Disclaimer - I do NOT in any way own anything from the Inheritance cycle.
I have at last updated the third chapter! I'll admit that it's not very exciting, but bear with me for the moment. I have to create the transition between the aftermath of a battle, a funeral for a ruler with the one to take his place in tow, and the Rider and our fellow main characters getting to Helgrind on a rescue mission. I also have to insert something about the third dragon and rider sometime soon, and maybe some tidbits of Murtagh…
Anyways, I hope you enjoy this chapter!
Eragon wasted no time in packing his things. He didn't have much as it were, but he wanted to make sure that he could leave as soon as possible if he wanted to make it to Hrothgar's funeral promptly. He still hadn't come up with anything to say for a speech, but he reassured himself that he had Saphira and Arya if he needed any help. Not that anyone would give too much thought to what he had to say; everyone was still in mourning for the great King. What the Varden and dwarves were looking forward to was figuring out who would take his place.
After going through his bags a second round to make sure he wasn't forgetting anything, he swung them over his shoulder and walked out of his tent.
The outside looked similarly as it had the day before. The only difference was that the sound intensity had noticeably increased and people were scurrying here and there in every which direction. It was total chaos, though not nearly as appalling as the Battle of the Burning Plains. Eragon didn't know where he should go, or how he would brave pushing himself through the crowd of furiously-moving natives. He stood in front of his tent, immobilized as he bit back the temptation to sigh and roll his eyes.
He looked down to his feet, his boots already partially covered in mud. Apparently it had rained during the night, water covering everything in sight. A large puddle lay in front of him. He had taken no notice of it before, but now it seemed to stand out more than nearly anything else. He stepped closer to it and looked down. He saw his reflection and was slightly startled at what he saw: A young man with disheveled hair, barely visible stubble and a look of uncertainty stared back at him. His entire face looked drained and worn from a lack of sleep and exhaustion- all except his eyes. There was a fire and determination in them that he hadn't seen often before. Just looking at them made him realize that it would take a lot to bring him down, no matter the fear or worry he felt within him.
With this new encouragement in his thoughts, he looked up from the ground and smiled. He began to walk across the field of people, but had a better idea occur to him. He reached into his mind and searched for his beloved dragon, finding her almost immediately.
Eragon! It's good that you're up and ready. You have packed, I presume?
Of course. I have been waiting for this day ever since the battle ended; you could even go as far to say since it began.
And what day would that be, my rider?
The day we leave this crestfallen place. The only thing I look forward to now is when we make our way back to Ellesméra. I would feel much safer once we returned there.
And I as well. The faster we get to Roran's fiancé, the sooner we can finish our training and perhaps end the reign of the devilish and insane Galbatorix once and for all.
Aye, I'll cheer for that. He paused as he remembered what he originally contacted her for. Saphira? Could you perchance come to get me and fly us to the center of camp?
The sapphire dragon chuckled. What exactly do you have in mind? I know you can walk there.
Well then, by all means, I am coming for you.
Eragon couldn't resist the urge to express amusement.
"What in the name of Alagaësia are you laughing about?!"
He turned to find himself facing Roran, arms crossed and an eyebrow raised.
"Oh, um… nothing in particular."
"Uh-huh. Well, you best wipe that grin of your face before people start to think you've gone mad. Not that they don't already." He smirked, earning a comical glare from Eragon and a soft punch in the arm.
Before he had time to retort, a shift of wind and earth-shaking thump from behind told him that his ride had arrived. Roran jumped, as he hadn't yet grown accustomed to Saphira's appearing out of nowhere.
As he tied his bags to the saddle on Saphira's back, Eragon turned his head towards Roran. "Would you like a ride? We're going to the center of town to bid farewell to all the others before we leave, and to collect any last-minute supplies or gifts or-" Eragon stopped himself as he saw the look on Roran's face: dread. His eyes had grown large and his lower jaw had dropped. Eragon continued to smile as he realized Roran probably hadn't heard anything past him asking to take a ride.
