Reeba had spoken to Worg as promised. The Elder was impressed with Kruzz's fighting ability that he had proven against the humans, but he also said that they must follow traditions. Only a grunt should wield a weapon and if Kruzz wanted to be a grunt then he would have to work like one. If he were to carry the same load a grown grunt carried and did not complain, making it all the way to the Turak Clan's settlement then he would be allowed to go on the Hunt. He'd be one of the youngest grunts to do so in living history.
Kruzz wasn't sure if Worg wanted him to pass this trial or not. It was a very heavy load, but not the heaviest. Grim's load must have been twice as heavy and the blacksmith, Ragnur, carried three packs, all as big as Kruzz's and he had a very large sword slung over his back as well. Kruzz wanted to become just as strong as them. He wanted to be a grown grunt and prove his strength. That was why he didn't complain, even though his back ached and he felt like he could not go another step.
Grim was still hurt from the fight against the humans, so even though he insisted on carrying more than others, he was going slow. He and Kruzz ended up going at about the same speed and Kruzz used Grim's presence and display of strength as motivation. He kept him going.
It didn't take Grim long to notice Kruzz staring at him while they traveled and on the second day he spoke to him. "So, I hear you want to go on the Hunt. You can't have seen more then fourteen summers. You sure you're up to it." He smiled with his big tusks sticking out.
"Fifteen!" Kruzz declared proudly, wanting to seem tough. "I've seen fifteen summers and I killed humans during the attack."
"And you think that makes you a grunt, do you?" Grim was still smiling. Kruzz began to worry that it wasn't a friendly smile, but more of a humored smile. As if Grim was making fun of him.
"It doesn't make me grown up, but it proves my strength and the Elder has given me this trial to see if I am up to the task. He will let me go on the Hunt once we arrive the settlement, if I make it on my own. I will not disappoint him. I will prove my strength." That would show Grim that he was serious.
Grim scrutinized him, looking him up and down. His smile had faded and then he suddenly burst out laughing. "I like you, broodling. I really do. And I'm excited to see you go on the Hunt. I'm sure you will soon." He gave Kruzz a hefty pat on the back, which almost made him fall.
After that Grim and he talked more often. Sometimes while walking, sometimes when they made camp in the evenings. Kruzz was starting to feel like he was already one of the others. A grunt. The others didn't speak to him like Grim did. Traglok and Ragnur didn't even look at him, as if he were just another broodling not worth their time.
Two more days of traveling and they finally arrived at the Turak Clan settlement. They were greeted with mixed welcomes. Kruzz's clan, the Griklog, was relatively new founded. The broodlings were only of the second generation. The first generation having joined together out of volunteers or castoffs. Some may have originally come from the Turak.
Kruzz dropped off his pack with the others. The mothers would sort through their food and equipment and would begin building up their own little camp within the Turak settlement. As other grunts started moving through the settlement, greeting Orcs they knew and introducing themselves to others, Kruzz decided to do the same.
That was his plan at least, until he got distracted. There was a gathering of Orcs near the edge of the settlement. A target was displayed more than fifty feet away. One Orc was surrounded by the others and he held a bow. He was knocking an arrow and took his aim. The tension was high as everyone watched. He let the arrow fly and everyone cheered when it hit the target.
"Roah!" Ragnur showed up behind Kruzz, shoving him aside, roaring with rage. He stepped into the mass of Orcs. "Dax! I challenge you! Lay down that piece of wood with string and fight me with a real weapon!" Ragnur pulled his large sword from his back. The blade was as wide as a cleaver and almost as long as Kruzz was tall. "I made this for you. So that I could split your head with it!"
Dax, who everyone had watched shooting his bow, turned to face his challenger. His tusks twisted into a grin. "Rag! I haven't seen you in years. I heard you were coming back. Welcome!"
"Don't call me that you useless heap of an Orc. Do you accept my challenge or not? Answer me or I'll cut you in half where you stand." Ragnur was seething, weapon in hand, ready to strike at a moments notice.
Dax seemed more amused than threatened and took his time pondering the threat. Which only made Ragnur madder. "I accept! But not today. I'm sure you and your clan are tired after traveling. Today is a day to celebrate our coming together not a day of mourning a death. Tomorrow we can fight." Kruzz thought Dax had a weird way of speaking, it sounded so formal, not blunt the way other Orcs spoke.
"Raaarrr!" Ragnur turned his back on the crowd and stamped off. Kruzz didn't quite understand what was going on. What had Dax done to Ragnur that made him so mad? But he didn't get a chance to find out. Reeba was standing next to him. She must have witnessed the confrontation and had gotten distracted. Now that the tension was gone she turned to him.
"Kruzz, the Elder wants to speak with you. You have proven your strength twice over. He will tell you when it is time to go on the Hunt."