A/N: I think what I want to do is have this be the first in a series of one shots. I have at least three other concepts I'd like to explore. This one is definitely going to be the longest so far.

This first story idea came from a small headcanon I created a while ago that would not leave my mind. I started writing a few paragraphs and eventually it became a full oneshot. So I thought, eh why not post it? Even though I primarily just wrote this for my own sanity to get it out of my head. Also I know some of the things in here are not actually true to phantoms but shhhhh it's okay. I know. Steve is in his mid 20s, Alex is about 2 years older than him, Herobrine forgets how old he is. There is definitely Herosteve in this, but you could easily ignore that if you'd rather them just be friends. In my later stories I will explore their relationship further but I don't plan on doing anything extreme..just fluff, pining, and stupidity. Because I live for those three things.

Alternate title: What if I..put my..Minecraft bed..next to yours..Haha just kidding...

Unless.. ?

The original Headcanon post:

Headcanon that Notch developed phantoms specifically to target Herobrine as Brine doesn't need to sleep.

Because who else is staying up for more than three days straight? (Which results in many strange deaths of some insomniacs around the world)

The phantoms' barbs on their tails pump their victims with a sedative that will put you to sleep so hard that you just stay asleep ie die.

Herobrine encounters them but finds that the sedative doesn't work great on him but still makes him pretty useless in a fight so he tries to sleep more.

I just imagine Steve trying to re-teach him how to sleep cause it's been so long "You know, you just lie down, close your eyes, and don't say or think of anything"

Herobrine literally just lying on the hardwood floors with his eyes closed. "Okay. I'm doing it. I'm asleep now"

Herobrine had been living with him for almost a year now. Well, not really 'living' with him per say, just kind of existing in Steve's life.

They share meals, they mine together, they talk while Steve does chores around the house and farm.

So it was a bit strange when he hadn't heard from Herobrine at all in a week.

It wasn't unusual for Herobrine to go missing for a while. The demon was used to endless solitude and needed a break from people, something Steve could highly relate to. But even then, Herobrine still showed up at least once every two days or so. Just to make sure Steve was safe and then disappear again.

He hadn't even seen the demon spying on him from a distance (something Brine would never admit he did but Steve had witnessed multiple times).

It was like he was gone. A myth of a myth in his mind.

Alex had told him not to worry when he met her for drinks in a nearby village a few days ago. She shrugged it off saying that it was only a matter of time. They were solitary adventurers. Honestly it took longer for him to disappear than she had thought. Eventually he would come back with some treasure and a good story. Just like Steve and Alex did often. Afterall, they were miners...even Herobrine originally. It was in their blood.

Steve was hoping for comforting, not rational, advice. But what could he expect from Alex? She always told it like it was. One of the reasons why he was friends with her in the first place. So he shoved the sadness at the thought of Brine leaving and talked about happier things like mob slaying techniques and mining tools of the trade.

When the day grew old, they went into the market; Steve selling some excess crops and Alex selling some gold, before waving goodbye and promising to meet up next month as usual.

It was the night of the 9th day since Herobrine's disappearance.

Steve had worked himself hard in the mines that day, trying to keep himself as busy as possible to avoid the lingering sadness of being somewhat abandoned.

Mobs were even getting bolder with the absence of his friend. It was beginning to feel like the world was going back to normal. Steve wasn't sure he was a fan of normal.

He only managed to mine a few iron ores due to the many breaks to slay attacking mobs deep within the mine. By the time his bones ached and he decided to take a break, the sun was already setting.

He was ending the day with a few chores around the farm. He had tended his small garden, fed the chickens, and was going to go give a few bales of hay to the cows to munch on during the night.

As Steve entered the cow pen with a fresh bale of hay, a familiar sound caught his attention above the noise of his cows mooing hungrilly. The sound of teleportation.

A hopeful smile lit up Steve's face at the sound. But as he turned to meet it, a lone enderman in the distance walked through the moonlit grasslands.

Steve sighed, trying to not be too disappointed. Alex was right, he would return eventually. And if he didn't...well he just wouldn't think about that.

Steve turned to go put the hay bale in its place, when his forward progress was halted by what felt to be a brick wall suddenly appearing in front of him.

Steve embarrassingly let out a shrill scream at the sudden appearance of a body in his path. He fell backwards, hay flying up out of his hand, and fumbled to grab his iron sword on his hip.

But before he could do so, he realized that the thing in front of him was not an attacking mob.

"Oh thank goodness it's only you Brine." Steve huffed out in relief, stopped trying to grab for his sword and relaxed on the ground. "I thought you were a creeper or something...you know I thought we talked about the prank-"

"Good. You're still out here" The man cut him off rather curtly; seemingly ignoring everything Steve had just said.

"Uh yeah I guess..What's up?" Steve brushed some of the loose pieces from the broken hay bale off of him. Loose strands flew through the air from the collision. "Where have you been?"

"No time. We have to move. Now!" Before Steve could even react, there was a strong hand wrapped around his forearm.

Steve knew what was about to happen and, powerless to stop it, held his breath.

Purple whiffs of smoke filled his vision and before his brain could catch up they were teleporting across his land together. He and Herobrine appeared in front of his small house outside of a larger window.

"Gah, hey dude! I told you -" the sentence was ripped through his throat as Herobrine teleported them once more, situating them inside the house.

"-Not to do that anymore!" Steve gasped once the world had stopped moving around them. "You know it gives me a headache"

"Sorry" Herobrine said almost automatically and let go of Steve's arm.

Steve took a few deep breaths to fight off the lingering dizziness and took stock of the situation.

Herobrine was frantically moving about the small house. Closing doors to Steve's bedroom and bathroom, shutting blinds, and checking to make sure the entrance was properly secured.

Which left the house in almost pure utter darkness before Steve could even ask what he was doing. He watched Herobrine's bright eyes roam busily around the room and, instead of questioning, decided to move and light a lantern.

"Okay I'll bite" Steve said calmly as he fumbled for some flint and steel in a nearby drawer. "What's going on?"

Herobrine didn't answer. Instead, the eyes floated almost entirely silently over to the front window that they had teleported through.

Seemingly, his friend crouched down and began to peer through the bottom right corner of the blinds as if looking for someone to arrive. In the fading light that bled out of the uncovered window, Steve could have sworn Herobrine's face betrayed some worry.

Steve sighed. So it was going to be one of those nights huh?

After a few attempts and some scrapes on his fingers, the lantern was lit (a trickier feat to accomplish in the dark).

Steve decided to humor his friend so he walked up to the window and squatted as well. He set the lantern down between them and almost immediately Herobrine reached down to make the glow dimmer. But not completely put it out, most likely because he knew Steve would yell at him for doing so. Steve constantly had to remind Herobrine that he couldn't see in the dark.

Steve lifted the blinds on the right corner of the window and looked outside. He had a pretty good view of his land. He had built his house at the edge of a forest. The entrance looked out at a vast plain. There were a few normal mobs appearing on the horizon now that the stars were rising. Nothing insane, just a few zombies and spiders. Not even an enderman or creeper. The mobs, however, did not dare come near the house while Herobrine was around.

But something clearly had upset Herobrine for him to be so on guard and serious.

"Sooooo...whatcha been up to?" Steve broke the silence and Herobrine from a bit of trance.

The demon looked confused but grimaced instead of answering and kept his attention fully outside.

"Cool cool. Me too." Steve mocked a bit annoyed at the silent treatment.

"Shh" Herobrine hissed out. And Steve did.

For a few seconds.

But he wasn't very patient and turned to Brine again. "What are we even doing?"

"Shh" Herobrine bit out. He hadn't moved at all since he crouched in front of the window.

"Sure go ahead and shush me. Whatever. I didn't sign up to deal with crazy today. I'm going to go make a sandwich and go to bed." Steve started to get up. But a hard grip on his shoulder kept him in place and was gone when Steve crouched back down.

Blinking in confusion, Steve watched Herobrine wring his hands together nervously in the dim light.

Steve was starting to worry now. This was a bit much even for Herobrine. Steve felt goosebumps run up his arms and unconsciously he gripped the hilt of the sword tied on his waist. "Brine...what's going on?"

"Can't you see it?" Anyone else wouldn't have heard the dread in that simple sentence, every inch of him focused on the darkening sky.

"See what?" Steve peaked out once more, picking up that dread and enhancing it in himself.

It was a rather clear night. The moon was rising slowly, shedding light on the land below. A slight breeze blew the grass and some wheat. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Or wait...

Steve swallowed heavily and turned off the lantern.

Okay so Herobrine wasn't completely insane.

There was a pair of piercing green eyes connected to nothing buzzing around the sky like two fireflies in perfect harmony.

"Oh"

"Yeah"

Steve watched the eyes. Whatever it was, it was circling the house. Slowly.

"Brine, what is that thing?" A small bubble of panic was building in the miner's chest.

But the demon wouldn't respond. He just kept staring off into the night. "Herobrine." Nothing. Something was wrong here. "HEROBRINE!"

Steve took a chance and grabbed Brine's hand.

Instinctively, Herobrine ripped his hand out of Steve's grip and reversed the situation, grabbing Steve's hand as if the miner was attacking. Steve winced at the inhuman heat and strength of the grip but tried to ignore it and instead looked into the wild angry eyes that now bore upon him instead of the circling threat. Oh well at least he got his attention. "Brine you need to calm down and tell me what's going on. Let me help."

A moment passed and the grip loosened on his hand but did not let go. "You're right. Sorry." Herobrine's wild eyes dimed.

"That's okay...What is that thing?"

At this, the demon dropped Steve's hand, favoring scratching at the floor with a sharp fingernail. "I...I don't actually know"

"You...don't know? How do YOU not know something. You know everything!"

"This is...new" Herobrine stated simply. He was acting much more quietly than usual. Especially considering his usual response to something attacking him was setting most of the landscape on fire until the enemy died. This was very unlike him. Hiding. From one enemy.

"Okay" Steve sucked in a breath to stay calm himself. "Well in my experience; new usually means dangerous. Especially with you."

"Oh. I'd definitely agree it's dangerous" Herobrine's piercing eyes fell behind the miner. Steve felt his blood run cold. "...And I'd recommend you stand away from the door"

"What-"

A loud crash next to Steve made him jump. Reacting quickly, he unsheathed the iron sword from his belt.

It was indeed the door. A large form slammed against it. The door bent in its frame at the pressure but did not break.

"Gah, it's so loud" Herobrine looked pained, wincing from some noise Steve couldn't hear.

"Loud?" Steve was unsure what to do. New mobs were always a thing to avoid. He was out of his element and when that happened Herobrine was the best one at making decisions. But Herobrine wasn't moving nor communicating like usual. Something was very wrong.

"The screams"

A rather large hit on the door had them both jump, and then sound of scrapping and struggle.

Steve had to look hard to see it but a small hole had been cut out by the eyes somehow. The dent was smaller than a pin prick but it allowed a stream of moon light to filter into the dark room.

A thin almost transparent needle protruded from the wood. It wiggled as the creature attempted to free itself. A gray, but somewhat glittering substance oozed from the tip of the barb. A fine line was left as the mob finally freed itself to fly back into the night.

Herobrine was suddenly next to Steve, putting himself instinctively between the miner and danger. "We should move underground. This thing means business"

With that, Herobrine produced a diamond sword from seemingly thin air and slammed it into the hardwood floor in front of the door.

"Brine, my floor" Steve pouted. "It takes forever to cut down dark wood"

"I'm not taking any chances" and not too soon another slam against the door. Thankfully, Steve had spent weeks building the door to hold up against zombie attacks when Brine wasn't around. And the sword would keep the door in place if the lock gave out.

"Let's go." Brine grabbed his arm once more, then turned his gaze outside the window...to the door that led to his underground mine.

"Herobrine don't you-" but it was too late. Herobrine teleported once, they were outside.

Steve was able to get his bearings after a few heartbeats. The eyes seemed to be still distracted, slamming against the door of the small house.

Herobrine, quietly as he could, opened the iron door that led down to Steve's main mine shaft that he had carved into the edge of a small hill. Steve held his breath as they moved slowly inside the mine. He instinctively held onto his sword and the small satchel on his back to make sure his tools didn't make any noise.

Herobrine shut the door behind them. Steve clicked a button on the wall to put redstone locks in place.

And then they were teleporting a second time. A third, again, and again down the carved stairs until they reached the bottom of the mine where Steve had set up a small base camp.

But instead of a clean teleportation, upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, Herobrine seemed to trip; resulting in the two being thrown to the ground unceremoniously.

They both slammed hard into the carved stone. Breaking apart and knocking the wind at least out of Steve. Some secured tools even fell out of Steve's satchel and clattered to the ground in front of him. The miner struggled for a few moments before being able to breathe properly.

Steve's head was spinning too much to know what had happened that would throw them to the ground like that. Herobrine was usually really good with teleporting both of them.

Maybe the narrower stairs towards the bottom?

Whatever it was, Steve let out a small groan of pain as he sat up in a sitting position. He could definitely feel a few bruises starting to form from being thrown to the ground so hard.

"Nice landing dude" He huffed out. But received no response. "You good?"

"Myeah" Herobrine's eyes lit up from the ground. "Sorry about that."

It was pitch black in the cave, except for Herobrine's eyes. Steve felt goosebumps involuntarily run up his arm at the haunting sight.

Herobrine's slightly elevated breathing echoed on the cave walls. But Steve didn't hear any other tell tale signs of mobs. "Seems like we are safe for now huh?"

"Mm" Herobrine was still acting quietly. But even stranger was he didn't seem to be making any effort to pull himself off the ground.

"You sure you're okay?"

"Yea"

"Then can you light a torch?" Steve pushed his chest off the ground in a sort of pushup. "I can't see anything and it's freaking me out a bit"

There was a pause before Herobrine hoisted himself off the floor and shuffled over to the wall that had a few chests pushed against it. Steve often dumped a variety of different tools and materials for mining in them.

"Should be in the third chest from the left"

He watched the eyes search through said chest and pull out a torch. Herobrine brought his hand up to the top of the torch and it caught fire. The carved out room lit up in warm light.

Steve let out a deep breath; more at ease now that he could see his surroundings. He sat on his knees and started to collect his scattered tools, shoving them deep into his bag.

Herobrine placed the torch in sconce that Steve had made on the wall. And then leaned heavily against the chest with both hands.

"Thanks" Steve said.

Herobrine nodded in acknowledgement but didn't move from the chest. He kept his back turned to the miner.

"Are you okay?" Steve tried again and stood. He wanted to approach his friend but his gut told him to give Brine some space.

"You keep asking me that and I keep telling you I'm fine." Herobrine practically wheezed out but did not move off the chest.

"Well, if you were acting okay I wouldn't have to ask so much" Steve chewed out.

"That doesn't even make any sense Steve."

"Yes it does. Come on! You're acting weird and you know it"

Herobrine paused before speaking, planning his words carefully.

"I'm just...tired" He finally admitted, his head hung low and rubbing at his face with a hand. "That thing shoots some sort tranquilizing poison"

"That gray stuff?" Steve remembered the barb that had struck through his door. Herobrine nodded. "Should I be worried?"

"About me?" Herobrine laughed at that. "No."

