It was a sickeningly pleasant and beautiful day that met Eragon's eyes the next morning. Walking out groggily from his tent, he unhappily took in the clear blue sky and the golden rising sun, the excited twittering of the birds above his head and the bubbles of sound from the waking Varden camp around him. It was disgusting to him. How could the world possibly have the nerve to go on after all the death of the preceding day? Roran was dead, for god's sake. If he couldn't go on, why was everyone else allowed to? Why was everything so goddamn unfair?
He took a deep breath, steadying himself before his emotions swept him away even further. He was thinking illogically. Roran was gone, like countless others before him. The time of being weak was over. His cousin would not have wanted him to mourn himself into oblivion, forgetting the task before him. Just as Arya said to him last night, he must continue on, even though his cousin could not. He must destroy Galbatorix and bring peace once again unto the land.
It was simple.
Shaking his head slightly, as if trying to rid himself of the pain-filled thoughts storming inside his mind, he walked over to where Saphira was sleeping next to his tent.
An immense torrent of love and affection suddenly besieged his mind as soon as he laid eyes on his dragoness. She was his protector, through and through. The partner of his mind and soul. He knew without a doubt that she would be there for him, no matter what misfortune befell him. Guilt flowed through him as he thought of the way he had treated her in the days previously. He had pushed her away in her attempts to comfort him in order to wallow in his despair alone. He hadn't been a good rider to her, while she was trying her best to be a good dragon to him. Frowning, he crouched down and put his hand on her cheek.
"I'm sorry Saph." He whispered to her sleeping form, echoing his words to Arya from the night before.
Her eyes snapped open at the words and she took in the shame filled rider at her side. Without hesitation, she rose to her feet and nudged him closer to her body with the underside of her jaw until he was pressed up against her chest.
Oh little one. She breathed over him warmly. Do not be sorry. It's okay. It has been a hard time for the both of us. I understand.
"But I haven't been open with you as a good rider should be." He protested guiltily. "I have closed my emotions off from both you and sometimes even myself. Like a coward. I am a coward."
No! She disagreed forcefully. Never a coward. You are my Eragon, the bravest and most wonderful man I have come to know. You are the farthest thing from cowardly, especially after what you have had to endure in the past weeks. No one would dare to refute that fact.
Eragon's features softened and his lips twitched into a smile. He wrapped his arms around her broad chest as best as he could and hugged her in the weird way that only riders and dragons were able to.
"Thank you." He whispered quietly into her scales. They stood like that for a long moment, with him embracing her significantly larger torso and with her head arched tenderly over his body.
Eventually though, they had to return to reality. Saphira lifted her head and he stepped away from her, feeling tremendously better, but knowing at the same time that his problems and tasks were not magically gone.
Releasing a long sigh, he rubbed his forehead.
"I have to go talk with Katrina now. I'm sure someone has told her the news already, but I need to be there for her. We must discuss Roran's funeral as well. It should be done before we set out again for the next city." He said wearily, a frown already on his face. Sadness at what happened assaulted him once again as soon as he thought of the new widow and the funeral that was unfortunately necessary.
Saphira nodded her head solemnly.
Go. Do what you must. I will be hunting, but know that I am with you in spirit, little one.
The blue rider nodded and patted her on the cheek once more before glumly setting off to find Katrina and the rest of the Carvahall villagers. Seconds later, he heard from behind him his dragoness taking off for hunting. He missed her comforting physical and mental presence already, but immediately shoved those emotions away. He must be strong. It would only make things worse for Katrina, and everyone for that matter, if he appeared weak. Yes. He must be strong. Roran would've wanted it that way.
News of Eragon's cousin's death reached Thorn and Murtagh's ears quickly, as most news usually does when one is in a camp populated by gossiping humans. The information sobered the red pair instantly.
Thorn, who had quickly overcome the dislike he once harbored for Eragon, mourned in sympathy for the unfortunate rider.
