So I'm abandoning this story. And the previous statement is as true as me telling you last chappie that it was going to be a while for this poster to chap. Call me mean, I don't care, I'm in a mood. :) ;P It is a joke
Seriously though. No, this story will not have abandonment issues. I have put three years into this dang thing and I plan to see it through to its long, drawn out end. Fur reel, three years and only 200k words to show, come on legacy, get your act together. Still a ways to go though.
I had thought about not posting this till this evening, but figured that was just plain mean. Enough of my ramblings. Enjoy! :)
The building Galbatorix had holed himself up in was much like Harry remembered from his previous visit, shortly after his arrival: dark, dank, musty, poorly aerated, and most of all, foreboding. The man had undoubtedly done many Dark things with his magic during his stay in these walls, the binding of the shades, the dominating spells he had cast over Thorn and Murtaugh, all these culminated into a very twisted feeling in the air. The group followed Murtaugh silently through the halls and empty chambers.
"Trianna is doing well." Harry spoke into the silence. Murtaugh flinched lightly but said nothing in return. "She should make a full recovery within the next couple of weeks." Harry stated softly, his voice carrying, echoing off of the rock walls and floors.
Murtaugh's shoulders were tensed. "She was broken the last time I saw her. She couldn't string two words together without losing control to the spirits. And then it was two weeks before I saw her again, when we went to attack your camp. By that point, she gave no resistance." Murtaugh's voice was strained.
Harry hummed in response. "Perhaps her struggle couldn't be seen on the outside, but she fought just as fiercely as you are right now."
Murtaugh step caught slightly and he glanced back at Harry.
"We're going to get you out of this. Both you and Thorn." Harry stated confidently.
"And yet, there is nothing you can do." Murtaugh's voice sounded tired, despondent. "You have already sworn that you will use no magic, you have brought no weapons, and you will not harm the King. You have no avenue to bring about what you are promising. You are more likely to die here than to achieve anything. Your forces will then be overrun and routed, none will escape the walls of the city."
Harry looked over at the young man as they drew upon a massive, elegantly decorated door. Harry had stayed far from this room the last time he had been here as there had been an almost tangible wall of wards layered over the doors. Murtaugh told the others that this was as far as they were allowed and then moved forward to the doors but Harry stopped him.
"I swore to use no magic in his presence. Before we enter, I must fully remove my enchantments and charms." Harry stated.
"You were to have removed your wards immediately, before entering." Murtaugh stated with a wary edge to his voice.
"Oh, I did. What I must undo are the various limiters and various concealing magics that I have worn since my arrival, aside from a short time when I first met Arya." Harry gave a gentle nod towards Arya and her mouth quirked into a faint smile for a few seconds before her face was impassive once more.
Murtaugh huffed and motioned for Harry to do what he needed to, and to do it quickly.
With a small inward smirk, Harry released all of his magical power from being restrained, since it was considered a mental subdivision of magic, Harry wanted to take no chances. All those who were gathered around gasped and stumbled slightly as the weight of his magical presence fully fell over them. Murtaugh's eyes widened in shock and a small amount of hope before fear began to rush back in.
He then began dispelling various charms that he had layered over himself to keep his magical strength from being noticed, causing the two elves that were with him to drop to a knee, pressed down further by the unexpected weight of magic. Arya looked at him with wide eyes, a certain fire burning in them that made Harry shudder slightly and flash her a quick smirk. Eragon and Murtaugh were doubled over, less aware of the feeling of magic in the air when compared to the elves, but it was not something that could be easily missed or ignored by any means.
Harry rolled his shoulders, cracked his neck and gave out a contented sigh at finally letting his magic flow about him freely for the first time in nearly two decades. Harry smiled over the four people around him. "Don't worry, you will get used to it after a while. Lead on, Murtaugh, the Black King likely does not like to be kept waiting."
Murtaugh dragged his feet a couple of steps and then was finally able to straighten slightly. Harry once more smirked to himself. People had said that wizards like Dumbledore and Voldemort wore their power like a cloak, something that fully wrapped around them. This wasn't too far off base, since that was the best the pair could achieve at restraining their magic. The few times that Dumbledore had truly grown angry around Harry, he could feel something akin to an electrical current running through his hair. If it hadn't already mostly been standing on edge as a simple fact of everyday life, it would have been more like Hermione's frazzled hair. When he tried to draw in his power, it was still potent very near to him. It was partially what gave people a safe feeling when they were around him. In a similar manner, it was part of what gave Voldemort his dangerous feeling.
Harry, on the other hand, had learned to draw in his magical presence much closer, to the point that a Healer at St. Mungos could cast a magic detection spell on him and declare him a squib. It would become very straining on his mind and magic if he were to hold that for too long. A friend had once described the feeling of Harry fully releasing his magic, saying that it was like being on a small life raft in the middle of the sea while a hurricane raged all around him. Starting out, you don't know if you will survive, and then as you stay in it longer, you realize that you likely won't survive, but there is still a certain beauty to how the lightning flashes, the waves crash over you, and the winds toss you about as if you are nothing.
