He ran through the hallways, barely breathing as he tried to make as little noise as possible.
He came to a corner and peered around it, his back to the wall. Everything was quiet, the kind of quite that made your ears hurt.
They were playing a game, they called it a game, it was one he couldn’t win. He played anyway.
Taking a deep breath, he sprinted around the corner, running on unsteady feet. His eyes darted around towards possible escapes or advantage points he could lie to himself about using later. Later in the game, the game he wouldn’t win.
He came to the end of another seemingly never-ending hallway only to find a dead end. He turned around to look back the way he came, he had paused for too long and needed to go go go now—
Claw like hands gripped at the base of his neck and his breath left him in a second.
Grian fell out of his bed with a shuddering gasp, his body trembling as he tried to regain his foggy mind and unsteady breaths. He blinked sporadically, darting his eyes around the room by habit, looking for a danger that wouldn’t be there, it couldn’t be there. Finally calming down enough to move a little, he sat up against the side of his bed, the cooling glow of his base grounding him as he listened to the ocean just outside his doorstep.
‘That was… Weird.’
Grian put a hand to his face, rubbing at his eyes as he thought about what he’d just woke up from. He had a dream about the Watchers. When he had first escaped them, he wouldn’t have batted an eye at this sort of thing, but it had been months now, he was starting to go days without even thinking about them let alone having them in his dreams. Knowing how the Universe seemed to have fun messing with him he supposed this wasn’t too much of a surprise. ‘Plus,’ he rationalized, ‘it was just a dream, they can’t get to me here.’ Grian laid back down, feeling the cold concrete beneath his head as he tried to relax. Closing his eyes, he felt the pull of the Universe faintly around him, connecting everything to each other. Every player could feel it, even if only slightly, and it tended to make Grian smile on normal occasions, the idea that everything had a purpose and place in the world regardless of what it was.
This time however the Universe felt… disjointed. Not in a bad way, almost if it was preparing something, something big. Grian felt his stomach drop out from under him as he realized what this was.
This was an Update.
Occasionally, when the Watchers would get bored with their games and tricks, they would plead with the Universe for a change. The Universe would oblige, but in return, they were tasked with guiding players into their new worlds. They would guide them however they wanted to and would often make it difficult, but it was the only way for players to access the updates.
Grian stared at his ceiling as his mind raced. The Watchers didn’t know about Hermitcraft, Grian had made sure of that, but that also meant that the Hermits didn’t know about the Watchers. Which now left the question,
How were the Hermits going to get to the Update?
By the morning the rest of the Hermits had felt the same disjointedness, coming to the same conclusion Grian had, that the universe was preparing for a change. Life, for the most part, stayed the same, construction on the Hermits various projects continued, but no one could deny the buzz in the air. An update was an exciting thing, new items and blocks and mobs, it wasn’t much of a surprise that it was a hot topic. Grian tired to keep up with the excitement of it all but found himself falling short, preoccupied with concern over how everything would play out. His natural optimism was calling for him to just relax and assume everything would turn out fine, but when it came to the Watchers he knew better to indulge in that way of thinking.
A week passed, and the Universe finally fell back into place. Unable to contain themselves, the Hermits ventured out to explore the new chunks of their world. However, what they found instead was a wall.
A simple transparent wall reaching far below bedrock up past the height limit, trapping them in. They could see the world beyond it, taunting them. At first, they all tried different ways to get past it, Mumbo using a possibly unnecessary amount of Redstone to try and push sections out of the way, while Impulse reworked his Ghast canon to aim it directly at the thing. Despite their efforts, nothing worked, and eventually, the Hermits dispersed back to their bases with nothing but a few more holes in the ground to show for it.
Grian honestly felt a little bad about not telling the others that he knew how to take the barrier down. He had seen them many times before, they were normally the result of not finding the Update portals in time. Watchers would often leave the barriers up to entertain themselves, laughing at how the players would scramble around trying to destroy it or find the portal the Watchers had left them, Grian never understood what was so amusing about it.
Grian flew throughout the shopping district lazily, haphazardly following his elytra course as he thought about what to do. He needed to find a way to break down the wall himself with whatever power he had left without drawing attention to himself. His first thought was to try and tear it down late at night when he was alone but decided against it. His lack of practice meant that the spell he’d need to use would end up taking hours to cast and he couldn’t risk being caught. Grian spent the next few days in his base thinking, and it ultimately took flying over Mumbo’s base to finally think of something that might actually work. It would take a little preparation, but it was the best he had, and the other Hermits were starting to get restless.
