Here is the final post for the Lone Wolf. The book is out! Buy it on Amazon now! Or you can find it on my website: johndpepeauthor.com.
Will Caladin defeat Gigantor and earn his spot on the orc hunt? Let’s see who wins in combat between the two.
Chapter 6- “Finding Wor…Employment”
The crowd of men roared with thunderous enthusiasm.
Gigantor immediately bull-rushed Caladin. As he charged, shoulder down, he nearly caught Caladin unaware, but Caladin side-stepped the attack at the last moment, causing Gigantor to miss. So intent on ending the fight with this one move left the big man off-balance. Caladin took advantage of his singlemindedness and provided a shove after the side-step, sending Gigantor toppling to the floor, face first.
“‘The bigger they are, the harder they fall,’ my mother always said. And being as ugly as you are, it matters not if you fall on your face.” Holding his arms out wide and playing to the crowd, Caladin teased with levity, “It certainly cannot get any worse for you with the ladies.”
The men standing around shouted encouragement for Gigantor, begging him to get up and finish Caladin. Gigantor looked up at Caladin, then reached out and firmly grabbed his weapon. Gigantor grimaced menacingly as he pulled himself out of the dirt and stalked Caladin.
Gigantor initiated the attack again. He started it with a wild arching swing but stopped it mid-way through the attack as Caladin shuffled back to avoid being hit. It was a simple feint to get Caladin to react. Gigantor, with more speed than would be expected by a man his size, twirled the club around in the air once to gain momentum, then stepped forward with his back foot and swung, this time with additional power and reach.
The move threw Caladin off. He had shuffled back to get out of the way of the initial blow but realized at the last second that Gigantor had created a ruse. The head of the mace came swooshing toward his face, and he was forced to arch his body backward in order to avoid the strike. The wind brushed his face, and he knew that his little miscalculation had nearly cost him.
Gigantor used Caladin’s lack of balance to his advantage. He let the handle of his mace swing right into his other palm. Grabbing the weapon with both hands as he deftly retracted it and swung it up and over his shoulder, attacking with a downward chop over his head. Caladin slipped to the side just in time as Gigantor’s mace smashed into the floor, sending up a cloud of dust.
Caladin hadn’t even stepped out of range of the man before the mace was out of the dirt, with Gigantor pressing the action. He swung for Caladin’s head with a backhand strike, this time putting all his weight and strength into to blow. Caladin ducked at the last second.
Gigantor had put so much power into the strike, he over compensated when he missed, exposing his back. Again, taking advantage of the big man’s miss, Caladin kicked Gigantor in his derrière, knocking him to the ground.
Caladin circled around Gigantor to make sure they were face-to-face. “Tsk-tsk,” said Caladin as he shook his index finger to-and-fro, as if he was admonishing a child. “Most unsportsman-like, good man. That was the second time you tried to remove my head from my body. I mean, this is not to the death, and if you were not so lumbering, I quite think you would have smashed my skull in with your last miss.”
Caladin turned and spoke to the group of men again, placing his finger on his chin as if he was in deep thought. “You know, I retract my last comment. I think your chances with finding female companionship diminishes with every strike you take.” Caladin turned back toward Gigantor, squatting so he was eye level with him. He placed his forearms on his thighs as he quipped, “You and the floor seem quite a pairing. Might it be love? You have kissed it on two occasions now. With a face like that, and becoming uglier by the swing, I would venture to say you have found the only thing that could love it, except maybe your mother.” He grinned.
Caladin stood up and, with great aplomb, placed his hands on the hilts of his weapons. Gigantor looked up at him from the floor, his face filled with frustration. His stare was cold. He slowly pulled himself up off the floor for the second time, gaze locked on Caladin.
The men began to chant, “Gi-gan-tor! Gi-gan-tor! Gi-gan-tor!”
Asi saw the look of death in his eyes and yelled, “No, Gigantor! It ain’t to the death!”
But Gigantor, whether because he was so intent on killing Caladin or because he couldn’t hear Asi over the chants, paid him no mind. He was transfixed on Caladin. Asi turned his head away, not wanting to see what was going to happen next.
Gigantor came at Caladin with desperate fervor, attacking from every angle—swinging with forehands, backhands, and overhand chops, perhaps hoping that his sheer size would win him the day. He put every ounce of strength into his blows, every one of them infused with anger.
Caladin easily anticipated his opponent’s attacks, ducking and dodging every strike effortlessly.
After a dozen or so missed blows, Gigantor’s breath became labored. His technique was less crisp, and his swings were slowing.
Caladin taunted, “Must be exhausting and terribly humbling not being able to hit a fancy-pants like me.” Sensing the big man was weakened, Caladin subtly placed his hand on the hilt of his rapier.
Gigantor made a forehand strike that came in a wide, lumbering arc. Caladin shuffled his feet backward and at the same time drew his rapier, so fast that no one witnessed him pull it from its scabbard.
