Eragon's vision began to darken around the edges. The sounds began to swirl around him. Looking down, he saw a bone white blade protruding from his chest. He couldn't feel a thing, but his own rasping breath and the cackling of a madman met his ears. Looking left, as though from the end of a tunnel, he saw two great glittering red and blue beasts: wings shredded, eyes glassy.

"SA-PHIR-AAAAA!" No answer. Looking right, he met the unseeing jade eyes of his fallen companion. Arya.

The black tunnel closed. His last sight was the pale blue glaring eye of the great black Shruikan. Then the cackling suddenly stopped, replaced by clanking steel on steel and panting breaths. Before long he heard a terrible cry and a sword clattering on marble.

Murtagh… A hot tear seared Eragon's cheek. It is over. We have failed… I have failed. The labored breath of Murtagh faded, leaving only the scraping of Shruikan's serrated claws across the marble.

Perhaps all is not lost. Thrummed the voice of Umaroth. We are proud of what you have accomplished Eragon. Though you are but a hatchling for a Shur'tugal, you have come closer to defeating Galbatorix than the thousands of our order before you. We have not the strength to overcome our enslaved brethren, nor the might to end the oath-breaker-king. However, we heart-of-hearts have one last gift. We have hope it will ensure a better end to this war. Have hope Eragon. Find your Saphira, and use what knowledge you have gained to your advantage. May the stars watch over you, and the wind always be at your back.

Umaroth, wait- Eragon called, but the sounds faded as Umaroth withdrew from his consciousness. Eragon could see nothing and could hear nothing, not even his own ragged breath. Is this the void? Eragon tentatively lowered the barriers of his mind. Unexpectedly, he wasn't attacked. Behind him, he sensed the glowing orbs of the Eldunarí. And in front of him was the shining mass that was Shruikan, and the even brighter Galbatorix, fueled by a thousand mad dragons. Nothing else. His friends were gone. His Saphira was gone. He focused on the Eldunarí, which seemed to be glowing... brighter? Magic. The last gift? They continued to grow brighter until they outshone even Galbatorix. Don't have enough energy to defeat the king?

Eragon's eyes seared the deep red of bright light through closed eyes. He heard something. Wind. Rushing wind, and an anguished yell that must have been his own. He soon felt the wind too, rushing upwards, and a terrible pain from the sword jostling in his chest. Am I falling? Then all sensations ceased once more.