This is my version of events concerning the third dragon egg. i havn't read the third book yet, so if this contradicts/upsets/confuses/etc. events there, I apologise. Disclaimer: I do not own Eragon or any of the following books.
Mellary took a deep breath as she stared at the walls of Dras-Leona. The city, the sprawling, ramshackle, dirty, disgusting city, was the exact opposite of where she had come from. Tears sprung to her eyes as she thought of her home. She forced all thoughts of the towering green trees out of her mind. Strange, she hadn't thought of home, and she used that word tentatively, in years. Those were times long gone by. This was the present. She patted her horse's neck, trying to reassure herself.
For the past week, they had been riding through the countryside, following a call Mellary could feel on the edges of her consciousness. It was a whisper in the corner of her mind, a gentle touch like the brush of silk along her fingertips. She didn't know who or what it was, or where it was coming from. She only had the vaguest idea of where it wanted her to go. In the middle of the night, after waking up from a dream of falling into a deep green sea, she had gathered up her few belongings, jumped onto her horse, and started riding. It had taken her a week to get here, outside the towering walls of Dras-Leona, the feeling tugging her on insistently toward the city.
Mellary sighed. To the trees, if you don't mind. She asked her horse. The mare snorted and ambled into a patch of dense trees next to the road as her mistress sat back and stared at the city in dismay. Dras-Leona. Nothing good ever came out of Dras-Leona.
A shudder ran through her as her eyes drifted toward Helgrind. She quickly looked away. The pile of dirt, rocks, and who knew what else gave off a reek of evil. She shuddered again and only relaxed once the green branches closed around them, hiding them from sight.
Mellary swung off her horse and collapsed on the ground. "Dras-Leona." She grumbled. "Why does it have to be Dras-Leona?" She lay on the ground for a while, thinking of nothing and watching the branched sway in the breeze. Finally she sat up.
"Well, nothing I can do. Might as well get this over with." She said as she stretched. Her horse, a beautiful copper animal named Tanyian, snorted in agreement.
Mellary took a handful of dirt from the ground and began to rub it into Tanyian's bright coat. The horse neighed in protest.
I know you don't like it, but you stand out too much. We have to blend in. Mellary told her. Tanyian rolled her eyes but didn't protest. They had done this many times before. Going unnoticed through the crowds was the only way Mellary had stayed alive as long as she had. Blending in and hiding out in the country. Not attracting attention.
After her glowing copper horse had been reduced to a common, dirty dun mare, Mellary straightened her own simply cut plain brown clothes. They hid her slim figure, one hardened by years in the woods and constant battles against the dark creatures of the unknown areas of Alagaesia.
Mellary undid the cords in her hair, letting the red curls cascade around her shoulders and down her back, falling down to her waist. It was a luxury, and a pain to take care of, but she couldn't quite bring herself to get rid of it. Her long, illustrious red hair was one of the last mementos of her childhood. And it had its usefulness.
As she shook out her hair, running her fingers through some of the tangles, the red curtain parted around the pointed tips of her ears. The ears she kept hidden from the nation of man behind her hair. Mellary sighed and massaged the almost razor like tips with her fingers.
She had learned quickly that elves as a whole were marveled at, disliked, and distrusted. Aside from the humans disdain for elves, which would have been reason enough to hide, rumors of any elf would bring the heavy hand of the Empire down. It had only happened to her once, and she had barely escaped from the town, riding out the gate with her blood dripping down her horse's side. So Mellary hid her heritage. Or, technically, half her heritage.
She was a half breed. Part elf, part human, and fully rejected from both races. She had elven beauty, grace, and magical talent. She had a human temper, lack of diplomacy, and impatience. Her fiery personality was all her own.
To the elves she acted like a human. To the humans she looked like an elf.
Mellary divided her hair and quickly made two messy braids. She coiled the braids, one on each side of her head. She tucked her ears under the coils so they were completely hidden from sight. She messed them up a bit more, pulling out strands and tucking them back in. Perfect. She looked like a commoner, someone not worthy of too much notice. She looked down at her long, slim, tanned fingers. Well, almost.
She waited until late afternoon, when the sun was low on the horizon and the traffic was heaviest. She walked Tanyian, keeping her head down and moving with the flow of people. The guards on the gate, twice as many as usual, didn't even look at her twice.
Mellary did, though. She glanced back over her shoulder as she entered the city. Why were there so many guards?
The crowd split, dispersing quickly through the maze of small streets the made up Dras-Leona. Mellary worked her way into the back streets, looking for an inn. Outside of the crowd of newcomers, a heavy silence fell over the streets. Why was everyone so quiet? The dead air scared her out of the back streets and into the busier ones. She found an inn closer to the main streets, and more expensive than she would have liked. Hiding in the back country hadn't done wonders for her limited amount of money.
The innkeeper looked her and her horse over carefully before he let her into the inn and took her money. He looked wary, even of a lone traveler. She was, after all, only one person. One person can be taken down without too much effort. Still, Mellary was glad only her bow was visible, covered in its leather tube so no one could see the beautiful wood and the elven design carved into it.
But his look, the caution as he glanced up and down the street behind her, was not unfamiliar. She had seen it on every face in the streets, even the children. People looked around, grew quiet as she walked by. Hands drifted down the weapons regularly. Almost everyone was armed. Women carried daggers, either openly or concealed. Men had knives or swords belted on. Even the young ones carried something. She had passed a boy who looked to have ten winters on him. His face was blank and thin, but there was a fire in his eyes as he stood in front of his sister. She could see the shape of a knife hilt concealed in his rags. She had passed by and whispered a few words of blessing.
Why were the people armed? Why were they wary of everyone? Why were the people scared?
