Disclaimer: *plays the broken record* The Eragon franchise does not belong to me!
Author's Note: Another slight filler chapter but I thought it was pretty okay and rather necessary considering the circumstances. It's important to read though so please do so and enjoy it. As always, you guys are bloody brilliant and I know I can count on you to make my day. Hopefully some of your questions will be answered in this chapter but about Eragon's decision, he basically chose to do nothing and keep both of his Bonds. Also, I call Eragon and Saphira bond-mates but they are not in a romantic relationship. They are merely called that since Eragon's Lycanthropy makes him think in different terms. Now, with that out of the way allow me to present you with the next update.
Chapter 10: Lessons
Brom left sometime in the night after Eragon and his new dragon bond-mate had fallen asleep, leaving him little else but to follow his orders. He had protested at first when the old man told him he had to stay behind but now he had finally relented and saw reason. As much as he hated to admit it, Brom was right.
Travelling with a baby dragon who would want to explore its surroundings, fly about, hunt, and burst things into flame at every chance was not a good idea when they would have to focus all their concentration on the rescue mission. It would be far too risky considering the dragon might wander off while they were away and get hurt or even killed due to its current inability to protect itself.
Since Eragon was now the dragon's Bond-mate, he had to watch over him or her and train it in the art of flight and warfare. Somehow, Brom had produced several books on dragons, their Riders, and the training involved that he managed to salvage from his house before the riot went out of control. He left them beside Eragon's cot and the boy noticed them as he groggily opened his eyes.
He had shot up in bed upon realizing that he meant to stay awake to sneak out with Brom on the rescue mission whether the old man liked it or not. But his werewolf powers were waning and slipping. He had a dragonling to take care of and train. He now realized that was more important for the time being. It was certainly the most important thing in his life right now.
However, that important thing was currently awake and growling. It was looking outside and pawing at the floor as if it wanted to get out. Curious and worried, Eragon reached out with his mind to investigate and felt an overpowering sense of hunger coming from the little creature. The dragon gave a little squeak of surprise and then gratitude as Eragon sent a mental image of him going on a hunt and giving the baby dragon some food.
The dragon pulled back and sat back on its hind legs, folding its miniature wings elegantly at its sides. Eragon smiled fondly and patted the young dragon softly on the head. The dragon purred happily and Eragon sighed, knowing he'd have to part ways with the creature for only a short time but for both of their own good.
"I shall return," He promised, and the dragon gazed up at him with wide innocent blue eyes.
To Eragon, it was as if he was peering into a vast and deep blue lake that had no bottom and stretched on for miles. Giving himself a mental shake, he shrugged off his blanket and stepped outside.
He didn't bother to get dressed.
Instead, he closed his eyes and let his whole body relax. He hoped desperately that his powers were not fully taken from him since he needed them now more than ever to protect the baby dragon who was back in the cave waiting patiently for him.
Reaching out with his mind, Eragon sought into the depths of his consciousness. As if crossing a darkened hall and finally reaching a door, Eragon ceased groping around in the inky blackness and turned on the doorknob. The handle turned and the door opened. Glorious white light poured out of it and consumed Eragon's entire being.
The white light exploded all around him brilliantly and fantastically. It was so bright that it almost blinded him. But finally, the light abated and Eragon opened his eyes cautiously only to see the faint golden glow of dawn. Fearing the worst but hoping for the best, he glanced down at his hands and body.
A deep shuddering sigh passed through his body and he never felt more relieved than he did at that exact moment, for his body not human: He had transformed into his werewolf-form! Elated that he was still Turned and hadn't been rejected because of the Bond, Eragon howled in triumph and heard a faint roar of approval and pride in return.
He gave a fond but feral smile, realizing it was from his Bond-mate, and breathed deeply of the crisp morning air that washed over him. Enjoying being in his more natural form, he sprang into action and raced through the woods letting his paws take him wherever they would.
All too soon, Eragon's nostrils caught wind of the scent of blood and his ears perked up as they took note of a rapid heart-beat. Eragon's tongue hung out of his jaws as he panted hungrily, his own desire to feed only enhanced by his Bond-mate's hunger. Speeding up the chase, he closed his eyes and let his instincts take over.
Time flew by as he sped on to his target, what appeared to be an old limping stag with one antler broken off. He was near his end and had lived a full life. Eragon was not sad to take it from him since he knew the noble creature was currently ashamed of living so low. He could smell the creature's emotions right off him; Eragon would grant the buck a quick and painless death.
The killing blow came sooner than Eragon expected as he lunged through the air and sank his fangs into the stag's throat instead of his usual tactic in paralyzing it at its rear. Once dead, Eragon struggled not to give into his own hunger and gripped the deer by the skin over its neck like one might hold a rabbit and ambled through the trees and bushes on his hind legs.
