The Minecraft Experiment, day 26: Mystery Fire

Tom Francis

Minecraft Diary 26 - Boat Sunset

When I first started playing Minecraft a few months ago, I played with a rule: if I die, I have to delete the entire world. Now I'm trying to get to hell and back. The diary starts here , and we're up to the 26th.

I've just escaped a monster-infested coast in a tiny boat, and I'm back on track toward home.

World 10, deaths 9

Boats are the way to travel. Fast, easy, no risk of Creeper attack. I'm enjoying speeding across this ocean so much that when I hit the opposite coast, I veer right to follow the waterway around instead of disembarking.

This world is so watery that I'm able to sail for most of the day, occasionally, shipwrecking myself and rebuilding my boat the other side of a troublesome peninsula. I'm still sailing when the sun goes down, and while I'm safe out on the water, avoiding land gets harder in the dark.

I don't have a good plan for where I'll hide for the night, so I skull along the coastline keeping a healthy distance from the Creepers and Skeleton Archers roaming it. I finally moor up at a cliff, deciding I'll just dig into the rock and avoid the open entirely.

Surprisingly soon, I break into a natural cave. It's flooded, making a lovely little underground lake - the kind of place I'd probably set up in if I didn't already have a home to go to. It's while I'm splashing pointlessly around in this paddling pool that I suddenly notice I have three pieces of string.

While many pensioners could proudly say the same, this has special significance to me - it means I can make a bow. I've been stockpiling arrows for most of my life in anticipation of this day, but virtually the only way to get string is to kill spiders, and I didn't dare tangle with that many of them before I went to hell.

I slap down a workbench and construct my super weapon, the final solution to Creepers and Ghasts. I have 85 arrows for it, so I'm not shy about testing it out. It's incredible - like a medieval machinegun. After peppering the walls of this cave with arrows, I happily get back to digging.

There's a lot more rock to get through this time, but after a few minutes I hit air again. And in the gloom ahead, I see the most extraordinary thing: fire.

Lava, I'm used to. Fires I started, I know those well. But this is completely the opposite direction to all the terrible things I've done since I came back from hell. Am I home? So soon? What else can cause fire but me?

As I get closer, I recognise the blaze and remember the one other thing that burns: Spawners. Rare, weird devices that churn out one type of creature indefinitely. A rattle and a thwunk confirm that this one spawns Skeleton Archers, the nastiest thing on this plane of existence short of a Creeper. Spawners are found in dungeons, which as I discovered in a previous life, also contain chests of 'treasure' - predominantly eggs and string. Yes, this is definitely worth risking my life for.

I'm cautious at first, erecting a barricade with a single hole in it, to let me shoot my new bow at the skeletons without too much risk of retaliation. After killing a few, though, it occurs to me that the whole point of this Spawner thing is that it spawns indefinitely, and this would be a quick way to burn through my arrow supply.

So I break down my wall and charge in sword first. I am perforated. There are about five of the damn things in here, and though I slap down a few torches, they're grey bones against grey rock and almost impossible to spot in a hurry. Eventually I run away, tail between legs, grilled ham in mouth.

Once I'm healed, I decide to be more strategic. I have a handle on where the chests are in that room now, so I can brick it up and take out chunks of the room just big enough for me to reach through.

It's a perilous, stupid process, not helped by the fact that I start it with my inventory full and have to frantically throw dented metal trousers and feathers at the skeletons trying to shoot me. But after some time and a lot of damage, I escape with my prize: two leather saddles and some gunpowder. Goddamn it.

After digging through the mountain for a while, I realise I'm going to need to dig up a bit to actually see daylight again. I do my usual staircase pattern to climb as quickly as possible. Soon I hit sand, which means switching to my old diamond spade. I'm careful, spading only sand that's ahead of me and not directly above. But sand doesn't play by the normal rules. It sometimes stays hanging in the air until a block next to it is disturbed. I'm not sure exactly how it happens, but I'm spading some sand ahead when suddenly a heap of it falls directly on my head.

Now I'm panicking. When gravel or sand falls on you, you choke on it. I have never survived this. I flail wildly with the spade, but after a few crunches it makes no further sound, suggesting I'm not making any progress to clearing this shit off my face. My health is ticking down and it wasn't high to begin with, thanks to SaddleQuest. I can't think what else to try, so I just try to buy time - bringing up the inventory, dragging cooked ham to my toolbar, and scarfing it as fast as I can.

Not knowing what else to do, I try switching to a pickaxe so that I can knock out any rock that might be blocking me from escaping this suffocating sand - I can't see a damn thing, so it's hard to know why I can't seem to move or hit it. I don't know what the hell I'm doing, but after a few frantic blows, suddenly my airways are clear and I can see. The sand is gone, but I have no idea what I did right. And when I look at my hand, I realise I actually pulled out an axe. Whatever I finally hit with it, that can't have been the best way to do it.

I'll settle for being alive, though.

Next: A pig is tragically killed .

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