A crowd had gathered outside the tavern, braying for blood. In the flickering light of a host of torches two combatants readied themselves.
Closest to the tavern stood Folke, a lithe lad of sharp appearance and pale hair. A wicked sneer was plastered on his face, contempt and anger welling within him.
Across from him towered Godric, an Antalorian chieftain of ludicrous height and monstrous width. The islander loomed over Folke, two heads taller and easily twice the weight. Most formidable of all was his sword; five feet of chipped steel at the end of a double-handed grip. Godric made it look like a dagger.
Folke’s grip tightened on his own weapon, a modest blade of humble size. The sword had never let him down, and its edge was as keen as the day it was forged. The weight assured him, yet doubt began to creep into his mind.
“Last chance boy!” Godric bellowed, “pay off my tab and I’ll let your little insults slide.”
Folke fumed. “I don’t know about you island dwellers,” he quipped, “but we Fjenlanders don’t like to worm our way out of a scrap.”
Godric chuckled. “You got guts, boy,” he hummed, raising his blade. “Let’s see if your sword can back up your talk.”
The behemoth held his blade high, point aimed squarely at Folke, and stepped forward. Folke readied his blade in turn, adopting a low guard. The two circled each other methodically, the cheering crowd fading into the background.
Folke was the first to strike. Lunging, he made a cut for Godric’s unprotected torso. But his blade met naught but air, the giant rotating on his back foot and stepping out of harms way. Godric turned his sword and swung at Folke as he wheeled.
The lad ducked, Godric’s blade whistling inches from his head. He rolled to his side, then scrambled to his feet.
The giant laughed heartily, his blade lowered as Folke stumbled. “Come now boy,” he chortled, “there’s got to be some bite behind that bark of yours.”
Folke spat, raising his sword. Godric followed suit, adopting the same guard as he did before. Again, Folke charged the giant, fire filling him. He swung at Godric with reckless abandon, forcing the chieftain to drop his blade and parry Folke’s strike.
Godric’s weapon out of the way, Folke barged into the islander shoulder first. The stupendous momentum of his charge toppled the brute, and the two went crashing to the loamy earth. Both Folke’s and Godric’s blades sunk deep into the soft soil, and were ripped from their master’s hands.
Folke rolled away from Godric, rising to his knees just out of the giants reach. The islander was sprawled on his back, scanning for his weapon. He rolled to his front and reached for his entrapped blade.
Folke didn’t give the islander the chance to recover his sword. In an instant the lad’s fist collided with Godric’s face, splitting the monster’s brow. Godric was oblivious to the wound, and brought his hand down with earth-shattering force. The islander’s meaty fist smashed into Folke’s nose, sending the boy flying.
Folke clumsily recovered, his world hazy. Before he knew it Godric had his hands wrapped around his neck, pinning him to the dirt.
Folke’s vision cleared, filled with Godric’s hulking visage and cruel smile. The islander’s eyes burned with murderous intent, and Folke felt the giant’s grip tighten.
His windpipe clamped shut, Folke grasped at his belt. There his fingers locked onto the leather-bound grip of his eating knife.
In one swift motion, Folke jabbed his knife into Godric’s temple. Shock crossed his face, the fire in his eyes all but extinguished. The giant’s grip slackened as he fell forward, smothering Folke with his bulk. Folke could feel his ribs creak under the immense weight of the dead islander, his straining lungs unable to take a desperate breath.
Folke felt the leviathan bulk of Godric lifted from him. The lad inhaled deeply, the taste of copper heavy on his tongue. He felt himself hoisted upwards as he was grabbed under his arms. In a daze he looked around, and found himself surrounded by a horde of cheering tavern-goers. A pair of patrons had lifted Folke from the dirt and now pulled him towards the inn.
Many patrons congratulated Folke as he was hauled inside, addressing him as “giantslayer” and promising him as much ale as he could stomach. And though his head ached, he found himself unable to turn down the offer.