12 Miles Below

12 Miles Below

by Mark Arrows

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity

The world is in ruins. 

Extreme sub-zero temperatures suffocate the surface, making even simple survival an ordeal. Frozen derelicts of bygone eras span across massive ice wastes. And the elite few hoard any technology rediscovered within.

The only escape from the deadly climate is beneath the surface. But it’s another disaster underground. Monstrous machines lurk in the depths. Unhinged demigods war against them, dying over and over, treating it all like a game. The land itself shifts over time, more contraption than rock. And an ominous prophecy states that the key to everything waits at the last level - but nobody’s ever reached that far. 

When an expedition into the far uncharted north goes terribly wrong,  Keith Winterscar and his father get trapped together in a desperate fight for survival. Stumbling upon an ancient power struggle of titanic scale; the two will need to set their differences aside while they struggle against Gods, legends, and the grand secrets of the realm that lies below.



Updating Monday and Thursdays.

Discord can be found here (This is a shared discord server with other books.)
WARNING: This series is ridiculously filled with spoilers, every book has multiple reveals. Discord was made for up-to-date readers since there's no way to really police spoilers.
Don't join until you're current!!

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Mark Arrows

Mark Arrows

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Table of Contents
143 Chapters
Chapter Name Release Date
Chapter 1 - Only A Nightmare ago
Chapter 2 - Prelude To Violence ago
Chapter 3 - You Should Have Left it Closed, Dumbass ago
Chapter 4 - Father ago
Chapter 5 - A knife to a dream ago
Chapter 6 - The Deathless ago
Chapter 7 - A Monument to the Gods ago
Chapter 8 - The Tomb of the Stars ago
Chapter 9 - Never challenge a Winterscar ago
Chapter 10 - つや ago
Chapter 11 - The First Mile Below ago
Chapter 12 - You Don't Belong Here ago
Chapter 13 - A Test of Might and Mite ago
Chapter 14 - The Face of Death ago
Chapter 15 - Fight Like You Live ago
Chapter 16 - Pyrrhic Victory ago
Chapter 17 - The Way Home ago
Chapter 18 - A Harsh Lesson To Learn ago
Chapter 19 - Maw Of The Drake ago
Chapter 20 - They Can Talk? ago
Chapter 21 - The Meadow Underground ago
Chapter 22 - The Goat ago
Chapter 23 - Things of Metal And Pride ago
Chapter 24 - Gift Of The Sun ago
Chapter 25 - Journey ago
Chapter 26 - Root administrator ago
Chapter 27 - Predictive Modeling ago
Chapter 28 - Reunion ago
Chapter 29 - The friends we'd made along the way ago
Chapter 30 - No plan survives contact with the enemy ago
Chapter 31 - Redemption ago
Chapter 32 - Three's a crowd ago
Chapter 33 - Nothing Personal ago
Chapter 34 - Crucible ago
Chapter 35 - Son ago
Chapter 36 - Darkest before dawn ago
Chapter 37 - Back into the frying pan ago
Chapter 38 - Too shallow a grave ago
Chapter 39 - The Supernatural Tag ago
Chapter 40 - The mission we came for ago
Chapter 41 - The secret left behind ago
Chapter 42 - Solaris imperium ago
Chapter 43 - Relinquished sends her regards ago
Chapter 44 - One last act of service ago
Chapter 45 - Demi-gods ago
Chapter 46 - The final mile ago
Chapter 47 - Epilogue ago
Book 2 - Prologue ago
Book 2 - Chapter 1 - The dangerous message in a bottle ago
Book 2 - Chapter 2 - Five Simple Letters ago
Book 2 - Chapter 3 - Questions (T) ago
Book 2 - Chapter 4 - Wrong Neighborhood ago
Book 2 - Chapter 5 - Enemies today, allies tomorrow ago
Book 2 - Chapter 6 - The war underground (T) ago
Book 2 - Chapter 7 - Homecoming ago
Book 2 - Chapter 8 - In which Keith has a wholesome day off ago
Book 2 - Chapter 9 - The Occultist's Cookbook, First Edition ago
Book 2 - Chapter 10 - The realm of souls ago
Book 2 - Chapter 11 - The empty throne ago
Book 2 - Chapter 12 - In which an old lady yells at Keith ago
