~ Chapter Two ~
Eragon hadn't managed to sleep at all. Every time he tried, red eyes would flash behind his eyelids and startle him to wake. Not even Saphira could sooth that away. After all, their captor was sitting just outside waiting for him to make an escape attempt. Not that Eragon could even begin to think on that, he was simply too tired to even walk in a straight line let alone run. Add Saphira riding on his shoulder and he wouldn't have managed to get very far.
Not to mention the constant jerking of the carriage as the wheels struck rock kept him light-headed and nauseous. Neither he nor Saphira was enjoying their bumpy little ride. Certainly he was use to the small journeys taken to the town and back but this was nothing like anything Eragon had ever experienced. The swift speed they were travelling at made it rather difficult to even enjoy what little scenery he could glimpse through the bars.
Of course their captor didn't care much for that. Durza appeared remarkably pleased that he'd managed to capture them with ease. In fact every time he turned to check on them he had a smile full of teeth. It did little to give Eragon peace of mind. However Eragon ignored Durza as much as possible, mind still back in Carvahall.
He hoped his Uncle and cousin were alright. The force in which the Shade had thrown them had been rather heavy handed. He knew however that Durza could have done a lot more damage to them than that. More than likely the knock would have kept them unconscious long enough for Durza to spirit Eragon away without them noticing the dragon.
Sighing, Eragon turned to watch the blur of colours flash by. He never would regret hatching Saphira, but there were moments after the hatching, which he wanted to change. At least then no one would have been harmed and he wouldn't be on his way to see the King. Numerous incidences might have happened in a different order. Everything might have changed; maybe for the better or maybe for the worse. There was no way of knowing now.
The carriage jerked to a halt startling Eragon and causing Saphira to spread her wings to keep balanced. Though Eragon had little knowledge of their surroundings he knew logically they hadn't arrived at Uru'baen. It simply wasn't possible to travel that far in such a short period of time. No one could reach that far in a day. Durza however had obviously been using spells of some sort to drive them further than anyone could travel.
The door opened revealing the Shade. A smile was thrown his way that merely had him cringing in his seat. Red eyes surveyed his well-being before stepping aside and motioning for him to step out. Eragon didn't bother to hesitate. He knew running wasn't an option. If Durza had stopped there was a reason for it.
"We'll be stopping here for a time, little one."
Eragon wished Durza would cease using that term of affection. It made him shiver. However that was probably why Durza continued to do so; he seemed to enjoy seeing Eragon's discomfort. He did little to show otherwise.
Outside Eragon could finally see a town. Within the carriage the brief glimpses of colour gave nothing away yet out here Eragon couldn't help but stare. The town they had stopped in was nothing like Carvahall. At least twice as large the town bustled with movement. Most of the town was built over a lake, wooden planks aiding to keep everything together and providing steady walkways for the people. Nothing here looked stable yet it certainly was a sight to be seen for someone who had never seen the world outside of Carvahall.
"Where are we?" Eragon questioned as Saphira settled on his shoulder.
Durza didn't answer merely cast a look around so that anyone who caught his eye gave a quick whisper to the person next to them and left. The entire street had been cleared in under a minute and all because the Shade had stared them in the eye.
It actually brought quite an unsettled relief to Eragon. Many of the people had been staring at Saphira, her form noticeable to anyone even if they'd only heard stories. Any one of them could have yearned to step forward and see the marvel for their own eyes. Eragon would have been surrounded in seconds. The Shade had put an early stop to that. Yet he still didn't enjoy the fact Durza had been the one to aid them. Conflicting emotions certainly weren't helping his tired mind.
Almost as if sensing Eragon's thoughts, Durza spoke.
"Come we have to rest."
Durza led Eragon by the arm to a small wooden hut. They passed a black cat who watched them the entire way there. Eragon wasn't about to tell Durza but the cat unsettled him more than the Shade ever could. Something about the cat simply didn't sit right with him or Saphira. His dragon sent him images that spoke of caution whilst being in this town. Neither could trust Durza but he would protect them and that at least was something for now.
