Kruzz still held the bloody spear in his hands. He was one of the few broods that had gotten away with the mothers. Kruzz and some of the other fifteen year old brothers and sisters had banded together to stop the humans, but they hadn't been able to hold long. Most of them died.
Kruzz could still hear them scream in pain. He could see the dead look in their eyes. Just like he could see and hear the humans dying at the tip of his spear. He had killed two of them with the help of his brothers and sisters. And he had wounded a third on his own. That's when this little brood came and told them all to run. He said Grim was fighting off the humans. That he had already killed four and was going to stop the humans from following them.
Four. Grim had already killed four and had held out long enough for them to escape. He must have killed at least three times as many while he held the humans off. He had come after them galloping on a horse. He must have killed the rider. He was bleeding from several wounds, but he had made it back and had made sure that the humans didn't follow.
Grim was a true grunt. All grown up and strong. Kruzz wanted to become just like him. In less than a year he would be allowed to go on the Hunt to prove his strength. He had already killed today, but the elders probably wouldn't accept that as proof. They would say that he was still too young.
"Kruzz? Are you alright?" Reeba, one of the mothers, came up to him. "Come on my little broodling, give me that spear and go wash yourself."
"I'm not a little broodling anymore." Kruzz answered. "I'm almost a full grown grunt. I killed humans today. I'm strong, just like Grim!"
"That you are. But why don't you humor an old mother and get yourself cleaned up. Now give me the spear."
He gingerly handed her the spear. "Can I keep it? Can you keep it somewhere for when I go on the hunt?"
"Yes, dear. After you've cleaned yourself, we can clean the spear together. I will talk with Worg. I'm sure he'll allow you to have a spear of your own. You are strong after all and you protected us." She took the spear. Then she petted his head and sighed, as mothers do.
Kruzz went to the river to clean up. His hands were coated in dried blood and little droplets marked his face as well. He was excited. Reeba was going to tell Worg, the settlement Elder, that he could have his own spear. His very own spear that he had already killed with. He was truly becoming a grunt.
Refreshed and clean, Kruzz strode back into the work camp in front of the mines. When he passed one of the huts he heard raised voices and couldn't resist. He was sure that the Elder and other grunts were discussing the attack on the settlement. Kruzz hid behind the hut and tried to listen in.
"I still can't believe it! Why would the humans attack us without warning? Have they no honor?" that was Worg the Elder. Kruzz could tell by his old and frail sounding voice.
"I don't know, Worg. I can only tell you what happened. I could tell that some were honorable in the way they fought, but others tried to gang up on me. Whoever gave the order to attack though, he had no honor. That I am sure of." Grim's voice was loud and forceful in comparison with the Elder.
"Honor or not, we cannot just let them do as they please. We have to respond. Send word to the clans nearest to us. They need to know what happened."
"What about the humans in our settlement? We can strike back, take what is ours. Avenge the slain. Let me lead us into the fray and let us kill some humans." Many of the other grunts roared their approval, but not all agreed with him.
"Pah! You lead us, Grim? I think not!" Kruzz didn't recognize the grunt's voice. "You may have proven your strength against those humans today, but you know nothing of leading. You know nothing of responsibility. We cannot trust you to lead, just like we cannot trust you to work. Follow me brethren. And we will slaughter those humans and stick their heads on pikes. They will not dare fight us again."
"How dare you..." Grim started, but was cut off by the Elder.
"Hush, you two! We will not strike now. We don't know how many humans there are and our numbers are small. You are right of course, we will need a strong leader in case of a fight. And Grim, I'm sorry, but Traglok is right. You are strong, but not a leader. Traglok is the head miner, so he should lead us in battle as well. In the meantime, I am still the Elder and I decide what to do." He paused, as if in thought. Kruzz listened in anticipation. What would he decide? "We have to leave the mines. We could defend them, but it might cost us our lives. We will have to ask for asylum in one of the clans nearby. Prepare to leave within the next three hours. We have a long way ahead of us."