The Minecraft Travelogue: Lightning: Days 25-27

Seven witches are destroying this world by raising an army of undead warriors. My job is to hunt and kill the seven witches, though I take on this task reluctantly. Perhaps killing these witches will restore balance to the world.

This is my journey. My only goal is to tell a good story.

Days 25-26

I walked. And walked. And walked. I had a long way to go, backtracking my steps to find that white horse. Would she still be there? Perhaps she has died. I’ll never know unless I try.

Minecraft Travelogue

I walked all day and all night, 48 hours straight. I passed four towns, some of which I may have visited before, some of which were new. I stole some more obsidian: I didn’t even give the people an explanation. They don’t need this dark material.

It was amazing how much progress I could make, though, when I wasn’t hunting witches, helping villagers, or building shelters. I harvested some wood at one point, but that’s it. Otherwise I made a straight line back home.

Minecraft Travelogue

The monsters were few: perhaps I’ve cleared them out of these fields already? But they’ll come back. They will as long as those witches are alive. Only five left though. Only five.

At the end of the second day I found the Cross of Salvation. This altar has saved me several times now. I opened the door and flopped into bed, exhausted. I’ll get my horse in the morning.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

Day 27

I deposited a few more items in the Cross of Salvation’s chest: horse armor, saddles, bricks. I can’t carry this stuff forever. Given the abundance of horses nearby, perhaps some wayward traveler can make use of this stuff.

I went back to the field and found my pillar of sand.

Minecraft Travelogue

The white horses were in abundance. I planted the sunflowers that I’ve been saving for weeks as a way of thanking the herd for allowing me to take one of their own.

Minecraft Travelogue

I chose one with a pure coat. She was restless at first, but I tamed her quickly. I put a saddle on her, then golden armor. I will call her Lightning.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

Now that I had a mount, I needed to ride. My next goal was to find the swamplands. Witches love to dwell in swamps, and I heard there was a particularly foal witch crafting magick there, the witch T’shira.

On my previous outings I’d ventured south, far south. This time I headed west. With my new horse, I felt like I could go anywhere and do anything.

Minecraft Travelogue

I rode all night. The monsters were nonexistent. Perhaps this world was starting to turn around after all.

Minecraft Travelogue

I learned, though, that horse riding wasn’t as easy as I thought. Eventually I reached a desert, and while scrambling down a ledge, I accidentally jumped Lightning onto a cactus. She was hurt, but by morning, she was feeling better.

Minecraft Travelogue

At the end of the night I found another pyramid. This one was buried deep underground: have these witches been wreaking havoc for ages? Pyramids don’t get buried in the sand overnight.

Minecraft Travelogue

Confident that the pyramid was abandoned, I entered it quickly and dove down the treasure pit. I knew these pits were armed, but I could now easily disarm them in a matter of seconds. I found iron and gold, and most importantly, diamonds. I now had enough diamonds to reforge the sword that I lost. That would come later. For now, this pyramid needed to be destroyed.

I rigged up the TNT, knowing now to put it closer so that one explosion triggers another. As the sun was rising I detonated my bomb. The tops of the towers and the top of the pyramid were now destroyed. A huge crater was all that remained.

Minecraft Travelogue

What was once hidden has now come into the light. This pyramid was buried, forgotten by everybody. But evil that is forgotten can later be remembered. All treachery is eventually revealed.

This crater is a reminder, then, that evil will be punished in the end.

Minecraft Travelogue

Roxas Cosplay

This week in my video game class we are talking about modern video games, the last 15 years or so of gaming. This includes the PS2, GameCube, Xbox, and Dreamcast, all the way through the current generation of consoles. Each lecture I like to dress up as something appropriate to that day’s topics. Usually I just wear a video game related t-shirt, but occasionally I wear a costume to keep things interesting.

My costume for this lecture: Roxas from the Kingdom Hearts series. If you don’t know who Roxas is, let me explain. Kingdom Hearts is a series of video games that features one of the oddest crossovers in video game history: Final Fantasy characters with Disney characters. There are creatures called the Heartless who are out to steal peoples’ hearts so that they can unlock Kingdom Hearts, the ultimate power. The Heartless travel through various Disney worlds, like the Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland, etc., to steal hearts.

