CHAPTER 9: Being Pre-emptive

“Hey! We’re in Elfland! Can’t you even manage to provide a unicorn?”

“What is a unicorn, ebrivanyl?”

Lomy stood giving its back to the white horse, handed to it by Lifaen, with arms crossed and a grouchy expression.

“He’s like a horse, but he’s actually smart: that is, he can speak, can even manage two languages, which makes him smarter than dragon’s dude over there. But, more importantly, he’s got a cool beard and badass horn on his forehead, that’s cool.”

Eragon ignored the lengthy discussion about to start, ordering his horse to go forward. At the beginning he didn’t mind being ignored by the elves in place of Saphira, but as the days passed, Lifaen and Narì had pretty much divided their entire attention between the dragon and the white elf, only Orik was receiving less attention than him. And more and more similarities between Du Weldenvarden’s elves and Lomy became clear in his mind.

I hate it. I hate it so much, little one.

As expected, the previous night episode’s fault was handed entirely to him since, as Arya said when she scolded him, he had to exert the composure of a Rider, rather than give in at any wordy offence, but that was only a minor inconvenience for him. While striking the insufferable brat and forcing it to flee had given Eragon a mild sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, Lomy’s words had cut deeper in both him and Saphira than they would have wanted to admit. The dragon in particular hadn’t been able to rest or enjoy what remained of the night and she was still heavily depressed that morning. The white elf on the other hand reappeared before dawn, spouting jokes and insults like nothing happened.

The days flew, but he retracted himself from the splendor and mystery of the forest, sinking in Saphira’s doomed loneliness, in his own infirmity, trying to detach from those beautiful yet alien and insensitive faces around him, missing Farthen Dûr and wondering for the first time in days about Carvahall and Roran and Murtagh as well. He glanced from time to time to Arya, hopeful to spare some time talking with her, but her answers were always short and cold, hard to say if for whatever had been worrying her about the return on her homeland or because she was still crossed with him for his actions during the journey.

Finally they arrived at Ellesméra. Saphira had been again with him, which had improved the mood of both; the elves’ capital was shunning and its inhabitants greeted Rider and dragon with all due respect, escorting them to the Queen’s palace.

It was a long journey.

And a wearing one at that, little one.

Aye. But now it’s our moment.

Eragon mentally ran through the formal signs of greetings and circumstance he had to employ before the Queen and eventually other nobles of her court.

“Hey, look there! A talking white raven! Wouldn’t it be awesome if it really was the polymorphed king?”

The Rider approached the Queen on her throne, along with the others; Arya was the first to kneel, he followed shortly and so did the others. Lomy blinked and clicked at her with an half-smile. The Queen rose and asked Arya to do the same, just before embracing her.

“O my daughter, I have wronged you!”

“Whoa.. what a twist… (looking puzzled at Arya) He’s actually a chick?»

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“I’m sorry I’ve been forced to ignore you, young progenitor.”

Lomyolèndri rolled to slouch on the other side of its chair, giving his back to the Queen.

“That’s cool. Hmm, comfy…”

Arya glanced at Eragon and Orik, placed on the two sides of the table, just after her and the white elf, with Islanzadí at the head. They had waited for the group of designated musicians and singers to start, so that Rider and dragon would be distracted, and spoke in ancient language. Her mother had suggested to have the conversation telepathically, but, having no precedents with Lomyolèndri, Arya suggested against it, in case the intrusion would scare away the white elf. That of course didn’t mean the Queen and her could bring forth other topics in the sanctuary of their minds while they talked to it.
She had yet to deal with the reconciliation Islanzadí subtly obliged her into; not an entirely unlikable action, but unexpected at least.

“Makes sense baby blue didn’t want you: she’s a female, you’re a princess: now, if you were a prince…”

“How is he?”

Arya gazed upon Eragon.

“Young. Foolish. Arrogant.”

“The perfect hero, no joke. Eh eh.”

“What about the dragon?”

“Hard to say yet.”

I feel is shying away from our culture, it wasn’t expected.

There were.. complications.

I see. And the feelings for you?

They’re unsettling and unreciprocated, don’t worry. I’m trying to make it clear to him as kindly as possible.

No.

The Queen looked at him for some time, before turning to Arya with a blank expression.

If his last link with us now it’s you, you’ll.. have to be a good host to them, my daughter, for the time being. Let him believe his delusion is not doomed.

