The sun was cheerful, the sky was full of clouds, and the birds sang out through the forest.
None of it matched the old man’s mood.
He stomped up the path of the tree-filled vale, muttering to himself, and spearing his walking stick into the ground with each step. He ignored the balmy feel of the warm day on his skin, he ignored the faint scent of spring wildflowers, and he ignored the swish of old leaves around his ankles. Despite the calming beauty of the woodlands around him, he knew he was about to face a situation that called for focus, and courage, and righteous anger. He followed the path towards the edge of the woods until he saw an opening between the trees, and in the sunny clearing beyond, he got his first glimpse of the hill.
The hill from his dream.
The green mound stood stark against the blue sky, like the upper half of some monstrous egg. A light breeze sent waving ripples of grass chasing after one another, over the hill’s surface and across the clearing. To the old man’s eye, the hill was too round, too symmetrical, too unnatural. Just as strange in real life as it had been in his dream. It caused him to shudder, but he shook it off. Now was not the time for nervousness; it was the time for daring. He squared his narrow shoulders and burst out of the shade of the trees, scanning the clearing for what his dream had shown him he would find. Aged though they were, his eyes were still sharp, and they locked onto the creatures instantly.
They were Duergarr, dark-skinned dwarves, and there were two of them.