As you can tell, this story will obviously be AU. Just to put this straight, Eragon is born a wild dragon and not turned into one later in his life. Inner Fire will cover everything from the beginning of Eragon to Brisingr and beyond.
Main Ships: This will be an EragonxSaphirastory, ladies and gentlemen. If you don't like this pairing, then simply don't read this story. There will also be some slight AryaxFaolin, BromxAngela and GlaedrxSaphira on the side. Oh, and maybe some MurtaghxNasuada.
Disclaimer: If I owned Eragon I wouldn't be spending my time on fanfiction and would instead be making EragonxSaphira canon.
Roran stealthily followed the tracks of an injured doe he had been hunting for the past two days. His bow was strung and ready to fire the moment he saw his quarry, unshakable in his quest to bring him meat to last him and his father, Garrow, for the long and cruel months of winter.
The search for the doe had taken Roran right into the Spine and into the untamed wilderness that had swallowed up an entire group of the King's army back when they had tried to explore it a couple of years back. Despite his ingrained fear for the Spine, Roran refused to turn back without the deer. His last three hunts had been unsuccessful, and he'd be damned if he returned empty-handed one more time.
The hunter heard a twig crack and turning his head sharply to the right, he caught a glimpse of the doe as she bounded away as best she could with a lame leg. Roran aimed his arrow carefully, finally deciding to let his shot fly. Unfortunatly, the arrow whizzed right past the fleeing deer and disappeared into the undergrowth.
Cursing loudly, Roran strung another arrow and took off in hot pursuit of his prey. He stomped heavily through the forest, all thoughts of stealth forgotten as he hoped to exhaust the wounded doe and get close enough to finish her off with a single well-aimed shot.
The chase seemed to went on for hours as Roran pursued the deer, who always seemed to be out of reach despite her leg. Finally, too tired to continue on, Roran dropped to his knees gasping for breath as the doe bounded away into the trees.
Remaining on his knees for a while as he struggled to regain his breath, Roran slowly became aware that he was lost in an unfamiliar part of the Spine and had to idea had to get back. While running after the doe Roran had forgotten to remember the route and now had no way of re-tracing his steps.
"Nice going Roran," he grumbled to himself. "You lost the stupid deer and now you got yourself lost in the Spine."
Swearing under his breath, the young man got to his and looked around in order to get his bearings. A quick glance up at the sky revealed that the sun was close to setting and Roran would soon be left stranded in the dark.
Gathering up his bow and the arrows he had dropped when he had abandoned chase, Roran readied them again. He would have to find shelter, and fast, unless he wished to spend the night in an unfamiliar forest that was crawling with dangerous predators that would all to be happy to snack on a defenseless hunter.
He hurried through the forest, desperately searching for a cave or something to hunker down in. The sun sank closer to the horizon, twilight rapidly approaching. Roran began to grow unnerved as the ordinary looking forest began to grow dark and twisted as night came in. He could almost see the predators stalking him in those dangerous shadows, waiting to pounce on him the moment he ventured too close.
Night had almost come when Roran finally found a cave nestled half way up a short and easily climbable mountain. Thanking every god he knew, Roran hurried over to the mountain and scrambled up it and into the safety of the cave.
Roran started a small fire from the wood he had collected from the mouth of the cave and warmed himself over the comforting flames. Roran then took out some of the dried meat he had packed out of his bag and began to eat it, feeling very cozy in the lit cave. Knowing he was safe for the time being, the young man found the softest section of the stone floor he could find and settled down for the night.
Exhausted from the taxing day, he fell asleep almost as soon as his eyes had closed. Unfortunately, in his haste to go to sleep as soon as possible, Roran had overlooked the odd polished dark brown stone that lay in the farthest corner of the cave. The brown stone, which was not really a stone, had now begun to tremble and squeak as the tired young man slumber on, oblivious to the miracle that occurred just a few feet away from him.
Roran was waken up in the middle of the night by an unnerving chewing sound and what sounded like the scrabbling of claws on rock. The fire had nearly died, casting only a dull red light that barely traveled past the fire, and Roran was lost in darkness with his death only a few feet away from him.
With trembling hands he grabbed one of his arrows he had left by his sleeping place and held it like a dagger, ready to stab whatever thatwas. He narrowed his eyes, straining to see into the shadows of the cave. The creature moved, casting an oddly shaped shadow against the red light of the fire. Keeping focused on the thing's whereabouts, Roran grabbed a spare piece of wood with his free hand and threw it onto the flames.
