AN: Another Inheritance Cycle story! This fandom has drilled a hole into my brain, and until I finish getting out all the ideas it has given me, you'll be seeing quite a bit of my. I hope you all like this! :)
Disclaimer: I do not own the inheritance Cycle. CP does.
High in her treetop tower, Arya could hear her people wailing, mourning the greatest of the losses they had faced in many years, but she did nothing to address or console them.
How could she, when her heart had yet to accept the truth behind their tears?
Blödhgarm's message had arrived almost two days ago, yet the forest still rang with the elves' cries, unable, for the first time she knew, to control their emotions in face of the ending of ones so dear. Far in the distance, she could hear Firnen shrieks of pain rippling in the wind, wrapping around her like a series of chains that bound her. His grief leaked through the wall that had barred shut his mind, leaving a blurring film over her eyes as she stared out her window, just listening to the world around her. Her own emotions were still, silent, as if they were waiting for a single word to break the wall she had built around her heart, allowing her to follow her people into the throws of anguish.
But she had promised herself long ago that he would never again be the cause of her tears, and so she refrained.
Word had long ago reached the ears of the elves that a Lethrblaka had somehow managed to reach the island that had been claimed as home for the newest Dragon Riders, finally the last of its kind since the elves had finally managed to hunt down and destroy the last of the eggs almost sixty years ago. The creature had quickly set up a nest on the far side of the island, an inhospitable place that all but a few foolish younglings avoided at all costs. Although he had been unhappy about, Eragon had allowed the creature to stay, placing wards around the edge of the small territory he permitted it to have so as to warn him the moment it it entered his lands and became a threat to his students. With every student scared into submission to never enter that world, for many years an uneasy truce had existed between the Riders and the creature, each leaving the other to their own until it was finally time for the Lethrblaka to die and pass into memory as the last of the hunters of man.
Peace ended the moment two stupid hatchlings decided to try their hand at monster hunting.
They were wild dragons, two young males that had taken an interest in the same female and, so as to spare any bloodshed between the two of them, had decided to rid their home of the evil that festered on its far side. Who ever landed the killing blow would be claimed victor, and allowed the try their mettle at being the female's mate. With that resolve in mind, they had set off to kill their prey.
Her fists clenching, Arya bit deep into her lip, the slight but unprepared for pain allowing her to stop the poisonous thoughts that were threatening to consume her, the idea that, maybe, if it wasn't for them, none of this would have happened.
If Eragon and Saphira had never gone after them, even though the two males would have perished, they wouldn't have.
From the way Blödhgarm had spoken, it had seemed as if the journey was to be quick and simple, Eragon and Saphira swiftly flying out to scold the two younglings and escort them from the territory, leaving the creature none the wiser that its home had been invaded. Once they were gone, Saphira was going to use the two of them as an example to the other wild dragons as to why none were to break the few laws she and Eragon had imposed over all the Riders and Dragons, bound and wild alike. Her strength and size would have been more then enough for the two little ones, both of whom had only just recently gotten their flames.
But they hadn't taken into account that the Lethrblaka might have taken to hunting for its scarce prey during the day, since nothing that lived in its environment was nocturnal, or the idea that, with food so scarce, it was starving enough to try and take on three dragons in hopes of a meal.
The battle had been brief but brutal, the creature fueled by the desperate hunger that had gnawed at its stomach for years, its four victims unprepared for the threat it posed. Startled by its appearance, the two hatchlings had fled, leaving their leaders to fight for their own. Ready for their hunt to finally be over, Eragon and Saphira had returned the attack, driving the creature further and further into the desert, where they finally slew the creature. Where an unknown spell, placed by the last remaining priests of Helgrind, activated by the Lethrblaka's death, killed them both.
A icy hand clenched around her heart as she turned towards the mirror that had hung near her window for the past hundred years, a chill running down her spine as she stared into its murky depths. As if on command, the face she had been longing to see formed within its surface, her unintentional magic drawing it forward so that she could see every detail that she had so loved. Watching as his students went about preparing him for his funeral, the gravity of the situation finally hit her.
Bowing her head, for the last time, Arya mourned for loss of the first Dragon Rider of the new era, and cried for the death of the man she loved.
