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

Chapter 17: Heartfelt Goodbyes

"A message Argetlam," A messenger said, disturbing Eragon's peace in Tialdarí Hall's library.

Eragon took the message from the elf's outstretched arm, quickly scanning the seal. To his immense surprise, it bore the mark of the king of the dwarves. "Thank you." The messenger bowed his head before leaving Eragon in peace once more.

I wonder what this could be about, Eragon said distractedly.

I don't know, Saphira responded honestly.

Tearing the seal on the message, Eragon unfurled the parchment, eyes roving the length of the paper. His eyes opened wider than normal and his knuckles turned white as he read the words:


You are a trusted member of the Dûrgrimst Ingeitum and I know that you would do anything in your power to aid your clan and your friend. It with a heavy heart that I inform you of the recent events that threaten the dwarven army's continued cooperation in the war and hope that this letter may reach you in time.

Not a week ago, mine own agents have reported troubling news concerning the dwarven homeland. The Az Sweldn rak Anhûin, with whom you are already well acquainted with, have decided not to remove Vermûnd from the position of grimstborith and as a result, a retaliatory attack was waged against the women and children remaining in our cities.

This overt act of war against the dwarves has forced my hand and I must return to Tronjheim to defend mine people. However, with speed needed to reach Tronjheim in time to prevent its destruction, only a thousand or so soldiers were able to be sent with me.

The reason why I have written this letter is to ask for your assistance in quelling this rebellion. I am aware that you are currently preoccupied with training Arya as the next Dragon Rider, and a finer choice could not have been made, but without your assistance, the dwarven state will erupt into a scene of unbridled chaos and anarchy. A massive withdrawal of troops from the Varden's cause would be necessary to halt the revolution in its tracks, which I am sure would be devastating to both you and the Varden.

If you would help me personally quench this uprising of authority, then we will at long last rid ourselves of the Az Sweldn rak Anhûin and keep the remaining forces with Nasuada and the Varden. If you will come to my aid, then please return to Tronjheim as quickly as humanely possible. We will meet you there.

Your brother and friend,

Grimstnzborith Orik.

Why would Vermûnd do this? To his own people? Eragon asked, his head spinning in a dizzy rage.

I cannot say, I have not spent enough time with the dwarves to truly understand them. Perhaps Orik can shed some light on the situation, Saphira said.

Should we go to Tronjheim to help Orik? Eragon asked.

We should, but then Arya and Eridor would be left alone. This is the time when they need us the most; Eridor is still maturing and is just discovering his mental capacities and physical attributes.

I agree with you Saphira, but if we don't go, then the Varden will be put into an extremely vulnerable situation. Not to mention that I am part of Orik's clan now; I am responsible for the wellbeing of the dwarven people, Eragon said, his mind flying through the many possible solutions and outcomes.

The answer is simple then, we go to Tronjheim immediately and end the rebellion as quickly as possible so that we may return, Saphira advised.

Yes, that would be best. We leave tomorrow morning, it is getting late now and a good night's sleep will help us travel faster.

Eragon quietly approached the silent silhouette in the shadow of the trees. "Arya?"

The shadow turned around, green eyes piercing through the rapidly growing darkness between them. "Eragon? What are you doing here, it is late."

"I followed your trail to here," Eragon replied shrugging uneasily, "But where is 'here' anyways?"

"This is a place I often come to think alone. The peace and solitude helps clear my mind and allows me to focus," She answered.

"I apologize for intruding Arya svit-kona."

Her gaze caught his and penetrated deep into his soul, laying all of his secrets out through his mind's eye. "What is wrong Eragon?"

"Why would you assume something is wrong?" Eragon asked, raising his eyebrow.

"You haven't used an honorific after my name for a very long time. A simple observation," She answered smoothly. "So what is bothering you Eragon?"

Eragon sighed, running a hand through his hair. He was hesitant to tell her, but it was his duty. "A message came today. From Orik."

"Orik? Why would he send you a message?" Arya asked.

Eragon closed his eyes, concealing the torment raging within him. "The Az Sweldn rak Anhûin have stirred up trouble again. They are attacking the unprotected citizens left in the cities."

"What? I knew that Vermûnd had been banished, but to attack his own people? That is folly," Arya protested.

"I know it is, but Orik has called on me to help him settle the matter or else he will be forced to withdraw his troops from the Varden. I must go to his aid," Eragon replied.

