Chapter 31: Rescue
The blazing sun still climbed in the sky, as the three dragons flew in the clear morning sky. The sound of birdsong could be heard below them from the trees they passed, and a chilling winter wind had started, its sound like whispers as it passed through the tall trees, moving their leaves. Firnen flew beside Saphira and Gadaroth, and roared in the air, not able to hide his pleasure. Arya smiled at his reaction.
She looked at his emerald scales, shining from the light of the sun, and she wondered how she was able to live without him all these years. He was a vital part of her, like her heart, and she loved him, as much as she loved Eragon. At that thought, her cheeks colored, and she was glad of the cold wind, as it would hide it from the others. They would only assume that her cheeks were red because of the cold. She had spent a long night kissing Eragon, and lying with him under the stars, and she knew that she would not forget that night for as long as she lived. Her heart beat faster at the thought, and her breathing turned quicker. Unconsciously, she looked at Eragon, riding Saphira. He was in deep conversation with her, and his face looked tense, because of the upcoming events. She looked at his muscular body, at his face, and his brown eyes. Suddenly, he turned towards her, and Arya smiled at him without thinking. His eyes softened and he smiled back, a large grin covering his face. Their eyes kept locked together for a few more seconds, in silent communication.
"You can stop staring at him now" Firnen said with his deep strong voice, amused. A cloud of white smoke covering her, almost making her cough, the distraction enough to make her look away.
“I love him. That is all.” Arya answered, and Firnen chuckled.
“You can also stop doing flying tricks in front of Saphira” Arya commented as Firnen flew upside down, clearly enjoying himself.
That produced a startled thought from Firnen, as he resumed his normal flying stance and Arya smiled. Firnen already loved Saphira, but it was as if Arya’s acceptance of Eragon had made him love her more, if that was possible, and Saphira had also been affected, as she seemed happier than Arya had seen her before. She remembered once more the moment she woke up near Eragon and their kiss. She wished once more that moment would last forever.
Putting her mind away from such thoughts, she reflected on the burned city of Teirm that they had passed only a few hours ago. Ruined houses, burnt to the ground, wolves and crows were the only animals in the empty streets. The city was abandoned and not even a single sound could be heard coming from it. No one would believe that only a few weeks ago, the city had been one of the largest of the empire, filled with people and merchants.
At the thought she felt a great anger for the Shade, as her jaw tightened in determination. That was not even the worst of it. Early in the morning, the elves had contacted her, saying that Osilon, one of the biggest cities of Du Weldenvarden, had suffered damages and many elves had lost their lives trying to stop Alaina’s dragon from destroying the city. Arya was filled with a great rage. Her people were threatened by the shade and it was her duty to stop it from doing more harm. The shade would pay for what it had done, both to Alaina, as an elven rider she felt responsible for her, and for the burning of the city of Osilon. Her mood had been spoiled by the news.
Hours passed, in pleasant conversation with Eragon and Firnen. Angela was sitting behind Eragon on Saphira, knitting some sort of clothing, humming a song and Solembum had his yellow eyes half closed, as if he was ready to sleep. Slowly, they passed the burned city and reached the sight where Alaina and her dragon Arget had been captured by the shade. Before Eragon could jump on the ground, Gadaroth landed and Salador jumped from the saddle, and drew his sword nätt raseri from it’s scabbard. Arya looked at him, concerned. She knew that Salador loved Alaina and she thought she realized that look of sadness and anger on his face. Sadness for the cruel fate of Alaina, and anger that he was unable to help her.
A tremble overcame her. She could not imagine what she would do if Eragon was captured, the pain she would feel from losing him.
“No, I will not think like this before the battle.” she thought, shaking her head trying to get rid of these thoughts. She would never again let herself feel like she had felt all these years, since the day Durza had captured her. Eragon had saved her from the sadness, she had rediscovered what life meant and she would not let anyone harm him. Mimicking Salador, she drew her sword and checked the surrounding trees, listening for any sound that would betray the location of the shade.
Eragon watched as Salador drew his sword, nätt raseri. He smiled at the name, a good name for a sword, Strength and Honor. The name revealed much of the personality of Salador, a man who led a life of honor, a soldier who would rather die than retreat from battle, who was proud of not only his physical, but also his strength of personality. He smiled at the changes that he saw in the young man. When he had first arrived to be trained by him, Salador had been a happy young man, full of love for his dragon, who he claimed had saved him from a headsman. He had been determined to learn everything Eragon taught him, always trying to surpass Alaina’s achievements, as if they were in a sort of competition and Gadaroth had been little larger than a big fox, full of energy and always causing mischief. Now, all he could see was a man who was tortured by his guilt for letting Alaina be captured, a man who had lost hope, as his empty gaze proclaimed. His grip on the sword was tight, as if he was afraid that if he let go, he would lose the two values that defined his life. His heart ached for the problems of the young man. The words of a promise once said echoed in his mind.
