An Unexpected Side Trip
The Elder Gods Need a Road Map
For nearly a hundred and fifty years he had walked this land. And it had been for the past hundred that he had ruled over it, as was his right. He and his Thirteen Forsworn had crushed all in their path. The riders, the elves… none had stood against them. And though his disciples had fallen decades ago, his own power had done naught but grow, and with his horde of Eldunari and even a new rider under his command, Gabatorix had no doubt in his mind of victory against the elves, dwarves and rebels. Even the Urgals aligning themselves with his foes did not faze him. They were nothing but that old Shade's pets. Nothing for him to be troubled by.
The only potential problem was the Varden's rider, and more importantly, his female dragon. The key to his new age of Dragon Riders. Of course, he had been trained by that old fool Oromis, as well as somehow been changed into an elf. But without a supply of Eldunari of his own, there was little that he could do against him. Murtagh perhaps, but not him. The one problem was capturing the female dragon, Saphira. Without her, the dragon race was doomed. However, he had already worked out a multitude of plans for successfully capturing the two of them, and potentially even turning them to his side. Perhaps using that elf-girl that the rider seemed to adore so? At least that was what Murtagh had told him.
But right now, Galbatorix was something he hadn't been in a very long time. Confused. No, not confused. Perplexed. Yes, that was a much better word.
For you see, while his forces had been, on the whole, largely successful in holding the elves at a stalemate in the north, the Varden and the dwarves had started pushing forward on a massive offensive in the past few days, shortly after seizing Feinster. That in of itself was nothing unusual. They had been successful thus far, so of course they would try to press their advantage. He had foreseen this of course, and had prepared a large force to immediately lay siege to Feinster the moment the city fell. Of course it wouldn't be enough to crush the Varden, but it would certainly be enough to halt their advance, dispersing any momentum they had gained. That wasn't odd. What was odd was that from the reports he was getting, the siege had only lasted two days. Not before the Varden retreated… before his forces had been pushed back. No… pushed back wasn't the correct term. From the scattered reports he had received, they hadn't been pushed back, they had been overrun. Crushed, routed, obliterated. And all in less than a day it seemed. Now the Varden had moved past Feinster and was pushing on towards Dras Leona. This did not bode well. What had happened? Even Murtagh, with all his training and Eldunari he had given him would not have been able turn the tide of such a battle that quickly.
Even more unsettling were the descriptions of some new ally the Varden had gained, which had somehow helped them overrun his forces, each report more fantastical than the last. These reports, scattered though they were, spoke of terrible gods or demons in the guise of men, spitting bolts of thunder that struck down all in their path. Some also spoke of hideous iron-clad beasts that the demons commanded, tearing across the battlefield like something out of the old religions of men or dwarves. Some even believed that the dwarves had called them from the depths of the earth, others claimed that they had descended from the heavens themselves.
Galbatorix didn't believe these reports for a second of course. Demons? Gods? Iron-clad beasts of ancient lore? Preposterous. Though it was obvious that something had allowed the Varden to gain an edge. He was no fool. Whatever it was, the Varden had to be keeping it a close secret, and then somehow made some of his soldiers believe these tales of Gods and Beasts. Perhaps it was some massive illusion? Coupled with whatever secret weapon they were using? Clever. Very clever.
He certainly wouldn't put it past the elves to come up with something like that. And they deployed it in the south with the Varden to make the façade seem all the more real. A very clever ploy if he had ever seen one.
Already, despite his best efforts to keep this quiet, rumors had begun to spread of these fantastic and terrible tales. Many of his forces in Uru'baen were beginning to grow fearful. It was obviously part of their plan. Sow these rumors amongst his army so to destroy their will to fight.
But he had not conquered this land and ruled it for a century by being foolish. It was time to dispel these rumors and the Varden's illusions. And so, a day ago, he had sent Murtagh, along with five of the remaining Ra'zac and their mounts down to meet the Varden's advancing force before they reached Dras Leona. This would coincide with a massive attack by an expeditionary force bolstered by roughly a third of the Dras Leona garrison. The Varden would be stopped. They would not take another step into his land. And hopefully, he could capture that boy and his dragon too.
