Monday, December 8, 2014

Miner's Stories:The End of Enders

I smiled, polishing the brewing stand as I listened to the rain drum on my snug sandstone roof. It had taken months of scrimping, saving, and trading, but I'd finally finished constructing my bar. The construction had gone smoothly, even for building in the swamp. Two nights we'd been beset by zombies and a creeper had blown out the front door during a late night, installation, but it was done. The storm that had been threatening was coming down now, getting itself out of the way in the evening before my grand opening. My new bartender, a testificate named Barthold appreciatively rubbed the sprucewood bar, finished with lacquered countertops, and nodded at me. "Hmmmm."

"Unfinished sprucewood." I said proudly, although I knew what he was really asking.

"Hmmm." Barthold folded his arms over his chest.

"I know it's unorthodox to build a building in the shape of a tree, but I think it looks handsome. We're easily twice as big as the next biggest tree in the swamp, and no other swamp-tree is festooned in jack-o-lantern's to keep the nasty mobs at bay."


"We're not having this conversation again. I did! I cut down every tree in every wood plank in this bar. Went through a dozen iron axes. Spent weeks with a shears collecting wool and leaves for the rooms. I... purchased blaze rods for our brewing stands. I didn't get those original, that's true." Barthold looked at me impatiently. He had heard me describe the qualities of my bar a dozen times. Folding his arms into his sleeves, he tilted his head towards the brewing stand. "Hrmm."

"Oh, right. I s'pose I should show you how to use them."

I filled three bottles with water and set them on the stand, opened a tin of extract of netherwart, and poured it into the brew basket. Heat flowed from the blaze rod at the center, condensing the netherwart and distributing it to each brew. We watched for a moment as the liquid loop-de-looped in the condensers. When the first drop hit the potion, I drummed excitedly on the counter.

"What do you thirsty for, buddy? Immunity to fire? Healing? Pep? Pep I like, let's do pep." It seemed fitting that my first step in bar ownership should be a productivity-increasing potion of swiftness. A symbolic gesture to the universe, if you would. I grabbed a clay sugar jar from the pantry, spooned out a helping of the white powder, and stopped.
"Wait, no. This is bone powder."
"Yeah, we SHOULD probably keep this somewhere else." I doodled a picture of a skeleton in the dust on the tin and set it back in the pantry, then stared into the pantry....

"Hmm?" Barthold gently tapped me on the shoulder and nodded to the brewing stand, no longer glowing. The netherwart was fully rendered and the awkward potions were done.
"Oh, right. The, uh. The sugar. Got it!" I removed a porcelain sugar bowl from the top shelf and spooned sugar into the brewing stand's brewing basket. The machine bubbled and rattled, and we sat in content, enjoying the resonant scent of sugar brewing. The contents of the bottles turned a brilliant sky blue. Barthold offered up another clay jar, this one labelled redstone. 
 "Speed Potion +, eh?" I remarked.
 He nodded and opened the jar, then began to tip it into the brew basket.

"Where's the scoop?"
"Well, I'm not just going to let you tip it in there. You'll make a mess. Find the redstone scoop."

Barthold looked around, then fished a scoop out of a jar of  glowstone powder. "Hmm."
"I don't want to cross-contaminate my scoops, Barthold. Plus, if you mix powders it gets all fizzy and flat." Suddenly impatient to have my first batch of potions finish, I snatched up the glowstone powder.

"We'll make a Potion of Swiftness II. Twice the energy, but half the length." As I tipped the glowing yellow powder into the brewing basket, I silently tried to rescind the earlier offering to the universe; this first potion had suddenly become much less auspicious.

The universe was feeling malicious, apparently. The windows flashed as lightning struck outside, and my door swung in violently, framing a towering figure standing in the rain. It would have been quite dramatic, until the pressure plate mechanism that operated the door released and swung it shut in the figure's mysterious face.The latch lifted and the door opened slowly. The mysterious figure entered mysteriously. Barthold rolled his eyes.

The lady was tall and gaunt, dressed in badly damaged iron armor with a helmet stylized to look like a jack-o-lantern. A long cloth sling hung cross her chest, and she rested a visibly bleeding arm on it. She surveyed the bar slowly. "I... sorry. Normally when I enter a bar, there's a gaggle of regular patrons who stop what they're doing to gawk for a minute, then return to their conversations, eyes hooded with suspicion. Except for the one guy who leaves out the back to convey a message to my enemies."

"Well, we're not an ordinary bar. I suppose that, if you're here, you might want to have a drink? I have got rooms available, if you'd prefer to rest up comfortably out of that storm." The universe punctuated my sales pitch with lightning, and the woman turned to look out the oaken door.

"I... no. No, this is stupid. Who makes a pub in the shape of a tree?"
"Well, at least let me offer you a nice watermelon spritz for your arm there, I charge very reasonable prices. Full stack of carrots will get you a room for the night and a drink, miss."
"End of Enders." she set her helmet down and gingerly lowered herself into the chair she was much too tall for. I nodded to Barthold, who had been nodding his head back and forth curiously.  He hustled away to fetch up the drinks and I sat across from my first customer.

"I haven't got a stack of carrots." She said as she arranged her sling carefully in her lap, interrupting my next thought.
"I'd accept a stack of potatoes, or even a halfstack of watermelon."
"Those either."
"I accept craftables. Eight iron ingots." She reached into her sling, and removed a quarter-stack bill with an ingot on it. She began folding it in her hands as she watched me, then tucked the bill into her sling. I smiled patiently as Barthold walked up, carrying a bucket with a bottle of instant health 2 cooling in it.

"What would I get for this?" She pulled her hand out dramatically, and offered up smooth teal sphere in one hand. It lifted slightly out of her fingers as she lifted, and it hovered there above her hand. An enderpearl.

"Hmm!" Barthold began vigorously batting at the cold water on the front of his shirt where he'd spilled in the middle of a Testificate gasp.
"What... did you say your name was?" I was starting to put things together as she said what I thought she'd said.

"End of Enders. I'm an Ender hunter." She looked at me and thrust out her chin, eyes blazing defiantly. I looked back at the grinning jack-o-lantern helmet. At the ragged slash mark on her arm that was definitely not a spider bite. I stared into her eyes for a moment, sweating, then averted my gaze, calculating what an enderpearl was worth.

"Is it true? You can teleport with them?" Without responding, she cocked her arm back and sent the pearl sailing across the bar. There was a flash of purple motes as she was suddenly gone, leaning through the window that connected the kitchen to the bar and grinning widely.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stop Motion Superbonus: the Ghost

Making movies with my little cousin, she planned and wrote it and I offered animation advice, foley and voice acting. Everything that happens in it was her idea and execution! Pretty neat, huh?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Stop Motion Sunday: Earthbender 2

Another shot at earthbending in Lego form. Playing with faces and more dynamic camera motion, too. Music is Arco Arena by CAKE, sped up 2x.
You can find their music here:

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Stop Motion Sunday: Earthbender Versus Firebender

Had a lot of fun with this one. I want to develop the process of bending with LEGO characters a bit more. Have any ideas? Have a story you want me to animate? Drop me a line in the comments section, or follow me on Twitter!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Stop Motion Sunday: Father's Day

Weekend projects with Dad were always fun, even though us boys (Hawkeye in stripes, Hans in the white zip-up, and Doc with the hat) were never actually so cooperative. Dad, I'm lucky that you're my dad. Hope you have a great Father's Day.