Encyclopedia Alagaësia: Horst

old anvil in workshopHorst began his studies to become a blacksmith under Bartram, but the older man died when Horst was fifteen, a year before the apprenticeship was to be complete. So he traveled to Ceunon to find another mentor, which he did in the form of Kelton, an unpleasant person who had good expertise in the field. Horst eventually chose to ply his trade in Carvahall with his wife, Elain, and their two sons, Albriech and Baldor. Their home, which took seven years and at least three broken toes to build, showcased his abilities:

“Horst had built his two-story house on a hill so he could enjoy a view of the mountains. He had lavished all of his skill on it. The shale roof shadowed a railed balcony that extended from a tall window on the second floor. Each water spout was a snarling gargoyle, and every window and door was framed by carvings of serpents, harts, ravens, and knotted vines.” (Deluxe edition Eragon, page 83)

Horst’s reputation was one of honest work and a big heart. He and his family had befriended Garrow and his charges, Roran and Eragon. When the village butcher, Sloan, refused to sell Eragon meat in exchange for a valuable stone (which later turned out to be a dragon egg), Horst stepped in to intermediate. The blacksmith ordered the best cuts and paid for Eragon, though he was forced to threaten Sloan, who was still resistant to providing any provisions to the boy—money or no money. When they left the butcher’s shop, Horst expressed his dislike of the proprietor. He didn’t accept Eragon’s offer to pay him back with the stone, but suggested that Eragon could work for him in the spring as an assistant when Albriech would leave for Feinster.

The blacksmith wasn’t opposed to facilitating love matches either. When Roran sent a verbal message to his love, Katrina, and Eragon couldn’t deliver it, Horst discretely agreed to let her know instead.

Garrow and his boys went over to Horst’s house for dinner following the sale of their crops. It was during this meeting that Roran met Dempton, a mill owner from Therinsford who had come to town to commission sockets from the blacksmith. Dempton offered Roran a job, which the young man accepted. On the day they departed, Horst pulled Eragon aside to warn him that two strangers (later revealed to be Ra’zac) had been snooping around town, trying to find out if a mysterious “stone” had been found.

His caution was well founded. The visitors tortured and fatally poisoned Garrow with Seithr oil, burned the farmer’s barn to the ground, and their winged parents tore the house from its foundation. Eragon was discovered unconscious with legs rubbed bloody and Garrow in tow on the road back to Carvahall. Horst hosted Garrow while the village healer, Gertrude, did everything she could to save his life. The blacksmith sent Baldor and Albriech to fetch Roran from Therinsford, but the young man never got to speak to his father again—Garrow died before he could return.

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Horst tried to find out what had happened, but there weren’t many facts. He learned only that the strangers who were searching for the stone were involved, that some large beasts had torn the farmhouse apart, that perhaps magic had been used . . . and that the visitors would certainly be back. Though Horst didn’t say it when he first questioned Eragon, he doubted that the boy had shared everything about what had occurred prior to when Brom had found the youth collapsed and Garrow unconscious. The tracks around the destroyed farmhouse and road—as well as the injuries Eragon had sustained—were not consistent with the given explanation. Horst planned to question him thoroughly when he had recovered from his wounds a bit more, but Eragon disappeared before that could happen. The only explanation was a vague note that Brom, who accompanied Eragon on his flight from Carvahall, left for Roran.

Five months passed, during which Horst and six others helped Roran salvage whatever was still useable from Garrow’s ruined farm. Roran stayed at the blacksmith’s home. The young man worked in the forge and hunted meat for his keep, planning to raise a new homestead in the spring.

Even with so much sorrow, there was joy; Elain was pregnant with their third child. Village life continued in predictable ways, the highlights included repairing Quimby’s wagon and a mild row between Albriech and Thane, the latter accusing the first of scythe-theft.

Then the strangers returned to Carvahall, bolstered with a group of the Empire’s soldiers, looking for Garrow’s son. Horst sent Roran to hide in the woods astride the blacksmith’s mare in hopes of protecting Roran and giving the residents plausible deniability: the young man was hunting in the Spine and no one knew when he would return.

The situation soon worsened when one of the soldiers drunkenly threw a pitcher that killed Quimby, a local farmer and brewer, instantly. The visitors stole the body and would not return it. Horst and Loring successfully petitioned for the remains the next day and Quimby’s wife, Birgit, received a pile of bones, picked clean of every scrape of flesh and most cracked open for their marrow—all that was left of her husband. This is when it became clear that the strangers/Ra’zac were not human. No one faced punishment for the murder.

WikipediaCommons-FIRE_01-croppedIn the evening of the following day, several homes were burned down in a fire started by more drunken soldiers. Once again, the Ra’zac refused to compensate those affected. Albriech fetched Roran to meet with some of the villagers to decide on a course of action; they could not just stand by and allow themselves to be killed and their homes destroyed. So Horst, Baldor, Albriech, Roran, Parr, Gedric, Delwin, Nolfavrell, Loring, Loring’s sons, and a number of other men invaded the squatters’ encampment, successfully driving them into temporary retreat.

The Raz’ac and their soldiers retaliated shortly after, during which the Lethrblaka’s offspring gave two options: either hand over Roran and be sold as slaves, or resist and die. The villagers chose to fight and once more drove the aggressors back, but not without casualties.

It was clear that Carvahall could not resist the onslaught of the Empire indefinitely. A meeting was called at Horst’s home to determine what the next course of action would be and whether Horst and his crew should be punished for attacking the soldiers in the first place. It was decided that there was no benefit to surrendering Roran now, so the best thing to do was fortify the village’s defenses and send the vulnerable to hide when a safe route could be found.

