A/N: Hello everybody, some of you may be reading this due to receiving an email notification that I posted a new story, to those I say: do not worry, I will still be working on my other stories. I have always wanted to write a fic for the Inheritance Cycle but wanted to wait until after the last book was released.
To those who have not read my work before: I hope you enjoy what I plan on doing here. Read, Review, but above all… Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Only saying it once: Any characters, names, places, etc from the Inheritance Cycle are property of Christopher Paolini. Any original characters are my own.
It was a cool, late autumn day in Carvahall, the sun had started its downward arc a few hours before; it would be evening soon. The last of the harvest had been brought in the previous day, and the townspeople were now preparing for the Harvest Feast, a celebration for a bountiful year.
Roran stood atop one of the walls of the modest keep they had built after the fall of Galbatorix and Nasuada had named him the Earl of Palancar Valley. He sighed as he thought back to those days… it felt like a lifetime ago. He gazed out over the town they had rebuilt with a sense of pride. This time around Carvahall had been built with a strong wall around its perimeter, a lesson Roran's generation had learned the hard way.
He saw several of the younger men, one of which being his son Conall, helping to construct the massive oak tables that were used for celebrations, and longed to be down there lending a hand. Unfortunately he had not been able to help much these past few days; he had injured his back while helping in the fields with the harvest, an old complaint from the war acting up. He sighed yet again as he thought about how much he had aged in the last forty years.
He was still a physically powerful man, with an intimidating presence. He retained his muscular build, yet the creases of age had begun to show some time ago. His eyes were still fierce, but had gained a more distant look. And the first signs of gray had entered both his hair and his beard.
As his back twinged he placed a hand on the aching area and muttered with a chuckle, "Not what I used to be… I really am getting old."
"We're all getting old," a female voice said from behind him, and he smiled as he felt two arms wrap around him from behind.
He turned to embrace Katrina, his beloved, as he replied, "That we are. Some more gracefully than others." He was referring to how Katrina still looked ten or fifteen years younger than she was: she had fewer wrinkles than other women her age, and her red hair was only now starting to lose is vibrancy.
Katrina giggled slightly at this before replying, "Flatterer."
"So what brings you up here? I thought you were helping the others prepare the food," Roran asked after a moment.
"Arya just contacted me. They just left Ceunon and should be here in a few hours," Katrina answered with a smile.
Roran's smile broadened at this news and he exclaimed, "That's great! It's been too long since we've seen them." Arya had two-way scryed them a few days ago to inform them that Ismira, their daughter, would be visiting for the Harvest Feast and that Arya had decided to accompany her.
Roran and Katrina were immensely proud of their daughter. When she was ten years old, Arya had brought a few of the dragon eggs sent to her by Eragon to Carvahall on her way around Alagaësia. When Ismira had asked her parents if she could touch the egg with a deep, purple color, they had no way of knowing that the egg would hatch for her. Arya and Fìrnen had been just as shocked as Roran and Katrina. Roran could still hear the words Arya had said that day, 'I don't understand what it is about this family and dragons…'
After the dragon had hatched and bonded with Ismira, Arya had sent the rest of the eggs she had with her ahead with Vanir and the other elves that had accompanied her so that she could stay in Carvahall until Ismira's dragon was large enough to make the trip to Ellesméra. After Ismira's dragon learned to speak with her mind, for it was female, she had named her Ianthe. The fact that a dragon had hatched for Ismira only made her younger brother, Conall, look up to her even more.
Now, thirty years later, Ismira is one of the most accomplished of the new Riders. As Roran had learned from Arya, Ismira, and Nasuada over the years, only a dozen of the large cache of eggs had hatched over the forty years since their recovery. Four of them had hatched for humans, three of them for Elves, two for Dwarves, and one had hatched for an Urgal. The Urgal Rider oddly enough was Nar Garzhvog's son.
Roran was snapped out of his thoughts by Katrina shaking his shoulder. "Sorry, got lost in thought there," Roran apologized.
"Don't worry about it," Katrina replied as she pulled him down for a kiss, which he happily returned. After the kiss ended Katrina said, "I'm going to go back to helping the others, you should let everyone know that there are going to be two dragons here shortly."
"Aye… that I should," Roran replied as he moved towards the stairs.
On his way down to the main part of the town he came across his son's wife, Sara, and their ten year old son Garron. Sara was a beautiful woman with long blonde air and dark green eyes. Garron strongly resembled how Roran himself had looked as a child, almost his double. The young boy saw him first and with a shout of, "Grandpa!" ran up to him.
Roran's face erupted into a huge grin as he knelt down a bit, caught his grandson under the arms, and then lifted him up over his head for a brief moment. "And how are you today Garron?" Roran asked as he set him back down.
