Not much is known of Morzan’s early years. When his dragon hatched, they trained in Ilirea, apprenticing under Oromis and Glaedr. Morzan was handsome, physically strong, arrogant, cruel, and was drawn to power above all else. While clever, he lacked patience to examine problems closely enough to address every possibility; this would eventually lead to his downfall.
When he completed his training, Morzan befriended another apprentice studying with Oromis and Glaedr, Brom, who idolized him. Morzan, three years senior, took advantage of Brom with increasing viciousness, pride, and manipulation. But before Oromis decided to intervene, Morzan met the disgraced Rider, Galbatorix, who convinced the younger man to leave the gates of Ilirea open so that Galbatorix could steal a dragon hatchling, Shruikan, for himself. Shruikan’s original Rider was killed in the process.
The two criminals escaped to an evil place. Morzan apprenticed with Galbatorix (and perhaps Durza), learning many dark secrets and forbidden magic, and Shruikan was forced to submit to Galbatorix’s will. Three years later, by 7896 A.C., the two emerged with Shruikan fully grown and surreptitiously recruited twelve Riders (who together with Morzan would be known as the Forsworn). All other Riders they encountered were murdered. By the time the Dragon Riders realized what was going on, it was too late. Galbatorix and the Forsworn conquered first Doru Araeba and then Ilirea. By 7900 A.C. the Riders were finished.
But the Forsworn didn’t escape their deed unscathed. When the dragon race realized that thirteen of their own were decimating their species, they cast a spell stripping the Forsworn’s dragons of their names. Over time, the dragons that had betrayed their race lost to ability to identify themselves and fell into ignorance or madness, sometimes their Riders with them. Because Morzan’s dragon lost his or her name, we have no record of it.
Morzan was instated as a member of Galbatorix’s court and given a castle in the foothills of the the Spine to the northwest of Leona Lake. For years he carried out the king’s business throughout the land. This included razing an entire town with the help of his dragon. As a warrior, Morzan was frightening: he was a strong magician, murderous, and an adept swordsman. Combined with an enraged dragon, he was nothing to trifle with. Jeod described his physical appearance in battle: “He was tall, he had broad shoulders, his hair was dark like a raven’s feathers, and his eyes were different colors. One was blue and one was black. His chin was bare, and he was missing the tip of one of his fingers; I forget which. Handsome he was, in a cruel, haughty manner, and when he spoke, he was most charismatic. His armor was always polished bright, whether mail or a breastplate, as if he had no fear of being spotted by his enemies, which I suppose he hadn’t. When he laughed, it sounded as if he were in pain.”
One day, when he stopped in Carvahall, Morzan encountered Selena. She was infatuated and Morzan saw his opportunity, not only to torment her, but also to create the ideal servant. She left her home to travel with him for a time. When it was clear that Selena loved him, he made her slave in all but name, binding her to his will with her true name. However, he thought her love would ensure her loyalty better than any oath, and so he taught her rudimentary magic and allowed her freedom to accomplish tasks using her own intelligence and initiative (this was the mistake that would change the course of Alagaësia’s history once again). Jeod reported that Morzan initially tested Selena by “by teaching her the word for heal in the ancient language—for she was a spellcaster as well as a common fighter—and then pitting her against twelve of his finest swordsmen. She healed them of their fear and their hate and all the things that drive a man to kill. And then while they stood grinning at each other like idiot sheep, she went up to the men and cut their throats. . . .” The accuracy of this account is unknown.
Three years passed, during which Morzan and Selena resided in the king’s court. A highly effective spy/assassin, Selena was known throughout the land only as the “Black Hand.” Life changed with her unplanned pregnancy. Morzan knew the child would put him at risk from the other Forsworn, so he whisked her away to his countryside castle, ensuring that no one except Galbatorix knew of the baby. Morzan placed hundreds of wards around his home that would prevent all but a few trusted servants entry. (There were many clever spells to protect from infiltration, but as usual, Morzan had no patience to thoroughly examine different tactics that others might take to enter. This was another error that would eventually allow Brom to find a way past the wards and gain access to the castle, disguised as a gardener.)
Morzan’s first and only son, Murtagh, was born in due time. Morzan knew he could control Selena even more by limiting her time with their child to brief visits every three months or so. A wet nurse oversaw Murtagh’s needs while Selena carried out Morzan’s errands.
For another three years things continued in this way. Shortly after Murtagh’s birth, Brom was able to find his way to Morzan’s castle, unbeknownst to the Forsworn. Brom intended to kill the Black Hand but, unexpectedly, he and Selena fell in love. Throughout the first three years of Murtagh’s life, Selena secretly visited Brom during the few times she had alone with her son. Morzan knew nothing of this. It was also at this time that Morzan, prone to many drunken rages, threw his sword, Zar’roc, at his son’s back, scarring the boy and very nearly ending the toddler’s life.
Then Selena disappeared while on a mission. Morzan suspected foul play but had no inkling that she had discovered that she was pregnant with Brom’s child and so had rushed back home to entrust the coming babe to her brother’s care. Elsewhere, Brom and Jeod managed to orchestrate a robbery of Galbatorix’s dragon eggs. This didn’t go well; only one was actually stolen. Morzan was sent to retrieve the precious item from the panicked thief, Hefring. Morzan, his dragon, and his men chased Hefring for a long time, with Brom and Jeod in hot pursuit. Things continued in this manner for months before the thief was cornered by Morzan’s party nearby Gil’ead. Jeod and Brom arrived shortly after Hefring’s death and were forced to confront the Forsworn in order to regain the egg. During the fighting, Jeod and Brom were separated, leaving Brom alone to confront Morzan and his dragon.
The two former friends faced each other for the last time. Morzan asked Brom what had happened to Selena, the Forsworn suspecting that she had been assassinated by Brom. Brom knew nothing of her disappearance but realized something was wrong. That knowledge gave him the strength to destroy both Morzan and his dragon. Brom retrieved Morzan’s sword, Zar’roc, and the dragon egg, which held Saphira, from the corpse.
No one mourned Morzan except perhaps, in some small way, Galbatorix.
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