Disclaimer: I do not own the owned.

Author's Note: First off, I would like to thank you all very much for your reviews. They mean a lot to me and push this fanfic forward. I have many cool things planned, so while I apologise again for no lemons in this chapter they will come – rest assured. I was really going to write a lemon in this chapter, but the story just wrote itself. I realise it is a little intense and overly-dramatic, but I hope it's not too painful or cheesy to read. I rarely get a burst of story-writing-brilliance (I hope it's brilliance) like this so I feel reluctant to change anything in it. This is the first step in The Ritual anyhow so no need to worry. More AxE lies ahead along with some action and drama in future chapters. So now without anything more to say and any further ado, allow me to present you with the next instalment in my all-new AxE fanfic!

P.S. Last A/N for now but normally chapters won't usually be this long. This was just an exception since it seemed to write itself. Enjoy!

Chapter 3: In Which "The Ritual" Is Begun

Eragon and Arya sat opposite each other in an empty clearing. War raged on all about them, nations versus empire. Eragon's own traitorous half-brother was probably out there now wrecking havoc on the Varden who would be helpless to stop them without their Dragon Rider. The elves were most likely working their way up to join the Varden in Beletona, taking on all the smaller towns and military outposts.

The dwarves, Eragon reasoned, would be marching onto Drass-Leona. Being one of the larger cities, a whole army of battle-axe and club-wielding dwarves would be more than enough against them as opposed to a weary and bedraggled army of rebel humans. Drass-Leona was the last city that stood between Uru'Baen and freedom so it was the main one. The dwarves, Eragon thought, would most likely lay siege to the city.

Being master builders, they could forge siege towers in no time at all and make quick work of the city's defences while the Varden, elves, and Urgals took care of the rest of the Empiric forces along the way. Then they would meet up and lay siege on Uru'Baen while waiting for Eragon, Saphira, and Arya to join them. Eragon had learned as much and pieced together the rest while scrying Nasuada.

He had informed her, albeit briefly and with much embarrassment on his behalf due to the smirk on his liege-lord's face, just what they were doing in Du Weldenvarden. While she was not too pleased that they had made the decision without her approval or even Arya's mother's at least, she relented knowing that they would need all the power they could get to fight against the Dark King.

Eragon was relieved to hear that Murtagh and Thorn had not showed up contrary to his first opinion. Elvish mages reasoned that it would take two and a half weeks to heal Thorn's tale and Murtagh and Thorn's other injuries, not to mention travel on an exhausted Dragon and Rider as well. So it was that Eragon went to sleep in his old master's hut while Saphira rested outside.

Eragon felt bad for leaving his friends to fight, but he had done enough already. He had lost so many people in the cursed war that he just wanted to forget about it. He had almost lost his friendship with Arya and had even been separated from his dragon for something as stupid and fickle as an election. Such a fate could be changed by the war or even an uprising or mutiny for that matter.

Still, Eragon was glad the dwarves were on their side and did not hold too much of a grudge against them. All of that and more was forgotten by now, as he and Arya were meditating in a sunny glade not far from the hut. Meditation was the first step in "The Ritual" and he had found it surprisingly relaxing, so much so that he soon forgot all about the war and everyone else.

Well, everyone except for Saphira and Arya of course. Those two were acutely in his mind, so much so that they glowed brightly like an orb of sheer energy pulsating and shimmering as if alive. They were the only consciousnesses Eragon sensed in his mind and he did not care for the rest. The first part of "The Ritual" was to join his mind with his partner, and that was what he was attempting to work on. He was sitting cross-legged with his hands resting gently on his knees, palms upwards and breathing deeply.

His eyes were closed but he could still feel Arya's presence near his own. He could sense her closeness and was nearly overwhelmed by her familiar scent of breathtaking pine-needles. The delightful aroma spread through Eragon with a warmth of its own, calming every fibber in his being and relaxing him like no amount of sleep could. Soon, even Saphira's orb diminished and all that he cared about was Arya.

Normally, Saphira would have been pissed about this but she had readily agreed because Eragon's power-boost due to the ritual would enhance her own power tremendously. She couldn't wait to use it against that mongrel, egg-breaker, whelp of a dragon who Murtagh rode. She didn't care that she was the last dragon on earth anymore. Thorn had slain Oromis and Glaedr, even injuring Eragon before.

They deserved to die, if nothing more than to put them out of their misery for being name-slaves to Galbatorix. Eragon didn't know what to think about that paradox but he didn't care right now. All that mattered to him was Arya and he sought out her presence earnestly and eagerly like a weary man in a desert, parched from thirst and reaching out for a drop of crystal cold water.

The next step of the ritual was almost underway and Eragon felt a swoop in his stomach at the thought, for he could tell the ritual quickening already. His mind was moving, the orb of his consciousness and it was getting closer and closer to Arya's by the minute. He felt a warmth and passion flowing from the orb – whether it was from love or friendship he did not know.

