I don't own the Inheritance Cycle or the characters.

Chapter 1: Tension and Retention

"My Lady! A message has arrived from the elves situated in Gil'ead," All eyes moved towards the flaps of the tent where a messenger held a scroll in his hands marked with the seal of the elves.

"Thank you," Nasuada said, motioning for the soldier to give her the scroll. "You are dismissed."

The group centered in Nasuada's pavilion mainly consisted of humans on the Council such as Jörmundur; representatives of Surda, namely King Orrin; as well as members of every race including Orik, Arya and Nar Garzhvog who represented the dwarves, elves and Urgals respectively.

Arya, Eragon, Orik and others watched Nasuada like hawk, watching each twitch in her face as she read the letter, trying to decipher the subtle facial expressions as good news or bad. By now everybody in the room knew that the elves had suffered a devastating loss, though none barring a select few knew exactly what happened.

The tension in the tent was palpable; tangible evidence of the necessity for the aid of the elves in the war against Galbatorix. Each and every person in the tent knew that if the elves deemed their casualties too high a price to pay to continue their campaign in the war, the last glimmer of hope that was renewed in Alagaësia could be smothered in a single letter.

Do you think the loss of Oromis and Glaedr will dishearten Islanzadí and the elves enough to push them out of this war? Saphira asked.

Startled out of his close examination of Nasuada, Eragon had to take a couple of seconds to collect his thoughts. Nay, I am hoping that their loss will have the opposite effect. Maybe, by losing Oromis and Glaedr, the elves will have a new reason to fight, if not for their home.

That would be the best outcome, but there is still a chance that the elves will abandon our cause and all will be lost.

What should we do if that happens? We aren't strong enough to kill Galbatorix without the aid of the elves. The Empire's army won't be divided anymore because the elves won't be occupying their attention in the north. Our resources will be cut with the withdrawal of the elves. I don't see us winning the war without the elves, replied Eragon with obvious distress.

If Islanzadí does pull out of the war, all we can do is talk to Arya and hope that she can talk some sense into Islanzadí. Arya knows better than anybody that the destruction of Galbatorix won't end with the deaths of our mentors, but it thousands will continue to die until he controls every border of Alagaësia.

I know that, you know that, Arya knows that, even the elves know that; but they may turn a blind eye to the Empire for another century with this latest loss. The elves did this after Evandar died too.

Saphira was about to answer but at that moment Nasuada placed the scroll on the table and leaned back in her chair; startling everybody out of their half reverie, half examination of Nasuada.

"What news of the northern front?" asked one Council Member? "Are the elves going to continue fighting with the Varden?" questioned another." Yet another Council member asked "What would have caused the elves to even consider severing their support in the war?"

"Enough," a musical yet authoritative voice rang out over the commotion of the group. "What has gotten into all of you? Bombarding Nasuada with questions as if all of your crops are withering as we speak and you need to tend to them as soon as possible." The power was evident in Arya's voice, causing the entire tent to reach a volume in which a pin could be heard dropping. Arya looked slowly around the room, looking each person in the eyes, making sure they knew that she wasn't somebody to be trifled with.

Leaning back in her chair, Arya regained her usual passive indifference, an icy mask over her face obscuring any emotions that might burst forth. The effect of her display was evident upon the Council; for they were all sitting in utter silence, too shocked to even move in their seats, let alone asking another question to Nasuada.

"Thank you," said Nasuada coolly, "As I was about to say, the elves will not drop out of the war." At this, the atmosphere in the room seemed to lighten up as if the various prayers the humans and dwarves said before each and every meal, or in the case of the elves, the songs they sing for life in the forest, seemed to be answered in a moment of relief. Everybody's face loosened up and the tension dissipated from the tent, leaving a refreshing state of mind. "Also, Islanzadí has said that although the losses to her people were great, she and the rest of the elves understand that Galbatorix must be overthrown and will be placed above any one person's mourning," Nasuada finished.

That is a relief, I was sure that Islanzadí would not be so foolish as to stop elven participation in this war, but I had some doubts. Saphira said her relief evident in their mental connection.

Aye, it was a good thing they did not abandon the war effort again, for I don't know what we would have done without them.

"My Lady, I am aware I am woefully ignorant of the ways of the elves, but what was so important that it threatened their place in this war?" Jörmundur asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.

Arya swiftly replied, cutting off any further questions on this topic. "The issue at hand is not to be debated. Our secrecy remains important to us and we will not reveal all of the information."