"You want m-me to ride that d-dragon?" he stuttered.
That dragon has a name, you know. Saphira huffed in feigned annoyance, joining in the mockery at Roran's expense. It's not as though I'll let you fall off. We won't be flying that high, anyway.
"You're going to have to ride Saphira into Helgrind. You may as well give it a try before we leave."
Roran nodded with reluctance and started towards the dragon, immediately beginning to regret his decision. When he indicated to Eragon to go in front of him, he shook his head.
"You better go first, Roran. Trust me." Only a hint of sarcasm tainted his voice. He helped Roran climb onto Saphira's back, placing one of his feet in the footholds and telling him to swing his other leg around as he would on a horse. Roran did as he was told and soon found himself up close to the dragon's scaly neck with his cousin sitting close behind.
"Now grab hold of one of those spikes on her neck. Don't worry; it won't hurt her - or you." Still struck with shock, he did so without hesitation.
I'm assuming this is what you had in mind?
Shall we make this more interesting, then, my rider?
Anything that could make Roran scream is well worth the effort. They both had wide smiles on their faces now, unable to hide their enjoyment. With a surge of strength and a push from Saphira's legs, they were in the air.
They didn't have far to fly, but Saphira took every opportunity to prolong their time in the sky. She performed numerous aerial stunts, all exquisitely and remarkably done, though Roran didn't seem to agree. Some of the people from below waved at them, and he just huddled himself closer to Saphira, his grip on her spike and the saddle tightening. When she executed a loop-de-loop that nearly threw Roran out of the saddle, he screamed for dear life. Eragon simply shook his head with an amused smile and told him 'just to hold on'.
When they neared the camp, Eragon let go of Saphira and stretched his arms out to each side, tilted his head towards the heavens and breathed in the cool air. One of the moments where he felt most happy was when he was flying with Saphira. Never did he feel more exhilarated or joyful or free.
"I really think you should try this, Roran." he yelled over the thrashing winds.
Roran merely shook his head, determined to stay on.
"Why can't you just take a leap of faith? Neither Saphira nor I will let you fall."
"It's too risky!" Roran cried back, both of his arms wrapped around the scale in front of him.
"But what's life without risks?" Eragon replied, raising an eyebrow and smiling as the wind embraced him.
Roran heaved a sigh, attempting to calm himself, as he slowly began to let go. His arms drifted upward, his hands shaking. The saddle groaned under the pressure as his feet and legs pressed harder against it. Eventually, his arms were fully extended with Eragon's, the wind slapping against him and his arms continuing to shake.
Eragon laughed with pleasure and Saphira joined him as they glided to the earth's floor. They landed with another gentle thud. Eragon leaned forward so Roran could rotate his neck slightly and see him.
"Now, that wasn't so bad, was it?" he asked, a mocking grin slowly making its way to his face.
Eragon jumped off and looked around for any signs of his liege. He tried to recall if Nasuada or Orik had specifically mentioned a place to meet, but couldn't. Wishing he had asked for specifics, he frowned and folded his arms.
A resounding crash from behind startled him. He turned and saw Roran lying in a heap next to Saphira, who was making a strange noise from her mouth, her chest moving in and out at a rapid pace: laughter. Eragon smirked and quickly stopped himself when Roran looked up and glared at him.
"I'm glad you're the Rider and not I. That was one of the most horrifying experiences I will ever -"
Saphira lifted a foot and slammed it to the ground, causing the earth to shake violently, but only for a moment. Roran squealed in fright and pushed himself up from the ground in haste. It was only after he was on his feet that he realized what she had done. Eragon was bent over his knees in hysterics, barely keeping himself up.
"You are absolutely incorrigible!" Roran exclaimed, stomping towards Eragon.
"No, please…stop, I can't…I can't help it…it was just…" he managed to say amidst his fits of laughter.
