The Minecraft Travelogue: The End of the Quest: Days 123-124

Seven witches are destroying this world by raising an army of undead warriors. My job is to hunt and kill them. Perhaps killing these witches will restore balance to the world.

Six witches have been slayed: one more remains.

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

Day 123

I had all the equipment I needed, plus information on the whereabouts of the last witch. This was my best lead in months, and I was prepared to end their tyranny. I headed west, straddling the mesas and the desert.

Minecraft Travelogue

But it seems the witch was laying traps for me. First, I fell into a hole and got trapped on an overhang while riding Lightning. I was almost squished to death.

Minecraft Travelogue

Then I had to cross a shallow sea. It was midday, not a single monster in sight, and yet I heard the growls and the snarls of somebody watching me.

Minecraft Travelogue

Then, out of nowhere, a phantom started attacking me! Lightning was hurt considerably, and I almost lost her.

Minecraft Travelogue

[Author’s note: Seriously, I’m not making this part up! Some invisible zombie started attacking me in broad daylight and I couldn’t do anything about it!]

I continued across the desert, and eventually found a temple that I had destroyed so many months ago. I must have gotten mixed up somewhere along the way.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

Finally, night fell. Witches and monsters come out at night (usually). All of today’s travels was needed only to put me in the right spot. Hopefully this is the right time.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

The monsters crawled out of the ground, and finally, FINALLY, I found the seventh witch!

Minecraft Travelogue

I demounted from Lightning, then went on the offensive. Witches had to be killed fast, otherwise they poisoned you. I would not give this witch a chance to throw potions on me.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

I gave her no last words. This ends now.

After the witch fell, her minions continued their assault. I had to fight off mob after mob, all of them reeling in insanity after their leader perished.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

A creeper sneaked up behind me, but fortunately I was able to dodge his explosion.

Minecraft Travelogue

All this fighting and commotion spooked Lightning, and she ran far from me. She was drawn to the light of a lava pool, and stood perilously on the edge.

Lightning, get away from there! That sand is unstable!

Minecraft Travelogue

She slipped anyway, and fell into the lava. My horse for the past 100+ days! She followed me on this entire journey. I built land bridges specifically for her so she could get across the ocean.

And it all ends with a stupid mistake.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

I needed a moment to compose myself, but now was not the time, for on the horizon, two more witches appeared!

Minecraft Travelogue

This can’t be happening! The legends said there were seven witches harassing this world, not nine!

And then I figured it out. The final witch was the master of her coven. She had not one form, but three. To kill her, all three forms needed to be vanquished.

I’d never challenged two witches at once before. With Lightning gone and my strength draining away, I accepted the challenge. What did I have to lose? If I didn’t save the world, who would?

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

I let the arrows fly from my enchanted bow, and finally, the threat was resolved.

Day 124

The sun was rising, and I could see green on the horizon. Time to leave this forsaken desert behind and find a new life.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

Life seemed to return to this world immediately. The air smelled fresher, the grass looked greener, and the animals more lively.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

There would be no hero’s welcome for me. No ceremonies, no celebrations, no fanfare.

That was just the way I wanted it. This world might not know who saved it, or what, but I would know. And that’s enough.

I found a forest, a deep forest, and ventured inside.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

The end.

[Author’s note: For those of you who’ve followed this story, thanks for sticking with it! It took me a lot longer to complete this arc than it should’ve, so your patience is appreciated! Game on, ~Dennis]

The Minecraft Travelogue: The Enchantment Table: Days 120-122

Seven witches are destroying this world by raising an army of undead warriors. My job is to hunt and kill them. Perhaps killing these witches will restore balance to the world.

Six witches have been slayed: one more remains.

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

Day 120

I approached the village cautiously. Would this be one of those places that supported the work of the witches, or those fighting against them?

Minecraft Travelogue

This village had some strange physics at work. How was this platform suspended? Perhaps the people here won’t so trustworthy.

Minecraft Travelogue

I raided their library, taking all the books for myself. I would find a way to enchant my weapons yet, and these books would come in handy.

Minecraft Travelogue

I carefully approached a villager and asked if he knew anything about the witches. He told me that a witch was near, and had been terrorizing their village for some time. They supported my work, and that gave me the encouragement I needed to continue with my quest.

Minecraft Travelogue

At the edge of town was a black hole, leading to mysterious caves. Was this where the monsters were spawning from?

Minecraft Travelogue

The people built their houses extremely high, perhaps to protect against the witch threat. I knew I was in the right place now. My quest would soon be ending.

Minecraft Travelogue

In the mountains was a line of white rock, a sign of great importance. A cave entrance was nearby. I decided to try one last time to find diamonds.

Minecraft Travelogue

I didn’t take me long to find a drop off and underground ravine. This cave system had been mined before. If people had dug this far into the ground, there must be some riches down here. Of course, the villagers are no longer mining, so maybe there are no valuables left.

Minecraft Travelogue

Navigating the lavafalls and waterfalls took me to the bottom of the mine, where luck upon luck!, I found a diamond!

Minecraft Travelogue

I went back to the mine and opened a chest in a mine cart. Sure enough, two more diamonds were inside! This was really my lucky day!

Minecraft Travelogue

Time to get out of this mine as quickly as possible, before the monsters close in on me. Fortunately, the lava provided ample protection against the stupid undead, who walked right into it in their futile chase of me.

Minecraft Travelogue

Day 121

I didn’t have enough diamonds for a sword–I was one short–but I had enough to craft an enchantment table. I would have to make due with enchanting iron armor and weapons.

