The Tragical History of King Galbatorix

“Come, let us head to the dining hall as I speak,” King Galbatorix said, leading the way. “The first thing that you must know is that I belong to an ancient order of Dragon Riders.”

“Oh, we have dragons in our world, too,” Celestine asked. “Most people don’t try riding them, though.”

“Becoming a Rider was my dream come true. You see, there’s a special bond between dragon and Rider—dragons will only hatch for the one destined to be its Rider. I grew to become one of the most gifted Riders ever. Unfortunately, I was arrogant in my youth. I also had quite the taste for adventure in those days, and I convinced two of my friends to go exploring the Spine with me,” he said. “It was an unmitigated disaster. We were ambushed by Urgals.”

“Urgals?”

“Yes, beastly creatures similar in form to men, but with great ram-like horns upon their heads. My friends were killed. My dragon was killed,” he said, stopping in the hallway for a quiet moment. “I alone survived, but without my dragon, I didn’t want to live. I wandered those cursed, godsforsaken mountains, attacking anything that came across my path so great was my desire to find something that would kill me,” Galbatorix said, shaking his head. “And then I came to my senses. I realized that I would’ve died for Jarnunvösk—my dragon. Was I too much of a coward, then, to live for her? No, I would not dishonor her sacrifice, so I made my way back to the civilized world, finally ending up back with my purported compatriots. Having learned the most important of lessons from my first dragon, I petitioned that I be allowed to train another dragon. They denied me.”

“I don’t understand. You said dragons only hatch for the one destined to be its Rider. Why would they deny you? What if another dragon was meant for you? Wouldn’t that mean it would never hatch?” Celestine asked.

“Yes, why indeed?” Galbatorix echoed. “Needless to say, I was stunned for precisely the reason you mentioned. It was the moment I opened my eyes. For the entirety of my life to that point, I’d imagined the Riders were guardians of justice and truth in the realm, but that last dealing with them made me question that assumption. I decided to find the answer.”

He paused to open the tremendous oaken doors that led them into the dining hall. It was large and, though it was cut of the same sort of black stones Celestine saw everywhere else, at least it had rich red tapestries hanging on the walls and a decorative golden chandelier shedding firelight all around. Galbatorix motioned to the attendants, who seated them at the grand table—Galbatorix at the head, Murtagh on his right, and Celestine on his left.

“After months of observing, I realized the truth,” he continued. “They were not champions of virtue—some were noble in heart, yes, but most were concerned only with their own power and many were blind to the shortcomings of their fellows. You see, that was why I had been denied a second chance at a dragon—many of the powerful Riders were concerned that one actually would hatch for me. They had delighted in my fall and sought to prevent me from rising again.”

“What did you do?” Celestine asked.

“What could I do? Me? A dragonless Rider against the entire Council?” he said. “I still had some friends among the Riders and I approached them with my problem. Morzan—Murtagh’s father—was one of them.”

“Morzan?” Celestine asked, glancing at Murtagh who was still grimacing from mention of the name. “The man who attacked his own child?”

Galbatorix stiffened a bit. “I see you’ve been talking with Murtagh. No, Murtagh, he wasn’t the man you thought he was—the man you’ve told Celestine about. But I will get to that in time. Let me tell you what he did for me.”

Celestine looked at Murtagh again. He seemed surprised at what Galbatorix had just said and listened with interest to what the king said next. “Though the Council had forbidden it, Morzan and two other Riders helped me sneak into the rookery whenever new eggs were placed. My dragon, Shruikan, hatched for me.”

“It was meant to be.”

“Yes, but you can imagine how unhappy that would make the Council. I raised him in secret for as long as I could, but it wasn’t long before everyone found out. So I made my challenge: They had denied me a dragon, but it had hatched for me which—as you aptly pointed out—meant it was fate. The leader of the Riders, an elf by the name of Vrael, grew exceedingly wroth. He claimed that I had forced Shruikan to serve me by using powerful dark magic. He branded me a traitor and tried to kill me on the spot,” he said. “However, my friends were with me as well as many of the more noble Riders. We escaped, but Vrael declared us all traitors and swore to hunt us down and kill us. Since they were sworn against us, we figured we were sworn against them, so we took to calling ourselves the Forsworn.”