The vermillion dragon had never once met this so called "Roran Stronghammer", but he knew that the death of this two legged would affect his rider's brother greatly. Even more so because of the tenuous mental state the man was already in because of Sarissa. Worried, he revealed his concerns to Murtagh.
Small one? He asked him, interrupting the man's cleaning of sharp-red-misery-sword-Zar'roc inside his tent.
"Yeah?" Murtagh answered aloud. In Thorn's mind-eye he saw that his rider still continued to polish the sword but had lent his dragon his full mental attention.
I worry for your pointy-eared-blue-rider-brother.
Murtagh's mouth screwed into a frown and he nodded.
"I do too, Thorn."
His treatment by Sarissa and the death of his kinsman will have hurt him very much. Do you think we should talk to him?
The red rider sighed and wiped a piece of his chin length black hair out of his face.
"Aye. I think we should. I'll try to find him later today. Maybe you could speak with Saphira too to see how he's doing."
Excitement immediately swirled in Thorn's belly at the thought of talking with the fearsome and gorgeous blue dragoness. He hadn't had very many chances to talk with her in the time they had known each other as allies, so the prospect of finally having a real conversation with her filled Thorn's mind completely.
Murtagh chuckled when he took in his dragon's thoughts.
"You're absolutely smitten, you know that?" The man teased, smiling.
Thorn didn't bother getting defensive.
I suppose I am. The crimson dragon answered, unabashed. He took off to find her the very next second, leaving his amused rider behind on the ground.
Still chuckling at his dragon's antics, Murtagh finished cleaning Zar'roc with a grin upon his face. He was beyond delighted that the young dragon had finally gotten a taste of what freedom was. The Varden offered the red pair many liberties that they had never quite gotten under Galbatorix's rule. The fact that Thorn was able to fly off whenever he wished made the young dragon's heart soar. He had always been very headstrong in captivity, and frequently whined to Murtagh about how he was jealous of Saphira with the way she was able to do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. Galbatorix, no matter how much the cruel man tried, could never seem to be able to stamp that inherent emotion out of the crimson fledgling. Almost constant torture made Thorn utterly obedient, but never to the point of relinquishing his dearest and most ingrained hope. In that way, Thorn was always the more rebellious and brave of the duo.
That is, until they had changed their true names. Murtagh liked to think that when they finally succeeded in doing that, his own mettle had changed as well. He couldn't quite place his finger on it, but for some odd reason, he felt more courageous now. Like nothing could stop him, not even the psychotic fool that was the king of the Empire.
As soon as Zar'roc was shining once again, Murtagh shook his head of his musings and reluctantly got to his feet to go find his brother. His muscles screamed in soreness as he did so, acting as testament to his exertions the previous night. It had been slightly odd to him during the battle, fighting against the people he had once been forced to call allies, but he very quickly got over those qualms as soon as the first furious insult had reached his ears.
"You traitorous bastard!" One of his victims had fearfully slurred to him before the red rider dispatched him. "I hope Galbatorix tortures you greatly for your betrayal, you piece of scum!"
Murtagh hadn't regretted it in the slightest when Zar'roc sliced off the soldier's head. But the man's words still angered him.
Pay no heed to him, small one. Thorn had comforted while roasting a dozen soldiers to death with his fire. A moronic peasant such as he should have no say over your actions or the consequences to them.
The red rider had sent his gratitude and agreement through the link, and then continued on with the bloody business that was a battle. He had studiously disregarded any ignorant remarks from the Belatonian men from that point on.
Present-day Murtagh smiled wryly at the memory. He and Thorn had wreaked havoc during that battle. He imagined Eragon and Saphira had done the same, for they were just as terrifying on the battlefield. Oh, and did he know that fact to be true. Even though he and Thorn tried their best not to show it, the blue pair worried them greatly whenever they had been forced to fight each other. Thorn with his strength and Saphira with her agility were an equal match, just as he and Eragon struggled against each other with swords and magic.
