Eragon jumped with a start, at Saphira's sudden mental shout. She had blocked him for the past 8 hours, and he was rather disgruntled and irritated with her strange, insular behaviour. Why wouldn't she let him into her mind? Though he was happy she had finally decided to allow this intimacy with him, it was unnerving to be awoken by a dragon's voice in the middle of the night, especially after hours of silence.
So you've finally decided to initiate mental conversation with me again, then?
His voice was scornful, but Saphira could sense his hurt.
I'm sorry Eragon, I've just been – busy with my own thoughts.
Of course you have. Well if you don't mind, I need to get some sleep, and I would rather not be disturbed. Good night.
Eragon I'm sorry, but I have to tell you something very important…
Eragon Shadeslayer, stop acting like a depraved, spoilt urgal and listen to me!
ERAGON! She roared, and Eragon jumped out of bed angrily, cursing as he banged his head against the bedpost.
She had poked her triangular head into his tent and was watching him with narrowed, sapphire eyes, her teeth bared as she snarled at him. Eragon glared back, and felt her smirk mentally as he rubbed his head.
What is it that could not wait till morning and provoked you to wake me so unceremoniously from my sleep, you overgrown lizard?!
Saphira snorted warningly, a puff of smoke emerging from her nostrils but them conceded closing her horny eyelids apologetically.
I am sorry. I should not have blocked you.
It's alright. I missed you though. Eragon lazily extended a hand, patting her scaly head.
And I you. Perhaps now you know how I felt when you ejected me from you mind to moon after Arya and mourn after M-.
Eragon sighed, closing his eyes again, and chose to change the topic. The conversation seemed to be heading in a direction which he did not like, for it was rather painful to think about.
Where were you all this time Saphira? This hunt took longer than usual - and why are you not open with me?
Saphira jerked her head rather nervously, and twitched her tail. She clawed deeper into the grass and Eragon was surprised at her odd behaviour.
What is it? You can tell me anything, you know. I'm not going to abandon you, ever.
You can't… you know you wouldn't last long. But aside from jest, Eragon there is something I must tell you. Something that happened during my hunt.
Spit it out.
I was flying eastwards, towards the fringes of Du Weldenwarden – you know they have exceptionally tender deer there – and I saw a drop of red in the sky.
Obviously, I knew it was him. He was very far at the time, but he seemed to be getting closer and closer –
Was he with him! Eragon interrupted, his heart beating faster at the mention of his dragon.
No, Thorn was alone. Anyways, he was flying towards me, evidently. I could not turn and fly away for I would seem cowardly, an impression I would certainly not wish to give him! I knew Murtagh –
Saphira ignored Eragon's startled reaction – she had experienced enough of his silliness when it came to his brother.
Murtagh wasn't with him, so I could certainly defeat him if it came to a fight. After all I am so much stronger and more agile then him.
Eragon smiled, but she ignored him. She seemed to be serious, yet strangely excited at the same time. He had never seen Saphira so excited, and Eragon found it slightly unnerving.
So I met Thorn, in the sky. He was about 50 yards away from me, but he would come no closer. But he motioned me to follow him into the forest. He promised not to hurt me, he only wanted to – to talk.
Eragon's eyes narrowed, trying to figure out where this was heading.
We went to the forest, and there was a huge cave. Big enough for about five dragons, actually. We didn't do much at first, but – oh his scales were so bright and his talons so sharp and his eyes were glittering and –
Eragon raised an eyebrow at Saphira's rather rambling praise of Thorn, feeling utterly bemused.
Saphira, what does this have to do with anything?! And I can't believe you and Thorn just met and acted like normal friends when you're supposed to be so much more, I mean enemies, not-
Eragon looked at her expectantly. Her excitement and apprehension unsettled him. Something had happened.
Eragon, I am sorry, but I couldn't help it.
What in the name of Alagaesia are you going on about?!
Saphira gave him a long, calculating look. Then she let out another puff of smoke.
We mated Eragon, Thorn and I. We mated.
