Galbatorix is dead, the Empire replaced with a new system. Read on and finish the story!

Epilog: Rider's Destinies

The Red Rider clapped a hand on his brother's back as they dismounted from their dragons and unbuckled the saddles.

Eragon grinned back at him. "How was it?" They had returned from different parts of the kingdom. Five years after Galbatorix's death, the country still needed help getting back on its feet, even though Nasuada was doing her best. The new government system had taken time to design, but the Varden had the new Dragon Riders on their side. That was good enough to get the rest of the country on their side.

"Excellent!" Murtagh's eyes twinkled. "They're operating so smoothly they hardly needed my help. I could hardly say anything except to keep on. How's Kara?"

Eragon chuckled. "Beautiful as ever, I hope. As are the others." By now, both Saphira and Veritas had had two clutches of eggs, and the new Riders were growing. Soon they would number over a hundred pairs again. Of course, some eggs were being persnickety again, so once a year Eragon and Saphira took the eggs in saddlebags and traveled over Alagaësia, seeking the new Riders. They had just returned from one such journey. But he was late in returning; he had stopped in Surda to visit Roran and Katrina for a few days, where they had happily lived with their children since a year after the end of the war. Now Eragon was impatient to see what had happened in his absence.

His smile faded as he remembered Master Oromis. The old elf and his dragon had died two years ago, happy that they had lived to see Galbatorix's downfall and death. Now Kara and Aelyn had taken over the majority of the training of the new Riders. That included Elva, who had hatched one of Veritas' first eggs shortly after her curse was dispelled; she and her dragon, indigo-scaled Kale, now lived with Aelyn, who treated the girl as a younger sister.

The last of the old dragons were gone with Glaedr's death; weak, crazed old Shruikan had died a month after Galbatorix, too maimed mentally to survive without the security of a semblance of partnership. Kara had been very sad afterward, he remembered.

There was a roar overhead as Ayatas circled above them. Come in; dinner's waiting for you, Eragon. As is Kara. You need to hurry home, Murtagh.

The Red Rider nodded and remounted Thorn. They took off to the clearing and tree where Aelyn and he lived. Eragon grinned, winked at Ayatas, and turned his head to where the door to his own treehouse stood.

As usual when he came home from one of his journeys, Kara sat overhead in one of the branches, grinning widely. "Supper's waiting. Hurry before it gets cold," she told him before climbing back in through a window.

Once again, he thanked the stars for Angela and Arya's skills. Had it not been for their quick action, Kara would never have been able to lift a sword or shoot a bow again; as it was, her strength was mostly back and she could fight and move as well and gracefully as ever. As she had just demonstrated by easily moving around by way of the window.

He smiled, opening the door and running up the stairs. Running to her embrace was always something he looked forward to. Warmth spread in his stomach as he opened the door to find her standing there, wearing her sleeveless, knee-length, moss-green tunic and green crystal. As usual, she was barefoot indoors. Black curls lay tucked behind her ear, and a sweet smiled graced her apple-blossom lips. As was his custom, he checked to see her eye color: a sweet, misty emerald green flecked with gold.

She embraced him, clutching as if she feared he would disappear again. He laughed, answering with a kiss, glancing at the table as he did so. From the smell and look, he decided Kara had probably prepared his favorite vegetable soup and rye bread.

He remembered Angela's prophecy again about his long journey away from Alagaësia, and Solembum's words of advice about the Vault of Souls. He had no doubt now that both would come true someday.

But not yet. For now and a long time since, he had other things to keep him here, things to love and cherish.

He had his responsibilities as a senior Rider.

He had his home in Ellesméra.

He had his family and his friends.

And, most importantly of all, he had his lover.

His mate.

His Kara.

And so ends their tale.

Thanks to all of you who stayed with me throughout this story. I've really enjoyed writing it. I am afraid I will not write a sequel, nor do I know when I will begin my next fic, or what it will be about. But I'll make sure it is memorable. Keep your eyes out.

Thank you, everyone!