Problems with Potions - Bi-Ocelot (Bi_Ocelot) (2024)


Problems with Potions



Steve thrust his shield forward, smacking his primary attacker in the back. He swung around and, with the same shield, threw another masked foe to the ground.

The miner panted, taking a brief respite from the fight to survey his surroundings.

People gripped curved swords in one hand and sloshed bulbous potion bottles in the other. They wore strange, full-faced ivory-colored masks with varying levels of ornamentation, and their bodies were cloaked in tan linens that further obscured their individual identities and kept the sun from beating down on their backs.

Cultists, his demonic friend, had hurriedly called them.

Said friend stood just ahead of him amidst the battle. Herobrine rolled his shoulders and spat cultist blood from his lips as he stared at the heaps of felled foes before him, all groaning in pain. Thankfully, from the level of writhing, none had died.


The cultists cornered the duo in a small garden surrounded by a square of houses. A small well sat in the center and covered by a grate, and the houses boarded up their windows from the interior communal space. The cultists secured the only arched exit with bodies and sharp sabers pointed at them. Overhead, the boiling sun sent rays down through the disturbed dirt clouds.

How did they know that Herobrine would be here, and how were they sniffed out so easily? Steve figured they’d blend in amongst the chaos of the busy street. But nonetheless, the cultists crawling through this oasis town had caught wind of their scent.

Herobrine turned to Steve for guidance as his hands itched to claw out some throats. Steve only froze in terror, and Herobrine jumped into action.

What the cultists wanted wasn’t a mystery, as many spat their mantra and attacked. They were here to take down the demonic king. And Steve, being Steve, got caught in the crossfire.

Steve held his shield up, peering over the edge as the diamond sword in his grip drooped. Both pieces had been thrust into his arms by Herobrine seconds before the group descended upon them.

Steve adjusted his sweaty grip. He had to admit that he was not used to such a physically demanding fight in the heart of a desert biome.

He still had a layer of safety while standing behind Herobrine. The demon growled at the seemingly endless cultist troops, smoke billowing out from beneath the green cloak Steve had gifted him—a rattlesnake’s warning hiss. The ever-approaching assailants did not heed his warning.

Steve briefly glanced behind him, noting how close he’d gotten to the back wall during the fight.

Steve’s head twitched back towards the fight when Herobrine let out a guttural laugh.

Herobrine bared a toothy snarl and sparkling eyes as he stared at the winded leader of the cultist forces, who cradled her arm as she glared daggers at him through her mask.She narrowed her eyes as she straightened her back and flipped the head of her war-hammer down.

“You think it will be that easy to get rid of us?” Her hysterical laugh rang through the alleyway. “You are but fools!”

She stuffed her hands deep into her pockets and pulled out multiple potion bottles filled with pink liquid, smashing them on the ground around her followers.

The robed figures stirred. The cuts and bruises left on their visible skin washed away. Those who’d passed out groaned as they recovered, rising to their feet. Dirt and blood smears stained their tan robes.

The miner’s heart dropped. All that hard work they had done—

“Hey, that’s cheating!” Steve wheezed, lowering his sword and shield in dismay. Herobrine used the back of his scythe to raise Steve’s arms.

‘Don’t let your guard down,’ the flick of the blade told him.

Feh. Easy for him to say. Steve fought the urge to wipe the sweat from his brow and, instead, he re-assumed his proper fighting stance.

“So what?” Herobrine called, trying his best to sound unimpressed. “You can heal all you want. I can do this all day!”

As if to prove it, the circle of flames Brine had created to keep the cultists back sputtered back to life, leaving a gap around the duo but intensifying the heat of the day.

His friend’s tone conveyed confidence, but his stance betrayed something else.

Herobrine was antsy.

His whole body was tense, and he kept a white-knuckled grip on his scythe. Steve wasn’t sure if it was because this fight would have been over within seconds if he would’ve just let him go ballistic, or if he was worried the cultists were planning something.

“I see. Maybe we will just have to change that.” The leader nodded as she snapped her fingers.

On cue, every cultist reached deep into their cloaks and produced a different splash potion. Some Steve could vaguely recognize as strength, fire-resistance, poison, harming… things he’d extensively researched from a faded book in his library.

The woman gripped her war-hammer and swung it high above her head.

“You want this battle to be over so fast?” she screeched. “So be it!”

Before the woman could even utter a command, Herobrine stamped his foot. The flaming circle burst into massive clouds of smoke, obscuring the entire field. Small fires continued to burn on the remnants of the cultists’ tattered robes, intensifying the smoke screen.

It did not stop the cultists’ attack.


Potions exploded around them. The cultists threw wildly, hoping to land at least one hit in the hailstorm of shattering bottles.

Steve could do nothing but raise his shield and hope for the best. Each hit against the wood pattered like rain and hail. He staggered backwards, pushing himself flat against the corner to provide more coverage.

Remembering that he was in a fight, he shakily raised his sword to deflect any cultists who dared to step around Herobrine to get to him.

The odors from the potions and the toxic scent of burning sand wreaked havoc on Steve’s lungs and eyes. He stifled coughs and tears as he tried looking through the thick smoke.

Herobrine didn’t seem phased by the mess. He didn’t even bother to shield himself or teleport away, choosing, instead, to swat away the potions with his scythe before they fell, as if they were annoying gnats. Most of the liquid ended up on the ground, but some sloshed onto Herobrine and the cultists who stood too close with a sickening sizzle.

Steve was both impressed and worried about how much damage the demon must’ve been taking from the potions that hit. Though, despite how much liquid soaked into the demon’s tough skin, no cuts or burns appeared.

One last soaring bottle shattered at the demon’s feet. Herobrine swirled his scythe with his eyes shining like wild beacons through the smoke screen.

His laugh rang hauntingly through the alley.

“That’s the best you got?” the demon taunted, “Bring it on, scum!”

“Hmph. I must admit, demon, I was not expecting such vehement opposition,” the leader, location masked by the smoke, called out coyly. “It seems we will have to bring more powerful potions to subdue you next time.”

And yet dark forms continued closing in on them, swirling the smoking screen as the desert sun beat down from above.

“Your stupid potions won’t work on me,” Herobrine spat, stance lowering as he tried to keep up with their movements. Sweat dripped down his brow. Clearly, the potions had taken more out of him than he had expected.

“Are you certain?” She spoke confidently, as if she could see through his own. “Even gods have weaknesses.”

A loud laugh rang through the swirling smoke as a glowing potion soared through the air.

Oh. f*ck.

Steve hardly had a second to raise his sword to block before the glass shards exploded across his right arm and side, sending sharp pieces of glass into his shirt and skin.

“AH sh*t!”

At first, the potion felt like cool fresh water. Immediately, the sensation flipped to that of fire, as if it was eating away at his flesh. His vision blurred as tears pricked his eyes, the skin across his biceps flushing an irritated red.

“Brine,” he howled in confusion, dropping his sword and shield. He tried to swipe the solution off of his skin and reared back in pain as the liquid scalded his hand and the glass fragments cut him deeper. “I-I’m hit! f*ck! Ow, it’s-it’s f*cking acid!”

It sure felt like it, at least. He pried his squinted eyes away from his bubbling skin out of disgust and fear. Instead, he gasped desperately for help. The dirt and smoke swirling in this little garden obscured everything.

“Idiot, why didn’t you aim for the demon?!” The leader’s voice felt like it was coming from a distant realm.

“I thought I did, your lordship,” another squeaked. “I only saw the cyan shirt through the smoke before I had to close my eyes again!”

“Now how are we supposed to subdue him?!”

Steve writhed against the wall, numbly and frantically trying to wipe the shards of glass and putrid yellowish-green solution from his skin using his shirt, brain trying to comprehend the situation and come up with a solution to stop the pain. Even with the cloth layer, his hands cramped and sizzled at the contact. He panted. He sweated. He-

He… felt strange.

His skin flashed cold, then hot, then cold again, switching temperatures as the numbing agent sent his nerves into a frenzy. He gasped and hissed as his fingers throbbed and holes burned into his shirt from the acidic harming mixed into the co*cktail. His arms trembled as he panted. He couldn’t make a fist.

Every organ in Steve’s body twisted and clenched. Smoke suffocated his nose and lungs, and he sputtered. His eyes filled with tears as sand carved into his corneas. His throat felt clogged, a feeling he recognized vividly.

Sensing this to be an adequate distraction at least, the assailants moved around them, swarming angrily in Steve’s vision to gauge if this was the best chance they had to attack. In the back of his mind, the miner asked why they hadn’t yet. Until it all at once became very obvious.

“W̸h̵a̴t̶ ̴d̸i̸d̵ ̵y̴o̷u̸ ̷d̶o̷ ̵t̴o̵ ̴h̸i̶m̷?̸”

Herobrine’s form destabilized, struggling to control the monster bubbling just below the surface as the sharp image of his body blurred in a haze of glitching static. It was the one that had been calling for these annoying pests’ blood the whole day. He’d been keeping it at bay better than anyone could ask him to thus far.

But now…

The demon turned and swiped at an approaching cultist, slicing through the robe snarling and huffing as he swiped away more potions that came flying towards them as soon as he attacked.

The smoke suffocated all the light from the area as dark shadows poured from the demon at the center of the fight.

The cultists all at once looked slightly less confident. Herobrine’s influence felt like a snake slithering up their spines.

When he received no response, the demon stomped his foot and willed fire over his forearms.


And then, all at once, so much happened.

Herobrine scooped up stray sand and lobbed a ball of molten debris towards the cultist who threw the potion at Steve. The cultist turned tail and fled, falling back into the crowd of assailants, letting the molten glass splash and rocket out across the sandstone path.

The remaining cultists unsheathed curved swords from beneath their tan robes, all the shining tips pointed towards Herobrine. The demon snarled as they forced him back with trembling grips. Herobrine raised his arm and grabbed one of the metal blades, melting his handprint into the sword.

His grim smile reflecting off the hot metal displayed the contemplation of how he’d drag them all to burn in the fiery depths of the nether.

But a weak voice broke through the forming flames.


The demon whipped around, eyes sparking and then softening.

Steve wobbled on his legs as he panted from his lax mouth. A thousand-yard stare as he tried meeting the other’s eyes. He’d taken a step forward and reached out to stop the demon from whatever he planned on doing.

Herobrine glitched as the miner raised his smoking arm to his head. Boils dripping with putrid yellow liquid. Holes in the man’s teal shirt curled and blackened at the edges, encircling the burns. He swayed.

“I-I don’t feel-” Steve swallowed breathlessly.

His eyes rolled for the briefest of seconds as a wave of something slammed into him. Particles swirled all around him.


Then, as Steve blinked, Herobrine’s increasingly worried face multiplied in mirages swirling around. The world around him tilted.

“Hero...” Steve spoke. “We, f*ck, we need to run. Now. Before I-”


A shrill white noise overtook his hearing as he swayed, as if they submerged him underwater. His eyesight went next as gray static blurred out his peripherals and quickly spread to the center of his vision.

Steve blinked.

He woke up on the sandy brick ground, drool streaming from his mouth. A pounding headache and a burn in his throat.

He felt sick.

There was blood next to his head. Splattered. Tattered tan linens sat in heaps as he just made out the motions of others fleeing into the alleys. He struggled to move, but his body refused to respond. Pain made his nerves seize.


Another blink. Warm hands picked him up, cradling his head, but his boots scraped uselessly against the sandy brick. A scratchy beard pressed into his forehead. Herobrine shoved a glass up to Steve’s mouth. The scent of watermelon and copper. A tonic spilled down his chin and shirt. His teeth crunched and ground on the grains of sand in his mouth.

Was it smoke that grayed out his vision, or was it the oncoming blindness?

“... ven... ear... ease... can... Stev... Wake... up... Wake up... Steve! Please... wake up. Steve!”

His bleary eyes shot open as he coughed, hacking up the spit, sand, and smoke he’d inhaled. His head wobbled as he tried focusing on the several pairs of bright glowing eyes morphing and swaying into each other. Herobrine tipped the rest of the bottle’s contents on Steve’s burns before setting the man on his feet.

“H-Hero?” He croaked.

“I need you to walk on your own. Come on, before they can regroup. I can’t fight and carry you.” Herobrine said.

“Wha... Ack!” Steve hacked and coughed. It felt like glass shrapnel lodged in his throat.

“Come ON!” Herobrine, voice seething with desperation, slung an arm around Steve’s shoulders and dragged him out of the alley.

The movement was torture. And all Steve could do was grip onto Herobrine for dear life and move his legs in time with the other lest they drag on the ground.

“S-Stop.” Steve clawed weakly. His arm hurt so badly, he couldn’t break free from the firm grip.

“If we stop, I’ll k̷̝̊i̵̕͜l̶̲͐l̴̗̎ them all,” a glitched, rough voice warned, so eery that it shut Steve up. Some rational part of him remembered who Herobrine was and just how hard it was to keep that portion of him locked up. The miner didn’t want to be responsible for the death of a group. Or… f*ck, he might be sick… a whole town.

The afternoon sun beat down hard on their bodies. The bustling bazaar must’ve been down the road by the sound of things, but on the other end were limping cult robes, if Steve’s blurry vision was true.

Yet, despite the blatant sounds and signs of a scuffle in the alleys, not one face turned to stare as the pair hobbled out of the dusty alley. Herobrine’s hood drawn over his face and Steve drooling like a rabid dog. They kept their eyes down as they hurried away from the source.

Huffs and grumbling vibrated deep in Herobrine’s chest. In his swimming vision, Steve could see glass stuck in the demon’s arm. He reached out to help get it out, but nearly stumbled when he did.

They were both a mess, weren’t they?

“f*ck.” Herobrine jolted to a sudden halt. His head swiveled. “I need to teleport, but I can’t have you fading on me again, okay? I stole a healing potion.”

Steve’s tongue went numb as he tried lolling his head into a yes. Too bright. The sun seared against his irritated skin. It was all too much.

The teleport was like a brick to the head. Intense nausea, as if Herobrine had teleported them hundreds of miles. He nearly blacked out.

His stomach lurched as Herobrine stumbled. Cursing and growling as he leaned against a wall in a new alley; nearly dropping Steve.

“Dammit. Bastards got me too.”

Steve swallowed the sick building on his tongue as the world spun. He sunk deeper into the wall and into Herobrine’s arm.


“There they are! Get them!”

Herobrine growled as he hoisted Steve up again. He had a vise grip on Steve’s uninjured arm, dragging him along as they ran.

The miner tried to keep up with the movement but had to close his eyes as the world literally tilted like he was on a ship in rough seas. From the sound of things, Herobrine seemed to be headed back to the bazaar. Would that even be safe? It would provide cover, and the townsfolk hadn’t seemed to care when potions soared over their heads before. Ugh.

