Disclaimer: I do not own BTVS or the Inheritance Cycle. All these wonderful characters belong to Joss Whedon and Christopher Paolini.
Rating: I'm going with FR18 for now.
Pairings: There's a hint of something between Murtagh and our slayer.
Spoilers: After season 7 of Buffy and after Eldest (book 2). I haven't read Brisingr yet so any new revelations won't be included in here as I don't actually know about them yet! (Don't spoil it for me either!)
A/N: I know I'm being evil and not updating my other stories but I have to get this out of my head first! Now please enjoy!
“The Ra'azac have brought me a present.” Galbatorix's voice swept over Murtagh's skin like a coating of oil making him shiver with disgust, though he hid his contempt well behind an expressionless mask. The King leant forward and pinned him with a stony glare. “You did not bring me a present. Not even when I asked you to. Why?” He sat back but his gaze did not falter.
Murtagh resisted the urge to shrink back from those unpleasant eyes as he had done so many times as a child. He had grown up in these black halls, fearing the monsters in the shadows and he had never quite mastered control over his panic in the presence of the greatest monster of them all, Galbatorix. Taking a deep breath he spoke slowly and surely, refusing to betray his fear.
“I tried. The battle was raging and I was unable to successfully secure Eragon and his beast without hurting them.”
“Then you should have hurt them!” Galbatorix's outburst caused him to flinch and he instantly felt Thorn's calming presence in his mind, soothing his terror.
Peering back up into the king's fearsome expression, Murtagh's resolve hardened. Thorn's silent presence reminded him that he was no longer the young boy who'd spent his life being bullied by men. He was a Dragon Rider, one of only a few left in the world and he would not be trampled under the boots of another. Thorn's murmur of agreement in his mind comforted him as he faced the older man.
“You told me they were not to be harmed. Saphira is needed if we are to recreate the race of dragons and the era of dragon riders. You said....”
“I know what I said!” Galbatorix interrupted his rant with an impatient wave of his hand. Murtagh held his breath for a few seconds. The king was not partial to being challenged often and many who did were not left unpunished. Thorn's growl of indignation swept through his mind making him smirk slightly before he suppressed it. I'd like to see the old man try and punish MY rider.
Murtagh shushed him as he turned his attention back to Galbatorix.
“You had your chance boy. There will be other riders, other dragons. We'll find them. This she-monster is more trouble than she's worth I fear.” He said softly though it came out like words slithering form the tongue of a snake. Murtagh's brow crinkled in confusion as he and Thorn tried to puzzle through the king's words.
“What are you saying Galbatorix?” Murtagh asked, his tone firm.
The king's head snapped up and a spark of rage flashed in his eyes at the insolent use of his name but he let it pass and simply smiled. That smile was enough to fill Murtagh with dread. It was an omen of death, of pain and of fire and it chilled him to the bone.
“The rider.... Eragon.” Galbatorix spat out the name as if it burned his tongue before continuing. “You will kill him.”
The words hung in the air for the moment as Murtagh digested exactly what he'd just heard and tried to comprehend it. When he realised that what had reached his ears was actually what the king had said he surged forward with a cry of rage matching the Thorn's roar of fury in his mind. He came to a halt a few feet from the king and glared up at him, his eyes a brilliant blue mixture of ice and fire.
“You lied.” He hissed through clenched teeth. “You tricked me. I betrayed Eragon, betrayed my brother all for a LIE!” He exclaimed and threw up his fist in anger. He trembled with the effort it took to suppress every urge in his body that was telling him to strike the older man down, to wipe that sadistic smirk off his face and end all this madness. However, Murtagh knew that the instant he even drew breath to utter the words it would take to snuff out his life, his own would already have tumbled into darkness.
“Oh calm down you silly boy. I gave you the greatest gifts of all didn't I? You have Thorn because of me. You have your extraordinary powers because of me. Now all I'm asking you to do is use those gifts to bring me the present I most want.... the farm boy's head. That's not too much to ask is it?” He spoke with a pleasant tone that grated rather than reassured. Murtagh forced himself to swallow the words he so wanted to say and simply shake his head.
