Chapter 27: A captured Rider?
A light cold breeze of air passed through the buildings of Illiria, carryng with it the smoke from the multiple fires in the city. The walls of the city had fallen in some parts, and the main gate of the city had been destroyed in the fighting. Houses had crumbled and were still burning. Men were working tirelessly to remove the bodies. The city was slowly returning to its everyday routine, and the people in the city looked happier, more confident that they would be able to survive and win the war.
Eragon woke from his dreams, staring at the bright blue sky, laying on the ground where he had slept, near the woman he loved, Arya. The previous night, he had been talking to her, telling her of things that were in his mind for a long time. She was one of the very few people he felt he would be able to do just that and he felt thankful that he had ever met her. He turned his head and looked at her.
Her raven black hair was spread on the ground, her short calm breaths betraying the fact that she was still dreaming. Eragon felt a wave of affection for the beautiful woman next to him, and he noticed that Arya was shivering in her sleep. Moving slowly, trying not to wake her up, Eragon covered her with a warm blanket smiling as Arya moved in her sleep. For a few minutes he lied still, not wanting to make a noise to wake her up. Then he turned and tried to lift himself from the ground.
A wave of dizziness overtook him as instinctively he knelt again on the ground until it was gone. His stomach was feeling awkward, after all the alcohol he had the previous night.
“I’m sure Saphira drank enough for the both of us. I’m never drinking again" he said complaining, taking deep breaths.
“A bit of exercise might be what I need to counter the effects." Eragon thought.
At the thought, he felt a rush of energy and as he had done many times in Du Skulblaka Ramr, he started to perform the Rimgar, or the Dance of Snake and Crane, a series of exercises that his teacher, Oromis had taught him. The elves had developed these exercises to prepare their warriors for battle, but also to stay in shape The exercises were designed to test his flexibility and strength and after a few minutes had passed, Eragon was sweating and his heart was beating fast as he put his arms and legs in akward positions, twisting them to test his flexibility. His muscles ached and he felt a sudden pain from a large scratch on his arm, an injury he had overlooked when he was healing himself the previous night. Eragon finished performing the final level of the Rimgar, sweat covering his brow and his breath short.
A sound of clapping sounded and Eragon turned, startled. Arya was looking at his progress from where she was lying, near a big tree.
“You have improved a lot” Arya commented with a large smile
“Thank you. I trained every day with Blodgharm, to keep in form.” Eragon replied.
A moment of silence passed as Eragon looked at her enchanting green eyes, lost in their depths of wisdom.
“Are you hungry?” Eragon asked.
“Sure.” Arya replied as she followed Eragon. With a confident walk, he crossed the street
He searched Saphira’s packs for some food and found some fruits. He filled a bowl for himself and for Arya. The fruits had a sweet taste, filling his mouth. He washed the fruits down with some water. As he finished eating, he watched Arya, as she ate the fruits.
“I’ve never tasted this before.” she said showing a dark purple fruit that had the size of a small ball.
“It’s a vanilla fruit.” Eragon explained. “There are thousands in Du Skulblaka Ramr.“.
“I like it. It has a sweet,filling taste.” Arya said.
“That’s because it’s poisoned.” Eragon said with a serious face and for a few seconds he managed to remain so, looking at Arya, until finally he burst out laughing at Arya’s expression.
“That’s not funny you know.” Arya said, but she couldn’t resist smiling, which made Eragon blush.
“You should have seen your expression.” Eragon said still chuckling but he grew serious as he felt a being touch his mind.
"Ebrithil!" sounded a voice in his mind and Eragon recognized Salador’s voice after a few moments of confusion.
"Salador! You are back!" Eragon answered.
“Ebrithil, I need to talk to you immediately.” Salador replied almost instantly, showing that something was wrong.
“Are you all right?” Arya asked concerned.
“I will meet you in ten minutes” Eragon replied to Salador.
“Eragon?” Arya asked again.
“Sorry, it’s Salador. Something happened and I must meet him immediately”. he said and lifted himself from the chair concerned. Deep lines of worry were on his face.
“I’ll join you.” Arya offered and Eragon smiled. He turned and ran towards Saphira before he remembered she was still sleeping.
“I have to warn you. Saphira might be a bit cranky, when I wake her up, especially after how much she drank last night.”
Arya laughed at that as she had noticed it too. “I understand.”
A large area had been cleared in front of the Broken Wizard Inn. Saphira and Firnen were sleeping in front of it.
“Saphira wake up.” Eragon said in her mind.
“What is it?” Saphira asked annoyed louder than it was necessary, as she opened one eye. She saw Eragon and Arya coming towards her. She felt exhausted, her flying muscles were in pain from the battle as well as the trip and her head felt horrible.
"We must go, Salador needs our help." Eragon replied.
“Just five more minutes!" Saphira said yawning, her large white teeth, the size of swords, showing.
"No Saphira, we need to go now.!” Eragon said, but Saphira wasn’t answering.
“Saphira, don’t make me bring a bucket of water.” Eragon said with a smile.Several puffs of smoke and a loud noise from Saphira’s throat indicated she was laughing.
“All right, All right I’m waking up." Saphira said still laughing as she lifted herself from the ground.
In a few minutes, Eragon and Saphira and Arya and Firnen were flying towards the other side of the city. A large yellow dragon was waiting for them and Salador was walking up and down the field, anxious.Saphira landed and Eragon jumped on the ground.
“Welcome Salador.” Eragon said as he grabbed Salador from the shoulders looking at him.
“Ebrithil.” Salador said inclining his head.
“What is it? Is everything all right? Where is Alaina” Eragon said worried, noticing her absence.