Was... was it this bright out before? The sun felt like it seared through his closed lids. It brought an entirely new wave of nausea. There were swirls, no matter how hard he squeezed them shut.

“Huh, hum, huh, hah?..”

Herobrine bared his teeth as Steve stumbled. The miner was aware enough to keep his feet moving, but couldn’t predict when the terrain changed. He felt faint. With every step, he felt himself falling behind.

“Stay with me, Steve.” Herobrine grunted.

I’m trying. Steve wanted to say back. It hurts.

“Okay. Just a little further. I’ll teleport us one more time. Hold on.”

It felt like his body was left behind and yet thrusted far ahead in space at the same time.

The world went hazy as the ringing in his ear returned. He couldn’t suck down enough breath. It made his chest and head feel tingly. A white grew in his vision. Turning a sickly green. Blocking out everything. His arm pounded in time with his heart.

“Steve? Steve… Ste… Vie… he… co…”

It all went dark.


Skit.” The demon cursed at the noticeable lull of Steve’s head against his shoulder.

Herobrine stopped as he turned the corner. Adjusting his hold on Steve to take his full weight, a hand cradled the man’s wounded side. Steve’s boots just scuffed against the ground as the demon hobbled forward. The man leaned akin to a deadweight as they shuffled on.

He was now close to the stands. His eagle eyes narrowed on the rugs and textiles draping over the long table. A gap as the seller lifted a rug to show a customer. A good place to hide.

It was what he trained his body to do. If he couldn’t fight, he needed to hide. Sure, his attackers would find him eventually, but it would give him a chance to heal and blink enough white out of his eyes to regroup and attack again.

Plus, he knew he couldn’t run forever. Not with the never ending footsteps close behind. The scent of those blasted fruits, a co*cktail of potions, the poisons swirling in his blood. Not with Steven-

“Over here! This way!”

f*ck. A risky move to teleport near people, but he took it. Just before he burst out of the alleyway into the bazaar, he lunged forward in a teleport. His face ‘thwapped’ against the rug as he slid underneath.

He winced as the rub of the hot ground burned his skin. But he specifically made sure Steve didn’t take any of the damage from the slide. He would heal. Steve would not.

Despite this, Steve groaned. Gaining some consciousness at the wrong moment. He wriggled against Herobrine’s chest. Whining in pain and confusion.

“Shh, shh! Quiet.” Herobrine hissed, pressing Steve’s head closer to his body.

“O-oh….” Steve whispered.

Herobrine forced his attention from his injured friend and gazed through a peephole made through a gap in the textiles. He curled around Steve as much as he could. Staying perfectly still. Like a bird protecting its nest. He waited and watched. Hoping to all the realms that they didn’t see his teleport.

The sound of pattering feet came and passed by. Herobrine waited and counted. How many were there? Surely he... dispatched a few in his blind rage when Steve went down. Not kill, he reminded himself. Wounded so as if to not get up soon. But the actual amount of cultists crawling through this city was staggering. More than he’d ever seen before in such a remote place. He should’ve been more careful.

Linen bound feet in twine sandals raced past the table. More of them flew by in their stained cloaks. Herobrine stopped counting by the twentieth pair. Trying not to get angry at how many remained willing to fight after his outburst.

The merchant continued to chatter away about the quality llama fibers to the customer. Oblivious to the demon and man hiding at his feet.

Their distinct footsteps in their matching footwear disappeared amongst the noise of the bazaar. He strained his ears. Trying to follow their movements all the way back to their base. But the puttering heart and gasping breaths of the man in his lap absorbed more of his attention than he’d like to admit.

“H-hero.” A meek voice called. Muffled by his shirt.

“Hm.” Herobrine grimaced as he glanced at the damage.


Steve’s mouth hung open as he panted. Brow knit together as his face scrunched in pain. Squirming and clawing at the ground weakly. He gnashed his teeth, trying to stay quiet and not groan in pain. The hissing sound of the harming that ate further into his skin was torture in his ears. The tonic Herobrine snagged from a downed zealot only gave a spurt of energy. He relapsed back into the daze.

“I-It hurts.”

“sh*t, it’s okay Stevie.”

Herobrine slowly unwound himself from the other and let himself glance down to assess the damage. His heart lurched into his throat. The poison splashed against Steve’s skin lingered. The acid of the harming slowly burned away his skin. No longer was it red with irritation, blood pricked from the sores. Open wounds that ate away the top layers of skin and exposed deeper, till the epidermis was gone.

He could see the swirls around the miner’s body. He hadn’t just been hit with one status effect. Whatever had been thrown at him was a co*cktail of horrors. The most prevalent appeared to be harming, but the color of nausea, weakness, poison, wither-

To describe it any further would send him into a white fury. He could feel fire boiling in his blood like magma.

The man’s teal shirt was riddled with chemical burn holes, but his jeans held up okay. Bloodshot purple eyes stared up to meet Herobrine. Not even the smallest hints of comfort or reassurance. Near blank in expression. Bright red from unshed tears. Foaming at the mouth from dehydration.

Dammit. This is bad.

The skirmish had already exhausted him from keeping the monster back thus far.

And look at where that had gotten them.

Herobrine gripped the ground below him. Turning the sand particles to glass under his palm.

He should have just killed them. That’s how he dealt with these sick f*cks in the past. That’s why he didn’t know their fighting strategies or how to expect their moves. Herobrine always slashed them in half before they even dared land a hit on him. Disregarding the times those congregations tortured him, safe beyond the confines of a totem.

“Mm- hot…”

Oh. Yeah…

The whimper below reminded him of exactly why he was doing this. Because Steve was right. If he truly wanted to change, he needed to follow Steve’s example.

Even if that example felt wrong. f*cking cultist bastards-

“Mmph stop-”

Right, right, cool temperatures? No flaming hands, not with this scalding desert sun. The man already had a nasty sunburn walking into town. Focus, Brine.

So, what would Steve do?

Herobrine looked down at the quivering man in his lap. He fought the urge to push a lock of sweaty hair out of his tightly scrunched face. Nearly laughing to himself in the process of how ridiculous this all was.

It was so very like Steve to get hurt protecting people who were actively trying to kill him.

Pah. Yeah. That’s what Steve would do. Worry about everyone but himself ‘till he ran himself ragged like a used ratty towel. No… not like that, never like that. More like a firecracker. Leaving a trail of sparks until it exploded in a beautiful display of light and sound and-

Ahem. He shook his head and went back to pondering. Biting his lip.

Ah, Steve would patch the other up like he had done many, many nights before.

So Herobrine would do the same for him.

First things first. Inspect the damage.

It was something Herobrine instinctively trained to avoid. Pain to him didn’t matter. It only mattered if he wasn’t strong enough to fight and he needed to retreat. So why bother taking notice of his wounds? They would either fade with time or a respawn.

So. Despite a lot of hesitation on his end. He glanced back down at the wounds. Only to get angry and start a fire all over again as his vision turned white. He huffed in frustration.

Unfortunately, he was better at inflicting wounds rather than fixing them. He ran through any medical facts he could remember in his head and came up rather blank other than apply potion, wrap wound, drink milk.

Adding another layer of complications, Herobrine wasn’t sure how poorly Steve would react to the potion. Ideally, the worst should have happened by now, but the miner was not a god. And if redstone boosted this potion… who knew the ride his friend was in for?

He at least needed to stabilize Steve so they could travel. He could get Steve to a safe location and gather supplies to treat the wounds. Once Steve healed, he would get them the f*ck out of this wasteland.

“Ugh- hic.”

They needed milk.

The demon flicked molten sand from his hand and felt around before he landed on some linens. A single panel of raw linen fabric. Extra stock from the merchant.

Herobrine yanked a bit of the fabric and quietly tore long strips from it. He wrapped it around the man’s burn wounds, trying not to flinch when Steve’s jaw tightened in a panting groan. He knew, from experience, that an infected wound was worse than the extra damage the bandages would cause to the fresh burn. It would do for now to keep debris from the festering burns. It also binds the tattered remains of the man’s shirt to his body and hid those tears as well. Better for traveling.

“Hold on, sir. Let me check.”

Herobrine tensed with a bated breath as the merchant began shuffling around his stand, muttering about extra fabric as the customer haggled more and more. Those sandals were worryingly close to him as the merchant continued kicking around his stand.

Many shoes and hooves passed by them. His instincts warned him they were no doubt spies and scouts searching for the two of them in disguise. Any slip ups would be disastrous.

The merchant shuffled away from the corner of the booth the two huddled under as he yapped about furs and bartering.

“We... we’re not safe.” The miner suddenly whispered, as if speaking directly from Herobrine’s mind.

“I know.” Herobrine said. “I’ll get us somewhere safe. Don’t worry.”

Peering back through the hole, the crowd sparse out and the dark shadow of another alley was right in front of him. Herobrine shifted from his sitting position and knelt, slinging Steve’s arm around his shoulder.

“Hero.” Steve grunted. “You better not be about to-”


Herobrine pressed Steve gently against the wall with the momentum of the jump as he whipped his head around. He lowered them to the ground as he felt Steve’s knees give out. The man went limp, head collapsing onto Herobrine’s chest for a second before lifting his head with a disapproving glare.

“Stay down.” Herobrine huffed, brushing off the look for now and peering around the corner.

“Not a problem.” The miner wheezed pathetically.


His ears perked up to listen. He tasted the air. No sign of anyone following or noticing.

“Good, no one saw us. Let’s go.”

Steve groaned as he spat on the ground. “N-no more teleports.”

“Just a few more-“

“‘M serious, Brine.”

Despite the slurring of his words, he did indeed sound quite serious. The demon couldn’t help but sound slightly frustrated at this.

“How else do you suggest we avoid detection?” Another complication to the puzzle. Ugh.

“I don’t know. But I will throw up on you,” Steve mumbled, leaning his head back and swallowing thickly. He looked awfully ill. His face had gone from pale to green.

Trying to lighten the mood, he knelt back down in front of Steve and tilted his chin up with two of his fingers and his thumb. Wanting to see if he could get the miner’s eyes to focus on his own.. “Is that a threat?”

“That’s a threat.” Steve confirmed. Closing his eyes before Herobrine could get a good look. Seemingly nauseous at just the simple movement of his head.

“Well. Lucky for you, I’ve dealt with worse bodily fluids. Today included.” The demon said with little emotion, absentmindedly wiping cultist scum blood off his cheek. He didn’t give the other much of a warning before hoisting Steve’s arm back over his shoulder. Back to dragging the deadweight through these alleys.

Slowly, they ambled down the new passage. Herobrine could feel the poisons thrown at him working through his system as they purged themselves through his dripping sweat. Another hurdle.

“W-where…” Steve grumbled. Twitching against him. “...are we goin’?”

“Someplace where we can lie low for a while. Unless you’d like to go back under the merchant table.”

“The- huh?”

“Don’t worry about it. We’ll find a safe place.”

Or perhaps he’d slaughter everyone in the town until they were the only ones left and-

Enough of that thinking.

The duo stepped back out into the busy street. Shopfronts, people yelling wares to the crowd. Camels, llamas, and horses trudged along, dragging rattling carts full of goods and materials. Both of them tensed at the onslaught of their senses.

Herobrine kept his head down, but his senses were open as he dragged his battered companion into the crowd. Seems they had lost the cultists… at least for now.

Like a shark stalking through schools of fish, people gave them a wide berth, effortlessly gliding an invisible ward around the two men. Eyes of pity and disdain at the splatters of blood and dirt on their clothing. He heard whispers all around him. Whispers of the cult. Of strangers. He tried not to growl. Tightening his protective grip around Steve.

The evening sun, despite slowly fading over the horizon, cooked the back of his dark green hood. He felt welcome in the heat, but Steve clearly struggled.

The man panted heavily as sweat dripped down in streams down his forehead and soaking into his shirt. Grimy and bloody, despite his attempts to wrap the burns. His pitiful attempts at keeping up with him were slowly failing.

There weren’t a lot of solid options. Most of the structures were bazaar stands, residencies, or restaurants. He contemplated asking for directions, but couldn’t even get anyone to look his way.

Herobrine tilted his head up. In the shade of his cloak, he saw a hanging sign calling sanctuary.

‘Splintered Maiden Tavern & Inn.’

If he was on better terms with the aether, he might have thanked them.

Fighting the desire to teleport, he hurried down the street right for the saloon doors. Every step felt like a race against time as his heart beat hard out of his chest.

Herobrine hobbled through the door, cradling Steve against his side. The man’s arm around the demon’s neck felt limp and hot.

He received a couple of odd looks from the patrons of the downstairs tavern. But, wisely, they all turned away. If it was the fact that he just had that kind of aura or the villagers were used to minding their own business for their own good, Herobrine did not know.

Trying to not appear out of breath and poisoned, Herobrine sauntered over to the main inn counter where a young woman leaned, bored. A wall of key hooks behind her, sparse of room keys.

“Excuse me, miss?” Herobrine tried his best to make a non-threatening voice. Even with the hood, his imposing stature set the woman on edge. Distrust was in her eyes. “I need a room… please.”

“I need your identification first.” She spoke frankly, not betraying any waiver in her voice.

The demon kicked himself. Of course, it wouldn’t be that simple. Who carries papers like that this far out in the middle of nowhere? His mind started racing with scenarios about what to do. Did Steve even have any identification? Herobrine vaguely remembered a land-deed for his house. Recognized him as an outlier citizen of some major capital some weeks travel out from where he actually lived.

“It’s... izzat home.” Steve grumbled out when Herobrine stood there for too long without answering.

Herobrine cleared his throat. Somewhat embarrassed that the half conscious miner provided a better response than himself.

“We… left ours at home.” He said.

“Home being?”

“Er…” Name a town. Any town. “Cliff… town?”

She did not look convinced. Drumming her fingers on her lips, she drawled, “No identification, no room.”

“Look.” Herobrine growled, voice much too harsh. The surrounding noise died down. Listening in. The demon could hear the shuffling of weapons in booths. He counted down from five before talking again. “Look, let me level with you. We weren’t planning on staying in town this long. My friend drank himself stupid at a bar and got into a fight. We just need a night to sleep it off.”

“That really the excuse you’re going to go with?” She sneered. “Thought I’d hear something a little more original.”

“Okay, and bumped into a guy with a bad temper.” Herobrine became acutely aware of the drying blood smeared down his brow and across his cheek. He sucked in a deep breath and leaned forward. Lowering his voice. “Please. I’m asking for a maximum of one night. I have gold.” Herobrine swallowed down his lurching heart. Steve’s head lolled again. “I’ll pay everything upfront.”