"It was just hilarious, right? One of the funniest moments you've ever seen and wished you could watch again?" Roran spoke with menace and frustration in his voice as he closed in on his helpless cousin.
"Oh, come on, Roran! You have to admit it was funny."
"Sure it was - for you." Roran took a couple more steps towards him before pouncing. They wrestled in the wet grass, laughing like young children. Saphira watched over them in amusement, shaking her head at their absurdity.
Eragon threw Roran off of him and put his forearm against his neck and his free hand on his shoulder, holding him to the ground with no escape.
"Just like old times, eh, Roran?" They looked each other in the face, still smiling and out of breathe from their skirmish.
"Yeah… Just like old times."
They helped each other to their feet, brushing themselves off and slowly gaining their maturity back. Eragon faced his cousin, smiling without a care in the world.
"I have to go look for someone to say goodbye to before we leave. You should stay here until then."
"Sure. I'll be here." Roran looked up at Saphira. "She won't…you know, do anything to me, will she?"
"If she does, it'll be out of good humor or boredom." Eragon winked at Roran and turned to meet the tents and the deserted field where he would be leaving for Helgrind. He examined all of the faces of the people and grunted in disappointment when he didn't find anyone he was looking for. But at the sound of distant yelling, his attention turned towards the voices, and he smiled in relief.
Eragon made his way towards Nasuada, who was in a heated discussion with one of the soldiers who had apparently dozed off while on duty.
"…and if you ever come up with such a pathetic excuse again, I'll have your hide - not to mention your post. Do I make myself clear?"
"Y-yes, Lady Nasuada, I'm s-sorry." The soldier appeared terrified. He looked young, in his early twenties, and had a child-like face that one wouldn't expect to see in a war. He was clasping his oversized tunic in his hands, squeezing it between his fingers. His grip must have been tight, Eragon thought, because his hands were white as a sheet.
Nasuada sighed. "I'll let you off with a warning. As a new recruit, you're still adjusting to everything. Just know that every soldier is important in an army. Every voice is heard, and every recruit is acknowledged. But each man has to carry his own weight and responsibility. Remember that, and promise me that this won't happen again."
"Oh, I promise, Lady Nasuada!" His face suddenly brightened, a smile decorated on his face and his eyes twinkling. "Thank you! Thank you so much!" He bowed to her and strode away, cheerfulness in each step.
Eragon approached her from behind and cleared his throat. She turned to face him, evidently having sensed his presence in advance.
"Eragon. You come at last."
"So it would appear." He bowed respectfully. "How are things?"
"Well enough. This treacherous and demoralizing land is finally getting back to normal." She looked at some of the soldiers carrying dead bodies or burned belongings off to one of the piles of them surrounding the encampment. Then she looked into Eragon's eyes. "You know, we don't really want you to go. We really do need you here. A whole host of problems could happen to us while you're gone…"
"Don't sound so cynical. You'll all be fine. Now that all of Carvahall has found us, they can help you fight. And besides, I'll be returning after I help Roran, and once I complete my training in a matter of months." He took her hands in his reassuringly. "You're a great leader. If you got everyone here this far, you can get them through whatever is coming ahead. I'm sure of it."
She smiled at him and returned his grasp appreciatively.
"The same goes to you, Shadeslayer. You have earned yourself much reverence these past weeks. I can only hope that what you learn in Du Weldenvarden will strengthen your will of heart and mind as well as body and soul, especially after your duel with…" Her voice faded and she shook her head, looking down. When she looked up and saw the look on Eragon's face - full of fear, torment and uncertainty – she sympathized.
"Eragon, I do not mean to trouble your mind so. The pain it must put you through just at the mention of his name…I'm sorry."
"No, don't be." Absentmindedly, he pushed her apology and pity aside, not wanting to hear any more of it. He let go of her hands and stepped away. "He is my brother, no matter how much I hate the fact. It cannot be changed or undone. I must learn to deal with the truth, no matter how unpleasant or brutal it is."
