shichahn: ([ITC] My milky lens!)
[personal profile] shichahn
This is the one and only Minecraft fic I will ever write. Because honestly, what is the point.

Also yes, I know this is totally ridiculous. Because, dude. It is a fic about a world made of blocks. That has no characters or storyline. What do you expect.

I see the world in infra-red.

It isn't as difficult as it sounds, as a means of navigation. Everything gives off heat, from the deep lava-lit caverns to the sun-baked hillsides and valleys. But I like the cool, and the dark. I love midnight, and the early morning hours, when everything is quiet and calm. And in the crisp morning air, when sun first strikes the land and burns those undead abominations that rise from the earth, I alone am left to stalk the forests in silent solitude.

This morning there is a breeze. It rustles the canopy leaves pleasantly, masking the sound of my feet as I step carefully through the vegetative detritus. When the gust blows past and that faint sound continues, I turn toward it and for a fleeting moment spot one of my kin vanishing behind a trunk. In the forest we are perfectly camouflaged, both to the eyes and ears of those around us. I jerk my head around as one of my feet brushes against something lukewarm and hard. A bone, still warm from the fire. Others lay scattered before me, and the ground bears the heat-path of the undead monstrosity as it danced in burning agony just moments before. Had it still been walking, hidden from the sun by the leaves, it might have been a danger. Skeletons do not prey on us alone, but destroy everything as they please with their flint-tipped arrows. This one had vanished recently, and there could be others still lurking in the shadows.

The undead could not easily be seen against the ambient heat of the trees and grasses. I had run into one once - not literally, of course, but I had come within visual range of one - that for reasons unknown to me had taken me to be a threat. And I could have been, had I wanted to be, but I had other things to do that morning and needlessly ending my life wasn't one of my plans. I ducked behind a trunk just as the arrow thudded into the bark beside me, and kept the tree between myself and the skeleton as it bounced its stilted counterclockwise dance, trying to keep me in its sights. The sun wasn't going to be up for another couple hours, and in my inexperience I hadn't yet learned how to avoid conflicts with these undead marksmen while they prowled the moonlit landscape (although, to be fair, I am still not always sure how to read their body language, given the difficulty I have in seeing them, but at least I have managed not to be shot at in recent months). It drew nearer as I crept around the trunk, nearly tripping on the tree's winding roots as I tried to keep a watch on where it was, when I saw my opening. If I could just duck behind the foliage of a neighboring shrub, I might have enough cover --

There was a loud THWACK! as another arrow smacked a branch just above me, and then a dry crunch as a third buried itself in my flank. I jumped in surprise, flinging myself into the leaves, and then remained motionless while the confused skeleton circled, then finally walked off. They were dangerous, yes, but not very bright. And that information that I had gleaned that day was more useful to me than anything I had learned in some time. I soon learned how to draw skeletons into daylight, and never again had one landed a shot on me.

But I still must be careful. Quiet as always, I edge my way toward a clearing to observe the landscape. It looks safe enough. A still-burning zombie lies prone some two hundred feet away, but they are no danger to me anyway, and especially not when on fire. The fire burns bright in my vision and is easy to avoid. But this clearing is new. The ground is already warming in the sun, and the only shade is from a few fallen saplings. Confused, I hover at the forest perimeter and eye the disturbed grasses with my perpetual frown. There is a faint and fading trace of heat where plants were crushed and soil was kicked up by the foot of some unknown creature. Two-legged and warm, like the lit remains of the undead, but the pattern is not the jarring dance of bones left by the skeletons, or the stumbling shuffle of a zombie in pain. It is a quick and directed walk with a moderate pace, from the stump of one tree to the next. Had something new arisen from the earth? Had it fallen from the sky, or crawled out of the ocean, and come to take my forest from me?

