Born in 7899 AC, one year before the Fall of the Riders, Arya grew up in Ellesméra, residing in Tialdarí Hall with her mother Queen Islanzadí. Her father, Evandar, had been killed while trying to defend Ilirea from Galbatorix and the Forsworn, so she likely didn’t have many memories of their time together. Some of her favorite pastimes included writing poetry, singing, and caring for bonsai.
Arya’s childhood and early adulthood were saturated with troubling times—Galbatorix’s influence was felt throughout Alagaësia. Arya made the decision to become an ambassador for the elf nation in 7929 AC. Nine months into her assignment, Arya traveled from Tronjheim to Aberon with Weldon (who would succeed Brom as the Varden’s leader) and a number of others. En route the group encountered Urgals who wanted to prove themselves, and in the resulting confrontation, Arya killed someone for the first time.* Her actions bothered her for weeks until she finally realized that the only choice was to go crazy or stop dwelling on it. The importance of her mission was vital enough that it was necessary to continue despite the deaths. Visualizations—such as being in the gardens at Tialdarí Hall—and breathing exercises helped remove the intensity of her memories.
* It’s worth noting that Arya held no grudges against the Urgals. She felt that they weren’t inherently evil but simply enjoyed war too much.
Arya’s relationship with her mother was complicated, particularly when she accepted the role of ambassador and tattooed the yawë on her shoulder as a sign of commitment. Islanzadí feared for Arya’s safety—especially when her daughter eventually became the guardian of Saphira’s egg, ferrying it back and forth between the elves and Varden—and could not accept Arya’s decision. Ultimately, the two were estranged for roughly seventy years.
She kept her lineage a secret while outside her homeland. Very few seemed to have complaints with her ambassadorial skill, though Orik quibbled that in the seventy years he knew her, she was chronically tardy. She regularly brought her own food to accommodate her vegetarian diet, and made no concessions for the humans and dwarves manner of dress, instead preferring leather pants and similar gear. Over the years, she grew to care for and respect members of the Varden, and when some died by natural or unnatural causes, she learned that the hardest moments in war are when you watch the ones you love being hurt.
Arya knew her own true name (and that of her mother—even though the queen had not shared it). She explained how she finally understood herself enough to gain that knowledge:
“It was a number of years after I left Du Weldenvarden, when I finally had become accustomed to my role among the Varden and the dwarves. Faolin and my other companions were away, and I had a great deal of time to myself. I spent most of it exploring Tronjheim, wandering in the empty reaches of the city-mountain, where others rarely tread. Tronjheim is bigger than most realize, and there are many strange things within it: rooms, people, creatures, forgotten artifacts. . . . As I wandered, I thought, and I came to know myself better than ever I had before. One day I discovered a room somewhere high in Tronjheim—I doubt I could locate it again, even if I tried. A beam of sunlight seemed to pour into the room, though the ceiling was solid, and in the center of the room was a pedestal, and upon the pedestal was growing a single flower. I do not know what kind of flower it was; I have never seen its like before or since. The petals were purple, but the center of the blossom was like a drop of blood. There were thorns upon the stem, and the flower exuded the most wonderful scent and seemed to hum with a music all its own. It was such an amazing and unlikely thing to find, I stayed in the room, staring at the flower for longer than I can remember, and it was then and there that I was finally able to put words to who I was and who I am.” (Arya, Inheritance Deluxe, page 600)
Arya’s lover, Fäolin, had joined her mission around 7979 AC, as did Glenwing at some point. They safely transported the egg for fifteen years . . . but then Durza found them.
While they were returning to Osilon from Tronjheim, the Shade ambushed the travelers with a contingent of Urgals. He knew that his targets would be well guarded with wards, so he used dark magic to enchant the arrows so they would pierce those kinds of protective measures. But it wasn’t as simple as that. The elven horses spooked, sensing something was off, and Durza was only able to kill Fäolin and Glenwing. Arya was certain that if Fäolin couldn’t survive, neither would she, but she escaped long enough to teleport Saphira’s egg to Brom in Carvahall. (It was the only option available to her with the Varden too far away and Du Weldenvarden protected against any magic that sought to enter the forest. She didn’t know it at the time, but the Eldunarí hidden in the Vault of Souls diverted the spell to make the egg appear in front of Eragon while he hunted in the Spine.)
