Eragon cried out as he was jerked back into consciousness, his eyes wide and fearful as he looked for the sapphire dragoness that shared half of his heart and soul. But the impending silence was all that answered him, and it terrified him even more.
"Whose Saphira?" Eragon faintly heard Olyvar ask Perdix curiously.
"The dragon maybe? He is a Rider." Perdix replied.
"A dragon would be useful right about now. I've heard that dragon fire can melt stone and metal in the matter of seconds; I wonder how long it takes for a human to be burnt into a crisp."
Eragon saw Perdix snort at that, and Eragon thought, that if not for the fact that no one could see his pupils, that Perdix might have rolled his eyes as well. "A rather morbid thought, wouldn't you agree, Rider?"
Olyvar's voice grew darker and grimmer, "You know as well as I that you would love nothing more than to see -or I guess sense for you- them burn. If they're burnt to a nice crisp, we could easily escape!"
"Aside from the small problem that we don't have a dragon here with us, and even if the priests were to all suddenly combust into flames, we wouldn't be able to escape. None of us know the passageways despite walking through them; I'm not much of a visual learner, as you may have noticed." Perdix's voice was dry as he spoke. "You're too brash for your own good, and impatient as well. I want to escape as much as you, and would love to escape the fate of becoming a course for the Ra'zac and their fanatical worshippers, but we must stay cautious and vigilant. We cannot afford to make mistakes, not when time is of the essence."
"Escape isn't impossible!" Olyvar argued heatedly.
"I never said it was." Perdix stated evenly, "I am merely stating that with the addition of the Rider, who killed the remaining Ra'zac, they are even more on their guard. This cult has existed for nigh a century, and has flourished since Galbatorix took the throne; it will not allow any slacking when vengeance is so close for them."
Eragon glanced around the cell; his eyes fell upon Perdix who was sitting against the stone wall, and then looked around until he spotted the other inhabitant that was with them.
Eragon finally saw Olyvar.
He was young, maybe only a few years older than Eragon. His dirty blonde hair came down his shoulders like a wild mane, a thick beard obscuring most of his facial features. He would have been stocky had he not been so malnourished; the chains and shackles clad upon him made Olyvar appear even smaller. His skin was pale from lack of sunlight and riddled with scars, but he held himself up proudly and there was a certain spark in his bright blue eyes that showed that, despite it all, Olyvar had not given up hope of escape. Those bright blue eyes were staring straight at Eragon with startling intensity, burning into him.
"He could help us," Olyvar whispered to Perdix eagerly. "We can escape!"
Eragon heard Perdix sigh wearily. "Olyvar, there is no escape at this time. We're trapped here. We can't escape with so many eyes upon us, upon him." He nodded his head in the general direction of Eragon.
"He's a Rider, Perdix," Olyvar argued. "He knows magic, he knows how to fight, and he even has a dragon. He can get us out of this cell."
"You do realize that if what you say is true, that this person you claim can help us escape with his powerful magic and giant fire breathing reptile is currently chained and in this cell with us. If he is so powerful, how did he get captured?"
"Ambush," Eragon said hoarsely, his throat dry, though he couldn't hide the indignation at the assumption that he was useless.
Perdix nodded at this, his spindly fingers idly tapping against the collar clasped around his neck. "We must remain vigilant; the priests are restless and will continue to grow agitated with each passing day. Too many eyes, Olyvar, too many swords."
"I don't want to get eaten." Olyvar said darkly, "You don't want to either. We have time, Perdix. And we have him," he nodded his head at Eragon.
Perdix's white eyes closed, knowing what his friend was referring to. "We must remain cautious," he reminded them, slinking back against the stone wall and wrapping his frail arms around his knees, placing his chin atop of them.
"How did you two find yourselves thrown into this cell? What did you do that resulted in this imprisonment?" Eragon was curious as two who these two young men were; they were around his age but had somehow ended up in this cell underneath a damned city.
"The same as you, Rider. We were captured and brought here. The only difference is why. You were brought here because of the grave slights you had brought upon the priests by slaying their monstrous gods-"
"We thank you for that," Olyvar interjected.
"My brother and I were taken from the streets, which had been our homes for a countless amount of years."