"I agree, the dwarves must not abandon the Varden," Arya said, "When do we leave?"

Eragon did not miss her reference and hesitated before he spoke again. "I must go alone Arya."

Her sharp features snapped up to Eragon's face quickly. "What do you mean going alone? You can't leave me and Eridor here."

"We must," He started softly, "There will be danger where we are going. Eridor is not ready to face that yet."

Arya marched right up to Eragon and jabbed her finger into his chest. "That is exactly why you can't go alone. It is dangerous."

If nothing else, Eragon had thought that the idea of Eridor going into immense danger would force Arya to back down. But her insistence at going was chipping away slowly at his already flimsy resolve. "I'm sorry Arya, but I can't allow Eridor to be put deliberately into danger. As his mentor, it is my first priority to keep him away from all danger. Besides, I can defend myself."

"The Az Sweldn rak Anhûin are dangerous Eragon, you should not be fighting them alone," Arya pressed.

Eragon grabbed her shoulders lightly so that he could look straight into her eyes, "I will not be alone. Saphira will be with me, as will Orik and other dwarves."

"Yes, against all of the men in the Az Sweldn rak Anhûin clan. They will greatly outnumber you," Arya said bitterly.

He stared at her queerly, her lack of confidence in him was surprising. "I can handle myself. The Az Sweldn rak Anhûin don't pose a great threat to me."

"The most dangerous type of enemy is a passionate one. That is exactly what the Az Sweldn rak Anhûin are, dwarves who passionately hate you with all their heart," Arya rebuked, shooting down his reassurances faster than he could think of them.

"I'm afraid I don't understand. Oromis taught me that logic is the most useful tool a person can have," Eragon said, recalling one of his first lessons from Oromis.

"You confuse the difference between useful and dangerous. Logic is certainly a most useful tool. Thinking will help a man to worm his way out of particularly uncomfortable situations," Arya explained, folding her arms across her chest, looking like a mother admonishing her child. It only enforced the ever-present age gap between them. "Passion on the other hand will make a man fight harder. If he believes that what he is doing is morally right, he will never stop trying to kill you, even if it puts him in mortal danger. The best example I can give you is Roran's determination to be reunited with Katrina. He was able to do things he normally couldn't do due to his passion for Katrina. A passionate man will throw his life away to stop you and will not cease until he is killed."

"I am not worried Arya. They may want to kill me for being banished, but I am equally as determined to live. Saphira and I have too much to live for," Eragon said, looking meaningfully at Arya.

A faint blush graced her cheeks, but she still remained calm and composed. "I am still worried for you Eragon. You and Saphira. There is always a chance that a stray sword will kill you. No man is invincible."

"Do you trust me?" Eragon asked, meeting her eyes. There was a spark of an unfathomable emotion in her eyes before her usual cool stare returned.

Arya placed a cool hand over his cheek. "With my life," She answered unflinchingly.

Eragon felt his heart swell with the assurance that she had broken down the walls around her heart and so completely trusted him. "Then trust me to return to you."

She studied his eyes for a time, long enough to make Eragon afraid that she did not trust him to that extent. "I trust you."

Those three simple words meant more to Eragon than almost anything in the world. Almost. "I love you," He said, holding her steady gaze. "Saphira and I will do everything necessary to return to you and Eridor as quickly as possible."

Arya's eyes swirled with a mixture of emotions and he felt dizzy just looking at them. But he did not tear his gaze away, the endless depths of her eyes captivated him and found himself unable to look away. "I love you too." Her hand on his cheek guided him closer, drawing him towards her until their lips were touching.

His hands dropped to Arya's waist and pulled her closer, willing the moment to last forever. He could feel her hands travel to the nape of his neck, eliminating any remaining space between them. When they broke apart, gasping for air, Eragon said, "I think that when I am in Tronjheim, this is what I will miss the most."

Arya gave him one of her bright smiles that she seldom showed anyone else. "Then you had better hurry back."

Eridor, Saphira said, padding into the empty clearing.

Saphira? What are you doing here? Eridor asked.

I came here to tell you that, Saphira paused, nervous of what she was about to say. When Eragon had gotten a panicky look when the thought of telling Arya of the trip came to mind, Saphira had believed that she would not or should not feel worried about telling Eridor that they were leaving. Now however, she was not so sure. Eragon and I are departing for Tronjheim tomorrow.