He made haste back to the cave and sent his dragon an image of the deceased deer. The dragon growled hungrily and Eragon knew better than to take the first piece himself. He would let the dragon eat and sate his own hunger on some bread and cheese Brom left for him, after transforming back into his human self. He would then satisfy his wolf-form after his dragon was content.
Eragon didn't skin the deer or clean the meat off the bones since he knew the dragon had to learn how to do that for itself. Some might call that cruel and too strict but it would only hinder the dragon's growth and the ability to survive. If Eragon died and the dragon lived, there would be no one to do that for it so these survival skills were imperative for the dragon to learn from an early age.
With that thought in mind, Eragon turned his back on the dragon as it pounced on the fallen deer and began nipping curiously at it, to give the dragon some privacy. Meanwhile, he slipped back into his human form and conjured some water from the ground outside the cave. It was from an underwater stream a few miles below the ground that was watering the roots of the surrounding trees.
Using this water, Eragon filled up a few stone bowls and a cauldron. He set about preparing some tea and reserved some for his dragon who would surely be thirsty. He used the remainder of the water to clean himself up from the blood. While he could have used magic, it was fun to do things manually sometimes otherwise there would be no point in enjoying life if you could do everything perfectly and easily.
When he was finished cleaning up and eating his own breakfast, Eragon dressed in his clothes and returned his attention to the dragon who was currently licking its body like a cat, cleaning itself of the blood since it was finished eating. Eragon grinned at the sight and cast a quick spell over the meat so it would stay fresh for several hours. He then placed it in a pot and set it aside.
Once the dragon was finished with its business, Eragon held out his arm and bowed low before the dragon. The creature looked up at him curiously with wide intelligent eyes that made Eragon feel fond again, much to his annoyance. He was starting to act like a blubbering old grandmother not strong and in control like the werewolf, and now Dragon Rider, he was!
Suddenly, a stranger gravelly noise erupted from the dragon and Eragon blinked in confusion. At first, he thought the dragon was choking or sensed a threat whether in him or someone else. Perhaps he should have diced the meat after all? Maybe they were not alone? Had one of the soldiers from the village escaped and followed them here? Shoving all the worries aside, he reached out through the Bond and was startled to find not fear or anger but amusement on the dragon's end.
And then Eragon realized the dragon was laughing! Once he got over his shock, he grinned for the dragon's mirth at his expense was affective and he realized the dragon was laughing at his thought about becoming like an old grandmother. It was rather amusing in a way since he was now had to watch over this baby dragon so a faint chuckle escaped his lips and then it turned into all-out laughter as he caved and joined in on the dragon's humour.
Both Rider and Dragon were laughing and laughing until Eragon's sides hurt and great tears of mirth rolled down his cheeks. It felt good to laugh after all his sorrow, rage, and anxiety. He had almost forgotten what it was like to laugh, the sound felt so alien and foreign to him that at first he wasn't sure it was from his lips at all. But now he was certain of it and laughed until his voice was hoarse. When he couldn't laugh any longer, Eragon sank onto the ground and hugged his knees to his chest.
A smile lit up his face as the dragon hiccupped after laughing so hard and jumped around as tiny puffs of smoke escaped its nostrils due to the hiccupping. As a result of jumping, the baby dragon's wings subsequently flapped and carried it a few inches up in the air. Eragon watched in amazement as the dragon flew for the first time in its life only to land on the ground with a squeak of surprise and then stumble slightly as it tripped over a pebble on the ground.
Luckily, the dragon was unharmed and was quite all right. In fact, it wanted to try it again and again but Eragon knew that he couldn't let the dragon push itself beyond exhaustion point lest the dragon seriously hurt itself. There was also one important factor that he wanted to address before they got distracted with the rigors of training and got set into their daily schedule. The problem was that Eragon couldn't simply keep calling the dragon: Dragon.
It needed a name and the young shape-shifter had a slight inkling that the books Brom left for him had a few options for him. Heaving a sigh, he scooped the dragon up in his arms ignoring the struggles and squeaks of protest. The dragon could have nipped him or burned him but didn't since it enjoyed the feeling of being in its Bond-mate's arms, like a child would a parent, and Eragon could tell this from his side of the Bond. It was far more appreciation than his Lycanthropy earned him!
Once inside the cave, Eragon set the dragon down by the fire and the little creature was soon mesmerized by the dancing dead embers. As if missing the warmth, the dragon tried letting out another tongue of flame to light the fire but these attempts were feebler than the others whether or not it was from the flying and jumping around. With a smile on his face, Eragon sat on his cot with his back to the wall and dragged the ancient dusty tomes onto his lap.
Eventually, he found one that was called How to Name Your Dragon. It looked old and worn as if many previous Dragon Riders had used it in the past and the notion sent a warm feeling in Eragon, a faint glimmer of hope that he might not be alone in the world. Heaving a sigh, he shook his head to cast off such thoughts and returned his attention to the book. Leafing through it, he scanned through the pages.
