Disclaimer: I do not own any of Christopher Paolini's characters, and I don't have his permission to use them or his settings. I just have a story that I want to tell. The characters you don't know are mine. Please don't use them unless you have my permission.
Note: I've been doing mostly Harry Potter fics, but I've had this story in my mind for about six months now, and I felt like it was time to share it. A shout out of thanks goes to Legalien, who always helps me out of the quagmire of writer's block, to my best friend WanderingAnariel, who adds humor to my fluff, and finally, I want to thank my Eragon mentor, given-inside. Thank you both-you give me the same feelings of hope and joy with your encouragement that I think Eragon, and now Hanna, had when they found their eggs. Oh, and a lot of the names I pick are actually Tolkein's elvish. Silme, for example, means "starlight."
May your swords stay sharp!
It was a time when the world was still at peace with itself. Riders still governed Alagaesia, and Galbatorix was not even born yet, thus his wrath was still in the distant future. While the common people of the land knew and respected the Riders, they were still blissfully unaware of the magic that the Riders wielded. The efforts made towards keeping the magic a secret were great, for if the people knew what power the Riders and their dragon steeds had at their disposal, villagers and town dwellers would rebel out of their own ignorance and fear.
While most Riders were of the elves, human Riders were slowly becoming more common, but there had never been a woman Rider, either Elf or Human. Still, this pattern was changed when a dragon egg hatched when an Elven woman was walking behind it. The leaders of the Riders, though mystified at this newest development, could not deny the dragon from its Rider, and so the woman Silme began to be trained. Still, no human woman had yet entered their ranks, and no one expected for that particular change to come.
But as Silme continued to do extraordinarily well in her training, and when a very young Elf woman by the name of Dara became the second woman Rider, the ruling council of the Riders began to prepare itself for the impossible becoming possible.
One day there could be a human woman that a dragon egg hatched for. And unbeknownst to them, that day was not far away.
In the mountain village of Tudessa, the inhabitants were eagerly awaiting the annual visit of a dragon Rider. Any criminal cases, land disputes, or arguments that the town council had been unable to resolve would be placed before the Rider for judgment, and the people were bound to abide by his words. In two months, the Rider would be there, and thus everything must be perfect. The town's streets must be clean and inviting, the houses aired and freshly painted, and magnificent food must be prepared. The Rider's visit was a stressful time, and because no one wished to look bad before the coming visitor, everything must be perfect.
There was especial pressure on the town's council members, one of which was named Soronin Tirion. He and his wife, Maryla, had the second largest house in Tudessa, and were quite wealthy by the small village's standards. They had four fields to plant, instead of the usual two, and had several men working for them. However, this wasn't enough for Soronin. He wanted more land, more power, more glory, and he only had one way to get it, and that was through his daughter.
Hanna Tirion was the only surviving child of Soronin and Maryla Tirion, and she had known all her life that she was a disappointment. Her father had wanted sons, who could work in the fields for him, marry wealthy girls, thus adding to the family wealth, and eventually carry on the family name. All he got, however, was a daughter, who could not carry on the family name or work in the fields or any of the other things that made sons so desirable. However, she did have one thing that her father fully intended to use for the utmost influence and gain-her beauty. Hanna was known throughout the village as the most beautiful girl to ever be born there. Her dark brown hair fell in glossy curls down to her small waist, her skin was pale, her eyes green as grass in spring, and she was strong enough to bear children, which meant quite a bit in that poor village. As a tool, she could quite possibly prove to be useful to her father, who since her infancy had been planning a match between Hanna and the richest man in the village, the council Elder, Talan Mordesc.
What Soronin Tirion hadn't planned on, though, was for his daughter to be as intelligent as she was beautiful. And with her intelligence, she had no trouble in seeing that Talan was old, greedy, and cruel to all those beneath him. He had already been married once before, and the woman had died after only a year of marriage. Hanna barely remembered the Elder's first bride, Vanesse, but it was whispered throughout Tudessa that when Vanesse had been buried, the woman who bad prepared her body noticed that she was covered in bruises and cuts. She had also been known as quite a strong woman, and the village found it hard to believe that such a young and vigorous girl had died from falling down one flight of stairs. It didn't make sense, they said.
So Soronin turned his ear away from these whisperings and planned to sacrifice his only daughter to Talan, and Maryla was too weak and timid to even venture a complaint against this plan. It was decided that the engagement would be announced just before the Rider's visit, and Soronin would receive two additional fields on the day that Hanna and Talan were wed.
As the days crept closer and closer to her engagement, and what Hanna was sure was also her doom, she began to leave her home and village as much as possible. After getting up early and helping her mother with the household chores, she would silently pack a basket with bread, cheese, milk, and fruit, slip in one of the few books that she was allowed to have, and then would steal away to a path that was placed just behind her house, that led up into the mountains. There, after climbing for half an hour, she would reach her favorite place on earth, a mountain cliff that was covered in wildflowers in the spring, and a tree great up out of the rocks just at the edge of the precipice. She would stand for a moment and look out over the cliff, and would gaze towards the far off lands that she had never and would never see. After looking her fill, the fifteen year old girl would place herself at the foot of the tree, where a few roots had obligingly grown to form a crude sort of chair, and eat her lunch and read her book.