The Shade captured Arya and brought her back to his fortress in Gil’ead where he tortured her daily (many times almost to death) for any information she would divulge. While she welcomed the chance to prove herself worthy of the yawë, she later told Eragon:
“Those days were the longest of my life. Fäolin was gone, I did not know whether Saphira’s egg was safe or if I had inadvertently returned her to Galbatorix, and Durza . . . Durza sated the bloodlust of the spirits that controlled him by doing the most horrible things he could imagine to me. Sometimes, if he went too far, he would heal me so he could begin anew the following morning. If he had given me a chance to collect my wits, I might have been able to fool my jailer, as you did, and avoid consuming the drug that kept me from using magic, but I never had more than a few hours’ respite.
“Durza needed sleep no more than you or I, and he kept at me whenever I was conscious and his other duties permitted. While he worked on me, every second was an hour, every hour a week, and every day an eternity. He was careful not to drive me mad—Galbatorix would have been displeased with that—but he came close. He came very, very close.” (Brisingr Deluxe, page 198)
But still Arya would say nothing. Not much hope lingered in her. She had lost her lover and her friend, and rescue was highly improbable. Even if she were to succeed in escaping, she would die shortly after; each day Durza forced her to take the poison Skilna Bragh and the next morning forced its antidote, Tunivor’s Nectar, down her throat. No antidote, no Arya. She determined her only purpose now was not to reveal any secrets to the Shade. In her fragile state, sometimes she would see idyllic scenes/visions unfolding in front of her. Once a soldier left a white rose in her cell, a small kindness in a sea of darkness.
The Vault Eldunarí gave Eragon, now Saphira’s Rider, dreams of Arya as she sat alone in the cell. Once when he scryed his “dream” they were able to sense one another, but she thought she hallucinated the experience.
Galbatorix became impatient after Durza failed to garner any useful information from Arya and ordered that she be brought to Urû’baen. Preparations to transport her were underway when her fortunes changed: Eragon was captured and brought to Durza’s fortress in Gil’ead. From his cell window, the young Rider saw guards carrying the unconscious elf back to her cell. The moment that Murtagh and Saphira came to his rescue, Eragon made sure they took Arya with them.
For five days, she appeared to be unconscious. Eragon finally communicated with her telepathically. After he convinced Arya of his identity, she explained that she had entered her trance to slow the advance of the Skilna Bragh through her body. The only way to save her was to rush to the Varden healers, and she revealed their location only after extracting many promises from Eragon in the ancient language that he would not share the secret with Galbatorix or his servants, and that he harbored no ill will toward the elves, dwarves, dragons, or Varden. Eragon, Murtagh, Saphira, and Arya made it, just in time, with a contingent of Kull chasing them the whole way.
Healers immediately gave Arya Tunivor’s Nectar, working on her throughout the night. She survived . . . barely. Within two days, she recovered fully. Following the death of Fäolin, Arya had no one she was truly close to anymore. (She would later confide her dark experiences to her mother, Ajihad, and a friend in Ellesméra . . . but it wasn’t the same. Sometimes she wondered if the improbable rescue by Morzan’s son, a Dragon Rider, and a dragon from Gil’ead meant that she had truly gone mad and was imagining everything that happened following her rescue.)
Meanwhile, Ajihad asked the Twins to test Eragon’s magic competence, which they did, albeit doing their best to sabotage him with every task. The young Rider knew they were trying to learn more ancient language vocabulary, so he made sure not to reveal any more than basic words. Their frustration escalated so much that they demanded he summon the essence of silver, something only a master spellcaster could accomplish, but as soon as Eragon began to make the attempt, Arya—newly arrived—angrily stopped the proceedings. She exposed their lies and trickery, sending them running when she summoned the silver herself in Plato-like form. (Eragon was lucky she came when she did. The effort for an inexperienced magic user to summon the essence of something could very well have killed him.) Arya then decided to test Eragon’s swordsmanship. He passed, though he did not win.
When Arya had initially disappeared, Islanzadí blamed the resistance, withdrawing all support and contact. It was vital to the Varden that communication resume, and the only way to do that was to send Arya back to Ellesméra as soon as possible. It was equally important that Eragon and Saphira accompany her in order to begin their training in the elves’ capital city. It was decided that they would leave sometime in the next few weeks.
