NASUADA and MURTAGH {roleplay story}

AN: This was a collaborative effort between myself and a friend. It was fun to write. I hope you enjoy it.

"What do you want here?" Nasuada's authoritative voice requested of her unexpected visitor. She didn't know what to think, as she gazed at the red rider, but she held her ground. Was he going to prove to be a threat? Stupid question... Her Nighthawks slid into a protective formation around her and held their places unwaveringly, as they awaited his response, or her command.

"I though you might want to pay a visit to Uru'baen." Murtagh half smiled, though his eyes narrowed slightly as the guards made themselves into a living barrier. The rider hadn't expected things to go well at this meeting, so this was really no surprise.

"Where is Eragon, anyways?" he asked letting his gaze quickly scan the skies.

Even Nasuada's dark skin paled visibly at the mention of Uru'baen. She scowled, but had no time to react to the rider's rather threatening invitation, before his question about Eragon echoed in her mind. Where was the blue dragon and her rider? She only wished she knew the answer to that question.

"He's not far," she lied with an air of calm and authority. "And when I enter Uru'baen, it will be on my own terms."

The rider was pretty sure that his brother was nowhere in the immediate vicinity before he landed, so he eyed the Varden leader suspiciously, earning menacing glances from her personal guards.

"Fair enough," he replied with a hint of amusement on his face. "As you have turned down my offer of hospitality, perhaps you would care to make an offer of your own?"

Murtagh's sarcasm was easier to deal with than his threats. A smirk found a place on her lips and she spoke in a silken voice, laced with a hint of venom.

"I would hate to seem inhospitable... Perhaps we can find you some accommodations in our detention area."

Unexpected and genuine laughter spilled from the rider. The woman had no idea how tempting her offer really was. The most peace filled days of his life were the few, short weeks he had spent in the Varden prison. Part of him wished he could go back to that time, and a look of nostalgia crossed his features briefly. But that would never be. Too much had happened for him ever to return to what he was.

"You once gave me an offer of examining any of the books in the Varden's extensive library."

His face told her that he was now serious.

"There is a specific piece of work that I wish to consult. I don't know that I'll find it here. But it is my wish to search for it."

Murtagh paused and looked at Nasuada with a shred of hope. They had been friends once, for a short time.

"Will you permit it?"

Nasuada's graceful features showed her surprise at such a request, an eyebrow raising as if to ask if the rider was really serious. Deciding that he was serious she considered for a moment how to reply.

"What if I deny you permission?" she asked quietly, her dark eyes calculating his expression. She did not like being bullied into anything, and the fact that this man was an enemy rider, and her own defenders were elsewhere, added up to the fact that she would be incapable of restraining him, should he choose to act without her permission.

The riders expression grew exasperated and almost desperate. The last thing he wanted to do was create more barriers between himself and his brother. But there was a lot at stake, or he wouldn't have come here to begin with.

"Damnit Nasuada, It's just a book," he sputtered, beginning to pace an area in front of the gathered force that stood at the ready.

"I don't even need to take it, just study it."

Why did she have to be so stubborn? Why couldn't she see the opportunity he was presenting her with? By letting him use their library, they could observe what he read and perhaps get a clue into the king's plans. Sure, he could find another library that might house the same works, but to the best of his knowledge, this was his most likely option. He paused in his pacing to turn back to her.

"Please," he whispered.

Nasuada refrained from smiling as he pleaded. This was a side of Murtagh she had never seen or imagined. He was desperate for something, and having this power over him was a pleasing feeling, though she hated herself to admit it.

Slowly she shook her head no.

"I'm sorry, Murtagh. I can't knowingly help you... the empire... the king... or your cause."

At that the Nighthawks moved around her protectively, anticipating a more aggressive move by the rider and hiding their worry admirably.

The face of the rider hardened, and his steely gaze pierced right through her as if she weren't there. Accusation was written all over his face, and he moved straight to her ignoring her startled men...

"Slytha rakr," he spoke the words in a fierce whisper, as if they were torn from him against his will. All those in the immediate vicinity were rendered unconscious with the exception of Murtagh, Thorn, and Nasuada.

"I'm done making excused for you, Nasuada," he hissed into her ear, as he yanked her close by her upper arm.

