Murtagh Returns

Murtagh and Thorn neared the tallest tower of the citadel. The mission had been an unequivocal success, and Murtagh looked forward to seeing the new arrival again.

You were thinking about her a lot during the mission, too, Thorn said.

Of course I was. How often do people literally appear out of nowhere? It’s unusual, Murtagh replied.

You’re sure it’s not more than that?

Why would it be?

Most of your thoughts didn’t concern her strange arrival. Mostly they were about her hair, her face, those things females have on their chests… What are those for anyway?

I’ll tell you when you’re older, Thorn.

You say that a lot.

Thorn landed on the flat platform, and Murtagh dismounted. One of the dragon keepers approached and said, “There’re five cattle in the courtyard if he’s hungry.”

“He is. Where’s the king?”

“Library, sir,” he said. “Word is he’s researching a spell for our newest guest.”

“She’s awake?”

“Yes, sir. She woke not too long ago.”

Bidding Thorn and the keeper farewell, Murtagh headed straight for Galbatorix.

“Word’s been going around the castle that our visitor has revived.”

“Yes,” Galbatorix said, looking up from a large leather-bound codex, “how did your mission go?”

“The spies are dead. None managed to report back to their allies.”

“I’m not used to you attending to your duties so efficiently,” Galbatorix observed. “Perhaps I ought to keep nubile blondes in the castle more often?”

“I only want to figure out how she got past your defenses—same as you.”

“Oh, I seriously doubt you feel the same as me,” Galbatorix said. “At any rate, I need to talk with her further. Would you mind fetching her?”

“Of course not,” Murtagh said. “Where is she?”


His cheeks burned red again. “Right now?”

“You may want to wait until she’s finished.”

“Of course.”

Murtagh walked the halls, going over the exact wording of Galbatorix’s order. “Aha… I may want to wait until she’s finished,” he said to himself. “Then again, I may not.”

As he approached the room, he heard splashing water. He quietly stepped in the doorway. Her armor, sword and some mysterious device sat on the dais to the left. The right side of the room had three walled-off enclosures with bronze wash basins. The girl’s white robe hung from a metal hook outside the third stall—farthest from the doorway. He walked to the dais, pretending to be interested in the armor. He then peeked in the direction of the stalls, but he couldn’t see inside the occupied pen. Shifting a few feet to the left, he caught a glimpse.

She had her back to the dais as she used a stone jar to pour water atop her head. Her wet hair cascaded down her slender neck like a waterfall of sunshine. The dripping strands clung to her shoulders. The smooth, pink skin of her shoulders, however, was in direct contrast to a multitude of scars on her back. The scars made her back look like a field that a farmer had put to the plow and made the furrows long. His hand clenched into a fist as he wondered who would’ve done such a thing. Anyone that would mar such supple skin with ugly white scar tissue deserved at least a good beating in return. And what were those two protrusions, each a few inches long, between her shoulder blades? Could they be broken bones jutting from the skin? They moved up and down a little, much the way a bird works its wings. She didn’t appear to be in pain.

He leaned to the side a little more and thought he heard a whisper. Her eyes were a beautiful shade of blue that reminded him of the tempestuous sea. Wait a moment.

Before he realized what was happening, the world was tumbling around him.

* * *

The bath had been simply delightful. Although Celestine was unused to bathing rooms that lacked doors, it wasn’t a problem that a simple magical ward couldn’t fix. The scented oil she’d found smelled like pine needles—a tremendous improvement over the odor of dried sweat. As she relaxed, letting the warm bath soothe her aching body, she tried to remember. They’d been travelling to Ellette’s glade. They had reached it, she was sure. After that all she had were vague recollections of a trial and a pool of water, a sense of immersion, and then? Nothing until she woke up in that drab room. Suddenly, she heard a voice in her ear, “Intruder.” She turned her head.

There was a dark-haired young man looking at her. Gathering all of the magical lines around her, she flung them in a massive, disordered attack that sent him flying back against the wall. Not much impact—the wall was too close to the dais. One quick redirection and he was soaring into the middle stall. As he splashed about in the basin, Celestine leapt out of the bath, wrapped her robe around her, rushed to the dais and picked up her gun.

