Chapter 25: Battle of Illiria
The city of Illiria was quiet in the early hours of the day, as the sun began to rise in the blood red sky, spreading its warmth to the waiting soldiers guarding the walls. The city was surrounded by the army of King Orrin and already the generals were ordering soldiers around, signalling that an attack on the city would come. Roran looked at the vast army he would have to fight and assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy. He looked at the sea of spears in the distance. Some were steady as trees, but some were wavy as the soldiers who held them were fearful of what would come. The enemy had the swordsmen and spears in the middle, as a line of horses was behind them, waiting for the doors to be broken. The heavy armored knights sat on their horses, looking at the city. Archers could be seen at the two corners of the army, as they were waiting for the order to begin the attack. Roran could do nothing but wait. He looked once again at the defenses of the city. He had not prepared the city as well as he had prepared Dras Leona for the attack, but the time he had, had been less. He looked once again at the soldiers near him, as he passed in front of them, one last time to boost their morale.
"General!" he heard many of them say as Roran passed in front of them, clapping some on the back, and calling them by their names, each and every one of them. He even told a joke to an old soldier, that made the people around them laugh aloud.
Finally, he saw a distant figure which could only be King Orrin shout an order, and as one, the soldiers of Surda begun the attack on Illiria.
From his position on top of the wall, Roran saw a line of spearmen run towards the city as a volley of arrows was released to prevent them from reaching it. Many soldiers fell, but hundreds of others took their place as they slowly covered the ground to the city. Thousands of arrows whistled towards the running soldiers and two answering volleys killed many soldiers on the walls while the rest of the arrows bounced harmlessly. Three large battering rams approached, pushed by Surdan men and the defenders tried to prevent them from reaching the gate firing burning arrows.
A loud roar could be heard and Roran smiled as he saw Saphira, Sphinx and Felangoud, fly above them and releasing tongues of fire that burned thousands of soldiers, killing them instantly. A groan released from the mouths of the Surdan men when they saw the three dragons and a cheer rose from the defenders as they saw them fly above their heads. Thousands of arrows were released aimed at the dragons but they all were deflected and thrown towards the Surdan men.
Great booming sounds could be heard from the gate as the soldiers of King Orrin tried to break the door of the main gates with a battering ram, while the soldiers defending the city shot arrows at them with their bows, killing many of them. A large pot of boiling oil was thrown and the soldiers of King Orrin were cooked in their armors as a soldier shot an arrow with fire, burning them.
Surdan soldiers were trying to climb the walls, using stairs and Roran and his men fought them desperately to prevent them from taking the walls.
Roran crushed the skull of a huge man and fell flat on the floor to avoid a flying ax, as it was ready to cut his throat. He quickly lifted himself and crushed the arm of a swordsman with all his strength, as the man screamed in pain, before he was killed with another blow. He ran towards a man who had climbed the wall and was throwing the flag of the empire down and hit him on the head, the sick crushing sound making him wince. He looked at the bloody headed man and he felt a weight fall on him as a sword passed near his leg, almost cutting it in half.
"Saved you again General!" Alarik said with a smile as he stabbed a man with his sword.
"Still alive are you?" Roran asked knowing the strength of Alarik in the battlefield. There were very few men who could defeat him in battle.
"Someone has to bring Katrina the bad news" Alarik replied as he avoided a blow with his shield and then stabbed the man who had hit him. "Preferably a handsome man". Alarik said and Roran snorted.
" You have a vivid imagination Alarik. But no sane woman would go out with the likes of you." Roran countered.
"Hmmm, we shall see General." he said just as Roran turned his eyes on him, not knowing whether he should be angry.
"I'm just joking of course." Alarik said as he threw a dagger at a man coming towards them.
Roran tackled Alarik on the ground and protected him with his shield as someone tried to stab him in the back. He smashed a man's chin with his hammer.
"I guess I deserved that..." Alarik said lifting himself from the ground.
"I saved you, you fool! Now we're even!" Roran said and Alarik smiled.
"General." he said as a look of wonder came over his face.
A line of men fell instantly on the ground as a Surdan magician was killed, as one of the riders killed them with a single word.
"For Surda!" a general shouted lifting his sword just as an arrow protruded from his neck, killing him.
Thousands of soldiers were injured and killed trying to defend the gates. The two armies fought and clashed with each other, until finally with a loud cracking sound, the massive doors leading inside the city opened with a crash, as part of the door broke from its hinges, dropping on a few soldiers, crushing them. A wave of Surdan soldiers crashed on the ranks of the defenders as they fought desperately to fend off the attack.
Saphira landed in the middle of the gate, the two dragons right behind her as they breathed fire, burning Surda's soldiers as they entered the city. Spears were thrown towards them but they stopped from an invisible force, the wards Eragon had put around them to defend them from harm.