And so now, the Dark King stood atop his citadel, gazing south to where his agents were no doubt beating back the rebels.
All of a sudden though, he felt something. Something flickering on the edge of his consciousness. Was his top agent calling for aid? That was to be expected. Perhaps the Varden's secret weapon was proving too much, as Oromis and Glaedr had.
But wait… he wasn't calling… He was… getting closer? His suspicions were confirmed as he was able to pick out a small red speck in the distance. Was the battle over? That quickly?
"Report boy. What happened out there?"
Galbatorix's eyebrows ruffled. Did that boy dare defy him? He pushed against his consciousness, trying to gain entry, only to be repelled.
The nerve! How dare he refuse him entry! But as Galbatorix composed himself, he noticed something. Murtagh's barriers were not iron walls as most were. No… there weren't any barriers at all, just a swirling mass of… fear? The king raised an eyebrow in curiosity. He had encountered this before, when those who had faced such terrible fear and pain unconsciously blocked themselves out from the world. No one could gain entry, not even him. Just what had happened? Was the Varden's secret weapon that terrible? And what of the Ra'zac? He didn't sense them at all.
As the rider and dragon drew closer, Galbatorix's eyes widened, if only slightly. That could certainly explain it.
Both Thorn and Murtagh looked like they had been through a butcher's grinder. Large pieces of the dragon's wings were missing and his entire body was covered in what looked like burns. Not to mention that two of his legs were simply gone.
Galbatorix's gaze hardened as he summoned for the healers to meet his agents as they landed. This did not bode well.
A few hours later, the King was starting to get a little frustrated. He had yet to get any kind of report out of Murtagh (apparently knowledge of one's true name does not help them through extreme trauma). Both the boy and his dragon had been silent, nearly catatonic, simply sitting in the healing chambers, shivering in fear. Galbatorix observed this in growing annoyance. He had to know what had happened! Apparently, their injuries were far more extensive then he first thought. Not only was Thorn missing large pieces of his wings, what was left had been riddled with what looked like arrows, except that the arrows had not stuck in the wing and simply gone all the way through. That the dragon had been able to fly back at all was a wonder in of itself. His two missing legs had appeared to be torn off and then singed by some fiery force. Murtagh looked little better himself, his armor chipped and broken in several places, with his entire left arm looking like it had been through a mill wheel.
But from those observations alone, things were starting to make sense to the old King. The Varden's secret weapon… it had to be another rider! Certainly Murtagh was more than a match for a single rider, but another ally rider would more than even the playing field.
And with that thought, Galbatorix advanced into the chamber. He had to know! He cared not how shaken up the boy might be, he had to know! Who was this rider? Was it an elf or a human? How advanced was the dragon? Was it from another egg the Varden had found? Or worse… could this be a survivor from the war? If it were, then that could become quite the problem indeed.
"Boy. What happened out there?" the dark King stood above his agent, the latter crouched into a ball, still shivering.
"I said speak whelp!" Galbatorix raised his voice, the dark tone that struck fear into even the most hardened soldier. When this did nothing, the fallen rider scowled, and barked out his agent's true name.
Thankfully, Murtagh seemed to have recovered enough for this to work, and the son of Morzan looked up at his master, fear still in his eyes. That was good. He'd prefer to not have to tear the information from his apprentice's mind.
"Now, what happened? Does the Varden have another rider?"
Murtagh weakly shook his head.
"No… they don't…"
"What then? Surely your foolish brother didn't do this to you."
"No… he didn't…" Murtagh spoke slowly, as if struggling to compose each sentence. "The stories… the rumors… they're true…"
Galbatorix's eyes widened. "What?"
"They're… They're true… They're all true…" Murtagh stammered, occasionally slipping into the ancient language to prove his point. "We… We flew into battle against them… all six of us… we didn't stand a chance…"
Galbatorix stood back, waiting for the boy to finish his delusional narrative.
