Chapter 4: Training
The sky was red and purple as the sun rose to the sky. The light coming from between the peak of the mountains gave a magical image to the new dragon city, Du Skulblaka Ramr, as it fell on the white walls of the tall library and on the shining frozen river. No sound could be heard except for the singing of the birds, and nothing moved except for the occasional animal hunting its prey. Suddenly, the form of an eagle pierced the clear morning sky as it tried to escape the dragon chasing it. The eagle flew faster with every second that passed, letting a terrified cry but it was no match for the flying skills of the dragon chasing it. The distance slowly decreased between them. The dragon opened its mouth and in a few seconds it caught the eagle between its jaws and consumed it in a few bites. As it slowly descended, it let out a victory roar which echoed over the mountains and the peaceful valley below. With a swirl and a few powerful beats from it's wings, the dragon landed near it's rider.
Thrain was a dwarf and the first rider of his kind. He had brown eyes and a long black beard and bushy eyebrows. He was muscular, as he used to be a warrior for the clan of Durgrimst Vrenshrrgn, (the wolf warriors). Being a warrior was a very important part of being an adult of the clan, and all youths were tested before they could become warriors by hunting a Shrrgr., the large wolves that lived in the area. Thrain was wearing a red cotton shirt and a pair of old pants. On one of his strong hands, he was carrying a wooden sword and with the other, a large round shield. Above the cloth shirt, he wore a heavy metallic armor and on his head was a silver helmet shaped as a wolf, the symbol of his clan. He wore his armor, not because it was a time of war, but because as all the members of his warlike clan, he believed that he should always be prepared for a fight and he should always train in the arts of war. He was slowly making his way to his dragon and he did not seem affected by the effort of carrying his weapons as he continued his way, seemingly in deep thought.
Being the first dragon rider of his race was not easy on him. He still remembered the dwarf king Orik, shaking his hand in congratulations and the looks that the dwarves council gave him when they learned the news. He had to impress them, so that all clans would accept his new position as a rider. He was concerned with his difficulty of flying with his dragon, as all his dwarven instincts told him that he was of the stone, and he had no reason to fly. Ever since he was a small child, they had told him such stories, and it was difficult for him to go against these instincts. But he also loved his dragon and wanted to please her by enjoying flying with her. He was also concerned about his difficulty with magic spells, which were so troublesome to him, but seemed to come so easily to the human and elf rider. As he walked, he was trying desperately to find solutions to these problems and so paid no attention to his surroundings. As a result, he jumped with surprise as suddenly Vincix, his orange female dragon landed right in front of him.
"Good morning Thrain."she said with her deep voice.
"Good morning Vincix! I see you decided to stop showing off your hunting skills" he said with a wink once he recovered. Vincix puffed some smoke from her nostrils and turned her head towards him.
"You should have come with me little one" she said looking at him with her large orange eyes.
"No one wants a noisy warrior dwarf while hunting. It scares the prey away. And no one likes a hungry dragon" he said with a chuckle trying to hide his concerns behind a joke. Vinci snorted as she laughed with him and then said
"I brought you some breakfast little one."she said dropping the rabbits she had caught near him.
"Ah rabbits! I'm as hungry as a Shrrgr! I haven't eaten anything since yesterday!Thank you" he said hugging with his small arms her large neck. "Don't tell Eragon or I'll be in trouble" he whispered.
"And yet you ate like a dragon yesterday" she said amused as she lied down on the grass waiting for him to cook and finish his meal.Thrain woke her up half an hour later.
"Come on we need to go to our lesson or we will be late" he said.
"Of course little one. As you were sleeping, I went through your memories of today, as Ebrithil told us. I was thinking... There is a way to counter your fear of flying, you know". she said.
"And what is that?" he asked.
"This!" she said as she grabbed him from the ground on her talons and quickly got up in the sky.
