The Tale of Ander Collins - Chapter Eighteen

Fiction By LoriAnn // 9/18/2009

 

Ander stood in front of the great wooden door nervously. He tugged at the front of his tunic, and tried to straighten his hair. Wishing fervently that Shyllen had come with him, he knocked – timidly.
“Come in,” came a deep, tenor voice.
Ander took a deep breath, cast one last look down the dark hallway toward the parlor where Shyllen and Dorlan waited, and pushed open the study door.
The bright light of a magnificent sunset hit him instantly, as the study had a large window overlooking the western shore of the island. Ander blinked, and stepped inside. As his eyes adjusted, he glanced around the study, awed by the floor-to-ceiling shelves full of books. Except for Thraluic collection, Ander had never seen so many in one place. The study floor was light wood, covered with a round, braided rug in the center.
In front of the diamond-paned window, a heavy desk stood proudly; covered with more books, papers, sea-charts and maps. Behind the desk, a darkly-silhouetted man rose halfway out of his seat, a look of shock on his face.
“Percival?” he asked in disbelief. “Percival Collins?”
Ander shook his head. “No—“
The man sank back into his chair with a self-deprecating little laugh. “Of course not – you must be Ander. Gave me a start there, lad. Has anyone ever told you that you look exactly like your father?” he tilted his head. “Then again…your eyes are more like your mother’s. But for a moment there, I could have sworn…” he shook his head again.
A warm feeling welled up in Ander. “I look like my father?”
The man smiled and nodded. “Very, very much. For just the barest of seconds, I thought Percival himself had walked into my study, raised from the dead. My wife will want to meet you too – but she’s out visiting a friend this evening.”
Ander stepped forward. “You must be my Uncle Ravin, then. It’s a bit hard to see you, with the sun behind you like that.”
“Oh, my apologies.” Ravin stood and walked around the side of the desk. “Here – have a seat, Nephew.” He motioned to two armchairs sitting in front of a small fireplace.
Ander sat down, never taking his eyes off Ravin’s fine-boned face. He looked every bit the lordly figure Ander had imagined and half-remembered from his dream that night in Thraluic’s cave. His hair was dark and straight, with wings of silver at the temples; and his eyes were a rich chocolate color over high cheekbones and a smiling mouth.
“I guess I won’t need this, then? To prove that I am who I say I am, that is.” Ander asked, pulling his mother’s ring from the bundle he carried.
Ravin reached for the small golden circlet with an expression of wistful tenderness on his face. “Little Robin’s wedding ring. I gave that to her, you know. Percival was one of the noblest men I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing; but he had very little money. It was a gift to my niece, on the day she announced her betrothal.” He ran his fingers over the band gently, and then handed it back to Ander. “She would love to know that you’ve kept it. Your mother was sentimental about things like that.”
Ander took the ring and slipped it onto the ring finger of his right hand, where it fit comfortably. He quietly resolved to wear it for the rest of his life – or until he found someone who would love him like his parents had loved each other. Then, perhaps, he would present the ring to her. But until then, it would stay on his hand – no more hiding in a flannel bag.
“I dreamed about you once,” Ander said, changing the subject with a shake of his head.
Ravin looked intrigued, and leaned forward with an odd quirk in his brow. “Really? May I ask what the dream was like?”
“It was short,” Ander admitted, “Mostly, I just dreamed that I saw you, and you told me to come find you.”
“Find me, Ander,” Ravin quoted. “I will wait for you here. Is that what you dreamed?”
Ander blinked. “Exactly,” he said, surprised. “How did you know that?”
Nodding, Ravin smiled. “I dreamed it too. I don’t know how, but…” he shrugged. “Such things are a bit above a simple ship master like myself. Tell me, lad, how did you find me? And how did you get here? I didn’t hear of any ships putting into port lately.”
“Thraluic brought me,” Ander answered, grinning at the astonishment on his uncle’s face.
“That old lizard?” he demanded. “He’s still around?”
“He sure is. And…” Ander hated to ruin the good mood of their reunion, but he might as well cut to the chase. “And so is your sister. Celzara, I mean.”
Ravin blinked slowly. “I hadn’t heard of her death, so I assumed she was still working her black magic around the Denwold. Trust me, lad, if I had heard that my sister had fallen from power, I’d be back home in the forest within three heartbeats. I love the sea, but the green shade of my native home…nothing can compare.”
There was an old longing in his voice.
“We need you to come back, sir,” Ander said; respectfully, but firmly. “Celzara’s power keeps growing, and her temper hasn’t exactly improved. The Feielves need you.” He waited for his uncle to leap up, vowing vengenge on the wayward Celzara, and making plans to defeat her.
Instead, Ravin sat – very quietly – and thought. Ander held his breath.
“No.” Ravin said firmly after a moment. “I’m sorry, nephew. You are welcome to stay here for as long as you need – I’ll give you the home I should have given you when you were a baby. But I will not go back to face Celzara, and I will not put my family in her sights again.”
“But…” Ander was shocked stunned to say the least – he wasn’t sure what to say. Ravin had to come back – they were all counting on him. “We came all this way,” he said weakly. “We thought—“
“Well you thought wrong,” Ravin retorted, his voice almost harsh. He winced. “Sorry, nephew; that came out more unkindly than I had intended.”
Ander sagged in his chair. “We even brought the Vial,” he said softly.
Ravin jerked up like a marionette on a string. “You did what?” he demanded. “You brought that cursed thing here? To my island?”
Ander fumbled with the ties on his bundle, and pulled out the Vial, still in its tooled-leather wrap. “Here,” he said, holding it out to Ravin and blinking back angry tears. His voice was sullen and quiet. “It’s rightfully yours.”
Reaching out a slow hand, Ravin took the small package from Ander’s grasp. He didn’t unwrap it, though. Shaking his head slowly, he looked up from the leather parcel, his eyes dark and unreadable.
“You should not have done this,” he said in a low voice.
The sun suddenly sank beneath the western waters, and the light dimmed. Ravin rose, and struck a match. Holding it to a large taper candle, he waited for the wick to catch and turned back to his newly-found nephew. “What the consequences will be, I do not know. Perhaps Celzara will ignore us. More likely, I think, she will send trouble our way.”
“What kind of trouble?” Ander asked. He didn’t change his surly tone, but a small flicker of apprehension wobbled behind his words. He hadn’t even thought about it – but if Celzara had been willing to destroy Thraluic’s cave after she learned that he had the Vial, might she not be willing to chase them here? The relative safety of Scyth suddenly seemed all too temporary.
“I don’t know,” Ravin said, opening a small lockbox atop his heavy desk. “But I doubt it will be pretty.”
 