Steve had figured as much. Herobrine could still be affected by potions effects but it took a lot to take him down. He recalled when on one of their adventures away from the house, a cult member (long story) had thrown a rather potent nausea potion at the demon. It wasn't a fun time but it only slowed Herobrine for a couple of hours maximum. Whereas if he himself had been hit he probably would have been out of commission for days.

"Well, I don't have any milk or anything down here. I'd have to go upstairs-"

"NO!" Herobrine spun around on his heels, looking at the miner with intense eyes. His booming voice echoed strong but his weak posture did not match. "You will wait here until that vile creature leaves"

"So we're just going to hide down here?" Steve threw up his hands in frustration. This whole situation was silly. Herobrine was acting irrational. Sure it was a new mob but they had faced worse.

"You're going to hide down here. I'm going to wait until I can see straight and then go rip the throats out of every last fucking mob in the surface" Steve felt the room grow hotter as if a small furnace was just lit. The demon's eyes had grown brighter in anger. But he continued to lean heavily against the chest.

"What did we say about ripping out- Wait a second...can't see straight?"

Herobrine didn't answer at that. Mouth agape but unable to formulate a response, he looked away.

Steve took a few steps closer, taking in every inch of Brine. How had he not noticed the way Herobrine's body was shaking? How his hair and shirt were practically dripping with sweat. Face pale and eyes sunken in.

Herobrine glanced up at him and Steve glared back. Without any further conversation, they reached an agreement. Herobrine slowly brought his arms around from behind his back.

Steve felt his heart stop beating.

Herobrine was bleeding. The back of his arms completely covered in dark red gashes oozing with presumably the same gray fluid that had leaked from the mob upstairs.

Steve hadn't been able to get a good look until now. The low light and franticness had kept the wounds hidden before they got here. And the stupid tough guy had been shifting around so that Steve couldn't get a good look from his angle.

The dots finally connected. The mob had managed to hurt Herobrine.

Herobrine...the immortal who could slay almost any creature, had been outmatched by one new mob.

Steve's mind couldn't wrap around that. He had witnessed the demon kill withers for FUN.

And here was the same person, weak, poisoned, bleeding...

"Steve it's really nothing-" The demon began.

"Oh Brine, I'm so sorry." Steve whispered barely above a breath. "I didn't realize-"

"Don't" A faint smirk barely visible in the flickering torch light. "You know I'm a fast healer." He motioned to his arms, rubbing at the scratches. Only the gray goop stirred. "This blood is all dried now."

"Why wouldn't you just tell me?"

"You mortals get so worked up over everything." Herobrine rolled his eyes (a subtle movement that Steve had learned to spot). "I didn't need you worrying over nothing when there was a threat to deal with. Best to get you to safety first. For me this poison is nothing but for you..."

"Got it. Don't be stung by that thing" Steve swallowed at the implications. He wouldn't say it but he was glad now that Brine had taken the precautions and taken them so far below ground. It was a big step forward to what Herobrine likely would have done about a year ago. Kill himself over and over again until the enemy (and perhaps the landscape around the enemy) was dead. From experience with his own wounds it looks like Herobrine had been attacking the mob and just defending with his arms. A good way to deal more damage if you didn't plan on getting hit. Steve used the technique to fight lesser mobs like zombies.

Herobrine decided to sit down while Steve was lost in thoughts. He sat against the chest instead of leaning against it, looking like he was trying very hard to hide pain.

Steve sat down as well on the floor without thinking about it but copying Brine's movements.

"Do you think we are safe down here for now?" Steve asked softly. It was an intimidating concept. Mobs that could take down the great legend so easily.

Herobrine nodded. "It may be fast but it's not very smart. It'll break that door down searching for me before it realizes I moved and then will start tracking me again"

"And during the day?"

"Bursts into flames. But the new ones the next night seem to still know where I am. Like they're all following me."

"So when did they appear? Where have you been?! Why are new mobs after you?" Steve felt like he was reaching his breaking point for staying calm. The anxiety from the situation was turning into frustration.

Herobrine didn't seem fazed though and instead chuckled softly. "It's been a rough couple of days."

"That seems like an understatement." Steve murmured.

"You're telling me." Brine smiled sleepily. "I guess I'll start from the beginning huh?"

Steve nodded, urging the demon to continue.

And he did.

"I started out visiting the nether for a couple supplies that we are short on. But you know that time passes...differently in the nether. Or at least it's hard to tell how long I had been gone. So eventually when I gathered enough material I went back into the overworld, it was night. I knew you would be asleep, so instead of coming to check in, I decided to do some exploring around the area. But I started hearing voices. Small screams. I know I'm not all there mentally but hearing voices seemed a bit much." Herobrine laughed, his face was starting to gain a little bit of color back as he progressed throughout the story. The poison working its way through his system.

"I decided to investigate. Tried to track the voices down. I figured the forest was maybe playing tricks on me. Maybe a loose parrot. Maybe the voices were leading me somewhere. But no, they were following me. I snuck around a couple of towns and villages after that. Looking for some more information. I read a lot of scrolls. Medical. Monstrous. Went to a few ancient temples. You get the idea. I didn't get any information. And the voices just kept getting louder and more frequent at night. I had to know what was going on. This was new.

Finally after about three...days? I started seeing them in the sky. The mobs didn't start attacking that first night. But they sure followed me everywhere. I was able to throw it off slightly by teleporting around but these mobs are persistent. I took one to a nearby town to do some experimenting."

Steve made a face at that.

"What? No one was going to get hurt!"

"Mhm."

"Okay so I didn't know that no one was going to get hurt at the time BUT no one did! And the point is that the mobs weren't interested in hurting anyone but me. And it didn't seem like any of the villagers even acknowledged the mobs."

"Well they probably couldn't see them very well" Steve added. "It took me a while to even understand what you were talking about."

"How could they miss them? They're huge with flapping wings and a swinging tail and they make crazy sounds!"

"The same creature attacking us today?" Steve asked, confused.

"Yeah?" Brine hesitated at that. "Why?"

"I could only see its eyes. And that needle like thing that stuck in the door."

Herobrine held his head. "Oh so that's why you thought I was crazy!?"

"I never said I thought you were crazy."

"Yes you did. But that's strange...I wonder if I'm the only one who can see them. Could be my superior eyes."

"Did not. What do they look like to you?"

Herobrine stroked his short beard thinking. He sat forward and turned around. He opened the chest he had been sitting against and pulled out a stick. He put the tip of the stick between his fingers and let them catch fire. After a few seconds he blew the fire out and was left with a fair amount of charcoal on the end. He then leaned forward more and started drawing on the stone ground.

"Looks kinda like a triangular bird fish." Steve deduced once Herobrine stopped drawing.

"Yeah except they're most likely undead. Their skeleton sticks out."

"Kinda like an exoskeleton?"

"Kinda." Herobrine scribbled out the drawing on the floor.

"So wait...if they're only going after you." Steve thought out loud. "Then why am I down here?"

Herobrine hesitated before answering. "I didn't want to take that chance."

"What chance?"

"That they would attack you too."

"But didn't you just say-?"

"You're really thick sometimes." Herobrine threw the stick aside. "I'm worried if they're specifically after me...they might go after you too. Since we look so similar. If most villagers can't tell the difference who's to say that these mobs can? That is a chance I wasn't willing to take. As soon as I learned they were going after me alone, I came straight here. I'm just glad they didn't attack you first."

"Well if it makes you feel any better I haven't been hearing any voices lately."

"I guess that's good. I just wish I knew what was going on. It's been a while since they've released a new mob. If they're trying to piss me off I guess it's successful."

Steve kept his mouth shut. He wasn't going to say anything about them. Herobrine got moody...well moodier, when he mentioned anything about them.

Instead, his stomach decided it would be a great idea to interject with a loud rumble. Oh right, he hadn't eaten since this morning. "I think I've got some rations down here. You hungry?" He asked, standing up.

"I could eat if you have extra."

Steve walked to another chest close by, full of odds and ends. He had a few loaves of bread he kept down here for emergencies. He threw a piece of bread at Herobrine before biting into another loaf himself. Steve made a mental note to restock some of the supplies in the chest. He could store meat down here if Herobrine was around...otherwise the mobs would get into it. Perhaps some raw vegetables and material for a makeshift bed.

There were also a few glass bottles of water. He shoved the loaf of bread into his mouth and picked up three glasses of water. And a spare piece of wool.

He brought the supplies over, handing Herobrine two bottles and the wool. "You should clean those wounds off."

Herobrine nodded and set the bread down in his lap. Steve sat down once again as Herobrine dabbed some of the water from the bottle onto the wool. He ran the cloth down his arm slowly.

Steve watched him work as he ate. Brine was right, the wounds had completely healed over in just the time that they had been talking. Now all that was left was dry blood and gray residue.

He looked a lot better, his posture was straighter, there was no longer pain in his features. Steve felt comforted by this.

Once that was cleaned off, Brine held the wool in his hands. It caught fire and burned slowly, causing the room to light up brighter.

Brine brushed his hands together, removing all the ash. And then also began to pick at the bread.

They ate in comfortable silence. It wasn't the most glamorous dinner but it would work for tonight.

"I think it would be a good idea to head into town tomorrow." Steve said as he finished off his piece of bread. "I should send a letter to Alex. She's got some good contacts and could probably dig up more dirt on these new mobs than we could alone."

Herobrine scoffed at that, biting the bread aggressively.

"Whaaaat she's got good intel because she talks to a lot of people in a lot of different towns. You can't be good at everything you know." Steve took off his satchel, placing it aside to get more comfortable. He also unhooked the belt that had his sheath and sword on him. He placed that on top of a chest. He had a feeling he wouldn't need it. No mobs would attack with Brine around besides the new ones maybe. But he was guessing an iron sword wouldn't do much against them. So no use in having the heavy weight on him.

"I can and I am. It just so happens that I can get just as good of intel by spying on people...it just takes a lot longer." Herobrine grinned.

"Well you can do yourself some spying in town and I'll do some reading at the library." Steve laid down on the ground, putting his hands behind his head. His eyes felt heavy. "But in the meantime I don't think those mobs are going to get down here anytime soon. So I think I'll take the opportunity to take a nap" He yawned. "I am exhausted."

"I'll wake you if the mob gets wise. But I think I've outsmarted it for the night. Hopefully it shouldn't bother us."

"Yeah hopefully."

Despite everything, the hard ground he lay on, the anxiety of a new mob attack, the frantickness of the situation just about an hour ago, the soft breathing of Brine next to him made him feel very safe

Steve found he was drifting off to sleep rather easily as soon as he closed his tired eyes. His body relaxed, worn out and a bit sore from working hard all day.

The torch light seemed to dim slightly. With another yawn, a soft goodnight to Brine, and some shuffling before he found a decently comfortable spot, Steve was out for the count.

The miner woke up all sorts of confused.

The first thought that entered his head was it was dark, cold, and he was on a stone floor.

Pure instinct took over and Steve shot up off the floor, reaching for his belt. His hand made no contact with a sword and after reaching a few more times, he looked down to find no such sword there.

After panicking slightly, standing in the dark room and breathing heavily, his brain began to wake up. And with it, so did the soreness in his body.

Steve yawned and stretched, rotating his shoulder to combat the stiffness. "I definitely need to put some supplies down here next time." He muttered to himself.

Steve looked around, noticing a distinct lack of Herobrine in the vicinity. He was guessing it was daytime. Though one would never know from the darkness in the cave.

The torch was almost out. Under it lay a new torch and a flint and steel. As well as Steve's satchel and sword, all neatly placed where he could easily find it.

Steve secured his belongings and took the dying torch out of the sconce, ignoring the one left for him on the chest. No need to waste a new one. He could easily find his way up the stairs in the dark. He also didn't hear any mob sounds nearby.

Once he shuffled his way over to the beginning of the stairs, he put out the remaining light of the torch by rubbing it against the stone. He chucked the little remaining wood back into the cave. The clatter echoing off the walls felt pretty satisfying.

Steve began to walk up the stairs of his mineshaft, a guiding hand on the wall to keep him from tripping in the total darkness. Though he had walked it so many times he could probably do it in his sleep.

As he suspected, soft daylight was shining through the entrance as he made his way to the top.

He undid the red stone latch in the door and walked out the door of the shaft. He breathed in the crisp morning air, stretching again and rubbing at his eyes.

Steve stood at the entrance of the cave taking in the view. The sun was barely up over the horizon. But he usually was already awake around this hour anyways; his internal clock set to rise with the sun.

Herobrine was where Steve thought he would be; sat on the top of the cow fence, looking out to the distance. A piece of hay between his teeth.

Herobrine looked so peaceful just watching the sun rise and listening to the birds sing their morning calls. It brought an odd peace to Steve as well. Far different a mood from last night's chaos.

Any mobs would have already burned up at the first rays of light so there was hopefully no more threat. Steve had to wonder if Herobrine decided to go after the creature himself last night or if he just waited until the sun did the job. He was guessing the former knowing Brine.

Steve finally made the decision to start the day and walked to meet his friend. He came up beside him, leaning on the fence to make his presence known. But it was Herobrine who talked first.

"I fed the animals. They have enough for the day. We should get moving as soon as possible so we can plan out what we want to do for tonight's attack."

"And good morning to you too Brine." Steve pushed on the demon's back with enough force to push him off the fence.

Herobrine stumbled off the fence, waving his arms to avoid flat out falling on his face. He smiled back easily. "Gods, Good morning Steve. Now can we talk business or does your feeble mind need to wake up more?"

"Breakfast first. Then business."

"There's some fresh eggs on the counter." Herobrine teleported himself back onto the fence, positioning himself in a relaxed lean on the fence. "Let me know when you're finally ready to go."

"Do you want anything?"

"Nope...I'm not really hungry."

Steve didn't push it past that. Herobrine didn't need to eat. He just liked to. But his own stomach was rumbling after only eating bread last night.

So Steve excused himself to prepare for the trip into town.

His house still seemed to be intact. The door was still on its hinges but it was covered in small scratches. And tiny holes.

When he opened the door, the place where Brine had shoved a diamond sword no longer had a sword but the hole was still there. He guessed a hole in the wood was better than a hole in the head.

Other than that, it looked as if his house was mostly untouched.

Steve first took care of some basics like relieving himself, washing up a bit so he didn't smell like he spent all day yesterday in the mines, and changing into some new clothes. He also put on some leather armor...a habit of his when going into town. Any trip away from his base could be a dangerous one.

Feeling refreshed and more awake, Steve lit a fire in his kitchen furnace, cracked a couple of eggs on a pan and shoved it in.

Between occasionally stirring the eggs, he packed his satchel with a few essentials. An iron pickaxe, a shield, some apples, bread, and dried meat, a couple of emeralds, his bow and some arrows, and...his sword.

Steve took the iron sword out of its sheath on his belt. He bit his lip and walked into his bedroom. Opening a chest he placed the iron sword inside for safekeeping and instead pulled out a sparkling diamond sword.

Herobrine was always trying to shove diamonds upon him, saying they were the best materials. But Steve always turned him down. He knew where most of the stuff Herobrine acquired and hoarded in his nether castle came from. He didn't feel comfortable accepting. Iron tools and leather armor were good enough for him. It was light and easy to manipulate. Steve was strong enough to wear diamond armor and use diamond tools but it wore him out quicker than he would like to admit.

