Prologue – Into the Mines

Disclaimer – I do not own or am affiliated with the Inheritance Cycle in any way nor do I own any of the characters. They belong to Christopher Paolini.

So tired… Can't even think clearly to myself… Aris thought to himself as he slaved away with the pickaxe attempting to find a source of ore deep under the mountain. If only they would give us an indication of where to dig, at least we would stand a chance of finding something then. The young boy thought bitterly, now attempting to chip away a bit of softer rock in order to navigate a patch of dense granite. Even a simple child from a poor family knew how to mine rock properly; after all he had worked in the mines for several years now. Resting his hand on the butt of the pickaxe Aris decided to have a break for a second for he was greatly fatigued as he had been working from dawn until what, he assumed, was now late afternoon, slaving away deep in the mine.

One of the guards strolled past whistling a merry tune; he spotted Aris taking a break from mining and walked over with a fierce stride. "What do you think you're doing boy! Get back to mining." The man said with anger pushing Aris into the rock, his hands steadying him as he fell. In doing so the young boy gained deep scrapes in his palms causing blood to be smeared across them. "Don't just lie there! Get up!"

"Y-yes sir." The young boy said feebly, pushing himself to his feet before starting to swing his pick at the rock once more. A muttering of "good" could be heard from behind as the guard walked away and continued patrolling the area.

I wish there were some way out of this; if they keep pushing me this hard I won't be able to work and my family will starve…

Several more hours passed and Aris' fatigue was now at a peak as he struggled to stay on his feet. He eventually collapsed due to exhaustion, having not mined much since the guard had come past earlier in the afternoon. Then a large number of footsteps could be heard as if a large group were approaching, Please don't let it be…

It was Vordur, the mine boss. He stood at least six foot above the ground and had a brutish face with a fierce scar running from his temple to his chin. Strands of what used to be blonde hair were scattered across his head and squinting eyes peered out with both hate and curiosity at the hard world outside. Looking down in pure detest at the prone figure lying on the floor he kicked Aris in the ribs sending him sprawling across the dirt, "I 'ear you 'aven't been working. Is this true?"

The young boy remained still, too tired to answer.

"I said, is this true?" Vordur picked up Aris by his collar and dangled him in the middle of the group; he lifted him like a mother would lift a pup – with great ease. "I want you to answer my question you maggot. So I advise you do so before I rip your intestines out through yer chest!"

Aris managed to murmur, "I-I haven't been working sir, no."

"Just as I thought! It's double shifts for you then, and your family won't be gettin' any food this winter either." He said with malice in his voice that any sane man would detest hearing at the instant they heard him speak.

"No! Please, if not me please let them eat!" Aris begged of the man.

"Let me think about that one… No! Now get back to work." Vordur threw the young boy's small body back down to the ground and walked away laughing with all of the other mine guards.

Anger then surfaced in Aris. All the anger, fear and hate that had culminated from his treatment since being sent to the mines those long years ago and the treatment he had received not just from Vordur but everyone else there – even his fellow miners. The emotions burst out of him like an arrow from a bow and he shouted "No!"

The brutish man swirled around, "What do you mean no?"

"I said no!" Aris bellowed, charging head on at Vordur and swinging his pickaxe at the man's face; Vordur was strong but he was far from agile. The pick was impaled in his temple and crimson blood fountained out from his head as he collapsed to the floor dead.

"What did you do to him?" One of the nameless thugs shouted, "Get 'im lads!"

Then it became a chase for his life; Aris sprinted as fast as his legs could take him out towards the entrance of the mines, several guards in tow all shouting behind him whilst Aris sprinted away. As he neared the entrance some guards had managed to get ahead of him and block off the tunnel Oh great… There's nothing for it now.

The young boy sprinted as fast as he could, pickaxe raised which caused a glint of fear to come into the men's eyes, and swung down at the right hand guard – a scrawny man – with all his might. Again the man crumpled just as Vordur had done and Aris seized the opening and charged past, managing to escape the mine.

A snowstorm was blazing outside and nothing could be seen more than three feet in front of him, yet Aris still kept running, and running until he was running down the slope of the mountain on the side where the descent was shallowest, Surely they can't have kept up with me through this storm? He thought hopefully.

His hope was short lived as he heard shouts coming from close behind causing him to increase in speed once more. He could hear the calls of the guards coming behind him getting closer, and closer until the bellows were so loud they hurt his ears.

Then there was silence.

Suddenly there came the screams and the crashing sounds of, avalanche, Aris thought with great panic. I'd better run fast. The young boy gained speed rapidly as he charged down the side of the mountain attempting to stay ahead of the gargantuan force of the snow. An idea came to mind then, his only hope of survival; diving behind one of the large boulders he sheltered himself in a hollow where the large, embedded rock did not quite touch the ground. The place was small enough for the guards not to notice him as they too tried to escape and also the boulder was large enough to shelter him from the sheer force of the avalanche.

As the snow rushed past a sigh of relief came from Aris' mouth, the boulder had protected him from the worst. But in the case of the guards, well, all Aris could hear were screams of terror from lower down the mountain followed by a very faint crunching noise as the bones of the guards were broken into many pieces by the great weight of the snow and their lives were no more. Of Vordur's fate Aris knew not but the young boy was glad that he was simply alive and had survived an avalanche; he had heard many tales of the infamous avalanches in the mountains when he was younger but there were never many who lived to tell the tale. If I ever return home my family aren't going to believe me… The brown haired boy thought to himself.

The adrenaline from escaping the guards faded away and the cold set in to his body as he lay in the snow, hidden from the world with nobody to help him if he were to freeze. I need to get back home as soon as possible else I won't live to tell the tale of this avalanche, just like the others… He thought to himself wryly whilst attempting to stand up. His legs supported him for a few seconds before he collapsed back onto the ground again, I have to do this! Driving himself forward he forced his body up and started making his way through the snow and back round towards the village.

All that Aris could see was a white haze coating him and the surrounding area preventing anything from the valley below being seen. Faint lights could be discerned in the distance but whether that was the village or simply something else Aris could not tell for now his mind was fuzzy from being in the cold for so long, It must have been at least three hours… I should be at the village by now. Suddenly, without warning, his legs gave from underneath him again after holding out for several hours and he collapsed to the snow coated ground with exhaustion simply lying there in the hope that something would come and save him.

Then a bright light came from above; it was if an azure star had come from the heaven's to carry him away. The blue light came closer and closer until just as it reached its peak Aris fainted, his body too starved of energy to continue retaining its conscious state.

Author's note: Thank you for reading this chapter, I know it is short but later chapters will be longer as this is merely a prologue. I am hoping to write some more at a later date and any feedback either through pm or review would be greatly appreciated.