terraria fic

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July 28, 2014 8:13am
Chapter 1

I remember when I first set foot into this land. I had just a short copper sword on me when I wandered into the woods, not knowing of the mist that drifts between worlds. When I stepped out from the trees and saw this majestic valley, I was awed by its beauty, its sprawling, lush hills.

Three slimes attacked me from behind. Pain flashed through my back as their gelatinous bodies slapped against me. My shortsword plunged into their green, translucent flesh; stinging gel splattered across my face and arms as they lunged into my blade.

When the slimes were finally destroyed, I was on my knees, my clothes dripping with oily blue gel. My sword had never felt so heavy, nor had my chest burned so hard with each breath.

"Hello, traveler. How may I help you?"

Slowly, I got up and turned to face the speaker, the only other human I'd encountered in this mysterious land; but he was just a young man with curly brown hair, a gray shirt, and blue jeans. He had a shiny new copper ax and pickaxe in his hands. "Who are you?" I asked.

"I'm Jack, Jack the Guide," he said calmly. "I'm from the Adventurers' Guild in Avalon. We guides travel throughout Terraria, helping adventurers like yourself to survive the perils of the land." I stared as he handed me his tools. "Here, you'll need these. Welcome to Corundia."


Terraria, infinite and mysterious... Countless, distinct lands sprawled across the cosmos, connected only mysteriously through the mists of dawn... "You can mine for stone with your pickaxe," said Jack as I crossed the wilderness with my shortsword, keeping an eye out for more slimes. "Stone is particularly useful if you want to build houses from brick."

The slimes flew at me, a pair of blue blurs. Blindly, I struck at them with my thin blade, continuously backing away. All the while, Jack's ax and pickaxe were strapped to my back. "Why did you give me your tools?"

Jack was turning out to be less helpful than he seemed. "They're not my tools; they're yours," he told me. "Consider it a gift from the guild. You'll need them to survive in this land." And he never once took out a weapon or helped to kill the slimes.

The part that concerned me about Jack, however, were the tools. Pickaxes were the tools of miners who tore up the landscape and left ugly pits in flourishing fields,destroying whole forests in their wake. And transforming the earth was the last thing I wanted to do. "I'm going to go explore."

Jack simply nodded. "I'll just be off gathering firewood."

More slimes! They came from rocks and rivers, emerged from ponds and dropped from trees. Always jumping, hurling their blobby selves at my head, green and blue, always advancing, forcing me back.

Somehow, I figured out that if I could land a thrust right as a slime jumped, they would fall back, and I could strike again without stepping back. But this was tricky. for me to stab them at the right moment, I would need to get extremely close. Close enough that if I missed, I would have a faceful of jiggling slime.

Actually, I was starting to feel good about my progress on the slimes, when the little pink slime appeared. Pinky, as I learned to call the slime, was brutal. Though half the size of the other slimes, he made up for his size with a swift, bruising lunge like a slingshot.

I was completely unprepared.

As I fled, other slimes emerged from the grass and the water to join Pinky in hunting me. Over the fields, through the trees, he chased me with some sadistic joy, bouncing along like a rubber ball.

By the time I managed to kill Pinky, I was almost back to the hill where I left Jack, and the sun was starting to set. I was exhausted and battered. "Hey, Jack?" I called weakly. "Think I could crash in with you tonight?"

There was no answer.

"Jack? You there?"

I thought I heard a growl in the distance.

"Hey! Aren't you supposed to help me survive?"

In the fading twilight, I saw a large, grassy tunnel in the mouth of a hill to the east, descending far into the earth. Above the tunnel sat a cluster of clay pots, nestled in the the shrubs.

As the sun disappeared beneath the horizon. I heard the growls, the mutters, the shuffling footsteps; I heard chain-links clinking, shifting, rattling; growing louder, closer, Raising my shortsword, I slowly tuened in a circle. "Hello? Who's out there?"

I felt a cold shudder as the first figures emerged from the tunnels. In the pale moonlight between the trees, I caught a glimpse of their deformed, hideous faces, their rotting flesh and hair. Claws sank into my leg, grimy yellow hands grabbing my arms, bearing me down.


I stabbed at them repatedly, trying to force them back in vain. More zombies from behind, dragging me to my knees, swarming over me like ants.

I couldn't get away. I was too exhausted, too worn out; I could barely them in the darkness. Their hungry growls filled my ears, their nails at my flesh.

The last thing I remember seeing was a hooded figure in white descending from the night sky, wreathed in blue flames.


more to come soon
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

July 30, 2014 9:35am
Chapter 2


I heard my sister's voice. "I built a house."

The voice that responded... It was low and secretive. "Good job, Frosti. Now make more houses for the villagers..."

I woke up in a long, grassy cave. I was heavily bandaged, my clothes ragged and torn. Every part of my body throbbed with pain.

"It's dangerous to wander around at night," muttered Jack, a few feet away. "What were you thinking? You should've found shelter before the sun went down."

Slowly sitting up, I patted my belt. My rapier was safe at my side. But something was wrong; my coin-pouch felt unusually light. "How did I get here?" I croaked.

He pointed down the cavern. "I found you just outside," said the guide. "Your wounds will heal quickly. Mushroom salve fixes everything."

Feeling hazy, I squinted down the long, vine-grown passage, toward the early morning light. Where was I?

The sun in Terraria's worlds always rises in the west and sets in the east. As I emerged from the grass cavern, I saw a flowering meadow, the cave's entrance lined with pots.

On the other side of the meadow, I saw another grassy cave, this one much smaller, overgrown with flowers and vines. "Did you dream?" said Jack behind me.

"Yeah." My sister left to explore Terraria, a few days before I did. Had she run into a guide, too? I tried to remember the dream, but it was too hazy, too incomplete.

It turned out that the grass-cavern was just under the hilltop where I first saw Jack. I must have fallen down the hill when the zombies swarmed me. I was lucky not to have broken anything.

Whistling, Jack strode out into the meadow. "You really need to build a house," he told me. "You'll need lumber first, of course."

One by one, I removed my bandages, encrusted with mushroom salve. Listening to the birds, I reluctantly took out my new axe.

My guide was right. I needed lumber. It took a while to climb up onto the hill with the trees, but I managed to get up there eventually. I had never cut down a sapling, let alone a grown tree. "Well, there's a first for everything," I muttered, and swung.

Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. One tree, two trees, three. I spent the morning chopping down trees, cutting the lumber into smaller pieces.

Once I had enough wood, I got to building my workbench. It was a very rudimentary workbench; the pieces weren't even bolted together, since I had no nails.

My workbench was set up in the second grass cave, where I decided to make my home. I sealed the entrances with wood, and the slimes couldn't get in. I was proud of myself.

I decided to check out the hill with the spring that I'd seen earlier. There's two grass-tunnels between my cave and the hill; both were overgrown with vines. A couple pots were left

On the hill, the pots had several lengths of rope, which I took with me. Water trickled down from within the rocks and into a bowl-shaped cave. The water was clear and refreshing; I drank my fill.
Behind the spring, I discovered a chest with healing potions, and a sturdy spear. Whose spear? I don't know. But it was sharp, light, and well-built; so I held onto it.

Night was falling; I had to move quickly before the zombies emerged. The sun was just about to set when I got back to the grass caves. "Could I borrow a torch?" I asked Jack.

"No, but I'll show you how to make your own," he told me. "Here." And the gel from the slimes turned out to be quite flammable. He also showed me how to hang a torch on the wall without setting fire to it.

I spent that night safely in the small grass-cave, practicing with my new spear. I heard the growls of zombie hordes outside, bumping into my walls, clawing at the timbers, then crawling away in disappointment.

That night, in my dreams, I saw my sister wearing a bucket on her head, standing outside a wood cabin. She was talking to a hooded white figure.

"How do I make the villager stay in the house?" my sister asked.

"Make sure there's a table, a chair, and a light source," said the hooded figure.

It wasn't untl the next morning that I remembered seeing the white hooded figure before. Who was he?

Perhaps because of the dream, I built some furniture for my house in the morning: chairs, a table, and doors.

Like with the axe yesterday, I'd never used a pickaxe. It was tough; the pickaxe was heavy and the dirt was compacted. I soon had a small basement under my cave, though, and managed to gather quite a bit of stone.

After moving my workbench into the basement, I reinforced the cave with stone-- namely, the parts above the doorway.

I decided to go exploring. Slimes might be frustrating, but they were much easier to deal with than the zombies at night. Besides, I could do more building tonight.

Jack's grass cave was much larger than mine. Emerging from the west entrance, I climbed the hill where I first ran into my guide. The view was beautiful; I saw sparkling lakes and swaying, towering trees. Further in the distance, I saw falling snow and frozen lakes; I saw a purple ruin on the edge of a lake, and the glittering sea beyond.

Turning to the east, I suddenly noticed a pair of giant trees in the distance, past the wellspring hill. They were tremendously tall, towering far into the clouds. How had I not noticed them before? And yet, they showed no sign of toppling over, as if anchored firmly to the earth's very bones.

I encountered a few more slimes on my way back. My new spear far more effective than my sword, but my body was still stiff; and I was exhausted by the time I returned to the grass caves.

I found myself with quite a bit of stone, so I decided to expand my house. I dug out a lot of the hilltop to build a stone shack on top of the grass cave's hill. I rather liked how it looked.

I'd barely finished moving my furniture upstairs when I found Jack sitting in my chair, at my table. "What're you doing here?" I demanded.

"This is a lot better than my cave," he said cheerfully. "I'm moving in."

I tried to kick him out, but he just wouldn't listen. So I was stuck down in my cave for the night.

Well, at least I wasn't alone. More zombies growling, more zombies howling. I listened to them bumping into the walls again...

Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.

I felt a chill down my spine as the zombies began to knock on my front door, knocking with ceaseless rhythm. Slowly, I turned around as more growling zombies began to knock on the back door as well. Would they knock the door down?

They never did, thankfully. They just kept knocking, kept urging me to answer. At first I was relieved. But as the night wore on, their steady pounding started to get to me, grinding at my nerves.

"Go away!" I yelled.

They didn't go away. After a long time had passed, I finally got fed up, opened the door, and shoved my spear through the doorway, skewering several zombies through the belly.

I was too slow to shut the door, though: two zombies managed to get inside first. Cursing repeatedly, I backed away from them, jabbing them with my spear until they finally collapsed to the floor and stopped moving.

"Who's that?" called Jack as the other zombies continued to knock on the front door.

"No one," I called back.

That night, in my dreams, my sister was again talking to the white hooded figure, who was accompanied by a man in purple armor this time.

"My guide kinda died," said my sister.

"I'm not surprised," said the man in purple. "You'd have to kill him anyway." The white hooded man tried to silence him, but he kept going. "Beware the wa--"

The white hooded man gave the purple armor man a shove, and the man in purple armor tumbled down into a pit of blood.

Suffice to say, I wasn't very refreshed the next morning. Still, I'd survived this long, hadn't I? I could do this. Okay. Day four, start.

I decided to remove the back door and fill it in with stone. I doubted I'd be using it much anyway, considering how cramped that part of the cave was.

When he came downstairs, Jack looked at my shredded clothes. "You need better equipment," he told me. "You should get a furnace running. Then, once you find copper and iron, you can make an anvil for crafting armor and weapons."

For now, I decided to carve some armor from wood. It was bulky and uncomfortable, but it would do for now.

With the help of my guide, we set up a furnace, building a small stone-house over a wood fire. Looking outside, I figured that digging for ores could wait. The day was still young, after all.

In the cave with the rock spring, I came upon a small deposit of clay. I collected it for later; perhaps I could try my hand at some pottery. For now, I was curious about the source of the water. I would need a steady supply of fresh water to keep going, after all. Perhaps, if I could find the source...

My curiosity was a mistake. The moment I started to dig into the rock, the spring went silent. Dismayed, I tried to dig deeper into the stone. Had I accidentally blocked the spring? But no matter how far I dug, I couldn't find the water's source.

After a few hours of searching, I heard the trickle of a second spring. I decided it must be on the other side of the hill; I would have to investigate it later.

I managed to make it back by nightfall. Since it was dark, and I could hear the zombies stirring outside, I decided to dig for ore from the basement. I couldn't find copper or iron, but I managed to gather a fair bit of tin and lead.

Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump. The zombies outside were growing restless. "Who's that?" called Jack as he came downstairs, listening to the knocks on the front door.

Down in the basement, I stopped mining and frowned up at my guide. "What are you doing?" I asked him. "Don't open the door--"

Too late. He opened the door. And at once, the zombies were all over him. Alarmed, Jack tried to flee, but their claws had sunken into his shoulders, yanking furiously at his arms and legs, tearing at his hair and his skin. He screamed and screamed.

Grabbing my spear, I scrambled up the rope ladder, looking around the zombie-filled cave frantically; but I could see no sign of Jack. I backed up against the wall, lashing out with my spear, stabbing at the advancing hordes repeatedly, forcing them back. Their claws raked against my wood armor, their fists pounding at the carved breastplate.

My arms were growing sore, the wood armor dragging me down, slowing my movements. But still I tried to fight on, staring into the hungry, dead faces that had tried to drag me down, on that first night. Not again. Never again. I would fight to the end this time.

And just when I thought I could take no more, the zombies suddenly faltered, drawing back their claws. I stared as they looked at each other blankly, as if they had only just realized where they were. One by one, they began to retreat, hobbling out the door, slinking out of sight.

Outside, the sun's first rays appeared on the horizon. There was no sign of Jack.

Sinking to the floor, I crawled over to the open door and kicked it closed. The floor was strewn with bits of flesh, some rotten, some fresh. Under the table, I found bloody rags, a half-gnawed arm, bits of broken skull and hair.

My guide was dead. I was alone.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

August 2, 2014 12:05pm
I wanted to cover more stuff in this chapter but it's already pretty long

---- Chapter 3 ----

My cave was still bloody. I stood on the front porch, the wind swirling around me, my injuries bandaged with cloth. What do I do now? Where do I go?

I found myself wandering through the first grass-cave; the one where I woke up, after the zombie attack on the first night. It was still spacious and beautiful, despite the ravenous, vicious hordes that had visited me last night.

Cool mist swirled around me as I explored the cave. It felt cool and pleasant; peaceful, even. I took off my helmet and sat on the ground, staring down at the grass. I didn't want to destroy nature. But nature wanted to destroy me.

When I emerged from the cave, I found myself in an unfamiliar forest. In the distance, I saw a giant tree, like the two I had seen beyond the wellspring hill. I couldn't see the lakes.

The giant tree had a hollow trunk, large emough to fit two or three men. On the outside, its bark was thick and smooth; on the inside, it was pitted, lined with wooden tendrils. There was a mystical feeling in the air.

Torch in hand, I climbed down into the hollow trunk. The mysterious sensstion grew stronger as I descended beneath the earth, like the glow of a fallen star.

I found myself staring at a door in the trunk's wall. The door was made of bark, interwoven with vines, light but sturdy.

Tenatively, I knocked on the door. "Hello?" No response.

Opening the door, I stepped into a small dwelling with chairs, a table, and a chest, all woven from bark and vine like the door. The walls were made of the same smooth, seamless wood as the rest of the tree.

Cautiously, I opened the chest to find a slender branch, polished and smooth. A tingle of power ran down my arm as I held it up to the light.

Gripping the branch firmly, I waved it across the air. The leaves at the tip left a glowing trail of green and yellow, which solidified into the same seamless wood that composed the tree.

A magic wand? Or perhaps a part of the tree itself, channeling the magic of its parent? Regardless, I decided to take it with me.

But night came more quickly than I anticipated. Somewhere, while wandering in the shadows, I found myself in a vast field of snow and icebound lakes. I saw trees of dark, dense wood; I saw flowers with brittle, translucent petals like ice.

I heard the growling zombies. In the torchlight, through the falling snow, I could make out their fur-lined hoods, encrusted with frost crystals that just barely caught the light. And I saw the slimes, pale glittering blue.

I had to find a place to spend the night.

At the foot of a snowbound hill, I dug a pit down into the snow, hoping they would see the ground missing and turn back. To my shock, they sprang down into the pit! Shivering, I gripped my pickaxe and began to dig up into the hill as the slimes and Eskimo zombies battered at me.

I managed to dig out a small cave. Crawling up into my small shelter, I shoved my attackers back and patched up the opening with snow, except for a small viewport. I hung a torch on the wall, and watched anxiously as they pounded against the snow walls, hissing and growling.

It was on this night that I first saw the floating, disembodied eyeballs. They must have been there every night, flitting about in the darkened sky, bloody tendrils trailing behind them; but this was the first night that I was fully aware of them.

I let out a sigh of relief. Nothing could get inside. Teeth chattering, I lay down in my snow-cave, huddled up in a ball. Just needed to rest... Just for a bit...

I was wandering in a great wasteland, covered with worm-eaten purple grass and pale vines with jagged thorns, the stone stained a dark violet. I saw fetid chasms that led far down into the earth, and the scent of rotting flesh wafted from their depths. I thought I felt a dark prescence watching me, like the power of the giant tree, but sinister and fearsome.

"Oh, another one."

I spun around to see a young woman sitting on a tree branch with decayed violet leaves. She wore a yellow rain hat and white robes, and seemed to take no notice of our nightmarish surroundings. "Ah, we can't meet like this, can we?" she said cheerfully, taking out an umbrella. "We ought to find a way. Somehow..."

Gasping, I bolted upright from sleep, staring around the snow-cave. The air was growing thick and heavy; I felt dizzy. Struggling to breathe, I desperately hacked away with my pickaxe at the walls, tearing them down. I crawled out from the cave, gasping for breath in the cold night air.


It was raining heavily that morning. More slimes emerged as I hurried on home, but my spear kept them back. Twice, I saw large blue slimes holding umbrellas. I stared at them as I passed, but hurried on.

There was a man waiting for me when I finally reached the grass caves. He wore a tan cap and matching long-coat. He had a large white beard, the sort of beard that blends into a mustache and reaches up to the sideburns. Over by the front door, I saw several stacked crates.

"Hello there," I said shakily. "Who might you be?"

Sharply, he turned to face me. "I'm Alfred, a merchant," said the man gruffly. "This is Corundia, yes? I've been searching for a place to settle down. Might you have an open room?"

We shook hands, and I showed Alfred inside, helping to carry his crates upstairs. He did not comment on the trashed first floor, but proceeded up to his new room and its thick stone walls. "I don't think you'll find a lot of customers here," I told him apologetically as he started to unpack his wares from the crates.

"Oh, they'll come," said Alfred confidently, setting vases on the shelf overhead. "People tend to gather where the heroes are."

On the word 'heroes', he paused and squinted at me with his dark, pervasive eyes, as if unsure whether the label applied to me or not. "I hope a kid like you's not all that's standing between us and the Eye of Cthulu," he muttered.

The floating eyeballs in the night? I had yet to test my strength against them, true; but considering the slimes and the zombies, I think I would do all right against them.

I still had some snow and ice samples from the snowfield, so I stored them away in my chest. "Right, so, I'm going to explore," I said uncomfortably. "Go ahead and... uh... settle in however you like."

In the side of the west hill, from which I had first seen the lakes, I found a cave passage. I proceeded down the passage, hanging torches on the wall as I went. I came upon a large stone vein, and stopped to mine it out; I didn't know, back then, just how plentiful stone was.

The tunnel sloped down sharply, leading down into a dark cavern. I'd like to say I lowered myself down carefully with rope. As it was, I ended up losing my footing, and tumbled down into the cave.

I landed in a pool of water with a great splash. I could taste the salty tang of sand in the air, and there were pots underwater. The cavern was much wider than the tunnel, and its walls were slick, too slick to hang a torch.

Suddenly, a giant yellow slime sprang out from the shadows! It landed with a squish on the water's surface. I tried to back away, but it sprang again, this time striking me in the chest. My wood armor absorbed most of the blow, but it still sent a ringing pain

The water pressed me, every movement requiring more strength; my armor weighed me down, slurring my movements. The more I tried to flee, the more tired I grew.

Again and again, the slime battered at me, wearing me down. Finally, I sank to my knees; and once again, I blacked out.


I woke up in the grass-caves, my armor and weapons laying in a stack nearby. "Damnit, kid, I told you that weren't ready," snapped Alfred as he approached me, shaking his head in disapproval. "What were you thinking, going down there?"

Slowly, I sat up, staring around the cave. My head was bandaged, and there was ice pressed to the bruises on my chest and back. "How did I get here?" I croaked.

"Beats me! I found you here, so I decided to bandage you up." He started to pace around the grass cave, shaking his head. "You went down into the caves, didn't you?"

"Yeah..." Staring up at the ceiling, I remembered with a jolt that I'd woken up in this very same cave, after the zombies overwhelmed me. Jack had found me just outside, he said.

Two close calls with death, both times found near these caves, both times waking up in the same place. Could it be a coincidence? Or were they related?

"You ought to carry health potions with you," advised Alfred, glancing back to me. "I stock quite a few, you know. They're just three silver apiece."

I patted my pockets, and my heart sank. My wallet felt much lighter again. "I think I'm almost broke."

He sighed. "Tell you what, kid," said Alfred, squatting down next to me. "I'll pay you for every monster you kill. Slimes, bats, worms, whatever you run into."

"What about zombies?" I asked, frowning.

"I'll pay you for those too, but they usually carry cash on them," he told me. "Most of them were buried with coins, see. Boat fare to enter the afterlife, or so they thought."

I cleaned up the first floor that night, partly to get rid of the smell, partly to find hidden cash in the zombie remains. I managed to collect a fair bit of coin before the knocks on the front door started up.

At some point, Alfred came downstairs and started pacing around the room. "Don't open the door!" I shouted as he approached the front door.

He gave me a look. "Young man, I am perfectly aware that zombies roam the night. Furthermore, my room is made of stone, and thus extremely uncomfortable."

I left him to his devices and retreated down into the basement to dig for ore. My tunnel was rather spacious now.

The next morning, I took out the branch-wand and started building a third floor out of seamless wood, hoping it would appease Alfred.

I accidentally lay down some stone walls in the wrong place, though, and couldn't seem to tear them down, so I covered then with dirt. It was okay. All three floors now had a table and two chairs each. The small grass-cave was becoming a tower.

"This housing is suitable," called a voice.

I came downstairs to find a guide standing just outside my house, in the mouth of the large grass-cave. "Who are you?" I asked, frowning.