Murtaugh stumbled to the door and knocked on it with as much strength as he could muster within the 'storm' of Harry's magic. There were a few moments of waiting before the doors slowly, silently swung inwards.
Ent—" The commanding voice of Galbatorix choked short as Harry's presence flowed into the room fully, being allowed past the wards that had isolated the room that the Black King was currently seated in. It was only for a few seconds that he struggled to form words, but Harry felt him draw upon another couple handfuls of Eldunari and he continued easily with his imperial command to step into his presence. There was a glow of light all around the room, it was not a glow of light from fire however and Harry had to contain his feeling of shock at the immense number of Eldunari held in the room.
The other three that were being left at the door watched anxiously as the doors slowly slid closed behind Harry and Murtaugh. They sucked in deep breaths as Harry's magical presence was dulled drastically as the wards locked back into place The feeling of his magic lingered gently in the halls, but they were finally able to stand normally.
Harry took the first few moments of his entry into the throne room to look about the room and guess at Galbatorix's character. In truth, the hall was exceedingly bare of recent additions or acquisitions. From Brom's memories, nothing had really been moved around much. His magic, being fully released, was acting as a type of sonar, flowing out from him and then resonating off of various gems, enchanted armor and similar items, but nothing in particular caught his attention.
Nothing aside from the massive mounds of Eldunari that were literally just piled up in corners, spilling a good distance away from the walls as the height sloped down to the ground. If they were all grouped together in a single pile, they would be able to completely conceal Vaengrasr or A'lerína underneath. Perhaps even both of them at once.
In fact, it wasn't until he felt a mental nudge from Vaengrasr, who was mentally tagging along with Harry that he paid was able to drag his attention away from the worrying amount of Eldunari to a certain rune that his dragon had intensely focused in on.
"What is it?" Harry questioned his companion.
"This rune…" Vaengrasr trailed off and Harry couldn't tell if it was done purposefully or not. The prideful dragon always liked to strut about when he knew something the ancient wizard did not.
"What about it?" Harry asked impatiently and allowed his magic to bounce off of it once more.
"It sings of dragon." Vaengrasr finally stated.
"Sings? I've heard many things used to mention how something feels magically, but really? Sings? There's no need to use such flowery language." Harry snarked back. A sense of frustrated pouting met his mental jab and he shook his head, deciding that the dragon had just been looking to flaunt Harry's lack of knowledge. "But it is a draconic rune?" Harry questioned after a moment. He was searching for where the rune was placed. The initial response had shown it to be located somewhere near Galbatorix, but the second time he had released his magic and focused on where it was, he was surprised to find it coming from Galbatorix's chest.
Vaen shuddered slightly in Harry mind as he took in what Harry was sensing from the rune. "Undoubtedly. It is the rune of 'Servant'."
Harry's mind thought about that, but could find nothing particularly interesting about that.
"You do not understand dragons in the way they used to be. We still are prideful beings, but from the stories I have been told, the old dragons were even more so. For a dragon to be branded as a 'Servant' would be similar to a human being labeled as a slave that had no rights, no self-worth, no self-being. The dragon was no longer a 'dragon', no longer was it a being that thought for itself and acted of its own free will, it would barely even be considered an 'it'. Most dragons would take a dishonorable death over being branded as such. Only the most heinous of crimes would see it be used on another." Vaengrasr explained.
"So you have sensed it, have you?" A rumbling voice spoke into the silence that had permeated the chambers after Galbatorix's failed attempt at speaking. Harry glanced around the room and saw no one else in the room for the voice to have come from. It was almost night and day in difference compared to Galbatorix's voice from a few seconds ago. Vaengrasr once more nudged Harry's focus back at Galbatorix and the wizard was slightly surprised to find lines glowing faintly through the heavy armor that Galbatorix was wearing. The rune for 'Servant' was likely shining bright enough to light up a good sized clearing on a night with a new moon if it was fully exposed for how bright it was showing up through the clothes and armor.
"He has been exceedingly useful in the past century. So distraught and lost when his dragon was killed. He begged to be given another egg, but the politics of the Order claimed that it was impossible. He was angered, but he was willing to get over it. He threw himself into study, hoping to find a way to help others be better so they would never suffer a fate similar to his. By happy chance, fortunate for me at least, he stumbled upon some old writings of one of my previous servants among the Grey Folk.
"The writing had been greatly deteriorated from its original condition, but he was able to make out the symbol and a passage mentioning on receiving power with the rune inscribed on them. He performed plenty of experiments, altering the rune slightly as he had never seen it before, but he received no results. Deciding that he had nothing else to lose, he tested it on himself, and it was at that point that I began to reawaken." The voice rumbling intensified and increased in volume.
Murtaugh looked on in confusion while Harry rocked back on his heels slightly. "So, Drake, we finally meet. Well, something close to it at least."
