Well, here's chapter one! Hope you like it!

Disclaimer: Not my characters, my plot.

Rating: T – T+ Mild cussing.

Summary: When Saphira's magic saves Eragon from a near death experience, he is changed drastically. But life waits for no one, and Eragon learns to live with his new self, and a new Arya as well. !BATTLE WITH THE KING! ExA

Eragon! Hold on!

I'm trying Saphira! The wind... it's...

Eragon couldn't concentrate on thinking long enough to finish that sentence. He had to focus every muscle, every thought, on gripping as tightly as he could on the saddle horn before him. The wind billowing and swirling around him seemed to be trying to lift him off and away from Saphira, or drive him forward to one of her deadly neck spikes.

Saphira had long ago grown to tired to fight the winds, and navigate through the torrential rain the storm was producing, and was now tumbling through the sky, helpless. Eragon knew what was happening, Brom had warned him about it. The heavy atmospheric pressure was pushing him towards the ground, but the rising heat was holding them up. The storms was the most dangerous here, it was fiercest, and hardest to fly in, right where they were stuck. Eragon had been an idiot, and now they couldn't escape.

Suddenly, a new feeling crawled across his skin. Like a million small insects, it rolled across his arms, face, neck, and legs. His hair raised. A strange ringing filled his ears. He was about to ask Saphira if she felt it too, when a white hot, blazing pain seared through him. It lit his blood on fire, and he could feel his skin began to burn, and smell the cooking flesh in the air. Saphira roared in agony and they began to plummet. Saphira's weak wings no longer able to keep them upright.

All Eragon knew was pain. It was more severe than anything he had ever felt. Worse than when Brom died, worse than Glaedr's pain over the loss of his rider, worse than anything Durza's curse had inflicted upon him. Eragon could not fight it, and he felt his will crumpling. He felt his body shrink within itself, trying feebly to hide from the fire. Somehow, Eragon recognized what he was doing.

He was running away. He was begin a coward. Wasn't that all he ever did? Run away from his problems, his fears? He ran away from his farm, and his uncle died. He ran away from Durza and Brom died. He had run after Durza and Ajihad had died. So many of his loved ones... well not this time. Eragon pulled himself out of his cocoon and faced the pain head on, even taking some from Saphira and adding to his load. The last thing he thought before he blacked out was Saphira...The bolt of lightning flashed across the Sky, mocking it's latest victim with an unflinching cruelty.

-Two Weeks Later-

Eragon felt... fuzzy all over. His skin still tingled with warmth, but no longer a searing fire. His mind felt strangely clear, like someone had washed all the impurities and pain away, leaving him only with himself and...

Open your eyes, little one.

Sa-Saphira. What happened?

We fell from the sky after being struck by a bolt of lightning. I do not remember anything from that time, except for the pain. But we are alive. And different.

Different?

Open your eyes Eragon.

Eragon tried to do as she asked, but as he did, the light streamed heavily into his sockets, burning his retnas. He flinched back, clamping his eyes shut. Tears streamed lightly from the corners of his eyes.

Try again.

But-

Do it.

Eragon heaved a mental sigh and did as she asked. Opening his eyes the tiniest fraction did not hurt as much this time, and over the course of almost five minutes, he had them fully opened, and was astonished. They had changed. First his eyes were drawn to the mighty Dragon curled around him. She was at least three times bigger than she had been before, even bigger than Glaedr had been.

Her face had become more angular and smooth. Her eyes a deeper blue, her scales more luminous, and her teeth whiter and sharper. She was the most beautiful dragon he had ever seem, even out of the hundreds he had seen in pictures from the elves libraries.

You have changed as well, Eragon.

Have I? Eragon muttered the spell to see through her eyes, and let a shocked gasp blow between his lips. Even through the blue tint of Saphira's eyes, he could see that his own eyes were no longer hazel, but a shockingly bright sapphire blue, the same as Saphira's. His hair had a grown a tint lighten, more like caramel now. His face too had reconstructed itself. Less like an elf, though not quite a human. Just something wild, something dangerous. His body was wrapped in a tight sinewy muscle. He was not bulky and cumbersome, but instead lithe. He was reminded of a wolf, somehow. Eragon was by no means vain, or narcissistic, but he had never seen a more beautiful man than the one reflected in Saphira's eyes.

