I awoke in darkness. How long had I been unconscious? Blinking my eyes rapidly, I noted a dim glow somewhere in the distance. The air here was tangy and bitter simultaneously, like a whiskey sour. Which I could really have gone for at that moment. Time to take stock of my resources. Light: not much. My pack: missing. My body: lying prone, face-down on something firm and mildly damp. Pain? Yeah, some. Mostly my ankle. Might be broken. Damn, and I hadn’t prepared any healing spells before being consumed. No reagents on hand. I’d have to patch it up the old-fashioned way… assuming I could find any materials to do so. Memories: few. Falling through a hole after killing the Volcanocotopus, and then... nothing. No idea. Time to explore. I shuffled forward a bit and hit my head against something hard. I put out my hand in the gloom, testing what was before me. My arm felt heavy.
Bars. I was in a cage.
I rolled over and discovered why my arms were harder to lift than usual; I was in shackles. Both wrists were clasped in thick irons, with a three-foot chain between them. I studied it, noting that while it appeared sturdy, there were also spots of rust along its length, much like those I now noted on the bars of my prison. I managed to struggle to a kneeling position on the bare metal floor. The distant light flickered: a torch? Where was I? What was happening?
Then suddenly, a growling hoot and a snarl, followed by barked orders in a guttural tongue. I turned my head quickly and spotted a gang of figures moving in my direction, carrying torches. They weren’t quite close enough to… wait… no. Not friendly. I couldn’t see who or what they were yet, but I heard the sound of a cage opening, and a piercing, animal shriek. A roar. A squelch. Movement.
This couldn’t be happening. This wasn’t possible. How was anything else alive down here, let along setting up cages? Marching closer. Opening more cells. More screams. I began to sweat. Things had just gone from bad to worse to way worse. And then, as my captors drew ever nearer, I finally saw what they were. My breath caught in my chest.
Four or five towering abominations—ten feet if they were an inch—each mottled with wet feathers and fur, brown, gray, dingy red like old paint, their talons and claws clicking on some unseen surface, blood at their beaks. Next three spindly, wiry-frames, their faces like punched meat, their beady features like carved stone, with long fingers still holding rent flesh and a thin film of putrid fur. And at the head of the line, two armored humanoids, squat and bulbous, like rotten broccoli with chainmail and pikes, their eyes gleaming orange in the torchlight, their boots falling apart, still wanting for repairs and better nourishment, as I could see the thin bones pushing through the mottled, camouflage skin.
Bowelbears and trollons and gallblins, oh fuck.