But this sword was different. Steve had found the rare material in the mine and Herobrine insisted on helping him make it into a sword and enchant it instead of selling it. Steve was interested in the process at the very least so he agreed. They had forged this sword together. It was decently strong with a sharpness 2. And Herobrine insisted he could make it so much better. But it was already more than Steve would ever need.

He only used it for when Brine went away and if he had to chase off enderman or creepers away.

But today something was telling him he better take it. So he put the diamond sword in the sheath and went back to the kitchen to finish cooking.

He sat at the small kitchen table once the eggs were done. Herobrine was suddenly there sitting across from him, still munching on the piece of hay.

"You turn into a horse overnight Brine?" Steve teased as he shoved a big glob of egg into his mouth. And then winced at the heat, mouth open wide to avoid burning the roof of his mouth.

"If I did, then you turned into a pig" Herobrine smirked, eyes sparkling. The end of the hay suddenly caught flame and burned up from the tip to his lips. "Better?"

Steve turned his attention to the eggs, trying to hide a smile. He had to admit his friend was entirely too cool sometimes. Or I guess technically hot? Since the demon could manipulate fire?

"I see you're packing the diamond sword. Good choice." Herobrine thankfully brought him out of his train of thought. The demon picked up a fork on the table and started fiddling with it. "Although I don't want you fighting these things. They're fast."

"Did you end up fighting that mob last night?" He blew on the eggs this time before shoving them in his mouth. He was too hungry to wait for them to cool.

"Oh most definitely. I got bored waiting down there and listening to your snoring. So after probably about an hour I just went up and finished it off. Stupid thing was still trying to knock down the door. I gotta admit you sure made that thing strong. I probably didn't even need to stab your floor."

"Did it hurt you again?" Steve hesitantly asked, choosing to ignore the floor comment for now.

Herobrine didn't give him much reaction. "Like I said they're fast mobs. And that poison is a lot more potent than I've ever seen. The fact that they can fly doesn't help much either. Man I gotta learn how to get myself flying."

"Now you know how I feel about ghasts and blazes."

"Eh they can fly but both are slow and blazes only can shoot fire. Not much of a threat."

"Not all of us are fire proof Brine." Steve smiled and finished off the last bit of egg. He pushed the plate aside. "But I'm glad you're alright. That thing seemed to have done a number on you."

"Eh it just caught me off guard. I'll get better with time. And then I'll teach you. We just need to learn more about these things which is why-" Herobrine stood and lightly slammed his hands and the fork on the table. "-it's time to go. Come on we're wasting daylight."

With a wave of his hand, the furnace fire went out. Steve left the plate on the table and followed Brine out the door, ready for the adventure ahead.

It would take a few hours to reach the nearby village by foot.

He really ought to get a horse at some point to make the trip easier, Steve thought well into the trip as the sun rose higher in the sky and beat down on his back. But he only kept animals that he really needed since he left home often. He only visited the village once a month usually to meet up with Alex. Other than that he tended to stay as far away from villagers and other humans as possible.

Plus it had taken some time to even have the chickens and cows not be afraid of Brine. Horses were flighty to begin with so it would take a lot of training to have a horse be okay with Brine's powerful aura.

Their walk had been mostly silent up to that point. Steve had filled Herobrine in on a few things he had missed.

If anything Herobrine mostly bitched about having to walk. He could teleport them to the village faster than they could walk on foot, even with Steve keeping a brisque pace. It was funny, Steve thought, about what Herobrine chose to be patient about. Hunting was something Herobrine liked to drag out. He was persistent and slow to kill, enjoying the fear he could use to bring down unsuspecting mobs. Steve was just glad that Herobrine was on his side. It was intimidating to watch. And he tried to shove away the fact that those techniques had been used on him and countless others.

But things like farming or mining or walking...there was always a faster way. Always a potion, red stone, some sort of trick. Steve would like to think he had taught Brine to calm down a bit. There was no rush to do anything out here. The world was their oyster. They had plenty of time to experience it. And the lesson was starting to sink in, as proven withHerobrine allowing him to sleep and instead choosing to watch the sun rise. Though Steve couldn't take all the credit. Herobrine was very willing to learn and respected his opinion.

He wished he could have helped sooner. Herobrine had gone through a lot in his life. And after hearing both sides of the story, Steve was convinced the demon had been handed the short end of the stick.

"Hey there's people up ahead." Herobrine spoke, breaking Steve from his train of thought.

Steve looked up from the road. There was a bend ahead going up a short hill. At the top a blurry figure of what looked to be figures working on a cart. If Steve had to guess, it was some locals heading into town.

"What do you want to do?" Brine asked.

"You should hide for now. No reason to use up an invisibility potion before we get into town." Herobrine wasn't exactly popular among mortals. Whenever they had to go into town, Herobrine brought out one of his seemingly endless supply of invisibility potions to avoid being seen. Steve hoped eventually they wouldn't have to do that and Herobrine could walk around freely without being screamed at or run out of town. But even Steve was distrusted in villages for just looking sort of similar. He tried not to think of it too much.

"I could just teleport us both around them..." Herobrine muttered grumpilly.

"Not a chance. Besides, I think it looks like they could use some help." As they were approaching, the scene became clearer. It seemed like a young boy and older girl were struggling to attach a loose wheel on their cart.

Steve instantly recognized them as one of his closest neighbors. It was the Spelts; a family of wheat farmers. He often bought hay from them if his own supplies were running low. The older girl was named Red. She was a bit younger than him but pretty strong for her age. She was attempting to lift and keep steady the edge of the cart as her younger brother, Durum, was struggling to keep the wheel held up.

"Okay but if they mug you I'm going to kill them." Herobrine said much too nonchalantly before poofing off to who knows where.

Steve smiled at the comment but it was a valid threat. The roads could be dangerous and Steve would be more cautious if he didn't already know the family. But he did sigh internally at the set back. He wasn't the most social person outside of Alex and Herobrine and was hoping that this interaction wouldn't last too long so he could get back on his way with Brine.

"Hey there!" Steve called out once he had gotten closer to the cart.

"Oh hey Steven, perfect timing!" The girl, Red looked up and waved as he approached. She dropped the wagon's back edge to the ground again. "I was worried we would have to carry Dad on the back of old Dinkel here."

The mule pulling the cart whinnied at hearing his name, ears facing back.

"Wheel trouble?" Steve shifted his satchel behind him, preparing to help.

"More than that but yes. You mind hoisting the corner? Durum here is a tad bit too small to properly place the wheel."

Durum blushed at that, hiding behind the wheel and his large farming hat as best as he could. He was a shy kid and never really interacted with Steve during brief visits.

"Sure. No problem."

Red moved over to the wheel, shushing Durum out of the way. The young boy hurried to stand by Dinkel, grabbing its reins for security. Red motioned with her head to the cart. "Mind Dad though, he's right heavy."

Dad? Steve thought, peering into the back of the cart.

His heart skipped a beat.

In the back of the cart lay the father of the two. He seemed to be passed out completely, face sweaty and in pain. His head was resting on some hay and he was draped in a blanket.

But what really didn't sit well with Steve was the fact that the father had a large gash above his eye. With gray ooze leaking from the corner.

"So uh...What happened?" Steve grabbed the corner of the cart, trying to hide his reaction. He lifted the cart with a bit of struggle as the grown man weighed it down significantly.

"Well I was letting Durum drive as I was taking care of Dad in the back and he's not as experienced with driving on the road, mostly drives on the field-" Red picked up the wheel and began turning it on the bar to secure it back in place.

"I meant your Dad actually" Steve interrupted through gritted teeth. The cart was indeed a right bit heavy. "Is he okay?"

"We're not really sure." Red paused to finish securing the wheel back on. As soon as it was in place, Steve dropped the cart with relief. He watched as a worried looking Red peaked in to check on her father.

"He hasn't been himself the past couple of days. We think he might have worked himself to the point of exhaustion. You know how he gets during harvest time. He doesn't even stop to sleep!"

"He looks injured." Steve pointed out, hoping to hear less about this pointless information and more about the injury.

"Usually he is smart enough to not stay out at night to avoid the mobs. But we think he stayed out a bit too late last night. He came inside ranting about some flying mobs with a big gash on his head! Then just plum passed out. We cleaned up the wound with some of our healing potions but he seems to have developed a fever overnight. We think he was bit by a spider. Those things can jump at you so fast that you think they were flying overhead!"

"That's...terrible." Steve was right. So Herobrine wasn't the only one being attacked.

Red ushered Durum onto the cart. "We're taking him into town to see a doctor. Can't be too cautious. But don't worry, harvest usually hits him pretty hard and he's always recovered. Old man just doesn't know when to quit."

"I know the feeling..." Steve muttered to himself. "Well good luck. Let me know if you guys need any help with the harvest."

"Thanks Steven, you're a gem! Sorry for the curt goodbye but we gotta get going." Red hopped in the back of the cart and Durum took up the reigns of the mule. "You going into town? Want a ride?"

"Uh, no thanks." He declined awkwardly. "I need the walk. Good luck though!"

And with that, Durum clicked his tongue, signaling Dinkley to move on. And the cart was off at a steady pace down the track.

To avoid suspicion, Steve started walking down the path as well but at a slow pace so that Herobrine could catch up.

Eventually the cart went ahead out of sight and Herobrine appeared next to him. "That looked fun, manual labor yaaaay. They clearly don't know how to make or drive a cart."

"Brine, their dad was attacked by the new mobs." Steve spat out as fast as he could.

Herobrine blinked at this. "Are you sure?"

"He had a big cut on his forehead with gray stuff coming out of it, I'd say I am pretty sure."

Herobrine scratched at his chin. "Did you know those people?"

"They own the wheat farm."

"Well I was nowhere near any wheat farms last night or any night before that...besides the small ones in the village." Herobrine's face seemed to light up at this realization. "Which means they aren't just coming for me!"

"Yeah Brine, it means they aren't just coming for you." Steve stressed.

Herobrine's eyes grew wide. "Oh shit."

"Yeah oh shit."

"What else did they tell you?" Herobrine walked in front of him, now walking backwards. "Did you get any information?"

"Well they said the dad had been working really hard in the field and said one of those things flew down and attacked him. But the daughter thought it might have been a spider." Steve shook his head. "I've seen a lot of spider bites in my life from cave, to jockey, to regular. I have NEVER seen a spider bite like that. The wound was exactly like yours."

"So maybe they attack hard working people?"

"Then why wouldn't they attack me?"

"Well..." Herobrine said behind a smile.

"Hey I am hard working!"

"It's just a theory." Herobrine turned around walking ahead. "But this is a good first step. Maybe the village will have more attacks."

"If they did, that means they will be on high alert." Steve warned. "Meaning you and I really need to keep a low profile."

"Don't I know it". Herobrine mumbled. "Stupid paranoid mortals. If they so much as look at you the wrong way Steve..."

"Don't worry. You know I'm more than capable of taking care of myself." Steve smiled. "But there'll be no need because we will keep our heads down, get our information, and head out as soon as possible."

Herobrine raised a single eyebrow at that. "Just make sure you follow your own advice."

There wasn't much talk after that. Steve's head buzzed with unspoken words. But he put on a brave face as they neared the small but bustling village.

Before they got too close however, Herobrine stopped to take a swig from a previously hidden bottle.

Herobrine clicked his tongue, wincing slightly at the bitter taste of the invisibility potion. But the expression, as well as the rest of his face, soon vanished.

"Good?" A disembodied voice asked.

"Good." Steve confirmed. "How long are we good for?"

"It's extra strong. Should last until the evening. Now let's get a move on. The sooner we find information, the sooner we can leave."

Steve nodded and walked quickly towards the town. The town was situated at the bottom of a valley, surrounded on two sides by mountain cliffs, and on the other two sides by large stone walls. Guards were placed on top of the walls as lookouts. It was one of the reasons this particular village had survived so long. They were very effective against preventing and defending against mob attacks.

Herobrine often mused about how he would take down this village. It involved a lot of angry and perhaps super charged creepers. Or lava. Steve tried to discourage that train of thought.

Steve waved to a few people who were headed out of town on the same road. They gave hesitant waves back but noticeably walked faster at his presence.

There was definitely a sense of unease walking into town. Villagers and travelers walked by, deliberately avoiding eye contact and walking in a wide berth around him. The guards looked a bit on edge as he made his way under the large arch into the actual town.

But this time, they weren't on edge because of him. Steve could hear shouting coming from his left side, down an alley close to the wall. A couple of guards brought down a ladder and climbed off the wall, chattering to each other as they investigated.

"Huh.." Steve decided to follow the guards to see what the commotion was. He felt Herobrine's warm body keeping close to him, a sign that there may be danger.

A small crowd had gathered around. Their focus turned on a fracas in the middle of the square. An older man was being wrestled and detained by two people. The man was yelling.

"The voices! They're coming! The voices!" He screamed, voice raw. The man had dark bags under his eyes. He did not look well.

"Old man, you've been awake too long! You're just hallucinating!" One of the men said, grabbing his legs. The man kicked and trashed.

"Their screams! That horrid hissing! It's growing louder!" One of the men was able to grab the old man's hands. Carefully they lifted him into the air and continued along the path.

"You spend all day and night in that bar. Probably drunk out of his mind. Doc will be able to fix you right up." The man holding the old man's feet said.

Herobrine whispered in his ear. "I can hear them too...It's the mobs."

One of the guards he had followed pushed through the crowd (which was quickly turning into a bit of a mob of curious onlookers) and helped contain the old man.

Steve balled up his fists. "We should tell them." He said under his breath.

"Don't get involved. There's nothing you can do. They'll suspect you for knowing too much."

The old man struggled. The guard shook the man. "Lunatic..."

Steve knew in his head what Herobrine was saying was 100% true. But it didn't hurt any less that he couldn't help this man.

"They're all the same Steven. They don't trust what they don't understand. Leave. It."

Biting his lip, Steve turned away from the crowd and continued through the town. He tried to tune out the old man's screams of protest and the gossiping passerbys.

Steve decided that going to talk to the doctor now was a bad idea. Instead, the best place he could go was to the post office. He had to get a note out to Alex and that was the fastest way to do so. So he set his mind on that and started walking to the small building at the other side of town.

He was not met with as many stares as most of the residents of the town were still looking on at the commotion. Everyone was so damn nosey. But he soon found himself standing in front of a building with a bird holding a letter painted on the door.

As soon as the miner opened the door to the post office, he was assaulted with loud calls and odious smells. The small shop had one desk and a door which led to a back room. Various posts aligned the wall, each holding a brightly colored parrot. Some were curled up, heads under wings. Some were preaning. Most were screaming in greeting at the newcomer to the store.

Steve no longer felt radiating heat behind him. Herobrine had gone off elsewhere, most likely to investigate the old man. Which was expected. The demon and animals certainly did not mix well.

Steve, on the other hand, reached up to pet one of the squawking birds. The blue parrot turned its head graciously, eyes half closed in happiness from being scratched.

"Good morning!" The door to the back opened and an older male villager greeted him. "How can I help you today?"