Book 2 - Chapter 13 - Elder hermit of the armor, what is your wisdom? ago
Book 2 - Chapter 14 - Blood to iron ago
Book 2 - Interlude - Atius ago
Book 2 - Chapter 15 - Stay Still, Stay Quiet ago
Book 2 - Chapter 16 - Trial of the Occult blade ago
Book 2 - Interlude - Kidra, Part 1 ago
Book 2 - Interlude - Kidra, Part 2 ago
Book 2 - Chapter 17 - Sneaky bastards ago
Book 2 - Chapter 18 - The first blade of House Winterscar ago
Book 2 - Chapter 19 - Meaning of life (T) ago
Book 2 - chapter 20 - Fish and letter ago
Book 2 - chapter 21 - Call the ships to port ago
Book 2 - Chapter 22 - Worthy ago
Book 2 - Chapter 23 - Defeat Means Friendship ago
Book 2 - Chapter 24 - A taste of blood (T) ago
Book 2 - Chapter 25 - You should gloat ago
Book 2 - Chapter 26 - The names we carry (T) ago
Book 2 - Chapter 27 - Chosen ago
Book 2 - Chapter 28 - The danger of an honest man ago
Book 2 - Chapter 29 - Sell you a dream ago
Book 2 - Chapter 30 - Follow me to the end of the world ago
Book 2 - Chapter 31 - Bargains offered by the devil ago
Book 2 - Chapter 32 - Kidra (T) ago
Book 2 - Chapter 33 - Death (T) ago
Book 2 - Chapter 34 - A major test of strength (T) ago
Book 2 - chapter 35 - Crafting Occult weapons for profit and destruction ago
Book 2 - Chapter 36 - The best kind of kill is overkill ago
Book 2 - chapter 37 - Tango for two ago
Book 2 - Chapter 38 - Catch and bag a Winterscar ago
Book 2 - Chapter 39 - Escape ago
Book 2 - Chapter 40 - Last stand ago
Book 2 - Chapter 41 - The Knight of House Winterscar ago
Book 2 - Chapter 42 - The Sorcerer Knight of House Winterscar ago
Book 2 - Chapter 43 - Damage control ago
Book 2 - Chapter 44 - Epilogue ago
Book 3 - Prologue ago
Book 3 - Chapter 1 - No time to lose ago
Book 3 - Chapter 2 - A friendly chat ago
Book 3 - Chapter 3 - Self delusion (T) ago
Book 3 - Chapter 4 - Diplomacy (T) ago
Book 3 - Chapter 5 - Long live the clan lord ago
Book 3 - Chapter 6 - The new prophet ago
Book 3 - Chapter 7 - The beginning of the end times (T) ago
Book 3 - Chapter 8 - The city must fall (T) ago
Book 3 - Chapter 9 - Into the city heart (T) ago
Book 3 - Chapter 10 - Dealing with difficult neighbors ago
Book 3 - Chapter 11 - Talk is cheaper than snow ago
Book 3 - Chapter 12 - Deja-vu ago
Book 3 - Chapter 13 - Tackling apex predators ago
Book 3 - Chapter 14 - Alone (T) ago
Book 3 - Chapter 15 - The friends we made along the way (T) ago
Book 3 - Chapter 16 - In which To'Wrathh has a wholesome day off (T) ago
Book 3 - Chapter 17 - Chasing down a rogue airspeeder for loot and profit ago
Book 3 - Chapter 18 - Fishing for trouble ago
Book 3 - Chapter 19 - Interlude - Captain Sagrius ago
Book 3 - Chapter 20 - Et tu, Brute? (T) ago
Book 3 - Chapter 21 - Curtain call (T) ago
Book 3 - Chapter 22 - Counter offense ago
Book 3 - Chapter 23 - Grand Theft Speeder ago
Book 3 - Chapter 24 - Interlude - General Zaang ago
Book 3 - Chapter 25 - Turning point (T) ago
Book 3 - Chapter 26 - PROPHESY (T) ago
Book 3 - Chapter 27 - On an adventure ago
Book 3 - Chapter 28 - How to abuse cosmic space magic and get away with it ago
Book 3 - Chapter 29 - Dinner is served early ago
Book 3 - Chapter 30 - Trap triggered ago
Book 3 - Chapter 31 - Choke ago
Book 3 - Chapter 32 - Like Father, Like Son ago
Book 3 - Chapter 33 - In strange company, walking upon strange lands ago
Book 3 - Chapter 34 - It's the neighbors again ago
Book 3 - Chapter 35 - Regrets ago
Book 3 - Chapter 36 - setting a trap ago
Book 3 - Chapter 37 - Follow the trail ago
Book 3 - Chapter 38 - Joyride ago
Book 3 - Chapter 39 - Numbers in the dirt ago
Book 3 - Chapter 40 - Blinded ago
Book 3 - Chapter 41 - The teacher's legacy ago
Book 3 - Chapter 42 - Deceit ago
Book 3 - Chapter 43 - The True Fight (T) ago
Book 3 - Chapter 44 - Encore (T) ago
Book 3 - Chapter 45 - Shadows of older days (T) ago
Book 3 - Chapter 46 - True division (T) ago
Book 3 - Chapter 47 - Clean up ago