One part of his magical training involved the reading of spells and such. This meant he had to learn how to read so as to translate spells from other languages into the Ancient Language and the other way around since some spells were written in tomes, scrolls, and other records. It was tedious work though, reading the book about naming dragons, since a dragon's name was extremely important and often announced in a formal naming ceremony.
The dragon was most often named according to a particular trait that was especially obvious about it. It could be a colour, habit, or method of fighting that the creature was famous, or infamous, for: Something that defined the dragon. Sometimes, the dragon chose its name but such was not usually the case since most dragons were not smart enough to pick their own names when the ceremony was held which occurred traditionally three days after the Bond was formed.
This usually gave the Dragon Rider enough time to get acquainted with his or her Bond-mate and decide what trait would make up its name. This left Eragon in a quandary since he didn't quite know whether the dragon was a male or female or what was a deciding trait about it. A few names sprung to mind and he sifted through them experimentally. As if reading his thoughts again, the dragon stopped playing about and twisted its body about to gaze thoughtfully at Eragon.
Several names pushed to the forefront of his mind amongst them being: Flame-tongue, the dragon's first act was to unleash a tongue of flame; Silver-Veins, due to the silvery veins on its egg; Hope, no explanation there; Storm-breaker, since the dragon broke the storm of Eragon's grief and sadness on the mountaintop when it came to him; and one more – Saphira, due to the colour of the dragon's scales which were like the colour of a sapphire stone.
Throughout this whole time, the dragon had been shaking its head as if disagreeing about all the names. But when Eragon reached Saphira it paused, hesitating. Eragon hadn't thought the dragon was a female but thrown the name in since the previous ones were male and it was only fair since it might as well have been a female. Luck seemed to favour him for the dragon froze as it seemingly deliberated and then began nodding almost feverishly.
Eragon's eyes widened in pleasant surprise as he realized the dragon was indeed female. Cautiously, he reached through the bond to investigate feeling. The dragon sent him a very distinct image revealing that it was indeed a woman and not a male making Eragon's mind scramble backwards hastily. His face flamed bright red and the dragon burst into that gravelly laughter again, shaking its neck back and forth its whole body trembling with humour.
Despite Eragon's casualness to nudity due to his constant transformations into his werewolf-form, he was still slightly embarrassed since he had been in his human-form for a while and that personality was more dominant currently than his werewolf-side. Needless to say, it was a rather awkward moment as Eragon recovered from the surprise and mulled over the name his dragoness chose in his head.
"Saphira," He murmured. "Saphira..."
The dragon's laughter came to a halt, ending abruptly in another hiccup, as it stared inquisitively at Eragon. It's eyes sparkled brightly as it heard its name aloud and the baby dragon hopped onto Eragon's lap, curling into a ball.
"Saphira," Eragon said softly but louder this time.
And so it was.
The dragon was named Saphira and Eragon was rather pleased with himself. The dragon seemed pleased too although, perhaps, for a different reason. But Eragon didn't have time to puzzle it out though since he was soon quite busy, more so than he expected.
Training Saphira was hard work especially when he took her out into the forest to practice stalking and hunting, since it was best to ingrain these habits at an early age. But playing with his dragoness and simply enjoying quiet moments with her was more than enough a reward and soon, Eragon forgot about Brom as the months flew by and Saphira began to grow.
Then the training took place in earnest as Eragon taught Saphira flying makeovers from the training manuscripts Brom left him and how to block her mind from evil magicians and the like. It was tough work and often left Eragon drained, but frequent trips to the Void helped him overcome that weariness and gave him the strength to continue.
He was rewarded furthermore when Saphira was old enough to speak his name and begin learning how to talk through their minds. It was much like teaching a child how to read and Eragon wondered if he was just as tough as when Brom and Tenga taught him.
Whatever the case, dragons were genius creatures and fast learners. Saphira grew with each passing day until she was soon large enough and strong enough to be ridden and Eragon's first flight on her back was one of the most glorious things he had ever experienced in his life. He felt like he was on top of the world and could control everything.
Saphira reprimanded him of course and Eragon apologized, vowing to never take her for granted. Throughout all this time, Eragon struggled whether or not to keep his Lycanthropy from Saphira a secret.
He knew hiding the matter would be detrimental to their relationship but he did not want to offend her knowing that he was also bonded to another creature who, apparently, were rivals with dragons in a long-forgotten past and it was that rivalry that drove the werewolves to hiding in the Spine where the terrain was too obstructive for the dragons to reach them.
So Eragon decided to keep it a secret and simply asked Saphira to trust him whenever she queried about the part of his mind he blocked off. Being the kind and caring soul she was, Saphira agreed without hesitation, something Eragon knew would stab him in the back later on. But he was able to ignore the pain as time wore on.