Battle of Farthen Dûr
Word came that an Urgal army led by Durza was on its way through the tunnels of the Beor Moutains to Tronjheim, intent on destroying the Varden and dwarves, so Arya and the rest prepared for battle, including collapsing as many entry points as possible. The conflict was brutal, and Durza managed to track down Eragon in the city itself. The young Rider would have died if it weren’t for Arya and Saphira’s swift intervention: they broke the beautiful star sapphire, Isidar Mithrim, which provided enough distraction for Eragon to plunge his sword into the Shade’s heart. As Eragon passed out from his injuries, Arya slowed the shards’ descent so that he would not be cut to pieces. The energy required to do this nearly killed her. (Despite the necessity of her actions, the dwarves were furious with her for destroying one of their most prized cultural treasures.)
The Urgal army dispersed in confusion with the death of Durza (they had been magically forced to do the Shade’s bidding), and the Varden won. Subsequently, Ajhad was killed and Murtagh kidnapped in an ambush—later revealed to be orchestrated by the Twins—while hunting for Kull in the tunnels around Farthen Dûr. Arya went looking to see if she could find the Urgals and Murtagh, but only found scraps of clothing that suggested that Murtagh and the Twins had met their end at the hands of the Urgals.
With the approval of Arya, Hrothgar, and others, Nasuada was elected the new leader of the Varden, and she gave permission for Eragon, Saphira, Arya, and Orik to leave for Ellesméra.
Their first stop was Tarnag, from where they planned to take boats down the Az Ragni river. Their stay wasn’t without drama. Members of Az Sweldn rak Anhuin took issue with Eragon and Saphira’s presence—along with the fact that he had been adopted as a member of clan Ingeitum—and declared themselves blood enemies to the Rider. It made for a tense, brief stay in the city. Gannel invited Eragon, accompanied by Arya, to come to Celbedeil to learn more about the dwarves’ religion, an important topic given Eragon’s new membership with Ingeitum. Arya and Gannel didn’t get along . . . between her atheism and his faith, the two butted heads frequently. Members of Az Sweldn rak Anhuin had riled up Tarnag’s inhabitants, so it was necessary to sneak out in the early morning, surrounded by a contingent of dwarf guards. Ûndin sent several of the guards along with the adventurers to ensure their safe arrival at the border of Du Weldenvarden.
The group arrived in Hedarth and set out on donkeys for the final leg of the journey. Arya refused to ride, saying that she would rather arrive home having run the whole way than be seen on a donkey. With every step nearer to her birthplace, she grew more tense. She was afraid of what would happen when she saw her mother again.
Before they made contact with the elves, Arya made sure to tutor Eragon in the basic social rules of elven society, a vital skill used to help smooth already complex political maneuverings. When the young Rider questioned her tense mood, she rebuffed him, then later relented enough to share that she was concerned about something.
Arya dismissed the dwarf guards soon after they all arrived in Du Weldenvarden. Of the original party, only Eragon, Saphira, Arya, and Orik continued on. A number of other elves joined them along certain portions of their passage through the forest. Eragon noticed that Arya seemed to feel uncomfortable around her people—perhaps she didn’t quite fit in anymore.
The closer they got to populated areas, the more important it was to hide Eragon’s identity and keep Saphira flying high out of sight. It was vital that the first interaction was with Queen Islanzadí and not other powerful political forces. After avoiding the effects of Dagshelgr, an elven fertility celebration, and gaining the permission of Gilderien the Wise to enter, the group finally arrived in Ellesméra.
Islanzadí staged a dramatic reconciliation, and the presence of an audience forced Arya to accept the queen’s apology. After hearing the details of Arya’s imprisonment, many had newfound respect for her dedication to protecting the elves. The queen publicly admitted that she should never have blamed the Varden for Arya’s disappearance; later, she privately laid the blame for her daughter’s experiences squarely at Arya’s feet.
A few days into Eragon’s training, Arya took him and Saphira on a tour of the elves’ capital and visited the Menoa tree. Along the way, she also took them to see Rhunön so the blacksmith could inspect Zar’roc. The elder elf was a recluse, and every few years Arya made sure to take her out to celebrations, such as Midsummer Fests. This time it would be to the Agaetí Blödhren.
Arya had noticed Eragon’s infatuation with her and decided to tell him the story of how the Menoa tree came to be: the result of an age inappropriate relationship that ended in infidelity and murder. She asked what he thought of that tale, maneuvering him until he admitted that perhaps the doomed lovers weren’t suited for one another.
The next day Arya took the two to see Tialdarí Hall and the surrounding gardens. Eragon disregarded her early warning regarding ill-suited relationships and paid her a compliment. When he asked if they would see each other again the next day, she made it clear that she would not make herself available.
