Inheritance (The Inheritance Cycle 4) - Page 78

Eragon looked down, breathing heavily as his eyes again grew blurry. “It’s done,” he said in an undertone. “I did it. … We did it. Galbatorix is dead, Nasuada is on the throne, and both Saphira and I are unharmed. That would please you, wouldn’t it, you old fox?” He laughed shortly and wiped his eyes with the back of his wrist. “What’s more, there are dragon eggs in Vroengard. Eggs! The dragons aren’t going to die out. And Saphira and I will be the ones to raise them. You never foresaw that, now did you?” He laughed again, feeling silly and grief-stricken at the same time. “What would you think of this all, I wonder? You’re the same as ever, but we’re not. Would you even recognize us?”

Of course he would, said Saphira. You are his son. She touched him with her snout. Besides, your face isn’t so different that he would mistake you for someone else, even if your scent has changed.

“It has?”

You smell more like an elf now. … Anyway, he would hardly think I was Shruikan or Glaedr, now would he?


Eragon sniffed and pushed himself off the tomb. Brom looked so lifelike within the diamond, the sight of him inspired an idea: a wild, improbable idea that he almost dismissed but that his emotions would not let him ignore. He thought of Umaroth and the Eldunarí—of all their collected knowledge and of what they had accomplished with his spell in Urû’baen—and a spark of desperate hope kindled within his heart.

Speaking both to Saphira and Umaroth, he said, Brom had only just died when we buried him. Saphira didn’t turn the stone to diamond until the following day, but he was still encased in stone, away from the air, through the night. Umaroth, with your strength and your knowledge, maybe … maybe we could still heal him. Eragon shivered as if he were in the grip of a fever. I didn’t know how to mend his wound before, but now—now I think I could.

It would be more difficult than you imagine, said Umaroth.

Yes, but you could do it! said Eragon. I’ve seen you and Saphira accomplish amazing things with magic. Surely this isn’t beyond you!

You know that we cannot use magic on command, said Saphira.

And even if we succeeded, said Umaroth, there is every chance that we would be unable to restore Brom’s mind to what it was. Minds are complicated things, and he might easily end up with his wits muddled or his personality altered. And then what? Would you want him to live like that? Would he? No, it is best to let him be, Eragon, and to honor him with your thoughts and actions, as you have. You wish it were otherwise. So do all who have lost one they care about. However, it is the way of things. Brom lives on in your memories, and if he was the man you showed us, he would be content with that. Let you be content with that as well.


It was not Umaroth who interrupted, but the oldest of the Eldunarí, Valdr. He surprised Eragon by speaking not in images or feelings, but in words of the ancient language, strained and labored, as if each was foreign to him. And he said, Leave the dead to the earth. They are not for us. Then he spoke no more, but Eragon felt from him a great sadness and sympathy.

Eragon let out a long sigh and closed his eyes for a moment. Then, in his heart, he allowed himself to release his misguided hope and again accept the fact that Brom was gone.

“Ah,” he said to Saphira. “I didn’t think this would be so difficult.”

It would be strange if it were not. He felt her warm breath ruffle the hair on the top of his head as she touched his back with the side of her muzzle.

He smiled weakly and gathered up his courage to look at Brom again.

“Father,” he said. The word tasted strange in his mouth; he had never had cause to say it to anyone before. Then Eragon shifted his gaze to the runes he had set into the spire at the head of the tomb, which read:


Who was a Dragon Rider

And like a father

To me.

May his name live on in glory.

He smiled painfully at how close he had come to the truth. Then he spoke in the ancient language, and he watched the diamond shimmer and flow as a new pattern of runes formed upon its surface. When he finished, the inscription had changed to:


Who was

A Rider bonded to the dragon Saphira

Son of Holcomb and Nelda

Beloved of Selena

Father of Eragon Shadeslayer

Founder of the Varden

And Bane of the Forsworn.

May his name live on in glory.

Stydja unin mor’ranr.

