It was almost as if the world had stopped.
He stood there, his grip on his sword slowly loosening until it finally slipped from his hands, and stared down at the broken man below him.
It was over. It was truly and finally done with. The Varden had won and Galbatorix had been overthrown. It was done.
He turned to look at the sound of the familiar voice and suddenly his heart was filled with an overwhelming happiness.
"Arya," he murmured, pulling her body close to his and relishing the touch. Throughout the battle he'd barely had time to check on her and Eridor and, although he knew they were fine on their on, it was a relief to know that they had survived, that they were still standing here today.
"Are you alright?" she asked quietly, bringing her hand up to his cheek.
He nodded slowly and grinned. "I feel better than I ever have."
A small smile overtook her face and, before he could say anything else, she kissed him with more passion than ever before. It didn't even matter that there were hundreds and hundreds of people probably watching them right; all that mattered was the feel of her lips against his.
Everything was amazingly perfect.
"Way to steal the show."
Eragon pulled away from slowly, letting their lips hover gently over the other for a small second before turning to his brother.
"Sorry," he said, grinning at the sight Murtagh's beaming face. Nasuada was standing next to him, her arm linked through his, and she too wore a huge smile. He turned to look at Arya, who was rolling her eyes at Murtagh's comment, and lightly kissed her forehead.
"Well, this place is a complete mess," Murtagh said, motioning to the battlefield around him. "It looks like we've got a lot of work ahead of us."
Eragon turned to look at his surroundings, his gaze quickly finding the huge golden dragon laying perfectly still only a hundred or so feet away. He sighed heavily, sadness enveloping his heart, as he strode towards Glaedr. Oromis was laid out peacefully on the ground a few feet away from his faithful dragon. Eragon looked at them both and bowed his head in respect. Glaedr and Oromis had been his and Saphira's teachers, but they had also been more than that; they were their mentors and their friends. And it killed Eragon to lose them, but he knew that their deaths had not been in vain.
"We will have to give them a proper funeral," Arya murmured, placing her hand in his. She squeezed it comfortingly.
"Yes," he agreed, "a funeral fit for a Rider."
Eragon turned away from the great dragon and his Rider and turned to his own dragon. Saphira stood proudly next to Eridor and Thorn, looking on at them with a great mixture of sadness and joy.
We did it, Eragon said, beaming at her.
You did so wonderfully, she murmured, bending her neck down and nudging him softly with her snout. I am so unbelievably proud of you, little one.
Thank you, Saphira, but you know that I could have never done this without you.
We are a team, she agreed, and I could not have chosen a better partner.
Eragon felt a deep rush of both gratitude and an overwhelming love at her words and he knew she was right. Saphira was apart of him now, and he knew that he could not live without her by his side.
"I have to ask, Eragon," Murtagh said, coming up behind him, "how did you do it? Galbatorix had put the strongest barrier around himself. No one should have been able to get through it."
"Well," Eragon said, grinning widely, "I shouldn't have been able to get through it, and I definitely didn't get through it. He was actually standing right next to me when he cast the spell. I was lying right at his feet, only a few feet from you. So, in his haste, he cast the spell around me, therefore bringing around his downfall."
Arya's eyes narrowed. "I dread to think of what could have happened if Galbatorix had not been so…"
"Stupid?" Murtagh said, finishing her sentence. She laughed lightly and nodded. "Yes," he continued, "so do I."
"I say that we let the past stay in the past and celebrate the present," Nasuada said. "Let us be thankful that we made it out alive and whole, ready to move on to a brand new future."
"Well said, My Lady," a voice said from behind them.
"Roran!" Eragon said, relief sweeping through his body. His cousin was alive and well and Eragon could not be happier. He brought Roran into a hug, not caring if the action made him look immature in any way; he was just glad that Roran survived.
"Yes, yes, I have survived!" Roran said, chuckling as Eragon pulled away. "You were brilliant out there, Eragon. And Murtagh, I don't think you could have done any better. That looked like some fancy magic back there. I was worried half to death for you both. But you two have saved the day, and now our future has never looked so bright."
Eragon chuckled and patted his cousin on the back. "Thank you, Roran, but from what I saw you did quite amazing out there as well. "
Roran shrugged. "I did what I could."