Orik wanted proof of Eragon’s training, so Arya brought him to see one of Eragon and Saphira’s lessons with Oromis and Glaedr. Oromis asked Eragon to create a fairth. Eragon couldn’t contain his infatuation and created one of an idealized version of Arya. Enraged and worried that his affection would put their goal to defeat Galbatorix at risk, she destroyed the image and left without a word.
Arya avoided Eragon for some time. He finally went to find her, bringing a bouquet of flowers with him. He made sure that she understood that his primary focus would be his studies and that he didn’t intend to put her in a difficult position. She accepted his apology, though she wasn’t willing to resume their friendship as before by spending time alone together.
It was high time to return to the Varden, but Arya waited to leave so she could spend more time at home with family and friends, and attend her first Agaetí Blödhren. Arya, accompanied by Orik and Maud, took Eragon and Saphira for outings around Ellesméra to meet notable elves, go to concerts, and see hidden wonders. Eragon shared his background with her, and sometimes she would share stories of her own.
Arya, Eragon, Saphira, Orik, and Rhunön went to the Agaetí Blödhren celebration together. Every guest contributed something they had made or created; Arya’s offering was a poem she had composed, excerpted below:
Under the moon, the bright white moon,
Lies a pool, a flat silver pool,
Among the brakes and brambles,
And black-heart pines.
Falls a stone, a living stone,
Cracks the moon, the bright white moon,
Among the brakes and brambles,
And black-heart pines.
In the night, the dark and heavy night,
Flutter shadows, confused shadows,
Where once . . . (Eldest Deluxe, pages 432-433)
But no one expected what happened next. When the dragon spirit was summoned to strengthen the bond between dragons and elves, the specter healed Eragon’s back injury (which had plagued him severely up until this point) and altered his body so that he matched the speed and agility of the elves. The procedure knocked the young Rider unconscious for an hour. He woke up a short time later and went back to the celebration where he encountered Ayra. Once again unable to contain himself (perhaps encouraged by the effects of the celebration), he declared his love for her and begged for her to return his affection. She made it very clear that she felt nothing more than friendship and that even that friendship would now have to end because he wasn’t able to let go of his feelings.
Return to the Varden
Arya left the next day for the Varden. The resistance had made its way to the Burning Plains and now planned to confront Galbatorix’s army, which numbered roughly 100,000. When Eragon and Saphira arrived to join in, Arya kept her distance but accepted his apology and promise that he wouldn’t overstep again. The Battle of the Burning Plains went in the Varden’s favor, even with the appearance of Murtagh astride his newly hatched dragon, Thorn.
Shortly after, Eragon, Saphira, and Roran left to rescue Katrina from Helgrind, despite the misgivings of Arya and Nasuada. The mission was a success, but Eragon stayed behind, claiming that he planned to kill the final Ra’zac and explore the creatures’ home. The truth was that he stayed to deal with Sloan, Katrina’s murderous father, in secret. When the rest of the group returned to the Varden camp and explained the reason Eragon had given for staying, Arya immediately set out in search of him.
She relied on the “whispers of the land” to guide her. Early on in the journey, she encountered a couple of ox herders (it’s unclear what she did to them, if anything) and stole a dress to disguise herself. A slight glamour finalized her human appearance. Arya finally found Eragon in a tavern in Eastcroft. Eragon explained why he had really stayed behind, and though she thought his choice was unwise, she left it at that. They stayed the night in the inn under the cover of being brother and sister, and then snuck out (the room already paid for) first thing in the morning.
They contacted Nasuada via scrying at the first opportunity and assured her that they would be back within a few days. A day into their return, they encountered fifteen soldiers. Hoping to pass as refugees, Eragon and Arya waited for them to pass along the road. No such luck. Each soldier had to be killed, including one that begged for his life. Eragon knew that the young warrior posed too much risk and dispatched him swiftly. Afterward, Arya asked why Eragon had had no issues killing the soldier but was unable to kill Sloan. The young Rider explained that the former was a threat, and the other wasn’t. Arya understood that she had to reexamine her moral standpoint because years of hard choices had hardened her against nuanced decisions like those. Yet the experience of murdering the soldier weighed heavily on Eragon; he hoped to go directly to the source, Galbatorix, rather than kill all the laymen in between. Arya explained that that wasn’t possible and rallied his spirits to the best of her abilities. Before they left the area, they had to alter the corpses to suggest they had died by normal means. That unpleasant chore finished, the two decided to travel away from roads. Arya healed Eragon’s damaged hand, much to both their surprise. Glad to be alongside one another, their friendship began to repair, and they continued on their way.