"I need to get a note out to my friend Alex...ow hey!" Steve unconsciously stopped petting the bird, prompting a bite for not giving the proper attention. He ripped his finger away angrily.

"Ah yes, what a delightful girl that Alex! I can get a note to her 'base' at once. That will be one emerald." The villager wrote something down on a piece of paper, humming to himself. A few parrots mimicked the humming out of rhythm.

Steve fished through his satchel where he kept his money and pulled out an emerald, placing it on the table. The villager traded it for a small piece of parchment, a feather, and an ink well.

While Steve started scratching away, the older man held out a hand to one of the birds on the wall posts. It jumped down happily to his fingers. He then went to the back to prep the bird for the journey and also to give Steve privacy to write the note out.

It was a tiny piece of parchment so he had to be concise. New mob attacking. Need info quick. Let me know what you dig up. Meet at my place when you can. Thanks! - Steve
He also drew a very rough picture of what Herobrine had shown him in the sand yesterday.

Once the ink was dry, Steve folded the note neatly. "Okay, it's ready."

The old man walked out, parrot poised on his finger. It now had a small container on its leg. The postman took the note from Steve and placed it in the container. He then opened up a small latch on the wall and shoved the parrot out. The parrot squawked at this but a flutter of wings indicated that the note was on its way.

The man dusted his hands off. "Should be there today if Alex is around her base. If not, it will drop the note off at the nearest village."

"Alright. Thank you." Steve smiled and exited the shop quickly.

Looking out in the street, he noticed a few faces from the crowd before. The fracus must have dispersed.

Steve sucked in a deep breath, trying to calm his heart rate. He felt a bit more on edge whenever he visited a crowded town. He wondered what Brine was up to...

Lost in thought, he began wandering the street. Mostly to not bring attention to himself by just standing cluelessly in front of the post office.

His feet took him to a quieter part of town, mostly residential with a few shops scattered about. A familiar sign caught his eye. The town library.

A faint nostalgic feeling fluttered through him. Before Brine, anything new he discovered he would go research at the library. This particular one in the town he had been to dozens of times before. There always seemed to be a perfect book for him. And since Brine was busy...some library research would be the perfect way to spend his time.

Steve was greeted to the sound of a tiny bell as he walked through the wooden door of the cozy building. For such a small place in a remote area, there were surprisingly more people than he would have thought. A few people browsed the shelves, while others sat and read at desks. A younger villager talked to the old woman who owned the place. Every time Steve had visited, she had been working there diligently. She stopped mid conversation to say a friendly "Hello, Steven"

He (of course not remembering her name despite that being information he probably should know by now) nodded and walked past them, already having a place in mind to look.

There was a section of books that the librarian had accrued over time of self written novels. Most were by adventurers or scholars detailing experiences dealing with mining or mobs or even just towns.

He picked a couple off the shelves, recognizing some of the more well renowned writers or topics.

Until one caught his eye.

Steve brushed his fingers over the spine of the book, a smile pulling at his cheeks. It was the same one he had looked at three years ago. 'Myths and Legends'

The book was simple. There was only the title on the cover. No author. No summary. No pictures.

He picked it off the shelf and placed it at the top of his book pile. If it had helped before, maybe it could help again.

He picked up a few more promising books and then carried them to a table towards the back of the place. Hidden from the rest of the library and the other patrons, a calmness fell over him. He began to sort through a couple of the books he had picked up. But the urge to read one was overwhelming.

Steve cracked open the Myths and Legends book, flipping through the handwritten pages to the page he already had memorized by heart.

'The Legend of Herobrine - The Fallen Hero

Towards the beginning of creation, Notch became lonely and sought out worthy souls to come live with him in his kingdom. One of those chosen was a strong and adventurous miner. They became fast friends, and soon regarded themselves as brothers. As equals. Before the miner could grow too old, Notch decided to grant him immortality. So their adventures could last lifetimes.

But the power of everlasting life was not enough. The man became obsessed. With the ability to not die, the man would continuously slay mobs that plagued the land, growing stronger and deadlier. Notch saw this as a positive as it helped his citizens live a happier life. His other worthy souls in his kingdom warned him to stop the man before he was too far gone. Notch did not listen. This was his brother.

But his brother was no longer an adventure seeking demi-god...but a demon. Soon, simple mobs were not enough to satisfy his blood lust. He took to villages, slaying thousands. Causing fear and panic. Using his victim's souls to become more powerful. Enchanting his own body.

Notch finally grew worried for the humanity of his brother and threatened to take away his powers. Of course the man disagreed with this. They fought, the man using his powers gained from the experience of those he slayed, the god using the power of lightning. But all the power the man had gained was not enough to take down a god.

After the battle, a trial was held with the others that Notch had chosen. And it was decided. The corrupted soul was sealed away by Notch's own hammer into the firefly pits of the Nether-'

Steve had to stop reading at that point, a sickening feeling sat in his stomach. How history had become so tangled. And how he had believed it just a few years ago.

There were also a couple of illustrations. One with a figure floating in the air above a burning village. A landscape which depicted a field and a far off dark forest with two white dots peering through. A similar one in a dark cave. A drawing that looked a little like Steve if he was drawn at a distance. And finally...

There was a beautiful sketch of Herobrine's face from the side. Steve felt shivers go up his spine as he stared like he had when he first saw it, but this time not out of fear, but in awe. The drawing was filled with so much life. It captured the subtle look of his eyes, blank but still heavy with emotion. Face sharp and hard from battle but somehow inviting. Hair wild and yet tame. Lips-

Steve turned the page quickly. That's where most of the stuff about Herobrine ended. This was the only book in the library that had any information on Herobrine. Or at least, the only book that he had found and read. He had asked the librarian about it many years ago. She had no recollection that this book was even in her collection.

Steve knew why now. Notch had all books mentioning Herobrine burned and forbade anyone to write about it. Not a rule he could enforce very well, so many copies still existed. Most of them were passed down in families over time. The legend lived on through the stories and pictures...as did the fear.

But he had to focus. He was looking for information on the new mobs. Not his friend.

And so Steve flipped through the many books he had picked on the desk for any mention of this new creature.

People left and entered the store. There was a good amount of background noise. People flipping through pages or talking with the librarian. The shuffling of feet.

Steve yawned as he picked up the third book in his pile. He was getting a bit tired the longer he read. His eyes, not really used to reading, burned slightly. Maybe he should close them for a little while.

"Hey nerd" A voice whispered in his right ear.

Steve jumped back at the sudden rude awakening with a yelp. His foot rammed against the desk he was studying at causing a few books to fall over.

"Shhh" The librarian shushed him towards the front.

"Sorry Miss." He called out. He then glared to his side where he could hear muffled laughter.

Steve rolled his eyes, closed the book he was reading and put it to the side. "Hello Brine."

"You should've seen your face!" A disembodied voice snickered, amused.

"Would you keep it down." Steve whispered pointedly. "Someone could hear you!"

"Nah it's only the old coot in here. And she can barely hear anything." The books that had been knocked off began floating in the air, placing themselves on the desk. "Besides, people already think you're crazy in this town. Most miners are."

"Did you come here just to insult me or what?"

"No, I came to tell you I've got a good lead. The doctor just went to the bar. I figured you could go ask him a couple of questions about his patients."

"The bar?" Steve rubbed his eyes "This early?"

"Dude it's like almost evening. How long have you been sleeping?" An invisible finger flicked him on the head lightly. "You were supposed to be gaining intel"

"Sorry" Steve scratched his head, embarrassed. "But it's your fault anyways keeping me up last night."

"Well Mr. Librarian did you find anything out?"

"No...nothing. No mention of triangular mobs or even flying mobs besides the ones we already know about."

"Lame. You're lucky I'm so awesome and stealthy."

"Yeah you're being really stealthy just flat out talking to me in a public location. Let's go before you blow your awesome cover." Steve scooped up the books so he could place them in the reshelving chest at the front.

The two left the library with a nod to the librarian at the front. Brine was right, it had gotten quite late. There was no one left in the library and a less of a bustle on the street.

Steve made his way to the town bar, a place he only visited with Alex. He briefly wondered if Herobrine even drank. Not that he kept much alcohol around the house. It was rather expensive and not worth the time and effort to lug all the way back in his opinion.

Nevertheless, eventually he arrived at the small bar. He held open the door for a few seconds before walking in himself to give Brine a chance to enter unseen.

And just as promised, the doctor sat at a bar stool, all alone. There were a few others in the bar. The bartender (which thankfully, Steve knew from his monthly visit with Alex). A few older men who looked like they were also just getting off of work from somewhere like the doctor. And a rather rowdy trio in the back playing some pool.

Gathering up some courage to actually be social. Steve shuffled over to the bar stools.

The bartender greeted him with a soft smile. "Your friend Alex coming around or is it just you today?"

"Just me." Steve smiled nervously back. "Can I get the usual?"

"Sure, I'll get that started right up."

The doctor hadn't noticed him standing there yet. He felt a light nudge from Herobrine's foot on the back of his leg. I got it, I got it. He thought to himself. "Uh hey, Doctor?"

The doctor jumped a bit, looking up from his drink with weary eyes. "Oh hello Steven. Excuse me, I was lost in thought."

"That's alright. Mind if I join you?"

"Not at all. I could use the company."

Steve took a seat on the bar stool next to him. The bartender brought him a tall glass of homebrewed beer. Which Steve eagerly sipped at. He waited for the doctor to talk first.

"How's that shoulder of yours doing?" The doctor asked eventually. "Haven't seen you in town in a few months."

"It's been perfect. I've been doing the stretches you showed me before mining. Seems to help a lot." He rotated it to show off the movement.

"Shoulder?" Brine whispered in his ear.

"Small sprain. Not important." Steve leaned away from the doctor to answer in a low voice. The doctor seemed to be too engaged in his drink to notice and the bartender had moved away to refill the drinks of the trio in the back.

"Good to hear. Let me know if it starts to get sore again. I've been working on an anti-inflammatory salve."

They sat in a rather uncomfortable silence. If he didn't have the demon right next to him he would probably abort the mission. But instead, he decided to bite the bolt and move things along. "Soooo I saw the Spelts on my way into town this morning. How's their dad?"

"Oh he'll be fine after a good night's rest. That man works too hard. I yell at him every harvest."

"He had a strange looking cut on his head. Red mentioned some sort of mob attack?"

At that the doctor went quiet. He grabbed his drink, swirling it in his hand and took a long drag.

When he placed it back on the table he turned to Steve more serious. "Yes..and a strange one at that I'll tell you."

"I've heard a couple of rumors that there's a new mob around these parts." Steve decided to go for it. "You think it could have attacked Mr. Spelt?"

"Oh I don't think Steven. I'm almost certain it was."

"A new mob out of nowhere doesn't seem...unbelievable to you, does it?"

"You were too young to remember when Guardians first started to appear in the sea. I lived by a port town then. Fishermen came in every day, after accidentally getting too close. Saying they could hear and see guardians in their heads. They came back weak and confused. It took us months to figure out what to do to combat the new mobs. In the meantime a lot of people lost their lives." The doctor paused, rubbing at his face. "I think it is happening all over again."

"How many patients have you seen so far that have been attacked?"

"I've had five people. Two today. Only three out of those five have been attacked. The two started hearing voices, but it went away after a good night's rest. The three that had been attacked...well their symptoms varied by how hard they had been attacked. They all came to me unconscious and nothing I could do to wake them worked. Nor did healing potions. I tried everything. They all had varying degrees of fevers. Two of them recovered fine...Mr. Spelt and my first patient. And one of them...just never woke up."

Steve let that sit in for a second before also taking a long sip of his drink. He had felt bad for the doctor and didn't want to pester a man who was clearly in mourning. But he had one last question. "Do you know why it is targeting certain-?"

But before Steve could finish, he felt a light tapping on his right side. He looked over to find the trio of people playing pool staring at him.

"They've been staring for a bit." A whisper in his left ear.

Steve finished off his drink, quickly taking it all back in a chug and trying to ignore them. He didn't like the way they were staring. They did not seem to be locals either. Never a good sign. They were rather young, two males and one female. They were whispering to each other.

"Well it's been a good chat doctor, I think I better -" Steve proceeded to stand up but not quick enough for one of the men made his way to the bar counter, putting down a drink container rather loudly.

"Y'all talking about the new mobs eh?" He sneered up at the pair. He was clearly rather sloshed. "Y'know, those new mobs got to one of our friends..."

The doctor rolled his eyes, focusing solely on his drink and muttered to himself saying something like don't have time for this shit. Steve agreed internally. He tried to turn and walk away.

"You look pretty familiar eh? Ain't I seen you from somewhere?" The other man came up beside him, blocking off his movement. It seems Brine had backed off a bit as the man filled up that space. His comforting warm aura was vacant.

"I've just got one of those faces." Steve moved to get up but the trio just came closer.

"No that's it! I know where I've seen you. You look just like that guy...uh...Notch, what's his name?" The man who slammed his cup down mused.

"Something brined?" The girl offered. "I can kinda see it, yeah."

"Don't you think it's time for you lads to be moving along." The bartender finally spoke up. "Stop harassing my customers."

Steve was more than grateful for the intervention. But he had gotten about all he wanted from the doctor anyways. "That's okay, I was just leaving anyways." He placed a couple of emeralds on the counter. "Doc's drink is on me too."

The doctor huffed out a thanks and the trio backed away as he got up. No need to instigate on either party's part.

So Steve made his way out of the bar and began the walk to leave town, head buzzing. There was a lot to digest with what the doctor had said. He shoved his hands deep in his pockets, put his head down, and walked quickly. That was enough civil life for today.

"What do you think of it Brine?" He muttered under his breath.

When no one answered, Steve stopped and had a look around. Herobrine must have run off somewhere. Shrugging it off, he just focused on leaving.

Steve made it a good distance out of the town with no trouble. It was getting later now and the new mob rumors had certainly put the city on edge. Most people were already starting to haul up in their homes just as the sun was just beginning to set.

Eventually, when he was far enough from the judgemental eyes of the village below, Brine teleported to meet up with him. Fully visible.

"Sorry about that...the invisibility was starting to wear off" Herobrine matched his pace, hands behind his head. "Of course at the worst time too. Those thugs give you any trouble?"

"Nope." Steve said, popping the p. "That hasn't happened in a while though. Usually everyone is focused on Alex."

"Only good thing that woman is good for..." He caught Herobrine saying to himself. But then he spoke up. "Well if you want I can go rip off their arms real quick."

"I think that'd be more proving their point don't you think?" Steve rolled his eyes. He knew Brine was joking...mostly.

"Can't have a point if they're dead." Herobrine laughed like it was a funny joke.

"Let's get back on track. We got some information out of the trip at least."

"Maybe more if someone hadn't napped the day away"

"Listen, I was tired from yesterday."

"I think the best thing we learned was that they aren't just going after me." Herobrine said. "But did those attacks have any links? The only thing I could think of is the over exertion. But I'm not sure how mobs would be able to know about that. I'd say it was a hallucination but you were able to at least see the eyes of the creature. Damn these things are like ghosts."

"Now that you mention it...it does kinda seem like this might have to deal with resting or sleeping."