"This town is Gil'ead." Durza spoke once inside.
The room was small and only held one bed. Very few items were scattered around the room. Obviously someone had left in a hurry and hadn't bothered to take everything. Eragon felt bad that they had likely forced someone away from their home. However it wouldn't have been by his doing so that settled his guilt somewhat.
"We'll only be here for the night."
Durza motioned for Eragon to take the bed. Yet the Shade didn't leave the room instead choosing an upturned chair to sit on whilst facing the only door. He felt rather uncertain about sleeping in the same room as a Shade. Did a Shade ever sleep? Regardless Saphira was tired and so was he. Together they curled around each other, seeking comfort and fell into a fitful sleep.
Roran couldn't believe this was happening. Brom the Storyteller had made them leave Carvahall. Certainly they had all left together and that was something but they were leaving because of Eragon. Roran couldn't blame his cousin. Everything had been taken out of the younger boys control if at least what Brom told them was truthful.
Eragon was a Dragon Rider.
Not only that, Eragon was the first Dragon Rider in many years and one of two. The other, King Galbatorix, wanted Eragon to force him into taking an oath of loyalty. The Shade attacking was simply the King reaching Eragon before anyone else even had a chance of realizing another Rider had been discovered. However there were numerous occurrences that weren't adding up.
Firstly, there was the fact Brom and his father knew each other. They knew each other well at that. Roran hadn't even been aware Brom was someone Garrow would associate with. From the argued snippets he'd overheard, Brom was in hiding. He was hiding away and meant to be protecting Eragon from these types of occurrences. How that was possible, Roran didn't know. However his father certainly blamed Brom for Eragon's disappearance.
Secondly, the Storyteller shared knowledge he shouldn't have. The old man was being sneaky and stepping around the topics whenever someone asked how he knew to leave and where to do. Yet that didn't make him any less suspicious. Roran needed to know what or rather who Brom was.
"He was here."
Roran turned. He'd never seen anyone like this woman before. Of course being in Gil'ead anything he looked at was something he'd never seen before. This woman however was covered in jewellery and wore no colour but black. A black cat sat at her feet. Giving into the urge, he asked.
"Who was here?"
The woman smiled at him.
Eragon, she could only mean Eragon. No one else had ever been mentioned as such given there were no other Dragon Riders. King Galbatorix certainly never left Uru'bean. Roran didn't trust this woman but she was giving him information where Brom wouldn't.
"Where did he go? Where did that… man take him?"
People surrounding them cast him odd looks. Yet there were a few that were still terrified it seemed by the ordeal and hurried away. Even mentioning a Shade appeared to be dangerous business.
"The Shade sensed you were nearby and took off carrying the young Rider early this morning. You missed him by an hour perhaps."
They had been close to catching Eragon. An hour's difference had been all that separated them. Eragon however would have been long gone by now. After all they had stopped to rest here for at least half a day. They had been so close…
Roran frowned. So why had they stopped? Why hadn't they continued after his cousin?
Giving the woman a brief thanks, Roran turned and marched back towards their little camp on the outskirts of Gil'ead, fury his only companion.
"Storyteller!" Roran snarled.
Everyone from Carvahall turned towards Roran. Of all gathered, Roran was the only one not calling the man by his name. The group had all taken to him being leader, all except Roran. Garrow listened to the man grudgingly but Roran refused to listen to anyone byt Garrow. Now however this woman had brought him news and he wasn't going to bypass this chance to get answers.
"What is it Roran?" Brom asked briskly.
Roran snarled, annoyed the man so easily pushed him aside like any other child.
"You knew… you knew we were close and yet you didn't say anything. Why did you let them leave? Why are resting?"
Brom turned his full attention on him yet Roran didn't back down. He was getting answers now. Garrow walked towards them, frowning in confusion.
