Summary: I think the first chapter still covers it.
Disclaimer: oh wow, you're still wondering if these characters belong to me? Nope. Wrong person for both.
A/N: Sorry it took so long…my muse died on me. And then my drive to do anything. No amount of sugar or caffeine could do anything sadly. Again, really sorry for the wait.
Eclipse the dragon – Thanks! Sorry for the delay
tragicmat1 – Thanks! Sorry it wasn't soon…
ultima-owner – uh…I hope you're not referring to mine.
kagomesdemondaughter – don't worry, I know what I'm doing.
chaosglory626 – Oh hell. I should run now, shouldn't I?
Olympiangirl – I am thinking of bringing it up…but the 'how' is avoiding me…
Dagomon – He will, just give it time. Oh, and the Razac's breath still works on shinobi, just not to the extent it would on humans. Neji is still human. And that…haven't decided on the other questions you asked yet. Though you do get to see what the rest of Team Gai has been up to.
Phoinex Warrior – Thanks! For both compliments ^ ^
Gerti – Thanks. I'll try not to die. Though you may have to protect me…
The Silent Orion – I hope the new one is better?
dragons chaotica – She's coping. Neji…er…well he hasn't killed Eragon yet?
evil-step-sister – oops…I'm sorry it's so late!
Yumetaka Kourui – Thanks! I will!
BYoshi1993 – All depends on the prof. Some are easy, and I mean 'holy crap I thought this was college' kinda easy, and then there are the ones that make you wonder if you're going for a Master's rather than a Bachlor's. I tend to get the latter ones. And thanks.
iEspeon – I hope this chapter explains that incident better.
Chapter Eleven: How Much Longer?
After getting away from the ruined town Saphira turned to glower at Amaya.
/What was the meaning of that! They were in trouble, and you say they could handle themselves? Did you not see the area?/ the blue dragon raged, as they landed to wait for their Riders. Amaya only snorted.
/I saw. But you over-react. Did you not feel that? Your Rider used magic – uncontrolled yes, but still magic./ the white dragon replied evenly. Saphira was not as calm.
/That is the problem! He is not trained for that! You can be calm because your little assassin already does things similar, my Rider was a farm boy!/ she snapped, both with her words and her jaws. She was distressed, and it showed from the way she shifted restlessly. The white dragon sighed.
/You're over-reacting again./ she pointed out, and Saphira snorted, smoke curling from her nose and from between her teeth.
/I am not!/ she snarled, even though it was quite clear that she was.
/You have smoke coming from your mouth and nostrils./ Amaya pointed out.
/…fine. So I am over-reacting just a bit./ Saphira conceded, grumbling. She hated to be wrong, but it only seemed to happen around Amaya. At least she wasn't wrong to a human. That would have been more than just embarrassing.
Neji sighed, as he surveyed the damage. One of his companions was passed out, and the other had only one good arm. He was quite sure that neither was going anywhere until Eragon woke, so he settled for taking Brom's arm, despite the elder's protests, and began to fix it as best he could. Which, considering exactly what his missions and training entailed, was pretty good.
"There. That is what field healing I know…we need to get to a town, village, or city. Soon. Preferably one that has not been ransacked." He said, as he sat down on the dusty ground and waited for Eragon to wake. It wasn't a very long wait, as soon the young man stirred and blinked his eyes open in confusion. Neji shook his head, as Eragon opened his mouth to ask something.
"No time. Get on your horse and let's get moving. We still need supplies." Eragon's mouth shut with a click, and Brom chuckled.
He was beginning to wonder if Neji was more than just a simple assassin.
By the time Eragon was able to ask anything, due largely to Neji jabbing him when he opened his mouth to say anything at all they were making camp in a clearing Saphira and Amaya found while flying around. It was after they had eaten, and Neji had excused himself to go stretch his muscles. He said something about not being used to riding anything for extended periods of time. That was when Eragon figured it was safe to bombard the storyteller with all the questions he had flying around his head since they had started off for the nearest village.
Brom sighed, prayed for patience, and let the boy ask more and more questions. He supposed every father felt like this at times, though normally the other party knew they were related and, more often than not, they were in a safer area. And the topic was not about magic, or being able to use it.
Finally, after Eragon had exhausted every angle, and more than a little of Brom's patience, the boy went quiet. Brom knew he was going to have more questions in the morning, and was more curious than a kitten, so he decided to make sure Eragon would not try anything else unless it was under supervision.
"Before you go off to try anything else, I must warn you. Magic takes as much energy as if you used your arms and back. That is why you felt tired after defeating the Urgal, but the way you did so was dangerous, because if the magic had taken all your energy it would have killed you. Be thankful it did not." Brom said, and Eragon nodded. It was a warning well-noted. Neji, who at some point had appeared in the camp, was sitting on his unrolled blanket, and listening just as intently as Eragon.
