Darkness has taken you, leaving you endlessly falling into an empty oblivion devoid of sight or sound. Moments flash briefly into being and fade again: a cold iron table and bright light above you, the mocking voice of Minita, the reeking stench of beasts and raw meat. Weightlessness, the hammering of great machinery, and finally, fetid black water oozing beneath you and chill winds stirring foul air.
You wake slowly to find yourself paralyzed in cold darkness, your voice silent and your body as limp and useless as a rag doll. You are helpless to act or speak, or even hold your thoughts together, but you can hear the ragged breathing of others in the dark telling you that you are not alone in your fate and feel the bone-deep ache in your limbs confirming that you yet live.
Sickly-green lamps flicker on in the walls, illuminating what might be your cell members in the moment before a dozen figures appear, wading shin-deep through rank waters towards the cold platform on which you and the other tangled forms hang. They wear ragged cloacks over dark body armor, and their faces are covered by grotesque animal masks fashioned from glittering metal and stitched skin. Each mask is different, one a hound, one a serpent, another a squid, a swine, and so on, while the leader wears the gilded visage of an Eagle with crimson feathers around its crest.
Walking beside the leader is a man covering his face with the image of a Lion, identical to the one torn from Count Sophano’s face at the Umbraer’s Hope deep bore mine.
A quick flick of Lion Mask’s runic sword severs chains and you are dumped into the ice-cold filth of the water with the others, all equally helpless, heaped up like in a mass grave for the living. Each of you is swiftly and purposefully examined by the masked men like livestock in a market. The Eagle Mask barks an angry order, and he and the others back away swiftly into the darkness.
Frost creeps across the walls, and the waters beneath you grow cold as the grave, as from the darkness a human-shaped, spike-studded metal cabinet comes into view, pushed along by two stunted and misshapen figures. Another shadowed form, tall and lean, hangs back on the edge of sight behind them.
Horror is heaped upon horror as the iron cabinet opens to reveal the severed head and mutilated torso of a young woman floating within in a column of unearthly light. The woman’s eyes snap open and cruel white light floods out. You feel the stabbing claws of a vile force invade your mind with its polluting touch as you and your fellow captives finally find voice enough to scream.
The force withdraws suddenly as the iron cabinet snaps shut. A silver-clawed hand rises from the darkness and indicates three captives in turn. The misshapen figures lunge forth and drag them screaming into the darkness where they are abruptly silenced.
Mercifully you are not among them.
The light fades and oblivion takes you again.