"Who are you speaking of Roran?" his father asked.
"Eragon," Roran spat. "He was here, father. We were so close and this man did nothing but hamper any efforts to get him back!"
Garrow turned furiously towards Brom. His attention brought the entirety of Carvahall down upon them. Everyone wished to hear exactly what was happening, especially those that didn't know where Eragon had gone. They might have accepted Brom as their leader in this situation but they only needed him for the current moment any misgivings and he was gone. Now that everyone from Carvahall had tuned into the discussion, Brom finally spoke up.
"What did you plan to do? Attempt to kill a Shade? I'm certain that would have ended well. Do you know what they are capable of? How fast do they move? You wouldn't have survived this time not when the Shade already has what it wants."
The group shivered as the Shade was mentioned. People began to whisper about what that had to do with Eragon. Sloan cringed as people's attention turned towards him nothing but disgust in their eyes.
"No, that's your job." Garrow snapped. "You were meant to protect him."
Roran kept silent now. He had what he wanted. Brom only opened up when Garrow as the one to speak to him. Now that they had a reason to argue over this he would hear what he needed.
"I didn't have to do anything for the boy!" Brom returned. "He was given to you to care for. Selena didn't even hesitate to hand him to you and all for what? She ran straight back to Morzan and he ended her life. I watched over him but there was only so much I am capable of."
"Don't speak of her like that." Garrow's voice lowered threateningly. "She handed Eragon to me because you were too busy fighting in a war that couldn't be won and too loyal to her husband to leave him. She had more honour than you. Eragon is the same regardless of you or who raised him. All you needed to do was protect him from those that would eventually come, given his name, given his heritage."
Silence fell upon them after that but Roran put the pieces together. Brom had been a Dragon Rider. He'd ridden a mighty beast like those in his stories, up in the skies and well above the ground. Brom had lost his Dragon fighting in the last war where all Dragon's had been killed to near extinction. His Dragon had died but he had survived the loss. He'd been given a chance to live again and instead of doing good he sat around a small town no one had heard of and told tales, reliving his youth. Then there was the last piece…
Brom was Eragon's father.
When Eragon woke he was once again in the carriage with Saphira. Frowning, he remembered falling asleep in Gil'ead knowing Durza remained by the door yet not casting him another glance. Sleep had been fitful but eventually he'd managed to rest with Saphira standing guard.
'Saphira, how did I get here?'
His dragon showed him images she'd witnessed. He watched as he slept whilst Saphira watched the Shade. Then suddenly near dawn, Durza had snapped into a standing position and turned towards him arms outstretched.
"We have to go little dragon and it would be much easier for your Rider if you came along quietly." The Shade hissed.
It was obvious to anyone the Shade wasn't happy with whatever he'd witnessed. Eragon felt Saphira's concern for him and permitted the Shade to carry him back into the carriage. Once there Saphira had entered as well and they were once again taken further away from Carvahall. They had yet to stop.
'What's his plan now?'
Saphira continued to show him where they had travelled from and Durza's plan. From Gil'ead they were travelling down river and would eventually pass Bullridge. Uru'bean was the next and final location after that. The thought in itself was frightening. Meeting the King certainly hadn't been anything he'd ever dreamt of. Now he wasn't given a choice.
He sighed; his dream of home still fresh in his mind didn't help the turmoil clouding him. Now that he'd been discovered as a Rider his life would never be the same. He wouldn't be permitted to have fun or play around. Any ambitions he held would also have to be put aside, all in favour for this new responsibility. His entire life would be led by King Galbatorix. Anything the King disproved of would definitely be left out of his life.
Eragon and Saphira would be kept as far away from Carvahall and anyone who wanted to use them against the King as possible. The tales of Dragon Riders had lost their charm. Yet that was truly all he had. All he had were tales and Saphira, living proof that every action had a consequence.