Galbatorix stared at Harry for a few moments and Harry took the chance to glance over at Murtaugh. The young man was still standing with a confused look on his face. "I'll take that as a hint that you didn't know about this?" Harry questioned. Receiving no form of response, he nodded slightly and looked back at Galbatorix. "So do you plan to invite me to sit and have tea while we talk, or are you just going to try and kill me straight out?"
"You intrigue me, human. I have not been able to watch much of your travels, but I have heard interesting tales of your actions. Not even the worthless Grey Folk commanded magic in the manner you do, or commanded anywhere near as much. Yet you are as human as they come." The voice rumbled. It was odd to see Galbatorix's mouth moving and yet hearing such a voice at the same time.
While the Black King's voice would never be likened unto a schoolgirl's, it did not have the same succulent, dulcet tone that the Drake's voice held. Oromis and others had said that Galbatorix was a gifted speaker and was very effective in swaying people to his side, but the voice that spoke through him seemed like it was on another playing field. It would be like comparing Dumbledore casting magic to a seventh year casting magic. The seventh year knows pretty well what they are doing, but Dumbledore…well, enough said.
Harry laughed softly. "Well, not quite as human as they come. Perhaps your sensors are off slightly."
The drake growled lowly and Galbatorix's body took a step forward. Harry widened his stance in response, causing Galbatorix to guffaw lightly. "You stand before me, bound by oath to not use magic, to use no weapons, and to cause me no harm, yet you think you can stand a chance against my power?"
Harry smirked back at the more-or-less possessed man and readied himself. "Ah, but you see, I swore an oath for those things if Galbatorix were in the room. I had a few loopholes that I could use previously. You, however, made things exponentially easier on me. By the rune that he placed on himself, he no longer is Galbatorix. He is simply a slave. No name, nothing setting him apart from another mindless being that only follows you around." Harry stated confidently.
Galbatorix looked at him in confusion. Then understanding spread across his face. The man's shoulders began shaking and then deep, bellowing laughs began to roll out from his throat, almost shaking the room with their volume and deep tones. Harry and Vaengrasr became a little more wary at this response.
"So, you have been speaking with some of the older dragons. Perhaps you have a little scholar in your mind right now, telling you of what they know of my runes?"
"Your runes?" Harry questioned.
"Oh, yes. Perhaps information was kept quiet from most of the commoners. I created the runic language of the dragons. The history is long and I have no desire to expound on such intricate things to an insignificant bug as you, but there is so much more to my language than is understood by the lesser beasts that accepted my markings in exchange for power.
"Yes, the symbol he wears on his chest is the mark of Servant, yes, dragons lose their self identity with such a rune, you are not wrong there. But he is human and is still very much Galbatorix. He has the ability to choose what he desires to do, within the range of options I lay out for him. He maintains his own power, and he gives me free reign to draw upon him whenever I desire, but I may also gift him with some of my own power. He is not a mindless follower, and I will prove this by having him strike you down!"
Galbatorix charged forward, drawing his sword and Harry easily stepped to the side and deflected the attack to the side. Without turning, he ducked an attack from behind and rolled to the side to dodge another strike from his blind spot. Harry made no move to return an attack out of caution since he was not sure how the Ancient Language would respond if the Drake's words were true. After dodging and deflecting a few more attacks, he shook himself mentally. He had been planning such loopholes for something like this ever since Murtaugh had listed the conditions for the four to meet with Galbatorix, he just needed to readjust his mindset.
Harry had experimented heavily with oaths in the Ancient Language and magical oaths during his time in Carvahall. He had known of how the elves were able to, more or less, lie in the Ancient Language, even if they made a statement that, at first glance, appeared to leave little room for wiggle room. He knew the limits he could push with the oaths he had made and decided to exploit them now rather than wait for the Drake or Galbatorix to do something drastic.
Hoping to keep the pair off-balance, Harry struck with an open palm after deflecting the next swing. The redirection of his swing and the follow up jab that reached deep inside his defense staggered Galbatorix and he warily backed away from Harry.
"That shouldn't be possible." Galbatorix stated.
"This coming from the man who has likely spent the last hundred years or so playing with the Ancient Language. Surely a man of your intelligence and ability in manipulation would have seen something like this coming." Harry stated in an exacerbating manner.
Cold fury grew in Galbatorix's eyes as he looked over at Murtaugh. A sharp snarl of words from the Ancient Language saw the young man writhing on the ground in pain. His eyes dead focused on the boy, he ground out. "You tricked me, you litt—"
Harry knocked Galbatorix off his feet with a tackle and used his forward momentum to quickly roll off of the enraged man. Murtaugh's screams cut off with a gasp of relief and heavy breathing replaced the pain filled cries.
"Aww, the poor manipulator was tricked by one he considered a pawn?" Harry mocked before driving a fierce punch into the man's lower jaw in an uppercut.
