Chapter Forty Three

Roran arrives back to the Varden along with his companions, tired, wounded, and travel-worn. He and the others with him are given a hero's welcome. Eragon and I are relieved to see him. We had known he was still alive, Eragon scryed him several times while he was gone. Nevertheless, seeing him in person gives us both relief and eases our anxiety some. To Eragon, Roran is the only family he has left because Murtagh doesn't count. To me, Eragon and Roran are my family now, the only family I have too. Neither one of us could bear the thought of losing Roran.

Roran looks like he has aged five years in the time that he's been gone. He is dirty and exhausted and he moves stiffly as if every inch of his body is bruised. Half of his beard has been burned off. Eragon hugs him. "Cousin," he says.

I look at Roran for a moment then move forward and hug him too. He hugs me back. "Leolynn," he says.

"It is good to see you," I tell him.

The men all go get healed then see Nasuada who commends them for their bravery. She lets them go but keeps Roran to tell her a detailed account of all the events that happened on his trip. Eragon and I stay standing by Nasuada listening the whole time. When he is finally done she announces that she is going to place Roran in charge of one of the Varden's battalions.

The news doesn't exactly make Roran happy. He looks even more tired at the new but bows and says "As you wish Lady Nasuada."

Eragon and I eat dinner with Katrina and Roran then head back to our tent. As we walk I hold onto Eragon's arm. I could hold his hand but I don't need more men staring at us and making comments right now. Suddenly Jeod runs over to us shouting and waving a piece of parchment in his hand. "I've done it again Eragon! I've found a way!" he exclaims.

"You've done what again?" Eragon asks. "Slow down, you're not making any sense."

Jeod glances around then leans in close to us. He whispers "All my reading and searching has paid off. I've discovered a hidden tunnel that leads straight into Dras Leona."

We all go to Nasuada, Jormundur, Orik, and Arya. Jeod lays out several books and parchments out in front of them to explain. About 500 years ago dwarves were in the midst of a clan war and a Queen sent a man to what would become Dras Leona. She hoped to secure the support of humans by helping the King with planning and construction of the fortifications for the city even as the dwarves engineered the defenses for Aroughs. The Queen was killed and the man had no choice to return to the Beor Mountains as fast as he could to defend his clan but before he left he did start work somewhere. He had been drawing up plans for a sewer system to be built under the city. Dras Leona has no underground sewer systems so it was assumed the plans were never put into action.

There is a book that documented the whole thing and it mentioned soldiers being put to work underground. It says nothing else about it but then later on in the book it says 'The people of the city often complain of peculiar sounds and odors wafting up from under their streets and floor, especially at night, which they attribute to ghosts.'

The locations of the sounds were marked on the map of Dras Leona and they happen to form a nearly straight line through the city. This is where Jeod believes the tunnel is. Orik guesses the tunnels are probably smaller because the ground here is soft so if the tunnels were bigger everything could cave in. They would be just big enough for one man to pass through at a time.

Nasuada decides it would be foolish to have men running around looking for the tunnel because it would surely attract the attention of Murtagh. She says we have to act as if the tunnel is there. If it isn't then it won't be too big of a deal, we'll just be back to where we started. She tells us her plan then. "We send a small team of warriors to open the gates from inside," she suggests.

"And how is anyone supposed to do that?" Orik demands. "It would be tricky enough if all they had to face were the hundreds of soldiers stationed in the area but there's also a giant fire breathing lizard lounging close by and he's sure to take an interest in anyone foolish enough to pry open the gates. And that's not even taking Murtagh into account."

"I can do it," Eragon says.

"Very well," Nasuada nods.

Everyone starts arguing then and Arya says "Nasuada, you cannot allow Eragon to endanger himself so. Send some of Blodhgarm's spell casters instead. I know they would agree to help and they are as might warriors as any you can find, including Eragon."

Nasuada shakes her head. "None of Galbatorix's men would dare kill Eragon, not the soldiers and not even Murtagh. We should use that to our advantage."

"He can't go alone," I say. "I'm going with him."

"We might need you here," Orik protests. "What if something goes wrong?"

"If something goes wrong that's even more reason for me to be there to help Eragon," I insist.

"Would Galbatorix's people be so willing to spare you as Eragon?" Nasuada asks me.

I don't know how to answer. I can't be sure. But Eragon speaks up. He nods. "Yes they would. Galbatorix wouldn't want him dead, at least not yet, while he could still be useful. They'd keep us alive for now but it's not to say they wouldn't torture us along the way."

"You two are our strongest spell casters," Nasuada says. "And it may require a great deal of strength to force open the gates. Of all of us the two of you together have the best chance of success."

"What if they are captured though? Even the two of them together would struggle against Murtagh," Arya comments.

"We'll distract Murtagh and Thorn and that will give Leolynn and Eragon the opportunity they need."

"How will you distract them?"

"We'll make as though to attack Dras Leona from the south. Saphira and Crystalina will fly around the city, setting buildings on fire and killing soldiers on the walls. Thorn and Murtagh will have no choice but to give chase, especially since it will appear as if Eragon and Leolynn are riding their dragons the whole time. The spell casters can conjure up an image of them. As long as Murtagh doesn't get too close he'll never discover the trick," Nasuada explains.

"Are you determined in this?" Arya asks her.

"I am."

"Then I will go with them."

"I don't think that would be a good idea," Nasuada shakes her head.

"I'll take two spell casters with me."

"You may only take one," Nasuada is bargaining with her.

I feel anger creeping up inside me and I want to yell at her. I want to tell Arya she can't come with us, that she'll be a distraction, and that she needs to stop stalking Eragon. I am so tired of her. But there is nothing I can do is Nasuada agrees to send her with us. I have to listen to Nasuada.

"That's not enough people," Arya shakes her head. "We need another strong spell caster."

"What about me?" Angela walks into the tent. "I'm not a member of the Varden but I'm willing to help."

"Of course," Arya nods.

"I see no reason not to send you," Nasuada agrees.

"Elva should go with us too," Eragon suggests. "If anyone can help us avoid danger it's her."

"I won't ask her. She made her position clear the last time we spoke."

"I'll talk to her," Eragon offers. "I'm the one she's angry with and I'm the one who should ask her."

"Do as you wish," Nasuada tells him. "I dislike the thought of sending a child into battle, even one as gifted as Elva. However, I supposed she is more than capable of protecting herself."

"As long as the pain of those around her doesn't overwhelm her," Angela says.

"She's unpredictable," Nasuada warns Eragon. "If she does choose to go along , be careful with her."

"I will," Eragon promises.

While everyone discusses the details of the plans, Eragon reaches out to Saphira. 'It is a good plan,' she says, surprising Eragon and I both. 'We are no longer awkward younglings. Our enemies may be fearsome, but so are we. It is time we remind them of that.'

'Does it bother you that we'll be apart?' he asks her.

'Of course it bothers me. It bothers Crystalina also. Wherever you and Leolynn go, enemies flock to you like flies to flesh. However, neither of you are as helpless as you once were. Together you are even stronger. Crystalina and I are off to hunt now.'

'Fly safely,' he says.

'Fly safely Crystalina' I tell her.

[A/N: I appreciate everyone's feedack so much. Please continue leaving feedback. It helps me to know that people are still reading so I can remember to keep updating this. Thanks guys 3 ]