The past two days have been grim.  Delving deep beneath the surface into a labyrinth of tunnels worming through the dark earth I scrape forward slowly.  Around each undiscovered bend and twist in the path awaits some new peril.  The air is stale and hot.  Stifling vapors rise from some of the deeper passages that, in all my boldness, I still dare not go.  Supplies run low.  I can’t be sure the exact way I came.  I try not to think about it.  Alone in the deep.  In the pitch blackness.  I hear every step forward, every stone loosened.  I hear other things.  The sounds I hear chill my blood despite the heat.  Wild, feral howls from creatures with no names.  I would like to think  the sounds are echoing from some distant point, but the cries seem to come from just beyond the edge of my light.  I’m sure my advance is heard, probably seen.

On the surface a colorless, suffocating fog diffuses the light from the sun into a pale diseased glow.  After my time in this pit I long for that light.  That thick air.  Though I’m here for a purpose.  I must plunge my sword into the breast of whatever foul being lurks in the deep spreading its foulness like a cancer through the land.  I have fought  many of their kind and there are more still.  My blade is stained with their foul blood, yet I must not be confident.  The bodies here tell me what I already knew.  I’m not the first to challenge the beast.

The tunnel opens ahead of me into a large cavern.  The portal is lit from some unknown source within.  Shadows twist and shudder in the flickering light.  Surges of heated reeking air meet my approach as if the very cavern before me breathes.  My adversary lies in wait just beyond.  What perverse form it has taken I cannot guess.  I must trust my wits to give me some advantage in the coming battle.   I unsheathe my sword, grip my shield tightly, and step forth.