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destravous
Overall

Really interesting premise so far, I am extremely excited to see where this goes.

The first 12 chapters hint at a very rich world under everything, which to me usually means the author put some serious thought into worldbuilding and its consistency.

If the rest of the story contains the same quality as these first chapters, it will be an epic tale indeed!

 

Edit: Can confirm, quality continues to be fantastic, and the world building is simply amazing. The author really knows how to pace things well, managing to describe a rich world with few words.

The Wadapan
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Beat to beat, 12 Miles Below has a better understanding of what's fun, clever, and just plain cool than most stories of its ilk. I feel like I should be mad that the primary driving authorial intent seems to boil down to "okay, now wouldn't this be badass", but I'm not. Like most of its characters, 12 Miles Below is a right bastard that'll win you over with a cheeky grin, a few one-liners, and a dogged faith in humanity.

Here's the elevator pitch: in a pseudo-medieval society clinging to existence on frozen future Earth, strength and reliability is everything. Our hero, Keith, is set to inherit the power armour of one of the clan's best warriors—his shitty dad—but would much rather mess around with scavenged old-world tech. But when they end up lost underground, pitted against the GPT-gone-wrong killer AI's legion of deadly machines, father and son must finally come to an understanding if they're to make it home alive.

The paternal relationship that forms the story's emotional core is extremely rich, both characters undergoing redemption arcs in tandem. It made me go "huh, I should call my parents". This is where one of the story's big ideas mostly plays out: the idea that there are different kinds of intelligence, different kinds of strength, that seemingly incomprehensible behaviours might arise from incentives that just aren't obvious at a glance. Everyone in the story has their own unique perspective that meaningfully leads both to victories and losses; nobody is reduced to a strawman.

I'm not saying there's a ton of thematic depth here, but there's enough to elevate the work and create meaningful stakes. Really, this is just the kind of story that begs for you to have a bucket of popcorn nearby; I'd say it's a crime it hasn't been optioned for a glossy film adaptation, if not for the fact that it's about as close as you can get to that experience with text alone. The prose is workmanlike but extremely readable, with Keith's narration often being amusing in its own right. In Book 2, we get frequent interludes from a robot POV, which I personally loved; when the plot threads meet, you're very much rooting for both sides. I suspect that this story reads better archivally, as it benefits from an extremely fast pace (I blew through it in no time).

If you like winterworlds, post-apoc, and/or munchkinry, this'll scratch that itch. If you're interested in current AI, I think this story takes inspiration there for a very compelling portrayal. It hits the ground running from the very first chapter, so you certainly can't go wrong with reading a bit to see if it grabs you!

Derin_Edala
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Fascinating future world doin what scifi does best

Reviewed at: Chapter 7 - A Monument to the Gods

Anyone looking for a post-apocalyptic future story should absolutely give this one a go. It's got that perfect mix of calm and tension for a group of people trying to survive in a world that previous generations have made inhospitable to them.