This gets confusing, but at the end of the first game, the main character, Sora, had his heart taken and was turned into a heartless. Kingdom Hearts II reveals that when this happens, a “nobody” is created, a sort of mirror-self. Roxas is Sora’s Nobody (his name is just a recombination of Sora’s name with an X added).

Roxas Cosplay

Roxas and one of my students

Making the costume

On the surface, Roxas’ costume is pretty easy (at least, it is not as complicated as JRPG characters usually are). But it took lots of work over several months to get all the pieces in order.

The jacket was a thrift store find modified by my mom. We added the red and black fabric to the collar and sleeves, then added the checked ribbon for the detail. The jacket doesn’t fit perfectly: ideally it should be slimmer, but it worked.

Roxas Jacket

The vets was pretty simple. We found a black fleece vest that I wore under the jacket. Ideally, this vest should have been made of a lighter, less stifling material: fleece isn’t really suited for Florida weather (and it was hot that day!). The zipper is my favorite part. For some reason Roxas has a throwing star for a zipper: he doesn’t actually use throwing stars in the game, nor is he a ninja. At first I thought I would have to use real throwing stars, and I worried I would cut myself. But then I found rubber plastic throwing stars. I painted it grey and affixed it with a black wire.

Roxas vest

The pants were the most difficult part for me. Roxas has two-toned pants that have strange detail on the connection: the two fabrics are just connected straight across. I modified an old pair of shorts and added khaki leggings from a pair of pants I found at the thrift store. The hand-sewing isn’t the greatest, but it’s serviceable. The darker spots on the thighs are from pockets that were removed.

Roxas Pants

Roxas also has some simple accessories on his left hand: a checkered wristband and two “rings.” These were easy to make.

Roxas accessories

Wearing a wig was new for me. I found a Roxas wig from Light in the Box for a good price. I styled it using lots of hair gel and spray (stuff that claimed would “glue” the hair in place). I found some hair styling tutorials for Roxas on YouTube. The spikes were pretty stiff at first and lasted most of the day.

Roxas Wig Front

Front view of the wig. By the end of the day, those top spikes started to come undone (the football was my version of a mannequin head).

Roxas Wig Back

Back view of the wig.

Finally, the Keyblade. The Keyblade is a weapon used to defeat the Heartless and seal up worlds. My dad helped me over Christmas with the woodwork. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t look too bad from a distance.

Kingdom Hearts Keyblade

The key chain is probably my favorite part. I attached it with chain links that can be screwed apart: maybe I’ll use this key chain for my car keys!

Kingdom Hearts Keyblade Key Chain

In the end, a successful, moderately budgeted cosplay. I would do a lot of things differently if I made it again, but this worked for my purposes.

Game on,
~Dennis

Roxas from Kingdom Hearts

Roxas image copyright Square Enix.

The Minecraft Travelogue: Destroyer of Temples: Days 21-24

Seven witches are destroying this world by raising an army of undead warriors. My job is to hunt and kill the seven witches, though I take on this task reluctantly. Perhaps killing these witches will restore balance to the world.

This is my journey. My only goal is to tell a good story.

Days 21-22

As soon as morning arrived, I moved on, giving Talia’s sanctum a wide berth. This desert was large, but with one witch gone, it would soon shrink.

By midday I encountered another desert town, Rollonare. I told them that the witch was gone, but deigned to tell them that the witch also got the better of me. The people were excited, but also scared. I harvested their wheat, telling them this was payment for my services. They offered no objections.

Minecraft Travelogue

As I was searching the town, I found another chest with obsidian, this time, 7 blocks. These people almost have enough for a portal! I told them of my find, and questioned them.

Minecraft Travelogue

The village elders told me that they didn’t know where the obsidian came from, that maybe the witch put it there. Maybe. I took it from them, and told them I was going to destroy the evil of this world, and these dark blocks with it. They said nothing when I grabbed it; perhaps they knew that I knew they were lying.

By the end of the day I reached the edge of the desert. Grass offered a brief respite from the sand, but only briefly. By morning the next day I saw another desert. And this time I entered it willingly. Now I knew that deserts were the result of witches meddling with the dead. This desert had to have another witch’s temple, and to my surprise, the place emerged as soon as I took my first step onto the sand.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

Was this witch absent or present? Would there be a battle here? Would it be booby trapped? Hard to say, but I had to assume the most dangerous.

Before I could go charging in, though, I needed to make a shelter, and I needed to deposit all my valuables in a chest. I’m getting low on wood, so to do any of that, I needed to find trees.

