Chapter 28: A Burning Forest
The cold wind howled as it passed trough the large green trees of the elven forest of Du Weldenvarden. Arget, the silver dragon was flying over the trees, the light shining on her silver scales, and on her pure white claws. She was flying with grace, her movements proud. Her huge wings were moving slowly, as if the task ahead of her was unpleasant, and she was in no hurry to fulfill it. A low wail could be heard, a sad sound that would break a man’s heart, and she released a roar of frustration, proving the fact that she was unhappy.
Birds flew away from her sudden appearance and many animals ran as fast as they could away, afraid for their lives. However, the dragon showed no sign of seeing the animals below her. There was only one thing in her mind and that was her rider, Alaina.
She had been captured by the shade called Tenga, a few days before, after a big battle between her, Alaina, Salador and Gadaroth. They had been defeated and Salador and Gadaroth had flown away, towards Illiria, where safety awaited, to bring the other riders to help defeat the new threat. She could still feel the sting of the defeat and she was angry with herself for having let Alaina fight with the shade, instead of leaving, away from that horrible being, away from danger. She could still remember the long seconds when she thought Alaina had died. She had thought that everything was lost, and that she had no more reason to live. But then she had felt Alaina’s life force, as she was unconscious, on the floor. It had been the longest seconds of her life. Her thoughts turned again to the shade, and how he had hurt the partner of her mind, a great anger and thirst for revenge almost overpowering her. She swore to herself the Shade would pay for hurting her rider. Yet, there was nothing she could do to hurt him.
The same day Salador had left, flying for Illiria, Tenga had drawn a black dagger, and walked towards Alaina, still unconscious on the floor. He had aimed at her rider’s heart, and all Arget could do was watch as she struggled to free herself, but it was all in vain. The shade aimed at Alaina’s heart and as he was lowering his hand, to strike, a sudden change had transformed his face. With a smile, he had looked at Arget and Alaina and a terrible laugh had escaped his lips.
“I have no need to kill your rider dragon. It is your lucky day. Do you know why?” he had asked with a whispering voice.
Arget knew that whatever was in his mind was worse than what he had been about to do but she remained silent, not willing to open her mind to the shade, to let him enter her thoughts so they could talk.
Undisturbed by her reaction, he continued talking
“There is no need, because you will be my weapon, the source of my vengeance. You will burn the Elven Forest of Du Weldenvarden for me.” he explained as a grin covered his face and hate could be seen in his eyes.
Arget was stunned, and she looked at the shade, not knowing what to do.
“Is it so hard to understand Dragon? You will do so, because if you do not, your rider will die, a most painful and horrible death. That, I promise.” Tenga said.
A terrible roar could be heard as Arget, tried to release herself and breathed fire on the shade.
Tenga made a soft clicking sound with his mouth and slowly lowered the dagger towards Alaina’s neck.
Arget calmed herself, and nodded her big silver hair going down and up accepting the order, but still unwilling to let him in her thoughts. She had to save Alaina, and she would do anything to make that happen.
A tightness around Tenga’s mouth was all that betrayed his emotions.
“Very well. Do so and your rider shall live. Burn the city of Osilon and you shall be rewarded beyond anything you have dreamed of!” Tenga replied with an evil grin.
With one last view at her rider, Arget flew away, to get as far away as possible from Tenga. A few minutes passed, and when the shade was nowehre to be seen, she slowed down. There was no need to hurry, to follow his order. Help was on the way, and the more time she made travelling, the more time they would have to arrive.
Since then, it had been five days. Five days had passed since she had been separated from her rider, her only reason of living, the partner of her mind. A low wail could be heard as a great sadness filled her at the thought. Then as suddenly as that had come, a great anger came over her. She wanted to make the shade pay for what he had done, she was angry at the cruel world around her that a thing such as that could happen. Then again, she felt a wave of sadness fill her.
Perhaps I am getting crazy, she thought bitterly.
In the distance, the great trees in the city of Osilon could be seen as she looked at the tall elven buildings, marking the city. The buildings were one with nature, so much, that it was almost impossible to see where the city ended and where the forest began. Once more she admired elven architecture, as she looked in wonder at the huge trees, where the Great Hall and the House of Council were built.
“What does it matter, if they will all burn in a while?” she asked herself.
She thought she saw a piece of white cloth, running fast in the trees below her, probably to warn the city of her approach.
She slowed down. She wanted to give the city a chance to prepare, to defend themselves.
“Perhaps it is better this way” she thought. “If the elves manage to stop me from burning their forest...“. She cut off, not wanting to continue the thought.
Minutes passed, and nothing happened as she came closer and closer to the city.
Finally, when she thought that she would enter the city unchallenged, she heard an elf reaching for her mind. Without aknowledging him, a loud roar came out of her throat. She could see the elves had amassed to greet her in the city, her arrival was unexpected but she was bonded with an elf after all. Celebrations had started already, and women were singing and elves were dancing.
Arget continued to fly in the city, as another frantic attempt to contact her was made. When she ignored that again, a loud horn sounded, the sound deep and the echo of it bouncing off the trees and the rocks of the city, making the ground tremble, warning the city that she had entered without permission.
“I don’t want to do this. I dont!” she said but at the same time she thought. “I have to if I want to see Alaina alive again, I have to. I have to!” she said again, as if repeating the word would make her believe it.
