Chapter 8: Battle of Belatona
A scream interrupted the cheering crowd, watching the games, as a woman saw the soldiers coming with drawn swords and killing an unsuspecting man. The man fell on the ground dead, and the woman ran on the opposite direction, trying to save herself. The soldiers kept coming, killing anyone that was blocking their way. Panic overwhelmed the people in the stadium as they saw the soldiers coming towards them and people dying everywhere. Everyone tried to run away, to escape. They ran towards the exits disorganized, one stepping over the other, some people falling down from the weight of people pushing them to get out first, getting stepped on and killed in the process. Some people frantically looked for weapons, trying to fight back, with anything they could find. Many humans, dwarves and some Urgals, men and women and even children died in the first few minutes of the attack. The elves had a better fate, as even though they did not have weapons, as they were not allowed in the stadium, they could still use magic to block the blows form the swords of the soldiers, and defend themselves. The soldiers orders were clear, to kill as many people in the stadium as possible, wether they be humans, urgals, dwarves or elves. They did so, with brutal efficiency. A elf managed to burn two soldiers of Surda, cooking them in their armor, and stabbed another one before he was stabbed by a sword on his stomach. He fell on the ground, and every soldier of Surda stabbed him as they passed, making sure he was dead.
On the other side of the stadium, Malik and his group of soldiers quickly descended the stairs and exited the stadium. They had to make their way to the gates and open them for the army waiting outside. They had to be quick, otherwise the guards would learn of their attack and would organize a defense against them. If they managed to open the gates, then the city was already won as the Surdan soldiers would fill the city, making it impossible for Nasuada's men to defend it. He quickened his pace, shouting orders for his men to follow him, just as a dragon's roar sounded in the distance. The elven queen had obviously mounted her dragon and were killing the Surdan men. Time was working against them. It was fortunate, he thought, that the dragon had no battle experience and as a result, it would be easier to defend against it's attacks. He quickly ran the remaining of the distance, ignoring the surprised shout of a man, seeing them. Another man blocked his way, but he quickly stabbed him, without slowing his pace. Soldiers spotted them and quickly ran to defend the gate. It was too late, Malik thought. They would soon sound the alarm and their plan would fail. With a frustrated shout he stabbed at the first soldier just as he saw one of his men die from a wound. He killed another soldier, stabbing him on his stomach, and quickly blocked a blow from a sword with his shield.
"Quickly men! We don't have all day! Move your sorry lazy asses" he ordered them.
The men followed his orders, quickly killing the remaining soldiers, just as a loud sound was made, sounding the alarm. Now the whole city knew they were being attacked. He ran up the stairs, killing a man standing guard, his second in command doing the same on the other side. The two men met at the top of the stairs, covered in blood. The mechanism was inside a room. He tried to open the door but it was locked. With a curse, he kicked the door open and was stabbed by a soldier, probably the one that had sounded the alarm. He quickly beheaded the man. He spat on the dead body, and with a quick motion he heaved as he tried to move the mechanism opening the gate. He heard shouted from outside as his men were attacked by a battalion of enemy soldiers. The mechanism slowly moved with a loud sound, and the gate slowly opened.
Malik exited the room and looked outside, at the view below the city walls. A few moments before, the ground was clear, and one could only see a few trees, the empty road, and a few sparse shadows, but now he could see a whole army, slowly making their way inside the city from the open gate. He sighed with relief. He had done it, but it was a close call. He looked at the city below, the first buildings catching fire, from torches being thrown at their roofs. A man came up the stairs and shouted a greeting.
"Malik! Old friend! How are you?" Qudark asked him. He was king Orrin's most powerful magician, and an old friend of his. He was wearing a black robe, and he was holding his staff with one hand as with the other he played with his long white beard. He looked tired and made his way up the steps to greet him.
"Qudark! What a pleasant surprise! You look terrible my friend!" Malik said with a wink as Qudark laughed in response.
"I thought you were an ugly basrard before, but I see I was wrong. You're even uglier now if that is possible!". he said pointing his staff at his bloodied broken nose. Malik grinned in response.