That night while camping they discussed many things, including their difficulties with killing, both when they committed the act for the first time and subsequent experiences. With all of the dark events that had happened since Saphira’s egg was teleported to Eragon, Arya still grappled with memories from her time as Durza’s captive, memories she now shared with Eragon, and found herself grim and impatient with the normal delays of life. She was not the same person as before Gil’ead. Eragon did his best to comfort her and spontaneously sang a white lily into full maturity from seed to plant: a symbol of all things good, of life and renewal. She initially thought he didn’t understand the significance elves attributed to giving a flower, but he did, and so she accepted his gift with an apology for assuming his ignorance.
Arya wove a grass ship and carved several cryptic sentences into the ground while they talked:
Adrift upon the sea of time, the lonely god wanders from shore to distant shore, upholding the laws of the stars above. (Brisingr Deluxe, page 204)
The trickster, the riddler, the keeper of the balance, he of the many faces who finds life in death and who fears no evil; he who walks through doors. (Brisingr Deluxe, page 204) (This one came after thinking that many things aren’t what they seem.)
She sent the finished ship sailing along the breeze, drawing its energy from nearby plants. The glyphs were erased promptly with a sweep of her hand through the dirt.
The conversation had just come to a natural lull when they detected something’s approach. Three spirits came to investigate the magical energy that had been used to create the lily and ship. Arya communicated that Eragon was responsible for freeing the spirits trapped in Durza. In thanks, the three orbs transformed the lily into living metal (gold). Perhaps if they weren’t looted, the resulting lilies would propagate for years to come.
Eragon and Arya finally made it back to the Varden. Shortly after, the Battle of the Jiet River took place. Arya and the twelve elven spellcasters pooled their energy to give to Eragon while he and Saphira dueled Murtagh and Thorn. The red dragon and Rider retreated. Ultimately the Varden were victorious, though not without heavy losses; Galbatorix had enchanted the troops to be immune to pain, so it took a lot more to disable them.
Soon after, Roran and Katrina married, and many individuals contributed to the celebration. Arya ensured that two doves flew overhead to place a daffodil crown on Katrina’s head as she walked toward Eragon, who was officiating. It was a lovely ceremony.
Eragon then left the Varden camp so he could witness the election of the new dwarf monarch, following the death of King Hrothgar. Saphira later joined him so she could repair Isidar Mithrim. Afterward, the two headed off to Du Weldenvarden to complete their training.
The Varden, meanwhile, approached Feinster. The siege didn’t go well. For three days they couldn’t breach the walls, so Arya and Blödhgarm scaled them to see if they could open the gates from the inside; unfortunately, they encountered three spellcasters who kept them fighting mental battles, as well as extra troops who swarmed their position. Eragon and Saphira arrived just in time to rescue the two elves, and their combined efforts opened the gates. Eragon, Saphira, and Arya tracked down Lady Lorana, only to find the three magicians, who then successfully created the Shade Varaug. Arya was just able to kill the being with the help of Eragon, releasing dozens of spirits, which escaped through the walls.
After the battle, Arya was distraught to learn that Glaedr and Oromis had died while facing Murtagh and Thorn in Gil’ead. Glaedr still remained in his Eldunarí, which had been entrusted to Eragon, but the resistance still had lost a great ally. She and many of the elves never knew that there were such things as Eldunarí, and she was relieved to know that the dragon race had not been extinguished nearly so fully as previously thought. However, she felt it would have been better if Oromis and Islanzadí had told Eragon and Saphira about the existence of Eldunarí so they could better prepare for battle against Murtagh and Thorn, an issue that she planned to take up with her mother the next time they spoke.
The Varden conquered Belatona next, with Arya at the front lines. (Saphira was wounded with the Dauthdaert Niernen, a weapon long thought lost. The Varden appropriated it for future use.) Lord Bradburn refused to surrender, so Arya invaded his mind and sent him to sleep. Just after the battle ended, the werecats offered their allegiance to the cause against Galbatorix.
Elain, one of the villagers from Carvahall who had joined the Varden, had an extremely difficulty labor. Arya offered her assistance but was only able to help a small amount because the villagers would not allow her to use magic to sing the baby from the womb. Only simple spells were approved, and those only because Katrina insisted they let Arya do them. The elf informed Eragon of the problem but advised him not to force the issue as it would only cause anger and suspicion. Arya would never allow any harm to come to the child in any case. The baby, Hope, was born with a cleft palette, so Arya brought her to Eragon; the Rider would have to heal her (with a villager observing), because no one would believe it was the same child if she were involved. He did a perfect job, garnering further respect from Arya.