 
They ate a quiet supper that night in Ravin’s sizable dining hall. Ander’s uncle seemed to have done well for himself outside the forest, and they ate off of fine china plates and drank from crystal goblets of fine cider. The meat was done perfectly, roasted with a crust of spiced breadcrumbs on the top; and the side dishes included everything from hot, buttered rolls to a sweet, fruity paste that had been chilled until it was nearly frozen. Despite his frustration, Ander couldn’t help but grudgingly savor the scrumptious food.
Dorlan tried to start up a conversation, telling them how his father had come to be the master of a ten-ship fleet, all captained by reliable sailors and crewed by some of Ravin’s own men. Apparently, a few dozen families loyal to the true king had followed Ravin when he was banished. Now, they lived among the island people, and sailed the merchant routes that led to gold and spices.
But Ander was too disappointed and anxious to be very good company; and Shyllen was downright hostile to Ravin and his son. She kept shooting fiery glares at the elder Torr, ignoring Dorlan entirely.
They finished their meal in silence, and Dorlan stood, offering to lead them upstairs to the guest chambers.
Ander stopped him. “Thank you very much, Dorlan,” he said unhappily. “But Thraluic needs to know what’s happened. We’ll be leaving now.”
Dorlan nodded sadly. “Come back tomorrow, will you?” he asked, walking them to the front door. He shot a surreptitious glance in the direction of the dining room, where Ravin still sat at the table, morosely lighting a pipe. “Dad’s changed his mind in the past.”
“I’ll come back, anyway,” Ander agreed. He smiled half-heartedly at his cousin. “You’re my kin, after all.”
Dorlan shrugged. “There’s a black sheep in every family, Ander Collins,” he said with a half-hearted grin. “I guess it’s about time we found ours. Good night.”
He closed the door before Ander could retort.
“Hmph,” Shyllen snorted, stalking down the cobblestone path. The yard was lit with a silvery light that outlined the small orchard of apple trees Ravin had planted, and glittered on the spray of the garden fountain. “They’re cads, both of them.” She kicked at a stone in the path, sending it skittering into the grass. “And certainly not like I had expected.”
“Me neither.” Ander pulled open the short iron gate. “Uncle Ravin is so…normal. And—“ he cut himself off.
“And what?”
“I just don’t understand why he won’t come back!” Ander blurted, slamming the gate shut behind them. It bounced once with a loud clang, and he winced. Walking along the narrow, shell-paved path that snaked down toward the beach, he continued.
“He was supposed to agree right away – just say the word, and it’s Uncle Ravin to the rescue! ‘Thank you for your help, nephew, I’ll take it from here.’ And then we’d fly back to the mainland, and Celzara would surrender to his might.” Ander grunted. “So much for that little daydream.”
“There’s still a chance he might change his mind,” Shyllen suggested, though her tone told him that she doubted it.
“Yeah…maybe.” He didn’t believe it either.
They walked a good mile down the coast road, leaving behind the small, quiet port town of Gresham, where the Torrs lived.
“Who is Dorlan’s mother?” Shyllen suddenly asked aloud. “I didn’t see anyone else in the house that wasn’t a servant.”
“Uncle Ravin said she was out with a friend,” Ander said. They had come to a place where the path ran along the top of a tall chalk cliff. Ander stopped, and looked out over the horizon.
The moon was high above the sea, its silvery rays catching the foam and making the low clouds glow softly. The stars were bright in a satiny sky, and the thick, milky band of stardust that crossed the northern heavens glimmered faintly. A sound like wind filled the air as the tide came in and crashed against the stone cliff at their feet, while the songs of night birds rang out clearly from the island at their backs. It was beautiful.
“I wonder what’s going on back home,” he wondered, half to himself.
Shyllen sank to the ground with a sigh and rested her hands lightly on her knees. “My parents are probably back from their trip. When Uncle Thraluic sent word for me to come see him, they decided to go visit a few old friends of theirs. But I’ll bet they’re home by this time.”
“I wish Cook could see me now,” Ander said in a low voice. “She always told me that I’d put her teaching to good use someday.”
“What did she teach you?”
