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Brisingr: Chapter 47


Eragon remained sitting at the round table for several minutes, then he stood and walked to the edge of the Crags of Tel’naeír, where he gazed out over the rolling forest a thousand feet below. With the tip of his left boot, he pushed a pebble over the cliff and watched it bounce off the slanted face of the stone until it vanished into the depths of the canopy.

A branch cracked as Saphira approached from behind. She crouched by his side, her scales painting him with hundreds of shifting flecks of blue light, and stared in the same direction as he. Are you angry with me? she asked.

No, of course not. I understand that you could not break your oath in the ancient language. . . . I just wish that Brom could have told me this himself and that he hadn’t felt it necessary to hide the truth from me.

She swung her head toward him. And how do you feel, Eragon?

You know as well as I.

A few minutes ago, I did, but not now. You have grown still, and looking into your mind is like peering into a lake so deep, I cannot see the bottom. What is in you, little one? Is it rage? Is it happiness? Or have you no emotions to give?

What is in me is acceptance, he said, and turned to face her. I cannot change who my parents are; I reconciled myself with that after the Burning Plains. What is is, and no amount of gnashing teeth on my part will change that. I am . . . glad, I think, to consider Brom my father. But I’m not sure. . . . It’s too much to grasp all at once.

Perhaps what I have to give you will help. Would you like to see the memory Brom left for you, or would you prefer to wait?

No, no waiting, he said. If we delay, you may never have the opportunity.

Then close your eyes and let me show you what once was.

Eragon did as she directed, and from Saphira, there flowed a stream of sensations: sights, sounds, smells, and more, everything that she had been experiencing at the time of the memory.

Before him, Eragon beheld a glade in the forest somewhere among the foothills piled against the western side of the Spine. The grass was thick and lush, and veils of chartreuse lichen hung from the tall, drooping, moss-covered trees. Due to the rains that swept inland from the ocean, the woods were far greener and wetter than those of Palancar Valley. As seen through Saphira’s eyes, the greens and reds were more subdued than they would have been to Eragon, while every hue of blue shone with additional intensity. The smell of moist soil and punky wood suffused the air.

And in the center of the glade lay a fallen tree, and upon the fallen tree sat Brom.

The hood of the old man’s robe was pulled back to expose his bare head. Across his lap lay his sword. His twisted, rune-carved staff stood propped against the log. The ring Aren glittered on his right hand.

For a long while, Brom did not move, and then he squinted up at the sky, his hooked nose casting a long shadow across his face. His voice rasped, and Eragon swayed, feeling disjointed in time.

Brom said, “Ever the sun traces its path from horizon to horizon, and ever the moon follows, and ever the days roll past without care for the lives they grind away, one by one.” Lowering his eyes, Brom gazed straight at Saphira and, through her, Eragon. “Try though they might, no being escapes death forever, not even the elves or the spirits. To all, there is an end. If you are watching me, Eragon, then my end has come and I am dead and you know that I am your father.”

From the leather pouch by his side, Brom drew forth his pipe, filled it with cardus weed, then lit it with a soft muttering of “Brisingr.” He puffed on the pipe several times to set the fire before he resumed talking. “If you do see this, Eragon, I hope that you are safe and happy and that Galbatorix is dead. However, I realize that’s unlikely, if for no other reason than you are a Dragon Rider, and a Dragon Rider may never rest while there is injustice in the land.”

A chuckle escaped Brom and he shook his head, his beard rippling like water. “Ah, I have not the time to say even half of what I would like; I would be twice my current age before I finished. In the pursuit of brevity, I shall assume that Saphira has already told you how your mother and I met, how Selena died, and how I came to be in Carvahall. I wish that you and I could have this talk face to face, Eragon, and perhaps we still shall and Saphira will have no need to share this memory with you, but I doubt it. The sorrows of my years press on me, Eragon, and I feel a cold creeping into my limbs the likes of which has never troubled me before. I think it is because I know it is now your turn to take up the standard. There is much I still hope to accomplish, but none of it is for myself, only for you, and you shall eclipse everything I have done. Of that, I am sure. Before my grave closes over me, though, I wanted to be able, at least this once, to call you my son. . . . My son. . . . Your whole life, Eragon, I have longed to reveal to you who I was. It has been a pleasure like no other for me to watch you growing up, but also a torture like no other because of the secret I held in my heart.”

Brom laughed then, a harsh, barking sound. “Well, I didn’t exactly manage to keep you safe from the Empire, now did I? If you are still wondering who was responsible for Garrow’s death, you need look no further, for here he sits. It was my own foolishness. I should never have returned to Carvahall. And now look: Garrow dead, and you a Dragon Rider. I warn you, Eragon, beware of whom you fall in love with, for fate seems to have a morbid interest in our family.”

