A/N: Well, that only took 5 months. Yep, I suck. Please yell at me every so often to kick my butt in gear. Thanks to Snowfox98 for making me feel guilty enough to finish this chapter (seriously, thank you!). And thank you to everyone else who stick with my extraordinarily long breaks between updates. I appreciate it and so do my grades! I hope you enjoy (I'm not really a fan of my writing in the first part, but I like the very last paragraphs)
Disclaimer: See previous disclaimer because I'm too lazy to type out a new one even though this note is probably longer than that one would ever be.
Once again, Idril found herself running. She thought Farthen Dûr was a place where she could finally rest, where she wouldn't have to keep running from her past. But no. Like always, her past caught up with her, and it would screw everything up like it always did.
Idril found it difficult to run in a dress. So difficult that even Murtagh was ahead of her. Yet, they were nowhere near Arya. Fear bubbled inside of the redhead with every step she took. She knew all the running was no use. Sometimes it was impossible for anyone to run from her past, even someone as skilled as Idril.
Murtagh and Idril looked at each other. He could tell she was worried. He tried to give her a comforting glance, but the running made it slightly hard.
She heard. Idril heard. Arya was shouting at the band to stop the music. She was calling for Ajihad. "Idril is not who you think she is! Listen, Ajihad! I knew something was off as soon as I walked into that feast. It was her! I knew I had seen her…" The hall had opened up to a magnificent lighted courtyard. Ajihad, Nasuada, and Eragon all stood at the far back, near a gazebo where the band was also located. Everyone was staring at Arya. They had all crowded around her, making it nearly impossible for Idril and Murtagh to make it through the throng, but they did anyway. She pushed through the people, refusing to look at any of their faces as she passed them.
"Arya, Arya, calm down. What about Idril?" The leader of the Varden seemed too intent on the elf that he didn't notice the very girl they were discussing appearing behind Arya.
Turning around, Arya glared right into Idril's eyes, saying: "Why don't you tell them yourself, Idril? Why don't you share who exactly is your father?" Idril dropped her head. It was over. All of the façade she had tried so laboriously to uphold was over. She didn't look up, but she imagined all of the confused and curious faces upon her. She drew in a deep breath and released the story.
"Eliadriena. That was her name. My mother. She was an elf from an ancient line leading all the way back to the first Eragon, the one who had convinced the world to reconsider our relationship with dragons. Lady Eliadriena. That is what they would call her. And this is what they would have identified anyone from the line of the first Eragon before she fell from respect and grace," she held up the necklace her mother always wore, letting the flames reflect on the metal surface, flickering and lapping at the silver sun.
"See, she fell in love. With a human whose father had already doomed his life before he was old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. His family had been banished from their nomadic tribe on accusations of oath-breaking. Without the protection of a tribe, the boy's parents were murdered mercilessly by outlaws. He was alone, striving for more. More power, more happiness, more love…
"He wasn't alone for long. My father was taken in by an old sorcerer living in the desert. The sorcerer – Haeg, they called him – taught the now young man to control the spirits. It was during this time my mother met him. She always would recount the story to me every chance she had. How they met, how they fell in love, how they promised never to leave one another."
Eliadriena hated the desert. It was so dead and lifeless. So unnatural. She would have given anything to be in her forest at home. With all the waterfalls and trees she could imagine.
Her father had sent her here. "I need the juices from the cacti, Elia. They're the secret to the poultice." Eliadriena was thankful everyday she decided not to become a Healer. Too many ingredients and not enough excitement. She was better with magic than her father was anyway.
Her overworked horse was trotting along in the sand, the imprint of his hooves her personal tattoo on the land.
He had noticed them, of course. No one ever rides through this part of the desert without him knowing about it. He imagined Haeg telling him to leave whoever it was alone, but he couldn't. There was no way he would allow anyone to tromp over his terrain without giving him a piece of his mind. Only this time, it wasn't a 'him.' It was a 'her.' A beautiful elf with long, blonde hair. So blonde he could barely look at it in the sun without his eyes burning. Though mounted on the horse, he knew she was tall and slender. He couldn't see her face…yet. But he was close enough to see her pointed ears.
