Disclaimer - I do NOT in any way own anything from the Inheritance cycle.


The third installment of the Inheritance Cycle, Brisingr, came out before I was able to fully develop this story. I originally thought it would be called Empire, but that was before we learned that there would be four books instead of three. I decided that, instead of waiting for the fourth installment to be released, I would write my own version of the third and fourth book and see how it turns out. It's certain to be shorter than Christopher Paolini's and probably less descriptive, but I hope it will be remotely accurate. I'm basing this on my theories and everything that happened in the first three books, Eragon, Eldest, and Brisingr. I'm warning you now that if you haven't read any of these, there is a huge

SPOILER WARNING!

Please note that the rating is susceptible to change as the story progresses. For the most part, I will be writing this story chapter by chapter, so if the material becomes more graphic than I originally intended, the rating will increase.

Enjoy!


EMPIRE

1

Promises

So this is what the world will come to when the time for battle arises.

Eragon sat in his tent, his arms wrapped around his knees, gazing at the desecrated field of ash and soil. Several fires had been set up to burn the bodies of foes, while comrades were brought to a large burial ground where a mourning ceremony would be held.

This is a nightmare, a horror I cannot wake up from.

Many times he had wished things were different, that he did not have to be a Dragon Rider and cause so much devastation in the world. He couldn't have wished for it more as he looked out across the Burning Plains, alive in the light yet dead in the heart.

Though the fight had long been over, desolation was all that could be said of the scenery that surrounded him. The sun was just beginning to rise over the battlefield, shedding light on all the rotting corpses. Just two days before and all these creatures were alive and fighting; now thousands lay dead, strewn across the blood-drenched earth. A putrid odor filled the air that mixed with the campfire fumes, sending dark clouds of nauseating aromas into the crowd. As much as there was being done to aid the sick and injured, and clean up the woefully distasteful mess, nothing could erase the memory.

Memories from Farthen Dûr returned to his mind as each dead body was taken away. He remembered the death of Ajihad, and what he had told him. "Promise that you...won't let the Varden fall into chaos. They are the only hope for resisting the Empire…." He couldn't help but think that in some way or another he had let Ajihad down and given the Varden lost hope.

Shortly following his demise, Eragon had learned of the supposed fate that had befallen his friend, Murtagh. He had grieved with sorrow and dismay for him, only now he was realizing that it was all for nothing. Never had Eragon been so troubled in all his life. He was thinking about that night, images running through his mind over and over again.

Murtagh. How could he betray us so? After all we had done with him! I thought I could trust him. And now he is the next Dragon Rider and rules under Galbatorix, and I have to kill him. I have to kill my blood brother, my enemy. Murtagh….

A familiar presence entered his thoughts.

How are you fairing, little one?

I wish I could say I was doing well, Saphira. How could Murtagh do this to me? He has deceived the Varden and he has deceived me. And he is my true brother! First I discover Morzan to be my father, and now my brother is next in line for the Forsworn? Murtagh is a traitor, and I was blind to all the signs that pointed to it.

He ran his fingers through his hair before fresh, wet tears streamed down Eragon's cheeks. He let out all of his pent-up emotions as he sobbed for his pains and miseries, for everything that had gone wrong. A wave of pity swept over their connection as Saphira felt the pain he suffered.

Now, Eragon, you must realize that Murtagh may not be doing this out of his own will. He is taking orders from Galbatorix now, which means he is controlled by him. Murtagh could be forced to do his biddings. Do not be angry or discouraged with him, but with Galbatorix. He is the reason for all of your suffering.

He heard a subtle thump from outside. Saphira snaked her head into the tent, stopping directly in front of Eragon. She huffed and short plumes of smoke flared from her nostrils in indignation of her words. Eragon looked up with a small grin on his face. Saphira nuzzled him softly and looked straight into his eyes.

We will destroy that demon and tear him apart limb from limb! He has cast this act of revenge upon himself. He shall get what he deserves. HE WILL DIE!

Saphira roared loudly and stomped her feet, shaking the ground under her mighty weight. Eragon chuckled lightly and wiped the tears from his face.

Aye, that we shall.

I love you, little one.

And I you.

Eragon stood, stretched and threw open the door of his tent. It was only then, with the light of the sun, that he could see Saphira and the extent of the damage from the battle.

Why didn't you remind me to heal you? You're hurt!

It's alright, Eragon. I've been worse. You have a lot on your mind, and my injuries aren't your greatest concern.

They should be. I need to take more care to tend for your wounds when you require it.

Eragon placed his hand on a deep gash on Saphira's neck and uttered, "Waíse heill!" He continued to do this for all of the more severe cuts and burns along her legs, wings, and back until he was satisfied. He leaned against her side, fatigued.

Thank you, Eragon.

Of course, Saphira.