“I promise I will not let anyone harm the people you care about” Eragon had said not so long ago, in Du Skulblaka Ramr, when news of Orrin’s attack had first arrived. Now Alaina was captured and he felt as if he had broken his promise to him.
He looked at Arya unsheathing her sword and Eragon drew Brisingr. Behind him, Angela took out a small crystal dagger, and took a fighting stance. Eragon looked at Arya, the woman he loved, the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. At the thought of her, his heart started beating faster, and he could have sworn he could smell pine needles. He listened at the air, flowing through the leaves, at the sound of water from a nearby small stream, at the birds singing.
Suddenly the birds stopped singing and silence ruled the forrest. He looked at the trees but he saw nothing. His grip on Brisingr tightened. A blur of movement coming from behind him, made him turn his head, and he saw a black sword coming towards him. Eragon blocked the blade with his own and counterattacked, as fast as possible, but his sword missed. On the other side of the clearing, Alaina had also appeared.
Eragon had the chance to get a good look at the shade. It was Tenga after all. His white robe had been replaced by a red one, and his eyes were red, on his skin that was deathly pale. His white beard had been cut short, and a twisted smile was on his aged face. His lighting quick movements were in contrast to the frail old man that he appeared to be. For a moment his eyes stopped at Angela, and silent communication passed between them. On her side, Solembum hissed and his hair stood on his back.
“At last we meet Shadeslayer. I have heard so much about you.” He said. His voice had also changed from the time he had last seen him, it had become more deep, more commanding, as if he had been a king once, and not a peculiar old hermit living in an abandoned tower.
“You have made a grave mistake, burning Teirm.” Eragon stated, as he attacked with his sword as fast as he could. Yet, his sword was blocked and with a counter attack, the shade’s sword almost cut him on his arm. He was saved by his wards.
“Teirm was just the beginning. All of Alagaesia will drown in blood when I am done.” Tenga stated. A circular movement of Eragon’s sword, and then a sudden strike in midair, almost caught the shade by surprise, but at the last moment his sword met Eragon’s.
“Finally, a worthy opponent.” Tenga said and attacked, fast as lightning, a whirlwind of steel that Eragon’s eyes could hardly follow. How could a man be so old and yet so quick? Even if he was a shade. Eragon was forced on the defensive, taking several steps back to avoid the deadly blade. Finally, a loud clash could be heard as Brisingr crashed on the shade’s sword.
“Brisingr!” Eragon shouted and his sword burst into flame as he made a fast attack towards the shade. Startled, the shade took a step back, and was sliced on the shoulder, as Brisingr met flesh. Smoke rose from Tenga’s body and an infernal scream of pain could be heard, as the black sword moved towards his body. Eragon could not block the blade and the sword striked him on his side, surprisingly, surpassing his wards.
“Thraista” he shouted as he pushed the shade away from him, away from a second fatal strike. The shade flew.
Arya attacked Alaina, not aiming to kill, but to tire her and stop her from fighting. On the opposite side Salador did the same. Angela had sheathed the dagger and taken a huthvir out, the two pointed spear that she used to fight. Alaina blocked both blades, but the spear was stopped by her wards to the surprise of Arya. Eragon had taught her well, if she was able to defend herself from three attackers at once. Firnen roared and slammed his tail on the ground near Alaina, trying to make her lose her balance, and Alaina fell on the ground. Quickly she rolled over and stood on her feet again. The problem was exactly that, they were fighting to tire her, and Salador was afraid of fighting her, in fear of harming her. Even Gadaroth was careful, unwilling to attack her.How could they defeat her if she kept fighting them so fiercely? Where was Arget? The shade must have threatened Arget for Alaina to be fighting them.
“I’m so sorry.” Alaina shouted again and again, mainly to Salador.
“I have to do this. I have to. You must understand!” Alaina said again for the hundredth time.
“What are you talking about? We came to save you and Arget.” Salador shouted back, yet still she fought on, as with a quick movement she tried to hurt Angela. Her sword was blocked by her spear and with a quick counter attack, Angela tried to trip her on the ground.
“He has Arget. He will kill her if I don’t fight you.” she said, tears filling her eyes. Bruises covered her body, but she did not seem to feel them. A look of anguish was on her face.
