Saphira's breathing quickened, and she opened
her eyes, yawning expansively. Good morning, little one.
it? He looked down and leaned on his hands, compressing
the mattress. It's terrible . . . Murtagh and Ajihad . . .
Why didn't sentries in the tunnels warn us of the Urgals? They
shouldn't have been able to trail Ajihad's group without being
noticed. . . . Arya was right, it doesn't make sense.
may never know the truth, said Saphira gently. She stood,
wings brushing the ceiling. You need to eat, then we must
discover what the Varden are planning. We can't waste time; a
new leader could be chosen within hours.
agreed, thinking of how they had left everyone yesterday: Orik
rushing off to give King Hrothgar the tidings, Jörmundur
taking Ajihad's body to a place where it would rest until the
funeral, and Arya, who stood alone and watched the goings-on.
rose and strapped on Zar'roc and his bow, then bent and lifted
Snowfire's saddle. A line of pain sheared through his torso,
driving him to the floor, where he writhed, scrabbling at his
back. It felt like he was being sawed in half. Saphira growled
as the ripping sensation reached her. She tried to soothe him
with her own mind but was unable to alleviate his suffering.
Her tail instinctually lifted, as if to fight.
minutes before the fit subsided and the last throb faded away,
leaving Eragon gasping. Sweat drenched his face, making his
hair stick and his eyes sting. He reached back and gingerly
fingered the top of his scar. It was hot and inflamed and
sensitive to touch. Saphira lowered her nose and touched him
on the arm. Oh, little one. . . .
worse this time, he said, staggering upright. She let him lean
against her as he wiped away the sweat with a rag, then he
tentatively stepped for the door.
you strong enough to go?
have to. We're obliged as dragon and Rider to make a public
choice regarding the next head of the Varden, and perhaps even
influence the selection. I won't ignore the strength of our
position; we now wield great authority written the Varden. At
least the Twins aren't here to grab the position for
themselves. That's the only good in the situation.
well, but Durza should suffer a thousand years of torture for
what he did to you.
grunted. Just stay close to me.
they made their way through Tronjheim, toward the nearest
kitchen. In the corridors and hallways, people stopped and
bowed to them, murmuring, "Argetlam," or "Shadeslayer." Even
dwarves made the motions, though not as often. Eragon was
struck by the somber, haunted expressions of the humans and
the dark clothing they wore to display their sadness. Many
women dressed entirely in black, lace veils covering their
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