A Well-Fought Match

The courtyard was a good location for a sparring match. It was open to the sun and air, and the large grassy lawn was soft. Hemming in the greenery were wide walkways with arched ceilings supported by smooth black stone columns. The only exits for the earthbound were two doors—one on the north side, one on the south—while the vast sky offered egress to flying creatures.

“Before we begin,” Celestine said, “let me ask you about Eragon.”

“You know, the way you pronounce Eragon’s name is a bit odd.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, it sounds like you’re saying ‘arrogant’ but leaving off the ‘t.’”

“Oh. I’ll work on that, I suppose,” she said with a small blush.

“No, no,” Murtagh said. “I find it somewhat appropriate. But, you wanted to ask something?”

“Yes. You’ve fought against Eragon and the Varden, haven’t you?”

“Of course. I’ll be an invaluable resource for you,” he said.

“I’m sure you will, but I’d like to make the initial overture alone,” she said.

“That’s too dangerous. If Eragon attacks you and I’m not there to support…”

“If I bring along someone who’s already had hostilities with them, it just increases the likelihood of a fight. My best chance for peaceful resolution is to go alone.”

“But that is still too dangerous. If he were to attack—”

Celestine said, “I may be able to make Eragon’s dragon a non-issue in such a circumstance. Might I try something on Thorn to see if it works on dragons in this world?”

Murtagh said, “You won’t harm him?”

“Certainly not!” she answered. “That’s even assuming it works…”

Murtagh bowed and said, “Well, then, by all means.”

Thorn stared intently as Celestine directed her gaze at him. If the dragons here didn’t talk, she wasn’t even sure how it might work. “Thorn,” she said softly, “terak ba ji sol.”

Thorn said nothing, but in her mind she clearly heard a voice—deep and powerful as the voice of a dragon should be. It said, Valos.

She shook her head. That would take some getting used to. She cleared her throat and said, “Valos esetem!”

Thorn’s idly swinging tail suddenly froze in place. Murtagh’s reaction was almost immediate. He shouted, “What did you do to him? What did you do?”

“Calm down,” she said. “He’s just immobilized.”

“Let him go! You’re scaring him!” Murtagh yelled, his hand moving to the sword on his belt.

“Sorry,” Celestine called. “I’ll let him go. I didn’t mean to startle him so. Valos etuhet.”

Thorn snarled at her, but he did so while backing away. Murtagh looked at Thorn, concern furrowing his brows.

“Please tell him I really am very sorry,” she said. “I didn’t think it would scare him so much.”

“Didn’t think it would scare him to suddenly be unable to move a muscle? Frozen in place with no idea how it happened or when it would end?” Murtagh snapped.

“I… No, I didn’t take enough time to consider it from his perspective and I should have,” she said, her gaze dropping to the ground as she fidgeted with her hands. “I did say that I wouldn’t hurt him and I didn’t. I hope that counts for something,” she continued, adding, “Besides, at least we now know I can handle Eragon’s dragon.”

When she said that, Thorn roared. “He doesn’t want you to hurt Saphira,” Murtagh said.

She looked Thorn full in the eyes now and folded her arms across her chest. “Well then, it’s a good thing it didn’t hurt. Right?”

Thorn stared at her for several moments before snorting. Small plumes of flame swirled about his flared nostrils.

“Besides, if I keep her out of the fight,” Celestine continued softly, relaxing her defiant pose, “it will prevent her from getting hurt. I don’t want to hurt her any more than you do. Forgive me please?”

Thorn stepped closer to the young lady, the ground trembling with each stride. His head stooped low to ground level. He sniffed her, causing her white robe to flutter around her legs where it covered her armor. Finally, he nodded. “Thank you,” Celestine said. Then she kissed her first two fingers and pressed them to his nose.

“Go on, Thorn,” Murtagh said, “get the keeper to put the two-person saddle on you.”

As Thorn took off for the tallest tower, he asked, “Where did you learn how to do that anyway?”

