The wind soared around them, howling its protests against the beats of Saphira's powerful wings. Far below, the Elvin ranks were filing out of the green expanse of Du Weldenvarden steadily. Eragon looked to the East where the first rim of the sun had just begun to appear in the sky. It would be a cloudless day, and he could see many leagues in every direction.
The awe-inspiring sight of the vibrant purple of the sky set against the cobalt above was amazingly beautiful. He would make a fairth of it upon returning to Ellesmera. And he would return, this was just one of the many battles to come, and he and his dragon would face them all resolutely.
Eragon returned his attention to the figure nestled in the saddle in front of him. Her midnight black hair swirled around them from where it had escaped from under her leather headband. Dressed fully for battle, the Elvin princess sat proudly upon Saphira's glistening back.
When they had gained an altitude too high for them to be seen by the elves below, Eragon wrapped his arms lightly around Arya's delicate waist. He did this lightly because he was aware of the high importance she placed on her regal independence, and he loved the elf for it all the more.
She remained the same Arya he had always known- proud and stoic, fiercely loyal to her people and her cause, and unmatched in battle and grace. Now, he had just begun to discover the other glittering facets of her soul. As her lover, he knew the sound of her desperate whisper, the shy modesty she adapted when he stared too long at her in wonder after making love, and the way her eyes would flash when she told him again that she loved him.
He could not comprehend how he had managed to find the unbelievable woman before him. Unconsciously, Eragon's arms tightened slightly around her slim form. To his intense surprise, he felt Arya lean back almost imperceptibly against his chest. The gesture was a small one, and if anyone had been near enough to see, they never could have noticed. But to Eragon, it meant more than all the kingdoms of the world.
They were flying out ahead of the others to meet with Nasuada in person before the upcoming battle. It was also hoped that the arrival of a dragon rider and the Elvin ambassador would lift the spirits of the soldiers of the Varden and inspire them to victory in the nigh approaching attack.
The sun crept higher in the sky, and the royal purple melted into the deep cobalt of the atmosphere above. By the time the sun reached its highest point, there would be no turning back.
As his dragon soared high above the earth, Eragon thought of the many challenges he was about to face. A battle with Thorn and Murtagh was inevitable, and when the time came, would he be able to kill his own brother? The dwarves relied on him as a clan member of the Dûrgrimst Ingeitum, and his loyalty to Nasuada bound him to the Varden. He had many promises to keep and dozens of oaths to fulfill, and all of his obligations swam oppressively in his head.
The weight of the world pressed down on his shoulders, and Eragon knew that he would not be standing except for the support of those close to him. The feeling of Arya's smooth shoulder blades against his chest gave him the courage to fight his inner demons and the strength to challenge the outer ones.
He lowered his head onto Arya's shoulder lightly and whispered against her tunic and in her mind, "Arya?"
The beautiful elf glanced back to look at the dragon rider behind her. "Hmm?"
Eragon smiled at the warmth and concern evident in her voice. He tilted his head to her and brought his lips up to press lightly against the soft hollow just below her jaw. Having been caught by surprise, Arya's body shivered under his touch, and her lips parted slightly as the air rushed from her lungs. Eragon smiled at her pleasant reaction and returned his forehead to Arya's shoulder.
He murmured softly to her as much as to himself, "That's all I needed."
Then he inhaled a deep, confident breath and raised his gaze to the endless sky before them. His arms still encircling his love, Eragon squared his shoulders proudly and prepared to face his Wyrda.
Author's Note: Sniff...I'm sad that its over... Well, it has been an amazing experience for me to write this story, and having all of you read it has only made it that much better. Please review, even if you haven't before because trust me, I read them all.
(A little add in: I've been getting over 500 hits a day after finishing this story, and no one is reviewing anymore :( I hope that doesn't mean you didn't like it. Oh well, please leave me a review if you enjoyed my story!)
Also, before you all come after me with pitchforks for ending it here, know this: I never wanted to write a Book 3 fic, simply because as soon as the real book comes out, mine would be pointless... My desire was to express how I see Eragon and Arya's relationship and how I wish it would go. Hopefully, this story will still stand on its own even after Brisingr and Book 4. I might write another fic after Brisingr is released, but it all depends on what Chris P. comes out with...
To show my appreciation to everyone who has stayed with me through this whole story, here is...
A Tribute To My Loyal Reviewers:
--To claire1992: My first reviewer ever! Without your review of Closer Beneath the Tree, I probably never would have gotten the courage to write this one. You've stuck with me through it all. Thanks!
--To mj: The ever anonymous reviewer: May we never know anything about you. Your comments always made me feel wonderful, and the lengthy reviews were great!
--To Squealing Lit. Fan: You're awesome! Having you as a reader made me want to step it up a notch. I've finished my story, so now all I have to do is sit around and wait for the next chapter of There You'll Be (nudges the fantastic author…)
--To XxXmaximuM-RideRXxX: Thank you for forcing me to type out your ridiculously complicated screen name multiple times. (I finally realized how dumb I was not to copy and paste!) Anyway, you're great! Thanks for your support from the beginning.
--To xXOcean-BabeXx:I always look forward to yours because you are friggin hilarious!
--To andrewTHATSME: I'm slightly worried about you and the mob with the torches…Oh well, thank you for always leaving great reviews!
--To xlilypads: Much thanks to you for the long reviews. Loved them all!
--To Eragon n Murtagh, Du Moi abr Wyrda, and Faerie of Murtagh: You all have left me consistent reviews this whole time, so you pretty much rock!
--To Aeronnen, Julian Blake, and oakel: Ya'll were some of my first reviewers, and you gave me the confidence I needed!
--To YASHA3393: Thanks for all the reviews, short and to the point!
--To Harbringer of Light, Social Bunny, automatic snow, and Clairer55: I'm glad ya'll started reading my story. Thanks a ton.
--To BlackBird'292, Vampyren, Invaderm, and my0t1: Your compliments made me feel all fluffy inside!
--To japjapcat, Scannlan, and Youngk: Ya'll are fantastic! Thanks for the reviews.
--To ggggw4, Macsek92, and Alyra90: Such sweet reviews, guys. I appreciate them.
--To randomguy1517: You liked being mentioned before, so here you go: Thanks!
--To Druska41: Um…brief but still encouraging…