Arya returns from the tunnels, having found the captives’ clothes but no trace of the men themselves, including when she attempts to scry them, or locate them by magic. Eragon, still having traumatic battle flashbacks, thinks back to the combat and realizes he defeated the Shade only by luck; he determines to follow his plan to leave Tronjheim and study with the elves.
Eragon and Saphira discuss the politics of the Varden, knowing that they will be asked to endorse a candidate to succeed Ajihad. They are asked to meet with the Council of Elders, an advisory group who represent the people to the leader of the Varden.
The Council tells Eragon that they have decided to ask Ajihad’s daughter, Nasuada, to be the Varden’s new leader, and, conferring telepathically, Eragon and Saphira deduce that they hope she will be a puppet they can control. The Council leaders ask Eragon and Saphira to support Nasuada’s appointment, and, in a public ceremony, to swear fealty—not toNasuada herself, but to the Varden and, by implication, the Council. Not wanting to make enemies, Eragon cautiously agrees. Nasuada is called into the chamber and agrees to accept her father’s position.