"Sleeping?" The demon stuck out his tongue. "That seems pretty ridiculous."

"Well think about it." Steve continued. "The doctor said that the voices went away for some of his patients after they got a good night's rest. I wish I had asked about the patients who ended up getting attacked...but Red also mentioned that her dad had been pulling long hours with no rest and was attacked. And that old 'drunk' today." Steve threw some ideas out there. "It would be logical since the only link between you and them is that you also don't sleep...ever."

"Well it's another theory."

"A better theory than they all worked too hard."

"Hey, you try working hard some time and then come talk to me." Herobrine threw right back, with a laugh. "I think we should do some field research tonight, if they're going to end up attacking me anyways. I want to be certain that they aren't going after you. Plus there are some small things I'd like to try out. Now that I know I'm not crazy and there is an actual mob, the bastard no longer has advantage over me."

"You sure you're not pushing it?" Steve hesitated. "You were pretty banged up last night."

Herobrine brought his hands back from around his head and rubbed his forearms. They were clear of any sign that they had previously been injured. "All healed up now though. And it's fine. They only spawn one at a time once a night. No biggie. I got the hang of it now. This time it should be fairly easy to rip them to shreds with good ol' Nightmare Haunting"

"You know if you want more people to be less afraid of you, you should stop naming your weapons stuff like 'Nightmare Haunting'."

"Everyone's a critic." Herobrine shrugged. "It's a weapon. You don't name a weapon something like 'cuddly bunny'"

"I don't know...I've heard legends of a killer rabbit." Steve teased. "And I'm more inclined to believe in legends nowadays."

"You can't believe everything you read."

"Alright...So if you're going to fight them, should we have a plan? They might be spawning anytime soon."

"We should go to the closest desert. If I remember correctly there is one about halfway from the village to your house just off the trail. It will be a good location to fight. No one goes into the desert at night because of all the mobs, so less risk of me getting seen. Plus we will be able to see the mob pretty easily without any tree cover. Less chance of an ambush."

"And the desert is less flammable than the plains outside my house. I like it."

They bumped fists in agreement, turning course a little off the beaten path to get to the desert faster.

They walked in silence a bit after that. Herobrine humming a little tune. The sun was rapidly declining, cooling the air and making it very pleasant to walk. Wind rustled tall trees that surrounded them. They both had a good internal compass (a necessity for mining) so they wouldn't get lost going too far into the woods. Steve did see a few mobs appear in the hazy distance, but turned quickly at the sight of Brine.

"Hey Brine."

"Mmm?"

"Why do you think these new mobs aren't running from you?"

"Most mobs still have at least some sense of self preservation." Herobrine explained. "Otherwise they wouldn't run for shelter in holes during the day and wait for the sun to go down. Or find armor to wear to protect them. And, as you already know, they are pretty intelligent and can coordinate attacks...somewhat, through a primitive communication. Word's gone round long enough to most of these mobs that we encounter on a daily basis. They know that they won't even get a hit on me. That doesn't stop all of them from trying if they think they've got a chance. Guardians are still pretty bold. And Nether beasts will give it a shot once in a blue moon."

Steve nodded, not sure what else to say after that. And they continued on their way. He took out some of the dried meat that he had brought and started munching on it.

"We have to come up with a name for the mobs." Steve said suddenly through a mouthful of dried meat, the thought randomly popping in his head. "I'm sick of calling them 'the new mobs'."

"I don't care what you call them. They'll be dead before you can even call them anything."

"They live in the sky and they flap around like birds but also like fish..." Steve ignored Herobrine. "Got it." He snapped his fingers. "Sky flaps"

"Sky flaps...? No way am I calling aaaaanything a sky flap"

"Too late, it's been said three times now its official"

"If I call you an idiot three times does that change your name?"

"If that was the case I'd have to call you monster, or murderer, or Spawn of the Nether, or-" Steve listed, counting on his fingers.

"Okay, okay I get it." Herobrine rolled his eyes.

"Prince of darkness, fallen hero..."

"Keep going and I'll feed you to the sky flaps." The demon cracked his knuckles menacingly.

"See, official name! Just rolls right off the tongue." Steve beamed.

But when Herobrine didn't snap back with a quip, his smile faded and he looked at his friend with concern. Herobrine was staring off into the distance, face clearly lost in hard thought.

Steve felt instantly guilty, wondering if his words had hit too hard as opposed to the joking manner they were supposed to be presented in. "Hey, sorry, you know I was just joking around about those names..."

"Hmm? Oh, I wasn't thinking about that. I can take a joke." Herobrine laughed softly. "I was thinking about how even though I am about to face off against a bloodthirsty mob who could probably do some major damage...I'm actually quite happy."

"How so?" Steve would have never picked up on that emotion. The man was truly a mystery.

"It's nice to not have to face new challenges in this world alone anymore. Takes me back to the good old days when everything wasn't so complicated."

Steve let the silence hang for a second before probing further. Brine did not like to discuss his past (not that he blamed him at all...it was all pretty fucked). But it was always interesting to hear about. "Do you ever miss it?"

"Yeah sometimes." Herobrine said easily. "Even though my brother royally screwed me over and continues to do so...he was still my brother." The further in the sentence he got, visible sadness washed over his features. But with a quick shake of the head, the emotion was gone.

"You know you can talk to me about it Brine." Steve added.

"Yeah, well anyways we're here"

Steve hadn't realized that they had indeed arrived at the border of an expansive desert. The grass of the forest, quickly giving way to miles of sand, sticks, and cacti.

He decided to drop the conversation for now. Who knew when the mobs- the sky flaps, would show up. "So what's the plan?" Steve asked as he followed Herobrine onto the sand.

"Well I want to see if it can follow me in the nether. Because if not, I can always plan a strategic retreat if it gets too much to handle...like last night. So I'll set up a quick Nether portal. Other than that, we're just looking to see if they only argo at me. I need to feel out some weak spots. I'll need you to watch the mob to see if anything I do crits."

Steve nodded. Sounded pretty straight forward. Hopefully this wouldn't end in a lot of injuries on Brine's part.

"And for you to stay out of the fight." Herobrine reiterated as if reading his mind. "I know you're good at fighting but no need to take unnecessary risks."

Eventually they got to a small clearing that Herobrine deemed acceptable for their battle ground. He immediately got to work on a makeshift Nether portal.

The portals that Brine made were a lot different than traditional Nether portals. Most of the ones that Steve had seen pre-made (mostly at ancient temples or deep within underground caverns) were very neat and square. Like a doorframe. Herobrine would melt the earth around him with his powers, stacking blobs of molten goo on top of each other, like a glowing and somehow terrifying sandcastle. The handmade lava would cool quickly, forming an arch like shape that was just big enough for him to slip through.

Once it was done, Herobrine flicked his finger and a small spark fell to the base of the structure. With an eerie sound and a flash of purple, the portal sprang to life.

"Just in time too." Herobrine muttered, not intending Steve to hear. He looked back at Steve with a nod. "I'm starting to hear the voices. It should spawn above us soon. You stand right here and call if it so much looks at you the wrong way. I'm going to pop into the portal and see if that throws it off."

Steve gulped but nodded. This was all becoming very real very quickly.

And with that, he was left alone. Herobrine disappeared into the portal with a whoosh.

The sun had completely set below the horizon. There was a low rumble. A distant thunderstorm in another biome. A result of the heated desert air cooling.

Steve watched the night sky intently with a shiver. Not sure if from the anticipation or from the cooler air. He withdrew his sword anxiously, despite the fact that deep down he wasn't sure even that would help.

And just as Herobrine had promised, something appeared in the night sky above them.

But unlike Herobrine had promised...there weren't just two eyes.

A quick count revealed five pairs. Smoke billowing from their backs.

Steve held his breath as they silently circled the nether portal. Like guardians circling a squid.

Oh fuck.

A pair of eyes flew higher in the sky, breaking formation, before swooping down to the ground. Straight through the nether portal.

Oh fuck indeed.

Before Steve could even react, Brine was out of the portal. His diamond scythe was out and ready for battle.

In a swift motion, Herobrine's hand lit up with flames and he punched a place where the obsidian was thin. It shattered and the nether portal's purple film fizzled out, thankfully trapping the phantom inside. "Okay that clearly doesn't work. But at least it's gone for-"

"Brine!?" Steve interrupted, panic boiling over. "There are more."

Herobrine turned his attention to the sky. "Oh, so there are."

"What now?" Steve asked, burying his panic and replacing it with focus like he would fighting any mob. He drew his diamond sword at the ready.

"Now I kill them." The scythe was placed on top of his sword, forcing Steve to lower it. "You take notes." Herobrine smirked with a side glance.

"Wha-no way you're going to fight them alone. Brine, you barely killed one last night! There are five now!"

"Technically four and I don't have much of a choice." Herobrine glanced up, reached out and grabbed Steve's shoulder. He teleported them a few feet away. Before Steve could yell at him, he noticed that where they had been standing, a shimmering form of the somewhat invisible mob now occupied that space. "You just stay here. Be vocal on what they're doing. And don't. Get. Stung."

And at that, the demon teleported a few meters away. Fire erupted from his hand up into the sky. "Okay you little shits, let's dance!"

Steve loved to watch Herobrine fight. It truly was like watching a dance. But this one was already starting off a bit...lackluster. He could barely keep up with what they eyes were doing of the almost invisible mobs from so far away. And it was dark...the only sources of light coming from Herobrine's sudden and unpredictable attacks. He decided to get a bit closer. Plus he could better keep track of what was going on to help Brine.

He inched forward in the sand, and crouched down behind a small bank. He was close enough that he could feel the heat radiate off of Herobrine's bursts of fire attacks, both from his scythe and from his body.

Now closer, he could clearly see the battle before him...and it was not a pretty one.

The green eyes would descend, Herobrine waiting for them to charge. He would quickly move out of the way of their arch and try to slash back. But the mobs were fast and agile. Before Herobrine could make contact with his blade, they would turn away and fly back up into formation in the sky, far beyond his reach. Herobrine tried shooting some fire balls at them, picking up sand, melting it quickly, and chucking it at the mobs. This worked somewhat but didn't seem to deal much damage. Instead, it left Herobrine open for attacks. But when he switched back to the scythe, not much progress was being made either. And if he did make contact, it was the mob's choice. Glistening teeth appeared out of nowhere, biting at the weapon and Brine. The man had to quickly shift feet to avoid an attack from the unforeseen barb.

Steve was beginning to appreciate just how terrifying these mobs truly were as he watched Herobrine struggle to strike a blow. He had seen a lot of evidence pointing to that so far, mostly with the fact that Herobrine hadn't actually killed one yet, but it really hadn't settled with him until he saw them in battle. And a part of him was glad that he wasn't the one fighting. The other part longed to help Brine.

Instead he watched the battle carefully, if he couldn't help now he could later. Learning the mob's weakness and attack patterns would be useful to both of them in the future.

Steve first noticed that when the eyes swooped down, there was a short window of time where the air around it shimmered and a dark shape appeared right before making contact with Herobrine's sycthe.

So the sky flaps were actually visible as they attacked, but for only a heartbeat. When they flew back up into the sky, the gray triangular blob faded, leaving behind green eyes and smoke trails.

They seemed to attack in an almost too random pattern. Most mobs were pretty easy to read. Zombies, skeletons, creepers all went in a straight line to attack. Enderman's teleports were much easier to predict with a few too many practice sessions. But Steve couldn't even recognize a pattern here. They didn't attack as a unit, who and when they attacked was a mystery. The time they spent in the air versus near the ground attacking was varied.

It was a difficult battle. And Brine's entire body displayed that very clearly. In the way that he just barely dodged attacks, or straight up didn't care if he got hit in favor of an attack on his own part. But even when he did get a hit in, it wasn't by much. They were fast and airborne.

Steve couldn't tell if Herobrine was feeling the effect of the poison yet. But Brine needed to finish this battle fast.

But of course as soon as he finished that thought, Steve noticed another approaching pair of eyes in the distance. Most likely the one that had gotten locked in the Nether. It had clearly found a way out through a different portal. For dumb creatures who couldn't figure out the door situation during last night's attack, that seemed almost an impossible feat. Maybe it was a proximity thing? They could find the approximate location but not the specific? But they were in the desert and exposed? All Steve knew was there went their plan of locking them away in the Nether at night.

"Brine, one's coming back!" Steve let Herobrine know. His friend responded with a few profanities.

The mobs circled slowly above, the fifth joining the neat formation. Herobrine watched them...waiting. Until one broke formation to attack.

"Enough fooling around!" With a feral growl, Herobrine jumped into the air and grabbed onto the back of the mob as it swooped in its arch. It struggled, losing its invisibility, and stabbed Herobrine a couple of times in the arms, but Herobrine struggled right back. He managed to weigh it down enough that it fell back to the ground. Where Herobrine promptly, shifted his footing so that he was standing on its piecing barb. He was about to deliver the killing blow when another swooped down.

"Brine on your 6!" Steve yelled out, preparing to run in if he needed to.

Steve could hear Brine's heavy breathing from here. The demon sucked in a breath and spun to meet the attacking mob. It's barb hit deep in Herobrine's side as the demon grabbed its materializing wings.

He used the momentum from the attack to swing the mob to the ground with the other. With a cry, Herobrine pierced both bodies with the snath of his scythe. The bodies disappeared, poofing into piles of flesh.

Herobrine backed up but stumbled for a second, looking faint. He collapsed to his knees in the sand, leaning heavily on his weapon. A pained noise escaping his lips.

Steve acted quickly, sprinting up to Herobrine as fast as his feet would take him on the loose sand and placing both hands on his back. "Brine! Are you okay?!"

The demon shrugged him off, returning to his feet with a wobble. "Stay out of this." He shoved the scythe back into Steve's gut forcing him to back off just as one of the remaining mobs came down.

Then with a growl, Herobrine teleported further away, the remaining three pairs of eyes following.

Steve rubbed at his sore stomach, grimacing at the, now further away, fighting demon. Stupid stuborn...there must be something he could do to help.

Hand to hand combat was out of the question. Ranged attacks could work. If anything to take a couple of pot shots for support. Those things had to be low on health by now?

Steve took his bow off of his back, grabbed an arrow from his bag, and took aim at the next pair of swooping eyes.

It was perfect as it seemed two were going at Herobrine at once. Steve could distract at least one of them to help out.

He waited until he could see the sparkling form of the mob start to take shape and let loose the string.

The arrow hit true, piercing the mob in the side.

As soon as the arrow made contact, a blood curdling screech filled his head. Steve's hands flew up to his ears. Woah okay...maybe not a good move.

Time seemed to move in slow motion as the green eyes of the mob were now purely focused on him.

Steve watched the mob lifted up into the sky and started to take full shape before him.

The beast was dark blue like the night sky. A gray skeletal structure was visible on the outside. When it turned just the right angle in the sky it kind of looked like a skeleton with long arms, no legs, no head, and a tail were swooping down at him.

The sky flap hissed once it reached the sky. Steve noticed he had hit a bone on the skeleton of its wing, an arrow lodged deeply in the marrow. The sharp barb whipped angrily behind it.

All too suddenly it lurched forward, changing targets from Herobrine to him. Its mouth was open wide now, filled with sharp teeth.

