How the Journey Ended part 1
The journey past Hedarth had been a long one. First, Eragon and the twelve elves who accompanied faced a large marsh after the desert ended surprisingly only miles into their trek. The river that carried them remained as ever present, however it was the dangers in the waters they faced that made them warry. They were nothing to a dragon rider and the elves, so the trip went rather smoothly.
The marshes held hardly anything edible inside of them, and Saphira had to make daily trips to the far sides of the marsh that branched out into tall grass fields. They held creatures who hardly had any meat on their bones, so the group had been hard-pressed to make headway down the river. They hoped that soon they would come across a forest where larger game would be present and plentiful.
When their boat finally did emerge from the marsh, the grasslands still laid before them. The stiffling heat on the yellow plains was unbearable to the humanoids, but pleased Saphira. In the sky, she appeared as a shining blue speck to any who looked up at her. You could easily mistake her for a morning star during the early hours of the day. The grassfields parted to reveal a large lake on the exact month of their departure.
According to Saphira, it was twice as big as Leona lake, but it was shallow. The waters would only soak her up to her shoulder blades, leaving her head bobbing out of the waters as she walked upon the lake floor. It was easier, said Saphira, to let the lake rinse her off than take the time to clean herself which would ultimate result in her catching up for the rest of the day. Since Elves moved faster than humans, Eragon and company made headway quickly.
Following Saphira's dirrections to where the one and only other river that branched off the lake led them south for a short time. But it wasn't too long until the river verred north and then straight East again. By this time the group had been fed into a small forest. The river seemed to never end on their jourey. Eragon at least felt relieved that, whenever he needed to send a rider to help Nasuada, that at least all the rider would have to do is follow the river back West if it held out to their destination.
Upon the next curve in the river, which sent them North East, the forest began to densen and grow larger. Saphira found that she could no longer dip in and out of the forest as she pleased, and had to fly down to the river if she wanted to enter and find prey. The trees were the largest any of them had even seen, even the oldest elf in the group. Their trunks were made of wood that was red instead of brown and they towered above them. Their lowest branches would be where normal trees stopped growing.
During this time in the forest, the traveling company never stopped feeling as if they were being watched. Eragon had tried probing the forest several times for a mind, but nothing but the trees and animals within them were there. It was only after he could no longer stand the invisible eyes that he cast out the ancient language's name and asked the creatures to reveal themselves to him.
To his surprise he was answered. Beings who slightly resembled elves had gathered on the edge of the forest, peeking their heads out from behind trees. The thing that struck Eragon the most was their pale, almost translucent, skin. Their ears were pointed just as the elves and they even carried the same light and fluidness in their steps as they did. It was their eyes that deffinately seperated them from the fair folk. They had pupils, but the iris around them had three rings of colors, each fading into the next. The darkest ring was on the outside, and the lightest in the middle. It appeared as if light was glowing behind the black center of their eyes.
These creatures visited Eragon and the elves every day, but they stayed at the forest edge and away from Saphira. Whenever the dragon landed in the water, they would become frightened and retreat farther into their forest. Only a brave few remained to peer at her, their eyes showing curiosity in the large blue reptile. Eragon and the elves had tried several times to communicate to the beings, but they shied away. It took some time until they realized that the ones visiting from them were all female. This struck them as odd that only the women and girls would come to see the strangers entering their forest.
The whole time of their visits, the elves found it harder and harder to find prey. Saphira began to grow weak and eventually she had to rely on the Eldunari that the elves had brought with them for her strength. After a while, the beings who had kept constant watches on them began to become closer to the group, and no longer ran in fright from Saphira when she landed in the water. One day, the closest any of them had been, a single one of the creatures who had been following them was standing right on the river's edge, as if waiting for them.
Eragon and the Elves had stopped their boat, wondered what the meaning behind their action was. The being did not seem cross, but it was hard to tell because their mind was well protected and Eragon didn't want the elves to help them lest he scare it away. She was one of the older ones of the group that had been tailing them. The woman was cloaked in a cotten dress and pants, complete with leather boots to cover her feet. At her side was a bag that was attatched to her waist. She waited for Eragon and his company to come to a complete stop and walk on land to her before opening herself up to them.
Then Eragon learned that although they spoke a different language, their minds thought in the ancient language. It was odd to learn that their minds were programed to do this since birth, allowing them control of the magic around them. As if he was speaking to Saphira, he had communicated with the woman through his mind, expressing why they were here and asking where was a place that no one inhabited and that they could live at.
