Letter from Jeod

manwritesletterThis letter from Jeod Longshanks was originally published in the deluxe edition of Inheritance.

Jeod is not only a member of the Varden but also of the Arcaena, a small, secretive sect founded at least five hundred years ago near Kuasta. He confided a few details to Eragon prior to the Rider’s departure to the unknown lands to the east: the group “. . . believes that all knowledge is sacred. They have dedicated themselves to collecting every piece of information in the world and preserving it against a time when they believe an unspecified catastrophe will destroy all the civilizations in Alagaësia.”

Through Jeod’s missive, readers will get a glimpse of life in Alagaësia nearly a year after Galbatorix’s demise, along with insight on the activities and whereabouts of some of the series’ other main characters. We may have to wait until later books to find out more about the mysterious Arcaena though!

Dear Ertharis,

I apologize for not writing sooner. No doubt you have received a thorough accounting of the events of the past year from your other Eyes and Voices. And no doubt you are still impatient for my own report, given my proximity to all that has transpired.

The reasons for my delay are simple. First, a great deal of import has elapsed since the capture of Feinster, and I have learned more besides, which has recast much of what occurred before, even going back to the fall of the Riders. As a result, it was no small task to set down this History (if I may be so bold as to give my feeble efforts such an elevated title). Indeed, it took me all of winter and a fair portion of the spring and summer.

Second, I am somewhat ashamed to admit, I have fallen prey to the vice of greed—the greed for knowledge. It is, I hope, an understandable fault. Like all members of our order (and most especially, Eyes such as myself), I cannot help but want to know more about the happenings of our land. I have put off sending you this manuscript again and again out of a desperate desire to see how the lives of certain people might unfold and where certain threads and trends might lead. But then, nothing ever truly resolves, does it, old friend? Things only change or transform, but they never end.

Therefore, as I ought to have done three months ago, I have entrusted this History to the courier Reldan, whom, if all goes well, you will have already met. I hope the manuscript arrives unscathed, for it is the only copy, and I quail at the thought of having to compose it anew.

A few items of note that lie outside the scope of this chronicle:

Of Eragon and Saphira, little is known. Nasuada had word from them but last week; apparently, work upon the Riders’ stronghold will soon be done. Where that might be, though, remains as much a mystery as before. The only conclusion I think we can draw with certainty is that it lies within sight of the Edda River, somewhere far to the east.

Of Murtagh and Thorn, even less can be said. A merchant from the north told me that a band of troubadours saw a great red creature flying along the edge of Du Weldenvarden, close to the city of Ceunon. Players are notoriously unreliable, and I am reluctant to give much credence to their stories, but I include the mention here on the off chance that it may confirm the accounts of others.

Neither the egg given to the dwarves nor the egg given to the Urgals has hatched. It has only been a few months, however, so hope is yet high that the dragons will find suitable matches within the chosen races. I confess the thought of a Kull becoming a Rider gives me pause.

Arya and Fírnen have kept to Du Weldenvarden for the main, but they have flown out upon two occasions in order to help Nasuada. The first was to forestall an armed conflict between two of her more obstreperous earls. The second is explained below.

Nasuada’s plan to organize and keep watch over every magician within her purview proceeds apace. It has gone about as smoothly as one might expect, which is to say, not at all. Except for the magicians who were predisposed to serve their queen and country in the first place, they have, as a rule, objected strenuously to the restrictions Nasuada has imposed on them. Several altercations have broken out between members of Du Vrangr Gata and those they were attempting to put under observation.

The most serious altercation occurred when Nasuada sent four of her pet spellcasters to find a magician—a hermit by the name of Tenga—whom Eragon discovered while traveling alone in the wastes between Helgrind and the Burning Plains (as described in one of my earlier reports). However, the spellcasters never returned. At Nasuada’s request, Arya and Fírnen went to investigate. They found the four lying dead outside the elven watchtower where Tenga had been living and Tenga fled to parts unknown. As of yet, naught else has been heard of him, which is worrisome. The situation bears close attention. Still, Nasuada remains undaunted, and she continues to seek out and establish hold over the spellcasters of Surda and her kingdom.

On a related note: Angela the herbalist. She too seems to have disappeared as a result of Nasuada’s initiative. But, given the herbalist’s affinity for turning up wherever things of import are about to occur, I guess she has not gone far. As you asked, I attempted to track her. The spell you sent me, however, did not work when I read it from the scroll. Either it was miscast or she possesses wards sufficient to protect her from even such magic as that of the Nameless One.