"The name's Kyle," he told me assertively, shaking my hand. "I'm here to replace Jack as Corundia's guide. You must be Scheil."

It felt odd to have Kyle around. At a passing glance, he looked just like his predecessor; he had the same haircut and clothes. Upon further inspection, though, he was clearly older than Jack.

After compiling a report on Jack's death, Kyle turned to me. "Monsters will attack humans if they get close enough, but they usually avoid permanent settlements," he told me. "You should attract more settlers."

"I have three floors," I told him. We were on the first floor. "If someone came along and moved into the first floor, I could make do in the basement."

"You know what the problem is here?" said Kyle. He tapped the cave's grassy wall. "No one wants to live in a cave."

I spent the rest of the morning destroying the cave's jagged ceiling, and replacing the grass floor with wood floorboards. Then I tried to tear down the grass walls, but had no luck. "What do you want me to do?"

"You'll need a hammer. Any will do. Just make one out of wood for now.

At my workbench, I fashioned a wooden hammer. Like the other tools, this was the first time I ever swung an hammer. I was amazed at how easily the walls gave way beneath my swings.

Once I was done with that, I moved my chest down to the basement. I was about to head back up when I heard a growl from the shadows.

Alarmed, I descended into my mine-pit to discover several slimes and a zombie with a large blue head stumbling around.

I built a campfire on the rooftop that night and watched the stars. The zombies leapt and clawed at my tower's walls, but couldn't reach me. I kept my spear handy, though, just in case.

I glanced up in alarm as an eyeball with red tendrils swooped down from the sky and struck me squarely in the chest with enough force to knock me off the roof. Panicking, I pawed at the air as I landed in the midst of a zombie horde. "Help! Help!"

Had I not been wearing armor, I suspect several of my ribs would have cracked; the wind was knocked from my lungs. Gasping for breath, I struck with my spear, forcing them back. I managed to back up against the stone wall where my back door had been originally, allowing me to focus my thrusts in front of me.

As the last of the zombies fell, I saw a streak of light fall from the sky, hitting the ground a few feet away.When I was done looting the zombies' remains, I approached the fallen star, which glowed with fierce light of every color.

Pocketing the fallen star, I looked up to the starry sky, to the campfire crackling atop my tower. For a moment, I thought I saw the hooded white figure on the rooftop, standing against the glowing smoke; then I blinked, and he was gone.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

August 10, 2014 2:03pm
Chapter 4: Life Crystals

Kyle and Alfred were waiting for me at the front door. "You're all right!" exclaimed Kyle as I stumbled inside. "I heard you shouting last night. I was sure you were a goner."

"Tell that to the other guys," I managed to say before collapsing in a chair. Somehow, I had survived the night on my own. This was good, because it meant I could do this; I was more than just fodder.

A pouch of coins clinked down on the table next to me. "As I promised, one for every monster killed," said Alfred, sounding a bit irritated. "Stone floors are hard on the back, boy..." He adjusted his hat and strode outside.

I stared at the coins. Briefly, I remembered the figure in the white hood. The figure was real; I'd seen him last night. But who was he? And why did I keep seeing him in my dreams?

Later, I went down into the basement and listened to the growling monsters wandering in my mine-tunnels. I had ignored them before, fearing their strength; but surely, I could handle them now.

I put up a door to close off the basement, in case Jack or Alfred came down, then dropped down into the tunnels, which curved under the basement, reaching somewhere below the front entrance.

There they were, still stumbling in the dark, unable to find the way out. It felt good to plunge my spear into the zombie's head, the slimes bursting as I pierced their membranes.

Torch in hand, I scanned the tunnels for ore. Nature was my enemy, I told myself. I couldn't afford to preserve nature's beauty. Even so, I cringed at the ugly gashes into the soil that my pickaxe left.

With Kyle's help, I smelted the ores into tin and lead at the furnace. I had just enough lead to build an anvil. "I noticed you have a short-sword," said the guide as I hammered the metal at my anvil. "You'll want a broadsword, though. They're better for slashing."

When I was done, I had a full set of tin armor and a thick, heavy sword. I felt as if I could barely move.

There was a chunk of land that floated between the original grass-cave hill and my tower. It hovered above my front entrance, with a zigzag-shaped gap between it and the tower.

I decided to build a new house for Alfred on that chunk of floating land. I didn't know why he'd chosen to settle in Corundia, but I was grateful, nonetheless.

When I was done, I built some stairs so that Alfred could wander on top of the grass-cave hill or descend to ground level as he pleased.

Since I was remodeling, I decided to remove the stone walls at the back of my tower and restore the back door. I had the feeling I would be doing a lot of exploring in that direction, in the future.

Today, though, I descended into the tunnels beneath the west hill once more. I tried to be more careful this time, lowering myself down into the cavern with ropes, keeping an eye out for the giant yellow slime.

Drawing my sword, I swung as soon as the slime lunged at me, landing a slice between its tiny eyes. The giant blob grazed my left shoulder in mid-leap, sending me reeling back.

Boots sloshing in the water, I slashed again; it landed behind me. I whirled around for another slash; it slammed into me directly. Slash, slash; I lost track of the movements, but at some point, I managed to land a final blow, and the yellow slime collapsed into jelly in the water.

Floating in the pool, I removed my helmet until the throbbing pain in my head subsided. Slowly, I stared around the cave, setting a torch on the edge of the pool.

All around me, I saw rock walls thick with purple, springy moss; I saw a curtain of green vines descending from the ceiling.

I saw the glint of lead. Emerging from the pool, I took out my pickaxe and began to mine. But as I dug, each swing cut down the soft vines, ripped the purple moss from its stone, leaving it fbarren.

To my left, a cavern passage led further down into the earth. When I was done mining, I headed into the tunnel.

Down, down, further down. The tunnel widened into a large, deep cavern whose bottom I couldn't see. I didn't know, back then, just how deep the world was; I thought that I'd surely found some bottom layer of the earth, not knowing that I'd only scratched the surface.

I heard a faint sound like crystalline notes, rising and falling. Blinking, I scanned the great cavern and saw pots and gem-studded rocks, thick purple growths of moss, but could not see the source of the music.

Without warning, a pair of screehing blue bats swooped down into my face, startling me so badly that I lost my grip on the rope. Horrified, I tumbled down the cavern, landing with a splash in another pool of water.

The water was far deeper than the previous one; I sank like a stone, falling away from the cavern, down the underwater tunnel. Where was I? I couldn't see anyone or anything; it was impossible to light a torch underwater, after all.

Air. I needed to find air! I clawed at the underwater tunnel frantically, searching for some air pocket. Nothing. My thrashing grew slower, sluggish. No, I thought frustratedly, weakly. I couldn't die here! Not after I'd come so far.

My lungs were about to burst, my head burning with pain. I couldn't hold it any longer. I felt the last of strength float from me; then, darkness enveloped me.


Flash. I was in a tunnel of dull, murky stone and rotting vegetation, surrounded by strange growls and odd hisses. staring up at a mysterious orb that pulsated with a sinister aura that made my blood writhe...

Flash. I was standing in the violet, fetid grass again. Overhead, I saw the floating, legless monsters with half-decayed skin. The eyes on their backs were fixated on me; their mandibles and claws twitched as they dove at me...

I woke up in the grass-cave again, at the foot of Alfred's stairs. "You went down into the tunnel again, didn't you," said the merchant disdainfully as I sat upright, gasping for breath.

"I can do this," I mumbled. The same grass-cave. Had it been a dream? It had felt so real, so vivid, the water pressing down on my armor, my lungs burning with desperation...

The merchant handed me another coin-pouch, this one larger and made of thicker fabric. "Here," said Alfred gruffly. "It's enchanted; I can now send you money directly for each kill."

It took a while to recuperate; but as night fell, I donned my armor again and descended into the tunnels once again. There was no giant slime to greet me this time, and I soon reached the deep cavern.

More bats coming! Glaring down at the water, I sprang for the rock wall, tin armor crashing against the rough stone. Grunting, I pulled myself up onto the rock ledge and collapsed, growing tired.

My respite was short-lived; the bats were approaching again. Drawing my sword, I swung at the bats furiously, driving them back. And still screeching, even bleeding, they flew at me again and again, unrelenting, until they tumbled to the floor in bloody bits of wings and fur.

Taking off my helmet, I hung torches on the rock walls. I could hear the crystal notes again, rising and falling in pitch. Digging toward the mysterious melody, I piled a wall of stone and dirt behind me to keep out the bats. The music was growing louder...

Stone crumbled beneath my pickaxe, leaving a small hole no larger than my head. I found myself staring into a cavern with a glittering pink heart-shaped crystal.

I was about to widen the hole when I caught sight of several bats and a giant, rippling slime of black gel. This one was even larger than the yellow slime!

Okay, I thought to myself. I have to do this carefully. Sticking a torch in the hole, I took out my spear, watching the monsters through the peephole.

As soon as the bats approached, I thrust my spear through the hole, striking them directly. Again and again, I stabbed them, until they dropped to the floor.

Automatically, I felt my new coin-pouch grow heavy.

Now for the jelly. I watched as the giant slime sprang at me, squishing against the rock wall. At once, I shoved my spear through the hole and into its gelatinous body, stabbing it until it burst. Relieved, I widened the hole and entered.

I felt something wetgrab my leg. I felt something else crash into my chestplate, a third striking my shoulder. Striking a torch, I saw three tiny black slimes bouncing around me, like miniature versions of the giant black slime.

Yelling, I drew my sword and slashed at them wildly, the force of my swings flinging their tiny bodies around the cavern; but their bodies were tougher, faster. By the time I killed them I was exhausted again.

I sat down on the gel-splattered floor next to the heart-shaped crystal, which hummed and pulsated with elegant notes.

I casually gave the crystal a push with my pickaxe, accidentally dislodging it. Startled, I reached out to steady it.

The moment I touched the crystal, it began to glow bright, brimming with power, and my arm instinctively tensed up. I could feel an outside force that pressed back at my palm, as if trying to seep through my skin.

I took a deep breath and let my arm relax. Flashing rapidly, the light flowed up my fingers, up my arm, into my veins. I felt the light spread through my body like cool steel, every sense flaring, intensifying.

Beneath my hand, the crystal's ligjt dimmed away; then, abruptly, it crumbled into dust.

I took a deep breath.. My lungs felt stronger, my arms and legs sturdier. I felt more mobile in my armor now, my sword easier to swing. Was this the power of the heart-shaped crystal's light?

One way or another, it was time to go back up.


The sun was rising as I emerged from the tunnels, the last of the dawn's mist evaporating.

Crossing through the grass-caves, I caught sight of Kyle talking to an unfamiliar woman in a white uniform. Overhead, Alfred was gazing from his front porch out over the hills.

"Welcome back," greeted Kyle, eyes lighting up as I approached. He looked to the woman. "This is the adventurer I was telling you about about. Scheil, this is Caitlin, a nurse."

I stared at Caitlin. I was pretty sure I hadn't heard or seen anyone in the area. "It's nice to meet you," I said after a moment, reaching out to shake her hand.

The nurse smiled. "Likewise," she told me cheerfully. "As Kyle here said, I'm Nurse Caitlin, a graduate from the Medical Institute in Kuiz. I arrived here only this morning."

I got Caitlin and her medical supplies settled into the first floor apartment. I was loathe to give it up, but all things considered, she would likely have more use for it than me.

Still, where did she come from? Outside, I searched the ground, but couldn't find Caitlin's footprints. Come to think of it, I hadn't seen Alfred's or Kyle's footprints when they arrived, either...

"So, Scheil, what'd you find underground last night?" asked Kyle from the grass-cave's entrance. He had a small, knowing smile.

We strode through the grass-cave as I told him about the heart-shaped crystal. "Thought so," he said nodding. "The medical centers don't like to send out nurses until a hero's survived long enough to find a Life Crystal."

"Life Crystal?" I echoed.

"Yep. Shaped like a heart, you said? And you felt stronger afterwards, even though you'd just fought against some of your toughest enemies so far."

We emerged from the west exit and began to climb the hill. The morning sky was a clear, radiant blue. "Just what are Life Crystals, anyway?" I asked.

"Life Crystals form as a by-product of Terraria's power," explained Kyle. "When a new world is born, a tremendous wave of energy is released across the new world, forming grass and trees and other vegetation. The remnants of that energy, so to speak, eventually flows underground and condenses into Life Crystals."

I thought of the soft pink light of the Life Crystal, mysterious and alluring. The light had flowed into me, strengthening me. And to think that it was not just any power, but the life-giving power that flowed through Terraria itself!

"I guess I should keep an eye out for more Life Crystals down there..." At that moment, I remembered my dreams, and a thought occured to me. "You mean that every part of Terraria is alive?"


I hesitated. "I've been having dreams..."

Kyle looked at me, alarmed. "What sort of dreams?" said the guide sharply.

Feeling uneasy, I tried to describe the fetid purple grass, the murky rotting 0chasms. Gradually, Kyle's face darkened. "But they were just dreams, right?" I said quickly.

"Dreams in Terraria are never just dreams," he told me, very sternly. "What other dreams have you been having?"

It took a while, but I managed to recount most of my dreams, starting from the first dream of my sister, up until the visions of the wasteland.

"That's a bad omen," muttered the guide, shaking his head. "If you saw that place, of all places..."

I stared at him. "You mean that place exists? It's real?"

"It's called the Corruption," said the guide heavily. "It is the twisted, deteriorated form of Terraria's power."

He gestured around to the sun and the vibrant grass, flowers and tree-branches swaying in the wind. "The forces of nature in Terraria are constructive. Life propogates life. Forest, desert, tundra, jungle, beach; it doesn't matter. Even when we die, mushrooms return our nutrients to the earth, replenishing it for future generations."

"What about the Corruption?"

He nodded. "In contrast, the Corruption is a destructive force," continued Kyle. "Grass is the foundation of life in Terraria, but the purple grass-- corrupt grass--that you saw spreads only death. It invades surrounding forests and chokes out other plants, sapping life from both living and dead vegetation. Even the trees are not fully unscathed."

I frowned. Something wasn't right here. "I saw other plants than just grass and trees."

He nodded. "Corrupt grass leaves an abundance of rotting vegetation that organisms which would normally die off quickly are able to survive. Vile mushrooms, the eater-of-souls, deathweed, and so on and so forth. In turn, these organisms prey on most many herbivores, protecting the corrupt grass."

The Corruption was hideous, a blight. And yet-- perhaps because I wasn't in the Corruption right now-- it didn't seem so terrifying right now. Didn't any plant have to choke out life, in order to grow? Yes, the corrupt grass transformed beautiful landscapes into nightmares, but that was just part of the natural desire to propogate, right?

I tried to picture the Corruption from my dreams again, but could only conjure half-images. "I guess I won't go there very often," I said finally. "But is it really that bad?"

"It's not about the--" He broke off and shook his head. "Don't worry about it for now. As long as you stay out of thd Corruption, you'll be fine."
He started to head back down, then glanced back up at me. "You should take a rest, though. You'll wear yourself out if you spent all your time down in the tunnels."
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

August 21, 2014 11:22am
Chapter 5


The following weeks passed in a blur. I continued to explore the underground caverns, gathering ore and treasures. I managed to collect two more Life Crystals as well. There was some rock-climbing equipment in one chest, which I held onto.

I finally managed to climbed the east hill, the hill where I accidentally destroyed the wellspring. The top was very steep, back then; I lowered myself down dlowly with ropesOn the hill's east face, I came upon another cave with another wellspring, crystal clear water streaming down the vines and down the sloping tunnel.

I've mentioned the grass-tunnels between my tower and the east hill before. At some point, I connected them into a single tunnel. I discovered that if someone was in this grass tunnel, I could hear them clearly from my basement.

How many tunnels were there, again? I dug a large network of tunnels below my house in search of ore, leading in countless directions; I can't recall the full layout anymore, but certainly, there were far more tunnels than there needed to be. Many of them served as shortcuts into the caverns.

In the woodland between the grass-cave and the west hill, I dug out a large deposit of clay. I accidentally dug straight down into the tunnels under the west hill. This was an as-of-yet unexplored part of the tunnels, if I recall correctly, and it led into a large grass-cave with tiny streams of water that trickled down through the floor into an undergorund river.

This new grass- cave happened to be directly under the first grass-cave, the one next to my tower. To avoid confusion, I shall refer to the new grass-cave as the underground river cave, and to the first one simply as "the grass-cave."

I started gathering the stars which fell to earth at night. Because the stars seemed to disintegrate with the mists at dawn, I usually kept them in my chest. I put one star in a bottle so that I could observe it closely.

Unfortunately, I was unable to remove the star from the bottle afterwards, and Alfred refused when I offered to sell the star-in-a-bottle to him. "What am I supposed to do with this?" I demanded.

The old man rolled his eyes, as if the answer was obvious. "Figure it out yourself."

On a whim, I decided to hang the bottle from the ceiling like a lantern. The effect was delightful-- the lantern effectively lit up the entire room--so I bottled up more stars and replaced all the torches in my tower with the makeshift lanterns.

One morning, I emerged from the grass-cave, and once again, I found myself in an unfamiliar forest. There was no sign of the west hill, or the lakes beyond. Confused, I began to explore.

"Hey, you lost?" called a voice.

I turned to see Kyle strolling through the grass. "What're you doing out here?" I asked, frowning.

"Just taking a walk," he said casually. "And you?"

Something was wrong; his voice sounded off, and his posture was unusually relaxed. "So... just how many entrances does the grass-cave have?" I asked.

"Eh? What grass-cave?" he said, glancing around. "Pretty sure there's no grass-caves in the tundra. Why?"

I stared at him. Something was very amiss... then suddenly, I understood. "You're not Kyle!"

"Well, I certainly hope not," said the guide, chuckling. "Pretty sure my name's been Luke since I was born. I'm the guide assigned to Alabaster."

As it turned out, I'd somehow wandered into another world! This information left me flabbergasted. "You probably wound up on this world through the mists of dawn," said Luke thoughtfully.

"The what?"

Another chuckle. "See, there's a mist that drifts through Terraria between all the worlds, sometimes touching them, sometimes even bridging them," he told me. "Usually, the mist only reaches a world's surface around dawn, when humans travel; and at dusk, when monsters travel."

I had to wait until dawn the next morning to get homel. Since I was stuck here, I agreed to build a house for Luke on Alabaster. This was a very simple house, mind you, just a plain wood shack with some basic amenities. I built it near the edge of the tundra.

Just as on Corundia, zombies pounded on the front door, all through the night. I was still very tired when I returned to Corundia the next morning.

This was also around the time that I first started building my floating island. It wasn't originally meant to be a floating island, mind you. It was meant to be a lookout post, just an extremely tall stack of dirt on top of my tower. The lookout post was also made of dirt, perhaps the size of Alfred's little island.

Out of curiosity, I knocked out the bottom of the stack. To my amazement, the dirt did not collapse, but instead remained suspended in midair. The implications were thrilling: perhaps someday, I could build a floating city!

The view was beautiful. I tore down the dirt stack below the lookout post, but left a long rope so that I could expand my floating island in the future.


By the time I saw my first blood moon, I was wearing a full set of lead chainmail, and had enough lead left over to upgrade the basement door.

I was working on my tower's fourth floor at the time, using red bricks made from baked clay. Unlike the floors below it, this floor had two ladders. The idea was to store my chests on this floor.

Overhead, the rising moon took on a dark shade of crimson. I felt a chill; I turned around. Several pairs of purple bunny ears and red eyes stared back at me.

Screeching, the corrupted bunnies sprang at me, their tiny jaws clamping down on my arm. Their teeth were just sharp enough to poke through the armor's links, scratching me; they moved swiftly, but I managed to behead the little terrors.

I heard footsteps outside, saw the floating eyes above. The zombies were coming. "Gee, they're more restless than usual tonight," commented Caitlin as I came rushing downstairs.

She was right-- I hadn't heard this many zombies at my door in a while. ""You can tell a Blood Moon is out when the sky turns red," said Kyle grimly, staring out the window. "There is something about it that causes monsters to swarm.""

Kicking the door open, I hacked my way through the crowd of growling zombies, their claws battering at my armor, collapsing in piles of half-rotting body parts. And still they kept coming.

Shouts rose from Alfred's house above me. I raced up the staircase to discover the door wide open. No less than five zombies were inside, with Alfred trapped against the back wall, staring at them with some rmixture of shock and indignance. In his hand

The zombies turned to face me as I entered. Yelling, I ran forward, slashing at them furiously. Were they stronger? Or were there just more of them?

When they were finally down, I looked over Alfred. He was in pretty bad shape: he had scratches on his temple and shoulders, and there were bite marks along his arm. "About time you got here, boy," he snapped at me. "They had me pinned down like a rabbit in a cage!"

I was growing tired, and the night had just begun. Why did he open the door for them? "You're welcome," I muttered under my breath. I looked around for some cloth to bandage "I'll get you to Caitlin. Let's go."

I heard more shouts from the tower. The front door opened as Kyle and Caitlin fled outside, followed by eight or nine zombies, all growling and hungry. Behind them, the back door was wide open.

I was livid. Had they all lost their minds? I felt the zombies pounding at my armor with their superhuman strength. Even with my upgraded defenses, I was still out of breath when I was done with them.

I stared down at Caitlin, who was bandaging Alfred's arm. "What is wrong with you?" I shouted at Caitlin. "Why would you open the door?!"

All three of them flinched; they were understandably shocked. This was the first time I'd lost my temper in front of them. "I didn't let them in!" cried the nurse. "They came through on their own!"

If I'd been more awake, I'd probably have considered this more carefully. "Zombies can't open doors," I told her fiercely. "We're in the middle of the wilderness. You can't just expect visitors at any time of the night--"

"Scheil, leave her alone," said Kyle sharply, grabbing my shoulder. "It's not her fault they got inside." I stared at him, then looked at Caitlin, who looked like she was on the verge of tears.... to this day, I don't know what came over me.

More zombies coming. I piled stone in front of the back door and stood guard at the front door, slashing the zombies as they came. It was another sleepless night; my fingers were numb with cold.


The next morning, I surveyed the damage to the village.

On top of Alfred's cabin was a layer of grass-bound dirt with several tree saplings protruding from its surface. I tore down the back wall and fitted it with a back door, so that if need be, he could escape his cabin even if enemies were at the back door.