There! She had spotted it! The infamous Latiri cactus. Now if she could just get there…
A sudden movement in the sand. Maybe it was a snake, or a desert rodent. Whatever it was, it spooked the horse into bucking off Elia before she had the chance to react. A scream rang out as Elia fell through the air, her eyes clamped together as hard as possible. She imagined hitting the sand and having the wind knocked out of her. She braced herself for the unbearable pain.
It never came.
Instead, when Eliadriena opened her eyes, she felt for the first time a man's arms around her back and legs. Whoever it was had caught her, saved her. It took her a minute for her eyes to train on the young man. She could see the faint outline of the sun right above him.
She was pretty. A heart-shaped face with almond eyes the color of the ocean on a clear day. Lips, thin and pressed firmly together. Cheeks, rosy and angled. Ears, pointed and perfect.
He was handsome. Dark, shoulder-length, kempt hair that had some shorter strands that had just barely flopped onto his forehead. Brown eyes and tanned skin. His features proportionately positioned on his rugged-looking face. He smiled, revealing a set of white teeth.
"What is your name?" He asked with a deep voice.
"Eliadriena. And yours?"
"Well, Carsaib. Thank you for saving me from a nasty fall." They just stood there for a moment, peering into each other's souls, with Elia still in Carsaib's arms. "It's alright to place me on the ground now, you know." And suddenly, she was standing upright on the sand, the heat of the granules seeping through Elia's boots.
"Right." He smoothed his hair down, repositioning the strands from his forehead to behind his ears, which were decidedly not pointed. The realization made Eliadriena's heart sink. He was a human. And she felt butterflies in her stomach? If she was wise, Elia would have thanked the kind stranger and gone on to collecting cactus milk. But usually, she left the wisdom to her father. She smiled.
"Seeing as you have enough time to save hopeless women from painful tumbles, maybe you have enough time to harvest some Latiri juice?" She pointed at the cactus, frowning as she saw it once again. Carsaib grinned boyishly.
"What else is there to do in this desert?" And they laughed, though it wasn't particularly funny and Carsaib didn't usually laugh much.
After that day, Elia made sure to keep her father's cactus milk supply high. She visited Carsaib and Haeg often. She had spent hours upon hours with Carsaib.
She had left the wisdom to her father once again. She had fallen in love with a human.
"My mother was too in love to notice the subtle changes in my father. Though he loved her, he also loved power and knowledge. Haeg continued to teach him how to wield spirits and use them for others' gain, but my father couldn't help using them for his own gain as well.
"One night, while my father was out with my mother, the same outlaws that had murdered his parents also murdered Haeg. Again, my father felt alone. He was so stricken with grief he decided to use spirits to take vengeance on the murderers. But they were just too strong. They overtook him. He was no longer a man, but something less. Something darker."
"It was too late for my mother. She was in love with the shadow of a man. After she continued to love my father once the demons overtook him, her family cast her out, disgracing both her name and the name of her elven ancestors. She had nowhere left. And he always desired to possess. He took her away to the palace of the new ruler, his ally. He took her to King Galbatorix's palace, and hid her away. I was born a year later.
"So yes, by now you would've figured it out. I am Durza's daughter." She looked up, directly in Ajihad's eyes. "I am part shade. I'm a liability and a danger to the Varden. But I'm also a Dragon Rider. And I detest the very name of King Galbatorix and Durza. I will fight until my dying day for all of you, no matter who my father is."
Everyone was silent. Perhaps they were too shocked at Idril's tale. Perhaps they were confused. Or perhaps, as Idril's insecure mind instantly made up, they were repulsed to have a part-shade standing in front of them. Murtagh glanced worriedly at Idril's falling face. She lowered her eyes once more to the floor. The cowardice was returning.
"Idril, this isn't casual news. We must take into account your beginnings when deciding whether to trust you or not. After all, you came out of nowhere, claiming to be a new Dragon Rider. How can we be sure you aren't Galbatorix's scout, tricking us into trusting you only to betray us? And we can't ignore the fact that demons are inside of you, waiting to be released. I believe we must discuss it with my advisors and the elders whether you are to stay in Farthen Dûr." Idril slightly nodded her head. She wanted to slip into the background and pretend like this never happened. She never should've imagined this place to be her home. Homes were only for those who are brave, are selfless, are not shades.