Saphira sent him a concerned expression but he merely shook his head and smiled. There was no need to worry about what might happen. Every day would simply have to be taken one day at a time. There had to be some bright side to living with the King. The King would need to provide something in order to keep him entertained. After all, it wouldn't do to have a disloyal Dragon Rider.
Jerking out of his thoughts, once again the carriage came to a stop. Durza opened the door but instead of another town, open field greeted them. Eragon spared Durza a questioning glance before stepping out into the open air. This at least was more comfortable than being amongst the hustle of the town. The open land was what he'd known his entire life. Here he could rest.
"You shouldn't try to escape." Durza cautioned. "I have my Urgals watching from the trees. The instant you attempt to run they will bring you back."
Eragon didn't need the warning. He wasn't stupid enough to believe he could easily outrun Durza or the Urgals. He wouldn't stand a chance. Besides he also needed to think about Sapphira. She couldn't fly yet and leaving her behind wasn't an option.
Led over to a fire, Eragon found deer already cooking. The Shade certainly moved swiftly. Luckily the Urgals remained hidden in the shadows. Eragon wasn't certain he was prepared enough to meet one of those monsters just yet. Saphira snapped impatiently bringing him back to reality. It had been awhile since either had eaten properly and the deer was tempting.
"Are you enjoying your ride?"
Eragon glared. He wasn't going to dignify that was a response. He might have needed to ask Durza a few questions but that didn't mean he was going to answer anything his captor asked. Besides who asked that question in their situation?
Saphira sent him a query image making Eragon simply shake his head. Attempting to explain why he was once again annoyed at the Shade wouldn't help anyone. Instead he sent his dragon reassuring imagery that calmed her before helping her eat, taking pieces Durza cut off for himself as well.
The silence didn't last nearly as long as Eragon had hoped.
"Is my company really that terrible?"
"You entered my home, threatened my family, and threw my Uncle and Cousin into walls before loading me into a carriage with barely any windows." Eragon stated. "I don't think you're high up on my favourite people list, no."
Durza offered a sharp smile in return.
"You can't blame me. I merely do as the King asks. If he wanted your entire family then I would have taken them as well. However he merely wants the pleasure of speaking with you."
Eragon frowned. The wording wasn't something he particularly enjoyed. He didn't want to speak with the Shade for such a long stretch of time and yet he wanted answers. Durza was the only one capable of granting him these answers at the current point in time so he would have to deal with it.
"You make it sound like I have a choice in any of this."
"Of course you don't." Durza spoke. "You'll be happier however if you believe you have small choices in this."
Sapphira sent a questioning feeling towards him. Eragon knew that she didn't quite understand what their conversation was about. She only knew Eragon wasn't feeling pleased about what he was hearing.
'Relax Saphira, I'm merely seeking information I find distasteful but need to hear. It's important I have this information for our health.'
His Dragon returned to her meal as Eragon turned his attention back towards the Shade. The various shades of red he wore were only highlighted by the light of the fire still burning. His appearance screamed danger and yet Eragon was more concerned about the Urgals surrounding them. He needed to sort out his priorities however information was more important currently.
"Why is having us so important to the King?"
Durza's sharp teeth flashed as he replied.
"The Varden managed to get a hold of that egg some time ago. The King desired to have it returned for a while now. So when information reached us that the Varden was moving the egg in the hopes it would hatch, he sent me after it. An Elf," Durza snarled, "An Elf sent the egg away before I could reach it however and this was when you discovered it. The fact it hatched for you only makes you even more of a precious item since the King never wanted these eggs to hatch in this age."
Eragon frowned. If he was more knowledgeable about the world then perhaps that would make more sense to him. However as it was, there were seveal points he didn't understand.
"Who are the Varden?"
"The Varden are a group of rebels who are against King Galbatorix's rule. They see what he did to the Dragon Rider's as treachery. They were moving the egg with the hope that when hatched it would give them an advantage to the King's own Dragon who hasn't been seen for many years."
