Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

A Tale From Mineworld, Ch. 2

The sun rose, and the Creepers were outside the prison walls in force, as usual. The guards lined up roughly thirty prisoners for their daily job: clear away the Creepers. Each would receive a stick, which would be collected and inspected should the prisoner return, and they were marched to the second floor where they would jump out to draw the Creepers away from the building.

A few always broke their legs from the fall: a Creeper would descend upon each and explode, taking both out along with a chunk of ground to be repaired by other workers later in the day. The rest rolled on landing, and ran into the open ground. The strategy to defeat a Creeper was simple, but it had to be timed correctly. Wait for them to hiss, hit them with the stick, and back away quickly to get just out of range before they exploded. It was really hard to get just the right range, so it was rare that someone came back with less than a face burn. Occasionally, and on this morning, a hidden Skeleton would appear from the shadows and attack the party with a stream of arrows. Sure it was on fire, sure it would die any moment from direct sunlight, but it was accurate with those arrows and could strike down many prisoners.

The guards opened the doors when the last Creeper had exploded, and they let the prisoners back in. Some were allowed to seek medical attention, but everyone mostly took the day off to rest for the next day. It was the riskiest job in the prison, but if the prisoner was lucky, he could have lots of time to himself.

Hector and Jasmine came out of their cell, a bit tired-looking but otherwise fine. At the building exit they said bye and split to their respective jobs. Back to stone-smashing for Hector, back to whacking sheep and making clothes from their wool for Jasmine.


Midday arrived, and Hector was told to take a break. He gathered his stone-dust, lest anyone try to steal it, and simply sat where he worked. Breaks were short on good days like today, and he didn't particularly need one anyway. He let his hand run over the dirt he had unearthed, grabbing and releasing handfuls as he let his thoughts drift again. Had his thoughts not been on his life as a contracted worker and how much simpler this job could be, he might have missed a sharp edge that cut into his hand a bit. He drew his hand up to his face to look at the small stream of fresh blood running down it, then he looked at the dirt. With his other hand he spread it, reducing the heap, until he found the culprit: a blue diamond edge.

Wait what?! he thought, How did... He quickly snatched it and inserted it into his pocket. Just in time, as his break was now declared over and the guards were looking at him. He stood up, and went back to work.


Jasmine didn't show at the common drinking and washing pond when sunset came. Hector wasn't surprised, they often had the women work long into the night to complete a quota, especially since the new prisoners had arrived and started with nothing but loin clothes. He spot one of them, a simple-looking male in a loincloth, staring into the water. He wandered over and said, "Hey newbie. No fish in the water, no fish ever."

"I'm not looking for fish," the other said, "I'm trying to see into the future."

The reply was unexpected, and Hector even glanced at the water himself to see if anything out of the ordinary was there. "Uh, any luck?" he asked, wondering if this new prisoner had mental issues.

"This water is too impure," the other replied. He closed his eyes for a couple seconds, then opened them and turned to Hector. "I should have seen this coming." He walked away then, back to the building. Hector waited a moment before following course, definitely convinced that this guy had problems.

Once he was inside, he quickly located the local gopher. Every prison had at least one: an inmate who knew how to get things. "I'll give you half of my stone-dust tomorrow if you can get me half a stick," Hector murmured. The gopher nodded. Half a stick was incredibly difficult and risky to obtain: one had to grab a whole one from a dead prisoner who hadn't taken the full force of a Creepers' blast, quickly break it in two before other Creepers attacked, and make sure to hide it while holding on to the regular stick to turn in during inspection. If the guards caught a person with it, they'd send them out the next day with no stick. But half a day's stone-dust was worth a lot; that much extra could grant more favors with the guards than just a shared cell.

Alone in his marked cell, Hector took the diamond shard from his pocket and carved a small hole at the base of one of his wall. He almost giggled at the ease with which the stone crumbled, even though the shard cut into his hand at the same time. He placed the diamond inside the hole and covered it up, safe and sound until he could construct his makeshift pickaxe.

Posted on 2010-11-08 by Jach

Tags: NaNoWriMo2010


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