"Shadeslayer!" another voice called out to them. Orrin strode towards them, a huge smile on his face. "I am so glad to see you are well. After everything that has happened I would have expected you to pass out right here at this very moment. Do you not need any medical attention?"
"I am quite well, thank you, King Orrin." And it was the truth. He knew that any second now the effects of Galbatorix's toying with his mind would make its presence known, but for now his mind was so incredibly clear that he had never felt any better. The headaches would soon come, but now he was most definitely quite well.
"Good, good," Orrin grinned, turning quickly to Nasuada and his face turned suddenly businesslike. "We have much to discuss, My Lady, most important of which being who we shall choose to reign all of Alagaësia."
"Yes," Nasuada murmured, "of course. But we have had a long and trying day. Let us sleep tonight and tomorrow we shall make plans for our future."
"If that is what you wish," Orrin said, nodding slowly, "then that is what will happen. If you want my opinion, though, I think you would make an excellent queen, Nasuada. Perhaps you should consider it."
She shook her head and Eragon already knew her answer. "I have no desire at all to rule over this land. I would like whomever we choose at least want to do it, don't you agree?"
"Of course," Orrin said, smiling lightly. "Well, I bid you all goodnight. I shall see you tomorrow, bright and early."
Eragon watched him slowly retreat before turning back to the others. He wondered who they would choose to take over as king or queen of Alagaësia. Nasuada certainly seemed like the obvious choice, but that wasn't an option anymore. Murtagh would make an excellent king but, judging by the way things were going with Nasuada, he wouldn't want to lead her into that position. Himself and Arya were out of the question; they would be needed to help build up the Dragon Riders and would have no time to rule. Besides, he doubted Arya had any desire to rule any sort of country, including her own.
His gaze swept over to Roran. Now he was definitely an option. He had incredible leadership skills and a loyalty to his people like no other. He would make an excellent king. Eragon smiled to himself; yes, he would definitely bring up Roran's name tomorrow when they started discussing plans for the future.
Eragon laughed at the sound of Arya's groan next to him. Garrik was walking swiftly towards them, a look of exaggerated relief spread across his face.
"I am so glad to see you are well," he said, taking her hands in his and kissing her knuckles. She quickly pulled them away and smiled stiffly.
"Thank you, Garrik," she said shortly. "It is good to see you are well, too."
"If you don't mind, Garrik," Eragon said, taking Arya's hand back in his, "we've all had a long day and we are in dire need of some proper sleep. We will see you tomorrow."
With that he pulled Arya along with him, winking back at Nasuada and Murtagh and leaving a stunned Garrik behind.
"Thanks," Arya muttered, as they walked towards their dragons.
They jumped on their respective dragons quickly and Saphira and Eridor rose gracefully into the air, flying towards their camp. As he looked down at the battered city below him, he did not find anxiety or anger; for the first time he found hope. Hope for a new beginning and a new future, with both Saphira and Arya by his side. It was wonderful to think about and, even though he knew that their would always be struggles in his life and probably many more tyrants who wished to take over the world, he knew that he could overcome them.
After all he was Eragon Shadeslayer, son of Brom, Rider of Saphira, and he was ready to take on anything that came his way.
A/N: Cheesy ending, I know. I couldn't really help it, though, ;D…Probably a bit rushed too… I know it took me awhile to get this up here and I'm so incredibly sorry! I also know that there are about a gazillion things I didn't cover in this story that are going to be covered in the third book (i.e. the Vault of Souls) but I decided to just end it here and let Christopher deal with all that. I know that this ending is probably a bit disappointing for a lot of you, but…well it's not the real book, so at least you'll know that Brisingr is going to be about ten billion times better than this, right? lol.
Thank you all so much for reading! It was really an amazing experience writing this story. To all my faithful reviewer: you guys are amazing and I can tell you right now that if it wasn't for you, this story would not be finished. So, thank you all for letting me post this story and for accepting it with open arms. It was a very humbling experience and, who know? Maybe you'll get a sequel…I can't promise anything right now, but keep your fingers crossed!
So, for one final time, thank you all for everything. It has been a great ride and I'm so glad I could share it with you!