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to the startled Fae, but after Sela’s initial panic subsided, the core found itself being admonished, and begrudgingly rescinded its commands.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.