“Just a little trick I picked up from the woman who created dragons in my world,” she said.

“Created dragons?” he asked, eyes wide. “It seems to me that someone who did that should have had some sort of title like Dragon Maker or something.”

“She had many titles attached to her name back in her day—not all of them were complimentary,” Celestine said. “Over time, her life and legacy passed out of all knowledge.”

“But you said you learned how to do that from her…”

“I really don’t know you well enough to get into that.”

“Perhaps later then.”

“Perhaps,” she echoed. After a slight, awkward pause, she asked, “So, are there any particular rules I need to observe for our sparring?”

“No rules other than let’s not kill each other,” he said then added with a laugh, “and keep serious injury to a minimum.”

Celestine smiled and tucked a stray shock of hair back into her eagle-crested helm. “I’ll do my best.”

“Before we begin…” Murtagh said. “I just wanted to apologize. Again. But sincerely this time. About before… My… curiosity overcame my good judgment. It won’t happen again. I promise.”

Celestine’s smile widened a little. “I’m no stranger to acting without fully considering the consequences of my actions. Apology accepted.”

They drew their swords. Murtagh brought his sword up to his chest and then swung it down and to his right. Celestine mimicked the salute. She attacked first, swinging high then low. He blocked and thrust. She turned it aside.

Celestine circled him a bit. Murtagh attacked—a high swing followed by a low one. She blocked and thrust as he had. He turned the blade aside. Celestine grinned and pressed with a more complex attack. Murtagh kept his defense up until he saw an opening to press an attack of his own. He drove her back with relentless, powerful swings. She spared a moment to glance around and said, “You seem to be trying to back me into the corner.”

“I thought it only fitting, considering the layout of the courtyard,” he replied.

“I suppose you expect me to counter with a diagonal sidestep?”

“Of course, but I find a sidestep nullifies a sidestep. Don’t you agree?”

“Unless your enemy can execute a proper feint…”

Celestine faked left, took a small step right, and then attacked left, stepping behind him and almost landing a hit to his arm. “Which I can.”

Celestine tried pressing the attack to back him into the corner, but he circled around one of the many pillars in the courtyard, changing the direction of the fight.

“Your swordplay is quite skillful,” he said.

“Thank you. It ought to be,” she said. “I’ve been practicing with the sword since I was six years old.”

“I wonder—and don’t take this the wrong way; I’m asking out of pure curiosity—why do you bother with a sword when you have weapons like that device on your belt?”

“The Forcecast Mark 12-C? Well, my people typically despise technology—even when it’s mixed with magic,” she answered, swinging high then low. “The only chance normals have of disrupting magic spells is once they get in close. We all learn how to use a melee weapon as well—one that can also be used to accentuate your spells. The sword and staff are just traditional—the staff even more so than the sword. I would’ve gone with the staff had it not been for Iakoban. He knew how to use the sword, so he taught me.”

“Iakoban is one of your friends?” Murtagh asked, aiming a slice at her arm.

“He’s… a family friend, yes.”

“I see. Keep in mind that Eragon has more in his arsenal than a dragon and a sword. He will also use magic, and I know one of his favorites,” Murtagh said before he pointed his index finger at her and the word leapt to his lips, “Brisingr!”

Fire soared at Celestine. She switched her sword to her left hand and held up her right palm. The enchantment in her right gauntlet helped her grab hold of the flame, form it into a ball, and throw it back at him.

Murtagh deflected it and, with more words, caused the ground beneath Celestine to quake. She lost her footing, and he used a spell to toss a nearby clump of sod at her. It impacted her breastplate, knocking her down.

She slid a couple of meters away, but Murtagh wasn’t closing the distance. He’d remained at length and tossed another fireball her way. Celestine struggled to her knees. She wove her hand in the air, molding the magic into the desired shapes and yelled, “Fortia!”

