The rune-plated warrior spotted the group near the dungeon entrance. They were hunched and quiet, seated on rocks and half-walls. He approached the only one who met his gaze - a red-haired woman with dark rings around her eyes.
'You lot any good? I can get a dungeon done in three to four. Room for one?'
Her eyes moved to the floor. Another in the group coughed a dusty, dry cough.
'You deaf? You looking for a group? I'm in for anything on the abandoned floors.'
The woman shifted on her rubble seat, looking uneasily to the others. They ignored her, hooded heads to the floor. Resigned, eyes wide with something like terror, she lifted a feeble fist to the man. On a finger was the ring of kinship. It was dull and dark. He took a step closer and saw that it was caked in dry blood.
Daemonheim seemed to fall away from about him, an ache throbbing in his temple. One of the group moved to stand, concealed beneath a hood. He was tall, and he tapped the staff he was holding once, twice and thrice on the stone slabs. Grey, gaunt fingers pulled back the hood. In a drawn, gaunt face of colourless grey, there were two empty eyes: sockets into nothingness.
The man stumbled backwards onto the floor.
The girl sobbed, and the tall man shook. Rings of kinship, caked in dry blood, poured out of the tall man's eye sockets. They bounced dully on the floor. The man desperately clawed his body backwards, as the rings clattered out of those depthless eyes over and over and over.
He awoke on an abandoned floor, far from the tables and workbenches of the starting room. There was no one else with him: no monster, no woman, no tall man. Just a square room with four doors, each on their own wall.
Old rhythms came back to him, removing his fear: the comforting routine of a Daemonheim floor. He searched the room for keys, looked for resources that he might use, and then moved to the door.
The door was locked, the keyhole a dark circle.
He checked his pockets to reassure that he hadn't - somehow - been given a key.
He moved to the next door. This time, the keyhole was a red pentagon. In a panic, he ran to the following door. A silver rectangle. The next, a yellow circle. Moving from cabinet to table, he searched for a key. He plunged his hands into a small pool, but could find only rock at the bottom. Everything, everywhere, was empty. Then he heard crying, a delicate sobbing, from behind the dark circle door. He stooped to the keyhole, and looked through.
~*~The robed mage spotted the group near the dungeon entrance. They were hunched and quiet, seated on rocks and half-walls. She approached the only one who met her gaze - a rune-plated warrior with dark rings around his eyes...