He turned to find Roran walking towards him. He had changed out of his tattered fighting clothes into an elven tunic, properly fitted by their magic. As Eragon had noticed when the dragons from the Agaetí Blödhren had altered his appearance, Roran also appeared quite different. His build was larger and his face was much stonier that it had ever been. He was in need of a shave and had stubbles all over his face. But the most noticeably different was his eyes; they showed pain, sadness, confusion, determination, love and hope. Eragon felt an immense amount of sympathy towards him. He had changed so much since everything had begun.

"Eragon! I was just coming to see you. Mind if I had a word?"

He nodded and followed his cousin to the warmth of a small fire, Saphira close behind. Many elves, dwarves and even some Urgals would give him praise as they passed him, though he only acknowledged them with a slight nod. He refused to accept admiration from all the warriors who fought so hard and achieved so little with him as their leader.

After seating themselves on the ground, there was a long pause of silence. Eragon gazed at his feet, Roran stared into the fire and Saphira hummed deeply, glancing at the both of them.

"I was wondering if I could speak with you about rescuing Katrina."

Eragon gave a fleeting look at Roran.

Saphira, you and I both know that we should finish our training before we fight at Helgrind.

Maybe we wouldn't have to. I believe Oromis would be amenable to granting us a week's time to help Roran and continue our training when we return.

Possibly, but I don't know if it's the right thing to do. I don't want Master Oromis to be angry with us, and we need permission from Nasuada. And I'm not sure if taking Roran along with us is wise. In the past, his love for Katrina could sometimes blind his common sense. If anything, the chances of that happening have increased.

Saphira laughed quietly and her stomach gave a low rumble.

I doubt Oromis would be angered. Roran means a lot to you. He will see this not as a sign of weakness or foolishness, but of noble effort. I'm confident that Nasuada will understand the situation as well. As for taking Roran, I suggest he comes along. I have seen him in action and am convinced that he will prove a valuable asset. He is a skilled fighter, though vulnerable in comparison to elven standards, and I believe the fact that he's fighting for his love will drive him to be tough competition rather than dissuade his logic.

Perhaps. Roran has changed so much since I left Carvahall. There may be some secrets we have yet to learn about him.

Roran glanced between Eragon and Saphira with a frustrated look, sensing the private conversation they were having, before continuing.

"We've been here for two days and have done nothing. I don't think sitting here is going to help her. We need to leave at once! Start recruiting small armies and plan an attack. I don't know how much longer the Ra'zac are willing to hold her captive. This is not a question, Eragon. You promised me."

Eragon looked at Roran intently, keeping his gaze firm and unwavering.

"Aye, Roran. I promised you that I would help rescue Katrina and avenge our father, but I don't know if we can leave just yet."

"What? And why not?"

Roran rose to his feet, shouting at Eragon, his fists clenched. It was rare that Eragon ever saw him with this kind of rage.

"How could there ever be a reason to wait while Katrina's life is in the hands of those… monsters!Do you wish for her to die? Do you insist upon going against your word?"

Saphira roared angrily, short flames shooting from her mouth. She leapt over to where Roran stood and forced a paw on his stomach, holding him to the ground.

You shall not think so lowly of our word, Roran, for we have every intention of keeping it. Eragon and I are bound to our actions and our promises. You ask us to help you as if it were easy for us to do. We have numerous obligations to fulfill before we can aid you on your journey. You have much to learn, cousin of Eragon. Do not give us so quick a judgment.

She glared into his eyes, meaning to show her fury. Although most humans or elves would have turned their eyes away, he refused. When they flickered with a vague sense of fear, she snorted, satisfied, and leaned back to a sitting position, removing her paw. He lay in the dirt for a moment, going over what had just happened and what Saphira had told him, before sitting back up and returning his eyes to the fire.

Do you think I was too hard on him?

Her eyes sparkled humorously.

I don't know, but I'm sure he got the idea.

"Roran, it's complicated. Our loyalties are bound to many people. We can't let them down just as much as we can't back down on our word to you. It's very difficult. It would take a great deal of time to tell you everything."

Roran looked up at Eragon, anger still flashing in his eyes.

"It appears that we have the time, cousin. I wish to know why all this must be so complex. I want an explanation."

Eragon nodded.

"I can't tell you everything, but I will tell you what I can. You must promise in the Ancient Language that you will not repeat any of this to anyone, with the exception of those trustworthy and who already know."

With Roran's agreement and consent, Eragon talked him through the words, meanings and pronunciations of his promise in the Ancient Language before it was made. With this reassuring him, Eragon began to tell of his training with Oromis in Ellesméra.

"We must return to Master Oromis and complete our training before we can defeat Galbatorix and restore peace to this land. We will be a stronger force against the Ra'zac and the Lethrblaka, and all other perilous creatures, if we do. I don't know if I can attend to Helgrind with you before then. I know your first intentions are to disagree with me, but… There's not much else I can say."

