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Inheritance i-4

Christopher Paolini


  ( Inheritance - 4 )

  Christopher Paolini

  Not so very long ago, Eragon-Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider-was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders.Long months of training and battle have brought victories and hope, but they have also brought heartbreaking loss. And still, the real battle lies ahead: they must confront Galbatorix. When they do, they will have to be strong enough to defeat him. And if they cannot, no one can. There will be no second chances. The Rider and his dragon have come further than anyone dared to hope. But can they topple the evil king and restore justice to Alagaesia? And if so, at what cost?This is the much-anticipated, astonishing conclusion to the worldwide bestselling Inheritance cycle.

  Christopher Paolini


  ( Inheritance – 4)

  As always, this book is for my family .

  And also for the dreamers of dreams:

  the many artists, musicians, and storytellers

  who have made this journey possible .


  A History of Eragon, Eldest, and Brisingr

  In the beginning, there were dragons: proud, fierce, and independent. Their scales were like gems, and all who gazed upon them despaired, for their beauty was great and terrible.

  And they lived alone in the land of Alagaesia for ages uncounted.

  Then the god Helzvog made the stout and sturdy dwarves from the stone of the Hadarac Desert.

  And their two races warred much.

  Then the elves sailed to Alagaesia from across the silver sea. They too warred with the dragons. But the elves were stronger than the dwarves, and they would have destroyed the dragons, even as the dragons would have destroyed the elves.

  And so a truce was struck and a pact was sealed between the dragons and the elves. And by this joining, they created the Dragon Riders, who kept the peace throughout Alagaesia for thousands of years.

  Then humans sailed to Alagaesia. And the horned Urgals. And the Ra’zac, who are the hunters in the dark and the eaters of men’s flesh.

  And the humans also joined the pact with the dragons.

  Then a young Dragon Rider, Galbatorix, rose up against his own kind. He enslaved the black dragon Shruikan and he convinced thirteen other Riders to follow him. And the thirteen were called the Forsworn.

  And Galbatorix and the Forsworn cast down the Riders and burnt their city on the isle of Vroengard and slew every dragon not their own, save for three eggs: one red, one blue, one green. And from each dragon they could, they took the heart of hearts-the Eldunari-that holds the might and mind of the dragons, apart from their flesh.

  And for two-and-eighty years, Galbatorix reigned supreme among the humans. The Forsworn died, but not he, for his strength was that of all the dragons, and none could hope to strike him down.

  In the eighty-third year of Galbatorix’s rule, a man stole from his castle the blue dragon egg. And the egg passed into the care of those who still fought against Galbatorix, those who are known as the Varden.

  The elf Arya carried the egg between the Varden and the elves in search of the human or elf for whom it would hatch. And in this manner, five-and-twenty years passed.

  Then, as Arya traveled to the elven city of Osilon, a group of Urgals attacked her and her guards. With the Urgals was the Shade Durza: a sorcerer possessed by the spirits he had summoned to do his bidding. After the death of the Forsworn, he had become Galbatorix’s most feared servant. The Urgals slew Arya’s guards, and before they and the Shade captured her, Arya sent the egg away with magic, toward one who she hoped could protect it.

  But her spell went awry.

  And so it came to pass that Eragon, an orphan of only five-and-ten years, found the egg within the mountains of the Spine. He took the egg to the farm where he lived with his uncle, Garrow, and his only cousin, Roran. And the egg hatched for Eragon, and he raised the dragon therein. And her name was Saphira.

  Then Galbatorix sent two of the Ra’zac to find and retrieve the egg, and they slew Garrow and burnt Eragon’s home. For Galbatorix had enslaved the Ra’zac, and of them only a few remained.

  Eragon and Saphira set out to avenge themselves on the Ra’zac. With them went the storyteller Brom, who had once been a Dragon Rider himself, ere the fall of the Riders. It was to Brom that the elf Arya had meant to send the blue egg.

  Brom taught Eragon much about swordsmanship, magic, and honor. And he gave to Eragon Zar’roc, that had once been the sword of Morzan, first and most powerful of the Forsworn. But the Ra’zac slew Brom when next they met, and Eragon and Saphira only escaped with the help of a young man, Murtagh, son of Morzan.

