Disclaimer: I do not own any familiar characters featured in this story. They all belong to the creative Christopher Paolini.
In the Depths of Misery
By: Silver pup
"I can't believe we lost our clothes!"
"I mean, really, how could they just disappear? We were only there for, like, twenty minutes!"
"And why aren't you saying anything, Murtagh?!"
"What am I supposed to say?"
"I don't know, but something to show that you're angry like me!"
Murtagh sighed and gave Eragon an irritated look. "How about you try being quiet for a moment, huh?"
The younger boy scowled. "Why should I? Our clothes are gone, my foot is killing me, we have no idea where we are, my foot is killing me, I'm cold, it's about to rain again, and my foot is killing me!!"
At the end of his complaints Eragon was taking in deep breaths as he tried to calm down. Murtagh arched a cool eyebrow. "Feel better?"
"You know, I think I do," Eragon admitted and sat down a nearby boulder. "Murtagh, what are we going to do? How are we going to get our clothes back when we don't even know where they are?"
"Relax, Eragon we'll find them sooner or later. What ever took it can't be too far away," Murtagh reassured as he sat next down to the teenager.
"But when? I mean, I'm getting cold here with no shirt, and the clouds are getting darker, which means it's only a matter of time before it begins to rain," Eragon said and crossed his arms over his chest.
Murtagh glanced over to his brother and frowned. "You know, Eragon, I've been meaning to ask you something about your appearance. Why exactly do you look like an elf? Last time I check you were human."
Eragon shrugged. "It's a complicated matter that I don't really want to talk about, but I will say it came with finishing a stage of my training with the elves."
"I see," the older Rider said stretching. "Well then, tell me about Roran."
Eragon raised his eyebrows. "Why?"
"Why not? I mean he's my cousin too you know."
"No, I mean why are you asking such random questions?"
"Randomness is the base of conversation, Eragon."
"Hmp. I suppose you have a point. All right Roran, well, he takes things seriously but he does have a sense of humor. He's a hard worker, intelligent and totally in love with this girl named Katrina. I think they'll get married as soon as possible. Anyway, when we were younger we used to be best friends, but as we got older we grew apart, but we're still pretty close. He's like a brother to me really."
"Interesting. Well in that case, I can't wait to meet him."
Eragon glanced over to Murtagh at the spiteful tone of voice. "What's wrong with you?"
"Nothing," Murtagh snapped as he turned away so Eragon wouldn't notice his dark expression. The truth was inside he was seething with jealously that Eragon saw Roran as a brother and not Murtagh. It wasn't fair that Roran also got to grow up with Eragon, something he should have had the chance to do. His opinion of his cousin was growing lower and lower.
Eragon shrugged his shoulders at the short answer and looked away, oblivious to the fact Murtagh was mentally cursing Roran, and vowing that when he saw him he would give him a piece of his mind.
Instead Eragon turned his head up and glanced around at the sky and trees, ignoring Murtagh. He had a feeling the other was brooding at the moment, and that it would be better to leave him alone. Besides, the trees were nice to look at, something he hadn't noticed before because he was so preoccupied with more important things. But now he had time to look more closely at them…
"Oh crap, Murtagh look! It's our clothes!"
The other teen snapped his head over to Eragon and then looked up to a tree his brother was pointing at. His eyes widened as he spotted their clothes hanging from a nest. A large, yellow bird stood perched over the nest and was currently dropping some grass and leaves into it.
"You have got to be joking," Murtagh muttered as he stood up along with Eragon. "A frickin' bird stole our clothes? What is wrong with the animals in this forest? Is there something in the water?"
"I hope not, considering we drank from there," Eragon said, still gawking at the bird.
"Well if either of us start foaming at the mouth then we'll know. Now how do we get the clothes back?" Murtagh questioned.
"We climb the tree, duh," the other Rider answered as he walked over to the tree.
Murtagh quickly grabbed the other's wrist and pulled him away. "Uh uh, no way are you going to climb a tree when your ankle is still healing. I'll climb up there and you stay down here."
