the ashen light that precedes dawn. Saphira had landed in the hol-
low where they were now, and they had slept through most of the
past day before beginning their reconnaissance.
 A fountain of amber motes billowed and swirled as Roran tossed
a branch onto the disintegrating coals. He caught Eragon's look and
shrugged. "Cold," he said.
 Before Eragon could respond, he heard a slithering scraping
sound akin to someone drawing a sword.
 He did not think; he flung himself in the opposite direction,
rolled once, and came up into a crouch, lifting the hawthorn staff to
deflect an oncoming blow. Roran was nearly as fast. He grabbed his
shield from the ground, scrambled back from the log he had been
sitting on, and drew his hammer from his belt, all in the span of a
few seconds.
 They froze, waiting for the attack.
 Eragon's heart pounded and his muscles trembled as he searched
the darkness for the slightest hint of motion.
 I smell nothing, said Saphira.
 When several minutes elapsed without incident, Eragon pushed
his mind out over the surrounding landscape. "No one," he said.
Reaching deep within himself to the place where he could touch
the flow of magic, he uttered the words "Brisingr raudhr!" A pale
red werelight popped into existence several feet in front of him and
remained there, floating at eye level and painting the hollow with a
watery radiance. He moved slightly, and the werelight mimicked his
motion, as if connected to him by an invisible pole.
 Together, he and Roran advanced toward where they'd heard
the sound, down the gulch that wound eastward. They held their
weapons high and paused between each step, ready to defend them-
selves at any moment. About ten yards from their camp, Roran held
up a hand, stopping Eragon, then pointed at a plate of shale that
lay on top of the grass. It appeared conspicuously out of place.
Kneeling, Roran rubbed a smaller fragment of shale across the plate
and created the same steely scrape they and heard before.



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