An uncomfortable silence passed between them before Roran finally spoke.

"How long will this training take?"

Eragon frowned.

"Many months, I imagine."

"Eragon, we don't have that kind of time! Katrina's life is at stake!"

"Calm yourself, Roran! They won't kill Katrina for quite some time."

"And how do you know this? What makes you know everything?"

Saphira huffed and started trudging towards him before Eragon put his hand on her shoulder.

No, Saphira, not now.

"I know this because Galbatorix is using her as leverage to get to me. She is no use to them dead."

Roran was still fuming, but seemed to agree with his reasoning and relaxed.

Eragon thought for a moment.

"I shall go to my liege lord, Nasuada, to ask for her guidance and see what she recommends me to do. I have sworn to share any information I have with her. Should she advise that I go to Ellesméra first, I swear to you that when our training is complete, I will find you and we will go to Helgrind and kill every Ra'zac and Lethrblaka in sight, and we will rescue Katrina. If not, you and I will head for Helgrind within the next day or two."

Roran grunted. Eragon put a hand on his shoulder.

"Roran, I'm asking you to trust me, and Saphira as well."

Roran hesitated, and then nodded.

"I trust you, Eragon, and Saphira, too. I will be waiting for you to tell me what the final decision is. But please remember that Katrina is in the hands of vile beasts for each day we wait to attack. I don't want to reach the day when waiting is futile."

"You needn't fear of that, Roran. You are my cousin, my brother in spirit, and I will do everything in my power to help you and Katrina."

We wish to see her return safely as much as you do. She is in our best interests at heart, Roran. We will come to you when it is time.

Eragon smiled and took his hand from Roran's shoulder. He stood and started to walk away.

"Where are you going?"

"I'm going to Nasuada now, to tell her of our plans. The sooner she knows of this, the better."

Roran nodded and turned back to the fire as Eragon and Saphira walked to the war counsel area, where they were most likely to find their liege lord.

I suppose that went well. I expected him to put up more of a fight.

Ha. Did you see the look on Roran's face when you trampled him?

Yes, I did. And that's how all of our enemies should look. They should know better than to fight us, when they know they will fail miserably.

He reached for his sword out of habit when he realized that he no longer had Zar'roc. He sighed with a frown.

Don't worry, little one. We will find you a sword that's better suited for you.

Yes, a sword without a cruel and fearful past would be fit. Maybe it's better off with Murtagh. It was his father's, after all, and I refuse to believe that we were sired by the same man.

You could be right. While we train with the elves, we shall see if we can find answers to your true parentage and put an end to the speculations.

Eragon nodded and, with this thought in mind, entered Nasuada's tent. He was surprised to find that she wasn't alone; he found a table in the center surrounded by Nasuada, Orik, some elves of the Varden, Nar Garzhvog and other sociable Urgals, and Arya. Even dressed in her elven armor, she looked as elegant as ever. The smell of fresh pine trees wafted past him. He gulped softly.

You mustn't worry over her, Eragon. You'll just make a fool of yourself.

I know.

He breathed deeply.

"Lady Nasuada."

Everyone in the room silenced at the sound of his voice, suddenly realizing he was there. Arya caught his eye and gave him a small smile, which he returned. He put his hand at his chest and bowed before stepping forward to face Nasuada.

"I was wondering if I could speak with you."

"Of course."

She assured everyone that they would continue their meeting at another time and dismissed the counsel. As they all left the tent, Arya lingered.

"Eragon, would you mind if Arya stayed with us?"

He flinched, but realized that she had the right to know.

"Not at all. I'm sure she would find out what I have to say sooner or later."

Arya eyed him curiously as they both seated themselves close to Nasuada. Saphira bent her head in as far as she could.

"So, what is this matter you wish to discuss?"

She folded her hands on the table and looked at him intently.

"To put it simply, Roran wishes for me to accompany him in rescuing his fiancé from the Ra'zac in Helgrind as soon as possible. I have sworn to him that I will help rescue her and kill every Ra'zac and Lethrblaka I find. I am asking to confirm your blessings on this, and to receive a recommendation on when I should take this course of action."

Nasuada leaned back and crossed her arms, contemplating.

"When did Roran approach you with this?"

"The night of the attack, and again just moments ago."

"I see…"

She continued to ponder his words, leaving Eragon and Arya to sit in a painful silence. His fingers were entwined, fidgeting as they sat on the table. Arya remained calm and serene, but would glance at Eragon every so often out of the corners of her eyes.

"Well, Eragon, since the need has risen, and his terms seem reasonable enough, I give you my permission to help your cousin Roran. I am hesitant to send you off to such dangerous territory so soon, and it is my belief that your services are most useful here with the Varden, but seeing as those vile creatures could cause her significant harm in the months you would be gone for your instruction and he is your relative, you have my consent to go. By the time you have completed your task, we will be in the Beor Mountains. Go there and come to me the moment you arrive. From there, you will go to Ellesméra for your training. You must come back to help the Varden when it has been fulfilled."