The writing is clear and engaging, with enough personality that we have a clear idea of what kind of a person the narrator is, but not so much as to be distracting. I found myself sympathetic to his goals and actions even when he's being an idiot, and that's hard to do. If you're going to give it a go, read to the second chapter at least -- the first is kind of fluffy and unnecessary, but the second WILL hook you.

Grammar is perfectly serviceable. Not much to say about it. If there are egregious grammar or spelling errors, I didn't notice them. It reads perfectly well.

The story itself is a bit slow, but only because it's putting all its energy into developing the world and characters. As of chapter 7 (the latest chapter when I'm posting this), we don't know what the main plot of the story is yet, but boy do we have a lot of fascinating information about the characters, their world, and their politics. So far it's quite "slice of life but post-apocalyptic" and I LOVE that. The details of the scavenging priorities of this society, built on what their society is like and what tech they do and don't have access to, are particularly intriguing -- it's a very well-thought-out world. (I also love when characters are trying to conceive of our time based on the fragments they have left. There's this whole part there they find a painted interior wall at a scavenging site and are baffled by how much of a waste of paint it is and start speculating on where the owners could've gotten so much paint and why they'd wasted it on a wall, it's great.)

I am in love with these characters. Keith and Kidra have such little sibling/big sibling energy. These two and their relationship really carry the show and I would die for Kidra. Anyone who has a sibling will understand and love the MC and his sister immediately.

Astralise.Ink
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character
Opening: 
 
First off, I give points for the setting. While dystopias are a dime a dozen, I like the idea of great houses and I have always been fascinated by stories set in frozen tundras. The blend of sci-fi with touches of the occult is a personal favorite of mine. Also, the hints of a civilization in the past which very much pertains to our time is an extremely nice touch. In short, if you like Dune, Wheel of Time, or The Shannara Chronicles, this one is for you.
 
Style:
 
The style is perfectly suited to the setting and the lack of flowery prose makes sense. The sentence structure is up to the mark, so is the flow. I don't recall any choppy portions. My only gripe is with the ubiquity of contractions. While contractions are fine in the case of dialogues, I could have used a little less of them in the narration. Speaking of the narration, despite it being in the first person, I noticed at least one instance where the narrator seemed to be in someone else's head. 
 
Story:
 
While I am yet to get into the meat of the story, I can already tell it is going to be tense and exciting. The world appears unrelenting and dangerous and I am already enraptured. I cannot wait to see what happens as the plot progresses. 
 
It begins with a scavenging mission that goes awry. Cut to an intense and well-written action sequence, great worldbuilding, some tension-filled banter, and it all makes for a hell of an opening.
 
Grammar: 
 
Now, it is clear that the author has a good grasp of grammar. And for the most part, it is on point. That is why I was surprised to find several minor errors. 
For example, the lack of hyphens connecting single adjectives and compound numbers like five-inch, twenty-five, etc; the use of hyphens in interrupted dialogues rather than em dashes as suggested by the CMS; and the usage of "then" instead of "than". There was also an instance where the narration shifted from the past tense to the present tense and then back to the past tense, which violates one of the fundamental rules of narrative prose. However, these are things that can be fixed by a little bit of proofreading. And none of these are jarring enough to detract from the story.
 
Character:
 
Now, this where the book really stands out. Believe me when I say this is one of the few instances where I started to care about the characters so early into the book. The author has clearly worked hard to make the characters into actual people and not just archetypes. 
 
The protagonist Keith is likable and relatable. In a world that reveres martial prowess, he is a scholar. Although born of a noble line, it is clear he has not had an easy life. And the tension between him and his father is one of the highlights.
 
Then there is his sister Kidra. And it is not a stretch to say she is the standout. Despite being favored by her father, she is kind and caring towards her brother. At the same time, she is a plucky badass, and the sibling banter between her and her brother is the best part of the book. 
 
The character of the Father is also no slouch. I can tell that he has a chip on his shoulder and a story to tell. It is a testament to the author's ability to write great characters that I am already curious to learn about his history, particularly with his children. 
 
