Welcome to "The Diary of a Miner"; a blog detailing the adventures and mysteries that I, Syeonyx, embark upon in my quest to further my mining and survival skills! It'll be tough, there will be good times and bad times, but I'll always be alive to post my adventures... probably...

Giving the bad news...

     We stood there for a moment, wondering how we were going to get through these large, solid, iron doors; they only had a single control unit, and that was placed on the other side. However, a few moments later, we were all put on edge as the large iron door began to slide to one side. Even though we knew that there couldn't be anyone else on the other side apart from one of the others, we still stood away from the door, ready for action. As the door slid fully into the wall, we could see the remaining three security doors sliding into their own respective niches, and behind the final door, OROTHO and COLUS stood. Did they know we were there, or was this something they did before the end of each day...? I don't know. All I know is that we hadn't done anything to alert them to our presence... Except for closing the main entrance to the tunnel. Could that be it...? We began walking towards COLUS and OROTHO as they did the same from their end, eventually meeting in the middle.

"Wasn't expecting you back so soon! Are you done with the portals already?"

"Not quite..."

"What do you mean 'not quite'? I thought there were plenty of coordinates in the books that AMPHIS took with him to decode and help you destroy more of them... What else was in the books then?"

"Well we didn't get a chance to decode all of the books... In fact, we didn't even finish the locations that THEROS appended to the map initially..."

"What? How do you mean? Did you lose the map? Did you lose the books? What? What is it?"

UOPETA just stood there and sighed heavily looking to the ground, as though he was summoning the energy to tell COLUS. Eventually he raised his head and looked around at us, before looking back at COLUS, and began to walk down the tunnel towards the base.

"We've got to talk about something... You're not going to like it... It involves... SERVERE..."

     We all met in the discussion room; me, THEROS, UOPETA, AMPHIS, COLUS, OROTHO, THEXIS, Joe and Amie were seated around the table, with the latter five looking very concerned. Amie and Joe didn't seem as anxious, but then again they had no tie to SERVERE at all, so this news wasn't likely to make much sense to them, let alone have much of an impact. The others however seemed rather concerned about this small amount of information that UOPETA had given in the tunnel. After getting back to the lab, COLUS called a meeting, and everyone rushed to the discussion room immediately; the authority within COLUS's voice was incredibly demanding, and suggested that whatever was about to be discussed was of utmost importance!

"Now UOPETA, what's this about SERVERE? You mentioned him, and you're right, I don't like where this is going..."

"I'm just beginning to wonder where best to start... A few weeks back, AMPHIS stated that he had seen SERVERE down in the chamber close to the wooden shack that led down from the cliff mine shafts. We thought he was mad or losing it, with only a few of us taking him seriously, and even those not nearly as much as we should have done..."

"What do you mean? Have you seen him again AMPHIS?"

"More than that. UOPETA?"

"SERVERE has made himself known to all of us..."

There was a moment of silence, as COLUS tried to take this in, but the look on his face showed the inability to do so. Sitting back in his chair, we watched him visibly wrestle with the concept of a previously deceased friend come back to life.

"You mean you've seen his ghost?"

"Unfortunately not... Not just AMPHIS, but myself, THEROS and Syeonyx have all seen SERVERE in the flesh, walking about. Not only this but... We've spoken to him."


"We encountered him whilst out destroying a portal. He emerged from behind a partially broken obsidian frame, and began to talk to us. He spoke of many things. In fact he was the one doing most of the talking. The rest of us were in too much shock to really respond properly..."

"So, let me get this straight... You four have all seen and spoken to SERVERE? Someone we had thought was dead? But in fact is actually alive and well? How am I supposed to take that exactly...?"

"Well it doesn't get any easier... It seems Syeonyx was right... When we first saw SERVERE, he was concealed by a suit he was wearing... I'm afraid it bore all of the hallmarks of the..."

"Suit of the Elite..."

"That's right OROTHO... SERVERE... He's joined HoN Co. and is apparently aiding us from within cover..."

"You mean to tell me that not only is SERVERE alive, but he's a member of the Elite within HoN Co. and is watching us?"

"I'm afraid if you're not happy with the way that sounds, it only gets worse... He assured us that he was on our side, and has been for over a year, the exact length of time since his absence. He's been distracting HoN Co. from our location and activities for that long, and has taken the glowing stone and map to destroy the remaining portals on it..."

"I know how it sounds COLUS, but you have to believe us. All four of us have seen SERVERE and he's taken the map and glowing stone. It's his map, and he knows where all of the portals he marked in the red books are. He even gave us a task to achieve which would help us, so if you don't believe us now, humour us until we've accomplished it..."

COLUS just sat there completely gob smacked; he didn't say a word, or couldn't. He just sat there staring at table, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. The silence in the room was deafening! We all sat waiting for him to make a decision, to make a move, to say anything! Eventually, he brought his other hand up and clasped them together, interlocking his fingers, and looked into the centre of the table.

"What is this... Task, he gave you?"

"He... He informed us that there is valuable information stored within the book bound with a yellow cover. Some information relating to the Ascension perhaps..."


"We don't know either, but we believe decoding the yellow-bound book will reveal that..."

"... Very well... But you had better be right about this. Get to it now. I need some time to... Mull all of this over..."

COLUS quietly and calmly stood up and walked over to the entrance to our rooms. The rest of us looked around at each other, before standing up and heading straight for the lab. We had to find what was contained within that yellow book!

Syeonyx signing off

Day 136: Important decision

     Despite all of the excited chatter and talking last night about the tangled cobweb of current issues, we did manage to catch some sleep, albeit a few short hours. Thankfully it was enough; well rested we packed up our stuff and headed for the main house of the outpost. With the map in SERVERE's hand, and with the instructions to decode the yellow-bound book back at the base, we had done all we could at the outpost. We still hadn't managed to come to a decision as to whether we should inform COLUS and the others about SERVERE; UOPETA thought it was unfair and dangerous to leave them in the dark, whereas THEROS and AMPHIS wanted to keep it from them. Once again, I found myself on the fence in the middle. Both sides posed convincing arguments, but I doubt it would be merely a case of me joining one side or the other. We had to be united in the decision before we could make it, although if we hadn't made a decision by the time we reached the base, I had a feeling we would be taking AMPHIS and THEROS's approach until we came up with the final decision. In secret... Away from the others.

"We've got a good day's travelling ahead of us, which will be made easier with this to discuss as we go. Is everyone set? Don't leave anything behind. Any trace of our presence might be enough for HoN Co. to suspect something, especially if we can't trust SERVERE..."

"I still think we should keep it from them, at least until we receive more information from him."

"If we plan to keep it from the others, tell me this: how do we receive information from him without the others knowing, and how do we explain the early return from destroying the portals? The way I see it, we have no choice but to tell them. Not only do they deserve to know, but they might be able to offer insight into the information we do know about so far."

We had a long way to go, and a long time to discuss this, which I could guarantee we would be doing. With a day's trek ahead of us, we could at least be happy in the knowledge that the journey was going to be anything but boring!

     We were at the halfway point in our journey, and had decided to take a rest. We were making good progress, and our discussion has covered a large majority of ground we had gone over the night before. However, towards the midway point, conversation had turned to how to deal with this information in relation to the others. We all knew more than the others, but we hadn't decided whether it was fair to tell them or not. However, after thinking about it for some time, I had to agree with UOPETA. We were all brothers of the Lone 7, so too are COLUS, THEXIS and OROTHO. They deserved to know everything that we knew. Like UOPETA had said, SERVERE put all of us in danger by making himself known to us, so letting everyone else in on the secret wasn't going to change everything. We could gain a better insight into how to tackle future issues if we had everyone running for the same team. Additionally it would be easier to deal with if we weren't trying to hide from the others if we didn't tell them. And since joining UOPETA's side, AMPHIS has begun to question his initial decision. With two of us voting to tell the others, it seemed a lot more of a sensible option. All of our lives would be easier that way.

"Well how do you expect us to tell them? Look at how we all treated AMPHIS before when he was the only one to see him! COLUS and the others would treat us the same."

"I doubt that. Firstly there's four of us who have seen him and spoken with him. Secondly, he's taken the map and glowing stone; two items we wouldn't just randomly throw away of leave behind simply to justify a lie. And finally he's given us a task to do. If we help AMPHIS decode that book, we can prove that we're not lying, even if they believe we are!"

We continued to talk amongst ourselves; we got up and headed back towards the base. With each mile we walked, THEROS and AMPHIS began to slowly merge onto our side. They began to see the sense in informing the others, against SERVERE's wishes, as they knew it would be greatly beneficial to everyone that way.

"Okay... We'll tell them. But you're the one who's going to be doing the talking!"

