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Eragon, Saphira, and Angela the herbalist arrive at Nasuada's tent and make apologies for being late. Nasuada then explains to Elva her value to the Varden and asks her to release Eragon from his promise to undo the effects of his blessing. Though it is an eloquent speech, Elva responds with a flat "No," and elaborates that she has been forced to feel the pain, the dying agony of others ever since Eragon's "blessing" and that she feels it even now. She asks if Nasuada truly understands how this feels and states that it has deprived her of the opportunity to be like other children. She concludes that asking her to remain this way is too much to ask of her. She states that only a fool would ask an infant to martyr herself and that she is as iron in her decision. Nasuada tries further pleading, but it proves fruitless. Angela refuses to intervene and Eragon suggests only that she not reject Nasuada's request out of hand, as she may be their best hope to defeat Galbatorix. Saphira asks her what is in heart and she states that she has already spoken it.
Nasuada agrees to abide by Elva's choice and asks Eragon to proceed. Greta, Elva's caretaker, asks if it will hurt and Eragon says that he isn't sure, as removing spells is an imprecise art. Greta urges Elva to be brave and Elva bristles. Eragon explains that there are two methods for breaking an enchantment, to either open one's mind to the flow of energy and recant the words and intention of the original spell, or to cast a spell that counteracts the effects of the original. The second method is the one that he intends to try. The disadvantage of the first method is that it could end up simply altering the original spell and then the magician would have to unsay two spells. The disadvantage of the second is that it might not block all of the effects of Eragon's original spell, in which case he could cast another. Additionally, the energy to sustain the spell must come from Elva, as if he got too far away from her, he would die. Elva gives her permission to proceed and Eragon proceeds to recite the words of the counterspell, a spell he spent long hours during his trip from Helgrind composing. Throughout, Saphira supports him with her strength. After five full minutes, Eragon finishes the spell, but Elva states that she can still sense the people in pain, though the urge to help them has gone away. Eragon is troubled that the spell did not perform as he expected, but begins to contemplate possible alternatives, only for Elva to suddenly shout "No!"
She tells him not to try again and when he begins to question it, she states that she doesn't want anymore spells feeding off her and she's realized that, without the urge to aid people, she can ignore their pain and not feel any worse for it. She admits that she doesn't yet have perfect control over it, but finds it a great relief nevertheless. Saphira calls it madness and asks why she would choose to live that way when Eragon could free her completely. Elva replies that she'll never be like ordinary people, so she wants to keep what sets her apart. Since she now has control, she no longer objects to her burden. She states that she will only serve the Varden if her conscience tells her to and that she will do as she pleases. Greta tells her to not say such terrible things and Elva replies that she no longer needs her. "I will live alone, tend to myself, and be beholden to one." Eragon is appalled and opens his mouth to deliver a counterspell, only for Elva to clap her hand over his lips. Saphira snarls and Nasuada's guards, as well as Blödhgarm and Eragon's other Elf-guards, come rushing in. Elva is not perturbed and tells Eragon that if he casts the spell, then he will hurt her, as he will be controlling her for his own satisfaction, something that Galbatorix would approve of. Eragon is cowed, as she has correctly assessed his fears to the core. She thanks him for correcting his mistake, but states that he can count her as neither friend nor foe. To Saphira, however, she states that she gave her the star upon her brow and has always been kind to her, so she is her faithful servant. She then wishes the group good day and exits the tent. Eragon asks what sort of monster he's created, and the Urgal members of Nasuada's Nighthawks touch the tips of their horns, a way of warding off evil. Nasuada states that the game has simply gotten a little more complicated, but then Eragon feels a stinging slap that knocks his head to one side. It turns out to have come from Angela, and Eragon, stunned, asks her what she did it for. Angela grumbles that she's going to have to spend the next ten years teaching Elva to behave, which isn't what she wanted to be doing for the next decade. When Eragon replies that Elva would stop Angela as easily as she stopped him, Angela reveals that she cast a spell the moment she met Elva that prevents the girl from sensing what bothers her or what might be about to hurt her. Nasuada asks if she would share this spell. "No, I don't think I will," replies Angela and she strides out of the pavilion, Solembum trailing behind. "Magic," lament Nasuada and Eragon. Greta wails that she's lost her lamb and asks Eragon to watch over her. Eragon assures her that he and Saphira will do just that, but states to Saphira in his mind, If only because she might attempt to slip a knife between our ribs.