It was only the Eldunari that Galbatorix had given him that gave Murtagh an edge over his brother. Eighteen dragon souls in all, and the whole lot of them had become sort of friends with the red pair over the course of their mutual imprisonment to the Dark King. With the exception of Lingdoc of course. Lingdoc was an angry dragon, very much like Shruikan. Well, now that Murtagh thought about it, all of the Eldunari were angry, but Lingdoc took it to an extreme. Every chance he got, the surly old creature would lash out at anyone in the vicinity, regardless if they were Galbatorix-sympathizers or Varden-sympathizers. Thinking of the poor dragon soul residing in Thorn's magically guarded saddlebags, Murtagh resolved to put him out of his fury-filled misery the first chance he got.
Speaking of the Eldunari, Murtagh thought to himself, I should really tell Eragon about them. And about the Name too. He sighed. Without a doubt, we have very much to discuss.
Using his mind to peruse the Varden camp, he searched for the location of the blue rider. Within a few seconds, the boy's heavily guarded consciousness became apparent. He was in the north part of the camp, where it seemed the Carvahall villagers had picketed themselves. Changing the course of his feet, Murtagh steered himself in that direction and picked his way through the many tents and people in his way.
Several minutes later, he finally spotted his brother. The boy was in a fervent conversation with a sobbing auburn haired woman. As Murtagh drew closer he saw the woman wind back her hand and slap him across the face. Eragon, who Murtagh knew could have easily avoided the blow, accepted the slap and then attempted to futilely calm the woman down. Despite the awfulness of the situation, Murtagh laughed at the absurdity of it all. He immediately covered up the inappropriate guffaw with a cough, and then sat back on his heels at a respectful distance to watch the rest of the scene unfold.
Eventually, the woman's fury subsided and she fell into Eragon's arms, still crying pitifully.
Eragon was looking...shattered. His younger brother wore a look of absolute misery on his face as he held the crying woman in his arms. Murtagh's heart ached in sympathy for the boy as he solemnly led the woman to her tent. When he emerged a few seconds later, he went straight to one of the onlookers of the scene, a large, burly man with a blacksmith's hammer still in his hands.
The two talked for a few minutes, each wearing matching depressed looks upon their faces, and eventually they appeared to come to a conclusion. They parted, the older man clapping Eragon sympathetically on his shoulder, and then they went their separate ways.
Eragon at last walked away from the Carvahall tents, his eyes downcast. It took the boy several moments to notice his brother in his path.
Recognition lit up in his sorrow-filled eyes when he did, and he lifted a corner of his lips in a semblance of a smile.
"Murtagh." He acknowledged quietly, dipping his head at the red rider.
"Eragon." He greeted back. "We need to talk."
The boy nodded, and Murtagh fell into step beside him. They started walking, but to nowhere in particular.
He decided to be blunt, for he was never one for pleasantries. "Thorn and I heard of Roran's death. How are you faring?"
Eragon immediately sighed, a long drawn out exhale that somehow conveyed to his brother all the bleak emotions that filled his head.
"I suppose I am fine." The blue rider tiredly responded. "Arya came to me last night asking the very same question."
Murtagh scowled. The elf woman had beat him to it.
"Did she succeed in cheering you up and affirming that you are still sane?" He prodded jokingly, a smile on his lips.
Eragon's eyebrow raised in confusion at the question until he saw the look on his half-brother's face. He let loose a small laugh.
"Aye, she did." The blue rider replied in a voice slightly less downtrodden than before.
Murtagh mentally congratulated himself at his success in lightening the blue rider's mood. He quickly turned serious however. Looking Eragon hard in the eyes, his expression turned stern.
"Kidding around aside, I sincerely hope her words got through that thick head of yours."
The boy nodded. "They did. Arya Svitkona is very persuasive."
The red rider smirked and patted his brother on the back. "I'm glad." He paused. "I truly am sorry about Roran though. He seemed to be a good man, and an even better warrior."