Minecraft Travelogue

I went into the great hall, the thirty-foot tall building overlooking the town. This would be the perfect spot to set up shop.

Minecraft Travelogue

I went to enchant my armor and was dismayed to find that I needed one more ingredient: lapis lazuli! Will my problems never end?

I knew some was in the mine, so I prepared yet another venture below the surface.

Unfortunately, night had fallen and the witch’s army was back. The zombies chased the villagers, who foolishly remained outside instead of going inside.

Minecraft Travelogue

I fought through the skeletons and spiders just to get back to the mine entrance. These people would have to survive the night on their own. I had to abandon this battle to win the war.

Minecraft Travelogue

Once past the lavafalls and waterfalls again, I found lapis lazuli. Unfortunately, it was on the other side of a lake of fire!

Minecraft Travelogue

I crafted a stone bridge across the lava, careful not to fall in.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve died and resurrected.

Minecraft Travelogue

I exited the mine just as the day was dawning. I found off the remnants of the undead: the villagers survived the night without a casualty. Time to finally enchant my armor and weapons!

Minecraft Travelogue

Day 122

I started with a new iron sword, placing it on the enchanting table along with the lapis lazuli. After speaking an incantation, the sword was imbued with power!

Minecraft Travelogue

Next I enchanted my bow, and then my helmet.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

Now I was ready. The witch clearly wasn’t here last night during the attack. She was likely somewhere close by, directing her minions from a distance.

I saddled Lightning up and said goodbye to the villagers. This quest ends now! Once night falls, the final witch will be in for a surprise.

Minecraft Travelogue

DIY planet ornaments

This Christmas season I’ve really been going all out on the nerdy DIY Christmas ornaments (Tetris ornaments, Ninja Turtle ornaments, and Pok├ęball wreath). One final project for the season: planet ornaments.

I’ve always been in love with space, and the planets fascinate me to no end. Last Christmas season, I searched online for planet ornaments–assuming such things must exist–and the top result that consistently came back was this glass-blown set of planets and the sun. Pretty sweet ornaments. The price tag of $395, though, was a bit out of my range!

So I looked into planet diagram sets instead, thinking they could be modified into ornaments. I found that a lot of them just come with blank balls that you have to paint yourself, so I figured: why paint some cheapo plastic balls to look like the planets when I can use real ornaments?

The Process

First I gathered some Christmas balls left over from my other projects. Keeping the planets in scale is practically impossible, but I managed to find bigger balls for Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and small balls for the other planets (and dwarf planet Pluto).

Using acrylic paints, I started with several base coats for each planet, followed by more detailed paint. I hung the planets from my fan, as I didn’t want to set wet spherical objects down on the table to dry, which would leave a mark where the ball touched the table.

Making planet ornaments

After painting them, I coated them with a thick, shiny glaze.

Making planet ornaments

For reference, I used an astronomy book. I don’t think my colors are entirely accurate, but I did the best I could. Turns out painting on a slippery, spherical surface is a lot harder than I thought!

Making planet ornaments.

The Inner Planets

Mercury Ornament

Mercury. The dappled black represents the rocky, cratered surface.

Venus Ornament

Venus, Earth’s twin sister.

Earth Ornament

Earth. In retrospect, I would probably add a layer of clouds on top of the continents.

Mars Ornament

Mars, the God of War.

The Outer Planets

Jupiter Ornament

Jupiter. It’s kind of hard to see in the picture, but the Great Red Spot is there!

Uranus Ornament

Uranus, God of the Sky.

Neptune Ornament

Nepture, God of the Sea.

Pluto Ornament

Pluto, the dwarf planet. In the future, I might make the other dwarf planets, like Eris and Ceres. Pluto was a challenge, as no decent resolution photo exists, making the color hard to figure out. I made Pluto gray with a sheen of blue. This summer, the New Horizons probe will orbit Pluto, so hopefully we get a better sense of its color then!

Saturn

No, I didn’t forget about Saturn! This was the toughest ornament to construct due to the rings. I pondered this for a couple months, trying to figure out the best way to make the rings. Here’s what I came up with. I’m not entirely happy with the construction (or the paint job), but it’s serviceable.

I cut bass wood into two curved pieces and glued them together with wood glue. The wood is 1/8″ thick. I could’ve used thinner wood, but I was afraid it wouldn’t be as durable. As soon as I applied the paint (this is the top layer), the wood started warping!

Making Saturn ornament.

Fortunately, once I applied the bottom layer of paint (not as detailed), the wood warped back into place, straightening out. What a relief!

Making Saturn ornament.

The challenge was now attaching the rings. I made two little tabs out of leftover bass wood and glued them to the side.

Making Saturn ornament.

Top view of the ornament plus tabs.

Making Saturn ornament.

The rings sitting on the tabs. There is a slight gap between the rings and the planet’s surface, just like there should be.

Making Saturn ornament.

Top view of the ornament plus tabs.

Making Saturn ornament.

The completed Saturn ornament!

Saturn Ornament.

Saturn seen from the side.

Saturn Ornament.

Saturn from underneath.

Saturn Ornament.

The Completed Planets

Here’s the entire arrangement of planets, showing you the relative size of each.

Planet Ornaments.

I’m pleased with the final result, though I can honestly say this was the least fun Christmas project I’ve completed so far! The painting was much more challenging than I anticipated, but I’m happy with the result.

In the future, I may paint some exoplanets as well. Even though our telescopes don’t have any detailed photos of what these planets look like, artists have come up with some pretty stellar renditions, based on the probable chemical and physical makeup of these planets.

~Dennis