I'm not quite sure why I decided to press on into the darkness last night, but sure enough I went. After all I needed the coal for the number of torches that I'm going to need for the castle, but there seriously are easier ways of getting it. But like a fool I decided that I'd see what was beyond that lavafall and venture deeper into the what I'll call the lava cave (better name to come).
The cave itself branches off in many directions which can really be a pain in the butt when you're trying to cover yourself. I'll head down a corridor a couple meters, toss in a torch so that I'll have at least some spawning buffer before turning back to another corridor and doing the same thing. Problem with that is, the place is crawling with nasties, at one point I came to a ledge where I found 3 creepers, a skeleton, and a zombie. Being cautious I was able to use the ledge as a perch and pick them off with my rapid fire bow (that thing becomes a machine gun when I'm pressed).
With one passageway cleaned out of mobs but I didn't actually go and light up the tunnel because I hate dropping down into darkness and the only other path there went right next to the lava flow so I let it be hoping that any mobs that would come from that direction would get caught in the lava themselves.
The tunnel system itself was very impressive, the main corridor had a huge vaulted ceiling that must have been 10 meters high, which may be a problem with spawns because I can't get a light up there, well I can, but I was hoping that I wouldn't have to. I took the first tunnel that I came to that went to the left into a large wall of rubble and behind the rubble was a whole lot of moaning meaning one thing, zombies. The rubble itself was stacked high, 7 or 8 high in fact making clearing it out a pain, not to mention that there was a clearing above it meaning that I didn't know if I risked having zombies drop on my head if I dug it out incorrectly. Slowly but surely I cleared it away little by little and placed some dirt in the opening to seal off the top. As I went deeper I could hear the moans get louder, they were pissed and there were a lot of them. Finally I broke through and there they were, at least 5 of them all trying to get through to me.
At this point I realized that I was in for a big fight so I was going to need to arm up a little better than I was and go back and make myself an iron sword. I left for my house without event (but man are those caves creepy) fashioned my sword and made my way back down. Problem was, there was a zombie in the area that I thought had already been cleared and secured. How the hell did he get there? Not that he was tough to deal with, but had it been a creeper that I wasn't expecting, oh man that could have been trouble. Even as I write this I'm not sure how he got there, but to be safe I used up some of the precious coal that I had been harvesting and planted another torch in that tunnel hoping that would prevent future spawns. Now it was time to take down that zombie dungeon.
I made my move slowly taking them out one by one as I pressed on, sometimes being attacked by three at a time, thankfully the tunnel to get to me was narrow so I never got overwhelmed. I meleed the close ones and then after the room was cleared, I took out my bow to take out any in the extended passages, then I went to work on the spawner. Useing my sword (probably the wrong tool) I started to beat down that spawner fearful that at any moment another zombie could pop up and attack me. With ferocity I worked until at last the spawner was destroyed, leaving me with a chest full of loot as my reward. Even better the ceiling above the dungeon was made of coal, a double reward that made the whole process even more worth it.
It also turned out that all of the rubble was covering up a rich coal deposit itself. Taking my time to clear out the rubble I filled my backpack with a good helping of coal, it had truly been a rewarding trip into the caves, time to head home...
But on the journey home I was reminded that I'm never safe underground. As I approached the main corridor where the lava pool was, I saw a tall green figure glowing in the light, yep a creeper. The clueless bastard was just minding his own business but I knew what had to be done. I withdrew my bow and fired, hitting the square little frownie right in the chest, once, twice, a total of five times before bringing him down. I knew then that I would never be safe, and that they would always be hunting me.