Let us tell you a tale.
≈ VI ≈
v. The Quest For Hearthstone
After having seen nothing and no one for days in this forgotten part of the world, his heart leapt. But the flame shone its light from many dark leagues away, and he knew he could not make it to its source at night.
So he struck his flint, made a fire that cast its light high and far, and slept a fitful sleep until the sun rose behind the slate grey cloud cover. There was no sun to be seen, but it was light, and he struck our at a faster pace than he had his entire journey, gnawing belly pains and parched throat not slowing his anticipation.
It was nearing dark again by the time he reached the source of the flame. As he neared the bright spot in the endless woods, he saw the first signs of life that he had seen since the shining elven cities and the eyes in the darkness. But it was not life, not anymore.
Great stone walls with broken rooms, threaded by petrified tree roots stood sentinel among the surround forests structures so old that they were crumbling ruins even in this young time of the world. He followed the bright edges around the maze of tall stone walls until his path dumped him out in the open glade in the center of the ruins.
On a short rocky pedestal rested a perfectly round and smooth orb. It could have been a fire opal, had the flames inside not been dancing for him.
And if precious stones the size of horse's heads were abundant in the realm, surely he would have heard tell of such a thing in his travels.