Eragon thought of the poor and desperate that lined the streets of Dras Leona, crying out for salvation but heard by deaf ears. He could easily imagine Perdix and a young sibling amongst them, weak and helpless with nothing to call their own and no one willing to help.
"Olyvar was brought here due to a crime he had committed." Perdix said.
Olyvar grunted, "I hardly call it a crime. I never killed anyone or stole anything."
"Some would agree," Perdix said amiably, "Most would call you a coward and traitor."
The chains rustled as Olyvar sprang to his feet, teeth clenched together tightly as his fingers stretched at the air, as though trying grab Perdix despite the restraints. "Be quiet, Perdix! You know nothing of my reasoning; I am no coward!"
"So you admit you are a traitor?" Perdix asked, though there was no hostility in his voice, if anything the blind man seemed amused, as though they had had this argument countless times before and Olyvar's ire was as trivial as a tantrum thrown by a child.
Olyvar's face turned a dark red; the man slowly sat back down and pressed his back against the wall, hunching himself over as though to hide. He didn't answer the question, but Olyvar's eyes kept flickering from Perdix to Eragon, before resting on the Rider.
Eragon was curious of who this man was, and why he was here. "Tell us your tale, and we will pass judgment on whether or not you are a traitor or a coward." He said amiably, trying to inspire the other prisoner to share his story.
"I know his story already, just as he knows mine." Perdix spoke, but he crossed his arms and stayed silent, willing Olyvar to speak.
The young man looked uncertain, maybe even a tad hesitant, but he squared his shoulders and turned his gaze upon the chained Eragon, looking up at the Rider with a wondering gaze, as though he didn't know where to begin.
"I was a soldier…" Olyvar mumbled, his eyes averted to his clenched hands.
But what side were you on? Eragon wondered. Was he a soldier of the Varden? It would certainly explain how he ended up here in this cell underneath Dras Leona; perhaps he is a prisoner of war captured during a battle or skirmish and given to the priests as a token of goodwill by religious imperialists. Eragon wouldn't find it shocking, the powerful that called Dras Leona had changed his perspective on certain men and women who were given power but used it for their own selfish gain.
Olyvar seemed to know Eragon's wondering thoughts and smiled wryly. "Don't assume me so readily, Shadeslayer. I didn't fight besides you in the Battle of Farthen Dûr or the Battle of the Burning Plains; I was a soldier of the Imperial Army."
Olyvar chuckled at Eragon's shocked expression, but there was no humor in his smile or eyes. "But no longer…" he grew saddened by whatever thoughts plagued him, his eyes grew misty as he reflected on events that had long since transpired.
"I was trained to become an archer, and I was damned good at it." Olyvar seemed to perk up at his words, a small spark ignited within his eyes. "The best recruit there, I finished my training long before the others; I even set the newest record for completing the training. I was respected by my commanders and thought highly by my comrades. I… I was proud of where I was… of who I was…" Olyvar's smile grew somber, "I was to be sent to serve under the commanding officer based in Surda, I was even given a high ranking because of my skills; I was to be a Captain, the youngest one in history."
"What happened?" Eragon asked. Perdix stayed silent; Eragon assumed he must of heard this story before.
Olyvar's face seemed to twist with confliction, as though fighting internally with himself. Finally, after several moments of reflective silence, he spoke. "I was afraid."
Befuddlement grew within the Rider, along with temptatious curiosity.
"I…" Olyvar clenched his eyes shut and his fingers tightened around the chains that kept him trapped against the wall until they turned white. "I ran." He admitted with his head bowed and his expression hidden, though he didn't sound too ashamed of his cowardice. "All soldiers who are enlisted and are sent to war have one duty to do beforehand: swear loyalty to the Empire in the Ancient Language."
Understanding filled Eragon as he realized why the young man had done so, as well as a great deal of pity.
"I know nothing of magic, save of its danger and power, but I was taught what the Ancient Language was when I was young. An oath sworn in the Ancient Language is the same as permanent shackles, a loyalty you can never betray, and a vow to keep until you die." Olyvar said. "When you swear an oath in the Ancient Language, you are never free of it."