The servants arrived and placed their food on the table. Celestine thanked them and looked at the meal set before her. It looked quite good—potatoes, carrots, bread with butter, and a steak of some kind. She silently prayed thanksgiving for her food and began eating, using her best table manners. Murtagh picked at his food in a disinterested manner, probably eager to hear more about his father.

Galbatorix ignored his food as he continued, “It was war after that. Out of about a hundred Riders, do you know how many believed the truth and opposed Vrael’s lie? Thirteen, not counting me,” he said. “The war was terrible—I suppose all wars are. Due to being severely outnumbered, we had to harry our foes from secret, but whenever we attacked any Riders, I always told them what had happened and gave them the chance to join us. Vrael had already poisoned them against me, though.”

When Galbatorix paused to drink, Celestine said, “I assume you won the war?”

He shook his head. “No, young lady, I didn’t. As the tide swung against him, Vrael enlisted the help of the Empire, for he was good friends with King Angrenost.”

“I don’t understand. You’re the king now, right? You must have won.”

He shook his head. “You’re right. You don’t understand. Celestine, there are some wars that you don’t win even if you don’t lose. By the end of the war, all of my friends save Morzan were dead. The Riders were dead. The wild dragons left the continent in disgust, leading to the rumor that I’d killed all of them as well. And what did I gain? An Empire I’d never wanted to lead and the well deserved title of the man who’d brought about the Fall of the Riders,” he said. “And my friend, Morzan? He was never the same after the war. You wear the garb of a fighter, girl. Have you ever been in a battle?”

Celestine placed her hands in her lap and looked down at them. Her shoulders hunched slightly, and she drew in deep breaths.

“I see you have. Then you have some idea of what happened to my friend. Murtagh,” he said, turning to the young man, “your father’s rages were never caused by alcohol. He saw enemies everywhere even after they were all dead. He came to me the day after he threw his sword at you. He was weeping, telling me about how Vrael had been coming after you, how he was too far away to make it in time, how he’d thrown the sword in a desperate bid to save the son he loved—and, of course, how he’d been terribly wrong. He begged me that if I couldn’t find a cure for him by the next time he returned to the capital, then I had to kill him.”

“What did you say?” Murtagh asked.

“What could I say? I promised him a cure,” he replied. “It didn’t matter, though. Brom killed him before he returned.”

“Who’s Brom?” Celestine asked.

“Ah, yes, I’m sorry. I skipped ahead,” Galbatorix said. “Though so much had been lost in the war, I held on to one hope. I had three dragon’s eggs left. I resolved to rebuild the Riders only this time as the champions of right that they were supposed to be.”

“A noble goal.”

Galbatorix raised his glass towards her. “Thank you. May I yet see it fulfilled,” he said. “Unfortunately, the southern kingdom of Surda broke away from the Empire. I didn’t much care; after all, if they didn’t want to be a part of the Empire, why should I want them in it? It may have been a poor decision. They began funding dissidents throughout the Empire, which eventually led to a full rebellion movement, calling themselves the Varden. I managed to drive them out of the Empire, and they took refuge with the Dwarves.”

“Oh, you still have Dwarves in your world? Most of ours died out, though we recently discovered some still living in Boreara,” Celestine said.

“Yes, at any rate, during the war, Morzan tried to convince Brom to join us. They were friends and Morzan was sure Brom would listen to him, but he’d already accepted Vrael’s words. Brom felt betrayed by his friend and tried to kill him, but instead Brom’s dragon, Saphira, died in the fight. As you would expect Brom joined the Varden,” Galbatorix said, shaking his head. “Pity, too. He was one of the noblest Riders I’d ever had the pleasure to meet. Talented, also. He actually managed to steal one of my dragon eggs.”

“That sounds quite dangerous. Whatever became of it?” Celestine asked.

“The Varden tried for some time to get it to hatch. I found out much later that it hatched for a boy from Carvahall, named Eragon,” Galbatorix answered. “I’d sent out a Shade named Durza to recover the egg after Morzan’s death, but when he tracked down the couriers, one of them teleported it away to a random location before she could be stopped. By the time it resurfaced, it had hatched, and Durza put into motion his plan to betray me. I would’ve welcomed Eragon as a fellow Rider had I known. Durza sent his vile Ra’zac to take the youth by force. Eragon escaped them, but his uncle was killed in the process.”