"Ajihad," Murtagh respectfully began. "I understand your concerns and that you must do what you think is the best for your people. However, I was in the same position only a year ago when Eragon introduced me to the Varden. I have said it before, and I will say it again. Your family does not make you who you are destined to be. Morzan was my father and yet I fight for you. Durza was Idril's father and she is willing to fight for you, if you accept her. And if you don't accept her, I will no longer fight by your side." Murmuring began within the crowd, along with a few interspersed gasps. "I've known Idril longer than anyone here. She was my betrothed back in the palace, and I know she would never betray you." Eragon's eyes widened from the platform where Ajihad, Nasuada and himself were standing. Murtagh had yet to tell them their past encounter. Idril's eyes widened slightly as well. He was fighting for her. Even though they had only met once in the palace.
"Still, Murtagh. We must discuss this further. I believe the festivities must conclude for the night. I wish everyone a peaceful slumber. Idril, we will decide your fate tomorrow." Tears threatened to spill over on Idril's blushing cheeks. Ajihad nodded curtly and the crowd dispersed quickly, all talking and whispering to each other. Soon, even Eragon, Arya, Nasuada, and Ajihad left, leaving only Murtagh and Idril herself in the courtyard.
They just stood there for a moment, amongst all the twinkling flames and radiant lanterns, completely alone. She remained where she was as Murtagh neared her, sympathetic expression on his face. He gently grasped her wrist. "Idril…"
Lightening struck somewhere in the distance though the sky was still as clear as it was when Idril and Murtagh stood on the balcony, which seemed like hours ago. In that same moment, Idril ripped her arm away from Murtagh and ran into the home of the Varden. Her face was as red as her hair. Tears leaked from her eyes, streaming down her cheeks in rivers of pain and desperation. Her hair had come undone and she had stepped on her dress, ripping the skirt.
She ran to the room she had yet to sleep one night in. Her dragon was there, waiting for her with comforting golden eyes. Idril sat on the bed, her face in her hands as she cried. Her dragon clambered over to her and laid down his head on Idril's lap.
Idril glanced at her dragon through blurry eyes. She stopped crying. She knew what she had to do. "Come on, little one. We have to leave." Idril quickly threw off her dress and put on her original outfit, which had been cleaned, repaired, and returned to her before the feast. She then tied her hair up with a thin piece of hide.
Throwing her necklace into her bag, she picked up her dragon and headed for the door, whispering, "Too bad you can't fly yet, little one" to the white creature as she made her way.
Of course, Murtagh was waiting for her in the hallway. He wanted to make sure she was alright before going to talk with Ajihad. The second he saw her, he knew something was wrong. She had her old clothes on, her dragon, and her bag? Oh no. "Where are you going?" He questioned.
"I don't know. Away from here. I'm doing what I'm best at, Murtagh. I'm running away." Murtagh could hear the ice in her voice. She was clearly one step past 'upset.'
"Idril, I know you think Ajihad will throw you out, but I know him. He is compassionate. After thinking it over, he will see he can trust you. I mean, it's not like it's even possible that you're working for your father. And Galbatorix wouldn't place his trust in a teenage girl." Idril walked right past him, before catching what he said about her father.
"What do mean 'it's not possible that you're working for your father'?" Technically, it was entirely possible to her.
"Well," Murtagh looked confused. "He's dead. Eragon slew him in the battle at Farthen Dûr. You didn't know?" Idril shook her head, eyes so wide they betrayed her confusion.
"No, Murtagh. Durza's not dead. I would have felt it. I would have known. In fact, I would have died myself."
"The demons that took over Durza were split when I was born. If he had died, killing the demons as well, so would I. No, Durza's not dead. Galbatorix must have brought him back before Eragon's blow could have done any real harm. Otherwise, I would not be standing here now." Shock. Murtagh's expression was clearly shock.
"Idril, we must go tell Ajihad. We have to warn him." Idril shrugged.
"You can. I'm leaving. I'm going back to place I swore I would never return to. The only place that was every really my home. The palace." With that, Idril turned away from Murtagh and started walking.
A/N: The truth is out! Dundadadun! Congrats to but you love me anyway, Snowfox98, ICanIWill, Ashleigh Piccinino, and anyone else who I may be leaving out (if I did, leave a review and I'll put you in the next chapter's Author's note). Thanks for reading. I'm hoping for a quicker update now that school's out. Fingers crossed!