New light suddenly illumiated the entire area and his intruder squealed at the sudden brightness. Roran dropped his arrow in shock as he gaped openly at the strange little creature that had snuck into his cave.
The creature had four regular limbs like most animals, and was dark brown and scaly. It also had an additional two extra limbs near its shoulder blades and they were...wings. The creature had a roughly triangular head framed with white spikes. Also, the same white spikes travelled down the creature's back.
Paying no attention to the shocked hunter gaping at him, the baby dragon continued to gobble down on the unfinished dried meat Roran had left in his pack. The dragon had almost eaten its full, its belly looked practically bursting with all the meat it had swallowed.
Roran's bulging eyes flicked from the ravenous dragon to the shards of the dark brown egg in the corner of the cave. So that was were the dragon had come from.
The dragon finally realised it was being gawked at and its tiny head shot up from its meal and focused on Roran. Dark brown eyes gazed into brilliant amber as the two beings could only stare at each other, both equally dumbfounded with the other.
The dragon opened its mouth, revealing sharp white teeth that made Roran gulp nervously and... belched so loudly that the cave seemed to vibrate from the sound.
Roran couldn't help but chuckle and the tiny baby squealed indignantly as if it was aware it was being laughed at.
"I can't help but laugh at you," Roran said as if the tiny dragon could understand him. "Just seeing a supposedly magnificent and majestic dragon belch loud enough that it could make a drunkard hang his head in shame is so ridiculous that one has to laugh."
The dragon growled and bared its fangs, but it looked so comical with its bloated stomach and miniature size that Roran could only laugh harder, all fear for the little creature gone.
The brown dragon looked hurt and his head and tail drooped almost like a disappointed puppy would do. Roran stopped his laughter, feeling ashamed as he saw he had hurt the dragon chick's feelings.
"Hey," Roran said quietly to the dragon. "I'm sorry I laughed at you for that." The dragon only snorted and turned his back on the young man, making Roran sigh in exasperation.
Great, he grumbled to himself. It's only a couple of hours old and it already has a sense of pride! He looked at the hurt little dragon and a frown crossed his face. I guess it's time to suck up.
"Look," the young man apologetically, "I'm sorry if I offended you. It is not a farmer's place to belittle a great and powerful dragon." That got the dragon's attention. It turned its head around, amber eyes saying "Go on." Roran sighed softly and continued. "O, noble beast, if you could find it in your mighty heart to forgive an unworthy soul like me for my uncalled for comments, I would be forever glad to have been spared by such an awesome dragon."
The dragon turned around and a look of scornful consideration on its scaly face. Its amber eyes still didn't seem satisfied, though Roran had used every single complementing word and praise he knew.
"If you're looking for more mindless praise, dragon, go and look somewhere else," Roran said. "I apologized for my deed and I played the role of praiser to the best of my ability. Now you can either accept that, or not. The choice is yours."
The dragon seemed taken aback by the abrupt change in attitude and its actions changed dramatically. Losing the haughty look, the dragon threw itself at Roran and snuggled into his lap as if to say "I forgive you."
Roran stroked the dragon, who had fallen asleep in his lap, and mulled over what to do next.
The poor thing is too young to fend for itself, he thought. And there is no way I would leave this dragon alone in the wilderness with all these dangers around.
Although Roran was still unsure of how the dragon's egg had come to be in the cave after Galbatorix and Shruikan combed through the Spine years ago to search for any remaining eggs, he was positive that this dragon was not his dragon. From what he heard from Brom about dragons choosing their Riders, when the Rider first touches their dragon there remains a silver mark where they first touch, and Roran didn't have that distinctive mark.
Beyond a doubt, this dragon was the first wild dragon in over a century. Roran was determined to make sure it remained free out in the wilderness, away from the Empire and the Varden and all their squabbling over Alagaesia. But until it was old enough to be released, there was the matter of caring for it.
There was no way Roran could hide the dragon in the woods behind his father's farm and go out and check on it every day. Garrow was bound to notice his son's frequent absences from the farm and would no doubt discover the dragon sooner or later.
Roran wasn't going to kill the dragon, either. This little baby might be the last dragon left aside from Shruikan, and it deserved to live even if its kind was long dead.
Sighing, Roran laid down and moved the dragon onto his chest as he began to fall asleep again. Closing his heavy eyes, Roran knew what he had to do for the dragon's sake.
