Ahno the Trickster

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This scene from Brisingr takes place in the chapter “Over Hill and Mountain,” when Eragon and Garzhvog are sitting around the fire one evening during their journey from the Varden to Bregan Hold on Mount Thardûr. It provides further insight into Urgal culture.

Eragon watched the glowing rim of the crescent moon appear above the eastern horizon, the moon as large as a mountain, so close to the ground. “Tell me another story,” he said.

His heavy eyes pensive, Garzhvog worked his makeshift toothpick around one of his fangs and then said, “Long ago, when the world was not so old, in the season of snow, Ahno the Trickster was sore hungry, even more hungry than we were just now. So, he took his bow and his arrows, and he set out to kill a deer. For three days and three nights, he tracked a herd through the forest of the Spine, but the deer were quick and clever, and Ahno could not catch them. He grew so weak, he thought, ‘Surely now I will die.’ Having lost the strength to continue, he stopped where he was and watched as the deer ate the bark on the trees and the grass under the snow. And he thought, ‘If I were a deer, I could eat what they eat, and then I would not be so hungry.’ The thought pleased him, so he changed his skin for that of a deer, and he joined the herd, and he ate what they ate. At first he thought, ‘Once my strength returns, I will change back into my own form, and I will shoot the buck who leads this herd and hang his horns over my hearth.’ But then he would find another patch of grass to eat, and soon he began to act like a deer, and he forgot about his clothes and his weapons, and he followed the herd as it migrated through the mountains toward its spring fields. When fall came, his blood burned with the madness of rut, and he fought the other bucks, and he mated with the finest does, and they bore him many children. And for three years, he led his own herd through the Spine, and he lived as an animal and not as an Urgralgra.

“Ahno’s father, Svarvok, had been busy that whole while forging the iron rungs so he could climb Yngla Mountain and steal back the magic spear the dragon Ënurfala had taken from him. Having finished that task, Svarvok wondered where his son was and sent his eagles to look for him. When the eagles found Ahno, they told him his father wished to see him, but Ahno did not remember the speech of Urgralgra. Then Svarvok went to his son in the Spine, and he said, ‘What have you done, Ahno? Why do you wear the skin of a deer and live the life of an animal?’ And some of his memories returned to Ahno, and he said, ‘Father, I enjoy being a deer. I think I will stay like this.’ Svarvok grew angry with Ahno then, and he called a pack of wolves from the forest, and he told them to chase his son as far as they could. This they did, and Ahno yelped and cried as the wolves nipped at his legs and his tail and scratched his flanks with their claws. At last, tired of running, Ahno changed back into his true form, and he beat the wolves with a thick branch until they fled from him. Sore and bleeding, Ahno returned to his father, and Svarvok asked him, ‘What have you learned from this, Ahno?’ And Ahno laughed and answered, ‘That it is better to be a wolf than a deer!’ And he changed into a wolf and ran howling after the wolves he had beaten, and he joined their pack. And how Svarvok dealt with his son then is another story entirely.”

Eragon chuckled and said, “A good story.”

“A good story,” agreed Garzhvog.

 

Christopher Paolini

About Christopher Paolini

Christopher Paolini is the author of the international bestsellers Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance, along with Eragon’s Guide to Alagaësia. He resides in Paradise Valley, Montana, USA.