Eragon frowned and yanked back his arm. "That's not fair, Murtagh. I know I'm hurt but I can still climb a tree."
"Eragon," Murtagh said giving him an annoyed yet fond look. "Stop whining, please. Just listen to me for once and stay here, okay?"
Eragon scowled but kept his mouth shut as Murtagh turned and began to climb up the tree. He watched his brother carefully, making sure that he did not slip or lose his balance. He didn't realize until later that he was acting just like his aunt and uncle did when Roran and he used to climb up the apple trees near their home.
Finally Murtagh reached the branch where the bird sat next to its nest. The brunette moved slowly towards the nest as the bird watched him suspiciously.
"Nice birdie," he cooed as he reached for their shirts. "Just want my clothes back that you stole. Then I'll go away forever, I promise."
Just as his hands grasped the cloth the birds lashed out. "Ack! Damnit!" Murtagh yelled as the bird pecked his hand. Grabbing the clothes he pulled away and smacked the bird as it tried to attack his arm, and slid off the branch into the one beneath it.
"Eragon, catch!" Murtagh yelled as he dropped the bundle down to his brother.
Obediently Eragon caught it, but continued watching his brother in worry. The bird had taken flight and didn't look too happy. "Murtagh hurry up and get down here before you get your eye clawed out!"
"I'm trying!" Murtagh yelled back as he continued climbing down.
Eragon bit his bottom lip anxiously as he watched his brother climb down the tree. Out of the corner of his eye he could see the bird circling and getting ready to come at the older teen again. Crap, Eragon thought looking around for something to get rid of the bird with.
All there was though were rocks and twigs on the ground and trees around him. Sighing, he picked up a few small rocks and turned back to the bird. Taking aim he threw one with calculated force and precision and just as he hoped, it hit the bird's left wing. It let out a surprised squawk and turned its attention to him.
Bingo, he thought grinning. With the bird coming after him it meant that Murtagh could get down with out any trouble.
The now enraged bird sped towards him, and Eragon quickly twisted away and nailed it with another rock. This went on a few times before Murtagh finally dropped to the ground.
"You know, this is kind of fun," Eragon informed him as he hit the bird again.
Murtagh rolled his eyes and pulled the bundle from the other boy and untangled his clothes. "Finally," he murmured and pulled on his tunic and cloak. "Eragon, stop playing with the bird and put your clothes on."
"Fine," the other boy said, sighing. He dropped the few rocks he still had and tugged on his own shirt and tunic. As soon as he had his tunic on, Murtagh grabbed his forearm and pulled him away from the tree and the bird.
The bird it seemed had grown tired of being bruised and didn't pursue, them but returned to its nest. Murtagh watched it fly away before letting out a relived sigh. "Good, it's going away. Now let's find our way out of this blasted forest once and for all."
It would take another hour before the two brothers finally found their way out of the forest. They were at the beginning of a meadow that led to a familiar dirt road. For a moment, the two just stood there and stared as if they couldn't believe they had finally found there way out of the cursed forest. Then Eragon let out a whoop of laughter.
"We did it! Murtagh we're finally out of the damn Forest of Doom!" he yelled, turning to face the other Rider.
Murtagh laughed as well. "Indeed. And it's about damn time too."
"I know! I swear there were times when I thought we would never escape. But we did, didn't we?" said Eragon with a smile.
"So did I," Murtagh answered.
Eragon's smile slipped away. "Yeah… Well I suppose I should go now. Thank you, Murtagh, for, you know, helping me and stuff."
"Um, yeah you're welcome. And thanks for helping me as well," Murtagh said as he scratched the back of his ear anxiously.
Eragon backed away. "Yeah, well, goodbye… Murtagh."
"Goodbye, Eragon," Murtagh said softly as he watched his brother walk away.
You should tell him, the nasty voice in his head whispered. Tell him what? he asked back, knowing for sure that he was now going insane by talking to a voice in his head.
That you love him, the voice said simply.
Eragon was now a few feet away from him and getting farther. And why should I do that?
Because it's the truth, the voice answered simply.