“Risk fee is over double a night, which would leave you with thirty-six nuggets a night. Not counting the ‘aggressive drunkard’ fee.” She spoke.

Herobrine tsked. He said he’d be willing to pay, but that was straight up robbery for one night. Yet, they were desperate. It wasn’t hard to tell.

“Bloody... damn, fine. Gouging me out like this.”

She smiled, folding her hands together. “It’s called risk, sugar. I’m assuming risk by allowing you to stay in my inn without identification. As far as I know, you two could be dangerous criminals.”

If only she knew.

Herobrine scoffed to himself and set Steve to lean on the counter as he dug through the man’s pack and took out four gold bars. He tried his damndest not to slam them on the counter.

She inspected each one. Making sure they were all real and of good quality. Once happy, she hummed. “Single bed?”

“N-no. Separate.” Herobrine held his tongue as he was sure he was smoking at how this woman took her sweet time.

She looked up at both of them, chewing on her lip in thought. Finally, she sat up, removing a key off the wall to her right, and moved to hand it to him. “Well, you’re in luck. I have one more double upstairs.”

Maia Mammillaria, put that key down!

Right as the girl was about to hand over a key, an older gray-haired woman marched from the kitchen doors behind the counter.

“Ma.” The young girl whined. “Let me handle this.”

“Y’ain’t letting that man stay in our business!” The older woman snapped.

“They’re paying customers, aren’t they? They have the money and we need it.”

The woman took the key from the girl’s hand and hung it back on the rack. “That man clearly isn’t drunk. He’s poisoned and burned; meaning they had a run in with those crazy zealots. Don’t you understand what will happen if they find out we harbored one of their targets?”

She then leaned over the counter with a sharp, quiet hiss. “You need to leave. Now. Before people here get suspicious.”

Herobrine’s heart dropped. His hands tightened into fists. Trying to prevent fire from spreading up his arms. “Okay, okay fine. W-we’re simple travelers. They attacked our caravan unprovoked and stole most of what we had. Please. Just one night to recover and we’ll be on our way. We have nothing to hide. I’ll throw in the rest of our gold.”

“A sob story with no merit isn’t worth my business or my family’s lives. Leave or I’ll call the guards.”

“Can I at least buy some milk and provisions?” He begged.


The entire tavern hushed. Eyes were on him. Witnesses. Loose lips that might give them away. They couldn’t stay here. Herobrine huffed as he straightened his back and reached to take back the gold left on the counter.

The old woman swatted away his hand, and it took everything inside of him not to snap back. Burning skin from bones. Breaking limbs. He forced his growl into a sentence. “What?”

“Leave the gold.”

“Why in the nether would I do that?”

“I think my daughter said it best.” The older woman hissed back. Her eyes narrowed as she scrutinized the beard beneath the hood. “Assuming a risk. You leave the gold here and we don’t let word spread that you were ever here.”

“Oho, You precious little-“

“Ian.” Steve grimaced, grunting as he pushed off the counter and gathered his feet beneath him, giving Herobrine a side eye.

“Leave it. They aren’t worth our energy.”

The false name really had Herobrine’s scruff prickling. They weren’t safe here. Steve would not handle the teleport home. Yet, by the looks of it, the zealots seized a chokehold over this city. He was fairly certain not even the most desperate inn would take them in.

‘Damn the aether and everyone in it.’

Herobrine snuffed as he turned. Hoisting Steve back up over his shoulder and marching out of the inn. Feeling everyone’s pointed stares on his cloaked back.

“Damn greedy witch and her little vixen.” Herobrine grumbled under his breath.

He promised himself he would come back in the dead of night and take back what they stole from Steve and him. These people didn’t deserve his pity.

The demon stepped out to a lower sun and bloody sky. The cloudless blue quickly fled with the setting sun, bringing swathes of reds and oranges with it. Soon the domain of the moon would reign, veiling the sandy hills.

Something gurgled as Steve groaned again. Hissing as burp bubbles rose from his throat. He got worse with each moment. Herobrine could see the surrounding swirls intensifying.

“Don’t you dare vomit on me, dude.”

“H-Hero.” Steve panted. “W-what now?”

If an inn wouldn’t take them, they’d have to find their own shelter. Where else could they hide where no one would go looking for them? Maybe he could find a place to hide in the alley? No. Less security, more risk to be discovered. It’ll be no better than staying out in the open of the surrounding desert. Maybe the sewers?.

Herobrine’s head perked up out of thought as camels and their riders passed down the terracotta road. Livestock from the market being herded around them as they ambled towards the edge of the city.


Barns! Every town had barns, right? Where else would the livestock go for the evening?

Now the issue was finding the damn structure to hide away. The scent of dust and a cacophony of spices, incense, livestock, and produce overwhelmed him as they drifted from the nearby bazaar. Not to mention the poison in his and Steve’s blood. He was going to have to do it the hard way.

“Steve, can you stand on your own accord?” Herobrine asked.

The fact that Steve didn’t answer had Herobrine guessing that was a ‘no’. So he gently set Steve down in the closest alley, shielded from the remaining sun as looked up and teleported onto one of the pueblo houses. Steve remained directly beneath his feet as he surveyed the cubic silhouette of the city’s horizon. Buildings bunched tightly together. Rising above all was the bell tower to the church.

His brother’s church. Herobrine recognized the symbol well.

He shifted his focus back to the hunt. Remember that Steve needed help right now. He could burn down that church later…

A wooden roof piqued his interest not far away. Sandstone and plaster caked its outside from what he could determine, but it was very much not a house. Even if it wasn’t a barn, a warehouse of sorts would be perfect. Steve wouldn’t be coherent enough to scold him about plundering. He’d take his chances.

When Herobrine jumped back down onto the terracotta road, Steve perked his head up and stared.

“Anythin’ good?” Steve asked.

Herobrine shrugged, pursing his lips at the look in Steve’s eyes. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay.”

“Pah. That’s a damn lie.” Herobrine growled at him, anger which bubbled up at the notion. He knew what the miner was doing. “Don’t comfort me, Steve.”

The man lolled his head back to rest against the plaster bricks with a long, drawn-out sigh. “Alright… Awful. It all really hurt for a bit, but I think…”

He swallowed, turning even greener. “I think the potion burned off my nerves. I can’t feel my hand. It’s like waves of... ugh...”

“You can’t feel your hand?”

Steve raised his arm with a grunt. It trembled heavily before falling limp at his side. Green veins reached further down his forearm. The torn portion of the linen wrapped around his biceps stained a saturated and darkening red.

Herobrine sucked in a breath with a hiss as his friend’s condition.

“Can you stand?”

“Not a chance. It’s like I’m drunk. Whatever they added to that potion… I think it’s making the world spin.”

Herobrine kicked at the dust as he fisted clumps of hair, pulling off his green hood.

Would the barn even be safe? Too many burns that would scar terribly and get infected, no doubt. Sitting in a dung-filled, rat-infested structure, who knows what they’d be walking into? Like sitting here in this dingy alleyway was any better.

The stress manifested itself in his powers. Strengthening the white light in his eyes. The poison felt like it boiled in his blood. He gripped his head harder.

Those f*cking cultists. Must’ve belonged to that damn church. He-

“Dude.” Steve clicked his tongue to get his attention. Herobrine glared down at him in question. “I can hear you getting murderous. I know you’re not having a good time but hsst!... ow... need you to focus. There’s gotta be a hostel that’ll take us, right? A doctor?”

Herobrine glowered. Thoughts of the church sticking to his mind like a nasty booger. No one would house or help them in this town. Not with Steve clearly being marked as a target by the burns on his skin.

The demon’s chest was tight as he spoke. “I think I saw a barn. It’ll do temporarily. At least it’s away from prying eyes.”

Herobrine winced as Steve let out a stifled groan in the back of his throat. Trying to play it off as a cough. He curled in on himself, panting, uncomfortable, shaking.

“Is it okay to carry you there?” Herobrine asked.

“How else have you’ve been dragging me around?” Steve sassed with a cough.

The demon carefully hoisted Steve onto his back in a backpack carry. Steve slung his injured arms over Herobrine’s shoulders and rested his forehead on the back of the other’s head. Getting a face full of shaggy, tousled hair.

“Damn.” Steve grumbled, his warm breath ghosting Herobrine’s neck. “I hoped for a bed.”

“We’ll get a bed in the next town over where they aren’t crawling in zealots like lice. Or, better yet, get you back to your own.”


Herobrine huffed as he picked up his pace. Down the shaded narrow alleyways. Further from the busy street. He shifted Steve’s head as he pulled back up his cloak to hide his eyes. Steve protested the movement, taking quick ragged breaths before resting on his back.

Their figures soon disappeared among the rustled dust blowing in the desert wind.


The stench of stale livestock hit him square in the face as he approached the barn. The plaster coating the walls was painted red as pieces flaked off, showing the wooden supports and bricks making up the wall. A shingled wooden roof topped the out-of-place building.

It would do.

Herobrine looked around before slipping through the large barn doors; senses pushed as far as he could with the poison distraction in his blood. His foot settled on cracked concrete and stray pieces of hay. Completely silent except for Steve’s wheezing.

Two horses stood in their stalls huffing and snorting as they regarded the two strangers with curiosity. Crates, tack, and carts took up the rest of the hay-strewn floor.

Horses. Okay. He could deal with horses. They didn’t smell as bad as cattle either, though the milk would have been convenient. The flighty creatures would raise hell if he approached, but they seemed to be desensitized to people as they slunk back into their stalls. Making soft snorts of discomfort at the demon’s powerful influence.

Overhead sat the hayloft. Just what Herobrine was after. No one would look for them up there.

Herobrine clambered up the hay bales, carefully balancing the miner till his feet landed on solid wood. It would protect them for the time being. There were hollow spaces amongst the crates, feed, and bales stored up here. The open gap of a window blew in warm air.

Steve lolled back and forth as fever took him.

Herobrine did not fare much better, though he’d never admit it. Sweat dripped down his brow as his body protested the motions of carrying Steve up the ladder. He moved like he was trapped in mud.

If he was struggling, he couldn’t fathom how Steve was still-

The demon growled, trying to push those thoughts out of his mind.

But when he finally sat Steve in the hay at the top of the loft, it was too clear to ignore.

Burns gnarled across his tanned skin. The miner’s shirt tore from the acidic harming potion. Seared holes where pocked boils of fleshy burns ate through the man’s skin. He was at major risk of infection if the weakness didn’t already leave him susceptible.

Those cultists made this horrible concoction for a god like him. To bring him down to a level to subdue him. It had to be lethal for anyone else.

The realization struck him like a knife in his belly. Twisting and yanking. Lethal. Poison crawled through the man’s veins, staining them a dark green as it sapped away his strength. The weakness left him vulnerable to additional trauma.

The miner was close to heat stroke, and he hadn’t even realized.

Purple eyes fluttered open as they stared, glossless and empty. His head turned towards Herobrine. His breathing grew labored. Steve swallowed the lump in his burning throat.

“Need a b-bucket. Now.” Steve rasped.

The demon glanced around, seeing a stack nearby and rushing to bring one to his companion.

Herobrine turned his head away as Steve lurched up to grasp the pail and retched. The sputter coughs and warbled pants as he heaved again. Herobrine’s heart squeezed at the soft pained whimpers the man made. He wanted to reach out and rub the man’s back, but something within him kept him frozen to the spot.

The heaves lasted much longer than Herobrine would have liked. As if Steve held back to get somewhere safe and finally could let whatever the f*ck was in his system out. Herobrine could almost feel the way Steve’s stomach clenched painfully. The sting in his throat. The taste and smell on his tongue.

Steve stuck his head deep in the pail, panting as he groaned.

Sweat soaked his shirt as Steve shoved aside the rank bucket to collapse onto the hay. Bloodshot eyes in a thousand-yard stare.

They had nothing here. Meager rations since they expected a quick trip or a nice hostel. Herobrine listened intently to the man’s puttering heart. His entire body was flushed and clammy. Mouth open, coughing from the vile stench and dust floating in the hayloft.

Herobrine teleported off with the pail to clean it of bile and reappeared, now filled with fresh water. Steve didn’t question where the water came from. He used it to rinse his mouth, spitting to the side, before placing it away from him.

“You should drink that.” The demon noted, thinking about how much water he lost already to sweat and drool. Heat stroke again looming in his mind and permanent damage to his organs.

Steve made a sound half between a scoff and a hiccup as he lay back down in the hay. “Got a feelin’ it’ll just come up again.”


Unsure of what else to do, the demon pulled the rest of the linen panel from his inventory and started tearing more scraps. He unwound the stained and dirtied bandages and grimaced as wet slimy debris pulled like snot between the man’s wounds and the linen.

Steve hissed in pain before putting the back of his uninjured hand to his mouth. Hiccuping. “Gugh. Gross.”

“You’re taking the pain well.”

“It was really bad when I got hit, I... I think I fainted.”

“And now?”

“Tingling, like my body is asleep, but needles are everywhere. It hurts differently now.”

Herobrine frowned. “Do what you can while I clean. You have your first-aid kit in your bag?”

“Yeah. Left pocket. I hope I remembered to restock some concentrate.”

“I hope so too.”

Steve stared numbly as his companion disposed of the used wraps, and by disposing, Herobrine threw them over his shoulder to burn. The demon pressed the wet scraps against the burns and dabbed away the rest of the dirt and blood.

It was horrific. Most of its debilitating features were to disorient and halt expedient healing. The boils were horrible second-degree burns, now that he could scrutinize them outside of battle. It looked more than a nasty peeling sunburn. Adrenaline and fear made everything seem different from it was.

While Steve seemed to hang on externally, internally it had to have been a catastrophe.

Black and green veins crawled across his tan skin. He lost a lot of color and his flesh soaked with sweat and trembling. Poison lingered in his blood, suffocating him from the inside. Toxin his heart unwittingly pumped throughout his body.

Herobrine rummaged through Steve’s bag and took out the kit. It was meager in supplies, considering Herobrine carried most of the load. But, heavenly, there was a small vial of concentrated health, enough to drop on the tongue, and the rest to dilute and soak bandages in.

“Y’know what?” Steve spoke softly, hardly above a whisper.


“This reminds me of the first time I licked a pufferfish.” Steve tried to make out a laugh, but groaned as his sore body jostled.

Herobrine gave him a look as he offered a drop on Steve’s tongue. “Why in the world would you do that?”

“It was a dare, and we were kids. Proved to who had the most guts. Won ten emeralds and a doctor’s visit after that. The scolding I got was heard across the entire neighborhood when Alex’s parents found out. The other kids wouldn’t stop talking about it for years. Hell, pufferfish, that’s probably what they put in this god forsaken poison.”