“No my lord.” He said, the insincere words forming a lump in his throat as he said them.
Galbatorix's answering smile was enough to make him feel sick to the stomach as he realised exactly what he had been forced into.
“Good. Now hush and let me enjoy my present from the Ra'azac.” He waved Murtagh away to the other side of the hall and banged his twisted staff on the stone floor. After a few moments the large wooden doors creaked open and the nasty creatures that were the Ra'azac entered.
Murtagh didn't need to hide his disdain for the monsters as he usually had to as he hadn't even noticed their entrance. His mind was too busy racing over the options and implications of the conversation he'd just had.I will not kill Eragon.
He stated clearly to Thorn.Agreed. I will not let my kind die out for one petty man's vendetta. Saphira is not to be harmed and if that means protecting the boy then so be it.
Thorn had made his dislike for the 'pale little farmer' very clear but he also understood Murtagh's feeling of kinship towards him so he tried to keep his opinions to himself as much as possible.
A feeling of desolation swept over Murtagh and he nearly slumped to the floor where he stood. What have I done Thorn? He trusted me, believed that I wasn't like my father yet I seek to prove to him that he is wrong?It wasn't your fault little one. Galbatorix tricked us both, using our true names against us.
Thorn's instant attempt at consoling only succeeded in making him feel worse.He should never have been able to trick you. He used you to manipulate me, forced you to hatch for me and has shackled you to me the same way he has kept the people of Alagaesia prisoner for all these years. NO!
Thorn's denial reverberated through his entire being and he had to shake his head sharply to clear the ringing. The dragon's anger pulsed through him in waves.Listen to me Murtagh, son of Morzan. I chose YOU. There was no forcing, no shackling, no imprisoning. I chose YOU and I will not have you doubting my sincerity when I have done nothing to give you any reason to. You think I am so weak willed that I will be ruled over by some silly little man with a few magic tricks? You are my rider because I say so, not Galbatorix or anyone else.
The feeling of pride that permeated Murtagh's bones at Thorn's words had him grinning like he hadn't done in all of his life. Thorn was his dragon because it was destined. And now they were destined to fight, to destroy Galbatorix and escape the darkness he had banished them to.I'm sorry.
Thorn murmured his acceptance and sent a feeling of affection through his mind, causing his smile to grow.
“It appears our young rider has seen something that takes his fancy.” Galbatorix's words brought him back to his surroundings with a bump and his smile quickly faded as he looked around. The Ra'azac stood in the centre of the hall, hopping from one foot to the other as if they were nervous or excited, he could not tell which. Murtagh curled his lip in disdain and quickly looked past them to what was lying at their feet. Two figures, one moving and the other unconscious, had been bound with rope and dumped like sacks on the floor. Both were women, he could tell by their body shapes though the unconscious one's face was hidden by her mane of dark curls. The other was now staring at him with contempt, only a hint of fear in her eyes which she hid well behind a mask of defiance. He admired her a little for that though he could not condone her stupidity. She was waif-like, thin and gangly like a doe or a swan. Dainty and fragile, easily broken. Her large eyes darted between all four of them then down to the form of her companion. Her bound hands slid out and shook the other woman's shoulder gently then more fiercely but she remained lost in sleep. Galbatorix leaned forward to examine them, looking over their bodies eagerly. Murtagh raised an eyebrow at the hunger in his gaze and once again fought the urge to strike. His disgust turned to amusement when the young woman noticed his leering and annoyance darted across her face. She crossed her arms over her breasts and pulled her legs up obscuring his view of her body.
However, Galbatorix also found this amusing and threw his head back and laughed. His eyes were lit up in a way Murtagh had not seen since he'd first heard the rumours of another dragon rider and that thought was not one that pleased him.
