Chapter 15: Prisoner of War
It was a hot summer morning and the sun was up in the sky, warming the plants and animals inside the forrest. The birds were singing in the trees and the deer were eating the plentiful grass in the ground. A warm campfire was lit in the middle of a clearing. Nasuada heard a sound and looked at the clear sky, as a red spot appeared in it. The spot became larger and larger until it took a form of a huge red dragon. On the dragon's back, sat the person who she wanted above all others to be with, Murtagh. He smiled at Nasuada's bewildered expression and when the dragon landed, he dropped on the ground. Nasuada went a few steps backward, fearing what the dragon would do. Murtagh walked confidently towards Nasuada. He wore a red shirt that matched his dragon's scales and brown leather pants. He had an air of authority and his red sword Zarroc hanged from his hip. Nasuada ran towards him and hugged him as he kissed her. They talked for a while about various subjects and then Murtagh smiled. It was the smile that she remembered, the smile that she wanted to see every day.
Nasuada woke up from her pleasant dream and struggled to remember what had happened. Suddenly, she remembered everything, losing her consciousness in the battle of Belatona, then being dragged inside the city and King Orrin's harsh commands. She remembered the great amount of pain she had suffered from the man who tortured her. She could still feel and see the recent results of his "care" on her skin, as large wounds covered her back and arms, and one of her fingers had been broken. Blood was still soaking her clothes. She felt her shoulders stiff from being withheld in the same position for such a long time as her arms were tied on the pole of the tent. She sighed and moaned as every movement gave her a shot of pain.
The tent was dark inside and the only light came from the slight opening of the entrance. Nasuada could hear the conversation of the guards outside, news of the war mostly, the amount of soldiers someone had killed in the battle, someone who had the misfortune of having his horse fall on him, and now could not walk and dirty jokes to pass the time. Suddenly the conversations stopped and a noise came from outside the dark tent. Nasuada knew she had a visitor. She hoped with all her being that it was not her torturer.
The entrance of the tent moved and King Orrin entered, with a big smile on his face. He was wearing a thick expensive red robe that covered most of his body and Nasuada's golden crown, which he had taken from her on his head. He looked at Nasuada with interest and his face took an expression of mock horror.
"Oh my! I will have to tell Dargun to be a bit more gentle to our guest next time. After all, we do not want you to die." Orrin said.
"What is it Orrin? Haven't you had enough gloating over your victory in Belatona? You caught us unprepared, no one believed you to be as mad to attempt such a thing" Nasuada replied harshly.
"Now, now be more gentle Nasuada, or I will have to tell our good friend to pay you a visit".
Nasuada remained silent for a bit but her eyes had a murderous look as she observed Orrin.
"That's better. You know it would be a lot easier if your thick headed friends recognized that they have no hope and surrender. Your friend Roran Stronghammer is leading the troops of Dras Leona. That arrogant fool thinks he has a chance against our army. I tried to talk some sense into him by sending a messenger but he refused to even listen to my proposition." he said with a loud voice getting angrier by the minute. He walked in the tent, around Nasuada. She tried to follow his steps and remained silent as she assessed what she had just heard.
"I told him that your fate lies in my hands and you know what he replied?" Orrin asked her.
"Judging by your mood the answer was negative" Nasusada replied.
"Indeed. But cheer up Nasuada, soon Roran and you will be together, in the same tent. Who knows? Maybe before you are both executed you can have a few tortures together." he suggested.
"The dragons and riders and elves and dwarves are coming and they will punish you for your arrogance." Nasuada said.
Orrin kicked her as Nasuada groaned in pain.
"The dragons and riders are miles away. I'd say by the time they come, the war will be over. As for the elves and dwarves...they will find a few surprises in their way..." King Orrin stated with a maniacal laugh. He had prepared some surprises for them along the way.
"They will come." Nasuada said with certainty. She wanted to look sure, she wanted to break the arrogance from king Orrin's face and make him fear for the future.