Eragon and Arya began sparring regularly to prepare him for an eventual confrontation with Galbatorix. She consistently won. Glaedr, who had been mute with grief until this point, began to engage with the world again, training Eragon, Saphira, and Arya to have better mind control, though the truth was that even Glaedr could not match Arya’s mental self-control.
Sometimes during quiet moments, Eragon and Arya would speculate on what kind of spells Galbatorix might use against them in a final confrontation. During one of the these conversations, Eragon asked her what she would do if they were victorious. She felt she would continue to be an ambassador; a life in Ellesméra didn’t suit her anymore.
Dras-Leona proved to be a challenge. When Jeod discovered that there were secret tunnels leading underneath the city, Eragon, Arya, Wyrden, Angela, and Solembum set out to infiltrate. Wyrden was killed by a trap, and the priests of Helgrind managed to capture Eragon and Arya. They woke up shackled and unable to use magic due to unusual crystals set in a ring around them. After a disturbing conversation with their captors, they were left to become food for two hatching Ra’zac. Arya broke her hand to try to free herself, and a bumbling novitiate tried to help and failed terribly, but it wasn’t until Angela and Solembum found them that they were finally able to escape. Together, they defeated the high priest of Helgrind and opened the city gates for the Varden (Eragon used Aren to displace a large portion of rubble blocking the entry). Arya healed her hand, and later Blödhgarm did so further, but she would always have a residual numb spot at the base of her thumb on her right hand because of the injury.
The elves sang a burial for Wyrden, and Arya went through his belongings, where she found a bottle of augmented faelnirv, which she sampled. A short time later, and already tipsy, Arya went to find Eragon to share the beverage. Its effects were potent, and the two were hardly able to defend themselves when Murtagh, Thorn, and a group of soldiers invaded the Varden camp to kidnap Nasuada. Arya cleared the drug from their systems with magic, but Nasuada was still taken. Arya pursued by climbing on Thorn’s tail, with the Dauthdaert Niernen in hand. The red dragon took flight, then knocked her loose, bathed her in fire, and slammed her away with his tail. Eragon and Saphira dove to catch her, and their foes got away.
Nasuada had nominated Eragon to head the Varden should anything happen to her. Arya, obviously accomplished at political maneuvering, held a meeting to discuss this in Orik’s pavilion to gain additional support without appearing preferential. The ultimate decision was to respect Nasuada’s wishes for her successor and continue advancing towards the gates of Urû’baen.
The Varden leaders were still at a loss as to how to actually defeat Galbatorix. Eragon received several clues from the Eldunarí hidden in the Vault of Souls to go the Rock of Kuthian on Vroengard. The young Rider immediately summoned Arya and Glaedr to discuss the trip with them, but neither seemed able to remember what they were talking about. It was clear that deep magic had forced all the inhabitants of Alagaësia to forget any knowledge of the place. After both Arya and Glaedr were convinced of the truth, it was decided that Eragon, Glaedr, and Saphira would investigate. Arya very much wanted to go, but her additional body weight would slow Saphira’s flight time, and speed was of the essence. Meanwhile, every effort would be made to hide their absence until they returned to the Varden, hopefully with something to help defeat Galbatorix.
Eragon, Glaedr, and Saphira rushed there and back again, then summoned Arya, Islanzadí, and the other leaders to meet in secrecy. The trip had been a success: over one hundred Eldunarí from the Vault of Souls now accompanied the blue dragon and Rider. It was a joyous experience for most—not only did they now have a chance to defeat Galbatorix, but the dragon race was not completely lost to the king’s madness.
It was decided that a strike team comprised of Eragon, Saphira, Arya, Blödhgarm, the elven spellcasters, the Vault Eldunarí, and Elva would infiltrate the citadel, while the rest of the Varden forces would focus on breaking through the gates into Urû’baen. Islanzadí was not pleased that her daughter was going to put herself in harm’s way once again, but Arya convinced her of the necessity, and the two reconciled their differences to a certain degree.
Before they began the covert operation, Eragon wanted to share his true name with Arya, both to show his trust and also because it was all he had to give her before it might be too late. She refused, fearing both the meaning of that trust and the danger Galbatorix presented in stealing the information through one of his spies. No one had ever offered this to her before and it was not something to be abused or rushed for foolhardy reasons. However, Arya made sure to let Eragon know that he had exceeded everyone’s hopes in how he had developed as an individual and a Rider.
