The Laughing Dead Edit

To sum up the chapter in three words: Roran vs. Zombies. This is basically a filler chapter of Roran and his group of soldiers killing more people. This time those Zombie men. Lots of people die. The Varden apparently forgot that you're supposed to go for the head because Roran had to remind them with dramatic shouting. There's really not that much else going on in this chapter. Some choice bits.

“Have you detected any traps?” he asked. He did not have to turn his head to know that Carn was close beside him, as well as Halmar and two other men. Save the four swordsmen who had joined Martland’s company to replace those who had died or been irreparably wounded during their last engagement, Roran had fought alongside all of the men in their group. While he did not like every single one, he trusted them with his life, as he knew they trusted him. It was a bond that transcended age or upbringing. After his first battle, Roran had been surprised by how close he felt to his companions, as well as by how warm they were to him in turn.

“None that I can tell,” murmured Carn. “But then—”

“They may have invented new spells you cannot detect, yes, yes. Is there a magician with them, though?”

I cast detect magic? Unless it's magic that can't be detected by magic? Then could you cast I detect undetectable magic? It's confusing, I know. Roran doesn't like how the soldiers are just sitting around with no apparent sentries and in a bad position to boot.

This is what I've come up with, as a description of their positions:

Two hundred yards away, fifty-three soldiers and wagon drivers sat around three separate cookfires, eating their dinner as dusk rapidly settled over the land. The men had stopped for the night on the broad, grass-covered bank next to a nameless river. The wagons full of supplies for Galbatorix’s troops were parked in a rough half circle around the fires. Scores of hobbled oxen grazed behind the camp, lowing occasionally to each other. Twenty yards or so downstream, however, a soft earth shelf reared high out of the ground, which prevented any attack or escape from that quarter.

I'm guessing that the troops have the embankment at their backs, the river to protect their other side and the wagons to act as a shield for the third? Or am I thinking about tactics wrong. I don't know. Clearly Roran thinks other wise. Still, he also thinks that it might be a trap and tells Carn to let Marshland and Lucy know.

Marshland agrees with Roran but says let's attack anyway. Unless they want to go running back to Nasuada tail tucked between their legs. You know, if they had some of those uniforms from the last wagon train they attacked they could send in some spies and see if they could learn anything about the defenses before attacking. Say like a wounded solider, or a lost one. Anything. Or they could all be wearing the uniforms and show up as another troop. That'd be rather sneaky clever of them. They'd get inside enemy lines and then stabity them in their sleep or something. Sure, it's not the most honorable way to go about killing people, but if everyone in the Empire is default evil, then why should it matter how they die, just as long as they die? In fact, now that I think about it, they would want to go with sneaky tactics because they are small and have limited man power.

That being said, they attack. As they get ready, Roran wishes his horse wasn't such a visible color.

I suggest dyeing the horse.

In this particular fight, it doesn't matter because Carn sends up a blinding light above the camp just before they attack. The Varden know about it, so they can shield their eyes, but the Empire's men do not.

Slaughter ensues.

Oh wait, they're zombie men.

Slaughtering takes a bit longer than thought.

Carn seems to be not a complete squishy as he can fight using a sword and actually survive. Apparently his sneaky magics aren't helping kill the zombies. Which is nice. I rather like Carn. He's a practical sort, given his circumstances.

Death. Death. Death. And then no one else is around to kill.

The Varden have won. Barely.

Marshland loses a hand though, in one of the odder bits of the chapter. One of the supposedly dead soldiers slices off the hand, cleanly.

As Martland Redbeard walked across the corpse-strewn encampment, a soldier who Roran had assumed was dead flipped over and, from the ground, lopped off the earl’s right hand. With a movement so graceful it appeared practiced, Martland kicked the sword out of the soldier’s grip, then knelt on the soldier’s throat and, using his left hand, drew a dagger from his belt and stabbed the man through one of his ears, killing him. His face flushed and strained, Martland shoved the stump of his wrist under his left armpit and waved away everyone who rushed over to him. “Leave me alone! It’s hardly a wound at all. Get to those wagons! Unless you wastrels hurry up, we’ll be here so long, my beard will turn white as snow. Go on!” When Carn refused to budge, however, Martland scowled and shouted, “Begone with you, or I’ll have you flogged for insubordination, I will!”

... Martland is a ZOMBIE!!! He's not gushing blood all over the place like the Black Knight and screaming in pain. He should have flopped over in shock. He should be applying pressure and not treating it like it's a flesh wound. He's just been amputated. It should be taken care of right away and he should be screaming in agony. See the American Civil War. Actually, that's some blade if it can take a hand off in one strike. He shouldn't be able to stand well enough to tie it off his stump with his tunic. As if that would stop the bleeding. Severed Major Artery here. And Veins.

Clearly the fact that he's not gushing blood reveals that he's a zombie.

Eragon land is made of zombies. It's the only explanation.

Especially since Martland is able to continue giving orders afterward. Getting a list of what was carried in the wagons. Things like rope and whiskey.

And then they leave.

Roran with a heavy heart.

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