Eragon yelled out loud now, and promptly fell of the bed. He scrambled back up, reaching for Brisingr and unsheathed it for no particular reason.
Saphira eyed him with amusement and a bit of caution.
I am sorry Eragon, but I have never –
"YOU DID IT WITH TH-"
Saphira's roar cut him off, and she glared at him, sapphire eyes flashing. Eragon looked at her sheepishly, sheathed Brisingr and promptly reverted back to mental conversation.
Sorry, I'll be quieter… YOU SLEPT WITH THORN! YOU MATED HIM?!
Eragon was staggered. It was like Murtagh had suddenly declared he was in love with –
Eragon just because Thorn may like me that way, it doesn't mean anything about Murtagh. You don't know how he feels about you, or Nasuada or anyone else.
Eragon glowered at Saphira who had successfully interpreted his thoughts. He then ran a hand through his sleep-mussed hair, and sighed loudly. Saphira was still fidgeting.
There's something more isn't there?
I bear child, Eragon.
For the second time that night, Eragon fell off his bed, and cussed even louder. This time however, he chose not to get up, and sat sprawled on the ground, staring at her, his eyes slightly narrow.
Is this all some perverted joke?
No Eragon. It is serious.
Eragon's heart pounded wildly. Saphira would lay an egg. A new dragon. A new ally against Galbatorix, perhaps if it found a suitable rider. The race of dragons wasn't extinct! Thorn mated Saphira! Murtagh's dragon mated his dragon. Though riders and their dragons don't share the same feelings, Eragon felt as excited as if it were Murtagh who wanted to –
Don't even go there Eragon.
Shut up. But do you realize – they may become our allies now! You – you'll be a mother! You'll mother the rest of your race! You're not going extinct! We'll have more dragons, more riders – and the egg is with us! We can win this war now! We have a chance! And Thorn and Murtagh may join us now! Maybe this changed his name! He's a father now! And you – you're a mother! Oh, Saphira congratulations!
Eragon's head was spinning, and he suddenly launched himself at his dragon, flinging his arms around her neck.
This is brilliant.
Saphira grinned rather wolfishly.
I hope so, little one. But I know not what Thorn and Murtagh will do.
Eragon suddenly pulled away, his smile fading.
You mean they'll tell Galbato-
No, Thorn swore to me he wouldn't do that! But – it's going to be complicated. I don't know what will happen. All I know is that Murtagh always wanted freedom, so did Thorn. Maybe this will help them. Give them a reason to fight, a reason to be free.
Murtagh always had a reason, didn't he? I was always-
Eragon. Stop it. Now.
Eragon did stop, letting his mind wander randomly instead – thinking of Murtagh always gave him excitement, hope… but it also opened up a wound in his heart which refused to heal. Saphira seemed dreamy and momentarily distracted. Eragon ventured into her mind, but pulled away disgustingly as mental images of Thorn's lust-filled eyes filled his mind.
Don't – don't think about him like that when I'm there too! It's not nice!
Eragon recoiled as an image of Thorn and Saphira intertwined lovingly, digging their claws into each other filled his mind.
Saphira stop! He's a dragon, and I'm human, I cannot have such wrong thoughts invading my mind every now and then.
Saphira snarled at him, rolling her eyes.
What about the thoughts you have about his rider. Your dreams and fantasies. Not to mention, he IS you brother-
Eragon glared at her, and then announced out loud "I'm going to bed" rather huffily.Saphira watched him, still slightly amused. He glared at her, but finally smiled, and a tender look replaced his annoyance. He placed his hand on her head, randomly tracing fingers on her hard scales with his fingers.
Good night Saphira. And congratulations.
Saphira closed her eyes and hummed.
Good night Eragon. Sweet dreams.
Eragon smiled, and fell of to sleep. Sweet dreams, she had said. They certainly would be. The last image he had was of shining grey eyes, locks of black hair and a teasing smile.
Murtagh cursed mentally, his grey eyes widening.
You're joking Thorn!
