Disclaimer: No one from Paolini is mine.

A/N: Wow. Thanks for all of the reviews, you guys! I'm glad you like this story. It's good to see some fresh faces too. Thanks to everyone! I'm updating this story so fast because I'm going to try to get it all up before school starts, because when it does, fanfiction activity for me is going to go way down. But, I'll still submit stories and answer messages and what not, but just not as often. So, thanks for sticking with me! I hope you enjoy this chapter. Yes, it is a little longer than the last one, so it all works out!

Reminder: Murtagh is my favorite character. Would I really kill him off?

Ch. 13: Betrayal

Morzan watched Galbatorix leave the fortress of Uru'baen on Shruikan's back through his window, sighing as he turned away. Knowing Galbatorix, he was probably fed up with all of the failures and was going after Murtagh himself. He wondered how well that plan would work since Murtagh had grown powerful and was also surrounded by powerful friends. Probably not so well…

Why don't you just go after Murtagh yourself? Amafaer wondered, raising his head when he sensed his Rider's anxiousness. Wouldn't that be easier, Master?

The dark Rider sighed, running his hand through his dark hair. One way or another, Murtagh will come here. Morzan replied. Then, my curse will be completed and we can end all of this pointless struggling.

Suddenly, Amafaer growled softly when he heard a sound coming from outside. Someone's coming.

Morzan looked out the window again and saw that a man with long black hair was running toward the castle. His dark eyes narrowed thoughtfully, looking down on the man. Then, he turned away from the window and walked out of the room, heading down the spiraling staircase that led to the entrance hall. He walked to the large double doors and stepped out into the sunlight.

The man had collapsed on the stone steps, and with a closer look, Morzan saw that he was actually an elf. His shirt and pants were ripped and torn in many places, his long hair tangled over his shoulders. His breathing heavy, the elf looked up at the Rider, this dark eyes having a tint of red in them. That's when Morzan noticed the bite marks on his arm.

"So, you are the one my hound bit before it died?" the dark Rider said. "What's your name?"

"Sarin." the elf replied. "I'm here to serve you… Master."

A smile appeared on the dark Rider's face. "A wise choice." Morzan told him, extending his hand out to him. "Come. Let's go inside and get you freshened up."

Sarin allowed himself to be pulled to his feet, smirking when he followed Morzan inside the dark fortress.

Xxxxxxxxxx

The only thing she heard were the sounds of quiet talking.

"Do you think she's going to be all right?"

"I hope so. I don't want anyone dying for me."

"Don't feel bad. You didn't know that the spell would have that effect."

"I don't think she did either…"

Confused about what she was hearing, she slowly opened her eyes. The first things she saw were the anxious faces of three people. After another minute, she realized who they were.

"Agatha, are you all right?" Aianna asked nervously, seeing that the elderly woman was awake.

"I'm all right, dear." Agatha answered, slowly sitting up against the pillow. "Just a little tired, that's all."

"Are you sure?" Murtagh said, gently pushing her back against the pillow.

"Yeah, you gave us quite a scare." Eragon added. "When you collapsed, we weren't sure what had happened."

The shopkeeper sighed irritably at the fuss being made over her. "Yes, I'm fine." Agatha assured them. "You can stop worrying about me now." She then turned her attention to the older Rider. "Murtagh, how are you feeling, child?"

"Great." Murtagh answered with a smile. "Thank you so much, Agatha. I'm glad that you're all right."

"Don't worry, dear. At least your father's curse is lifted." Agatha muttered. "At least Galbatorix won't have another Rider."

Murtagh sighed, deciding not to share what he and Eragon had discussed. The younger Rider looked at his brother, who sent him a warning look in return. They both knew that the curse was lifted for now, but they also knew that their father would try another approach to accomplish his goal.

It was only a matter of time.

Xxxxxxxxxx

Aianna walked through the trees, looking for the spot in the forest where they had spent the morning in. She soon found it, marked only by a small area of disturbed earth. The elf slowly approached it, sitting down on the grass beside her brother's makeshift grave with tears forming in her eyes. She still couldn't accept the fact that her brother was dead because of her. She desperately wanted to believe that this was all just a nightmare, and that she would wake up and everything would be fine.

"You really shouldn't be out here by yourself, you know."

The elf gasped and looked over her shoulder when she heard the familiar voice float over to her. "Murtagh." Aianna muttered, slowly getting to her feet when the Rider entered the clearing. "What are you doing here?"

"Following you." Murtagh told her bluntly. "I saw you leaving the shop on your own and wondered where you were going."

"Sorry if I worried you." Aianna replied, smiling a little as Murtagh approached her. "I just… This all feels like one bad dream, you know? With Aie and everything…"

The Rider sighed as he looked down on the grave, then looked into the elf's eyes. "I know exactly what you mean, Aianna." Murtagh said softly, gently wiping away some of the tears that had fallen from her dark eyes. "There wasn't a day that went by when I was trapped in Uru'baen where I didn't hope that I was only stuck in some nightmare, that when I woke up I would be free. But that wasn't the case. I was forced to swear allegiance to Galbatorix, to serve the man I loathed against my will. My nightmare became my reality.

