Inheritance (The Inheritance Cycle 4) - Page 79

Rhunön, Eragon thought, would be pleased to know that so much of her handiwork had survived.

And there were the thousands of scrolls and books that Galbatorix had collected, which the elves and Jeod helped to catalog, setting aside those that contained secrets about the Riders or the inner workings of magic.

As they sorted through Galbatorix’s great hoard of knowledge, Eragon kept hoping that they would find some mention of where the king had hidden the rest of the Lethrblaka’s eggs. However, the only mentions of the Lethrblaka or the Ra’zac he saw were in works by the elves and the Riders from ages past, where they discussed the dark menace of the night and wondered what was to be done about a foe that could not be detected with magic of any sort.

Now that Eragon could speak openly with him, he found himself talking with Jeod on a regular basis, confiding in him all that had happened with the Eldunarí and the eggs, and even going so far as to tell him about the process of finding his true name on Vroengard. Talking with Jeod was a comfort, especially as he was one of the few people who had known Brom well enough to call him a friend.

Eragon found it interesting, in a rather abstract way, to watch what went into ruling and rebuilding the kingdom Nasuada had formed from the remnants of the Empire. The amount of effort required to manage such an enormous and diverse country was tremendous, and the task never seemed finished; there was always more that needed doing. Eragon knew that he would have hated the demands of the position, but Nasuada appeared to thrive upon them. Her energy never flagged, and she always seemed to know how to solve the problems that came before her. Day by day, he saw her stature grow among the emissaries, functionaries, nobles, and commoners with whom she dealt. She seemed perfectly suited for her new role, although he was not sure how happy she really was, and he worried about her because of it.

He watched how she rendered judgment upon the nobles who had worked with Galbatorix—willingly or not—and he approved of the fairness and mercy she displayed, as well as the punishments she meted out when necessary. Most she stripped of their lands, titles, and the better portion of their ill-gotten wealth, but she did not have them executed, for which Eragon was glad.

He stood by her side when she granted Nar Garzhvog and his people vast swaths of land along the northern coast of the Spine, as well as along the fertile plains between the lake Fläm and the Toark River, where few if any people now lived. And that too Eragon approved of.

Like King Orrin and Lord Risthart, Nar Garzhvog had sworn fealty to Nasuada as his high queen. However, the huge Kull said, “My people agree with this, Lady Nightstalker, but they have thick blood and short memories, and words will not bind them forever.”

In a cold voice, Nasuada replied, “Do you mean to say your people will break the peace? Am I to understand our races will once again be enemies?”

“No,” said Garzhvog, and shook his massive head. “We do not want to fight you. We know that Firesword would kill us. But … when our young ones have grown, they will want battles in which to prove themselves. If there are no battles, then they will start them. I am sorry, Nightstalker, but we cannot change what we are.”

The exchange troubled Eragon—and Nasuada as well—and he spent several nights thinking about the Urgals, trying to solve the problem they presented.

As the weeks rolled by, Nasuada continued to send him and Saphira to various locations within Surda and her kingdom, often using them as her personal representatives to King Orrin, Lord Risthart, and the other nobles and groups of soldiers throughout the land.

Wherever they went, they searched for a place that could serve as a home for the Eldunarí in the centuries to come and as nesting and proving grounds for the dragons hidden on Vroengard. There were areas of the Spine that showed promise, but most were too close to humans or Urgals, or else were so far north, Eragon thought it would be miserable to live there year-round. Besides, Murtagh and Thorn had gone north, and Eragon and Saphira did not want to cause them additional difficulty.

The Beor Mountains would have been perfect, but it seemed doubtful that the dwarves would welcome hundreds of ravenous dragons hatching within the bounds of their realm. No matter where they went in the Beors, they would still be a short flight from at least one dwarven city, and it would not do if a young dragon were to start raiding the dwarves’ flocks of Feldûnost—which, knowing Saphira, Eragon deemed more than likely.

The elves would, he thought, have no objection to the dragons living on or around one of the mountains in Du Weldenvarden, but Eragon still worried about their nearness to the elven cities. Also, he disliked the idea of placing the dragons and the Eldunarí within the territory of any one race. Doing so would give the appearance that they were lending support to that race in particular. The Riders of the past had never done that, nor—Eragon believed—should the Riders of the future.

The only location that was far enough away from every town and city and that no race had yet claimed was the ancestral home of the dragons: the heart of the Hadarac Desert, where stood Du Fells Nángoröth, the Blasted Mountains. It would, Eragon was sure, be a fine place to raise hatchlings. However, it had three drawbacks. First, they would not be able to find enough food in the desert to feed the young dragons. Saphira would have to spend most of her time carrying deer and other wild animals to the mountains. And of course, once the hatchlings grew larger, they would have to start flying out on their own, which would take them close to the lands of either the humans, the elves, or the dwarves. Second, everyone who had traveled widely—and many who had not—knew where the mountains were. And third, it was not unduly difficult to reach the mountains, especially in the winter. The last two points concerned Eragon the most and made him wonder how well they would be able to protect the eggs, the hatchlings, and the Eldunarí.

