Ajihad was born a member of the wandering tribes. Not much more is known of his past. His deceased wife, Nadara’s, cousin was leader of the Inapashunna tribe, so there is some possibility that Ajihad may have been Inapuashunna as well.
He became the steward of Enduriel’s main estate and was forced to swear oaths of allegiance in the ancient language. By this time, he and Nadara had their daughter, Nasuada. Some time later, Nadara passed away. Ajihad was able to gain freedom when he discovered his true name had changed-likely due to the influence of his wife and child. He managed to escape from the Forsworn with Nasuada, nearly killing Durza in the process. The Shade’s sword boasted a permanent scratch on its blade from the encounter.
Following Deynor’s retirement, Ajihad became leader of the Varden. His reputation was fierce, but fair and honorable; he was a master strategist and a brutal fighter. For close to twenty years Ajihad waged war on the Empire. During that time, he secretly groomed Nasuada for leadership, should something happen to him.
During the events of Inheritance Cycle, Eragon, Murtagh, and Saphira rushed Arya to the Varden’s hidden location in the Beor Mountains, desperate for Tunivor’s nectar to counter the poison Skilna Bragh that was stealing the elf princess’s life.
After the newcomers gained entry and Arya was entrusted to healers, Ajihad summoned the rest of the group to inquire about their intentions. Upon hearing Murtagh’s voice and viewing the scar on his back, Ajihad recognized him as the son of Morzan. Murtagh refused on principle to allow his mind to be probed for deception, promising that he would not reveal the Varden’s secrets to Galbatorix. Ajihad had Murtagh confined in a well-appointed cell until the young man acquiesced. As much as Ajihad respected Murtagh’s conviction to protect the the sanctuary of his mind, he knew Galbatorix would have no difficulty extracting information, regardless of how strong the young man’s mental defenses were. Ajihad did allow Murtagh visitors, reading materials, and good meals.
Eragon explained the events that had brought him and his companions to the Varden, including the death of Brom, a close friend of Ajihad’s. Before his demise, Brom had sent Ajihad a message, along with the ring Aren to confirm its veracity. Sure that Brom would have wanted Eragon to have Aren, Ajihad gifted him the ring. The Varden leader then advised Eragon and Saphira to remain independent of the competing forces-including himself-that were vying to control the Dragon Rider.
The Twins insisted that Ajihad punish Orik for allowing the young Rider’s group access to Farthen Dûr without permission. Instead, Ajihad removed Orik from military duty and assigned him to guard Eragon and show him around the city. It was a clever solution, meeting the requirements of Varden law so the Twins could not object, while rewarding Orik’s actions by leaving him free to act under King Hrothgar’s protection.
The Varden and the elves had agreed to share the duties of training a Dragon Rider, should one appear. Before Ajihad attempted to contact the elves with news of Eragon and Saphira’s existence, he ordered the Twins to ascertain Eragon’s magical abilities. The siblings had lied, telling him they didn’t know what Eragon’s capablilities were, in order to see if they could learn any new words in the ancient language. Arya intervened before they could do the young Rider permanent damage. Ajihad’s reaction to the Twins’ deception was not discussed in the Inheritance Cycle.
News reached Tronjheim of an Urgal army, lead by the Shade Durza, en route to invade the dwarf capital through abandoned tunnels. Ajihad quickly set about orchestrating battle preparations. He ordered Nasuada to retreat to safety with the elderly, women, and children, but she ignored him and participated in the Battle of Farthen Dûr. Ajihad released Murtagh to fight with the Varden, offering the young man the opportunity to prove his intentions. Ajihad’s gesture of good faith was rewarded; Murtagh acquitted himself well. Eragon killed Durza, which released the Urgals from the Shade’s enchantments. They fled in confusion, and the Varden won the battle.
Ajihad, Murtagh, the Twins, and a group of soldiers spent several days hunting stray Urgals in the tunnels surrounding Tronjheim. Surviving Urgals quickly dubbed the Varden leader “Nightstalker”, as much for the color of his skin as for his method of hunting them in the dark of the tunnels. Unfortunately, these expeditions left Ajihad open to treachery. The Twins organized an Urgal ambush during which Ajihad was mortally wounded and his guards killed or seriously injured. (The siblings kidnapped Murtagh, deliberately leaving behind clues that suggested that the three fell to their deaths in an abyss. It was only later that the Twins betrayal was revealed.) Eragon rushed to Ajihad’s side. With his last breath, the Varden leader extracted the Dragon Rider’s promise that he would ensure that the Varden remained strong following his death, a promise that was kept.
The dwarves honored Ajihad by entombing him in their catacombs in a hallowed alcove set aside from the dwarf graves. And there he rests.
“His skin gleamed the color of oiled ebony. The dome of his head was shaved bare, but a closely trimmed black beard covered his chin and upper lip. Strong features shadowed his face, and grave, intelligent eyes lurked under his brow. His shoulders were broad and powerful, emphasized by a tapered red vest embroidered with gold thread and clasped over a rich purple shirt. He bore himself with great dignity, exuding an intense, commanding air.
When he spoke, his voice was strong, confident: “Welcome to Tronjheim, Eragon and Saphira. I am Ajihad. Please, seat yourselves.” (Narrative, Eragon Deluxe, page 402)
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