People all over the village had wondered how a village child had been given the opportunity to read and a girl at that. Hanna knew that she was unusual, and was thankful for her small pieces of education. When Maryla had been married to Soronin, she had been quite a wealthy lady from a distant town, and had brought with her some of her father's books, that they might be given to her son one day. Even though she herself did not possess the gift of reading, she wanted her offspring to be able to read the books that her father had loved so well. When it had become apparent that Hanna would be the only child that her mother would have, Maryla had taken the five books, kissed their covers gently, and given them to her daughter.
"Hanna, my daughter, I want to give these books to you. You will not be able to read them, but perhaps one day you will have sons, and they will. Keep them safe, and when you hold them, remember me and my father."
Hanna had been twelve at this point, and still far away from the arranged marriage that awaited her. "But Mother," she had protested, "Won't Father be angry that you've given these to me?"
Maryla shuddered for a moment, and then sighed deeply. "I spoke to him last night about this, and he gave me permission to give these to you. However, it would be best if you didn't speak with him about it unless he asks you. Do you understand?"
The small girl had nodded quickly, and then had carried the precious books away to her room, to be put respectfully on her bedside table and admired from afar. After a while, however, the draw that the books had over her were too strong, and she soon began to spend hours at a time in her room and in the mountains, puzzling over the queer squiggles on the paper and trying to decipher their meanings. After several years of hard effort, and some help from an old man in the village, she was finally able to teach herself to read, and after that she was rarely seen without a book in her hands.
Soronin snorted whenever he saw his daughter with a book, but strangely enough, he never questioned her education. For a man that wanted to be in control over every single aspect of his wife and daughter's lives, he was strangely silent on that one issue.
So Hanna continued on in this way for a while, reading, working with her mother, and dreading the day when her father told her that she was engaged to Talan Mordesc.
The girl, on this particular day, had made her way up to the mountain and had tried to settle down with her book, but for the first time, the story of the past was unable to take her away from the very real present. Earlier that day, she had passed Talan in the road, where she was highly distressed to see him callously beating an old horse. He screamed at it, and whipped it again and again while it struggled to pull a load too heavy for it, until its flanks were covered in foamy sweat and blood. Just as the poor creature had collapsed to the ground, Talan had turned, and seeing Hanna observing the episode with a sick look on her face, he had sent her an evil grin and a lustful wink. Startled by this, she had turned and run away, unable to forget the look of disdain on the man's face. He had looked at her as though she were a new horse to replace the old, and was wondering how much work he could get out of her before she died too.
Rising to her knees, Hanna raised her hands to west, where she had always believed the gods lived and waited, listening to the prayers of their penitents. Please, powerful ones, she prayed silently and passionately, if it is within your power, please save me from this future! I cannot escape it; there is nowhere for me to go. I know what happens to beautiful girls when they arrive in big cities with no way of earning a living. I can't live that kind of life! Please, prevent this marriage! I will do whatever service you desire of me if you will spare me now!
She sat silent for a long time, continually offering her petitions to the western sky, but no answer came. Finally, she stood and began to repack her basket. Perhaps the gods wanted her to go through with this marriage; maybe that was why they were being so silent….should she offer some sort of sacrifice? But what could she give, aside from herself? She had already offered that, and it didn't seem like the gods thought that was enough.
Unable to sit still long enough to even continue packing her basket, Hanna stood and began to walk aimlessly around the mountain precipice, and went towards some rocky formations that she had never fully explored before. She had first noticed the huge boulders a few years ago, but she had never wanted to leave her tree and cliff edge, and so always promised herself that she would investigate the rocks later. Now, however, seemed like a good time, and in her restlessness, she went around and slithered in-between the massive rock sculptures. There were five major boulders which Hanna could now see formed a crude sort of circle, where broken pieces of rock later shattered on the ground, covered in mud, dirt, and faded by the sun. She picked up a small piece of rock, and flipped it over casually in her hand. To her great surprise, the side of the rock that had not been facing the elements was a bright purple! She had never seen a rock like this before, with this gem-like brilliance. Hanna began to pick up other pieces of the broken rocks in her excitement, and found blue, grey, gold, and red pieces as well. What did it mean?
She plunked herself down on the ground in the middle of the stone circle, and began to examine the rock shards more closely. As she held up a garnet shaded piece, a strange rock caught the corner of her eye. She looked more fully at it, and saw that it was sitting in the shelter of one of the massive boulders. Hanna got down on her hands and knees and crawled over to the stone, and pulled it out. To her surprise, it was round and cylindrical in its shape, and a brilliant emerald green in color, just the same shade as her eyes. It had bits of mud and dirt flecked all over it, and Hanna carried it over to her shade tree, where she pulled off some of its massive leaves and used them as a washcloth to dust the stone off. Once it was clean, she rolled it around in her hands.
The sun began to set behind her, and Hanna knew that it was time to return home. Still looking thoughtfully down at the stone, she placed it where she normally sat in her tree-chair, and began to turn away from it to return home. She didn't see what happened as she began to run back down the mountain pass-as the sun set behind it, and the girl returned to her gloomy home, the stone did something it shouldn't have been doing at all.
It wiggled, as if something was alive within it.