Skard twisted his hands around the hilt of his battle axe. Today was the day. His day to prove himself. He would succeed where the others had failed. Every day, since the Brogdah Clan went to march to war, one of the younger grunts had to challenge the Giant. And every day the human won.
Not today though. Today Skard had challenged him and he was going to beat him. He was sure of it. He heaved the axe onto the plate mail on his shoulder. He was more used to wearing a leather jerkin, but a chain mail vest and plated shoulder pads and bracers were the safer choice, considering the longsword the Giant had taken from Borkin.
After every fight the Giant claimed whatever he had managed to take from you. He now had a longsword, a leather cap, an iron gauntlet and a shield. With every day and every fight he became more daunting as an opponent, but Skard wouldn't let himself be intimidated. There was no way the Giant would be taking his beloved battle axe.
"You ready, youngin'?" Mexta stood between him and the Giant. A crowd had gathered, building a circular fighting pit around them. Everyone was excited to watch the daily spectacle before they had to pack up and go back on the march. Even Elder Gwarr was among the viewers, although he didn't look pleased.
The rising sun glinted off the sharpened edge of Skard's axe. He scrunched up his face and snarled at the Giant. The human didn't react. He had a solemn look, but there was a glint in his eye that spoke of wildness. He would do whatever he had to to survive.
Skard didn't have to worry about his own survival. Mexta's deal with the Giant was that each fight could be his last. Every grunt had the right to kill him. He on the other hand had to beat his opponent and leave him alive. If he killed anyone it would be his own death sentence.
Skard stuck out his tusks in a wide grin. He had studied the Giant in each fight and knew his strategy. He was always defensive and careful. He waited for the grunts to strike first and then when they gave him an opening he would defeat them. Skard wouldn't let it get that far.
Mexta roared for attention and signaled for the fight to begin. Skard was overcome with yearning for glory and charged with determination. He'd attack the Giant so fast he wouldn't have time to look for an opening.
His feet stomped the ground, his muscles burned and his eyes widened as he saw the Giant do the same. Too many thoughts raced through Skard's mind to follow. The Giant never charged, why was he doing it now? The whole clan is watching. Should he stop or try to evade the human? He had to win.
His thoughts didn't matter. There was no more time to react and the two heavy combatants screamed for blood as they clashed together. Skard swung his axe, wedging it into the Giant's shield, his feet carrying him onward. The Giant delivered a painful blow to Skard's head with the flat side of his sword as his own strides brought him crashing into the grunt.
Both were knocked to the ground in a tangled heap. Skard had lost hold of his axe and a long gash over his left ear was gushing blood. The Giant struggled with the straps of the now broken shield. The crowd erupted in a bloodthirsty uproar.
Skard was half blinded by the blood covering his eye. This was not going as he had planned. He wanted to think about what to do next, but his body was forced to react on instinct as the Giant once again lashed out with his sword. The thick metal of his bracer blocked the flat side of the blade just in time to stop the blade from knocking him senseless.
His legs were still tangled with those of the Giant and he kicked him where it hurt. The human howled with pain and swung his sword anew. This time with the sharp edge coming dangerously close to cutting off Skard's hand below the bracer.
Luckily, he rolled to his right and the blade only scraped across one of his shoulder pads. The onlookers howled in outrage while others grunted in excitement. They were enjoying the show while dread started to sink into Skard's stomach.
He scrabbled away from the Giant on all fours and managed to get his hand on his axe once again. He turned just in time to see the human get up and swing his blade downward. It caught on the haft of the axe as Skard lay on his back and held the weapon above him with both hands.
With a twist he made the Giant's sword slide off to the side and the human went off balance. Quickly Skard got up onto his feet. Breath rushed in and out of his lungs. This was his moment. This was his chance. He heaved the axe up over his head and brought it down with a crushing blow.
The Giant dashed forward, under the falling axe. With all his weight he rammed into Skard and lifted him off the ground. Together they came crashing down, the axe falling from Skard's hands and his breath bursting out of him.
When he came to, he was on the hard packed earth. The crowd was a loud incoherent jumble all around him. He could only see through his right eye. The Giant stood over him, a smile on his bloody lips. Skard's beloved axe in the human's hands, the sharp edge hovering over his neck. The fight was over. Skard had lost.