I set off across the grasslands, but these were dry lands. I looked horizon to horizon, not finding anything. As I went, I set torches on the ground to guide my way home. After hiking for half a day, I found yet another witch’s temple. This is getting to be too much. I must tackle one at a time.

Minecraft Travelogue

I went back to my base camp. I’d have to take this witch as I am, gear and everything. If I lose, I could lose very badly.

Day 23

Approached the witch’s home with caution. The pyramid appeared buried in the sand. I had to make my own entrance to get in. Was this even occupied anymore?

Minecraft Travelogue

I searched it carefully, and breathing a sigh of relief, I found nobody. This witch had moved on.

I dug through the floor and found the treasure pit once again. I worked my way down, careful not to set off the switch. I searched the chest, and glory, I found what I needed most: a saddle! Plus other great finds: iron, gold, golden horse armor, and iron horse armor! Now that I have my saddle I can find that white horse.

Minecraft Travelogue

But first thing’s first. I needed to seal up this temple so that nobody else could ever use it again. I tore down the witch’s symbol, then filled in all the doors with sand and sandstone. It’s not perfect camouflage, but at least it should deter any passersby.

Minecraft Travelogue

I don’t have enough gear to craft a shelter near the next temple (specifically a door and bed), so I decided to follow my torches to the next temple I saw. This is dangerous going. Night fell, and monsters were appearing again. But the torches were best seen at night.

Minecraft Travelogue

As I neared the desert temple, I found her: the witch Lethrel! She was patrolling the area, guarded by skeletons and zombies. I had to dispose of these to get to her, but she put up a serious fight. She poisoned me, then chased. I ran, hoping the poison could dissipate, but she followed relentlessly. I killed a skeleton and several zombies in the process.

Minecraft Travelogue

Then, she got stuck in water. This was my chance to get her! I leaped into the pond, slashing with my sword. She poisoned me again, and as I was getting weak, the poison seriously affected me. I slashed and slashed, and finally, she died. I almost died too.

Minecraft Travelogue

My health was reduced to half a heart. I ate some steak, and finally started healing.

Minecraft Travelogue

I’d done it! I’d killed the second witch! I crawled back to my shelter to recover. Tomorrow I would raid her temple, and then I would return to where I started to find my white horse.

Day 24

I entered Lethrel’s temple; nobody was home. I went to the bottom of the treasure pit and found some gold and iron. Not the best score, but better than nothing. What I was really after, though, was the TNT in the booby trap hidden under the treasure room. I carefully dug up the floor and found 9 blocks of TNT. I needed to demolish this arcane temple so that nobody worshiped here again.

Minecraft Travelogue

I laid out TNT throughout the entrance and towers of the temple, then set a pressure plate on one block of TNT.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

I stepped on it, igniting the 4 second fuse. I ran backward as fast as I could and watched in disappointment as only the first TNT block exploded. I was hoping the others were close enough so that they could be trigger in a chain reaction, but I miscalculated.

Minecraft Travelogue

I reset the TNT, using two more pressure plates to get the job done.

The entrance and temple towers were exploded, leaving a messy crater in the wake.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

The temple is not completely gone: some enterprising witch cult could rebuild it. But the point wasn’t to wipe the temple completely off the face of the earth: the point was to send a message.

If you consort with witches, if you worship them and support their work, this is what will happen to you.

Minecraft Travelogue

I went home and gathered my effects. My body was encumbered with armor, saddles, and riches. Now begins the long trek back to the beginning to find my white horse.

Minecraft Travelogue

The Minecraft Travelogue: Witch Hunter: Days 18-20

I am traveling across the world of Minecraft, not sure what I will find. I’m finding this world is far more populated than I expected, which brings me solace, but the horrors are multiplying, which brings me sadness.

This is my journey. My only goal is to tell a good story.

Day 18

I’ve walked for a long time now, a long time. Ten kilometers by my estimate. It’s been days since I saw anybody. And while I never seem to get along with the people I find, I do long for their company.

High noon I came to another desert. This one was encroaching on the surrounding hills. Perhaps this world is decaying faster than I thought. I walked into the desert, knowing it was hot and dangerous, only to break the monotony of the grasslands.

Minecraft Travelogue

It wasn’t long before I found another town, a true desert town: Param. The town seemed in order: no out of place buildings, a full and bloated well, and irrigated crops. This place might be worth something.