“You say they fell from the sky? In a swirling cascade of light?” He asked the Ra'azac and they clicked the confirmation.
“Interesting.” Galbatorix spoke softly and ran a hand over his stubble-covered chin. Looking directly into the young woman's eyes he addressed her.
“Who are you?”
The young woman paused before drawing breath to answer. However she was beaten to it.
“Age before beauty, big guy.”
The other woman had finally stirred and was currently dragging herself up to a sitting position. She held her head carefully and Murtagh could see a colourful mess of bruising and blood staining her temple beneath her hand. Anger coursed through him as he thought of what horrors the Ra'azac could have inflicted upon the women before they had been brought here. Clenching his fist around Zaroc he glared at the monsters before turning his attention back to the women.
When the woman's hair fell from over her face Murtagh was surprised to see how astonishingly beautiful she was. Her beauty was only diminished by the thunderous look on her face though the blazing rage in her eyes attracted him to her instantly.
"How about you give us your name first?" She spoke a little groggily as she fought to wake up.
Galbatorix hesitated for a few moments before replying.
“I am Galbatorix, King of Alagaesia and leader of the Empire.”
The dark haired one stared at him and blinked before simply saying, “Uh uh. And where is that exactly?” She asked cocking her head to look at him unimpressed. Murtagh did not miss her movements as her hand snaked out to clasp the younger woman's. She had instantly seemed to relax now the older woman was awake.
“I asked you a question.” Galbatorix growled, the growing anger in his voice would have most people cowering but the woman simply narrowed her eyes.
“I'm pretty sure I asked you one too so how about you answer my questions and I'll let you know how I feel about answering yours?”
Galbatorix slammed his hand down on the arm of his throne causing the young woman to jump though the other remained impassive.
“I will know your name. You appear in my kingdom through the use of magic I have not heard of, speaking in strange ways and dressed in strange clothing. You are now MY guest in MY home and I will have your name.” Snarling, he leant forward and fixed the woman with a dark look that would wither most. However this woman was no ordinary woman it seemed as she merely raised an eyebrow and held his gaze with an equally dark look of her own as if she was drawing the shadows of the room to fuel her glare.
“Do you usually kidnap your guests? Tie them up and beat them? Or is it just us that gets the special treatment? Because I gotta tell ya I'm not exactly rating your service here. Now how about you put your big macho attitude back in it's box because I'm not telling you jack shit!” She spat out the last words and though Murtagh didn't know the phrase he could understand the meaning behind it. He snickered quietly, amused by the woman's front. As if she'd heard him her head snapped round and her gaze caught his. He could only stare at her as he found himself unable to drag his eyes from hers. Even Thorn's spark of jealousy could not draw his attention away as he stood dumbfounded, staring into the dark depths of her eyes, his heart beating wildly. He was sure she felt the same jolt of energy racing through her system as he had but she ripped her gaze from his and the moment was gone.
Murtagh took a few deep breaths to ground himself, ignoring Thorn's chuntering in the back of his mind. Galbatorix cleared his throat and peered at him with an unnerving smile playing on his lips. His fist still clenched around Zaroc, Murtagh tensed and waited for the king's reaction, hoping that whatever had just happened between him and the dark haired woman had escaped his notice. However what did happen next surprised him as the cold fury in Galbatorix's face had seemed certain to explode at any moment but he merely waved a hand at the Ra'azac.
“Take them to the dungeons. I have no wish to speak with them any more.” The Ra'azac roughly lifted the women to their feet and made to drag them to the door but they simply shrugged off their loathsome hold and started forward themselves. The creatures started to grab for them again but a quick glare from the older one had them scampering back, now content instead to lead. With one last poignant look back at him she disappeared through the door and Murtagh could only stare at the empty space where she had exploded into his life. He sighed and shook his head. Who knew someone with so much darkness could light up the room like a raging fire?
He wondered. Just be careful you don't get burned little one.
came Thorn's reply.