Chapter 4

Three and a half days after they had left Hedarth the Riders finally found themselves in sight of Ilirea. On the second day of flight they had found themselves in a strong headwind and had been forced to land in the Hadarac Dessert and wait for the wind to die down. It had taken most of the day, far longer than Eragon had wished for it to take. By the time it the wind had reached a manageable level the sun had already begun to sink and the stars were just beginning to emerge. The dragons had flown through the night to make up the time that they had lost, and to say the least they were currently exhausted, the only thing keeping them awake at the moment was their riders giving them energy to stave off their exhaustion.

Reaching out with his mind he opened himself to everyone surrounding himself, informing them of how he wished for them to enter the city and what was to be expected. Murtagh added his own insight as to what to expect within the city to those that had not been there before becoming Riders.

Through his link with the others Eragon could feel their excitement, yet also their nervousness. When each new Rider had arrived on New Vroengard Eragon had informed them not only what it meant to be a rider and the duties that came with the position, but also the way in which others viewed the Riders. How you could be treated differently by people when you carried the title, at least the experience that he had gained during his time among the races during the war. This was their first time returning to Alagaesia as Riders and Eragon could understand that nervousness all to well, even he was nervous.

As they came within three leagues of Ilirea Eragon noticed a figure quickly approaching them. He smiled, as he raised a hand and quickly informed Thorn and his student's dragons to halt. The eight riders and dragons hovered on the thermals as they awaited the arrival of the figure. Eragon cast out his mind, searching for the familiar consciousness and he grinned as Arya lowered her defenses and allowed him entrance.

Atra esterni ono thelduin, Arya Drottning, Rider of Firnen and Mighty Queen of the Elven Nation. Eragon said though their link, allowing a smirk to overtake his features.

Arya was close enough now that he could clearly see the smile upon her own face. Atra du evarinya ono varda, Eragon Shadeslayer, Grand Master of the Shur'tugal.

Talking with you through a scrying mirror does no justice to your beauty your majesty. Eragon said, giving her a slight wink. Saphira snorted causing a puff of smoke to erupt from her nostrils.

Arya gave him a soft smile. It is good to see you too Eragon. It has been too long since last we were face to face.

Aye, a year is too long to go without with out seeing each other, no matter how busy we are. He then turned his attention to Arya's dragon Firnen. And Firnen, you have indeed grown since last we met.

From what I can see you of you, I could say the same Eragon-Elda. Firnen replied.

Eragon nodded, then turning his attention from Arya and Firnen he turned to look back at the Riders and their dragons assembled behind him. motioning with his head and contacting them with his mind he informed them to continue flying. Saphira then came up to float next to Firnen and raising his voice for Arya to hear he said. "Will you fly with us?"

She nodded, a smile on her face. Firnen turned so that he was once again facing Ilirea and together the four of them followed Murtagh and the apprenticed Riders to the city.

I've missed you Eragon. Arya said, her voice soft. Eragon turned to look at her and noticed that she had a light blush on her face at the declaration.

The smile that had been covering his face grew soft. I have missed you as well Arya. He was silent for a moment before he added. Having you around me, it makes feel calm; it is as if everything pressing on me disappears and all that matters is you.

Arya nodded, and through the link that they were currently keeping up between the two of themselves Eragon could feel that she felt the same, that she understood what she meant. Twenty years ago she may have denied what he had said, she would have closed herself off to him. But now, now she remained open to him, allowing him to know her only in a way that Firnen and he knew her. Perhaps it was the sharing of the True Names, or perhaps it was because they cared for each other so much, Eragon didn't know; what he did know was that he treasured what they had become to each other more than anything.

Arya smirked as she saw and heard what it was that he was thinking, yet her blush seemed to have grown deeper. It is both Eragon. There is more, more that which I must inform you of that I have yet to do. I beg your pardon, for I was not quit ready to do so before now, but now there is nothing in the way. If you can and you are not too preoccupied, I would wish to speak with you tonight.

Eragon gave her a questioning look, wondering if she meant what he thought she meant. Know this Arya, when it comes to you I am never too busy. I will make sure that I am not to preoccupied so that we can talk with each other.

Arya nodded, then turned her attention to the city as Saphira and Firnen landed to a great applause, the people that had surrounded the other Riders quickly moving away to make room for the two new arrivals. Both Saphira and Firnen crouched so that their riders would not have far to drop as they jumped out of their saddles. Eragon landed in a crouch, his right hand resting on his leg and his left resting on the stone street. Arya had been far more graceful when she dismounted, casting a spell to slow her descent which allowed her to land on her feet.

Eragon shook his head, the light reflecting off the silver circlet that rested upon his head. It had been a gift from Arya and the elves which she had presented to him when she had first visited Dras abr Shur'tugaler. The circlet had two interlocking dragon heads with a sapphire gem stone perched between each mouth and an outstretched wing above both of his ears. The circlet signified that he was the lead rider, and as such Eragon tended to wear it more often if something of importance was happening or one of the kings or queens was visiting the Island.

Arya smiled as she came up to him, and raised her hand to his forehead to tuck a stray hair back into place. "Your hair has grown longer."

Eragon chuckled and nodded. "That it has. I have seen no reason to cut it in recent months."

"I like it, though I am not so sure about this." She said, running a hand over the stubble on his chin.

Eragon too ran his hand over chin, his hand briefly resting on hers before she removed it. "I have not had the chance to cut it since yesterday. If it displeases you I could cut it before tonight?

She shook her head. "No, it will just take me time before I have become accustomed to it. It brings out your human qualities more."

Eragon nodded. He thought for a quick moment than reached his hand out to her. She smiled in response and grasped his own. The two then began the walk up the cities streets. Murtagh and Thorn came up next to them, and it was the first time that Eragon had truly realized that Ilirea was possibly the only city within Alagaesia other than Du Weldenvarden that could easily accommodate dragons.

People cheered them as the procession made its way up to Nasuada's castle. Murtagh leaned over towards them, his voice low and said. "You two might want to be careful or the people of the city might get the wrong idea."

"And what idea would that be Murtagh?" Eragon asked, his eyes narrowing.

"The people might get the idea that the two of you are involved." Murtagh laughed.

Eragon was about to reply, but before he could Arya said. "Let them believe what they will, what Eragon and I are too each other is no concern of theirs."

Murtagh nodded, a smirk on his face and their dragons deep rumbling laughter which sounded like boulders rubbing against each other echoed across the city streets.

The younger riders looked at each other questioningly at their masters antics. Ismira groaned and said. "It's none of our business."

Helen, the other female human rider of the bright orange dragon Tillieun stared at her friend, her mouth slightly agape. "What do you mean. I want to know."

"It is not our place to inquire upon Ebrithil's and the Queen's relationship." Said Vancir, the male elven rider of the purple dragon Milenor.

"Oh come on, not you too. I could understand Ismira as master is her uncle, but you too Vancir. Doesn't anyone want to know what they're talking about?"

"The two care for each other, that is all you need to know Helen." Vancir said turning to look at the human rider in a way that he hoped would garner not another word on the matter.

Helen huffed. "You're almost as much of a spoilsport as Blodgharm-elda, you know that Vancir?"

"Please, Blodgharm-elda is no where near as bad as Vancir." Ismira laughed.