The Tale of Ander Collins

Fiction By LoriAnn // 2/11/2009

CHAPTER ONE

Ander Collins never knew the palace had so many rooms. Well, after all, as a kitchen boy, he had never been allowed into the royal quarters before. His life was safely spent in the depths of the smoky, stone-walled kitchen, far away from the nobles and their riches. The closest he had ever come to the royal family was rubbing his grimy fingers over the stamped portrait of King Juston on the coins he was paid once a season. But today, Missy – the girl who usually took Princess Reina her tea – had a summer fever. So guess who got the job.

“Ander!” Cook had shouted at him where he sat by the cooking fire at the opposite end of the kitchen. Ander has looked up from the spitted meat he was in charge of roasting, and blinked at the flour-covered woman. “Yes’m?”

“Wash your hands and take this tray up to the princess.” She had looked despairingly at his shabby clothes and tangled hair. “Don’t say anything to her Highness, and come right back. I’d send someone else, but…” and she gestured helplessly around her at the bustling kitchen.
Tomorrow was a feast day, the first of the season, and the whole castle was roiling with preparations. Chambermaids were beating dust out of tapestries in the courtyard, stable-boys were grooming the royal horses into shining beauties, and the halls were all thrumming with busy maids sweeping, carrying, and yelling at anyone who got in their way.

Ander didn’t really see the reason for all the excitement, though he was willing to take a day off of work and stuff himself with the free meat pasties and sweet rolls the merchants gave out. But the nobles were a different story, with their balls and feasts and fancy goings-on that lasted a whole week. And a chance to see what was going on above the smoke-filled kitchen? Ander grinned at Cook as she gave him directions to the princess’s chamber. Yeah, like he was going to turn that down.

So Ander had scrubbed the top layer of grime from his arms and face and taken the tray with its steaming pot of fine tea and luscious, cream-topped cakes. Leaving the kitchen, he turned left and climbed a long flight of stone stairs to reach the antechamber at the top. Two more stairwells, crowded with shouting maids and clanking guardsmen left him panting, and not at all sure he hadn’t missed a hallway somewhere. But, undaunted, he marched smartly down one corridor and turned left at the end, then passed three rooms and went right at the fourth, which was yet another hall. Then he went left. Then right. Then right again.
Now, at an intersection of three halls, he was beginning to despair of ever finding his way out. He had followed Cook’s instructions perfectly, he was sure. So why did he think he had seen that tapestry of the unicorn hunt twice already?

And to top it off, the seeming thousands of servants that he had waded through earlier were now nowhere tobe seen. Ever more frustrated, Ander wandered down a long hall, peering into each room, and carrying his tray of quickly cooling tea and cakes, looking for Her Royal Highness’s Royal Suite. Ander had just decided that he would ask for directions from the next person he saw when a matronly woman bustled out of a doorway just ahead, pulling up short in suprise when she spotted him.

"Who are you?" She asked suspiciously, looking disapprovingly at Ander’s ragged clothes.
Ander took a self-conscious step back. He felt shabbier than ever in the face of this obviously wealthy lady.

"My name is Ander." He muttered, eyeing his reflection on the polished floor. He almost pulled a face at his likeness, but recollected himself in time. "I'm looking for the Princess Reina’s chambers.”

The woman wrinkled her nose at him, "And you though you could just walk in, eh? Go back to your rag pile, beggar boy.”

The frustration of being lost in this strange and absurdly rich place for the last hour bubbled up in Ander like boiling tar. “I’m supposed to take this to the Princess, and I can’t find her room; and everything’s cold; and…and…” he glared defiantly at the lady. “Besides, I’m not a beggar.”

She sniffed. "Well, don't blame me when you get thrown out on your ear, then!” She gestured toward the door she had just exited. “In there.”

Ander repressed the urge to stick his tongue out at her. Nobles! He pushed past her, making sure to brush greasily up against the fancy dress, and entered the princess's room.

Even after the opulence of the outer corridors, Ander’s eyes were dazzled by the sheer magnificence of the princess’s chambers. Tapestries lined the whitewashed stone walls, and huge stained-glass windows sent rainbows of rich, summer light over the heavy, gilded furniture and silken rugs. Just the first room of the suite was ten times as large as the shed he shared with four other servant boys, and there were three arched doorways leading into other rooms that seemed even larger - and just as grand - as the one he stood in now. Ander gulped and glanced down again at his dirty, grease bespattered self. What right did one such he have in this kind of place?
Voices coming from one of the doorways caught his attention.

