shook her head. "Too dangerous," she explained, "we don't know if they'll ever come back."
Testificate took a deep breath and stuck his hand through, then pulled it out. Everybody was staring at him. "That was stupid," Cody exclaimed.
Testificate grinned. "I'm a Villager," he explained, "stupidity comes second nature to us."
Angela sighed. "Okay, I know that a lot of people here think you have a low IQ," she began.
"Including you," Testificate retorted.
Angela groaned. "It's a stereotype," she moaned, "I just find it hard to shake."
Testificate took a deep breath, trying not to get angry. "You don't need to shake the habit," he snarled, "I'll show you how stupid Villagers are." He jumped through the purple fog before anyone could stop him.
Testificate was in hell. Lava poured from the ceiling high above into a massive ocean of molten rock. Above, evil-looking entities hovered and zombie-like porky monsters stood nearby. Pigmen. But no, they were zombified. They had golden swords. What appeared to be orange, fiery Endermen stood on the hill above. Suddenly, the evil entities, the wraith things, turned around and shot fireballs at him. A crater opened up in the ground and Testificate fell back as demonic things started running at him. He was back in the cave.
"Destroy it," he commanded.
"YOU HEARD ME, CODY!! DESTROY IT!!" Cody grabbed up a diamond pickaxe and smashed away at the obsidian. A zombified pigman poked it's head through just as the portal smashed into purple snowflakes and it was sucked into the Void. Everyone took a moment to recover. Testificate realized that the other Steve was also in the room.
He nodded at Testificate. "You have guts," he said.
Chapter 3: Glowstone Dust in the Face
Testificate picked up a Hopper and turned to find a Pigman glaring at him. He got out of the broken minecart. "Excuse me," Testificate said, "what is this device." The pigman snorted. "That's a hopper," he said in a gruff voice, "it transfers items between chests. New redstone device." Testificate marveled. "What will they think of next?" he muttered before bashing the pigman on the head with the device and running down the ladder.
By now, the Ghast riders must have realized that he was hiding in the mining station and were attacking with fireballs. Testificate jumped off the ladder to avoid a falling slab of Nether Brick. It smashed into bricks and Testificate picked one up and used it to bash two pigmen coming up the stairs. Testificate looked at the line of hoppers below and at the minecarts and got an idea. He took the pigman's head and quickly hollowed it out - very unappetizing work - by use of a chunk of quartz. Must be some new kind of rare crystal.
He put on the head like a mask and got into a worker's uniform, listening to the sound of explosions outside. He tossed his swords into the conveyor belt of hoppers and jumped into a Minecart. He rode along and jumped off to act like he was crafting weapons and glowstone.
Out of curiosity, he snapped off the arrowhead on one of his arrows and swiped a Blaze Rod that would have gone into making a brewing stand. Four blocks of glowstone fell onto his crafting table from a hopper and he crafted it all into a crude sword. "Blaze sword," he mumbled in awe. He had heard stories about the mysterious armies of the Nether wielding powerful fire swords. Wondering what would happen, he grabbed a chunk of Quartz and stuck it on the end of the sword. The sword flashed blue and somehow, Testificate seemed almost connected to it.
The hopper threw his swords back to him and he prepared to leave. Unfortunately, one of the hoppers coughed and sprayed glowstone dust at him. He growled and instinctively took of the pigman head to brush it away. Then, he realized just how owned he was.
Testificate and Steve - Steve the hero - had been sent to defend the village of Winden from zombies after the walls had caved in. Cody went to the north end for repairs and left Steve and Testificate at the south end to fight the zombies pouring in through the second breach. Steve's ornate diamond sword flashed like lightning and beheaded three zombies. Testificate raised his iron sword and jabbed one zombie in the stomach region. They both slashed and hacked at the undead horde. But the zombies kept on coming.
Steve - the Cyan Shirt League commander - ran up to them, his brand new diamond sword, a birthday present, twirling and hacking. "Bad news, guys," he announced, "the repair crew won't be here for another three hours."
Testificate looked at the setting sun. "But by nightfall," he complained, "we won't be able to hold them off!"
Steve shrugged. "Improvise."
Testificate made his decision. "We have to find another way of blocking the breach," he decided. He turned to Steve - Steve the hero. "Tell the villagers to accompany you into the forest. Get some axes and get as much wood as you can, then report back here."
Steve nodded and ran off. Steve - Steve the Cyan Shirt League commander - sighed. "It's going to be a long night."
Half an hour later, Steve arrived with two dozen villagers armed with axes and carrying piles of wood. Testificate nodded. "Good," he said, "now I want you to block up the breach with that wood. Six of the Villagers will join me and Steve outside."
Steve - the Cyan Shirt League commander (this was starting to get ridiculous) - shuddered. "I think I'd do better in here."
Testificate nodded. "Yes you would," he decided, "which is why I didn't ask you. Okay, lets go, lets get a move on!"
The Villagers ran outside. They were badly armed, but what they lacked in skill they made up for in numbers. Steve and the other six Villagers were making the wood into planks and interlocking the planks, tying them together with string. It wasn't exactly the Great Wall of Pandaria, but it would hold until the building team from the League arrived. One of the Villagers was bit and fell down.