As Steve talked, Herobrine dumped the rest of the concentrate in the bucket and used it to soak the bandages and apply them to the burns. Steve sighed in relief as the cold bandages pressed to the wounds. The healing potion soaked in them was already busy at work to repair before it could scar.

“Because they did. There’s no other ingredient that can induce nausea like those spiny bastards. Ah, there. Good as new.” Herobrine tightened the last strip of linen around Steve’s body.

Steve scoffed, but didn’t say more.

A silence settled over them as Herobrine peered over the lip of the hayloft’s window, his cloak hiding him in the shade as letting hardly a sliver of his frame be seen from the window.

Another narrow street nestled between earthy plaster walls. Nothing but sparse figures. Women carrying baskets of groceries, people leading donkey driven carts, chickens running wild, children playing as they trailed over their mothers. No one came near the barn, giving a large berth as they approached.

Stretching his senses, they were safe, for now.

“A-ah. H... ow...” Steve grit his teeth as he clutched himself.

Herobrine pulled his focus and centered on his companion.

The remedy helped with repairing flesh, but not expelling the poison remaining in his veins.

“What’s wrong?” The demon asked.

Steve did not respond.

Herobrine knelt beside the miner, sweeping sweaty strands out of his face.

His friend panted, mouth hung open. He closed his eyes and leaned his head back, resting on the hay. Somehow, their hands found each other and Steve held on as if Herobrine were tethering him to the world.

Eventually, the man’s eyes fluttered like he was in a bad dream, his mouth moving lazily with no sound. The death grip eased to nothing. Had he fallen asleep?

Whatever this poison was, it wasn’t going away soon. Every second sitting like ducks, the miner’s panting grew laborious.

The demon found resolve in himself.

He would go hunting, finish the job he lost himself in when the man got hit. Those cloaks were full of bottles. He needed milk and stronger healing potions. Before any infection could settle into the acidic burns across the man’s skin. Surely a cult so reliant on potions had to have something to reverse them.

As soon as he tensed to move, the weak hand moved with him. Clapping around the demon’s wrist.

Steve rested his head back on the bed of hay, sucking in as much air as he could in deep low breaths. One eye cracked open. A sliver of purple in a sea of pale.

“Don’t do anything stupid.” The man slurred on faintly moving lips.

Herobrine rolled his eyes. “What makes you say that?”

Steve tilted his head to stare at the demon with a disbelieving look. “Because… I know you. You’re gonna do something stupid ‘cause of me. Can’t you just… stay? For a moment? I feel like I’m being cooked alive. Those shadows l-look awfully... suspicious... please… ugh... ow...”

The miner’s grip fell as Herobrine stood with a hollow expression and turned to look out of the hayloft’s open window. Lips pursed at the desperate furrow in the miner’s brow. He laid back down, sweat soaking into the hay.

Sitting ducks. Fish in a barrel. What other analogies could describe them at this moment? If Steve could walk around and not be vomiting out his guts at every teleport, maybe they’ll have a chance to high-tail it out of here to a neighboring town.

“I’ll scout around for cows and clear a way to escape. I promise I won’t be gone for long. Just… don’t roll off the loft?”

“Like I have any choice in the matter.”

He turned, as if expecting Steve to understand exactly why he needed to do this. To give him permission to kill, just this once.

And yet he received nothing but the look of a sad man who wanted this pain to end and pick up the shattered remains of his dignity.

He paced past Steve.

His friend’s deep purple eyes fluttered fully open as he tried sitting up, only for his arms to give out, and he fell back with a grunt. Clearly holding in another heave.

Stay.” Herobrine commanded.

Then he left in a flurry of purple particles. Leaving Steve all alone.

The man sunk into the loft. Delirious from dehydration and poison, his sense of reality shifted. Unable to determine what was here or what was from his dreams. Shadows, figures, hid behind every crate and hay bale. They were near; he wasn’t alone. He wanted to call out for his friend, to stay, to ward off the prying eyes.

But the demon was long gone. He could feel it in the night’s cold on his skin.

Leaving the fading man all alone, limp upon a bed of hay.



Steve woke up gasping. His sight blurred with building tears.

“N-no!” A whisper of a yell into the hollow barn.

A nightmare lucid that tingled across his exposed flesh. The cool air of night prickled the hairs across his arms. He stirred the green cloak draped over his body.

The green cloak…

Had Herobrine truly left him? The lines between reality blurred in his mind. How long did he lie here? Feverish and throat parched. A pang in his stomach. How long has it been since he’s eaten? How long has it been since Herobrine abandoned him? He needed water badly.

And yet the only thing he could do was roll over and dry heave. Spitting sand and dust from his chapped lips. Memories of barely waking up, moving to a bucket, dumping the water, and heaving into it returned to him in droves. Endlessly.

All alone, his nightmares comforted him with heart-racing scenarios of his own demise. He was nothing but a burden. A voice said it out loud. The moonlight of a cloudless night beamed through the hayloft’s window. Enormous shadows strewn around him, waiting to pounce.

Did Herobrine really say those things, or was it a fake nightmare all over again?

His wounds stung like the mending of a regeneration mixture. Hay itched at the little slivers of exposed skin on his arms. The demon’s cloak draped over him like a blanket.

The demon definitely returned, but he couldn’t bring his foggy mind to remember their brief exchange.

He remembered screaming. And then the warm hands were on him. Herobrine forced him to lie back down. Steve begged the demon not to leave again, but his demands fell on deaf ears. Fabrication and reality melded together between his slurred words and muffled responses from the demon.

But if Herobrine really had left his cloak here.


Nothing but a sickly burden left to rot. Again and again, he let his naïve heart take charge. Only to be used and dropped. Forgotten in the dust.

Movement remained a fleeting thought as his joints ached. Muscles sore from spasms. Those zealots would find him and would imprison him, execute him!

If he’d been more vigilant, he wouldn’t have gotten hit, he wouldn’t have dragged behind, he wouldn’t have been abandoned! Damn, they should never have come to such a populated city. Why did his call for adventure rob him of his basic rules for safety? He paid the price now.

A lump stuck in Steve’s throat as he curled into himself. The straw and hay prickled against his exposed skin. Discomfort. Oh, how he yearned to be back home in his cabin, far away from anyone.

Then... in his groggy mind, his stomach dropped.


Different from the ones conjured by the shadows around the room.

Hushed sharp whispers came from beneath him. Below on the first floor. Footsteps crunched and scuffed on the hay-strewn floor. Steve couldn’t decipher the words being spoken amongst the strangers. Multiple voices, multiple people.

Steve swallowed down his panic. He hoped to hell and back they were just the owners of the horses.

Then there was the whine. A dog. Sniffing and whimpering as its nails scraped and clacked against the floor.

A warm glow overpowered the faint rays of moonlight that washed across the floor and crept up the barn’s walls. Lantern light cast long shadows, hulking figures that mimicked the creatures of his paranoia.

“Stupid dog. I think he smelled scraps again. Where’s the faithless, you damned mutt?”

“I’m telling you. The innkeeper said they passed through here. Our informants followed the trail through the alley but lost track in this area.”

Those f*ckers. Stole his gold and still ratted them out. If Herobrine heard this, half the city would burn.

A yip sounded from directly below Steve.

“Hold on, what’s that right there? Check on the hayloft, they have to have left something.”

More lost grumbling and back-and-forth followed as Steve’s ears rang. He swallowed his pain as he patted around for anything. His scabbard rested against the adjacent wall, too far away to grab discreetly. His hand patted a leather strap, his utility knife. A tiny blade not meant for any battle. But any knife was a good knife.

He pressed himself deeper into the corner, covered in hay.

Steve gathered his feet beneath him as he watched the ledge of the hayloft. A gloved hand. Then a mask with the rest of the tan robe followed as the zealot stood in the hayloft. The mask looked around before suddenly snapping at his cowering body.

The blue glow within the eye slits told him everything Steve needed to know. Night-vision.

“Hey! Vagrants aren’t allowed up here. Don’t you know who these stables belong to?” The cultist spoke. “Wait a minute.”

Steve glared up like a cornered dog. Wide-eyed and feral. He hid his blade in the hay as he shivered. Green veins crawled up his neck and stretched across his forearms. If Herobrine abandoned him, he would have to fight for himself.

“Please, l don’t know who yer looking for, but I ain’t him.” He sputtered, trying to sound convincing. “I’ve got nothin’ here. Just a homeless man hidin’ from them monsters.”

The zealot heaved himself up and marched forward, hand dipping within his robes.

“Don’t resist or I’ll have to-”

Steve lunged forward with all his strength. The knife cleaved through the cultist’s mask. A gouge long across the face. The potion the zealot grabbed slipped from his hands and crashed to the floor below, splattering its contents.

Steve has aimed for the man’s hand to disarm him and steal the weapon at the cultist’s hip. But the world tilted so much when he moved, the cultist appeared as if he had teleported. Or rather, Steve had teleported in a jolt that vertigo swirled in his brain.

“What’s going on up there? What did you find?!” One of the other zealots called from below.

The cultist opposite to Steve flexed his hand as they squared off. They stood close to the edge of the hayloft. One more step and Steve could push the guy off the platform and get a few breaths to think.

In the dark, he could only see the light of the lanterns beneath the hayloft and the dusty robes lit in the moonlight streaming through the hayloft’s window. The cultist moved, his arms doing something in the draping robes Steve could barely see in his bleary vision.

The cultists twitched, and Steve lunged again, wildly lashing out his knife.

The cultist was faster. Side stepped to miss his blade. Steve reacted, throwing out his elbow and managing to collide his elbow with the cultist’s face. Landing a heavy hit.

Unfortunately, his attacker was not swayed by this.


An explosive punch to his gut sent Steve stumbling back onto his side into a hay bale. He wheezed and gasped from the shock. Pain sizzled across his body, and he seemed unsure how to address the additional stimuli. He grasped his already sore stomach with his free hand as he gasped for air. It stung like a scrape, throbbing. His hand felt wet. But if it was sweat from his flashing hot form, or something else-

“Stay down, dog. There’s more where that came from.”

Steve whipped his head up as the cultist slowly crept forward. The curved dagger weighed heavily in his grasp. Covered in dark blood that dripped onto the hay-strewn floor.

“Adam! The f*ck is going on?” A voice yelled from below. The dog barked, paws scratching on the wooden floor.

The cultist raised the blade once again. As if giving Steve an additional warning. “Found the bastard! He’s got a weapon. And f*cking strong.”

“Hold on! I’ll be right there.”

Steve bared his teeth in determination. He couldn’t go down without a fight. He stood on his wobbly feet. His utility knife was clutched in his white-knuckle grip as he clutched the burning material over his belly. He raised his hunting knife at the other.

His throat seized and itched as he wheezed the air back into his shocked lungs. He gasped and hacked. Dust blew up his nose.


Head much too light. The loft tilted, and the knife clattered to the ground.

Steve stumbled. Straining to stay upright, he stared at the frazzled cultist in fear. Another step, a slip, and the miner crashed to the ground with a loud thump! His head bounced against the wooden floor, shooting an ache and stunning him.

The cultist nudged the groaning Steve with his foot. Drool leaked from the corner of his mouth. Steve felt as if every single cell in his body was simultaneously numb and on fire. He couldn’t twitch his body to alertness. As if the pain in his stomach drained all of his energy as blood leached out.

“Eugh. What did you spill up there? Why is it... blood? Adam, get him down here! Her ladyship wants the man alive, not dead!”

“sh*t, she wants him alive?”

Gloved hands picked Steve up by his shoulders and dragged his body across the hayloft. He groaned as his head lolled. It hurt. It stung like bees as the shirt bloomed a slick stain.

Steve’s head floated in and out of consciousness.

Jostled down the hayloft and plopped somewhere. Hands touched him. He wanted them gone. His eyesight faded in that static gray like a phantom had stung him. Had the knife been laced? As if he needed more poison in him.

“I’ll get these horses ready if you’ll try to redo these pitiful bandages. And Terry, go scout around for the demon. The menace could be back at any second, looking for his territory.”

“Y-yeah, sure, give the scrawniest scout the job of looking for a demon that killed our best-”

“Do your job, runt.” One other snapped.

“Fine! Fine. Kate, can you do me a favor? If I wind up dead, blame him.”

“No promises, runt.”

Steve, meanwhile, could not help but give in to the pull of unconsciousness. As the world spun, his skin burned, his muscles ached, and his stomach churned.

There was a fleeting thought in the back of his mind.

I hope Hero is safe…


“Huff, Stevie? I’m back with some milk and that gold we got swindled out of! You wouldn’t believe what I ran into... Stevie? Steve?!”

Herobrine dropped through the open window as he spun around the hayloft.

Silence greeted him. Cold, disturbed hay spewed across the wooden planks.

Herobrine dropped everything as he began upheaping bales of hay and kicking around the crates and barrels around the loft. Dust flew up around his face, and his night vision illuminated everything around him. Even the horses beneath the loft were gone. Herobrine paced around as he kicked at the straw.

In his marching, his boot kicked a metal object that skidded across the floor. Metal and shiny.

Steve’s hunting knife. The emergency weapon he always kept on his belt. If his knife was here, where had he gone? Plus, the man’s travel pack was also gone from the loft. The only sign of Steve was his knife.

Also beneath Herobrine’s feet sat a familiar shade of green.

Kneeling down, Herobrine picked up his discarded cloak, the green fabric in his arms like secure armor in his hands. The cover he laid over his friend, now tossed to the ground and stomped beneath a thin layer of hay.

Next to it... blood. Smears of it across the disturbed hay. The iron scent framed the scene coalescing in his mind. Concern morphed into distress as he put pieces together. His fist clenched around the worn fabric as he bared his teeth.

A low growl rumbled in the demon’s chest as he swung the cloak back over his shoulder. The scent of Steve’s own musk and the stains of ick clung to the fibers as the cloak enveloped him. Sparks flickered from his fists and his ears picked up a sound. Muffled grumbling and footsteps crunching on the sand-strewn terracotta road.

Herobrine ducked down and peered over the loft, settling himself among the barrels and crates. He sucked in all light around into shadow, baring a silent snarl.

A robed figure marched into the barn, grumbling about nonsense and scouting. A scrawny cultist tossed a leather travel pack onto the floor and looked around.

The demon observed, keeping his head as he waited.

“Ugh, I don’t understand why they think they can boss me around. ‘Make sure the demon isn’t around’.” The cultist mocked. “Yeah, probably dumped the human to cover his tracks while he escaped. Can’t imagine why else he would leave that poor idiot to die alone.”

Herobrine’s scruff prickled as his eyes flared. He wanted to sink his teeth into the zealot’s throat to shut him up. He came back to save Steve; he didn’t abandon him! He would never abandon his friend!