Nasuada walked up to Eragon and placed a hand on his shoulder. "I meant what I said those days before, about how our opinion of you hasn't changed. Just because Murtagh is your blood brother doesn't make you any more or less like him. It is not your actions that define who you are, but it is your choices. You, Eragon, have chosen to fight for the Varden and against Galbatorix. That is what makes you the man you are today. Let no one tell you otherwise."
He turned and looked at her, tears welling up in his eyes and an indebted smile embellishing his face. "You are truly wise for telling me such words of understanding and good sense. Your father was a great man, and I have never been happier that you are the one to tread in his footsteps." Nasuada faintly blushed and glanced at the ground before returning her eyes to his.
"You have no idea how grateful I am for what you have told me." A tear trickled down his cheek, falling to his tunic without a sound. "I wish I could do more than simply thank you, but regrettably it's all I have to offer."
Eragon bowed with as much revere as he could, letting another tear fall and splash to the already moist ground below.
Nasuada put her hand on his chin and lifted him up to see her eye to eye. She leaned forward and pressed her lips against his forehead gently. "I am blessed enough to be in your presence, Shadeslayer, let alone to have you praise me with such high regard. You needn't feel any remorse for not bearing more than gratitude, for sometimes that can be all that gets us through the day. That and faith."
"And optimism." Eragon added, a small grin returning to his lips as he wiped his eyes.
Now on his feet and standing up straight, Eragon looked Nasuada in the eyes as they smiled at each other.
"Are you ready, Shadeslayer?"
He was slightly taken aback to see Arya standing next to them. He had no signs of how long she had been there. She may have listened to everything they had discussed without his knowing. He shook off the thoughts of it and looked back at Nasuada.
"Peace be with you, my Rider."
"And you as well, my liege."
He bowed once more and turned to face Arya.
"Are you ready to leave, Eragon?" she asked again.
He inhaled deeply. "I just have to find Orik. Then we may go."
"He is with the other dwarves. They're with Saphira and your cousin as we speak."
Eragon nodded and started to walk off towards them, Arya striding next to him. After a few moments of silence, Arya broke the barrier.
"I agree with Nasuada."
"What about, exactly?"
"About you and Murtagh." His breathe froze as he realized how much she had heard and seen, but he sustained walking as Arya continued. "He is an entirely different person. What he has done and what you have done prove that. You rescued me from Galbatorix and saved my life; you fought for the Varden when his soldiers attacked and defeated Durza; you dueled with Oromis and Glaedr and learned a great deal of wisdom from them that no other being could have learned; and just days ago, you fought for the Varden again and proved yourself a skilled and loyal Rider. Those aren't things Murtagh has done, but what you have done."
She stopped and looked at him. "The world would be a horrid and unpleasant place if you weren't here, Eragon. Just your existence brings everyone hope. You are not your brother, nor your father. You are who you choose to be."
Eragon gazed at Arya with a new respect and admiration. He hadn't realized how much he had done in such little time, nor had he comprehended how significant he had been. She had spelled it all out to him effortlessly, when he would've taken days to come to the same conclusion.
"I…Thank you, Arya Svit-kona."
"What for, Shadeslayer?" she said with a small grin and a raised eyebrow.
He returned the smile warmly. "You understand how different we are, Murtagh and I. He is like our father, and I take after Brom and Roran. Only good-natured people raised me and taught me what I know. Murtagh has taken a much more sinful and difficult path. I only wish that whatever influence Galbatorix has over him will fall and that he'll see the light in all this darkness."
Eragon closed his eyes and shook his head despairingly. "He doesn't deserve this…"
He felt a hand softly grasp his forearm. "He will break free from Galbatorix's hold, Eragon-finiarel. You have to believe that." he heard Arya mumble.
He nodded in agreement and looked back up at her. "Then I will choose to have faith." he said with a small grin, which she returned. They resumed walking in silence until they reached Saphira, Roran and the dwarves.
