I do not own Eragon, but I wish I did. :) Nor do I own some of the characters in the story, a few are based off of other things that I like, for example, Gabranth, I borrowed his name and his outfit from Final Fantasy XII. I've also borrowed Bard and Finny from Black Butler, the anime, I will try to remain true to the characters and storyline with the exception of Eragon (and if you can't find out who Gabranth really is, I gave you a few hints.) Happy reading.
Urû'baen, the black city, despite its name, was very beautiful and majestic. It was the capital of Alagaësia and in history was once known as the elves' long abandoned home, Iliera. But the most magnificent building in the city, besides the Black Citadel, was the large palace in which Galbatorix and his dragon, Shruikan, resided. Walking down the long hallways, through the stone columns on each side engraved with gold and silver, a tall armored man made his way to the throne room. Dark gray armor cloaked his body covering him entirely, and a helm covered his face, two sharp horns intricately hammered out of metal twisted on each side; a helm that had not been removed in public for over four years. A black cape was tied around the base of his neck, a red sigil on it representing the Empire.
The figure turned, standing before two colossal marble black doors. He turned to one of the guards; his already deep voice coming out deeper as it was muffled by his helm as he said, "His majesty is expecting me."
"Yes, my lord!" They saluted to him, before swinging the doors open. The throne room was grand with a white marble floor, a red carpet leading up to the golden throne. Sitting on his seat, wearing the finest armor and a white sword hanging from his hip was none other than King Galbatorix. He wasn't old. No, despite ruling Alagaësia for nearly a century, his hair was light silver and he had a matching beard. His black eyes never left the form of the tall person, a smile on his lips.
When the figure came to a stop before Galbatorix, he knelt on one knee, bringing his arm up against his chest. "Your highness," he spoke with respect.
Galbatorix's cold smile widened as he leaned forward to observe his loyal subject. Then he spoke, his voice rich and deep, unbefitting of his age. "You must be wondering why I've brought you here, Gabranth."
The figure nodded.
"You've heard of the capture of an elf by Durza, have you not?"
"Good, that shall make things much easier," Galbatorix nodded in approval. "Durza, to my disappointment, has been unsuccessful in his endeavors to retrieve information. I am very displeased with his progress. As for the elf, I consider her useless. With the egg gone, there is no other choice for me but to send the Urgals to scout the Beor Mountains—a situation I consider most distasteful." He sighed. "As a reward for you unswerving loyalty, I would like to offer the elf to you as a gift, Gabranth. Do with her what you will. And while you're at Gil'ead, tell Durza how very disappointed I am."
"Thank you, your highness." His bowed head tilted upward as if to gaze at the king from behind his helm. "What exactly should I tell Durza?"
A cold laugh escaped his lips. "Whatever comes to mind."
"May I ask a question, your highness?"
"Will I be appointed to lead the Urgals? Or shall Durza do it?"
"I'll have Durza handle it. But if anything goes wrong, you shall be doing it in his place. Now, I am tired. Gabranth, you are dismissed." Galbatorix gave a wave of his hand. The tall figure of Gabranth nodded before standing. He bowed one last time to Galbatorix before turning to leave, his metal boots clanking loudly on the floors as he did so.
An elf, a deep voice rumbled in his head, curiosity flooding his mind. How did Durza ambush them, I wonder.
He waited his turn and struck when the moment was right. A strategy that never fails. He replied as he left the halls of the large palace and walked into the courtyard. A group of maids who were passing by curtsied to him before rushing inside. Gabranth made his way towards what resembled a large sapphire rock, was certainly not one. The blue hues began to move before a long neck stretched forth, blue eyes piercing him. A puff of black smoke erupted from the dragon's nostril as she snorted at the sight of him.
Never hot are you? Saphira asked, amusement coating her tone. He shrugged indifferently, climbing onto her saddle as he did so. To Gil'ead, I presume?
Why ask if you already know?
It's always nice to ask, she answered. And with a stroke of her wings and the push of her hind legs, she dove forward into the air. The wind hissed past his helm as she accumulated height. Are you curious as to what you might find with this elf?