"The Ra'zac… they were the first… They tried to land in their midst… to sow disorder and chaos… they didn't even reach the ground… not in one piece anyway."
"They… they really are Demons… all I heard where terrible cracks of thunder… and the Ra'zac were ripped apart… Then… they sent their dragons after us…"
"Yes… dragons… made of steel and iron… They flew faster than anything I've ever seen… and with powers even more terrible…"
Murtagh looked to his dragon, sympathy growing across his face. "We tried… tried to fight them… but they just loosed their arrows of fire at us… they… they had to be magic. Even when we dodged them, they followed us… And then… they shot those blades of light at us… that's what… did this…" Murtagh gestured to his ruined arm, and Thorn's stumps. "My wards hardly held them off at all."
Galbatorix crossed his arms as he regarded his student.
"They… they really are gods… they did come from the heavens… Their command of the sky… is absolute… they see all… all from their island in the sky…"
"An island in the sky?" the fallen rider regarded the boy with indignation.
"Yes… an island… that rains death upon all…"
Galbatorix had had enough of this. He gave a 'tch' as he spun around and left. It was obvious that the boy had been taken under whatever illusion the Varden was using. He wasn't going to get any more information out of the delusional whelp and his dragon. But obviously, they had been beaten. The illusion must have confused them long enough for the Varden to attack him, most likely with their new rider.
The Dark King finally reached his chamber, approaching the stand with his black armor.
No longer. It was time he put an end to this.
Jadeal looked out across the plains spread out in front of him. Behind him, spread out before great city of Dras'Leona stood the entire royal guard. The elite corps of Galbatorix's army. The best soldiers, the strongest magicians, all lead by him and his four brothers, their master's greatest creation. Yes… he and his brothers were shades… the strongest beings on this planet next to the mighty dragons and their riders. They might not have been as ancient or wise as their master's teacher Durza, but that mattered not. They could still throw any man, elf or dwarf like a child's toy, and over power their mind with even less effort.
And it wasn't just them. Reserve forces from the north had already arrived, along with the entire Dras'Leona garrison. And even now, their master flew to join them, along with all the remaining Ra'zac.
Jadeal could barely contain his excitement. The rebellion wouldn't just be stopped, they would be crushed. It didn't matter what kind of secret weapon or allies they had assembled, nothing could stand against this force. He could already see the thin outline of the Varden's across the plain. Yes… he mused, atop his great steed, his four brothers to either side further down the line, this would be a worthy place to crush this rabble once and for all.
In fact… why wait at all? This encounter was beneath their master. They could have the rebels crushed by midday… Yes…
Jadeal was about to give the order to attack when three things happened, all of which stayed his hand.
The first, was that he noticed a gathering cloud of dust coming from the Varden's lines. Were they charging? No… no force of troops, or even elves could run that fast…
And then… there was that sound… a rumbling sound that he felt in both his stomach in his head. Like a screech and a roar combined, coming from… above?
But before he could better investigate either of these things, the third thing occurred, an occurrence which stayed his hand more than anything else.
His head exploded.
It shouldn't be hard.
It shouldn't be that hard at all.
At least that was what Galbatorix was thinking as he sped through clouds atop his black dragon Shruiken, a force of nearly thirty Ra'zac keeping pace behind him.
In fact, he half-thought the battle would be over by the time they arrived. His best troops were on the battlefield, all of his top agents, barring Murtagh of course, were assembled. Even without him, the Varden would have little hope for victory, even with two riders. And with him on the field of battle… this war would be over by the end of today. As they burst through the clouds over Dras Leona to survey the battlefield, Galbatorix could almost imagine seeing the Varden in retreat, his forces overwhelming them.
What greeted him… made him stare in shock, for the first time in nearly a century.
What struck him first was the sound. This high up, all he could normally hear in a battle was the distant cacophony of steel striking steel. Now… whatever of those sounds was drowned out by what sounded like thousands of small cracks of thunder going off all at once. He had never heard anything like it.