"I had no choice! After Thorn hatched for me, Galbatorix forced both of us to swear loyalty to him in the Ancient Language. We cannot disobey him now… You cannot help me, Eragon. No one but Galbatorix can release us from our oaths, and he will never do that… He knows our True Names, Eragon… We are his slaves forever."
Murtagh's words resonated within Eragon, he could still hear the sheer desperation of his brother trying to explain to Eragon that he hadn't betrayed him, but had had no choice. Murtagh's words spoken to him during their confrontation at the Burning Plains had always haunted Eragon and had kept him up at night as he dwelled on the somber thoughts of his brother's imprisonment, but now it weighed heavily upon him as he realized what life must be like for his eldest brother.
Murtagh, I'll free you and Thorn from the shackles placed upon you by Galbatorix, Eragon thought solemnly, guilt filling him as he reflected. I should have helped you when I had the chance, but what could I have done? I was so confused by your survival and the discovery of my heritage that I never once thought of trying to free you, save with death. I'm sorry, brother, I'm truly sorry. I share the same blood as you, just as I share blood with Roran, and I didn't help you. You saved me from the life that was placed upon you, and revealed the Varden's treachery. You saved my life twice that day, and I will return the favor.
"I never wanted much in my life, but I enjoyed my freedom far more than I loved my duty to the Empire, and so I refused to take the oaths that would have bound me to Galbatorix. I was terrified, there is no denying that, but I deserted before it was time to swear my loyalty to the King and the Imperial Army. I never wanted to be a puppet, a pawn in another's game; I just wanted to serve while free to make my own choices."
Olyvar looked desperate as he spoke, "Am I truly a coward for fleeing a life of servitude? For running from the chains that would have been placed upon me? Am I a coward for being afraid? Perhaps, but do we all not fear something? Do we all not have something that terrifies us, and does it not fill of us with dread when faced? Am I truly a traitor for choosing myself and my freedom above forced oaths?"
The words, spoken so desperate for an answer, resonated within Eragon. The Rider pitied the young archer who had been faced with an ultimatum, with his choice altering his life forever.
"I was caught not long after I deserted. Say what you will about the Imperials, but they have some damned good hunters and trackers when it comes to deserters." Olyvar grunted, "They didn't kill me on the spot for desertion. The leader of the trackers happened to be a follower of this beloved cult whose dungeon we are currently occupation and decided that I was of better use to be used as a sacrifice to the Ra'zac than worthy of a beheading. Honestly I'd have preferred beheading, it would've been much faster than languishing in this cesspit."
"After that, I was thrown in here without further explanation save that I was to be a sacrifice to the Old Ones, and here I met Perdix." Olyvar nodded his head in the direction of the raven-haired man. "And the rest of my tale has yet to have been lived."
"Your tale does not end in this cell, Olyvar." Perdix said from the shadows, stark white eyes gleaming from the flickering candlelight. "None of us will die if we don't lose hope."
"Tell us of your life before the army, before your vows were to be told." Eragon encouraged, hoping to cheer the grim man with happier memories.
The blond looked at Eragon, a bit befuddled at the idea, but the confusion died away as his taut facial features seemed to relax as he reflected on happier times. "My family is an old and prosperous house of nobility. My father is a well-respected noble who often dines with the various governors and lords of the realm; he had even once dined with the King in Urû'baen. My mother came from another prestigious household from the west. They are staunch supporters of Galbatorix's reign, and had attempted to pass that zealous loyalty onto their children." Olyvar laughed lightly, glancing downwards at the shackles on his forearms and legs, "I don't think they succeeded very well."
Olyvar explained that his mother and father bore two children: himself and a sister. A smile appeared on his bruised and scarred face as Olyvar recalled his sister with fondness.
"When we were young, we would play in the orchards that surrounded the estate. My sister and I would chase each other throughout the orchards, our laughter would shake the tree leaves and our footsteps would rumble the ground. We were close when we were younger, and my sister idolized me and I love her with my entire being." Olyvar's eyes began to water ever so slightly, the unshed tears gleaming in the faint candlelight. "I'm sure that they think I am dead. Better dead than living as a deserter, eh?" His laughter was bitter.
Eragon truly pitied the man chained with him. Olyvar seemed to be a good man, if only slightly flighty, and did not deserve the fate that had been forced upon him by the priests.
