I know, I know, I should be getting on with 'Empire'. Well, this is up on Shurtugal, and I thought you might like to read it too!

Anyway, hope you enjoy! It's not that long, but it is a prologue.Well, this plot bunny attacked me in the night, when I was all alone ... whimpers they're always creeping up on me in the dark ...

Anyway, hope you enjoy! It's not that long, but it is a prologue.

Prologue.

The Island of Vroengard was thriving with life. Bright colours flashed as dragons and their Riders sparred and trained. In the many exotic halls and houses, the older Riders dwelt, where they instructed the younger ones in various arts.

Rising above this bustling, cheery land, was a tower. It was tall and steep, and the living chambers in the very top bulged out as if they had far too much in them, and were desperately trying to spill out onto the land below.

It was within these chambers that the Leaders of the Dragon Riders lived.

In the tower, a blue sword leant against the stone wall, and a sung-wood bow of the elves nestled in it's quiver where it lay against the wall. Four fairths on the wall depicted three very different people and one scene: one was a woman, dressed in man's clothing, a knife at her belt. Her coppery-red hair was restrained in a plait, but still it escaped and hung about her face. She looked regal and dangerous.

The one next to it was a man, standing on an old battlefield. He had a stern face, with lines that told of many hardships; but he was smiling, and the untrimmed stubble on his face, together with the soiled though expensive clothes he wore, made him look like a great and hard-working Lord.

The third showed a woman's face and shoulders. She was dressed in armour, though it was only possible to see her shoulder-plate. She had dark, dark skin and black hair that was braided in cornrows, though the ends splayed out to frame her almond-shaped face. She seemed to be ready and waiting for battle. Her eyes were keen and sharp.

The last was of a great gathering. It was possible to see elves, men, and dwarves in the crowd; they were all gathered at the bottom of a flight of broad shallow steps. At the top of the steps stood five figures.

One was a dwarf; he had a long brown beard, a large mattock in his hands and he was touching it's broad bottom thoughtfully.

Next to him was a woman. Her long hair was loose; and both it and her dark skin showed up clearly against her green dress. She held a crown of gold and rubies in her hands and was in the act of lifting it to place upon the head of another man that knelt before her.

He was in rich clothes; a cloak and bright breeches, though his brown hair was free and unbound. And beside him knelt a human woman. She also was richly dressed, her magnificent gown and skirts embroidered to perfection. Her hair was copper-red and curly. She knelt before a female elf.

This elf also held a crown. Long black hair fell over her shoulders, down her back, and the ends fluttered in the wind. A diamond diadem held it back from her eyes, though, which themselves were a vivid and penetrating green. She, too, was in the act of lifting a crown to the woman's head. This one was silver, decorated with emeralds, and the workmanship was fine and elegant. And upon all these people, elves, dwarves, and men, the sun shone, bright and beautiful.

These fairths all hung close to each other upon a wall above a writing desk made of a lacquered cherry-wood. Paper and parchment spilled everywhere, and pots of various colours were perched all over the place, some still with quills and pens still in them. And it was at this desk that one of the occupants of this tower sat.

Eragon dropped the quill, holding his wrist and massaging it wearily. He had been writing so long and so fast that the very muscles in his hand had started to cramp.

Little one, you spend too much time at that desk. Saphira landed gracefully on the tear-drop that served as her entrance to the tower. She sniffed distastefully. And it is a mess, too.

Thank-you, Saphira, he replied dryly. These are important, you know. Brego needs them, urgently.

They are only pieces of paper. Your nest-mate's son can do without for a while.

Eragon ignored the stab of pain when he thought of Roran and Katrina's son, Brego, who was well into his forty-fifth year. Both Roran and Katrina had lived long and happy lives as King and Queen of Alagaesia, but still their deaths some twenty years previously hurt him as much as any flesh-wound could. Well, I am done, in any case. Have you seen Stelmaria?

Saphira flicked her tail. They are going to live in the Spine. They think the hatchlings will be safer there. They say you and I – and only you and I – may know where they are. They wish to be peaceful.

Good. I am glad, Eragon said, tapping his quill thoughtfully against the table. He stopped abruptly when he realised he was spraying black ink everywhere. Stelmaria and her mate Ashmar were the last of the unbonded dragons. No matter how the new generations of Riders flourished, the wild dragons were still diminished. The two had gone to start their family in the Spine, where they would not be disturbed.