But that was soon put aside by what he saw.
His army… was being routed. Or what was left of it. Nearly a third of the army already lay dead on the ground, ground that in some places seemed on fire. What was left seemed to have fled behind the city walls. But that seemed to be a mute point because the great stone walls had massive holes in them. Massive craters were spread across the battlefield like… like nothing he had ever seen.
And then… he saw them. Figures in dark green moving across the battlefield and surrounding the city, intermingled with the Varden's troops. And then there were the things the rode on. Steel wagons with no horses that sped faster than any horse would ever dream. Great iron beasts were arrayed around the city that spat thunderclaps, and with each blast another section of wall fell.
Galbatorix's shock quickly turned to rage. What magic was this? Had he somehow been caught in their illusion as well? It had to… It had to be…
Raising his hand, he mentally ordered his Ra'zac down into battle. The fel beasts, feeling no fear, dove earthwards on their parents.
But it was at that point that those on the ground began to notice them, and responded. The first few Ra'zac were torn to pieces by those same bolts of thunder. The others leveled off, trying desperately to dodge whatever the enemy was using. Then they came. Steel dragons with no wings, kept aloft by some unknown magic sped onto the battlefield as fast as any true dragon, and tore into the Ra'zac. Some launched those some bolts of thunder, others shot arrows of fire, while others released blades of pure light. It was not even three minutes before the last Ra'zac, or what was left of it, fell to the ground.
The King looked on in shock and even growing fear. His troops… his minions… they were unstoppable… what were these things…? No… he refused to fall prey to the Varden's illusions… he would not…
That was when he saw it… even as the metal dragons seemed to notice him, he saw it… floating high above…
An island… a city… a fortress among the clouds…
It was huge… bigger than even his citadel…
His shock and fear again replaced by rage, Galbatorix mentally screamed his dragon on, flying upwards to this… thing…
He refused to fall prey to the Varden's illusions! He would prove that these things was no more real than the Varden's chances for victory! Yes… it had to be it… that was the other rider… concealing himself with this illusion… that was it… it had to be…
And as he flew ever skywards, even ignoring the blue dragon flying over the city providing support to the troops, Galbatorix readied all of his power. He shielded his mind against all attack, readied his most powerful wards, ready to be activated whenever he perceived an attack. This rider… whoever he was… he was finished!
"Captain, new bogie incoming."
Captain James Gregory Cutter glanced to ensign who had spoken.
"Is it headed for the city?"
"No sir. It appears to be… its approaching us sir." the ensign replied from his console, only the slightest hint of unease in his voice. "Bringing up a visual now."
The Captain looked to the nearest view-screen which changed to show a large black dragon, the largest of the few they'd seen thus far, approaching them.
"Yes sir?" the hologram of the ship's A.I. flickered onto a pedestal next to him.
"You think this is the one we were told about?"
"Well sir, since it is a large armored black dragon with what appears to be a semi-insane man in expensive armor… I'd say yes. That does appear to be King Galbatorix." the A.I. replied in a semi-sarcastic tone.
Cutter nodded, not that he really didn't need any confirmation to issue his next order.
"Alright then. Get me a firing solution on the main gun. Target the incoming bogie." he supposed he could just call the oncoming enemy by his actual name, but he could never pronounce the name of the evil tyrant. Hell, most of the crew couldn't.
"Roger that sir. Bringing up the firing controls for magnetic accelerator cannon now."
"Targeting incoming bogie…"
"Bogie targeted. Waiting for your command sir."
The aged Captain nodded.
It should be noted that any wards that Galbatorix had would only be activated when he perceived an attack. And something that is fired at over 30 times the speed of sound travels a bit too fast for the human brain to perceive. Not that his wards would have really done him any good anyway.
But suffice it to say, Galbatorix and his dragon didn't even have time to realize what had happened before the three ton piece of depleted uranium reduced them to their component atoms. Without even a hint of lost speed, it then went on into the city behind them and converted its mighty (if creepy) cathedral into a large crater.