He clambered out of the bath, dripping from head to toe. Celestine yelled, “Insolent!” and pulled the trigger. It took a lot of control not to use lethal force.

The young man said something that didn’t translate, and her spell ricocheted off an invisible barrier, taking a small chunk out of the masonry. His eyes grew wide—whether due to confusion or fear she couldn’t tell. She kept her gun trained on him, but hesitated, trying to figure how he’d blocked it.

As her finger tightened on the trigger, he cried, “I’m sorry!”

“And well you should be! Who are you and why are you here?”

“Murtagh. I was sent to fetch you.”

“I thought Galbatorix’s soldiers were better behaved.”

“I didn’t see anything. Your modesty is intact.”

“How long were you watching?”

“I don’t know. A minute? Maybe less. Definitely less. Less than a minute.”

“You’re not like the other soldiers.”

“Of course I’m not!”

“I knew it! You’re an intruder trying to kidnap me!”

“You can’t be serious…”

Celestine shot twice more. The spell just abruptly changed direction when it got close to him for no apparent reason.

“I’m not an intruder! Are you trying to be difficult?”

“You don’t get to complain about my behavior; I’m not done complaining about yours yet!”

“Did that sentence actually make sense to you?”

She pulled the trigger again, to the same effect as before. “How exactly are you doing that?” she asked.

“I was going to ask you the same thing. Are you casting spells without speaking?”

“Yes. So?”

“So, don’t you think that’s just a bit dangerous?”

“Why would it be?”

“Why would it be?” he echoed. “You have to maintain precise concentration to cast a spell. If you don’t vocalize it, any stray thought that enters your head—a particular danger for you, I’d wager—could have disastrous consequences.”

“Magic is not that fragile. What I want to know is how you’re deflecting it without altering the magic lines.”

“Everything you just said is basically nonsense. Would you please just follow me to Galbatorix? I’m tired of trying to make sense of you.”

“I’m not going anywhere until I get a better apology.”

“Well pardon me, your highness. I was unaware we had visiting royalty. Shall I fetch madam’s towel?”

“Yes, and fetch one for yourself while you’re at it,” she said. “You smell like wet dog.”

“And you smell like an Elf.”

He grabbed two towels and threw one at her before leaving to wait in the hallway. She eventually exited the bath area dry and dressed with her armor over her robe. Murtagh’s clothes had left a puddle in the hall, but he’d dried off his hair. He’d removed his overshirt, and Celestine noticed that his wet undershirt bespoke a well-muscled chest.

As he escorted her, he commented, “You know, for a girl so concerned with how much others can see of her body, your armor doesn’t cover much of it.”

“Which is why I wear it over my robe,” she said in a curt tone, “or did you expect me to be able to even move in 35 kilograms of armor?”

“The shoulder armor and helmet remind me of eagles.”

“It seems you aren’t as dumb as you look. That’s what they’re patterned after.”

“Why eagles?”

“Iustinian considered the eagle the noblest of birds and the lion the noblest of animals, so when he commissioned the paladins to face the undead hordes of Sul Nef’Khern, the shoulders and helmets were made to resemble eagles and the lion’s head was emblazoned on the breastplate.”

“I wasn’t looking at the breastplate.”


“So… what do you mean by undead?”

“Bodies that have been reanimated by spells or curses. Don’t you have necromancers in your world?”

“What do you mean ‘your world?’”


They continued in silence until Murtagh cleared his throat and spoke again. “So… how did you acquire those scars on your back?”

“None of your business!”

“I only ask because I have one of my own that winds its twisted way down from my right shoulder to my left hip,” he said.

She said nothing.

“I received mine from my father—or, more accurately, his sword—during one of his drunken rages. I was three at the time.”

Celestine replied softly, “I spent an unfortunate duration in the slave trade. I received my scars from the slaver reselling me. I suppose I must’ve annoyed him.”

Murtagh stopped in front of the library door. “Has anyone killed him yet?”

“No,” she said, grasping the door handle. As she pulled it open, she said, “I forgave him.”


As they entered the library, Galbatorix said, “Ah, there you are! What happened to you, Murtagh? Did you decide to take a bath while you were there?”

“Oh, you know me,” Murtagh replied. “Just another bad decision in a long line of bad decisions.”