I don't know yet. But there are some things I hope to ask her for myself. On dragonback, Gil'ead was reachable within a day, but as they travelled Gabranth's thoughts kept on wandering back to why Galbatorix would hand over someone as valuable as the elf. If Durza had kept going then he might have been able to extract some information of the Varden's whereabouts, the elves' home, or the location of the missing red egg.
There are some rumors going around that there is another dragon rider out there.
The possibility is great that the egg has already hatched for someone.
Could it be one of the Varden's people, or do you think it hatched for the elves?
I don't know. They talked for a while on the possibilities of whether the dragon harbored a human or an elf as a rider. They even laughed when they thought of a dwarf being its rider. But eventually Saphira fell into her old routines of saying strange riddles to which Gabranth was always at a loss for an answer.
Eventually the sight of Gil'ead came into his line of vision and without further ado Saphira dove towards the keep, causing the soldiers to scramble out of the way to make room for her landing. Go see the elf. Right now, I need to hunt.
Come back safely, he replied, as she spread her wings and took off yet again. Gabranth turned and nodded towards the soldiers who hurriedly bowed to him. Walking down the stairs of the keep, he made his way to the prison. A guard who stood inside the hall of cells bowed to him. "My lord."
"I'm here for the elf, where is she?" he asked. The guard frowned, fidgeting uneasily where he stood.
"Durza is interrogating her. He gave strict orders for no one to interfere."
"Where are they?" he repeated dangerously.
The guard stammered before answering in a small voice, "The dungeon." Gabranth nodded before leaving. Instead of making his way up through the building, he turned down the hallway and into a dark staircase. As he went lower, the sound of a whip slashing through the air floated up to him. However, the cry of pain that was expected failed to follow it. As per usual, two guards stood in front of the door, and they hurriedly bowed at his appearance.
"Lord Gabranth!" One exclaimed.
"What are you doing here?" the other asked.
"I'm here for the elf." He moved forward to open the door, but the guard grabbed his arm, before realizing what he had done and dropping it again hurriedly, as if stung.
"Durza said that no one was allowed to enter unless it was the king himself."
"The king gave me orders to be here. I'm sure that topples whatever he has to say." Without waiting, Gabranth threw the door open before entering the dungeon. It was similar to any other dungeon; cold and dark, with a few candles lit up on the wall. Torture mechanisms layered the gray bricks and some tables were scattered around. To the front of the room was a flogging pole and tied to it was an elf. But then something happened that he wasn't expecting.
As he set eyes on the elf, a strange passion awoke in him as well as a burning rage he had never felt before in his entire life. She was beautiful. Her long black hair framed her angular face, marred only by a scar running from her jaw to her chin. Her eyes were slanted like a cat's, the green orbs bright with pain. Her ears tapered to points at their tips. Both her hands were tied above her head, and she was shirtless. Ignoring that fact, he closed the door, bolting it shut. Standing in front of the injured elf was a tall shade, his hair crimson bright and his maroon eyes filled with anger.
"Who gave you permission to step in here?" Durza growled, turning his attention away from the elf. Gabranth laughed mockingly.
"Permission? My title is far above yours, Durza." He answered walking forward, his cape billowing softly behind him. "And if you have to ask, the king ordered me here. He's very disappointed with the lack of information you have been able to obtain from the elf."
He let out a shout, before raising his hand with the whip. However, before he could strike, Gabranth's hand flew up to grip his in an iron clutch, preventing any movement. "My, this anger is unnecessary. Do not take your failures out on the elf." He threw Durza's arm away, "Besides, his majesty has decided that I get her."
"You?" Durza hissed. He nodded.
"The elf is now mine, and as such, you shall not touch her." letting out a frustrated yell, the shade threw down the whip and stormed out of the room. He laughed but only momentarily before turning to the injured elf. Seeing a black tunic lying on the table he grabbed it, untying her hands, he reached out and gently supported her ignoring her ice cold glare. "Such a wonderful thank you for someone who saved you. Can you put this on, or do you need me to?"
In a flurry of motions, she grabbed the tunic from his hands before donning it, when she was done, he glanced at her before, in one fluid motion, cradling her in his arms. "Stay still—you are in no condition to walk, elf."
