Midnight had fallen on Thunderstone. The trainee riders had long since gone and everything was quiet. All that was soon to change as events were about to be put into motion that would decide the fate of Alagaesia far across the great ocean.
Leandros turned to his companions and asked "Now are you all ready for this? As soon as I remove Glaedr from his pedestal the alarm will be triggered and although the Elf-Wardens and wild dragons have agreed to ignore it this time Teris is more than like to come flying here."
"I am prepared," Zhog intoned. He was clad in heavy iron armour and a brown cloak over his shoulders, his head was kept bare as urgals hated putting anything over their horns.
"And I as well morning-rider," Reiastr said, using Leandros's nickname with a slight grin. Reiastr was a dwarven rider who hailed from Dugrimst Vrenshrrgn. She had a love for battle which could only be matched by Zhog. She was wearing a set of steel armour complete with a helm, which bore the hallmarks of being crafted by dwarven smiths, and a grey cloak.
Leandros smiled back. For his part he wore a vest of chainmail and a set of leather armour, as well as a hooded cloak of dark orange on his back. "Wait here while I get Glaedr," he said. "And it may be a good idea if you mount your dragons, we'll need to leave in a hurry." With that he turned around and headed into the vault of souls.
Taking their friend's advice, Zhog climbed onto Jurazh while Reiastr mounted Iormungand.
Leandros moved quickly between the shelves of Eldunari and quickly reached Glaedr's. He reached his mind out to brush against the ancient Dragon's. Are you ready master?
I am ready Leandros. He replied. As soon as you remove me from my pedestal you have to be ready to run as the alarm will be triggered immediately.
Understood. With that Leandros reached out and lifted the Eldunari carefully, placing it into a leather sack that had been enchanted with a few wards protect it from damage. He slung the sack onto his shoulder and sprinted to the entrance. As soon as he left the cave he raced towards Dawn and placed the sack into one of her travelling bags.
He turned to his fellow riders and said "Let's go before Teris shows up."
"He's already here," Reiastr commented dryly, looking over Leandros's shoulder.
He turned and sure enough there was Svell'Hamr flying towards them with Teris on his back. The white dragon was also flying in formation with a pale pink dragon.
Leandros smirked. "And it looks like Isabella is accompanying him."
"Teris seems to be using magic to get here faster than normal," Zhog observed. "Getting away will be difficult."
Leandros thought for a moment, weighing up the options. At the current velocity they were travelling at it would be very hard to take off and build up enough speed to get away from them. That left him with one option.
"We try to talk with them first," He said after a few seconds. "Try one last time to reason with him."
"And if that doesn't work?" Reiastr asked raising an eyebrow.
"We knock 'em out," He replied simply.
"Nice and simple," Zhog said, grinning broadly. Reiastr smiling lightly.
Then, contacting Dawn mentally, he said: You had better stay out of the fighting for now; I haven't yet completed the wards of Glaedr's bag.
Dawn bristled at the idea of sitting on the side-lines but quietly agreed.
Svell'Hamr landed with a loud thud and he and his rider looked down imperiously at them. Isabella landed shortly afterwards and sneered down at Leandros from the top of Rose.
"Really Leandros? Stealing an elder? And here I thought you couldn't sink any lower," She said contemptuously.
"Please, it's not stealing, more like liberating," Leandros said, rolling his eyes. "He agreed to accompany us."
"And I thought I made it abundantly clear that no one was to leave the island," Teris said, his eyes narrowing at the three rebellious riders, particularly Leandros.
"Technically, when you think about it our master only left you in charge of rider training," Leandros said, a smirk slipping onto his face.
"What do you mean by that exactly?" Teris said, still managing to keep his voice level.
"I mean that as far as I'm concerned you don't have authority to keep me here. Therefore I am going to disregard your orders," Leandros replied coolly.
"You dare?" Isabella exclaimed hotly.
"Yes Isabella, I do dare because right now Eragon is being tortured to death and we're sitting around being political about it. Well, we aren't sitting around any longer, we're going to do what we should've days ago and go after him."
Teris dismounted, drew his sword, and began to walk towards Leandros saying "I'm afraid I can't let you leave, if you don't come back I will have to keep you here by force."
There was a whooshing sound followed by a thud as Zhog (who had leapt off his dragon) swung his claymore at Teris, who dodged, causing the sword to hit the ground instead.
Teris put his foot on the sword, keeping it stuck in the ground, and slashed at Zhog, aiming to injure his right arm. Alas, this was blocked by Reiastr who had recently leapt down from her own dragon.
While this was happening Svell'Hamr also leapt into action, attempting to get to Dawn—who currently held Glaedr's Eldunari—but got pounced on by Iormungand, knocking him onto his side as he tried to defend himself from the bites and slashes the grey dragon was administering to him. He kicked Iormungand off and took to the air, daring the other dragon to follow him, which she did, and the two once again began to clash biting, slashing and breathing fire at each other in an aerial display of brilliance.