Curious, and already fearing this undesirable destroyer of trees, I pick my way around crawling old roots and stick to the shade as I follow the trail. I cannot enjoy the crunch of dead leaves beneath my toes today, with thoughts of this destructive intruder who has infringed on my territory filling my mind. And when I see that the broad hillside that runs alongside the forested valley has been dug into, with grass and dirt cleared away to reveal a crater of cold stone, I start to wonder what sort of evil has fallen upon the lands under the sun. I have seen craters like this where my relatives expired, where something angered them to such an extent that the careful balance of elements within was set off and their bodies erupted just as their minds had. But this crater isn't quite the same as that. It looks narrower, and as I draw closer I see that it is deeper than I had initially judged. The cold cavern air clinging to its mouth is very old; has been sealed deep in the planet's crust for centuries, and is now leaking out into the atmosphere and mixing with the warming currents of wind. A quick glance shows the sun continuing to rise, and I realize I have little time before the heat of the afternoon obscures the trail. I must hurry.

The stone quarried from the earth has been relocated, I find. I recognize it, although it has been shattered into pieces and cobbled back together to form a small stone hut. And through its walls I see a figure bent over a small heat source. This is a creature that uses fire, rather than being consumed by it. Evil, indeed. And there, to the side of the shelter, lies the pillaged body of a pig, its ribcage open and intestines spilled on the grass. Darkness settles over my soul. What beast is this, that destroys something harmless and bows to fire as if in worship? I have heard tales of that vast underworld with lakes and falls of magma rather than water, populated by the souls of these harmless swine and filled with the shrieks of the dead. Is that where this stone-dweller has come from? Was that hole its escape route from that tortured dimension?

It moves within the walls, and I watch silently from a distance as it emerges, raises cool stone and cooler metal, and strikes them in the trees. Sparks leap from the demon's hands and catch in the leaves, and spread rapidly. I am blinded by the full heat of the forest fire and flee to the creature's deep pit for protection. A hot wind rushes in from above, carrying fragments of burning leaves. They sear the air, and the thick gases cloud the area for miles. My forest is dying and I know not how to bear the loss. I need time to think through my actions, and time for the flames to subside. A narrow crevice in the rocky quarry will suffice for now. With any luck, this fire-wielding being will withdraw to its home at night. And under cover of darkness, I will make my move.

Night falls and I wait a few hours longer. The forest fire rages on, but somewhere far from here, leaving columns of wood standing naked in its wake, and ash on the ground. I test it with a foot, then walk carefully back to the stony shelter. It seems this creature is still awake and active, although what it is doing I cannot quite determine. I tiptoe toward the wooden door to get a better perspective, as the stone walls block too much of my vision, but the heat will leak through the wood just enough for me to discern in better detail what is happening inside. And terrifyingly enough, I see the thing wielding some sort of strange tool, the likes of which I do not recognize. It appears like a long, straight branch, but made of stone or metal rather than wood. By now I know better than to presume this demon is peaceful. Although I cannot say for certain, my guess is that the tool is a weapon, perhaps some sort of club. And if that is the case, then I have to assume it is to be used for killing more of the local hogs. The gruesome scene of the carcass from before overtakes me. I remember the subdued heat of its cooling blood as it soaked into the ground. Even if my life is forfeit as a result, my duty is to protect this landscape and its creatures from evil like this. My mind has been made up. If I am to take it down, I aim to take its house with it, and so I sit right outside the door. Before it dies I want it to see my face, so it knows my sadness, and my anger at what it has done to the landscape and those who live within it.

I wait.

It is hours later that the bipedal stranger finishes with its tools, finishes consuming the flesh of the fallen pig, and packs its bag to venture outside. It does not yet fear the night, which is to my advantage. The door opens, and it stares at me.

"What the h-"

I interrupt with a menacing hisssss, and I follow it inside as it tries to back away. Already the reaction has begun, and neither it nor I can stop it now, nor would I want to block the oncoming rush of heat and power. I see the terror in the demon's eyes as it flails uselessly at me with its pointed chunk of iron, and as my body decompresses and the world turns a bright, hot white, I feel nothing.
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May 2014

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