I, like many people, was less than thrilled by the conclusion of the Inheritance series. I wrote this months ago but have only recently found the time and confidence to post it. Expect 4-6 chapters.
One hundred years were dust in the wind. One hundred years had flown past on wings too swift to catch, and, once past, forever vanished in the folds of time.
Eragon swept the morbid thoughts abruptly aside and focused on the countryside flashing past him. With every flap of Saphira's vast wings, the wind stung his tired, dry eyes and he blinked furiously. Unwilling to miss even a moment, he stared at the stunning vista of endless plains and scattered brush that existed far below the world of sky and wing.
He had thought he would never see Alagaesia again, never fly over its high, arching peaks or sprawling cities.
And yet, here he was.
Enough, Little One. Saphira reprimanded him gently.
It feels so strange to be back. He admitted, sinking back in Saphira's saddle and wrapping his arms pensively around one of her spikes.
We don't have to do this.
I want to.
Saphira snorted and a thin blue flame shot into the air.
Okay, you want to.
She snorted again, but more carefully this time, and returned her attention to the sky before them.
Perhaps it was true that Eragon hadn't wished to return. The scars of the war had never really healed in his heart. Yet, somehow, he felt compelled, driven to return.
After leaving Alagaesia, their elven ship had encountered nothing—not land, not beast—for five and a half weeks. Finally, rising out of the mist that clung to the eastern ocean, a spire of black rock jutted sharply into the sky. The spire itself was not habitable, but another day's journey led them to an island, approximately twice the size of Vroengard, the Rider's former island base. Mor'ranr, as Blodgharm had seen fit to name it, was a land of great extremes. Snow-tipped mountains formed a ridge to the north, while a temperate forest thrived in the south.
In short, it was a land in which a broken heart might heal, in which the pain of war, betrayal, and death might retreat to a favorable distance. And Eragon had tried, as had Saphira.
Four wild dragons had hatched in the first two years, leaving them and the elves with plenty to do.
A year later, another elven ship had found Mor'ranr, bringing with it an Urgal Rider and another human. Apparently, dragons weren't quite ready for dwarves yet.
The exchange had taken place: the two Riders and dragons to stay and another three eggs to be sent to Alagaesia. Two elven spell-casters had also returned, yearning for their native land.
And so time passed.
Ships had arrived a half dozen more times over the next nine decades. Each time Eragon saw the sails appear out of the mist, his heart leapt.
Maybe, just maybe… But the queen of the elves never visited. Nor would she ever, Eragon grew to believe. Yet each time the inhabitants of the ship disembarked, his stomach twisted in bitter disappointment.
One hundred years was a long time. Time to reflect on youth and folly, truth and love. Time to regret foolish mistakes and rash judgment.
It was not enough time, however, for Eragon to forget her.
Most relationships do not last one hundred years. His relationship, he supposed, was rather a non-relationship, but it endured the absence of a century, undiminished and intact.
And so returning now was… painful. There was a part of him that yearned simply to be in her presence once again, and a part such as significant that wished to remain as far away as possible. The passing years had numbed the ache that separation had caused. Was he indescribably stupid to return and destroy the immunity of sorts that he had so painstakingly gained?
But it was good to return on the eve of the Agaeti Blodhren. In the festivities, rejoicing, and hysteria, he would simply be another face in the crowd of visitors. He could see… whomever he chose. And… certain individuals… wouldn't have to see him. Although Blodgharm and the other elves fro Mor'ranr would also be arriving, they had promised to remain in the shadows and not broadcast their presence to anyone there.
Saphira knew the somber direction of Eragon's thoughts but remained silent, merely extending her sympathy to his troubled mind.
Eventually they approached Ceris and the elven outpost contained therein.
While still hidden amongst the trees, Eragon gathered his will and slowly, almost imperceptibly, began to alter his appearance. He grew several inches taller and lightened his hair to the color of straw. Utilizing a still pool of water that had gathered in the bole of a tree, he gauged his reflection and carefully elongated his ears and nose by a fraction of an inch. Transformation complete, Sapphira left Eragon and slipped into the sky, quietly following him from afar for the rest of their journey.
Anonymity was what Eragon found himself craving suddenly. Pure anonymity. Not simply to lurk in the shadows as he had considered before, but to be so shadow-like, so utterly camouflaged with the rest of the elven race that he could move anywhere and everywhere at will.
Eragon greeted the elven watcher, a fair-haired lithe young male named Derren, cordially at the outpost. The polite yet cool greeting he received in response convinced him that his disguise was highly effective. As the watcher accompanied him to Ellesmera, Eragon slowly gained the confidence of the elf. Over the course of their week-long journey, they formed what might even be described as a true friendship, albeit new and faintly-formed.
One evening, Eragon showed him the piece of art he had prepared for the celebration. The elf's eyes locked onto the frame and remained there for an indefinite of time, scrutinizing every minute detail of the work. Upon looking away from it, Derren had looked at Eragon and—there was no other word for it—beamed. For the next several hours, he'd waxed eloquent about the beauty, the grandeur, the awe of Eragon's work of art. Privately, Eragon was pleased by the reception, if not a little embarrassed. If the others expressed even half of the appreciatation of his new-found friend, he would consider the time spent upon the piece to be worthwhile.
His questions posed ever-so-carefully to his new friend were subtle yet prodding. Derren, with the mental acuity of any elf, could see that Eragon knew a substantial amount of information about Du Weldenvarden and its inhabitants yet clearly wanted more. However, the habitual courtesy also so typical of the elven race prevented him from bringing out this fact. Derren's responses mirrored Eragon's questions. Their average conversation was not so much a conversation as a battle waged with needle thin swords. For every hint of information gleaned by one, the other received twice as much, yet promptly was outmaneuvered by the other.
From this, Eragon gained a fuzzy but accurate view of life in Alagaesia since he had left over nine decades previously. The human monarchy was tolerable; all its rulers died so quickly that momentary inconveniences between elves and men merely had to wait for a descendant to take the throne before a compromise might be achieved. With expected disdain, Derren informed him that the dwarves were still holed up in the South. The Urgals seemed content in their new lands. The few dragons were flourishing, thanks to the efforts of Eragon Shadeslayer on the faraway island of Mor'ranr. The elven queen was greatly beloved and displayed wisdom and diplomacy far beyond her years.
"Is she so young?" Eragon asked, feigning ignorance, "I remember her mate Evander was born long before my own father."
Derren eyed Eragon carefully, and finally asked his first direct question, "Has it been so long since you last walked our trails?"
Eragon studied the elf, "Aye," he murmured, "It has been a very long time."
"For the past hundred years, we have been ruled by Arya Drottning, daughter of the queen whom you knew. Queen Islanzadi was killed at the final battle. Surely you have heard of the Great War?"
"Yes, I have heard it mentioned but know little of most events." Though Eragon's tone was modulated, he could not prevent a tiny sign of relief from flashing across his face as the sound of his own voice reached his ears. He had feared the half-truth would be stopped by the wards of the Ancient Language. Invoking the power of the language's true name would easily have allowed him to lie, but it would have been difficult to do so without raising Derren's suspicions. Perhaps the fact that he, as one person, had only seen the war from his perspective allowed him to bypass the wards.
Derren's face shadowed slightly, "It was a terrible saga. One that nearly destroyed us. But for our queen and the Rider Eragon, we would have been swept from this land." His tone signaled that particular conversation's end.
Next chapter: Eragon enters Ellesmera and doesn't find quite what he expected.