Aby watched as Sela and Carmine finally headed upwards, for real this time, according to the Siren. Apparently something about that level was considerably off putting to its companion, as the duo had stopped, turned back around, and had quite a few chats before she had resolved herself to go upwards and face her fears.

It certainly didn’t help anyone that Aby itself needed just as much ‘talking to’ before it was finally convinced that whatever it was that had its Fae so afraid was not an actual danger to her, and that when she did go up there the core should try not to give any impulsive commands, delete any innocent creatures, or massively rearrange the entire structure of its halls when Sela did come face-to-face with the Dungeon Stars she had resolved herself to confront.

Even then, Aby still wasn’t sure exactly why Sela felt the need to actively scare herself, even if she wanted to ‘get to know’ all of the core’s creations, or at least the more important ones. No, things like that made no sense to the young gemstone, and when it learned that the cause for Sela’s concern was the quartet of starfish, it still couldn’t help itself, and three of the curious observers quickly found themselves forced to leave. Only the brittle star was spared from an intrusive command, thanks to Sela’s barely passing familiarity with the boss, and Aby’s own reservations to so aggressively push an order onto one of its more important denizens.

Of course, it was still not allowed too close to the startled Fae, but after Sela’s initial panic subsided, the core found itself being admonished, and begrudgingly rescinded its commands. Thankfully, Sela wasn’t nearly as jumpy the second time around, and, with some help from the scarlet-haired siren, she managed to go from being prepared to bolt at the first sign of action, to merely uncomfortably tolerant of their presence in a matter of hours.

Aby, too, managed to pass those hours progressively more at ease, and towards the end it felt that it could start paying attention elsewhere without Sela being at any sort of risk. There was also the added benefit of being able to focus on something other than a conversation it couldn’t follow, and activities that it couldn’t participate in, and had no desire to even if it could.

Now was Aby’s chance to finally get some actual work done with the little time it had left before the inevitable chaos of the day, and despite the fact that nothing was overtly wrong to begin with, it was as diligent as always, ranging from obsessing over the slightest of details all throughout its myriad halls, to giving some tentative mental poking and prodding at the still incapacitated drake, one that elicited nothing in response. Aby tried a few more times, before deciding to do something else, and healing the drake once more for good measure, even if that wasn’t going to solve anything.

And so it spent the rest of the night working, slowly working its way down floors and tunnels, allowing new evolutions, healing some of the creatures that managed to escape a predator but couldn’t do so in one piece, and just generally whittling down the time, until a new morning finally made its way, and it began to wait for the first wave of invaders.


Meanwhile, in an ornate palace well away from the chaotic walls of Aby’s domain, a very different scene was taking place. A man, quite incensed if his puckered, scarlet face was any indication, was listening intently to a second individual read out the contents of an equally extravagant piece of parchment, if such a thing was possible.

The voice was grating, high pitched and nasal, and that most certainly didn’t help the contents sit any better with this man, not when they went like this:

“To my dearest friend, Krellor

“It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that our correspondence has come to an end. While it is true that my time here has been nothing if not incredibly productive, and just as true that your problem has nearly been resolved, there has been something which has come to my attention that I simply cannot ignore.

“Now, there is little doubt in my mind that you will have already found out about my departure, likely long before you happened upon my letter, and I’m sure you have at least an inkling of an idea of just what it was to draw my attention.

“I do have to thank you for your stellar accommodations, and it does pain me to need to abscond in the middle of the night instead of enjoying another with you, though we needn’t delve into just how I managed to avoid your sentries. I will commend you, however, for the truly superb palace guards you have in your employ. Honestly, for individuals of such quaint levels of strength, they certainly excel in their roles as lookouts.

“In any case, how and when I managed to slip by are irrelevant in the first place, since it was a feat that another would find themselves hard-pressed to replicate, and one that you’d have just as much difficulty managing to account for. In fact, even managing to get this letter to your throne room was a trick I picked up some time ago, so you shouldn’t feel the need to worry. That said, I’m familiar with you kingly types enough to know that my assurances are going to fall on deaf ears.

“Anyways, I apologize for my ramblings, it’s far easier to put ink on parchment than to take it off, so I hope you don’t mind overmuch. I will say, since even I can understand that it was a bit impolite to leave on such short notice, I feel obliged to give you something. Again, I’m sure you can understand my urgency, but it simply wouldn’t feel proper to take advantage of your generosity and leave you with nothing to show for it. So, I’m prepared to leave you with a little gift once I finish my business; we’re both very aware of just how popular my destination is right now, and I’m sure we can come up with our own ideas as to how it will become, so perhaps having some type of an edge over your competitors wouldn’t be too harsh a deal, no?

“But I digress, allow me to thank you once more for your hospitality, and perhaps one of these days we could get around to solving that problem of yours for good. Yours truly


In the end, the man could only bury his face in his hands, defeated. No matter how upset he was at the disappearance of his guest, the letter was right, and there was nothing he could do about it. His only consolation was the promise at the end. The man was certainly correct in that, and no matter how upsetting it was for him to have such a delicate… issue go on for longer, the idea of having a leg up on the competition for that dungeon was enticing, to say the least.