As am I. One day we will see the Riders and wild dragons living together in harmony.

Aye.

Saphira advanced further into the house, and shoved him with her nose. Come for a flight, little one. It is a glorious day.

All right, Saphira.

He found the light saddle, made of thick leather that he had made many years ago when Brom's had worn out and stopped fitting her. Saphira herself was now the size of a fair-sized farmhouse

Where shall we go today, then? She asked, letting him secure the straps to her neck.

To the mainland? It will be good to see the Spine again. It is a long time since we last crossed the sea.

Aye, that will be a fine flight. Seisei will be fine to train the older groups; I have just finished with them, in any case.

Oh? Eragon asked as he reached for something warmer than the tunic he was wearing. How did it go?

Saphira sniffed. Her and Eragon both enjoyed teaching the young Riders. It was far more rewarding than any other thing he knew of (unless, of course, he thought of those long ago days of farming in Carvahall ... But that was a long time ago and Carvahall had been destroyed along with the rest of the valley.)

They should learn that a sword and shield are not a Rider's only weapon, she said. You would think the meditation that they do every day does not matter at all.

They are not so bad, he replied as he climbed into the saddle and strapped in his legs. They work hard.

Oh, I know. The humans find it so much harder than the elves, though.

She took off from the portal, launching herself into the clear sky. Many other dragons were below them – red, amber, purple, green, – and they all sent respectful nods in their direction, which he returned with a slight smile to each of them.

We have not been to Du Weldenvarden for quite a time, she remarked, skimming low over the waves

We have not had any occasion to, he answered calmly; he was not prepared, though, for the sudden lurch of confused feelings he got as she uttered that sentence.

No ... she sighed, and that is good - it means that they have no need of us and are at peace. Still, I would have expected at least a formal invitation by now.

It is not important, he said with a certain hidden bitterness that did not fool Saphira in the least. It would only be a political visit anyway.

Yes, it would be. I am surprised – and perhaps a little disappointed.

I suppose that the ... Queen ... has her reasons.

I am sure she does. But, though she hid it from Eragon, she was trouble – just faintly – and she was also, as she had admitted, rather disappointed in the elven sovereign.

Saphira climbed higher, so that they were well out of sight of the well-tilled and cultivated land of the New Broddring Kingdom that Roran's son Brego ruled.

Ah, little one, already I can feel the air of the land I was born in! It is good to be back.

Eragon himself agreed wholeheartedly. But for the fact that my own village no longer exists, it does feel as if we are coming home.

After many loops, dives, backward corkscrews and other fantastic aerobatics, Saphira announced: I am hungry. I want to just catch a quick snack.

Eragon winced. If you must.

I must, she said smugly. Oh, and I do believe that that bird would make a good starter ...

She lunged for the white dove that had been desperately trying to avoid her. However, it proved too fast; she overshot and the momentum of the lunge carried her forward. The dove veered away. But instead of flying away, the bird turned and made a beeline for Eragon.

Saphira made to snatch at it again, but Eragon stopped her. Wait, Saphira! It has a letter attached to it's leg ...

She stopped, hovering, and the dove alighted on her shoulder before Eragon, unafraid. It did have a scroll on it's scaled pink foot; Eragon untied it gently. The dove cooed and took off again, leaving Eragon with the thin paper in his hand.

What is it? He wondered, turning it over, looking for crest or symbol.

I don't know. Check the seal! Saphira told him impatiently.

It was sealed in pale wax that was uncoloured and natural. There was only one race that used that particular wax ...

Saphira, it is from Ellesmera. He could feel so many emotions – curiosity and surprise ... and also ... nervousness? But Saphira had no such inhibitions

Do not sit there staring! Open it, Eragon!

He slit the seal open, then carefully opened the letter. The paper was thin, made specially light so that the dove could carry it easily.

To Eragon Shadeslayer and Saphira Bjartskular, greetings.

The time of the Agaeti Blodrhen approaches. Soon it will be time for the elves to honour their agreement with the dragons. This most sacred ceremony cannot, of course, commence without both your and Saphira Bjartskular's presence. All of Du Weldenvarden would be honoured by your attendance. We await your answer eagerly.

Sincerely yours,

Arya, Queen of the Elves.

Eragon raised his eyes from the scroll. Saphira ... he said slowly ... It appears that we are going to Ellesmera.

Well, what do you think? I haven't quite got an exact plot, but I'll work somehting out ...

Please review!