1. The First Room

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"Eryx."

He woke up on a bed in a pitch-black room. Someone was panting heavily--no, he was panting heavily--but he was not the voice that had whispered "Eryx." It was feminine, it was not panting, and it clearly knew things, such as whoever or whatever "Eryx" was. He barely felt anything about himself. For example, he suspected he was male, but he had no clear memory of the evidence to back the idea up.

His mind was nearly as dark as this room.

So he began to form new memories. He patted himself down, starting with the stubbly cheeks before heading lower. Definitely, he felt male.

Naked male.

Good lungs, though. He could hear how well they worked, filling the dark emptiness of the room all too well, giving fear a sound to remember it by. His hands were just as useful now they had no purpose beyond trembling. So he gave them new purpose, that of clenched fists, and he clenched his teeth to boot, and those decision, all his own and memorable, small though it was in the vastness of the dark, gave him a start, movement, direction. Toward discovery.

He sat up and began to crawl down the bedclothes, not many to speak of. Just one, in fact--a thin, simple sheet, which he smoothed and plucked and rucked between his fingers.

He searched until he found the foot of the bed--simple wood, no carvings, just posts and a board spanning between.

Beyond that was a table. Curved. His fingers skimmed up and along its surface, finding a smooth glide in places, while other places were stuttered by roughness. Lines of roughness. With little splinters here and there. He was not sure of the design, not sure it was worth following, but he followed it nonetheless, and bumped into an object. He pulled back instantly. Then stilled.

As his back had recognized a bed, his fingers had recognized the lamp, a way out of the dark, a way out of the fear, to make it more real. Reaching out, fingers inching up the item, he sought and found a little handle to turn the wick, found the glass chimney and lifted it in both hands, and slowly lowered it to one side, carefully mapping its location so he wouldn't knock it over and hear it shatter to pieces upon the floor. If it would shatter. There might be carpets or rugs, and there was definitely easier ways than destruction to find out what the floor was made of. In due time. In due time. Under the light of a lamp.

Or not. Fingertip scrutiny, and rescrutiny, uncovered no matches. Just the lamp and its chimney. So keeping one hand on the bed, one on the table, he eased off to the floor, just one leg.

The thickness of carpet beneath his toes startled him into jerking his leg back up. Thick, yes, but old, like matted hair. But what he had started, he couldn't stop. He needed light. So he gritted his teeth and lowered one foot after the other, grimacing as he wriggled his toes about, and then he dropped to a crouch. One hand guided him around the known furniture and the other he stretched out before him as he crept along--till he found a wall. Though he was expecting it, it made him jerk back, retreat being instinctual, before he pressed forward. He kept one hand on the table's curved edge--it had only one central leg, which of was of little use in the dark--until he had to let go to explore more. Then he palmed the wall, shuffling along in his crouch still, hip skimming against light, loose material--peeling wallpaper, though the recognition didn't make his skin crawl any less--until he found a door frame.

Well, a doorframe of sorts.

The door was too wide for a regular door, and the handles were too small. There were two handles, like pegs. Wooden.

A closet, he thought. Clothes.

He stood, off-balance with so little orientation, and opened both doors. He reached out, flinched back at the contact with materials, although he was expecting them. Problem was, he was expecting something else, though he didn't know what.

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