Garrow stared hard-eyed at the baby dragon Roran held in his arms. When he had first seen it, it was all he could do to not gape at the tiny thing open-mouthed. Now that initial shock had transformed into anger as he heard Roran's suggestion about them raising the dragon until it was old enough to care for itself.
"Roran, I won't allow you to take care of that dragon. Release it in the Spine, humanely kill it. I really don't care what you do with it, but I am not allowing you to endanger our family." Garrow would be damned if he was going to be swayed by any amount of arguing with his son. Despite how innocent the dragon looked now, it would evantually grow into something very big and dangerous that couldn't be controlled.
Roran's eyes narrowed and he clutched the dragon closer to his chest as if to shield it from his father's anger. "It would only be until the dragon is old enough to care for itself and then I would release it," he argued. "And didn't you hear Brom's stories about dragons? They would never harm anyone who they believed their parents and...since I was the first living creature around it...I think the dragon may think I'm its father or something."
Garrow was enraged to his son's ignorance. Didn't he see the most obvious hazard about this whole scheme? "Did you think of the King? What if someone catches sight of the dragon and reports us to Galbatorix? I, for one, am not going to risk my own skin for that dragon."
"Who would see it?" Roran snapped fiercely. The dragon shivered in his hold, terrified at the voice that gradually began to rise in anger. "We live away from Carvahall and we rarely get any visitors! We don't even have hunters come up here. They're all too terrified of the Spine."
"And what makes you think that the dragon won't venture into town or start picking off our livestock or another farmer's?"
"Because dragons are intelligent!" Roran argued. "Or at least intelligent enough to listen to us. Do you think the Dragon Riders could have become anything important if they didn't have proper communication from their dragons?" He looked down at the dragon, who looked up at him innocent amber eyes. "He can understand us, father. I just feel it somehow."
Garrow sighed and muttered a curse under his breath. Roran had inherited his stubbornness and Marion's passion. Obviously not a very good combination, especially when Roran tried to protect a menace that could bring nothing but trouble to their family.
The aging farmer glared at the brown dragon, almost expecting it to snarl in return. But the little thing looked up at him with wide golden eyes and Garrow felt his heart soften for the little creature.
"I can see there's no changing your mind once it's set," he began slowly. Roran winced, as if he was preparing to be disowned and kicked out of the house for his actions. "And I always told you to treat everyone kindly and with mercy. How can I turn away an innocent little baby that has just begun to live, even if it is a dragon?"
A great big grin broke across Roran's face and he hugged his father tightly, the dragon squealing in protest as it was crushed between the two bodies. "You won't regret this, father!" he said cheerfully. He looked at the dragon, who suddenly seemed much happier. "Did you hear that, dragon? You get to stay!"
Garrow smiled slightly. "But only until it's old enough to care for itself," he warned. "Then it's going back to the Spine where it belongs."
Roran didn't seem to hear him. He looked at carefully at the dragon, his brow furrowed in thought. "I think you're a male," he told the dragon. "And so I think I'll call you...Eragon."
His father blinked in confusion. "Eragon?"
"After the first Dragon Rider," Roran explained. "I heard Brom mention the name in one of his stories."
The newly named Eragon seemed to like his named as he chirped in satisfaction. He looked up at Garrow with big amber eyes that seemed to be saying "Thank you."
Roran turned away, bringing Eragon to his room to get him situated. Garrow shook his head, trying to get the impossible thoughts that he was thinking of out of head. After all, despite what Roran or Brom the crazy old storyteller said, dragons couldn't be that intelligent.
Sorry for the crappy-ness of the first chapter. I just didn't know how to start the story and this was the best option I came up with. And now here are some things to be cleared up:
1. I tried to keep Roran and Garrow in character as much as possible. Roran doesn't seem like a guy who would just leave an innocent baby dragon to fend for himself and Garrow obviously wouldn't be pleased that Roran brought a dragon home.
2. Garrow and Roran both think Eragon is nothing more than an animal at this stage, except maybe a very intelligent animal. Remember, in canon Eragon didn't think Saphira was sentient until she started talking.
3. If Roran arguing with Garrow over Eragon sounds like a little boy trying to persuade his dad to let him keep a puppy he found, that isn't intential.
4. Incase it isn't clear in the chapter, Roran is NOT a Dragon Rider.
5. Eragon is dark brown with amber eyes, if that isn't obvious. He his not green/blue/gold/black/white or whatever for any reason except that his hair is dark brown in canon and that dark brown allows him to camouflage easier than a neon-pink or electric-green dragon, as you will see later in the story.