“Peh, at least they let me keep his bag.”

The demon grit his teeth as he recognized the satchel that Steve strapped to his back, the worn leather and pouches that held basic survival gear.

The cultist plopped the satchel on the floor and rummaged through, tossing out Steve’s equipment all over the floor. First aid, rope, clothing, and more. The cultist grumbled to himself about how ‘novice’ the supplies were.

The audacity of this maggot to say such things about his friend and all of his treasures. The iron pickaxe that he enchanted to unbreaking two all on his own with no guidance and maintained for years with loving attention. An emergency flint and steel that he offered to Herobrine dozens of times before giggling ‘Oh, right’. The dried jerky that the cultist sniffed and tossed aside that Steve worked meticulously to get the recipe just right to preserve the freshness and the taste. A small round piece of quartz he must’ve kept after commenting how close it looked to Herobrine’s eye color.

So many ‘useless trinkets’ that meant the world to Steve and, in a way, were meaning the world to Herobrine.

But when the cultist tossed aside a ‘dusty old book’, that is when Herobrine found his breath again in a horrified gasp.

One gift Steve accepted from him. The guy refused most offerings of diamonds and gold. But he graciously accepted an old geology book that Herobrine had sto- ahem, procured from the aether long ago. Translated to common so the miner could understand, he whipped the thing out at every opportunity. Learning more about the world around him.

There were nights he’d find Steve simply reading the book, lost in the underground world. Sleepily asking Herobrine to define some of the longer words he hadn’t come across before. And they’d get a laugh when Herobrine shrugged and promised to ask the next Aetherian geologist he ran into.

All at once, the fog overtook him as the floorboards shook beneath him in his rage. He blindly blinked into a teleport. Grinning wide as the cultist gave a shrill shout of surprise, cut off by Herobrine’s hand around his neck.

The demon ripped the satchel from the cultist’s hands and wrapped the sturdy leather straps around the bastard’s neck. Tightening it in a chokehold and releasing his other hand, noting the large burn he left on his skin.

The cultist looked up at him in sheer terror, looking like he was trying to scream but unable to as all the air from his lungs was already used up from the shock of the encounter.

Through the haze of white, Herobrine was faintly aware of the fact that he hissed every single Aetherian curse in the known language at this man. Whispering in harsh grunts, ‘How dare you insult him this way! How dare you lay a disgusting bony finger on his hoard? How dare you speak ill of him! I will end you.’

The man desperately clawed at his throat. His eyes bulged as he gasped like a dying fish for air. Drooling just as his friend had earlier. He tried to kick at Herobrine, but it was as effective as trying to use a stick enchanted with feather falling to fight a mountain.

The monster grinned madly at the scene, increasing the pressure of the leather straps. Squeezing the very life out of this heathen. Begging the man to call out to his brother for help. Help that he would never receive.

Perhaps the man could ask why when he got to the void.

The curses stopped dead in his mouth when the cultist’s eyes finally rolled back into his head and he slumped like a sack of potatoes. Head co*cked so that Herobrine could see the damage he did on the man’s throat. Could see the leather straps that Steve had perfectly crafted-


It hit him like a freight train. The guilt slammed into him so hard that he dropped the cultist like he was made of ice-cold steel.

The cultist hit the ground hard, and to his surprise, was enough of a shock to kick the man’s heart back into gear. The cultist gasped and wheezed and spit, sucking in as much precious oxygen as his burning lungs could handle, before slumping again to the ground.

Herobrine could do nothing but stare at the sweaty leather in his hands.

‘What did I almost do?’

Everything they worked towards would have been gone in an instant. Over some stupid, worthless worm. Using one of Steve’s greatest treasures. He could never look at the bag the same way again. Guilt hit him harder than he expected. He dropped the bag, as if unworthy of touching it himself, and scratched his arms to the point of bleeding. Trying to rub the act off of himself.

f*ck. Steve, I didn’t mean to- brother; I am not like that- I-

“ARGH!” The demon gripped his head and took a few steps back.

Get a grip, Idiot. He scolded himself. You stopped the monster from having its kill. Everything is okay.

Except it wasn’t okay, he realized, kicking a post of the barn to release some of the anger. Cracking it in half and dropping some hay from above. Because he still did not know where Steve was. And he still felt the monster’s poisonous fire spreading through his veins faster than any potion the cultists had thrown at him.

He must calm down. Which was hard for a blinded bull to do.

But he had to. Inhale. Exhale. He had to save Steve.

Ignoring his felled foe for the time being, Herobrine teleported back into the loft. The wood creaked beneath his feet, louder at the loss of one of its supports.

Like a bloodhound, he sniffed at the air, trying to pick up Steve’s scent trail. But, just as he found before, it was too difficult with all the other stimuli.

Perhaps his energy? He closed his eyes and tried to find that violet hue in the world. A steady heartbeat like a pick rhythmically striking rock.

Herobrine sighed, in and out, stretching out his ears and senses. Twitch. The scuttling of mice in the alleys, crooning of a desert owl, grunting and groaning of sleeping camels, and the snoring of people nestled away in their pueblos.

No luck. Too much noise. It would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

He looked to the husks roaming the dark crevices of the city. Tall undead picked off by arrows at the fringes of the city. He saw through their eyes, their rotted minds. But his influence only chased them off. They only knew of the sand grinding their bones and the scorching sun.

Before he could panic, or give into the monster’s idea and begin slaughtering everyone within arm’s reach until he found his friend, the shallow breathing of the cultist below got his attention.

Surely the bastard would know where his kind took Steve. He’d been carrying his bag, after all.

Ironically, it was a good thing he stopped himself from killing the man. Might prove useful.

Herobrine slunk around the barn. Collecting some rope on the wall. Potions of all sorts fell from the robe’s pockets as Herobrine unceremoniously dragged the zealot across the barn floor to a beam. Herobrine wound the rope over and over, binding the zealot’s hands down and tying him tight against the beam. So much so that his breathing seemed restricted.

‘Good.’ The monster huffed out a puff of smoke into the man’s face. Unresponsive to the smoke, the demon bent down, lightly tapping his prisoner’s face.

“Wake up.” He growled, hitting harder when he received no response. “You can’t fool me. I can hear your pathetic heart puttering.”

But the man’s head continued to lull. Unresponsive. Herobrine plucked the cultist’s mask off his face and tossed it to the side, inspecting the guy he was dealing with.

A youngish-looking fellow, with a bony-thin face and sharp features. Dirty blond hair peeked from beneath the fabric covering his head. His eyes were gaunt, with dark circles and freckles across his pale skin. It’s obvious the cultist was not native to this area.

A few snaps in front of his face and even a poke into one of his eyes continued to prove ineffective. He knocked the man out cold.

Fine. If this is how it’s going to be…

The demon teleported up the loft of the barn, grabbing the bucket of water left behind from Steve… realizing it was no longer filled with water but bile, and appeared in front of a water trough.

Herobrine sloshed the bucket in the water (not bothering to wash it out) and sauntered over to the cultist.

With a significant force, he propelled the contents of the bucket directly into the cultist’s face.

“Gwah! Hack!” The cultist jolted awake and coughed. He squirmed in his bindings as he thrashed around hacking out a lung.

“Morning.” Herobrine curled his lip in a snarl, kneeling to face the cultist head-on.

The cultist flinched as he rammed the back of his head against the post and moaned in pain. He squinted his eyes against the bright glow emanating from Herobrine.

“Let me make this simple, you waste of space.” Herobrine leaned in nose-to-nose with the cultist’s face. “You will answer every one of my questions.”

The cultist stammered, eyes wide and pupils small. “O-or what?”

Herobrine grinned a menacing toothy smile. “I don’t think you want to know the answer to that.”

The boy reeked of fear. Herobrine could hear Steve scoffing in the back of his mind at the threatening theatrics. The demon would have caved the cultist’s skull in if it weren’t for the little voice in his head telling him Steve would be disappointed, even if the man was nearly dead from the cult’s own hands.

Which was why it was important not to kill this one. He had to keep telling himself that.

“I’ll start you off easy. Name?”

The cultist swallowed. “T-terry.”

Herobrine raised a brow but continued. “Okay, Terry. It was my understanding that you zealots worship Notch.” The name on his tongue sent panic down his spine, but Herobrine pressed on.

“We call ourselves the Disciples of Golden Apples.” Terry nodded. “We indeed follow the ways and the teachings of Lord Notch.”

“Pretty ancient fan club, I see. One that’s been a nasty thorn in my side for ages. Though, it’s my understanding that your kind died out in the last age.”

“Think again, demon.” There was some confidence gained when he spat the sentence out. His eyes narrowed, and he bent forward. “We are a never-ending cycle, just like that of an apple tree from seed to-“


Herobrine punched the wall next to Terry’s head with a flaming fist.

“Don’t you dare even f*cking start,” Herobrine growled. “How did you find me?”

When the cultist hesitated, Herobrine placed his flaming hand closer to the side of Terry’s head. Terry gasped fearfully as he squirmed in his bindings. Then his mouth worked.

“Informants! It was informants. Learned you were traveling in this desert. Everyone stops in this city along the way. It’s why we’ve set up base here. Our informant did not mention you weren’t traveling alone.” Terry practically choked on the words, looking like he struggled between not wanting to talk and fearing for his life.

“Who are these informants?” Herobrine pressed further.

“I’m not allowed to know. Only our top ranks may know. Which I am not.”

“Where did you take my companion?”

“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Liar. The way his voice wavered and his eyes twitched gave him away. Herobrine held his fist close to Terry’s deceitful face and snapped his fingers.



Herobrine scoffed. “You know exactly what I’m asking about. You said it yourself, I wasn’t alone. Now, Terry, where is he?”

“I-I cannot say-ack!”

The cultist sputtered as his feet flailed.

Herobrine’s eyes narrowed as the zealot kicked with all his might. His sandals did nothing but further smudge the demon’s shirt as he flailed miserably. Herobrine glitched in irritation as he grasped the cultist’s throat.

“Then you are no longer of use to me.”

The white light was back like vultures to a kill. Already so close to the edge, Herobrine wasn’t sure he could restrain himself a second time. A part of him knew this journey would end with him killing these freaks the second he saw the church. It was the only way.

Sorry Steve, Herobrine thought as his vision tunneled. Looks like it’s another disappointment. I’ll find you.

“Wait-Ack! Please!” The cultist stammered. “I’ll take you to our headquarters. He’s probably there. A-ah, it’s outside th-the city in a ruined t-temple. I beg of you, don’t kill me!”

Oh. The white light receded only slightly. Just enough to look down at the pathetic man sweating through his robes.

Herobrine clicked his tongue. He released the zealot’s throat and leaned back.

“How do I know you won’t bolt and shriek, alerting everyone I’m here?” Herobrine spoke.

“I won’t do anything, I promise!”

“Good.” Herobrine returned that chilling grin to his face. “And if you’re lying, I won’t hesitate to disembowel you and force you to watch your own guts spill from your chest as you bleed out and die, capiche?”

Terry nodded his head fervently.

Herobrine burned away the rope keeping the cultist in place and crossed his arms.

Terry cowered before Herobrine, slowly picking himself up and rolling out his tense muscles before looking up at the demon’s furrowed brow. Such a scrawny and small thing. He barely stood at Herobrine’s shoulders.

The demon took a length of the remaining rope that he burnt away and turned to the cultist, staring him down. “On second thought, give me your wrists. Can’t have you reaching for your dagger and sinking it in my back. It’ll only make me angrier.”

Terry rolled his eyes and held out his hands.

Herobrine grinned. “Smart man.”

With Terry tied up and at the demon’s mercy, they were ready to head out to wherever Terry led. The cowardly man would cow beneath the demon’s oppressive presence in a heartbeat if it meant that it spared him a few seconds longer.

The demon scoffed as he looked around, his night vision peeling away the shroud of the witching hour morning. His eyes landed on the discarded cultist mask. Drab little thing, the mask was. Of inferior status and low decor. Nothing more than a grunt, it seemed, fodder for the beast as their encounter meant anything.

Sitting a little further than that was Steve’s satchel lying pitifully on the barn floor, its contents spilled around it. Looted by the cultist standing behind Herobrine.

The demon bent down and picked up the cultist’s mask. He wanted to burn it right then and there, but... something stopped his hand from rubbing the power imbalance further into the cultist’s wounded pride.

“Wait,” Herobrine growled.

“What?” the boy said with sass.

Herobrine nodded his head towards Steve’s abandoned pack. “Pick it all back up and put it back where it belongs. Carefully.” He threw the discarded mask into Terry’s gut with enough force to pull the wind from the man’s lungs once more.

Terry coughed, eye twitching. “H-how do you expect me to do that with my hands-“

“Figure it out.”

Terry placed the mask back on his face and turned to Herobrine. Narrow, sharp eyes glaring from beneath that fashionably atrocious mask. The mask hid Terry’s anxiety well, but the sweat dripping from his brow and the thumping heart in his chest betrayed him.

Herobrine’s focus strayed from the grumbling cultist. He had little time to waste. The demon’s rage turned back around on himself. How could he have been so blind to Steve’s needs? Had it been so long that he’d forgotten how fragile humans could be? Or had he just spent enough time around Steve to believe that the man was just so strong that it was hard to picture him in actual distress? His Steven was no damsel.

It made him ball up flaming fists and swallow down venom. Fighting every instinct inside of him to destroy, he cleared his throat just as the cultist finished up his sloppy work.

“So, how are we going to avoid your friends since this place is infested with you vermin?” Herobrine spoke as the cultist shakily handed over Steve’s packed bag. The demon tucked it away into his inventory for safekeeping.

Terry cleared his throat, ogling at the seemingly magical display. “We- we use the network of cisterns and tunnels beneath the streets to traverse through the city unseen.”

“Great...sewers,” Herobrine remarked sarcastically. “Okay, out you go. Get moving before I lose more patience.”

Terry took a few steps out the barn door before halting. His mask stared straight ahead as he trembled.

“N-no, what am I thinking? I’ve changed my mind. I can’t take you there. You’ll just slaughter everyone, won’t you? All my family. You won’t get inside my head with your threats, demon!” Terry whirled around with a shriek.

Herobrine rolled his eyes. “I am not interested in hurting anyone as long as my friend is returned safely to me.”

“That’s just it. There’s no promising that the sinner is still alive.” Terry chose his words carefully. Seeming to want to preserve his life and the cults. He did a terrible job at it since Herobrine could tell he knew something that he was not saying. “Regardless of your friend, if I lead you to our headquarters, you’ll kill everyone.”

“Listen to me,” Herobrine warned with a pointed stare.

