I'm actually beginning to realize how religious I made this sound. I wrote the first… 116 pages (didn't log the chapter numbers) a couple years ago. If it makes you uncomfortable, let me know and I'll start changing how I word things.
Sophie was soon reminded that she needed to know how to paddle a canoe when she, the elves, and Drecor reached the Edda River. She was a fast learner and was soon paddling along the river, helping the others steer the boat in the front. She had already been kayaking in San Pedro, so she generally knew how to steer. The problem was trying to steer with four other people! After bumping into a couple logs and nearly upsetting the canoe more than a few times, Sophie finally got the hang of it.
Sophie also was reminded that elves laughed often when a friendly dragon was around. She started to get a little jealous, though, since Drecor was getting all the compliments on what she knew were pretty basic maneuvers.
"So, how long has it been since you've seen a dragon?" Sophie asked, still curious about this ancient race. They pondered this to the point where Sophie thought they would not bother answering her question; however, they eventually said that it had been about ninety years since they last saw a dragon other than Saphira and Drecor. For the longest time they just sat paddling upriver until nightfall; fortunately, Drecor and the elves could see very well in the dark. But Sophie could barely see the outlines of things, much less the log that nearly caused the canoe to capsize. With powers she had no idea she possessed, Sophie forced the log out of the way with a mere flick of her hand.
Everyone sat rigid for a moment, allowing them to drift downstream a bit, but also onto the shore. Sophie thought she might know what had done but had no idea that it was possible, much less how she did it.
"I did not know you had magic, Silver hand," Silverleaf commented in the Ancient Language. Sophie had no idea how to answer that, and Drecor certainly wasn't helping because he was just as amazed as the elves were.
Finally, Sophie merely responded, "Look, I don't know what I just did, but I do know this; what I did was not magic, for I do not believe in magic nor do I wish to learn and practice it." It sounded harsh even to her, but it got the point across; if they wanted to believe in petty little magic, they could; however, she refused and would always refuse to oppose it with all that was in her.
Does that mean you oppose me? Whenever I breathe fire I use subconscious magic, Drecor commented a little heatedly. Sophie wondered if this was from God, because her parents had told her many times that a union between a Christian and an unsaved man was unacceptable. Even then, Sophie was human and Drecor was a dragon; however, Sophie found impressed to remain in this union as long as Drecor did.
I didn't mean I oppose you, but only your beliefs. You are what humans consider atheists, who are people who only believe in themselves and that there is no higher being over them. I am a Christian and believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior, the Son of the Living and Only God. Sophie tried to explain. Drecor got the message, but didn't comment on what he thought about it. Sophie knew enough about him by now, though, that she knew he was still annoyed with her.
Suddenly, a thought came to Sophie. Could it be? It had to be, but she thought it wasn't possible, but then again, she had just dropped her definition of possible. Do you think I could have bended the log to the side? Sophie asked.
What is bending? You weren't touching it, and you said you weren't using magic… Drecor pointed out.
Oh! Bending is where you… uh… I don't know how to really explain it, but it's where you… will something to move, and it appears to move on its own. It's kind of like magic, except different. I know that sounds confusing, but…
That's all right! Drecor interrupted. I think I've got an idea of what you're talking about. I happened to come across some of the things you watched on… what was it? Oh, that's right, TV or television.
Sophie realized that the elves had started to set up camp for the evening when suddenly they all heard a seductive singing coming from the north. She felt it pulling at her, and she heard more than saw animals scurrying about, seeming to look for mates.
No, it couldn't be, could it? Sophie asked herself, forgetting for a moment that Drecor shared her thoughts. Oh, sorry Drecor, I was just talking… thinking… to myself. I think this is the ceremony, I forget its name, where the elves celebrate the hundreds of years that have passed since the peace treaty with the dragons so long ago.
Oh, why don't you ask them? Maybe they will tell… us… why the… Drecor slowly began swaying toward the music. It was all Sophie could do to try and hold him back with a rock wall that kept on breaking under his weight. She soon realized that she was bending in order to build and rebuild this wall, but she didn't care; she would do anything to keep Drecor from being seen by elves that would most likely be hostile to him.
"Oh no, I must have miscalculated the days until Agaetí Blödhren," Silverleaf seemed worriedly. Sophie had a feeling that he was talking about the ceremony that she had just described to Drecor.
"That's the ceremony that's held in celebration of the hundreds of years that have passed since the peace treaty with the dragons, right." Sophie confirmed. Everyone knew that she knew the answer to that, but she needed to ask it just to make sure.