Tronjheim? Where is that?

Under normal circumstances, this question would have provided for a modicum of amusement for awhile, but right now, Saphira was too preoccupied in her own thoughts to tease Eridor for it. You should know this, I taught you that Tronjheim is the dwarven capital last week.

Oh, right. I guessed that Tronjheim was either the dwarven capital or dark monument in Dras-Leona, Eridor answered cheekily, blissfully ignorant of the events around him.

She sighed in exasperation, at this rate, Eridor's inattentiveness during her lessons was prolonging the dreaded departure. No, what you are thinking of is Helgrind.

I thought that the monument in Dras-Leona was called Utgard! Eridor exclaimed, suddenly worried that he had mixed up all the names of landmarks in Alagaësia.

No, Utgard is the place where Vrael was killed by Galbatorix, Saphira informed him. But forget your poor memory for a second, we will fix that at a later time. I came here to tell you that Eragon and I are going to be in Tronjheim putting down a rebellion. We don't know when we will return.

But I don't think that I can keep up with you yet over a long distance. Eridor shuffled his wings, conscious of the fact that he was still much smaller than Saphira.

You are not coming with us. You and Arya shall remain in the safe confines of Ellesméra. Saphira felt much better now that she had said the words, but was still worried over his reaction. Eragon had told her that Arya would become very angry when he told her. But she did not know yet what Eridor's reaction would be.

What? Arya and I have a right to go with you. You can't just leave his here by ourselves. Eridor started walking around the clearing, leaving angry footprints in his wake.

You are too young to be fighting. You will be in danger. We cannot allow it, Saphira said firmly. There was absolutely nothing that Eridor could say to change her mind.

Even so, you cannot stop me. I will fly alongside you with Arya on my back. I am sure she will not wish to be left behind either, Eridor stated.

Eragon is talking with Arya now as we speak. I am sure he will convince Arya to stay behind.

You still can't stop me from going. You and Eragon are the only friends I have, we are family. Family does not abandon each other, Eridor said, determined to accompany her.

The way Eridor put it made the offer much more appealing, but Saphira had her mind made up long before this conversation even started. I am your teacher, right?

Yes, of course. Eridor sounded taken aback. The question had seemingly come out of nowhere.

And as your teacher, that means you follow my instructions. As your teacher and mentor, I forbid you from coming with Eragon and I. Saphira hated to coerce Eridor into staying like this, but it was necessary. Necessary that she did everything in her power to keep Eridor away from the dangers of the outside world. For a time anyways.

His head sank down past his large shoulders in defeat. Saphira could see that he desperately searched for a way around her reasons, any play on words would suffice. But none came to mind. Fine, you win, He said, sulking. But know that I am not pleased in the slightest by this.

Saphira felt light and unburdened again, the worst of the conversation had passed. As long as you are safe and alive, you do not have to be pleased by this decision.

Even if I am safe, what am I to do here in Ellesméra? Paint my talons while you are off eating dwarves? Eridor grumbled, still upset by the recent turn of events.

Arya is very knowledgeable in the history of Alagaësia. You will have to learn some from her, even if it is not about dragons, Saphira said.

I think that Arya will be too preoccupied worrying about Eragon to teach me, Eridor said, confident in his assessment of Arya.

Saphira was not so easily dissuaded and easily came up with half a dozen alternatives in her head. Then you will just have to ask another elf to teach you about the history of Alagaësia.

Eridor grumbled again, Elves are too polite. They will be too busy calling me Brightscales to teach me adequately.

You will figure something out, you are very intelligent, even if you don't always appear to be so. Saphira was eager to end this conversation; she was not in the mood to deal with Eridor's petty excuses.

Saphira unfurled her wings and started to walk away; she needed to get some sleep for the upcoming journey. Before she flew into the night sky, she turned and looked into Eridor's eyes, By the time I return, I expect you to know the correct names of each place in Alagaësia.

Author's Note:

Hi all, I hope you liked this chapter. I wasn't originally going to put the Saphira and Eridor section in, but I decided that they needed some relationship building.

On a random note, I just finished The Sword of Truth series and I personally thought it was great, especially the first book. I recommend it to anybody who enjoys fantasy/adventure/romance novels.

Thank you all for the reviews you gave for chapter 16, I expect nothing less now :).

Next update will be next weekend as usual.