Eragon frowned. "The very best. He will be sorely missed."
"Was that his wife back there, the one who slapped you?"
His brother blushed. "Of course you saw that." He said, shaking his head in exasperation. "And yes, it was. Her name is Katrina. We met to discuss funeral arrangements, among other things."
"When will the funeral take place?"
"Tonight. It will be a small, private affair. You can come if you wish."
Murtagh raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Really? Wouldn't the people of Carvahall be a bit opposed to my presence?"
"He was your cousin too, Murtagh. If anyone puts up a fight to your attendance, they'll have to go through me first. And I can assure you, I am not in the mood for shallow, illogical quarrels today." He growled dangerously, his mood rapidly changing from somber to deadly in a second. His brown eyes were lit up like a fire and his jaw was clenched.
Murtagh expertly covered up his shock at the explosive mood swing. It was understandable that the boy's emotions would be unstable after the death of someone so close to him, so Murtagh was in no place to judge. He put a comforting hand on his brother's shoulder.
"It's alright, Eragon. Thorn and I have something to attend to tonight anyway." He lied. He knew that regardless of what his brother said or did, there would without a doubt be a bit of an uproar if he was present. And a funeral was no place for anger.
The boy's face cleared and the mad set of his mouth relaxed.
"Okay." He accepted. Was there anything else you wished to speak of?" He asked quietly.
"Aye. But I think Arya should be here to witness this as well." He answered on a whim. The thought had suddenly struck him. Arya was a dragon rider too now, according to Nasuada's speech a couple days ago where she introduced he and Thorn to the Varden. Therefore, she should be privy to this information too.
Without hesitation, his younger brother nodded and directed their steps towards where Arya and the rest of the elves' tents were situated.
Minutes later, they arrived to see Arya intensely sword-fighting with another elf, her long black hair tied back on top of her head. Her new hatchling, as well as several more of Eragon's Elvin guards sat watching, serene expressions upon their faces. On further inspection of the little dragon, Murtagh got the sense that he was very calm. Watchful and intelligent golden eyes catalogued his rider's every move as he sat there peacefully in the midday sun. He was a shining, emerald green that matched his Elvin rider's eyes..
"What a perfect partner for Arya." The red rider muttered to his brother, who was silently watching the sparring match. "The hatchling is as cool and collected as she is. Thorn was always a bit of a quiet one too because of Galbatorix's oppression, but he was not nearly as tranquil as this little guy seems to be."
Eragon tore his eyes from the match to smile at his brother. "Aye. Every time I've been around this green one, he has proven to me to be quite mature. He's a large contrast to Saphira. I remember distinctly how feisty and passionate she was at his age."
Murtagh grinned. "Oh, I can definitely imagine Saphira being feisty. Thorn always commented in our battles with you two that she was incredibly fearsome."
The brothers chuckled and then both turned to regard the battle in front of them once more.
Arya was steadily gaining the upper hand. Murtagh quickly got the sense that the battle was drawing to a close. He was correct. With one stunningly quick flick of her wrist, the green-eyed elf woman finally found a weak spot in her opponent's defense. Her guarded blade heavily met the Elvin male's stomach, sending him to the ground. In an instant, she was standing over him, her sword at his throat.
"Dead." She said aloud before reaching down and helping him upright. The elf, who had short hair the color of star light nodded respectfully. The duo performed the custom Elvin bow to each other before parting.
Arya turned to the two watching brothers immediately afterwards, knowing they were there even without seeing them. She approached them, her green hatchling at her heels.
"Murtagh." She acknowledged before turning to his brother.
"Atra esterni ono thelduin." Eragon greeted, twisting his hand over his sternum.
"Mor'ranr lífa unin hjarta onr." Arya responded, replicating the gesture.
"Un du evarínya ono varda." He finished.
Murtagh raised a confused eyebrow at them. His brain had automatically translated what they were saying, but he didn't know why they said it.