Galbatorix kept on his feet, slightly impressing Harry, but what impressed him more was the man shaking off the heavy hit and readying his deep, black sword once more. Worryingly, a number of the Eldunari scattered about the room began to pulse in sync with another, after a few moments, he realized that it was to the same rhythm as Galbatorix's heart, judging by the breathing patterns he was hearing. With a little more caution this time, Galbatorix ran forward and began raining devastating blows down on Harry, most of which he was able to repel or dodge due to his increased awareness and response times. He was able to sense where the attacks were directed, what attacks were actually feints, and such, allowing him to reduce the king's attacks to little more than an impotent waste of energy.
That wasn't to say that Harry escaped unscathed from the attacks. There were plenty that slipped through his defense or clipped the edge of his body here and there as the man's strength and speed was reinforced by the help of the Eldunari. Harry knew that should the man draw from even a few more, he would quickly begin taking even more hits, simply for being unable to deflect everything the empowered rider might throw at him with only his bare hands. Deciding to push his oath a little more, Harry summoned his sword to his hand and once more began fending off the strikes with an increased level of ease. Let none say that Galbatorix was unskilled with the blade. The fallen rider had definitely not lost his touch or finesse with sword play.
While the man might not be the next Nobel Peace Prize winner, had they had such an award on this planet, perhaps, much like the pain-immune soldiers in the city, there was still hope for him. While the man was still Galbatorix and not just some mindless husk of meat that acted on the stated directions of a powerful but twisted drake, in truth, all Galbatorix had become was the slave of the Drake. The Drake may claim otherwise, and wrap things up with a pretty little bow, but the Galbatorix the Drake had mocked didn't seem like the kind of man that would take the route that had lead Alagaësia to this point.
It was due to that purposefully naive assumption that Harry reached out and worked to wrap the Servant rune, apparently burned into Galbatorix's skin, in a form of isolating magic. He felt the edge of his oath encroaching slightly on his mind, the pressure from the magic of the Ancient Language weighing heavily on his thoughts, telling him that he was pushing the boundaries into dangerous territory. His sword continued to deflect the attacks that Galbatorix constantly pushed forward with and was about to fully disconnect the rune, severing the tie between 'slave' and 'master'.
"Enough!" The rumbling voice of the Drake echoed through the chambers once more and Harry found himself skidding backwards slightly from his opponent.
Harry settled defensively in his place and tried to continue working the isolating magic into place but found himself frozen in place. His eyes glanced around in worry, wondering what was happening to be able to hold him in such a manner. He had been keeping an eye on the various Eldunari and was worried to see that while some had dimmed in their level of glow, more and more were pulsing in time with each other. Harry tried various spells to release himself, but likely due to the assistance of the Eldunari; he was not able to fully wiggle his way free. He found he could wiggle his fingers. But, considering the situation he was in, he found little joy in that small accomplishment.
"You were rightfully intriguing. You exceeded my expectations. Much better than a simple human. You have been going toe to toe with nearly seventy Eldunari and are not showing much strain. Perhaps a little worse for the wear." The Drake amended after looking over Harry for a few seconds.
"Had this servant of mine not taken the prideful route and fully took control of the strength of more Eldunari flowing through him, you would be hopelessly outclassed." The Drake stated with a small amount of dissatisfaction to his tone.
"Performance issues?" Harry quipped. "I suppose he is over a century and a half old so it isn't too extremely surprising."
Galbatorix's eyes narrowed and Harry felt himself being looked over more intently. Shock blasted across Galbatorix's features before an intense look of hatred deformed his features. "No. Impossible. They are all dead. How did I not sense this before? You are one of the Grey Folk?"
"No." Harry answered in a tired manner.
"No other race can live as long as I sense on you." The Drake wheedled.
"You said it yourself, I am not a simple human." Harry replied, still trying to break from whatever was holding him. He had given up on trying to finish detaching the Drake's hold from Galbatorix as most of the spell had already faded and he likely wouldn't be given another chance to work at the long spell again.
Galbatorix had a thoughtful look on is face as he stepped closer. "You could join—"
Harry burst out laughing, If he could bend over clutching his stomach while laughing he would have, unfortunately, still mostly locked in place. "Congratulations, you're the millionth bad guy to offer me to join your side! You win my undying loyalty and I will do whatever you ask me to do. Really? What do you have to offer me? Honestly. Peace? No, you plan to rule the world, that doesn't instill much hopefulness after the way you have been going about it so far. Love? First of all, no, the only one I am interested in is safely out of your reach at the moment and will be forever if I have anything to say about it. Fame? Riches? Long life?"
Harry snorted, emboldened by the fact that he was slowly regaining control over more of his body as time dragged on, "Please. There is nothing you have that I want or need. Deals can only be made if both sides are interested, or one is able to coerce the other. Neither of which is the case here." Harry burst forward, breaking free of the last small portions of magic holding him in place. His sword arced downward towards Galbatorix who had a stunned look on his face before the man's arm blurred and his sword gracefully deflected Harry's attack.