"There ye are, Shadeslayer!" Orik said as he ambled up to them. "Some of the dwarves are getting a bit restless and would like to get a move on. Think you can make this trip a quick one? What say you, Eragon?"
Eragon glanced at Roran. "Tell the dwarves to make sure they have everything they need. We intend to return within the week. We will leave shortly after our arrival."
"Oeí, sure thing!" Orik turned and walked towards the pack of diminutive bearded men and informed them of the situation. They must have been eager to leave quickly, Eragon thought, because they all cheered when Orik finished speaking to them.
As Eragon retied all his belongings to Saphira's saddle and made sure he wasn't forgetting anything, Roran approached him.
"I-I think I'm a bit…nervous. I don't know what lies ahead. I've seen the ferocity of those blasted creatures, but… I haven't a clue how terrible they are in Helgrind. And who knows what condition Katrina is in?!" Roran said with some unease. Eragon looked up at him. "Who knows that could happen in this volatile, degenerate world these days, right?"
Eragon walked over to him. "We're going to be fine. Everything is going to work out. We will kill those godforsaken Urgals and save Katrina. We'll conquer them all, Roran, and make them wish they never stepped foot in Carvahall - I swear that to you."
Roran nodded. "I believe you. I just wish the day for her rescue would have already passed. Each day I live without her eats away at my insides. I have dreams about her sometimes- terrible nightmares, actually… I want all of this to stop, Eragon. I want it all to end."
"That makes two of us. And it will end. I'll complete my training with Oromis and Glaedr in Du Weldenvarden and know more about the dragon riders and their legacy than ever before. Everything I need to learn and know about how to ultimately overthrow Galbatorix is there. Hopefully the ceremonies in Farthen Dûr will be over quickly so I can be on my way."
Eragon looked into Roran's eyes and placed his hands on his shoulders. "We can do this."
Roran followed suit and clutched Eragon's shoulders. "No, my brother - we will do this." They both smiled.
Eragon looked at Saphira, who returned his gaze, and they headed towards the empty field, at last prepared to leave. When he was sure everything was set, Eragon nodded in approval and mounted Saphira, then helped Roran up behind him.
When Nasuada's eyes met his own, he smiled reassuringly. She smiled back, a small tear trickling down her face.
He spotted Arya meandering with the crowd, walking a horse alongside her.
Would you like a ride?
I have a horse, and I can run just as quickly.
I know, but you deserve the rest as much anyone else. It's the least I can offer.
Thank you, but I'm fine. She spoke with a slightly brusque tone as she swung herself onto her saddle and began to gallop away. Eragon watched her leave and shook his head.
Are we ready, young one?
Aye. It's time to go.
Eragon looked back at the crowd and waved a final goodbye. Saphira drew in a large amount of air and thrust herself from the ground, into the sky and heading northeast.
So, what did everyone think? Yet again, this chapter has been edited. Kind of boring, I know, but I felt I needed to make the scene of Eragon leaving the Varden a bit emotional. They need him there to defend and protect them, but he needs to rescue Katrina and finish his training in Ellesméra with Oromis and Glaedr before he can help anyone else.
What's up next? The following chapter will be all about the battle of Helgrind and the rescuing of Katrina - assuming she's still alive, that is… (I'm just evil, I know.)
What is supposed to happen once they return and head for Farthen Dûr: You will learn of King Hrothgar's funeral and who is going to take his place. And don't think I've forgotten about Elva. I intend for her to be healed soon, too, though I cannot promise or tell you what the results of Eragon's reversing spell will be. (Ooh, a plot twist, perhaps?) Some of you want to know what is going on with Murtagh and how he is living with dear old Galby; I'm considering having a portion of the chapter flash over to him and whatever pain or torture he might be going through, but I'm not sure at the moment… If you feel this should be included, drop me a note saying so!
As usual, if you have any comments/criticism/suggestions/questions, just leave a review and I'll see what I can do about it!
Vel eïnradhen iet ai Shur'tugal.