The three of them sat and talked once things had settled down and Alianna was feeling better. She told Eragon, in detail, about the nightmares that had plagued her.
"How long have you had them?" Eragon asked.
"For as long as I can remember." she told him. "They use to happen only once in a while, but over the last year or so, I've had them almost every night. It's usually the same one too."
Alianna asked Eragon if the place she described in her nightmare was familiar to him, but he said he wasn't sure.
"It sounds like a number of places in Alagaesia. I'm sorry. I wish I could be more help."
Eragon said that he knew of someone that might be able to help her once they reached Surda. He wouldn't say much other than her name was Angela.
Eventually, they became too exhausted to speak anymore. They would just have to deal with all of this another time. Alianna was asleep within a few minutes, laying as close to Murtagh as she could possibly get.
The next morning, as Murtagh and Eragon were preparing for their trip to Melian, Murtagh was still worried about leaving Alianna alone.
"It's okay." She assured him.
"If you need me to stay I will." Murtagh said.
Of course Alianna wanted him to stay, but she knew he had to go with Eragon. She told him that she and Thorn would be fine. After all, they would only be gone for a few hours. What could possibly go wrong?
After giving Alianna a quick kiss and telling her that he loved her, Murtagh and Eragon took off.
Alianna did everything she could think of over the next few hours in order to keep herself from worrying. But the only thing that seemed to work, for a while anyway, was writing in her journal. Eventually though, it only added to her stress when her thoughts began drifting back to Argus. Not a day went by when she didn't think of him and wondering if he was alright. She hadn't talked about him either. Not since the day that Murtagh told her that he had scryed him. She kept it to herself since she knew that Argus wasn't Murtagh's favorite thing to talk about.
Just as Alianna finished writing and put her journal away, Thorn spoke to her.
Is everything alright?
Yes. Why do you ask?
You're thinking about Argus again.
I didn't realize you could read minds.
I can't. But I know you. You always have a certain look on your face when you write in your journal. And since Argus was the one who gave it to you…
I worry about him. Who knows what they're putting him though because of me. Or if he's even alive for that matter.
I'm sure he's fine.
It took every ounce of strength Alianna had in her not to start crying. Especially as she recalled those last few minutes that she had with Argus.
I shouldn't have left him behind. I should have tried harder…
Alianna stop! You mustn't blame yourself.
I know, but I can't help it. Argus means a lot to me and I just left him there!
May I ask you a… personal question?
Did something happen between the two of you?
This took Alianna completely off guard. She wondered why Thorn would even ask her that question. He couldn't possibly know about the kiss. Then it hit her.
Does Murtagh think that?
It's not my place to say.
Then why bring it up?
Alianna was getting more annoyed with each second that passed. Thorn caught on quickly.
It was only a question. I apologize if I offended you.
I accept your apology, but I don't wish to discuss this any further with you Thorn. If Murtagh has any concerns, then he needs to speak to me about them.
Alianna knew that Thorn had meant no harm and felt bad for her tone of voice with him. Her feelings for Argus were just not something she wanted to talk about. And even if she did, how could she when she didn't know what they were.
In a more calm voice, Alianna told Thorn that she was going to rest for a while and, if she fell asleep, to wake her up when Murtagh and Eragon came back.
Alianna's rest did not last very long. What seemed like only minutes after she fell asleep, Thorn let out a loud growl.
Her eyes immediately flew open and without any hesitation, she reached for her sword.
The soldiers that were following us are now in Melian and attacking Murtagh and Eragon as we speak.
What? How many are there?
Six or seven. Maybe more.
We have to go help them!
No, Alianna. We can't.
Alianna couldn't believe what she was hearing.
Thorn we have to! They need our help… your help.
Murtagh made it very clear, despite my protests, that I am to stay here with you. His main concern is to protect you and the baby.
I understand that, but you're not seriously going to listen to him? I don't care what he said, we're going!
You could get hurt.
And they could be killed! Is that what you want?
Of course not. How dare you ask such a thing.
Look Thorn, I'm going with or without you. But without you will take longer. And besides, you promised Murtagh that you wouldn't leave me alone.
I don't have a choice then do I?
No, you don't.
Will you at least promise me you'll stay out of harm's way?
Then let's go.
Being so heavily pregnant, it was difficult for Alianna to climb onto Thorn by herself. But somehow she managed it and they took off as soon as she was secure.
Alianna held on tightly as Thorn flew as fast as she could go. Still, she worried that they may not make it in time.
Things were in absolute chaos as Alianna and Thorn reached Melian an hour later. As they made their way down to land, Alianna could hear the sounds of swords clashing and townspeople screaming. Her heart sank as she made her way off of Thorn and counted all of the soldiers. There wasn't just six or seven… more like twenty by her estimation. She was so caught up in what was happening that she hadn't noticed that Thorn was trying to talk to her.
Alianna hide! Now!
Alianna ran as fast as she could into a small ally, narrowly missing several arrows that flew by her in the process. As soon as she thought it was safe enough, looked around the corner, hoping to find Murtagh and Eragon somewhere in the crowd.
Please let them be okay.
She spotted Eragon first, just as he was crushing the end of his sword into a soldier's skull. But where was Murtagh? She could see Thorn was desperately looking for him as well as he took down a group of men with ease. Alianna kept scanning the crowd, but as the minutes went by, and overwhelming sense of fear came over her.
Murtagh can't be dead. He just can't be…
It suddenly occurred to her that Murtagh had probably altered his appearance just before they entered Melian. She began looking more closely and soon enough she found him. He had changed into a different set of clothes and his hair and eyes were lighter, but Alianna knew it was him. She could tell by his mannerisms and his fighting style. She breathed a sigh of relief. Perhaps they would get out of here alive. Alianna knew that between Murtagh, Eragon, and Thorn they could easily defeat the soldiers. She wished she could help them.
Alianna's confidence was quickly shattered when she saw four soldiers corner Murtagh and attack him at the same time. Thorn and Eragon were so busy with their own fights that they didn't see him.
"No!" she screamed.
Without even thinking, Alianna ran out into the street and towards Murtagh. She stopped dead in her tracks when a soldier spotted her and seemed to recognize who she was. The man charged at her, but just as she was reaching for her sword, Alianna found herself being grabbed from behind and dragged back into the alley. Whoever it was put their hand over her mouth before she had a chance to scream.
This can't be happening.
With every ounce of strength she had, Alianna struggled to break free. But it was to no avail. Whoever this person was, and although she couldn't see them she could tell it was a man, they were incredibly strong. But he didn't fight back, even when she repeatedly elbowed him in the side as hard as she could. What surprised her the most, however, was that he was holding her firmly so that she couldn't get away, but gently enough that he wasn't hurting her.
"Shhhh!" he whispered.
All of a sudden, he let Alianna go. She wasted no time taking out her sword, pushing him up against a wall, and putting the sword to his throat. It was then that Alianna was finally able to see his face. She froze.
No, it can't be.
Alianna backed away and immediately dropped her sword. So many emotions came over her- shock, disbelief, confusion, and then sheer happiness. Standing before her was someone she thought she might never see again. Someone she loved very much.