Eragon jumped from his seat and quickly slashed at a soldier who was trying to injure Saphira, drawing Brisingr, his magnificent blue sword. Arrows whistled past his majestically crafted silver, gold armor and an enchanted arrow pierced his shield right in the middle, as Eragon lifted it and another pierced his arm, as it passed through his defenses. Eragon moved quickly for he did not know how many more enchanted arrows there were, and he had no desire to find out.
Angry at the sudden pain on his arm, he shouted "Brisingr!".
Blue flames engulfed his sword, as it awlays did when Eragon said its name. The sword slashed through two soldiers, without any resistance. He saw another line of soldiers fall as they were swiped from Saphira's tail and another was kicked by Saphira's paw and fell many meters away.
Behind him Thrain and Sphinx were fighting with a group of soldiers, while Gregorbak had been separated from his dragon Felangoud and was using magic against a group of magicians, trying to defeat them. Eragon cleared a path towards their group and with a loud "Ha!" He scared one of the magicians.A few seconds later the magician fell dead from a spell. Eragon slashed at the two remaining magicians with his sword. After a few strikes, the barriers around one of the magicians broke and the magician died with a slash from Eragon's sword. The final magician tried to run away, but distracted as he was, trying to find a way to run, his mental defenses were weak and easily broke. Soon after he too died.
Eragon searched with his mind for Arya but he could not find her. He saw elves fighting in the distance, their speed faster than any human could hope to achieve, and their athleticism and ability to use magic, made them a formidable opponent for the soldiers of Surda. Huge fireballs, spears of ice and roots grew from the ground, as the elves made spells to kill the soldiers attacking them and protect themselves from harm. A group of elves ran and in a matter of seconds had killed ten soldiers of Surda.
Still, the soldiers defending the city started retreating further inside as more and more soldiers of Surda entered the city. Eragon fought hard against the tide of the army. A group of ten soldiers surrounded him, their swords drawn, their shields lifted as they took cautious steps towards him. Another group of ten soldiers came from the other side and five archers with enchanted bows and arrows appeared. Eragon and Saphira exchanged looks and with a nod, Eragon attacked one group and Saphira the other. Arrows flied past Eragon as he ducked behind his shield covering his body. He felt two points in his arm in pain, where the arrows from the second group had hit Saphira's wings and a loud roar.
A second answering roar came from behind them and a large green dragon appeared in the sky. Firnen flew as fast as possible and released a breath of green fire on the soldiers before landing next to Saphira. Eragon attacked a soldier trying to throw a spear and killed him. He looked as Arya landed on the floor next to him. She wore a white elven made shining armor, and she was carrying her green sword Tamerlein in her hand. Her long black hair had been tied so that they were not loose and would not bother her or cover her eyes while sword crown of the elves sat on top of her head, majestic and simple at the same time. Eragon smiled and greeted her. Arya smiled back. Before they could talk, they were attacked again by the two groups and Eragon and Arya fought against them together. Eragon smiled, happy that she seemed to have forgiven his actions from the previous night . He had no desire for their friendship to end and he was happy that her reaction had been positive.
"A timely arrival" Eragon commented.
"Indeed." Arya replied, fending off an attack.
"I wanted to apologize for yesterday." Eragon said knowing that it was not the best of times to do it.
"Eragon I..." she replied but before she could finish, another group of soldiers came towards them, and Eragon focused his attention on them.
Roran was fighting in the streets of Illiria, as the army of King Orrin had managed to capture the main gates and the walls. He saw a group of soldiers approaching that wore different armor than the others. They had proud expressions on their faces as they walked, and richly decorated armors. He recognized the man walking in the middle of the group immediately. King Orrin had an expression of disgust on his face and was looking arrogantly at the city around him as his soldiers were fighting the defenders. His face had been marked in the fighting and his eyes were filled with hatred.
Their eyes met and immediately a great anger filled King Orrin as he saw Roran. He quickly cleared a path towards him, just as Roran did the same. The two commanders of the huge armies assembled in the battlefield met. At first their reaction was cautious as with slow, calculated movements they measured their opponent, but then King Orrin's arrogance took over.
"We finally meet" King Orrin said as he attacked Roran with a quick move of his sword.
Roran blocked the blow with his shield and instantly charged Orrin with his hammer but his blow was easily blocked by King Orrin.
"Tell Malik, I send my regards." Roran said with a smile as he immediately turned to block a furious blow from Orrin.
"Yes, an unfortunate set of events, but he is eager to settle his accounts in the battlefield today." King Orrin answered, panting as they were both searching for an opening.
A loud horn could be heard as the dwarves finally reached the city, the dwarven warriors, bringing a boost to the morale of the defenders, as the strong sturdy dwarves hacked their way in the ranks of the Sudan men with their axes and their short swords. The large dwarven army, with their armors shining in the sun, their axes held high and their spears hacking in the ranks of enemies were a fearsome sight to behold for the Surdan soldiers, despite their short stature.
King Orrin looked at the dwarves with an annoyed expression. Orrin was a skilled swordsman. He sighed aloud. Finally, when he was ready, he made a move to attack Roran from his left side but immediately changed and hit Roran on his right shoulder, marking it with blood.