He had definitely agro'd it. Whoops.

Steve quickly fired off a few more arrows into the sky. The mob hissed at him but did not slow.

Finally it was on him, and Steve forced the wood of the bow into the creature's mouth to keep it from biting him as soon as it made contact. Its tail stabbed frantically trying to hit skin.

The surprising strength of the creature and the loose ground underneath his feet forced Steve to fall backwards into the slippery sand.

Shooting pain flared up in his left arm. In the fall, the sky flap had managed to shoot its tail forward. Steve bit back a yell, trying to focus on not being bit by the creature's ever closer sharp teeth. He could feel the poison being injected into his skin.

He kicked his legs into the beast. Its rubbery body just bounced off his feet unharmed.

"H-Herobrine!" Steve called out, not knowing what else to do. He had bitten off more than he could chew. He needed help. Oh man if the sky flap didn't kill him, Herobrine sure would after.

An angered roar...And all went to Nether.

A large glob of molten sand collided with the mob's midsection before Steve could even blink. The beast cried out in pain, its skin burning and bones melting. It flapped its heavy wings hard, shaking some of the lava off, but most was fusing with flesh.

Steve blinked and Herobrine was behind the sky flap, ripping the mob off of him by its skeletal structure. The mob struggled but Brine yanked it to its side. A bone broke off in his hands and he tossed it aside, this time grabbing its head.

Steve managed to pull the barb out of his skin and let go before Herobrine teleported the mob and himself a few feet away. Putting distance between him and Steve.

Steve couldn't see Herobrine's face as he was now turned away from the miner. However he could tell that the demon was not happy.

Hunched over the mob, Herobrine began ripping away at skin and bone. Mauling the mob with his bare hands. The sound of cracking bone and torn skin was enough to turn Steve's stomach.

The mob screamed at Herobrine from the ground. Herobrine screamed louder.

Steve watched in horror at the scene, unable to move.

The mob finally stopped struggling. And Herobrine kneeled bent over it. Like a fallen scarecrow. Laughter erupted.

Two remaining sets of eyes swooped down from the sky. Herobrine turned. His eyes were bright white and hurt Steve's own. A wide grin and face covered with gray blood from the mob and red from his own hands.

Herobrine's haunting laugh echoed all around as he teleported away before the mobs could attack.

The demon reappeared in a flash of light behind one of the skeletal figures. His flaming hands grabbed the back of the mob burning away flesh. Gray ooze bubbled like boiling water. Until Herobrine's hands reached the other side. It seemed like the mob was crying out but even though Steve could now see the exposed mob, he couldn't hear it.

The mob went limp in Herobrine's hands. And the attention was turned on the final one, who was now arching back down from the sky to attack. The demon laughed, summoning his scythe and teleporting; weapon swaying with each move.

He teleported all around the creature, quicker than Steve had ever seen before. Hacking away piece by piece as the mob struggled to escape. Sensing defeat, the beast tried to fly away. Something Steve had only witnessed in mobs when Herobrine attacked. But it did not get far before the shiny, sharp, diamond blade dragged along a tattered wing. It fell to the ground, shivering, but not dead. A quick blow to the head from a strong leather boot finished the job.

It was over quicker than it began. Herobrine was turned away from him, head cocked towards the sky. A small circle of fire was formed around him. And his feet were not making contact with the ground. His scythe dripped gray, sizzling once it made contact with the burning sand.

"Herobrine!" Steve couldn't stop himself from calling out.

Herobrine's eyes were on him too quickly. The beams of light consuming everything else. Despite himself, Steve felt a pang of fear deep down in his core. His blood ran cold.

"Brine please snap out of it!" He pleaded as the demon floated up to him slowly, fire moving with him.

Steve closed his eyes as the floating Nether spawn inched closer. Despite the heat, he shivered; unable to escape the feeling of being watched.

"Are. You. Hurt?"

Steve peaked out from behind his fingers. Herobrine had stopped a few inches in front of him, feet firmly planted in the sand. The fire was gone but his friend was still smoking.

"Are. You. Hurt?" Herobrine bit out again. Steve couldn't read the expression behind his piercing white eyes.

"I...I don't think so. No." Steve lied, scared of the reaction Brine would have if he told the truth. He felt okay at least. If not a slight headache from the adrenaline and a bruise on his backside. He brushed away some of the fresh blood with his fingers. "Are you okay?"

The demon's set of haunting jagged teeth poked through the veil of white. A malicious chuckle escaped them. "Am I okay?" He mocked.

"Can you like...calm down?" Steve tried.

"I'll calm down when I'm damn well ready to calm down." Herobrine walked past him, giving him the cold shoulder...the hot shoulder? The scythe was teleported away. "Let's get the Nether out of here. I think we've learned enough for one night."

Steve nodded and started to get up. But found that the earth seemed to move underneath his feet as he did so. He closed his eyes and shook his head to clear his blurring vision. But felt his knees buckle underneath him. He fell forward onto his knees in the sand.

When he opened his eyes again, he was met by the vision of moving sand below him. He felt eyes bearing down upon him.

"What's wrong?" Herobrine's voice was panicked.

"Eh, so I might have gotten a little hurt actually...Woops" Steve attempted to make light of the situation. His head felt funny.

"Woops!?" Herobrine's eyes burned impossibly brighter and Steve winced up. The demon was not happy, nor did he look very good either. The poison was starting to really take effect after all the stunts that he had just pulled. "WHOOPS!? WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING STEVEN?"

"I saw it." Steve's mouth suddenly felt like it was filling with cotton. "Before it dove down. I distracted it for you."

"And you got stung, didn't you?!" Herobrine's teeth looked fang-like as he grit them together.

"Maybe?"

Herobrine started cursing under his breath, walking back and forth. His hands were clenched into fists and were smoking. He took in a deep breath and another before crouching down and yanking Steve's arm to get a better look. "Only this one wound?"

Steve's entire arm felt hot, but he wasn't sure if it was from the poison or from Herobrine's powers. "Yeah"

"How long was the barb stuck in you?"

"Dunno"

"Bastard keep your eyes open!" Herobrine tugged on his arm violently and Steve gasped in pain. He hadn't even realized that he had his eyes closed. He could feel his heartbeat course through the veins in his arm. He shivered despite feeling utterly too hot. Subconsciously his body tried to move away from Brine, the demon's uncontrollable powers must be the source of the heat.

But Herobrine did not let him move an inch. His hand clenched tightly on his arm just below the base of the wound. Soft hands brushed away at the oozing blood coming from the small but deep scratch. He was still muttering under his breath but Steve's hazy mind couldn't figure out what he was saying.

A rather foul smelling liquid was put up to his lips. "Drink this." The dark voice commanded.

"What is it?" Steve hesitated to drink, trying to move Herobrine's arms away with no avail.

"Milk. For the poison."

"Where did you get it?" Steve giggled but he wasn't sure why. It almost felt like he was drunk. White was filling his vision and he felt lost in Herobrine's eyes. But his voice grew distant. He could feel himself saying words but he wasn't sure if they were actually coming from him.

"Where the fuck do you think?! From your cows!"

"Ew you've had that all day? Gross." He stuck out his tongue but did not open his mouth.

"Drink it before I make you drink it." Herobrine threatened, grabbing onto Steve's injured arm and squeezing.

"You're already mak-

"DRINK THE FUCKING MILK"

Steve finally opened his mouth to allow Herobrine to pour back the milk. He gagged as the warm, and slightly curdled, milk hit his tongue. But he managed to drink it all.

"Better?"

"Yes?" Steve blinked. The shock to the system from the gross milk did seem to give back some vision. Herobrine's face started to come back into view. Steve started to get off the ground, limbs thinking it was the best decision. A sturdy arm helped keep him steady.

Steve now stood up fully, with a bit of a wobble. Herobrine backed off, but kept his arms out just in case. "I'd say that did the trick! Good thinking Brine, although next time we should use fresher milk." He stuck out his tongue again at the lingering taste.

Herobrine didn't answer so Steve looked at him. The demon still eyed him with panic.

"What, see I'm fine! Look!" Steve began to walk forward, but his foot never connected with the ground. Instead, the edge of his peripherals began to fade to gray like the poison that had been injected.

"Steve!?" The miner felt Herobrine's warm arms wrap around him. But his eyesight no longer worked. His body no longer could move. "WAKE UP"

Herobrine's calls grew quiet as Steve's body grew weightless. He was suddenly so tired...surely a quick nap couldn't hurt...

Steve opened his eyes with a gasp. He tried to sit up but his body wouldn't respond. He couldn't move.

Well, he could move his head though. He looked around, groggy. He was laying on a pillow. There was a blanket draped over him.

He sucked in a few deep breaths to remain calm. He was in his bed at home. He was home. He was safe.

"Thank the gods you're awake." Steve heard a familiar breathless voice whisper out in the darkness.

"Brine?" His own voice sounded weak.

Two slivers of white appeared in the corner of the room to his right, unmoving.

"How did we get here?" Steve's voice slurred unintentionally. It felt like he had been hit with a potion of slowness or fatigue.

"I carried you" The voice was devoid of any emotion. Almost too automatic with its coldness.

"How long was I out?" Steve recalled that he had indeed passed out before this.

"A few hours. How are you feeling?"

"Tired and numb." Steve admitted honestly. "That stuff sure packs a punch."

"But other than that, I'm fine." He quickly added when he received no indication of a response from Herobrine. "Sorry for getting stabbed."

Again, no response. His cloudy brain wondered if two lightning bugs hadn't just entered the room and were glowing like his friend's eyes.

"Well we learned one thing at least...milk sure doesn't work." Steve chuckled, trying to lighten the mood.

Which was met with a slow blink.

It dawned on him that while Steve had only been stabbed once, Herobrine had been stabbed multiple times. And killed five terrifying mobs. And teleported them both back here while carrying his unconscious body. Surely Brine was more injured than he had last seen him. "How are you feeling?"

But instead of answering, the eyes moved slowly. In the quiet room, Steve could hear the creak of wood and Brine make a small struggling sound. Like he had been leaning against the wall watching him. The click of his bedroom door handle and the door swinging open.

"Just get some rest." And with that, the eyes were gone.

As much as Steve wanted to go after his friend, who was most definitely hurt as well, and probably angry with him, the suggestion of rest made his body feel even heavier. And he drifted off into a deep sleep without much trouble.

When Steve awoke, Herobrine was nowhere to be found.

He felt a lot better, mostly in the way that he could move his body. The dreary tiredness did not hang over him anymore. It felt like nothing had even happened yesterday. If anything, his brain felt a bit groggy and slow.

It was definitely late in the day and he had slept in a considerable amount. The sun was high up in the sky. Without changing into new clothes, he went outside to quickly check on the animals. They had already been taken care of. So Herobrine had been here at least within the past couple of hours.

Feeling a little gross from last nights' sandy battle, he decided to take a quick bath and get changed. When he went to remove his shirt after getting the water ready in his small bathroom, he noticed that there was a haphazardly placed bandage around the small puncture wound. He unwrapped it carefully. There was dried blood and the wound was beginning to scar over, but otherwise it didn't look that bad considering.

He made sure to wash it out carefully and then rinsed himself down. Feeling refreshed, he dried off with a towel and went to his bedroom for a change of clothes.

Herobrine was sitting at the kitchen table when he left the bedroom. Not expecting him to be there so suddenly, Steve fumbled to get his shirt on quickly.

"Oh uh, hey." He said, fighting the fabric. He finally pulled it on and smoothed it out. He was going to speak again, but stopped short when getting a good look at his friend.

Brine was leaning on the table, a hand supporting his head. "Before you ask me what's wrong like I know you're going to..." He was right, Steve was going to. "I just have a massive headache. Otherwise I am fine."

So Steve held his tongue at the many bloodied scratches that still covered Herobrine's arms, and face. Despite the fact that they should have been healed by now and something was clearly up.

"Okay, I'm just going to make some toast." Steve scratched the back of his head awkwardly.

Herobrine remained silent, so Steve crossed into the kitchen and lit a small fire on the stove. There was bread already left out...pretty stale but would make okay toast.

"Do you think there will be five again tonight?" Steve attempted to make some light conversation. Herobrine had his back turned to him at the moment.

"Don't know." The demon muttered against his hand.

"That was a lot of them. I think I like one better."

Herobrine didn't try to pick up the conversation so Steve tried again.

"Hopefully Alex gets the note I sent soon. That could help us out."

Again, no response.

"Are you going to try anything new tonight? Should we rig up some sort of trap?"

"..."

"Are you just going to ignore me for no reason?" Steve was getting frustrated. What was his deal?

He peaked over at Brine, who was in fact still there and just not talking. His body was visibility tense. As if he was holding something in.

"Are you...mad at me?"

Herobrine's hand clenched but no response.

Steve couldn't take it anymore.

"Come on Brine just spit it the fuck out already huh? What is with you today?" Steve wanted to clap a hand over his own mouth for the sentence that just escaped. But it needed to be said. The unspoken silence was killing him.

The demon reacted appropriately. He whipped around in the chair, gripping the back of it with strong hands, eyes narrowed and teeth wide viciously. "You almost DIED Steve!"

"I didn't almost die, you're exaggerating." Steve scoffed, focusing on preparing his food instead. Here we go. Anger was better than silence he supposed.

"What if I hadn't been there though?! What if those mobs had their way with you!?" Herobrine was waving his arms furiously with every word.

"But they didn't. Everything worked out fine. There's been, and will be, times where my life was and is going to be in danger. Why is this such a shock to you now?"

Herobrine's mouth opened. But then closed. His face was angry but he looked confused on what to say.

"Look, you can be mad all you want. I thought I could help and I couldn't. And I am sorry about that. But I'm not just going to apologize for not sitting around while you get hurt when I can help." He turned off the flame as the bread began to burn.

"But I CAN'T get hurt!" Herobrine reiterated.

"Then what do you call this?!" Steve stood to face him, matching Herobrine's angered tone. He gestured to the demon's body. "I would call this hurt!"

"I'm immortal, dumbass. If I die, I just come back. There isn't any problem. But if you die-" Herobrine stopped at that.

"So how do you think I feel watching you die?"

"What does it even matter?"

"If it doesn't matter then why do you get to be angry when I just get hurt? Not even that badly mind you. You've seen me hurt worse than that. Nether, I've even been on the brink of death and you didn't get angry then! Why now?"

"You know what fuck you." Herobrine stood from the seat, chair crashing to the ground and turned his back without warning. "I don't need to explain myself to you. Die for all I care."

And with that, the demon teleported away out of sight.

"Real fucking mature" Steve rolled his eyes, shoved his hot toast in his mouth, and grabbed his bag. He needed to blow off some steam of his own. The mines would be an easy way to accomplish that.

Around others, Herobrine was brash and spoke his mind no matter what the topic without a single thought given as to what he said. Around Steve, trying to get the demon to talk at all sometimes was like pulling teeth. He found himself having to repeat questions multiple times, barely getting a response. Why was he different than anyone else?

Herobrine did not spend too much time around the house after that. Steve guessed that he was hanging around the nether, practicing moves on tougher moves than could be found in the overworld. Or he could just be avoiding Steve altogether.

