Destiny Riders

BY : ShadowSpark1015
Category: A through F > Eragon
Dragon prints: 12608
Disclaimer: Eragon and Alagaesia are owned by Christopher Paolini. I am doing this purely for fun, no profit is being made from this story.

The sun was barely peeking over the horizon when I woke.  The sounds of my parents working in the kitchen reached my ears and I smiled, stretching luxuriously in my bed. Today was a special day for us. It had been a full year since they had found me and adopted me. I remembered nothing from before that moment, when they found me sleeping in the barn. But that hadn't mattered. They took me in and loved me as if I were their own daughter. We were also going to celebrate my birthday. Because none of us truly knew when I had been born we decided to celebrate all at once. I thought I was turning 17.

I sat up and swung my legs over the side, sliding my feet into my slippers as I stood. I released my long golden hair from its braid as I crossed the room to my dresser and picked up my brush. I brushed the silky tresses and contemplated what to wear for the day. Making my selection, I put my brush down and picked up the appropriate garment. I slid my nightgown off and quickly donned a shift, the chill morning air raising goosebumps on my arms. The blue dress went on next, sliding over my head and settling over the shift, just as my mother poked her head through my bedroom door.

"Good, you are awake," she said, smiling at me. "Could you run out to the chicken coop and gather some eggs for breakfast?"

"Of course, Mother," I replied. "I'll be out in a moment."

"Alright. The biscuits are almost finished, so you still have a little time. That dress is lovely on you, by the way." She left my room, and I took a second look at myself. The deep blue of the fabric looked great against my skin, and the short sleeves and flared skirt gave me a freedom to move that most of my other dresses did not. The fabric clung to my waist and hips before flaring into the skirt, accentuating my figure.

I walked out of my room and into the family room. In the corner was my father's large armchair where he sat in the evenings as we talked and Mama darned or knitted in the smaller chair next to him. There were cushions on the floor next to the large fireplace where I lay in the evenings while we all talked. Next to the front door was the basket we used to gather the eggs. I donned a cloak, slid my feet out of my slippers and into my shoes, picked up the basket and walked outside, leaving the warmth of my home for the cool morning air outside.

Breathing deeply, I crossed the yard to the chicken coop. My father's mare, Minna, whinnied at me as I walked past, so I tossed her a handful of hay, promising to feed her a better breakfast later. The hens were awake already and scratching the dirt inside the pen, and the rooster kept watch from his perch on top of the coop. I unlatched the back door and reached my hand inside. My fingers had barely wrapped around the first smooth egg when a bell pealed, startling me. I dropped the egg and it shattered at my feet.

Dropping the basket and abandoning the eggs, I sprinted back to my house.

"Mother! Father!" Breathless, I threw open the front door and rushed inside. My face was flushed and my hair was wild, but I didn't care.

"Outside! Now!" My father, paler than I had ever seen him before, pushed me back through the door. My mother was running around gathering things and throwing them into saddlebags.

"What's going on? What is it?"

"Tari, you have to go!" My mother ran outside after us, and my father rushed ahead and began saddling Minna. "Galbatorix has been sending his soldiers to recruit more men, and they have began to take women as well, and forcing them to become wives of the soldiers! It isn't safe for you to be here!"

"Mother, what is going on? What was that bell," I demanded. I stomped my foot. "Tell me, or I'm not leaving!"

My father grabbed me around the waist and plunked me into the saddle. "You don't have a choice. That bell was a warning. The soldiers found our village. They are on their way. You have to leave, now!" With that, my father slapped Minna hard on her hindquarters, causing her to bolt.

"Go to Surda! We will meet you there!" My mother shouted after me as the horse carried me away from them. My family lived on a farm that was a good mile away from the village, but already I could see smoke rising from some of the buildings as they were set on fire. I tugged the reins and turned Minna in the opposite direction. Only to come face to face with a faction of Empire soldiers.

I hauled back on the reins and stopped Minna short. Some of the soldiers laughed. Minna snorted nervously as a few of the men started circling behind me, effectively cutting off any chance of escape.

"Well, well, what have we here? A little girl out for a ride?" Derision dripped from every syllable as the speaker urged his mount forward. Hands grabbed me from behind and hauled me out of the saddle. I shrieked in alarm and tried to fight my way away from them, but the hands were too strong, and there were too many of them. At least three of the men had dismounted and snuck up behind me while I was focused on the man now walking toward me. Panic welled in my chest as tears pricked my eyes. "Such a pretty one, too. Put her  with the rest of them, and take the horse."

Two men held me by the arms and started to drag me away. Minna stomped in alarm as another one approached and grabbed her reins. She reared back, and her front hooves struck the soldier in the chest, knocking him to the ground. Several more men swarmed her, grabbing her reins and restricting her movements. She bolted, and the unfortunate soldier holding her reins was dragged behind her for several feet before the rest of the men surrounding her managed to grab her and rein her in.

The captain snorted. "Seems the horse is protective of her rider. Might as well keep them together. Tie the girl to the saddle. Lead the horse. Do not let them out of your sight. She is bound for the king himself."

Fear swept through me, turning my blood to ice. "Th-the king?" I stammered.

"Yes, girl, the king. Not that it matters, but all girls are to be brought before him for him to decide what to do with." The captain sneered at me. "Didn't I say to tie her to the saddle? Move!"

I was pushed back into the saddle and my hands were bound together, then to the saddle horn. My ankles were tied to the stirrups. One soldier even went so far as to tear a strip from the hem of my skirt and use it to gag me.

A soldier grabbed Minna's reins and led us back toward the village. Several of the villagers were huddled in the center square, their hands bound together by one large rope, designed to keep anyone from escaping. I scanned the faces, but I did not see my mother or my father. My heart sank as I thought of what must have become of them. Many of the faces I saw regarded me with pity as they looked up at me, bound to my horse and gagged. Several buildings were still smoldering, a few managed to escape unscathed, but it would take time to rebuild the village. If anyone was left to rebuild it.

I looked at the houses surrounding us, remembered the history they held. Houses that had been built by hand, many of the details carved over several years. The families that were built inside those homes, many of them my friends. I felt a great sadness settle over me as I wondered what had become of those people. Many would have resisted, I knew, but if King Galbatorix was recruiting for his army, he would want to spare as many lives as possible.

"Is this it?" An angry voice rang out behind me, startling me from my reverie. The captain strode out in front of the soldiers. "Is this all there was in this village?"

A soldier snapped a salute and responded. "Those of fighting or breeding age, sir, yes. Many of the villagers were either too old or too young to be of consequence, sir, so we just left them."

Relief flooded me at these words, and hope ballooned in my chest. Maybe my parents had gotten away after all. My father was much too old to be a fighter, and my mother was beyond her childbearing years.

"Well, twenty is better than just two, I suppose. Let's go." The captain mounted his horse, took up position at the head of the column, and we marched out of the village. Tears welled in my eyes again as I was taken from my home and family, bound for Uru'baen and only the Gods knew what awaited me there.

A/N: It's my first time writing a story like this, so be gentle.

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