It would be better if we were high up on one of the peaks in the Beors, where only a dragon could fly, he said to Saphira. Then no one would be able to sneak up on us, no one except for Thorn, Murtagh, or some other magician.

Some other magician, like every elf in the land? Besides, it would be cold all the time!

I thought you didn’t mind the cold.

I don’t. But I don’t want to live in the snow year-round either. Sand is better for your scales; Glaedr told me. It helps polish them and keep them clean.


Day by day, the weather grew colder. Trees shed their leaves, flocks of birds flew south for the year, and winter thus came upon the land. It was a cruel, harsh winter, and for a long while it felt as if the whole of Alagaësia was locked in slumber. At the first fall of snow, Orik and his army returned to the Beor Mountains. All of the elves who were still in Ilirea—save Vanir and Blödhgarm and his ten spellcasters—likewise left for Du Weldenvarden. The Urgals had departed weeks earlier. Last to go were the werecats. They seemed to simply disappear; no one saw them leave, and yet one day they were all gone, except for a large, fat werecat by the name of Yelloweyes, who sat on the padded cushion next to Nasuada, purring, napping, and listening to everything that went on in the throne room.

Without the elves and the dwarves, the city felt depressingly empty to Eragon as he walked along the streets, ragged flakes of snow drifting sideways underneath the shelf of creviced stone overhead.

And still Nasuada continued to dispatch him and Saphira upon missions. But never did she send them to Du Weldenvarden, the one place Eragon wanted to go. They had had no word from the elves as to who had been chosen as Islanzadí’s successor, and when asked, Vanir would only say, “We are not a hasty people, and for us, appointing a new monarch is a difficult, complicated process. As soon as I learn what our councils have decided, I will tell you.”

It had been so long since Eragon had seen or heard from Arya, he considered using the name of the ancient language to bypass the wards around Du Weldenvarden so that he could communicate with, or at least scry, her. However, he knew the elves would not look kindly on the intrusion, and he feared Arya would not appreciate him

contacting her in that way without a pressing need.

Therefore, he instead wrote her a short letter, asking after her and telling her some of what he and Saphira had been doing. He gave the letter to Vanir, and Vanir promised that he would have it sent to Arya at once. Eragon was sure that Vanir kept his word—for they had been speaking in the ancient language—but he received no response from Arya, and as the moons waxed and waned, he began to think that, for some unknown reason, she had decided to end their friendship. The thought hurt him terribly, and it caused him to concentrate on the work Nasuada gave him with even greater intensity, hoping to forget his misery.

In the deepest part of winter, when swordlike icicles hung from the shelf above Ilirea and deep drifts of snow lay upon the surrounding landscape, when the roads were nearly impassable and the fare at their tables had grown lean, three attempts were made on Nasuada’s life, as Murtagh had warned might happen.

The attempts were clever and well thought out, and the third one—which involved a net full of stones falling on Nasuada—nearly succeeded. But with Eragon’s wards and Elva to protect her, Nasuada survived, although the last attack cost her several broken bones.

During the third attempt, Eragon and the Nighthawks managed to kill two of Nasuada’s attackers—the exact number of which remained a mystery—but the rest escaped.

Eragon and Jörmundur went to extraordinary lengths to ensure Nasuada’s safety after that. They increased the number of her guards once again, and wherever she went, at least three spellcasters accompanied her. Nasuada herself grew ever more wary, and Eragon saw in her a certain hardness that had not been apparent before.

There were no more attacks upon Nasuada’s person, but a month after winter broke and the roads were again clear, a displaced earl by the name of Hamlin, who had gathered up several hundred of the Empire’s former soldiers, started launching raids against Gil’ead and attacking the travelers on the roads thereabouts.

At the same time, another, slightly larger rebellion began to brew in the south, led by Tharos the Quick of Aroughs.

The uprisings were more of a nuisance than anything, but they still took several months to quell, and they resulted in a number of unexpectedly savage fights, although Eragon and Saphira attempted to settle matters peacefully whenever they could. After the battles they had already participated in, neither of them was thirsty for more blood.

Soon after the end of the uprisings, Katrina gave birth to a large, healthy girl with a lock of red hair atop her head, the same as her mother. The girl bawled louder than any infant Eragon had ever heard, and she had a grip like iron. Roran and Katrina named her Ismira, after Katrina’s mother, and whenever they looked at her, the joy in their faces made Eragon grin as well.

The day after Ismira’s birth, Nasuada summoned Roran to her throne room and surprised him by granting him the title of earl, along with the whole of Palancar Valley as his domain.

“As long as you and your descendants remain fit to rule, the valley shall be yours,” she said.

Roran bowed and said, “Thank you, Your Majesty.” The gift, Eragon could see, meant almost as much to Roran as had the birth of his daughter, for after his family, the thing Roran prized most was his home.

Nasuada also tried to give Eragon various titles and lands, but he refused them, saying, “It is enough to be a Rider; I need nothing more.”

A few days later, Eragon was standing with Nasuada in her study, examining a map of Alagaësia and discussing matters of concern throughout the land, when she said, “Now that things are somewhat more settled, I think it’s time to address the role of magicians within Surda, Teirm, and my own kingdom.”


