Chapter 22: Oath
The city of Teirm which had seemed so empty and dead a few minutes ago sprang to life in mere seconds as the clash of swords and the sounds of shouting could be heard in the night. The first drops of snow had started to fall from the sky and the destroyed houses and trees inside the city were slowly getting covered by a thick white layer of snow. Salador ran through the destroyed gate, anxious to find Alaina as soon as possible to help her. A roar from Arget, Alaina's dragon sounded and he felt the ground tremble as small pebbles fell from the destroyed buildings around him. A blast of heat almost burned him as silver flames from Alaina's dragon almost hit him as her intended target dodged the attack. At the last moment, his wards against magic protected him and the flames passed harmlessly around him.
"Sorry" he heard Arget apologizing and Salador recovered from his shock stopped running to assess the situation. He saw Gadaroth fly above him towards the sight of Alaina fighting. A man with a deathly pale face and blood red eyes was fighting Alaina. He had a long beard and his dark cloak covered his body almost entirely. His silver-black sword flashed faster than the eye could see as he searched for an opening in Alaina's defense, but her light quick elven speed prevented him from injuring her.
"A shade" Salador thought, afraid and not for the last time, he wished Eragon was there to help them. He saw Arget and Gadaroth both breathing fire at the shade as he tried to avoid a blow from Lilliä, the sword of Alaina. Suddenly they all froze in their places, trying to gain control of each others minds, locked in a mental struggle. None of the four could move an inch but Salador was free from the shade's control. Perhaps he had not seen him yet, a mistake that Salador was more than willing to correct. He unsheathed his sword and slowly and stealthily he crept towards the shade unnoticed. He hid behind a ruined column of a house for a few seconds, and then lifted himself from the ground and attacked the shade. Salador made a sound of surprise as an inch from the shade's body, Nätt raseri, his sword stopped, unable to continue, but the distraction had been enough for Alaina and the dragons to move in an effort to attack the shade.
"What a pleasure it is to fight such skilled warriors." the shade said ironically with a smile as he kept fighting in the mental struggle. Salador despaired as for every thought he pinned down and stopped, a hundred more rose, as if he was fighting many people at once. He saw the same despair mirrored in the eyes of Alaina. Time passed slowly in their silent struggle. The shade incapacitated Salador making him unable to move. Gadaroth roared his anger as they had been unable to defeat the shade and slammed his tail on the ground near it making the ground tremble and creating a large gash on the floor. The shade dodged the attack and the momentary release from the shade's hold gave the opportunity to Salador and Alaina to fall back, away for the shade.
"Magic is our only chance" Salador thought and Gadaroth agreed with a nod.
"Surrender to me and you shall live to see another day" the shade said maliciously but Alaina and Salador only intensified their efforts.
"Letta!" he shouted in the ancient language trying to bind the shade in place long enough for them to make a mortal strike at the heart of the shade.
To the surprise of Salador the shade countered the spell wordlessly and created a blast of fire which hit Salador on the stomach knocking him on the ground. His wards had protected him from the fire damage but the attack had been powerful. He had heard Eragon talk about wordless spells but he had stated that they are very dangerous not to be trifled with and needed a great amount of concentration to perform. Yet the shade made a series of wild magic attacks against him and Alaina and all Salador could do was block them and dodge the black silver sword that aimed to behead him.
"Enough games!" Gadaroth stated and with a pounce and a roar he attacked the shade trying to stamp on it and scratch it and bite it. He breathed fire on the shade, hot enough to melt iron. For a few seconds all Salador could see was a large mass of yellow. He heard a cry from the shade and the next second he saw his dragon get pushed in the air as if it was lighter than a pillow and hitting the ground with enough force to break his spine. A building nearby collapsed and a cloud of dust filled the air.
"Gadaroth!" Salador shouted.
The shade lifted itself from the ground with a furious expression its red eyes burning with hatred for the dragon. His deathly white face had been scratched and three large gashes had appeared on its face that oozed dark red tainted blood.
With a sudden motion he attacked Alaina faster than the eye could see but his sword was blocked at the last moment, despite her elven speed. Alaina countered with a motion on the left side of the shade and pirouetted in the air but she missed her target and the shade slashed her on her body, dropping her to the ground motionless.
Salador looked on in horror, feeling a stab of pain in his heart, rage consuming him and controlling his every move. He attacked the shade with all his might, his sword shining in the sun, every move as fast and as unpredictable as the next but his sword was always meeting the sword of the shade. He attacked once more with a shout.
"Push" he said as the shade stumbled away from his partner of heart and mind. Arget was also attacking the shade and in another attack the shade incapacitated them again, making them unable to move. The standoff would have kept going but Arget finally managed to free enough of her mind to yell.
"Go! I will stay with Alaina to protect her. Find help!" she said as she saw Alaina lying on the floor injured.
Salador refused instantly unable to bring himself to leave the woman he loved behind on the battlefield unprotected. However he realized that the more he waited the more likely it would be they would all be captured or killed by the shade. Still he was unable to make himself to leave.
Finally Gadaroth with an enormous effort of will made himself move and grabbed Salador in his talons before flying away from the accursed ruined city and their enemy. He roared his frustration and sadness in the air and a reply could be heard before a series of roars and hits could be heard. The roars ended and Salador saw why as she shade was aiming his sword at Alaina.
"After all this you run away from me Dragon Rider!" the shade shouted in hatred.
"My name is Salador and I am a student of Eragon Shadeslayer, Kingkiller. "
"A strong name for someone who has trained weaklings. What shades has he killed and what kings has he killed?" the shade shouted back.
"He killed the king Galbatorix and he killed the Shade Durza as he will kill you when this is over! I take this oath today, Shade, that I will not rest until your beating heart has been stabbed by his sword. This was just the beginning.!" Salador shouted in anger.
A laugh followed his words, a continuous blood chilling laugh that made him want to turn back. He refused the impulse as he turned away from the shade, away from the woman he loved and away from the destroyed city to get help as he gripped Nätt raseri with all his strength trying to calm down.