EDIT: Sorry for not making it clear to begin with.. this is my submission for the 'Writing Challenge'- "Underground". Thank you for pointing it out, sunandshadow.
The Molten Core
Lamenting filled the air as Lailokken regained consciousness. He was at first shocked, and then mildly amused when he realized it was his own. The weakened Orc gazed up at the rim of the volcano mouth and assessed the distance he had fallen. About half way down he surmised, judging by the frayed rope that dangled in the air above. Flat on his back and writhing in agony, a mischievous laugh escaped his lips as he stretched his arms above his head and softly cheered, "For the Horde!"
Pushing himself past the pain that racked his body, Lailokken raised himself up onto his elbows and began to survey the cavernous room that surrounded him. Errant bits of molten volcanic ash swirled, glowing and dancing on the heated air like a pile of autumn leaves that had been tossed to a contrary wind. For a moment Lailokken watched; mesmerized with that of a child's fascination. Startled as the ground suddenly began to rumble, his hands instinctively reached out and searched the air in vain for something to latch on to. Violent tremors quickly accompanied the loud rumbling beneath Lailokken, and shook his thoughts back into focus. It was time now to get up and get on with his mission, as the advanced scout for his guild's leader; Cabalthul.
Gathering his strength Lailokken pushed himself from the dirt, regained his feet, and brushed the dust from his obsidian leathers. A quick inventory revealed he still had his bow and double-headed axe. As he glanced around the cave Lailokken saw all the lava tube tunnels that Cabalthul had spoken of. They surrounded the room; some openings larger than others, but none offered any obvious clues as to which tunnel emptied out into hostile territory. If only Lailokken could find the correct one and report back to his guild. Then they would be able to infiltrate their adversary's stronghold, kill their leader, and prove their superiority over the Alliance.
Loud rumbling and violent tremors shook the ground once again. For the first time Lailokken noticed the lava that was beginning to seep into the main expanse of this elaborate lava tube tunnel system. Deep rocky depressions in the ground; previously empty, had now become molten lava pools. For a moment he was panic stricken at the thought of being trapped and consumed by the lava, but quickly recovered and focused on the task at hand.
A blinding ball of fire singed his cheek, then continued on to explode against the wall behind him. Lailokken quickly turned toward the direction it had come from, ducking immediately as another ball of flame shattered the silent air as it sizzled past his head.
"Fire Elementals!", his words more a curse than a statement of fact. With one fluid motion the skillful Orc removed his double-headed battle axe from its harness and sent it spinning into the first elemental. Enraged by the death of its mate, the second elemental began to charge. Lailokken reached into his quiver as he slung his forester's longbow off his shoulder. The fiery beast was swiftly put down as the experienced marksman's arrows easily found their target.
Lailokken laughed boisterously as he retrieved his axe and arrows, then returned to his quest of finding the proper tunnel. Quickly he moved from opening to opening; stopping briefly at each to sniff the air before moving on to test the next. Convinced he had finally found the tunnel that smelled most like humans, he brushed aside a spidersilk cobweb that covered its entrance, and stepped inside.
The tunnel walls were warm to the touch, but not nearly as hot as the heat from the ground that was spreading through the leathery soles of Lailokken's feet. And even if he had not had the ability to see well in the darkness, the glow of the lava that radiated from between the cracks in the ground would have provided more than enough light to navigate by.
Lailokken took one last glance behind him and peered into the large cavern. Abstract curtain walls that had been formed previously by cooling lava flows, did little now to protect a makeshift path that led back to the center of the main chamber. Lava from the molten core was rising and spilling into every crevasse. Lailokken hesitated for a moment; wondering if he would make it out alive. The determined Orc turned and rushed down the tunnel.. it was now a race against time.
Edited by Lailokken, 12 April 2013 - 09:03 PM.