[size=18]Journey Home - Part 1[/size]
The sun was dipping low in the sky before he stopped again. He was traveling east, along the base of some foot hills to the north, keeping just inside the tree line of aspen and pine. Over him loomed a large oak... it may have been centuries old for all he knew. it was immense. It's size was compounded by the fact that it was the only such tree for miles, all around it were aspen and pine of different types, but no other oak.
From here he turned north, moving up the embankment. The hills here were very rocky, with a few patches of undergrowth here and there and an occasional tree. Legends say these was once a large mountain range.. one that was home to all sorts of folks, from highland elves, to the funneling dwarves. But ages ago, some great force.. an enormous dragon or other such being was angered by the mountain dwellers and brought his fury upon them. The results of his attacks were that the tops of the mountains had been smashed, letting the large rocks and boulders avalanche down, killing the elves in the process, and trapping the dwarves in the tunnels below them. With no way to come out for more provisions, they too soon perished.
He didn't know how much truth was in these legends. He knew some of it was true, for the caverns under the hills still existed, he had been living in them, exploring them for the last few years. He found many entrances that were covered by the great rocks... from some long ago avalanche... so that much of the legends were true. The rest however, that harder to believe. He knew such legends were more often made up to explain why something happened rather than be the actual reasons behind something happening.
A short distance up the hill he came to a familiar crag. By habit, he quickly glanced about, his feline senses searching for anyone... anything... that may be watching him. Sensing none he steps about a large, upright stone and drops into a crack behind it. The crevice runs about 2 meters deep. There he moves to a crouch as he hits the bottom, and slides to his left. The uphill side of the crevice forms a lip that he moves under. There is little light this time of day, and the shadows from the rocks overhead make it almost pitch black here. His feline eyes make the most of what light there is, showing him the floor of a small tunnel as it slopes away from him. Not that he needs to see where he's going... between his other senses and his memory of having taken this route so many times, he's able to negotiate the incline with ease.
There are one or two twists in the tunnel, and after about 50 yards or so, the tunnel opens to a small cavern. The cavern widens as it moves down, and towards the center of the hill. There is literally no light here, he has to rely on other senses as he moves. His steps are sure and sound as he moves, the trickling sound of water can be heard... running more or less west to east... then felt as he steps through the cool water. Tunnels can be seen, or rather not seen, as spots of blackness on the cavern walls. Two follow the path of the water, and one other on the eastern wall.
As he moves from the stream of water, the cavern floor angles sharply back up. He steps directly to a spot in the back wall that if you looked hard enough, you could see is black against the dark grey of the cavern walls. Stepping through the opening, he reaches out, taking a flint and steel in his hand. Striking them, once, then a second time, before the small oil lamp lights... casting a warm glow about him.