“All kinds of things,” Ander said, sitting down on the path next to Shyllen. “She used to be a governess for the royal children. She could speak seven different languages, and read about four more; she could write and sing and dance…she taught me a lot of it in our spare time.”
“How did she become cook?”
Ander shrugged. “That was before I came along, but she told me it was because she taught the eldest prince to sew. The king didn’t think it was proper for the prince to be doing such menial work, so he demoted her. When I was there, the castle tutor was a dry old man with a beard two feet long. I snuck in to listen to one of his lectures once – and then got caught because I fell asleep in the middle of it.”
Shyllen laughed, and the sound bounced down the cliff and into the water. Ander looked over at her and smiled. “Not a good place to be.”
“So this cook—“
“Her real name was Mandy.”
“Mandy then. She raised you?”
“Ever since Uncle Ravin apparently left me with her. Thraluic says the two of them were friends at some point. I lived with her in the little apartment next to the kitchen until I was ten, and then she let me start sleeping in one of the other sheds with my friends. But she still took me to her rooms almost every evening and taught me. I used to think it was because she just wanted to teach someone, even a nobody kitchen boy. Now I wonder if maybe Ravin asked her to.”
“She didn’t manage to teach you to fight, apparently,” Shyllen elbowed him. “Clod.”
Ander shook his head. “Nah – she said if I didn’t get into trouble, I wouldn’t need to know how to fight.”
“That’s silly – what if you got into trouble, but couldn’t defend yourself?”
Ander went silent, suddenly remembering Priest Under. “I did, eventually,” he admitted. “But knowing how to fight wouldn’t have helped me.”
Shyllen tossed a handful of shell bits over the side of the cliff. “What happened?” she asked curiously.
Ander listened to the soft splash as the crumbled pieces hit the water below. “I…made a fool of myself, I think.”
“Well, that’s not unusual. Come on – tell me what you did.”
“Do you know who Princess Riana is?”
Shyllen snorted. “Who doesn’t know about that fancy-skirts? Even we dragons have heard stories about her.”
“You’d be surprised what an ordinary kitchen boy doesn’t know,” Ander grimaced. “Even one trained by the old governess. I volunteered to help the princess elope with her bodyguard, and told them how to find a priest willing to do the job.”
Shyllen hooted. “That was you? My parents and I had a good laugh over that story – and you mean to tell me that you were behind it?”
Flushing, Ander looked away, up at the stars. “Yeah.”
“That’s priceless! And you really didn’t know what a problem it would be?”
“I was just thinking about how I could get my hands on one of those sharp page uniforms,” Ander admitted. “But then one of the other girls in the kitchen told me what a scandal it was – though she didn’t know that I was behind it. She told me that there was a warrant out for the priest’s arrest – and I decided to high-tail it before anyone realized my part in the whole mess.”
“And that’s when you met Thraluic?”
“Yeah – and Celzara. It was an…eventful day,” Ander paused. “Say, Shyllen – you didn’t happen to hear what happened to the priest, did you?”
She threw another handful of shells over the side. “Last I heard, he was being kept under house arrest. The word we got was that the king knew there had been another guilty party, and he was waiting for the priest to give up the name of his accomplice. Funny to think that it was our own dear Clod.”
Ander felt both relieved and guilty. “I’ll have to make that all right one day,” he said. Then he sighed, and stood, brushing the sandy bits of shell off his breeches. “But it’ll have to wait until we get this mess all sorted out.”
Shyllen nodded, and held up a hand for Ander to help her up. He pulled her to her feet and stepped back. Turning back down the path, he had taken three steps away before Shyllen took a deep breath and said:
“Ander?”
He looked back at her, still standing on the edge of the cliff.
“I just wanted you to know,” she said softly, “I think Jagsod is absurd. He watches me like a puppy, just begging for attention – but…” she shrugged, for once at a loss for words. “He’s silly.”
In light of their crisis, Ander thought, he shouldn’t care much about her comments. But he did – a lot. It was like an icy weight had been dragging him, and now it suddenly melted away.
“Thanks,” he said, just as softly.
Without another word, the two of them returned to where Thraluic and Jagsod were camped; walking side by side the whole way back.