Later that night Grian flew out of his base towards Iskall’s home. He knew Iskall would be working on Sahara that night, so it was the perfect place to conduct the first part of his idea, but he’d still need to work quickly. Landing on the icy terrain he swiftly scoped out an area to start building on and set to work. Falling back into the routine of creating a building like this was concerningly easy, at points, Grian found himself subconsciously reaching for blocks he didn’t even have access to. Shaking himself out of his haze he worked faster. Finishing the building itself he made his way inside, placing a few signs before stepping out of the building to look it over. It was a simple tower, made of obsidian and sandstone that clashed harshly with the ice and water surrounding it. It wasn’t too tall, and nothing compared to the ones he had had to make in the past, but it would serve its purpose. Grian took off back to his base, hoping that this would work the way he needed it to.
To Grian’s relief, Iskall had called several other hermits to his base once he discovered the tower. Once he arrived he feigned innocents, trailing behind his friends as they all went inside. The inside of the tower was empty apart from two signs, having a date and coordinates written on them. It was easy enough to find the coordinates, leading the Hermits to the edge of the barrier several thousand blocks out. At first, they had tried to figure out who had built the tower, but after no one fessed up the group simply resorted to helping Iskall take down the tower and to wait for the day to arrive.
With the date rapidly approaching, the hermits organised what they would do when the time came, deciding that the simplest option was for all of them to meet up at the border and just… see what happens. Xisuma created a portal for easier access to the location, however, Grian said he’d be making his own way there, the others rolled their eyes at the idea, but they didn’t question it.
Now that most of the pieces had fallen into place, all Grian had left to do was wait. which proved to be easy than he thought, the days passing by him as he built his flying machine and prepared for the journey ahead. He still couldn’t help but feel nervous, he hadn’t had to use this kind of magic in months, and there was still the possibility of it not even working in the first place. However, Grian refused to let those thoughts get to him, it was too late to back out now, and this might be his only chance to break the barrier himself.
The day had finally come.
Grian saw the other hermits off as they entered the Nether portal, waving them goodbye before he made his way back to his own mode of transport. He got into the flying machine and just sat there for a moment, preparing himself up for the long journey ahead of him. He’d need to use the next few hours to concentrate on the spell and make sure he had enough magic to cast it, so with one final wave to his base, he flicked the machine on and closed his eyes.
When Grian heard the other hermits’ voices from below him, it caught him off guard, he snapped his eyes open to see the barrier in front of him approaching slowly. The last few hours had definitely helped, the air felt almost electric, he could feel more magic surrounding him now than he had in months,
But he had no idea if it was going to be enough.
Panic squeezed suddenly at his heart, he attempted to not let it show on his face as he watched some of his friends fly around him. He could hear himself say something about ramming into the barrier. He thinks it was meant to be a joke.
He shoved his shaking hands into the sleeves of his jumper and clenched his eyes shut, he reached out almost desperately for something, anything. Feeling magic swell around him he opened his eyes to see the barrier only a few blocks ahead now.
In one more frantic grasp for help, he pulled against the universe with wild abandoned and yanked at anything it had to offer him, digging his fingernails into the palms of his hands he braced for impact. He had no idea why he thought this would work why did he try to—
Grian felt something… snap,
A rush of magic crashed into him, almost knocking him forward. He felt the hairs on his arms stand up as he tried to control this power he didn’t even realise still existed, and for horrifying a moment he was reminded of what it was like to be a Watcher. Gritting his teeth, he focused towards the barrier in front of him, finally releasing the energy towards it, feeling it spread and crackle across its surface before it finally fell.
Grian could faintly hear the other Hermits cheering around and below him, glancing up as they flew off ahead into the new world. He took a moment to sit back and catch his breath, suddenly finding himself incredibly tired. Curiously, he reached out again to see if he could feel the magic that had been coursing through him seconds ago, but there was nothing, whatever magic he had left had been used to destroy the barrier, and even then, it barley scarped by. At that moment though Grian found that he didn’t really care, the wall had come down and his friends were already ages ahead of him. Shaking off his drowsiness with a small grin, he turned the flying machine off and took off after them.
Someone ran down a hallway.
Crashing into a door and forcing it open, they looked up at the person inside, who frowned at the intrusion.
“What are you doing here? I thought I told you I wasn’t to be disturbed—”
“We found him.”
Silence rang throughout the room as the two figures looked at each other for a moment.
“Are you sure?”
“Absolutely, no random player would be able to harness enough magic to take down a barrier all by themselves.”
“Where was he hiding?”
“That’s the thing, it’s a completely random world. Nothing special about it. He had it blocked from our vision this whole time with some sort of shield, but somethings finally broken it.”
The creature grinned, their smile too large and teeth too sharp,
“Well, I guess we’ll just have to go see what we’ve been missing out on, won't we?”