“Yes. I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about it and have reached a decision. I have decided to form a group, much like the Riders, but for magicians alone.”

“And what will this group do?”

Nasuada picked up a quill from her desk and rolled it between her fingers. “Again, much the same as the Riders: travel through the land, keep the peace, resolve disputes of law, and most important, watch over their fellow spellcasters, so as to ensure they do not use their ability for ill.”

Eragon frowned slightly. “Why not just leave that to the Riders?”

“Because it will be years before we have more of them, and even then there won’t be enough to mind every petty conjurer and hedge witch. … You still haven’t found a place to raise the dragons, have you?”

Eragon shook his head. Both he and Saphira had been feeling increasingly impatient, but as of yet, they and the Eldunarí had been unable to agree upon a location. It was becoming a sore point between them, for the infant dragons needed to hatch as soon as possible.

“I thought not. We have to do this, Eragon, and we cannot afford to wait. Look at the havoc Galbatorix wrought. Magicians are the most dangerous creatures in this world, even more dangerous than dragons, and they have to be held accountable. If not, we’ll always be at their mercy.”

“Do you really believe you will be able to recruit enough magicians to watch over all of the other spellcasters here and in Surda?”

“I think so, if you ask them to join. Which is one of the reasons I want you to lead this group.”


She nodded. “Who else? Trianna? I don’t fully trust her, nor does she have the strength needed. An elf? No, it has to be one of our own. You know the name of the ancient language, you’re a Rider, and you have the wisdom and authority of the dragons behind you. I cannot think of a better person to lead the spellcasters. I’ve spoken to Orrin about this, and he agrees.”

“I can’t imagine the idea pleases him.”

“No, but he understands that it is necessary.”

“Is it?” Eragon picked at the edge of her desk, troubled. “How do you intend to keep watch over the magicians who don’t belong to this group?”

“I hoped you might have some suggestions. I thought perhaps with spells and scrying mirrors, so that we could track their whereabouts and supervise their use of magic, lest they use it to better themselves at the expense of others.”

“And if they do?”

“Then we see to it that they make amends for their crime, and we have them swear in the ancient language to give up the use of magic.”

“Oaths in the ancient language won’t necessarily stop anyone from using magic.”

“I know, but it’s the best we can do.”

He nodded. “And what if a spellcaster refuses to be watched? What, then? I can’t imagine very many would agree to be spied upon.”

A sigh escaped Nasuada, and she put down her quill. “There’s the difficult part. What would you do, Eragon, if you were in my place?”

None of the solutions he thought of were very palatable. “I don’t know. …”

Her expression grew sad. “Nor do I. This is a difficult, painful, messy problem, and no matter what I choose, someone will end up hurt. If I do nothing, the magicians will remain free to manipulate others with their spells. If I force them to submit to oversight, many will hate me for it. However, I think you will agree with me that its better to protect the majority of my subjects at the expense of a few.”

“I don’t like it,” he murmured.

“I don’t like it either.”

“You’re talking about binding every human spellcaster to your will, regardless of who they are.”

She did not blink. “For the good of the many.”

“What about people who can only hear thoughts, and nothing more? That’s a form of magic as well.”

“Them too. The potential for them to abuse their power is still too great.” Nasuada sighed then. “I know this isn’t easy, Eragon, but easy or not, it’s something we have to address. Galbatorix was mad and evil, but he was right about one thing: the magicians need to be reined in. But not as Galbatorix intended. Something needs to be done, though, and I think my plan is the best solution possible. If you can think of another, better w

ay to enforce the rule of law among spellcasters, I would be delighted. Otherwise, this is the only path available to us, and I need your help to do it. … So, will you accept charge of this group, for the good of the country, and the good of our race as a whole?”

Eragon was slow to answer. At last he said, “If you don’t mind, I’d like to think about it for a while. And I need to consult with Saphira.”

“Of course. But don’t think for too long, Eragon. Preparations are already under way, and you will soon be needed.”

Afterward, Eragon did not return directly to Saphira but wandered through the streets of Ilirea, ignoring the bows and the greetings from the people he passed. He felt … uneasy, both with Nasuada’s proposal and with life in general. He and Saphira had been idling for too long. The time had come for a change, and circumstances would no longer allow them to wait. They had to decide what they were going to do, and whatever they chose, it would affect the rest of their lives.

He spent several hours walking and thinking, mainly about his ties and obligations. In late afternoon, he made his way back to Saphira and, without speaking, climbed onto her back.

She leaped out of the courtyard of the hall and flew high above Ilirea, high enough that they could see for hundreds of miles in every direction. There she stayed, circling.

They spoke without words, exchanging their mind-states. Saphira shared many of his concerns, but she was not as worried as he about their bonds with others. Nothing was as important to her as protecting the eggs and the Eldunarí, and doing what was right for him and her. Yet Eragon knew that they could not just ignore the effects their choices would have, both political and personal.

Finally, he said, What should we do?

Saphira dipped as the wind underneath her wings slowed. What we need to do, as has always been the case. She said nothing more, but turned then and began to descend toward the city.

Tags: Christopher Paolini The Inheritance Cycle Fantasy
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