"My friend, the ladies would disagree!" he said as Qudark chuckled. They were interrupted by a large rock, thrown by an onager that flew over their heads, almost beheading them. Malik turned his head and saw it land at a large burning building. The building collapsed on the fighting soldiers, piles of burning wood covering them. A cloud of debris filled the air, until Qudark cleaned it with a spell.
Malik turned his attention towards the city. He ran to assist his soldiers as the enemy had tried to take advantage of the confusion, throwing arrows and killing as many of them as they could. Time passed quickly, as he defended against wave after wave of soldiers, slowly going towards the center of the city. The green dragon made attacks that caused devastation in the Surdan ranks. His giant maw opened and another river of fire engulfed many of the Surdan men, cooking them in their armor. Spears were thrown at the dragon but they were blocked by the elven queen. She killed the Surdan soldiers efficiently, and the green dragon helped her by eating a soldier that was ready to stab her. As the dragon was lacking battle experience, and as it was the focus of the Surdan attacks, it was injured and quickly flew away from the battlefield. Malik hoped with all his heart, the injury was fatal but he doubted it. Dragons were not easy to kill. Many urgals and elves and dwarves fought hard against them, making him lose many men in the battle before he could kill them.
He was interrupted as a soldier ran towards him and shouted.
"Sir, we believe we have the location of Queen Nasuada".
Malik turned and followed the soldier with quick steps. It was a vital part of the plan to capture Nasuada. As King Orrin had explained, he had noticed the growing affection between Nasuada and Murtagh, the rider. This could gain them the help of Murtagh, as Murtagh would never do anything until Nasuada was safe. They were badly outnumbered with Eragon and all the other riders fighting against them and they really needed one of the most experienced riders in matters of war on their side. Also, capturing Nasuada left the Varden leaderless and as a result, easier to beat.
But first, Malik knew that he had to catch her, as she had escaped him the first time in the stadium. The soldier led him in a somewhat fortified tower, where many of the enemy soldiers had gathered. They were holding the Surdans at bay. Malik thought he saw a woman fighting among them.
"Surrender, and I will spare your men" Malik shouted.
"Never!" came the response, as soon as he finished his sentence.
"Have it your way" Malik thought and with an order, he charged at the tower.
Men fell around him, dead, pierced by arrows. The archers got ready and shot the second volley but this time, the Surdans were prepared, with lifted shields. Malik shouted and attacked a soldier, that injured his hand, beheading him. A blast of fire engulfed some warriors from an enemy magician, and he saw his friend Qudark mentally fighting with a few enemy magicians. A wall collapsed and another ball of fire passed near his head and hit the wall behind him. A column of Surdan soldiers fell, by a magician's spell and Malik quickly stabbed him in the heart. He saw with the corner of his eye, the queen, killing Surdans, with a elegant long sword. He slowly made his way towards her. This time there were no nighthawks to save her, he thought. He approached with a menacing look, killing two soldiers that were on his way. He pushed a Surdan soldier away, shouting that he wanted the fight.
Finally, his blade met with Nasuada's blade with a loud metallic sound. He looked at the determined face of the queen. She was a hard opponent, and managed to injure him with a quick stroke to the ribs, and an involuntary shout of pain escaped him. With renewed energy and anger, he attacked at her, with his full force, Somehow, she managed to block all his blows, although he did manage to injure her on her leg, limiting her range of movement. He attacked again and this time, managed to make Nasuada fall on the ground, as she lost hold of her blade.
He knocked the pommel of his sword, on her head making her lose consciousness.
"Arrest her!" he ordered his men. The tower was filled with bodies of friends and foes alike, and he hoped with all his heart Orrin would make Nasuada pay for all these people that died trying to take the city.
"Sir, people are leaving the city from the other side, elves, dwarves and the green dragon among them" a soldier informed him shouting.
There was nothing he could do. The city was still not secured, and if they acted hastily, they could still lose everything they had paid so dearly to gain. He decided to let them leave, and secure the city. Malik just wanted the killing to be over. He wanted to celebrate the victory. He looked at the burning buildings as his soldiers killed as many enemies as possible. Buildings collapsed, people screamed in agony and death. It was only the beginning of the long war, but they had already won the city of Belatona.