Murtagh rolled his eyes at the sardonic tone. He should have known. His dragon had been acting rather like a hormone-driven teenager lately.
So I suppose you initiated it then? You attacked her I suppose.
Thorn snapped at Murtagh, but his vermillion eyes were gleaming with pride.
She seduced me.
Murtagh glared at his dragon, a disgusted expression contorting his handsome face.
Please spare me the details of your mating ritual, Thorn.
Thorn chuckled, his white fangs gleaming. He still emanated a maddening aura of pride and hormones, and Murtagh withdrew from his mind grumbling.
I just wish it had been another rider's dragon Thorn. You know Eragon and I aren't exactly – the best of friends.
She was the only female dragon around, Murtagh. And she's hot.
Murtagh raised an eyebrow at Thorn, who continued.
Gorgeous blue scales, nice muscles, long tail –
Murtagh closed off the mental connection, and Thorn relapsed into his own thoughts. Murtagh glanced at his lovestruck dragon and grinned.
"Night, Thorn" he muttered out loud.
Thorn winked at him in response.
Murtagh sank back into his bed, running a hand through his dark strands of hair. He wondered how Eragon would be taking this news. Probably hyperventilating, going crazy and sulking that Saphira hadn't told him earlier. An image of a jumpy, angry Eragon questioning an annoyed Saphira filled his mind, and Murtagh smiled again, before drifting off to sleep.
"Your scouts sighted them where?!" Eragon spluttered, in a most undignified manner.
He could sense Saphira's mental alarm and excitement building up. He knew they would have to face them again in combat – but a week after this. The dragons would surely not fight, not after what transpired in the forest. And if Thorn knew he was a father… would he really attack the mother of his child?
Nasuada coolly raised her eyebrows. "A few km from here. We don't know where they're headed, or what they want – but seeing as they are so few, I think we should press our advantage. Our numbers, for once, are far greater than theirs, and we can easily cut off their escape route-"
Eragon however doubted Galbatorix would be foolish enough to send his two most powerful servant along with a meager battalion, trooping around the Varden's encampment.
"It must be some sort of a trap – like those insane, laughing soldiers the last time who didn't feel pain-"
Nasuada interjected him. "Galbatorix knows nothing about our current whereabouts, and neither do they. It is not a trap, for we intend to attack them when they least expect it."
"We're attacking first. We're initiating this?" Eragon asked surprised.
I don't want to risk a tangle with Murtagh yet.
Saphira replied, blushing slightly. I may not mind so much.
Eragon fingered the hilt of Brisingr thoughtfully. "You don't expect me to kill them then do you? You want them here, as our allies."
Nasuada nodded, locking eyes with him. "This is our only chance to capture them, they are so nearby. And with those two on our side, the odd will tilt to our side in this war. If we ever had a chance for victory, this is it."
Eragon sighed, looking at Saphira. She pointedly avoided his eyes and he frowned. How were he and Murtagh expected to do anything if their dragons behaved like shy, coy puppies?!
"Are you strong enough, Eragon?"
"I think so, with Glaedr's Eldunari and the spellcasters, if I may have their assistance. For Galbatorix is sure to have given Murtagh more power."
Nasuada opened her mouth to say something, when the door opened, and Blodhgarm and Arya entered.
"You summoned us, my lady." Blodhgarm bowed slightly, and Arya gave a grim smile as she looked at Eragon's flustered face.
"It's Murtagh and Thorn, isn't it" she asked. Eragon blanched. Was he that transparent? He nudged Saphira's mind.
Should we tell her?
We will have to Eragon. Her mind shall be connected with yours.
Nasuada nodded and then addressed them all. "You have an hour to get ready before you set off. You will find Roran and a battalion of soldiers preparing themselves. Please come back with new allies."
Saphira's news had elicited shock from even Arya, changing her calm, cool demeanor to one of utter astonishment. She adjusted to the news easier than Eragon though.
"This battle should be an interesting affair then." she had said, her lips twitching. "I have never witnessed love between dragons. Love and war, however, is something all the more extraordinary."