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On the morning of Roran's wedding, Eragon completes the second level of the Rimgar, then spends thirty minutes practicing with his new falchion. Though wanting to spend more time practicing, he pulls himself away from it and goes to bathe, then pays a visit to Elain, who asks him to help with the kneading of twenty loaves of bread dough, telling him to try not to get the calluses on his knuckles in the dough.
Eragon joins a group of women, including Felda and Birgit, who are working at this task. At first they fall silent, but eventually begin talking to each other. Felda notes that Eragon's dough needs some more flour. He thanks her and after that, the women include him in the conversation. While Eragon is working, Saphira basks in some nearby grass and the children of Carvahall play with her. Eragon considers the people around him, who are all people that he knew growing up. He hears Roran shouting and Isold jokes that "The mighty warrior is nervous ere his contest." Eragon's cheeks burn, disconcerted by the bawdy jokes directed at his cousin. His thoughts turn to those who cannot join the wedding because they have died because of the Empire, such as Elmund, Kelby and, most of all, Garrow, when a single horn rings out across the land three times.
Everyone goes silent, then the camp erupts into activity. Eragon sprints to Saphira and sends a mental message to Blödhgarm telling him and the other Elf-guards to meet them at the north entrance. Blödhgarm assents and Eragon immediately hops onto Saphira and they make haste. He receives a mental message and at first tries to block it, but then realizes that it is Angela the herbalist, who tells him that they're wanted at the north entrance. He replies that he's already on his way and asks after Elva, whom Angela states is "not very coherent right now," so she's going to put her into an enchanted sleep.
Saphira and Eragon arrive at Eragon's tent and don their armor. Saphira complains that Eragon is taking too long and Eragon snaps back that it doesn't help that she's "so blasted big." As Eragon reaches for the belt of Beloth the Wise, he laments that they didn't store any energy in it after returning from Helgrind, but Saphira says that they'll be fine. They finally arrive at the north entrance, where many have gathered, including Nasuada, Blödhgarm and the elves, King Orrin and Nar Garzhvog. Garzhvog asks "Who challenges?" and Nasuada directs everyone's attention to a contingent of approximately 300 soldiers of Galbatorix's army approaching from the Jiet River. King Orrin is unimpressed, stating "We could obliterate that entire group and not lose a man." Nasuada, however, is not so sure and Garzhvog states that Galabtorix is "cunning like a blood-hungry weasel." Nasuada says that she can think of no reason to fight them in the open and that when they reach the breastwork, they will break themselves against the staves and trenches. Orrin makes another suggestion, but before anyone can reply, there is another sound of trumpeting. Eragon sees a stir of motion on the far side of the river. "Red as iron hot forge," Thorn rises from above the trees, Murtagh riding upon him and thrusting Zar'roc high over his head. They have come for us, says Saphira.