     After finally deciding on whether to tell the others or not, conversation turned to getting back into the base. The main entrance through the hatch was off limits due to the lockdown, and the the same can be said for the cliff mine entrance as it was locked from the inside. That meant only one option, and it was a risky one. The only other way into the base would be through the new tunnel that we had dug out recently. We couldn't guarantee the door would be open, but if they had an sense, they would leave the mechanism open, remove all of the torches and close all of the other doors. From anyone else's point of view, it would merely look like just another hole in the ground. That meant that we would have to extend our journey by an hour or so to get to the entrance to the South of the conducting tower. UOPETA had initially had the idea of checking in on the primary portals before heading back, but with all of the baggage we were carrying, and with an urgent task to perform, we decided against it. The light had begun to dim as the sun slowly sank below the horizon, which would make it harder to find the entrance. But UOPETA assured us he knew where he was going.

"It's just a little further along. It was concealed directly beneath a tree which I had marked close to the base."

There were quite a few trees around which would make it harder to find, but UOPETA wasn't checking them all. In fact, he wasn't checking any! He seemed to know exactly where he was going; we were within the shadow of the tower, looming in the distance to the far North by the time UOPETA stopped. Bending down, he rubbed the base of a tree, before exclaiming quietly to himself, and looked around.

"We're close. It should be a little further... Aha!"

UOPETA stood up and made his way towards the edge of a small hill, and disappeared entirely! He appeared once more, and approached us with a smile on his face.

"They've left it open!"

We followed him in through the entrance and descended the stairs. As I was the last to head down, I flicked the lever and watched as the entrance was blocked with a realistic entrance that would preserve the look of the small hill above us. As I caught up with them, I merged with their current conversation, which seemed a little daunting, now that we came to think about it.

"It's all well and good that entrance being open, but if the other doors are closed... How do you suggest we get into the main base from here?"

"We'll approach that obstacle when we get there..."

We continued down the tunnel, knowing that the security doors had only been implemented partly along the way, and we would have a mainly unobstructed walk back to the base. It was only the last few hundred metres that were blocked by the iron constructs. And as we got within that distance, we could see a large sheet of silvery, white iron blocking our path.

"Well then... Any more bright ideas...?"

Syeonyx signing off

Pure speculation

     We'd been back at the outpost less than two minutes and UOPETA had already begun to distrust SERVERE again. I know it was hard to believe what had happened to us as everyone had spent the better part of a year assuming he was dead. That was partly my fault by stating that I had encountered the remains of a human in the passage leading to the hidden basement of this outpost way before ever officially meeting and joining the Lone 7. But even if that was the case, the fact that we saw and spoke to him was proof enough. We had remained undetected for this long despite his absence, and even if it did mean he had been part of the Elite within HoN Co. for that same length of time, surely that was proof he had helped us remain hidden from them. He knew where the Lone 7 was based as he was - and still is - a fellow brother, and so if he was a traitor, he would surely have given us up to them by now. We would either be imprisoned or worse...

"That doesn't mean anything! He could be biding his time, waiting for the ideal moment when we're all off guard, or when we're all together!"

"He's had over a year to do that as he knows where our base is. Like Syeonyx says, if he was going to do anything traitorous, he would have done it a long time before now..."

"I still don't trust him. He's been away far too long without contacting us..."

"Enough of the squabbling! We need to remain on track. Now SERVERE gave us a task before he took our map to finish off destroying the portals. We were to decode the writing within the yellow-bound books."


"That's what I said. The ones with the yellow covers..."

"I know, but it's book, singular. There's only one of them. Additionally, it's back at the base. So that'll have to wait until tomorrow."

"Not only that, but we're going to have to find a way of keeping all of this to ourselves. SERVERE said that the more of us who knew about him being still alive, the more danger we were in."

"I can't exactly see how that works; surely if only one of us knows, that's dangerous enough. Besides, it's not fair to leave the others out of this. They must be informed about SERVERE surviving the attack on this outpost. They need to know about him joining HoN Co., hopefully to protect us from the inside."

"Not really. I mean look at when only I knew about SERVERE being alive. You all thought I was mad or had lost it. Just be thankful I'm not rubbing it in your faces about calling it so long ago!"

As the final rays of light drifted over the Western sky, we extinguished the torches and headed down into the basement for the night. How much sleep each of us would get was the big question at the moment, as we all seemed far too interested in talking about finding out that SERVERE was still alive, and hopefully still on our side.

     Just as predicted, we've not even attempted to go to sleep; despite it being warm and cosy in the hidden library, we've spent all night talking about the meeting with SERVERE, and speculating about a lot of the missing pieces that still needed to be slotted into place. Amongst them were:

  • What is the Ascension?
  • Can we really trust SERVERE?
  • Why is SERVERE wearing the armour of the Elite?
  • What is contained within the book with the yellow cover?
  • Did SERVERE write all of those books in the wooden shack, and how?

And many many more...

"I'm beginning to wonder if we're ever going to find the answers to any of this."

"With SERVERE essentially holding all the information that might shed some light, I doubt we'll ever know. Unless we manage to bring down HoN Co. and destroy the master portal..."

"What do you mean 'unless'? Of course we will succeed! We can't not succeed. HoN Co. must be stopped, no matter the cost. Only then can we finally unravel all of these strange mysteries and potentially unanswered questions."

There certainly were a lot of them. We had speculated the possible answer to a few of them, but with there being four of us, there were many disagreements. the major one still being UOPETA's inability to trust SERVERE. However, some of the points that UOPETA stated made sense, even to me. SERVERE had been missing and presumed dead for over a year, and now he suddenly appears, literally out of thin air, and began making demands of us. He's taken the map that he supposedly drew up, along with a portion of the glowing stone we retrieved from the Nether dimension, and has once again disappeared. On the other side, he was a fellow Lone 7 brother, and arguably still is, taken in by HoN Co. to help seek us out, but has instead protected us from them for over a year. Not only this, but he has been granted the honour of becoming an Elite, which proves his value to HoN Co., despite not finding us. Whatever he's telling HoN Co. about us, it must be really good!

"I still don't think this Ascension business is what we think it is. How is the merging of two dimensions a rise to a higher level? From the way OROTHO has explained it, it's a cataclysmic event that will destroy this world almost entirely, leaving very little untouched."

"Yes, but OROTHO has always been very dramatic... I'm entirely sure we can trust what he says as he knows little more than we do. His speculations generally tend to be a little more... Impending doom oriented..."

We continued talking late into the night; I was hoping that we'd get some sleep, but at this rate, I can't see how we would...

Syeonyx signing off

Day 135: Back to the outpost

     After eating a hearty meal - in silence for a change - we removed the torches placed around the walls, stamped the cinders out and headed for the mouth of the cave. We still had a decent distance to go, from what I could remember from the map, which we now no longer had, but we should reach the outpost by nightfall. Hopefully before nightfall. We were a mile or so from the ice crossing, which we had classified as the halfway point, but we were determined to go faster today. It wasn't raining or snowing, or any other adverse weather, so we wouldn't be slowed down by the elements. We just had to remain on track and not become distracted by anything along the way. That wasn't going to be too difficult now that we no longer had the map with the portal locations with us. UOPETA's had this idea that to wake us up properly, we should go for an early morning jog... Me and THEROS obviously don't appreciate this, but we had to agree it would wake us up, and it would get us to the outpost faster.

"If we maintain a gentle jog continuously until we reach the crossing, we can make good time. If I can keep it up, I'm pretty sure that you two can as well!"

We set off towards the ice crossing to the East, at the gentle jog that UOPETA suggested. After about five minutes, I had to admit that it was actually working! I felt fresher than I had a few minutes before, and we were making great progress! It wasn't long before we had actually reached the ice crossing; we slowed down to a walk, knowing that we couldn't maintain a jog on such a slippery surface. It would be a danger to our health if we were to slip, and even worse, it could prove fatal if we fell through. Fortunately, we hadn't noticed the drop in temperature after entering into the snowy area. It seemed that UOPETA's idea of making us jog had worked out to our advantage in more ways than initially intended.

"See! You're warmer now, and we're here faster than if we had walked it! Right then. Same procedure as before: staggered line, walking flat footed, and remaining clear of any large pools of water!"

UOPETA set off first, carefully edging himself along the treacherously slippy surface. THEROS followed off to the left of UOPETA's path about a minute later, and I followed THEROS off to the right of UOPETA about a minute after him. It took us slightly longer to cross over this time; once or twice we all nearly fell over onto the ice, but we all recovered, thankfully. After reaching the other side, we began another gentle job, although this time we headed down to the South. We were nearly there, but we slowed down to a walk again, as we began to talk over the meeting with SERVERE once more. Talking was much harder whilst jogging, and we were already ahead of schedule.

"What did SERVERE mean by the 'Ascension'...?"

"I assume that's the plan to open the master portal and merge the two dimensions together..."