"I will take first watch." Brom said, before Neji could offer, and before Eragon could help him unroll his blankets. He had a lot to think about…
The ride to Daret was long, but not without its usefulness. In that time Brom taught Eragon and Neji about magic, and also began teaching them how to use the energy. It was frustrating, as was the sparring when Neji joined. Both Eragon and Brom still had no idea of how to deal with his method of fighting, even as he smoothly avoided all attempts to strike him. Eragon was catching up, but the assassin only blocked the strikes that came to close, and evaded all others, frustrating the younger man immensely. Brom wisely never challenged the longhaired brunet with only one good arm.
"Okay…well that's disturbing. I thought the zealots at home were bad but…" Tenten grumbled, as she and Lee walked back to the inn they were staying at. They had just seen one of the priests of Helgrind, and Tenten had been openly gapping until someone told her what they did. Then she had just been a bit green.
"Tenten? Can we please change the subject?" Lee asked, thinking back to how close he had been to losing his own limbs. He was still mildly disturbed from that fight and recovery process.
"I mean lopping off their own limbs for something named Helgrind? Really?" Tenten, already worked up about having her own limbs threatened when she had made a face, was not paying attention to Lee as he began turning the same color as the spandex he wore when possible.
"Tenten…" he sounded like he was going to be sick.
"What?" Tenten asked, finally turning to her teammate as he shook her shoulder slightly.
"Enough. Please. I do not feel well. Especially about that topic." He said, as he lowered his head. Oh, most un-youthful to have to admit defeat, but it was either that or lose what he had eaten for breakfast. That thought was not appealing either.
"Sorry, sorry. But what are we going to do? This place stinks! I hope he's not here, or there will be issues…"
"I agree. My rival would never stand for such a place! Neither do I, this place is most un-youthful…"
"Master Gai said the same thing…er, where did he say to meet him?"
"…Back at the inn. The one that he had said he did not like the looks of."
"He better not have gotten into trouble…"
"Tenten! How could you say that? He is the best! He would never get caught by…by civilians!"
"Okay, okay…I got it…jeeze…" she sighed. She was beginning to get the headache from prolonged exposure to Lee. But it was one she didn't mind, not after the period where he was so quiet and subdued…she would take the headache any day because it meant he was well enough to give her one.
"Okay! Here we are!...where is he?" Lee began turning in a circle, on his heel, looking for Gai. A waving hand caught the attention of both him and Tenten. They both walked over, wondering why he was near an alley.
"Good…you are both okay." Lee and Tenten glanced at each other at their Master's worried tone, then back to him, silently demanding an explanation for his worry.
"I found out something, that I would rather not have someone overhear…" here he checked the area with a quick sweep of his eyes, and other heightened senses of a shinobi, and then continued, "I have heard a rumor of where this tyranny keeps its strongest warriors. Up in Helgrind. Somewhere in that mountain is a cave and there they stay. The rumors surrounding them are numerous, but I think they may have been the ones to drag us here, so they must be able to send us back." Gai said, much to the excitement of Lee. He knew his teacher had a good reason for everything! And this was the best, they may have just found a way home!
"But what about Neji?" Tenten asked, and Gai only nodded, as he saw that question coming.
"We will not leave without him. Though, right now, we still have to gather more accurate information before we attempt anything." He replied, and both of his students nodded in understanding. They were going to plan, and wait.
These warriors were not going to know what hit them.
Daret. It was empty, and this made Eragon nervous. Neji had tensed, like he was ready to jump, as soon as they entered the town. Brom had stiffened, and was glancing around with one hand on his sword. The center of the town did not ease their unease, and they stopped only for a brief second, long enough only for them to wheel around the horses – after Brom said that he did not like the feel of the place. Before they could manage to get out of the town's center wagons fell into their path, blocking it and almost made Cadoc hurl his two riders off. Then again Eragon had a tight grip on the reigns, and Neji had almost broken Eragon's ribs with his grip when the horse reared. Once Cadoc settled – more or less – Neji loosened his grip, and pursed his lips.
'Civilians. Great.' He thought, referring once again to the non-shinobi. His time under Master Gai had effectively drilled into him that civilians – people without the proper training or chakra to be any type of warrior – were off limits to more brutal attacks. Regardless if they were armed, after all a shinobi had the training it took to avoid such attacks from them. That and it would just look bad to attack someone when they were that far out-classed.
It also didn't hurt that they looked like they wanted to run rather than fight. They wanted to keep their home safe, and as long as they proved to be now threat then they would have no problems.
Eragon glanced to Brom, and then to Neji, as the elder spoke to the village leader. Why weren't his companions a bit more worried? Did they know something he didn't, or was it simply another tactic? Either one wouldn't surprise him, given who he was talking about. They frustrated him to no end.
Once they left, with what they could afford, he attempted to glare a hole in the back of Brom's head. Brom, for his part, acted as if nothing was amiss.