  During their travels, the Shade Durza captured Eragon in the city of Gil’ead. Eragon managed to free himself, and as he did, he freed Arya from her cell. Arya was poisoned and gravely wounded, so Eragon, Saphira, and Murtagh took her to the Varden, who lived among the dwarves in the Beor Mountains.

  There Arya was healed, and there Eragon blessed a squalling infant by the name of Elva, blessed her to be shielded from misfortune. But Eragon spoke badly, and without realizing it, he cursed her, and his curse forced her to instead become a shield for others’ misfortune.

  Soon thereafter, Galbatorix sent a great army of Urgals to attack the dwarves and the Varden. And it was in the battle that followed that Eragon slew the Shade Durza. But Durza gave Eragon a grievous wound across his back, and Eragon suffered terrible pain because of it, despite the spells of the Varden’s healers.

  And in his pain, he heard a voice. And the voice said, Come to me, Eragon. Come to me, for I have answers to all you ask.

  Three days after, the leader of the Varden, Ajihad, was ambushed and killed by Urgals under the command of a pair of magicians, twins, who betrayed the Varden to Galbatorix. The twins also abducted Murtagh and spirited him away to Galbatorix. But to Eragon and everyone in the Varden, it looked as if Murtagh had died, and Eragon was much saddened.

  And Ajihad’s daughter, Nasuada, became leader of the Varden.

  From Tronjheim, the seat of the dwarves’ power, Eragon, Saphira, and Arya traveled to the northern forest of Du Weldenvarden, where live the elves. With them went the dwarf Orik, nephew of the dwarf king, Hrothgar.

  In Du Weldenvarden, Eragon and Saphira met with Oromis and Glaedr: the last free Rider and dragon, who had lived in hiding all the past century, waiting to instruct the next generation of Dragon Riders. And Eragon and Saphira also met with Queen Islanzadi, ruler of the elves and mother to Arya.

  While Oromis and Glaedr trained Eragon and Saphira, Galbatorix sent the Ra’zac and a group of soldiers to Eragon’s home village of Carvahall, this time to capture his cousin, Roran. But Roran hid, and they would not have found him if not for the hatred of the butcher Sloan. For Sloan murdered a watchman so as to let the Ra’zac into the village, where they might take Roran unawares.

  Roran fought his way free, but the Ra’zac stole from him Katrina: Roran’s beloved and Sloan’s daughter. Then Roran convinced the villagers to leave with him, and they journeyed through the mountains of the Spine, down the coast of Alagaesia, and to the southern country of Surda, which yet existed independent of Galbatorix.

  The wound upon Eragon’s back continued to torment him. But during the elves’ Blood-oath Celebration, wherein they celebrate the pact between the Riders and the dragons, his wound was healed by the spectral dragon the elves invoke upon the conclusion of the festival. Moreover, the apparition gave Eragon strength and speed equal to those of the elves themselves.

  Then Eragon and Saphira flew to Surda, where Nasuada had taken the Varden to launch an attack against
Galbatorix’s Empire. There the Urgals allied themselves with the Varden, for they claimed that Galbatorix had clouded their minds, and they would have their revenge against him. With the Varden, Eragon met again the girl Elva, who had grown with prodigious speed because of his spell. From a squalling infant to a girl of three or four she had become, and her gaze was dire indeed, for she knew the pain of all those around her.

  And not far from the border of Surda, upon the blackness of the Burning Plains, Eragon, Saphira, and the Varden fought a great and bloody battle against Galbatorix’s army.

  In the midst of the battle, Roran and the villagers joined the Varden, as did the dwarves, who had marched after them from the Beor Mountains.

  But out of the east rose a figure clad in polished armor. And he rode upon a glittering red dragon. And with a spell, he slew King Hrothgar.

  Then Eragon and Saphira fought the Rider and his red dragon. And they discovered the Rider was Murtagh, now bound to Galbatorix with oaths unbreakable. And the dragon was Thorn, second of the three eggs to hatch.

