CHAPTER 5: On The Road

It was almost an hour before dawn when Eragon and Saphira reached Tronjheim’s northern gate.

“_Awww_! The marvelous sight of rocks! And rocks!.. And look just back there! Rocks! And dwarven statues all over, so tasteless you can almost feel your tongue taking things and shouting ‘_the Hells I’m outta here_’!”

The Rider grumped, trying to avoid the sight of the floating little elf.

“I’ve got to tell you, dragon’s dude, it’s been a challenge staying in the same place for so freaking long, but it was totally worth it, just for that look on your face!.. (chuckling) And what about you, baby blue? Care to share some insight on the matter at hand? Please speak freely…”

I can’t believe he’s coming.

Do not remind me about it.

I can’t believe Arya chose to trust him over me!

He’s an elf like her…

That doesn’t matter! And he’s nothing like her!

Maybe she’s also worried, maybe she wants to keep him in check. It will be easier on Ellesméra, there aren’t mages here.

I know. But… after… that… I don’t know if it’s even worth it. I guess it’s safer to have him where we can see him.

The humiliation of the funeral was echoing across the halls of Tronjheim, whispered behind the praises in honor of Eragon Shadeslayer, and, after that long list of political entanglement and mockery, the Rider was extremely relieved to leave that place and put as many miles as possible between him and the dwarves’ homeland.

The marriage had been celebrated. Rashly, poorly, but with nothing to threaten its final binding, which was heaving on Eragon’s shoulders maybe more than any act of fealty the Elders could have asked of him. Lomy had been there as well, during the ceremony; he proposed to have Saphira officiate the rite as the most divine-like being in the city, which actually genuinely pleased her, much to Eragon’s disappointment. In the end unfortunately it was the dwarven and human priests to stipulate the marriage, as it was suggested if Saphira were to unite them, she could also feel entitled to annul the union at any moment. He and Nasuada talked during the first night, trying to figure out a way to make the best of their grim situation and, by the end of it, Eragon was just glad Lomy didn’t show up to take control of any of them to force… anything.

“Hey, look there! There’s dwarfy! Hey, dwarfy! Look at him! A little grumpy man, walking on foot and carrying heavy gear on pack: he’s just the perfect sidekick!”

“Shut up.”

“You’ll see. (quickly) Your immortal soul he’s carrying your armor. (loudly) Hey, dwarfy! Is that the dragon’s dude’s armor?”

(grumbling) “…Yeah.”

“See? Come on pay up.”

Eragon looked back at him, astounded.

“No!”

“Oh, don’t worry, (pushing his shoulder) just kidding. Did you take me for a fiend? What would I do with a soul anyway? Stupid sticks-in-the-tail permanently banished me from Malabolgia anyway…”

While Lomy went on muttering nonsense, Orik showed Eragon his armor and, to add even more worries, expressed Hrothgar’s offer of adoption into the king’s clan.

“No way! A dwarf fully accepting a human in their culture? They must want you pretty badly…”

Orik glanced at him hatefully.

“It’s a gift.”

“Of course it is… (teleporting behind the dwarf) and say, if I were to accept dragon’s dude’s adoption, would he sort of become.. eligible, for any position in dwarf culture? But of course! Why am I asking? If it weren’t so, it wouldn’t be a real gift, just a cheap excuse to gain control over him and manipulate him, how could I think of that?”

“It’s Eragon’s choice, not yours.”

“Yeah, do we have to have this discussion all over? We know how’s going to end…”

“I’ll do it, Orik. I am privileged to join Dûrgrimst Ingeitum.”

“See? Good boy, (pat patting his head) there there.”

Luckily the little elf didn’t interrupt the ritual of adoption and in the end they were waiting again for Arya to come.

“I’m bored! When are we going?”

Orik gave him a stern look, checking his bag.

“You seem awfully light, elf. Didn’t you pack anything for yourself?”

“Nyeh, what for?”

“Eating, sleeping, traveling. It’s a long way to Du Weldenvarden.”

“Well, let’s see, I could rest inside dragon’s dude’s sword and fly my way to Elfland.”

Eragon instinctively grabbed for Zar’roc, almost fearing not to find the sword in its place.

“You can do that?”

“Of course.”

Orik spat on the ground, rubbing his cheek.

“And what about eating? Do you expect us to provide for you?”

“Well, since I feed on dreams, yeah, pretty much. I just need some wild and witty imagination to leech off.”

The elf suddenly frozen, looking around with a blank expression.

“Oh gods. I’m gonna die!”

“There, finally: Arya’s coming.”

(shrugging) “Then again, everything may go just fine…”

As Eragon went to make the farewells of circumstance to his wife, he asked Saphira to try and overhear what Arya and Lomy were talking about; fortunately, the two elves didn’t switch to the ancient language and the conversation was comprehensible.

“And so, Eragon accepted Hrothgar’s offer.”

“Yeah, it will work just fine, you’ll see… Are we going? I’m bored and want to see the sky again. This is going to be awesome: I’ve never been adventuring before! Only met people who were fun to play tricks on them until they threatened me with bodily harm to go away. (looking at Saphira) Yeah, not much chance of that happening with you, your Abjuration magic sucks. Not that the other parts of it are that much better…”

“You hope to find your way back to your land in Ellesméra?”

“_Nah_, I’m playing along with it, this happens to me all the times. Don’t worry elf buddy, no chance I’m leaving you for a long, long time…”

Perhaps hearing Eragon’s groan, the elf teleported himself behind him.

“Oh, don’t be too sad, you are going on a magical journey with cool-looking elves, grumpy dwarf lackeys, and a dragon mule! Even the most despicable creature in all Multiverse would be happy about it!”

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“Outstanding, let’s get this wrapped up and go, my patience is wearing thin.”

“Whatever you desire, Mosst Beloved Massster!”

The Great Wyrm growled, tapping his claws on the floor.

“Stop squirming and go on with the list. All the missing artifacts?”

The kobold nodded frantically, skimming through the scroll.

“Recovered and in place, Mossst Beloved Massster!”

“All the portals to my Demiplane closed?”

“Yesss!”

“Any collateral damage in the preparations?”

“We lost two-hundred-fourteen koboldsss.”

“Meh. That’s acceptable. Fine, we’re done. I’ll be out for a while, take my summonings and remember to polish my princesses’ collection.”

The red dragon raised the neck to a series of pillars where a parade of fair women in gowns were bound, frowned and frozen in their youth by a time stasis spell.

“I’m looking at them now, you see? It means I’ll be able to tell if some limbs went missing to make someone’s stew while I’m out.”

The High Sycophant nodded again, smiling nervously.

“Don’t worry, Mossst Beloved Massster! I will not make stupid Goorid’sss missstake! You have good travel, nobody’s touching your shinies while you’re out, yip yip!”

“I’d say, I booby-trapped this place even more.”

The dragon checked his orb one last time, focused his will, concentrated on his innate powers, and planeshifted.

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