It was a less personal epitaph, but it seemed more fitting to Eragon. Then he cast several spells to protect the diamond from thieves and vandals.

He continued to stand next to the tomb, reluctant to turn away and feeling as if there ought to be something more—some event or emotion or realization that would make it easier for him to say farewell to his father and thus to leave.

At last he put his hand atop the cool diamond, wishing that he could reach through it to touch Brom one final time. And he said, “Thank you for everything you taught me.”

Saphira snorted and bowed her head until her snout tapped against the hard jewel.

Then Eragon turned and, with a sense of finality, he slowly climbed onto Saphira’s back.

He was somber for a time as Saphira took off and flew northeast, toward Urû’baen. When the patch of sandstone hills was no more than a smudge on the horizon, he let out a long breath and looked up into the azure sky.

A smile split his face.

What is so amusing? asked Saphira, and she swung her tail back and forth.

The scale on your snout is regrowing.

Her delight was evident. Then she sniffed and said, I always knew it would. Why would it not? However, he could feel her sides vibrating against his heels as she hummed with satisfaction, and he patted her and laid his chest against her neck, feeling the warmth from her body seeping into his.


WHEN HE AND Saphira arrived at Urû’baen, Eragon was surprised to discover that Nasuada had restored its name to Ilirea, out of respect for its history and heritage.

Also, he was dismayed to learn that Arya had departed for Ellesméra, along with Däthedr and many of the other high elf lords, and that she had taken with her the green dragon egg they had found in the citadel.

She had left a letter for him with Nasuada. In it, Arya explained that she needed to accompany her mother’s body back to Du Weldenvarden for a proper burial. As for the dragon egg, she wrote:

… and because Saphira chose you, a human, to be her Rider, it is only right that an elf should be the next Rider, if the dragon within this egg agrees. I wish to give it that chance without delay. Already, it has spent far too long within its shell. Since there are many more eggs elsewhere—I shall not name the place—I hope you do not believe that I have acted presumptuously or that I have been overly prejudiced in favor of my own race. I consulted with the Eldunarí upon this matter, and they agreed with my decision.

In any event, with both Galbatorix and my mother having passed into the void, I no longer wish to continue as ambassador to the Varden. Rather, I wish to resume my task of ferrying a dragon egg throughout the land, as I did with Saphira’s. Of course, an ambassador between our races is still needed. Therefore, Däthedr and I have appointed as my replacement a young elf named Vanir, whom you met during your time in Ellesméra. He has expressed a desire to learn more about the people of your race, and that seems to me as good a reason as any for him to have the post—so long as he does not prove completely incompetent, that is.

The letter continued for several more lines, but Arya gave no indication of when, if ever, she might return to the western half of Alagaësia. Eragon was pleased that she had thought enough of him to write, but he wished that she could have waited until their return before she had departed. With her gone, there was a hole in his world, and though he spent a fair amount of time with Roran and Katrina, as well as Nasuada, the

aching emptiness within him refused to subside. That, along with his continued sense that he and Saphira were merely biding their time, left him with a feeling of detachment. It often seemed as if he were watching himself from outside his body, as might a stranger. He understood the cause of his feelings, but he could think of no cure other than time.

During their recent trip, it had occurred to him that—with the command of the ancient language bestowed by the name of names—he could remove from Elva the last vestiges of his blessing that had proved a curse. So he went to the girl, where she was living in Nasuada’s grand hall, and he told her his idea, then asked her what she wanted.

She did not react with the delight he expected, but sat staring at the floor, a frown upon her pale face. She remained silent for the better part of an hour—he sitting across from her, waiting without complaint.

Then she looked at him and said, “No. I would rather stay as I am. … I am grateful that you thought to ask, but this is too large a part of me, and I cannot give it up. Without my ability to sense others’ pain, I would be only an oddity—a misbegotten aberration, good for nothing but satisfying the low-minded curiosity of those who consented to have me around, of those who tolerated me. With it, I am still an oddity, but I can be useful as well, and I have a power that others fear and a control over my own destiny, which many of my sex do not.” She gestured at the ornate room where she was staying. “Here I can live in comfort—I can live in peace—and yet I can continue to do some good by helping Nasuada. If you take away my ability, then what would I have? What would I do? What would I be? To remove your spell would be no blessing, Eragon. No, I will stay as I am, and I will bear the trials of my gift of my own free will. But I do thank you.”