“I’m not making deals with the devil!” Terry shut his eyes. Sweat poured down his bruised and burnt neck. “I have enough common sense for that. It’s like the great teachings say: a sacrifice of one can save the lives of thousands.”

“Sounds like my brother alright.” Herobrine sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose at the oncoming headache. “Look, maggot- I mean. Look, Terry. We can do this the easy way where you show me the base and I go on my merry gods damned way. Or. You can be stubborn and I can tear apart the entire city looking for your clubhouse. Does that fit your ‘sacrificial lamb’ tenant?”

“Mph. You can try, but we’ve already proven we outnumber you! I have enough faith in my god and my fellow disciples that you will be stopped before you even step foot into our place of worship.” Terry said bravely, puffing out his chest. “No one shall be harmed by your hand tonight, demon. Regardless of my interference. The mighty oak is stronger than just one root.”

“Ok, you lost me. Where did you ugh... I didn’t hit you that hard on the head, did I?”

Terry jabbered off further on his tangent, each syllable giving rise to Herobrine spider-silk thin patience. “I don’t know why I’m even talking to you! The scourge of the nether, the antithesis to all the Golden Apples stand for. Her ladyship knows what she’s doing and she’ll muzzle you with that random guy and you shall be stopped, and the overworld rid of your filthy presence- ACK!”

Herobrine seized the cultist by the back of the neck and pressed Steve’s hunting knife against Terry’s exposed Adam’s apple. The cultist’s breath hitched. A fine line of sweat dropped onto the blade. The mystical white orbs mesmerized those sharp eyes beneath the mask.

“Listen here you little prick,” He huffed, voice quivering with barely contained rage. “Either you give me what I want quickly, or things get messy. You will never be worth the time for a god. To them? You are dirt to be walked on, but you’d be into that, wouldn’t you? You’d lick the heels of any f*cker with half the charisma of a pile of camel sh*t. So, are we going to do this the easy way, or the hard way?” Herobrine’s shoulders smoldered as smoke billowed from beneath his shirt.

“I won’t bow to you, demon.” Terry hissed.

Herobrine let a twisted, sad*stic smile curl on his lips as he drew the blade across the cultist’s neck. “So be it.” The monster deep inside laughed. A moment of relapse.

A clean swipe splattered crimson across the sandy floor. Terry gurgled and gasped as blood spurted from his slashed neck, splattering onto the inside of his mask as he sputtered and gushed down his robe. It was a shallow cut, one that looked worse than it actually was. At least in Herobrine’s mind.

Herobrine unceremoniously dropped the cultists and strolled over a discarded potion. He recognized the color of the glimmering pink. He uncorked the bulbous bottle and returned to Terry, splashing the contents over the spitting wound.

Instantly, the seepage stopped and wounds stitched together with a thin line of magic sealing and knitting back together. The fizzing potion reabsorbed blood and knitted the wound into a clean scar.

Terry awoke with a gasp, a sob wracking through his chest as he trembled. “H-holy sh*t!” Horrified eyes shot up to a gleeful Herobrine, relishing the glistening blood on his hands.

“Ah good, how tragic would it have been if I had mistaken that potion for something else? Fire protection wouldn’t have done much, now would it?”

Terry coughed and hacked as he spoke. “What the f*ck is wrong with you?”

“Ah, grappling with your brush with death, hm? Terrifying, isn’t it? The cold embrace whisking you away from the fleeting world you once knew. Did you see anything? Was there an afterlife, or did you see the apathetic veil of the void?” The monster pushed forth in Herobrine’s mind. “Now imagine it happening over and over, with no way to escape it. If my memory stands, such torture is favored by your little fan club.”

His own cruel desires to torture this poor fool for his own delight. Squeezing every ounce of resistance as he spilled the secrets of the cult as he spilled his guts.

A small voice piqued the back of Herobrine’s mind. The disapproving frown on his friend’s face filled with terror in those purple eyes. No better than a beast, no better a monster than those who torture for their own gain. To murder hundreds for one life? Steve would never forgive him.

Herobrine snapped out of it. Terry seemed to sense the shift in demeanor, tilting his masked head.

The cultist was still a zealot, but beneath he was still a boy. That’s how Steve would view him. Herobrine’s brow furrowed as he stepped back, allowing the cultist to gather himself to his feet. Terry shuffled out of the barn, head bowed as he trudged along. Herobrine followed.

The demon cleared his throat. “Let’s… start fresh. Keep it simple. I give you my word that no harm shall come to your ‘friends’ if I get mine back.”

“And if you don’t?”

Herobrine didn’t want to think about that. “Admittedly, I am desperate. You’ve seen what I’m willing to do. I know threatening you is the worst thing I can do to gain your trust. But I promise that I will find him alive. With or without your help. And I cannot promise that I will do so without killing everyone in this town. You are currently the only hope of keeping the peace.”

Terry scoffed, still rubbing his neck in disbelief. “I find it hard to trust you.”

“In your defense, I have done nothing to aid in earning your trust. Nor do I entirely blame your misguided attitude. They fed me the same lies that you consumed when I was your age.”

“My age?”

Herobrine recoiled at the notion of his past. “Never mind all that. Are you in or not?”

“Tricky snake... Fine.” Terry muttered under his breath. “I can’t believe I am agreeing to this. Notch give me strength.”

When the cultist then just stood there, Herobrine’s temple twitched with impatience. “Are you going to walk, or will I have to whip you like a horse?”

“Okay! Okay.”

Under the cover of the desert night, chilly breezes swept over the rolling dunes. A new moon darkened the landscape with only stars to grace the sand with faint light.

Pueblos and buildings were cold, with sleeping bodies in the lightless windows. Monoliths of clay and sandstone rose out of the dusty streets. The arid landscape held no heat in the realm of night.

Terry shuffled along, grumbling under his breath as Herobrine strode behind him.

Cold houses lined the streets as they maneuvered around in alleys and away from prying eyes. Herobrine kept his ears sharp and senses spread through feelers of undead husks shambling in the outer reaches of the town.

Cultists, in fewer numbers, wandered the alleys as they did on patrol. The demon was at large and angry.

Terry halted in the middle of a street, his mask facing his feet.

Herobrine snorted. “Having second thoughts again?”

“Here’s the entrance.” Terry kicked at the dust, unearthing a metal disk implanted into the road.

Herobrine pulled the grate out with ease and stared down the hole. His night vision illuminated down the ladder into the stone tunnel.

“Why are you staring at me like that?” Terry spoke. “I don’t have hands if you already forgot.”

“It’s a few meters drop. You’ll live.”

“Not with my ankles intact!”

Herobrine growled as Terry’s feet stayed planted on the road, but he heard other signs of life drawing near to their location. Herobrine grabbed Terry and shoved him into the hole. He then quickly slipped through and replaced the utility hole cover. His feet splashed in sandy mud as he hopped off the ladder.

Terry wriggled and groaned from the fall.

Herobrine grabbed the boy’s shoulder and hoisted him to his feet.

Terry whipped around. “What the hell-”

“Yell any louder and you better hope you have another regeneration potion.” Herobrine hissed. “We’re in the sewer. What’s next?”

Terry grumbled as he got to his feet and started shuffling down the stone tunnel. It was a series of canals and damp wells in the underground cave system where stormwater collected.

“Careful of puddles, something is always crawling around that could hear us. And if they catch me helping you, I’m as good as dead myself.”

Herobrine allowed himself a smirk despite himself and the situation. “You don’t say after nearly shrieking?”

“Whose fault was that!?”

There were turns and twists. Terry regarded symbols etched into the stone. Herobrine tried memorizing each intersection and road sign but he was utterly lost. Traversing caves was Steve’s territory. He just kept the mobs at bay.

As they walked silently through the sewers, competing splashes sounded from deep within passing tunnels. It was only mobs that roamed nearby.

They came upon a dead end with another ladder that led up. Through the holes of the manhole, the chill of night swept through the tunnels. So early that the sun still hadn’t risen, but the moon was deep in its descent.

“This is it,” Terry said. “It’s an outpost right outside the temple. No one is here at night, but they will be by daybreak.”

Herobrine climbed up the ladder and shifted the manhole cover aside, peering his head to the surface. He hoisted Terry up the ladder, set him back down on the sand, and kicked the cover back into place. It was a little nook made of sandstone boulders and an acacia tree for shade. A crate with supplies sat tucked between the rocks, a telescope stuck right out.

“Sit down,” Herobrine commanded. “Back against the tree.”

Terry opened his mouth to retort when Herobrine’s sneer shut him up. The boy plopped himself down by the tree with an indignant huff and sat there pissy as Herobrine tied him up to the trunk.

“Letting you know that I have hearing that rivals none. If you call for help before sunrise, our truce ends. I will find you and finish the job.”

Terry snorted. “Got it.”

Herobrine took the telescope in hand and crouched behind a boulder, narrowing in on the temple. Finding it somewhat pathetic to be using a tool like this instead of scoping out the area himself, he didn’t dare get too close to the unknown and there were no undead nearby he could send feelers out through to scope the ruins.

Herobrine narrowed his eyes as he tried to make sense of the ruins in front of him. Hidden amongst crates and debris, white-linen figures crawled out of the entrance and scuttled away beneath the glow of the waning moon. It reminded him of an ant nest. Buried in the sand.

“So, see anything sacrilegious yet?” Terry sneered.

“Shut it, pipsqueak.”

“Ooh, so scary.”

He focused the telescope on a mule-driven cart struggling against the crumbling sandstone as it trudged along a faint road. The mule huffed and nickered as the cart dragged behind. A cultist sat steering the cart as the other kneeled in the cart’s bed, hovering over a lumpy tarp.

Herobrine put the telescope to the max as he focused in on the tarp and the arm dangling from underneath the tarp.

A tan hand, scarred and freckled. Blood smeared across the palm.

The cart rolled up to the entrance, and multiple other cultists scooted up and peeled away the tarp to expose the poor victim.

Herobrine gasped.

His heart sank into his stomach.

In his focus was the bloodied face of his friend. Proper gauze wrapped around his head and body. But Steve was unresponsive to every poke and prod. Limp like a dead fish. They pulled him out of the cart and carried him down into the belly of the beast.


Herobrine’s line of view shattered into many fractals.

He tossed the crunched tool to the side and stood. Sparks and faint tongues of flames squirmed from the inside of his fists.

“Damn, what pissed you off this-urk!”

Herobrine grabbed the man’s throat, burning a palm print into the cultist’s jugular.

“Not. Another. Word.” A glitch echoed in the recesses of his throat.

Quickly, Herobrine tore a sizable chunk of the cultist’s robe and made a gag to shut that damn nuisance up. The demon then patted down the boy’s robe and dumped out all the potions in his pockets. His prize was the silvery gray labeled ‘invisible’.

Herobrine took out the invisibility potion he stole and splashed it over his body, disappearing within seconds. The only thing left of him was the footprints in the sand where his shoes stood.

The demon teleported close to the entrance, a large hole in the earth, and hid amongst crates stacked outside.

Guards, clad in iron plates over their linen robes, stood bored outside. Torchlight flickered across their helmets. Scouts and archers crawled at the upper ramparts of the abandoned temple while other footmen traversed the dunes around.

No monsters dared enter such a place so thick in the aether’s sick. An aura that rivaled his own that sent monsters scurrying away into the caves and away from their beds. They must’ve had actual ties to his brother’s realm to procure such powerful artifacts.

And yet the charms wouldn’t prevent this monster from pushing through that ward and wreaking havoc.

He teleported into the cave system. Careful to avoid sand that would reveal his footprints.

The faint sting of familiar charms tickled his body wrong. And an all too familiar scent forced dots into his vision. The demon wished to hold his breath to avoid a growl that threatened to escape. And yet the thing that angered him so was the very thing he would need to follow. The smell of Steve’s blood.

Small drips led him like a map. Deeper into the belly of his brother’s beast. White fuzz filled his vision the further he went. A harsh tone in the back of his head from the wards. He swore he could taste the sour fruit on his tongue. Every teleport made him angrier. He passed tapestries depicting his brother as a savior and rooms that housed and cared for people who despised his existence. The thought of every single drop of Steve’s innocent blood spilled on his behalf.

He read the words ‘chapel’ in Aetherian as he came to an eventual stop. An obstacle was in front of him, but he hoped Steve was close. The blood was drying.

Pushing through the massive doors without hesitation, Herobrine ambled into the sanctum. Rows of pews on either side led up to a massive pedestal where a lectern stood. A towering intricate carving of an apple tree looming behind, gilded in gold. Glowstone chandeliers shone bright speckled light down upon the empty congregation. It reeked of blind devotion and groveling weakness, desperate for any grasp of power and false comfort.

Sauntering up to the lectern, Herobrine brushed the tips of his fingers over the tome perched on the surface. An ancient holy tome of the religion. He recalled this edition, created immediately after his fall from grace. Lies sewn into the very fabric of the ideology meant to instill fear in the congregation by his name.

How easily such a silver tongue could sway the minds of the world, it could sway his only friend against him if Steve ever found this tome. Forever the enemy. He reasoned to destroy the tome or hoard it away in his castle, never to see the light of day again.

His palms heated as he prepared to incinerate the blasted artifact, then the doors creaked open.

Herobrine tilted his head to his shoulder as a dart whizzed by his ear. He flicked his eyes up to the door of the chapel, where an ornately dressed woman stood. A gilded mask veiled her face, but the slits exposed her furious gaze.

“An impertinent demon that dares defile the holy sanctum with his presence is an act that will not be unpunished.”

“Ah, sh*t,” Herobrine muttered under his breath, looking down and realizing his potion had worn off. He shook his head gently to focus. “I would never have willingly entered such a backwater place but… Well, you see, you took something of mine that I would like back. And while I would normally be, you know, all for razing this place to the ground, it would be better for both of us if you would cough up my companion and we both go our separate ways.”

The priestess almost laughed at this. “I am glad that my hunch was correct when I told my clan to capture him. So tell me, why go through all this trouble for a single mortal? He’s hardly anything special. We are loyal servants to our gods, mortal tools for his will. What makes him any different from us that you slaughter so carelessly?”

“Here we go…” Herobrine grumbled under his breath. “The difference between you lot and the parishioners upstairs is that those people don’t summon me and use me as a sacrifice to their master for their own selfish gain.”

“Oh, please.” She drug her war hammer with her. “The old texts would never lie. You have always been a territorial beast. A greedy monster who guards with tooth and nail what he believes belongs to him, even if it doesn’t. Stealing what he finds and discarding when they have no use. Once I learned you had left this man to die, I assumed that would be the end. And I had made a miscalculation to try hunting him down. Yet here you are. So he must still be of some use to you.”