Steve eventually cooled down. He was only angry because Herobrine was angry. His friend was just trying to protect him. It was a scary world out there.

When night descended, the demon appeared outside his house. Steve peaked his head out of the door and Herobrine cooly stated: "You can come watch but if you even reach for a weapon I will teleport out of there and never come back." His words were hollow, but bitter.

So without further conversation Steve followed him to a nearby field, sat very far away from the fight, and watched Herobrine tear apart mobs.

For the first two days of this, after all the mobs were slain, Herobrine would blink off to who knows where, leaving Steve alone. The demon was still angry.

But on the third night, Herobrine slowly shuffled up the hill, bloodied and limping. He sat with the miner, who held his breath waiting for the other to talk. With a tired voice, he finally did. He apologized for acting so strange and asked if Steve had any recommendations for the nightly fight.

So it had only taken two days (almost a new record for his big tantrums!) for Herobrine to get over the fact that Steve had gotten hurt. There were no draw out apologies between them, no further arguments. They moved on, and got back to work.

Their ritual continued for a week. And Herobrine's effectiveness against the mobs grew every night. The mobs seemed to actually vary in how many attacked at once. The average; about three.

And Steve was eventually able to get closer without getting an earful.

Soon Steve was practically on the battlefield, helping guide Herobrine through the fight. They both joked around, Herobrine began showing off using elaborate flourishes of movement...the nightly threat was turning from a fearful fight for one's life and more of a challenging adventure.

Steve felt his own itch to fight watching Herobrine pull off such well timed moves. He was a bit jealous that he had to sit and watch on the sidelines while Herobrine had all the fun. His hand wrapped longingly around the diamond sword still in its hilt. Even though Herobrine refused to let him help, Steve was still required to have a sword out just in case he accidentally triggered one to attack. He had convinced Herobrine that full enchanted diamond armor wasn't necessary but the sword he could not.

But Steve had to remind himself that Herobrine was making this look easy. Even still, a few attacks were landing as he fought the sky flaps. And Herobrine always finished the battle looking like he was dragged through the nether a dozen times over.

A nagging thought persisted in the back of his mind, and Steve couldn't help shake the feeling that this was all highly unnecessary. Sure, they should get used to fighting these mobs in case they had to fight them off to save someone they came across. But that possibility was about as rare as finding a chicken in the desert.

Having to fight these things every single night when this was all avoidable? It seemed dumb. And the more he thought about it, the more the question burned on the end of his tongue.

"Not that watching you fight mostly invisible Mobs every night isn't exciting." Steve finally spoke up. "But couldn't you like...sleep for a couple of hours and just not have them come after you at all?"

"Sleep?" Herobrine scoffed as he drove his scythe into what seemed like the last remaining mob for the night. Steve couldn't see any remaining eyes in the sky. "We're not even sure if that even works yet. And I've gotten the hang of these things now, why would I need to sleep?"

Steve raised a single eyebrow at that.

Herobrine shuffled a bit and wiped fresh blood from a brand new oozing gash on his arm. "Okay but I am getting better. A few more days of practice and they won't be able to touch me. Besides we can keep adding this venom to the pot to figure out a treatment for their effects"

"I don't understand why you won't use a shield at least." Might as well get it off his chest while they were on the topic. "Would help protect your arms against their barbs"

"And look like a nerd? No thanks"

"You're impossible"

"Yep" The mob underneath the demon poofed into oblivion. Dried skin like a zombie's was left in its place.

Herobrine still hadn't hit it directly in the head. It was a moving target with two attacking ends. A tricky enemy to fight without catching everything on fire.

"But seriously Brine, couldn't you give sleep a chance if even just for experimental purposes?" Steve leaned on his sword. "I can do it for gods' sake. If I can do it you most certainly can."

"I lost the need for sleep centuries ago" The demon simply stated, twirling his scythe away.

"So you're saying you can't do it?" Steve teased. Herobrine was smart but damn was he thick sometimes. Pride and ego coming before rational thought.

"Of course I can sleep. I just don't NEED to." Herobrine dragged the carcass to the pile that he had been adding to next to Steve.

"You don't need to eat either and you do that."

"Yeah but food at least provides entertainment. And you cook well. Sleep doesn't do anything for me"

"Except it keeps the mobs away. Aaaand who knows maybe you'll be in a better attitude when you wake up." He hit the demon's shoulder playfully as he approached.

"I'll show you a better attitude, mortal" Herobrine suddenly reached and grabbed Steve by the front of his shirt and hoisted him effortlessly up to his face. Steve grabbed hold of Herobrine's hand so he didn't actually get choked as he was lifted less than an inch off the ground. Their breath intertwined as Herobrine glared up pretending to be threatening.

Steve giggled, feeling his cheeks redden. "Brine stop it, this is my favorite shirt."

"Your only shirt."

"You're one to talk" He swung his feet, kicking the top of Brine's shoes. "You smell. When was the last time you-"

"HEY DEMON! Cool it!" A voice cut their conversation short.

The scythe appeared in Herobrine's other hand and Steve was moved somewhat behind him in one fluid motion, the grip on his shirt pulled tighter. But Herobrine soon relaxed and the scythe disappeared at seeing their visitor. "Oh it's just the girl"

"Bet your ass it's the girl" Alex stood a few feet away, enchanted bow pulled taught and aimed at Herobrine's face. "Now why don't you be a good succubus and drop my friend?"

"First off its Incubus, if you're going to insult me at least use the right pronouns. Secondly-"

"Hey woah hey guys chill out. Everything's fine" Steve let go of Herobrine's grip which prompted the demon to drop him.

"See I'm dropped. All good." Steve brushed off his shirt to get rid of any wrinkles (and tried to hide the fact that he was blushing very hard).

Alex lowered her bow. She and Herobrine continued to make threatening eye contact. Steve needed to de-escalate the conversation before it got out of hand. No matter what Steve said about Herobrine to Alex, the well seasoned adventurer still was warry. Steve couldn't really blame her but she didn't know him like he did.

"Hey Hero, you want to go feed the livestock for me while I talk to Alex?" He flicked the back of Herobrine's elbow trying to communicate 'get lost you're not going to help this situation'

Herobrine smiled back at him before slowly walking closer to Alex, hands behind his back. "Sure Steven. Wouldn't want Miss priss to be made uncomfortable with my presence or anything."

She raised the enchanted bow once more towards his face when he got too close. The magic caused the arrowhead to light up. Which Herobrine laughed at.

"A flaming arrow. Quaint." Herobrine grabbed the edge of the wood below the bottom of the arrow head and snapped the arrow head off much to the anger of Alex, who stood stone still. He then put the arrow tip in his mouth, extinguishing the magic flame. "You do remember I spent a thousand years in the flaming depths of the Nether right?"

"Brine." Steve warned. Why did the demon have to make everything so difficult?

"I'm going, I'm going!" Herobrine threw his arms up, tossing the arrow to the side.

"He was just joking around." Steve chuckled nervously, rubbing the back of his head.

"Mhm looks like he was being reaaaally funny to me." Alex made a face at Herobrine's back. In which Herobrine promptly flipped the bird back in response.

"I don't like him." She sneered.

"You say that every time you come over." Steve rolled his eyes. "So did you find anything out?"

"Yeah." She said shuffling through her bag. "Although I'm not sure I should be helping him with the way he treats me."

"You don't exactly make it easy for him."

"Yeah I know." She smiled happily. "Someone's gotta watch out for you. You're like my little brother. Except my family members have enough sense to not hang out with literal spawns of Nether."

"You two are exhausting. Remind me why I decided to have friends in the first place?" Steve motioned for her to follow him into the house.

"Your life would be so much more boring."

They sat at the kitchen table, Steve lit a lantern and fixed some hot tea for the two of them (and a cup for Herobrine, because he knew that eventually the demon would get bored and come looking to start trouble).

While the kettle warmed up, Steve explained the situation to Alex.

"So you went up against one too?" She questioned finally.

Steve motioned to the small cut on his arm when he placed the cup of tea in front of her. "Yep. Accidentally agro'd one of Herobrine's when he was fighting. Zero out of ten do not recommend. I was out for the night and that thing only hit me once."

"I would tell you to be more careful but that would be hypocritical" She gratefully accepted the tea with a grin. "Even I want a go at one of these things."

"Hang out until tomorrow night and I can arrange it. Though I can't guarantee Brine will save you with the way you treat him."

"You know there's a simple way of avoiding these things right? All you have to do is take a nap every once in a while"

"Try telling that to an angry stubborn demon who just wants to brute force his way through the problem." Steve thumped his head lightly on the table to emphasize his frustration. "I've mentioned it a couple of times but he swears he can just fight them every night no problem. But he keeps getting hurt and I know he's a fast healer but gods is this whole ordeal getting exhausting."

"That's surprising." Alex took a long sip of her tea.

Steve rolled his head to look up at her. "How so?"

"Well...for the most part he listens to you usually. At least that's what I've observed. There's got to be something else going on here that he's not telling you about. Could be an ego thing. He certainly has a big one of those. Which I guess I could understand. Imagine being so powerful that you can go toe to toe with Notch but not be able to fight off a couple of low level mobs."

"He has been acting really strange lately."

"If you want my advice...I'd just keep trying to get through to him. Some people need a little more of a push to get through to. And I've never known you to be a quitter. Be firm and direct. That man has a thick head"

And as if right on que, Herobrine poofed into the kitchen

"Ah, we were just talking about you." Alex said in the sweetest sarcastic voice she could muster.

"Only good things I hope." He smiled toothly back, snatched up his cup of tea and leaned against the wall. Though he didn't want to admit, Herobrine knew that Alex could have better intel than them and definitely wanted to hear it. Hence the aloofness of not joining them.

"Did you get any proof that the whole sleeping thing works?" Steve continued. "It was just a hunch on our part."

"Yes, there have been several confirmed cases. I've seen writings on every town board I've visited. Reports from mostly insomniacs or people working too late. They say the first night you're fine, the second night you start hearing voices...though some people have reported them during the day as well, and the third is when they appear. If you sleep before the third night, they just flat out don't show up." Alex explained. She took out a small notebook with copious notes and sketches. Steve snuck a glance at Herobrine, who was trying to look uninterested and failing. Even he seemed impressed.

"Folks have been referring to them as Phantoms"

"That's a dumb name." Herobrine scoffed into his tea.

"Shut it." She bit back.

"Make me" He mocked, mimicking her higher pitched voice.

"So why phantoms?" Steve asked, trying to keep the two focused.

"Well I'm guessing because a phantom is another word for ghost. And they only come out at night. You start hearing them out of nowhere before finally they start haunting you fully." Herobrine had pushed off of his leaning position against the wall and walked over to sit at the table with them. He was starting to get more invested.

"See, not a dumb name" Alex insisted, glaring up at the demon as he joined them.

"No it's still really dumb."

"Go on then, tell us what you would name it." Alex challenged, crossing her arms.

Herobrine thought for a second, waving his hands. "I don't know...something cool like 'Monster of the Night Sky' or whatever..."

"You just like creating really long names for everything." Steve added. Herobrine had a collection of swords that he didn't even use. But each one of them had almost a sentence for a name.

"I will admit Phantom is better than what Steve has been calling them." Herobrine smiled over at him knowingly.

"Oh now really?" Now Alex was looking at him.

"Briiiiiine" Steve warned, feeling embarrassed.

"Sky flaps"

"Oh now THAT is rich."

"Sure team up on me then. I thought it was a better name then 'the new mobs'" Steve pouted. "Assholes."

"In one town, there was a report that someone hit one with a sword enchanted with smite and that seemed to deal more damage." Alex drew back focus to their main conversation. "Which means they are some form of undead."

Herobrine clapped sarcastically at that. "Yippee the worst enchant for the worst mobs ever"

"I think you're confusing that title with bane of arthropods." Alex retorted.

"You got me there." Herobrine raised his glass to her. "So if these things are undead, I can just bomb them with splash health potions huh?"

"I don't see why not. That's a heck of a lot of blaze rods to farm every night. Not to mention the gold and melons."

Steve was highly confused but was just glad they weren't arguing like usual.

"The big thing I've seen too...which I think you've been experiencing as well, is that they only attack the person who doesn't sleep. But if someone tries to help, they will attack. People have been recommending if someone does help to use a sword, not a bow and arrow."

Herobrine pointedly put his chin in his hand, leaning on the table looking at Steve and raising his eyebrows. He didn't even have to say anything.

"Oh my gods, okay sorry I wasn't immediately knowledgeable on the mob that was just invented!"

The statement made Herobrine genuinely smile for the briefest of seconds. But for some reason, the act made Steve's heart beat faster. It was short lived though as Herobrine turned once more to look at her journal. "You got anything about that poison they inject?"

"Ah yes the poison. So this is just a hypothesis but I'm thinking these demons...I mean mobs, come out because of people not sleeping. The poison they inject sends people into a deep sleep so they can catch up on the sleep that they had been missing. However, these mobs aren't that bright. So if their target is still moving, which most people would do in a mob attack, then they will keep pumping them full of venom. And sometimes, they inject too much...and the victim just never wakes up."

There was a subtle way to which Herobrine clenched his hands at that. "And any cure?"

"I was going to ask you that actually." Alex looked at them both. "My resources have said nothing works. Healing potions, milk, golden apples...no results. People either get better or they die."

"That seems to be consistent with what we've experienced." Herobrine simply stated.

"Anything else we need to know?" Steve added.

Alex shook her head. "That's all of my notes so far. Anything else you have for me?"

"Not that I can think of...but I'll write to you if Brine or I can remember anything else."

"Well it seems like your solution is pretty simple here chief." Alex closed up her notebook, going to shove it in her bag. "Just get some sleep every once in a while to avoid them." She looked at Steve. "And don't get stung if you can't avoid them."

Steve rubbed at the small scrape on his arm. "Yeah we got that much. Thanks for all your help Alex."

"Hey, happy to. I'll let you know if I dig up any more dirt. But these things seem harmless enough. Just another mob to deal with." She finished off her tea and then placed her bag on her shoulder once more. "Well I better be on my way. I'd like to get out and farm some skeletons on my way back. My dogs love the treat. And your place doesn't get any mobs with him around."

Herobrine didn't acknowledge the jab, lost in thought. Surely thinking of new strategies to deal with the mobs...in any way but sleeping.

Steve walked Alex to the door. She mouthed a 'good luck' to him so that the other couldn't hear. He rolled his eyes in agreement and then used a flint and steel to light her lantern, before waving her off into the dark night. Once she was gone a far distance, he shut the door with a yawn and turned to Brine. The demon had somehow acquired his own piece of paper and was scribbling down notes.

"I'm thinking tomorrow I can try to rig up some sort of redstone device to keep them trapped and then just bomb the Nether out of them with healing potions until they melt into goo." Herobrine explained. "I can rig up something in the Nether to get the blaze rods...not that I don't have enough already-"

"Brine." Steve spoke up, interrupting.

He looked up from his frantic writing, saw the serious look on Steve's face, and put the quill down. "What?"

Steve swallowed, why was this so difficult? "I think you should sleep."

"Like...right now?"

"Yes." He reiterated firmly.