She opened her jaws, and a stream of fire escaped her mouth, as a dozen trees of the forest caught fire. A loud scream could be heard from one of the elves, as they remained motionless, stunned by the destruction. Another stream of fire escaped her jaws, burning more trees, and only then did the elves organize themselves. She felt twenty different mind attacks, trying to enter her mind, but Eragon had taught her well, and it would not be easy for the elves to enter her mind. Spells bounced off her wards, as Arget opened her mouth to burn the large council hall. Ice shards flew past her harmlessly and fire balls splashed on her sides. Thunder hit her wind, and a loud roar of pain could be heard as she burned the elf who had hurt her.
“I don’t want to do this!” She screamed inside her mind. She felt as if she had been condemned to an execution, by the shade. “By all the forces in the world, I swear he will pay for this, if I survive this.” she promised to herself.
More spells came towards her, some trying to harm her indirectly. Smoke had filled the air, and trees were burning in the city. Elves lay dead on the ground and sounds of anger and battle cries could be heard by the elves.
Arget narrowly escaped a spear from hurting her wing, and suddenly, darkness enveloped her. She had lost her sight as she was flying. A spell for a cunning elf, but she could not use her eyes. Suddenly, her sense of direction wavered, and a loud roar could be heard as she burned the whole area around her, worried that the damage was permanent. She flew, trying to land, but a roar of agony escaped her when she crashed on a tree, breaking the thick trunk, and then on another. For a few seconds she lay there, dazed, not able to move. Her ward had been exhausted from the first crash, and the second had made a large scratch on her left side. She felt her leg, broken and a wing had snapped an lay under her body but she could not move. Terrible pain filled her, threatening to overwhelm her.
She lay there, as she felt a wetness under her body, blood coming from her large wounds.
“I must leave." Arget told herself, but she was unable to do it. She hard the wild cries of elves as they surrounded her, arrows piercing her wings, a roar of pain escaping her.
“So this is how it ends.” she thought. Acceptance of her death had filled her,
“Enough!” she heard a loud voice order. Arget turned her head toward the sound. She could not see the elf, but his voice hinted that he was powerful, probably a general or a commander of the elven army.
“I said enough Eladren! Turn back! Turn back or I swear that dragon will be the least of your problems!“.
A frustrated shout could be heard from Eladren as he turned.
“Now Arget, why have you done this?” the voice asked.
Arget did not move. Slowly she opened her mind, careful as she made contact with the elven commander.
“Why have you done this Dragon?” the commander said.
“Please....Kill me, please....” Arget said, unable to counter the pain in her side and from her broken bones, but worst of all, unable to accept the destruction she had caused to the elves. Terrible sadness filled her.
For a moment the elf seemed to be considering it. Then he replied.
“That I shall not do.” He said with his deep voice.
“He has her...a prisoner....the shade” she replied. “He threatened that he would kill her if I didn’t do it. I had to....I had to...” she said as she lowered her head in shame.
A quick spell could be heard and her vision came back. She could suddenly see, the elves, surrounding her. The whole elven army of the city had amassed, around her.
The elven commander appeared thoughtful. He was a relatively young elf, his long black curly hair and muscular build, suggesting his skill with a sword, and his shiny white armor, and plumed helmet, marking his position. His blue eyes studied the dragon, as Arget stared at his eyes in return.
“If I heal your wounds, do you promise that you will not harm the city any longer?” the commander asked in the ancient language.
“I do promise I will not harm the city or the elves in any way.” Arget replied in the ancient language.
The commander approached her, and healed the large gash on her side, to the astonishment of the elves. He then turned his attention to Arget’s broken wing and leg. Finally, when he was done, he staggered as he tripped, while walking away.
“You must lead us to this Shade.” the commander said, in a voice that left no room for argument.
“That would be my pleasure” Arget replied, feeling a sense of hope that she had not felt before. Suddenly, she lowered her head again to look at the commander.
“Thank you for your help. Not many would have acted this way after what I did.” Arget said, feeling grateful for the commander.
The elf remained silent but after a while he lowered his head.
“My name is Vanir.” he said simply. “A long time ago, I learned to respect the dragons and the riders.” he said with a smile.
Arget lowered her head, respectfully, and suddenly flew in the air. She needed to fly as fast as possible back to her rider and to Tenga. She would lead the elven army to the shade, and she would fight till her last drop of blood to free her partner of her mind. With the corner of her eye, she saw Vanir amass the elven army in neat ranks, and gave the order to follow her, as elf warrior after elf, marched in a steady pace, synchronized, as if in a military parade, as they held their drawn swords in front of them, saluting their commander, as they passed. Vanir also drew his sword, saluting back. He sheathed his sword, and Arget saw him touch his right hand, carefully, as if touching a wound. A smile came in his face, as he turned and followed the soldiers.
Arget looked at the elven army below her and hoped that they would be enough to beat the shade.
I hope Salador and Gadaroth have time to bring Eragon and the others. she thought.
Her heart beat faster and a louad roar escaped her lips, as she needed to release the tension, from her anxiety. Alaina would be fine. She had to be all right. With a burst of speed, she flew ahead, her thoughts only for her rider’s well being.