Thrain saw the ground disappearing from his feet and he felt as if at any moment he was going to fall. An urge to shout as loud as he could came to him but he suppressed it. He knew that no one could save him now. He felt his heart beating faster in his chest, and he looked at the fast disappearing ground with wide eyes. A sense of infectious happiness and amusement radiated from his dragon in his mind and he felt like laughing too at his awkward situation. He knew that he had no reason to fear as Vincix would catch him if he fell but he still felt uncomfortable with the idea. His muscles were tense and he closed his eyes, trying not to think how high in the sky he was. He heard Vincix's voice in his mind.
"Relax little one, I will not let you fall." she said as she merged their identities.
His vision changed, as he saw everything in an orange tone, and his sense of smell became stronger. He saw the trees far below, and the river as it merged itself with the wide sea. He was amazed at the view. The minutes passed, and Vincix withdrew from his mind, as Thrain realized that he was relaxed. He left out a cry as he started to enjoy the sensation of flying. Vincix answered him with a roar.With a swift move, Vincix landed outside the training grounds, and let go of Thrain. He struggled to stand up, his head feeling dizzy.
"Barzul, never do something like that again unless it's absolutely necessary". he said.
He stayed on the ground for a few more seconds, until the dizziness disappeared and then he saw the expression of his dragon. Maybe flying wasn't that bad after all.
"Oh all right! We'll fly again after the lesson." he said.
"I knew you'd see reason little one" Vincix said happily.
The training grounds was a vast expanse of land, on the south of Du Skulblaka Ramr. Eragon had designed it with the help of the Eldunarya. It contained a small pine forest, with a lake nearby, where the students could meditate and observe the animals and fish in the lake. Near the edge of the forest was a large sparring field, where the students could spar with each other and learn to master the art of swordsmanship and other weapons. On the opposite side of the sparring field was the archery range, where the students learned archery skills and could practice their magic abilities. Eragon stood in the sparring field, as he looked at the line of students. There was Salador, the human rider whose yellow dragon was Gadaroth, Alaina, the Elven rider, who had a silver dragon named Arget. Then there was Thrain, the first dwarven rider, and his orange dragon Vincix, and Gregorbak, the kull rider, whose purple dragon was Felangud. Eragon was proud of them all. Their training was going extremely well, and he was satisfied with the amount of progress they had made. Each one of his students had his strengths and his weaknesses and each one needed a different style of teaching, which was difficult for Eragon as even after almost 7 years of teaching, he was still an inexperienced teacher. The eggs had hatched at different time intervals, which complicated things, as something that the older riders knew already, the new ones did not. First, the human and elf riders dragons had hatched, with a difference of a year and a half and then Gregorbak's dragon had hatched at the fourth year and Thrain's dragon at the fifth year. He quickly gathered his thoughts, and begun the lesson.
"Good morning!" he said with a loud clear voice so everyone could hear.
"Today we will practice again, your swordsmanship skill, as it is a vital skill not only because you will need it in battle, but it also trains your body and your mind to react quickly to every situation. We will also practice the magic I have taught you this past week. To do this, we will split in groups, and you will fight with your wooden swords, and use magic skills, when possible. Of course, as I said, in real battle it is wise to avoid such an action, when you are dueling a magician, but what happens if your enemy decides to use magic? Do you stop fighting and say Hey, you can't do that! In training we only use swords!" he asked with a smile.
The students laughed in response as Eragon continued.
"No, you fight back, and this is why we are doing this exercise.We have to be prepared for everything, because war has no rules. Now Salador, why don't you fight with Thrain and Alaina, fight with Gregorbak.".