No one really blamed the Imperial troops for surrendering right then and there.
Captain Cutter leaned back in his chair with a sigh as he put the final words on his report, a report he really hoped, along with all the others he had made since giving chase to that Covenant destroyer, he would be able to pass on to his superiors.
The captain got to his feet, leaving his quarters. This had been an… interesting side trip to say the least, he mused as he walked down the halls of the Spirit of Fire.
When they had first come across this habitable world, no one had had any idea what to expect, which was why the entire crew and marine forces had been brought out of cryo.
What was even more surprising however, was the discovery that not only was this world habited, it was practically something out of some medieval fantasy novel, complete with elves, dwarves, even dragons, and, thought they weren't called that, a race that certainly was very orc-like.
There were even humans, amazingly enough. Many of the crew were still trying to wrap their head around the fact that somehow, humanity seemed to have evolved on two different homeworlds, though Professor Anders theorized that the lost alien civilization that had built that 'Shield World' that the Covenant had been so interested in might have had something to do with that. Being that humanity seemed to be connected with this lost race somehow due to the fact that some of its technology only responded to humans supported her theory.
Initial shock aside though, they had quickly made contact with a group of humans as they had descended to the southern end of one of the planet's primary landmasses. Needless to say, these humans were under the impression that some kind of race of Gods had descended from the heavens. Frankly, Cutter couldn't blame them. These people were still in a stage of technological development akin to the Dark Ages, so seeing something like a space-ship and flying machines would certainly give the impression that they were some kind of Gods.
Thankfully, they had eventually been able to get into contact with the leader of the humans, a woman named Nassuada. While she was just as convinced that they were some kind of divine beings, he was able to convince her that they were in no way connected to their world and simply 'passing by'. Divine Gods lost in the void between worlds? Well he supposed that was as good an explanation as any considering their level of technological understanding.
While the dwarves believed that they were some kind of agents of the Gods, and the brutish Urgals believed more or less the same thing, the reactions of the elves were a bit more interesting. The race of pointy-ear humans believed that they were somehow connected with what they called the 'Gray Folk' who had somehow destroyed the world and then remade it, bringing all currant life to it, and then vanishing without a trace, a tale that seemed to support Anders's theory.
However, regardless of whatever reactions the locals may have had, Nassuada had quickly filled them in on their situation. Apparently they were a rebelling army against a tyrant named Galbatorix, that had taken over most of the continent a hundred years ago and they, along with the elves in the north, were fighting a campaign against him.
Naturally, Cutter and the marine commanders agreed to assist them, knowing that more than a thousand years of technological advancement would more than make up for a lack of these magical powers that many beings on this planet possessed.
Magic… probably the most fascinating of the discoveries they had made. Mostly to Anders's of course, the marines had more or less been jaded to seemingly supernatural occurrences long ago. It seemed that while this magic at first appeared supernatural, it did seem to follow many rules that kept it more or less grounded in the laws of physics (it followed the law of Conservation of Energy for example).
Even so, regardless of whatever supernatural abilities or creatures that the enemy had at their disposal, Cutter had had no doubt that the Varden would have a decisive advantage with their help.
And he was right. A little too right almost.
Their first engagement with what the Varden had considered a very sizable force, one at least a half-size larger than the Marine compliment had been, as one of the ODST's had put it, a 'Curb-stomp battle'. In other words, the Imperial forces had been slaughtered. Apparently steel armor does not hold up well against an MA5B assault rifle. And even less so against a Warthog's fifty-caliber turret. In fact, many of the deployed Warthogs had just driven around the battle-field, running down enemy soldiers by the dozens.
The fact that the only casualties of their first engagement had been one marine breaking his toe and the other a mild concussion from a flying metal helmet from some unlucky sap run over by a Warthog made one fact abundantly clear.
The Empire was sorely outmatched. Practically to unfair levels.