Arya looked at her outraged, whispering the answer.

“How can you ask me this?”

The Queen’s expression didn’t change, even as she placed a hand on hers.

At least until his training will be completed and his allegiance forged beyond doubts.

He is married already. He has a woman to wait him.

A human. Far away, tangled in a war whose end she may not see…

He’s a kid. And a human.

I’m not asking you to wholly disgrace yourself with him. Just let him believe you are interested.

Arya hardened her expression, staring at her, but Islanzadí continued before she could reply.

Arya, my child, it brings me no joy asking you this, but he is our last hope to restore the Riders under our tutelage and save the dragons from extinction. If he rejects our culture, he may well turn against us to Galbatorix. And when the dragons are gone, our powers will wither and die and so shall we.

Arya held her breath, already knowing were her mother was about to get at.

You believed in your Bound of Trust so much you left me to pledge your life to our people. Now I’m asking you to honor your very decision and sacrifice yourself for the good of the elves. The human and the dragon must remain bound to us.

Arya lowered her head, nodding in silence. Her mother waited for a long moment, hoping she would sign her acceptance in the ancient language, but she remained quiet, both with her tongue and her mind.
Raising a smile again, the Queen turned to the white elf.

“Lomyolèndri-ebrivanyl?”

“Yes, elf queen?”

“I was telling you what unique honor is for us to have you here at Ellesméra. I’ve heard a great deal about you in the last days, but I confess many particulars are still eluding me. I was wondering if you could tell us something about your land…”

“Laaame!..”

Seeing the white elf on the verge of getting up from the chair, Arya anticipated it.

“As I said you before, progenitor, our people and this very land are scourged by a great evil.”

“Yeah, well, spread rumors and some ragtag band of adventurers will deal with it for a proportionate reward. Calls them like flies every freaking time.”

“This is no matter hired tugs can possibly solve.”

“Pffh, that’s crazy.”

“The Empire has afflicted Alagaësia for a century now, Galbatorix grows more and more powerful, it is a matter of time until he’ll be able to break our wards and lay siege to Ellesméra itself.”

“And I’m supposed to be interested in this because..?”

“My daughter has told me about your magical prowess, you also talked to her about greater marvels yet. Your coming on this land may have been the result of chance, but we can turn it to mutual benefit for both our people. We have been divided for almost three millennia and our societies have evolved following different paths. We could share our knowledge and our strength. If you managed to contact your kin, progenitor, do you think you could be able to provide us help in freeing our land from Galbatorix?”

“Whoa.. well, I’ll have you know, we’re not a kind of ‘people’ folks. We do not hang around as much as find ourselves in the same spot for totally unrelated reasons…”

“There is much you can teach us and much we can teach you. And we could help you find your way back to Alalëa, of course.”

“That’s neat, but I’m cool like this for now.”

Could it be it doesn’t want go back, Arya?

You think it fled or was exiled?

What do you think?

I never thought of that. I never saw any resentment or anguish when it talked about its homeland or its kindred. It seemed only like it didn’t really care one way or another. But I guess it doesn’t matter much: it still remains our only link to Alalëa.

Islanzadí nodded and spoke again.

“Is there something else, then, we could do that could make you more inclined to reconsider our proposal?”

“Uh, I don’t know? What proposal was that?”

“We were asking for your people’s help against Galbatorix.”

“Who? Man, that’s a stupid name…”

“The traitor Rider, who destroyed the Order, conquered the lands of men and almost extinguished the dragon race. Please, progenitor, could you bring forth our query to your people?”

“M’kay.”

“You..?”

“Sure, whatever.”

“I.. cannot thank you enough for your…”

“Yeah yeah, can we do something funnier now? I’m kinda getting bored here… Aren’t we in Elfland? Isn’t there anything even remotely cool to see?”

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The deep thuds resonated on the plain, shaking Lomy’s tunic; the little boy hovered higher, covering his forehead to focus his view. The elves stood behind it motionless; among them there were also the human and the dwarf, completely awe-struck by the sight unfolding in front of them.

“He, would you look at that! It’s another..!”

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Comment

  1. MichaelCrum on 26 March 2018, 14:39 said:

    I like this prose so much. My students’ audience at http://caessaywriter.com/the-review-of-edusson-com/ would be great to read it. So I’m grateful for your work! This is beautiful and touches us so much…