"While he cannot control any larger amount of power from the Eldunari, I can. Feel the wrath of the dragon souls." The Drake bellowed. The black sword held in Galbatorix's hand seemed to drink in the surrounding light as it slashed through the air. Harry had to augment his body with magic to get his sword in place to block. His body was turned to the side from the force of the blow and had to use that momentum to spin enough to get ready to block the next blow he could sense coming. During the small talk time between the two, the Drake had apparently not only healed Galbatorix's body, but also put up various wards that turned away the two quick jabs that Harry tried to sneak in when he had enough breathing room to attempt such a gamble.
Galbatorix was breathing steadily and the Eldunari were throbbing at a sedate, unhurried pace. The fluctuations of light were throwing Harry off slightly and, had he been relying on sight alone, he would have stood no chance. As it was, he was barely keeping up. He couldn't hold his ground and was barely keeping pace to block the heavy blows from the possessed, fallen rider.
"Do not assume you have the upper hand, Human." The Drake spat, locking blades with Harry and beginning to force him into a crouch at the pressure being applied on their blades. "We haven't even upped the stakes yet. While the beasts that call themselves dragons these days have little control over their magic, my language has opened new doors to me that will see the world brought to heel!"
Harry built up his magic inside him and unleashed the wild energy, throwing Galbatorix back a few feet from him.
Galbatorix threw out a hand and once more froze Harry in place. This time, Harry could barely even form thoughts in his frozen position. He could move his eyes, however, and while the Drake seemed content to wait a few moments, gloating, Harry dove into Murtaugh's mind as the young man watched from one side of the room in awe.
"We don't have much time, Murtaugh. I need you to do what you can to break free of his control." Harry told the young man mentally, trying to shield the young man from the influence of the oaths he had sworn in the Ancient Language to Galbatorix.
"There is little that can be done. He knows my name, and as such is able to control my very being." Murtaugh replied sullenly.
"While the Ancient Language is one of truth and requires understanding, to a certain extent, it is also open to interpretation. Perhaps you—" Harry's words were cut off when Murtaugh took a step forward. Harry watched as his mouth moved as if the young man was saying something, but he didn't have time to think on what it was as the force holding him in place suddenly fell away. Harry quickly looked back at Galbatorix wondering if he had missed something. While his attention was mostly on Murtaugh, he was able to easily split his attention on multiple things. Shock was etched on Galbatorix's face for a few seconds before a look triumphant joy spread across his face.
"I'M FREE!" The Drake's voice reverberated so strongly inside the chamber that a number of rocks fell loose from the wall and Galbatorix crumpled limply to the ground.
Outside the chamber, the earth shook under the feet of the three that were waiting for Harry's return. Being that they were a few floors up from the ground, it felt much worse for them than those outside.
"Does that worry either of you?" Eragon asked quietly, as if worried that speaking to loud might set off a chain reaction of bad things.
Arya and Oromis shared a glance. Arya was about to reply when A'lerina, Oromis and Saphira all began shouting into their rider's mind at one.
The message from the three were the same, the Drake is awake.
Angela shuddered as she waited among the soldiers. The four riders had gone into the main stronghold nearly half an hour ago and she was itching to know what was happening. Thinking, being one of her stronger character traits, she had decided to move over next to Vaengrasr and asked if she could sit in on what was happening. Thankfully, he had acquiesced.
She had heard about his likely return when in talks with the leaders of the army and the other Riders, but he had never been so close as he was now. The Drake was possessing Galbatorix? How long had this been happening? How did she not know about it before hand? She had felt his power more often here and there over the recent years, but hadn't thought anything of it, she had always been aware of his power.
She was distracted and scoffed slightly at the mental conversation between Harry and Murtaugh. While the wizard knew a massive amount, he still wasn't entirely correct in is thoughts on the Ancient Language. He was too used to bending magic as he desired to achieve the goal he wanted. The Ancient Language wasn't something that could be bent and molded so easily. There were plenty of nuances here and there and yes, to some extent, the interpretation of something could change how you can work within the Ancient Language, but when it came to A person's name. It was the truth of their being. Like it or not, it was the truth of a person. There were things about her name that she was sad to see, but no matter how happy she tried to view that fact, it was still the fact.
She pushed such ramblings to the side as she saw Murtaugh move. Worry plunged to the depths of her gut and she took a steadying breath. Things were going to get much worse before they could get better.
All across Alagaësia, the earth shook and quaked, crevices opened here and there, pools of molten earth spilled into the crust, the sea rose and fell in a drastic manner as the ground moved and trembled. Finally, after a few moments of stillness, a loud report shattered the quiet as the ground ruptured open. Thick, black plumes of smoke roiled from the open fissure and a shadowed form rocketed into the sky. It peaked out a few miles into the sky and wing unfurled wide to glide beautifully to the ground. Once more, the earth was rocked as the newly released creature opened it maw and let out a bellowing roar.