His eyes were then drawn to the world around them. To the north, trees had be cast down, trunks splintered, and even charred. The ground was shredded and churned up from where Saphira had landed. But this was not what held his attention. He could see everything. The leaves on the trees lost no definition, no matter how far away they were. He could see the veins running through each and every one, even the small insects that crawled along their surface. Every blade of grass, every strip of bark, every animal and everything around him for miles.

Then he realized he could smell and taste it as well. The leaves were sharp and bitter, where as a mouse scuttling through the leaf litter was warm and nutty. Morning dew glittered on every surface and cast rainbows glinting in all directions. He had never seem like this before, he had never even guessed at the definition the world could bring. It was baffling, and he lay in awe. A wind blew and the once light rustle of the leaves in the trees roared around him like and ocean wave crashing around his head.

Saphira... what happened to us? Everything is so... so...

Amazing? I can only guess that as we fell, my Magic felt our pain and healed us, and in addition, made us they we are now. Rise little one, there is more.

More? How could there possibly be more?

As soon as Eragon thought to get up, he was up. The movement was instantaneous. He moved faster than the eye could see, even to his eyes the movement was little more than a blur. It was also soundless. Eragon grinned. Sight. Speed. Strength? Eragon looked around the destroyed clearing. He found a large rock that had been churned out of the ground. He placed his palm face down on the surface and exerted a small amount of pressure on it. It crumbled beneath his fingers and he grinned.

"From strength comes magic." He murmured to himself, remembering his fathers words. Eragon drew upon his reserves of magic, moving his hand from the pile of gravel to the forest floor. Probing it with his mind, he felt various things beneath him. Worms, rodents, tree roots, but even farther below that, he felt the glowing presence of precious gems. He grinned and pulled them up out of the ground, keeping a careful check on his strength.

When he felt no more in the ground, he cut of his power and opened his eyes. The only fatigue he felt was feather light, a barely noticeable caress in the depths of his mind. In front of him he saw the glittering raw forms of rubies, emeralds, sapphires, topaz, diamonds, and pure gold. By themselves, they were to small to be of any value. They looked more like dust than gems. Eragon drew on his strength and murmured the words that would bond them together: diamonds to diamonds, gold to gold, and so on.

Together, they were much more noticeable, the ruby about the size of his skull, the diamond the size of his fist. Everything varied, and Eragon smiled. The gems were more than enough to keep a small town afloat for many years, being quite a considerable fortune. He tucked the stones into his bag, unsure of what to do with them.

He bent his knees and leaped. He noticed as he was airborne that his mind seemed to function better. He was more capable of making calculations, he came to conclusions easier, and his thoughts seemed more languid. He landed squarely on Saphira's back, pleased that he had been able to leap all the way up; a feat he could never have done before without the aid of magic.

Saphira chuckled at his exuberance, and with one powerful down thrust, they were in the air, and flying off for Feinster. It had been a simple mission for him. Get to Surda, talk to the councilors in place of Nasuada, bring back some documents. No one had been expecting the storm, and they probably thought he was dead, or worse, captured by Galbatorix. He would have to think of a way to convince them that it was indeed him. Magic of course, he would show Arya his memories.

Eragon had a pleasant time flying back, more so than he normally would have. He and Saphira found great pleasure in using their new eyes to view their surroundings in ways they wouldn't have been able to do before. They had taken to counting the number of deer they saw until they reached the city. The sun was setting, illuminating the sky in glorious tones of gold, pink, and violet, when they saw Feinster on the horizon.