I extended wooden planks from my tower's east side, so that if I should find myself trapped, I could escape to the roof. This was not as easy as it sounded. I'd seen how the zombies sprang and leapt. I couldn't make the platforms too low, or they would be able to climb after me.

"Yeah, I suppose you saved me, kid," conceded Alfred, looking over the changes to his cabin. His arm was still heavily bandaged, and there was dried blood encrusted on his beard. "You're still no match for Cthulhu's Eye, though."

I hadn't gotten any sleep in the last 24 hours. And in my mind, it was Caitlin's fault for letting in the zombies, for endangering everyone. She simply had to go. On top of the east hill-- the hill with the wellsprings-- I built a cabin for Caitlin using the branch wand.

"Now, where'd you get that?" said Kyle, amused. He was pointing at the branch-shaped wand in my hand. "I found it in a giant tree," I said slowly, handing it to him.

He held it up to the light, and his eyes widened. "A Living Tree," he whispered, almost reverently, with a faint hint of suspicion. "But this came from a dryad's home. And none of the Living Trees on Corundia have dryads..."

This was the first time I heard of dryads. Eager to learn more, I told Kyle about the grass cave's connection to other worlds. "The mists of dawn," murmured Kyle. "Then you found this in Alabaster?"

I blinked. Come to think of it, the world where I found the tree might not have been Alabaster at all. "I'm not sure," I admitted as he handed it back to me. "Then you know what this is?"

"It's a living wood wand," said Kyle, still staring at the branch. "It absorbs lumber and transforms it into living wood. It's one of the three wands that dryads craft. They also create leaf wands and dirt rods."

Living wood, I realized, was the smooth, seamless wood that the giant tree had been made of. "Will the dryad be angry that I took it?"

He shook his head. "Dryads make leaf wands and living wood wands specifically as gifts for humans; they already have those powers naturally. Dirt rods, well, they're slightly more reluctant to part with." He patted my shoulder. "You were probably meant to have it."

Kyle watched as I finished Caitlin's cabin. This one was designed differently from the other buildings; the walls themselves were sealed for Caitlin's safety. Instead, the only entrance was through the basement.

"So what happened last night?" I asked finally.

He sighed. "It really wasn't Caitlin who opened the door," said the guide grimly. "That's just the power of the blood moon."

This is what Kyle explained to me, that morning: When the moon turns red, the earth is blocking the sun's light from the moon, allowing the dark forces sealed inside the moom to touch the earth.

"What you must understand is that the blood moon stirs impulses inside the monsters," he said firmly. "This triggers normally defunct parts of their brains-- including the part which pertains to mechanical tasks, such as opening doors."

Well, I didn't know how to feel, after hearing that. Should I forgive Caitlin? Should I let her stay in the tower? In the end, I finished the house. I figured that Caitlin would be safer on top of the hill. I had yet to see a zombie climb a rope, after all.

Now came the hard part: getting Caitlin to actually move into the cabin. The basement door was actually above the tunnel, in the passage's ceiling, since the tunnel was diagonal. The idea was that the zombies would be unable to reach the door, even if they found their way into the tunnel.

I had to pile dirt behind her as she moved up the tunnel; she kept looking back at me, frowning, though she never asked what I was doing. After a while, I managed to get her up to the doorway. She hopped up to the front door and went inside, still looking very confused.

"You, stay here," I told her.

"Are you kidding me? It's too dark here," protested the nurse. "And my flag is--"

I ignored her, which was probably a mistake. It never occured to me that she might not realize I wanted her to move into the hilltop cabin. Nor did iit occur to me to move the flag she set up in my tower earlier.

No matter. Caitlin would be safe here. That was one less villager I would have to worry about. Just to be safe, I took out the furniture in my tower's first floor. I wouldn't need it anyway.

I was feeling a bit worn out, so I snuck out through the grass-cave. No mist this time; I emerged on the hill overlooking the lakes. I needed to familiarize myself iwth Corundia, especially if I was going to drift into other worlds in the future.

Wandering through the tundra, I came across a snow-cave. It took me a moment to realize it was the cave where I took shelter after Jack's death; but hadn't that also been the morning that I found the living wood wand? Perhaps there were other bridges between the worlds, other than just the grass-cave.

It had occured to me that the wood in the tundra was different from normal wood; darker, finer, perhaps sturdier. I spent the afternoon converting the cave into a cabin made from compact snow bricks and boreal wood. The wood's sturdiness allowed for more ornately carved funiture.

Satisfied, I hung a torch on the wall-- and almost at once, I heard someone knocking on the front door. Zombies, I thought. Sword ready, I answered the front door.

It was Caitlin. "What're you doing here?" I demanded.

"I want to live here, of course," she told me, striding inside. Before I could stop her, she hung her flag on the wall.

Furious, I snatched down the flag from the wall. "You can't live here!" This was supposed to be my retreat house, somwhere I could escape from the others, somewhere that I could find some peace and quiet.

"Well, you kinda kicked me out of the tower, and I need somewhere to live," replied Caitlin gaily, taking her flag back and hanging it up again. "What was I supposed to do, sit and wait in that lonely cabin of yours?" She laughed, as if the very idea of her living in the hilltop cabin was ridiculous.

I continued to argue with her until night fell, but she wouldn't listen. Worn down, I trudged back home through the snow, warding off zombies with my sword.


"If you want someone to move to another house, you have to move their flag," Kyle told me when I talked to him the next morning. "It's a formality in Terraria. Otherwise, we assume you're just taking us to somewhere safe until we can go back home."

I massaged my forehead. "Alfred moved without me asking him to."

"That's because you removed the furniture from his room in the tower," said the guide. He was extremely serious. "That's symbolic of evicting someone from their home."

Irritated, I tore down Kyle's flag from the wall. Amused, the guide followed me up the hill, where I hung his flag up in the hilltop cabin. "This housing is suitable," he said to me cheerfully. "It's quite a walk from the tower, though. You might want to think about that."
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

August 25, 2014 9:24am
---- Chapter 6 ----

Several new villagers arrived over the next few days.

Outside the tower, by the grass cave, I found a painter with a red cap and apron. "The name's Marco," said the painter. "This is Corundia, right? I'm gonna move in here, all right?"

Predictably, he wanted to live in the tower. Sighing, I removed the furniture from the third floor and brought it down to the first floor, where Marco moved in.

A few days later, I came upon a young man with a black turban and fine silk robes. "Greetings, Scheil," he said softly. "I am Ahirom, a dye trader. I have come from afar to settle in Corundia."

I started building a house for Ahirom above the grass-tunnels, between the tower and the east hill. I was starting to realize that quite a few people would be settling in Corundia in the future, so I started building more houses, including a long brick-walled room under Kyle's hilltop cabin.

"This tower looks terrible," Marco told me when I got back home. "It needs more bright colors."

By nightfall, I had kicked Marco out of the tower. He moved into a brick condominium between Ahirom's house and my tower. The condo had two floors for two homes, and I installed a bathroom on the third floor.

There were now four buildings in a row. I had platforms connecting the top of each one: from Alfred's roof to my tower's third floor, from the third floor to the roof of Marco's condo, and from that roof down to Ahirom's rooftop.

There were more planks covering the grass-tunnels under Ahirom's house. I also built a staircase leading up to the east hill so that Jack could move easily between the village and his house. Later, I built some stairs on my tower's east wall for easier access.

My tower's fourth floor never got finished. To this day, it has no walls, only a roof; it's my balcony, and I like it. I improved the structure of my tower several times as well, particularly to fix the north walls, which were an untidy mess of stone, wood, and dirt; the dirt was mostly left from the grass-cave that became the first floor.

Now, I wasn't just building houses during this time. I was still exploring the tunnels, still connecting them, still mining for ores. I rarely used the tunnels in the west hill now; the tunnels past the lead door in the basement worked well enough for me. I admit that I never explored very far down during this time; not because I was afraid to, but because I never realized how much further down I could go.

One day, I decided to explore to the east. Past the east hill, past the new wellsprings, I crossed through a lush valley of flowers and grass. I was delighted at first to find the two living trees I had once seen from afar, but to my disappointment, neither had dryad homes, as Kyle told me.

Between the trees was a large river-gorge, water tumbling down into water, more tunnels with vine curtains. I suspected that if I went down to explore, I would have trouble getting back up, so I simply left behind a long rope when climbing out for future exploration.

Past the living trees, I came upon a vast desert. This was actually not my first experience with the desert, mind you. I had once come across a stretch of badlands in Alabaster. But that one had been extremely small, sand mingled with mud-- mud, of all things!-- and quickly gave way to rainforest.

Not so with this one. This desert stretched as far as the eye could see, hills and valleys of gleaming yellow sand that battered at my armor and swept into my helmet, stinging my eyes. I dug into the sand, but unlike the dirt and grass, it could not defy gravity; it tumbled down on my head, into my eyes, as if to bury me alive.

It was frustrating to move around the desert in my armor. I spent the night in a tiny shack made from cactus, alone with the growls of zombies and their sand-crunching footsteps.

The next morning, I returned to my tower with a bag full of sand and cactus. "Sand? You can make glass with that," said Kyle cheerfully. "Just take it to the furnace."

One trip to the furnace later, I had eight kilograms of glass that I had no idea what to do with. Into the chest it went.

I also spent a little time expanding my floating island. It was jagged like a dragon, not meant to be a home of any sort, but merely a side project for my own amusement.

I believe this was around when I moved the furnace, the anvil, and the workbench to the fourth floor. Up until then, all my chests were on the fourth floor, while my workshop was still down in the basement.

The more things I crafted, the more I had to move between the workshop and the chests, and the more I had to move up and down the rope ladders. At first, I tried to solve this by installing a second rope ladder, parallel to the first, lining up with the second opening in my fourth floor.

Even with the new ladder, I had trouble moving between floors. Eventually, I simply moved the workshop to the fourth floor. I suppose I should call the fourth floor a patio, really, since it never got walls.

I developed a system with the chests. On the third floor, I stored trinkets, weapons, potions, and furniture. On the first floor, I stored plants, seeds, and animal parts that might come in handy. On the patio, which was now my workshop, I stored crafting and building materials.

On top of the patio, I kept a bonfire roaring, day and night, surrounded by tiki torches. "It'd be nice to toast some marsmellows up here," I said one night as the villagers gathered around the fire.

Alfred squinted at me. "The merchants' guild only distributes those to merchants in the tundra," he informed me curtly. "I have no interest in freezing my bones off, thank you very much."


One morning, I emerged from the grass-cave into another world. This wasn't a new world, but it wasn't Alabaster. I saw two living trees towering high above me: one to the east, and one to the west.

The living tree to the west had a small pool of water on its branches. Past the great tree, I saw several large, shallow lakes. I was reminded of the lakes on Corundia, not quite so wide, but much deeper...

The tree to the east turned out to be the one I had found after Jack's death, where I found the living wood wand. I knocked on the front door, but the dryad was not home.

"Are you lost?" called a voice.

I emerged from the tree to find a guide trotting up to me. "Yo! The name's Zach," he said, hands in his pockets. "Sup?"

I would never get used to how similar the guides looked. Was that their uniform, or something? Their clothes were pretty casual.

"I'm Scheil," I said, shaking his hand. "I'm from Corundia." I explained a little about my first visit to this world. "Anyway, I just wanted to go thank the dryad, because the wand's really come in handy." I frowned. "What world is this, anyway?"

"We call it Minaria, dude," said Zach, shrugging. "You asking about the dryad? She ain't here. She left when the Corruption set in."

That got my attention. "The Corruption is here?!"

I ended up following Zach on a little hike that day. Past the living tree, we crossed over several lakes, passed through several grass caves, and climbed several hills.

Like Corundia, Minaria had a stretch of desert to the east, past the living trees. Unlike Corundia, however, Minaria's desert was very small. As we wandered through the sandstorm, I heard an eerie growl, deeper and more chilling than any zombie.

We emerged from the hot, scathing wind... and found ourselves in a desolate valley of violet grass.

I was shaken to my core, that day, when I saw the Corruption in person for the very first time. It's one thing to know, in a dream, that a place has a terrible, rotten stench; it's another thing to actually smell the stench, to be surrounded by it, breathing it. My head swam.

The chasms! Ugly, exposed rock formations, stained a dull purple, stalactitites and stalagmites pale as the withered flowers at my feet. The ground was pitted and gouged, like worm-eaten leaves. I felt despair opening inside me like a deep pit, filled with melancholy.

"Hey, you all right, bud?" called Zach from the sand dunes.

Another growl. Alarmed, I stared up at the eater-of-souls descending upon me, their revolting skin half-molting, their pincers clicking. No, not just one eater; two, three, four.

I couldn't escape. Six of them, diving at me. Drawing my sword, I swung at them feebly. No good. I could barely scratch their knotted hides.

I felt the pain of their pincers, even though they appeared unable to penetrate my armor. I felt their teeth on my arms, beneath the intact led bracers.

I sank to my knees and collapsed.


I was on the floor of a dimly lit room. Overhead, I saw a seamless wood ceiling, just faintly registering it as the wood of a living tree.

I saw a woman with long, green hair, clothed in the branches and leaves of the forest. I saw moss-padded chairs and a wooden slab of a table.

She knelt down next to me with a small cup filled with ground herbs. "You should not have come back to Minaria," she hissed. Her voice was soft but dangerous, not fully human, but with a hint of something more wild.

I tried to sit up, but couldn't move, could barely move my eyes. The woman tipped the herbs into my mouth. "You are nothing yet."

I felt drowsy. The room grew both clearer and hazier at the same time, as if presenting itself to my senses more openly, but my senses didn't want to think about the room. "Prove yourself. Prove your power to all of Corundia."

I was drifting into sleep; the woman's voice was both alluring and threatening, comforting and yet unfamiliar. "Then, perhaps I will guide you."


The next morning, I woke up in the grass cave on Corundia, and life resumed as before. At first, I only remembered bits and pieces of my visit to Minaria. It took a few days for it all to come back.

I had seen the Corruption for the first time. Not in a dream, but in person. Up until that point, it could have just been my imagination. It could have just been a story.

But it was real.

The Corruption spread from world to world, caring little for the lush forests that it engulfed, twisting Terraria's life-giving power into a half-living, ravenous wave of death.

The possiblities were frightening. What if the Corruption should find its way here? What if it swallowed the village whole, turned the grass-cave purple and made its flowers wilt? What would I do then?

The answer came in the form of a new arrival, a week later.

At the time, I was building a house on top of Ahirom's house, one made of gray bricks. It had no walls yet; there weren't enough villagers that I would need it.

"Ah, such rustic hues, this little hamlet of yours," said a voice from the top of the tower. The voice was familiar, and yet it didn't match any of the villagers.

Down below, Ahirom poked his head outside, frowning up at me. "My dear! Someone is clearly waiting for you," he said grandly. "One ought to recieve guests graciously."

I hurried along the platform bridges, up to my workshop. There, I discovered a girl with sly eyes leaning on my workbench, a girl wearing a rain hat and white robes. She held an umbrella in one hand.

It took a moment, but I recognized the girl from my dream-- my first dream of the Corruption, on t night after Jack's death, in the ice cave.

She hopped down from the workbench. "So! We meet at last," she exclaimed, almost chanting. Her eyes were furtive, scanning; I felt as if she could see right through me. "Scheil, right?"

Just outside the patio, Alfred and Kyle were staring at her suspiciously, muttering to each other in undertones. "Yes," I said finally, frowning. "And you are..."

She grinned. "Ah, yes! Most know me as Witch Fuwaa," said the girl, closing her umbrella. "But the name's Rose, Rose Guriri. Nice to meet ya!"

I had no idea how much trouble wouild arise.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four


August 28, 2014 1:00pm
Rose stared around my third floor with delight. She had removed her robe, revealing a musket over her shoulder. There were sticks of dynamite on her belt.

"So many chests," she said eagerly. "Here, have a gift." And she hung up a raincoat zombie banner on the wall, right above my workbench. It was very ugly. Still, a gift was a gift, right?

Climbing up onto the top roof, Rose squinted up at my floating island. The rope was just above my bonfire, I suddenly realized. "You really shouldn't leave rope so close to a fire," she chided. "Use chains, silly."

Like magic, Rose drew a long coil of chains from an unseen pocket and began to climb the rope, replacing it with chains as she went.

I barely had time to gather my thoughts when she came sliding down the rope ladder, dropping to the first floor. "Wait, what are you doing?" I protested as she began rummaging through my living wood chests.

"Dyes, I need dyes," replied Rose, as if only half hearing me. Then, she frowned and looked up. "Ah, but... you don't have a dye vat, do you? What a shame."

No, I didn't. I didn't see much use for one, no matter what sort of pitch Ahirom tried to use on me. But minutes later, I had a new dye vat set up on top of the condos.

As I stared at the dye vat, Rose went to work at building a gallows on top of Ahirom's house. Or rather, she built it on top of the bricks that were going to be the house above Ahirom's.

I heard knocks at the front door. Alarmed, I drew my sword and headed for the tower's entrance. "Cut that out, it's just my friends," said Rose, shaking her head. "Morthal, Dante, come in!"

The door opened, and two men entered. One was a dwarf with a shaggy red beard and a mining helmet. "I'm Morthal, a demolitionist," he said to me gruffly. "I sell explosives for all your mining needs."

The other man was a pale gray, both his hair and his skin, as if he hadn't showered in years. "The name's Dante; I'm an arms dealer," he said smoothly, eyes prowling the room. "You shoot the monsters, I provide the bullets."

Both Morthal and Dante smelled strongly of gunpowder. Overhead, Alfred and Kyle were still eyeing Rose suspiciously; Marco had joined them. I looked at Rose. "Who are they?" I demanded.

She held up her hands. "No need to get violent! They've just been wandering around ever since their homes got corrupted, and I figure you might appreciate some newcomers."

Rose moved around the village like a playful kid, adding little fences and ropes here and there. I suppose it looked nice to her.

Whistling, Rose closed the chests and stretched. "Now, let's go explore," she said eagerly.

We passed through the grass-cave and entered the tunnels under the west hill. I stopped to mine out a stone vein; I didn't want to run out of stone, after all.

"Hey, come on!" called Rose. Sighing, I hurried down the tunnel after her, hanging torches as I went.

We passed the cave where I found my first heat crystal and hurried further on. This was far deeper than I had ever gone. How much was I skipping over? How much would I miss?

Don't get me wrong! Rose taught me a lot of useful skills. We ended up at the flooded tunnels, where I almost drowned when getting my first heart crystal. "Watch and see," she told me.

Glowsticks in hand, she dove into the water. Sighing, I leapt in after her.

At the bottom of the tunnel, Rose swung her pickaxe at the top of the tunnel, disloding several rocks and dirt; I didn't understand. Then, she yanked me up into the hole in the tunnel's ceiling-- into the air pocket she'd created. I gasped for breath as my head broke the surface.

Terraria defied normal physics. The floating islands were proof of that. Add another thing to that list: Displaced rocks would leave air pockets, even if they were underwater.

And so, we continued tunneling, continued exploring the caves. The walls were mostly stone now, with only a few veins of dirt here and there; no wonder Rose didn't want me to waste time mining stone earlier.

Dropping down into a cave, we slashed our way through the slimes and bats swarming us, exploring the tunnel. And then... I thought I saw a mysterious blue light from a distant cave.

No, it wasn't my imagination! As we tumbled down into a shallow pool, I saw an underground lake with vivid, electric-blue banks. As we drew closer, I caught my first glimpse of glowing mushrooms, tall white stalks like underground trees, masses of glowing blue grass.

Amazed, I approached the lake's edge and plunged my hand into the water, pulling out a fistful of mud. Mud? I was dumbfounded. I had never found such soft soil on Terraria before. Dirt was dirt, right?

Apparently not.

I felt something under my foot click, and my eyes widened. Almost immediately, I felt several slender darts fly out from the darkness, landing in the tiny gaps between my chainmail links, sending a sudden, writhing pain down my left arm.

"Oh, watch out for traps, by the way," called Rose, who was already halfway across the lake. There were a number of ledges above the lake, all covered with slippery mushroom grass.

Grimacing with pain, I stared at the ground, trying to find the pressure plate I'd stepped on. Ah, there. Tucking my left arm in, I swung my pickaxe one-handedly at the pressure plate, dislodging it. There.

I managed to make it halfway across before I accidentally fell into the water. I struggled to reach the surface; I could hear creaking bones around me. What on earth?

Climbing up onto the glowing banks, I struck a torch and spun around to see several skeletons bounding across the muddy ledges toward me. How were they finding me so easily?

I slashed at them as they came, but they were stronger than the zombies of night; I felt my blade bounce off the hardened calcite. I heard a shuttering, shifting sound.

More of them behind me, dropping down from the wall. Grimacing, I fought my way to higher ground, slashing at them as I went.

Then, without warning, a giant worm burst out of the wall and struck me at full force in the chest, knocking me straight back into the water.

I didn't make it out this time.


Cool grass on my back, a voice in my ears. Blinking awake, I saw a tiny green light floating near my head, like a little crystal or a firefly. "Scheil? You all right?"

It was Rose's voice. Slowly sitting up, I stared at the green light. "Yeah," I said weakly. I was in the grass cave once again, up on the surface. "How did I get here?"

She snickered. "I carried you back up, you dork. You died, again."

I froze. "What do you mean, 'again'?"

"Do you really think all those tombstones lying around are just for show?" she laughed. "Listen, I'm in a pinch and I don't have time to explain. Go ask Kyle, okay? See ya."

The green light disappeared. I felt my entire body grow cold. I died? But that couldn't be right. if I had actually died, then why was I still here? Jack didn't come back, after all. What was going on?

Heading inside, I took off my helmet and collapsed into a chair. "You look like you've seen a ghost," remarked Marco, who was standing in the back doorway. I ignored him,

I decided to stay up on the surface and work on my town for a bit. It never occured to me, back then, that the village might be a little cramped.

I assembled a heavy workbench and set it up next to the wooden workbench. This would allow me to cut larger stone slabs, which was far more efficient than refining stone into gray bricks. But to my disappointment, the large stone slabs didn't look half as good as the bricks. No matter how I tried to place the slabs, there was always a small gap between the slabs and anything else: dirt, wood, unrefined stone, or brick. So I removed the slabs.

Night was falling as I dismantled the workbench. I noticed Alfred leaning against the wall, looking at me grimly. "Scheil, I think we need to talk," said Kyle, who was seated on my anvil. "We have a problem."

