The moment she crossed the border, something wondrous happened: a crack appeared on the green surface of the egg. At first, she was alarmed and believed the egg was somehow harmed. But, as reality began to sink in, she was filled with such joy, a joy she hadn’t felt in such a long time.
She hurriedly placed the egg on the ground and watched in amazement as more cracks appeared. A faint squeaking could be heard within the egg and she felt as if she was about to burst from happiness. For all of her life, she hoped and wished that this would one day come to pass so that she could be the one to dethrone Galbatorix. However, she had never seriously considered that there was a possibility that she may become a Rider. At last! Fate dealt her a favorable hand!
The squeaks emanating from the egg were becoming increasingly louder as a small piece of the shell fell from the top of the egg. Small pieces continued to dislodge from the shell until the entire egg shattered in a thousand different directions.
The sight she beheld was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen in her life. A small creature, as green as the grass and the trees, struggled to rise to its feet. She was no longer alone. She would never be alone again, no matter how long she lived and this thought gave her a great deal of pleasure.
Once the small dragon rose to its feet, it turned its triangular head towards her and stared at her. Arya approached the creature carefully; its eyes never left her as she crouched in front of it and slowly extended her hand. It sniffed her hand and squawked approvingly at her. She closed the gap between them and touched its small head. A blast of cold energy surged into her left hand and enveloped her whole being. She gasped at the sensation and slightly drew back from the dragon. She shivered at the amount of power she just gained and flexed her numb fingers, starring at the small oval that had appeared on her hand.
She smiled with reckless abandon and grabbed her dragon up and enveloped it in a warm embrace. The dragon squawked indignantly and struggled to escape her arms. Once it managed to release itself, it jumped out of her arms and flapped its wings sporadically until it reached the ground where it ruffled its scales and scratched its nose, appearing to be slightly embarrassed. Her musical laughter filled the clearing, causing the birds to chirp and sing in response. The dragon raised its head and stared curiously at her, tilting its head to the side. Something brushed against her consciousness, so faint that she barely recognized its presence, and then solidified into a tendril of thought that conveyed curiosity and a ravenous hunger. She extended her consciousness towards the dragon and embraced it lovingly, wondering at the masculine feel of his consciousness. He hummed slightly and crawled toward her, showing her through their mental link how hungry he was.
She sent her understanding through a series of emotions and pictures and asked permission to carry him so that she may find a suitable meal for him. He sent his approval back and his excitement at the prospect of food and an adventure enveloped Arya and her smile grew wider.
She quickly scooped him up and bounded in the direction of a bird she had sensed with her mind. She speedily killed the bird with magic, placed her dragon on the ground and gestured toward the bird. He squawked happily and eagerly began to devour his meal.
As he ate, her smile began to fade as the ramifications of what just occurred hit her. Even though Galbatorix was no more, there were still many dangers across the land. At all costs, she must protect her dragon. Arya didn’t think she could survive another terrible loss.
She would not be able to venture out of Du Weldenvarden until he grew to a size where he could protect himself from threats of an attack. She would also have to keep his presence a secret to those that she began to care deeply for recently: Eragon, Saphira, Orik, and Nasuada. It would be too risky to reveal his presence to them. It would be difficult to keep his existence a secret from her fellow race, but she wouldn’t flaunt his existence unnecessarily either. She would only tell those that had a right to know: the council and perhaps Lord Dathedr.
Her course of action decided, Arya waited patiently for her dragon to finish his meal and started walking in the direction the other elves had taken. The dragon, after an initial pause, followed her clumsily.
When she was close enough to the group to feel their presence, she asked her dragon to remain behind and to hide. He didn’t seem too pleased at the idea but he reluctantly agreed. Before leaving, however, she placed a few wards around him. She didn’t want to risk anything when it came to her little loved one.
As she approached the group, she could clearly make out a draped figure laid on the shields of the finest warriors of Du Weldenvarden.
Arya gasped as the grief of her mother’s death renewed its attack on her fragile body. She stiffened, trying to repel it, but to no avail. She was helpless to the overpowering force as it grabbed her heart and squeezed, trying to take away the joy her dragon had given her. The force eventually crept into her mind, releasing a dam of memories that she had carefully stored away, those that were too agonizing to relive. An endless torrent of images of her mother, Faolin, and her father flooded her. She struggled to remain rigid as her body shook from the torrent. How could she go on like this? Her whole being shuddered with the strength of her fear for more loss and suffering. How could she afford to love another being when all of those she loved before were taken away from her? But, it was too late. The dragon had snatched away her heart as easily as Faolin did the moment that crack appeared in his egg.
Tears struggled down her face and she wiped them away angrily. She refused to be vulnerable to her emotions; she mustn’t allow them to take control like that in the presence of her fellow elves. She may no longer be a princess, but she still had an important position and she must act accordingly. If there was one thing her mother taught her it was to never show any weaknesses. Breathing in deeply and practicing her calming techniques, Arya put on her impenetrable mask, squared her shoulders and walked up to Lord Dathedr.
“Ah, Arya Svit-Kona,” he greeted her respectfully in the fashion of the elves and she responded in kind. “I hope you are well,” Lord Dathedr said, a hint of concern in his voice.
“As well as I can be at the moment. I wanted to inform you that I will continue on my own from here until I reach Ellesmera. I expect that I will arrive there before our group does and you shall find me on the Crags of Tel’naeir. Please inform me when you arrive so that I may attend my mother’s funeral. Also, I have an important matter to discuss with you but that shall wait until after the funeral,” Arya said with all of the authority she could muster in her current state.
“It displeases me that you will not travel with us, but I shall do as you wish. Be careful and may the stars watch over you, Arya Svit-Kona,” touching his fingers to his lips, Lord Dathedr bowed.
Arya’s voice wavered slightly as she said, “Thank you and may the stars watch over you as well.” With that, she turned and ran back to her dragon as fast as possible.
At the sight of her green dragon, she stopped abruptly and lowered the barriers to her mind, allowing the dragon to enter and to inquire for the reason of her departure.
She explained that they would be travelling alone due to her desire to protect him. She wasn’t entirely sure if he understood everything. He was a hatchling after all. However, she sensed that he had felt her anguish and this seemed to make him sad as well. Arya lightly withdrew from his consciousness, just enough so that she could no longer share her anguish with him. She did not wish her hatchling to feel such emotions during the first day of his life.
Her dragon stared unblinkingly at her, then jumped into the air and into her arms and licked her cheek with his rough tongue. She smiled lovingly and gently placed him on her right shoulder where he gripped tightly, in preparation for the long journey that awaited them both.
Without further ado, she ran off into the distance towards her home, her dragon safely on her shoulder.