Her reply was not an answer to his question, but reaching in her bag and pulling out a small loaf of bread and holding it out to him. She knew that their group had been starving and in desperate need of food, even before they had talked with their minds. The woman waved more girls from the forest over as a signal that everything was alright and these strangers were in fact friends. Everyone of those who emerged from the forest, which had been a shocking number of fifteen (shocking because Eragon hadn't seen that many faces reveal themselves), had shared their food with the group, making it more than neccessary.
With them the girls had loaves of bread, small bits of cheese, and various kinds of salted meats that they had brought with them. Upon Eragon's question on why they had been out in the forest, the woman had replied that the whole of their town had felt strangers on the edge of their forest through an invisible barrier they had placed to alert them when such persons crossed it. Appologizing for intruding without permission had been Eragon's first reaction, but the woman waved it away.
The biggest question the beings had asked was of Saphira. Their elders had told them of such creatures that used to loam over the rivers and snatch children who weren't careful away, but that they were long extinct from this land. In response, Eragon had explained with as little detail as possible about Saphira. When he was finished, they answered his question of where there was an un-inhabited place. They had eluded that there was one, but first he should visit their race's capitol and meet their King. It was best he asked the King anyways, or less risking conflictions with him. He did not want to make his new neighbors unhappy.
The beings told Eragon and the Elves that they could be at the Capitol in days if only they allow them to travel their way. Eragon had no idea what this meant, but accepted. Moments later, he felt the minds of the women contacting their city which was exactly South of their current location. He felt the appoach of the new figures soon enough, but did not see how they could travel almost as fast as Saphira. If they were indeed taking him to the capitol, then their claim of fast travel must be true. Eragon had yet to decipher if they were bound by telling the truth in the ancient language in their minds since they could also speak in their own strange language at the same time.
Eragon and the Elves were surprised to learn that the beings had angel-like wings and that was how they traveled so fast from place to place. They learned this when they could see the new figures approaching them from the South. The men had come from the sky and landed upon the bank with them. A few of the women promised to accompany them, to inform their new members of what was happening and to make sure no harm fell to them, and the rest promised the Elves that they would take their ship upstream to the capitol. They promised it would arrive several days after they reached the capitol and had rested themselves from the bulk of their journey.
The men, Eragon soon learned, had come because only they were strong enough to carry another person through the air. The women who came along served as guides and scouts. A few assisted Saphira in finding food, making kills for her and contacting her where to find them. She had made a pact with Eragon that she would alert him every time one of the Angels, as she had begun to call them, would call her away to eat. It wasn't long until Saphira was at her full strength and no longer needed the Eldunari's extra energy.
Eragon, since the time of discovering the new species, had stayed linked with Glaedr and shared information with him. The golden dragon had never seen the winged beings before and was very curious to their presence. Their minds seemed simular like the Elves, whose heads were fillled with erie melodies of their own, but at the same time completely different. It was if every one of them was connected to the forest, and in order to take over one of their minds you would have to take control of the whole of the forests, which Eragon felt went on for hundreds upon thousands of miles. Thus the reason why he couldn't feel them before, because he had indeed felt them, but as part of the trees and ignored their presence being tricked by the illusion. Now he knew better to seperate their minds from the plants around them, making him more keener in locating them so they would not surprise him at any given moment.
Traveling by air had proven easier, although Eragon prefered to be strapped to Saphira's back than be carried by one of the Angel men. The twelve elves that had accompanied him had complied, but he could feel their discomfort in the matter. At any time the men could choose to drop them from the sky, which wouldn't do anything but catch them off-guard. The elves could contruct a spell to make them hover in the air, and the only thing that would happen was they would learn that they couldn't trust the winged beings after all. However, the Angels held fast to their promise and delivered them to the Capitol in the three day's time.
At the gates of the Capitol, Eragon and the Elves were shocked to find that the Angel's population was greater than they first thought. The majority of them were adults, and some of them were teenagers, but it seemed that the truth of the elves did not hold the same for the angels. Their children could be seen among the streets working as hard as the adults were, even if they were given simpler jobs to do.
The Angel's buildings were a combination of tree houses in the peaks of the trees that Eragon would never reach without help from Saphira and ground-based buildings on raised mounds of earth. The different levels, the outside being the lowest and the inside being the highest, provided the capitol with the perfect defence against their enemies if ever one should attack. They could also see farther away on the raised ground than they would on a flat surface, allowing them advanced notice of approaching armies or such. Just like Terim back in Alagaesia, the city was designed to repell attacks.