Of the myriad other supporting characters, the ones I have to mention are the "rivals". Their introduction instantly elevated the narrative and despite their obvious antagonism towards Keith and Kidra, I was immediately taken by Ankah, Calem, and Locke. I am curious to learn more about them. Another testament to the author's ability to forge great characters.
 
Closing:
 
 In conclusion, if you are into sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, or just adventure fiction in general, you must read this book. I most certainly will continue to do so.
 
Zinterklaas
Overall

Just try it, Holy shit what a ride.

Reviewed at: Extra - Book 2 Video Trailer

I got way too emotionally involved with this one. Man. Can't wait for the next unfolding of this plot. Sooooo much still to uncover.

Best action scenes ever!

Really cool characters!

Fascinating but creepy machines!

So many secrets still to uncover!

Do yourself a favor and read it already!

 

 

Nomad1791
Overall

I'll start off saying MC is not likable in the beginning, he is a gambler that is loosing a lot but keeps tossing the dice, his only family are his sister who he actually loves and treats him well and his dad who also starts off pretty meh. No perfect lives here everyone struggling and has real problems world feels semi believable like the way I can believe 80% of iron man and am willing to blow over the 20% that science can't explain by saying it's awesome I don't care. Feels like frostpunk with the world being iced over and everyone needs to carry a personal heater but no steam punk here we get nano machines that no one understands how to build anymore and fly over space stations beaming down energy the local population views and benevolent gods 😂 yeah if you like that you'll love the story just that bit makes me want to read more but I'm already caught up. 

shaolinfeilong
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Compelling characters and worldbuilding

Reviewed at: Chapter 10 - つや

after beta-reading all 10 chapters thus far, i can confidently say that this is one of the best post-apocalyptic novels i've read. the characters really shine - the cast is not huge, but between the three winterscars and small handful of secondary characters, i find them all delightfully intriguing and easy to invest myself in. in addition, the world is fantastically thought out. i love the hints that something is hidden in the ruins and out on the ice, and i'm painfully anticipating the moment that everything is revealed. The story steadily reveals details and lets people guess at what's coming over time. Not super common to read that kind of story where the world is just as interesting as the story. 

Style is easy to read and straight to the point, Mark doesn't mince words and there's no purple prose here. When there is, it stands out all the more because of it's previous lack and makes things feel extra important. No grammar errors that I can see - I would have pointed them out as a beta reader :P

i can't recommend this story enough and i'm excited to see how the plot plays out. consider me a fan. :)

Chaos' Crow Kanigami
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Having read the first 10 chapters I must say I really enjoyed discovering the universe that our main character and his crew live in: a frozen wasteland with some remnants of futuristic tech they can use but don't really understand. 

The story leaves quite a few mysteries for the reader to wonder about, which no doubt our MC will ask for us as he's curious to the point he gets burnt (frozen?) for it. The surrounding cast seemed diverse and complex enough, especially the family unit. I'm eager to see what kind of other characters we'll encounter as various... surprising professions were mentioned. The setting pushes for a lot of tensions and survival through banditry so it's probably going to be a harsh story. 

The style is good and flows well though it's a bit curt at times. The cold must be so freezing that the teeth clatter when telling the story I suppose! It makes the events quite riveting as the pace can get pretty fast. 

The grammar was ok too, a few mistakes but nothing glaring. 

Overall, I would recommend it, it seems to be rat-adjacent too with a MC who tries to exploit the system (available tech) and characters with well-defined goals. 

Thunderdome
Overall

It's too early for an advanced review. But 24 chapters in I could not be more happy that I found this work. Describing exactly what itch it scratches is hard for me but scratch it does! Post apocalyptic setting that still offers character growth and exposition that strongly resonates with the cultural problems of the modern day. I don't really know where this story is going for it's future, but I feel like our world's modern day almost makes it's beginning portion more prediction than fiction, and that makes all the fantastical elements hit harder. 

Clockwork Orange
Overall

Above average writing, which is pretty impressive considering the short upload schedule. Story feels a little like Dune, or Mortal Engines, and i mean that in the best way. Excited to see how the Dungeon and Gamelit tags effect the story.

Isn't anything TOO crazy yet but has a lot of potential depending on where the story goes from here.