“What choice do we have, Carlo?” a girlish voice was saying. “Father won’t hear your suit for any reason. And the duke is much richer anyway; you know that Father’s eye is on his western manor as a dowry.”

A deeper, bass tone rumbled through the apartments “Perhaps it was not meant to be, Princess.”

“I told you to call me Reina!” the girl - the princess, Ander realized – whined.

Nervously, afraid of overhearing something he could get hanged for, Ander cleared his throat. “Uh, Your Highness?” he called.
The voices stopped and a dark head peered out from the open door. “I believe it is your tea, Princess.” The man called over his shoulder in his deep voice.

“Oh, it’s about time.” Princess Reina swept into the front room, and Ander gaped like a fish.

She was shorter than he, and only came up to Carlo’s chest, but the princess’s regal manner filled the room as soon as she entered. Her dark golden hair was piled high atop her head, and interwoven in its lovely tresses were ribbons of the same lavender color as her velvet dress. Her skin was pale and milk-smooth, with a rosebud mouth set in an endearing pout beneath perfectly blushed cheeks.

“Your Highness.” Ander attempted a low bow, but almost dumped the tea-tray. He looked up again, at loss about what to do with the thing.

“Just set it on the table there.” The princess waved her hand dismissively. Ander slid the silver tray onto a flimsy-looking table that looked like it would fall off its gilded legs at any moment. But it stood firm, and he sighed with relief. Then he glanced at the food.

“Um, sorry it’s so cold.” He muttered. “I got lost.”

The princess looked absently at the table’s contents – the steamless teapot and the congealed butter spread on now-soggy toast. Ander winced in anticipation of a slap or perhaps arrest. You could never tell with these aristocratic types.

But she merely looked back at Carlo, who still stood in the door way. “I’m not very hungry.”
Carlo rolled his eyes at Ander and reproached the princess. “You haven’t eaten since lunch yesterday. Do you think your father is going to fall for some starvation tactic?

“He might.” She said defensively “Nothing else has worked.”

She looked thoughtfully at Ander. “You aren’t my usual tea-carrier. Who are you, boy?”
Ander scuffed his toe on the soft rug. “Ander, m’lady.”

“And who is Ander?” Carlo’s bass voice demanded softly, as he came over to join the princess. He placed a dark, muscled arm protectively around her velvet-clad waist.

Ander was surprised at this, but then remembered the princess’s words as he had entered. “Father won’t hear your suit…” she had said. So Carlo wanted to marry her, but the king wouldn’t allow it? Amazing! His first trip above the kitchens, and already, Ander was in on a palace intrigue!

“I’m just a kitchen boy.” He said with shy excitement “But I know a priest who will perform -” he paused hesitantly, then continued in a whisper “Um, unconventional ceremonies.” He had heard the phrase when Geny the miller’s daughter had eloped with Kerkin the goatherd.
Carlo’s arm whipped from the princess’s waist to his sword belt. “What do you mean, boy?” he asked threateningly.

Ander backed away “I heard you when I came in.” he said in what he hoped was a brave voice “You want to marry her, but King Juston won’t let you.”

Princess Reina grasped Carlo’s hand “Oh, let’s listen to him, Carlo.” She squealed “He might have an idea.”

Carlo looked sternly Ander, who was now regretting that he had ever spoken. “Continue, boy.” He growled.

Ander took a deep breath and babbled as quickly as he could. “The priest Under is actually retired, but he can still perform legal marriages, even though he usually is sleepy or studying, but he’ll write a certificate and even the king can’t erase it, and all he charges is a flask of wine and three silver coins. The priest, not the king.”
Reina twirled in place and exclaimed “Oh, let’s do it, Carlo! I can change into my ivory silk dress, and you can wear your livery. Randal here –“

“Ander.” Ander corrected.

“-can wash and serve as a witness.” Ander and Carlo were instantly caught up in the Princess’s scheme.

Carlo threw open the door of the Royal Suite and bellowed “Herjenna!” The bustling woman Ander had run into outside appeared in the doorway. “Find a message boy to fetch the Priest…” he looked back at Ander questioningly.

“Under. Priest Under.” Ander supplied.

“Priest Under.” Carlo finished. “The message is this: Four bottles of the finest royal wine and four pouches of gold if he comes in a half hour.”

The lady’s eyes darted from Carlo to the princess to Ander and back to Carlo. “Yes sir.” She spun around on her heel and hurried off down the corridor; quite rapidly for a woman of her girth.

Carlo turned back to the wondering Ander. “Come with me, boy.” He grinned, his teeth shining in his dark face. “You’ll need better than kitchen rags to attend the Royal Wedding!”