But he's the enemy, he pointed out.
And your brother.
Eragon was nearly at the end of the meadow. But I barely know him. How can I love someone I barely know?
You love your mother and you barely knew her, the voice countered smoothly. You don't have to know or even understand someone to love them. Eragon is you brother—your friend—and you may never get a chance to openly express your feelings to him. Do you really want him to die thinking that you hated him? Or what if you die first without ever telling him the truth? What then?
Damnit. Murtagh winced and began to sprint to his fading brother. "Eragon! Eragon, wait!"
The teenager paused and arched an inquisitive eyebrow. "What?"
Murtagh slowed down and took a moment to catch his breath. With his hands braced on his knees, he stared up at the younger male intently. "I… you asked me a question once. A question I couldn't answer at the time. But now... But now I can."
The eyebrow rose a little higher. "Oh? And what's your answer?"
The Rider stood up straight and gave the younger brunette a small smile. "I do care. You're my brother. My baby brother, my friend and the only person beside Thorn that has ever understood me. You... You mean a lot to me, and you always have. I know that we're fighting on the opposite sides of the war now, and I know that we disagree on certain things, but that doesn't change the face that you are still my brother. Doesn't change that I care about you as much as when we were friends on the run from the Empire."
Eragon was quiet for a moment. He simply stared at Murtagh with a stunned expression that slowly melted into a softer, kinder one. "You're not lying to me, are you?"
Murtagh smiled cynically and shook his head. "No. I wish I was but I'm not."
"I see." Eragon nodded to himself before throwing his arms around Murtagh. The older man froze before slowly, very slowly, returned the hug. They stood like that for a few minutes before Eragon pulled back and grinned up at him mischievously. "You know, only you would treat the saying 'I love you' like it was the apocalypse or something. Honestly, it's not that hard to tell someone how you feel, Murtagh. You don't need to turn every little feeling into a dramatic performance."
Murtagh didn't say anything at first. Rather, he stood there with his jaw hanging open and his eyes bugging out like he couldn't believe what he just heard. But then his face changed; twisted into a dark scowl though his eyes glittered in hilarity. "Well that's the pot calling the kettle black. Need I remind you of your dramatic display at the Burning Plains? I swear I thought you were about to fall to your knees, raise your hands to the sky and call out something like 'Why?! Why have you forsaken me?!' or something equally theatrical."
"Pff. Like I would do that in the middle of a battle. Those kind of things are better suited in response to death of someone important or some devastating news that could possibly change my life," Eragon answered as he raised his nose.
"What? Oh Gods, you're insane. Go, get out of here now. Return to your troupe- I mean, your fellow warriors, you giant peacock," said Murtagh, making a shooing gesture with one hand while he leaned back a bit.
The teenager just snickered in response. "Yeah, sure thing, you big lout. But I have something to ask of you first."
"Oh? And what is that?"
"Don't die on me," Eragon said, his face sobering dramatically though his eyes were still light with humor and affection. "You and Thorn, the two of you need to survive this war no matter what. I'm going to free you, Murtagh, one way or another. I don't care how long or how much effort it takes, but I swear on all that I am that I will kill Galbatorix, and free you both. Because... Because I care about you too, Murtagh. I always have really."
Eragon's voice was so resolute, so warm that Murtagh couldn't help but believe him. Galbatorix, you have no idea what you're going against. "I can do that. But only if you do the same for me. I don't want to lose you now that I found you, not over a cause I don't even know if I believe in."
Eragon grinned widely and took a step back. "Deal. So, goodbye for now?"
Murtagh nodded. "For now. We'll meet again one way or another. Kind of hard to miss a flying blue dragon, ya know?"
The brunette 'hmmed' in agreement. "Yeah. Well, goodbye for now, Murtagh. Be safe."
"Likewise," whispered Murtagh as he watched the young man walk away. But to his wonder, Eragon paused halfway and turned around to gaze at him with a sheepish smile. "By the way, Murtagh?"
"That hug just now, it didn't happen."
Murtagh raised a smooth eyebrow. "What hug?"