If she was to be honest with herself, and if she was to forgo humility for a moment there, she could admit that she was one of the best crime scene investigators there was, one of the few who could look into the darkness that make up humanity and still be able to sleep at night. In just the five years she had been working homicide, she had seen serial killers, cannibals, necrophiliacs, stalkers, and just about everything else that could possibly be thrown at someone in such a short amount of time. She had seen it, dealt with it, and was still strong enough at the end of each day to hang up her badge and go home to a nice bubble bath and a good book without giving the horrors she faced another thought. As previously stated, she was one of the best.
For some reason, this broke her.
The moment she laid eyes upon his face, it seemed as if the world had slid out from beneath her, sending her hurtling into a dark abyss she had seen but never touched. Tears raced down her face as she fell to her knees, a scream building within her chest as a voice that was both hers and yet not her own wailed with grief at the sight of this nameless yet so familiar corpse. A soft whimper was all that passed through her clenched teeth, but it was more then enough to gather the startled attention of her partner.
"Hey, are you okay?"
And suddenly, she was. No longer was she possessed by the urge to shout out an already fading name that had laid heavily upon her tongue since she had seen him, nor did her eyes burn and water with the intense sorrow that had just moments before been pressing against her heart. Drying her face on the cuff of her sleeve, she forced herself nod and answer, just as she always had and always would.
"Yah, just thought it was someone I knew. Turns out I was wrong. Can you hand me some gloves?"
Although her voice was calm and her hands were steady, she knew that, somewhere, deep within the confines of her mind, she was still crying for the death of the unknown man before her. And little did she know that she always would be.
In the couple of moments after he first saw her, he quickly came to three heart wrenching conclusions.
The first, of course, was that, somehow, despite having never met this girl before, he knew her. He didn't know how he knew her, for it easily clear that they had never spoken to each other before in their lives, else he was sure he would have remembered. Nor could he have caught a glance of her walking down the street, for as far as he was aware, she had flown in especially for the wedding he was currently catering. It was the groom's hometown, and while both he and the bride lived half way around the world, he had wanted to tie the knot in the place he still considered home. So, although there was no way he could have ever met her before, somehow, he knew her.
The second was that he loved her. Perhaps it was just his mind playing tricks upon him, perhaps it was the same force that had convinced him he well knew this woman he had only known for a few seconds, but whatever it was, he knew he loved her. And it wasn't the easily healed from and gotten over crushes and attractions that had littered his life until this point. No, this was the heart pounding pain that would destroy him if she wasn't his, his to love and care for and protect. It was the chain that bound him to her, one that he didn't really believe could be broken. It was the fact that he would love this woman that he knew nothing about for the rest of his life.
The third, the one that made his world and heart shatter into a thousand irrepairable pieces, was the fact that they could never be together. For even as their eyes met and he saw the same realizations come to life within hers, that damn bridal waltz started up and took her, step by step, away from him and into the arms of her soon-to-be husband.
There had been very few things, if any, that she had been sure about over the course of her long and tiring life, for very little of it had made sense, and the parts that had had always led to heartbreak and tears. Because of this, life, as far as she could tell, had been nothing more then one long regret.
But if there was anything she was sure about at this very moment, it was that she was dying.
The fact that she was dying alone instead of surrounded by family and friends, which was how most people always imagined as the way they would pass, was not what had been bothering her for the last few hours she had managed to stay alive. Nor was it the many regrets she had in life that was keeping her from silently slipping into the blessed peace she craved.
It was the fact that she couldn't help but feel like something was missing from the world.
Of course, some might say that she missing her lost potential, that, in her final hours, she was feeling the loss of everything that could have been hers, but that now wasn't. She would have to say they were wrong. On the issue of family, she had had many suitors throughout her life, had even been engaged to be married once or twice, but had loved any of them. Even without a husband, she had had many chances to become a mother, to bear and raise a child to follow after her, but none of the potential fathers had seemed right to her, as if every man were being compared to a set of standards that none of them could ever hope to match. And so, she had passed on becoming a mother.
Of her life, the only thing no one could find fault with was her work. An ambassador of peace, it had been her job and her goal to one day find a world where war was no longer a threat, where all the people of the land could live together without the thought of driving a sword through their hearts the moment their backs were turned. And amazingly, years ago, she had succeeded. Had watched as enemies took up the banner of friendship, as their children played together in the parks and streets while their parents enjoyed a civil conversation with the neighbors. It was a wonderful world, and she was glad to have been the one to help it come into being.
But still something was missing.