At first, both Dragon and Rider were unsure of their location, because what had been a three day trip south, had taken them only a day flying north, and with a prevailing wind. But there was no doubt. The Varden's tents were stationed outside the walls, and he could see the Surdan banners flapping in the strong winds. Eragon had long been able to count the bricks in the wall, at almost five miles away, when the alarm drums began to beat an invasion rhythm. A volley of arrows sped towards them, and he raised his hand, putting a magic barrier around Saphira and himself. He sent out a probe and found Arya in place on the wall. She seemed to have recognized him and sadness coated her minds presence; she apparently thought he had been captured.

Her barriers were strong but he was stronger. He did not delve into her mind, just burrowed under the first layer so she could hear his thoughts. Arya! I'm still me! I promise that I am not in the service of the King! He said in the ancient language.

Eragon? He saw her hold up her hand, and from two miles, he could hear her call out "Cease! Our Rider Eragon has returned a free rider! Someone get Nasuada!" She turned her attention back to Eragon and thought Where have you been?! What has happened to you? Saphira is...

It is a very long story. In short we were struck by lightning and Saphira's dragon magic altered us, but the whole story will have to wait until the whole council is with us, for it is a long one I would prefer not to repeat.

Very well. Nasuada is on her way.

I know.

With that last comment, he pulled out of Arya's mind with a smirk. He landed before the great gates of Feinster. He realized that Saphira would no longer fit inside the city streets without crushing buildings and causing havoc. He could smell Arya's sharp pine fragrance nearing them, and his mind grew dizzy for a moment. Saphira chuckled.

Arya came sprinting around the corner of the gates, her breath coming slightly faster than it normally would. Her hair splayed around her, and Eragon gasped. As she drew closer, he could pick out things he had never noticed before. Her skin glowed with a light, as if radiating with magic. Her black hair fell in waves from her head, glittering in the dim sunset light.

He could not help but notice other things about her, more sinful things that had his cheeks blazing like the sunset, and he hoped that evening light would mask his embarrassment. He unfastened himself from the saddle and leaped down the forty feet that would have shattered the bones of any human or elf. He rose from his crouched landing position and trotted over to her.

Arya's eyes were wide and suspicious, and though it was obvious that she was trying to keep her emotions in check, a look of what Eragon could only assume was astonishment over his return twitched its way onto her face, or maybe it was his new appearance. "Shadeslayer, it is wonderful to know that you are unharmed, and that you have returned to us in even better condition that you left us in."

"Hello to you too." He smirked, his tone slightly sarcastic in the face of her pleasantries. Looking down at her, Eragon realized that he had grown a considerable amount as well, now looking down at Arya by almost six inches, where as before it had only been two.

No one else but Eragon would have been able to see the disapproving grimace ghost across Arya's features. It was obvious that she had been wanting something more formal, something that would give her an excuse to ask him about his absence. Eragon sensed this and said "You'll know everything as soon as the others get here." Eragon raised his nose to the air and sniffed gently, and action that was not missed by Arya. The air was filled with the scents of the city. Cooking food, stone and smoke, but he focused on those even closer. Fine linen, fresh earth, and blood along with the sweat of horses greeted him. He guessed that Nasuada, Orik, and an Urgal representative was accompanying the group, along with King Orrin.

"Ah, here they are." Eragon said.

Arya sent him a confused look and parted her lips as if about to say something when the group rounded the great gates. Arya instead murmured under her breath "I am expecting a full explanation of this."

"Of course." He promised.

By now, Nasuada's group had trotted their way out of the city. Nasuada tried to bring their group towards them, but the horses they rode were skittish, and shied away from Saphira. Eragon reached them with his mind, reassuring them. Nasuada noticed his concentrated gaze and grinned thankfully, drew closer, and spoke. "Shadeslayer! It brings me great joy to see that you have returned to us unharmed, and as the messenger told me, a free rider. Is this true?"

"Yes." Eragon answered in the ancient language.

"Very well. I also assume there is a story behind all of this as well." Nasuada gestured towards him and Saphira.

"Yes, but I suggest we venture to more private quarters, and seeing as Saphira can no longer fit inside your walls, might I suggest a different location?"

"Please lead the way, Eragon Shadeslayer." King Orrin said, gesturing out towards the forest. Eragon nodded and turned, jogging into the wooded area.