"Yes, but how did you know that? I suppose you read… no, observed that too," Ashta said sarcastically, a trait Sophie didn't know elves possessed.
Well, what was Sophie supposed to say to that? She was already intoxicated with the music and wanted to spill the whole story out, right from the time that she entered this beautiful place through a portal in her closet. They might not know what a closet was, but she thought they might have them.
Sophie looked over at Drecor for help, but he was still so intoxicated that he didn't even notice and was heading over northward towards the singing. Sophie finally managed to stop him with a wall of solid diamond, but she still had that stinging question to answer.
"Actually, I did read it from several Chronicles of the Elves," Sophie said, surprising herself. She thought that maybe the elves might ask her to repeat that in the Ancient Language in which no creature, no matter their race, can lie. Fortunately, Ashta just shrugged and let it go after a hidden warning glance from Silverleaf and Ronderban.
That night, no one slept; Sophie and Drecor because the sounds of the animals scurrying about kept them awake and Silverleaf, Ashta, and Ronderban because they were taking turns keeping watch to make sure nothing came towards or left the camp. Finally, the sun in its brilliance came up through the trees and they started out on the last leg of their journey.
Sophie and the others were all extremely careful now partially because they were getting closer to the capital, Ellesmera, but mainly because the Agaetí Blödhren had started.
For a few days, they followed the same pattern, following the river north. On this last leg, Sophie gradually noticed a change in her diet, sleep, hair and eye color, and even bone structure. She knew from the book she had read that human dragon riders usually became sharper in their features, but never this quickly or to this extent. It usually took months, sometimes even a year just for their ears to develop a slight point at the tip; however, Sophie was noticing that she was becoming more and more elf-like than anyone about which she had ever heard or read.
When they stopped for lunch, Sophie took Drecor off to the side and asked him about the strange changes occurring. Having no explanation, Drecor could only suggest asking the elves. Sophie did not feel very comfortable with this, though, so they headed back. While they ate lunch, Sophie realized that she could listen to the stories leaves rustling in the non-existent wind were telling her of times passed, when dragons, elves, and dwarves predominately lived in Alagaesia. They also told her of when humans first came to this land and of the different wars until it was time to continue their journey.
Now feeling confident in her abilities, Sophie decided to have a little bit of fun with the elves. She asked, "Do you guys want to race to Braïden Ridge? I have a good feeling about today."
The elves looked at her, astonished, but Ashta readily accepted her challenge. "On one condition, though," he commented. "You can't have any help from your dragon partner, and we will not stop until three of us, or just you, stop."
"It's a deal," Sophie said recklessly before Silverleaf could object to the first rule. Soon they were off, and Sophie even surprised herself at an amazing speed of 39 miles per hour, putting her ahead of the elves for a little while, who had thought they could go slower since they were racing against a human. Suddenly, Sophie sensed Ashta or Ronderban wanted to pass her; she immediately sped up to keep that from happening along with jeers that would push her beyond her tolerance limits, which she was physically doing anyway.
Finally, Sophie, Silverleaf, Ashta, and Ronderban reached a lake that Sophie was running too fast to stop before the edge of; instead, she pushed forward even more and ran right across the surface! That left the elves in a flurry; they had stopped at the edge, astonished at the sight of her practically flying across the water's surface. Ashta was the first to start back, then forward again to gain enough momentum to do the same thing Sophie did and the other two were right behind him.
A few miles before Braïden Ridge, the elves began to slow down; Sophie wondered what was going on, but soon found out why the elves stopped. A huge, gaping ravine that appeared in front of her was too close for her to stop! She immediately earth bended a bridge that would barely hold her weight for the seconds it would take to cross; unfortunately, this too failed and she stopped in the middle as the bridge crumbled. She raced back across just as the bridge collapsed and she sent it into the walls of the ravine to protect who-knew-what was down there.
After she caught her breath, Sophie got down on her stomach, right next to the edge of her side of the ravine, and gasped at what she saw beneath her; there were hundreds, if not millions, of Eldunari and dragon eggs! She was amazed for she had thought that the only Eldunari left were in Galvatorix's possession and Drecor hatched from the last dragon egg.
Suddenly, Sophie felt Drecor approaching so rapidly it seemed as if he was at the speed of light; she then waited until he landed so he could watch her descend the walls.
What were you thinking? I knew the race was a bad idea, Drecor scolded lightly. All the same, Sophie knew he was only concerned about her welfare. She hid from him, however, what she was about to do so he could not pin her down to keep her from going.
Sophie quickly and quietly started the descent into the enormous ravine that was just barely wide enough for her and her bag to get through, much less Drecor who had grown to nearly double his original size in the past week. She soon reached the bottom, being careful not to step on the Eldunari and eggs that littered most of the floor.
