Two penetrating, lifeless eyes bore into my head, staring, accusing me, relentless in their anger. They are all too familiar. I blink, and shake my head, desperately trying to knock loose their hold on me, but they are tenacious. Around me, I hear others begin to stir, groaning and shuffling to their feet, and for the moment I am distracted enough to briefly take in my surroundings. I am below ground, sealed in a completely stone room, the floor and walls piled high with heaps of glittering gold. The air smells damp and mildewy, as though we are beneath the very sea itself, though there is a cloying, metallic scent mixed in the air, the scent of humans and wealth, and I mistrust the smell immediately.
The dead eyes bore into my skull, twisting the serrated knives of their hate and fury into my heart. In this hollow, lifeless room, I choke, my lungs grasping for a taste of natural air, for the scent of nature, for the kiss of Naiwi, but I am alone. She cannot reach me. I have to get out of here. I have to get OUT OF HERE!
A Halfling bounces over while I am still crouched on the floor and introduces himself brightly as Chance. I pause, and consider his face for a moment, my demons hissing and sizzling in the peripherals of my gaze, my scorched throat burning for a whiff of fresh air. He must not know.
“Hello Chance, I am Bronx.” I struggle to rise to my feet and shake his hand, but he is already gone, introducing himself to someone else. I watch the others meet one another for a few moments, uncertain how to participate in their conversations, and inwardly struggling to maintain stony composure.
A blue-skinned man catches my eye as he slowly attempts to pocket one of the golden coins. Certainly such skin cannot be the mark of natural causes? As he unsurprisingly falls unconscious from the work of some magic spell cast on the golden coins, I examine the others more closely. A younger human who searches the room for exits and careful not to touch the coins, carries a halberd and a longsword on his hip. I am wary of this man, for those who protect themselves with iron weapons are often merciless creatures, wielding the forged hands of men to spread their bloodshed in the name of justice. I have already met Chance, who is appears to be nothing more than a bouncy, shallow creature motivated by no more than fun and the acquisition of wealth, though he seems more of a danger to himself than to others. And the gnome, Berty, seems like an unlikely ally of sorts, a fellow magic-wielder and respecter of the arcane, though I would be foolish to make such an assumption so soon.
The room is stifling, suffocating, enclosing, I need to breathe, I need to feel the soothing touch of nature, I need her to cleanse me of these eyes, these horrid, piercing eyes. I need to go. I need out.
Before I can shriek in madness and shatter the mask of composure and control I have painted on my face, Chance’s magical assistant moves the golden piles enough to find an opening in the wall. I eagerly shove through with the others, wildly hoping for a staircase leading above ground, but with no luck.
The rest of the dungeon passes in a desperate daze. I press onward through the halls, dragging the others behind me, recklessly pulling the party through room after room, springing traps, falling into pits, and rousing monsters. I suffer, my body is weakened and bloody, broken, bruised, and I welcome the pain, I welcome the distraction. But the eyes, the horrible lifeless eyes, grow more wrathful and accusing with every step. I watch them die over and over again in my mind, I watch the stolen blade slide cleanly through the man’s ribs and into his heart, and I yearn for her. I yearn for Naiwi.
I don’t know how much more of this I can take. But the others must not know of my weakness.