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AAwkid's steps were thoughtfully placed but he had no obvious plan. His clay arm was useless to him and his opponent sensed his hesitation to strike first. Du'gar's cloudy eyes blinked twice before his gullet expanded with a gurgling croak. The air was uncomfortably thick as Balamor took a chattering breath. Du’gar leaped forward and slashed at Awkid with his rusty curved blades. But Awkids steps were clearly calculated and took the frog prince by surprise. A second and third attempt failed and the famed warrior’s eyes twitched. His slimy mouth puckered in frustration with each sly maneuver Awkid made. The dwarf glanced back as he moved closer to the edge of the murky pond.

The old battleaxe was only feet away with its cloth bound hilt sticking out of the water. The gripping tension was suddenly broken when a distant yell resonated through the quiet swamp, but the words were smothered by the fog. Du’gar diverted his attention toward the noise when Awkid quickly made a dash for his weapon. The water thrashed as the dwarf clutched the war torn hilt of the axe with his wrapped hand and lunged it towards Du’gar. Balamor heard the blade part the thick air before it ended in an abrupt pop. The old axe collided with the ground and broke apart. Dark blood spewed across the ground from Du’gar’s right arm, beneath him his webbed hand — now departed clean from the wrist — twitched with the crescent blade in its grasp.

A split second of silence was followed by a tremendous roar. Du’gar slashed wildly at Awkid with his remaining blade but Awkid parried the heavy strikes with the broken handle of his axe. Wood fragments chipped away revealing a fresh red layer of oak beneath. The mad frog man battled back and forth with the cursed dwarf. His exposed wrist gushed tar like blood across the swamp as he hacked through dead brush with each failed attempt. The fight tired Awkid’s legs and turned his clever footwork into a breathless stagger. He stumbled by the blind prince and out of the littered water, his lungs fed the fiery pit within his chest. He fell to his knee and shrieked in pain as Du’gar twisted his slimy figure to face the dwarf and walked towards him The black scab that formed over his wrist started to bulge and crack apart. A nascent hand slowly broke through, trembling and covered in a thick iridescent slime — it’s pale skin began to harden. After three earth shaking strides Awkid’s exhausted body stood up and held the whittled axe handle in front of him.

Du’gar quickly slashed the weapon from the dwarf’s weary grip and lifted him from the ground. His lips curled into a disgusting grin as he flipped his blade slyly in his left hand. Rage ran through his eyes and into his vile words.

“It would leave a bad taste in my mouth.” He said before jabbing the crescent blade through Awkid’s stomach.

Balamor couldn’t speak, he wanted to scream but the fear in his gut pushed him deeper into the swamp. He took several shaken steps back before crouching up against the foot of a twisted tree where a patch of the strange glowing mushrooms shined. He watched Awkid's mouth gape with blood, each slight effort for breath was a gurgling struggle. Even from far he could see disdain in Awkid's eyes. Du’gar snickered before tossing the limp body of his opponent into the water. A large splash consumed the dwarf and the strength that defined his character vanquished. Balamor’s eyes began to well up as he fought with himself over what he felt was now naive aspirations. The closer he was to his destination the worse the toll it took on his mind, and now on the lives of others. Hobbits, they're not meant for this world, not for this type of burden. He couldn't think of anything else. Awkid couldn't win, not without that crazy old man, whoever he was. It didn't matter. There was no chance he would amount to someone like that man. All he could muster was cowardice and far-fetched imaginations.

The End

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