Bodan vs Aurelius
The odds were set and the bets taken. As far as the crowd was concerned, the outcome of this battle was a foregone conclusion.
Bodan was a good head taller and at least twenty years younger. Better yet, he had claimed scores of Black-cloak lives and no one had reason to doubt him.
His opponent: Aurelius, was already in his middle years and the many scars he carried couldn’t disguise the age lines he wore.
They stood facing each other while the crowd cheered and heckled in turn. All of the crowd except Aurelius’ band of twenty-nine men.
Including Aurelius, that made thirty men. The exact limit placed upon the orcs by Thereanthor herself.
Any more and he would be breaking her laws but as it was, he was thumbing his snout at her.
His men were obviously behind their leader but they merely watched. Silently willing their commander to win.
The bell clanged a single note and before the reverberation had started to fade, Bodan had already lunged forward, slicing down with his mighty two-handed Great-axe.
Aurelius blocked with his shield and moved, countering when able.
He was noticeably staggered under the relentless blows but he kept his head and stubbornly stayed on his feet.
Bodan on the other hand, was ferocious but seemed indifferent to his own defence.
Slowly the small cuts inflicted by Aurelius mounted up.
Worse, after a few minutes, Bodan seemed to stumble, as if afflicted by some inner conflict.
Some inner weakness.
Sensing his opportunity, Aurelius switched from defensive to an aggressive stance. Forcing the surprised Boden back towards the spiked outer ring.
Despite the sudden pain in his stomach, the giant orc battled on and the crowd could see the anger and confusion in his face.
Eventually though, Bodan was felled, not by Aurelius’ sword but by a deft shield blow to the side of his opponents head.
Bodan went down, stunned.
Aurelius stepped over the prone body and raised his sword high for the killing blow…
Some of the audience gasped.
Some of them roared and urged Aurelius to land the deathblow.
Instead, after a moment, the older of the combatants sheathed his sword and proffered his hand to the massive orc looking defiantly up at him.
Bodan looked suspicious but then accepted it.
Hefting the larger orc to his feet, Aurelius faced the crowd.
‘I have defeated Bodan but do not misjudge him. He is still a greater warrior than I.’
The baying of the crowd slowly abated and Aurelius continued.
‘I was victorious because Bodan gave no thought to his own mortality. He is a true orc hero and, should I win the next battle to become chief of the Broken lancers, he will stand at my side; an honoured General. He will lead our army and remind me that Gruumsh awaits all brave orcs.’
Boden looked down on his opponent with an expression of momentary confusion. After a few seconds though, he smiled and looked up at the mass of orcan faces around him.
He raised Aurelius’ right hand and shouted to all that could hear him…
‘Cheer for Aurelius! Cheer for the only orc to best me since my father’
The crowd roared their approval as Aurelius and Bodan clasped each other’s hands in friendship.