This comment met with mixed waves of approval and disapproval Eragon noted; the approval mainly coming from Eragon, Saphira and Orik while the disapproval was mostly coming from human Council members. This was expected Eragon thought to nobody in particular, the humans were of course, more untrusting while the more seclusive races understood the importance of secrecy.

Despite these concerns, nobody voiced their opinion, letting whatever distrust they had evaporate into the air, no more a part of the meeting as much as Eragon was a part of the Empire.

Resuming what was meant to be the primary focus of the meeting, Nasuada introduced the topic with a background on the Battle of Feinster. She started with Eragon's entry into the fray and ended with Arya and Eragon's capture of Lady Lorana and the death of Varaug, the mighty shade.

Awe took some of the people there, curiosity in others; but there were several people who had already heard this story recounted several times before.

Eragon could feel the restlessness seep through the link that he and Saphira shared. I tire of this banter and I wish to stretch my wings. It is awfully cramped lying in between these tents.

Well then let us hope that the meeting will end quickly, Nasuada still hasn't gotten to the topic of this meeting yet.

Sensing that the introductory explanation was coming to a close, Eragon switched his attention back to Nasuada. "Now that you are all caught up in our recent events, I would value all of your input on the decision that confronts us first: What do we do with Lady Lorana?"

One of Orrin's various advisors was the first to offer a suggestion, "What if we were to force Lady Lorana to swear allegiance to Feinster? It would get us additional resources and soldiers and we need to reinforce ourselves as we plunge into the Empire."

"A decent plan, but there is a slight flaw in the foundations of your idea," Orik said, his eyes betraying his emotionless face, showing his confusion of the best course to take. "What could we possibly do? We can't have her swear loyalty to us because the dark king already has control over her with the oaths she swore. We also can't kill her, it would be unjust, and would make us no better than those we fight. Locking her up would do her no good nor us."

"Fair points Dwarven King. A situation such as this raises many conundrums, none of which are easily solved." Said King Orrin. "Our best route of action would be to think of the unusual. Surely the king cannot account for every loophole that could slip past his devious mind. I am certain we will find the correct solution for everybody, we have some of the greatest men in all of Alagaësia."

Eragon listened to these important, yet meaningless; direct, yet long winded; simple yet sophisticated snatches of conversation from various nobles, kings and other important figures. How their sentences managed to do contradict themselves eluded Eragon. They spoke of matters that decided the fate of the Varden, yet the conversations were idle chatter, waiting for the correct solution to be conjured out of nowhere.

That is the art of politicians Eragon. They can beat around the bush on any subject; blabbering on about nonsensical matters when important decisions are ready to be made. Biding their time until someone else presents a better solution. Saphira said, sounding as exasperated as Eragon was of this chatter.

Aye, but their adeptness at evasion and their incompetence at solving issues still astound me.

I suppose all we can do is to propose our own solution, and hope that they will listen to us; which I have no doubt they will, for we hold an enormous amount of influence over them.

Eragon and Saphira sat there, letting the bantering and bickering wash over their ears, a distant sound that they heard, but didn't listen to. Saphira was busy watching a line of ants moving in and out of their ant hole, claiming food and watching out for predators. Suddenly, a bird attacked the lines, scattering them and taking their food. Abandoning their hard earned treasures, the ants scurried back into their home, safe from the bird. The bird tried to breach the hole, but without avail. The tiny hole wouldn't allow him to pass through it and was too deep for the bird to break through. Giving up, the bird flew away, In search of other insects to terrorize with his beak and claws that was it!

Eragon! I think I have found a solution for Lady Lorana. Quickly, Saphira recounted the tale of the bird and the ants, explaining how the bird could not attack the ants within their ant hill. That is how we will use Lady Lorana, we can give her an enchanted talisman to block Galbatorix's spells; and then she can order Feinster to join us. Though she would have to wear the necklace until we permanently break the bonds because Galbatorix's oaths would overpower ours and put Lady Lorana under his control again.

Excited by the possibility of Saphira's idea working, he quickly called for everybody's attention in the pavilion. "I think Saphira may have provided us with a solution at last," pausing as he heard intakes of breath from mostly everyone in the room, the exception of Arya who remained expressionless like usual, her face revealing nothing of her thoughts.

