Chapter 10: Magic Trials
It was a cold long night as two figures entered the tall trees in the forest. Above the figures, two dragons, one blue and one green circled in the sky above them. One of the figures was wearing a blue colored shirt and brown pants. He had brown curly hair and his build was muscular. He looked fit as he walked confidently, following the figure in front of him. The other was a female, with long black raven hair and white skin. Her lips were red and her green eyes had a determined look. She wore black leather pants and a green top to match her dragon's color. She walked with care, opening the path.
The two figures suddenly stopped in a large clearing. In the middle of the open space was a lake with crystal clear water. The lake's water moved from the slight cold breeze, but it mirrored the red orange light coming from the big full moon in the sky. The two figures lied down near the lake and talked for a while, looking at the moon and the countless stars in the sky, every once in a while pointing at one. The female figure stayed silent for quite a while until the male figure kneeled away from her point of view. He used a quick incantation, and a small green node sprung from the ground, slowly growing into a larger size. The plant grew leaves and finally, with the final words of the incantation, a flower formed in the top of the plant. The flower was blue and the petals had a slight touch of a silver color at the ends. The stem of the flower had a gold color, which created a very pleasant smell on the air. With a quick motion, he gave the flower to the female figure, saying a few words as he did so. A shiver passed through the female figure and she did the same. The two figures slowly leaned towards each other, closer and closer, until finally their lips touched kissing passionately. The dragons above roared their approval.
"Eragon! Eragon!" Saphira shouted in his mind, trying to wake him up. Eragon snapped his eyes open, looking around the room, trying to figure where he was.
"Goodmorning Saphira!" Eragon said with a yawn.
"I've been trying to wake you for so long! I was a bit worried, little one." Saphira explained.
Eragon smiled at her and then lifted himself from his bed. He quickly bathed and prepared breakfast. He scratched his chin and cheeks. For the past year, he had started to grow a small beard on his face. It sometimes itched him but it reminded him of his father Brom. He quickly cut some apples and pears and another exotic fruit that he had discovered as he scouted the area around Du Skulblaka Ramr. It's taste was sweet and it reminded him a lot of a peach. As he ate his fruits, his mind wondered again on the dream he had been having. For years now, it was the same dream in different situations. It was always he and Arya but the landscape around them changed every time. Sometimes it was a forrest, sometimes a city or a empty landscape. But the dream always had the same effect on him. It left him in a happy mood.
Still, a growing sense of worry started to eat him from within, as he felt that what he dreamed would never happen. Twice she had rejected him already, and the third time she just said that given time something could happen. It was frustrating to feel that his feelings were not returned but there was nothing he could do. His mind gave him arguments against his emotions but his heart ordered otherwise. The long distance between him and Arya was an extra barrier that he had to pass. It meant he could not talk to her everyday as he used to or comfort her and her duties as a queen and his duties as a Lead Rider also made it even more difficult. Constant communication after all, was an important part of any relationship and he only wished that Arya could be there or that he could return to Alagaesia to be near her. His heart ached and his stomach twisted from the anxiety.
As he finished eating, he heard the flap of wings as dragons and riders passed above him, heading for the training fields. It was time for their daily lesson. Eragon looked at the mirror to see if he was presentable and then climbed on Saphira. With a roar she took off, going higher and higher until they were only specks if someone was looking from the ground. Then as Eragon prepared himself, holding himself tighter, Saphira started descending, without moving her wings. As the ground came closer, Eragon shouted and Saphira moved her massive wings, slowing their descent at the last moment. With four big moves, she landed right outside the training fields.
"Show off!" Eragon told her and Saphira snorted.
A smile came on Eragon's face and he released a short laugh as he also enjoyed this game more than he would like to admit. It helped him relax from his studying and his daily chores of teaching his students sword fighting, magic and then fighting with Blodgharm and Yasmira with his sword and mind every single day. He was still sore from his last encounter. To tease him Saphira showed him an image of him and Yasmira fighting. With a sudden unexpected move as he was preparing an attack, she used a fireball that had singed part of his beard. She had apologized later but Saphira still got fits of laughter whenever she thought about it. Eragon laughed too at that and then looked at his assembled students.