One year passed.
It was a strenuous day of training as Eragon had formed practice dummies from straw and branches and gave them a spark of life to make them move, feigning a threat. He and Saphira would then use different techniques of aerial warfare to defeat them.
It was long and hard work and Eragon was exhausted. There was only so much strength they could boost each other with through their Bond and by wielding magic. Needless to say, Eragon needed his sleep. Saphira was resting outside, enjoying slumbering beneath the stars as the Wild Dragons of old used to.
For his part, Eragon was grateful for the frail, well-worn cot and the blanket he had crafted anew from a few mountain goats' hides. Tired out of his mind, Eragon dropped off to sleep the moment his head hit the coarse pillow.
- PAGE BREAK -
He was drifting through space.
Stars twinkled brightly. Nebulas flourished gloriously like a sentient magical being. Planets hung in the sky as they rotated on their axis.
All was silent.
He had tried to reach the Void but could not find the Spirit Paths.
For some reason, they failed him.
Now he was afloat in the heavens and might not find his way back to his body. He was trying not to panic and failing miserably.
Then, a voice echoed through his mind.
Eragon! The voice said mournfully.
And it was not from any of his werewolf pack. It was not from Saphira either. Who could it be?
Eragon! I am calling you. Why do you not answer me? The voice asked sadly.
Who are you? Eragon asked warily.
I am Brom or rather I used to be him, The voice replied.
BROM? Eragon exclaimed.
Suddenly, memories flashed rapidly through Eragon's mind making him reel with shock, fear, and despair.
He had completely forgotten about his mentor! He was supposed to team up with Brom when Saphira was fully grown. They were to meet a village called Teirm.
What had happened to Brom now? Was the old man still alive? Had he succeeded or failed in his mission? Was Arya rescued? Or were they both dead?
ERAGON! The voice, now recognizable as belonging to Brom, roared. Listen and learn, boy. I do not have much time to chat.
Eragon could not say a word for so great was his shame.
Instead, he merely nodded or did his best to for he was having some sort of vision, trapped in his dreams.
I cannot say much for I am running out of time, Brom continued. Follow my instructions carefully boy or else we shall be all doomed.
Eragon listened carefully as Brom told him what to do and vowed to accomplish the task to the best of his ability.
Fair thee well, Boy, Brom said sadly. May the stars watch over you.
Good bye, Brom, Eragon said slowly, confused about his latter greeting.
And Eragon, Brom called back one last time as the boy in question felt his soul being sucked back to the mortal plains of existence.
Yes? Eragon asked nervously.
Guard your dragon with your life, Brom instructed soberly. For without her, life is not worth living.
And with that foreboding warning, Eragon felt himself being pulled into a massive vortex of raw power back to the world. He heard a dragon's roar, a female's scream, and arrows flying all about. The clashing of swords echoed tremendously in his head.
But then it felt as if he had been plunged face-first into the water and was fighting not to choke to death. After flailing about for quite some time, Eragon returned to himself and awoke with a start, jolting into a sitting position.
He was drenched in a cold sweat and his hair was a wreck. He looked like he had been stomped on by a dragon, wacked about by a dragon's tail, and burned in a torrent of dragon fire.
His whole body throbbed with pain and he was trembling like a leaf. Eragon felt colder than he had in his life and hugged himself as he shivered mercilessly.
Eragon! Saphira roared in his mind. Where have you been? You were thrashing and screaming in your bed. I tried to wake you but you were lost to me. How do you fair? Tell me you are well!
The plaintive cry in his dragon's voice broke Eragon's already shattered heart. He could feel nothing but pain and regret now. How could he be so pathetically stupid?
Heaving a sigh, he turned his head forcing himself to look at Saphira who had craned her neck in the mouth of the cave.
I have made the worst mistake of my life, my dragon, Eragon said mournfully to Saphira. And now I must atone for it.
We, Saphira growled warningly but gently. We shall atone for it. We will set things right, Little One. Do not fear.
The ghost of a smile lit up Eragon's face briefly but then faded just as fast as he recalled what that atonement would entail. His face turned grim as he returned his attention to Saphira.
Aye, He said sorrowfully. But we must make haste for time is not our ally in this venture and there are two lives on the line now.
Indeed, Saphira acknowledged. But eat first and freshen up a bit. You can't defeat your enemies on an empty stomach.
Eragon smiled at Saphira and nodded but his heart wasn't in it, if there was anything left in his heart at all. He wasn't hungry at all and wondered if he ever would be.
He needed to plan and plan fast.
TO BE CONTINUED!
A/N: Soooo... Good? Bad? Terrible? How did I do? And what is this mysterious task Eragon has to do? Will things work out as Eragon hopes? Comment, critique, and stay tuned for the next update to find out!