So when we last saw Kale, she was stuck in a vagina... I mean, a stone tunnel. This chapter picks up at that point... and no, nothing much has happened.

Whining never got me out of a lick of work as a village slave. It won’t help here...Focus on what’s ahead.

What's ahead is something you can't get to because the tunnel gets narrower, so what's the point of focusing on what's ahead?

And then with no change in perspective, suddenly she thinks: Oh no! Somehow focusing on what’s ahead doesn’t seem the right thing to do. Wait, what happened in those last two seconds that suddenly changed your mind?! Nothing happened. She just went, "It won't help, focus on what's ahead... wait, that doesn't seem like the right idea."

I don’t want to follow Mistress Meiger’s wise advice.

So what exactly is wise about it? If you don't want to follow it in a bad situation, maybe it's not so wise and all-encompassing as you thought. Then again, this is a character who took the advice so literally that she wouldn't turn to look to a person behind her....

I mustn’t give up. The things I learned in River Away are a part of me, and those things are good and strong and pure.

Yes, obviously the stuff you were taught by the people who OWNED you and worked you as a slave is so wonderful, because slave owners are such wonderful people.

What did she say? What did she say? ‘Focus on what’s ahead. Use what is behind.’ Use what is behind. There is always something from your past that will help you with your future. Use what is behind.

I don't think that advice like that is meant to be taken literally, dipwad.

Perhaps when she got to wherever this force pulled her, she would have a chance to defend herself.

Yes, because mysterious forces dragging you against your will are likely to let you punch them in the gut.

So she imagines herself fighting, and then thinks of a couple of guys from River away who often fought in the square of River Away, showing off their talent as fighting mariones. Does she mean "marines"? Anyway, she tries to remember how they fought, but ends up just remembering a chicken coop.

More enchantment. I can’t even see in my mind what I want to see.

... or, possibly, you're just disoriented and your neurons are randomly firing.

So she keeps crawling into the hole, scraping her knees and feet and just creeping onward. Then she sees a soft azure glow and crawls out into a giant cavern. As she hopped down into the cavern, she saw lights glistening from millions of tiny sapphirelike stones embedded in the rock walls. Not to be really nitpicky about this, but... gems don't glow. If you're in a pitch-black underground cavern, gems won't help. An additional glow emanated from icicle-like formations hanging from the ceiling and thrusting up from the floor. They're called stagmites and stalactites, and they don't glow either.

There's also a hot spring nearby, which inexplicably smells like maple syrup. No, I'm not kidding: she says it smells sweet like syrup boiling in the spring after the trees had been tapped. So then she's magically compelled to walk away to... significant stuff.

she walked unerringly through the maze of pointed columns to a niche in the opposite wall. 

  1. If they're pointed, they're not columns!
  2. So, where did this niche come from? Did somebody lovingly carve it out of the wall?

But wait! Epic plot twist: Seven small, oval stones clustered together in a nest of hardened broer. I smell an Eragonic revelation of dragonegghood coming up!

Dragon eggs! Her hand went automatically to the pouch hanging around her neck.

Ya see? Ya see? I told ya.

And apparently THIS is the reason she was seeing a chicken coop, because she's going to a place with eggs. Of course, probably dragons get a lot meaner than hens if you turn their eggs into omelets.

So she takes off her scarf and carefully puts all the new eggs on it, then puts her other one next to them. “Seven!” She breathed the word. She pulled out her treasure and opened the pouch. She placed the dragon egg she had been carrying next to the others. “Eight. I have eight dragon eggs.” Good for you, Kale. You have mastered preschool arithmetic.

So we then have a flashback to when she found the dragon egg, and how Chief Councilman Meiger had freaked out when she brought it home.

“I went to the stream to gather rushes for Mistress Avion. I waded into the water, and my skin began to tingle.”
“Yes, tingle.”

I'm having horrendous flashbacks to Voyage of the Fox Rider, when the various characters keep repeating "swooned" over and over.

“Go on, go on.” He placed his hands upon his ample hips and glared at her.

... and apparently the Chief Councilman has some childbearing hips! Does he also have boobs to match?

Being a marione, he didn’t have much height, only a few more inches than Kale.

Okay, we have some details on what "mariones" are. Apparently they're... short. Dunno what else characterizes them; are they dwarves or hobbits?

“I waded under the bentleaf tree to the boulders. The egg was in a hole there.”
“Under the water.”
“Under the water?”

YES, under the damn water! Why do you need this elaborated on? She was in the water, there was a hole UNDER the water, and the egg was in it! SIMPLE!

“In the rocks. I reached in and pulled it out.”
“How did you know it was there?”
“I didn’t.”
“Why did you stick your hand in a hole?”
“I don’t know.”
“There could have been a blattig fish in there with sharp teeth ready to gobble your fingers.”

This is not impressing me with your main character's intelligence, Ms. Paul. She doesn't know stuff, she doesn't know why she does things, and she sounds like a five-year-old who has been repeatedly whacked on the head with a hammer. This dialogue is putting me to sleep!

"So what do you think it is?"
"I don't know."
"Do you think it's dangerous?"
"I don't know."
"Are you brain-damaged?"
"I don't know."
"Can you say anything other than 'I don't know'?"
".... I don't know."