The buildings were built from seamless stone that seemed to blend into one another, giving the appearance of a single smooth wall. If there was a crease, it was the artist's design and not by accident. Ruins of all sorts were scrawled into the surface of the stone buildings along with intricate patterns that surrounded them. The building's features proved handy for Saphira, as they had all been built with humongous gaps as entrances. There wasn't a single door on any of the buildings, and it was as if they were saying that all visitors were welcome. Eragon made a note in his head to ask the King if he would be allowed to take a few of his stone workers with him to create his hall for the dragon eggs whom strayed behind him in the seperate demention.
The King, who told Eragon to call him Jellal, welcomed the travelers with open arms and invited them to his dinning hall for a feast. It had been a long time since Eragon and the Elves had eaten a decent meal, and they had accepted his offer. Although the Elves had strictly stayed to the vegetables and fruit provided, Eragon brought it upon himself to at least test some of the meat and also bring some of his strength back with the protein.
To the best of Eragon's knowledge, they had traveled North West from the bend in the river where the Angel woman had waited for them, setting them several days back in travel if they were to get away from any civilization. However, Eragon did not press the question until after the meal with the King if there was indeed a place where he could raise creatures such as Saphira. The King stated he didn't know why Eragon would want to do that, but yes there was in fact a place that he would allow him to build his hall away from his people. The only catch was, he wanted to know everything about the creatures he called dragons that he brought with him.
Eragon promised, excluding from his mind that technically Eldunari were a seperate matter from dragons and he did not have to tell the King about them, and began his telling. He started from the beginning with Alagaesia's history, of the dwarfs and dragons that first inhabited the land to the far West, and then of the Gray folk who bound magic to words, and of the fair folked elves who lived in Du WeldenVarden, and then finally of the humans. He explained the war between elves and dragons, the resolution, and how eventually humans were added as canidates to become riders.
Eragon had to explain in much detail about the relationship between the riders and their dragons. He finished up by telling a quick re-cap of the war with Galbatorix, a dragon rider who had eliminated all the other dragons and their riders and taken over all of Alagaesia, and how he slayed the evil man. Then he explained his purpose once again of why he had traveled to the East. King Jellal had remained listening the whole time, taking in every scrap of detail. The elves had only inturrupted when they felt that he had left out an important detail. Saphira kept to herself for the entire conversation, watching the Angels scurry about her like ants across the dinning hall.
The King then made Eragon a deal, that he give him a strip of land to the North East that would be far away from his cities and be an idea place to raise his dragons, as long as he included this kind in the spell that tied dragons and riders together. In other words, he wanted dragon riders for himself. Eragon considered the matter and discussed it with the King of why he would want such a thing. The King explained that he was very facinated by Saphira and his so called dragons, and that his people had remained frozen in time like the elves. It was about time, according to him, that time start flowing and change come about in his realm. Eragon accepted the King's deal, re-working the ancient magic from far away by using the true name of magic to compinsate for the distance. He was sure that bypassing the Elves barrier would make them unhappy, but the elves who had traveled with him had been in on the deal themselves and agreed to it as well, so he hoped that made up for what he was doing now. The spell took some time, but when it was completed, he assured the King in the ancient language that it had been done. The King held out his end of the bargain, and told him of the place he spoke of earier lightly.
There was a large mountain range to the North East that would provide the perfect protection for the hatchlings and would be far away from King Jellal's realm that he need not worry. Eragon asked how he would reach it, and the King promised he would supply him with guides to get him there. Upon asking about the rest of the continent's terrain, the King told him that the forest that he was in now stretched to the farthest West beyond the marshes. At the very peak of the continent, which he was warned to never go unless he wished to die, was a lava field and active volcanoes that errupted daily. Dangerous creatures lurked in the shadows of the firey mountains and he believed that even Saphira would be helpless before them. When Eragon asked why, the King shook his head and refused to give an answer. The King however, warned him that if he were to come upon a burnt down forest in his travels, that it marks the edge of the lava fields and he should go no farther than that or risk his life.
The visit for the night was just coming to an end when Eragon remembered the thing that he wanted to ask the King. Upon asking if he could have a couple of his stone workers to build his halls, the King agreed saying it was part of the contract that he help him settle in at the mountains in any way possible. He would send enough workers to finish the outline of his hall in a week, and the elaborate designs in a few short days. Eragon thanked the King for his generosity, and then it was time for his group to rest.
