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The soldiers walked through the valley underneath. Fools, all of them, the hornless folk. Nar Tulkhqa laughed in the mountains. They really thought they could defy the Ugralga and survive to regret their mistake? The imbeciles had blundered straight into a death trap. They would be surrounded and slaughtered by the rams that stood poised above them, ready to charge down and throw rocks upon their heads. Tulkhqa turned to the warriors. "Tonight," he cried, "the blood of the empire will be spilled, and what we do shall be sung about for generations!" The rams cheered and lobbed rocks into the valley. The massacre had begun.


In the valley below, Darm never had a chance to produce his sword before they were surrounded. The rocks set off an avalanche and half of the army was buried in the first five minutes of battle. Darm screamed and tried to flee. He'd never wanted to join the Empire, but Galbatorix had threatened his wife and children and extracted his oath of fealty. He couldn't defy the emperor. Ever. But he desperately wished, for a moment, that the Riders still lived on, for a dragon could have saved many lives.


Tulkhqa swung his battle-axe and cut through many an imperial soldier like a knife through meat. Blood coated him and the ground was stained red. The Urgals, outnumbered ten to one, were slaughtering the humans with almost no casualties on their side. He laughed. War and honour were his, and his people would sing of Stavarosk for generations.


Darm shook as he played dead, hoping to avoid notice by the Urgals surveying the battlefield. Every last man was dead except for him. Suddenly, he noticed their leader, the one they called Tulkhqa, walking towards him. He tried to stop shaking, but he couldn't. The Urgal threw back his head and roared, and Darm screamed.


Tulkhqa moved towards the pathetic weakling of a human, who thought he could escape notice by pretending to be dead. An Urgal could smell the sweat and fear upon his hide. His axe whistled through the air and stopped, mere inches from Darm's chest.


Darm was shocked to still be alive. He peered up at the menacing Urgal and gaped. "Go tell your leaders," said Tulkhqa, "that tonight, much honour was won at Staravosk. Tell them the Ugralga defy them with their final breath." Darm nodded, rapidly, and fled, thanking whatever gods existed he was still alive. As much as he despised Galbatorix, he despised the Urgals even more now for the death they had brought. And he hated Tulkhqa, the butcher of Staravosk.