Well done, we were hoping you would eventually find us down here. How did we know that you were in this forest? Well, we itch whenever another magical or peculiar creature comes near us and you and your partner, Drecor, are very peculiar indeed, commented one of the male Eldunari. Sophie was surprised, as any human would be, at what the dragon trapped inside his heart of hearts said.
It's an honor to meet you, Bjartskular. I always hoped Drecor wasn't the last egg to hatch and the Eldunari in Galvatorix's possession weren't the only Eldunari left in Alagaesia, Sophie answered hopefully. She knew how special this was, to have the very knowledge of this place was so intriguing she nearly stepped on one of the eggs! She quickly apologized and that was when something truly amazing happened; the eldest Eldunari asked her to take him and some others with her on her journey.
Sophie accepted, honored, and took a few Eldunari and a single dragon egg with her. She quickly said good-bye and started the assent, but not before they showed her some clothes that were from her time that she could have a clean change of clothes. She soon saw Drecor who was clawing at the entrance, alarming Sophie to the fact that some of the falling stones might harm the eggs or Eldunari.
Eventually Sophie made it to the top, taking more time than getting down, avoiding falling rocks and smooth places without hand or footholds. There are some important friends who are joining us for the remainder of our journey through life, Sophie told Drecor, revealing a little but no too much. Drecor was curious, but that was soon sated when the Eldunari and baby dragon talked to him and made him swear in the Ancient Language not to tell anyone about this place or about them unless they gave him permission.
Sophie, Drecor, and their new friends soon made it back to the elves who were setting up a campsite, looking up only to make sure it was only Sophie and Drecor coming towards them.
"Where are your new friends? We can sense them, you know," Ashta challenged Sophie. Sophie wasn't sure how to explain until one of the Eldunari told her what to do.
"We did meet up with some nice creatures whose names we swore not to tell since they are a… secretive race," Barnack, the Eldunari, said through Sophie. Ashta and Ronderban shrugged and accepted this answer since; after all, the elves were a secretive race too.
In the morning, Sophie got up early to take a walk, leaving the Eldunari and dragon egg behind to have some peace and quiet time that she had not had since she entered Alagaesia. She considered all that had happened including the fact that she may never be able to return home. "Home," Sophie thought to herself. "What an interesting word. I know it's where the heart is, but where does mine lie?" She spent some time contemplating this troubling thought until the dark time right before dawn.
Sophie was about to start back when she felt her skin begin to itch like the Eldunari mentioned they did whenever some fabulous being came near. She cautiously looked around; not truly knowing what might be out there; suddenly, she saw it! It was a beautiful, snow-white unicorn with a silver horn that seemed to glow. She cautiously approached it and said, "Unicorn, what brings you here to this world, or are there more of you here?" The unicorn seemed surprised and Sophie realized that she had been speaking in tongues, apparently the unicorns'; it seemed odd, though, that she understood what she was saying since normally you don't and only the Holy Spirit knows.
"I am here as the Guardian of Mysteries," the unicorn stated simply, expecting to Sophie to know what that was. "My name is Laughingbrook and my race left this world a long time ago, even before we left yours," the unicorn said, surprising Sophie to the point where she was breathless.
"How do you know where I come from?" Sophie eventually asked suspiciously. She touched Laughingbrook's shoulder so they could talk mind-to-mind like she had read about in The Unicorn Chronicles.
Sophie and Laughingbrook talked until the sun started to rise when Sophie realized how long she had been gone and told Laughingbrook that she needed to head back to where the rest of her friends were waiting. Laughingbrook understood, and they parted; Sophie going back to the campsite and Laughingbrook to the unicorn city of Farthenbech.
Sophie soon reached the camp where the elves and Drecor were already up, busy wrapping up camp.
"And where did you go on your walk through Du Weldenvarden?" Ashta asked sarcastically. Sophie had unfortunately forgotten that elves did not sleep; they merely went into a waking-sleep where they were aware of their surroundings but were still dreaming. Sophie just ignored Ashta and started to pack her few things into a bag separate from the one she was using to hold the Eldunari and dragon eggs.
Soon, they were off and Sophie could sense they were getting closer to Ellesmera, the capital, every minute and that made her both nervous and excited. Fortunately, she didn't have to explain her mixed feelings to Drecor since she could sense he felt the same way. Sophie didn't even know why she was feeling nervous since the elves were probably going to be able to explain much and she would probably be able to see and maybe even talk to the special tree she had read about in the second book of the Inheritance Cycle.