“Something I should know about, Celestine?” Galbatorix asked.

She shook her head. “Nothing I couldn’t handle.”

“Very well,” he said. “I called you here to inform you that my research is beginning to pay off. It still may take a while, but I’m confident I’m headed in the right direction. While you’re waiting, would you mind doing something to help me?”

“Thank you very much, your majesty. I’d be happy to assist you,” she said.

“It won’t be easy, but it’s within your capabilities, I’m sure. As I said before, you don’t need to repay me, so you don’t have to do this, but, so you may understand the context of my request, it’s time I told you my story.”

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  1. Lady Cricket on 23 June 2011, 23:29 said:

    I’ve never read “The Mirror” (I know I’m getting the title wrong) but it sounds interesting. Fusing magic and technology is always cool to me, and that’s hardly the end of the things in here that pique my imagination.

    By the way, I didn’t know you could post crossovers to Impish Idea. And it’s such a good. I’ve considered a project of writing/drawing up, of all things, a fantasy scientific journal entry all about the Ra’zac because I like what little I’ve heard of of their biology and I’ve expanded on it. But I didn’t know if that would be ‘accepted’ on ImpishIdea. But you’ve given me more faith. Thank you.

    (About that Ra’zac biology project, I promise nothing. It would take a pantload of work, and I don’t know who I’d collaborate with.)

  2. fffan on 24 June 2011, 07:45 said:

    Murtagh really needs to hang around more females…

  3. Nate Winchester on 24 June 2011, 07:53 said:

    I think Murtagh would agree with you on that. ;-)

  4. Asahel on 24 June 2011, 21:28 said:

    I’ve never read “The Mirror” (I know I’m getting the title wrong) but it sounds interesting. Fusing magic and technology is always cool to me, and that’s hardly the end of the things in here that pique my imagination.

    Thank you. I also like the combination. Since this isn’t likely to come up during the crossover, I figured I would address it here. Fusing magic and technology is just one way that some of the nation’s Mages responded to the growing power of technology. Celestine’s people decided to remain magical purists and opposed the technologists with force. In other nations, the Mages were less confident they could overpower technology and so preserved their power by adding technology to their magic. Those that remained purists were eventually either wiped out or (as in the case of the Syllian Mages) fought the technologists to a standstill, signing an uneasy peace.

    By the time this story takes place, Celestine has reached a point in her travels where she’s taken magic tech from another nation in order to survive.


    Murtagh really needs to hang around more females…

    Indeed. Unfortunately, I’m picking up characters where Paolini left them, but worry not, I won’t leave them where they are. Character growth for everyone! Viva le caractere!

  5. Curly on 24 June 2011, 21:44 said:

    Thorn, my good man, I believe they are a form of the mammalian anatomy called mammary glands.

    “And you smell like an Elf.”

    Sadly, I get it. Alas then for the world.
    Stop giving characters emotions!

  6. Nate Winchester on 24 June 2011, 22:16 said:

    Thorn, my good man, I believe they are a form of the mammalian anatomy called mammary glands.

    I liked that touch. Fantasy doesn’t examine enough the consequence of conflicting sexual characteristics between species.

    Stop giving characters emotions!

    I think Curly was being a bit sarcastic there. XD

  7. Klutor the Ninth on 18 July 2011, 10:39 said:

    Fusing magic and technology is always cool to me

    Same here. I love doing it.

    I liked that touch. Fantasy doesn’t examine enough the consequence of conflicting sexual characteristics between species.

    Well said. The telepathy between Murtagh and Thorn of course complicates things a bit, doesn’t it?

    Also, we’ve never seen Pikachu come out of hospital and tell his buddies: “I’m okay now – Master Ketchum was there with me the whole time. Brock was there, too, but he tried to mate with the nice lady treating me. Don’t know why he doesn’t just have puppies with Misty,”

  8. mistrali on 30 March 2014, 23:23 said:

    I don’t know that I like your herione being blonde and blue-eyed and beautiful.

  9. Asahel on 31 March 2014, 11:47 said:

    I don’t know that I like your herione being blonde and blue-eyed and beautiful.

    Well, don’t blame me (or her). The fault for that lies entirely with her great-grandfather.