"That doesn't sound like an ascension to me. Ascension is the rising of something or someone to a higher level, place or state..."

"Maybe it means the ascension of Minecraftia into a higher state of existence... Maybe Minecraftia will benefit from this merging of the dimensions... If that's the case, I think HoN Co. have drastically misunderstood the purpose of the master portal."

"Well SERVERE spoke of the Ascension as though he had first-hand knowledge of it. Do you reckon he's mentioned it in any of his books?"

"Maybe that's why he wants us to decode the books with the yellow covers. Maybe they contain information about the Ascension!"

"It's entirely possible. I'm just wondering how many more layers of complexity are being added to this. We started off understanding that HoN Co. were using the portals for a bad purpose, and we had to stop that. Now there's mention of an Ascension which seems to have be given almost apocalyptic status, and the merging of dimensions!"

We continued like this well into the late afternoon, still heading South towards the outpost, knowing that we should easily reach it before nightfall.

     It was quite dark by the time we reached the hill close to the house. Even from this distance, we could tell that AMPHIS had disobeyed the single rule that UOPETA had laid out; during the night, all lights were to be extinguished and work should continue in the basement. We headed towards the outer wall of the outpost, UOPETA looking rather annoyed, presumably about AMPHIS. As we came through the door, AMPHIS seemed surprised to see us, but his shock seemed to subside rather quickly, and was replaced with excitement!

"You're back already? But wait, I have something to tell you! I have seen SERVERE once more, and not only this, but he spoke to me! He stood before me and..."

"Join the club!"

"What...? I... I don't understand?"

"We've seen SERVERE as well..."

"You've seen SERVERE?"

"Seen him? We've spoken to SERVERE, and we've even handed over the map and glowing stone to him! It seems rather a lot of things have happened recently involving SERVERE."

"He told me all about the incident with HoN Co.!"

"He's done the same with us. We know everything about the day he disappeared... But I'm still wondering whether it's worth trusting him. He's been away too long."

"He's a fellow brother of the Lone 7! How can you not trust him?!?"

"He's wearing the armour of the Elite. It might not be enough for you, but it's enough for me to suspect he has other motives..."

Syeonyx signing off

Faithless brothers...

     That was a very good question! None of us knew what to do now that SERVERE had left; we stood motionless, in silence, playing back the last five minutes in our heads, trying to make any sense of it. SERVERE was alive and well it seemed, working with HoN Co. to distract them from our presence. If all of this was real, and not a dream which I had initially thought it was, then UOPETA was right. I had mentioned this as a possibility to the situation of AMPHIS seeing SERVERE down near the wooden shack. Now we had all seen him... And not only that, but but he had also communicated with us; he had told us what to do and had taken the map and glowing stone from us so that he could remove them for us.

"I guess we do what he says. We go back to the outpost, inform AMPHIS about seeing SERVERE and await further instructions... What else can we do...?"

"Well even if AMPHIS did translate more portal coordinates, it would mean a trek back to the base to acquire another portion of the glowing stone to achieve the necessary work..."

"We've got no choice then. We'll head back to the outpost, update AMPHIS about seeing SERVERE and help translate the books with the yellow covers. We can't do much about the Latin, but we can decode the first layer of encryption with the pig-pen cipher..."

We better get moving then. We've got at least a day's worth of travelling to do to get back to the outpost, if we head back the same way we have come. Unless any of you two want to go for a swim...?"

UOPETA turned to me and told me to remove the remnants of the portal frame before we were to set off back to the outpost. As I destroyed the obsidian with the pickaxe, millions of questions buzzed around my head. One in particular kept floating up to the forefront of my mind; it wasn't the most important question amongst them, but it was one of the trickier ones: how do we explain this to COLUS and the others, without mentioning SERVERE?

     Entering back into the sandy area, we continued our route across to the North East back to the ice crossing. We had been discussing many things along the way, at great length, and it seemed to me that we were all still rather taken aback by the unexpected reunion with a brother of the Lone 7 previously thought deceased. Obviously when put like that, it didn't seem that hard to understand why it was taking so long to get our heads round it. I got the feeling though that UOPETA had buried the possibility of SERVERE being alive with those human remains. However, we now know that the remains did actually belong to a HoN Co. guard who had fallen awkwardly after being knocked unconscious in the bout with SERVERE.

"There are so many questions left unanswered though! He can't tell us anything that he knows in case it puts us in danger, and in turn, we can't tell anyone else either. Everyone's being kept in the dark from each other; it's like we're only holding a quarter of the deck, and SERVERE is reluctant to deal out any more!"

"If it's for our safety, I'm glad I know so little! We need to ensure that HoN Co. knows as little about us as well. If that means SERVERE has to keep things from us, then I'm all for it!"

"He's been away for so long, and I don't know whether we can trust him any more. His surroundings within a HoN Co. environment may have twisted his purpose to face away from us. How do we know that he's not a double agent; secretly working for HoN Co., but appearing as though he's working with us under cover?"

"SERVERE wouldn't do that... I know he wouldn't..."

"That's clearly not the same SERVERE we knew a year ago though! He donned the armour of the Elite, which suggests he's been offered something far greater than friendship and the trust of the Lone 7!"

I walked behind both UOPETA and THEROS, as they continued to argue amongst themselves. It was almost sad that despite the reappearance of a supposedly dead friend, all they can do is bicker and argue with each other. Why could't they see the good that would inevitably come from this?! If SERVERE was indeed working for us within HoN Co., then we had a considerably greater chance of bringing them down, and exposing them to the world! Not only that, but one of the original brothers of the Lone 7 had survived a full-on frontal assault by HoN Co. guards, and not only lived to tell the tale, but flourished, thrived and remained true to his beliefs and convictions!

"... Syeonyx is right. We should just be thankful that we're still as strong as we were before. Stronger in fact, now knowing that we are larger in number than before, and that we have infiltrated into the higher echelons of HoN Co. than originally thought possible!"

"I see what you're saying, but all I'm saying is that we can't place trust in someone who's been missing and classified as dead for over a year!"

"Blood is thicker than water. Us brothers of the Lone 7 remain strong and vigilant in the face of adversity. SERVERE is as loyal as the day he joined us. If you don't trust him, at least trust me..."

As we continued onwards towards the ice crossing, the light began to fade, and we sought shelter for the night. At least we were agreed on some things now enough to get a good nights rest. We were definitely going to need it...

Syeonyx signing off

"Catch-up chat"

      No-one said or did anything for some time; UOPETA and THEROS stared at SERVERE's face the entire time. After a few moments SERVERE became fully visible; the shimmering air around him began to part like a concealed veil, showing the black armour beneath. Now SERVERE was fully visible, in the unmistakable armour of the Elite, his face the only piece of flesh visible to us, peaking between either side of the parted helm.

"SERVERE...? Is that really you? We thought... You..."

"We thought you were dead!"

"It was necessary for you to think that... By now I assume you've read the last parts of my diary, and you should know the position I was in. HoN Co. had me surrounded, and I had only choice. Join them or die."

"So you decided to betray us!?!?! Why??? What had we ever done to deserve this?!?!"

"I know what it looks like, but you're wrong. I didn't betray you!"

"You're wearing the armour of the Elite! What else would you call that?!?!"

"So you know of the Elite? Very few do... But it is not how it appears."

"Fill us in then on the last year or so then! Because every one of us have been jumping to conclusions about your... Demise. And I assure you, some of them are not complimentary at all!"

"You remember the night I received the Solus stone from you for safe keeping? Away from the base, away from HoN Co., away from danger. Well... They found me. HoN Co. found my outpost and assaulted it. I stashed the stone away in the hidden basement beneath the outpost, and remained there to safeguard it. I fought to protect the stone, which meant having to engage the HoN Co. soldiers that had infiltrated the house."

"What about the skeleton? When Syeonyx found that skeleton, we all thought you were dead! Killed by the HoN Co. Elite!"

"Syeonyx? That's you, I presume?"

SERVERE pointed at me with his gauntleted hand. I was way out of my depth here, but managed to nod once.

"The skeleton was that of an unfortunate guard who took a bad fall. I never intended to kill any of them, it's not in my nature. I dispatched as many as I could with no force, but he took a tumble and smashed his head against the wall. I was eventually overwhelmed and knocked unconscious..."

"That still doesn't explain why you're the armour of the Elite!"

"When I came to, I was handcuffed in my house, with a figure standing over me. I don't know who they were, I couldn't even tell if they were male or female, but I knew they were HoN Co.! They gave me the choice to either "die as a traitor to humanity" or join the "Ascension"..."

"Ascension? "Traitor to humanity"? What does that mean?"