They were taken to rooms within the palace that they could reach by steps and shut in for the night. The feathered beds were the softest he had ever felt in his whole entire life. He wondered from what bird had they come from, but then almost chuckled when he realized that they must have come from the people's wings themselves. After all, their feathers were ever in stock so making one bed would be hardly a task. Eragon drifted to sleep atop the feathers as Saphira rested upon a group of pillows the Angels had brought forth for her in their room.
The next morning, Eragon took it upon himself to tour the capitol city to familiarize himself with it and their culture. Fountains often had ruins upon the stone bases they sat on, having a simple poem engraved in the stone about a maiden or nature. The clothing the people wore were more elegantly crafted after centuries of practice and careful hands. Cotton cloth could have well as been satin in his hands.
He was most impressed by the sets of armor that the men and women soldiers wore. The chains in the armor were so small and so flexible, you would've thought they were wearing one of their cotton tunics. However, when Eragon convinced a soldier to engage him in a playful duel, he found that his sword, even guarded, glided off to the side every time. The soldier's sword was as skillfully crafted as one of the elves, being light in his hands when he asked him if he could examine it. Unlike a rider's sword, this one was crafted so that any soldier who came upon it would be able to use it. A rider's sword was personal to them and reflected the way they faught. If another rider were to try and use Eragon's sword, they would find it useless to them.
After he finished touring the city, he retired to his room once again where he slept on the feathered bed with Saphira at his side. On the third day since his arrival in the Angel capitol, he rested within the castle walls and visited its library, which proved helpful because it was all writen in the ruins of the ancient language. Most of it was the Angel's history. It seemed as if they had not always been here before either. That their ancestors came from across the sea and developed wings so that they could reach the tree tops of the new land they fell upon. Eventually, all of their kind began growing wings from their backs when they were born, and it was entertwined into their genetic code.
It dawned on Eragon that this could well of been Elves who had found themselves on the East side of Alagaesia instead of the West, and had to adapt to their surroundings to survive. He wondered why none of the Angels had ever attempted to travel West before and travel that side of the continent. When he consulted the King, he answered that his people feared beyond the long expanse of marsh there were only more marshes or grass fields and that they never ended. Or, that the forest beyond that point had been burned as the burnt forest the King had warned him of before, and that the monsters that resided their lived to the West as well. Staying where things stayed peacefull and life was manageble had been the best thing to do.
On the fourth day, Eragon that King Jellal had only been the third king in all of his people's existance. His father had taught him how to run a country since he could talk. Currently, he didn't have any heir to the thrown and his elders were nagging him about it. They didn't want him getting too old, because he would still need to teach his son how to run the realm. Jellal wasn't married and was an eligible bachelor. That had shocked Eragon slightly, a person with Jellal's looks, he thought, would have women falling for him everywhere. The King explained that his dedication to his job as king kept most women away. They didn't exactly liked to talk politics, which was the only thing he knew how to talk about.
On the fifth day since Eragon's and the Elves arrival to the capitol city, the King informed them that their boat had arrived on the part of the river closest to them, and that it was ready with supplies for the rest of their journey. They bid him farewell and left with the King's stoneworkers to the mountain range in the far North East.
From the capitol, Saphira carried Eragon to the boat while the elves had to bear being carried by the Angel men again. Those who were going with them stayed on the boat and they set off North up the river. The current proved to be difficult for them, because it traveled South to the fork that Eragon and the Elves had avoided by traveling with the Angels. From the fork it was forced out East by the current that Eragon's group had been riding all the way from Hedarth. The place where both currents converged that headed East led out to the ocean and the edge of Alagaesia itself.
The party of Elves and Angels worked together to get the ship to the end of the river whose source turned out to be a spring that came out of a buckle in the earth. Most likely, the stream came from the mountain range itself, but traveled under the hills to this point where the ground wasn't as hard. There it was allowed to emerge from the earth as if the water came from the gapping mouth of a cave. Here, the Angels helped Eragon and the Elves to pull the boat out of the water and onto land. Having no where else to put it, the Elfves pulled the boat's covers over it and wrapped it up tight, leaving it among the trees near the river. It would be unlikely that they'd ever be visiting the Angels except for when they searched for dragon riders among the King's people, since it had been in the contract.