Whatever the case, he shrugged that curiosity aside and focussed on the task at hand. Never before had he been allowed access to Arya's mind like this, and this was not a normal form of telepathy. It was a Mind Meld or as close to one as one could get. It was merging his mind with Arya's own so that they were one the same. Outside, in the real world, they would look like statues – rigid and stiff, unmoving as if dead.

But within, deep within the recesses of their minds, they were more alive then they ever could possibly be in the world of the living. They were about to enter a different plain of existence – an alternate reality, another dimension. It was an ethereal form of being where they were neither living nor dead. They were no longer human, elf, dwarf, man nor woman, nor any kind of beast.

They were simply power. And when they connected a shockwave was supposed to flow through them unleashing their joined power within each of them. It was the first, technically the second step, in the ritual that would grant unlimited, god-like power to Eragon and Arya, this case Saphira as well since she was connected to Eragon through their Dragon Rider Bond.

Saphira's power would not be as great as Eragon and Arya's but it would still be tremendous due to the stunning amount of energy that would possess Eragon if all went well. The young Dragon Rider did not know how any of this was possible as it all seemed far too surreal and unbelievably far-fetched to exist, but it did for Eragon was approaching Arya – within their minds – at an alarmingly rapid rate.

They breezed towards each other swiftly and paused when they were only inches away from one another, as if for approval. When each gave their 'nod' of acceptance, they braced themselves and merged. What happened next Eragon could not quite describe properly to anyone. So great was the amount of power and pleasure and pain that flooded through him that he could not sum it up in earthly words.

Carnal expressions no longer held weight for the amount of emotions that rolled through him, bubbling up like hot, boiling acid deep within the bowls of his mind and threatening to explode all around him. Only the gods would know what would happen to Mother Nature if that were to take place. Then again, if gods were to exist they would be gods or close enough as gods in any case.

The strength and might that was them was growing so powerful that Eragon was almost intoxicated with it. The force that flowed through him and Arya, seeping into Saphira as well, was so vibrant and moving that it sent an electric shock throughout all of him nearly knocking him off his feet. If he had not been attached to Arya's conciseness and weighted down by the sense of purpose and destined for the usage of this power he would have been literally and figuratively blown away.

He would have been knocked off his feet and thrown a hundred feet into the air never to return. He could float in outer space amongst the stars and the heavens and never return. Hells, he could even become a star if he so wished. But he knew what this power was for and he had to remind himself over and over again.

He was now so thankful for Saphira's strong presence as his dragon would never succumb to that power. She was lucky enough to not have received enough of the magical energy so that she could taste its perfection but not become contaminated by it. Again, Eragon realised that was another very good reason for sex.

Oddly enough, now that he thought about it he was no longer ashamed or embarrassed by the thought. It was perfectly normal in this case. Indeed, it was actually needed to keep them sane and human – or as human as they could get in any rate. They would have to have sex as much as possible to retain their sense of the physical and emotional, so that they would not be carried away by their awesome power.

Eragon and Arya would have been the most powerful beings in the entire world if it were not for the Mad King's Eldunarya. Also, Eragon and Arya did have limits. There was only so much of the power that they could use before they went insane and became no longer human. They would become gods, but mad gods.

They would no longer be capable of feeling emotion or making sense of rhyme and reason. Thought and speech would not matter to them – only being, only living, only death. They would become random forces of power that would abide by their own whims and wishes, not caring for anyone or the rest of the world.

That again was the reason for sex as sex was an act of love and love was care – to care was the reason for their usage of power so that they could destroy Galbatorix for once and for all, saving the ones they loved and cared about. But in doing so, they risked becoming tyrants and mad creatures far worse than the devil they struggled to destroy.

Eragon had not particularly believed the manuscript when he read it in "The Ritual" but now he could see why. All the power that he and Arya felt when they were joined in the ritual was only scratching the surface of their ability. It was as if the reservoirs of magic had been opened and all the energy available in the entire universe had cascaded in torrents through the floodgates within their being.

Eragon did not know how long he could keep up this mind meld for if he did not cut the connection the power would overcome him and drive him insane before he even used it. Not wanting to become the enemy he strove so hard to vanquish, he focussed on closing the floodgates and stanching the flow. It was a hard thing to do and his body wracked in pain as he stood against the waves of power.

He broke out into convulsions and sweat was rolling off him as if he had fought in a battle using a berserker rage. His eyes rolled in his head and his whole body trembled but he persevered. His breathing ragged and gasping, he latched on to the only things that mattered the most to him in the world – Saphira and Arya. He thought of his need to be with his other half, with his dragon and how important she was to him.

He thought of Arya and how much he longed to have a future with her. Visions, memories, images – all those of the raven-haired elf and azure she-dragon swam before his mind's eyes as his life flashed before his eyes. They rippled in and out of being like flashbacks as they were, and only strengthened Eragon's resolve to succeed. But Eragon was weakening, the ritual was ending.

