Well, as Chapter 1 was well-received, I have decided to continue and post Chapter 2 ^.^ I certainly hope you like it!
Thanks to my reviewers: Aurora Starwing, PSFan712, and Dark Warthog :)
And to Aurora: Yes, Murtagh and Thorn have a slightly different relationship in this story than in many others, but I can't help but think of Saphira and Glaedr referring to him as stunted-thoughts-red-scales-Thorn, which made me think of how he actually is mentally, which is more like a fledgling than the full-grown body he has been forced into by Galbatorix...Murtagh and Thorn have not had the opportunity to bond the way Eragon and Saphira did in Book 1, but they obviously are intimately linked just as those two are, despite Thorn's "stunted thoughts", so I consider how Thorn would be different in his connection with Murtagh than Saphira is with Eragon or Glaedr with Oromis.
Thorn glowed in the setting sun as he winged his way toward Leona Lake. They would rest before flying across the enormous body of water.
"If we don't destroy them, they Varden may kill us," Murtagh muttered, trying to justify yet another atrocity he was about to commit. "No stranger's life is more important than Thorn's or my own…"
We have no choice in the matter, Thorn said softly. No matter what we think of it.
I know, Thorn. It also does not change that almost the same situation caused me to leave Galbatorix's court the first time. I refused to destroy Cantos. This village will not have such luck…
Thorn blinked slowly, his eyelid clicking against the bony ridge above it. He uttered a low whine.
I'm sorry, Murtagh murmured. Thorn made a deep rumbling noise in his chest, almost a purr. His Rider was forgiven. They never would stay angry; each was the only friend the other had.
Thorn enfolded Murtagh beneath his wine-red wing as the pair fell deep into sleep.
Murtagh woke with a jolt, the compulsion to move on heavy in his mind.
He vaulted lightly to Thorn's back, and the red dragon lifted his wings and swept them down, launching the pair into the sky.
Murtagh closed his storm-gray eyes and reveled in the cool caress of the wind on his face and through his raven hair. The air was crisp and clean, and Murtagh breathed in as much as he could, knowing that the air he breathed would soon reek of blood and death and fire. His eyes would sting with smoke, and he would make the same sad excuses as to himself as he looked as the broken, scorched bodies of the people he destroyed, as he had destroyed so many others.
He slipped into Thorn's mind, seeing the world from the perspective of his bonded partner.
The red in the landscape, though scarce, burst into prominence, while the blue of the lake and green of the swiftly receding shore became muted. Thorn welcomed his Rider gladly and looped in his rare high spirits. His speed increased and he roared, sending up a pillar of steam as his fire struck the smooth surface of the lake. He dipped lower and skimmed just above the water, sending up spray in his wake that crashed around them. Murtagh almost laughed.
Then the shore finally came into view. Any semblance of happiness immediately vanished from Murtagh's features. His gray eyes sobered, and he longed only to turn away and flee, flee across the ocean and far from Galbatorix's bloody war. But still Thorn flew on, forced by the compulsion laid upon them.
Too soon, a tiny village came into view. Murtagh scanned it with his mind, and could barely believe his findings.
This was no warrior's settlement; he found only one magician, and she was no battle mage, but a healer—and a weak one at that.
She panicked as his alien consciousness touched hers, but as she began to scream, Murtagh broke her mind and ended her with a word. He wondered why he had done it for a moment; the woman now crumpled on the floor had been no threat to him, and he had no need or wish for secrecy. But he had been ordered to destroy, and destroy he would.
Murtagh's consciousness swept through the town again; the place seemed like any other.
Thorn reached the village and roared; those people outside shrieked and scattered; they knew their fate, but still they ran; as mice before a hunting wildcat.
Thorn set a hut ablaze with the crimson and white flames that poured from his deadly maw. The red dragon landed in the narrow street, his orders compelling him to kill and burn, until it seemed that the very sky blazed in an endless inferno. Zar'roc gleamed in deadly delight, as "misery" drank its fill of blood. Soon, Murtagh senses only one living mind. He was surrounded by death and destruction. Uttering a savage war cry, he ran toward the consciousness he still felt. In order to escape his guilt, he had immersed himself in his own savagery and Thorn's love of blood.
He turned the corner and found himself face to face with a girl; a young woman not more than a year younger than himself.
"Letta!" she screamed, desperation evident in every line of her face as well as in her word.
Murtagh's eyes widened in surprised as the girl's spell stopped him in his tracks. How had he not known she was a magic user?
In any case, she was not strong enough to hold him, even without the aid of Thorn or the Eldunarì.
"Losna eka," he said in the language of power, a slightly cruel smile on his face.
The girl lasted only a few seconds before she began to tremble and collapsed, ending her spell. Murtagh took another step toward her.
"Why?" she demanded with all the strength she had left. "We housed neither Varden nor any other rebels. Why did you do this?" she screamed, pointing at her burning home.
Murtagh halted momentarily. His mindless, bloody ferocity had subsided.
"I cannot refuse the king's orders," he said softly. He noticed almost dispassionately that beneath the blood on her face and her fear and fury, the girl was very beautiful.
Her face twisted in a snarl.
As he looked at her, something occurred to him.
"I was ordered to destroy," he said. "I have destroyed much…but I may be able to spare you."
"You should have realized that a long time ago," she hissed. "I warn you, Murtagh Morzansson—"
Murtagh growled viciously and backhanded her across the face, sending her reeling backward.
"I rejected my father's name well over a decade ago. His identity does not define me. Do not attach his name to me again, or you will regret it for the rest of your life—but don't worry, you would not have long to suffer."
The girl laughed, soft and derisive.
"I warn you, then," she began again, "Murtagh Son of None, if you leave me alive, you will regret it. I will not rest until I revenge myself against you and your black king." Her voice was a snarling growl, her eyes hard, violet gems.
Thorn landed beside Murtagh; the girl's eyes showed only a brief flicker of fear before she hid it beneath her mask. It hardened into anger as Murtagh leapt to the crimson dragon's saddle.
"Coward!" she screamed as Thorn lifted off. "Kill me!"
Murtagh did not look back as Thorn winged his way toward Uru'baen.
Okay, I know it was really short and totally unsatisfying, I'm sorry . the next chapter WILL be up faster than this one, I promise. Please review and tell me what you think of the girl. She will be developed more as a character later, though I still do not have a name for her yet.
"Losna eka" means "release me." He uses an absolute because he knows that she will not be able to resist his level of power.