Eragon, Chapter 43: Water From Sand
Alas, Eragon does not hit his head and die. He is, however, really cranky and snaps at Murtagh for pointing out that they can’t keep up the pace they’re going at. And then, in the same breath, manages to both complain that Murtagh is slowing them down and insist that he stay because it would be “poor thanks” to just leave him. Even though it would be far easier for him to evade the Empire’s forces if he’s on his own, and Arya would get medical attention that much faster. Nope, we’re just going to stick with pointless chivalry!
They discuss where to go next; they could hide in Du Weldenvarden, the forest where the elves live, but Murtagh understandably doesn’t want to go anywhere near Gil’ead. Which really leaves only other option, especially if they want to reach the Varden: crossing the Hadarac Desert. It sounds so welcoming after Murtagh’s description of it, too:
“It’s filled with poisonous and inedible plants, venomous snakes, scorpions, and a blistering sun. You saw the great plain on our way to Gil’ead? […] Then you are familiar with its immense range. It fills the heart of the Empire. Now imagine something two or three times its size, and you’ll understand the vastness of the Hadarac desert. That is what you’re proposing to cross.”
[…] “But that isn’t the point I was trying to make. The Hadarac Desert is so huge and contains so many dangers, the chances are slim that we can cross it unscathed. It is a desperate path to take.”
Now, considering that (SPOILER!) the Varden headquarters are located at the far end of the desert – almost diagonal from Gil’ead, actually – that means they’re going to have to cut right through the middle of the desert to get there. If they didn’t have a wounded person with them, I’d suggest skirting around the north side. It would take longer, and they’d probably have to go into the desert a bit as they pass Gil’ead to avoid detection, but then they would be more likely to find food and water, and they’d avoid most of the danger that Murtagh is talking about.
But then the book would probably be a hundred pages longer, so maybe it’s for the best that they just went straight through the desert.
Murtagh finally gives in, but then points out that there’s no way they can get enough water for themselves, let alone Saphira or the horses. They can’t carry the amount they need, either. So Eragon gets it into his fool head to mess around with magic that he doesn’t understand:
He knelt and picked up a stone with a cavity large enough for a mouthful of water. He pressed a clump of dirt into the hollow and studied it thoughtfully. Now came the hard part. Somehow he had to convert the dirt into water. But what words should I use? He puzzled over it for a moment, then picked two he hoped would work. The icy magic rushed through him as he breached the familiar barrier in his mind and commanded, “Deloi moi!”
Immediately the dirt began to absorb his strength at a prodigious rate. Eragon’s mind flashed back to Brom’s warning that certain tasks could consume all of his power and take his life.
A bit late to think of that now, isn’t it?
Panic blossomed in his chest. He tried to release the magic but could not. It was linked to him until the task was complete or he was dead. All he could do was remain motionless, growing weaker every moment.
Just as he became convinced that he would die kneeling there, the dirt shimmered and morphed into a thimbleful of water.
Saphira is surprisingly nonchalant about the whole thing, gently scolding Eragon to be more careful when using magic (instead of doing what I would do, which would be smacking him upside the head for being a fucking moron). Eragon asks her if she can make water with the same magic she used to fancy up Brom’s tomb.
Eragon, she said, looking him squarely in the face. I’ve no more control over my abilities than a spider does.
Um, pretty sure spiders have a good handle on their “abilities”. Webs don’t magically appear from nowhere at random times – spiders actively make them. If she means she has as much of a choice over how her powers work as a spider does, that makes a little more sense but is still a poor analogy.
Things like that occur whether I will them or not. Brom told you that unusual events happen around dragons. He spoke truly. He gave no explanation for it, nor do I have one. Sometimes I can work changes just by feel, almost without thought. The rest of the time – like right now – I’m as powerless as Snowfire.
Powerless my ASS. You’re a flying bundle of scales and teeth! You could tear a man apart with ease! You eventually learn to breathe fire! How is that powerless?! GAH. I don’t have time for emo dragons, dammit.
Anyway, Eragon gets quiet as he starts thinking about Brom and Carvahall. He scratches in the dirt for a bit, then realizes that there’s water underground that he can just pull up with magic. Water problem: SOLVED. I’m so glad we dedicated an entire chapter to this.