It was so close to the end that Eragon could have sworn he wouldn't make it. Strangely enough, he did not feel the least bit worried or afraid as he always thought he would of death. He only felt a twinge of regret that he would not see his loved ones or free them from the tyrannical king, from their oppressor. But then, he was pleasantly surprised when a new vision encompassed him. It was of Saphira and Arya.

His great and mighty dragon, the Queen of the Skies, stood proudly before him on a wide grassy plain. All around him, the land was at peace. The sun shone brilliantly, lighting up the sheer beauty of nature that was Alagaësia in a time of no war, sorrow, or death. No sense of agony or pain was anywhere near him and he felt taken aback by the peace and happiness that was shared between him and his two best friends.

He gazed up at Saphira, smiling warmly and she gave him a toothy, dragonesque smile in return. His gaze was drawn upwards and he arched an eyebrow with mild curiosity to see Arya sitting on her back. She wore that soft green dress when she left the Varden to search the Empire for him. Her hair was free flowing and danced in the wind, as care-free as a small child.

Her emerald green eyes pulsed with victory, warmth and love shocking Eragon to the core. Smiling brightly at him, she stooped down and offered a hand to pull him up. Eragon hesitated, reluctant to leave the immense beauty and majesty of nature that surrounded him. Somehow, he believed that he would never see a spot as beautiful as this – as the grassy hill they stood on, surrounded by a lush forest of evergreen trees behind Saphira.

A crystal clear brook bubble its way at the base of the hill, meandering throughout a mesmerizing meadow along its careless way towards a city. Surprise shot through Eragon for he saw that it was the City of Feinster but no longer was it a smouldering ruin, discarded by the ragtag army that was the Varden. It was rebuilt superbly and glimmered like a diamond on a hill, glowing with the rays of the sun and basking in its warmth.

With his enhanced elvish senses, he could see tiny, miniature people moving around the entire city the size of ants. The city was small from his vantage point but even he could tell that it looked ten times better and more alive then it had ever been in all of time. A sense of supreme happiness and joy radiated from it that made it hard for Eragon not to smile.

He cracked a wry grin himself and returned his gaze to Arya who was still waiting patiently, lovingly for him with her hand outstretched. Eragon hesitated no longer and grasped her soft white hand, marvelling at the warmth that flowed through their intertwined finger tips. Arya grinned down back at him, her lips quirking into a lopsided smirk.

Without taking a breath, she pulled him up and Eragon swung easily onto the saddle behind her as if from years of experience – years obviously shared with Arya. How that had happened, Eragon could not tell. Was this a dream of sorts, a vision from the future? He did not know, nor did he care.

So enraptured with Arya was he that he put all else outside him and wrapped his arms snugly around her waist, bearing his head in her shoulder. He could feel Arya smile in front of him and grinned against her as she rubbed his leg affectionately. Saphira let loose a roar of triumph accompanied by a torrent of flames and smoke. Eragon felt his heart leap into his throat as she took off into the air...

...And then everything went black.

To Be Continued!

A/N: *takes a deep breath* So how did I do? Was that too painful to read? Or okay? Hope it wasn't too awful, anyhow. There are a few things I gotta say as some stuff really inspired this chapter and I only feel it's right to mention them. They are...

Percy Jackson and the Olympians – Book 5 – The Last Olympian, the part where Percy Jackson takes a dip in the River Styx to become invincible and pictures his love interest Annabeth Chase as an anchor to the mortal world (hope I didn't copy it too much as I only realised I was inspired by that afterwards)

Star Trek: Enterprise, a few earlier episodes where the Vulcan Ambassador T-Poll (Ring a bell anybody? *cough* Arya *cough, cough*) gets a forced mind meld with some other creepy Vulcan stalker dude and some other mind melds later on with different people (not T-Poll, other guys)

The Wheel of Time – Forgot the title of the book, however there was one very similar scene I'm ashamed to say that inspired this now that I think about it

The Harry Potter Fandom, for inspiring this commonly used power-boosting ritual usually with Harry and Hermione over there at least

Stargate: SG1, Don't ask me how this inspired me as I don't know. It's just that I have been watching it recently while waiting for Skyrim (the upcoming Elder Scrolls game) to be released. It's pretty much stuck in my mind now and pretty interesting, so I guess some of that rubbed off on that chapter

Well, that about sums it up. There are a few more sources I took this part from but I forgot. I don't own any of them and that goes for them all. Hopefully this wasn't too dramatic to read and the next chapter should contain the promised lemon but I make no promises. You see, I start out with an idea in mind and write towards that but usually the chapter seems to take over and write itself. That's how it went today at least. Whatever the case, I hope you like it as that's probably all for today.

See ya!

~ This story was brought to you by, The Winter Wizard