She’d had enough time to only create a partial shield—just enough to block the fireball—but it was invisible, so without Magesight, Murtagh would be unable to see its extent. He charged. Celestine created another shield and linked the two together. By the time he’d bounced off and returned to his feet, the shield was a complete protective dome.

Ensconced within her shield, Celestine stood and began taking control of all the magic she could. Murtagh noticed her moving her arms about in a strange, fluid fashion. That couldn’t be good for him. He swung his sword with all his might, but the barrier absorbed the blow with little apparent difficulty. He yelled “Brisingr” repeatedly, bombarding the shield with numerous fireballs. Still it held.

The smile on her lips seemed especially playful. That probably wasn’t a good sign for him either. He made a dash for the nearest row of pillars, but her spell caught him from behind. A band of glowing light wrapped around him then wrapped around the pillar, rendering him immobile. Sometime during all of that, he’d lost his sword.

Celestine dissipated her barrier and sauntered towards him. “My, that looks… awkward,” she said. “You’re completely helpless.”

“You think so?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said, “though you bluff well.”

He couldn’t see her since his face was pressed up against the column, so he tracked her position using the sound of her voice. “You think so?” he asked again, trying to determine how close she was.

“Yes. I wouldn’t have said so otherwise,” she told him, preparing to tap him on the shoulder with the flat of her blade.

He rapidly cast a spell that stretched and burst the band of light. He held out his hand and called his sword back to him.

Celestine blocked his attack. “Are you all right?” she asked, backing away as she parried.

“Fine,” he said, though his voice was strained. “Why do you ask?”

“Galbatorix said casting spells that you don’t have the strength to complete is fatal,” she said. “There’s no way any man is strong enough to break that restraint.”

“It’s enough to hold a man, five bulls, and twenty heifers,” he said. “The livestock aren’t far from the courtyard. I borrowed some of their energy.”

“Oh good,” she said, “then I suppose I’ll switch back to my main hand.”

Transferring her sword back into her right hand, she fought back persistently, taking full advantage of his exhaustion. Murtagh cast a spell and seemed to catch a second wind, counterattacking with more speed and power than he had even at the beginning of the match.

“I hate to admit it, but you’re better than I am,” she said.

“So why the grin?” Murtagh asked. “Eragon’s at least as good as me.”

“There’s something you don’t know about my sword,” she replied.


“Remember that it was made to fight undead. It’s enchanted.”

“So? I’m not undead.”

“I think this one will still prove useful. Are you paying attention?” she asked. When she was certain his eye was on her blade, she shouted, “Liuhath!” and the sword emitted a brilliant flash of light, temporarily blinding Murtagh.

Celestine used it to her full advantage, pressing the attack high.

“That’s a low blow!” he complained.

“Honestly, what counts as a low blow when there aren’t any rules? Liuhath!”

Even though he now knew better than to look directly at the sword, it was still bright enough to daze him. She lunged, planting one leg behind him and slamming her pommel squarely against his armored chest. He hit the ground hard. Celestine stood over him, sword pointed down. “That was a pretty good match,” she said.

“Thanks,” Murtagh replied. Then he spun away from her blade and kicked her legs out from under her.

She rolled and got to her knees. He clambered behind her, wrapping one arm around her neck and controlling her sword arm with his other. She grabbed the arm around her neck with her free hand, pushed her hip against his center of gravity, and threw him over her shoulder. Murtagh kept his head as well as his grip and used her momentum to roll her. When they came to a stop, she was flat on her back and he was atop her on her right side. He tried to swing a leg over for an even better position, but Celestine had been taught to expect that and trapped his leg with hers. Before he knew what she was doing, she had wriggled her other leg out from under him, wrapping both of them securely around his body.

“You know how to wrestle?” he asked.

“Seemed a good idea to learn since all the boys want to grab hold of me during a fight,” she said.

“I’m sure they have good reason.”

“Well… It does prevent most spellcasting.”

“Oh. Right. There’s that, too,” he said.

“What do you mean, ‘too’?” she asked.

