This Blog is an entry in the completed And to a New Land He Goes! - Blog Contest.

Minecraft Blogs / Story

The Low Ground | New Land Contest

  • 3,315 views, 0 today
  • 40
  • 11
  • 35
Chimalus avatar Chimalus
Level 43 : Master Artist
The official contest submission can be found in the images at the bottom of the post. Here is the revised text: a slightly better story than the one I originally wrote.

“The Low Ground”

I'm no new soul. I've seen just about all there is to see. I've helped every crop rise from the soil. I've ridden my trusty mare, Prishilae, through the Nether and guided her back to sweet fields. I've landed a Guardian, made it a permanent passenger in my boat, and named it FishyMcBoatFish. I've lived among Ice Spikes and erected a Beacon to shine above them. I've built many Beacons. To acquire the parts, I've had to undergo a terrible challenge each and every time. I've seen terror—the greatest terror there is to see. That’s the sky through a narrow hole , eclipsed by the Wither.

I've stood at the bottom of the pit blasted out by the Wither's Skulls and I've burned the monster’s silhouette into my mind. It floats at the mouth of the hole, stares straight down, and doesn't stop shooting until it's destroyed me and everything I carry.

When I respawn like a newborn baby, the Wither wants me desperate, wants me stupid. And for a while, I was. I'd run back to fight it with makeshift gear. I'd die over and over, gaining nothing but more holes in the ground.

But time wisens a man. I'm lucky to have received the gift of time. I've thought things through and learned to take the high ground. I prepare the Soul Sand cross at the bottom of a valley, dash to a high peak, fire arrows until they glance off, charge down with my sword, pin the devil to a steep slope, and claim my Nether Star.

I've outgrown some of my stupidity.

But there are some people, I understand, who don't receive the gift of time, don't use it, or face a challenge larger than average.

The co-founder of our proud city is one such man. This is how I found him.

I needed no introduction to sailing the high seas—or rather, rowing them in a boat that was more of a kitchen cupboard. Either way, I was an expert. And either way, my patience was wearing thin. My body ached for land. I wanted earth under my soles, grass between my toes. Relief swept through me when a meadow peered out from the ocean mist. I pocketed my boat, kissed the dirt, and wandered inland.

Then the pits began to appear.

At first shallow, no more than a few-meter jog down and back up. Then deepening, steepening. Not winding caves, but straight shafts bored into soil, then stone, then striking bedrock. At first here and there, then clustering, combining, growing through the meadow like a hive. Grass faded to dirt, then coarse dirt, then bare granite. The tall grass and wildflowers vanished. The cows, pigs, and chickens dwindled, their living space pulled from beneath them like a rug. As the walls of the pits got lower, I saw what was at the bottom of each one: the glint of shattered armor and blades, shattered potion bottles, dried flesh, and bleached bone. I soon found myself walking along a structure left here purposefully; there was no mistaking that this snaking bridge of land was meant to lead me across the desolation toward something an outsider was meant to see.

Here and there, a spire tangled its way up from bedrock, a precious sliver of stone left untouched. At the tips of the spires lay vibrant flowerbeds. I drew my bow upon nearing one particular spire. Standing in the wild color, at first too pale and transparent to see, was the outline of a man.

He waved his hand giddily and asked me in a tone too hopeful for his circumstances, “Have you brought the Soul Sand and the Wither Skulls?”

I yelled across the chasm, “No, I haven't. Who are you? What is this place?”

He got a lost look on his face, gazed down at his shredded clothes then back at me, and spread his hands in a shrug.

Dozens more spires and dozens more suspicious figures appeared. They all looked alike and told strangely similar stories. Most raved about preparing for the Wither; others reminisced of their homes in faraway places like a forest, a desert, or a tundra; others longed for a precious item they had lost. Whenever I passed a spire, I lowered my eyes and tried to ignore the eager voice that called. In truth, I had a great supply of Sand and Skulls in my Ender Chest, but if my theory was correct, these beings had no more need of them. These beings were ghosts.

Soon the spires stopped rising, the bedrock itself peeled away, and I saw what I had seen only in the Endermen's world: the gaping black Void where all that fell was lost forever. I had lost everything to the Void before. I wouldn't risk it again. The indigo sky faded to black, too. Now there was no distinguishing this place from The End. The bridge slithered on. I had built countless cobble bridges between End islands and grown a rock solid sense of balance, but this bridge's precarious twisting made me nauseous. I dropped to one knee and took a nibble of pumpkin pie to restore my senses.