"He's going to turn into a Zombie Villager," Testificate realized. He turned to the other Villagers. "Does anybody have any gold." They shook their heads.
"Gold is useless," they explained, "we use emeralds."
Testificate moaned. "An apple?" One of the villagers tossed him an apple.
Steve handed him a couple gold nuggets. "Got them off one of the pigmen in the Nether," he explained, "long story."
Testificate ran over to the makeshift wall and grabbed four square planks, tying them together into a crude crafting table. He quickly whipped together a golden apple and threw it to the villager, who ate it. Testificate wipe some sweat off his brow. "Keep moving," he yelled, "we have to fight until the wall is repaired!"
Suddenly, he heard a hissing sound. Steve was so preoccupied fighting a zombie with a golden sword that he didn't notice a creeper sneaking up behind him. Without even thinking, Testificate ran over to the creeper and knocked it down. It bulged with expanding gunpowder and Testificate knocked it back with his sword. It explodes and sent him flying, and then everything turned black as his head cracked upon impact with a rock.
Chapter 4: The Joys of TNT
Testificate knew he was about to be owned. He was about to use the amulet, but he had a feeling that he should use the sword. He jabbed it into the ground and fire erupted from the ground. The pigmen were incinerated and there was a rumble in the air. The whole mining station was collapsing. Testificate swore repeatedly and ran for the exit sign. Unfortunately, there was a blast of fire and a Ghast hovered menacingly where there had once been a door. Testificate swore and swore and he held up his sword and swung it. Fire erupted from it and a wall of flames ripped through the air. The Ghast was turned to dust immediately and the fleet that had been pursuing Testificate was burned up. He twirled the sword. Not bad. He ran down what remained of the staircase and saw more zombie pigmen riding more ghasts toward him. He knew he needed to evade them, and somehow he knew evasion was a specialty of his.
He decided to take stock of his inventory. He had three arrows. He had a mysterious pearl that occasionally teleported you, sometimes where you wanted to be, if it was in the mood. He had three swords, a stone one from a Wither Skeleton, an obsidian one from Steve and a fiery sword with mysterious powers. And he had a mysterious amulet with freezing powers and a creepy voice inside. He turned a corner, and he gawked. Then, he laughed. Directly in front of him was 18 large chests, and they were overflowing at the seams with TNT. "We're in business," he muttered to himself.
The pigmen landed and ran down the corridor to find the chests empty. One of them groaned. Suddenly, he noticed movement in one of the chests. "Search the chest," he commanded, "he must be hiding inside! Draw your weapons, I hear this one is a handful!"
One of the pigmen opened the chest. There was another pigman cowering inside. "He-he could have killed me," he muttered, "he-he… he… oh wow," said the pigman, noticing a trail of lit redstone leading from the chest and disappearing under some nether brick slabs. There was a click sound and fire filled the room. All but one of the pigmen were dead before they had a chance to scream. He happened to be a colonel, and he ran to the opening.
"All the men are dead," he yelled, "he set up a TNT trap! Search the mining station, find him and drag him to me in chains and I'll teach him what happens to those who mess with Colonel J'Bastelar!!" The pigmen rushed down the hallway, or what was left of it.
Testificate was in hospital with a bandage tied around his head. He moaned and sat up. He turned and saw Steve in bed next to him.
Steve turned. "An Enderman came out of nowhere," Steve explained, "stabbed me in the left hip. They amputated it."
Testificate was shocked. "Oh Notch," he exclaimed, "I'm sorry!"
Steve laughed. "You nearly got killed trying to save me from a creeper," he laughed, "and YOU'RE the one who's sorry? At least I didn't nearly die from internal bleeding."
Testificate marvelled. "Did I?"
Steve nodded. "I hear you came pretty close. And you did that to save me?"
Testificate nodded. "Wow. I never expected to actually die doing this. I mean, I wanted to protect Oak Town and do my duty to Minecraftia and all that. But I never thought I could actually die in the CSL until now."
Steve nodded. "Nobody can flee from death," he explained, "I watched my parents get killed by creepers. The thing about bravery is that the only thing you have to fear is fear itself. Nothing took more courage than what you did there." Steve sighed. "My brother can't die in the Mind Amulet. I wonder if he knows who he is. Does he know who I am?"
Testificate shook his head. "I don't know."
Steve got out of bed. "Testificate," he said very seriously, "I am forever in your debt." He handed Testificate his iron sword and bowed.
Testificate stood up. "Thank you." He handed Steve his iron sword back.
Steve stood up. "I'll have to be going then."
Steve sighed. "I'll be going back to the Ether," he admitted, "I'll find my brother if it costs me my life."
Testificate drew his sword. "In that case," he decided, "I'll join you."
"No buts. I want to help you find your brother. I can't imagine what it would be like, being trapped in your mind for so long. I want to help him. He deserves his freedom."
Steve sighed. "Fine, then, Testificate. I welcome you."
Congrats once again to Chromebolt for "The Joys of TNT." He will get a big one, a REALLY big one. I will leave you in suspense while I try to figure out what it is, exactly. I was going to give him a Sand Golem, but thanks to mysterious Internet issues on my iPad I was unable to complete my edit. Chapter 5 will be coming soon, so vote and perhaps you'll get lucky!