Told you I'd update. :D I also realized that I need to go back and edit all of these... and update everything else... I'm so far behind...
"Dad, can I go see the Rider?"
"You must stay here, Brom," Holcomb orders you, sternly. "There is work for you to do, and your mother is sick. She needs your help."
"No, Brom. The Dragon Riders are bad luck. They are unnatural, and I will not have a son of mine disgrace our ancestors and the town of Kuasta by joining them! The Riders bring misfortune!"
You bow your head, strands of ginger hair falling into your eyes.
"Yes, father." And you go about your work, helping your mother, and as the sun sets, the Dragon Rider flies overhead, on his great golden dragon. He's not taking anyone with him—no egg hatched for the villagers of Kuasta.
You swallow your bitterness. An egg wouldn't have chosen you anyway, and you go back to your work, back to your life, pushing the Riders out of your mind.
(But you can't help but dream, and at night you dream of a blue egg and a blue dragon and you think, maybe, that it was supposed to be.)
You stare up at the Monster, hurt and bleeding, your ginger hair sticking up, matted with blood. "No," you spit, anger and pain shaking in your body. "No, you killed them."
The Monster laughs, his bright eyes wild. "I killed the Riders because they were corrupt, you see, young Brom. They were fat and lazy and drunk with their power, so I killed them. But you, you could be great."
Saphira makes a sound, pinned under Shruikan.
You ache for her, for the dead.
"I will make you a legend," Galbatorix promises. "You will stand at my side as we bring peace to Alagaesia."
And for a moment you see it—golden light bursting from the sky, bathing a city while elves and dwarves mingle with humans, happily trading and drinking and laughing together. Dragonlings amble through the streets and the Riders, the new Riders, glorious and strong and noble, stand along the walls, proudly, watching the city with benevolent eyes, their dragons soaring in the skies above them.
The image—the future, what could be—is so strong that you and Saphira both, in your pain and fear and desperation, want it.
You lick you lips and Saphira goes still.
"Join me," says Galbatorix, soothingly. "And be free."
"Yes," you murmur, and you bow to him and he laughs.
(And later, you stand on the gates above Teirm and see the black and the death and the war, and you are so far gone that you don't even care any more.)
The cry falls on Morzan's ears and he turns to look at you, his mismatched eyes wide and confused. He is struggling, you can see, with the Urge (to kill you) and his dragon, Ibara, snarls and whines and Saphira calls to him, confused.
The city is painted orange and black with fire and smoke and the Dragon Riders scream, keening, dying.
"Brother, please," you look into his eyes and see everything—training fighting loving each other, becoming family because he had none and yours wouldn't acknowledge you—reflected there, in the blue and the brown.
"Galbatorix isn't your Master!" You plead, desperate. Saphira keens, lowly. "Oromis is. They tortured him, Morzan! Galbatorix tortured Master Oromis and Master Glaedr—they're going to die. Remember whose side you're on!"
Morzan drags a hand through his hair, anger and pain and love mingled on his face. Zar'roc gleams in the firelight, misery written on its side.
"You're my brother," you tell him, and you can see it, you're winning him over, calming him down. His shoulders slump and Ibara goes still and his mismatched eyes flicker shut, briefly.
"Brom," he says, and he says it like a prayer. "Brom."
You smile, shaky and happy and relieved. "Yeah, brother. It's me, it's Brom."
Morzan's eyes open. "I loved you, you know," he says. "I loved you like you were my own family."
"I know." It hasn't hit you yet, that he's saying loved, not love.
"You and Master Oromis, you raised me. Loved me. You were my family."
"I know." And it still hasn't hit you, and you don't notice Ibara coil, his crimson eyes going hard, or Zar'roc rise, just a little (just enough).
"I have a new family now," Morzan says, and his mismatched eyes go cold and Zar'roc is up and Ibara lunges and Saphira screams and screams and screams, and you see fire and blood and then—!
(You still didn't notice that he said loved, not love, and perhaps its better this way, because at least you died thinking your brother loved you.)
"Brom," Selena's voice is anxious and her eyes are wide. She clings to your hand and you can feel your child kick against you, sensing his or her mother's nervousness.
Morzan is coming. He's drunk again, and this time he knows that his wife is with another man, with his oldest friend and enemy.