Certainly that didn't explain quite as much as Eragon had wanted. However there had been enough information to determine that the Varden would be seeking him out when they realized the egg had hatched for him. Would they attempt to kill him? What would they do to Saphira if that was the case? Questions that led to more questions would merely have to be asked to someone with more knowledge. Hopefully the King would have answers. Hopefully the King would answer them.
"Why send it to me?" Eragon questioned.
Durza cast him a curious look the Eragon couldn't interpret before answering.
"I believe the Elf tried to send it to someone within Carvahall however her specifications weren't strong enough. Instead it appeared to the person closer to her specifications, you. However attempting to interpret her specifications in an attempt to understand why you were chosen isn't my duty."
Scowling, Eragon asked his final question.
"Why didn't the King want the eggs to hatch?"
"Memory of past events is still fresh within the minds of the people. The King desired for these events to fade from memory before he attempted to hatch any more of the eggs. Then the Riders would be loyal to him."
It made sense. Eragon could understand why the King had chosen to do this. Loyal Riders would be beneficial. Hatching them now simply wasn't something the King would find useful. Now however he had a Rider that was unknown to him, someone who couldn't even read or write. It certainly wasn't a situation anyone would favour.
"Come now little Rider, we need to be moving again."
Eragon stood and, holding Saphira, allowed Durza to lead him back to the carriage. They moved swiftly after that break. As Sapphira jumped around the carriage in boundless energy, Eragon took to staring through the bars. From what he could tell the landscape was breathtaking. He'd never seen anything quite like it. He simply wished he had his family here with him to offer some form of comfort.
The boy blinked. Had he just heard…
That had definitely been…
Eragon laughed. Exhilaration flooded him as his Dragon continued to speak his name. She chirped and jumped about allowing him to feel warm and joyful. His Dragon could speak to him! He hadn't thought Saphira would be able to speak so swiftly however when in need the other seemed to provide. Eragon had needed reassurance however he wouldn't be able to get that just yet. Cheer on the other hand was quite capable of happening.
Smiling, he leant back against the seat for once not dreading the sleep ahead of him. Eragon allowed Sapphira's thoughts to lull him to sleep.
When Eragon woke next he nearly fell out of his seat. The carriage was pulling into Uru'bean or at least that was what he assumed. Saphira confirmed it. The town's towering walls dwarfed them. Though, Eragon supposed, they would be large enough for an elderly Dragon to wander about. The streets were certainly wide enough for it.
This city wasn't something Eragon had ever planned to witness; a quiet life was all he had desired. Now however this was something else entirely. The city was a stunning place and full of life. The cities people appeared to be quite joyous. They were not afraid of Durza but were respectful as he passed by. They knew of his power and instead of angering him they showed him their awe.
Urgals were a different story. They were meant to be horrifying. Anyone in their right mind would be terrified.
This wasn't anything like Brom had explained in his stories though he was still wary. It wasn't even as he had imagined from Garrow's tales. These people abided the law. In fact they prospered under the rule of King Galbatorix. They truly had nothing to fear. Eragon on the other hand had every reason to be properly terrified.
'Eragon?' Saphira questioned.
'I'm fine, Saphira. I'm simply a little nervous about meeting the King.'
That was an understatement. Meeting the King was a rather daunting task. The man would likely have numerous questions to ask him and yet he had very little he could offer in return. Eragon couldn't name his parents. He had an Uncle and a cousin, any more than that wasn't known to him. He didn't even know whether any of them were dead or alive. So many questions and so few answers he would be able to grant the King.
The carriage door opened startling Eragon. He hadn't realized they'd arrived yet.
"Come little Rider, you are about to meet the King." Durza crooned.
Eragon gulped. His life was over.
Not entirely certain this was written as well as it could have been. Obviously certain plot stories are changing and moving forward... I don't know. I hope you enjoyed the chapter.