Three-quarters of an hour later, Ander and Carlo were back in the Princess’s suite, waiting impatiently for the priest to appear. Ander kept stroking the smooth linen of his new suit. It was green with silver trim – a page’s livery. He hoped he’d be allowed to keep it; perhaps Carlo would even make him his page, after the dark man was a prince.

Lost in daydreams about the glorious life of a prince’s page, Ander almost missed the entry of the old priest.

Priest Under was a tiny man, with wrinkled robes and a pinched look on his age-spotted face. He was entirely bald, Ander knew, but he had – in his more successful, younger days – worn a fine wig. It now perched atop his head in all its powdered, mouse-nibbled finery; cut in a style from thirty years ago and looking as though birds had built generations of nests in it. His hooded eyes were still sharp and observant, though, and despite his raggedness, he held himself with an unmistakable dignity.
The Princess appeared in the door of her dressing chamber and called out “Are we ready to begin?”

Under pulled the dainty tea-table closer to him to use as an alter, and Carlo stood beside him, watching Reina pace the make-shift aisle gracefully. Ander could only stare in wonder at his princess – draped in ivory lace and silk, she drifted like an apple blossom toward the waiting trio of men.
Under cleared his throat and began to recite the vows

“I charge you, Carlo, under the authority of the King and Kirk, to honor and protect this, your betrothed from this day forward. You must vow to love her, cherish her; provide for her needs both physical and spiritual; lead her well and keep her and the children she provides for you from all harm; letting nothing but death separate you. Do you so vow?” The priest’s usually quavery voice was firm and rang with authority and the passion he felt for his work.

Carlo looked at Princess Reina with a happy smile on his face. “I do so vow.” He intoned

Priest Under turned to the princess and smiled in a fatherly way at her. “And I charge you also, Reina, under the authority of King and Kirk, to honor and protect this, your betrothed from this day forward. You must vow to love him, cherish him; provide for his needs both physical and spiritual; keep yourself loyal to him only and under his leadership, protection and care; letting nothing but death separate you. Do you so vow?”

Reina’s voice, suddenly gone shy, came softly from under the veil she wore over her face. “I do so vow.” She said in a breathy voice.

Under grinned triumphantly, as if he had won a battle or created a masterpiece. “Then, as this is your vow, I submit you to these witnesses – er, to this witness,” he shot an amused glance at Ander “as a new family, for the moment a family of two, but may the Creator soon bless you with many children and an abundance of friends.”

Ander couldn’t help himself. Applauding wildly, he cheered “Hurrah!”

Carlo and the Princess merely smiled tolerantly at the boy, but the old priest seemed to understand him perfectly.

“Hurrah indeed, my young friend.” He looked at Ander thoughtfully, then shook his head and left. No one noticed until much later that he departed without his pay.

Ander stood in the front hall of the princess’s apartment as he left, and watched the newlyweds shyly. They held each other’s hand and gazed out the stained-glass window together, apparently unaware of the kitchen boy as they whispered sweet nothings and laughed softly.
For a few minutes, Ander enjoyed this, but he thought they needed some privacy, so he cleared his throat.

“Ahem. Excuse me?”

Carlo turned around, startled. “Your pardon, Ander, I had forgotten you were there.”
Ander stood up straight, like he thought a page might, and answered smartly “Yes sir. I was only thinking that I’d return to the kitchen now, sir.” He waited for Carlo to tell him to stay, and that he was Carlo’s new page, but the big man just smiled and nodded absently.
His heart sinking, Ander added hopefully “Unless there was something else, sir?”

Carlo shook his head “Go on, lad.”

Ander turned to the door, valiantly trying to keep from slumping in disappointment. Even as he opened the heavy wooden door, he looked back again, half expecting to see Carlo laughing and motioning for him to return. But Carlo was again facing the window, his large, dark hand enveloping the princess’s tiny white one.
Ander stumbled out of the Royal Suite, tears burning in his eyes.

Comments

Very nice! I'm intrigued.

Very nice! I'm intrigued. Things seem to be moving awfully fast, though.
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He who is near to his Captain is sure to be a target for the archers.
-Amy Carmichael

Anna | Wed, 02/11/2009

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Poor guy!!! To be so

Poor guy!!! To be so unappreciated like that! BTW, why ws he in the kitchen in the first place? Is that one of the mysteries or did I just miss something in the beginning?
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"Pretty soon people are going to come to look at it. And some of those people will be... realtors!"--Klaus Baudelaire

Ariel | Wed, 02/11/2009

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"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

Poor kitchen boy! I

Poor kitchen boy! I certianly you're going to post a little more.

