In the short seconds he had, Owain thought only of the weirdness of this place.
The guards were strange. They had seemed orc-ish, but were no orcs he had ever seen before. They were twisted and hunched, with growths all over them, like a potato left too long in the sack. But the guards were far from the strangest thing about this temple of sorts. There was a temple’s feeling of awe, but twisted, warped, and wicked. The walls were still and did not move, but seemed to throb and beat like a heart. There were the breeding pods, in which what looked like orcs were twisted by some alien energy. There were the eyeless creatures tending the pods, standing on spindly legs, and although Owain could recognize them as aberrations, he knew nothing else. Whatever lay at the top of the staircase remained a mystery, but it would surely be as weird as anything on this floor.
The unformed smoke of a half-conscious question swirled in the back of Owain’s mind. This place was so many things. Weird. Unnatural. Alien. Strange. But most of all, it was Alive. The whole place was Alive, from the walls to the very air. And yet, although he had spent years in the wilderness, surrounded by life, and drawing strength from the living souls of bird and beast, plant and earth, he found no comfort. This was a different sort of Life. Surely there was more to learn at the top of the stairs.
He breathed deep, and prepared to climb.