Trenches were dug, brambles set, and logs were put in place quickly, but it was not yet possible to send the children away (the Ra’zac were blocking access to the most obvious hideaways). In the next attack, Elmund, a young boy, was killed. Another strategy session was held in Horst’s home. The only viable option remaining was to send the very young, weak, and infirm to hide in the Spine with ample supplies until it was safe to return.

Roran and Sloan had a falling out that resulted in Katrina losing her inheritance and dowry. Horst’s wife, Elain, kindly lent the butcher’s daughter Baldor’s room to stay in for the night. Unfortunately, the Ra’zac and six soldiers infiltrated Carvahall and stole Katrina away. Only the swift intervention of Horst, Baldor, and Albriech prevented Roran from being kidnapped as well. A subsequent rescue attempt failed, and Katrina and her father were taken to an unknown location (later revealed to be Helgrind). It became clear that Sloan had betrayed the villagers and made a deal with the Ra’zac, killing Byrd in the process.

There were no more soldiers left and the Ra’zac were gone, but they would certainly be back. Desperate to save his fellow denizens and find Katrina, Roran made an impassioned speech beseeching any and all to follow him over the Spine to Surda to join the Varden against Galbatorix. If Horst chose to go, he would lose the majority of his blacksmithing tools (whatever he could not take, he would destroy or bury), and because of this Baldor and Albriech would lose most of their inheritance. But the decision was clear. Horst and his family followed Roran into the Spine, working closely with Eragon’s cousin to ensure the villagers as safe and comfortable a journey as possible.

Their first stop was Narda. Horst, Baldor, and a number of others accompanied Roran into the city to secure supplies and, hopefully, transport to Teirm. It was the wrong time of year to book passage on a traditional boat, but they were able to hire Clovis, captain of three barges, to ship “livestock.” Because of their desperate circumstances, the villages were forced to lie about having the funds owed for the trip, only giving half the agreed amount, something that did not sit well with Horst in the slightest. Though displeased, Clovis helped them escape with minimal resistance.

When the villagers neared Teirm, Horst was left to oversee the barges while Roran and a handful of others went to the city to secure a proper boat. Their inquiries serendipitously led them to the door of Jeod Longshanks. Together they hatched a plan to commandeer one of the Empire’s ships (the Dragon Wing), pick up the remaining villagers, and sail to Surda. Things went well, barring the burning of Teirm’s wharf.

Shortly after they were out to sea, a Ra’zac mounted on a Lethrblaka appeared. Baldor was able to exploit the Ra’zac’s fear of the sea and shoot an arrow into the mount’s flank, sending it careening away.

Several days later three sloops, swift enough to nearly overtake the Dragon Wing, pursued them. Fortunately, a two-day-long storm interrupted the onslaught. Jeod recommended that they sail through the Boar’s Eye in a desperate attempt to lose the three ships. Nearly trapped by the strong currents of the whirlpool, the villagers alternated with each other at the oars, rowing for their lives. The Dragon Wing ultimately made it across to the other side, but the three pursuing vessels were swallowed into the sea.

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Horst and the others finally arrived in Dauth, Surda, where they were given a hearty welcome by the governor, Lady Alarice. But as much as the villagers wanted to settle and rest, Roran convinced them that the only way they would ever be safe in Surda was to aid the Varden to defeat Galbatorix. So up the Jiet River they sailed, just in time to join the Battle of the Burning Plains.

The resistance was victorious on the Burning Plains. Following Katrina’s rescue, the villagers threw Eragon a surprise party, which went a long way toward healing any lingering rifts or resentment for the trouble his destiny had caused them.

Horst, when not in battle, was put to work as a blacksmith once more alongside his sons. Because Elain’s pregnancy was increasingly difficult, he got special permission to place his forge adjacent to their tent so that he could be nearby.

Despite the ongoing war and concern for his wife and unborn child’s health, there was joy. Roran and Katrina married, with Horst and Birgit negotiating for the bride and groom during the ceremony.

The Varden steadily made their way to Urû’baen. Shortly before Roran was sent to capture Aroughs, Elain went into labor. It was long and painful, further complicated by the fact that the superstitious village women would not let Arya sing the child out of the womb. The baby girl was born with a cleft palate, a particularly hard fate since humans didn’t have a means of treating the condition. Horst asked Eragon to heal her and the Rider did. (Arya also eased Elain’s recovery.) Jubilant and grateful, Horst and Elain named their child Hope.

Dras-Leona was the Varden’s next target. For this battle, Roran selected Horst as his second in command, as there was no one (besides Eragon) that he would prefer to have by his side more than the blacksmith, who was a skilled leader and warrior. Horst wasn’t thrilled with the promotion but did his duty without complaint.

Ever advancing, the resistance finally made their way to Urû’baen. Baldor’s right hand was cut off during the battle, but Horst protected his son from the assailant until Roran was able to assign two soldiers to take Baldor to healers outside the city walls. Content that the best would be done for his son, Horst stayed to aid Roran in defeating Lord Barst. Galbatorix committed suicide during his confrontation with Eragon, Saphira, Murtagh, Thorn, Arya, Elva, and the Vault of Souls Eldunarí. And, finally, Alagaësia was free of its oppressor.

Now what to do? Horst, Elain, their children, and many of the villagers returned to Carvahall to rebuild the town, making it even better than before. Ambitious plans included erecting a castle for additional protection…should there ever be another tyrant to dethrone.

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