“You must live a pitiful life.” The demon snipped, already growing tired of this conversation as it hit too close to home. “Nothing to love, nothing to fight for, other than an apathetic god that will dispose of you when he sees fit. How sad and desperate must you be that you cannot find something to love that loves you back other than the shallow religion you use to torment innocent lives?”

The words slipped out like ice, grateful that Steve was not here, so he didn’t hear the near confession that he wasn’t even ready to admit to himself.

“Hmph. Our teachings also describe your silver tongue. Wagging with taunts and lies.” Her tone turned venomous. “What makes you an expert? A beast like you could never know love.”

He tried not to let the sentence, that he repeated like a mantra, phase him. Keeping his poker face, he turned his insecurities back on her.

“Struck a nerve, I see.” He spat at the foot of their altar to hide his discomfort. “Shame. I cannot fathom why you cannot find love in this life and instead seek it from a god who pretends to listen. But enough of this. Hand over the man, and I’ll leave in peace.”

She smirked, seeming to see that she had struck his nerves right back. “And if I don’t?”

Herobrine narrowed his eyes as he straightened his back. The warble of several enderman echoed from the shadows.

“Suffocation in sand is a gruesome way to die. All those little grains being swallowed into your lungs. You can’t do anything but cough, inhaling more and more till blood leaks. It’s one of your favorite ways to execute sinners, is it not? I would know your ancestors of the Golden Apples have executed me hundreds of times while I sat chained. I should have realized you bastards would flock to the material enough to dig your own graves.”

The zealot sniffed, unfazed by his threat. She leaned on her hammer. Drumming her nails in thought.

“His Highness desired your execution for his favor, but I supposed his loyal disciple would be the next best thing.”

Herobrine didn’t even have time to let the revelation sink in that they had direct current contact with the aether. At the snap of her fingers, the doors of the sanctum squealed open, and shuffling feet ushered in, followed by the scraping of boots across the stone floor. Behind the priestess, a group of underlings filed in, a pair dragging a familiar body into the sanctum.

The body twitched as he tried to move, but the poison in his system paralyzed him. The grunts stood before the priestess and kept the man upright.

Herobrine’s head buzzed. He tried to wipe the horror look off his face, but the sight was straight from his nightmares.

In his time away from the man, black veins blotched his tan skin and sucked away the lively color. His muscles twitched and trembled. Clammy sweat streamed down his body, soaking his shirt and hair slick. There were new burns splattered across his bare skin, newly inflicted torment. His eyes were dull and lulled closed. Steve had been tranquilized by the way his chest rose and fell with even breaths.

The priestess fisted his friend’s hair and forced Steve’s head up. Herobrine nearly teleported forward to rip the woman’s head off for even daring to touch Steve, let alone handle him so aggressively.

Instead, he shifted his weight from side to side as he measured the situation. There had to be a hidden knife somewhere ready to strike if Herobrine moved too suddenly; or a potion to neutralize him and kill two birds with one stone.

“This poor soul, tainted and led astray by the words of an incubus. A lamb abandoned by his wolf master before he was ready for slaughter.” The priestess said. “What do you say, demon?”

“Release him. Enough of these games.”

His voice was forceful but filled with white-hot rage. Sparks leaked from his palm as his fists shook.

“You cannot possibly expect us to follow your orders, devil.” The priestess laughed. Yanking Steve’s head so hard that his eyes rolled backward for the briefest of seconds.

“You do not comprehend what I can do.” Herobrine’s back hunched as a glitch shuddered through his form.

“I know what you are and what you are capable of.” The priestess released Steve’s hair. Letting him fall hard to the ground and not stir. “That is why we will use any tool at our disposal to keep you in line. You cannot bury us without burying him. We do not care if we are slain in battle. As our great god Notch would grant us immortality for our efforts as written in the sacred texts.”

Herobrine sucked in a breath through his teeth. “Yeah, that’s not how it works. But it would be very convenient for me if you die trying ‘cause I know you won’t come back.”

“Bold words from a fallen god who has fallen once again right into our trap!”

Herobrine’s blood pressure skyrocketed at those words. Twitching as he imagined the confines of their torturous totems. How it felt to be teleported against his will in a small block and stabbed until he bled to death in a sacrifice to his brother.

But no. Thankfully, out of the shadows emerged a cacophony of cloaks.

“Each one of us is ready and willing to die for our god! Meaning either your blood spills tonight,” She held her hammer above Steve’s head. “Or his! Last chance to turn yourself over and submit to our god!”

“So you can all get off? Don’t think so.” The demon growled. “Despite what you think, you’re not in a position to bargain.”

Herobrine’s eyes sparked. He outstretched his hands and let all the energy he stored inside him push against the annoying hum of the protective ruins that littered the building like insects.

Using all that rage that built up like a dam, his energy wrapped around the magic. It groaned in protest as he closed his hand. Physically crushing it in his palm.


They all deactivated at once with the extinguishing of all the torches. A silence fell over the room.

Herobrine couldn’t help his murderous smirk.

“Why don’t we make this a fair fight?”

Shifting his energy now. Out to the dark recesses of the caves that were attached to this snake den. Calling all mobs that were once turned away due to the hum of the ruins. Promising them an easy meal that had previously laid just out of reach.

The mobs answered graciously.

At first, the cultists seemed confused as to what Herobrine had done, other than turn out the lights.

And then the simple sound of a swarm echoed down the halls.

News spread quickly. A cultist threw open the door and screamed. “The ruins are down! The ruins are- ah!”

A creeper blast sent the cultist and the ornate doors into the room.

The cultist leader slammed her hammer down on the ground. “To arms!”

Thankfully, with the tight proximity and the lights now out, most of those with crossbows held their bolts. Lest they hit their colleges. Instead, they ran from the room to handle the growing hoard situation happening outside as mobs spilled nto the room. Fueled by the monster’s rage.

Herobrine teleported. Trying to get to Steve and leave. But the group had other ideas. The lackeys formed a protective circle around the man. Preventing a clean teleport. The demon growled, teleporting on top of the altar as he moved out of the range of one of their swipes.

He dodged immediately as a hammer slammed down on the table, splitting it down the middle. The ancient text fell with the rubble.

“You’re mine!” She spat behind her mask. “Your blood will spill in these halls!”

“Fwoom.” A fireball erupted in Herobrine’s palm as he raised to throw, and then he remembered all the wood scaffolding keeping metric tons of rock and sand from caving in upon their heads. Ventilation did not exist easily this far down without channels. He would suffocate all the other zealots and Steve before even finishing this fight.

That meant he couldn’t lose control. He wouldn’t lose control. The monster would be too destructive. And all his hard work to save his friend would be for naught.

He would do this the hard way. Use his strategic mind.

Urgh. The monster hated the hard way.

The summoned charge switched to his scythe, and he spun the signature weapon in flair.

Their weapons met in a spark of fury. Lighting up the room like a storm. He fought defensively. His focus was on Steven and the surrounding cultists.

He must be smart about how he wanted to do this. The mobs were, wisely, avoiding getting too close to their battle. And he was concentrating too hard on everything else to get the mobs to attack said cultists without hurting Steve.

A quick idea came to mind and, ever the man of action, he acted on it immediately.

Avoiding getting sliced in half by the circle of swords by doing a couple of quick teleports, he bounced around the room before settling in front of a random cultist.

With the speed of a snake, he grabbed the cultist by the front of their cloak and then teleported. Taking the random grunt with him.

He picked them off, one by one. Slowly tossing them out of the room into the chaos of battle against the mobs. They couldn’t get back in. As he glanced out into the hall, the entire temple had filled with creatures. All driving any cultist away from the doorway and outside the base. They did not interfere with his work.

Herobrine had to admit that while he was distracted by doing this quickly; he found enjoyment in tossing the cultists aside like crumbs for birds. He may have spent a little too much time seeing just how far he could toss them without inflicting a mortal wound.

After the last teleport, Herobrine was left quite winded. He worked fast so that none of the cultists got wise and tried to take Steve hostage again. He lagged on his last teleport. Trying to catch his breath.


But one pertinent threat remained…

Herobrine teleported to the side as a hammer slammed into the space where he just stood. The woman hoisted the unwieldy weapon back up and charged. He zipped across the room again as she swung.

Herobrine could predict her movements far too easily. She held the war hammer out of prestige but it did not suit her in the slightest. She couldn’t even control her strikes and swings in her rampage as Herobrine kept teleporting circles around her and her two disciples.

Who was she kidding? He fought a war hammer-wielding maniac for centuries. Even if she managed a hit, it would barely phase him.

She seemed to recognize this, too. Her gaze fell over to Steven, still on the ground.

Herobrine teleported in front of her and growled deep in his throat. Protective of his felled friend.

Her eyes shook through the mask with a mixture of anger and fear. Throwing the hammer to the side, she reached into her cloak and pulled out an ornamental curved sword. The demon almost dropped his stance to mock it. A flimsy thing meant for the ceremonial spilling of blood. Not for combat against an enchanted weapon.

This fight became frustrating. How easy it would be to end it. Send out a wave of fire and roast them all alive. Grab the war hammer and crush her skull in. Not caring about the damage he took.

Steve was right there, though. And every time he had an opening to go in for an easy kill, he hesitated, eyes flitting back to the body on the ground just a few steps from the fight. Letting his guard down for her to swipe at him.

They may have been aether scum. But they were people. Misguided like he was. He should be sympathetic. Which was incredibly hard to do. Especially when she landed a single blow to his cheek. Spilling a drop of his blood on the ground.

The cultist leader grinned wildly. Staring at the red substance in awe. She howled in hysterics at her success. These cultist bastards always got off to the sight of him bleeding. As if that made him mortal. The grin quickly disappeared as she felt the shift in the air.

Herobrine had enough. The scythe went back into his inventory. The dark shadows gathered around him. His shoulders quivered as heat poured from his body in waves.

He waited.

The pressure from his powers forced her to reach out and strike again.

The demon caught the blade with his hand.

Skin sliced and blood bubbled. Not enough to go to the bone, as the blade was too dull. But enough to cause a serious injury for anyone other than himself.

Surprised, her stance dropped. He quickly ripped the weapon from her grip.

The wounds on his face and hand were sealed with white energy by the time he shifted his stance.


All it took was one final teleport.

The sword was now on her neck, a fine line of blood as he pressed. She gasped and thrashed, but his grip was iron on her shoulder.


Her dark hair draped crazily over her eyes. Sweat poured from every orifice. Smothering her in the smell of fear. Faced with her demise, fear sweated from every pore. The woman braced for the hesitating blow, a coward taking the martyr’s path instead of getting back up and proving herself. Thinking she had done enough to earn a chance at eternal salvation.

“F-for Notch.” She spoke, closing her eyes tight and clenching.

Herobrine swung back the sword; his heart burned hot in a desire to rid the world of another zealot.


Herobrine slammed the hilt down on her head.

The woman slumped as her eyes rolled to the back of her head, it wouldn’t keep her down long, but enough to incapacitate her.

The few remaining cultists watched, terrified, from the corners as their leader fell. Herobrine’s dull eyes turned upon them and they fled out into the hallways with the others.

The demon huffed and threw the sword to the ground. Muttering Aetherian curses under his breath, he stormed away from the heap of linen on the floor.

The monster inside of him bashed hard against its cage walls. Memories of what these cultists had done to him turned his vision white. His hands twitched relentlessly to finish the job. Rid the world of a revolting reminder of who he was and what people thought about him. An evil idol to be tortured over and over for sins he never wanted to commit. All on behalf of his brother, who forced him to do so.

The mobs outside all became louder as Herobrine’s terrible influence spread. Wishing harm to those who harmed him and-

And then he remembered the reason he was changing.

The demon quelled his murderous thoughts as he turned to his friend. Teleporting and bending down to assess the damage.

It was bad. A fresh wound leaked on his side. The bandages on his burns had fallen off. Not to mention, the man was as still as a morning pond.


He bent down, shaking Steve’s shoulders.

He got no response.

For a brief second, Herobrine couldn’t hear Steve’s heartbeat. For his beat too heavily in his ear.

It felt like he may have left his body. The sensation upon realizing he may have been too late. That he failed and lost the only thing in this world worth living for.

But when he whispered Steve’s name. Leaning his nose into the man’s curly mop of hair, he finally felt his friend stir.

“Aow.” The miner hissed. Throat rough. “What…. The f*ck did I drink?”

Herobrine laughed out of relief. Sitting back to give him some room to recover.

It took the miner a while to come to full consciousness. His heart sounded strong, at least. Breathing a little wheezy.

What took Herobrine aback was the next question from Steve, as his violet eyes focused on him.

“Are you okay?”

The man lay on the floor bleeding and asking if he was okay. Typical.

“What, why?”

“Your eyes are watering,” Steve observed.

Herobrine put a hand up to his cheek. Must’ve gotten sand in them at some point.

He shook his head. “Never mind me. What about you?”

“M’fine.” He stated as if he wasn’t a bleeding and burned mess. “Groggy. Those jackasses tranquilized me after I gave one of them a black eye, ha.” Steve grunted as he sat up. “Then dropped me in a cell. They deserved it after stabbing me.”

Herobrine remained silent. Feeling the monster’s call for execution rising after learning that the cultists indeed drew blood. Thankfully, as someone who had been stabbed in nearly every place that could be stabbed, the wound was in a non-fatal area. The blood that oozed from it proved it was not deep. And would heal decently after a few potions, along with a lot of rest. Stitches would be preferred, but they didn’t have time for that.

“Gods, I wish the room would stop spinning. Why was that the effect that had to last the longest?” The man huffed.

“I finally found some milk for that.” Herobrine’s hands shook as he removed it from his inventory to give to the weak man. “Sorry, it’s camel’s. So it might have a strange taste. But it will still neutralize the poison.”

“Camel’s?” Steve cracked a grin.

“It’s… a long story. I’ll tell you all about it as soon as we’re out of this disgusting town.”

Steve tried to reach out to grab it with his bad hand. Herobrine could see it shake with effort. But the nerve damage ran its course. Leaving Steve panting and the digits falling limp to the ground.

“We can heal that,” Herobrine said, more to himself than to Steve. “Allow me.”

After popping open the vial, Herobrine gingerly cupped Steve’s chin and poured the liquid into eager lips.

The relief was instant. Any trace of green vanished from his body like a wave. Leaving only blood and bruises.

“Oh gods,” Steve exclaimed. Eyes wide. “That’s so much better.”

“Better, but not finished.” The demon tried not to twitch as he forced his hand to touch the miner’s blood. “Let’s get you patched up and out of here.”

He helped Steve to his feet by draping the man’s arm over his shoulders. The demon searched the hordes of mobs crawling through the ruins; he felt where they were and what was near. Finding what he wanted quickly.

