The Abyss of Time (時の狭間, Toki no Hazama)? is a massive underground labyrinth that appeared in the playable epilogue in Persona 3 FES, titled The Answer. Originally a state of hibernation, it became 'active' when it was attracted by the deep sorrow of SEES which soon took hold there and spread so far as to go below the dorm.
When the phenomena of the Dark Hour and Tartarus was created, Tartarus, growing out of the ground each night, eventually left a great cove underneath its roots. Following the death of the protagonist, the Abyss of Time was attracted by SEES' grief and sorrow and spread its influence there, rooting down below the dorm. Eventually, the Abyss of Time would become active, locking SEES in an infinite time loop where the time will reset itself whenever the clock hits 12:00 A.M., leaving time forever frozen on March 31.
Role in Persona 3: FES
Following the events of the protagonist's death, Mitsuru Kirijo decides to shut down the dorm, while calling the remaining SEES members to regroup one last time prior to separating their paths. During the celebration, they found out that they are locked in an infinite loop where the day consistently remained as March 31. As their confusions arise, SEES was attacked by Metis, an anti-Shadow weapon, who claims to be Aigis' sister, leaving Aigis damaged and the members of SEES shocked, but Aigis awakes the power of the Wild Card and summons Orpheus, overheating herself.
Eventually, Metis was subdued and, from Metis, SEES learned about the phenomena of the Abyss of Time. Metis' first objective was to destroy SEES so the Abyss of Time could be neutralized, as she believed that they were the main cause of the Abyss of Time's existence. SEES would later decide to take up their Evokers one last time in order to investigate the Abyss of Time.
Throughout their investigation, they encounter a recurring silhouette resembling the protagonist, but every time they get near him, he flees, leaving powerful Shadows to halt SEES' advance. Apart from the recurring silhouette, they begin to realize that each door reveals another SEES member's past.
Ken Amada's memories retold the time where his mother was murdered by Shinjiro Aragaki. He was taken to the Police Station for questioning and investigation, but the policemen did not believe his story of a “monster” destroying his home and killing his mother, directly causing him to seek revenge on his own.
Akihiko's memories retold the time when he was still a 3rd year middle school student; a young, talented boxer, his talents immediately gained the attention of other schools’ staff, and he was invited to transfer. Akihiko instead declined and met Mitsuru Kirijo for the first time. Mitsuru coerced him into joining SEES, which he eventually agreed to.
Junpei's memories retold the time prior to the protagonist's first encounter with the Arcana Magician. Escaping from his alcoholic father, Junpei ended up in Paulownia Mall. In there, he met Koromaru for the first time, and eventually, during the Dark Hour, he was attacked by Shadows, which eventually motivated him to join SEES upon Akihiko's invitation. Junpei also awakened to his Persona, Hermes, here, directly in front of him.
Mitsuru's memories retold her first encounter with a Shadow, and the subsequent awakening of her Persona. Still an adolescent, she joined her father, Takeharu Kirijo, in investigating Tartarus. During this time, one of their bodyguards turns into a Shadow (one of them comments that they were warned about "artificial potential" hinting they were part of the experiments that gave Strega their artificial Personas). The other bodyguards protecting them are killed. Mitsuru eventually managed to summon her Persona for the first time with the impulse to protect her father. However, Takeharu lamented that, because of his work, Mitsuru was forced upon taking the task of cleaning the previous generation's mess.
Yukari's memories retold of her first enrollment into Gekkoukan High School. During her enrollment, she received a letter of father, Eiichiro Takeba, which tells her to be happy. Yukari was later invited to join SEES by Mitsuru, to whom she agreed so she could understand the cause behind her father's death.
The door leading of Aigis' past was not a part of her memory, but rather a recurring dream of hers after the protagonist's death. In her dream, she saw the protagonist; however, she was unable to catch him, with the protagonist leaving her further and further away (if one looks closely near the end of this dream, they can see a silhouette of Metis, hinting at her true origin). In there, she confessed her will of losing the side of humanity and the penalties a living being must face upon the protagonist's death.
Upon venturing to the deepest area of the Abyss of Time, the recurring silhouette of the protagonist is revealed to be a manifestation of SEES' grief and their wish to see the protagonist one more time. Making his entrance, the silhouette challenges SEES to a battle, retaining his wild card ability (even implementing his former comrades' Personas) and several of the protagonist's movesets. When the silhouette was defeated, SEES was granted with keys which allow them to travel through time. But each SEES member has their own wishes for the key, and none of them wanted to give in.
As their opinions differ, SEES separates and fights among each other in the Abyss of Time, with Aigis and Metis reigning as the champion. Fusing the keys into the “True Key,” Aigis decided not to change the past, but wished to know the cause of the protagonist's death. However, due to the time of spending in the Abyss of Time, the labyrinth began spreading its influence, cracking the floor of the Dorm. Noticing that they don't have much time left, SEES decided to return to the time where the protagonist sealed Nyx via the final door in the Abyss of Time.
SEES eventually realized that the protagonist used up his life essence to conjure the Great Seal; however, his intentions were not to seal Nyx, but to prevent Erebus, the grand manifestation of humanity's grief, from contacting Nyx to bring forth the Fall. Noticing SEES' presence, Erebus became hostile and attacks SEES. When SEES defeats Erebus, their grief and confusion is lifted and the Abyss of Time disappears. By using the True Key to unlock the dorm's door, time begins to flow again.
Desert of Doors
The Abyss of Time consists of eight doors. Each door leads to its own dungeon with a layout similar to Tartarus:
The final door, upon forging the true key, will reveal itself in the center of the Abyss of Time, which leads to the past where the protagonist performs the Great Seal.
- The background music of the Abyss of Time, Interstice of Time is played in a somber fashion, but becomes more and more lively when SEES investigates deeper in the Abyss of Time.
- Like in Tartarus, Aigis can request Fuuka to change the background music.
- Each door is named after a section of hell, according to Dante's Inferno with the exception of Empyrean, which is the final sphere of heaven. Malebolge is the second to last level of hell, where those who committed fraud are punished. Cocytus is the 9th level, where those who committed betrayal and treason are held. Caina, Antenora, Ptolomea and Judecca are sections of Cocytus where sinners are frozen up to a certain body part depending on which section they are. Lucifer resides in Judecca, where he is frozen up to his waist. His three heads chew on the bodies of Judas, Brutus and Cassius, while the other sinners have their bodies completely frozen in the lake.
- Each dungeon (or door) resemble the Blocks of Tartarus. The first part of Malebolge, later reused in other Blocks, resembles Thebel (with a color scheme that resembles the dormitory, aka carpeting), the second resembles Yabbashah, the first part of Cocytus resembles Arqa and the second resembles Tziah. After this, the four designs are re-used until the second part of Ptolomea, which seems to be similar to Thebel/Monad in some ways except for a white, palatial color scheme, angel statues in some corners and pillars in the walls.