The pain goes down another notch and your brain is finally able to register information from your senses. You are in the middle of a crowd moving slowly, steadily towards a common destination but you have no control over your body as it is shoved along by the avalanche of people. Nothing around you seems familiar. Faces are those of people you’ve never met before, but that’s only the beginning. There’s humans and dwarves and elves alright, but some races you’ve never seen or heard of before. No one’s talking, they all seem like hypnotized as they march towards their goal, carrying you along. The scenery around is not familiar either, rocky and alien it feels slightly foreboding. Up ahead you see the line of people snaking their way towards a large castle-like structure of unusual architecture. In the distance behind it, a huge spire stabs upwards into the clouds. Your neck hurts trying to go all the way back as you automatically try to discern where it ends, but somehow at its top there’s a big ring-shaped object that floats right above it, much like a ring that’s about to fall into place on a stony finger.
As you get closer, you realize that the structure that seemed like a castle from afar is actually a walled city. More of a castle or palace, because of the large buildings and areas inside that rise over the wall, plus a small settlement of the common folk on the outside of the walls. The stream of people takes you past the huge iron gate and into the massive compound of promenades, courtyards, gardens, granaries, libraries, towers, kitchens, stables, residences, storehouses, and workshops. The construction is of red brick, wood, and stone, with roofs of half-moon glazed tiles. Everything seems to be designed with an eye towards artistry and aesthetics, with even the smallest and meanest of buildings containing architectural flourishes.
Servants and clerks dive into the crowd and come out seconds later followed by someone. This slowly breaks down the river into streams of waiting lines that lead into various halls. The inside is no less grand than the outside, but curiosity gets the best of you as you try to look ahead. The line leads to an office, where a humanoid figure is performing some sort of bureaucratic duty. In front of him stands another figure, clad in full body armor of unusual design. As you get closer, you hear the figure asking everyone’s name. After the apparent clerk writes it down, the figure speaks some words aloud. Compassion. Faith. Devotion. Honor. Greed. Envy. Treason. Every word echoes like a gong, letting you ponder its significance. The figure then names one of the several halls in the compound, before the clerk rises up to hang a placard around the neck of whoever stands in front of the armored figure. As they are led elsewhere by more clerks, your eye catches that the placards read the words spoken by the armored figure. A list of vices and virtues, then a destination. This doesn’t look good.
When it’s your time to face the armored figure, he asks you for your name and you feel like it’s being ripped out of your chest as you are compelled to say it. Upon hearing it, the figure sizes you up. "This one’s not dead" he turns and says to the clerk behind him, this time speaking in a more casual manner. "Not fully dead, at least" he adds. The clerk checks a few scrolls, before replying "An anomaly, perhaps". The armored figure raises a gloved hand and there’s a minor blast on the ground next to him. Once the smoke clears, a nightmarish figure stands there. Over 8 feet tall and thicker than a gorilla, the creature has the head of a bull, complete with a large snout and two long horns. It is no minotaur however, as it has feet instead of hooves and its skin is a dark shade of orange under its thick fur. Despite its bestial appearance, the creature is dressed in polished ceremonial armor over ornate robes. A large two-handed sword is hung on its back, but you’re pretty sure it can be dangerous without it too, thanks the thick talons at the end of its fingers. "You called, lord" it speaks in a deep, resonant voice. "Have this person escorted to the Place of Waiting" the armored figure commands. "Once his high excellence returns, he will know what to do with them". The figure nods in a slight bow, then unceremoniously grabs you by the hand and leads you out of the room and ultimately, out of the compound through the iron gate. Somehow you still cannot react, as if you’re just watching yourself go through the motions, as the massive bull headed creature leads you to one of the buildings of the town outside the walls.
The sign outside has a golden chalice painted on and while the inside looks like the drinking hall of an inn, it is impossibly larger than the outside would allow. The creature locks you inside a room upstairs and leaves. Not much later, it returns with another person. Then a third. Finally, the creature takes off is armor and sits on the fourth bed of the room. "I imagine you have a lot of questions" it says in the same deep voice.
You feel like a weight has been lifted off your chest. Or like somebody just threw a bucket of cold water on your face and woke you up from a bad dream. Unfortunately, this is no bad dream. You’re still in the room with each other and the creature. You are however able to talk, move and act once more.