Chapter 12: Myths and Riddles
The new dragon city of Du Skulblaka Ramr was slowly fading behind them as Eragon and his students flew upon their dragons on their way to Alagaesia. The students had all packed in the remaining time that had been given to them after their successful completion of the magic trials. They had all rested early, preparing for the journey ahead, tired from the events of the day but happy for their achievement. They were all now considered to be riders in full. In this short period of time, Eragon had gathered the eldunarya and carried most of them with him. He had left only ten large sized eldunarya, one for each of the ten elves that would stay behind to guard the Dragon city and the dragon eggs while he was away.
Of course, over the years a few humans, dwarves and elves had travelled there in order to help with the training of the riders and the protection of the city, who would also remain behind. Eragon had made the necessary arrangements with Fael who would be left in charge. The elf had shown his disappointment for remaining behind, especially since some of the other elves would accompany the riders in their journey to Alagaesia, using the Talita, the ship that had been used to get to Du Skulblaka Ramr. This was because of Blodgharm's and Yasmira's insistence that the new riders and dragons and Eragon himself, needed to be protected and as a result, it was necessary for some of the elves to accompany them in their journey. Eragon had also contacted the rulers of the different races, mainly Arya and Orik, but to his surprise Roran too, informing them of his intention to help. Early that morning, they had departed. Blodgharm and Yasmira were sitting on Saphira along with Eragon. As the two most powerful elven magicians, it was their duty to protect the riders from any harm.
The flap of dragon wings was the only sound that could be heard in the air as they flew on top of the giant trees that surrounded the new dragon city, and above the river that led to the sea. There, he could still see the boat, the Talita, that would bring the elves from the Dragon city to Alagaesia. He looked for one last time at the city that he had called his home for the past eight years and at the tower he had built when he arrived at the city. Finally, he turned his head away. Eragon could see a movement among the trees as a deer ran away from the sight of the fast approaching dragons, as a multitude of birds flew, scared from the sudden movement. A large golden beach appeared in Eragon's line of sight, the waves crashing at the sand. The clear dark blue water of the sea shined like a mirror as the rays of the sun landed on its surface, and Eragon could see the depths from where he was above, through the crystal clear water. The Talita was also necessary because the dragons needed to have somewhere to rest during the long journey over the sea, as there were no small islands and the waters were full of dangers.
"What a great site" he commented.
"Indeed little one" Saphira agreed in an instant a line of smoke filling the air in front of Eragon, making his eyes water.
He watched at his students, as Alaina smiled and Salador looked focused. Thrain was talking to his dragon and Gregorbak looked deep in thought. They were all playing a game of riddles. Alaina and the others suddenly laughed at what must have been a funny response to the riddle.
"Can I join your game?" Eragon asked smiling.
"Of course Ebrithil" the others said and Salador repeated the riddle for Eragon.
"I watch the birth and death of kings
I last beyond all living things
I am the oldest in the land
I am the greatest boulder, the finest sand
I stand on the deepest rock below
I touch the skies where the winds blow
I am where the rivers fountain"
Eragon thought for some time. He was sure he had heard the riddle before but he couldn't remember the answer. He hesitated as he didn't want to say the wrong answer in front of his students.
"Is it a mountain?" Eragon asked and Alaina nodded.
"I see. My turn now.
Of all the sea terrors, he may be the worst.
It exceeds the strength of men and put to shame the biggest ships.
tempting it, would be like trying to out run an avalanche."
This riddle took many minutes for the students to solve but after many tries and as they were all ready to give up, Thrain said "The Boar's eye"., which was the name of the place where Roran's ship had almost sunk on their way to the Burning plains.
"Well done" Eragon praised him. It was a very hard riddle and he was almost certain none of his students would have found the answer.
The game of riddles continued on and on until the riders could not think of any other riddle to say. When the game ended, Eragon found the opportunity to continue the training of the riders, creating a series of groans and sighs. He knew the students were tired but it would be a long journey and they needed to be as prepared as possible for the challenges ahead of them. The riders passed the long blue sea and reached the land, following the river, as had Eragion so many years ago.