The Final Battle
The infiltration into Urû’baen’s citadel was not a simple process. Just before the group reached the gates to the throne room, Blödhgarm and the elven spellcasters were magically whisked away to an unknown location, leaving only Eragon, Saphira, Elva, the Vault Eludunarí, and Arya to face the king.
Galbatorix quickly neutralized the threat they presented, magically holding them in place to toy with. It wasn’t until Murtagh and Thorn broke free of their oaths to him that the dynamic shifted. Murtagh used the Name of Names to strip Galbatorix of many of his wards, but it still wasn’t enough. Finally Eragon cast a spell augmented by the Vault Eldunarí and Saphira to force the king to understand the impact of his actions. While Galbatorix was distracted with the effects of the spell, Arya, Niernen in hand, pierced Shruikan’s eye with the help of Saphira and Thorn. Unable to cope with the emotions he was feeling, Galbatorix committed suicide by converting mass in his body into a nuclear explosion, and Eragon had just enough time to cast a spell of protection over himself and the others (including Nasuada, who had been shackled nearby the throne).
The citadel’s structure was highly compromised, but Arya rushed right back in to see if she could find Blödhgarm and the rest. She did, along with the captive Eldunarí, and the remaining egg that had been in Galbatorix’s possession. Many treasures would have to be retrieved at a later point from the king’s treasure room. She and the other freed elves were delighted when Eragon shared that there were many dragon eggs hidden in the Vault of Souls.
Islanzadí had been killed while confronting Lord Barst. When Arya found out, her grief was full of anger and regret as well, so much so that it was hard to think. But new leaders had to be chosen, first for the new human nation and then for the elven people.
Nasuada was elected High Queen of Alagaësia with the approval of all Varden leaders, except King Orrin, though he gave his agreement after some negotiations. Arya departed a short time after the coronation to accompany her mother’s body back to Ellesméra, the freed dragon egg in her possession. She left a letter for Eragon explaining:
“. . . and because Saphira chose you, a human, to be her Rider, it is only right that an elf should be the next Rider, if the dragon within this egg agrees. I wish to give it that chance without delay. Already, it has spent far too long within its shell. Since there are many more eggs elsewhere—I shall not name the place—I hope you do not believe that I have acted presumptuously or that I have been overly prejudiced in favor of my own race. I consulted with the Eldunarí upon this matter, and they agreed with my decision.
In any event, with both Galbatorix and my mother having passed into the void, I no longer wish to continue as ambassador to the Varden. Rather, I wish to resume my task of ferrying a dragon egg throughout the land, as I did with Saphira’s.
Of course, an ambassador between our races is still needed. Therefore, Däthedr and I have appointed as my replacement a young elf named Vanir, whom you met during your time in Ellesméra. He has expressed a desire to learn more about the people of your race, and that seems to me as good a reason as any for him to have the post—so long as he does not prove completely incompetent, that is.” (Inheritance Deluxe, pages 772-773)
Becoming a Rider and Queen
Just after arriving in Du Weldenvarden, Fírnen hatched for Arya. She kept him a secret, even from Eragon, raising him at the Crags of Tel’naeír. During that time, Eragon sent a message inquiring after her, but she chose not to respond yet out of fear that Fírnen was still too vulnerable, and she didn’t want to lie to Eragon by omission. (She did, however, treasure his note, keeping it on her person.)
Däthedr and other elders chose Arya as the successor to the throne, but she declined. Every day for a week they came back to offer more reasons why she should accept the position. The tactic finally worked, and she was convinced that it was the best choice for the good of her people—she would always choose to serve the Fair Folk in times of need. Arya ordered that no one reveal her new role to the elves’ ambassadors so that she could concentrate on raising Fírnen without pressing matters of state drawing her attention. Rhunön reworked the Dragon Rider sword Támerlein to better suit Arya’s hands and fighting style. Now Arya was truly a Rider in every sense.