“A moment, please. What are these Ra’zac? And what’s a Shade?”

“Ra’zac were very dangerous predators that preyed on humans. I thought they’d all been killed during the Ra’zac War, but Durza found some survivors and kept them from me. Shades are sorcerers that have enhanced their powers by becoming possessed by spirits,” Galbatorix said.

Celestine grew pale. “Where I come from, calling upon spirits is blasphemy.”

“Interesting. Why does your god disallow it?” he asked.

“Because spirits are capricious. They may give you power, but it will ultimately be at the cost of your soul,” she answered.

“I see that your god is wise,” Galbatorix said. “I’ve learned to keep people of that nature on a tight rein. I was too lenient with Durza, and look what happened there.”

“I thought Durza worked for you,” Murtagh said.

Galbatorix shook his head. “He did when I sent him to retrieve the egg. Everything he did after it hatched was his own design. The army of Urgals that he led… Do you honestly think I’d have anything to do with those brutish creatures that killed my first dear dragon? And now, like Vrael, he poisoned the Rider of the last female dragon against me,” he said. “I’m the villain in Eragon’s story, and there’s nothing I can say or do to convince him otherwise.”

“What about the other eggs?” Celestine asked. “How do you know Eragon has the last female dragon?”

“One of the eggs hatched for Murtagh. His dragon, Thorn, is a male. As for the third egg, it is yet unhatched, but I can read its thoughts. He’s male as well.”

“You need a neutral third party—a mediator,” Celestine said. “Someone Eragon might listen to, who can explain your side of things.”

“Exactly. A mediator…” Galbatorix said. “Celestine, would you be my mediator?”

Celestine choked on a bite of potato. “Me? Why would this Eragon fellow listen to me?”

“You’re not even from Alagaësia. You’re the ultimate in neutrality,” he replied.

Murtagh interrupted, “Where’s she from? Alalëa?”

“It’s more complicated than that, Murtagh,” Galbatorix said. “I’ll explain later. So, what do you say? My dream all these long years has been the rebirth of the Riders as the noble champions of justice they always should have been. You may be the only person in the Empire capable of bringing it about if you can just get Eragon to listen to me.”

Celestine stuck a piece of bread in her mouth and chewed slowly.

Galbatorix continued, “If you don’t, I’m certain the Riders will die out. Eragon has thrown his lot in with the Varden. A conflict between us is inevitable. Whichever of us survives is immaterial, if we are enemies, the Riders are doomed either way. You don’t need to answer immediately, but keep in mind there is a war going on. Surda and the Varden have already captured Feinster. They are headed for Belatona now, and if they capture that as well, there’s little to stop them on their way to Urû’baen.”

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Comment

  1. TakuGifian on 25 June 2011, 18:49 said:

    First, I object strongly to the use of the term “tragical”. The correct adjective form of ‘tragedy’ is ‘tragic’. The only time the -al ending comes into play is in conjunction with -ly, as in ‘tragically’.

    Secondly, this is brilliant. Why doesn’t Paolini see things this way? One of the greatest flaws of bad fantasy writers is not being able to see anything from the villain’s point of view. I really like how you’ve looked at the facts and events of the actual series, and seen the effects they would have had on a younger Galbatorix. Everything you’ve mentioned in this chapter is true to the original events, but the application of Galby’s perspective makes them so very different.

  2. Curly on 25 June 2011, 19:22 said:

    Wow. Just…wow. This is brilliant. I’m going to have a hard time reading Inheritance now. Well done, well done indeed.

  3. Soldier #6 on 25 June 2011, 21:21 said:

    Wait a minute. In the true language, you can’t lie, correct? And the elves only speak that language. How did Vreal lie and how did the riders not believe him if the told them his side of the story in the true language?

  4. Nate Winchester on 25 June 2011, 22:47 said:

    Wait a minute. In the true language, you can’t lie, correct? And the elves only speak that language. How did Vreal lie and how did the riders not believe him if the told them his side of the story in the true language?