The sun fell and was replaced by a cold night as the moon appeared in the sky. Before the sun completely disappeared Eragon searched the ground below for a place where they could rest for the night.He saw a small cluster of trees that grew upon the rocky surface of the ground, which could provide some cover for the night. Saphira, landed near the area, and the other dragons quickly followed her example. Gregorbak and Thrain went to the forrest to collect wood for the campfire while Salador and Alaina went to hunt for the small party. Thankfully, there were many trees in the area and plenty of animals and the students returned quickly. With a magic spell, Eragon lit the campfire using the wood that Thrain and Gregorbak had collected and started cooking the three rabbits that Alaina and Salador had caught over the fire.
They all sat around the campfire, trying to warm themselves from the biting cold wind, as they talked about their training, the war in Alagaesia and the future. Eragon found himself thinking about the war against Galbatorix, the deaths of soldiers and the time he spent with Arya. Soon the food was ready and everybody filled their plates with food. Eragon could only think how tasty the food was and how hungry he had been. He did not allow himself to eat meat often, only in special occasions, so he and Alaina were eating some fruits they had brought with them but the other riders did not follow his example and ate the delicious rabbit meat.
When everyone had their bellies full with food, a silence came over the camp, as they all looked at the dancing flames of the campfire. No one seemed to want to want to go to sleep. An idea came to Eragon, and he smiled as it was one of his favorite things to do when he was near a campfire.
"Does anyone know of a story or a myth that we can hear?" Eragon asked, breaking the silence and everyone tried to think about one. Eragon smiled as he looked around at his students. He really liked listening to stories because not only did he learn things about the different cultures, but he also learned things about the personality of the storyteller.
"I have a story." Salador replied. "This is how my mother used to tell me the story when I was little" he said with a smile clearly seeing with his mind a fond memory.
"Once there were two great warriors in the city of Belatona. Their names were Eowyn and Arctus. They were both very strong and muscular and had been together since the day they were born. They were not brothers but since a very small age, they had been very close friends. They used to play with each other, fight and train with each other until they had no more energy in them and sleep took them. However, they were from the poor section of Belatona, and that meant that they had very little chance of becoming someone important in their lives. One day, as they were playing and fighting, and searching for treasure, Eowyn and Arctus saw the army of Belatona celebrating a victory over an enemy, and they were impressed by the great triumph that followed the victory as soldiers paraded in the streets and women and men and children cheered and threw flowers to the men that had been victorious in battle. Eowyn wondered if he and Arctus would ever have such a triumph in their city in their lifetime. As they grew older, their thirst for power and glory grew stronger and so they decided to tell goodbye to their parents and leave in search of a mighty treasure.
This treasure was the sword believed to have been used by a hero of old, said to grant the strength of a hundred men to the person who wielded it. They travelled all over Alagaesia, fighting bands of men who tried to kill them, and thieves and pirates who tried to rob them of their possesions. At each victory, their fame grew until they were feared by the men in the area and all the robbers and thieves avoided them like the plague. Then, they finally reached the city of illeria. It was there that they heard from a man who recognized them that there was a ancient temple in the area, which contained the sword they were seeking for. Eowyn and Arctus thanked the man, not knowing that he was leading them to a trap. For the sword was really there but the temple was surrounded by the men of the evil man, ready to take the sword. Only the pure hearted could enter the temple. Eowyn and Arctus entered the temple and found the altar where the sword was on. Eowyn picked it up, and the temple started to fall, and get destroyed. They both ran outside of the temple, running for their lives but as they exited, they saw the men that had surrounded the building.
A big fight begun, but Eowyn and Arctus were outnumbered and cornered. Yet still, they fought with the passion of a cornered wild beast. The fight was long and Eowyn and Arctus killed many enemies, but the more enemies they killed, the more tired they got, until even the sword of old, that gave the strength of a hundred men, could not help them. There were three enemies left and Eowyn killed one and started fighting the other as Arctus fought the third man. Suddenly, the enemy managed to pass through Arctus defenses and stab him in the belly, inflicting a killing blow. Eowyn shouted in rage and killed the man he was fighting with. Now it was he and the man who had tricked him, left to fight alone. Eowyn fought hard and full of his grief, he managed to behead the man, killing him.
He ran to his friend lying in a pool of blood and managed to listen to his final words.