Her questioning stare made his inability to word his reply so embarrassing that she began to feel embarrassed as well. Thankfully, the north door swung open, ending their mutual discomfiture. Galbatorix strode onto the lawn, carrying a leather sack. He said, “I said spar, not play.”

Celestine released her hold on Murtagh, and they both stood. “We weren’t playing,” he said. “We had a well-fought match. She’s learned much about what she can expect to face if she should ever fight Eragon.”

Celestine nodded. “I used a wide variety of tactics so that I might see how he reacted to each. I did learn a lot.”

Galbatorix gave Murtagh the bag. “Keep it safe,” he said, before looking at Celestine and adding, “You too. Now, go. Fly to Belatona. I will finish work on your spell as you broker peace. May your god be with you.”

Tagged as: , ,


  1. Snow White Queen on 28 August 2011, 23:47 said:

    Was the fight based off the Princess Bride? I love that movie.

  2. Sum Mortis on 29 August 2011, 01:38 said:

    It is interesting to get a view on Eragon’s “prowess” from the other side.

    Murtagh is just about the only redeeming character in the Inheritance books, and he seems even cooler here. All of this just makes me hate Eragon more and more.

    I also love the ending “May your god be with you”, as well as the line with Eragon relating to arrogant.

  3. VikingBoyBilly on 29 August 2011, 20:16 said:

    So in the Eragon universe, they really borrow magic from the life forms around them like cattle? What is this, Dragonball’s Spirit bomb in Eragon format?

  4. Sum Mortis on 30 August 2011, 03:19 said:


    Yeah that is what they do in Inheritance. It isnt really borrowing magic, because in the process of removing energy, they kill the life forms.

  5. Asahel on 31 August 2011, 09:31 said:

    Was the fight based off the Princess Bride? I love that movie.

    Oh, yes. A bit of the banter during the fight is indeed an homage to The Princess Bride. It’s an excellent movie.

    So in the Eragon universe, they really borrow magic from the life forms around them like cattle? What is this, Dragonball’s Spirit bomb in Eragon format?

    Yeah that is what they do in Inheritance. It isnt really borrowing magic, because in the process of removing energy, they kill the life forms.

    It really is kind of amusing to see how Paolini’s hodgepodge magic system vacillates between ridiculously overpowered and weak to the point of uselessness, ending up being somehow both at once. However, point of clarification: it is possible to borrow some of the energy from a living thing without killing it. That was the point of the little troop of elven spellcasters sent to aid Eragon in Brisingr. They get to act like little mana batteries for the uber-hero.

    The question that Paolini doesn’t answer (and I intend to in the next chapter; wish me luck) is why you can’t just drain your foe’s energy to cast a spell that’s too much for him?

  6. Inkblot on 1 September 2011, 11:53 said:

    I’m really enjoying this. The fight is fluid and fast-paced, something I struggle with. Good job.

    I don’t really care for the placement of the “arrogant pun” line. It just sounds too much like an unnecessarily snarky fourth-wall digression, considering the background of your project’s goals, the site it’s posted on, and our general attitudes toward Christopher Paolini. The dialogue is fine, I guess; just be careful not to start poking explicit fun at ol’ Chris. The vastly superior quality of this edition is enjoyable enough on its own.

  7. Moonstruck Man on 24 September 2011, 10:54 said:

    Don’t get me wrong, I like this story, but the characters are still almost as flat as they are in “Eragon,” though, with their roles reversed. Galbatorix has been transformed from evil tyrant with no character to a misunderstood “good guy” still with no character. I started reading this story from chapter four or three before going from the beginning, and at first I thought it was so cool how Galby was being nice to his men, what with him being an evil dictator and all — real depth of character. (Rational, not-so-bad bad guys are fun to read about.) Another thing I thought was happening was that he was sending the altruistic Celestine against Eragon in a good guy vs. good guy battle to the death, an always interesting matchup. But she’s actually going to spread Galby’s goodwill, because he’s a good guy now. What are good guys and bad guys anyway?
    Another problem is that if Galby’s actually a really nice guy, why haven’t his people realized that already? Most of them don’t even believe in Riders and the Varden and stuff if I’m not mistaken, so why would they believe the rumors if the king’s actually doing a good job?
    I don’t know. It seems like this story is as much a bash on Paolini as a story.
    (Oh, also, I like Celestine, but the part where she’s ignorant of her own extreme beauty was a little… er… iffy.)
    Or all this could be part of your plan; Galby is tricking Celestine after all….