"I didn't know at the time, but I did know that I would be more use to someone alive, so I sided with them. But my choice was faithful, my decision was pure. I intended to work with them, but to protect you from the inside. The more I knew about them understanding our cause, the more I could do to protect you. Whenever there was any sign of your presence, I was called in to "assess" the situation. If I knew the location was a likely place you could be, I'd report that there was no trace of you. If I knew there wasn't, I'd pretend I'd seen some suspicious activity. Anything to waste time, and keep you hidden!"

"So Syeonyx was right then... You called it almost from the beginning."

I was still in shock and didn't know how to deal with the situation so far. We had somehow found SERVERE, alive and well, and within the higher echelons of HoN Co., and yet still protecting us. Admittedly I had stated that possibility from an early stage, but I thought the chances of actually seeing SERVERE alive were as remote as seeing HoN Co. give up their cause!

"It seems I have you to thank, Syeonyx. You kept them strong, in the face of almost definite despair."

SERVERE walked over to me, and shook my hand. I stood there, speechless, still trying to get the mass of jumbled pieces to fit together within the time the conversation took place.

"So you've been part of HoN Co. for over a year, protecting us, and yet you never attempted to contact us? Why not?"

"It was too risky; HoN Co. had an idea I could go rogue at any point, so I had to prove I was worth the agreement I made with them. I excelled in the tasks that they gave me, to show willing devotion to the cause..."

"This 'Ascension' thing?"

"Yes. Eventually, I was allowed into the rank of the Elite; given an M suit, I was entrusted to work alone, in tracking you down and "bringing you to justice"... Only recently have I noticed a more lax attitude towards observing me. They would almost constantly watch my every move, up until recently. I decided that now is the best time I would get to talk with you. You've done something recently that has attracted their attention, and shifted the majority of attention from me to you. Likely it was the destruction of the obsidian plant they had. Massive crater you left behind there. OROTHO's work I assume...?"

"Yes actually. And Joe. Quite a lot's been happening in your absence. We haven't deviated from our cause, and even recruited a few more along the way, Syeonyx being one of them!"

"So I can see. I've managed to help a few in the past; whenever HoN Co. were called in to deal with a new portal a miner had found, I would try whatever I could to allow that miner to disappear. I know what they did to miners that found portals, and quite a few are out there now. I believe a few have established a small community hidden below ground."

"That's right, although some of the miners were captured by HoN Co. and put to work in the obsidian plant. That's where Joe came from. We rescued the others, but they opted to going it alone. Anyway, what's the M suit? And how have you maintained this level of secrecy for so long?"

"The M suit; Mimic suit. It uses light-bending technology to mimic its surroundings to allow the user to appear invisible. Almost like camouflage that adapts to its environment. It also has built-in kinetic boosters for improved agility, speed and grace! With it, I can jump more than twice as high than a normal man, and land on a loud surface such as gravel with barely a crunch. And I've remained undetected for so long because I'm good. I've been following you know for a few days. I also noticed you found the second library I made. Aside from the portal locations and the map, has AMPHIS decoded any more information that has proven useful?"

"How do you know AMPHIS is doing the decoding?"

"I stopped by the old outpost before you left it. I see you took the diary too. Good. You've gained enough information then. Sorry for the Latin and cipher. It was a necessary level of encryption to ensure only the intended users found it, namely, the brothers of the Lone 7."

"You wrote all of those books? Well maybe you can help us! You can come back with us! The others will be ecstatic to know you're still alive!"

"No! They must not be told! The more of you who know I'm still alive, the more danger I put you in. I'm taking a big enough risk as it is telling you three. I will remain working for HoN Co. whilst protecting you, but I can feed you information as and when it becomes available to me."

"What happens now then...?"

"Give me the map and stone, and I will finish off the remaining portals. AMPHIS is getting to the last of the translations now, so after that you'll be back to square one. Return to AMPHIS and inform him of me, but do it within the basement. I can't guarantee you are safe there, but I will try my best to protect you. Steer HoN Co. in a random direction. I should be able to inform you of the master portal status as well."

"What do we do after that?"

"Translate the books bound with the yellow covers. The information within those will be quite eye-opening for you. I can't risk telling you directly. Now give me the map and stone."

"How do we know we can trust you?"

"You can't... But if you're thinking how you've remained undetected for so long, just think about the connections I've told you. I've allowed you to remain hidden for this long, and I can maintain it, but you have to trust me on this base level."

There was a slight hesitation, before UOPETA handed the map and stone over to SERVERE, who took them and hide them within his armour.

"Thank you UOPETA. THEROS. Syeonyx. I will be in contact with you soon. And remember: the yellow-bound books!"

The air around SERVERE began to bubble and shimmer once more, and his body faded from sight, leaving his face exposed. It remained in sight long enough to see him wink and smile at us, before the sections of his helm slide to cover him entirely. The red lights where his eyes were began to increase in intensity, and then they were gone. Moments later, not even the shimmering air was visible. He was gone.

"Okay... Now what...?"

Syeonyx signing off

Day 134: Ghost

     After the slightly disturbing discovery yesterday, we managed to find a place to set up camp for the night. Instead of finding a cave, small cavern or passage hidden beneath a hill, we had to settle beneath the overhang of a large, drooping tree. It limited the size of the fire we could have in case we accidentally set fire to it, but it wasn't particularly cold, now that we had left the snowy areas behind. We sat in the darkness, huddled around the fire talking about what we had seen. The footprints in the sand had creeped all of us out; we hadn't been this way before, so didn't belong to us, and with it only being a single set of tracks, it was someone or something traveling alone. We eventually settled down for the night, hoping whatever was out there didn't find us. Needless to say, the fire was extinguished before we fell asleep.

     After waking up from a surprisingly restful sleep, we settled in to a quick breakfast before setting off again. UOPETA seemed to be still on edge, and wanted to head off as soon as possible. I didn't blame him; the footprints in the sand had unnerved us all, and the sooner we left this small landmass outcropping and headed North the better. We still hadn't reached a conclusion about who or what could have made those tracks; we had determined it wasn't a Creeper as they possess four small feet which would have made a different pattern in the sand. However, we had determined that they must have been made within the last twenty four hours as the wind would have blown them away if they had been there any longer.

"Well it could be a HoN Co. guard, in which case we'd need to ensure we're careful on our approach so as to not draw attention to ourselves."

"Maybe there's a HoN Co. building up here somewhere..."

"I doubt it. We would have seen it after crossing over the ice two days ago. What if it's a member of the Elite...?"

We all continued in silence after that comment, each of us thinking the possible outcome of that if it were the case. I hoped it wasn't; the scaremongering that COLUS had inadvertently caused by telling us about the Elite had put everyone on edge, especially us three as we were the only ones to leave the base since the lockdown.

"Let's hope not."

As we neared the first site, we began to leave the lush, green grass behind, and head across the open sandy plains. The next location was close to a large pool of water, so it wouldn't be too hard to find. It wasn't long before we had begun to head over large sand dunes, but still there was no sign of what we were looking for. However, at the base of one hill, near an oddly isolated patch of grass, we spotted a large dip into the ground, almost like a crater, with two active portals at the bottom.

After finding a safe way, we all clambered down after UOPETA, who stood before the two active portals. After brushing away some of the sand, we determined that one was a standard portal and the other was a secondary portal. This was beginning to look like a very valuable job indeed! We had found quite a few secondary portals already, more than standard ones in fact! However, some of the portals marked on the map had already been destroyed, which lead me to believe that either the surroundings of a few of them had put pressure on the frames and broken them, or they had somehow become inactive... Either that or... No, that was stupid.

"Pass me the stone THEROS."

THEROS dug into his bag and fetched the stone, passing it along to UOPETA, who placed it upon the base of the secondary portal first. Standing back, we watched as the rift transmuted into the sickly green colour, and began to warp, crumbling and dragging the frame into its centre. A few moments later, nothing remained of the secondary portal, and the glowing stone slowly became visible, gaining the necessary energy to destroy the next one. A few minutes later, both portals were destroyed, and we began to climb back out of the hole. THEROS performed his usual ritual of crossing the location from the map, before informing UOPETA of our next location.

"It's off to the East again now. Right on the most Easterly tip is the last one before we head back. We'll likely have to set up camp at the portal after this next one, seeing as though we're heading back towards the West."

"We'll see how things go from there on then after this next location. Providing it doesn't rain... Or worse."

Setting off towards the East once more, we knew that we were close to the halfway point. After this last portal, we were heading North to the furthest landmass, before heading back to AMPHIS and seeing where else we have to go for the next lot.

     We've reached the next portal. Well, what's left of it; from a distance we could tell this one was another broken one. The frame was bent and twisted at odd angles, suggesting it hadn't been in action for a long time. However, UOPETA insisted that all trace of its existence should be removed, so I've readied my pickaxe for the job.

"Hold on!"

Me and THEROS stopped dead, waiting on UOPETA, who was now crouching on the floor, looking at the sand.

"Look... More tracks! They head over towards..."