"Tremble, mortals!" The great beast declared, its growling voice carrying across the lands, echoing into every town and village. "The long foretold Rise of the Dragons has come!"
Harry, Eragon, Arya and Oromis all trudged from the stronghold; Murtaugh was following a shot distance behind, mostly dragging an unresponsive Galbatorix along with him. Cheers briefly we up at the sight of the four dragon riders, but confusion swept through the gathered forces at the sight of the other two. Hope was building among the Varden forces when it was seen that Murtaugh was alive, but the fact that he was dragging Galbatorix along, without any visible fatal wounds, held them at a distance.
"Well… we have a lot of work to do." Harry said quietly, his attention focused on the gathered leaders. "And you likely aren't going to enjoy the tale I have to tell you."
With that ominous statement, Harry grabbed ahold of Galbatorix and began moving towards the main command tent. Confused, the leaders followed along behind, shooting wary glances at the others who had followed him inside. From the other dragon riders, there was little information forthcoming.
When all were in attendance and seated, Harry leaned over the table, staring sightlessly at the map of Alagaësia before him.
"The Drake is free." His words were met with silence at the bluntness of the statement. No lead in, no fair warning, just dropping the bomb. Harry had found it sometimes worked better that way. Hearing no thuds of people fainting or screams of uncontrollable terror, he figured they were off to a good start.
"Galbatorix isn't entirely at fault in all of this…" Harry started in and now someone interrupted.
"Not entirely at fault?" Jörmundur scoffed. Harry met his eyes, unsheathed his sword, causing some defensive reactions from the other members of the Varden and the Dwarves, until he turned the blade towards himself.
"You have to choose one other person to be left alive. Everyone else that is not chosen, I will kill. What is your decision?" Harrys asked blankly.
Confusion and silence met his words once more with no small amount of wariness mixed in. Jörmundur looked at him, aghast and terrified.
"Perhaps you think you could just kill yourself and get out of that decision? Sorry, that's not an option. Better yet, you have free reign to chose any one person in this room to spare aside from yourself, but you will kill everyone else." Harry sheathed his blade and leaned back. "Now imagine that situation being forced upon you, and no matter what, you were forced to make a final decision. Are the deaths of these people entirely your fault?"
Furrowed brows met the question he posed as they tried to work out what he was getting at. The dragon riders were all staring at the table without looking at the reactions from the others. Harry turned and walked over to where he had settled Galbatorix's body at and ripped back the clothing on his chest to show the scar of the burned rune.
Angela gasped from her seat at the sight of the rune. Few eyes could be torn away from the sight of the nasty scar on the man's chest before them to look at her for her response.
Harry met her eyes, however, and he nodded. "It is a symbol from the mostly unknown runic language of the dragons. A language that the Drake himself claims to have created. This" Harry carelessly slapped the marking with the back of his hand, "just so happens to be the rune meaning Servant. The way the Drake explained it to me, Galbatorix was in complete control of himself, but he was only to choose from a certain range of options. The situation I just set before you was likely an extreme exaggeration, unless, I would assume, the Drake felt like playing with his helpless little 'servant'. Welcome to the world of Galbatorix for the past hundred years. I won't bemoan the terrible choices he likely had to choose between, because I don't know just how often he was forced into those kinds of situations. Perhaps the last thirty years he hasn't needed any nudges at all. Perhaps he is a homicidal maniac that is now fully set on seeing the world burn or be under his rule. All I know, is that it isn't entirely his fault."
Harry rubbed his face with a hand tiredly. The fight had taken quite a bit out of him. He would likely need to take it easy for the next few days to get back to where he preferred to be. He might have been able to last another four minutes. At the very most. Anything more than that and he would have been in deep trouble. The worrying part, Harry didn't think the Drake was being entirely serious in the fight.
He settled down into his chair. "I have nothing. Galbatorix, I could somewhat understand and work with what I knew. I have faced down dragons before, but none with this level of intelligence, and certainly never this level of power." He sat quietly for a few moments in contemplation while the others looked on, not really sure what could be said at this point. "The main positive I am seeing in all this, is the Drake no longer has access to the… help that he originally did in this meeting." Harry hedged, not minding the looks of confusion from the others, trying to keep the secret of the Eldunari from the general population.
"I want to know how the Drake got free at this point. What happened? Did we do something that released him?" One of the Dwarves questioned worriedly.
Harry sighed and glanced around the table. Gauging how he should approach this. "I had been trapped with magic, couldn't move or hardly even think. I was able to make contact with Murtaugh mentally by sheer willpower alone and then Galbatorix simply stopped and then smiled." Harry glanced at Angela and she gave a minute nod. "I have no idea what caused it. Perhaps whatever the Grey Folk did finally lost its ability to hold him."
Angela sighed at this point and apparently the leaders had finally been able to get themselves pulled together enough to look at her curiously. "It was supposed to be a foolproof way of holding him."