When Fírnen was grown enough to be able to defend himself, Arya sent Eragon a message by grass ship to arrange a secret meeting. Saphira and Fírnen took to one another immediately, while their Riders caught up with one another’s plans. Eragon was still in love with Arya, though his love had matured from an idealized crush to one of respect and understanding. He made a fairth and was pleased that it reflected her character much better than the first one he had made in Ellesméra. He tried to destroy the image without showing it to Arya, but she magically pulled the item to her before it hit the ground. Rather than showing anger or impatience, this time Arya was touched. Her own feelings had changed toward Eragon, and while, at this time, there was no place for romance in their lives (in part because of the importance of each of their leadership roles, and in part because of the risk of alienating a powerful figure if the romantic connection faded), he meant enough to her that she shared her true name. And she accepted his in return, one that revealed the depth of his feelings for her. Eragon told Arya about his plan to leave Alagaësia in order to raise the dragons in a place that would be safe from both physical dangers and the political rumblings of the new human nation. He asked Arya to accompany them, but, as expected, she declined because of duty. They would have a couple of weeks together, at most.
Bolstered by two Eldunarí, Arya and Fírnen gave Roran, Katrina, and Ismira a ride to Ellesméra, making a detour to visit King Orik in Tronjheim along the way. Eragon and Saphira would join them all in the elven capital after picking up all the eggs and remaining Eldunarí still hidden in the Vault of Souls.
Everyone made the trip safely, and folks celebrated together for a few days. Eragon pitched his idea of including the dwarves and Urgals into the Dragon Rider pact, and after a day of discussion, Arya and her advisors agreed. Following a week of festivities, it was time for Eragon and Saphira to leave. Roran, Arya, and Fírnen would accompany them to the ship Talíta. Eragon gave Arya two dragon eggs, which she entrusted to two guards who would ferry the eggs back and forth, one between the elves and Urgals, one between the elves and dwarves. Three other Eldunarí also decided to remain with the elves as advisors. Once the eggs hatched, they and their new Riders would train with Arya, Fírnen, and the three Eldunarí until they were ready to head east for further instruction and guidance from Eragon, Saphira, and the rest of the Eldunarí.
All too soon, it was time to part ways. As the Talíta made its journey to the east, Eragon and Saphira with it, Arya and Fírnen turned themselves to their responsibilities in the land of Alagaësia.
In the months following the events of Inheritance, Arya and Fírnen spent most of their time attending to their duties in Du Weldenvarden. However, Nasuada asked for their help twice. The first time was to subdue two earls who were rebelling, and the second time was to investigate the disappearance of four of Nasuada’s spellcasters who were supposed to inform the hermit Tenga of the new laws regulating magic users. Arya and Fírnen found the four members of Du Vrangr Gata dead outside Tenga’s home, and no sign of the man himself. Troubling times were certainly ahead.
But for the moment, all was well in Alagaësia, and Arya and Fírnen focused their energies on guiding the elven people and helping the other leaders of the land when asked. Now if only the next two eggs would hatch . . . .
“Between these two rode a raven-haired elven lady, who surveyed her surroundings with poise. Framed by long black locks, her deep eyes shone with a driving force. Her clothes were unadorned, yet her beauty was undiminished. At her side was a sword, and on her back a long bow with a quiver. She carried in her lap a pouch that she frequently looked at, as if to reassure herself that it was still there.” (Narrative, 1st edition Eragon, page 2)
“Her sculpted face was as perfect as a painting. Her round chin, high cheekbones, and long eyelashes gave her an exotic look. The only mar in her beauty was a scrape along her jaw; nevertheless, she was the fairest woman he had ever seen.” (Narrative, 1st edition Eragon, page 295)
“Even with Saphira nigh upon them, men and women alike tore their gaze from the sky to watch Arya’s progress, she presented such a striking image. Dressed all in black, she wore leggings like a man, a sword on her hip, and a bow and quiver on her back. Her skin was the color of light honey. Her face was as angular as a cat’s. And she moved with a slinking, muscular grace that bespoke her skill with a blade, and also her supernatural strength.” (Narrative, 1st edition Brisingr, page 118)
“On her left shoulder was a tattoo inscribed with indigo ink. It was the same symbol that had been on the sapphire of Brom’s ring.” (Narrative, 1st edition Eragon, page 315)
“As he drew near, Eragon saw that, in place of the leather strip that Arya usually wore to keep her hair back, a circlet of gold rested upon her brow. In the center of the circlet, a teardrop-shaped diamond flashed with light that came not from the sun but from within its own depths. At her waist hung a green-hilted sword in a green sheath, which he recognized as Támerlein, the same sword the elf lord Fiolr had offered him as a replacement for Zar’roc and that had once belonged to the Rider Arva. However, the hilt looked different than he remembered, lighter and more graceful, and the sheath appeared narrower.” (Narrative, 1st edition Inheritance, page 788)
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