As I looked up to continue my journey, I saw something new. A form emerged from the dark: an island of Soul Sand.

The meter deep edge of the disc, razor thin, sloped up toward a narrow central cone that rose nearly to sky limit. A patch of Void at the cone's tip gave a strange glint, but I thought little of it and pressed forward.

A perimeter – black but not quite Void-black – stood at the island's edge. Was it a fence? A wall? As I neared, the structure became clear. A line of human skeletons with black bones stood swaying and fidgeting, hollow eyes locked on me. The sound they made wasn't the crisp jangle of normal bones but the hollow crunch of charcoal. Hundreds of Wither Skeletons waited. Even with my strongest sword and armor, I couldn't hope to fight them up close. I readied my bow, and just as I nocked my first arrow, the black legion parted like a sea, forming an aisle just for me.

I was starting to feel strangely welcome in this wasteland.

The skeletons watched as I strode into their ranks. My throat clenched as the fingers of one moved, fondling the dull stone sword at its hip. I quickened my stride if only to make the scrape of my armor and the scuff of my footfalls louder than the chorus of grinding teeth.

A short jog past the skeletons, the air fell deathly silent, letting me hear the pounding of my heart. The Soul Sand cone stretched up before me and set its point against the sun. It was high noon. Now standing at the base of the cone and looking up, I saw something I hadn't noticed from a distance. The lustrous patch of Void over the cone's tip had been no trick of the light. Silhouetted by the sun, a dark form unfurled.

Before my brain could process what I saw, I had lifted a Potion of Swiftness to my lips and broken into a dash. I raced for the edge of the island as a roar like a forest fire grew above me, making my stomach sink. I caught only a glimpse of the thing that chased me. The Wither that rose from its perch was the size of a grown oak. From each of its tertiary heads, a dozen more tiny heads broke out like flower buds. The monster's long spine wrapped the cone like a serpent’s tail. The central head grinned with savage delight as the tertiary heads shook themselves wildly, splitting off their tiny skulls to fall like apples. A swarm of Skulls bore down on me. One wasted movement would mean death.

Only now did the Wither Skeletons make their move. They gathered and raised their swords to block my way to the bridge. I had no choice but to draw my own blade. As I collided with a wall of black bones, explosions rocked the sand behind me. I slashed blindly, beaten right and left. Dull blades battered my chest, shoulders, and head, chipping away at my diamond shell and crushing the flesh beneath. The Wither effect took hold; I rotted beneath my armor; my lungs and heart spasmed. Through gaps in the wall of charcoal, I saw the bridge drawing nearer. Somehow I kept running, kept swinging my sword. My vision swayed and briefly went dark, and then I was free.

My feet kept pounding, now against stone. I was on the bridge. My senses woke to intractable pain as I stumbled along the winding way. The chorus of rattling bones faded and the roar of explosions went quiet.

I knelt and wept. My sword clattered to my feet. Charcoal dusted its edge. Cracks crept along the diamond. One more strike and the weapon would snap.

What I saw that day, I had never seen before.

As my mind raced to recall everything that had happened, one detail stood out: my brief glimpse of the Wither. At the center of its forehead lay a depression where black flesh gave way to a shining white core. If my experience was to be trusted, this was the largest, brightest Nether Star in existence and possibly the Wither's weak point. If my experience could be of use, there was a way to strike that point even while I stood far below my enemy and out of arrows' range.

After a day brewing potions and repairing gear in a makeshift cave I carved into the side of the bridge, I quested away from the Void and back toward the grassland, seeking the spires that dotted the bedrock.

“You there!” I called toward a flowerbed.

A familiar man huddled in the tiny garden lifted his head, a flower stem passing through his smoke-like body as he did. He stood and stared wide-eyed. “Have you brought--”

“No,” I interrupted. “The Wither is already summoned.”

The man gasped with glee. “Take me there! I'll wreck him!”

“Then I'll show you how. Come here.”

He stood, craned his neck over the edge of his perch, and jutted his lower lip. “Help?”

I unloaded a stack of cobble making my way to him. Up close he appeared as ghostly as I had imagined. Cold air swirled about his skin.