Minecraft Travelogue

I crafted myself some armor and cleaned up my inventory, waiting for night to fall. I asked the village priest about the encroaching desert, and he confirmed my suspicions.

Then he told me a story. He said that seven witches sent from beyond had entered this land and were terrorizing it. They came with powerful magicks, and they were raising an army of undead warriors.

Beyond where? I asked.

Far, the priest said.

When I asked what they needed this army for, he could not say. But he warned me to stay away from them. This desert was the result of one witch’s handiwork, the witch Talia. She had attempted a powerful summoning spell, hoping to raise to life every soul that had ever died on this fertile plain. She was weak, a lesser witch. And when her spell failed, the land rejected the souls of the dead, cursing the soil forever.

That’s why a desert was here now, in the middle of these fertile plains.

I was suspicious, though, of his story. Could a witch really turn an entire land into a desert?

I stood on the roof of an abandoned house, watching the sun set, shining through the church windows. Where was God, and why was He letting this happen?

Minecraft Travelogue

Night fell and I surveyed the town, hoping for peace. I was wrong.

Zombies came out, and spiders, and skeletons. I fell many. I hid around the corners of buildings, strategizing against the mindless. But then I saw something I never expected. A skeleton shooting a zombie. The skeleton killed the zombie, then came after me.

These monsters are upset and rebelling. Why would they kill each other?

Minecraft Travelogue

I killed the skeleton and went to my temporary shelter.

And then I saw her: Talia. The witch who turned this land into desert. Witches were powerful; what was I to do?

Minecraft Travelogue

I went inside the house and watched through the window. She was getting closer, and bringing creepers along with her. She intended to destroy this town!

Minecraft Travelogue

I climbed to the roof and shot her with arrows. I only had four, and didn’t kill her. I had to finish her by sword. Her creeper bodyguards would be a challenge, but this town needed to be protected.

I rushed her and caught her off-guard. In a matter of moments, she was dead.

I told the village priest, and he said that witches always have a home base, a temple where they practice their magick. I told him I would dispose of that haunt and protect this land. He called me Foolish Witch Hunter and said I would die. Maybe.

Day 19

I left town to search for Talia’s home. The desert was full of monsters, but I avoided most of them. Once the sun arose, they burned to a crisp. If the witches were going to raise an army, they needed to protect them from the sun.

I walked miles across that desert all day long. I saw nothing around me. No animals. No people. No buildings. This desert was larger than I thought. Much larger. I crisscrossed the land in no particular pattern. If this temple existed, I would find it.

Minecraft Travelogue

After midday, rain started to fall. In the desert! This was a sign, a sign of my blessing. God would redeem this land and refresh its dryness. The death of Talia was only the start. I don’t know how, but this land would be fertile once again.

Minecraft Travelogue

The day grew long and I wearied of ever finding the temple. Perhaps I was a foolish witch hunter.

When I was about to give up, I saw it. A pyramid rising from the desert sands.

Minecraft Travelogue

I quickly dug a hole and hid away. If I was going to take down this witch, I needed to protect myself first. I couldn’t go into this blind.

Minecraft Travelogue

I built a shelter and slept with one eye open.

Day 20

Today, my assault on the witch’s temple. Was this really Talia’s home? Or was there another witch inside? I had to be careful.

I combined the gunpowder I’d been saving up with sand and created TNT. Before I left this place, I was going to blow it to bits to make sure no witch ever took up residence in here again. I deposited all my treasures in a chest, just in case I died.

Minecraft Travelogue

I approached the hut slowly, bow held at the ready. If a witch was in here, I needed to strike quickly.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

I entered the pyramid and checked all the corners, then the towers. Fortunately, I was safe. The witch really was dead.

Before I blew the place up, though, I needed to see what treasures she’d hidden away. I’ve heard of these secret locations. It was under the floor. I busted away the floor and found what I was looking for: a pit, and at the bottom, four treasure chests.

Minecraft Travelogue

Before I could open the chest, though, I made a mistake. I stepped down on the floor and heard the familiar click of a pressure plate. I’d triggered a trap! Before I could do anything, the basement exploded all around me! Explosion after explosion; I saw stars, and then red. Talia had gotten the better of me after all.

Minecraft Travelogue

Because I’d created a place of rest the night before, I spawned nearby. If I was quick enough, I could recover my weapons and items. I went back to the temple and slowly made my way down the pit. It was much deeper this time, and dark.

