Yes, this yet another AU, and for once is not Eragon centric or an EragonxSaphira fic! Yes, Nasuada's going to be a Dragon Rider in this story and Saphira's going to be her dragon. This is not going to be a rehash of Eragon with Nasuada in Eragon's place. No, it's going to have my own original plot and revelations. And dammnit this story is going to totally rock!

Pairings: Hm, not sure yet, I'm torn between much later MurtaghxNasuada or perhaps an EragonxNasuada pairing. And Saphira? I'm torn between SaphiraxThorn or SaphiraxGreeni or maybe even SaphiraxShruikan. Whatever works out best for this fic, I guess. There might also be a bit of BromxAngela and AryaxFaolin on the side, as well.

Disclaimer: Obviously I do not own the Inheritance Cycle or else Nasuada and baby Saphira would have gotten much more screen time. -huggles cute little baby Saphira who deserved much more attention than a couple of chapters before growing up-

The endless tunnels buried deep within the depths of the Beor Mountains, carved out by dwarfs centuries before, trapped many unsuspecting people in its maze. Even the most skilled of dwarfs could get lost within the labyrinth, eventually succumbing to either madness or thirst. But the young woman who was currently travelling through the maze navigated the confusing warren of tunnels like an expert. She was no elder than seventeen, with dark skin and black hair. This black-haired woman was no other than Nasuada, daughter of the infamous Ajihad. Nasuada walked on, following a familiar path, exchanging nods with the guards posted at strategic intervals along the tunnel.

What was the daughter of the leader of the Varden doing wandering about long-deserted tunnels? And why were these guards stationed so far away from Tronjheim in the middle of an abandoned passageway that not even the dwarfs used anymore? Only Nasuada and a select few of the Varden, Ajihad and the Council of Elders among them, knew the answer to this question.

As she made her way down the well-worn trail, Nasuada allowed herself to reminensce on her first journey on the path.

She had only been a young child back then, no more than five years old, but Nasuada was used to living around servants and guards. Her caretaker, Farica, had been taking her on a walk through the streets of Tronjheim when she had spotted them coming down the road.

Three silver horses gracefully trotted past her, their riders all sporting identical angular features and pointed ears. They were fairer than any person Nasuada had ever lain eyes upon, and had found herself transfixed at the sight of these strangers. Two handsome males which Nasuada assumed to be guards flanked the only female of the small group. The radiant woman had piercing emerald eyes and black hair so glossy that Nasuada played with her own locks self-consciously. A strange object, wrapped in cloth, lay perched in the pointy-eared woman's lap. She had one protective hand upon it, as if to shield the thing from harm.

The woman, aware of the awed young girl gaping up at her, looked down into the brown eyes of little Nasuada. Her face remained emotionless, but Nasuada was positive that she had seen those brilliant green eyes sparkle warmly when they were fixed upon her.

Nasuada had tugged on Farica's skirt, asking who these strange people were and what the woman carried with her that she watched so carefully. "They are elves," was Farica's breathless answer. She too was watching the small precession, entranced by the males' fairness. Nasuada had looked at her maid expectantly, waiting for further explanation. But Farica didn't elaborate on who the elves were, or, to the little girl's great annoyance, what the female elf had in her lap.

Nasuada had pulled Farica down to Ajihad's office as quickly as possible, determined to discover more, especially on the identity of that mysterious object. She had arrived to find the chair which her father usually occupied empty and the office devoid of any elves or wrapped objects. The child had wondered why the room was deserted, as Ajihad always brought his visitors to this office to discuss important matters that "were not meant for little children."

A passing guard had explained to Nasuada and Farica that Ajihad and the elves were off handling a situation of the utmost importance in an area that was to be kept secret from all that didn't have the proper clearance, Nasuada included. But at one sight from that dismayed cute little face, the guard had caved. He gave the little girl and her nursemaid directions to where Ajihad and his visitors were at, and had quickly shooed them out of the room lest he be caught in the act of treachery.

The helpful man's directions led to the outskirts of the dwarven city where the wide roads met with tunnels that ran all under the Beor Mountains. According to him, Ajihad and his guests lay at the end of a long and winding tunnel guarded by armed men. They were conversing in a secret room that had been carved out of the mountain for the sole purpose of confidential meetings by a dwarf King ages ago, and was now used for matters too important to speak about in Ajihad's office.

The guards stationed in the passage were no match for Nasuada's sly charm. She had grown up along with men like these, and knew exactly what it took to get past them. A cute smile, a single tear from those big brown eyes of hers, was all it took to break the defenses of even the most battle-hardened veteran. Nasuada wheedled her way past the guards, tugging a protesting Farica by the hand, and barreled into the top secret room.