She didn't respond, instead glancing away. Exiting the dungeon, Gabranth nodded to the two guards. Instead of bringing her back to her cell, he brought her to the room that he would usually stay in while visiting Gil'ead. Placing her on his large bed, he ignored her startled stare. With unnatural strength, he brought her tunic up over her head, baring her again from waist up. He caught her arm as it swung for his helm. "It won't do you any good if you try to attack me. You'll only injure yourself even further."
Flipping her onto her stomach, he placed his free hand on the skin. The elf's back was strong and muscled, but it was covered with scabs that made her skin look like dry, cracked mud. She had been whipped mercilessly and branded with hot irons, seemingly in the shape of claws. Where her skin was still intact, it was purple or black from numerous beatings. On her left shoulder was a tattoo inscribed with indigo ink. Durza would be punished for this. Channeling the magic into his palms, he murmured the healing spell. "Waíse heill."
A burn shimmered under his palm, and then new unmarked skin flowed over it, joining together in its place. Passing over the bruises and wounds that were not serious, he saved the muscles and inner injuries for last. When he was finally done, he threw her tunic at her.
Turning his back, he heard the rustle of clothing before all was silent. He faced the elf once again, ignoring the curious stare in her bright green eyes. Grabbing her chin, he pulled her close to him until he could feel her breath on his helm. The scar on her face wasn't fresh. Healing it, he let go of her, watching as she rubbed the spot where he had grabbed her. "I'm hoping that those were the only injuries Durza gave you, elf."
"Why are you doing this?" she asked, her rich voice accented and exotic.
He chuckled. "Why indeed?" Turning from her, he went to throw the windows wide open, letting fresh air into the room. "But you didn't answer my questions, elf. Was that the only thing Durza did to you?"
Her lips formed a hard line, and she refused to answer. He sighed, calling for a maid. Instantly, a young girl walked in, curtsying as she saw him. "My lord, you called?"
"Yes, bring me the healer. Tell him to make haste, for I do not have the time to wait around forever." She nodded, curtsying one last time before leaving. When she was gone, he turned back to the elf. "If you don't want to die, I suggest you cooperate willingly."
"You give me no reason to trust you." She replied. He snorted.
"I also gave you no reason to distrust me. You see, just because I bare the crest of the Empire does not mean that I like it," said Gabranth. "By the way, what is your name?"
She didn't reply, he continued as if she did. "Well then, I will simply have to call you elf, don't I? You can call me, Eragon." Before he could stop it, the name left his lips, shocking both himself and her. The door opened and in walked a healer and the maid.
"Is there anything else you need, my lord?"
"Yes, bring some food up, but no meat," he ordered, and she nodded and left, while the healer stepped forward.
"You called for me, Lord Gabranth?" He nodded and pointed to the elf.
"Do you know of the injuries that Durza had given her?"
"I do. Every morning I would bring Durza a vial of Tunivor's Nectar to stop the Skilna Bragh's progress within her blood stream." He nodded, ordering the healer to bring her the antidote. He watched as the man hurriedly left the room to retrieve the medicine.
"Why are you helping me?" the elf repeated, staring at him as if trying to decrypt a puzzle she could not overcome. A sigh escaped his lips.
"Is it so wrong of me for wanting to help you? I've told you before I may work for Galbatorix, but that doesn't mean I do it willingly." He shrugged. "You'll be grateful when you have enough energy to escape Gil'ead. A boring place compared to your lush green forest, no?"
She didn't answer, instead continuing to stare at him. "You want me to escape?" she said slowly, as if making certain that he had truly said the words himself.
"Who said I wanted you to? But if you did, I would not try to stop you."
"You are a strange person."
"My, my, my, we're starting to have a proper conversation here." The door opened again and the healer walked in with a glass bottle in his hands containing a strange golden liquid. Taking it from him, Gabranth made his way to the elf on his bed. "Now, I will give you two choices. You drink the antidote, or I make you drink it."
When he held it out to her, she reluctantly took it before downing the bottle. When she was done, she handed it back to him. He returned it to the healer, thanking him. "It is of little consequence. If you need me, please call."
"I shall see if I can use your skills in the near future." The healer bowed in reply and left the room. He turned back to the elf. "You can rest in here. None of the guards will force themselves on you. I will call when the food is brought up so that you can eat."
