A/N: Sorry for the tacky summary, but I promise the story will be much better! This is a very old idea that has been stuck in my head and I just recently started writing it. This story takes place after Brisingr and is in Murtagh's POV. I do not own anything in the Inheritance Cycle (other than my characters that I've put in). Also, in reference to the title, I did not name this story after the second book in Twilight. There are reasons that will be revealed in chapters to come. I hope you enjoy it!
"From your face, your eyes
They're burned into me.
You saved me; you gave me
Just what I need."
- Crashed: Daughtry.
Such a simple word but one that spoke volumes. For instance, not only did it make one re-evaluate their own belief, it also made them relive every memory in hopes of pin-pointing the exact time the betrayal started. It made them blame themselves for not being able to pick up on the deceit because truly, betrayal is normally caused by someone we love. So then why did people do it? Why did people feel the need to betray the ones they claimed to love?
That was a question I still hadn't figured out.
And, as I sat on the windowsill in my chambers and stared out at the bleak, afternoon sky, I realized that was a question I didn't want answered. Knowing the reason why wouldn't change the fact that said person did betray you; it would only make you feel sympathy for them – and feeling that towards her would only make me feel that much worse. It would make you understand why that person did what they did and frankly, I didn't want to understand. I didn't want to feel empathetic towards her because, after all, she was the one who betrayed me, regardless of her reasons.
But, even after everything, for me to say that I didn't love her would be a lie.
Did that make me a bad person for not wanting to forgive her? No, I decided, it didn't. I had every right to be angry with her, and even possibly hate her, but try as I might, I couldn't get myself to feel anything but love for her, which made my situation much more frustrating. But as I thought about it, didn't I play a role in the betrayal? Like many things it takes two and she couldn't have done it by herself. I had to be willing to believe her for her lies to even work and even though I trusted few people, she had somehow blind-side me. Even now I wasn't sure how she was able to manage that. But as my mind went unwillingly back, unbidden memories appeared to me and I remembered…
Do not think you have won, Eragon, Saphira. We shall meet again, I promise, and Thorn and I shall defeat you then, for we shall be even stronger than we are now!
With a resigned sigh, I strapped Zar'roc to my belt and slipped into my black, leather boots. Ever since I had received my punishment from Galbatorix for failing to bring Eragon and Saphira back from the Burning Plains and was sent to capture them again at the Varden's camp with a group of soldiers that felt no pain, my thoughts had been haunted by my last encounter with my half-brother. Though at one point in time I did believe we were true brothers, I figured out later that our only connection was through our mother, Selena.
I made my way out of my room and down the bleak corridors. My chamber wasn't too large, when being compared to the king's at least, but it was a fairly good size. From the corridor, you walked into a large living area that held three different sized ruby couches, an oak desk, a stone fireplace, and a big plush rug. Candles that never ceased to burn were hoisted along the walls to give the room light when the sun no longer shined through the large, floor length window on the east wall that overlooked Uru'baen. Two wide, oak doors came off that room; one was to a medium-sized washroom and the other to my bedroom.
My bedroom had a large, canopy bed on the left side of the north wall, a wardrobe parallel to the bed, a long mirror next to the wardrobe, and a desk in the south corner of the room that was littered with scrolls and writings that I had done in my spare time. On the east wall there was a window with a sill that I often looked out of to see Thorn in the large barn. Candles also were hoisted on the walls around the room to give it light, though these extinguished when I fell asleep, and there was a candle on the nightstand next to the bed that I lit at my own will.
All of these extravagant items that I was allowed to have meant nothing to me, especially when my freedom was so fervently kept from me by the beloved King Galbatorix. Although, even though I was chained to the tyrant, one great thing did come from it: my ruby dragon, Thorn. Even through this mess, he kept me from truly falling into the black abyss and becoming the monster everyone thought I was. I really tried to defy Galbatorix but there wasn't much I could do when he knew our true names. It appeared freedom was something we would never be able to get.
As I exited the castle and passed through the large and colorful garden, I came across something that made my blood boil. In-between two tall magnolia trees, a young man, who I identified as Lord Calhoun, had a young woman pressed up against the trunk of one of the trees. I normally wouldn't stop because it wasn't my place to interfere, but with my heightened hearing, I was able to decipher some of the unpleasant conversation between them. The young woman was trying to get away, to get the man before her to understand she didn't want whatever he was offering, but with Calhoun's stubborn mind and forcing hands, she wasn't able to leave.
Leave them alone, Murtagh, Thorn advised firmly. Calhoun has a reputation of bedding young women, you know this. Leave them be.
She doesn't want it, Thorn. As if my legs had a mind of their own, I moved towards them before grabbing Calhoun's shoulder and pulling him away with inhuman force. He stumbled backwards but regained his footing, his face twisted into irritation at the interruption. I shifted slightly so I was standing in front of the girl and stared at him coldly. Calhoun was a young magician, one that Galbatorix had much favor in, so I knew I couldn't kill him.