"Was that some special little greeting that you two made up for each other? Because that would be adorable!" He said, grinning widely. He shrunk under Arya's glare however.
"No." She said icily, her green eyes flashing. "It is the typical Elvin greeting. Eragon has respected me by initiating it first, though after all that you have done, it is I who should be deferring to you, Eragon-Elda."
Eragon blushed. "You humble me, Arya Svitkona."
They shared a smile and suddenly Murtagh felt as if he was intruding in on something. He awkwardly averted his gaze.
"Was there something you wished to speak of with me?" Arya asked, switching the red rider's attentions back to her and the matter at hand.
"Aye." He replied, nodding. "When I was under the control of Galbatorix, he foolishly allowed me to know and have many important things, thinking I would never rebel and earn my freedom. These things I speak of, you may only know of if you swear an oath of secrecy in the Ancient Language."
Eragon nodded his assent without pause, but Arya agreed with a little reluctance. They each in turn swore that they would keep whatever information that was to come a complete secret.
"Good." Speaking an incantation that would render his words unhearable by anyone other than the two dragon riders in front of him, he continued with his revelation. "Now I don't know how else to say this, for I'm not a very eloquent man, but Galbatorix is virtually as powerful as a god right now. It would be futile to fight against him." He looked each of them in eyes, silently urging them to believe the words he was about to say. "As of last week, the Dark King has found the true name of the Ancient Language."
Saphira flew high above the world, covering ground slowly. It was a peaceful day, especially among the clouds, and she took pleasure in being able to find her own food instead of accepting a cow from the Varden's butchers. Worry for her little one still plagued her heart, but it was much better than before. She knew Eragon would be okay. She knew it in her bones. He was a tough man, and though the death of bearded-hammer-user-Roran hurt him greatly, she knew he would get through it. Green-eyed-elf-friend-Arya made sure of that. Now her little one had finally opened up about his feelings instead of letting them fester inside him.
Yes. All would be well in the end.
After several minutes of flying away from civilization and into the wilderness, the blue dragoness finally spotted a deer herd grazing in a small meadow by the woods. She dove seconds later, knowing she had to catch one before they fled into the trees.
The doe barely knew what hit her. While her head was ducked to the ground and eating clover, Saphira expertly flew in and picked her up from behind. The rest of the herd scattered, terrified by the large flying creature that had interrupted their feeding session. She snapped the deer's neck quickly and painlessly with her strong claws and then landed a few yards away to eat. She wasn't too hungry, so one deer would be enough to sustain her for a few days longer.
Once finished, she leisurely cleaned the blood from her scales. It would not be fitting for a beautiful dragoness such as herself to be seen with gore upon her paws. When she was satisfied that her scales were up to their usual sparkling sapphire standards, she took to the air once again, deciding to go for a small flight. Eragon most likely wasn't done talking to auburn-haired-Roran's-wife-Katrina, so she would fly by herself until he contacted her.
The sun was warm against her back, and the few clouds that floated in the sky were white and puffy.
A beautiful autumn day. She observed to herself. A welcome change from all the rain of last week.
A small breeze touched her face every once in a while, but it was not even close to being a hindrance to her powerful wings. Perhaps when she was just a fledgling it would have encumbered her flight, but she was that no longer. Arya's hatchling however, would be of that flying age very soon. She resolved to teach him to take to the air as soon as possible.
Lost in her thoughts of how she would train the tiny green dragon, she didn't notice Thorn rapidly approaching her from behind until he was nearly upon her. Enraged at being snuck up on, she twisted around to meet him with a snarl on her face. She didn't know his intentions yet, so if he wished to betray his new allies and fight her, she knew she would be ready.
How dare you sneak up on me! She hissed at him. She knew she was being unnecessarily unfriendly, but she didn't care.
The crimson dragon recoiled a bit, offended but abashed.
I apologize, queen of the skies. I should have approached you from the front. He relinquished easily, submitting to her.