Two days after he and Saphira alit in what was now Ilirea, Nasuada sent them out once more, first to Gil’ead and then to Ceunon—the two cities that the elves had captured—so that Eragon could again use the name of names to clear away Galbatorix’s spells.

Both Eragon and Saphira found Gil’ead unpleasant to visit. It reminded them of when the Urgals had captured Eragon at Durza’s orders, and also of Oromis’s death.

Eragon and Saphira slept in Ceunon for three nights. It was unlike any other city they had seen before. The buildings were mainly wood, with steep, shingled roofs that, in the case of the larger houses, had several layers. The peaks of the roofs were often decorated with a stylized carving of a dragon head, while the doors were carved or painted with elaborate, knotlike patterns.

When they departed, Saphira was the one who suggested a change of path. She did not have to try very hard to convince Eragon; he was happy to agree once she explained that the side trip would not take too long.

From Ceunon, Saphira flew westward, across the Bay of Fundor: a broad, white-capped expanse of water. The gray and black humps of great sea-fish often breached the waves, like small, leathery islands. Then they would spray water from their blowholes and lift their flukes high into the air before slipping back into the silent depths.

Across the Bay of Fundor, through winds cold and blustery, and then across the mountains of the Spine, each of which Eragon knew by name. And thus to Palancar Valley for the first time since they had set off in pursuit of the Ra’zac, along with Brom, what seemed like a lifetime ago.

The valley smelled like home to Eragon; the scent of the pines and the willows and the birches reminded him of his childhood, and the bitter bite of the air told him that winter was near.

They landed in the charred ruins of Carvahall, and Eragon wandered along streets fringed with encroaching grass and weeds.

A pack of wild dogs trotted out of a nearby stand of birch. They stopped when they saw Saphira, then snarled, yelped, and ran for cover. Saphira growled and loosed a puff of smoke but made no move to chase them.

A piece of burnt wood cracked under Eragon’s foot as he dragged his boot through a pile of ashes. The destruction of the town left him saddened. But most of the villagers who had escaped were still alive. If they returned, Eragon knew that they would rebuild Carvahall and make it better than it had been. The buildings he had grown up with, though, were gone forever. Their absence exacerbated his feeling that he no longer belonged in Palancar Valley, and the empty spaces where they ought to have been left him with a sense of wrongness, as if he were in a dream where everything was off-kilter.

“The world is out of joint,” he murmured.

Eragon built a small campfire next to what had been Morn’s tavern, and he cooked a large pot of stew. While he ate, Saphira prowled the surrounding landscape, sniffing at whatever she found interesting.

When the stew was gone, Eragon carried his pot, bowl, and spoon to the Anora River and washed them in the icy water. He sat squatting on the rocky shore and stared at the drifting white plume at the head of the valley: the Igualda Falls, which stretched upward for a half mile before disappearing over a shoulder of stone high on Narnmor Mountain. Seeing it brought back the evening he had returned from the Spine with Saphira’s egg in his pack, knowing nothing of what lay before the two of them, or even that there would be two of them.

“Let’s go,” he said to Saphira, rejoining her by the caved-in well in the center of the town.

Do you want to visit your farm? she asked as he took his place on her back.

He shook his head. “No. I would rather think of it as it was, not as it is.”

She agreed. However, by unspoken consent she flew south following the same path as when they had left Palancar Valley. Along the way, Eragon glimpsed the clearing where his home had been, but it was distant and obscure enough that he was able to pretend that perhaps the house and barn were still intact.