"She has suggested that we give Lady Lorana an enchanted necklace to override Galbatorix's. After that, she is free to order the men and women of Feinster to join our cause, replenishing our dwindling men and supplies."

Eragon heard mostly murmurs of agreement with this plan; however, some were unconvinced. "How would this course of action work Shadeslayer?" asked one of the countless advisors.

"By giving Lady Lorana a necklace that is enchanted with spells to counteract Galbatorix's oaths, Lady Lorana would be free to command men serving her to aid and join the Varden, bolstering our supplies and army." Eragon answered.

Feeling that Eragon's answer satisfied all the doubts in the tent, Nasuada clapped her hands saying "I think we are done for today, we are all exhausted and deserve to get a night's sleep."

Eragon left the pavilion and joined Saphira. It's about time little one. I thought I would be trapped in this cramped area forever.

Sorry, the babbling of politicians never ceases to amaze me.

Well, now that we're free, what would you like to do?

Eragon looked up at the setting sun, its radiance lighting up the sky in a reddish-orange color; realizing that he was hungry after hours of twiddling his thumbs during the meeting, he said I would like to go find something to eat, I am starving. Will you go hunt in the meantime?

No, I ate yesterday. Saphira said, chuckling a bit. It is a pity you humans can't eat enough food to last several days. It seems very inconvenient…

Why must we attend meetings every day? Eragon grumbled. Surely they can manage without us every once in awhile.

That is not fair Eragon, everybody has to attend them, not just us. If we're going to overthrow the Empire, we must do it together.

You're ri---"Barzûl!" Eragon exclaimed, pain shooting up his leg. Looking down at his feet, he located his source of discomfort; a piece of ragged metal was sticking out of the bottom of his foot. Blood was slowly trickling out of his newly acquired wound, splattering the ground with little droplets.

A small gasp of pain escaped his mouth as Eragon removed the metal from his foot. A thin stream of blood flowed from his small puncture wound. "Waíse Heill," Eragon said, invoking the Ancient Language. The wound healed itself as the words of healing took effect, skin knitting itself back together.

What was that piece of metal doing there? Eragon wondered.

Perhaps you should be more careful and watch where you walk before you step on more metal, Saphira said, indicating the strewn pieces of metal laying on the ground in no particular order.

Looking around the vicinity for the person responsible for the pieces of metal, Eragon spotted Angela the Herbalist running around, picking up the tiny pieces of metal.

"Hello Angela, what are you doing with the pieces of metal?" Eragon asked, puzzled.

"Greetings Eragon," Angela said, "I am working on a new project for Nasuada. She asked me if I could help create a new weapon that will aid the Varden in the upcoming battles."

"I see, what is this new weapon?" Eragon asked, his curiosity getting the better of him. Angela's projects were always interesting, testing unknowns of the world.

"I am trying to make a shell containing many little fragments of metals explode." Angela explained.

"But what will the pieces of metal do? And how do you plan on exploding the device?"

"The idea of the weapon is to throw the shell into the midst of enemies and the device will explode, flinging sharp metal fragments into the surrounding soldiers, killing or incapacitating them. As for the explosion, that is a secret, but I am combining certain powders and liquids that explode when mixed together." Angela said with a mysterious smile.

"Is it safe?" Eragon queried, skeptical of the safety of the bomb to the user.

"The question is "will it be safe?" not "is it safe?". Obviously it is not safe now seeing as where these pieces of metal fragments ended up," Angela informed him, waving the shrapnel in her hand.

"So, how will you prevent it from exploding in the soldier's hand?"

"I will devise a safety mechanism of course. I wouldn't be attempting this if it was going to explode when I use it," Angela said, chuckling at Eragon's concerns.

"But what kind of safety device would you use?" Eragon asked, pressing for information.

Angela waved his question off. "I don't know yet, I'm still tweaking the strength and explosive power of the weapon."

"Then how are you testing the device? Won't you get hit by the shrapnel?"

"Don't be silly, I wouldn't let my own experiments injure me. I am perfectly safe." Angela said, annoyance coloring her voice.

"Ok…" Eragon said doubtfully, mind still not comprehending everything Angela told him.

"Move along now, I have work to do. Don't you have somewhere to be?" Angela said, bustling Eragon out of the area.

"Yes, I suppose I'm tight on time now," Eragon admitted. "Goodbye."

Continuing the walk to Nasuada's pavilion, Eragon asked, Angela certainly carries out interesting experiments.

