IMPORTANT: The next book will be going up next week, Friday-Saturday. It won't be following on from this, but in a separate story. Why? Because I did it for the second one and stopping now would look silly, and combining them isn't an option without losing all the reviews, which I don't want to happen. So it will be in another story.


Epilogue: Why Fight?

It took him a long time to work up the courage to ask the question he had wanted to know the answer too for a long time, but he finally did.

"How do you cope with it?" Roran asked, looking at his cousin who sat there, lounging on a rock, his eyes locked on the black silhouette that was Helgrind in the distance,, his great royal dragon Saphira laid nearby and watching over the pair of them.

"Cope?" Eragon rose an eyebrow at him, though his gaze did not shift beyond a short glance.

"With… this? Well not this" he frowned "How do you cope with the fighting, the killing… with War?" there had been so much going on, Roran hadn't been able to think about all the harm he'd brought to the world, and to the people living there. Those soldiers he killed, they were men, they might have families, sons and daughters now left fatherless because of him. And it tore him apart to think of it now, yet he couldn't stop.

Every night he dreamed of their faces, saw them. Sometimes their families would appear, faceless, asking him why, accusing him, judging him, but always Why? Why did he killed them? Why did they have to die? Why should he live? Why was his life worth more? WHY?

He never had an answer.

But maybe, just maybe, Eragon would. He was a Dragon Rider after all, a being worthy of respect, a legend real before him. Tales spoke of their might, their wisdom and their immense power. So maybe Eragon would have an answer to the question that had been bothering him for so long. If nothing else, Eragon had been doing this whole 'war' business longer than Roran had.

But then again, it was Eragon.

"You…" Eragon sat up and observed him a long moment, until Roran finally got a bit too uncomfortable under those red eyes, then he chuckled "It bothers you that much, huh?" he murmured. Roran was about to answer when Eragon spoke again "Once we rescue Katrina, what happens for Roran Stronghammer then? Where does life lead you after this?" once again Eragon gaze was away, back to the mountain that was their goal.

Roran frowned "Back to the Varden, obviously."

"So you'll fight in the war against Galbatorix?"

He nodded, unsurely.

Eragon nodded in turn "Don't."

Once again, Roran frowned. Don't? Don't what? He was about to speak but Eragon cut him off, his voice quite loud and firm.

"Once we rescue Katrina, go to Surda with her. Live a life. Buy a farm. Whatever, I don't care. Just don't fight with the Varden, don't join this war."

He stared, dumbfounded. The idea had occurred to him, of course. But it mainly consisted of running from the Empire, seeking foreign lands away from his influence. Not of just moving to Surda and hiding for the remainder of the war. And Roran had no desire to hide, or be remembered as a coward who hid when the world around him fell to chaos and bloodshed.

"I can't do that" he shook his head "I have to fight. For Katrina, to give her a world where she can he happy. For the future. For… For whatever children I may have. I can't leave this world as it is. I need to do my part."

Eragon scowled and spat "I'll do it. The world is my responsibility, Katrina is yours. I'll save the world, you look after yourself" he offered.

It still wasn't good enough. Eragon wasn't wrong, compared to him Roran was but a man, a pawn in the grand scheme of things, worth… well, very little. But he couldn't just leave it to his cousin, he needed to be a part. He tried to explain this to Eragon, but Eragon's scowl just got worse.

"Stop being stupid. You're not made for this life, cousin" Eragon told him, running a finger through the dirt, making patternless patterns and meaningless symbols in the mud "You're not made to take lives, but make them. You're a farmer, that's all you've ever been, and you'll never be anything more than that."

The words might've been meant to hurt, but they made Roran smile. He had no desire to be any more than a farmer after all "And you are?" he asked calmly, offering Eragon a mild smile "You're a farmer just like me, Eragon. You're not made to take lives either."

That made the Rider laugh, very loudly, loud enough that Roran shushed him and looked around worriedly.

"You have no idea" Eragon told him, words broken by bouts of chuckling "You really don't get it" he offered Roran a vicious smirk, and once again Roran was struck by just how… horrific those eyes were "I love killing Roran. It feels… good" the mere words were repugnant to him, and he snorted in disbelief "You don't believe me?" Eragon shrugged "But I do. Killing is fun, Roran. Proving that my life is worth more. Proving that I'm more skilled. Taking what's theirs, it is genuinely enjoyable to me. I'm made for war, made to killing, made to crush. You're not. You're a man, and you're made to do nought but live and farm."

"Do you think the other men are different? Yet you don't tell them not to fight. They hate killing as much as I do, why should i be different?"

"Because I don't care about them" was Eragon's simple answer.

It stunned Roran, and for several long moments he had no response. He hadn't expected such a… selfish response. It was unworthy of a Rider, he thought, and yet… there was something kind about it. Eragon cared, in his own way. But Roran could not abandon this cause "I won't run away" he said firmly "I will fight."

"And if you die?" Eragon asked loudly, rising to his feet "Who's gonna look after Katrina, Roran? You want her to find another man, live with him, have his children, grow old with him, and forget all about that man who FUCKING DIED FOR HER?!"

He flinched, once again Eragon was too loud, but now he was also scary.

Eragon seemed to realise this and, with a loud sigh, returned yet again to his rock, his eyes returning to Helgrind.

It was rather odd, Roran mused, that he now found his cousin scary. But he did. Once Roran thought of him as a nuisance just a pain to have around. Then he thought of him as a kid, a child not understanding the truth of the world, while thinking he himself did. Then he thought of him as a brat, running off after his father was murdered to go on some 'adventure'.

Now he thought of him as an intimidating, and rather powerful figure. The dragon added to this effect, the fact that she followed in his wake almost like a loyal dog, a massive, powerful, sapphire blue, winged, scaled dog, it added something quite tangible to his presence. Of course if she ever learned he even thought that, she'd probably kill him. Saphira was quite prideful, or so he had learned from his few interactions with the dragon, whom he at first assumed was just a beast under Eragon's command.

But back to Eragon, Roran was sure what to think. A Rider should be powerful, strong, intimidating even, but Eragon was… scary, there was a difference, oddly enough, between intimidating and scary. Or maybe it was just in how he was defining a difference between the two. To him Eragon was scary because he seemed… unpredictable, when angry especially, as if he might, in an instant, just kill you for no other reason than in that instance he wanted to. It wasn't the same as how he thought of intimidating, which was purposeful, dangerous true, but not irrational, in fact very rational.

It made him uncomfortable in truth, to think about how much his cousin scared him, even though they had only become reacquainted quite recently. His cousin had become… quite a different person to the boy Roran had left back in Carvahall, a man maybe, but not an well balanced one, not a mature one, not one he wanted ruling a nation. A man he wanted on his side in a fight, on his side in almost everything, and a man whom he would be afraid of being against.

He didn't bother trying to continue the conversation, despite desiring somewhat to do so. He wanted to keep arguing that fighting was the only choice for him, for he believed it truly was. He needed to make this a world in which Katrina could be safe, and the only way he could do that was to remove Galbatorix from his throne, or so he felt. But he doubted Eragon would be swayed, and so let the matter drop.

And so they sat, waiting, for a while longer.

So that's that, Shade: Blood Ties is now completely complete. Thoughts of this scene? Thought's on the next books title? Thoughts on the fic in general? Thoughts on life, the universe, and the existential crisis one might go through on a daily basis?

Toodles till next week.