The elves looked at her with realization spreading across their face.
"You…?" Islanzadí questioned, not even able to fully complete her sentence.
Angela nodded. "I am the last of the Grey." Her voice held a sorrowful note to it. "Last by choice, by design, by unanimous agreement." Her voice waivered slightly at the words.
"We had arrived in Alagaësia and met the dragons who were native to the land. They were loosely broken into three separate factions, those who ruled the land, those who ruled the skies, and those who ruled the sea. Their domain stretched the whole world, and there were none to oppose their reign. When my people arrived, we sought to coexist peacefully with them. Or most of us hoped to. Our leader, such a prideful man, offended their main ruler. Treating them as little more than beasts. Most of our people worked to make amends, but our leader held no desire to share this world with others.
"Others fell in line with the leader and tensions reached the boiling point. Once the first strike happened, there was really no turning back. Those of us who wanted peace hadn't built enough trust and friendship with the dragons to be allowed to stay away from those who were seeking to bring the other side down. Families were torn apart, tempers and anguish gave way to rash and stupid actions."
Angela looked around the tent and saw that all were enraptured by her story. Harry looked on with understanding, sorrowful eyes that she drew strength from. "It continued in that manner until the Drake began his rise. Neltharion was to be his name. His entire family had been wiped out by the fighting, only days before his naming ceremony was to take place. A rite of passage for dragons at that time. He slowly gathered followers, mostly those drawn to him and his runes. It was with the entrance of those 'gifted' with his runes that the tides truly turned and everyone, most of the dragons and Grey alike, hoped that finally there would be peace. Our leader and his few followers, along with a number of the older Dragons were the ones who forced others to continue the fighting. Neltharion came in as a third side to the battles and was gaining ground quickly.
"We were preparing for the last few battles when it appeared. A new rune appeared, not placed or created by Neltharion. It took him a while of study, but he finally as able to make sense of what it meant. Master. He had held no arrogance at that point. Humble, caring, kind to all he encountered. He truly worked to bring out the best in those around him. The runes he created were to assist and protect and empower those who were seeking to bring about a better future."
Angela sniffed softly. "We later found out that one of his followers had worked to learn the runic language, he idolized Neltharion for his actions and how much help he was offering our broken peoples. He first inscribed 'Servant' on himself, searching for a way to be of more help to Neltharion, but going about it in a very foolish manner. He didn't know what he as doing with the runes. When he felt the connection to Neltharion, he had quickly gone to others and showed them the rune he had made, told them of the connection he could feel now with Neltharion, flaunted the idea of him being specifically a servant of Neltharion. Swarms of people followed his example, and before anyone realized it, Neltharion was being driven to madness.
"He was forced to give orders to people every few moments of the day. It is what a servant does, they do what the person they are serving tells them to do. With even fifty people requiring tasks from him, it was frustrating. Since he felt like he was taking away their free will…well, you can surely understand how it would descend into madness…" Angela fell silent.
Harry cleared his throat gently. "The Ancient Language was created by the Grey Folk, supposedly to bring order to the chaos of magic. To that point, the Grey Folk needed no works to do the spells. What most magicians now consider deadly, they did as if it was them taking a breath. Controlling magic with their minds, their will." Harry nodded in Angela's direction. "You said you were the last of your people by choice, by vote…they…" He sighed and looked down. "It was their sacrifice that bound the Drake within the earth. You used what we know as the Ancient Language, for the first time, to strip away the power of the draconic runes and bind him within the earth." Harry stated softly.
He had thought over the story she had told to that point, related it to things he had seen in the past and things fell into place. The dragon souls that he had spoken to in the Vault of Souls had part of the story correct, but they likely mostly relied on hearsay. He had been able to make the logical steps down they story's trail to find this ending. Angela nodded at his words, but gave no other reply for the moment.
Stunned silence settled over the tent's inhabitants. After a few moments, Angela spoke up once more. "I had known that he was still somewhat aware of the world. I could feel him straining against the bindings we had given so much for. Shortly before Galbatorix's rise and betrayal, I had felt a shift, but hadn't thought overly much about it. Then, you walked into my shop." She looked at Harry as she spoke.
"I cast your fortune, and you came out with dragon runes from the cast. I later realized that there had been another shift, but I was caught so off guard that I didn't notice it for a while. I mean, sure, you're…you, but…draconic runes…in your fortune! On dragon bones. And then, to top it all off, I have heard that your Gedwëy Ignasia is one as well." Angela had a good amount of fire to her voice at this point and the stare that she was giving Harry had him quickly pulling his arm above the table and rolling back the sleeve to let her see the rune.
Her eyes focused there for a few moments and then she looked away. "Yes, things will get much worse before they have a chance of getting better."
Everyone around the table looked at each other and wondered the same thing.
What happens next?
