Zir sighed as he looked up the rocky hill. The trek to the Brogdah Clan was always a tiresome one. He could of course take a detour around the hill, but it would take a lot more time. He did not want to shy away from the obstacles nature put before him.
He took his firsts steps up the hill. Small rocks dug into the callouses on his feet. Uncomfortable, but no more than a slight nuisance. The wound on his foot was already healing well. The hillside gradually sloped upward, making it more difficult to walk and more necessary to climb.
Zir's hand took hold of a bad stone and it slipped from his grasp. A shower of some small and a few bigger rocks followed. They clonked off the bark on his arms and shins. A few bits landed on his head, but his thick hair cushioned the impact.
Slowly, he made progress and finally managed to reach the top of the hill. The descent wouldn't be much easier, but he would make it. Nearby, he could make out the smoke of the Brogdah settlement. It wouldn't take much longer to get there.
Zir didn't much relish the thought of talking to Gwarr. He was young and hungered for battle. It would diminish his honor to even consider peaceful actions. So why was Zir even wasting his time to go there? The same reason as always. To do nature's bidding.
As he reached the clan's boundaries he was surprised to not be overrun by the little broods. Instead, he noticed a big commotion in the center of the settlement. A big circle was made by onlookers, shouting and screaming in delight.
Zir squeezed through to watch what was happening. There was a human in the circle with a knife in hand, a giant of a man. Across from him a young grunt stood with a blade that shone brightly in the sunlight. The human was large, but he did not stand much of a chance. His small knife was nothing compared to the grunts sword.
Zir tried to shout into the masses. This wasn't a fair fight. Where was the honor in this? It was the slaughtering of a human for entertainment. He could not let this happen. He shouted and tried to squeeze through the masses, but he wasn't heard and no one would let him pass to the coveted front where it was easiest to see.
As Zir tried to get some attention, there was a loud gasp from the crowd. Zir looked up with dreaded anticipation. The grunt had charged and even though Zir had been sure that the human would be slashed down, he was wrong. The human wasn't only tall, he was strong too. He caught the grunt's sword arm in one hand and slashed across the grunt's leg with his knife.
The Orc cried out in pain and punched the human with his free hand. Zir winced as the rest of the crowd whooped in excitement. The human still stood and began to twist the grunt's sword arm. He let his knife drop and used his free hand to punch the Orc in the face. Over and over again.
The grunt swayed and dropped to the ground. The human had somehow taken his sword and was now holding it over the Orc. The sharp edge glinted in the sun as the tip came to rest on the grunt's throat. A hushed silence spread over the gathered crowd.
The human had a bloody nose from being punched, but he smiled and removed the sword from the Orc's neck. He swung the blade back and forth, testing it's balance. "I think, I'll keep this." He said in the human tongue. Then he went to the stake in the middle of the circle, rammed the sword into the ground and sat down next to it, resting his back against the pole.
Zir didn't realize how he had been holding his breath and slowly let it all out. The crowd started mumbling excitedly. Some went to help the grunt up from the ground while others just talked. No one went near the human, except for one.
Zir recognized Mexta and decided to join her. Maybe he would be able to find out what that was all about. She was kneeling next to the human, grinning. As Zir approached she looked up.
"Zir!" The smile on her face faded. "Does Gwarr know you're here?"
"Not yet." He nodded toward the human. "What was all that about, just now? I was worried the clan had become prone to public slaughtering."
The human dabbed at his bloody nose and looked up curiously. "What's he saying?"
"I wanted to know why you were fighting the grunt." Zir answered in the human tongue.
Mexta's tusks rose in a grin once more. "He just won his first fight. If he fights every day and wins then he stays alive. It's a deal I've made with Gwarr. Otherwise the Giant was going to be killed before the big battle. Human troops are already headed our way."
Zir scowled. "Sounds like there isn't much time. I better talk to Gwarr." He started walking to the elder's hut, but turned around once more. "I also don't like this whole idea of the human fighting for his life. I'll have a word with you about that later."
Mexta waved him off and he continued on his way to Gwarr's hut. He was pretty sure his talk wouldn't get him far, but he had to try. Gwarr was hungry for war and wasn't going to let an insult to the clans go by.
A big grunt stood before the elder's hut. He smiled, recognizing Zir, but for the life of him he couldn't recall the grunt's name. He stuck his head into the hut and came back out.
"Gwarr will see you." He stepped aside and held the flap open for Zir.
"Thank you." Zir entered and wasn't surprised to see Gwarr polishing his sword. He always liked to present an intimidating picture.
"Zir! You want to stop me from going to war?" He growled.
"It's not what I want. The Earth wants that. I'm only speaking on its behalf." Zir straightened his back and prepared for his speech.
"Tell me. What will happen if I don't do as you ask? If I go to battle the humans and kill them? What will nature do?" Gwarr put his sword aside and picked up an axe to clean next. His tusks widened into a grin.
The air went out of Zir. "I don't know. I just know it won't be good. Not for us and the humans as well. Not for anybody." How could he make anyone see reason if he couldn't explain the consequences. "War just isn't the answer. Do you see no other way?"
Gwarr's smile wilted. He put his axe down and got up, placed his hand on Zir's shoulder. "You are wise, brother. You know many things that I do not, but you have also forgotten things that I have not. We are Orcs and if there is one thing we are good at, one thing that we were meant to do. It is war."