"…How did you know that we weren't in trouble?" he finally asked, and Brom turned to him with a light smirk. And with a stifled chuckle he knew Neji found this amusing as well.
"…I hate the both of you. Now, could you please answer me?" he all but snarled. He was sure that he was the butt of some grand joke between the two, but he couldn't care about that now. Nope, his curiosity was always his default, and the fact that those two had been so calm…it was like they knew that they would be fine. But how?
"Oh, his intentions were clear. They meant no harm to anyone that was not a threat." Brom commented, waving his un-injured hand in a manner as to dismiss the idea of the villagers being any type of threat.
"And just how did you pick this up?" Eragon persisted, not liking the elder's flippant manner. He could have gotten the three of them killed! And he was acting as if he knew the entire time that they were in no danger.
"The same way you pick up thoughts from Cadoc, and Saphira. The human mind is not so different from a horse's or a dragon's," Brom replied, and continued on, but Neji's train of thought was suddenly divided, as Amaya decided to add herself to the conversation.
/I have been insulted. I cannot believe he compared us to a mere deer-like mount and humans…/ she huffed, and Neji got the feeling of mild aggravation from her.
/I have a feeling that I should be the insulted one now, Amaya/ he replied. She snorted.
/Sure. Fine. Oh and Eragon had better watch himself. Saphira is…not happy. At all/ she threw back, and Neji bit back an audible sigh. He always seemed to be stuck with someone who attracted the ire of others. Constantly.
/Why am I not surprised?/ he muttered, as his thoughts drifted to a certain someone who managed to get into – and out of – more trouble than he was worth.
/Because he reminds you of this 'Naruto' and this 'Naruto' had a tendency to cause havoc and mayhem?/ Neji had forgotten that Amaya had all but taken up residence in the back of his mind. That comment was a reminder, and he mentally shoved at her again.
/…out. Shoo. My mind is mine/ he growled, half-serious. The other half…mainly exasperation.
/Sorry, but no. I like it here/ once again he found that dislodging a dragon was impossible. He had become used to her presence there…but sometimes it made him ill…shinobi were not in the practice of sharing every thought with someone else. But he was coping.
/…annoying lizard/ he grumbled.
/Idiot human/ her retaliating comment was all too swift. But before he could think of something suitable to throw back he heard Eragon say something about him not paying attention.
"Prod me and I will break your finger, Eragon." He said in an off-handed manner, making Eragon jerk in surprise.
"What? You didn't look like you were paying attention, and Brom was explaining how he knew that the villagers meant no harm." The other explained, and scowled when all Neji did was raise an eyebrow.
"I heard him. I can focus on more than one thing at a time." The brunet responded. Eragon graced him with a very heated glare.
"…you do know I am getting really tired of your round-about way of insulting me." The other responded, after noting that Neji hadn't spontaneously combusted like he wanted.
"Take it how you want." Was the only response, which only served to further irritate the other brunet.
"He's almost as bad as an Elf." Brom said, sounding faintly amused, and Eragon transferred the scowl to the elder.
"Thank you." Neji replied, making the edges of Brom's mouth quirk upwards. But before they could say anything else, a blur of blue landed close enough to the horses that they almost bolted.
/YOU!/ The mental roar fairly shook all three riders. Neji gave Eragon a nudge, when Saphira looked ready to snap again.
/Saphira? Is something the matter?/ was the nervous, and slightly confused, question, as Eragon slid off of Cadoc and walked closer to the fuming dragon.
He, and the other two, were surprised when she pinned Eragon to the ground, and put her snout close to Eragon's face. They were almost nose-to-nose.
/You are! Idiot human! Always sticking your nose into the wrong places! One day it is going to be bitten, and I am not going to be there in time to save you from harm!/ she snapped, nearly snarling. Eragon was left staring up at her giant face; she held it close enough that he could feel each breath coming from her nostrils. Needless to say it was a bit daunting.
/…I'm sorry?/ he tried apologizing, though his tone was unsure, as he wondered if he was only making matters worse. He really did not want to make matters worse right then.
/Told you she was not happy/ Amaya quipped, from the side. Neji's attention snapped to his dragon, who looked, as far as dragons went, far too smug. He narrowed his eyes.
/…the horse almost threw me off/ he growled. He only received the mental equivalent of a shrug.
/Oh. Well. You're still on, so everything is fine/ now that tone he knew all too well…
/…you are a pain/ he sighed, before looking over to Eragon and Saphira, where the dragon had just bullied Eragon into going flying. The young man looked like he was going to be ill.
And Amaya was looking at him like she was expecting something…oh.
/Fine…I'll go with you tomorrow as well…/ Neji replied to her unasked plea, and she looked happier afterwards. Then she looked to Saphira with a challenging glint in her eyes, and Saphira snorted at the challenge, that went unheard by the humans.
Tomorrow was going to be hell.