"Leave her alone," I commanded. Calhoun glowered at me but didn't dare engage me in any sort of contact. He might be Galbatorix's best magician, but I was far more powerful than him and he knew that. His dark brown eyes burned with fury but he said nothing, his angular jaw set. "You can try to take her if you want, but you and I both know who will prevail." I couldn't help the smirk that crossed my face as I said that. I loved being powerful.
The anger vanished from Calhoun's face and a smug smile turned his lips upwards. "You can have her, then. There are always others." He turned on his heel and walked back into the castle without another word. With a heavy exhale, I turned around to face the young woman I had just saved and paused. She looked to be a year younger than me and had a slender frame with high cheek bones and thick, black hair that extended to her middle back. She was clad in a purple colored dress with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows, but the rest of her body was lost when I stared into her uniquely bright, electric blue eyes.
She looked away with a deep blush crossing her pale face, probably from the intensity of my gaze, and shifted on her feet. She nervously tucked a piece of hair behind her ear and stepped away from the tree. "Thank you," she said. Her blue eyes found mine and she offered a small smile. "Thank you for saving me."
"You're welcome," I responded. She bent down, picked up a basket I hadn't noticed before, and balanced it on her hip. She turned to walk away but I hurriedly called out, "What's your name?"
She slowly turned with a thoughtful expression. "Arlet, Lord Murtagh." Her smile never left her countenance as she turned and disappeared inside of the castle. I stayed rooted where I was for a moment longer before resuming my journey to Thorn. When I arrived, his ruby eyes drilled holes into me and impatience leaked through our shared bond. Without saying anything, I grabbed the saddle near the doorway and strapped it to his back. We often went flying in the evening when there was enough light for me to admire the beauty below us but because of the disturbance earlier, I would be lucky to see anything - even with my heightened senses. I climbed onto his back, careful of the pearly white spikes that grew along his back, and strapped myself in.
Let's go, Thorn.
Without further communication, Thorn slithered out of the barn and beat his large, red wings four times to propel himself high in the air. The sun had already gone down but there was still enough light left to make the sky a soft yellow-orange; a gentle, chilly breeze swayed through my clothes and hair, sending a shiver down my spine. If I ever gained my freedom, I imagined it would be something like this. When Thorn and I flew together, we felt the small hint of freedom that kept us fighting. Neither of us wanted to be Galbatorix's servant but until we could change our true name, we were his loyal subjects.
Not exactly loyal, Thorn commented.
Aye, you're right, my friend, I replied. We will never truly be his loyal subjects. As long as there is fire in our hearts, we will always fight for freedom.
Which will always make us dangerous to him. While he may control our bodies, he will never control our spirit. Thorn angled himself back to the barn when the last light had faded. One day soon we will be free of him. I didn't answer back but he knew I hoped that eventually Eragon would be able to free us from our prison.
The next morning, as I perched on the windowsill with one of the books I borrowed from the library, I heard my door open. It really wasn't of any consequence because every morning a servant came in to bring me breakfast and clean my room; however, when I looked up as they entered my bedroom, my mouth hung open slightly. Arlet stood before me, a smile on her face, with a tray of food in her hands. Even with her small height, she stood tall and she had a calm, controlled air around her. Her long, black hair was pulled back into a braid and she wore a different lilac dress, but her eyes, those electric blue eyes, were still as luminous as they were yesterday.
She noticed my confused expression and her smile grew. "Good morning, Lord Murtagh. I've been assigned to be your servant as your previous servant has been moved elsewhere." She placed the tray on the nightstand beside my bed and turned to face me again. She opened her mouth to say something but abruptly closed it instead and turned to begin making the bed. I still hadn't moved from my position when she walked in but I was shocked more than anything else. It really shouldn't have fazed me; I had gotten new servants all the time.
I closed my mouth, put the book down, and stood. "Where did the other servant get moved to?"
"I'm not sure," she answered. She sounded bitter, as if she really knew what happened, but she didn't want to say it.
"You don't act like the other servants," I observed.
She stopped and looked at me with amused eyes. "Perhaps I'm not like other servants." I smiled and she went back to making the bed. I watched her for a moment longer before picking up Zar'roc, an apple from the tray, and leaving my chambers. As I bit into the apple I headed to the barn where Thorn was eating his own breakfast. I didn't have to leave for training until noon and normally Thorn and I spent those few hours before together. He also had training roughly the same time as I did with Shruikan but his sessions ended sooner than mine did.
He met me outside the barn and together we walked around the castle grounds. We were silent at first, content just to let our emotions combine, until I started to think about Arlet. She is different, I told him. It's like she's not even a real servant. Her demeanor was different than any servant I've met. I can't make sense of it. She talks and looks at me like I'm not the monster everyone thinks I am.