"But things have gotten better. I have Thorn, Eragon, Saphira, Agatha… you. If I didn't have all of you, I don't know where I would be."

Aianna looked back at him, a small smile on her face despite her tears. "Murtagh…" she muttered, looking up into his eyes.

Murtagh looked back into hers, wiping away some more of her tears as they escaped. "Aianna…"

Suddenly, they both gasped when they heard the sound of cold laughter echoing around them. Murtagh put his arms around Aianna in a sort of protective way as he looked around the clearing, searching for the source of the laughter.

"I'm sorry for breaking up this… touching moment," a voice said, "but it's just that I miss you when you're not around, Murtagh."

Aianna screamed and pointed to one side of the clearing as a figure stepped out of the shadows. Murtagh turned to follow her gaze, and he pushed the elf behind him when he saw who had joined them in the clearing.

It was Galbatorix.

Xxxxxxxxxx

Eragon sighed, looking out at the stormy sky. Aianna and Murtagh had been gone for a while now, and he wasn't even sure where they went. He knew that he shouldn't worry, but his brother had been in too many dangerous situations for him not to feel at least a little nervous…

Eragon!

The Rider gasped as the anxious voice echoed inside of his mind. Saphira, what's wrong? Eragon asked anxiously, looking out of the window of the shop to try to find the blue dragon. But he didn't see her…

Shruikan is here. Saphira answered angrily. Thorn and I are fighting with him now. We're in the forest. That can only mean that Galbatorix is here too. Find Murtagh!

Eragon didn't need telling twice. Making sure that his sword was securely tightened around his waist, he ran out of Agatha's shop and ran toward the forest as fast as he could.

The only problem was, he wasn't sure where Murtagh could be. Eragon thought for a moment as he continued to run. Aianna was with him… Where would they go?

Then, he gasped when he realized where they would be.

Aie's grave.

Hold on, Murtagh. Eragon thought, maneuvering his way through the dense trees. I'm almost there.

Xxxxxxxxxx

"Brisingr!" (fire) Murtagh shouted, aiming a fiery attack at the king.

Galbatorix laughed and raised his hand, creating a shield in front of him. The fire bounced off it and headed back towards its caster.

Murtagh gasped and dove to the ground, covering Aianna as the flames flew over their heads. They hit the tree behind them, setting it ablaze.

"Adurna!" (water) the dark-haired Rider said, sending water onto the burning tree and putting out the flames. Then, he and Aianna got to their feet, Murtagh standing in front of the elf protectively while the king laughed.

"Aianna, I must say you have done an excellent job, my dear." Galbatorix commented with a broad smile. "Thank you for bringing Murtagh to me."

"My king."

If Murtagh hadn't heard her confirm it, he never would have believed that Aianna was actually working for Galbatorix. He turned to look at her, seeing that her face looked pale, her expression strained. "Is it true?" he muttered.

Aianna looked back at him, taking a deep breath. She didn't agree to the question, but she didn't deny it either. But as the Rider looked into her eyes, he could see that she was desperately trying to tell him something silently…

Suddenly, Murtagh cried out in pain as Galbatorix attacked his mind. He dropped to his knees, his hands on his head as the attacks continued. Aianna looked down on him fearfully, tears forming in her eyes as she watched him write on the ground. Then, Galbatorix muttered something else in the Ancient Language, and Murtagh cried out once more before he hit the ground, unconscious.

Galbatorix walked forward and knelt down by Murtagh, picking him up into his arms. His eyes then landed on Aianna, who was looking at the dark-haired Rider with concern. "Let's review. When will you return to Uru'baen?" the king said.

The elf took a deep breath as a few tears escaped from her dark eyes. "When I capture… Thorn…" she replied quietly, not meeting the king's eyes. She gasped when his face suddenly appeared inches away from hers, being forced to meet his gaze.

"I thought I told you not to get attached!" Galbatorix hissed fiercely. "You had better bring that dragon to me quickly. Or else you'll end up just like your brother here." Then, he disappeared into the shadows of the trees with Murtagh to find Shruikan. After a few moments, the black form of the dragon rose above the trees and headed in the direction of Uru'baen.

Aianna watched Shruikan until he was out of sight, then dropped to her knees on the forest floor. Why couldn't she have been stronger? Why did she have to be the weak one? Her eyes moved to her twin's grave. Aie… Why couldn't she have been strong like him?

Tears fell from her eyes as she began to sob freely. She could have done her job on her own, but she didn't, she couldn't. In the eyes of the one who had assigned her the mission, she knew she had failed.

A/N: Hmm… is Aianna really what she seems? Good question. I'm afraid you'll have to wait to find out, though! There's only four more chapters of this story left! Hope you hang in there. Thanks a lot, you guys! Your reviews are much appreciated.