UOPETA stood up and looked towards the remnants of the obsidian frame...

"... The portal..."

Without any reason for it, UOPETA drew his blowpipe and loaded a dart, before putting it to his mouth, cautiously approaching the remains of the portal. I gripped the handle of the pickaxe tighter, feeling on edge. What was he doing? What had he seen? He stopped a few metres from the portal, blowpipe held up ready.

"I know you're there! Come out now! You're surrounded!"

UOPETA's shouting instantly threw us into action! We rushed forward; the pickaxe was held in an ideal position for an offensive or defensive swing, whilst THEROS mimicked UOPETA and took out his blowpipe. Nothing happened for a few a moments; we stood in silence, on the sound of the waves lapping against the sand, creating a starkly serene mood to the current atmosphere! Then, without warning, there was movement! I don't know if that was the right word, but something moved. From behind the frame of the portal, a pair of red glowing lights appeared, completely suspended above the ground by nothing. The air around them shimmered like sunlight dancing off rippling water. What was this?

"Who are you?!?!"

UOPETA's demand seemed to go unnoticed by this strange occurrence, until there was a slight audible hiss. The glowing red lights dulled, and then a face appeared out of nowhere, floating above the portal, still surrounded by the shimmering air. It was as though a helmet had split in half vertically down from someone's face, and parted to reveal it! This new face looked straight at UOPETA; a man in his thirties. Pale skin but with vivid red tufts of hair poking from his forehead, a scar running from his right eyebrow, down to the right corner of his mouth. He opened his mouth, and spoke but a few words, in a deep and smooth, but oddly calm voice.

"Hello... UOPETA! Long time, no see."

"SE... SERVERE...?"

Syeonyx signing off

Sandy tracks

     Judging from the position of the sun in the sky, it was past midday by the time we left the small desert area. We had already walked quite a distance so far today, and the next portal wasn't close to where we currently had been. That meant another long walk... We would be leaving the sandy desert area for all of about an hour before jumping straight back into another, only this time it was much larger. I was definitely expecting a rise in temperature there, but then again it would be getting late by that time, so the temperature may already be going down for the night. As the next one appeared to be located on a small sandy outcropping, adjacent to a large body of water, UOPETA felt that it would be easier to head South East rather than South. That way we hit the shore before getting to the portal. This will help to hide us from anyone or anything that might be looking for us, and makes finding the portal site easier.

"I'm beginning to wonder what's going on with HoN Co. to be honest... They don't seem all that interested in finding us and stopping us. I would have thought we'd have more trouble than this getting about destroying portals."

"Every time we get cocky, we jinx it, so not another word! Someone always ends up mentioning the lack of security or HoN Co. interest in us, and all of a sudden, something bad happens."

I could agree with that! Countless times that had happened, but there was nothing in it. There was no such thing as luck or fate, so randomly mentioning our "lucky streak" at not being found wouldn't effect anything. I never did buy into the whole cosmic phenomenon really. It didn't make any sense. It made it that I had no control over my own life, and the direction I was heading in. I was my own person, and the choices I make are the ones that effect my future, not some nonsense about predetermined destiny!

"Maybe not... But you have to admit... It's eerie..."

"If we get attacked by a bunch or Creepers or killed by HoN Co. guards, I'm blaming you!"

"I'd like to see you do that when you're dead..."

We continued off to the South East, finally entering the next desert area, beginning to feel a slight increase in the temperature. Let's hope it didn't get too hot. Then again, deserts were meant to be freezing during the night, so let's also hope we move out before nightfall.

     We'd been walking for a few hours now, and the sun had begun to set, throwing beautiful colours and hues into the sky. Our shadows lengthened as we marched ever forward towards the next portal, and it wasn't long before we reached the right place. We had been following the rise and fall of the hills along the shore close to the water, hoping to catch a glimpse of anything up ahead that might indicate the portal is close. After heading over the top of another hill, looking down to the East, we could make out the purple light of a portal, clashing with the setting sun.

Ensuring the coast was clear, UOPETA began to move forward, followed closely by me and THEROS. Right on the edge of a sandy bank flanked on two sides by water, was an active portal. Only a standard one, it was better than the previous one, as it meant its destruction had an impact, even if it was just a small one. We quickly removed it using the glowing stone, and clambering back up to the top of a small, sandy hill, UOPETA began to look around for a place to settle.

"It's too late to look for the next one. There's always tomorrow for that... Then again, we could head in the general direction and hope we find something along the way."

"That's probably the better option. No use on going off our path."

The next portal we were heading to was due East, across a sandy crossing to a lush, open field. Or that's what the map denoted at least. We headed towards the crossing, able to see the trees off in the distance, and the beginnings of fresh grass. As we walked though, UOPETA began to slow down. Worried, I asked him what was wrong. If he felt on edge again, that was usually a bad sign... For all of us.

"I thought I saw movement up ahead, but... There's nothing there... Not anymore anyway..."

Maybe it was just a random animal or something...


THEROS's exclamation made me jump, whereas UOPETA continued to stare off into the distance. Moving back to where THEROS was, I looked down to where he was pointing. What were they...? Were they...? More of them? We eventually managed to break UOPETA away from his distraction, and showed him what THEROS had found.

"Footprints? Are those ours?"

"Nope... We didn't come this way... Either something's following us, or we're following it..."

Syeonyx signing off

Strange terrain...

     Heading back up the passage the way we had come, we emerged from the relative darkness and back into the bright light. THEROS crossed this latest portal from the map, before passing it to UOPETA to allow him to gauge which direction to head next. Looking over his shoulder, it seemed we had a series of options; we could either head directly South and go towards the locations to the South of the ice crossing, or head South West, take out the two further portals and then head South East and do the same, or head North and leave the ones to the South until later. It would make more sense to destroy the ones to the South first, but it was up to UOPETA.

"Right then. The next best bet is to head South West and take out that portal located within the isolated sandy area, then head South East and destroy these down here. We can take out the one to the far South West on the way back up."

Rolling it up, UOPETA passed the map back to THEROS, who carefully returned it to his bag. From where we were, we would have a long way to the next portal, and judging from the terrain, the environment would change quite drastically as well. That wasn't a major issue, in fact it could work to our advantage. With the changing environment, the temperature might change as well, meaning there would be less of a need to find somewhere to settle for the night. UOPETA set off to the South West towards the isolated patch of sand, in search of the next portal of the day.

     As we moved away from snowy area to the East, we noticed the slowly rising temperature. I could easily say without a shadow of a doubt that we all welcomed this warmth with open arms! We were at a temperature that suited us all, so let's hope that when we head closer to the sandy areas, there isn't a random escalation in temperature to the other extreme. Climbing down the final slope of a large hill, we were able to see the edge of the sandy area from the slight elevation, but no portals on the surface. It reminded me of one of the very first portals we had found and destroyed; it had been located on the surface, and was partially buried in sand. I think we had even found a HoN Co. guard close by, protecting it. Luckily UOPETA had the foresight to see that far ahead and disposed of the "threat" before it was able to take action.

"Let's hope this one is another simple one."

"It will be. I don't think it could get as complicated as the one where you injured yourself, especially when we're now prepared for that type of incident."

It was odd that we had found more and more secondary portals active, less mossy chambers and even less Affinitas cages. I was beginning to think there was a relation between the three. The Affinitas cages were usually placed near high value portals, like the secondary ones. But we hadn't seen any. The secondary portal we had destroyed that we had found within a mossy chamber was strangely unguarded; the moment I saw the moss along the walls I had assumed there would be another hidden entrance somewhere, hiding one of the cages. We assumed that they were placed by HoN Co. to draw creatures from the Nether to protect the portals for them. It was an ingenious method, and one that had nearly seen all of us killed at some point or another.

"There we go, we're nearly at the halfway point..."

     The blades of green grass, and the tall reeds suddenly changed into a starkly different environment; sand shifted beneath our feet, and the surrounding flora was transformed into dead or dying shrubbery. However, there was no increase in temperature at all, adding to the overall mystery of this strangely isolated patch of sand. Why were there random patches of isolated terrain amongst other starkly different patches? Grass besides both sand and snow, lava pools around sand! It didn't make any sense! Maybe it had something to do with the portals... Or HoN Co., although it was worrying to think they could be behind this. For all we knew this could be standard terrain for this area, but it seemed odd to have large open fields of lush grass flanked on either side by desert sand and snow!

"I can't see how HoN Co. could be behind this. It's natural. Maybe there were isolated patches of saltwater around... Erosion on nearby rocks and stones could make the sand, but that wouldn't account for a rapid and sudden draining of water. And even if that was the case, we can't explain the snow in a small patch of the area. Maybe OROTHO would know more..."

"He would know more, but he'd have so many theories, we'd all end up leaving the lab with a headache! It's probably not worth the bother. We have our mission to achieve, and we can't be sidetracked by snow and sand."

