“Do not worry, Raissa. I will save our daughter.” I reached out and grabbed Raissa.
She bit her lip. “I trust Master.”
“What are you planning on doing?” Miki asked as the rest of the girls made it to the edge. “The dungeon has stopped sending out enemies.”
“Technically, it’s not a dungeon,” Terra observed. “It’s more like an infected wound of Gaia. Something powerful caused a lot of damage. The infection had warped the lore around this area, but its actions are without purpose. No dungeon boss is running it.”
“Dungeon or not, it still had enough foresight to kidnap Rea!” Lydia interjected.
“I’m not so sure if it intends to kidnap her.” I frowned as I looked into the gap.
“What do you mean?” Raissa asked.
“I’m not sure.” I sighed. “But there is only one way to find out.”
“Are we going in?” Lydia asked.
“No, you need to stay behind. Even if the dungeon isn’t sending out enemies, we’re still in a dungeon battle with it. Eliza needs you guys to support her. I’ll go down by myself.”
“Master keeps taking off on adventures on his own.” Celeste pouted.
I shook my head. “I think I’ve done enough solo adventuring for a lifetime. I’m not going to take off on you guys again. This isn’t going to take long. We’re just going to tie up some loose ends.”
“We trust Master.” Lydia nodded.
I smiled back at them. “I’ll be right back so I can introduce you all to my daughter.”
I took the last few steps and then leaped into the Abyss. I had already been in the Abyss many times, so I was familiar with the tug and pull of time. This time though, I was following the path of my daughter. I wasn’t sure how I knew my daughter was pulled in that direction, but I just knew. More than that, I knew where we were heading.
Originally, to escape the Abyss, I tried to head to the end. That brought me to the stalemate we were in right now. I realized that if I wanted to beat this thing for good, there was only one place I could go. I had to take this back to the beginning. I was heading for the beginning of the Abyss.
I fell through the Abyss for a time that felt endless but was barely a second of real-time. When my body reformed, I looked around to see a familiar place. It wasn’t the dark precipice leading to nothingness, nor the infinite white purgatory that made up the bulk of the Abyss. It was an underground cave. Of all of the places I could have appeared, I ended up back in the Assassin’s Guild.
However, I could immediately feel that this wasn’t the guild, or rather this location wasn’t Rea’s soul world. It looked similar to her assassin’s guild. This had to be the original place, the start of the Abyss!
“We have to move quickly. The Vanguard is coming.” I heard an echoey voice sound down the hallway.
I reset my dungeon points and started to rearrange things. I focused on a sneaky build, becoming all but invisible in the dark halls as I approached the person who was speaking. I quickly found that there were two people, a man, and a woman. They appeared to be carrying a baby.”
“Are you sure we’re doing the right thing?” The woman asked.
“The guardian must be protected at all costs. You know as well as I do what King Tiamat plans to do to end this war. We have no choice but to escape.”
“These dungeons are so dark…”
“Just stay close to me. We’ll be out of here soon.”
“Why do we need to take these tunnels anyway?”
“Because the surface filled with time locks. If we tried to walk from Shie Gescar, there is a chance we’d be frozen for all eternity like every other pore soul who has fallen into one.”
The two continued to chat, but they nervously looked back every once in a while as if they could feel me watching them. They were probably more nervous about the assassins that were following them. This might not have been the assassin’s guild, but its connection with assassins went back to the creation of the Abyss.
The assassins ended up launching attacks twice. They ended up defeated by the two people. Despite the girl holding onto a baby, they were both surprisingly good at fighting. More specifically, they appeared to be powerful spellcasters. Their spells both warned them when the assassins were coming and kept the assassins from getting close. Without being able to bridge the distance, they were tossed back again and again. I didn’t feel any need to get involved and reveal myself.
Instead, I followed as they moved from cave to cave, working their way through a complex mine. The man had a map, and he’d occasionally pull it out to try to figure out his bearings. When he was done, they continued moving on. After some time, I could finally feel a breeze and I knew we were approaching the surface. The couple seemed just as excited.
“Just a little longer!” The woman cried out happily. “We can finally escape.”
The couple moved swiftly toward the light, running out from the cave entrance. They only made it a few dozen feet when the girl let out a cry. The man lifted his staff, but after a moment, he clicked his tongue.
“Time lock.” He muttered.
“I didn’t think they came this far.
“They’re certainly not as common. I wonder if this one was meant for us.”
“You think someone leaked out position?”
“Someone had to send those assassins. They might have anticipated that we would exit here and put that there to catch us. This person must have accidentally crossed it first.”
He had an arm around the woman as they both looked at a person seemingly frozen in time. After a few moments of silence, he pulled her away and the pair continued their flight. The woman took one last look before she was gone.
“That poor soul, only a child.”
As they disappeared, I came out of the cave. However, I didn’t continue to follow them. I had seen what I had come to see. I had found Rea. She was seemingly frozen, not a single bit of features moved as she remained suspended in the air as if she had just been tossed there at random. She had triggered this so-called time lock and was frozen in time.
I had never heard of time locks, but they appeared to be some kind of cruel trap that used time. The trap had been meant for those people fleeing, but it had somehow ended up targeting my daughter instead.
“I see… so it comes full circle.”
“Master?” Alysia asked.
“Remember that method we talked about if there was no other way to escape from the Abyss?” I asked.
“You don’t me… that method?”
“Hmm… I’ve had enough of time crap. Let’s end this.” I declared. “Eliza, can you still hear me?”
“I can’t see daddy, but I can feel your somewhere distant within the dungeon.”
“I’m at the dungeon’s beginning. I’m going to need your strength here. Can you give me some energy?”
“Of course! Daddy can have my everything!”
“Besides, I absorbed so much of the dungeon and it’s too much. I feel like I’m about to burst.”
“Then it’s better if we release it now.”
There was a terrible sound, and it was followed by dozens of other sounds. I looked to the north to see a dozen creatures flying in the sky. As I reset my dungeon skills and reallocated them for my next task, I enhanced my vision as well. I was able to get a better look at them.
“Clockwork dragons,” I muttered. “Are they the backup pursuit?”
They were heading in this direction fast, but some of them would suddenly stop in midair and remain unmoving. These must have been the ones that landed in the time locks. They still seem persistent though, heading in our direction.
I made an irritated noise and then raised my Alysium above my head. The clouds above me began to gather together and then started to turn into a swirling vortex. That vortex rained down multi-colored mana. For anything that could see mana, it would stand out for hundreds of miles. It was a massive beacon, and I could see the clockwork dragons all speeding in my direction.
“Is this fate?” I wondered out loud.
I rose into the sky, and as I gained height I gained a better look at my surroundings. I was in a forested area. There was a small clearing around me created to open up the entrance to the underground mine I had just taken, but otherwise, it was a thick forest. That forest only teetered off in the north where there were mountains.
The land was dissimilar. I recognized it. I was standing on the northern border of Dioshin. It was only missing one thing, a massive crack that spread across the entire border.
More screeching sounded as the clockwork dragons desperately flew toward my direction, but I had already gained all of the energy I needed. It was the amount I’d need to break through the timelock. I didn’t know who had created such a spell, and I wasn’t going to waste time going on some quest trying to locate them to unravel it. Instead, I used the method I was best at. Brute force.
My sword fell, and the calm forests of Dioshin became a massive inferno of destruction. After all, the person who had created the Abyss… was me!