"I'm good grandpa. I wanted to help dad but he said I wasn't old enough yet," the boy replied sadly.
"Well those tables are very heavy, I don't think you're strong enough to help yet, but soon you will be," Roran said encouragingly.
As the boy smiled again Roran turned to Sara and greeted her, "And how are you doing today?"
"I'm well today Roran, how is your back?" she asked in return.
Roran put his hand on the aching area of his back and sighed again as he replied, "It's better, still aches but better. Nothing I can do about it though, I'm getting old." He ended this with a chuckle before adding, "That reminds me: how is your grandfather?" Sara was Baldor's daughter; the grandfather Roran was referring to was Horst. Horst was the oldest resident of Carvahall, the last remaining member of the generation before Roran's.
Sara's face took on a somber smile as she replied, "He's as well as can be expected. He misses grandmother terribly, father tells me that some days he can't get him to talk. But he did overcome that cough he had."
Roran nodded as he said, "That's good. Well I should get on my way, have to let everyone know some news."
"What news grandpa?" Garron asked excitedly.
Roran grinned widely as he replied, "Your aunt Ismira and Ianthe will be here within a few hours. As well as Arya and Fìrnen."
The boy erupted in joyous shouts at this news. He thought his aunt and her dragon were the best things in the world. His mother asked, "So Queen Arya decided to visit after all?"
"That's right. She said it had been too long since she left Ellesméra for anything other than her duties as a Rider or diplomatic visits with the other rulers, and a celebration for the harvest sounded like a good excuse to get out," Roran replied cheerfully. The truth was he had come to think of Arya as part of his large, strange family. When she and Roran had seen Eragon off all those years ago it had been obvious to him that Arya was in love with his "brother", and it had pained him to see them have to part ways the way they had. Whenever he saw Arya over the years, it was clear to him that she missed Eragon even more than any of the others did. Ismira had even taken to calling her "Aunt Arya" which Arya had originally insisted she not do, but eventually embraced the affectionate title, only asking she not use it in official settings.
Sara smiled at this and said, "That's good, it has been far too long since her last visit." Ever since the war humans had become more trusting of the Elves, especially in Carvahall. The women of Carvahall all admired Arya.
"Well I need to go let everyone else know; Garron would you like to come with me?" Roran asked, already knowing the answer.
"Yes!" the boy shouted happily.
Sara smiled at her son's reaction and said, "Well if you're taking him with you I'll go help prepare the food up at the keep."
"That would be good, they could use all the help they can get," Roran replied as they began to part ways.
"Bye mom!" Garron called out.
"Bye sweetie, I'll see a bit later," Sara replied.
With that Roran and Garron made their way to let the rest of the town know their visitors would be arriving soon.
Two hours later the tables were set up, the barrels of mead had been brought out (with a few set aside for the dragons), the food was almost ready, and the townspeople who could play instruments had begun to set up. The center of the town had been cleared out, and Roran had had the foresight when they rebuilt the town to make the center wide enough for two large dragons to be comfortable, more if they were smaller.
Roran was standing near one of the tables as the food was starting to be brought down from the keep, and the sun was just starting to dip below the horizon… when he heard it. He listened more closely to make sure he had heard it, and sure enough he heard a distinctive thump in the air. He then pointed east and called out, "Here they come!"
Everyone looked towards the east and sure enough, from around the nearby ridge, two large dragons came into view: one a deep forest green and shining like an emerald in the fading light; the other a dark, royal purple glittering like an amethyst. The townspeople let loose a collective cheer which could be heard for miles. Fìrnen and Ianthe, having heard the cheer, responded by letting loose streams green and purple flames into the air, causing the people to cheer even more.
The two dragons circled overhead a few times before landing in the center of town, the ground shaking as they did. Fìrnen was the size of a small barn, and Ianthe about ten feet shorter in both height and length. The townspeople started crowding around the dragons, but not too close. Roran and his family front and center.
Arya undid the straps holding her in the saddle and jumped down to the ground, landing as gracefully as ever. Ismira also jumped from her saddle, but used magic to slow her descent as she neared the ground. Faster than any normal human could move, Ismira covered the ground between her and her parents was embracing both Roran and Katrina, one arm around each.
"I missed you both so much!" Ismira exclaimed as she embraced her parents, it had been almost two years since her last visit. Roran and Katrina returned the embrace, just as enthusiastically.
She then hugged them each separately, when she hugged Roran tightly he gasped and said, "Not so tight dear, I hurt my back working in the fields the other day."
Ismira pulled back and exclaimed, "I'm sorry father!" Roran then got a clear look at his daughter: though she was now forty years old, she looked like a woman in her early twenties. She was the spitting image of her mother. She then turned to embrace her brother and his wife, after which she embraced her nephew, picked him up, and started tossing him in the air and catching him repeatedly.