Eragon glanced between his fellow inmates. He looked at Olyvar who had fled from his duty for the sake of freedom, and at Perdix who had lived on the streets of Dras Leona with nothing to call his own, who had seen his own brother suffer at the hands of the priests that kept them imprisoned. "If we are able to escape, what would you make of your lives?" He asked the two with the utmost of seriousness.
There was a moment of reflective silence as both men seemed to weigh his question and thought of an answer. It was Perdix who spoke first.
"Revenge." The blind man said simply, his words sharp and cold as a winter gale. "I want vengeance for my brother, for those who perished in this cell and others, and for myself."
A challenging goal, but not surprising, Eragon thought to himself, though he wondered how Perdix would achieve his dream of vengeance when he was just one man who couldn't see.
"I just want to go home," Olyvar said hoarsely, his voice thick with emotion. "I want to see my mother and father, and to see my sister again."
The cell grew silent. There was nothing more that needed to be said.
The prospect seemed so bleak to Eragon, as though it was an unreachable dream that faded away whenever he tried to grasp it. But if he were to regain his magic… if he were to be freed from the shackles that kept his enhanced strength at bay… Escape didn't seem as bleak. But Eragon knew that he couldn't do so alone, despite his best wishes. He needed help. He needed Perdix and Olyvar to aid him.
"Do you two trust me?" Eragon asked them.
The look Olyvar gave to Perdix and the slight furrow of the blind man's brow told him that they didn't. "We have only just met you, Shadeslayer. We do not trust you." Perdix responded, dashing Eragon's hopes.
"But…" Perdix hesitated and Olyvar took charge.
"We also see that there is no hope of escape unless we all work together. We do not need another's trust to free ourselves, perhaps in time we grow to trust one another, but for now we are simply fellow prisoners who want to be freed from this prison." Olyvar said.
Perdix nodded his head in agreement at Olyvar's words.
"I… understand," Eragon said solemnly, understanding why trust was no trifle thing to give; Orrin had proven that long ago. "Trust or no trust, there is no denying that we all need one another to escape this cell. I have someone waiting for me who is surely worried."
The thought of Saphira brought a lump to his throat, and Eragon found it difficult to breathe as he reflected on how alone he was without Saphira's constant mental connection. He didn't like it. He didn't like the silence. He didn't like the feeling of complete isolation. He felt weak and powerless without her there alongside him. Eragon felt completely alone.
"Do you have a plan, Rider?" Olyvar asked.
Eragon grinned wryly, "I'm a man who simply goes through the motions. Plans don't always go well with me." There were too many instances of that happening that Eragon didn't deem it important enough to single out a single instance.
"Perhaps we can be of aid." Perdix said and Olyvar nodded his head in agreement. Eragon grinned at them, Olyvar grinned back while Perdix simply blinked.
"Escape is not impossible," Perdix repeated what he had been telling Olyvar earlier, but there was an edge to his voice that betrayed his excitement. Eragon's smile grew wider that it almost hurt as much as the bruises that lined his sore body, but the eagerness of escaping and reuniting with his beloved dragon made the aches ebb away.
I'm coming, Saphira.
I'm back! And I seriously mean it when I say so! I'm sorry guys for such awful updates, but junior year is literally taking up all of my time with sports and academics. I only have a week and a half left of school, including exams, and after that I am free! Free I tell you! Sorry if the chapter seems a bit rushed, but I wanted to update before exams take up all of my time, and I hope that the development of Olyvar and Perdix, though mostly Olyvar in this chapter, was well. I've had a sudden surge of inspiration for my writing and I've been writing a lot more than what I normally do. I've even written a small little story that is more of a one-shot of an idea I had for the Inheritance Cycle that I was thinking of posting, but I think I'll hold onto it to polish it to make sure it is to my liking before posting it. I've also been obsessed with the Age of Ultron movie, which was so freakin' good! Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch had to be my favorite part of the movie, but the Hulkbuster and the hammer scene come very close! I've written a little bit that focus mainly on the twins, but I don't know if I'll post anything on the site unless I finish writing it. I don't want to suddenly post a whole bunch of new stories when I have my other stories that need updating. But man was that movie awesome. Until next time!