The ground traveled on foot, all except Saphira who kept ever so watchfull of the skies, and eventually made it to the base of the mountain range. While Saphira fed herself on the nearby game, the Angels survied the ranges by themselves for the best spot for Eragon's hall. They had made it to the mountains in two weeks, and it was the first time Eragon and the Elves had had a long rest. The group enjoyed it as the Angels scanned the mountains.
Five days later, which it had taken three days for the Angels to find the perfect location and only two for them to get back, Eragon's group got moving again. The Angels carried the Elves through the air again while Eragon rode on Saphira's back. They reached the mountain which Eragon's hall was going to be carved from in two days like the Angel's promised.
It was facinating for Eragon to see the Angel's do their stone work, however, he could only see it while on Saphira. The Angels had told Eragon that it would be best for it to be high in the air, and there be no excessable ledges from the ground so that the dragons would be well protected from any predators that would wander too close. The Elves stayed a mountain back from the site, as the Angels used their magic to carve chunks of rock and slid them over the edges to break into a million pieces at the base, creating a pile of rubble. The first part of the new hall was the courtyard that would allow dragons to take off and land as they pleased. It had to be big enough for when Saphira was her full size, she wouldn't have any trouble coming or going. The Angels had picked the largest mountain of the range they could find that already had a section of it chipped off, forming a partially existing edge that they could start from. They leveled the stone off flat, which took them the longest time. When they were done however, the courtyard was as big as Carvahall and the surrounding farm lands around it.
Next, they worked on creating the large arches that would lead to the dragon's chambers on the first floor as they called it. They cracked the stone perfectly with their magic and used spells to carry the pieces to the edge and let it fall to the bottom to smash with all the rest. These pieces were larger than glaedr to accomany the largest of dragons. When the rooms for the large dragons had been finished, the Angels moved onto the second floor. Here, they repeated the same method except they were rooms that would accompany dragons slightly bigger than Saphira. Saphira even chose one for herself when they were done with that level and moved on to the next. The third level had railings on the edges of the exposed hallways that the dragons could walk through, because this would be the level the young dragons lived. The last fourth level was for the dragon eggs and for riders whose eggs hadn't hatched yet.
Every level was complete with a bunk inside the dragon's chamber for the rider or soon to be rider, and each had stairs for both humans and dragons so they could go from level to level easily. Deep within the mountain was a dinning hall for for the riders and dragons that were around Saphira's size. The larger dragons would be fed at their rooms. The halls that led to all rooms were large enough for three dragons Saphira's size to walk side by side, or allow one huge dragon to walk down them. The Angels told Eragon that they couldn't make them larger or they'd risk the mountain collapsing. The pillars that they had contructed to hold the hall up were enourmous and could stand a dragon accidently bumping into one of them.
As with their work in the Capitol, all their work looked like it was carved with one block like a statue. Smooth with no idication of stone being moved around and shaped. They had finished in six days, one day ahead of their schedule the King had promised. Next, the Angels worked with Eragon and the Elves on the designs. Each of them contributed something, so it would not all be entirely of Angel workings, but of human, elf, and yes, dragon as well. The Angels provided materials so that the twelve elves Eragon had taken with him could create their flameless lanturns for the hall to provide light.
More Angels came and brought items the halls would need every six days. Among the items were beds to place in the rider's bunkers and clothing to outfit them. The Angel women back at the capitol had all pulled together and created standardized riding clothing that would stand-up to dragon scales even while riding bear-back. The men from the capitol had made weapons for sparing and other such things for riders to spar with. It seems that the courtyard for the dragon's landing and taking off zone would also be the sparing yard. Or else, the hallways were big enough to be a room in themselves and the riders could train there.
At the end of three days, the hall was complete and Eragon stood back and looked at it all. The finished product was glorious and represented all races equallly. Making the hall in stone itself was representing the dwarves. The urgals were also represented by ruins that explained a rider's dedications outside their rooms just like how they put cloths outside their huts to tell about their family and lives. Everything had been fabricated to perfection. Eragon was amazed at how the Angels, although never meeting the other species physically, had been able to understand his explainations and his mental pictures to the last note.
The first part of Eragon's and Saphira's journey had ended. Now the next part, raising the dragons and teaching their riders, began.
There is much ahead to do, Eragon.
Saphira's voice hummed in Eragon's head with satisfaction that the eggs could now hatch saftely. Yes, there is Eragon responded, but with as much reserved excitement as Saphira held.