I felt a curious sensation in the air, something cold prickling at my skin, but tried to ignore it. "You mean Rose?"

Alfred nodded. "Her and those two characters she brought along."

"Listen, you can't be so lax with who you let in and out of Corundia," said Kyle sternly, leaning in toward me. "There's all sorts of people out there. Most are just trying to get by on their own. And if they see an opportunity, they'll take it."

I shifted uncomfortably. "I think she's just trying to help," I said after a moment, glancing to the raincoat zombie banner. "I mean... she hasn't robbed anything, has she?"

Kyle sighed and massaged his forehead. "How do I say this?" muttered the guide, looking down at his shoes. "Alfred, help me out here."

"He's your job," replied the merchant a bit snappishly. "You're the one who's supposed to make sure he understands."

I stared at Kyle, then Alfred. What were they talking about?

"Okay, here's the thing." Kyle put his hands on my shoulders, looking me in the eye. "Terraria is more than just endless dirt and stone. It isn't just a circus of hungry monsters. There's secrets hidden everywhere. In every crevice, behind every corner."

"Like the Life Crystals?"

"Exactly." He let go of me and put his head in his hands, elbows on his knees. "Now listen. These are the prizes for braving the underground, your reward for being an adventurer. Some were left by forgotten civilizations; others by past adventurers. Wonders in every chest."

"What sort of wonders?"

"Why..." He spread his arms. "Potions to reverse earth and sky. Winged shoes and magic armbands, arrows that burst into stars. Sometimes just gold or silver, perhaps extra torches. But it doesn't matter what you find. The joy is in unearthing them."

I could feel the power of his words, stirring that old, romantic drive for adventure, for excitement. And yes, it resonated with me; but of course it did! Why else would I venture into the tunnels, again and again?

Kyle gave Alfred a look, as if asking for help. "Fine! Fine, I'll say it," sighed Alfred. "Look, kid, here's what Kyle's trying to say. You like exploring caves, right? You like finding treasure? Well, if you don't step in soon, you won't be finding any. You won't be treading any new ground."

I didn't know what to say. There was a chill in the air.

"Right now, Fuwaa is down in your tunnels, in your caves, claiming your treasure, reaping your spoils. She's robbing you of experiences! Do you really want to be left with a scarred, empty world? To have nothing left to search for but empty chests?"

Rose was my friend, right? She was trying to help me. Was it really so wrong that she might claim some treasure? Especially if she was the one to find it. Finders keepers, right?

Without warning, terror sprung from within me, unbidden, and I lurched forward. Both Alfred and Kyle leapt to their feet, alarmed, helping me back up. "Scheil! Scheil! What's wrong?"

I felt the hairs on my skin rise; every sense became alert. There was a sinister prescence nearby, looming over me; I was like a deer trapped in the hunter's gaze.

The feeling faded, but my heart was still racing. Where was Rose? I needed to talk to her, now.

As if summoned by thought, the green light reappeared nearby-- the one that had let me communicate with Rose earlier. "Rose? Can you hear me? What did you do?" I gasped to the light. Overhead, the last rays of sunlight had vanished.

"You mean that cold feeling, just now?" she replied, unusually cheerful. "Oh, don't look at me; I didn't do a thing. It's just a thing that happens. I'm surprised it hasn't happened to you before!"

"What do you mean?!"

"Oh, you know; it's some deadly evil that terrorizes Terraria, something you have to take care of," Rose told me. "Go get 'em, eh?"

I was so focused on Rose's words that I didn't notice the commotion outside. "What's coming? Rose! Rose!"

I heard a scream. Breaking contact, I rushed out to find Alfred and Kyle, standing transfixed beneath a great shadow descending from the sky.

Above, I saw a giant floating eyeball, the largest that I'd yet seen. "The Eye," croaked Alfred, his face gone pale, raisng a shaking arm. "The Eye! The Eye of Cthulhu! Elysia save us all!"

With no visible mouth, the Eye gave a terrible snarl that reverberated through the village, and a swarm of floating eyeballs suddenly burst from its pupil, flying at us.

"Get inside! Get inside!" I shouted, pushing Alfred and Kyle into the patio, down the ladder. Down on the third floor, Marco and Morthal stared at us, as if a serious conversation of their own had been interrupted.

Another snarl shook the village. Boarding up the third-story doors, I checked my weapon chest for my pouch of shurikens, but it was gone. No time to search. Snatching up a boomerang instead, I hurried back up to the patio workshop as the Eye emerged from the darkness above Ahirom's house.

Standing on his front porch, Ahirom stared up at the Eye, then fled inside and shut the door. Another swarm of eyeballs burst from the Eye's pupil as I raced down the roof bridges, slashing, bloody tendrils and eyeball bits flying into my eyes.

The great Eye rushed upon me and collided with me at full force, knocking me flat on my back. Before I could react, it crashed into me again, and a third time before moving back. My senses were jarred, my ears ringing; if not for my armor, my ribs would have been crushed.

Struggling to one knee, I hurled my boomerang straight at the Eye, landing a glancing blow on its iris. The boomerang had barely returned to my fingertips when the swarming eyeballs surrounded me, darting in and out of reach, striking me one after another.

Slashing, I managed to dispel the swarm, but the Eye of Cthulhu was no longer above Ahirom's house. Where was it? Where did it go?

I heard screams from inside the tower. Alarmed, I limped back up to the patio to find the Eye hovering just above the rooftop bonfire, eyeballs streaming down the ladders. I'd forgotten to board up the ladder chutes!

Dropping down to the third floor with my pickaxe, I hacked down the boarded-up doors, and the four villagers inside-- Alfred, Kyle, Morthal, and Marco-- rushed out past me, one after another.

Breathing hard, I apologized to them profusely. "Doesn't matter if you boarded up the ladders," Kyle told me. "The smaller eyeballs-- the Servants of Cthulhu-- can phase through walls."

"They can?" I uttered. I glanced back to the top of the tower, but once again, the Eye had moved. "I don't understand--"

"Scheil! Behind you!" shouted Marco.

I spun around right just in time to see the Eye of Cthulhu burst from the shadows before it crashed into me-- and this time, I blacked out.


Rose was nearby when I awoke in the grass-cave. "Tsk, tsk! Dying before I got back up here," she chided me with mock disapproval. "What a shame. At least you revived quickly this time."

Death and revival. Not unconsciousness and consciousness. Not a miraculous rescue. It really bothered me, that she kept saying that I died. "You didn't bring me here?"

"Of course not!" she exclaimed. "By the time I reached the surface, it was all over. You were lying on the ground in a bloody mess, and the Eye was gone."

"Why do you keep saying I died?"

She laughed in my face. "Because it's the truth! I saw your ghost float out of your body and drift over here, where your body reformed itself. You really shouldn't die so much, you know."

Frustrated, I tried to sit up, but immediately I felt dizzy, the air on my hot skin tingling with cold as if I had a fever. "Take it easy, man," sighed Rose, shaking her head. "Your body's still recovering, even if it's in one piece again."

There was a faint clinking sound as Rose trotted off, and I stared after her. What sort of hideous monster did she think I was? Humans didn't simply regenerate like that! There must be more to what she was saying. And... that pouch on her belt, weren't those my shurikens?
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

September 3, 2014 11:27am
---- Chapter 8 ----

"I never imagined that Witch Fuwaa would come here," remarked Kyle as we stood outside his hilltop cabin. In the distance, Rose was building a little shack in the trunk of a Living Tree.

I had just finished evicting Morthal and Dante from my tower, and was now resting. Morthal settled into the room above Marco, while Dante, oddly enough, was content to live in the bathroom above Morthal.

"Guild trainees gossip about adventurers, hoping they'll get assigned to their favorites," explained Kyle. "Fuwaa was a rising star when Jack left for Corundia. She liked to team up with that one explorer... Twiffily."

Twiffily. Now, that was a name I knew of, from my birth world. She was an explorer who retreated into the jungle almost a year ago, not long before the Lizahrd clans first appeared. Everyone assumed the jungles swallowed her, one way or another.

I later joined Rose to assist her construction. The interior was normal lumber, while the exterior was seamless Living Wood. At the time, my tower's first and third floors were designed the same way.

Then came the gorge between the Living Trees. Though it was pretty, the gorge was also quite steep and difficult to cross. So while Rose finished decorating her house, I built a long bridge of platforms to span the gorge.

Rosw took one look at the bridge and shook her head. "Are you kidding me?" she sighed. "Platforms are so... unstylish."

Much, much later, I would return to find the bridge replaced by a long coil of rope. After I confronted her, Rose grudgingly rebuilt the bridge, adding some boreal supports to it as well.

It also seemed that Rose found my desert cottage. After finding the bridge missing, I would discover a row fenceposts nailed to the cactus roof. Suffice to say, I would tear them down.

As far as the present went, however, I was still inclined to trust Rose. After she finished her house, Rose unceremoniously dumped her loot in the building materials chest and descended into the tunnels again.

I spent an hour or so reorganizing my chests, by which time Rose returned with more loot, including several gold-plated chests. I replaced the third-floor chests with the gold chests.

After exploring the tunnels, I reluctantly hung up my spear. Kyle had rated the spear as "strong," and my silver sword as "agile," but the sword was also stronger than my spear. As fun as my spear was to use, it simply wasn't good enough.

I also stored my money in a chest. Whether I died and was resurrected as Rose claimed, or simply was rescued by an invisible hand, half my money always vanished once I blacked out. This seemed like a good way to protect it.

I climbed up to the patio to find Rose laying stone slabs around the fire. "Wait, what are you doing?" I demanded.

"Stone slabs are twice as efficient than gray bricks," replied Rose. "I built you a heavy workbench downstairs, by the way."

I sighed, but it wans't her fault, this time. She didn't know I'd been playing with stone slabs earlier. "I didn't like how the stone slabs looked." And so, I removed the slabs.

Night was falling. I felt the hairs on my skin rise again: the Eye's gaze was on me, burning through me. Alarmed, I looked back at Rose. "That's right!" she cooed. "Once the Eye finds a world without resistance, it lurks there night after night, until it's driven away."

Oh, lord.

The safest place for the villagers, I decided, was their own homes. This would leave the rooftops clear for battle. "Good luck," said Kyle, patting my shoulder on his way up the hill.

On the top floor, I watched and stared as the Eye emerged from the darkness, like a falling moon with a dark pupil and trailing red tendrils. Next to me, Rose was holding an ornate staff with a emerald tip.

At the Eye's first snarl, Rose leapt up, bouncing off the air with a burst of white mist. Green energy bolts shot from her emerald staff as my shurikens flew from her fingertips, striking the Eye repeatedly

The Eye's minions flew at me, falling on my silver sword. Every blow rang against my lead armor, echoing from gauntlets to greaves. Grimacing, I tried to keep up my assault.

More shurikens, more shrieking eyeballs. From bridge to bridge I scrambled, trying to land blows on the Eye at each opportunity while Rose's deadly skill rained down from above.

I was growing exhausted. I couldn't keep this up forever.

Another snarl rumbled through the village as a well-aimed shuriken sliced across the Eye's cornea. The eye bulged; then, it split open into a pair of fanged jaws, bits of iris and cornea falling to the ground.

Bellowing, the Eye of Cthulu dove at Rose as shurikens sliced apsrt its mouth, landing between its teeth. Gasping, I scrambled up the tower, slashing at the Eye furiously.

My sword sank into the white flesh as if it were a hard-boiled egg. The Eye screamed, its veins hulging furiously. Then, tendrils flapping wildly, the Eye of Cthulhu collapsed into a mass of bloody white chunks.

A shower of hearts and glowing red ore rained down on Rose. There was silence.

Around the village, the villagers were staring at us. Exhausted, I sat down next to Rose. "Good fight," I gasped, collapsing against the wall.

Her attention wasn't on me, but on a handful of tiny seeds in her hand. "The sinister growth of Cthulhu's vile blood," she purred, her eyes aglow. "Yes, this will be very useful in my experiments... heehee..."


The next morning, I set to work on repairing the damage left by the Eye of Cthulhu, filling in gaps with living wood. "Has my wand served you well, young one?" called a gentle voice from above.

On top of the grass-cave, just outside Alfred's house, I saw a girl with light-green hair, garbed in leaves. "You're a dryad," I whispered. And not just any dryad. The one who made my wand. The one who tended to me in Minaria.

Gracefully, she leapt down from the hill, moving with a limber ease beyond any human's ability. Though she resembled a human, her face looked unfamiliar, almost alien. "I am Faye of Minaria," said the dryad, spreading her hands, palms upright in an unfamiliar gesture. "I've been watching you for some time, Scheil."

I stared at my living wood wand, at the flowers rising around Faye's feet. Somehow, her smile made her seem more alien. And yet... had she been protecting me? "Are you the one who carries me back to the grass-cave?" I asked finally.

She smiled and closed her eyes. "Am I your guardian, you wonder? Perhaps, and perhaps not. I come on the forest winds, on vine and briar, on wood and leaf. I come, so that you might help turn the tide against darkness."

I was stunned. Why would a dryad want my help? I had seen many wonders over the last few days, wonders beyond my skill to find, wonders I had only seen with Rose's aid. "You came for... me?"

"Regardless of who helped you, the Eye of Cthulhu has been banished from this world," said Faye firmly, her eyes solidifying, sharpening. "Death's grip has been weakened, even if only by a fraction. You have been deemed a survivor, if nothing else."

Placing a hand on my shoulder, the dryad led me inside. "Come on; I wish to see your village. We have grave matters to discuss..."

Alfred was alarmed when he saw Faye. "Don't be fooled by her pretty looks! She's really 400 years old, or something," he warned us, eyeing the dryad suspiciously.

Kyle, however, looked both relieved and pleased by her prescence. "At last, the wheels can start turning," murmured the guide.

As for Rose, she was delighted. "Ah! A dryad, a leaf-weaver," she exclaimed, bounding around Faye eagerly, almost like a bunny. "I would like to buy some grass walls, please?"

Worried, I looked to Faye, but she wasn't insulted; in fact, she looked eager. "Flower walls? Yes, I can provide you with those," said the dryad.  Taking a small clump of grass, she breathed on it gently, and it began to swell with leafy growth, a mesh of grass, stems, and vines.

"Thank you!" Handing her a fistful of coins, Rose took the growing ball of biomass from Faye and bounded outside, where the others stared at her.

The atmosphere in the room darkened. Faye's expression grew serious, perhaps even grim. "All right, what brings a dryad here?" asked Alfred gruffly.

Nodding, Faye strode over to the back door. "I'll get to that in a moment," she told us. "For now, the four of us ought to take a walk."

Outside, we all stared as Rose danced around the village, surrounding it with walls of leafy growth, spreading them from the grass-cave to Ahirom's house. "Hey! Careful with those," shouted Marco from his front door, shaking a paintbrush at her. "This coat's still drying!"

We stopped at the foot of the east hlll, on a space across the tunnels from Ahirom's house. "I'd like to see your house-building skills," said Faye, pointing at the ground and looking at me. "Here, if you would."

Using the wand she had left for me to find, all that time ago, I built Faye a small house from living wood. "I hope you don't mind that I took your furniture," I said nervously as I installed the door.

She waved my words aside. "That is fine," she told me, running her palm along the vine-twined door's surface, as if greeting an old friend. "I abandoned my home in Minaria for a reason, after all. Thank you, for bringing them back with you."

"Hey," called a voice. We turned around to see Rose, umbrella in hand. Past her, I saw thick, flowering hedges that rose up around my tower and overshadowed most of the houses. I stared at the village, shocked.

"I'm just gonna head out to explore the desert," said Rose cheerfully, twirling her umbrella. "See ya!" And she took off down the tunnel under the east hill, skipping all the way.

Alfred and Kyle exchanged irritated glances, then looked to Faye, who was scanning her new home. "This is a decent home, but it's a bit cramped for all of us to talk," she said finally.

So we took the conversation to Kyle's cabin on top of the hill. "Make yourselves at home," Kyle told us as we entered, fetching mugs for us.

The four of us sat around Kyle's table, drinking ale. "Now, to answer your question," said Faye, setting her mug down. "Alfred, Kyle; you two both know the true nature of Living Trees, yes?"

Alfred and Kyle nodded. I stared at them. The true nature of Living Trees? What was going on?

Faye strode over to the window. "You look rather perplexed," she said. "My apologies, Scheil. I briefly forgot that you're not from these parts."

In my hometown of Vaile, we often told stories of dryads and of massive trees, yet never had the fortune to see either of those. It was only natural for me to be curious.

The dryad's smile was different from before; it was almost human. "Let's begin with Living Trees. You saw the giant tree in Minaria where I lived, and you have seen the giant trees to the east of this village. You have seen them, towering above the landscapes. Those tall, majestic trees are what we call Living Trees."

She turned and looked straight at me. "Terraria is not a single world, but an infinite collective of many worlds. There is no core, no central point that you could call its heart. Terraria expands from itself, continuously expanding."

"Like I said when you found the life crystals, living energy flows throughout Terraria," said Kyle, rising to his feet. "The Living Trees are the source of this energy. Energy resonates from tree to tree, causing surrounding worlds to flourish."

"What does this energy do?"

"Many things," said Alfred gruffly. "It places rocks in the dirt, and dirt in the rocks. It spreads grass over barren soil and raises trees from lush fields, from frigid tundra, from jungle loam and salty beaches."

He got up, pacing around the room. "It's responsible for flowers and vines, for everything from dayblooms to glowing mushrooms. Without this energy, Terraria would be inhospitable."

I stared down at the floor. "That... sounds pretty important." I didn't know what else to say.

"Briming with this energy, the Living Trees eventually bear the fruits of new worlds," said Faye solemnly. "We, the dryads, were responsible for protecting the Living Trees from harm."

I frowned. Something was amiss. "But there's Living Trees here," I said slowly. "How come there wasn't a dryad in Corundia until you came?"

Kyle sharply looked at Faye, who sighed sadly. "Because there aren't as many dryads as there used to be," she said quietly. "Though the Living Trees are the source of Terraria's power, it's the grass and the normal trees which amplify this power, which allow a world to truly flourish. And we need Terraria to flourish, because our hearts are intertwined with Terraria."

"Then Terraria isn't flourishing?" I uttered.

"Remember the Corruption, Scheil?" said Kyle. He looked as grim as Faye, now. "The power of Living Trees spreads life, but the Corruption spreads death. As it chokes out forests, it stifles the energy of the Living Trees, causing the dryads to wither and die."

Faye's eyes narrowed. "Long, long ago, demons appeared in Terraria," said the dryad, gazing out across the hills. "Though hideous in appearance, we thought them harmless, and allowed them to stay. But little did we realize how the shadow magic in their veins could distort the pure energy of Terraria. One fateful day, the demons cursed the fruit of a Living Tree, transforming it into a shadow orb. And when the orb was planted like any other fruit, the Corruption burst from it, and the forests began to rot."

At first, it must've seemed like a natural part of the ecosystem, similar to mushrooms," said Kyle. "But soon, the rot began to spread, contaminating Terraria's pure energy, swallowing entire lands."

Alfred, who had been silent for awhile, spoke up. "When I was a boy, I lived in a small jungle village," he whispered. "But the Corruption destroyed the jungle. It sapped away the moisture in the soil, choking out the wildflowers and shrubs, leaving only purple grass. And as the earth rotted, my village... my family, my friends... all collapsed into the ebonstone chasms—swallowed by the Corruption."

I stared at the floor numbly. "I'm sorry, Alfred."

Faye massaged her forehead. "We could not determine whether the demons had done this by design, or by accident," she said solemnly. "But regardless, we could not allow them to roam freely any longer. Dryads across Terraria combined their powers to call forth the Hallow, an ancient magic to equal the Corruption. Using the Hallow, we fought the demons and banished them to the Underworld."

"But it was too late," growled Alfred. "The Corruption had already spread  across Terraria, propogating itself in the same manner that Terraria does. And with each new world born from Living Trees, the Corruption seeds itself, consuming the earth, deteriorating it. Such is the cancer in Terraria that we call Corruption."

I leapt up. "Why doesn't everyone know this?" I cried. "If the Corruption is so dangerous... if everyone is in such great peril every day... Why doesn't everyone know about this?"

There was a long silence. Faye looked at me sadly, while Alfred turned away. "Everyone knows the Corruption exists," explained Kyle. "The dryads, like Faye, have seen to that. But people don't want to know how fragile their existence is. They don't want to hear how quickly the Corruption could sweep from coast to coast."

"It's adventurers like you who hold back the Corruption," said Alfred. "Adventurers who delve into the unkown, who master their surroundings, who tame nature and endure its perils."

Faye pointed at me. "On behalf of Terraria, on behalf of Lady Elysia, I charge you with this duty: To purge the darkness from this world. To guard Corundia's Living Trees with your life. To ensure that Terraria's cycle of life and death will continue. Can you do this?"

All eyes were on me. "I... I accept," I whispered. "I won't let the Corruption swallow my world." I felt as if I was kneeling before a throne, about to be knighted...

Without warning, a horrible chill ran down my spine, and my heart began to pound heavily. Shuddering, I looked around the cabin frantically, but my sight had become distorted. My vision was peppered with tiny red flashes. "What is this?" I whispered, now very afraid. “Is this… Corruption?”

Alfred and Kyle both looked to Faye, whose face had gone pale. "No, it’s not the Corruption," she whispered.. "But certainly, something terrible... perhaps more terrible..."

I burst out of the cabin, gasping for breath. My vision was returning to normal, but I felt wet and sticky, as if coated with blood. And overhead, in the distance, I saw a blazing light fall from the sky.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

September 13, 2014 11:51am
---- Chapter 9 ----
I remember racing back to the patio workshop and checking my chests to find my money missing. "Rose," I hissed, gripping my sword tightly.

"What?" replied Rose's voice. I blinked as the green crystal light reappeared by my head. "By the way, if you ever, ah... drop by the desert... watch out for the meteors!"

I was not in the mood to hear her innocent, cheery voice. "Where are you? What's going on?" I shouted at the light, more afraid than angry.

"Hang... hang on!" said Rose, sounding out of breath. "I'll be... right back. Just... just gotta-- ow!"

Huh? I heard hissing, crackling sounds, faint at first, then quickly growing louder, coming closer. I heard the whine of magic bolts, bursting on the ground. "Rose? What's going on?" I demanded. "Hey! Answer!"