Salador was there, sitting on the ground with his back on a rock as he looked at the students and then at Eragon with interest.
"Goodmorning to everyone! Today is a big day for you. As you may know, today we will have trials for you to demonstrate your ability with magic. If you pass these magic trials, you will be one step closer to your goal, of becoming full riders!." Eragon announced.
At these words, the dwarf rider Thrain looked at the sky with a quick prayer and then looked anxiously around. Alaina the elf rider smiled at Eragon, confident she could pass the trials. Salador lifted himself up from the rock, and looked determined to pass the test. And finally, Gregorbak lifted his chin in a manner of respect. His emotions were hard to read.
"For the trials, we will use the four elements, Earth, Water, Fire and Wind. You will demonstrate your mastery of these four elements by creating something original or perhaps using these abilities in other ways." Eragon explained to them.
"For example, you could do something like this." Eragon said and with a quick spell, and using his favorite magic spell, Brisingr, he created a second apparition of his sword, and made it dance around him in a protective fashion. He looked at his student's expressions as they were deep in thought, trying to find a way to pass the trials.
With a motivated look, Alaina stepped up and with a quick spell, she created a bird made of fire, that flew around her and the other students. It finally sat on her shoulder, without harming her and then disappeared. The other students clapped and Eragon was impressed by the effort.
Salador stepped up and with a spell, he tried to copy the spell that Alaina used and to create a dragon made of fire. For a few seconds, he managed to do so, creating the scales and the fierce characteristics but then the spell tired him and he quit the flow of magic. Eragon smiled at him encouraging him and in this way showed him his support for his effort.
It was Thrain's turn as he stepped up and with a few quick words, he created a fire so intense, that it changed the color of the metal from orange to red and then managed to melt a metallic sword he was carrying, and with it, he slowly created a small metallic statue. It was not very good at detail, but it showed a dwarf warrior. The other students congratulated Thrain as he stepped backwards, his face becoming red.
Finally, Gregorbak stepped up and with a protective spell, he protected the students from a storm of fire that he created. The fireballs, amassed together and created a protective wall around him. After a few seconds, Gregorbak ended the spell and sat down, exhausted.
"That was very well done! I am impressed by all your efforts, but the trials must go on, no matter how tired you feel." Eragon said with a loud voice and motivated them to continue.
Thrain was quick to oblige as with a spell, he made the earth around him rise, and then he gathered the excess rock and created a statue of a wolf. One could see its fierce characteristics, and its readiness to pounce at a moment's notice. It's fur was portrayed by lines all across the statue. Eragon looked at it with admiration and touched the statue with his hand.
He quickly looked at Alaina's spell, who called water from the ground, and with a continuous flow of energy, managed to make several balls of water fall around the students, as a form of distraction spell.
Salador stepped up but he did not have enough time to see the details as he felt a being trying to communicate with him through his mind. At first, as a habit, from the everyday training he was doing, he locked his mind with strong barriers, but then he realized it was Yasmira, contacting him. He opened his mind and heard Yasmira's voice.
"Eragon! You must come immediately!. It is a very urgent message from Alagaesia." Yasmira said quickly and without saying anything else, she ended the communication, before Eragon had time to ask more questions.
Dark thoughts and memories entered Eragon's mind and a sense of worry filled him for his loved ones in Alagaesia. Was Roran and Katrina all right? Was Arya, Nasuada and everyone else all right?. Some of the thoughts must have shown on his face or it was the fact that Salador had finished his magic spell that made the students look at him. They saw that something was bothering him.
"I must go now, but Blodgharm will be happy to see the rest of the magic trials. I have urgent news from Alagaesia. I shall inform you all of what I learn when I return." he said and without another word, he turned around.
Saphira landed near him and he quickly climbed in his spot on her neck, as she took off towards the library.
"What do you think has occurred? Is it another rebellion? Or is it something completely different? The Olympic Games were supposed to be happening these days." Eragon asked Saphira worried.
"Whatever it is, it must be very urgent. Yasmira sounded on the verge of panic when she contacted me." Saphira replied.