As they were leaving, Steve glimpsed the leader on the floor. Realizing there must’ve been a fight here, he swallowed.

“Uh, is she…?”

“Alive, unconscious, and not our concern.”


They hobbled through the ruins quickly as monsters skittered past. Creepers tilted their heads at him as zombies shambled away quickly, with the oppressive pressure emitted by Herobrine. Steve turned his gaze to the ground as a haunting of endermen passed by, chittering to each other.

“Do I even ask what happened here?” Steve said breathlessly as he observed some endermen carrying masks.

“No one has been fatally injured.” The demon summarized. “Only made to flee.”

“That’s…” Steve was going to say impressive, but that felt like such an insignificant word for what a major accomplishment this was.

His friend seemed to sense the compliment, and the burning in his eyes quelled slightly.

Finally, Herobrine kicked through a door to a room filled to the brim with glowing bottles arranged neatly on shelves upon shelves. Entire barrels filled with glittering blaze rods and a whole heap of planters growing warts.

Steve braced himself against a wall and slid down to sit as Herobrine raided the storeroom. His eyes scanned across the shelves and barrels full of bottles and snatched a glistening red. He tossed the potion to Steve’s good arm.

Turning the bottle around, a label scrawled in a smudged text that Steve couldn’t read.

Herobrine lifted his head from the barrel he dug through. “I would drink that right now.”

“It’s not labeled.”

“It’s healing.”

He stuffed as much of the free loot into his inventory. Making grunts and setting things he didn’t want on the ground. Mostly potions. Some dark green and almost black.

“Drink,” Herobrine growled when he took too long.

“I am!” Steve said, but easier said than done. His arm was still f*cked. He was going to ask for help to open it again but then settled, with a slight blush, on grabbing the cork with his teeth instead. Popping it open.

He downed the sweet and tangy liquid down greedily. Making small grunts as the healing solution spread through his body.

It must’ve been a powerful potion. A faint glow grew around his worse wounds. It felt as if an energy flowed through his veins. Bringing life to his cells.

Instantly, he flexed his bad arm and digits again. He placed said tentative hand upon his side and winced as he did. It stopped the bleeding; though it was tender. He would still have to clean and redress it. Same with the raw burn on his arm. Which stung and throbbed, but gods, it felt good to feel something again. He was worried he might lose his hand at some point.

The reality of the dire situation he had been through. He tried to push down the anxiety it left him with. The scars would act as one of the many lingering reminders of why he should never wander into a strange town. Why he should always be wary of strangers.

And yet he figured he had proven himself wrong with his demonic stranger. Try giving some trust out again.

It worked out, right? Herobrine still came back to his rescue. Would’ve been easier if Steve hadn’t gotten captured. The demon appeared irritated. And why wouldn’t he be? Forced to enter his brother’s domain. To save a mortal who put them both in this situation because of stupid morals?

Ugh. He felt sick.

“Any water in there?” Steve asked, lips still feeling dry even after the tingly solution. Mouth tasting of sand and sweet.

“Yes, but I hope you understand you’re drinking every healing potion I find first.”

“Hey, I stopped bleeding and I can move my arm again! Plus, don’t you say not to overuse those things?”

“That’s usually for a hangover or for a scrape you got being stupid in a cave. This is different.” Herobrine let out a slight curse. “What we need is a re-gen. I’m worried about the withering you took. Not to mention the heat stroke, the blood loss, the vomiting-”

“I know how to party, huh?” Steve tried to inject a bit of humor into the grim situation. He could tell the demon was getting worked up.

“Hmph. The adrenaline and numbness are keeping you going now. But the exhaustion will hit much too quickly and we’re still in enemy territory. You need to rest for a few days to let everything heal fully. We should set up camp far away from here-”

The demon began muttering to himself as he sorted through the vials. Caught up in the next steps.

“Brine,” Steve spoke up.

“Hmm?” The demon didn’t even look up at him.

“I wanted to, uh, thank you for saving me.”

Herobrine froze. Processing the statement. A variety of emotions crossed his face before he settled on his normal grumpy face and continued his rummage. “Why would you thank me for something like that? It was my fault.”

“It was not.” Steve protested. “I’m the one who was the deadweight. I know you could’ve handled this all yourself and-”

“Steven.” The demon stepped away from the chest aggressively.

Then suddenly Herobrine was in his face. Eyes wispy. Steve jolted backwards.

“You. Are not. Deadweight.” Herobrine growled like an enderman. “Don’t ever f*cking… grahh-”

Steve blinked as Herobrine shoved a purple bottle into his hands.

“I-” Herobrine struggled. Chewing at his cheek. “I am the one who should apologize. We should have exercised more caution when coming into a strange town. I should have never left you alone. My anger clouded my judgment. And the only way I could find you again and fix things was by trying to implement the lessons you have generously been teaching me.”

The demon took a step back. Raising a clawed hand to gesture towards the hall. “Out that door are countless depictions of me that are mostly fabricated.” He paused, trying to collect himself. “But, as much as I would love to shift all blame on my asshole brother, a lot of them are based on truths that I have to live with.”

He took a shuddering sigh and went back to his barrel to sort through it. “I want to rid myself of the demon depicted in those ruins. And I have you to thank for the progress I have made. You-, your friendship-”

He seemed to run out of words. But-

“Thank you.” Steve finished for him. Giving him a genuine smile. The anxiety he felt in the barn melted away. It felt better than a healing potion.

Herobrine stiffened and nodded. Pointing to the potion. “Drink.”

He did. This one hit him harder. A potion of regen. It left him light-headed, as if he had taken a cheap shot of liquor.


“What?” Herobrine’s head perked up. The edges of his body fuzzes into a static haze before shushing, like a bird ruffling its feathers.

“Nothing, sorry. These things are just so sweet. Not settling well.” He grimaced as his stomach turned.

The demon hummed and came over to observe his side and arm. Satisfied with the results, he handed over a vial with just clear liquid in it. “Fine, now water.”

Steve gulped it down like he had never tasted it before.

“Gods, Steven, slow down. You’ll make yourself more sick.”

He tried to speak as he drank and came out as “Mmsoood.” But, cutting himself off to half the bottle, he dumped the rest on his head. It got some of the dust and grime off his face.

He looked up to catch Herobrine staring at him with an unreadable expression. Drips fell from his curls. “What?”

“Nothing.” Herobrine coughed as he shoved the last few items into his inventory. “Let’s get out of here.”

“With pleasure.” Steve moved to stand, feeling better, and then caught himself on the wall as his legs wobbled. Hissing as his side and arm stung.

Herobrine let out a disapproving click of his tongue. “Don’t push yourself. Remember when I said you needed rest? The potions may heal the vital damage, but you’re going to be feeling weak for a while.”

“Mm.” Steve could only nod and looked up towards the door. The mobs settled down. “Do you think we will run into any more trouble escaping? I don’t know if I can handle any more fights…”

“Yes. Been thinking about that.” Herobrine walked over and flashed something out of his inventory. “They have gunpowder here for potions. I bet they have more.”

With a glance off into space, looking through the lingering mob's eyes left in the temple. “Hrmph. Predictable. And convenient. Their storage is at the center of their base. Perfect.”

“...You’re not suggesting.”

“I am very much suggesting.”

“Is that necessary?”

The demon grunted. “Even if these bastards hadn’t poisoned, stabbed, and kidnapped you, they still are a threat to me and seem to have a toxic hold over this town.” The demon grumbled ‘unsurprisingly’ as he bent down to help Steve to his feet. “I find it best for everyone if we flush them from their home. Force some chaos into their routine, so they have to reground instead of following us. And the added benefit of allowing the town a chance to purge them if they so desire.”

Steve placed his weight onto Herobrine as he came up off the floor. Feeling exhausted from this entire ordeal. Herobrine seemed to pick up on this. And non-verbally bent down further to see if Steve would accept being carried bridal style. Realizing they would be able to now as they were not running or avoiding suspicion. The miner, really too tired to protest, allowed it to happen.

“If we explode the base, won’t it be buried in sand?”

“That is the intent.”

Steve wrinkled his nose at the thought. “What about all the people?”

Herobrine’s grip tensed around him. “I must reiterate. We are talking about the people who poisoned, stabbed, and kidnapped you.”

“... Yeah?”

The demon sighed hard, knowing he wasn’t going to win. “I will instruct the mobs to drive the vermin away. Most have already fled to the surface to fight in the open. I can wrangle the stragglers.”

“And the mobs, right?”

“Yes. And the mobs.”

“What about that weird woman?”

“What about her?” Herobrine growled, losing his patience. A few zombies made a wide berth around them as they moved to flush out the remaining cultists. Moving quicker than usual to avoid the twitchy demon.

“We can’t just-” A sudden yawn nearly cut his sentence short. He shook his light head. “Mm-leave her here.”

“Believe me, people like that crazy witch are like roaches. She’ll survive. People like that always conveniently do.”

Steve gave Herobrine a side-eye.

“Ugh, fine, okay.” Herobrine huffed begrudgingly. “I’ll go get her before I raze this place to the ground.”

“Thank you.”

Herobrine looked like he wanted to say more. But left it at that. Falling silent as he concentrated on holding Steve steady, avoiding additional conflict, controlling the mobs, and navigating the maze of the underground world.

Steve tried to keep his eyes open but safety compelled him to drift. He caught himself dozing as his head lulled into Herobrine’s chest. He muttered a sorry, trying to keep himself alert. They were still in enemy territory. And the last time he fell asleep...

The demon held him closer. “Rest. I promise to keep you safe this time. Plus, I doubt you’ll like the teleports it’s going to take to get out of here.”

Steve would have retaliated with some snarky comment, but his entire body was shutting down.

You won’t leave me? The thought crossed his mind again. Like an angry mosquito that wouldn’t leave him alone.

“I promise.”

Satisfied, Steve faded into a dreamless sleep. The hissing of gunpowder echoed through the ruins as his lullaby.

Screams ran out into the cloudless night. Dozens of linen-cloaked figures fled as they scrambled over the shifting dunes, kicking up sand to escape the pit of hell consuming their home.


The earth shook. Dust exhaled from the ruin’s entrance. More bodies flung themselves from the ruins and tailed them into the rolling dunes surrounding the temple.

The forgotten ruins, the compound, engulfed in bright swathes of flames, turning sand to glass and melting the surrounding land. Jets of sand spewed and rocketed into the night sky with responding booms. Explosions of the raging inferno reached the stores of gunpowder in the brewing rooms.

Terry stared in terror. He struggled against the tight bindings, shouting for anyone to come save him, but the low rumbling and explosions drowned out his shouts. He observed the ruin of his only home and the doubtless murder of innocent lives of his kin unless the demon kept his word and chased all out of the depths. The young man shook off his mask as his mouth hung agape.

A flaming entity emerged from the mouth of the temple’s melting arch. Glowing eyes left wispy trails. Head held high as he clutched a limp man in his arms.

The demon turned for the last explosion. Carved stones of the temple’s foundation plummeted down to the sandy hills below.

The flames faltered before disappearing in billowing plumes of smoke, shifting streams of moonlight within the ashen clouds.

Herobrine gently lowered his friend to the ground before turning his sights to the wreckage of the destroyed temple and disappeared in a flurry of particles like an enderman. Terry’s breath hitched as his eyes did not leave the dark doorway.

The demon returned moments later holding a linen-cloaked figure by the scruff. Herobrine discarded the robed person in the sand, but was safely far away from the crumbling compound.

Herobrine gathered his friend back into his arms and fizzled out, cargo in his grasp, in a flurry of purple particles, leaving a wrathful hell in his wake.

Terry swallowed. The teachings never lied.

A wrathful demon guarding his hoard would fight tooth and nail to protect what’s his. No matter the casualties.


Terry yelped as a body suddenly appeared before him. He winced as the particles of teleportation whooshed into his eyes. He braced himself as he waited.

Sand shuffled. Boots crunched on sandstone. The stranger brandished a knife near his ear.


Terry blinked as his arms went slack.

Herobrine tucked the knife away and turned from Terry, scooping up Steve, and huffed. Over his shoulder, he spoke. Herobrine’s voice was cold and even. Distant, like he was stuck in a trance himself.

“I would run back to the city. No doubt the tunnel fires will cause sinkholes all around this place.”

“But... what of-”

“My monsters have flushed all of your ‘family’ out of this rat den. No human remains in the ruins.”

Before Terry could respond, Herobrine and his cargo disappeared in a flurry of particles, like dust in the wind.

Terry looked back at the temple. Fires climbed high as it roared and turned sand to glazed glass. Underfoot, the rumbling of collapsing tunnels. The mouth of the ruins spewed destruction as it exhaled with every collapsing room, gushing fire like an exhaling dragon.

Terry turned on his heel and started the long trek back to the city.


As Steven lay on his back, gazing up at the vast expanse of the night sky, the weight of the day’s adventures pressed upon his chest. The stars twinkled like diamond dust in the velvet void, careless and free to the woes of mortals below. Their light, and the dancing of the smoldering fire, cast a soft glow over their oasis where he and Herobrine had found refuge.

The palm tree overhead swayed in the breeze; its fronds rustled soothingly as if whispering secrets to the rest of the brush surrounding the spring. Around them, the symphony of nature played: the chorus of buzzing beetles and croaking frogs, the lapping of the oasis water, and the crackling fire where embers danced amongst the fireflies.

Earlier, Steven bathed in the silty water. It soothed his weary body with its freshness as it wicked away the heat and sweat from him. Herobrine sat at his side, diligently tending to Steven’s aches and pains with care that belied what the cult thought of him.

As they sat by the fire, savoring the taste of roasted rabbit and exchanging quiet conversation, Steven couldn’t help but steal glances at his companion. Herobrine, usually a formidable presence, now lay peacefully asleep, his features softened in repose. It was a rare sight, one that filled Steven with a sense of warmth and affection.

They had been through so much together that day. Through it all, Herobrine had been Steve’s unwavering ally, his steadfast protector.

Without a word, Steven shifted closer to Herobrine, their sleeping mats almost touching. He felt Herobrine’s hand come to rest on his chest, a comforting weight that anchored him to the present moment. In that simple gesture, Steven found solace and reassurance.

As sleep tugged at his mind, Steven closed his eyes, content he was safe and surrounded by the peaceful embrace of the night and the steadfast presence of his friend.

Tomorrow would bring new challenges, and new adventures, but for now, in this fleeting moment of tranquility, Steven allowed himself to drift off, knowing that whatever the future held, he would face it with Herobrine by his side.

With, hopefully, less poisoning.


Problems with Potions - Bi-Ocelot (Bi_Ocelot) (2024)
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