  Murtagh defeated Eragon and Saphira with the strength of the Eldunari that Galbatorix had given him. But Murtagh allowed Eragon and Saphira to go free, for Murtagh still bore friendship for Eragon. And because, as he told Eragon, they were brothers, both born of Morzan’s favored consort, Selena.

  Then Murtagh took Zar’roc, their father’s sword, from Eragon, and he and Thorn withdrew from the Burning Plains, as did the rest of Galbatorix’s forces.

  Upon completion of the battle, Eragon, Saphira, and Roran flew to the dark tower of stone, Helgrind, that served as the Ra’zac’s hiding place. They slew one of the Ra’zac-and the Ra’zac’s foul parents, the Lethrblaka-and from Helgrind rescued Katrina. And in one of the cells, Eragon discovered Katrina’s father, blind and half-dead.

  Eragon considered killing Sloan for his betrayal, but rejected the idea. Instead, he put Sloan into a deep sleep and told Roran and Katrina that her father was dead. Then he asked Saphira to take Roran and Katrina back to the Varden while he hunted down the final Ra’zac.

  Alone, Eragon slew the last remaining Ra’zac. Then he took Sloan away from Helgrind. After much thought, Eragon discovered Sloan’s true name in the ancient language, the language of power and magic. And Eragon bound Sloan with his name and forced the butcher to swear that he would never see his daughter again. Then Eragon sent him to live among the elves. But what Eragon did not tell the butcher was that the elves would repair his eyes if he repented of his treason and murder.

  Arya met Eragon halfway to the Varden, and together they returned, on foot and through enemy territory.

  At the Varden, Eragon learned that Queen Islanzadi had sent twelve elven spellcasters, led by an elf named Blodhgarm, to protect him and Saphira. Eragon then removed as much of his curse as he could from the girl Elva, but she retained her ability to feel the pain of others, though she no longer felt the compulsion to save them from their misery.

  And Roran married Katrina, who was pregnant, and for the first time in a long while, Eragon was happy.

  Then Murtagh, Thorn, and a group of Galbatorix’s men attacked the Varden. With the help of the elves, Eragon and Saphira were able to hold them off, but neither Eragon nor Murtagh could defeat the other. It was a difficult battle, for Galbatorix had enchanted the soldiers so that they felt no pain, and the Varden suffered many casualties.

  Afterward, Nasuada sent Eragon to represent the Varden among the dwarves while they chose their new king. Eragon was loath to go, for Saphira had to stay and protect the Varden’s camp. But go he did.

  And Roran served alongside the Varden, and he rose through their ranks, for he proved himself a skilled warrior and a leader of men.

  While Eragon was among the dwarves, seven of them tried to assassinate him. An investigation revealed that the clan Az Sweldn rak Anhuin was behind the attack. The clanmeet continued, however, and Orik was chosen to succeed his uncle. Saphira joined Eragon for the coronation. And during it, she fulfilled her promise to repair the dwarves’ cherished star sapphire, which she had broken during Eragon’s battle with the Shade Durza.

  Then Eragon and Saphira returned to Du Weldenvarden. There Oromis revealed the truth about Eragon’s heritage: that he was not, in fact, Morzan’s son but Brom’s, though he and Murtagh did share the same mother, Selena. Oromis and Glaedr also explained the concept of the Eldunari, which a dragon may choose to disgorge while living, though this must be done with great care, for whosoever owns the Eldunari may use it to control the dragon it came from.

  While in the forest, Eragon decided that he needed a sword to replace Zar’roc. Remembering the advice he had gotten from the werecat Solembum during his journeys with Brom, Eragon went to the sentient Menoa tree in Du Weldenvarden. He spoke with the tree, and the tree agreed to give up the brightsteel beneath its roots in exchange for an unnamed price.

  Then the elf smith Rhunon-who had forged all of the Riders’ swords-worked with Eragon to make a new blade for him. The sword was blue, and Eragon named it Brisingr-“fire.” And the blade burst into flame whenever he spoke its name.

  Then Glaedr gave trust of his heart of hearts to Eragon and Saphira, and they made their way back to the Varden, while Glaedr and Oromis joined the rest of their kind as they attacked the northern part of the Empire.

