It was not the sort of room you would expect an evil despot to be found in. The room was rather nice, actually. Tall windows looked out over gardens. Tapestries were hung on the stone walls and a large table sat in the center of it. Standing by one of the windows a man, strong –perhaps handsome at one time- certainly with an aura of power, looked out into the gardens.
Eragon entered the room, Za’roc drawn and bloodied. It had been a hard battle to get this far. The guards had been numerous, fighting hard for their king. But he had slain all who had come between him and his goal. Some with magic, some with blade. It didn’t matter how they died, just that they got out of his way. He saw the man at the window and started to approach, demanding, “Where is the king? Where is Galbatorix?”
The man turned to face Eragon, “So you are the rider I have heard so much about. At last we meet.”
“You?” Eragon said voice dripping in surprise. This man couldn’t be the evil king. He wore armor, yes, but there wasn’t a single stitch of black to be seen. Except his sword, which was black. “You are the king?”
“I am. And you are Eragon, am I correct?”
“I am Eragon, Shadeslayer, elf and dwarf friend and Dragon Rider.”
“Of course. And you’ve come to put an end to my evil reign, am I correct?”
“Yes!” He advanced forward and the king held up a hand.
“Tell me something,” he said “What thing of evil have I done to make you hate me so?”
Eragon stopped and stared, “You… you killed all the Dragon Riders.”
Galbatorix sighed, “Yes… I did. In a fit of madness… I did. And when I awoke from this madness… the final Dragon Rider dead at my feet, I realized what I had done. I had deprived the people of this land with something to look after them. They had no protection from invading forces, from the mercenary Urgals. They had no one. So I took the throne and tried to bring about some form of stability.
“It didn’t go well at the beginning and I lost a lot of the land that the Dragon Riders held… but in the end… the lands that I do hold are generally peaceful.”
“Peaceful! You!” And Eragon faltered as he tried to come up with something to deny that statement but he couldn’t. So he grabbed onto something else, “You allow slavery!”
“The slaves are well treated and they can earn their freedom. Have you ever seen a slave Eragon?” “I… just… no…your minions killed my uncle!”
“My minions… ah, you mean the Ra’zac. I do admit sending them; they were to ferret out what happened to the egg of your dragon. The Varden… for some reason … had been causing trouble in the kingdom, my peaceful kingdom. They wanted the egg. I couldn’t allow them to have for fear … for fear of someone like you. I admit they had orders to bring you back to me. Or to kill if the rider proved to be unstable. See the dragons hatch for someone with magical potential. That’s the only requirement.”
“No. You’re lying.” He took a step closer, “And they still killed my uncle.”
The king stared at him, “Did they? Did they really?”
Eragon frowned, he remembered going back to his uncle’s farm, mad furious over Roran leaving. Leaving him. How dare Roran leave him! And there was his uncle. Standing there… perhaps waiting to leave to, just like everyone else in his life had left him. His mother, his father, now his cousin. No, he couldn’t allow that. He couldn’t! He remembered calling Saphira to him and flying for the house. She was small still, but she could do damage. The … the surprise on Garrow’s face as he saw them coming, flying over the house, dropping fire onto it. And then flying away, pulled away by Saphira screaming, “Murderer!”
“No…” Eragon said softly, “You’re wrong… you’re evil! And it’s my job to stop you!” With that he raised his sword and charged the king. Who didn’t even bother to draw his weapon. Instead he barked out a word and Eragon froze, unable to speak or move.
“I’m sorry boy. I’m sorry it had to come to this. But you’re too dangerous to let live. How many people have you killed to get to me? Even the Varden are afraid of you. You’ve cost too many people their lives. I can’t allow a threat like you to live.”
Eragon wanted to scream at the man. But he couldn’t. He was completely locked up and frozen. He could do nothing as the man spoke a word, a word that he knew very well, because he had used it on a hundred other men before.
Galbatorix gazed at the fallen form of the boy Dragon Rider, his expression deep with sorrow. If only the boy had been… sane… or even salvageable. He could have helped rebuild the dragon race. Now his poor dragon would flee into the wild. He wouldn’t go after her. She would be useless to his cause now. Perhaps the green egg would yield a female as well.
Then, perhaps, he could go about atoning for his deeds and rebuilding the Dragon Riders.