The Tale of Ander Collins: Chapter Fifteen

Fiction By LoriAnn // 7/22/2009

 

The next morning dawned reluctantly, the sky hidden by the thick clouds Ander had noticed the day before. Only now, instead of puffy dollops, they were low-hanging blankets; heavy with moisture and rumbling threateningly.
Ander cast a worried eye upward as he mounted Shyllen’s shoulder. “Should we be flying in this?” he asked, slipping into his cloak and trying to avoid irritating the massive sunburn he had gotten the previous day.
She shrugged. “Would you rather stay here and be all wet anyway, without having gotten any closer to the islands?”
Conceding the point but still uneasy, Ander settled into his customary seat; holding tight to Shyllen’s scales as they lifted off and began to fly over the now pewter-colored sea. He kept glancing back over his shoulder at the shore, which receded swiftly into the distance. It never quite disappeared – they were too high up for that – but it became more and more indistinct, until all Ander could see was a low, dark mass on the horizon. Resigning himself to the impossibility of their turning back, he set his face forward; though there wasn’t anything to see, really.
The clouded, western horizon blended almost perfectly with the waters, and everything was lit with a dim, monochrome glow. No birds ventured out this far, no ships appeared on the waves to break the monotony…it was utterly dead.
Lightning flickered in the clouds above, and Ander flinched as a deep crack-boom seemed to burst from the sky directly over them. He pulled his cloak over his head just as the clouds released their load.
Rain poured down.
It quickly soaked through Ander’s cloak, turning the fabric sodden, cold and heavy in his arms. He peered through the heavy downpour, now completely unable to distinguish water from sky.
Lightning flashed again, with blinding intensity. Shyllen shuddered, and ducked her head in close to her body, like a heron in flight. Ander glanced back, hoping for a last glimpse of land.
His view was obstructed by the water, but he forgot about it when he noticed that Shyllen’s tail was curled up under her. “Is something wrong?” he shouted.
She shuddered again, like a horse trying to shake off a fly. “No!” she said harshly. “I’m fine!”
Thunder crackled again, blasting their ears painfully, and Shyllen gave a little cry of fear. Understanding dawned on Ander.
“Shyllen, are you afraid of thunderstorms?”
“Of course not!” she retorted bravely – but the effect was ruined when a sudden burst of lightning caused her to swerve nervously. Ander slipped on her wet scales, gripping the small, flexible spikes that ran down her spine. His breath caught in his throat as he looked past his dangling leg to see roiling water far below.
Pulling himself back into a secure position, he crouched down low to Shyllen’s back, grasping her scales and spikes for dear life. This was a nightmare – what could possibly go wrong next?
The dragons flew through the storm for hours, slicing through the driving rain like hot knives. Ander shivered on Shyllen’s back, his clothes saturated with water. His stomach rumbled in a dull echo of the storm’s fury, but they didn’t dare attempt another drop from Thraluic’s back like they had yesterday. Ander tried to ignore his hunger, wishing desperately that he had never left the inn at Mor, never fled Kelner, never served the princess tea.
This was all Missy’s fault, he groused to himself. If she hadn’t come down with summer fever on that first morning, Ander would still be warm and dry in the kitchen. Sure, he’d be peeling vegetables and turning spits instead of flying over the ocean on dragon-back, with another dragon and an ogre on his left, but he’d be dry at least.
No…Ander shook his head. No, if Missy hadn’t gotten sick, Ander would have never left Kelner, never met Thraluic, and never found out who his family was.
The soaking was worth it in the long run, he decided, shaking water out of his face. Just barely.
It was hard to tell the time without the sun, but by Ander’s estimate, it was about four o’clock when the rain finally began to let up. The thunder had died away an hour or so back, but wasn’t until the rain slowed to a drizzle that Shyllen relaxed enough to stretch out her neck again.
Ander twisted the corner of his cloak to wring it out, watching as the water dripped away over the dragoness’ purple scales. He looked over at Jagsod – at last clearly visible again – and saw him doing the same thing. The ogre felt Ander’s eyes on him and looked up, sending the boy a weak smile, the rain running down his rough-cut face in little rivulets.
“Some storm!” he shouted.
Ander nodded, and peered ahead. The ocean was visible now, dark and slate-colored in the filtered light. “How are you doing, Shyllen?” he asked the dragoness.
She snorted, and a tiny poof of violet flame sizzled the moisture on her snout. “I’ve been better,” she said tersely, her tone forbidding other questions.
Ander plunged forward anyway. “Why are you so afraid of thunderstorms?”
The dragoness said nothing, her wings making a sodden thwup, thwup, thwup sound as they stroked up and down. Ander waited patiently, scanning the turbulent waters below them for anything of interest. The temperature had fallen with the cool air of the storm, but the air was still thick and wet with humidity. He was glad for the breeze caused by the dragon’s forward motion.
“I was in a worse storm once,” Shyllen said at last, breaking the muggy silence. “I was only a hatchling, but I can remember it clearly. My family and I were living in a cave high in the Forgath Mountains, and a storm front was moving in from the west.” She paused, and Ander hoped that she had more to say. “I wandered away from the cave a few hours before the storm hit, and I got lost. It’s easy to do in the mountains; there are all sorts of crevices and canyons that branch out from one another, which then branch out again and again…it’s an exciting place to live, if you’re an adult dragon with some directional instinct, but I didn’t have any.”
She flew on steadily, her delicately-purple wings beating the air in a rhythmic pulse. Ander noticed that the rain had stopped altogether for the moment, so he removed his waterlogged cloak and began wringing it out in earnest, attempting to remove most of the water from its thick fabric.
“Just as I realized that I was lost,” the dragoness continued, “and that my parents – who had been napping when I slipped out – had no idea where I was, the storm hit. I was nearly struck by lightning several times, close enough to feel the tingly heat and smell the burning smell. Thunder seemed to shake the very stones under my feet. I, like the baby I was, couldn’t seem to act sensibly and hide until the storm blew itself out. I continued to run and flop all over the mountain, screaming in fear and pain as I tumbled over sharp rocks and jagged branches that tore my wings and scraped my scales.” Shyllen took a deep breath, and Ander shook his cloak out over her side, his mind filled with images of a little purple dragonet fleeing in panic over a stormy mountain landscape.
“I collapsed in exhaustion in a little box canyon long before the storm died,” she said, the factual, brusqueness of her normal tone returning. “And I cowered there for nearly another day before my mother finally found me – half drowned, muddy, bleeding from a thousand tiny scrapes and cuts. Ever since then, I’ve had a deadly fear of storms. That’s why I don’t live in a surface cave, like Uncle Thraluic. Mine tunnels deep into the mountain, down to its very roots.”
Ander wasn’t sure how to respond. “Thanks,” he said at length. Shyllen nodded her tapered head, and they flew on in a more-or-less companionable silence.
 