You hold onto Selena and press yourself against the door, pulling every little scrap of protective magic that you can from yourself. Morzan is screaming down the halls, bellowing in rage, his dragon howling in the courtyard.
Selena's son, Murtagh, a little lad of only three, cringes and buries his face in his mother's dress. The bandages wrapped around his middle show that he's already seen his father's anger, and something in you sparks fiercely.
"Come," you whisper, and you gather them to you, sprinting away from the screaming and the red fire that's spilling out into the castle. Morzan sees you, in the distance, and he shrieks his rage, but he's drunk and slow and you throw your magic out of you, in one great burst, and there's smoke and dust and crumbling rock, and the Monster can't see you, can't get to you or them as you all run.
You run and run and run, with them at your side. Horses take you far and disguise takes you farther, deep into the north, where Morzan and his dragon look and look but they can't find you and your small family.
Months after you run, you stay hidden but you breathe a sigh of relief.
You got away. You escaped. For once in your life, you didn't fail.
Your son is born in the spring, strong and healthy and free, and Murtagh heals and learns not to be afraid and Selena, your Selena, smiles and dances and sings now, without Morzan over her shoulder, cold and cruel and demanding.
You are happy and the boys call you "father" and Selena calls you "husband," and all is well.
You hide, but you are free.
(And at night you don't see them dying, anymore, and leaving you all alone; in your dreams, your family always escapes.)
"We should leave."
The words leave your mouth before you can think about stopping them. Eragon looks at you, confused but trusting. Dras Leona doesn't sit well with him either—he's a farm boy at heart, thriving in the open spaces.
The dingy, cramped, dirty city is too much for him, and it's not safe.
You can feel the warning pricking in your head, right at the base of your skull.
Run, it says, in the same voice that Saphira used to have. Run now, you'll die.
So you gather the boy (your boy, your fierce, sweet, loyal, brilliant boy) and his dragon and you run.
Hard and fast, you run. You make it through the forest, into another town, then another, while rumors of the Ra'zac and their hellish steeds sweep after you. They are furious, the whispers say. They lost their prey.
Grimly, you know that if you don't make it to the Beors within the fortnight, you will lose everything. (Your son his mother hope for the future, all of it).
So you make it. You push and push and, with the faint screams of the Ra'zac and the hot sand of the Hadrac behind you, you make it.
Eragon collapses to the ground and sleeps for three days.
You watch, indulgent, triumphant, because you've made it. Your boy is safe—the Varden has its hero.
As you walk through the halls of Tronjhiem, to thunderous delight, you think that maybe, now it is time to sleep.
(And sleep you do, and you don't dream about blood and death and blue eyes—no, you dream about a city bathed in golden light, and your son, your wonderful son, is standing there, on the wall, watching peace and smiling.)
"Don't leave me."
You can hear your son, your brilliant, naïve, brave son, and you can see him, blurring, above you. His hands are hot on your own, and he's got his mother's anxious eyes, holding onto you like he's afraid you'll leave him.
Which is exactly what you are doing—leaving him. You should stay, watch your boy, tell him everything. He doesn't know you're his father. He's Eragon, Son of None, and he's going to stay that way. It's sad, really.
You've watched him for fifteen years, watched him grow, watched him find himself. It's bittersweet, this thing, because here your boy becomes a man and you won't be able to see him.
The wound, the terrible wound, it's killing you. It's sucking and sucking away at your life, a drain, a great sinkhole, and you find yourself fading fast.
There's another man in the corner, barely more than a child, and you know him. Murtagh, the son of your friend-brother-enemy, who has Morzan's face and ice blue eyes.
Maybe, you think, Eragon and Murtagh can heal the sins of their fathers, can mend the rift two men created.
Eragon's pleading. He's begging with you, clinging to you desperately.
You should stay, but you don't want to.
The wound is taking you and you can't fight it, not now, not anymore.
It is time to go.
You pull your boy down, whisper in his ear, and he makes a sound like a dying animal, keening, low. You hold his hand.
He shakes, and you sigh, rattling.
The wound pulls.
It is time to go, and the cave is fading, something else is taking over, and you hear, in your soul, not your mind, Eragon cry father! but you are gone, you close your eyes.
When you open them, there is light.
(There is always light.)
Review! And feel free to suggest characters and scenarios!