She gave a high shriek, and the light suddenly vanished. Stunned, I sank to the floor. Rose was dead?

"What's all the fuss, now?" asked Marco as I dropped down to the third floor. Next to him, Morthal was staring at me.

"I'm not sure," I told him worriedly, fetching a pair of winged boots. "Faye said it wasn't Corruption, but..." I stared into the weapon chest. Shuriken, boomerang, or blowpipe?

At that moment, we heard a distant hunting horn, bellowing from across the hills. Morthal dropped his mug with a gasp, and Marco's face went as white as his lightest paints. "What was that?" I asked them, frowning.

Slowly, Marco looked at me. "A goblin army is approaching from the east," he croaked.


I didn't know why Faye looked devastated. I didn't expect anything to happen. "If you're worried, you can take shelter on the floating island," I told the dryad finally. "You'll be safe there."

If the goblins were coming from the west, the ideal position to hold them off was at the west hill, the one overlooking the lakes. At least, that was the plan.

From the top of the west hill, I listened to the horns echoing across the lakes, watching the horizon. "We ought to have a proper arena for invasions," called a voice from behind me.

I whirled around to see Rose trotting up the hill jauntily, looking perfectly healthy. "Rose?" I gasped. She was alive? But how? "But you... that scream--"

"I told you!" she chimed. "We live. We die. We come back. We die again, and come back again. That's how it works in Terraria."

As she spoke, she tossed me my own money pouch. The moment I caught it, I knew it was too light; the gold coins were gone.

With increasing frustration, I looked her in the eye, trying not to scream at her. "Kyle said you were nothing but trouble. And I didn't listen, but--"

At that moment, the goblin horn filled the air once again, heavy and proclamatory. Heart pounding, I turned to stare at the rumbling crowd in the distance, clad in gray rags and crude chainmail.

A goblin army had arrived.

One after another, the goblins came marching up toward the hill with startling speed, grunting and stamping their feet, surrounding us in seconds. They leapt at us with delighted screeches, shoving us back and forth.

Heavy blows to my shoulder, to my thigh, to my joints and back. My blade seemed to barely scratch their hides, but their fists made me stagger; and for each one I managed to cut down, two more appeared.

My armor couldn't completely deflect their blows. In the chaos, I managed to drink down a red potion before spiked fists smashed into me from behind.

More slashing. More whirling. Too quickly, whatever strength that the potion gave me was worn away. But the moment I raised another red potion to my lips, a wave of nausea came over me.

I doubled over, fists and arrows and dark fire striking me from every direction. Every part of my body hurt, both sharp pain and dull, throbbing and burning. And then--

I didn't black out this time.

I fell back, out from my body; that's what it felt like. Horrified, I saw my body shredded to bits by the goblins. I stared as my armor and sword hit the ground and disintegrated, the hordes shouting and cheering.

And yet-- If I was dead, why was I still in such agony? Why could I still feel the hilt of my sword, if the fingers that gripped it so tightly were gone, if my sword had fallen apart?

Overhead, I noticed a white blur descending upon me. As it drew closer, I recognized the familiar ghostly figure. He dove toward me, taking me by the wrist...

My surroundings blurred, shifted; I caught a glimpse of Faye, and the pain began to subside. Suddenly, the ghostly figure was gone-- and I was in the grass-cave again, gasping and shivering.

"Hurry, boy," shouted Alfred from the stairs under his house, gripping the rails tightly. "Don't let the little terrors get inside the village!"

The realization struck me like a hammer. Gasping, I pressed my hand to my cheek, running my fingers along my blade. I had seen my own body torn apart, my armor and sword turned to dust; but no, my body was whole, raw but alive. How?

What was I?

Scrambling to my feet, I rushed out the west entrance to rejoin the battle. Goblins came marching out from the mines, climbing up the clay-tunnels from the underground river cavern. My blade could only keep them back so far.

Violet fireballs and arrows flew from overhead. Alarmed, I glanced up to see more goblins atop the grass-cave hill, robed mages and archers with green bandanas, warriors and peons leaping down toward me. How? How had they gotten past us?

I heard a scream, and glanced back as Rose crumpled to the ground, a pile of bloody robes, more goblin cheers. "Rose!" I shouted, rushing forward.

A cold gust of wind swept past me as the ghostly figure leapt toward Rose's body, drawing out a white blur that I only caught a glimpse of before the goblins rounded upon me.

Forced back by sheer numbers, I was driven back into the grass-cave, toward the village. I tried to hold them back, tried to fight for every inch. Then came more shrieks from beyond my tower, and my heart sank.

It was too late. The goblins had already broken through the hedges and into the village, smashing down doors, dragging villagers from their homes, setting rooftops ablaze.

In the grass-cave, the ghost figure reappeared, standing above an unconscious-but-alive Rose. "Wait!" I shouted at him. "Who are you?"

Goblins behind me, goblins ahead of me; I was trapped between the grass-cave and my tower, pressed up against the hedges. Silently, the ghost looked at me, and vanished.

Fireballs and arrows flew from my tower, from the burning rooftops and the bridges. "Damn you!" shouted Alfred, his wrists bound as a goblin shoved him toward the stairs. "Red One's wrath upon you all!"

Panicking, I scrambled up the stairs as the goblin put his boot on the old man's back. "You freaks! You think that any you matter?" spat the merchant as three warriors surrounded him, fists raised.

With a furious cry, I cut down the goblin on top of Alfred, severing his bonds. "Run!" I urged him as the other goblins rounded upon me.

But as the warriors bludgeoned me with their fists, I saw a mage appear out of the corner of my eye. The old man's eyes widened as a dark fireball flew from the robed goblin's hands, blasting him off his feet.


This was the end, I thought numbly as the goblin hordes drove me back, down the bridges, back to my tower. Briefly, I saw Rose skipping out the grass-cave's west exit, jets of light flying from her staff.

From the tower, I had a clear view of my ravaged village, the hedge-walls pitted and broken, burning timbers collapsing.

At the base of the tower, goblin peons shoved Dante and Marco from their homes, gathering them outside the condo. Behind them, a goblin archer was eagerly examining one of Dante's firearms, one with a stock shaped like a tiny shark.

I scrambled down the tower; but before I had made it halfway down,rr the goblin opened fire with a wild grin, an uproar of deafening bullets that shredded the two villagers apart before my eyes. I screamed.

Goblins poured out from the grass-tunnels under Ahirom's house, up from the tunnels in my basement, from the wellspring hill. Though growing weak again, I stumbled toward the dye tradef's house.

Standing in the doorway, Ahirom watched the goblins swarkingvaround him indignantly. "Outlandish," he scolded them, holding up a fistful of torn silk. "Wretched, wretched barbarians! Begone!"

Somehow, I managed to take down the goblins around him before they could fill him with arrows. Ahirom spun to face me with eyes like fire. "Scheil!" he hissed, shaking the shredded silk at me. "Don't let them get away with this!"

As Ahirom fled toward the tower, I heard Faye scream from her hut. Past the ruined gallows, the dryad was surrounded by goblins, all punching and kicking her ruthlessly, sap trickling down her skin like blood.

One after another, I somehow managed to cut then down, before sinking to my knees next to Faye. "This can't be real," I moaned weakly, staring as the gallows collapsed on top of Ahirom's house. "After all I've worked for... all I've fought to build..."

"Scheil!" shouted Kyle as the goblins marched him down the hill, forcing to his knees. I stared at him blankly, unable to believe what I was seeing. Then, scrambling up onto Faye's house, I hurried toward him, but the other goblins were behind me, dragging me back, pulling me down. "Kyle!" I shouted.

He looked back at me sadly. "I'm sorry I couldn't last very long," said the guide, shaking his head as archers aimed at his head. "Don't forget what I've told you! Don't live recklessly like Rose, plunging into hell without a second thought Take your time, smell the flowers... And you've got it made!"

Once again, just inches too late. Once again, dragged down by the swarm. My blood went cold as the arrows sank into the guide's back, and Kyle collapsed to the ground, dead.

Thr goblins converged on me now, firing from every bridge, every rooftop, every nook and cranny of the village. I tried to fight them, tried to fend then off, but I was no match for them, just one sword against a dozen war-forged faces.

Spiked balls smashed into my skull with blinding pain, and I sank to my knees again, my vision swimming. It's over, I though silently. Corundia was over. My village was gone. Whatever friends I'd made, gone. Any dreams of power or glory... gone.

I shuddered as I suddenly felt the ghostly figure's hand on my shoulder, dragging me from another corpse, back to the grass-cave. Wait, I wanted to scream at him. But my body was trapped in that split second of agony before death.

He didn't come when Jack died, didn't come for Alfred or Kyle or the others. Only for me... and for Rose. Why? Why would he save us, and not them?

The pain vanished, my body somehow reforming itself, my skull intact. Like some wretched dog, I crawled out from the grass-cave to be killed again and again, never granted the peace of death.


It was sunset when the last goblin fell, a moonless night. On top of the tower, Ahirom, Faye, and I stared into the bonfire, the bodies of the fallen laying nearby.

Down in the first floor, Caitlin was tending to Morthal. Old grudges had to be put aside. I'd called Caitlin back to take care of the other villagers. Faye and Ahirom had survived with minor injuries. Morthal wasn't so lucky.

The village was in ruins. Smashed doors and broken timbers, tattered hedges and wrecked bridges. Faye and Ahirom, the two lone survivors, had both seen their homes reduced to ash. Had my tower not been built from a tiny grass-cave, all those months ago, it too would have collapsed.

An exhausted Caitlin came up the rope ladder. Though she had been spared from the goblins, she shared our despair in her eyes. "I'm sorry," she told us sadly, lowering her head. "He's gone."

Dante, Marco, Morthal, Alfred, and Kyle. I stared into the fire, ashamed and disgusted. How? How had it all fallen apart so quickly? "You weren't ready for this," murmured Faye, resting a hand on my shoulder. "You should not have had to deal with them so soon..."

I closed my eyes. "Why? Why did they come...?"

Faye looked sorrowfully at Kyle's face, cupping the slain guide's chin gently. "The light of Life Crystals casts a glint across worlds," she said finally. "If one had just five crystals, resonating with their soul... That would be enough to draw attention from the goblin worlds."

I stared at her, confused. "But I've only found three Life Crystsls," I said faintly. "What does this mean?"

The dryad looked at me silently, deeply, unnervingly--as if telling me that I already knew the answer. Slowly, I took a step back--then turned and dropped down the rope ladder. Yes... I knew who had brought the goblins to Corundia...

I found her on top of the grass-cave hill, between the trees that Alfred used to walk. "This is your fault," I accused Rose, pointing at her. "You drew them here! They're dead because of you. And here we're still standing somehow, but they never got more than a single chance!"

Rose tilted her head slightly. "Me? I didn't ask the goblins to come," she said innocently. "All I did was smash a dead god's heart!" She laughed softly at her own joke--a joke I wouldn't understand for some time. "And if that should light a beacon that faraway worlds can see, I can hardly help it, can I?"

I stared at Rose, but all I could think of how she skipped out the grass-cave to meet fresh goblin reinforcements, leaving the village unprotected. "Go," I said hoarsely, raising my sword. "Leave Corundia, and never come back."

"After all I've done for you?" she replied with a jauntiness that didn't match her words. "After all the treasures I've excavated, treasures you most certainly would never find?"

She'd treated me like a kid. A kid who didn't quite understand how to survive. That's what it'd felt like. "I didn't ask for your help!" I snapped angrily, my blood throbbing. "I didn't ask you to put up fences and rope everywhere, to take my savings--"

She nodded. "Very well," said Rose coolly, stepping away with a taunting smile. "Well, if you insist on having such ugly, boring houses and keeping such dull chumps alive, I suppose you're incurable."

Furious, I lunged at her; but immediately, she leapt over the hill's edge, swiftly opening her umbrella and floating down to the ground. "Give my love to the spectres, okay?" she called back with a giggle, before skipping over the hills and out of sight.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

September 18, 2014 10:58am
I just want to say that the chapters do have actual titles, but only a while after I post them, so I probably won't insert the titles until I do the gallery submission at the end.

---- Chapter 10 ----

In the days following the goblin attack, I kept busy with rebuilding the village. The brick condo was still standing; I installed new doors and put in new furniture. I rebuilt Ahirom's and Faye's houses, packing dirt over the ceiling and walls as I had with Alfred's. The other wood houses were, surprisingly, intact.

The village was too quiet, too empty for my liking. I found myself exploring the caverns frequently. But these weren't undiscovered caves, anymore. The further I descended, the more traces of Rose I found; ropes, stucco, perhaps an ice torch that didn't quite light up the area properly.

Was it selfish to send her away? Looking back, yes, it was. But at the time, it had seemed the right thing to do. Perhaps she really had wanted to help. But on the other hand, Kyle and Alfred has been right about her. It didn't matter. Rose had left her mark on Corundia, one way or another.

I found myself in the desert, one evening. From a tall sand dune, I saw a great crater where the meteor had crashed into the desert, an eerie pit billowing with smoke and fire. Cautiously, I descended into the crater.

The meteor's scattered fragments were the color of mud, but glittered with tiny flames, bizarre crystalline formations that glowed and burned in the twilight.

Whatever mineral the meteorite was made of, it was very resilient. My pickaxe could barely scratch the brown stone, let alone break it.

Tenatively, I reached out to touch a meteorite chunk, then yelped in pain as fire swept up my arm, hot armor searing my skin. Panicking, I yanked the glove and bracer off, staring at my raw, red skin.

Light swelled behind me, heat spreading through the chainmail on my back. I spun around as a blazing boulder of meteorite shoved into me, flames erupting over my body.

The air was filled with sulfur that stung my eyes and nose. More meteor heads emerged from the sand, crackling and glowing like living coals, moving steadily, undeterrably.

My blade left dents on their fiery surfaces, then cracks. I managed to shatter one, cleaving through, searing fragments dropping to the ground; but already, there were six more, all around me... crushing into me.

Engulfed in fire, I sank to the ground, battered relentlessly. With a cold chill, I stared as the ghost figure descended upon me once again...


I stared down into the lake of fire, its molten depths frothing with tiny jets of steam. All around me, tiny veins of magma trickled down the walls, through compact ash and glassy black stone.

I extended my arm over the lava, and let the object in my hand fall, tumbling down, down, down into the molten lake. In the drab light, I couldn't see the object clearly.

As the object sank beneath the lake's surface, I heard a distant scream of pain, followed by a chilling hiss from the shadows...

Wake up! Wake up!

Faye was shaking me awake. "Scheil! Awaken!" she whispered fiercely, her eyes shining intensely. "You cannot leave Corundia unattended for so long..."

Breathing hard, I sat up, looking around the grass-cave. My skin still felt raw, burned. The meteors, I thought, staring down at my hands.

Faye pressed a bowl of water to my lips, and I drank my fill. Even if the ghost figure could save me from death, the dryad's magic couldn't fully heal me.

Pulling off my armor, I stared down at my feet. The village was quiet--too quiet. "I don't suppose you have any idea on repopulating the village?" I asked weakly.

The dryad blinked. "Hm, have you seen that old man wandering around the dungeon?" she said thoughtfully. "He doesn't look well at all."

I blinked. "What dungeon? What old man?"

She shook her head. "If you explore this world enough, you'll find it," said Faye, running her fingers though the grassy wall. "Don't worry about it for now. People will come here like they used to."

I patted my belt for my pickaxe, but to my dismay, it was gone. Had I dropped it in the crater? I searched and searched for it, but in the end, I had to forge a new one. Pickaxes were too vital, out in the wilderness.

The next morning, I recieved a letter from the Merchants' Guild, offering its condolences for Alfred's death. It also offered to continue my bargain with Alfred--the bargain which would pay me for every monster killed. It then concluded with a promise to send a represenative to Corundia.

The new merchant's name was Frederick. Though he wore the same clothes as Alfred, he seemed a bit younger, or at least more easygoing and less crotchety. "Adventurers like yourself keep the economy flowing," he told me, patting the front door of Alfred's old house.

I spent a long time on other worlds, worlds that had not yet faced the humiliation and destruction from Rose and the goblin army. Luke's house in Alabaster became my new base of operations; it wasn't as homely as my tower in Corundia, but it felt innocent, untainted, safe.
On Minaria, Zach was nowhere to be found. After walking a short distance, I came upon a house built of dynasty wood. When I knocked on the front door, an unfamiliar man answered. "You're not Zach," I uttered.

He stared at me blankly. Though the man looked a good deal older than Kyle or Zach, he was unmistakably a guide. "Zach got transferred to another world," said the man after a moment. "My name's Seth. "

The house had a low ceiling, but that also made it feel a little cozy. "A shame my daughter's not here to meet you," said Seth, leaning back in his chair. "She's an adventurer, much like yourself."

From what I gathered, Seth retired as a guide years ago, but came out of retirement after his daughter went away for school. With his permission, I continued mining on Minaria as before.

The Adventurers' Guild still hadn't sent a guide to replace Kyle. "It can be tough to survive in Terraria without a guide, y'know," said Luke during one of my visits to Alabaster. "Oh, if you want, I can contact the guild and find how soon they can send a replacement—"

I shook my head. I wasn't even sure if I wanted a new guide. Not that I didn't appreciate Luke's offer. I felt we might have some understanding; he was just as lonely as I was. I was the adventurer without a guide, and he was the guide without an adventurer.

As with Minaria, I stayed in Alabaster for a few days, exploring the tunnels, reliving the old excitement from my first days in Corundia. I remember standing on a steep ledge, staring into a cave where two tunnels met, water streaming down around my ankles.

Following one tunnel up toward the surface, I came upon a Life Crystal. Using ropes, I climbed to the ceiling of the tunnel and dug straight up to the surface. It was not too far to dig, and I emerged only a short distance from Luke's house.

"So you don't know when your adventurers will show up?" I asked Luke one night.

He sighed. "It's not as if you show up on a schedule, you know? We don't even know where you all come from. But it's okay. You always show up, one way or another. And we'll always be there to help you people get started."

Before I returned to Corundia, I installed a furnace, workbench, and anvil in Luke's house. That would help Luke out; but also, once Luke's adventurer showed up, this would give him or her a head start--the sort of head start I could've used on that first night.

I'm ashamed to say that I lost my pickaxe on my way home. I'm not sure how; I recall taking the pickaxe out in Alabaster, and by the time I reached Corundia, it was gone. I was forced to forge a third pickaxe.

I didn't see the real gifts that Rose had left me until I came home. Next to the dye vat stood a glass kiln and a sky mill. In the patio workshop, I was astonished to find that the furnace had been replaced with a glowing red forge, hissing like the fires of hell.

In the mining chest, I had several bars of platinum and crimtane ore. The furniture chest held black-and-orange furniture made from obsidian, including a door that I fitted in the basement tunnels. The tool chest had the most surprising tool, however: a grappling hook.

This was not a basic grappling hook. I never saw a basic grappling hook until I had long outgrown the need for one. No, this was made of emeralds, its chain-links light but sturdy. Did Rose make this for me? "I'm sorry," I whispered to the air, though I knew Rose could not hear me.

With Caitlin living in the village--ironically, in the cabin on the hill thst she'd refused a long time ago--a painter moved into the snow-cabin. His name was Guido, and truthfully, he wasn't much different from Marco.

I spent a few days expanding the cabin, building a tower that poked up out of the snow-hill, before Guido's rude, snappish attitude drove me back to the grass-cave village, where Ovbere the Demolitionist was waiting for me.

Ovbere the Demolitionist was later followed by Reginald the Arms Dealer. Both lacked the sinister aura of Morthal and Dante-- that is to say, they seemed trustworthy, at any rate.

I decided to convert the three-story brick condo into a two-story house, which Ovbere happily moved into. Moments later, Reginald eagerly moved into Ovbere's second-story bathroom. What was with these arms dealers and living in bathrooms?

I'm not sure why I rebuilt Rose's gallows, but I did. It was one of two structures with her trademark fenceposts that I left intact. The other happened to be the house in the Living Tree. Faye often complained about the cabin, clearly unhappy with the mutilation of such an important entity.


As I crossed the bridge between the living trees, I thought of the ghost figure who appeared again and again, whisking me from death.

Standing before the meteor's crater, I watched the mysterious meteor-heads drifting around the shattered meteorite, flickering with fire from distant worlds beyond the sky. I had no desire to go back down there.

In the distance, I caught a glimpse of a red scar upon the land, far beyond the desert, eerie and forbidding. Heart pounding, I passed the crater, heading toward the desert's edge, slowly at first, gradually rising into a sprint.

Abruptly, pale yellow sand gave way to dark red. Sliding to a halt, I found myself staring at a terrible, scarlet wasteland. The desert continued for some distance; but the sand was dark red and damp, as if mingled with blood.

Further on, I could make out acres of bloody, stringy grasses and trees like shredded flesh, glowing red rock formations with hideous spots liike exposed bone. The wind carried the scent of fresh blood.

If the Corruption had filled me with sorrow and despair, this bloody landscape filled me with horror, hot and throbbing.

I heard snarls from overhead. Drawing my sword, I looked up to see red, legless monsters like flying lobsters. They were shaped like eater-of-souls, but with barbed red scales instead of hairy, rotting skin.

The crimeras dove at me, their pincers striking my armor, barbs slipping through the chainmail links. They were bolder than eater-of-souls; they darted in and out of reach with time-honed instinct.

Though they had the appearances of lobsters, my blade found bones within their flesh, vertebrates popping free as my sword cleaved through them, blood running down from my blade in horrifying splashes.

"Why are you standing here?" whispered a voice as I sank to the blood-soaked ground, exhausted. "The Crimson will remain, no matter how hard you fight back."

I found myself before the ghostly figure, eyes glowing beneath his translucent hood, glowing chains dangling from his wrists. Above his head, I saw a ball of ghostly fire imprinted with a hollow face. "I cannot fight your battles for you."

The one who watched me from afar. The one who pulled me back from death, but not the others. Why did I escape death again and again, while everyone around me perished? "What is this?" I croaked.

He stretched his hand out over the scarlet, bloody landscape. "You stand before the Crimson, the flesh and blood of Cthulhu, the elder one," he said softly. "Older than dryads, older than Terraria itself, the strands of his corpse mutate their surroundings, terraforming the landscape into one befitting his llikeness."

"How do you know all this?"