At the bottom I found a huge cavern. A few bits of cobblestone lay scattered here and there, but that was it. My armor, gone. My weapons, gone. My TNT, gone. And whatever was in those four chests, also gone.

Minecraft Travelogue

I climbed back to the surface, dejected and embarrassed. There are six more witches out there, ruining this world. I will find them, and when I do, I will be more careful.

The priest in Param had called me Foolish Witch Hunter, intending it as an insult. This dead witch did insult me, but that won’t happen again. What was intended as a slur will now be my moniker.

I am Witch Hunter, and I have six more witches to end.

The Minecraft Travelogue: The Pillar of Sand: Days 15-17

I am traveling across the world of Minecraft, not sure what I will find. I’m finding this world is far more populated than I expected, which brings me solace, but the horrors are multiplying, which brings me sadness.

This is my journey. My only goal is to tell a good story.

Day 15

I went to bed frustrated, just wanting to move on and get away from this place of humiliation as fast as possible. But I couldn’t do that. This Cross was supposed to be a waystation for the stranded. I couldn’t just take all the items and not replenish them. I had to leave the next person tools.

I spent the morning mining stone. I wasn’t much—wasn’t as good as iron—but it was better than nothing. I crafted myself a set of stone tools, then left a set of stone and wooden tools for the next person: axes, swords, and pick-axes. I left blocks of wood, carrots, bread, and steak. This should help somebody.

Then I wrote down the coordinates: x = 19, y = 65, z = 163. If I found somebody who needed help, this is where I’d send them.

Before I continued my journey, however, there was one last thing I needed to do. I needed to find that herd of white horses.

Saddles are rare and much too difficult to craft on one’s own. Knowledge of saddlemaking seems to have passed from this world. But one day I would find a saddle, and when I did, I would lay it on one of these white horses. These white horses are too important for me.

I found them and erected a pillar of sand to mark the spot. I wrote down the coordinates for this place as well: x = -207, y = 64, z = 13. I might go miles and miles before I find a saddle: I might have to backtrack miles and miles to find these horses. But I would come for them.

Minecraft Travelogue

Isn’t that what the Lord taught me? Go after that which is precious to you, no matter how far the walk.

By now, though, I’d burned most of my daylight. I needed to get moving. I began my trek across the plains as night fell. Would monsters rise up again? Last night they came in droves. I’d take my chances.

I walked a long time, nothing but the swishing of long grass to entertain my ears. I found a creeper, but I let him pass. Though I carried my sword at all times, I would not use it on another life tonight. I sustained myself with carrots, not meat.

Minecraft Travelogue

I found a pool of lava, which brightly lit the night. And surrounding the pool, something I’d never seen before: a field of sunflowers! Lava was very much a source of pain in my life: I can still feel the burning sensation on my skin from last night. And yet, all of this beauty and life surrounding the lava. It made me pause. I picked some flowers, and thought, maybe this lava isn’t so bad after all. Maybe I don’t need to be afraid of it. At one time, I filled in a pit of lava, afraid it would burn down the savanna.

And yet here was proof that life could co-exist with lava!

Minecraft Travelogue

I continued on, passing cattle and sheep and pigs aplenty. Finally, the sun rose over the trees, reflecting across the water. Today is a new day. I feel like good fortune is in my future.

Minecraft Travelogue

Days 16-17

I continued my quest to find meaning. I found a forest and thought I was leaving these dry and barren plains for good. How wrong I could be. After a brief interlude, more grass.

Minecraft Travelogue

These last few days I’ve been gathering more resources: a few cow hides here, a few bundles of sheep’s wool there. I have some coal again, and iron, but no way to smelt it.

I did, though, find something disturbing. Two creepers standing out in the daylight: shouldn’t they burn up or something? I killed them and harvested their gunpowder.

Minecraft Travelogue

And then I found a spider, also wandering the day like the living. His carcass yielded two strands of string. One more and I can make a bow.

Minecraft Travelogue

I built a shelter at night, but sleep eluded me. On the horizon I saw a burning tree. I passed that tree on my trek up the hillside. It was next to a pool of lava. I chose not to put out the fires. Had I not saw just days before life blooming next to death?

Minecraft Travelogue

Apparently the rules of the universe are not consistent everywhere. That tree died. And I could’ve saved it.