And so, he waved away the eunuch, and signaled for an attendant, clearing his throat to dictate a reply. He knew full well it was likely not to be delivered, but it was a matter of pride to have the last word, and pride was something the man had in spades.

A note from TheDeepDarkReef

Hello, how is everyone doing? This is the first of two shorter chapters I want to get out today, and this one is especially short, so I hope you don't mind too much. That said, I was debating splitting this chapter in half right from the start, but wasn't totally sold on the idea. I will say, the second half of this chapter, the letter, was a blast to write, focusing on a new addition to the cast, as well as the focus of a prospective side story, one which would keep me writing even when I can't dedicate time to a proper story.

So, let me know what you think of the character, his way of talking, attitude, all that. Do you like him? Hate him? Neutral, or waiting for more 'screen time' to get a proper opinion? i'd love to hear what you have to say, and above all else, thanks for reading!

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About the author


  • Near the Ocean

Bio: Hi! I'm just someone who decided to start writing for fun, and quickly realized how enjoyable it was for me.

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Chrisleech @Chrisleech ago

I'm mostly confused about the new character, and the king. But there's not really much to form an opinion over when it comes to them


    TheDeepDarkReef @TheDeepDarkReef ago

    That's entirely fair, and you're totally right that there's not enough to form an opinion. I know the Mapper/M hasn't been talked about much at all yet, and this is the first direct interaction with his character. That said, I do hope that having the letter being narrated isn't confusing, but I can change it around if it is.

      Chrisleech @Chrisleech ago

      Upon a bit of further contemplation I do have something of an opinion of the letter writer. He seems to be polite, yet quite eccentric, which while it doesn't neccessarily give a positive image, does hold my interest. The super stealth skills worry me a bit, both in how ridiculously OP they sound, but also in the fact that our main character is stuck in a single place, and if one wrong person sneaks their way, or is snuck down to them, then they could be screwed. THen again I have nothing to go off his actual skills besides his own testimony. However the whole thing about how he can sneak past the guards no matter how good they actually were, and not to even be concerned about it because noone else can do what he does, does indeed made me worried all the same.


      TheDeepDarkReef @TheDeepDarkReef ago

      All of that is entirely fair! I'm glad he's coming across as eccentric, that is exactly how I want this character to act! I don't want to spoil too much about him outside of that, although his very personality means that any secret that may exist about him before the 'reveal' likely will get swept up and loudly broadcasted. I do want to say don't worry too much, but you are absolutely correct that that is worrying ability. I hope you don't feel too on edge about him, though, and I look forward to seeing how you like him in his debut!

Vokivas @Vokivas ago

I like the new character. Though things are unclear, the letter left me with a positive impression of them.

I think side stories and characters could be a good thing. For you especially. You can have 2 stories that are loosely connected, which could help with writer’s block.

On one side you have Aby doing it’s thing. On the other side you have various people fighting to influence the dungeon. Aby would feel some after effects of their actions, but wouldn’t really know what is happening. This would work vice-versa.

Just some thoughts. I may have gotten a bit carried away.


    TheDeepDarkReef @TheDeepDarkReef ago

    Great to hear, I can't say that he's anything but a pleasure to imagine, and to write! I still need to give him a bit more background, but his personality, motivations, and actual strength have been fleshed out enough for him to be introduced properly in the near future.

    I do think that's a good idea, though I am hoping to make the side story in the style of a journal/notes about the man's explorations, mainly within Aby, but he'll have a tnedency to ramble on, and things will be edited after the fact (by him) to make it more of a proper 'Aby Survival Guide' the working title of the piece. Of course, it'll still give more information that only a well travelled native could provide, like competing groups, people or places of interest around the area, or little tips.

    Hopefully this makes sense, or at least gets across that I am very excited for writing this (though I'm always excited to be writing in the first place...) Anyways, I'll stop rambling myself, and thanks again!

Dar Dar @Dar Dar ago

i'd need more to form an opinion but i think i like him so far.

RedPrincexDESx @RedPrincexDESx ago

Thanks for writing! This doesn't happen to be the same fellow that Rok sent a letter to... does it? I should probably go back and look, but I've already typed this much so I'll just post it.


    TheDeepDarkReef @TheDeepDarkReef ago

    And thank you for reading! To answer your question, this is indeed the same Mapper that Rok 'delivered' his letter to. I really do like the character already, he's a lot of fun to write, despite not having much properly written yet, and I definitely look forward to bringing more of him to the table. Anyways, don't worry about asking, there really wasn't too much to tie the two together aside from his own 'initial' on his letter, but I felt like having him sign of with Mapper' something that is definitely not his real name, was a bit out of place for what I have in mind.

    Ill stop droning on now, thanks again for reading and for the question!


RikkiTikkiTavi @RikkiTikkiTavi ago

Right now, I am leaning more towards liking the new character. Time will tell for sure though.

Lodrik @Lodrik ago

I will put it simply. I dont like big changes and this goes away from the things I liked about your story so far. That doesnt mean its going to be bad but the new guy needs to prove that he fits into this story (sounds so far like a distraction from the main points to me). You can get the summary of a 400 page story in 1 page but the way is the important part in ANY story.

Hapeiron @Hapeiron ago

Thanks for the chapter!