Cold Steel Dig



Chapter 19: The Terrors of the Third


I’d heard of books with oddly disconnected titles before but this one took the dry dusty cake. That said, the title hinted at the information I desperately wanted. I almost opened it right there except that I’d rather read it while in the gray where I had Mr. Black to bounce ideas off of.

Despite my literary urges I needed to explore what trials waited for me on the next floor. Unfortunately, my mind map couldn’t pierce the ground so I breathed in and dropped down.

Immediately I discovered that the blocks on the third floor had leafy vines of green and brown that grew into a certain familiar magical pattern.

I traveled down one more. My durability read 158/164. I guessed this meant each floor had blocks that were 1 point harder. This also meant that if I had full durability I could punch through 54 vine blocks.

In my mind map, various illuminated boulders glowed like mini moons. I passed one and approached a copper boulder that sparkled with encrusted diamonds, or some other kind of magical gem I was unfamiliar with. I stepped into it and the ore for Shimmery Copper listed in my inventory for 100 coins. The amount staggered me.

Just one copper was worth 4 times the aluminum!

I flew down and noticed a door similar to the boss battle doors. Curious, I approached it.

Three blocks from my target I giggled. At two away I stopped and uncontrollably laughed. There was something horribly, terribly wrong.

My body refused to move any closer or any farther. My eyes watered. I covered my mouth to stop myself. I couldn’t.

From out of the hole, black spines tasted the air.

Doom pressed down on me as if aching to get inside my skull.

I laughed harder.

The thing crawled out of its hole, like an octopus with dozens of tentacles, each one, a many-segmented black widow's leg.

Its limbs propelled the thing toward me like a swarm of thin inky eels dragging a rock.

I had to break out of its mind control. Perhaps....

It swam through the last block to reach me as I pressed my thumb to my ring finger.

The death mind technique pushed back all the fear and insane laughter that had squirmed within me, after all, insanity could not affect that which was death.

As soon as my laughing stopped I flew back several blocks.

The creature stilled, wrapped its arms into a drill-like shape and spun toward me at bullet speeds.

I dodged down several squares and charged my weapon.

The thing turned around and finger crept to the tunnel I’d made. It peaked over the edge. I shot my arrow at it sending out a burst of energy.

It did not affect the beast.

I guessed that Phenic was right about the weapon; unfortunately, I now had to figure out how to destroy the creature without one.

As I stayed still it closed in on me. I dodged to the side, beneath a boulder of light. When it came after me again I sidestepped once more. The light ball crushed the monster leaving only a few twitching tentacles to show it had once been there.

I released the death mind technique and shuddered. My stomach churned. If I could have thrown up I would have.

Just how were ordinary players supposed to defeat that thing? Oh right. Other players had a screen and a whole other realm between them and these monsters!

On my mind map, the door the creature originated from did not disappear. Curious but super cautious I worked my way back toward it.

When I reached the door I swallowed then entered. I glided through a thin passageway into a small 6x6 room with a box, three ores and a crate of TNT that I suspected would kill me if I tried to collect it.

With a shaken mind, I smashed the box, gaining an energy bubble and collected the ores.

Were these prizes for defeating such a horror or was it just a stash the monster happened to be hiding in?

Whatever the case, I left the room and steadily worked my way down the mine, collecting 4 more ore for my troubles.

I neared a block with mostly green vines, except at its center, where a splash of crimson peaked my curiosity. A rotted meat scent wafted from it so I used my free hand to cover my face.

I flew right up to it and touched the warm vines. When nothing happened I entered the block.

The vines suddenly parted exposing a gorgeous red flower. Of course, that was when they curled back in, trapping me.

My heart pounded faster, but I did not freak out. At least, I didn’t until they wrapped around me and dragged me, head first, toward the flora’s center that opened to reveal a round mouth and spiraling thorn teeth.

When I entered the mouth of the flower, my point of view and angle shifted.

I found myself upright and standing near a woven basket. It had a hole in its side and was surrounded by a 1 block radius of empty space.

The sound of fluttering came from within the basket along with several calming coos. To get a better look, I entered the radius. A rainbow-colored swarm burst from the hole and flew at me. The birds’ razor-sharp beaks and predator-eyes stopped inches from my body.

You are about to die. Want me to save you?

Seriously? I survived creepy tentacle monster only to die by a bunch of birds? I sighed.


Ten thousand needles stabbed into me, ripping my skin apart. The pain lasted far too long as each of my limbs was slowly torn away, shred by tiny shred.

A note from DragonOfRochester

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story! You readers are seriously the best!

While writing the chapter I listened to, "Good Day" by The Dresden Dolls on repeat.

About the author


Bio: Artist and a retired game industry professional.

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