The sky was growing light. I caught sight of another person climbing the sand dunes toward us. A guide! So far from the village? "Sorry I'm late," gasped the guide as he reached us, out of breath. "I... aha... couldn't keep up."

The Crimson's bloody stench grew stronger as the sun rose, bitter and foul. "No more of your hesitation," the figure told me sternly, resting a hand on the guide's shoulder. "Go back to your village now. And take Bradley with you, that you might prepare for the next battles."

Still speechless, I stared as the guide stepped toward me. "It'll be a pleasure working with you, Scheil," said Bradley, helping me to my feet, his eyes firm but his voice friendly. "I heard your situation. And I'll help however I can."

"When you've learned to survive, we'll meet again," said the ghostly figure, his glittering eyes still on me. "On that day, you will learn what I am, and who I am. Until then... I shall be watching you from afar."

Turning away, he strode off into the desert, ethereal robes rippling. "Wait," I called, finally managing to speak. The ghost figure stopped. "The dungeon... And the old man... Tell me about the dungeon."

Without looking back, the ghost-figure chuckled. "You seek the treasures inside the dungeon?" he said softly, like the stinging wind that clicked against my armor. "I suppose that's one way to survive. But you won't be able to enter, not immediately."

"How do I get inside, then?"

"Seek the old man at the dungeon's entrance," replied the ghost-figure. "His curse has gone on for too long." He tilted his head slightly, and I thought I could make out a thin smile under his hood. "When night falls... speak to him, and he shall be transformed into Skeletron, god of the living dead."

Skeletron. A name that terrified some, and only confused others. I stared as the ghost-figure vanished into the desert, mystified. "All right, Scheil," said Bradley cheerfully. "We've got a long walk back."

Nodding, I patted my toolbelt. My pickaxe had vanished again.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

September 25, 2014 3:24pm
---- chapter 11 ----

The village looked almost complete when Bradley and I arrived. "I'm afraid Kyle's old house isn't vacant anymore," I apologized as we reached the wellspring hill. "There's two brick rooms under that house, though, if you like."

There was a black-and-red sword in the weapons chest, forged from glowing crimtane, strong but brutish. "A blood butcherer," said Bradley as I held it up. "One could call crimtane the marrow of Cthulhu's bones, the richest part of his strength. Certainly, a threatening blade."

I shuddered. The hilt felt greasy in my hand, sticky on some parts and slippery on others, as if the sword was coated with congealing blood.Red spots began to play across my vision. "I... I don't think I'll use it," I said weakly, dropping the sword into the chest and slamming it shut. "I mean-- I'm sure it's good, but--"

I broke off. I'd expected Bradley to lecture me on the importance of improving my equipment, perhaps shake his head disapprovingly. Instead, he just stood there, grinning. "Well, it's your choice, since you're the one using them," he pointed out.

Bradley was different from Kyle or Jack; I felt as if we were on the same level. He didn't wake me up in the morning, but he was there to greet me when I came downstairs for breakfast. He wasn't a teacher. He was a friend.

"I don't see the point in overwhelming you with information," the guide told me. "But whenever you want a chat, I'll be here to answer your questions." And indeed, we had many conversations, especially as I explored the tunnels over the next few weeks.

Most of the chests that Rose had brought to the surface were made or gold. There was one chest, however, that was stained green and coated with cobwebs. I kept this chest by the underground river, usually to store gravestones.

One night, I found out where it came from. In one of the deepest caverns, I discovered a small pit in the floor. Most of the caves had been fairly well-lit, you see; Rose almost always left at least one torch behind, and I would add others. The cave beneath the small pit, however, was pitch-black, impossible to see.

I held up a torch.

Pale, bulbous forms with long, hairy legs; they climbed the black walls, clicking and whispering. Horrified, I stared down into the spider nest, crisscrossed with strings and sheets of webs, cluttered with dangling silk pods and webbed corpses. Wall-creepers scrambled around each other, crawling over tangled webs nd discarded bones.

I sealed the entrance with rocks and and never went there again.

I resumed work on my floating island. Something Rose said was bothering me... She'd suggested building an arena. Why? For future invasions, she said. The goblins had left, but they would return. It was just a matter of time.

I intended to convert it into a shelter, an airborne city where the others could hide during future invasions. Rose had already replaced the long rope with a long chain. I just needed to expand the island until it was large enough for housing units.

Twice, I ran out of dirt, and had to gather more from Alabaster, coming upon a life crystal on the second time. I recall that life crystsl vividly because I saw my first underground cabin--the sort with planked walls and wooden beams--not long after. The architecture, though simple, impressed me.

The floating island soon became ten times its original size, no longer a tiny floating slab of dirt. Soon, I had a floating mass of land with a flat surface and a jagged underside like a dragon. I spent a day constructing support posts under the island to prevent its collapse.

Bradley kept everything running peacefully in the village. I was particularly grateful to him.

My new silver plate armor had the unnerving look of a templar knight, but was too bulky for me to simply cover with other armor. Take this," said Ahirom, handing me a scroll. "This will allow you to cover your armor with more aesthetically pleasing garb."

The scroll contained a spell that not only concealed inner armor within outer armor, but distributed its weight over my body evenly instead of concentrating it downward, without compromising its strength. Using the scroll's magic, I melded the silver plate armor to the inside of my lead chainmail.

With a new platinum sword in hand, I headed out to find the Dungeon, following the ghost-figure's advice--the advice of someone who I was beginning to suspect was not a ghost at all. Climbing over the west hill, I crossed the lakes and entered the tundra, stopping to rest at the snow-tower.

"Careful!" snapped Guido as I entered, almost knocking over a bucket of white paint that he'd left by the front door. I'm not sure why it would bother him if white paint spilled on the floor, which was made of compacted snow bricks anyway.

Into the tundra, through the snow-caves; I crossed several lakes and entered the woodland on the opposite shore, staring down into a bowl-like valley. There were more rivers here, more running streams. Trees towered high over my head.

I was growing tired; but I couldn't sleep out in the open, not with zombies roaming. Even if the ghost-figure saved me from death, I'd fought too hard to come this far just to wake up in the grass-cave again. At the foot of a small but steep hill, I dug a small underground room and sealed the top with living wood for the night.

At noon the next day, I discovered the Dungeon. Crossing one final lake, I climbed up onto the shore, staring at the giant ruin towering over me, weathered pink bricks with majestic columns that were easily three times my height, perhaps more.

I saw an old man with long, shaggy hair and a white beard wandering around the columns at the entrance--the one Faye and the ghost-figure had spoken of. His eyelids were heavy from lack of sleep, every step straining. Could this frail old man really be Skeletron in disguise?

Suddenly, he spun around to face me. At once, I was taken aback by his gleaming red eyes, penetrating and intense. With surprising agility, he rushed at me, grabbing my neck and forcing my face up. I was so astonished that my sword clattered to the floor.

His harsh eyes studied me, scrutinized me, scanning me for something. Then, scowling, he released me, leaving me gasping. "Another young idiot, thinking the treasures within are his to take," he spat bitterly, looking away. "I cannot let you enter--unless you free me of my curse."

I stared as he stumbled away. His last few words felt flat, dismissive, as if the notion of me breaking his curse was ridiculous. "Wait," I called as he put one hand on the dungeon's door. "Are you cursed by Skeletron?"

He shuddered at that name and glared at me, his hand shaking. "Your curiosity will be your undoing," growled the old man, his eyes flashing. "The god of the undead has claimed my body as his shell. I am beyond saving."

I was hesitant; the name of Skeletron had induced terror in my homeworld. But this was what the ghost-figure told me to do, after all, right? "What if I fight him?" I persisted. "I'm sure if I defeat Skeletron, your curse will be broken."

His hands curled into fists, his fingers bony and pale. "My master cannot be summoned under the light of day," he snapped. "Leave this place. Go home. You can do nothing for me." And he went inside, slamming the door behind him.

Above the entrance, I caught sight of some books lined up on a shelf. Using my new emerald hook, I managed to climb up to the books and retrieve them. All were by the same author: the Curse Foundation.

These books became some of my most precious belongings. They contained a wealth of information on Terraria... its inhabitants, its perils, its rewards... and I eagerly read them until night fell.

Some pages told of familiar phenomena, described the effectiveness of various weapons. Others were alien to me. I learned of the Dungeon Guardians through the books: the ghost-figure's warning had left a mark on me, and I dared not enter the Dungeon without the old man's permission.

As for Skeletron himself... Always, he chose an old man as his host, his slave. He had a hold upon the land that the Eye of Cthulhu couldn't hope to match; he was inextricably tied to the innermost fibers of Terraria itself. And yet--he was not invincible. He could be bested...

Consistently, I found references to a fearsome entity dwelling in the Underworld. King of Demons, Lord of Hell, Infinite Hunger; but always, always they stopped short of its true name. And in the section where this entity's information ought to be, I found only a torn-out page. And yet... the entity felt familar...

The Underworld... That was right. Rose had said, at some point, that she'd literally tunneled into Hell. I don't believe I wrote about that moment in earlier entries--I can't remember when it happened or what I was doing. But she'd brought back a hellforge with her, hadn't she?

It was evening--it was time to face Skeletron. As the moon rose into the sky, I put away the books, readied my sword, and knocked on the dungeon door.

The door creaked open, and the old man stared at me. From the books, I knew the proper phrase to summon Skeletron. "Invoke your curse," I told him firmly.

His face went pale, his red eyes glowing. "You pathetic fool!" he shouted at me. "You cannot hope to face my master as you are now."

"Invoke your curse," I repeated, pointing my sword at him. "Awaken, Skeletron!"

Gripping the wall tightly, the old man shuddered, spasming forward. His veins bulged, his skin shriveling. Then, with a terrible shriek, his bones--Skeletron's bones-- ripped out from his body with sickening pop, rising into the air.

Lord of Necromancers, God of the Living Dead; Skeletron towered above me, a giant skull with a pair of skeletal arms bound by shadows. The night air took on an eerie, tingling chill.

"You have trespassed upon the realm of living death," whispered Skeletron, his voice like the rattle of dried bones, the creak of old joints. "May you become dust again..."

My platinum sword couldn't scratch him; my boomerang did nothing to stall him. His bony hands grabbed for me as I grappled up to the ceiling; his fingers sliced through my greaves like tinfoil, the pain penetrating straight to the bone.

"What chance do you stand before a god?" rasped Skeletron as I hit the floor, blindly flinging knives toward his voice, sinking them into the ceiling. "What power has life against death?"

The old man had been right. I was not ready. Gasping, I managed to uncork a flask of red potion, drinking it down; but already, his hands swept me up and flung me aside.

Struggling to my feet, I tried to flee; but I had barely reached the pavilion's edge when Skeletron came crashing down through the ceiling to crush me, his skull whirling like a turbine.

Scrambling to the door, I hurried inside the dungeon. No guardians emerged from the walls. I lifted another healing flask to my mouth, but again, a wave of nausea came over me. Panicking, I patted my pockets for my knives as Skeletron emerged from the wall.

Jaws clicking, Skeletron descended upon me, his sockets vast and empty. Skull whirling with blinding speed, the god of the living dead crushed me with an awful crunch.

As I drifted back from my body, every nerve still screaming with pain, I stared in horror as Skeletron's hand reached out for me, fingerbones slowly closing in on me.

Then, down below, I saw the ghost-figure, swimming up from the darkness toward me. I saw a ball of blue light drift up from his shoulder; at a twitch of the ghost-figure's hand, it flew straight into Skeletron's skull.

Screeching, the undead god recoiled from the ghost-figure, drawing back his hands. Shaking his head fiuriously, Skeletron turned and fled into the dark.

Floating up to me, the ghost-figure took my hand, and led me away...


This was the hardest revival for me yet. I still felt the cold chills of Skeletron's aura when I woke in the grass-cave, his grating voice. Feeling ill, I stared down at my hands. It was morning.

Once again, I had escaped death; my body had miraculously been restored. And yet, I didn't feel like some sort of magical being who could escape death again and again. Every cold tingle on my skin, every bone-nudging touch assured me that I was very much mortal.

Outside the cave, I found a young woman with magenta hair and a dark pink top. She wore a black skirt and knee-high striped socks; she had glittering eyeshadow and lipstick. I was tempted to walk past her, but she was blocking the doorway. "Who are you?" I said hazily.

She gave a toss of her hair. "The name's Fantasy, but you can call me honey," she said softly,e breathily. "They call me a party girl, and for good reason." She patted the gray bricks. "Is this your tower? It's perfect... for just the two of us."

Unamused, I placed her residence flag in the room next to Bradley's.

You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

October 7, 2014 7:56pm
Playing on Nep's server reminded me of two weapons that I used a lot during this time, but never mentioned in the story. So they show up here.

---- Chapter 12 ----

Goblin war-horns bellowed from the east.

Though I hadn't realized it, I now had five Life Crystals: Three from before Rose came, one from Alabaster, and one from Minaria. Unwittingly, I had triggered my own misfortune.

Once again, they came upon my village, kicking down doors and setting rooftops ablaze. Once again, they dragged the villagers from their homes. And this time, I didn't have Rose to help me.

And yet, did they know that they faced only one defender? Though their ranks seemed infinite, this was not as devastating as the first attack, and--though I was struck down again and again-- they eventually drew back. As for the casualties...

"Caitlin," said Faye urgently as the nurse fumbled with Reginald's bandages. We were in the arms dealer's house; Reginald was sitting on his toilet with the lid down. "You must tend to yourself first."

Caitlin's face was growing pale, her movements becoming sluggish; but still, she swabbed Reginald's wounds and covered them with ointment. "It's fine, baby," the arms dealer assured her; his eyes still looked strong. "You gotta rest, too. You look in worse shape than me."

The nurse shook her head. "No," she croaked as she pressed an ice pack to Ovbere's shoulder. "I... have to keep going." Her uniform was ripped in multiple places, and her body was heavily bruised, but she kept working.

In Reginald's bathtub lay Ahirom, covered in horrific burns, one arm coated with his blood. "I'm sorry," I whispered helplessly. "This... IThey came for me."

Feebly, Ahriom curled his bloody fingers around my wrist. tugging me toward him. "Corundia stands no chance," he croaked. "The goblin nations... have declared war on us..."

His eyes closed. With a soft, despairing cry, Caitlin sank back against the wall, shaking her head. "Caitlin!" gasped Reginald, reaching out to the nurse. "Are you all right?"

Faye and I stared as Caitlin lay down on the cold floor, her movements weakening. "I... I just need to rest," she whispered, closing her eyes. "Only just... but could never..."

I felt a cold chill. Behind Faye stood the ghost-figure, watching sorrowfully as Reginald sank to his knees before Caitlin. "Come back!" I shouted at the ghost-figure as he started to walk away. "Don't leave them to die! "

By night, both Caitlin and Ahirom had passed away. As with the others, their ashes were poured into the underground river beneath the grass-cave. And we all stood in silence.


With Corundia now visible to the goblin nations, completing the floating island became my top priority. Though the books told me of the Sky Islands suspended on beds of clouds, I had no such means to suppport my artificial island.

Wood, fire, gems and glass; with Bradley's help, I installed a gleaming engine on my floating island, casing it with platinum bricks. The support posts were safe to remove now: a gemspark core was durable and wouldn't need to be replaced for a long time.

But this was where I faced a conundrum. There were only four rooms on the island, but seven villagers: Bradley, Frederick, Ovbere, Reginald, Faye, Fantasy, and Guido. How would they all fit?

Actually, one of the rooms would have been a bathroom, but Reginald immediately claimed it as his room. "You never know when you've gotta go," he rattled off before slamming the door shut. We tried not to mention Caitlin around him.

Eventually, Ovbere decided to move in with Guido at the snow-tower, while Bradley and Faye volunteered to stay on the ground. This left Frederick and Fantasy to move into the island.

There was just one problem: With so little human prescence, the zombies began to roam the village freely again, just as they had after the first goblin attack. After a while, Frederick and Ovbere returned to the village.

By day, I explored the tunnels. By night, I studied the books, determined to learn more about Terraria and its perils. "When dawn approaches, Skeletron unleashes the full might of his power so that he can flee before the morning sun touches him," read one passage. Perhaps I'd been lucky.

In the caverns, I came upon a chain-knife, but found that the blade was far duller than my sword. Disappointed, I stored it away--just in case I ever might need it.

My dreams were confusing and distorted. Sometimes I would check my chests to find them all empty. Other times, the world would look flat and blocky. Flowers would vanish into pink glowing light; the ground under my feet would become thick and muddy before turning to sand.

I had a series of dreams about my sister. Frosti's two-room cabin had expanded into six underground apartments since I'd last seen it. The ghost-figure wasn't there this time; instead, I saw the man in purple armor offering his advice.

"Blood moons? No, I haven't found any Life Crystals yet," said my sister, lying on the floor and staring up at the ceiling. "Really, I have no clue what I'm supposed to do. Everywhere I go, I end up dying."

The man in purple armor leaned against the wall and sighed. "You need better armor, Fro," he said, looking at a red brick in his hand. "Preferably gold, but silver will do."

Frosti rolled her eyes and sat up. "Yeah, I've looked everywhere," she muttered, staring at a clump of snow in her hand. "I barely found enough iron for this stupid bucket." She tapped the bucket on her head.

He gave her a look. "You have to go underground, you dork. Deeper than before. Down to the cavern layer."

Disgust flashed on her face. "Down there? Are you out of your mind, Peggy?" my sister snapped. "I won't last a minute down there."

She rubbed her eyes and yawned; Frosti didn't look well-rested, I suddenly noticed. "I need a proper bed," she muttered. "Can't sleep on a hard wood floor anymore."

The man nodded. "Well, to build a bed, you'll need cobwebs," he said, grinning. "And cobwebs can usually be found underground, in the cavern layer."

Sighing, she got up, hefting her pickaxe over one shoulder. "I don't think I'm strong enough, though?" said my sister pointedly, glancing back to the man. "Everything tries to kill me down there."

"Well, to get stronger, you'll need Life Crystals," replied the man with growing exhasperation. "To get Life Crystals, you'll need to... you know... go underground. To the cavern layer."


In Alabaster, I discovered veins of platinum. Taking the ore back to Corundia, I crafted a platinum pickaxe--one that, hopefully, I wouldn't misplace.

"That should be able to mine out meteorite," Bradley told me when I showed my new pickaxe to him. "Meteorite will help. Just remember that the meteorite is still very hot."

Out in the desert, I came upon a pyramid-- or rather, a pit in the sand where a great pyramid lay buried under the desert. The top blocks had been torn out, exposing a dark room with sloping sandstone walls. "Rose," I swore under my breath. The treasure rooms were empty.

I continued to the meteor's crater. The desert had many steep hills and valleys; I bridged over the steepest drops with cactus for now.

Once again, the meteor heads emerged from the shadows, glowing with a fire from beyond the sky. With pickaxe in hand, I hacked away at the glowing brown mineral, gathering the fallen chunks in a cactus sack. The air reeked of blood and metal, reminiscient of blood moons.

It took three trips to fully mine out the meteorite; by the time I was done, the meteor heads were gone. Storing the meteor chunks away, I headed to the Crimson's edge, staring out over the bloody landscape.

I wouldn't let the Crimson terrify me anymore. This was my world.

Face monsters lumbered over the blood-speckled sand as crimeras circled me overhead. I swung my blade, slicing into their blood-swollen flesh. The sky was covered by a rust-colored haze, darkening the sun.

Thick, bulbous cacti dotted the crimson desert, covered with clumps of bone-white spines. When I cut one down, watery red trickles ran down my axe blade as the cactus chunks shrank back to normal, regaining their green hue, bushy spines shriveling back to slender needles.

On the far side of a red lake, I saw a formation of exposed crimstone, glistening red like oozing flesh with white tips. It was like a swollen boil on the land, surrounded by a rash of crimson grass.

Growling crimeras descended upon me. Running forward, I leapt into the bloody water, the face monsters blundering after me with their stretched, gaping mouths.

I was halfway across when a spider with short, hairy legs and bloated blood-sacs hopped down from the crimstone formation, skittering along the lake's bottom. Panic set in. Thrashing in the water, I slashed at the blood-crawler frantically as the face monsters advanced from behind.

A plume of horror and nausea rose within me as the blood-crawler's mandibles scraped at my chainmail, its bristled legs clamping aorund me. Frantically, I hit its multi-eyed head repatedly with my sword's pommel until it released me.

As the blood-crawler's body sank to the bottom, I crawled up onto the shore, shuddering. Staring up at the crimstone formation, I saw the mouth of a spacious cavern, stalactites and stalagmites hidden on the edges like the teeth of a waiting predator.

Inside, I could see, a trail of torches illuminated a crimstone passage that led down into the bloody earth, walls of dark red and congealed black. The Crimson's bloody scent billowed up from the tunnel in overwhelming waves, fresh mingled with stagnant, my head throbbing.

The torches... Rose must have placed them. This headache was familiar; it was like the mysterious chill I'd felt just before the goblin attack, but more subtle. Whatever Rose had done back then, the explanation lay below.

Though my heart was pounding furiously, I entered the crimstone cave and descended the long tunnel, tendril-wrapped stone formations like bone and sinew. The tunnel wove back and forth; I passes many pulsing slabs of flesh like altars.

Then, the floor dropped away sharply, and the tunnel opened into the roof of a massive cavern.

How can I describe its size? It was monstrously huge; my tower and the houses up to Faye's could have fit in here. It was far larger than any csvern I'd ever seen, a gaping cavity in the earth that dwarfed the chasms of the corruption.

The bloody stench was overwhelming, nauseating. I could see more blood-crawlers skittering on the walls, more growling drifting about the cavern. I could feel a sinister prescence from the depths...

As if it, too, could sense me, the entire cavern shuddered. Clicking, turning, blood-crawlers and crimeras swarmed me with ravenous eyes.

I turned to flee, but the crimstone was slick under my boots. My footing slipped, and, I tumbled down from the precipice to the jagged floor.

I hit the floor with an burst of agony, bone separating from bone, flesh crushed beneath flesh. I saw crimson waterfalls and altars of flesh, jars of congealed blood, ventricles branching off from the cave in every direction.

Thump. Thump. Thump-thump-thump. I could feel the ominous throb of alien heartbeats, echoing from the numerous passageways. One after another, the denziens of the Crimson dropped to the floor around me.