As she laid in her bed, she couldn't help but sign as she listened to the sounds of the hospital around her, the normally annoying noises that floated through her open door soothing in her last moments of life. For some reason, there was comfort in the knowledge that, even after she was gone, the peace she had worked so hard for would continue to live on. Every life that had been lost would be praised by those that came after, and every child could sleep easy knowing that they were safe. No longer would those that were to be their friends and mentors hurt them, nor would they have to expect pain to come.
Finally, the world was at peace.
Closing her eyes for one last time, the sound of an infant crying reached her ears, somehow louder and more important then the white noise she had been dying to all morning. At the sound, her heart began pounding against her chest, painfully pulling her away from the sleep she sought to the world she wished to leave. Her teeth clenched together, her hands curled into almost claws, she didn't realize why the pain had hit her until the tears started to slip from her eyes, her body relaxing as the child fell silent. In that one moment, just long enough for her to mourn what she was going to miss, her world became whole.
Now, she could find her own peace, because even if she was gone, at least he, the one she had been waiting and working for, would live in the world she had built for him.
Her life done, she took one last breath and died.
It was easy, in the summer heat and the good cheer of the festival, to forget one's position in the world.
He knew, oh he knew that, had it not been this time, this place, he would have never dared to have asked for her hand in a dance, for it just wasn't something that was done. He, a lowly farmer, and a poor one at that, who had come only to sell the extra produce he had managed to grow, would normally never have been given a second glace by a lady as fine as the one on his arm, but the sight of her solemn face amongst so much joy had put an ache on his heart, and so he had asked her to join him.
Of course, he had no knowledge of a name, for most of the women of the high court kept their identities safe from the outside world, lest their names be matched with slander and abuse. However, from the missing ring on her finger and the way her hair flowed free from any combs or ties, he was able to assume that she was unmarried and without a beau, and so far game to all on this wonderful night. So, without fear of retribution or of stepping in on another man's territory, he had braved the guards that surrounded her and offered his hand.
And she had accepted. She had been shocked, at first, a bit surprise that someone would stand the glares of the men that surrounded her to approach, but once she had regained her senses, the most beautiful smile he had ever seen on a woman's face had flashed over hers, sending a bolt of lightning down his spine. Taking her hand in his, he had led her out onto the floor and, placing his hand upon her hip while hers settled on his shoulder, they began to twirl.
Again, he could tell that she was surprised by his actions, though this time he suspected that she hadn't thought he would be able to really dance in the proper manner of the song, that he would instead be clumsy and fumbling as he attempted the many steps and turns that were required. He had thought that she would be right, but luckily, the many lessons his mother had forced him and his brother through as children had come rushing back once the music had begun, allowing him to quickly save face from an otherwise failed attempt at having a bit of fun.
And fun it was, for as one song flowed into the next, so did they seamlessly move from one set of steps to the other. Neither of them talked as words were not needed, for it was in the silent discussions they had with their eyes and the simple messages that rang through their occasional laughter that came to know each other, to grow that initial bond into something that, given the chance, might become real.
But it never could.
"Princess," someone called as they jogged up behind her, their hand coming to rest upon her shoulder in a successful attempt to keep him from twirling her away. "Princess," the nameless man said once more, his voice attentive as he focused solely upon her. "You mother, the Queen, would like to speak with you."
As soon as her mother had been mention, the woman in his arms stiffened, her joyous smile quickly replaced with the same mask she had been wearing before he had asked her to join him. Carefully disengaging from his hold, she nodded and waved the man away, waiting until he was out of sight before turned back to him.
As soon as their eyes met, he could tell from the pang in his heart and the slight frown upon her lips that he was never going to see her again, that this would be the last time the two were ever to meet. Hiding the growing sorrow that was condensing into a stone within his throat, he simply took her hand, placed a quick kiss onto the back of her fingers, and bowed.
Then, without another glance, the poor farmer returned to his stand, leaving the only woman he might have been able to say he truly loved behind with a heartbreaking expression upon her face.
He had never thought, not once in his life ever believed, that he could find his one true love sitting on a train.
Of course, he had heard about the possibility from many of his friends as, one by one, they found their 'soul mate,' or whatever other name they had come up with to explain that silly nonsense. He himself had never been one to put much faith in the fairy tale love he had heard so much hype about when he had been younger, for life had quickly taught him that love was nothing more then a temporary condition that faded after one too many mistakes were made. To him, love was nothing more then two people agreeing to come together in a semi-peaceful union to secure the next generation of their species until they couldn't bare the sight of the other any longer and left. Sometimes, the spilt was peaceful and mutual, but more often then not it was messy and hard for all those involved. It was because of this that he was sure he was going to remain a bachelor for a long, long time.