Isabella leapt off Rose and began to rush to aid Teris but Leandros blocked her off. Zhog and Reiastr were struggling to defeat Teris as it was, they didn't need Isabella rushing in and making things harder for them. Glaring at him, Isabella drew her rider sword, which was in the form of a pale pink rapier. She lunged and Leandros only just managed to draw Aiedail, his own sword, in time to parry. Isabella attacked with precision and speed, making it difficult for him to counter attack, but it was not his aim to win the sword fight, but rather to win the mental one. All the while their swords were clashing he was trying to fight his way into her mind, but she was focused, and it was proving difficult to find any weaknesses. He parried a blow from her while at the same time kicking her shin, hoping that she hadn't had enough time to put on armour. She hadn't. As she flinched slightly from the pain in her leg Leandros used this as an opportunity start offensively swinging his cutlass down upon her, forcing her to block, and causing their blades to lock together.
"Come on Isabella, we both know you're only here because of Teris," He said panting. "We both know he'll never look at you twice."
Isabella pushed him away and began to furiously renew her assault. "Well, we can't all be like you and your pointy eared little whore now can we?" She said angrily.
He knew he struck a low blow even if Isabella wasn't his most favourite person in the world but his words had their desired effect and her mental barriers went down for a fraction of a second. He only had enough time to evaluate her wards before she threw her barriers back up, a look of horror on her face. He passed Aiedail to his left hand and raised his right just as she tried to do the same in an attempt to counter whatever spell he tried to unleash upon her. He got there first and let out a fast stream of words in the ancient language, his palm glowed and she collapsed onto the ground unconscious.
At this Rose let out a roar of anger and began to charge at Leandros, but before Dawn could get between them, Zhog's dragon Jurazh leapt between them instead and let out a deep snarling growl. Rose was a lot smaller than Jurazh and she halted, briefly letting out a snarl of her own.
"Stop!" Leandros said. "We don't want any more conflict today. Please, your rider is just asleep, take her and go."
The dragon glared at him for a moment before gently picking up Isabella in her claws and flying off. Swivelling her head around one last time, she gave Jurazh and Dawn an expression that suggested that this wasn't over.
Leandros looked over the others and his heart sank when he saw what was occurring. Zhog and Reiastr were covered in multiple cuts and bruises and they were panting from exhaustion, Teris however remained completely unscathed. It was stark evidence that in terms of combat Teris was truly the strongest rider of their generation.
Zhog made a wild swing at Teris's head. Teris ducked and slammed his shoulder into the urgal's gut, knocking the wind out of him. Before he could act further, Reiastr struck from behind, attempting to slash his lower back, but Teris had heard the clanking of her armour and sidestepped the attack, planting a kick into the side of the dwarf's head. She fell over stunned, her helmet blocking most of the elf's strike. Zhog saw red at this and, summoning all his strength, brought his claymore down upon Teris, who only just managed to dodge the blow, and slammed the pommel of his sword into the back of his head.
The victor stepped over his fallen opponents and began to walk towards Leandros, a passive expression on his face. Jurazh growled and made to walk towards Teris, but Leandros placed a gentle hand on the dragon's leg.
"Let me handle this," He said quietly.
It wasn't that he had any particular urge to fight the elf, but he knew that if Teris were to go up against an angry dragon he would probably die, and whatever the case Jurazh backed down, and while still growling slightly, seemed content to watch Leandros fight. Leandros sheathed his cutlass and began to walk towards Teris, throwing a quick glance into the sky where the dragons were still fighting.
"Have you decided to surrender?" Teris asked, surprised.
Leandros merely smiled, raised his hand and shouted "Brisingr!" and a ball of fire shot out of his palm.
Teris quickly muttered a counter spell and the fire merely surrounded him before dissipating. When the fire had gone Teris looked around for Leandros but he had seemingly vanished.
"Hiding from me Leandros?" Teris asked his lip curling. "Too cowardly to face me in an even fight?"
When Leandros spoke his voice seemed to come from several different directions clearly the work of a spell. "I prefer to think of it as being too clever to face you in an even fight. Everyone here knows that you're the strongest rider when it comes to swordsmanship while I'm probably the weakest and in battle, it helps if you use your strengths while hindering your opponent from using there's."
Teris was turning around, trying to figure out exactly where Leandros was hiding. Suddenly, several rocks flew at him from several directions. He managed to dodge most of them, except for one which struck him in the side of the temple. The elf staggered, but managed to regain his footing, and pointed his sword at the area the rock came from, shouting "Kveykva!" A bolt of lightning shot out of his sword and struck the ground with explosive force.
"Now, now don't get cross," Leandros said, his voice again coming from multiple directions. "Just because you can't figure out where I am."