In the next second, with exquisite precision and timing, he lunged forward and jabbed his sword into Gigantor’s right bicep as he was in mid-swing. Gigantor howled in agony. He dropped his mace and grabbed his upper arm. Caladin extricated his rapier from Gigantor’s flesh, then hauled off and kicked Gigantor between the legs to bring him down to his level. Gigantor doubled over with a yelp of pain an octave or two higher. As Gigantor was doubled over, holding his wounded arm and grunting in pain, Caladin hit him over the back of the head with the hilt of his rapier, knocking him unconscious.
The room fell silent.
Caladin slowly wiped the blade of his rapier off on the unconscious man, slid it back in its sheath, and strolled right over to Asi who appeared to be in complete shock at how easily Caladin had downed Gigantor. He presented himself, removed his wide-brimmed hat, and bowed.
“Looks as though I am the victor, and I and my cousin are now under your employment.”
Asi stared at Gigantor lying on the ground, unmoving. His eyes never left the sight of his downed champion as he responded weakly, “Yah, yah. I know.”
Caladin moved closer to Asi, encroaching upon his personal space, causing Asi to recoil, as if Caladin might hurt him in some way.
“Why do you recoil? I am no snake. I will not bite. I will only do that upon the request of a fetching lass.” He beckoned him forward with the pull of his forefinger. “Come. Come in close. I must make a request that has to do with employer-employee relations, and I’d rather not have the others hear our business.”
Asi leaned in, circumspectly.
Caladin whispered, “I could use an advance.”
With a bit of trepidation, Asi uttered, “Ain’t got it. Besides…”—he hesitated before his next words—“don’t pay you for work that ain’t been done.”
“Okay, let’s say you were to pay Gigantor”—Caladin looked at his limp body on the ground—“two gold for defeating me. Which he failed to accomplish. But, if we were to have made wagers, he was at least a two-to-one favorite over me, before the fight at any rate. Of course, at this juncture, I would get the odds, at least with this crowd. Which means that since I won, I should get four gold as I would have placed at least two coin on myself. Now, you get how much per set of orc ears?”
Asi paused looking a bit confused. “Not sure what any of what yer sayin’ has to do with an advance.”
Caladin tapped his foot on the ground and looked at Asi through a mildly furrowed brow, wanting an answer.
Asi rolled his eyes and blew out a sigh. Showing some resistance, he remained silent.
Caladin’s look did not err, and Asi finally relented. “Two silver per set of orc ears.”
“That was not my question. It shan’t go well for you if I find out your veracity is in question.
If I find out you are lying to me…” He pointed to Gigantor.
Asi blew out his air. “Okay… we get two silver for an ear and five for a pair. I pay ya two silver for each pair and keep three for myself.”
“That is not equitable, good Asi. Let us say, four silver for me, per pair, and you get one. If there is an ear left over, we will split that fifty-fifty. My cousin gets the same covenant. You can keep any bonus you get for bulk numbers. There is a bonus, correct?”
Asi looked past Caladin to the others and seeing no faces that suggested he would get any assistance from his men, he answered, “Well, yes.”
“How much pray tell? We are partners, after all.”
Asi face scrunched up, as if to say, Partners? Reluctantly Asi answered, “Two silver for every ten sets of orc ears.”
“Good. That is yours, free and clear. Now, I am so glad that our contract negotiations are out of the way; I hate the legalese. So, back to that advance. Let us say you advance me and my cousin, oh, five sets of orc ears each, which would be four gold, as well as my winnings from the bet, which would have been another four gold. Let us can make the math easy. A nice round number. Ten gold in advance for your new partner should suffice.” Caladin slapped a hand on Asi’s shoulder as he grinned widely.
Asi rubbed the back of his head then removed his purse and dug into it. He pulled out the advance, looked at Caladin, then at the coins in his hand. He closed his eyes and placed the ten gold on the table.
“You will not regret this, boss.” Caladin scooped up the coins and began to walk away. He turned back to Asi. “Please give my regards to Gigantor. He fought… well, he fought.” Caladin walked back toward the tap room as he said over his shoulder, “My cousin and I shall see you on the morrow. As soon as we get here, we shall depart.”
The room remained in complete silence. Ponen walked over to Asi and mentioned in a low voice as he looked toward the taproom, “That Fop could fight. Didn’t even ruffle that nice lookin’ feather in his hat neither.”
Asi turned a disgruntled stare upon Ponen, who never took his eyes off the taproom.
Alright. That is the last post. Hopefully you have enjoyed the story. Find out what happens to our motley cast of characters by buying The Lone Wolf on Amazon or at my website: johndpepeauthor.com. Paperback $14.99 or ebook $2.99 (Free on KU). You can contact at johndpepeauthor.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or here at godamonggeeks316.com. Thanks for reading!