Saphira was shocked. In their previous battles against each other, Thorn had always been quite fearsome. Ruthless, even. He was very different now that they were not violently battling each other. Without hesitation, he had respectfully subordinated himself to her.
Still surprised, she dipped her muzzle politely to him. It is no matter.
They hovered awkwardly for a moment. Thorn was staring at her and looked as if he had forgotten what he wanted to say.
Was there something you wished to ask me, red-scales? She asked him, slightly amused.
He nodded his large head.
Yes. I came to inquire about Eragon. Having heard of his kinsman's death, my rider and I wanted to see how he was faring.
Saphira's heart warmed, touched at their concern. She had once thought that the red pair detested her and Eragon, but apparently it was not so. Freedom from the mad king must have lightened their minds.
My little one is doing considerably better. She told him truthfully. After his torture by witch-Sarissa he had closed himself up away from the world, refusing to allow even me to witness his dark feelings. But that is an issue no longer.
Thorn hummed deeply, pleased. I am glad. Blue-rider-Eragon is a good man. I am very joyful that I finally am able to know that for myself, now that I am free from the twisted-black-king's control.
Saphira nodded. It is a mutual feeling then. You and Murtagh have proven to be very noble allies in this war. I am pleased to finally know you away from the heat of battle.
Thorn gave a draconic grin, revealing his sharp teeth. I second that. To say that you are a formidable opponent is an understatement, bright-scales.
The blue dragoness chuckled at that. I could say the same about you. And though you are strong in battle, your personality remains unstinted from Galbatorix's evil meddling. That is commendable of you, red scales. She stated to him bluntly.
If a dragon was physically able to blush like a two legged, Saphira observed that Thorn would have been blushing quite terribly in that moment.
I thank you. He replied sheepily, though she could tell that he was pleased at her opinion of him. I think you have a good personality too. He complimented uncomfortably.
Saphira snorted, amused at the crimson dragon's awkward flattery, but she graciously accepted it with a dip of her head.
And in that manor, the two dragons-previously foes, but now hesitant acquaintances-spent the rest of the afternoon. They hovered high above the ground, their wing beats providing a steady background noise to their first real conversation. Later, when speaking to her rider that night, Saphira would conclude that maybe the crimson-scaled Thorn wasn't so bad after all.
Arya's stomach dropped in shock at Murtagh's words. Going bone white, she shook her head in denial. Galbatorix with the true name of the Ancient Language? The implications of what he just said were too horrifying to contemplate. Her mind instantly shied away from the thought.
"That's impossible!" Yelped Eragon, equally as shaken as she was.
"No. It is not." The red rider switched into the language of no lies. "Upon my word as a Dragon Rider, I speak the truth. Galbatorix, after countless years of research, has finally found it. He is unstoppable."
Arya's blood went cold.
"What can we do?" She whispered brokenly. The green hatchling at her feet whimpered at the distress in her voice.
Murtagh looked unaffected, like the fact that all their efforts in striking the mad king from his throne were now in vain didn't matter to him. Infuriated, she repressed the urge to claw his superior expression off his face.
"The same as we have always done. Continue to fight. He is unstoppable, but not to us." The red rider smirked. "He, the dumb fool that he is, told me this name of power, but forbade me to use it against him. I am bound by that rule no longer, for I have changed myself. I am not his to command anymore. So therefore, I am able to give this knowledge to you two as well. We are the dragon riders of the new age. This name should be within our power, but no one else's. Do you wish to hear it?"
Arya was in complete shock, though not an unpleasant one. Feverish hope buzzed within her mind, replacing the dread that had been there only seconds before. As if in a dream, she felt herself nod and watched an astonished Eragon do the same.
"I thought as much." Murtagh replied before uttering the most powerful word in their known universe.
It was as if the entire world had shifted. As soon as the word befell her ears, Arya's mind seemed to begin thrumming with the sheer power and knowledge of it. She couldn't stop an amazed gasp from leaving her mouth. Eragon was similarly affected. Speechless, she could only stare as Murtagh's lips lifted into a smile that was slightly smug.
