The howling was the first thing he heard. Wolves? Where am I? He tried to move but a sharp pain shot through his right leg, forcing him to stop. His vision was starting to sharpen as well, but blurred shapes remained as unhelpful as pure black. The smell of damp leaves and rotting leather filled his lungs. The cave...I'm in the cave. Another howl filled the cave, bouncing off the walls and ringing in his ears. He couldn't remember his name, but he remembered enough to be afraid.
He reached up and put the palm of his right hand on the cave wall. It was cold to the touch but smooth and difficult to grasp. He managed to cling to a small ledge as he readied himself. One. Two. Three. His muscles ached and his left leg cramped almost immediately. He tried to avoid putting pressure on his right leg but his grip on the ledge failed. He felt pain he had never felt before as he crashed back to the ground. The blurred shapes turned black as his eyes closed. The sound of the wolf howling in the distance was the last thing he heard.
He woke up to the soft feel of water drops landing on his face. When he opened his eyes, he saw the clear beads falling from a small puddle of water collecting on the ceiling of the cave. His vision was in focus and what was once blurry was recognizable. He could see out through the opening in the cave and heard the sound of rain falling onto the wet ground.
When he breathed deep, his lungs no longer burned and right leg ached less. He was able to slide backward, sit up and put his back against the cave wall. Glancing at his right leg he noticed it had been bandaged, the white cloth slightly red in the place where his blood had soaked through. He looked around and saw nobody else there. "Hello?" he managed, his throat not quite ready for the word.
A high-pitched squeal made him hit the back of his head against the wall. He grabbed a pointed stick that lay next to him and pointed it tip first at the darkness around him. He could hear his heart beating in his chest so loud it felt as if the cave itself was alive with the sound of drums. Sweat mixed with water ran in streams down his face and back as he kept his arms outstretched, stick in hand.
Suddenly, he heard the muffled sound of something moving as a shadow crept along the opposite wall. "I swear to God I'll..." he threatened, eyes fixed on the shadow as it continued to move. He pulled back the stick and got ready to thrust when the rat crawled out from the shadow and past him.
The let out a loud sigh of relief as he lowered the stick to the ground. I need to get myself together. I have to figure out where I am. The cave was small, and didn't even look big enough for him to stand in without have to bend over. The mouth of it was to his right and appeared big enough for him to crawl through on his stomach. Next to hole, where the light from outside poured over the cave floor, was a small cloth pack. It was old and frayed at the edges.
Not yet ready to move, he took up the stick again and tried putting it through the strap of the pack, but it was just out of reach. Putting his weight on his right hand, he leaned the top half of his body toward the pack, stretching out his arm and trying hard not to move his right leg. Finally, after a few tries and muttered curses, he managed to put the stick through the strap and pull it back to where he sat.
As his hands moved over the cloth and undid the string that fastened it closed, he realized what it was. This is mine. I remember having this with me when I left... Remembering what he left and where he was going was still a problem.
With the pack open, he turned it upside down and spilled its contents on the floor. Among the items were a few dried pieces of deer jerky, a pair of dry socks, a broken spy glass, flint, a fur hat, a barely legible map with torn edges, and finally a sharp and well crafted dagger with a blue hilt. He ran his finger gently along the blade until he felt the cut and watched as his blood pooled and then ran down the edge of the blade. Still sharp. Everything in the pack was old, frayed, and spoiled, but the dagger appeared as if it had been sharpened only hours ago.