He passed a chill palm through my shoulder. When I gasped, he laughed. “You're a lifesaver,” he said.

He was bound to the earth, unable to fly, despite having a body that phased through matter. I led him back across the cobble and to the main bridge, where I held out my sword by the blade and told him to grasp the handle.

As expected, his fingers went straight through the leather wrap. He shook his head, cracking a sad smile. “It's been this way for ages. I can't even remember how pumpkin pie tastes.”

I gave a grim nod. “You will taste pumpkin pie again. The question is how.”

I began to pace. Back and forth along the bridge I went, recollecting everything I had seen and heard since arriving in this place. As my eyes roved over the barren landscape, a spire caught my attention. It was the only one in view at the moment. In fact, it occurred to me that all of the spires I had found had been so widely spaced that I had never been able to see more than one at a time. Just then, everything clicked.

“Come with me.” I leapt through the ghost.

He followed, whooping as he went. “Adventure!”

The next spire had a specter on it as well. After building a bridge across, I brought the two men together. When they caught eyes and touched fingertips, it was a moment of magic. The ghost on the spire vanished with a look of recognition on his face and the ghost I had brought with me remained. Now he was a little less transparent, a little less colorless.

“What just happened?” He turned his hands and stroked his forearms. “I feel warm. I—I feel!”

I raised a fist. “Pound it.”

The ghost returned the gesture with a grunt. I felt a very slight resistance in his hand. Although he did go part way through me, we pushed each other back just a hair.

“We're going to wrangle some ghosts,” I said.

We spent the next five days scanning every nook of the area for spires, building bridges to each one. This demanded mining trips back to the meadow for cobble. As my phantom friend gained opacity and hue, his relationship to the world around him strengthened. Soon he built and mined alongside me.

“There should be just a few more to go.” He slung his pick over his shoulder and slid a wedge of pumpkin pie into his mouth. “Delicious. And you know, I feel my memories returning. There are some things I'll never get back, but I'm okay with that.”

“What do you remember?” I sat down beside him and gazed up through the fissure we had dug. The sky was gray, swollen with coming rain.

He looked straight at me, as serious as I had ever seen him. “Being really stupid.”

I blinked hard. So he had learned something.

“Knowing it doesn't help me now, though.” He grimaced. “The Wither grew stronger with my failures, I swear. I'm not making excuses. Even put back together, what can I do against that? How does a Wither get so huge?”

“I believe you. I saw it for myself.” I produced an exotic leather garment from my Ender Chest. “To start, put this on.”

“No way.” The ghost's eyeballs might have burst if they got any larger. “You have one of those?”

I thrust the garment into his hands. With many nods of thanks, he fastened it on. The beetle's wings lay crookedly over his back.

“This Elytra is on its last leg,” I sighed. “I don't have another. Finding this one was tough enough. It can't be repaired anymore. I've worn it out. I was saving it for – well – not that I could have predicted a situation like this, but... a situation like this. You never know, right?"

“Holy blocks! And you're trusting a noob with it?”

“With this, too.” I handed my bow and a quiver of arrows. “We'll discuss the rest when you're all back together.”

It rained hard. We waited out the storm.

The next day, the air was fresh. We filled the remaining holes in our map of the ruined meadow, locating every last spire and every last ghost. Upon absorbing his final lost piece, my friend exclaimed, “Delaney has rejoined the game!

“Delaney, huh? Go ahead and fire that bow.”

Taking the weapon in a solid grip, the new man loosed a shot straight into the side of a spire. “Hey. My aim's still clean.”

“Hit the flower blossoms on top. Ten hits in a row. Don't worry. It has Infinity.”

Lifting the bow for the second shot, Delaney glanced back over his shoulder. “What's your name, man?”

“Gilbert, at your service.”

A week since my foray into the seemingly mundane meadow, I stood beside an unexpected ally on the brink of an experience I had never dreamed to have. It was almost noon again. The peak of the Soul Sand cone stood silent, the dark lustrous shape still huddled at its tip. The wall of Wither Skeletons loomed at the island's edge. We advanced along the bridge.

“Take the rest of these rockets.” I tossed Delaney a stack of fireworks.

“So use them like yesterday?” We had briefly practiced Elytra flight on wide, solid ground.

“Like yesterday,” I winked, “but better.”

“What if I die again and lose all your stuff?” Delaney groaned.