I agree that the herbalist deserves further scrutiny. Her very existence poses a number of seemingly impossible conundrums, and the more I consider them, the more concerned I become. The answers I’ve arrived at—however tenuous—are unsettling at best and terrifying at worst. When I decided to make my home in Teirm, after my misadventures with Brom, Angela was already living there. I only saw her in passing—more in later years, when she moved her shop close to my house—and it took at least a decade before I began to notice how little she aged. And it was not until I encountered her among the Varden, soon after the Battle of the Burning Plains, that I realized that she does not seem to be aging at all. That, along with her strange and varied powers—of which you will learn more in my History—leads me to speculate that perhaps she is not entirely human. If not (if perhaps she is half-elf, for example), then she has disguised herself most effectively, for on the surface, she appears human in full. She is very short, though, so I would not discount the possibility that she is part dwarf. I saw her bathing her feet one time, and she has the normal number of toes, but that, in and of itself, proves nothing.

Another possibility, and one I shudder to contemplate, is that she is neither human nor elf nor dwarf nor some combination thereof. It is an outlandish idea, I know, but I cannot help but consider it. Could she be one of the Grey Folk? Could she be part werecat (for they do seem unusually partial to her)? Or is she something else entirely? Is she perhaps more akin to the “Inarë,” assuming that what Eragon saw was real and they actually exist? That is the most frightening thought of all. It does not explain everything about her, but it would explain more than any other theory.

Whatever the truth may be, I would advise every Voice and Eye to keep watch for her in the future. She does not know who we are, I think (I hope), and I believe it important to learn as much as we can about her. Where is she from? Does she have estates elsewhere? And most important, what is she capable of?

Of Roran Stronghammer, I have nothing new to add. I would guess you know more about his activities in Palancar Valley than I do here in Ilirea.

And that, I believe, is all. Any other questions you have should be answered within this History. If not, I of course will be happy to revise or clarify.

I would note that the name of Nasuada’s kingdom was by far the most aggravating aspect of writing the latter part of the manuscript. By all rights, her realm ought to be known as the Varden Kingdom, even as the Broddring Kingdom was named after the Broddrings. I put the idea to Nasuada myself, but she refused. She said that the Varden Kingdom was too similar in sound and meaning to Du Weldenvarden, and that she did not want it to seem as if we are vassals of the elves.

Well, in that I suppose she is right. The next logical step would be to name the kingdom (or rather queendom, if one is being precise) after Nasuada or her family. However, she also refused to give her name to the kingdom, as she said that would be presumptuous, and as of yet, she has no family name. If she were to marry one who did, that would of course solve the problem.

Ultimately, the people themselves may decide this question for us, but in the meantime, it provided me with no end of irritation. My solution, as you will see, was simply to refer to the country as “her land” or “her kingdom,” which—while inelegant—at least has the virtue of simplicity.

If you have any thoughts upon the matter, I would be most interested to hear them.

As for myself, I’m doing well, as is Helen, better than ever before. Our business prospers, and I feel as if we might actually have a chance of living out our old age in peace and comfort, a fate that hardly seemed possible last year. I would still like to visit Ellesméra or Tronjheim, and it may be that our trading will take us there. But for the present, I have had enough traveling. My days of adventure are over, I hope, and now it is time to devote myself to learning and contemplation, ever my favorite pursuits.

And what of you, old friend? All fares well at the Reliquary? Have your roses given you a good harvest of blossoms this year? And what of Brother Hern’s illumination? Has he finished the fourth part of the book yet, or is he still struggling with the capitals at the beginnings of all those chapters?

I am most eager to know what you think of this History. I confess to feeling equal parts pride and trepidation upon sending it off: pride on account of the size and scope of the manuscript, and trepidation because I know that it, like all large works, is of a necessity imperfect. A poem may be without flaws, but an epic never. Yet I stand by what I have written, and I look forward to your reply with great anticipation, for I hold your judgment in the highest esteem.

In darkness and in light,
Jeod Longshanks

PS. I forgot; nothing else of the Ra’zac or the Lethrblaka has been seen anywhere within Surda or Nasuada’s realm. Hopefully, this will remain so for many years to come.

PPS. No, Galbatorix’s body was never found. It seems inconceivable to me, though, that he could still be alive. If he did survive, he seems to have no interest in retaking his throne. In either event, I do not think we need worry about him again.

 

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.