Murtagh stared into the fire, thoughts racing through his mind. He remembered the night he had met the king, remembered how everything he said had sounded like a dream come true. How could he have believed such lies? He had grown up around them and yet he still did not recognize the serpents tongue when he should have. How many countless lives could have been spared? How many children could he have saved if he had not allowed Galbatorix to control him? All the things he could have prevented and he stood back like a coward! Pain swept unchallenged through Murtagh's heart and tears welled in his eyes.
"This is going to hurt a bit." Keeva said watching him as he sat there. She could see the turmoil and pain on his face. Abba, whatever it is, help him come to peace with it. Keeva prayed silently. Her heart broke for this man, she felt his pain. The same looks had once been on her face, fear, pain, hatred, guilt, abandonment, she knew all too well what he must have been through. During her time at the palace she had seen him, always with Galbatorix. Drinking in every word the man said and doing his every bidding. She could only imagine the tasks the king had deemed fit for him to complete.
Murtagh turned and looked at her, tears now streaking his cheeks. "Compared to what?" He asked, the look in his eyes tarring her heart into little pieces she wasn't sure she'd be able to put back together. He was right, no physical pain could match the things that he'd been through, the things that he'd done.
"I'm sorry," Keeva said, eyes once again on the wound, anything to avoid looking into the pain and shadow that surrounded him. "How did it happen?" She asked, she glanced up and found that he had once again turned to the fire. His face was completely masked, Keeva no longer saw the agony that had been there moments before. Minutes passed and Murtagh remained silent.
"Galbatorix did it," Murtagh said causing Keeva to jump at the sudden sound of his voice. "I told him that I didna want anything more to do with him. He said that the only way out now was death," A wry smile claimed his lips and he glanced at Keeva. "I dona give up easily, I fought him and barely escaped with me life. I dona kin how I got out of there, all the odds were against me but I did." He again grew silent, swept away by his own thoughts and memories.
"How did you find us?" Keeva asked as she pulled yet another stitch taught. Two more should do it she noted with relief.
"It was luck really, I had lost the kings soldiers and was riding towards Spring Meadow when I came upon yer trail, I followed it and found ye. Its a simple matter o' tracking." He said smiling a real smile for the first time that night. Keeva smiled back, unable to resist.
"Why..." Keeva started to ask but was interrupted when Eragon came into the clearing. Murtagh saw him and was instantly on his feet sword drawn. They stood facing each other and then with no warning, swords clanged as a fierce battle of wills raged. Keeva stood there watching for a couple of seconds before she picked up her sword and stepped into the fray. She locked swords with Eragon and glared at Murtagh.
"I just spent the last hour stitching up that arm and I've no mind to do so again." She said in a very low, very irritated voice. Murtagh and Eragon eyed each other and then slowly lowered there swords. "Thank you," She said and then pointed to Murtagh "Sit down, I've no wish to catch you whilst you fall." She moved her burning gaze to Eragon. "And if you wake up Aradan before his time, I will hurt you." Keeva sheathed her sword as Eragon moved away from her and sat down.
Keeva turned to the two, watching them carefully. "Talk." She ordered. Eragon looked at her and resignation flitted across his face.
"How did that happen?" Eragon listened as Murtagh again told his story, but this time instead of stopping he continued.
"He made me hunt down innocent women and children, he told me that they were Vardan spies and I believed him. I justified what I did with what he said. He controlled what I did, what I said, everything." Tears streamed unchallenged down Murtagh's face as he told Eragon everything that had happened.
"I'm sorry," Eragon said
"I don't want your sympathy brother, I want out, I have to get away from this. If you cant free me, then kill me. I wont do this anymore." Murtagh said barely above a whisper. He stared down at his trembling hands. Eragon stood and walked over to where his brother sat, instinctively Murtagh rose. Eragon stood there looking at his brother, tears streaming down his face as well. Then, without warning Eragon wrapped his brother in a hug. Murtagh stiffened and the went limp, relaxing into the love that he had craved for so long. His brother cared, he actually cared about what was happening to him.
"I love you." Eragon said "Your my brother no matter what you have done or what has happened in the past."
Murtagh pulled away and turned his back to Eragon. He took a deep breath and then drew his sword. Turning he handed it to Eragon. "I love you too." He said falling on his knees in front of Eragon. "Make it quick." He said and then lowered his head.