A few feet away stood a golden chest. Gasping, I raised a bloody glove toward the chest, tried to crawl toward it; but pain shot from my legs to my ribcage, and I collapsed to the ground, my sight blurring.

Overhead, the ghost-figure descended upon me. "I warned you," he scolded gently as I sank into unconsciousness. "I warned you..."


Chills penetrated my bones like cold steel needles where my bones had broken--a lingering reminder of my body's fragility. My throat was parched, my head heavy.

Faye wasn't perfect. Reviving me had taken a toll on her. It took a day for both of us to recuperate.

When ready, I descended into the tunnel under the wellspring hill. The caves were spacious, but barren. Skeletons, bats, wriggling slimes; all swarmed me and fell at my feet.

From the remains of animated skeletons, I extracted a sword of solid bone. Though heavier than the platinum sword, it was considerably sharper.

I soon came upon another mushroom cavern. I stood above an old cabin overlooking a lake with glowing blue banks, mud woven with mushroom grass, tall tree-like stalks looming high into the air.

The cabin was ruined. Its walls were smashed in, the door almost off its hinges. Inside, a chandelier lay shattered on the floor next to a chest with the lid torn off.

Something was wrong. The wreckage looked too recent, too new. Holding up a torch, I stared around the cabin. On the walls, there was a large square gap in the dust.

In the center of the room, I saw a gold-plated chest--but it was empty. On the floor, I found a fence-post with a short length of rope tied around it.

I stared around the cabin. Alfred's words echoed in my ears: "Do you really want to be left with a scarred, empty world? To have nothing left to search for but empty chests?"

Just how much of Corundia had Rose explored? There were countless wonders in my chests, wonders pillaged from places I'd never seen. How many treasures had she taken? And was there anything left for me to find?
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four


October 12, 2014 11:48am
---- Chapter 13 ----

The new nurse wore her uniform crisply and proudly. "Call me Jenna," said the woman, shaking my hand. Her eyes were sharp and scrutinous, her voice firm and strong. "A pleasure to be here, Scheil."

She studied my face for a moment. "Hm. You've been in the Crimson recently--early symptoms of crimson fever, most likely suppressed by high concentration of glowing mushroom spores in the bloodstream."

The new nurse was curt and to the point; something in the way she walked was assertive in a way that Caitlin never quite managed to be. "How come you're not a full-fledged doctor?" I asked as we crossed through the tower.

"Because the last medical institute within a thousand miles was destroyed four years ago," she told me. "Doesn't matter. I've had as much experience as any licensed doctor."


At Jenna's insistence, I began traveling to the mushroom cavern regularly; inhaling the spores would suppress crimson cell disease. During these visits, I started to rebuild the destroyed cabin, using the living wood wand and glowing mushrooms.

I gathered many cobwebs from the caverns, but was never able to build a bed with them. The man in purple was wrong--or so I thought, anyway. Rose had neglected to show me a particularly vital crafting station, you see.

One night in the mushroom cavern, as I insulated the cabin walls with compacted mushroom, I felt a familiar chill. Glancing outside, I discovered that the glowing lakes had turned a bloody red.

The blood moon was rising.

I scrambled up the tunnels with all haste, climbing up into the cellar, to my tower. Corrupt bunnies and growling zombies sprang at me from the shadows as I fought my way into the village.

Protecting Frederick was easy enough; I hung torches to block both of his doors. Ovbere fled into my tower. Bradley and Jenna were safely barricaded in the house on the hill.

I heard a heartrending cry from the grass-tunnels. Racing forward, I saw half a dozen zombies tearing at Faye's clothing, clawing at her, gnawing at her.

My bone sword couldn't cut them down fast enough; it was too heavy, too slow to match their blows. The zombies shoved me back, their growls like taunting laughter. "Faye!" I shouted, struggling against the tide.

She looked at me, her eyes growing dull as the zombies battered her again and again. "Fear not," she whispered. "Terraria... will watch over you always."

Helpless, I watched as the dryad withered away, shriveling like a dying tree before disintegrating into a cloud of green spores. "FAYE!"


Could I still be resurrected, without Faye to heal me? Could Corundia survive without a dryad? With fear in my heart, I prayed for a new dryad to come.

The tunnels had entranced me, once. There was a certain romance about a world with so many nooks and crannies, secrets around every corner.

I had dug countless tunnels to mine for clay, tin, lead, silver, and gold. I had dug tunnels connecting tunnels, a network of underground passages.

Those days were gone. Now, the tunnels only served as shortcuts for zombies and goblins, secret entrances for my enemies.

Thus, I began the long, arduous process of sealing up the tunnels. I only needed one tunnel to enter the underground, after all.

In the village, I sealed off one of the grass tunnels and connected the other to my basement. I filled in pits where I'd mined out mineral veins, removed unneeded ropes; any unnecessary crevice was eliminated.

Four, five, six levels under the village; I reduced them to three. One under my basement, leading to the underground river. One further down the underground river, connecting to the east hill's tunnel. One where soil met bedrock, leading straight into the caverns.

As for the actual entrances to the underground? Only three remained near the village: the original tunnels under the west and east hills, and that first door in my basement.


Meteorites dropped from the sky. One landed in the snow; another in the valley before the Dungeon. Though tempted to investigate, I willed myself to focus on the tunnels.

One night, I got stranded out in the desert.

In my haste, I dropped my bone sword, leaving me with just the chain-knife. But to my amazement, it was a very effective weapon; it stopped the zombies in their tracks, causing some to recoil.

Even if the knife didn't have the raw power of my bone sword, it was swift and deadly as a miniature thunderbolt; it punctured their flesh with ease. My chain-knife became my main weapon from that day on.

Jenna moved into Faye's old house; Bradley moved into the hilltop house. I combined the brick rooms under the hilltop house into one room; Fantasy claimed it as her bar.

One morning, I woke up to find a new dye trader in the grass-cave. Apart from being Ahirom's replacement, he had a letter for me--a letter from my sister.

"Dear Scheil," the letter read. "You're somewhere in Terraria, right? Tell me something I don't know. Your sister, Frosti." I wasn't quite sure what it meant; so for now, I kept it stored away.

The dye trader's name was Philosir. "You bear the sign of the fox," he told me as I helped him move into Ahirom's house. "Wily and cunning, you shall overcome your enemies through trickery and evasion."

More villagers meant more people to watch over. I faced a paradox: if I sent the villagers to safety, I woudl be alone. If I kept them nearby for company, they would perish in the goblin attacks.

"It must be hard to fight goblins when they strike from two directions," remarked Frederick when I asked him for his thoughts. "I wish I had a stronger weapon you could use, but all I have is basic equipment, I'm afraid."

Thanking him, I next went to Bradley. "Sometimes I wonder," he said wistfully. "Are goblins and humans so different, that we can't live in harmony?"


From meteorite and platinum, I forged new armor--meteor on the interior, platinum on the exterior. This was the first time I'd replaced my outer armor since crafting lead armor.

Down in the caverns, I heard a cry for help. Climbing up onto a steep stone ledge, I discovered a tied-up goblin. "Human! Please help," he begged me. "I've been sitting her for so long that I've probably lost circulation."

Taking out my chain-knife, I cut his ropes and helped him to his feet. "Who are you?" I asked, frowning. He wore glasses and a lab coat--definitely not attire I associated with goblins.

"Fahd! Fahd the tinkerer," he told me happily. "My people called me a traitor and left me here for dead, see. Glad you found me!" Wiping his glasses, Fahd squinted up at me. "You're an adventurer, right? You have somewhere I can crash?"

So far, goblins had done nothing but wreck villages and kill the people under my protection. They were raiders and killers, violent and greedy. Right now, I found myself before a goblin with more intelligence than many humans.

I wasn't quite sure how to bring him up to the surface--I always used my hook when exiting the caverns, but there was no way I could carry Fahd up that way. Besiddes, I wasn't sure how the others would react to a goblin's prescence. Instead, I brought him to the cabin in the mushroom cave.

The cabin was several times its original size now. I designed it after Frosti's underground apartments, with eight rooms insulated with compact mushroom and a mudstone exterior. Behind one room, I set up a workshop for Fahd.

Construction was not easy. I had no quick way to travel between the village and the mushroom cavern. There was also a giant pit right in front of the cabin's front door, a gaping hole that reached down into other caverns.

Part of the lake flowed under the cabin, forming a mushroom garden of sorts. I soon found, however, that bats and giant worms liked to gather in the garden. After draining that part of the lake, I expanded it into a six-tier farm and walled it up to keep out the wildlife.

"So what can you do?" I asked Fahd as he plopped down on his new mushroom bench. "You said you're a tinkerer, right?"

He nodded, grinning. "You know how when you craft a weapon or tool, it might not always turn out perfect, right? Well, I have the tools to reforge your various implements--at a price, of course."

Fahd's workbench was the size of a square table, with a red tablecloth and several short shelves. "I can also upgrade your equipment by combining your accessories," said the goblin cheerfully, patting his workbench. "That way, you can carry more stuff."

Over the next few days, I made frequent trips to the mushroom cavern to check up on Fahd. This wasn't as easy as it sounded; I was still getting used to my reduced tunnel system. I rarely used the west hill's tunnel now.

Somehow, word got out that I was sheltering a goblin. "A goblin? Are you out of your mind?" demanded Reginald one morning. "Doesn't matter how intelligent they are; they're all bloodthirsty killers, all of them!"

"If what happened with our predecessors is any indication, goblins are bad luck," pointed out Philosir from his dye vat. "Even one is a bad omen, friend."

Fahd, though, seemed unconcerned. "They'll get used to me, I'm sure," he told me. "Once they understand who I am and what I can do, they won't feel so strongly."


But the goblin attacks escalated after I discovered Fahd. "You harbor a traitor," the goblin captains would accuse me as they led their chanting squads into the village. "Surrender him, or perish."

During one attack, I left the village, hoping to draw the goblins away; I raced across the lakes and into the tundra. "Guido!" I shouted as I reached the snow-tower, goblins in hot pursuit. I pounded on the front door furiously. "Open up!"

Grumbling, the painter opened the door for me--and a hail of arrows flew past me, striking Guido and flinging him against the far wall. Another meaningless death--another death I was responsible for...

With Guido's death, I became more determined to seal the tunnels. Even with Jenna's expertise and quick response time, it was just a matter of time before someone else died.

Acting on advice from the books, I dug a long shaft from my basement into the cavern layer, down to the mushroom cavern.

Bats and giant worms flew out from the walls every ten feet or so, often causing me to lose my grip on the rope. It also didn't help that I would tunnel down into a water pocket, causing the tunnel to flood.

I tunneled into the mushroom cavern on the far side of the lake from the hotel, spanning the lake with a bridge made from mushrooms. The village's evacuation route was complete--or so I thought.

Fahd wasn't alone in the cabin. I heard a voice--a female voice, cool and refreshing, like snow-melt trickling down the thick bark of a boreal tree. "We can cover it up, seal it over; but unless we confront fear directly, it simply festers and grows," said the voice. "You understand, don't you?"

I entered to find Fahd and a dryad sitting next to a campfire. "You must be Scheil," said the dryad, getting to her feet, her eyes glowing slightly. "I am Tatiana, newly assigned to Corundia. Lady Elysia sends her regards."

Something in Tatiana's voice made me wonder if we had already met--but of course, I must have been under her protection since Faye's death. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Tatiana," I told her, shaking her hand. "Come on--I'll show you a good house on the surface."

"Wait!" called Fahd, getting up. I looked to him, surprised. "If you don't mind--could I come to the surface, too?" He waved around the cabin. "Not that this place isn't great, of course--but I'd like to live where the others live."


There was just one problem with the evacuation route: The villagers never evacuated of thier own volition. They refused to leave unless I led them down to the mushroom cabin in person.

Considering that the goblins were fixated on me, evacuating the villagers in person would defeat the purpose of evacuation. Still, I kept the cabin-hotel's rooms furnished, hoping it might serve a purpose someday.

I brought Tatiana to the house Rose had carved out of a Living Tree--a thing of fenceposts and flowerpots. A Living Tree was the natural habitat of a dryad, after all, right? Plus, it served as a gatehouse to the desert--and to the Crimson.

Though I was worried about how Reginald would react, Fahd had his heart set on living on the floating island. "I've always dreamed of living in the clouds," he told me as he set up his workbench. "Safe and enclosed on the inside, but open to the heavens on the outside!"

Still, with the evacuation chute a failure, I was running out of options. Even with the chain-knife, even with my armor upgrades, the village's defenses weren't suited for goblin raids.

The problem, I finally realized, was that there were too many vantage points--too many places for goblins to stand. Too many bridges and staircases connected the rooftops; the buildings were too densely packed together.

Most troubling of all was Frederick's house. I built that house for Alfred on a tiny mass of floating land that had several ledges under the house and next to the tower. Goblins could easily gather inside and atop the grass-cave, and I wouldn't be able to stop them.

Experience told me that the only way to overcome the goblins was to force them to come from one direction. In other words... I faced my most challenging project yet.

I fled. I ran out past Tatiana's house and across the desert, into the Crimson. And I kept running, chain-knife swinging... until I reached the crimson forest.

Shadewood trees towered over me with flesh-like, stringy branches; thick grass reached into the bloody water with red, creeping tendrils. Clambering over the gleaming, bloody rocks, I stared out over the scarred landscape.

Stripes of fleshy, fingerlike red grass gave way to sprawling fronds and poison-tipped shrubbery, gnarled red trees with bushy, bright-green leaves. The Crimson petered out at the edge of a great chasm, where the waters ran not red but teal, where the jungle's mysteries waited in the depths.

All around me, I could feel the power of the jungle--rising, rippling, its sights set on me. I felt the fury of nature in its rawest form, stirring to strike at me. Muddy jungle grass squishing under my boots, I beheld Terraria in its savage, concentrated state with awe.

This was why I couldn't yield. Why I couldn't surrender Corundia and all I'd built to my enemies. Terraria needed me--and I needed Terraria.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

October 18, 2014 10:45pm
---- Chapter 14 ----

The more I read the books, the more they alluded to the ancient prescence sealed in Hell--and with each mention, the prescence became more mysterious.

Some pages called it a force of good; others, a force of evil. Some called it a being of chaos; others upheld it as the pinnacle of order.

And then, an ominous passage: "Once the spirits of light and darkness are unlesashed from the underworld, they shall consume the land."

Grass, stone, ice, sand; the Crimson hungered, yearned to permeate my world. Dangerous as it was now, the Crimson was in a weakened state. At full strength, it might easily destroy Corundia in days.

Before I waged war against the Crimson, however, I needed to know more about the ghost-figure who snatched me from death, who carried me back to the grass-cave. So I talked with Bradley, since he already knew of the ghost-figure.

"He's called a spectre," said the guide. "Spectres are responsible for recovering adventurers from the brink of death. When you fall, they bring you to safety, where the dryads rebuild your body through Terraria's essence."

"The grass-cave is Corundia's focus, its anchor--the spawn-point, some call it. Every land has one. As long as you're in Corundia, you're spiritually bound to that place. That's why your body is reborn there--not by the spectre's choice, but because it's the only place he can bring you."

"Could I move the focus?" I asked. "Or is that impossible?"

"The focal point can't be moved, no," said the guide. "But theoretically, you could setup a temporary 'spawn-point' away from the focus. If you slept in a proper bed, your dreams would form a connection between the bed and your soul, as long as you leave the bed intact."

This was exactly what I needed to hear. "So how do I build a proper bed? I heard I needed cobwebs, but beyond that..."

"You'll need a sawmill," said Bradley, grinning and getting to his feet. "I'll help."

With the guide's help, I constructed a sawmill, from which I built a loom. Setting up the loom next to the dye vat, I wove my large collection of cobwebs into silk.

"Hey, Bradley?" I asked after a moment. "What happens if I run out of cobwebs?"

He looked sheepish. "You'd have to get more from the underground, of course. I know cobwebs aren't particularly common, but you could also harvest fresh spider-webs from spider nests."

That was how I came to think of silk as one of my most precious commodities.


I built three beds in total: a wooden bed for the tower, a mushroom bed for the caverns, and a cactus bed for the desert cabin. With the third bed, I now had a base from which to fight the Crimson. With Bradley promising to keep the other townspeople happy, I set out.

Though Tatiana had only recently moved into the Living Tree, I summoned her to the desert cabin. "I know why the dryads are watching over me," I began. "You want me to cleanse this world, right? From the Crimson?"

Goblins and blood moons had distracted me from my other purpose--to purge Corundia from the Crimson. This was what Faye had wanted of me, right? Goblins and zombies came and went; but the Crimson was an unknown quandry, an ever-present danger in the vein of the Corruption.

Where Faye had been mystical, Tatiana was scientific. "Our purification powder contains certain compounds that disrupt metabolism in Crimson or Corruption microbes," she said from the seat across from me. "It's perfectly biodegradable for normal or Hallowed grass, however."

Eagerly, I bought a large stack of purification powder from her, casting it over the desert, driving the blood from its dunes. In less than a day, over half of the crimson desert had been purified.

But then it occured to me: I was only purifying the surface! Tunneling under the surface, I discovered that the purification powder reached only fourteen feet down at most; everything beneath that was crimsand.

Warding off face monsters with my chain-knife, I dug down into the desert at the place where golden sand ended and bloody desert began, down into the sand until I reached dirt, casting powder over every patch of crimsand I saw.

I soon learned it was unwise to dig just beneath the desert--heavy tons of sand would pour down on me, pressing on me, smothering me. But I needed to find some way to purify the desert--and that meant being able to reach the desert's depths.

Tunneling into the earth, I cast more powder over veins of gleaming crimstone, the Crimson's blood-filaments shriveling away. In the dirt, I saw crimson grass seeds like miniature eyeballs staring at me, watching my every move.

As my supply of powder began to dwindle, I relied on bombs to blast open the blood-slicked stone; my pickaxe, after all, couldn't even dent them. With the bombs, I eventually blasted open a large, spacious tunnel.

Actually, the tunnel was an accident--I was throwing bombs into a narrow crevice, only for every last one to bounce out and down to the floor. Eventually, I coated a bomb with gel, and managed to stick it into the crevice.

The Crimson's bloody scent wafted in and out of the tunnel; it was stronger near a pool of water, but completely undetectable by the opposite wall. Perhaps I could dig a perimeter around the Crimson? I just needed to dig a path from the desert under the Crimson, up into the jungle. Simple, really.

Then a swarm of bats emerged from the dark and knocked me into the red water. Coughing, spluttering, I quickly sank under the surface.

Somewhere in my panic, Rose's lessons came back to me. Fumbling with my pickaxe, I hacked at the rock surface, making a hole barely large enough for me with a small air pocket.

When I had regained my breath, I began to expand the hole, chunks of stone dropping into the water around me. I tunneled into the stone, away from the Crimson and its grim stench.

Cavern to cavern, tunnel to tunnel, I explored the underground beneath the Crimson. I was alarmed to see patches of red growth with bushy stalks like white teeth; but fortunately, it was only moss.

I could hear the screech of bats in the distance. Not cave bats--jungle bats. I heard running water swishing through thick, bushy fronds, the shuffle of skeletal footsteps through jungle undergrowth.

I tunneled into a muddy jungle hollow, sunlight streaming through the vines overhead. In front of me, I saw a gnarled mahogany tree with rich, red bark. I stared at the tree. Was I already close to the surface?

Unlikely. Up on the surface, there was a steep gorge with waterfalls trickling down through the tangled, forbidding canopy, separating the Crimson-infected jungle from the healthy jungle. If I could somehow get from this hollow to that gorge, the Crimson could be completely contained.

While lost in my thoughts, a pair of leafy jaws tore at the back of my leg painfully. Whirling around, I saw a man-eater anchored by a vine to a distant rock, moving in and out of reach. A hail of jungle bats swarmed me, slamming into me with alarming strength, tossing me around like a ragdoll.

As my chain-knife tore through their tiny bodies, I heard a rising buzz. Scrambling for safety, I lashed out at a large hornet swooping down on me, releasing a steady stream of stings at me. As the stings sank between my chainmail links, I felt the man-eater strike me from behind again, and I crumpled to the ground.


With my last supplies of meteorite, I forged a hamaxe. Combining hammer and axe functions, this would allow me to reduce the number of tools I carried around.

I built a fourth house with a fourth bed in the jungle, next to the great gorgd that separated it from the Crimson. I moved frequently between the desert and jungle bases during my little war on the Crimson. The more bases I had, the better. Right?

I settled on a simple, but extremely tedious plan. Foot by foot, I would purify the crimsand on the edge of the pit, mine out the clean sand to expose more crimsand, and deposit the sand behind me. Slowly, but surely, I would move along the desert floor, cleansing it as I went.

One day, I discovered four or five blood-crawlers waiting for me in the pit under the desert, plus a few crimerae. Clinging to the wall by my grappling hook, I frantically swung my chain-knife again and again at them until they stopped moving.

There were no mysteries about how they got into the pit. I didn't leave any crimstone exposed if I had to leave the pit, usually, but last time I'd left in too much of a hurry. As the blood-cells of the Crimson, so to speak, it made sense that blood-crawlers would be able to emerge wherever the Crimson was exposed to the air.

In fact, I'd accidentally unearthed a crimson grass seed that had almost swallowed the pit completely, even uprooting a sunflower I'd planted to hold the Crimson work. So much for the detoxination power of sunflowers--or was this something specific to the Crimson?

Thanks to all the sand I'd gathered from the desert, I had a very large supply of glass. And so begsn another tedious, pointless project: I began to glass over the Crimson, every bit of crimsand and crimstone. I expanded the cavern with bombs and my pickaxe, carving out a large space underground.

My tactics prioritized conservation of powder. Once I cleansed a patch of crimstone, it was safe to remove the glass. If I missed a few deposits of crimstone, I glassed them over so as to not waste powder.
Perfect, utter containment.

I came upon an altar of congealed, bloody flesh, an eyeball woven in with bloody threads staring up to the sky. Though I was able to cleanse the crimstone around it and beneath it, the powder didn't affect it at all. My pickaxe couldn't even scratch its surface. Raising my hamaxe, I brought it crashing down.

A horrifying, bloody flash swept through me, oozing tendrils shovint the hamaxe back. My entire body shook as I sank to the ground, my blood curdling, tingling. My nose was filled with the wretched stench of infected wounds and damp scabs.

With no other options, I sealed the flesh altar in a large glass box and moved on.