For a few moments, King Orrin remained silent and appeared thoughtful. Then he bowed at Nasuada and said
"My lady, I must go, but I would not like you to feel lonely or unwelcome. Not at all. You are our guest after all. Please excuse me." he said and as he turned he shouted the name that Nasuada feared above all else.
"Dargun!" he shouted loudly. The torturer appeared inside the tent. He was a short man with black hair and a twisted smile that made King Orrin shiver every time he looked at him. He was definitely fit for the job. He only hoped he did not show too much zeal and send Nasuada to the grave a few months earlier than planned.
King Orrin left the tent as the guards outside saluted. He liked visiting Nasuada and seeing her suffer. He had always hated her with all his being, especially after she won the war and was announced high queen, taking his rightful place. Now that she was his prisoner, her fate depended on his command and that was thrilling. But he would not make it quick for her. On the contrary, he would make sure she suffered every second of her remaining miserable life. He walked towards his tent, his bodyguards following him. A few minutes later he heard a scream from the prisoners tent and he smiled again.
As he entered the expensively designed tent, he looked at the map in front of him, that showed the two cities that he had to conquer as fast as possible. Dras Leona and Illeria. He remembered Roran's talent at leadership, especially his achievement at Aroughs and Carvahall. but also his achievement at the final battle against Galbatorix. He spat on the ground. The man was a trouble and he should have already taken care of him long before the war. He hadn't done it because that would of course bring Eragon back to Alagaesia, and above all else, he had to avoid that from happening before he was ready. When the war had started, he forgot all about Roran until now. He wished he met him in battle and put an end to him. His thoughts turned towards the dwarves, the elves and the dragons, three major obstacles he had to surpass if he wanted to win the war. He had already put his plan into action but he knew it would not be enough. He would have to think more on the subject. He opened his favorite bottle of wine and filled a large cup. He sipped on his wine, studying the map and devising strategies for the war. His eyes started closing from tiredness and from the effects of the strong wine he had consumed and soon he fell asleep on top of the map.
A shout woke him up a few hours later from a soldier and a few moments later one of his generals entered the room. He quickly apologized and said.
"Your majesty! I am sorry for interrupting but the soldiers are ready for the attack. With your permission."
King Orrin hid his annoyance and quickly lifted himself from the chair. He closed the map and hid a pile of papers in his desk. He shouted for his servant and with his help, he quickly put on his armor. With a quick move Orrin exited his tent, followed by the general and he went towards the front line of the army. Soldiers looked at him with awe and they saluted as he passed each rank. His achievement at Belatona had given him fame and he intended to use that fame for his own interests. He looked at the soldiers ready for the attack, to the city and he itched to give the order for the attack to commence. This was it, another crucial part of the war. He marveled at the assembled ranks of the army. He saw the men's faces and he realized he had to make a speech in order to increase the morale of the soldiers. His head ached from the alcohol he had consumed last night. He had finished the bottle of wine after all, even though he had promised to himself he would not. Nevertheless, he took his sword out and lifted it in the air, making the soldiers cheer.
"Soldiers of Surda! This city resists to our rightful rule. They are cowards, hiding behind walls and they refuse to accept defeat. We fight for what is rightfully ours and what was taken from us. So many years we fought alongside the Varden against king Galbatorix. What did we get in return? Why did we lose so many men and sacrificed almost everything for? We got only Feinster, a small city! Is that fair?"
"No No No No!" the soldiers shouted in reply.
"We were cheated! I told Nasuada and their allies at the end of the war but they refused to listen. Today we fight to get our rightful rewards and for the glory of Surda. Let's show them why they should fear us!" King Orrin shouted.
The soldiers shouted in return, a noise like a thunder that would strike fear to the bravest of men. Soldiers lifted their spears, banged their swords at their shields and the cavalry itched to move. King Orrin saw the reaction of the army. He looked at the walls of the city as the enemy waited. He finished his speech with one final word.
"Attack!"he shouted as the army moved forward, as one, like a giant wild beast pouncing on its prey.