Indeed she does, if she manages to create this weapon, it could revolutionize the war. Soldiers could be killed in groups from a distance without the use of magic.

Well then, it is a good thing she is on our side. Eragon said with a laugh.

When they arrived at Nasuada's tent, Eragon noticed there were significantly fewer people than the previous day; only having select important people such as Arya, Orik and King Orrin. In the corner of the room, he spotted Lady Lorana, the focus of their meeting.

"My lady," Eragon said, bowing.

"Ah good, you're here Eragon. We would like to start our plan immediately, to speed up preparations for marching deeper into the Empire," Nasuada said.

"Did you have any idea on what spells you will attempt to block out Galbatorix's oaths with yet?" Arya asked.

"I haven't figured that out yet, but they would be akin to the wards protecting the elven cities, but not nearly as strong. They should be able to prevent any magical spells from affecting the user of the necklace."

As all of them sat around a table thinking of a ward to block Galbatorix's control, the utter impossibility of this task set out for them seeming to crash over their heads. Despite having magically gifted spell casters coupled with powerful minds, an ancient one in Saphira, the answer seemed to elude them.

"Elva is no longer protecting you Nasuada?" Eragon asked, noticing the absence of Elva in the tent, breaking the long silence that had grown in the tent.

"Nay, after you lifted her curse, she went off to fulfill her own agenda in the Varden, under the careful eye of Angela.

The conversation reminded Eragon of his curse on Elva. This slowly formed into a plan; what if he was to use a similar structure of magic to his spell on Elva to prevent magic from affecting Lady Lorana. Excitedly, Eragon stood up and retrieved the simple necklace Nasuada had gotten for this purpose.

Holding the necklace in front of him, Eragon invoked the Ancient Language, "Atra ono waíse skölir fra vanyalí bisaire." Feeling the usual drain of magic, Eragon's knees slightly buckled due to the energy required for the spell.

Lady Lorana spoke her first words of the entire meeting, surprising everybody in the room, "What did you do to the necklace Rider?"

Recovering from the surprise of her question, Eragon collected himself and replied "I simply guarded the necklace to protect its user from binding magic such as the oaths placed upon you. The necklace will not sap your energy while in use unlike how other wards work. The nature of the spell contradicts the normal rules of magic because it is used to prevent the usage of magic which in turn, negates any magical side effects it might have on you, including the energy loss."

"That was a good plan Eragon, it seems as if your lessons were retained and your training, however short it may have been, is paying us dividends." Arya commented.

Eragon was slightly taken aback; it was unusual to hear Arya compliment anybody. Eragon felt his ears turn slightly pink from the satisfaction of hearing Arya compliment him. "I just hope it's enough, much more will be required to defeat Galbatorix."

Striding over to Lady Lorana with the necklace in hand, he placed it over her head as she bowed slightly giving Eragon access to her neck. As the necklace settled on her chest, a new fire seemed to light up her eyes, looking as though they were devoid of life previously and were now full of vigor now.

Everybody in the room held baited breath, wondering if the charm worked. If it didn't, none could see another solution to this quandary. "Did it work?" Nasuada finally managed to ask.

"Yes I think so, I feel so liberated now, free of the clutches of the dark king, I don't feel an oppressive presence over my mind any longer. I thank you Rider for the service you have done me and Feinster. As planned, I will have my men join the Varden and our resources are yours now," Lady Lorana announced.

Nasuada smiled, "Thank you, this will greatly help the Varden and your help is greatly appreciated."

With that Lady Lorana got up and left the tent, leaving Orrin, Nasuada, Eragon and Arya in the room.

"Well, that's one step towards our ultimate goal of dethroning Galbatorix. I think that this is all for today, you must be tired Eragon after that, go get some rest." said Nasuada, looking pleased with the outcome of the day's work.

As Saphira and Eragon left the tent, Saphira said "I'm proud of you little one, it appears as if the challenge of overcoming Galbatorix may not seem as futile as it seems."

Author's Note:

Atra ono waíse skölir fra vanyalí bisaire – May you be a shield from binding magic.

Well guys, this was my first fanfiction, so I hope it is up to your standards xD.

I'm sorry if this started out "slow." This fanfiction will be a full book 4 and will follow along the lines of what I think will or is likely to happen in the real Book 4.

Please read and review3, constructive criticism is desired, but please refrain from profanity ;p.

Thanks and I hope you enjoyed reading!