“We've both seen worse.”

Like before, the skeletons parted to make way. “They're glad to let us in, but not--“

“Out. I know,” my friend muttered.

As we passed between the jangling walls, one of us steeped in gleaming armor and the other wearing nothing but cloth and wings, the skeletons for the first time moaned a distinct phrase.

“Failure. Failure.”

Delaney began to quake. I threw a fist into his shoulder. “Hey. Remember the plan?”

“Y-yeah,” Delaney stuttered, fighting back tears. “The high ground."

The creature at the cone's tip cast a gnarled shadow over the island. As we neared, I placed a Potion of Swiftness in my right hand and my last remaining Notch Apple in my left. The reborn man placed fireworks in his right hand and a Potion of Invisibility in his left.

“Go!” As I barked the word, the Wither’s roar filled the sjy. Before looking up, I looked at Delaney. He stared toward the sun, paralyzed with fear.

“Go!” I slapped his skull.

Jolted back to reality, he gulped his potion and dashed for the base of the cone. I quaffed my potion, chomped my apple, and looked up.

The Skulls descended like hail. My vision went white and the ground vanished beneath my feet. What felt like several seconds later, I landed on my back. A steady rain of Skulls battered me down. My armor was rapidly breaking. I was already twenty meters deep, the rim of the pit giving a clear view of the sun and of the creature that eclipsed it. The Wither's tertiary heads shook like leafy boughs, dropping Skulls like fruit while the central face sneered down.

“Enjoy it while you can,” I rasped.

The scream of fireworks pierced the sky.

The Wither's six eyes darted in a frenzy, searching for the source of the sound. Finding nothing, the monster returned its focus to me – just where I wanted it – and continued its downpour. A breath of laughter escaped my collapsing lungs. The star in the Wither's forehead shone brilliantly—a clear target.

Through the roar of explosions came the faint twang of a bowstring. A streak of flame bridged the air. Light spilled from the Wither's forehead, fountaining from the wound like a waterfall. The gash tore open and burst as the Wither's inner radiance pushed to the surface. In a flash, the being was no more. A twinkling stone tumbled toward me.

The Nether Star thudded at my feet, lifting a cloud of sand. When the haze cleared, I saw it: a flawless white diamond with a swirl of rainbow at its core. It was the size of a pumpkin.

Delaney, with shredded wings, stepped to the edge of the pit.

As I said, there are those lucky enough to receive the gift of time. But the luckiest are those who receive a friend to uplift, inspire, and remind them of who they can be. (Not to toot my own horn.)

Welcome to our city, Nethermost Zenith, founded in the Void, built between the lingering pillars of a ruined world. We have the hardest-earned and biggest Beacon ever.

The Low Ground | New Land Contest

The Low Ground | New Land Contest

The Low Ground | New Land Contest


Create an account or sign in to comment.

05/13/2017 2:04 am
Level 12 : Journeyman Toast
Nerdy-Creeper avatar
:3! Thanks this made my day.
05/09/2017 8:01 pm
Level 20 : Expert Miner
DIAMONDZ4ever avatar
Fun. I only read part of it cuz it was so long, but it seems cool. I like mine tho lol ;)
05/09/2017 8:58 am
Level 12 : Journeyman Toast
Nerdy-Creeper avatar
05/09/2017 7:15 pm
Level 43 : Master Artist
Chimalus avatar
So are you.
05/07/2017 4:27 pm
Level 29 : Expert Blacksmith
striker107 avatar
Very well earned 1st place, and my guess was right then... congrats on your very well done story, and I hope to see more of your writing in the future.
05/09/2017 7:18 pm
Level 43 : Master Artist
Chimalus avatar
Your vibes must have helped. Thanks very much, man. You will definitely see more writing from me if you stick around.
05/07/2017 2:31 pm
Level 59 : Grandmaster Architect
JasonKingBW avatar
Ayy chim! Nice win bud. Very meat blog, bless
05/09/2017 7:14 pm
Level 43 : Master Artist
Chimalus avatar
m3at <3
05/07/2017 2:10 pm
Level 68 : High Grandmaster Architect
Xoyjaz avatar
Congratulations :)
05/09/2017 7:14 pm
Level 43 : Master Artist
Chimalus avatar
Thank you, good manfellow.
Planet Minecraft


© 2010 - 2023