That is, until he saw her.
Perhaps it was the way the artificial lighting hit her as it shone through the rain, or perhaps it was the way her face was tilted so she could read the book that was in her lap, but no matter what it was, the moment he saw her, something inside of him just clicked. It was as if every decision, every choice, every word he had ever spoken and every thought that had ever race through his mind had all been leading up to this one moment in time.
It was as if his entire life had been leading up to him seeing her face.
Dropping his bags even as her train began to pull out of the station, not caring about the almost five hundred dollars of equipment that would be on his head to pay for if they were damaged that were in them, he took off across the station, his eyes never once letting her out of his sight. Racing towards her as fast as he could, weaving around those he would have otherwise put before himself, he could just reach out and touch the metal siding of the train when an iron band of an arm slammed into his chest, knocking the air from him lungs even as it forced him to a halt.
"Whoa there, fella. That train's already gone now, and I don't need you falling off the edge onto the tracks after it. There you go now."
Nodding numbly, he allowed the guard to escort him back to his bags, all the while not taking in a single word the older man said as they walked. In fact, for the rest of the day and much of the next, only one thought could make its way across his mind, making him more useless then the heartbroken fools he normally worked with.
He had finally found the one, and now she was gone.
They were three when they first met, thrown outside to play together by tired mothers who wanted nothing more then to be able to relax for more then five minutes at a time.
For almost two hours they tried to ignore each other, instead immersing themselves in their own various activities while their moms discussed getting crayon off the walls. It wasn't until he picked up a stick to use as a sword against his imaginary foe that she even took notice that he was there, her eyes slightly wide as she watched him slash and hack at the enemy before him. Noticing that she was watching, he gallently offered to rescue her from the evil dragon that kept her locked high in her tower, to be her knight in shinning armor. Instead, a grin growing across her face, she had picked up her own stick and declaired that dragons were friends, after which the two of them battled their way across the land to kill the evil king that awaited, their dragons at their back as the freed the world from tyrany. From that day forward, they were the best of friends.
They were eighteen when they promised themselves to each other.
Of course, it wasn't a promise of marriage, or even a promise to not date other people. Instead, it was a promise that they would give 'them' a chance one day. She was staying in town, going to the state university a few miles outside of town to gain the education she had always known she would. He was leaving to travel the world, to find out who he was as he learned the exact same things she was going to, only through experience instead of the books she would come to know. Eventually, they both knew they would trade places, that they would come to learn each other's world in the way only they could, but until then, they would follow their own paths through life. So, as he turned to board the plane that would take him away from her, they promised that, one day, they could try. But neither could promise anything more then that.
They were twenty-five when they finally got tied the knot, their mothers crying as she walked down the isle so the two of them could be forever joined. But even as their family and friends gathered around to congratulate them on their marriage, neither of them could see anything past the eyes of their beloved.
They were twenty-seven when they finally conceived, their child finally deciding that it was time for them to become parents. They were at their happiest then, for although both of them had had many different plans for the future, a family had been part of it. Eagerly awaiting the day they both most looked forward too, for nine months they waited to see their beautiful little girl.
They were twenty-eight when she was stillborn.
'Incompatible,' they were told, time and again by many different doctors, the faces and names running together until they were no more then a set of lips speaking the exact same message. 'Just never ment to be.' It broke their hearts, and for a while they considered ignoring the advice they had been given time and again, instead deciding to make their own fates.
It only took one miscarriage and a terrifying hospital stay for them to give up on the idea of ever having children.
The years passed, the fresh sorrows in their hearts growing old and scarred with each passing day, until the lack of the sound of young voices and high-pitched squeels no longer pained them. Instead, they filled the emptiness and silence with each other, taking delight each time they heard the other's laugh or saw the love in their eyes. They had each other, and for them, it was enough.
One night, when they were both old and tired, weary of the world and ready for the next, a sentence formed on his tongue, racing across his mind to block out all thoughts until he said it. Turning so he was closer to her, he gently tugged at her hand til her head rested against his chest, his nose buried into her hair as he whispered the thought.
"We've finally done it."
Although her smile was quizzical, her own response came just as quickly, with no hint of hesitation within her voice as she spoke.
"That we did love, that we did."
Wrapped in each other's arms, for the last time, the two of them drew their final breaths and, together, finally passed into the void.