    Maybe it was true… from a certain point of view. ;-)

  5. NeuroticPlatypus on 25 June 2011, 23:13 said:

    Maybe it was true… from a certain point of view. ;-)

    You made a rhyme! Also, that’s what I thought too after reading Soldier’s comment.

  6. Asahel on 25 June 2011, 23:27 said:

    Wait a minute. In the true language, you can’t lie, correct? And the elves only speak that language. How did Vreal lie and how did the riders not believe him if the told them his side of the story in the true language?

    To this, let us ask George Costanza what he thinks. George?

    “Remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”

    Thanks George.

    Also:

    First, I object strongly to the use of the term “tragical”. The correct adjective form of ‘tragedy’ is ‘tragic’. The only time the -al ending comes into play is in conjunction with -ly, as in ‘tragically’.

    One of the correct adjective forms of ‘tragedy’ is ‘tragic.’ It is also the most common. The other adjective form of ‘tragedy’ is ‘tragical.’ To be honest, I chose the title in homage to Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus simply because I love the phrasing. After you said that, I double checked with dictionary.com as well as my home dictionary to make sure it wasn’t an archaism that had passed out of proper English usage. It isn’t and hasn’t.

  7. Lady Cricket on 26 June 2011, 00:20 said:

    And now I think I know, after years of confusion, why even backwater villagers whose lives are rarely, if, ever, affected by the Empire, know how EVIL!!!! ™ Galbatorix and his Empire are. Vrael and the Dragon Riders just had PR that good.

  8. TakuGifian on 26 June 2011, 05:53 said:

    You made a rhyme!

    That’s more than a certain Guinness World Record Bestselling Author has ever done, poetically!

    One of the correct adjective forms of ‘tragedy’ is ‘tragic.’ It is also the most common. The other adjective form of ‘tragedy’ is ‘tragical.’

    I… see. I still have the opinion that it rings the same bells as “irregardless” and “without further adieu”. However, if the dictionary accepts it, I suppose I’ll have to grin and bear it. There again, the dictionary has also recently added “screenager”, “bouncebackability” and “riffage”.

  9. Nate Winchester on 26 June 2011, 09:26 said:

    Forget the dictionary, Taku. If Asahel is making a title shoutout, than the dictionary can be ignored in this case. XD

    (shout outs allow one to get away with a lot of stuff)

  10. BettyCross on 26 June 2011, 09:59 said:

    This is an intriguing chapter. I’m enjoying this. It’s a lot more fun and interesting to read than the inane goings-on in Maradonia.

  11. VikingBoyBilly on 26 June 2011, 17:48 said:

    I’ve never read any of the inheritance cycle books, but Galbatorix seems like such a nice villain (assuming he’s only pure evil and has no soul in the official books).

    Dragons only hatch when a dragon rider has their egg? That makes no sense. Now, in a purely analytical sense, let’s just say that dragons evolved before humans were on the Earth… err, alagasea… … no, I’m sorry. How can they even exist if they have a biological need for another specific species to hatch them? It makes no sense!

  12. Asahel on 26 June 2011, 22:39 said:

    Dragons only hatch when a dragon rider has their egg? That makes no sense. Now, in a purely analytical sense, let’s just say that dragons evolved before humans were on the Earth… err, alagasea… … no, I’m sorry. How can they even exist if they have a biological need for another specific species to hatch them? It makes no sense!

    Well, to be fair to Paolini, that condition specifically only applies to the dragons that are a part of the Rider/Dragon alliance. Still, it does kind of suck for the dragon, I’d think.

  13. Golcondio on 27 June 2011, 10:55 said:

    Well, you know… Since Pao’s dragons are nothing more than a flying version of Knight Rider’s KITT, their needs and wants are inconsequential…

    I really like these 3 chapters so far, though a bit on the exposition-heavy side… You’ve finally give plausibility to Galby’s (in)actions throughout the series so far!

  14. Julian on 15 March 2012, 06:41 said:

    Wow! What a shame I only just discovered this. Already better than Inheritance the book and Inheritance the series/cycle.

    Also,
    “I’m the villain in Eragon’s story”
    I don’t know why, but I found this hilarious.