We passed a small pool of water close to the next patch of sand. Crossing over the top of a hill, we were able to see the edge of the smaller patch of isolated sand in the distance. Not only that, but we could make out a cave or small cavern off to the left.

"I wonder what the chances are of finding the portal in there...?"

Heading over to it, UOPETA led the way into the cave, using a few torches to light our path that THEROS had passed over. THEROS took out the glowing stone, but a puzzled look drew across his face.

"Hmmm... Looks like either we're way out, or it's not active..."

"Well the map points us to this place, so it's likely to be the latter. Does it matter than much if it is inactive? It means less work for us."

THEROS shrugged and put the glowing stone away, allowing UOPETA to continue down into the cave, it wasn't long until he stopped again.

"Looks like I was right... Although..."

The portal before us was inactive, and in a terrible state; piles of sand were stacked on top of the remnants of the portal frame. Obsidian chunks littered the floor in various sizes. It was difficult to tell whether this was as a result of it being destroyed or the weight of the sand collapsing on top of it...

I destroyed the remainder of the frame... What little I could get to. Every time I knocked chunks out, more and more sand began to pour in from the top, and at one point I was worried that I would bury us alive! But after a few minutes and some narrow escapes, the last of the portal crumbled to the floor, quickly swallowed up by the cascading sand.

"Was that a secondary portal?"

"I don't think so... Why do you ask?"

"It had one of the appendages on the left side... It could have been a large loose piece of obsidian, but..."

"Does it matter? It wasn't active, so it wouldn't have mattered."

That was true. We left the pile of sand behind for the entrance, and allowed THEROS to cross this location from the map.

"Right then... To the South."

Syeonyx signing off

Day 133: Odd portal placement

     Deciding to take shelter in the cave system we had been wondering around in for some time, we headed back inside a small way so we didn't draw attention to our location. Within a few minutes of the last rays of light fading beyond the horizon to the West, the cold wind began to bite, and we established a fire pretty quickly to combat against the elements. Once again we were all glad to have found a sheltered area to set up camp, and we didn't have that far to go the next day to begin again. Once the fire had got going properly, the cold wind was no longer and issue, and we settled in for the night, although maybe not as comfortable as the last.

     With an actual window to view the outside with, we were able to set out early on, when the light of the day was still young. Stamping out the last of the burning embers, we set out of the cave, and instantly looped back on ourselves; heading behind the cave to the South over the snowy hill, we headed towards the first portal location of the day. From what I could remember, this portal was also located near snow and ice, so we would need to be careful. Actually, we were going to need to be incredibly careful as the small amount of ice that was to our South was also surrounded by water, which suggested thin ice, which may be melting. It didn't take long to find out; after reaching the top of the hill, snow-topped trees all around us, we looked down to the South and instantly spotted the location the map pointed us at. It was indeed an isolated island of ice surrounded by water and snow.

Happy that the coast was clear, UOPETA led the way down the hill towards the small ice island. There was no visible portal on the surface, and after looking at the map, I was beginning to wonder whether the portal indicated here was one we had already destroyed in the other cave system.

"It's possible... We did head South into the cave, but if that's the case then why was only one location indicated for multiple portals in there...?"

"There's definitely one here... Or more accurately... Down there..."

UOPETA motioned down towards the edge of the ice, where parts had begun to melt creating a pool; there was a small passage leading down, flanked on both sides by ice and sand.

"Now that doesn't look dangerous in the slightest...(!)"

"Looks like we're heading down, regardless of what you think."

"Then think again. That's a death trap waiting to happen! A slight movement of the top surface and that's a flooded chamber and three corpses!"

"Well I'll remain here then and ensure nothing happens. If the ice starts to melt rapidly, I call down to you(!)"

"No way. I draw the line at heading underneath ice!"

I was sick of the bickering; asking for the stone from THEROS, I began to head down the stairs. I decided against using torches, relying on the light from the entrance, and the length of the tunnel to ensure I knew where I was going. Thankfully I was right; the stairs twisted down only a few corners, and then ended by opening up and ending with an active secondary portal.

Placing the stone on the base of the portal, I watched and waited as the rift began to transmute into the sickly green, and the obsidian frame crumbling into dust before my eyes. After a few moments, the portal was gone, and I was plunged into darkness, until the stone began to glow weakly again. Scooping it up, I headed back for the surface. There. Done.

"Thank you Syeonyx. At least there's a sensible one amongst us..."

"Everyone has their limits. Mine happens to be going deep beneath ice, in a precarious position as that."

Enough! We were going to be together for a long time before heading back to AMPHIS, and we couldn't be bickering and arguing on the third day. We needed to remain strong as a unit, and get the job done. There was no room for fighting among us. I forced UOPETA and THEROS to apologise to each other, before THEROS aided UOPETA in heading in the right direction towards the next portal.

"To the North West then..."


     UOPETA seemed intrigued to head towards the next portal; the layout of the map suggested an unnaturally flat edges to the land, which may suggest some form of mass excavation, or something. What was weirder was the portal was located on a small outcropping from the mainland, where something ominous may exist. I got the impression that UOPETA was expecting to find some form of HoN Co. construction, a tower maybe, or another... No, they wouldn't have another one...

"No, I doubt they would have another. The one we destroyed seemed pretty resource intensive to maintain. I don't think HoN Co. would throw resources around for two obsidian farms... Then again... This is HoN Co. we're talking about. From what COLUS says, we've got invisible soldiers to worry about as well..."

"I doubt they exist. The ability to bend light is a theory that has remained as such for years. Okay, being able to bend light on the microwave level is pretty impressive, but unless they're trying to avoid being cooked by a giant microwave, I really don't see how that would help."

"Maybe they found another method... When I was training with HoN Co., I was fascinated by all things technical, and heard about this system they were creating whereby a miniature camera is positioned on one side of an object, and a screen on another. The effect is to essentially make the viewer perceive the items behind the hidden object. But you'd need billions of these on each side of an object to hide it properly, and it wouldn't be very energy efficient..."

"Yeah, I heard about that as well, but it's unfounded. They reckon that if there was a suit version of this, the effect of many millions of receivers and transceivers would distort the shape of the hidden object, making it still plainly visible..."

Not wanting to interrupt the conversation going on, I pointed out that we had arrived; we had been slowly ascending to the West, going as far North as we could, and we could now see the little outcropping that was placed on the map.

"Look for an opening or any hidden areas."

I headed to the Northern edge of the cliff, looking around hoping the elevation would aid me in seeing what the other two couldn't. However, it was what I heard rather than what I saw that caught my attention; on the edge of the cliff, I could hear the echoing sounds of a portal, very close by! Calling the other two to my position, I told them to listen.

"It's close... Real close... Keep looking for an entrance. It has to be close by."

I headed South whilst THEROS headed left and UOPETA headed right. I was thinking that the portal was close to the edge of the cliff, but a few feet down, so a straight passage may lead to it, with a entrance slightly off to the South. It didn't take long to find out; calling UOPETA and THEROS across again, I pointed to an ominously dark hole that seemed to stretch quite far.

"Right, let's go. Let's just hope the portal is along this tunnel so we can head elsewhere. This cold weather is beginning get on my nerves!"

Making our way down past a small pool of water, we began to head deep into the passage. THEROS provided the light, and we soon hit a wall which deviated off to the right. After emerging from the corner, another passage to the left took us back in the direction we wanted to head in. At the end of the passage was the portal. A very very long passage!

We headed towards it, THEROS still placing torches at regular intervals to light our way. After reaching the portal, I noticed an odd discolouration to the rift of the portal, but THEROS placed the stone down before I was able to say anything. The colour changed to a paler sickly green, before crumbling and disappearing altogether. Then I realised why the rift had appeared different; the portal was located literally on the edge of the cliff, with no back to it, the actual rift was facing an open sky! It was oddly beautiful, yet incredibly dangerous; the ledge the portal was originally positioned on crumbling into the water below. It was a wonder that hadn't already happened.

Syeonyx signing off

On and on and on...

     More portals? But the map only indicated that there was only one here. We've already found three and a broken one. Unless... Unless the creator of this map indicated any location with multiple portals as a single point on the map. Well, THEROS had put the locations physically onto the map, but the coordinates only seemed to indicate one. Maybe that's how this person documented them. Any more information would be dangerous to note down, maybe even when translated into Latin and encoded with the pig-pen cipher.

"Are you sure THEROS?"

"Positive. It's still glowing, so either there's one still in this cave, or there's another very close by somewhere else. Judging from the map, the next closest one is off to the South, outside the snowy area, and I doubt the stone is picking that up."

"Alright, we need to continue looking."

THEROS led the way once more; continuing down the passage with the glowing stone in his hands. Following him, UOPETA had taken over placing torches down, but it seemed either THEROS had lost his sense of direction, or the stone was broken. Placing another torch down, UOPETA revealed that THEROS had led us to a dead end...