Wrapping his lips around the stem of his pipe, Brom drew on the smoldering cardus weed several times, blowing the chalk-white smoke off to one side. The pungent smell was heavy in Saphira’s nostrils. Brom said, “I have my share of regrets, but you are not one of them, Eragon. You may occasionally behave like a moon-addled fool, such as letting these blasted Urgals escape, but you are no more of an idiot than I was at your age.” He nodded. “Less of an idiot, in fact. I am proud to have you as my son, Eragon, prouder than you will ever know. I never thought that you would become a Rider as I was, nor wished that future upon you, but seeing you with Saphira, ah, it makes me feel like crowing at the sun like a rooster.”

Brom drew on the pipe again. “I realize you may be angry at me for keeping this from you. I can’t say I would have been happy to discover the name of my own father this way. Whether you like it or not, though, we are family, you and I. Since I could not give you the care I owed you as your father, I will give you the one thing I can instead, and that is advice. Hate me if you wish, Eragon, but heed what I have to say, for I know whereof I speak.”

With his free hand, Brom grasped the sheath of his sword, the veins prominent on the back of his hand. He fixed the pipe in one corner of his mouth. “Right. Now, my advice is twofold. Whatever you do, protect those you care for. Without them, life is more miserable than you can imagine. An obvious statement, I know, but no less true because of it. There, that is the first part of my advice. As for the rest . . . If you are so fortunate as to have already killed Galbatorix—or if anyone has succeeded in slitting that traitor’s throat—then congratulations. If not, then you must realize that Galbatorix is your greatest and most dangerous enemy. Until he is dead, neither you nor Saphira will ever find peace. You may run to the farthest corners of the earth, but unless you join the Empire, one day you will have to confront Galbatorix. I am sorry, Eragon, but that is the truth of it. I have fought many magicians, and several of the Forsworn, and so far, I have always defeated my opponents.” The lines on Brom’s forehead deepened. “Well, all but once, but that was because I was not yet fully grown. Anyway, the reason I have always emerged triumphant is that I use my brain, unlike most. I am not a strong spellcaster, nor are you, compared with Galbatorix, but when it comes to a wizards’ duel, intelligence is even more important than strength. The way to defeat another magician is not by battering blindly against his mind. No! In order to ensure victory, you have to figure out how your enemy interprets information and reacts to the world. Then you will know his weaknesses, and there you strike. The trick isn’t inventing a spell no one else has ever thought of before; the trick is finding a spell your enemy has overlooked and using it against him. The trick isn’t plowing your way through the barriers in someone’s mind; the trick is slipping underneath or around the barriers. No one is omniscient, Eragon. Re member that. Galbatorix may have immense power, but he cannot anticipate every possibility. Whatever you do, you must remain nimble in your thinking. Do not become so attached to any one belief that you cannot see past it to another possibility. Galbatorix is mad and therefore unpredictable, but he also has gaps in his reasoning that an ordinary person would not. If you can find those, Eragon, then perhaps you and Saphira can defeat him.”

Brom lowered his pipe, his face grave. “I hope you do. My greatest desire, Eragon, is that you and Saphira will live long and fruitful lives, free from fear of Galbatorix and the Empire. I wish that I could protect you from all of the dangers that threaten you, but alas, that is not within my ability. All I can do is give you my advice and teach you what I can now while I am still here. . . . My son. What ever happens to you, know that I love you, and so did your mother. May the stars watch over you, Eragon Bromsson.”

As Brom’s final words echoed in Eragon’s mind, the memory faded away, leaving behind empty darkness. Eragon opened his eyes and was embarrassed to find tears running down his cheeks. He uttered a choked laugh and wiped his eyes on the edge of his tunic. Brom really was afraid that I would hate him, he said, and sniffed.

Are you going to be all right? Saphira asked.

Yes, said Eragon, and lifted his head. I think I will, actually. I don’t like some of the things Brom did, but I am proud to call him my father and to carry his name. He was a great man. . . . It bothers me, though, that I never had the opportunity to talk to either of my parents as my parents.

At least you were able to spend time with Brom. I am not so fortunate; both my sire and my mother died long before I hatched. The closest I can come to meeting them are a few hazy memories from Glaedr.

Eragon put a hand on her neck, and they comforted each other as best they could while they stood upon the edge of the Crags of Tel’naeír and gazed out over the forest of the elves.

Not long afterward, Oromis emerged from his hut, carrying two bowls of soup, and Eragon and Saphira turned away from the crags and slowly walked back to the small table in front of Glaedr’s immense bulk.


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