In a few minutes, Saphira landed on the steps of the great white building that was the library of Du Skulblaka Ramr. Eragon quickly jumped from Saphira's back and landed on the white marble floor. He climbed the stairs he had built with the help of the elves and the eldunarya. The library was easily the largest building in the new Dragon city. It was an impressive building with a great large garden full of statues and plants, grown with magic or with plants they had found during the exploration of the nearby area.
A statue of a gold dragon, with its fierce expression, ready to roar and pounce on its enemies, was in the center of the garden. Its scales were exquisitely made, and its eyes gleamed as the light from the sun fell on them. The statue looked almost alive. The dragon had its head lifted in the air, but instead of a stream of fire, coming from its mouth came water. The water fell in a small pool, that had formed around the statue. Eragon opened the massive doors of the building, and ran inside, towards Yasmira. He passed a few tables and chairs that had been put as an area where the students could study their books and scrolls.
On the other side of the tables, row after row of bookcases filled with books and scrolls that had been taken back from Galbatorix filled the whole massive building, the whole knowledge that had been gathered by the now gone, old Order of Riders. Eragon had spent countless days studying these scrolls, as much as he could so that he could learn as much as possible. He needed to be able to know more than any other member of the Order, if he was to be Lead Rider. He wanted to be able to teach the students as much as possible from the secrets of the riders of old. That is why, during the first few years, he had made it his goal to read every book and scroll in that library. He had learned countless useful things from being able to better defend his mind against attacks, to better uses of magic, alterations in the ancient language and spells that had not been used for thousands of years.
With a quick pace, he climbed the stairs to the second level of the library, and opened a small wooden door. A cozy room with comfortable chairs and a fireplace awaited him. Yasmira was there, her long silver hair gleaming form the light that came from the fire. She was wearing a white dress and her brown eyes were shining with barely contained tears. She looked at Eragon biting her lip and showed him the mirror, where with the help of a spell, he could see his cousin Roran. He was covered with smoke and dust, and many injuries. His look was one of defeat and his eyes showed the horrors he had seen. His clothes were tattered.
"Roran! What happened?" Eragon said with worry.
"Eragon! It has been a long time!" He replied with a small smile but then his expression became grim again. "We are at War! King Orrin and his men attacked us while the Olympic Games were being held in Belatona. The city is lost and we lost thousands of men in the battle." Roran informed him. "We believe that Nasuada was captured or perhaps killed in the conflict. Along with Jormundur and half of the high commanding officers. The situation is terrible Eragon! We are leaderless, and the men are scattered around.".
"But how is that possible? I thought weapons and armed men were not allowed in or around the stadium as long as the Olympic Games are taking place". Eragon asked.
"So we thought. But King Orrin had a different opinion. It gave him the perfect advantage over us, as we were unarmed and gathered together in a stadium. He would never get a chance like this again. He moved his army near the city under an invisibility spell and attacked the unsuspecting city and guards. As you can imagine, it was a massacre. We believe at least six to eight thousand people were killed in the city. " Roran said with a pause at the end as he remembered all the deaths of men, women and children in the city, the horrible screams of dying men and the crying of children, the houses burning and the roads covered with the blood of people fighting and dead bodies.
"What of Arya and Firnen? Weren't they there to help?" Eragon asked still not being able to believe the extent of the damage.
"Yes, they sure gave the Surdans a lot of problems. I'm sure if Firnen was better trained, they might have prevented the city from falling but as it is..." Roran stopped his sentence. "Arya and Firnen are with us but as I said, the people that remain cannot even be described as an army."
A growing sense of anger filled Eragon. He had never really liked king Orrin. He respected him because of his position, but he always felt there was something off with him. He had captured Nasuada or killed her and Eragon would make sure that he would pay for his actions. He considered Nasuada a close friend and if any harm had fallen on her, he would make sure Orrin would answer for it.
"I never thought Orrin capable of doing this." Eragon said with a low voice. His expression betrayed his emotions and Yasmira took a step back. Even Roran looked at him with concern. He let the comment pass without answer, not wanting to anger Eragon with more details about the battle.
" You must make sure you gather the army again. I will come back to Alagaesia to help as soon as I pack." Eragon informed Roran.