While this was going on, Arya made her way over to Roran and her family. Roran noted that she too looked like she hadn't aged a day since the last time he had seen her. With a smile he said simply, "Arya."
She nodded and said in turn, "Roran."
Roran then bowed slightly and performed the hand gesture that Eragon had taught him so long ago as he said, "Atra esternì ono thelduin."
Arya smiled as she bowed and replied, "Mor'ranr lìfa unin hjarta onr."
Roran finished with the optional third line, "Un du evarìnya ono varda."
"It's good to see you Roran, and you Katrina," Arya stated once she and Roran had risen from their bows.
"It's good to see you as well Arya, it's been too long," Roran replied.
Before Arya could reply Katrina added, "That's right. It's been what… eight years since the last time we saw you Arya."
Arya smiled sheepishly at this and replied, "I apologize… I have not been able to leave Ellesméra much lately save for official matters; and you know how we Elves tend to lose track of time."
Roran chuckled at this and said, "Do not worry Arya, we understand. What matters is that you're here now." He then looked up to the two dragons and called out, "Hello Fìrnen! Hello Ianthe!"
Greetings Stronghammer, Fìrnen replied calmly.
Hello to you to Roran, Ianthe greeted cheerfully.
For several minutes there was nothing but talking before Roran bellowed out, "Start the feast!"
For the next several hours everyone ate, drank, danced, drank more, sang, and drank even more. Ismira told her family about everything she had been doing over the last two years, and informed them on how Eragon was doing. She was the only one there who saw the leader of the Riders, her uncle, on a fairly regular basis. The people of Carvahall hadn't seen him in forty years, and Arya had seen him only twice, both times to bring new Riders who were ready for the next level of their training to where he was. Both times had been brief, for she had to return to her duties back home.
Fìrnen and Ianthe consumed several barrels of mead; they had both learned from Saphira long ago that mead was a delicious drink. At one point in the evening Arya sang a song in the Ancient Language as the musicians played in tune with her enchanting voice which kept all of the townspeople captivated.
As the festivities were starting to wind down, the two dragons suddenly jumped to their feet, a bit unsteadily, and stared at a point in the sky just outside of the town's walls. A moment later both Arya and Ismira had the same reaction, but with a wondering expression on their faces.
As all the people followed the questioning gazes of the Riders and dragons Katrina asked her daughter, "What's wrong?"
"I'm not sure… it feels like magic is being used," Ismira replied hesitantly.
Arya added to this by saying, "A huge spell is being used. No normal magician has this kind of power…" As if on cue with the end of Arya's statement, a blinding flash of light and a deafening explosion came into existence at the point where everyone was watching. Everyone shielded their eyes and ears as best they could, and a few seconds later the ground shook as something massive collided with it outside the town's walls.
As the light cleared Fìrnen and Ianthe took to the air and Ianthe shouted with her mind, It's a dragon!
At this news Arya and Ismira ran to the wall, followed by the townspeople. Arya got to the top of the wall first, and as Roran approached he heard her exclaim, "I-It's Thorn!"
'Thorn? What are he and Murtagh doing here?' Roran thought to himself. As Ismira was about to use her magic to lift herself over the wall to follow Arya, Roran caught her arm and said, "Take me with you."Ismira nodded and less than ten seconds later they were on the other side of the wall, running towards the flaming crater where Thorn lay in a motionless heap, Arya was already there, kneeling over a smaller form.
As they reached Arya, Roran saw that she was kneeling over a man that it took him a moment to recognize as Murtagh. His hair was longer than the last time he had seen him, and he had grown a beard several inches long, but he, like Ismira, looked to only be in his early or mid-twenties though Roran knew that he was at least the same age as him.
The change in hair and beard were not the most noticeable thing about Murtagh at the moment though. He was covered in lacerations, one of his legs was bent at an unnatural angle, and several huge bruises were forming where they were visible, with more surely hidden by his clothing. Zar'roc was clenched tightly in his right hand, and in his left were the remains of a shield. Upon inspection they also saw that Thorn was bleeding profusely from several wounds as well.
Roran was the first to speak, "What… what could have done this to them?"
"I don't know… they're both alive, but they have almost no energy at all. That coupled with these injuries, they're lucky to be alive," Arya replied as she started to heal the worst of Murtagh's wounds while Ismira started to heal Thorn.
Murtagh suddenly inhaled sharply and his eyes shot open, panic evident in them. He grabbed Arya by the shoulder and struggled to form words. After several tries he managed to utter a single sentence, "Th- they are… They are coming." With that said he lost consciousness once again, leaving Arya, Ismira, and Roran to contemplate his cryptic warning.