"You all think that this is my choice, my fault, or you think it's his fault, my father's, the king's... Anything but your fault. Well, I have something to tell you, lady. Much of where I am right now is YOUR fault. YOU, all of you, my good friends that I fought for and suffered for. I want you to know how YOU have contributed to where I've ended up.

Nasuada shivered as the rider grasped her roughly. His words and tone were as hostile as she had ever witnessed from him. Perhaps she had made a mistake by refusing him. But as the full effect of his accusation hit her she grew defensive. How dare he suggest that it was her will that he become enslaved to the king.

"You have your nerve, Murtagh. We offered you friendship... And you betrayed us..."

Murtagh nearly shook with rage at being called a betrayer. She had no idea how much pain he had endured trying to protect her and her people. The simple fact was that the immense strength of the king made it inevitable that Murtagh's defenses would eventually fail. Anyone's defenses would fall to the king's attacks, and Murtagh had lasted well beyond what the king had expected. Weeks of torture it had taken. But she cared not about that. All she saw was 'the traitor,' 'the son of the traitor.'

Murtagh's voice snapped with self righteous emotion, and the intensity grew with each statement.

"Hah, you didn't offer friendship, you only offered false hope... hope that I might be able to earn true friends in spite of my heritage. And I believed you. I believed the lie. But it wasn't long before I - was - abandoned."

"We thought you were dead," she spat not wanting to believe his words. But wasn't that just what had happened? Sure Eragon had sent Arya in the tunnels to search for any signs of survivors. But finding only bloody clothing, they has assumed the worst. If it had been Ajihad who'd been missing, would they have given up on searching for him? Certainly not.

Eragon had wanted to continue searching, but she had convinced him of the fruitlessness of those actions. There were important things needing to be attended to... But more than that, Nasuada had been afraid, insecure. Having just lost her father, she had clung to the rider in order to hold on to her father's dream. If she had not been such a frightened little girl, could Eragon and Saphira have intercepted and rescued Murtagh before he was presented to the king?

Uncertainty showed in her dark eyes.

Murtagh saw the truth in her face and sneered with triumph. Oh how he had wanted the lie to be true. How he had wanted to find the same kind of friendship with these people, that they had for each other. He saw how it was freely given and received between them, but not so for him. Still he had hoped, perhaps it was attainable for him, if he could but earn their trust. Ultimately, Murtagh's best efforts had gained him nothing. He had risked everything, and fought with them side by side, yet even so, he had been forgotten.

"Did you really? Did you think me dead? Or were you just hoping it? Finally to be rid of the son of Morzan." The hatred plastered on the riders face only barely covered up his hurt.

Nasuada gasped, and tears started flowing, even though she willed them to stop. It was a horrible thing for the rider to say, a horrible thing for him to even think. But she was unable to speak past the lump in her throat. Part of her wanted to remain silent... to let him think the worst... to think his awful words were the truth. But the truth was even less noble than his accusation. The truth was that she had been afraid. She'd been so afraid of losing even more, that she had preferred to think Murtagh dead, rather than to endanger Eragon and Saphira in a thorough search for their lost comrade.

"We couldn't..." she closed her eyes rather than to see his face, "we couldn't risk losing the rider..."

That was hard to argue with. Even as he was carried off, Murtagh had been torn between wanting Eragon to fly out to rescue him, and hoping he would not be such a fool. They both knew that for almost anyone else, the boy would have played the fool, and attempted the impossible rescue.

~Why was the son of Morzan so expendable? Why did he matter so little? Why was it, that the only person in Alagaesia who wanted him, was the bloody king, who only wished to twist him into a warped version of his hated father?~

Murtagh's face contorted with anger and pain. It was a different kind of pain than he was used to. The king's torture was a passing thing. But this pain of abandonment was an enduring pain. It crept into his heart, and carved scars deep inside, where they could not be seen.

The expression of the rider hardened, and he leaned close to Nasuada once again.

"Well, I hate to seem rude M'Lady, but I have a book to look up... Slytha."

Nasuada's vision would have dimmed, as she lost consciousness. Catching her by the arm, the rider lowered her gently to the ground, before turning to locate the library.