"I…trust you." She said hesitantly, before lying down on the mattress pulling the covers over her. He stared for a long time at her sleeping figure before turning to the library behind him and pulling out a book to read. Nearly an hour and a half passed before the maid returned with a tray laden with food. She hurriedly placed it on his table, before making a hasty exit.
Gabranth went to wake the elf, not wanting the soup to cool. When he walked over to the side of the bed, he felt a strange feeling in his heart as he stared down at her, a feeling that he had never felt in his life. Reaching out with a hand, he gently shook the elf. "Don't sleep the whole day away. You need to eat like the rest of the world, elf."
When she blinked, he withdrew his hand strolling back to take a seat in his chair by the table. He kicked the chair opposite him outwards. "Sit down and eat." She threw him a cold glare, before with a slinking muscular grace walked over to the table and taking a seat. She must not be used to being ordered around, he assumed, as he resumed reading. "The soup will get cold if you're just going to stare at it," he said, never taking his eyes off of the page.
"Will you not eat?"
He hesitated. "I will eat when you're sleeping. I do not feel comfortable removing my helm in the presence of others." She nodded slowly, picking up the spoon and taking a sip out of the steaming vegetable soup.
"Why is that?"
He chuckled. "For someone who doesn't answer my questions, you certainly ask a lot."
"You don't have to answer if you do not wish to. If I remember correctly, I am your prisoner." He sighed, placing his book down to stare at her from the openings in his helm.
"I abandoned my identity long ago. Still, it seems that no matter how hard I try, I cannot let go of it entirely." He picked his book back up and turned the page. You're very forthright with the elf.
Does it matter? He replied.
Of course it does! Besides to me, you're finally opening up to someone about yourself. You won't even speak a word to your mother about your reasons for half of the things you do,Saphira replied. He glanced out the window to see a small speck in the sky. What do you intend to do with her?
What else? Let her escape. I have no use for an elf, he said.
I'm not a complicated person, you know that.
Of course I do, that's why I do most of the thinking around these areas. I would like to meet your elf. He bristled as Saphira labeled the elf his. Well, she is your prisoner.
"Is something amiss?" the elf asked as she noticed his change in attitude.
"Somebody wants to meet you," He answered as a torrent of air swept through the room, blowing the pages in his book. Saphira landed next to the building, peering into the room with one of her large sapphire eyes. Ask if I can personally speak to her. "She wants to know if she can speak with you herself. I would be very grateful if you were to accept, for I do not enjoy playing the role of a messenger."
She nodded, seemingly trusting Saphira more than him. "You may."
He turned back to his book as the two females conversed with one another. It seemed that little by little, the elf seem to be relaxing in their presence, but still not entirely so. Caution outlined her every move, her every word. He spent the time wondering how Durza could possibly have ambushed them. When it was late, he closed his book placing it back on the bookshelf.
"It is late and you two need to sleep. Saphira, leave the elf alone." He marched up and closed the window earning a deep rumble from outside. She was amused at his antics. Before he could say another word, the elf was already climbing into his bed to sleep. She is a very interesting person.
Wouldn't you know? He mumbled in his thoughts, his attention returning to the tray of food on the table. He was surprised to find a few things uneaten. The soup was gone along with an apple, but two pears and a berry cake remained. He smiled. In one swift motion, he removed his helm, placing it on the table and revealing his dark brown hair and matching brown eyes. But he didn't look like a human; no, far from it. Magic had altered his appearance until the tip of his ears became pointed, his eyes slanted, and his face more angular in shape. Bringing a pear to his mouth, he slowly ate it, savoring its sweet flavor.
She's surprised that we serve Galbatorix even though he doesn't know our true name. Why do we, I wonder?
Because I have to protect my mother, you know that, he replied, moving onto the next pear.
Even so, don't forget that you have choices, Eragon. Do not condemn your life to this if you don't like it.
He grunted, knowing that she was right and hating her for it. Staring back at the elf, he frowned. What life was she living? Following the Varden? Fighting in a petty resistance group? What did she fight for? Freedom, isn't that obvious?
At the cost of her own life? He replied, tucking the blankets around her petite form to keep her warm. Why am I doing this?