"That is so good to hear Eragon!". Roran said with a sigh of relief."You don't know how happy I am to hear that!" he said with a big smile.
"Be careful Roran." Eragon said with concern.
"You too, brother. Send Saphira my regards" Roran replied. " I'll inform the others of your help. It will lift their spirits." He said.
Eragon smiled and Yasmira ended the spell. Eragon looked at the empty mirror. It looked as if the news had made him older than he was.
"We must inform the others" Saphira said.
The sentence made Eragon pause. He needed to help his friends but had he trained the new riders enough for them to engage in a war? He knew how dangerous a war could be. He had sworn to protect the eggs and the new dragons and riders with his life, when he left Alagaesia. He did not want to put the new students in unnecessary danger.
"You must trust yourself little one. You have taught them everything you could. They are almost full riders now, and sometime, as all hatchlings, they must learn to fly on their own, without a need for us. They must put their knowledge to the test, and make their own decisions. That is the only way to grow up." Saphira stated.
Eragon sighed. As usual, Saphira was right. He did not like the idea of taking his students to come with him, but in the war that would come, they would need all the help they could get. He turned and hugged Saphira as she hummed in response making the floor vibrate.
Eragon climbed on Saphira and headed towards the training grounds once again, deep in thought. The students were still there, finishing their spells. It was Thrain's turn as he made the air move faster and faster until a storm of sand and rocks from the ground was created that could easily injure or even kill a man in a few seconds. Thrain collapsed on the ground, exhausted. Salador lied down near him, his skin pale. The students were exhausted but the magic trials were finally over.
"Congratulations! You are now riders in full!." Eragon shouted and the students cheered, as the dragons roared their approval.
"It has been a great honor teaching you the secrets of the riders. I hope that you will put what I taught you to good use. Normally, we would have a great feast to celebrate, the first of many. Unfortunately, things are not going well in Alagaesia. The peace is over, and there is war again in the land. King Orrin and Surda attacked Queen Nasuada and the other races in the Olympic Games. That is something we cannot allow. We will not let Alagaesia fall back into chaos. High Queen Nasuada is believed to be dead, or captured. We must help the races in their war against Orrin! " Eragon said with a loud voice. The students listened carefully. Their faces had changed from pure happiness to dread and fear.
"I understand you must be tired after the magic trials, which is why you can have the rest of the day off to pack your things and relax. But tomorrow, we leave for Alagaesia!" Eragon continued.
The students bowed and started to leave the training grounds as Eragon turned to look at the blood red sky. The sun was almost at the level of the sea. The rays from the sun hit the water, creating silver patterns in the water, and the waves crashed in the beach far below.
Salador and his yellow dragon Gadroth were the last people in the training grounds. He moved and stood besides Eragon. Eragon turned with a questioning look.
"Ebrithil...you have achieved so much in the war against Galbatorix. You have fought shades, and the dark king and you have killed them, no matter how powerful. But how am I to reach your achievements?" Salador asked.
"The moment I heard about the war, a fear paralyzed my body and all I wanted to do was stay as far away as possible from it. As you may know, I'm no stranger to fights, or even blood, but I don't want to lose what is the most precious to me. What is closest to me. I fear that in the war, terrible things will happen, and I will lose everyone that I care about...." Salador tried to explain and find the words.
"I understand Salador. You might be surprised to know, that even after the achievements you named, I have the same fear as you do. So does everyone else. Perhaps they hide it better, or they don't show it but everyone does. The trick is to use this fear, fight it, and try your best. Trust your abilities and your knowledge. Protect those you love, and do anything for them. Fight for them, and you will gain the strength you need against your opponents." Eragon told him. Eragon saw Salador still thinking about his words and something inside him made him make a promise.
"I will do everything in my power to keep you and those you care about safe." Eragon said in the ancient language.
Salador smiled and thanked him. He turned around slowly and climbed on the back of his dragon. With a jump, the dragon took in the air, and a few moments later it disappeared in the sky as the dragon released a river of fire in the air.
Eragon smiled. That was what he was fighting for. He intended to keep his promise to Salador and the other riders. He was the protector of Dragons and Lead Rider. He would keep them all safe and there was nothing anyone could do to stop him.