After completing the arrow factory, it was time to dive back down into the depths of this expansive cave. And let me just tell you, this cave is hell, pure absolute hell. It has huge caverns, fractured walls with lots of tiny spawn locations, gravel pretty much every where, vertical expanses, water, lava, you name it, this place has it. I honestly think that even with all my months of playing, this cave is the hardest that I have come across, and then playing on Hard, oh that's just the icing on the cake.
So I dove down there, twisting passages that open up to 8 or 9 different directions, so my normal systimatic exploration was not really an option. There was a lot of run in drop a torch or two and run out. It's not the best way to explore because by doing that it essentially gives the mobs more chances to spawn, but considering that they had half a million places to spawn from anyway, what's the difference.
The worst part about this cave was that even after spending a couple evenings exporing the lower reaches of it, there was only one diamond to be found. Seriously this cave was a piece of shit, but it had to be explored. And then there it was, finally I found a couple exposed diamonds, 5 in total. Where were the diamonds? Naturally on the edge of a vast open area with water flowing right towards me, the perfect mob express. By this time my son was looking to play so I manned up and mined out those diamonds then got my ass out of there.
Later that evening I had the chance to make my journey back to the Red Kingdom, I had my diamond pickaxe so based on my rules, I was good to go. Not knowing how far the journey was going to be, I loaded up on supplies for an adventure that I was thinking might take days. Nope, turns out that 2 stone picks only get you about half a days travel in the nether, so I was a lot closer than I thought I was or wanted to be. I mean it's not close, but it's sure not as far as I was envisioning. Note to self, go further next time, a lot further.
Anyway I made it back to the Red castle and it felt like I was at the spawn again. It was odd, I had been here only a week or so ago, but it felt ancient, it was no longer home. Realizing that making a mine track between Red and Orange on the overworld was going to be tedious I accepted that I was just going to make a cart in the nether to do it, mainly because I'm looking for a good excuse to make a good mine track like in the multiplayer world before. I pulled some iron and gold from the Red castle and returned back to Orange.
When I got back to Orange I had a revelation, "I was coming out of the nether into an unsecured very large cave." hummmm Ok time to enclose this thing so that I don't have to worry about getting jumped. I closed off the portal and dug myself a tunnel under the water between the portal and the castle to what is a makeshift entrance closer to the castle. Eventually I plan on digging the tunnel all the way to the castle, but for now it works.
Playing a hardcore style has kind of taken my building methods to new heights in the form of monster security. Cactus are pretty much everywhere around the building to try and kill mobs, and with netherrack now a part of my avaliable inventory, lots and lots of flames are now a part of every design. I haven't figured out what I'm going to do with the fire on my main castle, but it's going to be cool.