Teris drew his dagger and closed his eyes, relaxing his entire body, before then whirling around and throwing the dagger. There was a cry and Leandros reappeared on his knees with the dagger embedded in his shoulder.
"How?" Leandros asked, gritting his teeth and getting shakily back on his feet.
"You did an exemplary job at confusing my visual and auditory senses," Teris said, a look of satisfaction on his face. "But you failed to confuse my sense of smell, and humans smell disgusting, powerfully revolting."
He began to walked up to Leandros and raised a hand as if he meant to backhand Leandros before a an arrow appeared out of nowhere sliced across Teris's cheek and flew past Leandros's head. Teris clutched his cheek and turned his head to see Amethea standing there, wearing light leather armour and a purple hooded cloak with the hood up obscuring her silver hair from view. Her arms were bare except for the customary arm and finger guards needed for archery. Her bow was out but she hadn't bothered to notch another arrow.
"So I have to fight you as well don't I?" Teris said, walking towards the female elf.
"Not really," She said coolly.
"Oh? Care to tell me why?"
"The arrowhead was coated in poison."
Teris stopped in his tracks, putting a hand to his bleeding cheek, a look of shock and horror crossing his face as his vision blurred. He reached a hand out to Amethea and fell forwards unmoving. Amethea stepped past Teris and walked towards Leandros who was wearing an expression similar to the one that had just been on Teris's face.
"You do realise I didn't actually kill him right?" Amethea asked, arching an eyebrow. "I simply coated it in a sleeping draft."
Leandros's immediately shifted back to normal "Oh yes of course, I was well aware of that. That was a good shot by the way."
"No it wasn't," She glared "I only hit one of you."
He swallowed hard and was about to say something when there was a roar and Svell'Hamr, having slipped past Iormungand, dived down toward Amethea. He was quickly intercepted by a large purple dragon; Nea, Amethea's dragon. Svell'Hamr was knocked from the sky and was sent crashing into the ground. He quickly got to his feet and suddenly became aware that he was surrounded by four dragons, three of whom were quite annoyed at being kept out of the action.
Amethea sighed "Just take your idiot rider and go. He'll wake up in a couple of hours."
The white dragon glared at them all before picking up Teris in his claws and flying off, growling at the other dragons who had begun laughing at him.
"So" Leandros began "why did you tell Teris he was poisoned?"
Amethea shrugged "Thought it would be amusing… and you!" She whirled around and slapped Leandros across the face, not at her full strength of course, that would probably break his jaw but enough to leave an angry red mark. "How could you leave me behind on such an important mission?"
"I-I didn't think…" He trailed off when he saw the look of hurt on her face. "I'm sorry; I didn't want to worry you."
"Oh, and heading off to uncharted territory that is inhabited by Ra'Zac and a Shade isn't supposed to worry me!" She turned away from him.
"Then I'm sorry." He apologised, a note of genuine regret in his voice. "I should've consulted you first but I was worried you might try to stop me."
She turned back to him and her face softened when she saw the dagger still embedded in his shoulder. She gave him a questioning look and he gestured for her to continue. Gently she eased the blade out of his shoulder and quickly, but gently, placed her hand on the wound muttering "Waise Heill."
"I'm going with you." She said afterwards, quietly looking down at the ground.
"I'd be honoured to have you along." He replied with a small smile.
"I wasn't asking."
Leandros's grin widened and he was about to say something when from across the hill he heard "Well, isn't that cute?"
He twisted his head sharply and saw Zhog, Reiastr and the dragons watching their exchange. Reiastr was sitting cross legged with her head cocked to one side and Zhog was smoking a pipe. Amethea's face turned a light shade of pink and she took a step away from Leandros.
"How long have you lot been sitting there?" She asked accusingly.
"Long enough," said Zhog, exhaling a puff of smoke "Good work on Teris by the way, he's a tricky little bastard that one."
If you younglings are done I think it would be a good idea to get going. Glaedr's deep voice echoed in their heads.
Amethea turned to look incredulously at Leandros. "You stole an elder?"
I prefer the word "liberated". Glaedr grumbled, copying the pirate. Now quick, let us be off!
Right, sorry Glaedr. Leandros thought back to him as he climbed upon Dawn, the other's quickly mounting their own dragons.
Before they took off however Leandros turned to Amethea and said "Thea? Do humans really smell that bad?"
Amethea just laughed.
First of all I want to apologise for not updating for a while, I've had a lot happening the past six months but I'm back now and will be updating ASAP.
Secondly this is my first attempt at writing action scenes so I'm not entirely sure if I've done it well so please go easy on me :3.
Next chapter will most likely be from Arya's point of view and may or may not include another Eragon/Saphira vision we'll have to wait and see. In regards to a chapter from Murtagh's point of view I do have one planned it will probably be posted after the next one so stay tuned.
In regards to the new riders, would you like me to continue to do a few chapters from their point of view here and there or would you prefer it if I focused on Alagaesia for a while?