At the southern end of the valley, Saphira rode a pillar of rising air up to the top of the huge, bare mountain, Utgard, where stood the crumbling turret the Riders had built to keep watch over mad King Palancar. The turret had once been known as Edoc’sil, but now bore the name Ristvak’baen, or the “Place of Sorrow,” as it was there that Galbatorix had slain Vrael.

In the ruins of the turret, Eragon, Saphira, and the Eldunarí with them paid their respects to the memory of Vrael. Umaroth in particular was somber, but he said, Thank you for bringing me here, Saphira. I never thought to see the place where my Rider fell.

Then Saphira spread her wings and leaped out of the turret and soared away from the valley and over the grassy plains beyond.

Halfway to Ilirea, Nasuada contacted them through one of the Varden’s magicians and ordered them to join a large group of warriors she had sent to march from the capital to Teirm.

Eragon was pleased to learn that Roran commanded the warriors and that among their ranks were Jeod, Baldor—who had regained full use of his hand after the elves reattached it—and several more of the villagers.

Somewhat to Eragon’s surprise, the people of Teirm refused to surrender, even after he released them from their oaths to Galbatorix, and even though it was obvious that the Varden, with Saphira and Eragon to help, could easily capture the city if they wished. Instead, the governor of Teirm, Lord Risthart, demanded that they be allowed to become an independent city-state with the freedom to choose its own rulers and set its own laws.

In the end, after several days of negotiations, Nasuada agreed to his terms, provided that Lord Risthart swore allegiance to her as high queen, even as King Orrin had, and consented to abide by her laws concerning magicians.

From Teirm, Eragon and Saphira accompanied the warriors south, along the narrow coast, until they arrived at the city of Kuasta. They repeated the process from Teirm, but unlike Teirm, the governor of Kuasta yielded and agreed to join Nasuada’s new kingdom.

Then Eragon and Saphira flew alone to Narda, far to the north, and extracted the same promise from them before finally returning to Ilirea, where they stayed for some weeks in a hall next to Nasuada’s.

When time allowed, he and Saphira left the city and went to the castle, where Blödhgarm and the other spellcasters guarded the Eldunar

í rescued from Galbatorix. There Eragon and Saphira aided in the effort to heal the minds of the dragons. They made progress, but it was slow, and some of the Eldunarí responded faster than others. Many of them, Eragon worried, simply did not care about life anymore, or were so lost within the labyrinths of their minds that it was almost impossible to communicate with them in a meaningful manner, even for the elder dragons such as Valdr. To prevent the hundreds of maddened dragons from overwhelming those who were trying to help them, the elves kept most of the Eldunarí in a trancelike state, choosing to interact with only a few at a time.

Eragon also labored alongside the magicians of Du Vrangr Gata to empty the citadel of its treasures. Much of the work fell to him, as none of the other spellcasters had the knowledge or experience needed to deal with many of the enchanted artifacts Galbatorix had left behind. But Eragon did not mind; he enjoyed exploring the damaged fortress and discovering the secrets that lay hidden therein. Galbatorix had collected a host of wonders over the past century, some more dangerous than others, but all of them interesting. Eragon’s favorite was an astrolabe that, when put to his eye, allowed him to see the stars, even in daylight.

He kept the existence of the most perilous artifacts a secret between him, Saphira, and Nasuada, deeming it too risky to allow knowledge of them to spread.

Nasuada put the trove of riches they recovered from the citadel to immediate use feeding and clothing her warriors, as well as rebuilding the defenses of the cities they had captured during their invasion of the Empire. In addition, she gave a gift of five gold crowns to every one of her subjects: a trifling amount to the nobles, but a veritable fortune to the poorer farmers. The gesture, Eragon knew, earned her their respect and allegiance in a way Galbatorix would never have understood.

They also recovered several hundred Riders’ swords: swords of every color and shape, made for both humans and elves. It was a breathtaking find. Eragon and Saphira personally carried the weapons to the castle where the Eldunarí were, in anticipation of the day when they would again be needed by Riders.

Tags: Christopher Paolini The Inheritance Cycle Fantasy
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