Perhaps she doesn't believe the rumors that are spread about us.
They aren't rumors, Thorn, I said. Most of the things actually happened. To everyone, I am evil. They know it; we know it. A tendril of smoke rose from his nostril. Even you cannot deny it. Everything we've done has been spread and probably magnified. We are evil to them. To prove my point, we came across a servant who bowed in fear and darted away as quickly as he could. I looked at Thorn and gestured to the boy. See my point? He didn't agree with me, but he didn't disagree either so I took that as I won that argument.
We walked for a while longer before we each left to arrive at our training sessions on time. I had been lucky enough to receive personal trainings with the beloved king and as I drew Zar'roc, I realized this would probably be one of those days that ended with me getting in even more trouble. Galbatorix stood before me with those dark brown eyes calculating every move I made and he looked more irritated than normal. Maybe the Varden did something I hadn't heard about yet.
I watched as he removed the golden brooch and his red velvet cloak crumbled to the ground. He drew his stolen Rider's sword and stared at me. He might've been over a hundred years old, but I knew better than to believe he was fragile. He wasn't big by any means but his lean body was probably stronger than any elf's. A wicked smirk stretched across his face as he waited for me to make my move. After a few more seconds, I lashed out and he met the blow with equal speed and strength. Sometimes on a good day I could hold my own for awhile before he gained the upper hand. Every day I trained and every day my endurance grew but in the end, he always managed to beat me by some maneuver I had never seen before.
Today was no different. During our match, he managed to disarm me, knock me to the ground, and point the tip of his sword at my neck. He scowled down at me and removed his sword as he jeered, "You are still weak. How can you expect to defeat your dim-witted brother if you can't even beat me in a simple match?" I bit back my tongue to keep from saying anything and slowly stood as I grabbed Zar'roc. "It's almost embarrassing that a dragon hatched for someone so little as you." If he was trying to incite my anger, he did a great job. I lashed out in a blinded rage and he easily blocked it. "Come now, Murtagh, you can do better." I knew he was taunting me but for some reason it only inflated my resentment. I lashed out again and this time we did end up fighting in a match that was pretty close.
Until he, once again, did a trick I wasn't expecting and dislodged my sword from my hand.
"I think we're done here," he declared. His voice sent chills up my spine and he sheathed his sword, turned, and went into the castle without glancing back at me. It was normal to end the day with magic and he knew I would follow him; I had to follow him. With a sigh, I retrieved Zar'roc and followed him into the dismal castle.
Around nightfall I was finally released to go back to my chambers. My mood had decreased, I had numerous cuts, and I was barely able to make it to my room without falling asleep in the winding corridors. Thorn knew I was too tired and irritated to come see him, so he didn't press the matter, but he did his best to soothe me as I climbed the stairs and entered my chambers. Shock grew over my irritation to see Arlet still there and she greeted me with a smile as I closed the door. I was tired and aggravated but being in her presence seemed to dim those feelings.
"Your dinner is on your bed," she told me as she finished polishing one of the silver wall-candelabras. "There is also a tonic for your cuts." She put the rag over her shoulder and returned her attention to me. "I know you probably don't want to eat right now, but I think it might help you. Especially the tonic." How had she known about my cuts? Or that I never ate after training?
"Why do you think I'm not hungry?" I inquired as I went into my bedroom and sat on my bed; it was all I could do to not fall asleep immediately. She followed me and leaned against the wall opposite of me, shrugging. I looked at the tray of food and nearly smiled. A bowl of noodles, a chunk of bread, and an orange had been placed on the tray; the exact food I found myself wanting to eat. There also was a cup of water and a stemware glass that was half-full with a thick, yellow substance. "What is this?" I indicated to the glass.
"It's the tonic," she replied. "It tastes horrible, but it's good for you." She stood up straight. "I'll leave you to eat. Please just drink the tonic. I promise you'll be able to tell a difference in the morning." There was something in her smile that told me I could believe her and I downed it in front of her. She had been right; it tasted horrible. She laughed at my expression. "I told you it was horrible. Good night, Lord Murtagh."
She turned to leave but paused when I corrected her, "Murtagh. Call me Murtagh." She turned to face me and her smile was compassionate, rather than amused. "My name is one thing he hasn't taken from me." She looked down at her feet and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear.
"There are many things he cannot take from you, Murtagh," Arlet responded as her eyes met mine. "Your name is only one of them." With that, she left me to ponder her words.
Now, before you review or leave this story, there are things I need to say. There are reasons for why Arlet acts the way she does but they will not be revealed for awhile. If you stick with this story, everything from now until then will make complete and total sense, promise. As for Murtagh's "sudden mood lift", that too will be revealed in chapters to come.