"Your words and guidance are important to me. Thank you, Nasuada. Vel eïnradhin iet ai Shur'tugal."

He rose, bowed, and stepped out.

At least we have that taken care of, but what to do now? We aren't leaving for Ellesméra or the Beor Mountains yet, and gathering an army at this time would be pointless as half of them are still healing and weapon repairs are in order.

Given Nasuada's consent, traveling to Helgrind is our first priority. As this rescue is under Roran's control, you should tell him immediately of the news. Then you can start making plans with him.

It's just so strange, having Roran here the way he is. He has become the leader of our people. Some look up to him as a hero for all that he's done for them. And it was all for a forbidden love.

Does that not sound familiar, my Rider?

He hesitated.

I don't mean to taunt you, Eragon, but you cannot pursue love if it is not returned.

I know, Saphira, but I can't deny my feelings for Arya. I can push them away, but never completely. I value her companionship more than anything, even though I know deep down I want more than that.

Yes, but know that what you want may be something you will never get. The sooner you accept it, the easier it will become.

I understand. I just wish it were simpler.

He sighed heavily, his voice and thoughts tainted with lost hope. As he walked to where his cousin's tent was pitched, he felt Arya approach him, ever so softly cringed, and turned.

"What is it, Arya Svit-kona?"

"I wish to accompany you to Helgrind."

He was startled with her bluntness and taken off-guard. With many of the elves here to fight with the Varden's forces, he had assumed she would remain with them.

"May I ask why you feel you must join me?"

She faltered briefly.

"I am your guardian, Shadeslayer, and it would be poor judgment to not go when perhaps a hundred Ra'zac await you."

His eyebrows squinted together at the thought of Arya being his guardian. He hadn't really thought of it that way before, but in the grand scheme of things, she had protected him more often than not.

"If the poor judgment had to fall in anyone's lap, it would be mine. Your efforts would be better served here with the Varden. I should be back within a week."

He thought that would be the end of the conversation, but Arya pressed on. She was acting differently than usual, though he couldn't pinpoint it.

"To be honest, Eragon Finiarel, I am worried for your well-being. You have suffered recently with the battle, not just in physicality, but in your mind. I know this to be true. I don't doubt your capabilities, but I believe you and your cousin would benefit from my assistance. The decision is yours to make."

She's right. Arya has not been tainted with the thoughts of betrayal as you have. She can defend you if your mind breaks its focus, as would I. With her along with us, we stand a much greater chance of success.

Eragon knew they were both right. He did his best to avoid the nagging feeling in his gut as he returned Arya's gaze.

"You feel strongly about this, then?"

Her head tilted slightly in a nod.

"There is no room for doubt."

She took a step forward, closing the distance between them. Eragon forced himself to stay put.

"If it makes any difference, allow me to travel with you not as your guardian, but as your friend."

Suddenly, his stomach began to flutter about as though he had swallowed a handful of live butterflies. Arya wanted to rekindle their friendship? Perhaps he hadn't had enough faith in her after all, and she valued his companionship as well. His purposes were aligned, and his answer was clear.

"Wiol onr ilian. You're a respected ally, and we would appreciate your company."

Arya seemed relieved with his answer. Her lips curved up in a small but meaningful smile, and she walked back to Nasuada's tent as Eragon ambled away to Roran's.

Well handled, Eragon. It seems your friendship with Arya may be rebuilding.

But how long will it last, do you suppose?

I know not. If you keep your feelings to yourself and put your memories of the Agaetí Blödhren aside, your relationship with her is promising to last. Once you can trust yourself around her, you can open up to her more. It appears she is already beginning to open up to you.

So it seems. While I don't understand the reason for it, I'm glad. I hope it's just that easy and things can be well again.

Tell yourself it will work out for the better and it may become so.

Eragon pondered this as he entered Roran's tent to share with him the final decision of Katrina's rescue and prepare for the mission.


Definitions/Pronunciations

Vel eïnradhin iet ai Shur'tugal. - Upon my word as a Rider.
Wiol onr ilian. - For your happiness.

For additional assistance, go to my profile, scroll down to Information, and select the links I have provided.


This is my third edited version. It was necessary for me to tweak things here and there, partly because I'm changing a few things around and partly because I wrote this a few years ago. Hopefully, what I have now will satisfy my needs and yours as well.

Check out my profile for updates!

Please review and leave comments, as well as constructive criticism. Feel free to send me PM's as well if you have any good ideas for what I should do with the progressing chapters, because I need them! Thanks!

Sé onr sverdar sitja hvass!

pupdawg66