The campfire made a sharp sizzle as water from the nearby stream was poured onto it. The young dragon hunter found himself miles from the nearest town, packing up his camp as the morning light began to peak through the green forest.
The wyvern he had been contracted for had spent the night hunting livestock and menacing the villagers on the other side of the hills as it had done for months now, and would be at its weakest, tired from the night long hunt. The hunter had not made camp at the main entrance of the cave, but instead near a smaller side hole he had found while scouting the mountainside during the night. He had hoped to sneak into the wyvern’s lair and take it by surprise. Fighting in a darkened cave never proved to be easy, so he needed every advantage he could gather.
One hundred and fifty in gold he had been promised for his kill, proven with one of the wyvern’s claws. The payment was little compared to other hunts, but it was all the town could muster. And as he always had, he did not set his price off the dragon, but by the wealth of his payers. The poor community was in desperate need, and he could not turn away because of coin.
The dragon hunter drew a long breath in and the frigid morning air cut deep into his lungs. Wisps of warm sunlight had already begun to pass through the scattered brush and trees as he continued packing his light encampment. He had already buckled his armor which sat battered, scratched, and dented from past battles, but still solid and strong, much like its wearer. He threw on a small brown fur skin over his shoulders, layering himself with steel, chain-mail, and leather. Inspecting his sword one last time, he slid it out of its scabbard, creating a drawn out scing sound that drifted into the woods as it slid on the metal locket. His sword was a rare metal and not an easy one to take care of, but the blacksmith in the nearby village had done an excellent job in sharpening it. She had even imprinted a rune on the blade near the cross guard, which she said was for good luck, because he would be needing it…
Despite the neighboring danger, the morning on the mountainside was perfect. He could lightly smell the enchanting scent of pine coming off the nearby trees along with aromas of small assortments of flowers. A slow wind moved through the branches, and along with the awakening birds, whispered a gentle melody to the hunter. He sat on his knees looking at the coming dawn over the treetops as he rolled his blanket off of the ground. His horse closely nearby exhaled sharply and made a call to him. He gathered the blanket and camping gear in his arms and set them beside his saddle that lay next to a log. He walked over to his friend and brushed him on the mane as he untied the leather strap holding the horse to a bush.
The hunter checked his armor once last time, returning the sword to its scabbard and throwing it over his back. He attached an elven dagger to his hip, along with a number of other smaller hunting weapons, and threw his bruised and scrapped metal shield over his sword. He fit his helmet over his head and exhaled, watching a warm vapor cloud escape through the breathing holes on the left side of his helmet. He grabbed a lit torch stuck in the ground and began walking to the entrance of the cave. Grass, twigs, and gravel all crunched under his boots as he drew near to the small entry, which quickly grew pitch black just inside. Silent, dark, and commanding, he knew not what lay in the depths of the cavern save for the wild tales of the villagers.
The young dragon hunter looked back at the sunrise, taking in the beauty one last time before drawing his sword and gripping it tightly in his leather glove. He took in another breath, the sharp cold again slicing into his lungs while the helmet made his breathing echo deep in his ears. The hunter, with one final breath, entered the cave and began the hunt.