Got y'all a twofer. You waited four months for this after all, figured I should make it worth your wait. Both of these were finished just this week. I really didn't want to pin Angela down as a Grey Folk. I love her as this character with a mysterious background that plays with people's minds and perception of things. She's wonderful, but I couldn't decide on a different way to get this information to the group and I felt like it fits her. Sorry for the lore dump there towards the end.
Shout out to any who caught the name drop. Perhaps you noticed some similarities? Won't be an actual crossover, just a readily accessible name and situation I was drawn to. Lastly, was it just me, or was the whole 'wrath of the dragon souls" bit a little cheesy? And perhaps a good portion of the Drake's grandstanding? Yes? I thought so too. I have never done the whole megalomaniac writing before. It was oddly thrilling and entertaining. Perhaps that is what spurred on the Omake down below…
AU OMAKE: Please don't hate me for this. I couldn't help myself….honest… I'm in a mood :) ;P
Harry and the group finally make it to where smoke billows out of the mountains, signaling the location the Drake has settled in at. He knows they are here. They hear his mocking laughter echoing off the valley walls, rumbling, cascading tones settling fear deep into the heart of the soldiers that follow behind them.
"I hear the Drake is so large that the Beor Mountains are the only place he can go to not be seen. Everywhere else, they are like small hills compared to his size." One soldier whispered as they marched forward.
"If you think that is bad, I heard that his breath is hotter than the sun! If he really let loose, he could turn the entire planet to ash in one breath." Another whispered back.
"Do you really think his claws are sharper than the elven swords?" A third quaked quietly to his marching neighbor.
More growls and rumbled words crashed over the soldiers and they quickly shut up and marched in terrified silence. Fearing that the drake could hear their worried whispers.
Harry and the group leading the Varden army turned a corner and saw a looming shadow on the hills around them. The shadow would grow in definition and then lessen, causing Harry to assume that the dragon was blowing fire at something intermittently. Cautiously, he peaked around the corner…and fainted.
Arya also risked a glance, after checking on her mate, before falling also into the land of oblivion as her view captured the direct sight of the Drake. Vaengrasr and A'lerína had stilled completely at the view he had shared from Harry's eyes and the rest stopped moving completely in response.
The wizard who they had seen do so much had feinted out of shock by what he had seen, as well as the elf princess who had shown as much, if not more prowess in battle as some of their best warriors. What could be so terrible that these two massive legends would succumb to feinting at just the sight of this beast?
Stilted rumbles came from the two dragons of the feinted riders. The scared soldiers began to shake as they thought that the dragons themselves had been driven into insanity by the mental glimpse of the Drake. When the rumbles became full growls of laughter, they took a number of steps back. A number of deep rumbles and more flickering shadows came from around the corner and the two dragons rolled onto their backs, their growls now accompanied by shaking. Harry awoke finally and saw the quivering soldiers watching his and Arya's dragons with worry.
He joined the pair in their laughter. He motioned to the soldiers and quietly snuck around the corner, leading to where the Drake was situated. The soldiers watched in horror as the tiny shadow disappeared into the larger shadow being cast on the valley wall. More rumbles and flickering fire, mostly drowning out the two dragons that were still having small fits about something.
Sometimes, the soldiers were able to make out the shape of Harry, but that worried them also, as apparently, he was able to make himself bigger, much bigger. His shadow was the same height as the Drake… and now growing larger…and bigger.
The flickering cut out, leaving the valley wall unable to tell them the story of what happened around the corner. A bellow rang out and echoed down the valley and a short sound of a muffled scuffled later, Harry appeared back around the corner, holding a small part of the dragon.
Perhaps the end of the tail? Some soldiers wondered. Or maybe the very end of a toe from the claw? Whatever he carried, it was wriggling and struggling against his grip. As he finally drew close enough for them to see, they were stunned by the fact that he held a small dragon in his hand by the neck.
"Did you steal the Drake's baby?" One soldier questioned, fearful that the Drake would be even angrier with them now.
Harry laughed and held up the dragon that was no bigger than a werecat with a massive smile. "May I present to you. The great" his chortles cut through his words, "and powerful" more laughter that broke through his words, making it slightly difficult to understand clearly what he was saying. The dragons once more began their fits of growling and shaking on the ground, and Arya had rejoined those in the land of waking, and also joined the group that was now, undoubtedly laughing.
Popped into my mind in the middle of the fight scene with Galby. IN THE FREAKING MIDDLE OF IT. Like…my word count is sitting at 4k words. Fuh reel Legacy, what the heck? You can't just drop this kind of crap on me! Keep this kind of stuff for later on down the road...now I have to go back and try to keep it professional and serious after all these just got thrown up on the page. Success? I think it was okay
Yes, I tried to make it similar to the Wizard of OZ. It's understandable though, right? Galbatorix is there and all, but let's face it there is just this voice 'rumbling' in the room that is from this supposed crazy powerful being…apparently my mind couldn't help itself. So, now that I have probably completely ruined my view and your view of the Drake, I hope you enjoyed the past two chapters. :)