"But-why? I can learn how to kill them easier now...probably." Herobrine tried to avoid his gaze.

"Do you really want to do this every night Brine?" Steve refused to break eye contact, moving with Herobrine's head. "Sure, we can learn how to fight them in case of emergencies. But there really isn't any need otherwise. I think we should at least try it out. And if you hate it, great, we'll move along. There's no risk."

"I don't know about this."

"I do. You should do it."

"Why now? Did Alex put you up to this to torture me?"

"No, we weren't positive until now that sleep was a viable option. Now that it's been confirmed I don't see any reason why we shouldn't try it."

Herobrine didn't have a response to that.

"It's really late and my mortal body is TIRED. So we are doing this now or we are waiting until the morning. But it is something we are going to try." Steve decided to push his luck a bit further. Alex was right, if anyone could get through to him, it was Steve.

Herobrine stared intently at Steve's face. There was a long pause before the demon nodded. "You're right..." He admitted and Steve instantly felt a wave of relief wash over him. "I'll give it a go."

"Great! Hold on right here!" Steve exclaimed excitingly. He practically ran into his room. He grabbed his extra set of sheets and pillows and blankets that he had made with some distant neighbor's sheep wool, and some extra wool for the mattress itself. He then went into the hallway where he had a few chests dug into the wall where he kept his materials. He grabbed some wood and some nails and a small hammer.

With his hands full he returned to the main room of his house.

"Here we are, I've got plenty of supplies to-" Steve's words drifted off, replaced with a confused 'uhhhh'.

Herobrine was lying on the carpeted floor of his small living room area, with his eyes closed.

"What are you doing?" Steve asked, wildly perplexed.

"I'm asleep now" Herobrine said in a normal volume like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

Steve dropped the materials and put a hand on his hip. "You're asleep now..."

"Yep"

"Talking to me"

"Yes."

Oh nooooo way. "You totally forgot how to sleep didn't you?"

"No!" Herobrine said angrily, but then relaxed his face. "I'm doing wonderfully and I'd do even better if you would shut your mouth thank you very much."

"So since you know everything there is to know about sleep...why did you just not sleep on the couch right next to you?" Steve crossed his arms, trying to hold back a choking laugh. This was too rich.

Herobrine peaked open an eye at him, closing it again. "Obviously because...it's too small for me."

"Bullshit, that couch is long enough for me."

"Well I'm taller soooo."

"Yeah but only by a little. But whatever, you're in luck anyways because I have plenty of supplies to make you your own bed." He gestured to the pile of materials.

Herobrine opened his eyes, chewing his lip. "Well fine. But only because you went through all the trouble."

Steve got to work on a makeshift bed, Herobrine helping where he could by handing him supplies. "If this works out we can build you a little home near here if you want...or you can always sleep in the Nether. I know you have that fortress." Steve made small talk, feeling uncomfortable in this silence for some reason.

"You can't sleep in the Nether." Herobrine fiddled with a plank of wood.

"Is that why you don't sleep?"

"No...I think I stopped sleeping before." Herobrine shook his head, looking pained. "Those years are a little hazy. But it doesn't matter."

"Oh." Steve didn't know what else to say. So they finished the construction in silence.

Once the bed was crafted to Steve's standards, they sat back and Steve motioned for him to try it out.

So Herobrine did, laying down in his clothes without even taking his shoes off. "Cool I'm in bed. Now what oh wise sleep expert?"

"Just close your eyes and don't think about anything. And you'll be asleep in no time. Just don't try to stress yourself out about it if you can't sleep. That makes you not be able to sleep more."

"Sleeping seems like bullshit"

"Sure is. Good night!" Steve said quickly and with feigned cheer. His own bed called for him...it was probably one or two in the morning. And Steve got up with the sunrise usually. So without waiting for Herobrine to respond back, he took the one lit lantern in the room to his bedroom.

He put on his pajamas, slipped into bed, blew out the light and closed his eyes. Satisfied with a job well done for at least the night.

A scream ripped him from his sleep.

Without thinking, Steve's hand flew to the iron sword place by his bed. His feet swung around, throwing the covers off in a fluid motion.

He listened carefully under his beating heart. No other sound followed. What in the Nether was that?

He quietly paced across the wooden floor and opened the door slowly, sword raised and ready.

The main room was glowing with soft light. All of the candles, lanterns, and the furnaces were all lit and flickering wildly. It illuminated a tall figure standing motionless in the middle of the room.

"Brine? Gods, you scared the shit out of me" Steve sighed in relief, letting down his guard.

Herobrine still didn't move. He was holding his arms around his chest.

Steve's guard was now back up. "Are you okay?"

Brine's face looked pale and sweaty even in the flickering light. The demon swallowed heavily and paused a while before responding "Yeah...I'm alright"

The words came out raspy and breathless. Herobrine avoided his gaze.

"You don't look so good...did the phantoms come back?" He looked like he had just battled ten phantoms. Surely something was wrong.

"No...they have not."

"Okay so if that's not it then what? Are you okay?" Steve repeated. It seemed like he was always having to ask that question a couple of times before Herobrine actually responded.

"I'm not...physically hurt." The demon swallowed vocally once more.

"Brine please don't make me guess what's wrong." Steve couldn't help but whine. He was tired. But Herobrine still refused to answer. So Steve dropped the iron sword to the ground and approached the demon slowly. Herobrine did not acknowledge his presence until Steve was looking straight into his eyes. The clouded eyes stared back sickly.

"Brine, Please just tell me." Their foreheads were almost touching.

He could feel the breath that Herobrine sucked in and out before hauntingly speaking. "I think I remember why I stopped sleeping"

"Why?" Steve's voice was barely a whisper now. Calling at Brine as he would a wild fox to not scare it away.

"The nightmares" Herobrine choked out, eyes glowing fiercely. "I've done so much...killed too many..." the words stopped and the eye contact was broken.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"No." Herobrine sneered, moving back suddenly. His expression grew fierce. "I've slept and that's all that matters now"

"Brine-" Steve went to grab Herobrine's shoulder but before he could the demon was gone in a whisp of purple smoke. All the torches in the room completely blew out, leaving him standing alone in the dark. Steve looked out of the front window jsut in time to see one more wisp of smoke on the horizon before it disappeared completely.

"Notch dammit" he cursed under his breath. And then kicked himself internally for slipping back into old habits and using HIS name in vain. A habit he quickly worked hard to get rid of when Herobrine came into his life.

He sat there looking at the horizon for a while. But his brain slowly made the realization that it was still the dead of night and Herobrine definitely wasn't going to come back at least until the morning (as experience with other tantrums told him) so he decided he might as well go back to sleep. Something told him he would be needing it.

The next day, Herobrine refused to talk about it (of fucking course). Though Steve didn't try to push it too hard. Something had certainly rattled his friend last night. He had to remind himself that he couldn't help fix centuries worth of trauma in one night. All he could do was be patient.

So instead, Steve kept Herobrine occupied the entire day doing menial tasks. They repaired some wooden fence on the cow enclosure and then gave each cow a bath and a good brush. They mined for some iron and chopped down trees. The days were going to turn cold soon enough. It would be a good idea to be prepared. Steve knew how much Herobrine disliked the cold. He wanted to cut some wood to start a small house for Herobrine, but again, he didn't want to push it.

When night fell, their talk over dinner was light. Herobrine was not eating and had refused any food all day. Steve expected that Herobrine would not want to try sleeping again at least for another 2 nights. But when Steve finally got up the courage to ask, Herobrine shrugged saying he needed the practice so why not.

It was hard to tell what was going on in his head. But Steve didn't question it. He was glad that the demon was trying at the very least. It could just be a pride thing.

So when the time came, Steve slipped into his room, calling goodnight, and left Herobrine alone. Despite the fact that he knew he should probably sleep to avoid phantoms himself, Steve stayed up.

He wasn't sure how long it had been, maybe a couple of hours, before the sound of a struggle came from the other room. Steve moved quickly and quietly out into the hallway.

Steve stood at the edge of the hallway, his vision had adjusted to the dark so he could just make out Herobrine sitting on the edge of the makeshift bed. Head hung low, sucking in breaths that seemed impossibly shallow and fast. His legs were wrapped up in the blankets like he had been fighting a losing battle with them.

Herobrine wasn't wearing a shirt. And a quick sweep around the room told him that he wasn't wearing his jeans either. Most likely because he didn't own any sleeping outfits. Steve felt incredibly dumb at not offering him any clothes and made a mental note to pick some up tomorrow in town.

He would offer some of his own but although they looked similar, their body types were very different. Herobrine was skinny and slightly taller...but it was hard to tell by the way he slouched. Steve had broader shoulders and a wider waist.

It appeared as if Herobrine had not noticed his approach, which was strange for someone so usually perceptive. So he cleared his throat.

Brine jumped. But instantly realized it was only Steve. "Hey." He said.

"Hey". Steve offered back. "Struggling?"

"Me? Never." Herobrine chuckled halfheartedly.

"Nightmares again?"

Herobrine gave a slight nod at that.

"Do you...want me to stay with you?" It was the only thing Steve could think of that might help.

Herobrine didn't answer. His white eyes bore up on Steve.

Steve grew nervous at his own suggestion, feeling his cheeks grow warm as he realized what he had just said. "I-I just know that it might help. My parents used to do it for me when I was little before they...you know. But you don't have to say-"

"Yes" Herobrine interrupted.

"Yesifyoudontwantto wait...what?"

"If you think it will help I'm willing to try anything at this point" Herobrine's expression was hard to read. But what was new.

"Oh...ohhhhhkay good. Yes. We can try it out." Steve swallowed, had it grown hot in here? "Do you want me to just...sit by you for a while or like get into bed?"

"What do you think will be better?" Herobrine sounded genuinely curious.

Steve felt a piece of sweat run down his neck. Fearing he may lose confidence soon unless he acted, his mouth acted before his brain did. "Well...bed. Bed would probably be better."

And so Herobrine scooted over, fixing the blankets as he did so. There wasn't much room in the makeshift bed, but enough that they weren't touching each other when Steve lay down.

It was a bit awkward. Lying there in total silence. Neither one moved an inch. Steve wasn't sure either of them were breathing.

Steve finally couldn't take the silence anymore and sucked in a long breath. "I read that sounds can often help people go to sleep. Maybe if I just talk and you listen?"

Steve peaked over at Herobrine who had his eyes closed.

"Sure" The demon agreed quietly.

So Steve began talking in a low voice about anything that popped in his head. He started off with a story he had read about the stars. And then moved on to talking about his own mining techniques.

And finally his hard work was rewarded with soft breathing. Steve looked over at Herobrine and saw his face was calm and his head peacefully nestled in the pillow. "Brine?"

When he received no response, Steve smiled. "Good night. Sweet dreams."

Feeling his own eyes grow heavy from staying up so late, Steve eventually drifted off into a light, dreamless sleep.

Steve was awoken once again to the sounds of screaming.

Quickly bolting up in the bed, half asleep, his hand went to grab for his sword. But when no sword connected with it, Steve woke up a little more in a sudden panic. Why wasn't his sword there?

A muffled yell next to him almost made him fall out of bed.

Then he remembered. "OhmygoshBrine!"

Herobrine laid next to him quaking. Large shudders wracked his body. He was curled in on himself pressing the pillow against his face.

Definitely a nightmare.

"Herobrine wake up!" The human went to shake Brine's exposed shoulder. But that was a mistake as he was met with sharp pain where his skin made contact.

"Ow!" Steve reeled back. Herobrine's skin was as hot as boiling water. Fearing he might set the bed on fire, Steve grabbed some of the blankets and used it like an oven mitt to continue shaking Herobrine awake. "HEROBRINE! WAKE UP!"

The commotion did pull Herobrine from his sleep with a gasp.

He sat up straight. Steve flinched. The demon's eyes were bright, wild, and filled with too many emotions. His body shook. Steve could feel the heat radiating off of him, feeling like the nether himself.

The demon looked into his face for a little while before moving away and swinging his legs over the bed so his back was turned away a hand over his mouth.

"You okay Brine?" His own voice scared him. And Herobrine must have felt the same as he flinched. The demon shook his head slowly and curled up in a ball on the edge of the bed, taking most of the blanket with him. He looked like a big owl. A big, shuddering owl.

"I'm sorry." Brine said rather coherently. "I'm okay. Go back to sleep"

"Herobrine you're obviously not okay" Steve couldn't stop the bold words from coming. "You know it's okay to not be okay right? It's only me here. You don't have to hide it."

Herobrine only curled up tighter in response. Steve couldn't see the demon's face. But the way Brine's breath hitched and his body moved, Steve could have swore he was crying.

The temperature of the room increased significantly in response.

Not knowing what else he could do but knowing he would get a sunburn if this course of action continued, Steve took a chance and did what most people would do in that situation.

"Shhhh" Steve soothed the demon, slowly rubbing circles in his back with the blanket. This seemed to help as Steve could feel his body temperament slowly returning to normal. He ditched the cloth then, rubbing circles onto the demon's sweaty back under the blanket. He knew the human contact would help pull him out of whatever space his mind was in.

And he was right. The contact brought Herobrine back to reality. His breathing returned to normal and the shaking stopped.

After a few heartbeats, Herobrine shrugged Steve's hand off of him.

Steve acknowledged the gesture and gave him a little room.

"I don't know how much more of this sleep stuff I can take" Herobrine started talking in a normal tone which scared Steve a little. "Your methods seem to be working to get me to fall asleep but as for the rest...I think I'd rather take my chances with the angry mobs."

"You'll get used to it. Brine" Steve whispered. "The nightmares will fade. And if not, I'll still be here"

Herobrine turned and smiled softly. "Well you did make it better. I don't feel...quite as bad as I had the other night. Perhaps you are right about it getting better."

Steve hummed in agreement. He dare not move.

Herobrine fell sideways into his pillow. "I'm still tired. Sleep is terrible."

"Yeah. But sure beats killing mobs every night." Steve chuckled, laying down on his front.

"I'm not so sure about that." Herobrine mused, his voice did indeed sound exhausted. His head was buried deep in the pillow as he spoke with a muffle. "All I know is I started this thing and I'm gunna damn well finish it. Screw those mobs I'll show them who can sleep."

"That'a boy Brine. You'll show them who's boss."

Herobrine agreed with a grunt.

Steve waited to hear the telltale sound of sleep coming from his friend before turning over to get comfortable himself. He settled, back away from Brine, and closed his eyes. There was a soft soothing snoring coming from next to him. Figures Herobrine was already getting better at falling asleep with only three practices so far.

So Steve allowed his mind to settle. Until...

Still asleep, Herobrine wrapped his arms around Steve's middle, pressing his warm face into his back. His arms met Steve's midriff and made contact with his skin just under the bottom of his pajama shirt. Herobrine then nuzzled his face in his back making a soothed noise.

Steve's eyes shot open and his entire body went hot at the sudden and intimate contact of Herobrine's warm body on his back.

Though, rather than risk waking up Herobrine, Steve elected to ignore the unconscious snuggler and hope that he would shift off of him in his sleep soon enough.

Besides the heat which once scared him was now rather soothing for the chilly night.

Steve closed his tired eyes once more and drifted into a pleasant sleep.