Sarah | Wed, 02/11/2009

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

:>)

I like this so far! I especially liked the ay you started off, getting right to the story. Also, for some reason, I liked the line: "You could never tell with these aristocratic types." :)
** ** ** ** ** **
"That's horrible! It's like living in the Stone Age, or 1980 or something..."
--Buster Baxter

Hannah W. | Thu, 02/12/2009

...

Anna: Thanks, and yeah, I know it's moving fast. This was started as a group story on www.bindingoftheblade.com, and those tend to skip around some. I'm in the process of editing it and rewriting a bunch.

Old Fashioned Girl: I didn't say in the bit I posted, but Ander was taken in by Cook when he was about four. His parents were both murdered in an uprising that Ander finds out about later in the story.

Sarah: Yes, I hope to post more soon.

Hannah: Thanks!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"I am a dreamer, take me higher, open the sky up, start a fire...I beleive, even if it's just a dream." -Bethany Dillon

LoriAnn | Thu, 02/12/2009

.....

Oh it's lonely dear. I like it very much. Do you have any more for me?

The Brit

Anonymous | Fri, 02/13/2009

I like your picture

I like your picture too...

The Brit

Anonymous | Fri, 02/13/2009

Yep, more is coming

I just submitted chapter two - should be up soon. And thank's, Brit; it's by Ruth Sanderson, one of my fave artists.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"I am a dreamer, take me higher, open the sky up, start a fire...I beleive, even if it's just a dream." -Bethany Dillon

LoriAnn | Fri, 02/13/2009

Did you say Binding of the

Did you say Binding of the Blade?? Oh my goodness!! You are the fourth person IN THE WORLD I have ever had any sort of contact- not couting L.B. Graham, who replied to a comment of mine on his blog- with who has read the series! Well, technically, none the three, or myself, have actually finished the series yet.
Wow, you have no idea how excited that made me!
btw, I also love your pic. :)
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In this sinful world there is no such thing as "peace" unless someone strong enough is willing to protect and defend it. -Norm Bomer, God's World News

Anna | Fri, 02/13/2009

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

have you ever been to the

have you ever been to the forums?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"I am a dreamer, take me higher, open the sky up, start a fire...I beleive, even if it's just a dream." -Bethany Dillon

LoriAnn | Fri, 02/13/2009

No. :( I don't think my

No. :( I don't think my parents will let me join. Especially since they won't even let me join this message board. I'm not complaining, though... They let me read the books, at least. :D
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In this sinful world there is no such thing as "peace" unless someone strong enough is willing to protect and defend it. -Norm Bomer, God's World News

Anna | Sat, 02/14/2009

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Poor Ander..hopes

Poor Ander..hopes dashed.

---
The Word is alive/and it cuts like a sword through the darkness
With a message of life to the hopeless/and afraid...

~"The Word is Alive' by Casting Crowns

May my words be a light that guides others to the True Light and Word.

Julie | Thu, 03/26/2009

Formerly Kestrel

Poor Ander..hopes

Poor Ander..hopes dashed.

---
The Word is alive/and it cuts like a sword through the darkness
With a message of life to the hopeless/and afraid...

~"The Word is Alive' by Casting Crowns

May my words be a light that guides others to the True Light and Word.

Julie | Thu, 03/26/2009

Formerly Kestrel

Poor Ander..hopes

Poor Ander..hopes dashed.

---
The Word is alive/and it cuts like a sword through the darkness
With a message of life to the hopeless/and afraid...

~"The Word is Alive' by Casting Crowns

May my words be a light that guides others to the True Light and Word.

Julie | Thu, 03/26/2009

Formerly Kestrel

Aww...I like this though!!

Aww...I like this though!! How old is Ander?

Erin | Sat, 02/20/2010

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

Eh...I've been operating on a

Eh...I've been operating on a scale of 14-16 years old, though I've never really decided for sure. How old does he feel?

LoriAnn | Mon, 02/22/2010

I haven't read the rest of

I haven't read the rest of the story yet-though I've been bad and peeked ;-). He seems older in some of the later chapters, but in this particular one he seems about 12, which is why I was surprised when Carlo was so protective of Princess Reina.

Erin | Mon, 02/22/2010

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

I like it

I like it

It sounds ' mideval' And I love mideval things

And I like the name

Cant wait to read more

Kassady

Kassady | Tue, 02/23/2010

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!

I like it

I like it

It sounds ' mideval' And I love mideval things

And I like the name

Cant wait to read more

Kassady

Kassady | Tue, 02/23/2010

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!

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