In fact, Cutter had almost felt like it was too unfair at some times. The fact that there was many a comparison to be made to their own losing war against the Covenant didn't make it much easier. But they were an evil, oppressive empire, and it wasn't like they were trying to wipe out their entire race, just a government. That at least let him put his mind at ease.
But even then, it was still kind of sad when those strange bat-like creatures, which seemed to be the Empire's special forces and had apparently struck fear into even some of the Varden's toughest troops, were turned into hamburger meat by a few Wolverines. And then when the infamous 'Dragon Rider' and his Dragon which were apparently the strongest fighters and magic users in the world, had been nearly shredded by a flight of Hawks, forcing the duo to retreat in under two minutes.
And then came the final battle outside of what was apparently some great walled city. Well, walled until they had started deploying Scorpions and Cobras. Then it was more of just a city. Add on to the fact that the most feared being in the empire, someone who might as well have been their 'Boogey Man', had been taken out by a single MAC blast… Well, Cutter could pretty well understand why those people thought they were gods.
Cutter gave a low sigh as he entered to elevator to the Observation Room, otherwise known as 'Anders' Lair'.
This little detour had not only been interesting, but also productive. Total loss of life for this excursion (which the marines were jokingly calling 'Operation Curbstomp') was zero, and the most equipment damage suffered was when someone had let one of the elves behind the wheel of a Warthog. Granted it had resulted in five other wrecked Warthogs, two heavily damaged Wolverines, and a lightly damaged Scorpion, but no serious injuries, with nothing being completely irreparable. And of course there was the little incident where another elf had challenged one of the Spartans to a spar. It had not ended well for the pointy eared one. In any event, their food and water supplies had been restocked, and then there were the newcomers that they had taken aboard.
The elevator door opened to reveal all three of them, plus the Professor.
The middle-aged woman, Angela, was leaning up against the wall, apparently still fascinated by the view. She had been one of the few that had understood that they weren't gods, just a far more technologically advanced civilization from another planet. Of course, once she learned this, she had all but begged go with them, apparently fascinated with what they were like. Considering that they might need a liaison with this world if the UNSC ever wished to open trade with them, Cutter hadn't seen a problem with it.
The second was her pet cat, or rather the werecat named Solumbum, who had the freakish ability to morph into a small child.
But the third and final newcomer was the one that the Captain was most interested by. When asked, James had quickly agreed to take this one with them. His knowledge would be a great asset to them.
"Is he ready?"
Anders gave a grin and a nod as she stood up from the hologram pedestal.
Right on cue as he approached, a golden light shown from the pedestal, taking on a winged, reptilian form.
"Hello Captain", came the deep voice, even from the speakers, "are you ready to begin?"
"Yes," Cutter replied, glancing to the large golden crystal that had been somehow hooked up to the ship's systems.
"Well then, Glaedr," the captain started as he sat down in a chair.
"Tell me about magic."
Okay, now really, does anyone out there actually think a Halo/Eragon crossover could turn out any different?
For some reason I seem to have noticed a lot of really weird crossovers in the past months. And I'm not sure why, but I thought to myself, 'Okay, I know there are some bad crossover ideas, but which ones would just not work period?' And I came up with this. I'm actually thinking of some other crossovers that might be fun to play with. I'm open for suggestions if anyone has any.
Anyway, to those of you wondering about Roku Naruto, Chapter 20 is coming along nicely, though it should still take a while before I can update. It's shaping up to be my longest chapter yet.
Am I forgetting anything…? Ah yes.
I NEED A BETA!
Ahem. I've come to a realization recently that one of the main reasons I've had so much trouble updating lately (aside from computer trouble), has been my being unsure about some of my ideas. Having a second opinion would be extremely helpful. Plus having someone to check my grammar, as I still seem to be screwing up in that department.
Anyway, anyone interested, please PM me the answers to this application. Please do not put them in a review. As for actual requirements… basically you just need to have a Beta profile on the site, or fit the requirements for one (posted five stories and/or 6,000 words of work). Anyway, here are the questions:
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