"Eowyn, my friend, what a great time we have had together! What we have achieved is beyond words and I am proud to have accomplished it with you. It has been a great honor fighting alongside you and it is one of the best things that have happened to me when I met you. Alas, all adventures must end sometime." he said with difficulty choking.
"Don't say that Arctus, everything will be fine, you will see." Eowyn said loudly, desperation in his voice.
" Please take care of yourself and do not mourn my passing. It pains me to think of such a good friend feeling sad because of me." Eowyn said as his eyes started closing. A few seconds passed and his last breath finally left him.
Eowyn shouted and mourned for days over the body of the dead Arctus. Such was his grief that even the Gods pitied him and asked him if he wanted to join them and be immortal. Eowyn refused as he did not want to live a life where his friend Arctus would not be there. It would never be the same, never would the sound of laughter and joy, two things that Arctus was unsurpassed have the same meaning. He would never be able to wake up and go in a grand adventure with him again. The Gods thought hard, and decided to lift Arctus into the sky, and make him a star and near him they put Eowyn, and thus were created the two brightest stars in the sky today, Arctus and Eowyn. Always near each other and never apart."
Salador stopped talking as a silence fell in the camp as he finished his story. The other students watched Salador carefully as a he looked at the campfire with a thoughtful expression, still lost in the story and its meaning for him. A small stream of tears was on his face. His dragon Gadroth lowered his gaze, looking at him in the eyes and finally touching him on the shoulder, trying to comfort him.
"Very nice story, thank you Salador" Alaina said and favored him with a smile. Salador blushed and smiled back. Alaina's dragon Arget hummed in approval.
Gregorbak coughed trying to cover a laugh and Thrain looked at the students with interest.
"We have a similar story in my culture only the two dwarves look for the weapon of Guntera....and the ending is slightly different." Thrain said.
"I have another story" Gregorbak said and everyone turned their attention to him.
"This is the story of the Urgal Chief, Bagrain as it was told from generation to generation. Bagrain was a mighty war chief, the greatest of our race. There was a large war between the Urgals and Bagrain fought a big battle against all his enemies. He was victorious in the battle. The celebrations were great, my people were dancing and drinking in victory and in his happiness for his achievement he exclaimed that he was more powerful than even the Gods when he defeated his foes in battle. As a result, the Gods got angry and Lombark, one of the Gods cursed him and twisted his thoughts. Drunk as he was, and lacking of judgement from Lombark's curse he killed his own family.
When he returned to his senses the next day, he had lost everything. Mad with grief he mourned for days until he decided what had to be done. He would search for his family even if he had to go to the underworld to get them back. After a long journey across the country, he managed with the use of an ancient ritual and a dark sorcerer to travel to the underworld and find the God of death and ask for his forgiveness. On his way to the underworld, Lombark employed many savage beasts and mighty warriors that tried ti stop Bagrain but none of them succeeded. Bagrain searched through the millions of souls of the dead in the underworld, through the many torturous monsters of the underworld and found his family and tried to save them.
As he was ready to exit the underworld with his family, Lombark appeared and fought him. The fight was terrible for Bagrain was one of the mightiest Urgal warriors of our race and the strongest, fastest and most proficient in weapons than anyone else. Lombark lost the battle and was defeated, slain by Bagrain but Bagrain himself was injured badly in the fight. At his final breath, he urged his family to escape the underworld and save themselves. When he finally saw them free, he succumbed to his injuries and died. The other Gods saw the bravery with which he fought Lombark been though he was only a mortal against a God, and they decided to make him immortal. Bagrain is now the God of War for the Urgals. The myth teaches us that we must be humble and respectful of the Gods, and that we must be ready to protect and save our loved ones even if it seems impossible to do so." Gregorbak said and stopped talking.
As he finished the story, Thrain looked thoughtful, trying to imagine how powerful a mortal would have to be to defeat a God in battle.His dragon Vincix laughed filling the air with smoke. Salador smiled at Gregorbak and Alaina watched with interest. Eragon thanked Gregorbak for the story.
The time had passed, and they had a long journey ahead of them,. Their eyes were slowly closing, as they were between the lands of dreams and the stories they had just heard. Eragon lied on Saphira's belly, as she covered him with her wing protectively. He slowly fell into his waking dreams, forgetting for a moment the war in Alagaesia and the home he had left behind, at last free to rest.