"There. Now we truly have a chance against that crazy bastard."
At his half-brother's words, Eragon seemed to snap out of his reverie and let out a delighted laugh, the likes of which she had not seen from him since before he had been captured. His brown eyes, once deadened by sadness, were now vibrant and alive with hope.
"More than a chance." The blue rider stated, voice strong. "A certainty. Galbatorix will never be able to fight against us now."
"Not necessarily." Murtagh countered. "You both know what Eldunari are, correct?" The blue and green riders nodded, motioning for him to continue. "Well Galbatorix doesn't just have a few of them. He has hundreds. And all of them are mentally tortured and bent to his will."
Eragon's face fell, but he agreed grimly. "That's what I presumed."
"But we are not wholly without dragon souls either. Galbatorix, in order for me to be able to best you, gave me eighteen Eldunari. The vast majority of them are friendly to our cause."
"The vast majority? Why not all?" Arya spoke up.
"One, a poor fellow named Lingdoc, is rather insane. Galbatorix is a harsh man, and his treatment of the Eldunari in his possession exemplifies that. I intend to smash the dragon's heart stone and put him out of his misery as soon as possible."
Arya frowned, sobered at the dragon's plight. No creature should be subjected to what Galbatorix had inflicted upon them, and least of all a creature as magnificent as a dragon.
With the new information fresh in their minds, the trio of riders discussed many possible battle strategies for the rest of the afternoon. Murtagh supplied a steady stream of information about Uru'baen and its black citadel to aid in their plans. At one point, Eragon suggested they all take an oath that they would never use the Name for evil. Without protest, Murtagh and Arya agreed, and the oath was taken. Meanwhile, through all this, Arya's hatchling sat at their feet, quietly listening to them. He was an ever present companion in the elf-woman's mind as he diligently attempted to decipher the words that were being spoken. His calm golden eyes watched them intelligently, missing nothing. In the back of her head, Arya bloomed with pride at her little dragon. He would grow to be one wise creature indeed.
As the sun began to set, the three riders politely parted ways, with Murtagh stating he wished to speak with Nasuada, and Eragon leaving for his cousin's funeral. Arya scooped up her hatchling as soon as the two men left and headed to the dining tent to nullify his seemingly ever-present hunger.
Suppressing her distaste at the death of the animals all around her, she requested a small hunk of meat from the butcher and then eventually found a bit of bread and cheese for herself. As she and her dragon ate, the latter of which making quite a mess on the table where they were sitting, she allowed her mind to wander.
She thought of Eragon and Saphira, and how the two were faring. She thought of the unfortunate funeral they were most likely attending right then. She thought of Murtagh and Thorn, and marvelled at her undeniably growing trust of the pair. She thought of the war, of Galbatorix, and of the coveted freedom of the land. She thought of her mother and the peaceful setting of Du Weldenvarden. She thought of her deceased father, Evandar, and the playful games they used to engage in amongst the gigantic Ellesmera oaks.
An old memory suddenly struck her, interrupting the flow of her mental musings. As if he were actually there right now, the elf woman remembered a long forgotten sound: the sound of her father's voice.
It was the sound of Evandar singing a lullaby to her-she couldn't have been more than four years old at the time-and sending her to sleep. Present day Arya froze in her seat, shocked at what her subconscious had dragged up. With the memory of his voice and the lullaby came the sharp mental image of his emerald green eyes, the exact same shade as hers. She smiled brightly at the memory. It had been nigh on a hundred years since she last saw those eyes, and she had almost forgotten them completely. Her hatchling, who had just finished his dinner, squeaked in appreciation, reacting to the intense joy tumbling around in his rider's head.
At the excited sound, Arya snapped out of the memory and regarded her little hatchling. Her keen Elvin eyes did not miss how much he had grown. In just two short days, the dragon had already grown over an inche in length, and his mental capabilities had doubled. His amber eyes, wide and observant, gazed at her amid emerald scales. Almost the precise shade as her father's eyes. Without warning, she was plunged into the memory again, this time with more exact details.