Ajihad and the three elves were all in deep discussion when the rebel leader's feisty little daughter barged in. Everyone in the room looked up, startled. While the two male elves were downright annoyed to be interrupted by a child of all things, their female counterpart was watching in bemusement. Ajihad, momentarily stunned by his daughter's impromptu arrival, swiftly regained composure. Furious, he stormed up to Nasuada to give her the chastisement of her young life. Poor Farica, unable to stand the dark look in her leader's eyes, could only blubber as she struggled to explain their prescience. The elves just stood there, silent, watching the entire scene from their positions around a pedestal placed in the center of the room.

Nasuada, knowing her father's rage was only temporary and her curiosity too great to stifle, had merely ignored the angry Ajihad. She had peered past him, slightly intimidated by the elves staring intently at her. But then she noticed what stood upon the pedestal they all were standing around and she lost all fear.

The thing was no more than a foot long, and shaped like a polished stone. Nasuada had never seen something so brilliantly blue; the color of the object strongly reminded her of the fine sapphires the dwarfs mined. The blue also reminded her of the beautiful azure color of a clear sky. The blue color also had white lines running through it, but Nasuada thought that it added to the beauty of the object rather than detracting from it. She was also absolutely positive that this was the same thing she had glimpsed upon the elf's lap.

Did it feel as smooth as it looked? Nasuada reached out with a tiny hand, just wanting to touch it just to see how it feeled....

"Don't touch it."

Nasuada glanced up, surprised, one hand hovering just inches away from the object. One of the two male elves was looking at her, his green eyes harsh. The little girl jumped away from the pedestal, her hand flying to her side as if the blue object had burned it. She flinched, waiting to be scolded again, but the elf that had snapped at her had fallen quiet. Deciding it was okay to stare at this wondrous....thing.... from a distance, Nasuada turned to gaze at it, enthralled.

"What is it?" she whispered.

Everyone seemed too busy to answer her innocent question; Ajihad was now attempting to sooth the sobbing Farica and the male elves had taken it upon themselves to make sure she didn't take one step closer to the pedestal. Surprisingly, it was the elf woman that replied.

"It is a dragon's egg," the female elf responded softly. She too was gazing tenderly at the...egg?....like a mother may look at her newborn child. "The last female dragon egg in the world."

A smooth voice broke into Nasuada's mind, disturbing her from her memories. "Lady Nasuada, a pleasure to see you again. Looking to gaze upon the egg in pure infatuation once more?"

The young woman smirked, raising a hand in greeting to the two elves that stood before her. "Faolin. Glenwing. It is good to see the both of you again, Tronjheim does get quite boring without the occasional change of scenery and you two are quite a change from the norm around here."

Faolin and Glenwing stood guard over the egg, which was in its usual position on the pedestal in the center of the room. The egg and its three carriers had been travelling through Du Weldenvarden for the past year, journeying to all the elfin cities so that all eligible could place their hands upon the blue egg and see if they were the one worthy enough to become the Rider of the dragon inside. As the agreement between the Varden and the elves stated, the egg would now be stationed in Farthen Dur for the next year, so that all wishing could also come and be judged by the little dragon inside.

Faolin, young and cheerful compared to the silver-haired and somber Glenwing, smiled. "Of course we are a change of scenery, Lady Nasuada. We elves are the only ones in this entire city who you do not have wrapped around your finger!" He gestured down at the egg, giving her a playful look. "For five years we followed Ajihad's request and made sure you did not touch this egg. For yet another year we shall deter you in all of your futile attempts to outsmart us once again."

Nasuada frowned and shook her head. "My father is a great leader, but he is becoming oddly paranoid as of yet. Does he think the dragon inside this egg will deem me enough worty enough to become her Rider if I were to touch her? No, I am not so delusional to think I will be chosen as the last free Dragon Rider. As I said to you exactly twelve years ago, Faolin, all I desire is to touch the egg. Just to see if it feels as smooth as it appears to be."

Faolin took a step closer to Nasuada, his green eyes flashing in challenge. "And as I told you exactly twelve years ago, Lady Nasuada, you are not permitted to touch this dragon's egg. I have already told you millions of times that the egg is as smooth as it appears to be. Why can you not take my word for it and leave me and my charge be?"

The two bickered for a while, tossing a couple of fond nicknames and good-natured taunts that were for annoying the other than as an actual challenge. Glenwing stood rigid and emotionless throughout the entire "argument," acting as if Faolin and Nasuada were not there. But Nasuada knew the old elf too well than to presume he had completely tuned her out; his left eye twitched slightly as the bickering went on and on and on. After a long while, Glenwing suddenly spoke up for the first time.