“That is exactly it... She was....She...” Salador couldn’t finish as tears filled his eyes.A sense of dread filled Eragon. His knees felt weak and concern filled his eyes.
“Is she....dead?” Eragon managed to finish the sentence.
“I... I don’t know...” Salador replied a stream of tears on his eyes, as violent shakes took over his body as he cried.
“Easy now, easy...there” Eragon said hugging him, clapping his back. They both sat down on the floor.
“Tell me exactly what happened.” Eragon said calmly, when Salador had calmed a bit.For several minutes, Salador explained what had happened, their trip to Teirm, the site of the destroyed city, their rest outside the city gates, the scream he had heard and finally the fight he had with the shade and the oath he had taken.A heavy silence fell in the air. Nobody was talking, as everyone was thinking about the events.
“This is my fault! This is all my fault.!” Salador shouted, fresh tears filling his eyes.
“No... it is not.” Eragon replied.
“I wasn’t strong enough! I wasn’t....” Salador said trying to explain.Eragon brought him close.
“Look at me. Look at my eyes.” Eragon said and Salador obeyed.
“Do not blame yourself for this. There was nothing you could do to stop it. You must go rest. You did well.” Eragon said. Salador nodded, and Eragon released him.
“Saphira, fly him somewhere safe. I must talk to Gadaroth.” . Saphira flew with Salador on her back, as Eragon turned to the yellow dragon.
“Was Alaina standing when you left?” Eragon asked.
“She was unconscious Ebrithil. We all fought hard, but we could not beat him. That shade is powerful to withstand two riders and dragons attacking at the same time.” Gadaroth replied concerned
“So we do not know if she is alive?” Eragon asked.
“She was still alive when we left. Of that, I am certain” Gadaroth replied.
“Then we must go save them. We leave tonight.” Eragon said loudly, a determined tone in his voice.
“Eragon, what about King Orrin and his army?” Arya asked.
“King Orrin is beaten. His army is scattered. He will need a few days to gather his army again. Gregorbak, Thrain and you, will remain here to help Roran fight him.” Eragon replied.
“No, I am coming with you.” Arya said, as Eragon looked surprised. “He is a powerful opponent, and you will need any help you can get to defeat him.”
“Very well.” Eragon replied, happy that she had decided to join him but not wanting to show it .
“Gadaroth, one more question. Can you describe the shade?”
An image came to Eragon’s mind, a shade with red eyes, pale skin and a long white beard,wearing a black cloak. his speed faster than Salador could block, attacking them.
Eragon remained silent, watching the image in his head. A dawn of realization came over his mind.
“I know that man...” Eragon said thoughtfully.
“Who is it?” Arya asked.
“An old hermit in a tower, an old crazy man. His name was Tenga.” Eragon said slowly.
“How do you know this?” Arya asked.
“I met him on the previous war as I was returning to the Varden, after killing the Razak.” Eragon replied.
“We must visit his tower.” Eragon said loudly. “It might help our investigation.
“Ebrithil” Gadaroth said, lowering his eyes. “Do you think they will be alive?" a great sadness was in his voice and a low wail came from him, breaking Eragon’s heart.
“I am sure they are alive. We will get them back. I promise.” Eragon said a big weight in his throat and heart. He wanted to console him, to make him feel better and to stop blaming himself for what happened.
“You are the strongest dragon I know, besides Saphira” Eragon said with a smile as an afterthought, “Do not let this weigh you. You and Salador did the best you could. I am proud of you.” Eragon said patting him.
"Thank you Ebrithil for your words. I will see you tonight.” Gadaroth said, his mood lifted as he took off towards the city.
“Will you be ok?” Arya asked. Firnen looked at him with concern.
Eragon turned and looked at her green eyes.
“I think so.” he said but he did not feel very sure about that.
“Let us go to Roran, we must tell him of what has occurred.” Eragon said and climbed on Firnen’s back with Arya.
Roran was in a large room in the palace, looking at some maps that were laid on the table in front of him. His generals were there but when Eragon enetered they all left. Roran was happy to see them and greeted them with a big hug. When they told him the news Roran’s expression changed from happy to serious.
“We need you here Eragon. It is still dangerous with Orrin.” Roran stated.
“However, I know I cannot stop you from leaving. If you think it is the right choice, then go.” he continued.
Eragon smiled at Roran.
“Thank you for understanding, brother.” he said.
It was not just the fact that he was the leader of the riders and he had sent one of them to be captured or killed. It was also that he had taken his new role as the protector of the dragons and riders and now two of them were in danger. Eragon filled with a protective feeling, as if his family was threatened, and he would need to save them. He wanted to keep them alive and he could not contribute to the war if he knew that one of the dragons and one of the riders were at the hands of his enemies, suffering. Guilt overtook him for sending them to Teirm unprepared and he blamed himself for their current situation.
“Of course. No one is left behind.” Roran replied seriously. “Besides, we will need to deal with that threat one way or the other when we have finished with King Orrin.” Roran said.
Eragon smiled. It was true what Roran said, but he had not understood his situation completely.
“Take care brother.” Eragon said hugging him.
“You too Eragon.” Roran replied.
“Shall we go prepare?” Eragon asked Arya.
“Yes, I have informed the council of my decision. They were not pleased to hear it but they will not object.” Arya said doubtfully.
“Thank you.” Eragon said touching her on the shoulder for a few seconds, recognizing the sacrifice she had made.
Then quickly, he turned around and went towards Saphira. The same protective sense that had woken in him was filling him. He needed to correct his mistake, and save Alaina and Arget from the shade. His grip tightened on his sword, Brisingr, an anger filling him for the shade. It was time to prove his name once more. He was the protector of the Dragons and the Riders, and the dragon eggs and he would not let anyone he cared about be harmed.