"It seems first blood is mine" King Orrin stated.
Infuriated, Roran attacked and smashed King Orrin's shield with his hammer, his blows so strong they made a large dent on the iron.
"Easy there!. Now I'll have to repair the shield!." King Orrin said mockingly.
Roran wanted nothing else than to wipe that arrogant smile from his face. He attacked Roran and tripped him with his right leg. As Orrin fell on the ground, Roran smashed Orrin's right arm, his sword arm with all his strength breaking the bones. A look of shock passed over Orrin's face as Roran tried to attack him again to finish him off.
"Take that you arrogant fool!" Roran shouted as he hit him once more on the stomach and once on the bones of his chest. Orrin tried to protect his face with his shield and finally managed to roll over. Before Roran could react, Orrin threw sand on Roran's face, blinding him momentarily.
"A new trick I learned from Martland." King Orrin said as he stabbed Roran on the leg, as he was moving away to a safer position. Roran shouted in pain. Roran retreated as with his left hand he cleared his eyes while with the right he made circular movements with his hammer to prevent any attack. The two opponents looked at each other hating what each one represented. Two bodyguards of Orrin attacked Roran, and with a quick blow, he injured one and avoided the blow of the other, but that gave time to Orrin to stab Roran on the left arm, aiming at his heart.
A loud shout could be heard as Alarik appeared, holding a mighty mace he had gained in the battlefield, his huge muscular hands waving the mace in circles, breaking anyone who was in range of the weapon. With a circular movement, he killed one of the bodyguards, while the other retreated to avoid the blow,
"Thought you need a hand General" he shouted as he passed near Roran. As he disappeared from sight, Roran heard him shout as loud as he could, as if they were in a competition
"By the way that's the third time I save your life!"
Roran chuckled as he turned around to face King Orrin again. He ran towards Orrin, rolling over to avoid a blow from King Orrin's sword, as he managed to hit Orrin on the knee, making him fall on the ground. Another blow from his hammer hit Orrin on the shoulder as Orrin cut a large gash on Roran's leg. They both fell on each other, exchanging punches, strong enough to kill a man, as they rolled on the floor, trying to gain an advantage. King Orrin's bodyguards ran to help their king, while Roran's soldiers, seeing their General in danger, ran and fought even harder to help him. A loud shout could be heard from the defenders as they saw Roran in danger. Roran and King Orrin were finally separated after many blows.
A large gash was on King Orrin's side as Roran had managed to put a dagger there, but Roran too had suffered a few injuries. King Orrin was gravely injured. Orrin looked at his injury with fury and disgust.
" Another day, Stronghammer!" King Orrin stated as his unit retreated.
Seeing their commander run away from the battlefield, the Soldiers of Surda lost heart, and many more followed King Orrin, as they strove to exit the city along with their commander. The sight of Orrin running away, and the fact that more defenders had arrived, in the form of the dwarves made them retreat.
The defenders cheered, as they saw the enemy retreating, and chased them, gaining new courage and heart from the sight of the fleeing enemy. The dragons burned many soldiers who ran away. The Surdans were fighting for every inch of the city, the defenders were taking back, from house to house, from door to door.
A group of Roran's men entered a large house. Screams from the people inside could be heard as they ran to hide away, but Roran saw the Surdan men waiting for them inside. With a thrust of his hammer, he hit a man on the shoulder, breaking it, while one of his men killed him. Another soldier tried to attack him from the left, but Roran lifted his shield and blocked, and countered with his hammer, killing the man. The soldiers of Surda were killed and Roran moved on to the next house, until finally, the last of the Surdan men exited the destroyed city gates.
Eragon looked at the retreating army of King Orrin as the Surdans ran away and were chased by the soldiers of the city. Saphira roared a challenge and burned another line of soldiers before she landed on the bloody floor, tired and exhausted. Soldiers cheered from the walls of the city. Eragon jumped on the ground, and lied on the floor, next to a destroyed building, tired from yet another battle in his life. He wondered when they would end and he would be able to live in peace. His eyes fell on Arya, the love of his life, and a smile covered his face as he thought of her. She saw his smile and smiled back. Before Eragon could say anything, she turned and walked towards the elven army, the elves bowing at her approach. It had been a great victory. The humans started celebrating and the dwarves stamped their feet on the ground and hit their shields with their weapons as the elves watched silent in their neat, perfectly formed ranks, as if they had never participated in the battle.
"Roran, Roran!" the humans started shouting the name of their general as Eragon and the riders joined them in their shout.
The three dragons roared their approval and the dwarves stood proudly as Roran passed in front of them, happy that they had been able to win King Orrin's army, and forced him to his first defeat in the war. He looked at the soldiers proud of them for what they had achieved, like a father to his sons. He took a deep breath, glad he was alive after such a tough battle and released it, preparing himself for the battles ahead.