You care for her. There's no other explanation, Saphira replied. Isn't that wonderful?
If only, he opened the window again to see her more clearly. Reaching out, he gently stroked her snout. But I have you and my mother; what more do I need? It'll only make my life more complicated trying to protect everyone I care for.
You are too sweet, she replied, her blue eyes sparkling. She blew a puff of smoke out at him. I must sleep, little one. You get some rest too.
Good night, then.
The following morning, he entered the room to find the elf up and studying his collection of books. In his hands was a tray of food. "Good morning, it would seem." He greeted, catching sight of her. "How are you feeling, elf?"
She didn't reply, but instead pulled out a large voluminous book with the words on the spine faded out. He placed the tray on the table. "No thank you for bringing you breakfast or letting you sleep in my very spacious room?"
She glared at him. Gabranth sighed. "Is a thank you a little too much above your standards? You must be treated like a princess in Du Weldenvarden." He didn't notice how her back stiffened, handing her a salad. "Eat up; you need to regain your strength, don't you?"
She accepted it, her curious stare returning. "Why are you helping me so much?"
Gabranth folded his arms and leaned forward as if to study her from behind his helm. "Galbatorix gave you to me as a gift, and what use do I have for an elf? I would rather you escape than watch over you for the rest of my life. You're not doing any good sitting here talking to me. You have to help the Varden defeat Galbatorix, right?"
"Eventually, that would put us on different sides during war," she warned. He let out a laugh.
"Then please, take it easy on me. It would be poor thanks if you ended up killing your rescuer." She frowned at his light attitude.
"Why do you serve Galbatorix?" His light mood suddenly vanished. He refused to answer her. She, however, was not fazed by his silence, and simply continued eating. As they sat there in silence, the door opened and in walked Durza, a smile of triumph spread across his face. It faltered when he saw the elf, healthy and eating.
"I don't remember giving you the rights to enter my room as you please, Durza. Please do knock the next time," Gabranth warned, as he stood to speak to the shade.
"I do apologize, Gabranth," Durza said mockingly, before turning to the elf. "My, isn't his lordship treating you well?"
"Do not waste my time with idle chatter. Has something gone amiss?" His maroon eyes sparkled as he leaned in to whisper to Gabranth softly.
"We've caught a dragon rider, and wouldn't you like to know, it's your half-brother." At this, Gabranth immediately stiffened, nodding to Durza. "I assume you shall go to visit him?"
His voice was harsh and cold as he spoke, surprising the elf, who had but only seen his compassionate side. "Do not worry. I will be down shortly. I think thanks are in order. His majesty will be most pleased indeed."
"Maybe my title will be higher than yours in a few weeks." With that Durza left, sneering at the elf on his way out. A dragon rider!
The egg the elf has been carrying must have hatched. Eragon concluded, staring at the elf as she ate. Maybe if we—
Eragon! If Galbatorix found out were you to do that, you know what he would do to you.
Then maybe I might have a just excuse to join the Varden. At this Saphira quieted, he could hear the gears turning in her head before a deep rumble filled the air at her sudden cheeriness.
And I thought you liked to keep it simple!
Most of the time, he joked, a faint smile twitching on his lips at her giddiness. He turned to the elf, "If I leave, I want you to swear that you won't escape; it will be a tiring situation to have to prevent the guards from killing you."
A strange emotion passed between her bright green orbs, but she nodded. Reassured, Gabranth left the room, making his way to the cells. "Where is the rider?" he asked a nearby guard. The man immediately led him to the first cell on the right, swinging it open. Sitting on his cot, with dark black hair and gray eyes, was none other than Murtagh. Seeing him made Gabranth's blood boil. He had been protected by their mother. She had left him to live peacefully in who knows where while he had to suffer Galbatorix's wrath. It was almost unfair.
"What do you want?" Murtagh asked harshly. He clenched his hand to keep from hitting something.
"For a prisoner, you are rather bold." He said coolly.
Murtagh snorted, unfazed. "I am not afraid of death."
"But if you were to die, then where would that leave your beloved dragon?" Gabranth asked, shocking his half-brother with something he had yet to think about. "So I suggest you hold your tongue while speaking. Durza may not be as forgiving as I am."