"Erm... How do we get through that...?"

"I don't know. I don't think it's through there..."

THEROS turned around and went back the way he had come. But he only went a few steps, before turning to the left and heading down a previously hidden passage. Following him, UOPETA helped to light the way ahead, revealing a large fall with a thin walkway going around to the left and leading down. Carefully, and one by one, we went over the thin walkway, and reached the bottom. THEROS took a moment to acclimatise himself, before heading under the walkway and continuing along. But it wasn't long before we spotted the portal. Well, we heard it before we saw it, and from this distance, we were able to make out that it was our second secondary portal of the journey so far!

Getting over to the portal, THEROS destroyed it with the stone; the portal collapsed into the rift slowly, before dropping us all into absolute darkness. The striking sound as UOPETA lit another torch, and then we were once again bathed in the warm glow.

"Now what? Are there any more portals here, or can we move on?"

"We have to wait until the stone regains its energy before we can determine that."

We waited as the glowing stone regained its energy, hoping it would settle at its usual intensity, but instead it continued to grow brighter and brighter, far in excess of it's usual hue.

"Looks like there are more about."

THEROS led the way, using the stone as a guide to lead us all to the precise location. It hadn't occurred to any of us to use the stone in this manner before, despite the almost glaringly obvious use it possessed other than destroying the portals. There were multiple paths leading back from the walkway, but even from a distance, we could tell they ended with a large wall. There was no way the portals would be down there. THEROS went down the only remaining passage, carefully going down a set of stairs, where from the top we could see the base of the portal, see it's eerie purple glow and hear the odd sounds they emit.

"And that's another one... With the size of this place, how many more do you reckon there are down here...?"

"I don't know, I couldn't guess even if I wanted to. We'll just have to wait and see what the stone does after this portal is removed."

UOPETA took the stone from THEROS's hands and placed it upon the base of the portal before joining us at the top of the stairs; ever since that Creeper had emerged from the portal midway through its destruction, destroying the Solus stone, we had stood well away from the portal during the destruction phase.

We now played the waiting game, watching the stone grow in intensity, wondering whether we had more searching to do. But the glowing seemed to settle at a lower intensity than it had previously.

"Looks like we're done here..."

"Good job we used those torches to light our way. We can use them to find our way back."

Putting the stone away, THEROS led the way back up and out of the cave. To make it look as though we had never been here, we removed each of the torches as we went. We would likely need them in the future anyway, and there was no sense in making more if we could simply reuse the same ones. After going past the walls where the first set of portals had been, we continued along up the entrance, expecting to see a large amount of light greeting us. Instead, we were met with a cold wind blowing in through the entrance, and a diminishing light.

"We weren't down there that long were we...?"

"It looks like we were... Might as well head back in. We're not going anywhere now."

Syeonyx signing off

Portals galore!

     From the edge of the hill where the entrance was, we were able to see the beginnings of the ice shelf that bridged the necessary gap between landmasses. We were going to have to cross that now to get to the other side, otherwise our entire journey would have been pointless. THEROS had verified that there were no other crossing routes or options, so we would have to hope that the ice stood up to the test of three people walking across it. UOPETA decided that walking in a staggered line going across would help to evenly distribute our mass; going across in a grouped bunch and in a single line would concentrate our mass in a single place, and put unnecessary pressure on any thin parts. We would have to be careful and establish a series of rules before we stepped onto the ice. That was one of them. Another was to call across to others if we found sufficiently thin patches of ice, and so it would be UOPETA's job to inform us. He was the fastest so he was likely to react the quickest in the event of cracking ice. We also had to steer clear of the edges of the ice, where it was likely to be at its thinnest, and away from any isolated pools of open water. Looking at it before, the ice crossing presented a beautiful method of getting from A to B, but now it posed a highly dangerous threat to all of us. UOPETA set off across the ice first, with THEROS following a few seconds shortly after, to the left a few metres, and then I followed THEROS, but a few metres to the right of UOPETA's path. We created a staggered 'V' shape which should help to reduce the stress on the ice overall.

"Everyone tread carefully! It's not just worrying about breaking through the ice; we also need to ensure we don't slip over. The momentum we would accumulate in falling could be enough to break the surface. Walk flat footed, and don't drag your heals! You should be fine!"

By walking normally, I had noticed a slight amount of slickness between the surface of the ice and my foot, but after beginning to walk by placing all parts of my foot down at once, there was considerably less movement. I was going to suggest sliding our feet across the surface, but that would only be inviting the possibility of a fall. The snowy hills and trees loomed ahead of us as we drew closer to the end of the crossing. THEROS had been told not to distract himself with the map whilst on the ice; and distractions could prove fatal, so before heading across, we determined that the next location was on the far side of the ice, hidden within a small snowy area. That meant there was no need to take the map out again until we were safely across the other side.

"How's everyone doing?"

"Fine back here!"

No problems... Yet... No, wait I didn't want to jinx it. No problems, at all! Fifteen minutes later, and with no accidents or slip-ups - no pun intended - we reached the end of the ice crossing, and celebrated not dying!

"Right, now you can look at the map THEROS. It should be close by, I think it was to the North of this hill..."

THEROS looked at the map and related it to where we were, before nodding.

"Yes, that's about it. Just up to the North here and around the side. Let's hope it's on the surface so we can destroy it and move on. I'm not a fan of the cold."

We headed off to the edge of the large hill, admiring the oddly quiet, but stunningly beautiful area around us. Heading around to the left, it wasn't long before we found the area we were looking for. Unfortunately for THEROS, it looked like we were heading underground...

Heading into the small cave entrance, THEROS once again led the way, placing torches around. Within a few minutes, and within a few metres of getting into the cave, we realised this was going to take longer than expected; there were multiple entrances, passages and larger caverns all over the place, with none of them indicating which direction to head in. THEROS took the glowing stone out, which was glowing a brilliant orange, proving the existence of active portals close by. THEROS span around on the spot, staring at his hands, before settling facing one particular passage.

"I think it's this way..."

"How do you make that out?"

"The stone glowed slightly brighter when I faced this direction. Only slightly... But enough..."

THEROS led the way, showing almost excitement as the stone grew brighter and brighter within his cupped hands! We had to hold him back every now and again, as on a few occasions he almost walked straight off a high drop. After many seemingly random twists and turns, we came to a corner where we could hear portals before we even rounded it!

"I think we're here..."

Turning the corner, we found that we were right. But better yet, we didn't realise how right we were. Around the corner, against either side of the walls lining the passage where multiple portals! There were four in total; two active secondary portals, an active standard portal and a half destroyed one.

"Looks like we hit the money shot!"

THEROS rushed forward and placed the stone on the base of the first portal and stood back. The portal collapsed in the standard fashion, before THEROS retrieved the stone and moved on to the next one. Within five minutes, all of the portals were destroyed, and I had removed the remainder of the frame from the partially destroyed one.

"Looks like we're done here. I hope you can lead us back out of here THEROS."

THEROS picked up the stone from the floor, but remained standing still for some time. UOPETA looked at him, a little confused.

"THEROS? Come on, we've got to go!"

We looked at THEROS, who was in turn looking into his cupped hands again, and we realised what he was looking at; the glowing stone had reached the usual shine as it usually has, and exceeded this, continuing to grow brighter and brighter.

"We're not done here. There are more portals close by."

Syeonyx signing off

Secondary portal nostalgia

     We headed back out the way we came, with UOPETA at the front this time. Heading back up and out was more difficult than heading down and in; not only did we have to think about where to place our hands and feet to get out, but we also had to worry about not falling back down. Luckily we had UOPETA with us, and within slightly longer than it took to get down, we were out again. Following the brightly lit torches that lined our way back, removing them as we went, we quickly made our way back to the surface. It felt good to be back out, and it hadn't started raining or snowing either, so that was a bonus.

"That's another one down. The next one is off to the... Erm... West I suppose. We're coming up to the ice crossing, so we'll have to take it easy after this next one."

THEROS showed UOPETA the map so he had a good idea which direction to head in. After studying it a moment, he nodded, handing it back. Before THEROS put it away however, he let me have a look at it; so far he had crossed all of the ones we had visited, including the one that I had destroyed months back. We were making good progress, and if we could a few more before the end of the day, even better.

"Let's get going then."

We set off towards the West along the coast; UOPETA seemed to be happier with the coast along to our right. It meant there was less work for him keeping us safe, but with the entire area being an open field, and the fog having lifted last night, we were able to see quite far ahead of us. All we had to do was head up to the top of any nearby hill, which we ended up doing anyway. We left the snowy area behind, in favour of the large open fields and green grass. Well, muddy browny green grass, thanks to the large rainfall we had. It wasn't long however until we noticed a drop in temperature, and began to see small patches of snow and ice off in the distance.