Saphira leaped into the air and soared above them. Eragon already knew where they were going, having noted the clearing as they were flying into the city. It was about a fourth of a mile away from the walls and large enough to house their entire party. As they breached the barrier of foliage surrounding the empty space, Eragon once again called on his reserves of magic, asking the roots of the trees to grow into a large earthen table, with six seats surrounding it.

He had just finished molding the top of the table when the others emerged from the forest. All eyes were wide, but none more so than Arya's who alone knew the amount of magic necessary to create it, and in such short time. Her mind brushed his.

How are you not exhausted, Shadeslayer?

All in good time, Shadeslayer. He laughed lightly under his breath as Arya's brows moved together and a frown settled on her face. He pulled out of her mind as they all seated themselves. Nasuada claimed the seat on his right, and King Orrin seated himself in the one on his left. Once all was settled he began.

"Before I begin, I would like to know the duration of my absence, for I do not know it myself." His eyes cast around the circle, looking for an answer.

King Orrin answered him. "Two weeks, four days, Shadeslayer."

Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Arya's frown gain definition.

"Thank you. Well, two weeks, three days ago, you all know that I left Feinster with the orders to carry out a diplomatic run to Surda. I was able to do so, and departed from Surda on schedule. Notably, it was one of the more unintelligent things I could have done. I wished to return to the Varden as soon as I could, and because of that, I disregarded the very plain signs of a storm brewing in the northern sky.

"I should have stayed in Surda, and because I did not, Saphira and I were caught in a very dangerous place. In every storm, there is a layer between updrafts of hot air, and cold air clouds. It is where many things happen. Tornado's form, rain is created, and also lighting is most dangerous and numerous. Because of the winds pressing in on us from all sides, and the violent rain, we had no choice but to let the winds have us. It was then that we were struck by a bolt of lightning.

"I'm not sure how long we were thrashed about in the sky, or how long it was until we crashed to the ground, only that I never wish to be struck by lightening again. The pain overwhelmed us both. I can only imagine that being dipped into a cauldron of boiling pitch would be more pleasurable than that. Regardless, something happened during that time, and we can only guess that Saphira's magic saved us, and turned us into what you see before you, as well as enhancing our bodies and minds.

Orik spoke. "What do you mean, brother?"

"I shall demonstrate." Without standing, Eragon used all his speed, so that none other than Saphira could see flit to the opposite side of the table. As Eragon appeared out of thin air behind Arya, he laid a hand on her shoulder and said "Speed." Once again, he disappeared to the west end, where a large rock lay, unmovable by human hands. He laid his palm face down on it like he had the first time and squeezed. It shattered. "Strength." Moving his palm to the ground, he pulled up the gems and precious stones, like he had before.

He brought them out of the ground, and just thought the words that would let him mold the stones at his will. He crossed his arms over his chest, and sent the stones circling above the the table, molding together before there eyes. He laid them down gently, a different stone before each member of the Varden. A ruby before King Orrin, and Sapphire or Orik, and Topaz before the Urgal who's name Eragon still didn't know. He had collected the most emerald on purpose, and had even tinted it slightly to match the exact color of Arya's eyes, and set that before her, while he gave and large diamond and a gold orb to Nasuada.

"Magic" He said strongly, no falter in his voice, and no sweat on his forehead. What would normally have knocked him unconscious, or even killed him, gave him nothing but a slightly faster heart beat. The members of the Varden were staring at their gems in awe. Eragon spent this quiet moment studying the rainbows cast by the shimmering stones, the ones he knew that he alone could see. Nasuada spoke up, tears making her voice jumpy.

"Eragon Bromsson Shadeslayer, a better gift you could not have given. This will feed and clothe our people more many months to come. And though it was through no small amount of pain and sorrow on your part, I can not help but rejoice at the greater gift you have given us. The Black King stands no chance against you, and he shall surely fall."

Well, well, well?! Did you like it? Huh, huh, huh?! I hope you did, and you know you you can let me know? You can click that pretty green button. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. I know you know! Click it!

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