Afterward, Nasuada had said, "We are trusting your judgment in
this, Eragon, Saphira. For your sake and ours, I hope this expedition
goes well." Her tone left Eragon uncertain whether her words repre-
sented a heartfelt wish or subtle threat.
 Eragon had spent the rest of that day gathering supplies, studying
maps of the Empire with Saphira, and casting what spells he felt
were necessary, such as one to thwart attempts by Galbatorix or his
minions to scry Roran.
 The following morning, Eragon and Roran had climbed onto
Saphira's back, and she had taken flight, rising above the orange
clouds that stifled the Burning Plains and angling northeast. She
flew nonstop until the sun had traversed the dome of the sky and
extinguished itself behind the horizon and then burst forth again
with a glorious conflagration of reds and yellows.
 The first leg of their journey carried them toward the edge of the
Empire, which few people inhabited. There they turned west toward
Dras-Leona and Helgrind. From then on, then traveled at night to
avoid notice by anyone in the many small villages scattered across
the grasslands that lay between then and their destination.
 Eragon and Raran had to swathe themselves in cloaks and furs
and wool mittens and felted hats, for Saphira close to fly higher
than the icebound peaks of most mountains--where the air was
thin and dry and stabbed at their lungs--so that if a farmer tending
a sick calf in the field or a sharp-eyed watchman making his rounds
should happen to look up as she passed overhead, Saphira would ap-
pear no larger than an eagle.
 Everywhere they went, Eragon saw evidence of the war that was
now afoot: camps of soldiers, wagons full of supplies gathered into a
bunch for the might, and lines of men with iron collars being led
from their homes to fight on Galbatorix's behalf. The amount of re-
sources deployed against them was daunting indeed.
 Near the end of the second night, Helgrind had appeared in
the distance: a mass of splintered columns, vague and ominous in

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