Arya feigned an attack, and Salador tackled her from behind, as explosions and large booms could be heard from where Eragon and Tenga were fighting. Angela looked at the fight behind them with a concerned look, muttering something about dragons and men and stupid fights.
“Please, keep him safe” Arya thought.
With her body she pinned Alaina’s arms, while Salador held her on the ground.
“No! Release me!” Alaina shouted but she could not move.
“Stop struggling” Salador said, with a grunt, as he was using all his strength to keep her on the ground.
Suddenly, a loud roar could be heard, a silver dragon appeared on the sky. Arget, and underneath her, a large army of elves, dressed in white shining armors, could be seen, glistening from the light of the sun, as they moved in the forrest, in perfect formations, their purple capes, moving from the wind, a white banner showing a tree and a dragon, on the head of the army.
Alaina stopped struggling.
“Arget!” she shouted.
Eragon had thought long on how to defeat the shade. His plan had gone well until the shade’s blade had injured him. Saphira roared at the shade and attacked him, giving Eragon time to recover, as Tenga was forced to withdraw, to avoid the deadly claws and teeth of Saphira, and her even deadlier tail.
Quickly, with a whisper he called the name of the ancient language. He felt a river of power fill him, his power growing as with a few words, he changed spears of ice that were flowing his way at a deadly speed to harmless drops of water.
“Impressive.” the shade stated, to hide its astonishment. For a few seconds it looked stunned, and Eragon took advantage of the momentary hesitation to run and swing at him with his sword, as he threw balls of fire, and lightning towards the shade, and Tenga’s twisted heart.
“Perhaps Salador and Alaina were not exaggerating after all.” Tenga said with a twisted smile, after he blocked the attacks. All the spells the shade threw at him, Eragon changed with the name of the ancient language.
Yet still, a spear of lightning that should have vanished in midair, struck him on the arm, throwing him in the air, as his armor broke and he felt hot blood running from the wound.
“Impossible” Eragon stated, as Tenga laughed maniacally.
“You use the name of the ancient language but you forget about wild magic. So learned for someone so young and yet so ignorant at the same time.” Tenga said mockingly.
Of course, Eragon thought, as he healed himself from his injuries, using the power of the eldunaria. Wild magic did not need the ancient language to work. How could he forget? He would have to be more careful when fighting the shade.
He could not let the shade use wild magic again. It could be deadly for him. With all the strength of the eldunaria, he attacked the mind of Tenga, trying to gain control over the shade’s thoughts. Surprisingly, the barriers on the shade’s mind held, even barely, as the shade tried to gain access to Eragon’s mind. For ten years, Eragon hd practiced daily with his students and Blodgharm to protect his mind and invade the minds of others. It was a struggle that they could keep for hours, the dragons fighting for Eragon against the multiple twisted spirits that had gained control of Tenga. Using more strength from the Eldunaria, he made Tenga unable to move. Trembles ran the earth as he tried to free himself, and more and more attacks came on his mind, yet still, Eragon walked towards the shade Brisingr at the ready. He lifted his sword, aiming at the shade’s heart. His sword drew closer.
Another blast of thick air, struck him, to a tall tree, his wards protecting him from most of the damage as he slammed on it.
A loud roar could be heard and a storm of silver fire, joined by yellow and blue and green, as all four dragons attacked Tenga. A storm of lightning bolts, ice shards, rocks, fireballs and any other possible killing spell flew towards Tenga and englulfed him. Eragon looked at the forrest and saw a large army of elves, running towards them, the first elves already reaching him, protecting him from further harm.
Silence ruled the clearing, as Tenga appeared, injured yet still, alive as his heart was unharmed. Tenga had been weakened, and he faded away, from his injuries, a trick that Eragon had seen Durza use once. Right before, a loud malevolent laugh could be heard.
“We shall meet again, Shadeslayer.” the voice said mockingly., before another fit of laughter overcame it
The dust settled, and Eragon could see as Alaina and Arget had been reunited. Salador approached Alaina, cautiously.Angela and Solembum were looking at the gathering with grins. When Alaina made no move to attack him, Salador ran towards her and hugged her, swirling her around, laughing and kissing her, the image of happiness. Eragon smiled at the sight of the two young students, who loved each other. Salador, who a few hours ago looked like a man sentenced to death, now laughed as she swirled the woman he loved in the air, faster and faster, laughing all the while. He was glad they were not injured. Tired from the fight and his injuries, he sat on the floor next to Saphira looking at them, and at Arya.