"I deeply regret having to break up such a meaningful conversation," Glenwing interuppted icily, "but I must strongly suggest you leave at once, Lady Nasuada. The Twins shall be bringing this year's batch of aspiring Dragon Riders in quite soon and I would hate to add yet another distraction to upset them and throw off the dragon's judgement."

Nasuada harrumphed, but she saw the wisdom in the elf's words. Once, when she was seven, she had stayed in the room to watch the hopefuls desiring to become Dragon Riders take their turns at touching the egg to see if any of them were actually worthy enough to be chosen by such a picky little dragon. Nasuada's very prescence had upset the candidates, making them all fear they would be ridiculed by Ajihad's daughter if the she-dragon inside the egg rejected them. All of that negativity had upset the dragon, the Twins had reported to Ajihad once the event had ended. There might have been a possible Dragon Rider within the throng, but the dragon was so put-off by the unhappy emotions that she would have selected no one, regardless of whether her destined Rider were among those hopefuls or not.

"Very well, then." Nasuada walked over to Faolin until their noses were almost touching. She sniffed disdainfully, pretending to be offended. "But this is not over, Faolin. One day I shall touch that egg, whether my father wishes me to or not."

The elf chuckled. "I don't think even I will live to see that day, Lady Nasuada."

"Oh, I think you will, Faolin."

Before the elves could react, Nasuada's hand flashed out and touched the egg. Smirking at the stunned face of Faolin and the furious face of Glenwing, the young woman carressed the egg's blue surface, marveling at its smoothness. Withdrawing her hand, she glanced at her palm before showing it to the two elves. "See, the egg does not hatch, nor does the gedwey ignasia mark my palm. I am not her Dragon Rider."

Faolin gaped, but he quickly regained his composure and gave her a scolding look. He opened his mouth, no doubt to tell her off, but Nasuada merely waved him silent. "You will find that once again, a stupid command of my Father's has been disobeyed, and I now know the answer to the puzzle that has been haunting me for the past twelve years. Now, if you excuse me, I do believe your aspiring Dragon Riders have arrived."

With a mocking courtesy to Faolin and Glenwing, Nasuada turned and strode out of the room. Shortly after exiting the chamber she spotted the Twins escorted this year's batch of candidates down the tunnel. Though having despised the Twins since she was seven years old, Nasuada had the sense to incline her head politely to the two magicians as she passed by. The crowd of people behind the brothers slowed as they noticed their leader's daughter. Nasuada smiled at them before walking by and out of the tunnels.

She was in an unusually happy mood that morning, both from the sweet victory she had waited twelve years for, and for the fact that she had archery lessons in only an hour.

As Lady Nasuada was enjoying practicing with her bow and arrows, Faolin was just finishing up the long and informative explanation of what would happen if the she-dragon chose one of the candidates and how the process would go. The crowd listened intently as the elf finished his lecture with words of encouragement.

"Do not despair if the egg does not hatch for you the moment you press your hand upon it. The dragon inside may spend the next week mulling over the people who have come in contact with her before making a decision. There is a fair chance that one of you may still become a Dragon Rider up to a maximum to seven days after first touching the egg. That is why there is such a long period between candidates coming in contact with the dragon and why the groups are so small. Now, you, come up here. You're going first...."


Questions: 1. Why did Nasuada acting OOC?

The only Nasuada we have insight to is the one after her father's death, who was forced to grow up early and was under the pressures of having to lead the Varden. This is Nasuada when she is still allowed to be a child, but some of her characteristics are still there, like her stubbornness and slyness, for instance. Don't worry, you'll see a more canon looking Nasuada before long :).

2. Why didn't Ajihad allow Nasuada to touch the egg?

Ajihad is no fool, he knows how likely the blue Dragon Rider will die. Galbatorix was easily able to kill experienced and powerful Dragon Riders, what's stopping him from getting rid of one little she-dragon and her Rider? Ajihad doesn't want Nasuada to suffer that fate, and is doing anything within his power to keep her from touching the egg and giving her the slightest chance of winding up as the most likely doomed Dragon Rider.

3. Why might Saphira take a week to hatch?

This is just my explanation of why Saphira took so long to hatch for Eragon. My theory is that the baby dragons need time to properly judge their potential Riders, like about a week. The dragon can hatch the moment it's touched or five days later, so long as its under a week. After seven days, the dragon forgets about the person who touched it and goes dormant until it's touched again by another potential Dragon Rider.