"I think we're getting close... See those snow-topped trees over there? That's over the ice crossing."

"Let's hope we find somewhere warm to shelter then, if we're settling in an area covered with snow."

THEROS took out the map again, and observed that we were close to the location. We split up again and began searching individually, and I couldn't help but ascend the nearest hill and look out over the West over the ice crossing. It was surprisingly beautiful despite the temperature and the current situation.

THEROS followed me up the hill, and stood beside me as I looked out across the ice.

"Yeah, we've got a challenge crossing that. I hope UOPETA is multi-terrain aware, otherwise we could be taking an unwanted dip in some very cold water... Not again after yesterday thank you very much!"

I laughed, agreeing with him; from this distance, the ice looked reasonably thick, at least thick enough to walk over. But then again, I knew the dangers of ice and walking on it. It's always thinner than you initially think, and even if it meant backtracking a little to find a safer route, I was wondering if that would be the better option. Then again, after looking back at the map, we didn't really have that option; unless we backtracked quite a way then it was the ice crossing or another swim... Not an option as far as I was concerned. We joined UOPETA in the search, but it wasn't necessary as in our absence he had already found the entrance. Well, one entrance, but it was hard to think where else it could be.

"The location points us to a large, flat part of a sandy beach. You really think it's going to be on the surface?"

"It has been before... On quite a few occasions actually!"

"Let's just get down here and destroy this one."

THEROS took the glowing stone from his pocket and confirmed the existence of a portal nearby; the orange hue seemed to brighten our spirits somewhat since the drop in temperature.

THEROS led the way once more, placing torches around, to aid us, but the passage down only wound around twice, with the light from a portal in sight at the entrance. We didn't know at the time, but this portal was rather significant. As we got closer to the portal, we noticed the walls adorned with mass quantities of moss. I began to remember the other portals which were located in small chambers with similarly coated walls, and the theory I had come up with that might link the two. I had meant to mention it to OROTHO, but with recent events, it wasn't all that high on my priority list. Nor was it likely to be of much importance to anyone else. With the primary portal status rising, talk of SERVERE linked to HoN Co. and the Elite, we had other more important issues to deal with for now.

"Well how about that! A secondary portal!"

"What? A secondary portal?"

"Yes, look. The small appendages on either side of the portal. Either that's a standard portal that's been added to, or, more likely, it's a secondary portal."

Coming down the final few steps, and stepping into a place where I could see properly, I was able to make out the small appendages that UOPETA mentioned. We had found a secondary portal! Finally!

With previous experience, we knew not to blunder straight into the chamber; UOPETA had been badly injured when a skeleton came from a concealed entrance, but as we cautiously entered, we saw no entrance in sight. Thinking it would be faster with only one of us, THEROS entered the chamber, placed the stone on the base and stepped back towards us. With the original Solus stone being destroyed by a Creeper coming through the portal, we decided not to risk it. After the portal was destroyed, THEROS retrieved the stone, and we headed back towards the entrance. Once there, THEROS took out the map and crossed the latest portal from the map.

"Right then... Across the ice we go. Let's hope nothing unexpected happens..."

"Don't jinx it THEROS. We have enough to worry about without the ice breaking beneath our feet."

No we didn't...

Syeonyx signing off

Day 132: Worrying tracks

     I was sure that I was asleep the moment my head touched my pillow, because the next thing I remember was waking up! Well, being woken up, to be more accurate. UOPETA had already been awake for a few minutes, and had decided that a fresh and early start to the day would hopefully compensate for the loss of a few hours the day before. The fire was now merely a pile of ash and smoldering embers, until UOPETA reignited it with the crude lighter we had, and some scrap material. THEROS awoke moments after the fire was restarted, and it didn't take long for all of us to be more or less wide awake, sitting in front of the fire, tucking into a hearty breakfast.

"I wish I hadn't woken up; that was the best night's sleep I think I've ever had! And that's with sleeping on a stone floor!"

"Well unfortunately we have work to do. On the bright side, it sounds like the rain has eased up. However, from what I can remember from the map, we're going to have to find a place to settle for the night tonight. We're crossing over an area that is covered with snow, so camping on the surface is definitely not an option..."

"As long as it's warm and safe, I don't really care. Anyway, hadn't we better get going?"

Packing away all of the stuff we had taken from our bags, we set up to get going again. UOPETA kicked the fire out, scattering the ashes and embers around, before taking the nearby torch and tapping it out against the wall. We followed THEROS out the way we had come, removing the torches from the walls as we went, finally seeing the light of a new day creep around the next corner. UOPETA was right, the rain had eased off completely, but it was still sodden underfoot, but that wasn't an issue. THEROS stopped at the entrance however, and looked down.

"Erm... Did we leave footprints in the mud when we got her last night...?"

"Of course we did. It was raining so we couldn't really avoid it. Why? Is that such an issue?"

"Not really... I'm just curious as to who's footprints those are..."

Moving aside but careful not to tread in the mud, me and UOPETA managed to see past him and see what he meant. Before the small entrance to the passage was a patch of mud with a clear set of footprints leading into the chamber. I didn't think there was anything to this as it had been muddy the night before, so it would have been impossible to not make prints leading in. Then, a number of points hit me that made me realise what THEROS was trying to say. It had been raining when we entered into the passage, and would likely have continued for some time afterwards, so our tracks would have been washed away, and not visible at all in the morning. Even if that wasn't the case, and our tracks were still there, why were only one set visible leading in? I highly doubt we each stepped onto each others footprints on the way in... UOPETA had come to the same conclusion it seemed.

"It seems that someone has been into this chamber since last night... See, the mud leads onto the stone a little before stopping... We had a visitor last night..."

A chill ran down my spine! A visitor? My mind raced with different images that could apply to this word; Creepers, the undead, guards... The Elite... Any and all of those were essentially our enemy, so it was hard to understand how that was the case and that we were still alive. Also, surely we would have heard the noise of them coming down the steps. We had tried to be quiet on the way in initially and it was virtually impossible because of the way the chamber echoed your sounds.

"I don't want any speculations about who or what could have been here last night. We have a job to do, and we should just be lucky that we're still alive. Needless to say we won't be using this place as as a shelter again!"

It seemed UOPETA wanted to brush the whole thing under the carpet; it had happened in a single location we were never likely to see again, and we were to leave it there... All I could hope was, who or whatever had been here remained here as well...

     After the slightly unnerving start to the day, we managed to pick up some pace, and head off to the North East towards the small isolated snowy area. As the fog had lifted from yesterday, we were able to see a lot further, and the snowy area came into view in the distance. It seemed odd to have a an isolated patch of snow in the middle of a large, open field, but then again, we had seen a lot of "odd" things recently...

"Is was raining yesterday. Let's just hope it doesn't start snowing this time..."

"Well if it does, let's hope that we find somewhere to shelter before it gets too heavy... Don't want to get frostbite. Surprised we avoided hypothermia at all yesterday, considering how wet we got yesterday."

We stepped onto the snow and began to look around, noticing that, despite the mass amount of snow in this localised area, there was no drop in temperature at all. It was a wonder that the snow had settled for so long. Judging from the map, the portal was located within the snowy area, and as we could easily see the boundaries of the snowy area, it meant we could easily determine where not to look.

"Try to look for any entrances underground. From the looks of it, that's where it'll be."

That definitely seemed to be the case, and within a few minutes of mentioning that, I found a likely place to begin searching.

Calling THEROS and UOPETA to where I was, we began to head into the cave. As usual, THEROS led the way, putting torches up as he went. Multiple times we came to a junction the split off into different paths. Instead of splitting up, we decided that it would be better to stay together. So every time we came to one of these multiple paths, we had to take every option to ensure we maximised our chances of finding the portal. Every time we managed to pick the route that led nowhere. Or at least to nowhere...

"We have to bear in mind that the portal may be partially destroyed. Then again, there is another way to find out."

THEROS took the glowing stone from the bag; it was glowing a bright orange, throwing light around us.

"Nope, it's active... And close by judging by the stone..."

Taking another corner, we found a sharp drop leading down, with a crumbling ledge. UOPETA took the lead this time, finding a safe passage down; it took us a while, but after ten minutes or so, we reached the bottom. Looking back up, it seemed a little disbelieving to have made our way down that, but then again UOPETA was good. After following the passage through, we came to another split, but after looking at the start of each one, it didn't take a genius to work out where it was. From the end of the passage, we could make out the portal at the far end, although it was odd; only the rift part of it was visible.

Heading down into the passage, THEROS placed the stone onto the base of the portal, whilst me and UOPETA remained back at the junction. From where we were, we could see the portal change state, before collapsing in on itself. After a few minutes, THEROS returned to us.

"Right then. Lead the way UOPETA. On to the next one..."

Syeonyx signing off