The inn had a stable next to the main building. A stable boy offered to take Tanyian from her. Mellary handed her off and grabbed her saddle bag and bow.
Her room was small, and a fine layer of dust lay over everything. Mellary frowned. The room was close to the front of the inn, which meant that it was one of the more used rooms. To have dust in here meant that business had been slack. No one was coming to Dras-Leona. She dumped her saddle bag on the floor and collapsed on the bed. It would be nice to sleep in a real bed.
Now that she thought about it, there hadn't been that many people coming into the city, not as many as she had seen the few times she had passed Dras-Leona on her travels. The streets had been fairly empty. Why were there so few people?
So many questions, not obvious answers. It made Mellary uneasy.
She sat up and neatened her coils of braids. She stomach growled as she stretched, slightly worn from riding all day. Mellary put her hand on the door, then paused.
She opened her saddle bag and moved her few spare clothes. Hidden in between two layers of fabric were her swords. Elven make, of course.
To call them swords wasn't quite right. The twin blades were longer than a dagger, or a knife, but shorter than the average sword. They were more like two thirds the length of a sword.
Each blade was tempered metal and had a beautiful silvery blue sheen. The edges were still as razor sharp as they had been when the blades had come out of the forge many years ago. The hilts were covered in leather strips to hide the designs traced into them, as well as the fragments of gemstones embedded in them.
Inscriptions in the ancient language, different on each blade, were etched into the metal down the middle. Mellary ran her fingers down the symbols for strength and endurance. Strength on the right, endurance on the left.
Mellary slid the blades back into their plain leather sheaths and buckled them around her waist. She pulled her tunic down to hide the swords. Only then did she leave the room, locking the door carefully behind her. She looked around the empty hall and bent down, whispering words to seal the door, fusing the it to the frame.
The common room of the inn was full. Mellary hesitated at the foot of the stairs, looking around the smoke-hazed room. Most of the tables had people sitting at them. They looked to be people off the street, since the inn had been quiet up until this point.
Mellary found a seat at the bar, up against the wall with her back to a corner. She ordered a plate of food from a maid and sat back deeper into the shadows, listening to snatches of gossip. As she had discovered years ago, gossip was the only reliable way to get news in this country.
"…Been meaning to get that done, I promised…"
"…Family disappeared in the middle of the night…."
"…hear about the Dragon Rider…"
Mellary's head snapped up. Had they really just said Dragon Rider? Her ears perked up under the layers of hair. She glanced sidelong at the group she had heard the tantalizing tidbit from. A table behind her and off to her right. The group, indistinct in the bad light, was sitting with their heads together. Mellary twisted slightly in their direction and continued eating.
"Didn't you hear? The whole land must know by now. Tore out of here a few days ago, made a big spectacle at the gate. Held it open while he and his companion escaped." One of the people said. Murmurs went around the circle.
"Wonder what happened?"
"Who knows? And if you're smart you'll keep your voice down." Someone said to the first speaker. They snorted.
"As for the rush, you'd run too if the king was on your tail. The whole city knew he was coming at that point."
"The king is here?" Someone asked in shock. Mellary choked on her drink and coughed.
"Yeah, ya idiot. Where, ya been this whole time, had yer head in the ground? Better go put it back and hope the patrols don't notice ya. They've been nabbin' people right off the street an draggin' em in for questioning." The new speaker had a thick accent. "Whole city's full o' fear. Bet the governor's drownin' in it. He let the Rider git away." He whispered the word Rider.
Mellary listened intently, staring at the wall. She had known about the Rider; she had heard the first rumors a few weeks ago from an acquaintance that she visited semi-regularly who had connections with a spy for the Varden.
"So are you heading back to the V-" One of the people around the table began. One of his friends cut him off. They hissed something in his ear.
"No, I'm in town fer a few more days. You fellas ain't rid o' me yet." The speaker leaned back. "How's the crop intake comin'?" Their conversation took a normal turn. Mellary leaned back on her seat, the plate empty. Her head was spinning.
Mellary headed for the stables as soon as she could get out of the smoky room. She stood with her forehead against Tanyian's side, a brush in one hand. What am I doing? She asked the horse. Tanyian snorted and shook her head.
"I think so too." Mellary muttered. The stable boy had done a good job of cleaning her. Her hair was brighter than it had been coming into the city. Fortunately, a thin coat of dust still dulled her copper hair.
"He's here." Mellary whispered. "The king is here. Galbatorix." The name sounded harsh on her tongue. "What am I going to do?" She wondered aloud. Tanyian didn't answer, just looked as her with a big brown eye.
"I don't know either." Mellary said softly in her ear. She sighed and left the stable. At the door she paused and loosed the bolts that secured the slab of wood to the frame. Then she left.
Mellary woke when the sun leaked through the shutters. After making sure her tell-tale ears were covered, she headed down to the common room. The air was clear and the room was deserted, except for the maids. Mellary nodded and slipped out onto the streets.
She wandered around the city. Up the streets, through the maze, always heading deeper, following the pull in her mind it grew more insistent the closer she got to the heart of the city, into the wealthier parts. The buildings grew cleaner and the people more frequent. Mellary had worn one of her neater, cleaner outfits, so she didn't stand out as a commoner against the city's wealthy. One of her swords was hanging in plain view, the other was hidden.
The pull strengthened. It also began to hurt, pounding against her temples. Mellary winced and put her head down as she walked, trying to pinpoint where it was coming from.
She sped up, passing the markets and the dark temple sitting at the crest of the hill. The pull focused, straight ahead of her. It was close. She stopped and looked up, straight at the walls of the palace. The pull was coming from somewhere in there. Mellary swore.