Comments

Hmm...

Excellent chapter. [You know I didn't really mean the last chapter was cliche, right?] Remind me, though, what is the Vial?

Julie | Fri, 09/25/2009

Formerly Kestrel

!!!

Well done! I'm on pins and needles to find out what happens next!!

And I don't think it's weird to have a "love-triangle" (I hate that word too) between a boy, a troll, and a dragoness. LOL. It's definitely very unique and out of the ordinary!

Heather | Sat, 09/26/2009

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Great chapter LoriAnn! Shame

Great chapter LoriAnn! Shame ,shame Ravin...

Kestrel, the Vial of Right was used in determining who was to rule the Feielve throne next. Celzara wanted in becuase, even though she could not hold it (Remember how it burned Ander becuase he wasnt the right one?) She hoped to use it to manipulate the others to believing she was really queen. Or something like that.

"It wasn’t something he recognized – a clear, finger-length container, somewhat like the small jars Cook used to hold spices in the kitchen. It sparkled brightly – far too brightly for the dim light of the cavern – and a thin cloud of mossy-green smoke filled it about halfway. The mouth of the strange vial was capped with a small silver cork, shaped like a rose. It pulsed in Ander’s grasp, unnervingly similar to a small animal’s heart beating in his fist.
"Bring that to me," the queen’s voice was eager.
Ander hesitated. No matter what the queen said, the vial was Thraluic by rights. " -Chapter Five

 

Kay J Fields | Mon, 09/28/2009

Visit my writing/book review blog at http://transcribingthesedreams.blogspot.com/

...

I think I should hire her as my publicist and FAQ person. What do you think?

LOL

 

LoriAnn | Mon, 09/28/2009

 And your agent, and your PR

 And your agent, and your PR person...  LOL

No, I'm with Thea - I think the little 'love-triangle' (I hate that phrase too, but it's really the only one that will work) is classic and delightful.  It's not weird, at least not to me.  

I loved this chapter, tho' I'm a little disappointed in Ravin - I'm with Ander, he's not what I thought he would be.  So now I'm dying to find out what happens next!

Mary | Tue, 09/29/2009

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Brother: Your character should drive a motorcycle.
Me: He can't. He's in the wilderness.
Brother: Then make it a four-wheel-drive motorcycle!

*evil grin*

Ooh, you'll never guess...

LoriAnn | Tue, 09/29/2009

Thay say that authors dont

Thay say that authors dont write becuase they want to make a good story but to torture  readers with cliffhangers and the like. They have found us out I'm afraid. LOL

Kay J Fields | Tue, 09/29/2009

Visit my writing/book review blog at http://transcribingthesedreams.blogspot.com/

In my humble opinion....

this is the BEST CHAPTER EVER!!!! The "love-triangle" (that's becoming a popular phrase here :P ) thing made the story. I have been wondering how the "fancy skirts" in the first chapters was going to come back into play! Can't wait for the next chapter!!!

Ariel | Tue, 09/29/2009

*****************************************
"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

LOL

I forgot to mention that I did love the name for the princess--"the fancy-skirts" LOL. That made me laugh!

Heather | Wed, 09/30/2009

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

"Fancy-Skirts"...

 especially coming from someone like Shyllen!

Mary | Wed, 09/30/2009

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Brother: Your character should drive a motorcycle.
Me: He can't. He's in the wilderness.
Brother: Then make it a four-wheel-drive motorcycle!

I started to write "fancy

I started to write "fancy pants", but realized that Reina would never wear pants. So I changed it to skirts. I liked it.

Oh, I wish the next chapter would hurry and post -- I'm dying to get to the good part!

LoriAnn | Wed, 09/30/2009

awwww.

Ander and Shyllen. So cute. :)

KatieSara | Fri, 10/02/2009

Katie:-)

"Are all humans like this? So much bigger on the inside?"
-Idris/TARDIS

I like it!  The love-triangle

I like it!  The love-triangle is... strange, but "altogether delightful, dearie."

Bridget | Fri, 10/02/2009

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

This is so good! Sorry kind

This is so good! Sorry kind of stopped reading, but I will definitely keep up with this now.

airlia | Fri, 02/26/2010

"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived."
General George S. Patton