The words of the lullaby were now evident to her. They spoke of a young elf boy-Fìrnen was his name-and the adventures he had. It was a silly song, ridiculous even, but it was a song of Arya's childhood. A song that reminded her of Evandar.
Heart warmed, she finished the rest of her meal immersed in a feeling of pleasant security that her father had always seemed to give her when she was young.
Later that night, when she was tucked away in her tent with her hatchling and teaching him as many simple words in the ancient and common languages as he could handle, a thought struck her. He didn't even know her name. Silently berating herself, for that should have been the first word he learned, she sent the word into his mind.
Arya. She stated gently to him while pointing to herself. My name is Arya. Arya.
The dragon, quite intelligent for his age, caught on quickly.
Arya. He repeated back to her, toying with the word. He sent her an image of herself, paired with the word Arya.
Pride at his success filled the elf woman.
Yes. She said excitedly back to him while pushing the feeling of confirmation into his consciousness. I am Arya.
He squeaked with glee, opening his jaws wide to reveal sharp teeth the size of the first joint of his rider's thumb. Unwrapping his wings from his side, he opened them up and flapped them a couple times to accentuate his achievement.
Arya! He crowed. Arya.
She smiled widely, but it faded when she another thought struck her. He now knew her name, but he didn't have one for himself. Her quick Elvin mind immediately swept through the catalogue of male dragon names that she knew. None of them seemed to fit him, for each time she went through a name, a mental image of the dragon that once had that name popped up with it. No, she concluded, He could not have a name that a dragon before him already had.
For several minutes she contemplated the many names and possible names that lay within her mind. While she did so, the hatchling on her lap patiently waited and cleaned his claws.
Finally, she came up with approximately ten names that could possibly suit him. It was up to him now to decide. She engaged him with her mind, and his golden gaze quickly flicked back up to hers.
Carefully, she implored to him that he must have a name as well. She was Arya, but now he had to decide who he was going to be. After a short while, the small dragon grasped the concept. Arya began to suggest names to him.
Are you a Lithuror? She asked him, but was instantly shot down.
The young dragon thought on this one for several seconds but in the end turned it down.
The refusal to this one was somewhat explosive. The hatchling pushed the feeling of a no into her head while he derisively snorted smoke into her face. Biting back a cough, she proposed many other names, all of which were rebuffed.
When he refused the last name in her list she sighed in exasperation and reluctantly tried to think of more names. Each new one she suggested, he rejected. Finally, when she was beginning to think that her picky dragon would never settle on a name, another one popped into her head.Fìrnen. The elf boy from Evandar's lullaby.
Somewhat hesitant, she offered the name to her dragon.
Are you Fìrnen?
Much to the elf-woman's surprise and pleasure, as soon as the green hatchling heard the name, something clicked in his head. Satisfaction radiated within the young one's mind.
Yes. He said, still shaky with the newly learned word. Yes. Fìrnen.
His rider let out a delighted laugh. "Then Fìrnen you are, tiny one." She was pleased with his decision. The name fit him very well.
And so the dragon and the rider slipped off into peaceful sleep as one, both content with the name that had been chosen.
Author's Note: Hey all! Hope you guys enjoyed the chapter. It's a long one, I know. And probably kinda boring. But it was necessary. I had to explain and clear up a lot of things in this one. I promise the next installment will be a bit more eventful and exciting :P Anyways, don't forget to review, my friends! It really makes my day when you do.
P.S-Also, to any of you wondering why Fìrnen is learning how to talk so much quicker than Saphira did, it's not because he's smarter than Saphira. It's because he's around his rider (and with that, frequent talking) a lot more. When Saphira first hatched for Eragon, they weren't able to spend the days together because Eragon had to work on the farm. So in the end, Fìrnen got cut the better deal in being around talking more and subsequently learning how to speak.