Face-monsters would come bounding over the crimsand to the east, tumbling down into the pit I built a cactus wall over the pit to keep them out, but as my pit migrated across the desert, I found myself contantly having to tear down and rebuild the wall.

With my chain-knife, I cut down crimerae, blood-crawlers, and face-monsters, glassing over cavern walls as I went. As the cavern expanded, I saw the red weed retract from the pools, leaving the water pure blue.

And yet, my efforts were too small, too slow. Desperate to contain the Crimson, I began construction of a giant glass dome. Twice, I ran out of glass and had to stop for more. It was very difficult; harpies and crimerae battered me every step of the way. But after two days and two nights, the dome was complete.

But the dome was not so easy to extend underground. I could never be sure whether I had missed a corner of the Crimson, whether I was seeing crimstone or red moss. After a very long struggle, I gave up, and never built the underground dome.

Even a giant dome wouldn't be enough, once the spirits of light and dark were unleashed. I remembered Faye's stories and Alfred's past, telling of worlds consumed by Corruption in one week. If the Corruption could spread so quickly, the Crimson would surely be just as ruthless.

Somehow, the Crimson would find a way to escape this prison I'd built for it, no matter what I did. I was sure of it.

---- ----

I returned to the village to find everyone in an uproar. Around the gallows, Fantasy, Frederick, Ovbere, and Philosir were bickering furiously while Reginald tried to drag Fahd up to the noose, Jenna holding hm back There was no sign of Bradley. "What's going on?" I demanded.

They all stopped and stared at me. "Scheil! Thank god you're back," called Frederick, who looked immensely relieved. "As you can see paranoia has been brewing for quite some time. Please, dispel these--this mob--"

"Paranoia, my foot!" shouted Reginald, who looked unstable as ever. He pointed at Fahd with a shaking finger. "I've had it with him. Always cooped up in that workshop of his, muttering strange words and asking strange requests. What were you thinking, letting him live here?"

That set off the others, with Philosir, Ovbere, and Fantasy agreeing hotly with Reginald, while Frederick and Jenna tried to protest. "I don't understand," I said, frowning. "What set this off?"

"Bradley's gone missing," said Fantasy disdainfully. "He volunteered to test out this freak's rocket boots this morning, and we hsven't seen him since." She sniffed and tossed her head. "Why we haven't disposed of him yet is utrerly beyond me."

"You don't know for sure he had anything to do with Bradley vanishing," I protested, but they didn't seem to hear me. In the back of my head, I felt cold, empty echoes. Another guide lost... Another friend dead.

Fahd, oddly enough, looked neither insulted nor afraid, but simply looked at us all oddly. "This is utter nonsense," said the goblin flatly. "I take all precautions for hazard detection. We would have seen or heard him if anything went amiss--"

"What's all this commotion?" We all spun around to stare as Bradley emerged from the tower, followed by a painter. He was alive!

Immediately, the guide's expression darkened as he saw Reginald. "I was afraid of this," he muttered, striding over to join us. He gave me a nod to assure me he'd deal with the townspeople. "That's enough, all of you. Let the goblin go."

Shocked, Reginald let go of Fahd, who brushed down his clothes and stood there, as if not surrounded by people begging for his blood. "Bradley, love! Where have you been?" called Fantasy, eyes wide like a doe's, her lower lip quivering. "You had us so worried--"

He silenced her with a look. "You look at Fahd, right now, all of you," ordered the guide, resting a hand on Fahd's shoulder. "What do you see? A goblin? An animal? Some of you can look past your differences and recognize his brilliance. But the rest of you--" He looked at Reginald coldly. "This goblin is innovative. A genius--a prodigy. More than I can say for you."

Ovbere and Fantasy faltered; their resolve was cracked, dissolving. Reginald still looked furious, but at a sideways glance from Jenna, he turned and strode away, followed by a fuming Philosir. A moment later, Ovbere and Fantasy both retreated as well.

Frowning after Reginald, Jenna approached Fahd and examined him. "No broken bones, might need something warm to drink," she concluded. The nurse glanced to Frederick. "You can cover that, right?"

The merchant nodded. "Nothing on me right now, but I'll check my stock," he replied, looking perfectly calm, though his voice cracked.
On the rooftop bridge, the painter watched us silently, neither approving nor disapproving.

Bradley gestured for the painter to join us. Now that the mob was dispelled, he didn't quite seem so stern, so imposing. "Sorry I've been gone all day," he said with a laugh. "This is Bruno; he knew Marco from art school. He's Corundia's new painter."

We shook hands with Bruno. "Hoping to last a bit longer than my predecessors, of course," he said, nodding. "I look forward to working with you."

We brought Fahd to Jenna's house (Faye's old house), after which Frederick arrived with a bowl of soup. "Drink up," said the merchant, handing it to the goblin. "Don't worry about the price--you can pay me in the morning."
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

October 29, 2014 2:50pm
This chapter got way too long, so it is now two chapters. I don't want to go through all the numbering confusion I faced with LotE Volume IV, so the chapter numberings will start at chapter 1 in each act.

---- Chapter 15 ----

I recruited both Fahd and Ovbere to help me improve the village defenses. Though Ovbere was reluctant to cooperate with a goblin, Bradley managed to convince him.

With Ovbere's explosives, I blasted open a deep, rectangular trench around the village. With Fahd's precision instruments, I built a great brick wall in the trench, eight feet thick at all points, filling in the gaps with dirt.

When I ran out of resources, I mined extensively in Alabaster. "Trying to dig up the world?" laughed Luke. Surprisingly, he didn't seem to mind when I told him yes, that was precisely what I was doing.

Alabaster was rich with ore and treasures. With Luke's permission, I began to dig a vast mine next to Luke's house. This would drastically reshape the landscape, but it was the most efficient way to get at the resources buried underneath.

At Fahd's workbench, I combined Bradley's rocket boots with my flurry boots, crafting a pair of spectre boots. With the rocket boot's flight capabilities, I was now far more mobile.

I extended the platinum wall beneath the village, again eight feet thick, insulating the village from below. This blocked off the east hill's tunnel, but that was a sacrifice I'd have to make for Corundia's safety.

With the dirt and stone I'd mined from the desert, I filled in the west entrance of the grass-cave. I filled in the gaps under Frederick's house as well, melding the floating turf into the grass-cave's roof. It now had just two exits: the stairs from Frederick's house, and the tower itself.

It took a day to dig into the grass-cave's floor, wondering if it was actually part of the same cave as the underground river; and after discovering it wasn't, it took me three more days to fill in the floor.

Most importantly, I filled in the west hill's tunnel, since I never used it now. I sealed over the cavern where I'd fought my first yellow slime, and packed every inch of the tunnel with dirt until the hill was solid. Never again would invaders use it to enter my village.

This project drastically transformed the landscape. The grass-cave had once been the village's entrance, a natural passage with curtains of vines. Now, it was my private den, offering a firm wall to my back. I moved my bed here.

I filled in the corridor behind the heavy door in my basement. It wasn't needed anymore: the vertical shaft to the mushroom farm was a superior entrance to the underground.

There were now only two underground exits out of the village: A small gate by the underground river, connecting to whatever remained of the west hill's tunnel; and the vertical shaft to the mushroom cave, intersecting with what remained of the east hill tunnel.

Houses recieved remodeling as well. Bradley's house recieved gray stucco roofing, while Philosir's and Jenna's houses were reinforced with planked walls and stone. Ovbere moved into a brick shelter in the grass-tunnel, while Bruno moved into Ovbere's house.

Lastly, I tore down most of the extensions on top of the floating island. Once, I had envisioned building a floating city on its surface; but I had become too attached to the city below to ever abandon it. I left the sky mill and a few chests on the island, mostly containing feathers--including a large tail-feather from a harpy.

Reorganization! I remodeled the interior of my tower, as I wanted to move the sawmill into the workshop, but had to take out the chests to make room. At some point, the workshop ended on top of the patio.

The first floor was made from living wood. It had two grandfather clocks and Faye's original furniture, lit with star-lanterns. What used to be the front door was now the door to my grass-cave den, and the back door was now the front door. Parts of the original hill were still intact.

The second floor was made from stone and gray brick. It had four chests for building materials, plants and animals, potions, and tools. There was also an obsidian dresser, a glass chandelier, and two star-lanterns.

The third floor was made from a combination of wood and glass. It had four chests for weapons, metal ores and bars, furniture, and decorations. It also had an obsidian piano and several weapon racks.

The fourth-floor patio was rebuilt from platinum brick, gemspark, and glass. It now featured an anvil, a hellforge, a glass kiln, my workbench, and a sawmill. And as always, it remained open to the infinite sky.


"Increasing pessimism and impulsivity are early symptoms of Crimson fever," warned Jenna. "You absolutely must not forget to take your medication daily." Heeding her warning, I gathered handfuls of glowing mushrooms before I returned to the glass dome.

I built a lab on top of the dome--the Crystal Observatory, I named it. Located over the crimstone chasms, it became my main headquarters for my war against the Crimson. All crimstone, crimsand, and vertebrae samples were kept here for Tatiana to examine.

"Fascinating," muttered Tatiana, who was studying a clump of crimsand with a twig-woven magnifying glass when I arrived. "The microbes' behavior aren't merely cooperative... they're in perfect synchronization."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

She hesitated, perhaps trying to find words that I would understand. "They appear to be independent life-forms, but they appear to exchange signals and cooperate with such rapid speed that they might as well be a single life-form."

I constructed an elevator of sorts under the lab, pouring down high stacks of silt that reached from the ground to the top of the dome, touching the Observatory's underside.

With the silt-stacks to protect me, I built a massive glass tower beneath the Crystal Observatory, located in the dome's center. It was a glorious thing, with star-lanterns and thick rope extending from top to bottom, connecting the inside and outside worlds.

About halfway down the tower, I started a glass walkway to cut across to the dome. This served two purposes: First, it would allow easy access to the tower, the base of which served as my entrance to the Crimson. Second, it would eventually allow me to lower the dome's height considerably in the future.

Growing confident, I began attacking the Crimson's surface directly. With bombs and powder, I began to purify the crimsand desert--the part of the dome west of the tower--digging deep pits to reach every last bit of sand.

But while the desert was gradually cleansed, the grasslands and forests remained bloody. The weed-choked lakes were also worrisome; they were vast and murky, their lakebeds concealed.

Tatiana was waiting for me when I returned to the Observatory. "My current hypothesis is that the Crimson is some sort of hive-mind, controlled by a central entity--one most likely connected to the crimson hearts underground," she told me. "I'm still conducting tests, but so far, my hypothesis has been valid."

Both Crimson and Corruption swallowed their surroundings, transforming grass, stone, ice, and sand. The red evil or the purple evil, the man in shadow armor had once said; that was hardly a choice of any sort. "What's the difference between the Corruption and the Crimson?"

She nodded. "Corruption is a rampant force of nature--it's completely decentralized like Terraria. No single force really guides it, not even the demons who once created it. In contrast, the Crimson acts like a single organism. Each part is completely dependent on the others, a polysymbiotic hierarchy of some sort. And I suspect there's "

She handed me a small chunk of crimstone. "Feel it. Ebonstone is permeated by Corruption fibers; but this isn't just permeated. The very structure's been transformed. It's warm, living, breathing. It's as if..." The dryad hesitated. "It's as if the Crimson is literally the flesh and bone of a greater being, trying to metabolize this world."

I stared at the crimstone, one hand patting my pockets for my glowing mushrooms. "What can I do?" I whispered. How could I defeat such a being? Surely, it was impossible.

Sighing, she sat down. "I think it's best to take a break from this," she told me. "There's a seal on the Crimson, you know. Right now, it can't metabolize sand, stone, or ice. It can't even swallow more of the jungle; the nutrients are too rich. You need to spend some time not worrying about this.

A break? "But I just got back from a break," I muttered. "I can't leave the Crimson unattended for too long."

"Jenna told me you were developing Crimson fever," said the dryad sternly. "That platinum brick wall is a wall you might never need. Anxiety and fixation will only worsen your symptoms. You need to spend a good deal of time away from the Crimson, not thinking or worrying about it."

Bloody images were imprinted in my mind--images of the lakes, the hills, the village, the grass-cave, all consumed by the Crimson. "And do what?" I asked.

"Go back to the Dungeon, and try to break the old man's curse again," said Tatiana promptly, looking me in the eye. "You're stronger now, even if you don't realize it; you're better equipped and more experienced than last time. Go, now. I'll still be here when you return."

---- Chapter 16 ----

Letting go of my obsession with the Crimson wasn't easy. As I crossed back through the desert, I thought of my sister Frosti, wearing her bucket-helmet and fumbling with her axe, carving a crude sword from shadewood.

I thought of Rose, who'd explored the Crimson before I even knew of the Crimson's existence, who'd smashed the beating hearts beneath the deadlands in a desperate bid for glory, who ransacked the mushroom cabin.

From my weapons chest, I grabbed a space gun and wired it up to my internal meteor armor. The suit itself would power the gun, which would otherwise feed on my low supply of magical energy.

I also took that crimtane broadsword--a "blood butcherer", Bradley had called it. Though gruesome in appearance and greasy to the touch, there was no denying its raw strength. It was, by far, my best weapon.

"Good luck," said Bradley, grinning. "I'll be cheering for you." Armed with throwing knives and spiked balls, I set off beyond the west hill and over the lakes.

On my way through the tundra, I delivered a boreal wood bed to the snow-tower. Though it was now uninhabited, I suspected I would see a good deal of use from the tower in the future.

A good number of meteorites had fallen since the last time I'd come through here; one had landed just a few hundred feet from the snow-tower. Another had landed on the opposite shore of the lake that separated tundra from the west woodland.

When I reached the bunker from my first journey to the Dungeon, I hesitated. For some reason, I had no desire to open it up again, to deal with the wandering zombies who would tumble down into the pit at night.

Filling in the bunker permanently, I chose a relatively small but round hill. Digging a small cave inside the hill, I built a dwelling from planked walls and gray brick, setting up a shadewood bed on the floor. It was a warm, cozy, and peaceful place to sleep...

I crossed over rivers and pools, lofty trees towering overhead. My pockets were brimming with red potions, some concentrated and infused with glowing mushrooms. My time in the Crimson had given me a newfound appreciation for nature's beauty.

A third meteor had landed in the lake before the Dungeon's entrance; I crossed it quickly, tiny flames lapping at my boots. The old man was still here, still weary-eyed, still wearing ragged clothes. "You again," he croaked as I approached, his bones outline in the torchlight. "I did not expect you to return."

I took out my chain knife, a finger flicking open the catch, my other hand at my spiked-ball pouch. "I can't leave you like this." I hadn't forgotten about the Crimson. If anything, seeing Skeletron's host only reminded me of that bloody landscape. But right now, it was too far away to horrify me.

"I fear you underestimate the monster inside me," warned the old man as the sun dipped below the horizon. "What terrible feats would you be capable of accomplishing, if you could vanquish him? Surely, you would need a monster inside yourself as well."

Moonlight filtered through cracks in the ceiling, casting thin pale stripes over the old man's eyes. "I'll have to make do with what I have," I said finally. "Host of Skeletron... I invoke your curse."


I didn't win. Nor did I win the following night, or the night after that. But I didn't give up. Battling the Crimson had seemed an endless, hopeless cause, but this... I felt as if I just might be able to win. A spectre was protecting me, after all.

"Why? Why do you persist?" asked the old man hoarsely one night. Leaning on a pillar, he stared as I approached him again, shaking his head. His eyes carried an old, heavy sorrow. "You endanger yourself, and all under your protection. Be not tempted by the Dungeon's treasures. Go, save yourself."

I wasn't going anywhere. There was a parallel between Skeletron's curse and the Crimson's hunger, the unliving god eating away at the old man's soul and the deadlands eating Corundia from the inside. "It's... it's not about the treasure," I said finally. "Evil... evil must be purged."

The old man scrutinized me carefully. "You've been training," he admitted, bones creaking as he slowly circled me in small, shuffling steps. "The glow of life... six crystals... seven, eight, nine... perhaps ten?" He shook his head. "Perhaps... perhaps you just might be able to break my curse."

I saw thin cracks in the weathered, hardened face. And so, I seized my opportunity, raising my crimtane blade. "Host of Skeletron! By Cenx's divine light, I invoke your curse!"

As Skeletron burst forth from the old man's body once again, I flung spiked balls across the floor, into the god's skeletal hands. Bone-fingers tried to shove their way through the heavy projectiles as I grappled up to the ceiling, lashing down with my chain-knife.

Listening for the giant skull's roar, I sprang down and opened fire with my space gun as Skeletron's head came spinning down through the ceiling. Green jets of light illuminated the dungeon entrance as they burst on the great skull. Twisting around, I slashed across the skull with my crimtane sword.

Survive, I thought numbly, drinking down a red flask in mid-leap. My body took a full sixty seconds to metabolize the potion before I could drink another; any sooner would result in nausea and heat flashes.

How painful was it to be ripped from the inside out, again and again? The old man's curse--and the curses upon all of Skeletron's hosts--had persisted for decades. Young, they were young once, but ages of servitude had hardened them, shriveled them, stripped then of their best years...

As I leapt over the skeletal hands--both buried to the wrist in spiked balls--giant fingerbones strucking my greaves, sending me crashing to the floor. Skeletron's hands were growing sluggish and tired, but so was I. Tipping down another potion, I flung throwing-knives into his palms, lashing out with my chain-knife.

Finally, both hands burst into dust. Furious, Skeletron came whirling upon me, slamming into me, sending me reeling back. Scrambling away, I rapidly squeezed the trigger of my space gun, firing into the hovering skull's eye-sockets.

Just a little more. I could see the cracks spreading over the great skull... but I was dazed, bruised, battered. Another hit would surely finish me. Come on, I thought to myself numbly. I had to hold myself together.

As the spinning skull dove at me again, I swung my grappling hook high, swinging over Skeletron's head and landing behind him. Tiny embers rose from the meteor-lake behind me, hissing as they touched my armor.

Raising the blood butcherer above my head with both hands, I hacked at SKeletron repeatedly, my heavy sword vibrating as it rebounded off the great skull. Once--twice--thrice--

Cracks formed on the skull beneath my blade, spreading, widening. Howling, Skeletron began to crumble, stripped of hands, powerless to reverse his fate. Sinking to my knees, I stared as the great skull exploded in a shower of marrow and bone.

I'd done it. I'd defeated Skeletron.

Without warning, I felt a fierce power stir within me, like some wild creature of the jungle. My blood throbbed and pulsed, warming my flesh, a haze filling my head. Unbidden, I heard a savage cry coming from my throat.

For a brief second, my senses erupted. The shapes of the night were clear, thin blades of grass and the patterns on the dungeon's walls. I could hear every sound, from zombie growls to the grasshopper's whistle; I could detect all the pungent scents of the earth, feel each link in my chainmail.

Like a waking dream, images splashed over my vision--a shining city on the edge of the snow, rows of young guides-in-training gathered in the shadows of a tall Living tree.

A giant worm with a long spine of eyes descended from the sky. It had the molting, half-rotten skin of the eater-of-souls, thick pincers with which to tear open dirt and stone.

I saw people emerge from their homes as the great worm descended upon their city, staring in horror. With terrible purpose in its eyes, the Eater of Worlds crashed into the great tower at the city's center, swiftly ripping through its floors in one fluid movement.

Screaming, shrieking, groaning, weeping; the people of the city fell to their knees as the tower came tumbling down. Rising back into the air, the Eater of Worlds burst into dozens of segments, one for each eye.

Glowing with green flame, the segments dove back into the earth, tearing up pavement and houses in their paths, burrowing deep chasms into the earth. Some were swallowed whole; others, in their panic, tumbled down into the chasms.

Purple filaments began to spread through the city's bedrock foundations, permeating it, dulling stone into ebonstone. Where they touched grass, the filaments swelled and flourished, forming roots and blades, quickly overtaking the natural growth, choking them out. Fetid droplets fell on compact ice, staining them purple.

The Corruption was forming before my eyes. Chasm after chasm formed as the Eater of Worlds' segments gutted the city. One by one, the remaining houses crumbled and sank into the darkness, leaving homeless survivors stranded in the snow, lost and broken.

As the last remants of the city disappeared beneath the falling snow, each worm-segment burst into a shower of greenish-gray spores, one after another. Spiked altars deep within the chasms where the spore-clouds landed. And where each segment's eyeball had been, a tiny orb of pulsing shadows began to form.

"Help us."

As sensations and visions faded, I slowly got to my feet, trembling. What had come over me? I stared at my hand, at my crimtane blade, at Skeletron's remains. I'd never felt such a thrill, such a rush of adrenaline... never felt so alive.

The land I had seen was not Corundia, nor Alabaster, nor Minaria. And yet, something tugged at me from across the sea, calling me from afar...

Past the dungeon, grass and trees gave way to sandy beaches, palm trees swaying in the night. At the water's edge, I gazed across the moonlight-speckled sea. Breathing slowly, deeply, I took off my helmet, letting the wind sweep through my hair.

I caught sight of a rowboat approaching from across the sea; but I could see no one in it. Frowning, I watched as the boat drew close, hitting the shore with a soft thump.

The boat was manned by bunnies--three on each side, operating fixed paddles with their little paws. At the back of the boat, a large white rabbit stared at me with her soft, round eyes, beckoning me to come aboard. I was astonished.

"Well? What are you waiting for?" muttered a voice from behind--the spectre's voice. "You recieved the distress call, didn't you? Get on."

I didn't move. Bradley, Jenna, Frederick, Tatiana, Fahd, and the others were waiting for me at the village, weren't they? "Where am I going?" I whispered. "And what about Corundia?"

There had been many times when I thought I might abandon this land forever--but my experiences had bonded me with Corundia inextricably. I'd built and torn down houses, explored caverns and discovered countless wonders.

I'd come through purpose and challenge, sorrow and victory. How could I depart for another land, when I could finally call this world my home?

"I'll let Bradley know what's happened," the spectre promised me. "Bradley will take care of things here while you're gone, just as he always does. Don't worry; you can always come back. But we need you right now."

When I looked back, the spectre was already gone.

Reluctantly, I climbed onto the bunnies' boat, taking a seat between the rowers. Pleased, the large rabbit smiled at me. At a short sequence of taps from her paw, the bunnies began to row away from the shore, into open waters.

And so I set off across the sea, into the unknown... destined for a strange new land.

You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

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