"Why don't you finally just get up and fight?" Mexta held out a bowl of gruel to the Giant's face so that he could eat out of it. "I mean, why go on living for a few more days. Maybe a week. You know your fate. Why not just snap that rope and fight? Die with honor."
The Giant ate greedily and swallowed the moist paste with difficulty. He licked some bits from his dry lips and looked up to her. "I'd rather not die at all. I still have something worth living for."
Mexta let out a bark of laughter. "You still have hope in your survival? You think you can escape?"
The Giant dropped his head. He knew that his chances were close to zero. She could tell. But he still didn't give up. He would still try if he got the chance. "Let's say you make it out of the settlement. I'll follow you and bring two grunts with me. We track you and catch up. What would you do then? Would you fight to get away or would you give up and let yourself be dragged back here?"
He lifted his head, jaw clamped shut. His eyes were aflame with hatred. He still had some fight in him. She had hoped for that. It was just slumbering under a layer of doing what was necessary to survive. She would rattle him further until it was finally awakened.
Mexta drew a knife from her belt and cut her thumb. Blood began to well up and she smeared it on the Giant's face. He tried to lean away and she slapped him for it. He hung limp, taking the beating and not the bait. He wouldn't fight her yet.
The fire that burned within the Giant, the sheer force of brutality which he fought with was something she respected. She wanted the warrior inside of him to come back to the surface and she wanted to beat him. She would have to wait.
She got up and went to Gwarr's hut. The sun was setting and he would be waiting for her. Brock was on guard duty in front of Gwarr's hut. It wasn't that they were afraid of someone coming to harm their elder, the guard was rather a protection from unwanted visitors. If Gwarr were in danger he would probably knock Brock aside to fight his foe himself.
Brock wasn't the sharpest weapon in the armory, but he was tall and strong. Intimidating to most, but not to Mexta. He smiled with his big tusks thrusting out of his mouth and nodded that Gwarr was inside.
She entered the hut and saw Gwarr studying a map he was holding in his hands. He looked up briefly with a scowl on his face. That's what it would look like to most, but she saw a slight spark in his eye. That was the only kind of smile you could expect to get from him.
"You were with him again, weren't you?" Gwarr murmured as he resumed his work.
"Yes." Mexta stepped up next to him, her shoulder touching his. "I think it won't be long before the Giant bites. He still has hope of living. That will make him desperate"
"Well, he won't live long. Scouts have reported that the human army is already on its way. This," he jabbed a finger at a large field on the map. "is where I want to do battle. We'll be marching in two days. If that Giant of yours doesn't fight until then he will be executed before the battle."
"And if he does fight he will die before then." Mexta grinned. "Is there anything else you wanted?" She turned to leave.
Gwarr's hand flashed out to grab her wrist and he pulled her towards him. She could feel his hot breath on her cheeks. His face was only inches away. "How much longer do you want to keep this up? I want you!"
She leaned in towards him. Lips about to touch. Her hand shot up to grab one of his tusks and pull him towards her, giving him a massive headbutt. It hurt, but the stunned look on his face was priceless. "I'm a fury through and through. Claim me and I'll gut you like a fish and I'll use your tusks as toothpicks."
She turned and exited the hut, her cheeks flushed and a smile on her face. If she wasn't mistaken she had even seen a hint of a smile on Gwarr's lips before she left. That would have been a first. She strode past Brock too flustered to even say a plain goodnight.
Gwarr was the greatest warrior she knew. The youngest elder of any of the surrounding clans. He would be an excellent mate indeed. One day she might consider becoming a mother, but not anytime soon. The excitement of battle was too precious to leave behind.
In the mean time she would focus her energy on the Giant. At first, she didn't understand him and always expected him to fight at any moment. She would have torn the rope days ago and would have fought and killed until defeated. He didn't do that though and it looked like he wouldn't fight at all. Everyone from the Brogdah Clan thought so.
Mexta had tested him often. Trying to find the right way to challenge him. He always surprised her by not taking the bait. Their talk earlier however, had led to a new discovery and a new challenge. After she hit him, even though he probably didn't notice right away, she had dropped her knife.
To her dismay, when she neared the center of the settlement, the Giant was still there, tied to the stake. She was so sure that he would try to escape. Was he a coward to not take the chance or was he sensing a trap? She didn't know.
The sun had set and the settlement was only lit by torches here and there. The stake where the Giant was bound was mostly dark. Mexta was only a few feet away and he wasn't moving. He was already asleep.
Well, if he wasn't going to take his chance, she might as well get her knife back. She bent down to look for it in the semidarkness. It was hard to see with the flickering of torchlight so far away. She searched the ground where she knew the knife should be, but couldn't find it.
Mexta lifted her head to look at the Giant and saw a smile on his cracked lips. His wrists were free from the rope, her knife was in his hand. "I thought about killing you just now." He flipped the knife and caught the blade, offering her the hilt. "But what good would it do me? You're the only one keeping me alive. If I were to escape your clan would follow and kill me. I want to live. So how do I do that?"
Mexta snatched the blade from him, her mouth dry, but her heartbeat eerily calm. He could have killed her without a second thought, but he didn't. She gave him a toothy grin. "You have to make yourself invaluable." She offered him the knife back. "You'll need this and will have to do exactly as I say."