"Why are you here?"
Instead of answering him, Gabranth walked forward, leaning closely down to his ear. "If you want to escape, don't eat the food. Drugs." Straightening, he turned saying rather loudly in a harsh voice. "Do not think yourself superior, Murtagh. Your father may have been Morzan, but that won't save your life."
With that he left the cell, motioning for the guard to lock the door. He wasn't surprised to find Durza standing there, waiting for him with a smile. "That short of a visit?"
He scoffed. "I would rather not see his face. I might end up staining my blade with his blood. And who knows what else? Keep a good eye on him Durza; I wouldn't want this prisoner under my care."
Ascending the spiral stone staircase, he sighed. It just keeps on getting better and better. You're letting him escape?
I may hate him, but I wouldn't want him to live like I do.
Neither do you.
Saphira…I'll think about it, Eragon replied, trying to keep their argument at bay. Entering the room, he found the elf sitting on his bed reading. She glanced up as he entered but soon returned to what she was doing. Going over to her, he grabbed the book from her hands, tossing it to the side before gripping one of her wrists. "You need to escape with the rider."
Her eyebrows shot up in alarm. "Rider?"
"Yes, rider! Murtagh, I'm sure you've heard of him. You need to get out with him before Durza gets the chance to bring him to Urû'baen." He dragged her off the bed and out of the room towards the cells. Ignoring the looks of wonder on the guards' faces, he discreetly gestured to Murtagh's cell before roughly shoving her into her old one. "Sorry. Do it tomorrow, and leave as fast as you can!"
"What about you?" he stopped surprised, before bowing his head to her.
"I am grateful that you care, but I can handle myself." With that, he closed the door to her cell. Seeing Durza at the end of the hall, he snorted. "It seems that the elf was more troublesome than I had thought that she would be."
"I don't have a preference for torture, and talking to her kindly makes me tired," Gabranth replied as he left, leaving a laughing Durza in his wake. Lying was almost too easy. Now, to give the elf a little present.
When next morning came, he was prepared for what was going to happen that day. As night time fell, he wasn't surprised when he heard shouts come from the cell area. He stopped Durza who had just run past him. "Take care of this; if it's lost the king will have my head! I trust it to no other!" He ran past the shade who nodded and down into the hallways. Bodies littered the floor, blood painting the walls and cemented ground.
There was no sight of the Murtagh or the elf at their cells. "They're not here, Durza!" he yelled, using magic to raise his voice.
"I've found them!" came his dark reply. He hurriedly rushed up the steps towards the banquet room; a loud cry of agony filled his ears. They must have taken out Durza. Running into the room, he stopped at the sight of an old man sitting on a red dragon. As he slowly realized who it was, anger filled him beyond anything, despite the relief he felt as he saw that in the elf's hands was a green stone. Everything else was pushed towards the back of his mind as anger and hatred clouded his senses.
"Give me that!" he roared at a nearby soldier, grabbing his bow and his quiver of arrows. Stringing three arrows, he aimed it towards the old man. "Brisingr!" With a rush of air, the three arrows burst into flames. Losing them, he watched as they headed straight for the man until green magic thwarted their path. He glared at the elf. He could see confusion in her eyes at his abrupt anger but ignored it. At his frustration, a roar escaped his lips, surprising everyone in sight. No one had ever seen him lose his temper before. Saphira!
There was no response. Instantly, fear clouded him. "Saphira!" he yelled, running over to the broken wall as the red dragon took off. He glanced out to find her fast asleep. She couldn't just be sleeping though, she would normally still respond to him. Damn it! He must have used magic on her! Jumping from the top of the high wall, he landed on the ground, ignoring the soldiers' calls, and ran towards her. "Saphira," he called again, gently stroking her snout. The only response she gave was a puff of smoke.
The following day, a messenger arrived with a letter from his mother. There was only one sentence on it. I've left for the Varden.
UPDATE 08/07/2014: Since the story is coming to an end, another author has decided to Re-Beta this story to make it error free for you all. That in itself is a pretty amazing task seeing as this story is a hundred chapters long and the word length is no little number! So let's all thank Psycho the. psychotherapist for taking time to make this story spotless! Thanks you, new Beta!