She didn’t dare scoff at the fabled fish that ate children when they fell in the river. She hadn’t believed that old wives’ tale since she was old enough to gather reeds for basket making.

Why are we being told about a mythical piranha during a discussion about dragon eggs? There had better be real blattig fishes that attack the heroes later in the story! I demand fantasy piranhas! Give me fantasy piranhas! I WILL TOLERATE NOTHING LESS THAN FANTASY PIRANHAS!

This is Master Meiger's cue to say that there has to be a meeting, and that they have to decide what to do with Kale. This guy's not great with communication, is he?

“May I keep the egg? It’s mine, isn’t it?”
“See how much you know? Nothing! No one owns a dragon egg.”

How the hell did this guy become a councilman? He couldn't give you bathroom directions clearly!

"Where is the restroom?"
"The restroom?"
"The restroom, that place where you go to poop and pee. Where is it?"
"See what you know? Nothing! The bathrooms are somewhere in the building, but you will not find them without help."

Besides her clothes, she didn’t have a thing that was her own.

Actually, I'm pretty sure that a slave's clothes also don't belong to them. So yeah, you have nothing.

But then Meiger shocks her by announcing that she's supposed to go to Vendela, except for some reason the village council has to talk beforehand. And as he's leaving, he adds: “Shocking! Never in River Away. Never this far south.” I don't get it. I can understand that this hasn't happened there before, but why is it shocking? He's acting like the local fantasy cleric was caught shagging the milkmaid.

And the flashback suddenly ends, with no further explanations. Kale keeps counting the eggs, and notices that the new ones are slightly blue instead of being white like the first egg, which is kind of a cool idea. I mean, why not have different breeds of dragons produce differently colored eggs?

But then... DRAMA! The egg from River Away had tangles of fine, dark lines crackled over the surface. The lines had not been there a month before. DRAMA! Wanna bet it hatches in short order?

The council told me not to take it out of the pouch until I reached The Hall in Vendela. Could I have broken it just by taking it out?

... why would taking it out of a pouch break it? Especially since obviously it wasn't IN a pouch when she found it. More likely you broke it because you were landing on top of it and rolling around on it.

I thought it was too hard to break. What happens if I did break it?

Then you will be forced to make giant fantasy omelets.

What will the wizards of The Hall do to a village girl who broke a dragon egg?

So if you DID break it, leave it and take the other ones with you. That raises another question: where is the mother dragon? Seven eggs left in a nest sort of imply that mommy dragon is somewhere nearby. So where is she? And wouldn't she be SLIGHTLY pissed if she came back and found a human messing with her unhatched babies?

So she cuddles the egg and it starts warming up and humming "You Turn Me Right Round" again. Which is the cue for AWESOME SUEPOWERS COMMENCE!

The weariness and aches that had overcome her body were vanishing. The hunger squeezing her middle was gone as well. Her eyes opened wide as she watched the small scrapes and scratches on her bloody toes and knees heal over. The damage to her body disappeared as if it had never been, but the torn cloth of her trousers was as ragged as ever.

HOLY CRAP, even the transcendental all-knowing-hive-minded magic-generating glitterballs of Eragon weren't this Suey! At least Saphira's egg was just glittery and... blue. It didn't ACTUALLY radiate healing magic!

As her excitement grew, the egg jumped.

Yeah, a network of cracks and the egg actually BOUNCING into the air doesn't mean that it's gonna hatch soon.

So our heroine puts her original egg back in her bag BECAUSE IT'S TOTALLY NOT HATCHING RIGHT NOW, and somehow.... turns her scarf into a sort of... multi-pocketed sling. I honestly don't know how she did that, but whatever. Yes, she doesn't have a single qualm about the idea of taking the eggs, even though the fact that they're in a nest kind of suggests that a mother dragon might be in the area. Because.... dragon eggs are like Easter eggs, apparently!

Our heroine, ladies and gents: kidnapper of dragon babies.

She tied the egg-bearing blue scarf around her waist, next to her skin, under the tunic and shirt.

Yes, I'm sure nobody will notice the huge lumps around your waist.

So she starts leaving the place, but then she has a thought. Paul doesn't tell us what that thought is, so who cares? So she notices a lump of rock and picks it up. Dozens of crystals shimmered from the rough stone. Okay, what the hell is the point of doing this?! Crystals should only REFLECT light, not radiate it!

So she crawls back in, reflecting that apparently that convenient magical pull vanished when she touched the eggs. PLOT CONVENIENCE! And she's in a lovely mood now, despite the fact that grawligs were sitting outside the cave when she left and there's probably an angry mother dragon wandering around searching for whoever stole her babies.

But when she gets out, she's shocked to find that the grawligs haven't been sleeping all this time. You'd think that they'd have given up since she vanished. But instead, she heard metal clanging against metal, angry shouts, frenzied commands, and roars of fury. Ooooooh, I wonder if the good guys have come out of nowhere to save her from her own tepid blahness.

If she was not mistaken, sounds of battle echoed from all three openings of the cave.

... all THREE? I thought she was crawling out of one of those three openings! And honestly, what else COULD it be?