  At the siege of Feinster, Eragon and Arya encountered three enemy magicians, one of whom was transformed into the Shade Varaug. And with Eragon’s help, Arya slew Varaug.

  As they did, Oromis and Glaedr fought Murtagh and Thorn. And Galbatorix reached out and took command of Murtagh’s mind. And with Murtagh’s arm, Galbatorix struck down Oromis, and Thorn slew Glaedr’s body.

  And though the Varden were victorious at Feinster, Eragon and Saphira mourned the loss of their teacher, Oromis. But still the Varden continued, and even now they march deeper into the Empire, toward the capital, Uru’baen, wherein sits Galbatorix, proud, confident, and disdainful, for his is the strength of the dragons.


  The dragon Saphira roared, and the soldiers before her quailed.

  “With me!” shouted Eragon. He lifted Brisingr over his head, holding it aloft for all to see. The blue sword flashed bright and iridescent, stark against the wall of black clouds building in the west. “For the Varden!”

  An arrow whizzed past him; he paid it no mind.

  The warriors gathered at the base of the slope of rubble Eragon and Saphira were standing upon answered him with a single, full-throated bellow: “The Varden!” They brandished their own weapons and charged forward, scrambling up the tumbled blocks of stone.

  Eragon turned his back to the men. On the other side of the mound lay a wide courtyard. Two hundred or so of the Empire’s soldiers stood huddled within. Behind them rose a tall, dark keep with narrow slits for windows and several square towers, the tallest of which had a lantern shining in its upper rooms. Somewhere within the keep, Eragon knew, was Lord Bradburn, governor of Belatona-the city the Varden had been fighting to capture for several long hours.

  With a cry, Eragon leaped off the rubble toward the soldiers. The men shuffled backward, although they kept their spears and pikes trained on the ragged hole Saphira had torn in the castle’s outer wall.

  Eragon’s right ankle twisted as he landed. He fell to his knee and caught himself on the ground with his sword hand.

  One of the soldiers seized the opportunity to dart out of formation and stab his spear at Eragon’s exposed throat.

  Eragon parried the thrust with a flick of his wrist, swinging Brisingr faster than either a human or an elf could follow. The soldier’s face grew slack with fear as he realized his mistake. He tried to flee, but before he could move more than a few inches, Eragon lunged forward and took him in the gut.

  With a pennant of blue and yellow flame streaming from her maw, Saphira jumped into the courtyard after Eragon. He crouched and tensed his legs as she struck the paved ground. The impact shook the entire courtyard. M
any of the chips of glass that formed a large, colorful mosaic in front of the keep popped loose and flew spinning upward like coins bounced off a drum. Above, a pair of shutters banged open and closed in a window of the building.

  The elf Arya accompanied Saphira. Her long black hair billowed wildly around her angular face as she sprang off the pile of rubble. Lines of splattered blood striped her arms and neck; gore smeared the blade of her sword. She alit with a soft scuff of leather against stone.

  Her presence heartened Eragon. There was no one else whom he would rather have fighting alongside him and Saphira. She was, he thought, the perfect shield mate.

  He loosed a quick smile at her, and Arya responded in kind, her expression fierce and joyous. In battle, her reserved demeanor vanished, replaced by an openness that she rarely displayed elsewhere.

  Eragon ducked behind his shield as a rippling sheet of blue fire appeared between them. From beneath the rim of his helm, he watched as Saphira bathed the cowering soldiers in a torrent of flames that flowed around them, yet caused them no harm.

  A line of archers on the battlements of the castle keep let fly a volley of arrows at Saphira. The heat above her was so intense that a handful of the arrows burst into fire in midair and crumbled to ash, while the magical wards Eragon had placed around Saphira deflected the rest. One of the stray arrows rebounded off Eragon’s shield with a hollow thud, denting it.

  The plume of flame suddenly enveloped three of the soldiers, killing them so quickly, they did not even have time to scream. The other soldiers clustered in the center of the inferno, the blades of their spears and pikes reflecting flashes of bright blue light.

  Try though she might, Saphira could not so much as singe the survivors. At last she abandoned her efforts and closed her jaws with a definitive snap. The fire’s absence left the courtyard startlingly quiet.