  8. Asahel on 24 September 2011, 22:11 said:

    Thanks for the comments, and I’m glad you like the story. I won’t answer all your questions for concern of ruining where the story is going; however, there are some that I believe I can address.

    Another problem is that if Galby’s actually a really nice guy, why haven’t his people realized that already? Most of them don’t even believe in Riders and the Varden and stuff if I’m not mistaken, so why would they believe the rumors if the king’s actually doing a good job?

    When does Glaby ever interact with his people at large? According to Paolini, he hasn’t been outside of the capital in quite a long time and he still hasn’t left the capital in this story, either. And who said he’s doing a good job running the Empire? In an earlier chapter he admitted to making some poor decisions (such as letting Surda go) and even said he’d gained an Empire he never wanted to lead. I think that speaks enough to the quality of his reign.

    I don’t know. It seems like this story is as much a bash on Paolini as a story.

    I’ll admit to poking a bit of fun at some of Paolini’s odder choices (like making a map without a scale), but that’s not bashing. I hope that becomes more apparent as the story continues.

    (Oh, also, I like Celestine,

    Thank you.

    but the part where she’s ignorant of her own extreme beauty was a little… er… iffy.)

    Two things: First, she’s not an extreme beauty. Celestine is a pretty girl; her mother is a beauty. Her mother is also her basis of comparison, by the way, which helps to explain why she underestimates her own looks even while being aware of them.

    Second, though she is aware that she’s attractive, she almost never thinks of herself in a sexual context. That’s why she figures Murtagh must be grabbing her in combat to gain a tactical advantage. What else could he want? She wouldn’t think of it. So, ignorant is perhaps not quite the right word. Innocent would fit a bit better. Perhaps I can improve on that portrayal in the future so that it’s a bit more understandable.

    Thanks again for the feedback. I hope you enjoy how the story unfolds.

  9. Fell Blade on 26 September 2011, 11:19 said:

    The whole idea of a heroine who is “SOOOOOO”-beautiful-everyone-falls-for-her-but-she-considers-herself-plain is, perhaps, overdone in some areas of literature. But it does take place. I know a young woman who is really very beautiful, and can’t go out in public without attracting attention from guys (even when wearing very basic, modest clothes). And yet she doesn’t consider herself pretty. It’s not a false humility. There are specific things about her appearance that she thinks are not attractive. And she doesn’t understand why guys pay her so much attention (and then why girls have issues with her as a result).

    I think this type of character can feel overdone because many writers don’t handle that character type very well. Take Bella Swan. She’s supposed to be very plain, and hates her appearance. And yet guys at school immediately fall for her and think she’s gorgeous. The author needs to handle this better. Either have her be pretty with self image issues, or plain and the guys pay attention to her for other reasons. If she is plain and guys pay attention, shouldn’t she be flattered instead of repulsed? Or if she’s pretty, get into why she can’t understand what guys see; show what it is that she doesn’t like about herself.

    By the way Asahel, these remarks aren’t pointed at your character. I was just making some general observations. =D

  10. Moonstruck Man on 27 September 2011, 17:00 said:

    Hey, thanks for your reply, Asahel! I’m sorry for picking apart your story, because I’m really looking forward to the next chapter. All your responses make sense, and I agree with them. With the Galbatorix thing, I forgot that Paolini had him stay inside his palace and that you were going with that. I like Celestine and Murtagh; can’t wait to see where you’re going with them.