Chapter 298: The voice of the dungeon
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The thing that beholds creeps through the walls, having lost itself once again to the deep darkness below the world. But it hears a pair of footsteps, it hears two small feet walking just next to it. Peering out, it stares at the dungeon-master, who it is now very familiar with, who has left their table. They are walking through the dungeon, on their way down towards the very bottom by themselves.


The dungeon-master’s hand runs along the stone wall of the dungeon, their fingers stroking the rough surface as they move along. After a few steps, the dungeon-master stops, pushing their hand against the wall, as if checking its firmness, appearing as if they were expecting it to collapse in on itself any moment.


But the wall holds and the dungeon-master lets out a relieved sigh, patting the stones a few times right after.


“How are you holding up?” they ask the rocks.


The rocks don’t respond.


Nodding to the dungeon, the dungeon-master keeps walking. “Don’t worry, we’ll get you scrubbed out and back in fighting shape in no time,” they say, reassuring the dungeon that everything is going to be fine. “Nothing a good sponging and some elbow grease can’t fix.”


The dungeon-master’s hair billows back behind their head as they walk, as a warm breeze washes over them. A single, long, exhalation, as the dungeon itself breathes out a breath of old, stagnant air which rises up towards the distant surface, being pushed out from the lungs of the world.


“You really caused me a lot of trouble this time, you know?” they ask, their fingers running along the wall as they walk. “You know we can’t let them cheat on their lessons. They won’t grow up right.”


The dungeon says nothing, simply exhaling again with a somewhat more powerful breath, which presses back against the dungeon-master who lets out a long, understanding sigh. “I get that you got a little impatient. This one was really slow and that gunk must have itched pretty bad.” They rub the walls consolingly. “The next one will be faster, I promise.”


The dungeon shakes with a soft vibration, with a soft hum as it lets out a long groan that echoes throughout the entirety of it, shaking the walls.


“Oh, come on, you know that you’ll always be my favorite,” says the dungeon-master in a cooing voice, looking at the wall as they head down the secret staircase. “I need you to work with me though, this doesn’t work without you,” they explain to the dungeon. “We need to be on the same page from now on, okay?”


The long, prolonged groan that rumbles through the earth, the voice of the dungeon, comes to a stop. For a moment, everything is quiet again. The thing that beholds stares out at the dungeon-master, who is descending down the secret staircase to some lower floor. Then, there is a noise. A familiar noise, that the thing that beholds has felt many times over before. There is a humming in the walls, a buzzing, like that of surging electricity.


It shakes the rocks. It shakes the world, as its droning cadence pushes through the underground. The thing that beholds listens, as the dungeon itself, emergent and alive as it is, hums.


It isn’t any particular melody and it isn’t in tune in any sense of the phrase. It’s simply a rising and a falling of noise at random. Like a child who hasn’t yet learned of any such concepts of musicality, or perhaps one who is simply unwilling to care about them. It isn’t about the melody, it never has been. From the start, the entire point of the buzzing, of the humming, has simply been for the emotions being let free into the world in that random, uncontrolled, chaotic form of release. All of it having no greater purpose other than its own genesis and the implications thereof. That release, that melodiousness singing, that itself is the point.


It is simply what is.


A celebration of the experience of life, rather than anything that has an end purpose.


The dungeon-master rubs the wall as they walk, joining in on the humming with a bright smile on their face as they move down into the darkness below the world, eager to let a new day of work begin.


The thing that beholds watches curiously, following the dungeon-master down further and further. They’re going the same way, down deeper towards the heartbeat.


“So…” the dungeon-master looks around the empty cavern chamber. “Floor one-hundred… hmm…” they scratch their head, looking around the entirely blank space that is filled with nothing but cave-rock. Pulling out a piece of paper, they look down at it, studying their notes. “We’re doing the girl next. So… we’re keeping Piotr as he is, uh… maybe we’ll scrap the goblins? What do you think?”


The dungeon groans.


“Yeah…” the dungeon-master nods. “Yeah, okay. Good point! Right…” The dungeon-master sticks the piece of paper away, lifts their hand and snaps their fingers. A group of skeletons run out of the darkness, carrying paint-brushes, ladders and all manner of tools and materials. The horde sets to work immediately, creating the dungeon-master’s design for the floor.


Turning around, the dungeon-master looks into the darkness. They look straight towards the thing that beholds, towards the thing that creeps in the walls, towards the thing that has once reached, yet now it does so no longer.


“You’re gonna have a great time here!” they say, smiling a wide smile. “- There’s so much to see.”


The dungeon-master snaps their fingers. The light goes out. Suddenly, the thing that reaches, -


It floats.



2 Chapters left in our little adventure. Are you sad? I'm sad.


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