Salador quickly went to the center of the training field, followed by Thrain. They both looked warily at each other, lifting their swords. Suddenly, Salador lunged forward with his sword in order to hit Thrain, but the dwarf easily blocked the blow with his shield and in turn tried to hit Salador on his leg. Salador's sword blocked the blow and a loud noise of metal against metal came from the colliding swords. Salador had Thrain on the defensive as he attacked quickly and efficiently, managing to hit Thrain on the shoulder. Thrain cursed and finally attacked Salador, with a quick thrust of his sword, but changed the direction at the last second, managing to hit Salador on the left knee. This, infuriated Salador, who attacked with heavy blows of his sword, and as Thrain was momentarily open, he threw a ball of water on Thrain, using magic. Thrain fell on the floor with a cry of pain, and quickly avoided Salador's blade by rolling away. He lifted himself up, and as Salador attacked, with no option left, as his sword would never be able to defend him in time, he used magic to stop the hand of Salador midair, leaving him open for attack. Quickly he took advantage of the opportunity and pressed his sword on Salador's neck. They both breathed heavily from the fight and Salador surrendered. A sound of applause came from the other students and Salador clapped Thrain on the back.
"That was well fought. I wasn't expecting the last move." Salador said with a smile.
Eragon congratulated both of them for their effort.
"You fought well today, Thrain. You have improved a lot. The last move was a bit risky, but it worked. Just remember, take advantage of your enemy's weaknesses. And don't do risky moves like throwing your sword or stopping a blade mid air, unless it's absolutely necessary. It might cost you your life."
"Yes, Ebrithil" Thrain said respectfully.
"Salador, that was a very good fight, you could have won. Remember to not let your emotions cloud your judgement in the fight. You need to be able to think clearly and strategically to win. Use the meditation technique, we practice every morning. Clear your mind of everything else. Think only of the fight ahead next time. Wait for the perfect opportunity and strike without second thought.". Eragon said.
"Now it is time for the next pair".
Alaina and Gregorbak stepped into the field as the others watched from the sides. It would certainly be an interesting fight, a elf against a kull. Eragon looked at them both, Gregorbak, with his massive arms and long horns, that reminded him of Nar Garzvogh. was holding a longer sword than usual, to match his tremendous height. He, like Thrain was the first rider of his kind. He remembered the difficulty his dragon had at lifting him, which required a series of lessons from Saphira that made the dragon lift massive rocks to strengthen him enough to be able to carry a Kull on its back. He then looked at Alaina. She, like all members of her kind was beautiful and kind. She had shining blue eyes and long brown hair. She had an athletic build and she wore a silver tunic, to match her dragon's scales. All in all, she reminded Eragon of Arya, only she seemed happier and more open than her.
The battle took a long time. The two opponents were wary and skilled in the art of swordsmanship. They were dancing, avoiding the blows of each other and attacking or defending themselves giving many injuries to each other.Alaina had the speed of an elf to help her, but Gregorbak had the strength of a Kull, and every hit needed Alaina to use both hands to be able to block the blows. Gregorbak attacked with ferocity, trying to hit Alaina on her shoulder but Alaina quickly ducked out of the way and with two quick moves, she hit Gregorbak first in the leg and then on the chest. Gregorbak tried to respond, but Alaina raised a shield wall from the earth and the blade hit that instead. With a curse, Gregorbak tried to use a ball of flame to knock Alaina down on the ground, but with a spell, it passed harmlessly around her. With a quick attack, she hit his left shoulder. A grunt of pain escaped him and she quickly tripped him on the ground using the full strength of her body and put her sword on his neck. Gregorbak stood up and lifted his chin in the manner of respect first to Alaina and then to Eragon.
"Congratulations, that was very well fought" Eragon said surprised.
"I am proud of all of you, for the effort you made today!. You all did very well." he said. "The winners, can be happy today, but tomorrow they will face me in battle" he said with a smile as a groan was heard from Alaina and Thrain and laughs from Salador and Gregorbak.
"You can go rest now. It is well deserved", Eragon said looking at all of them. He smiled at Salador and Alaina, who looked at each other for a bit longer.
Eragon looked at the sky as the sun slowly descended and at the returning dragons. They all roared and Eragon smiled with the sound. He wished Garrow and Brom were there to see him training dragon riders and dragons. He wondered what Roran, Katrina and Ismira were doing. How Nasuada was doing, but most importantly, what Arya was doing. At the thought of Arya, his heart started beating faster and he stared into the distant sea, as if he could see Alagaesia