 
 
As night came on, the rain picked up again, but Thraluic spotted a small, rocky island where they could land for the night. There wasn’t much in the way of vegetation, but a small outcropping gave Ander, Jagsod and Shyllen – girl-shaped once again – some shelter from the wet. Thraluic flamed on a few stones to heat them, and they passed a warm, relatively dry night. And if the sandy floor, strew about with fist-sized rocks, was uncomfortable to sleep on, none of the fatigued travelers noticed.
They woke the next morning, stiff and cold, and ate a quick breakfast of dried meat and drying bread. Jagsod thought to give Ander a few pieces of meat and cheese before they set out, but it was sparing – they were running low on food fast.
The sky was much lighter than it had been the day before, and as the sun rose, it burned away the rest of the lingering clouds. By midmorning, the sky and sea were both a bright blue as far as the eye could see.
Ander draped his still-damp cloak over Shyllen’s back to dry – which she grumbled at a little, but didn’t forbid – and sat staring alternately at the white-capped sea and the austere blue sky.
For the first time, he wondered what he would say to his uncle when they finally found him – presuming that the man hadn’t been killed or died of old age, or even left the islands. Would Ravin remember him? Would he be happy that they had come to rescue him, or would he refuse to return and face down Celzara? How should Ander introduce himself?
“Hello, Uncle. Remember me?”
“Uncle Ravin? I’m your grand-nephew Ander, and we’ve come to take you back to the Denwold to defeat the evil witch who wants you dead.”
“Lord Ravin, sir, I humbly ask your pardon, sir, but…you see, sir, it’s like this…”
Ander shook his head. He would just have to cross that river when he came to it.
A sudden shout from his left, where Thraluic flew, startled Ander. He craned his neck to see around Shyllen’s wing even as the dragoness’ head swept over to see as well.
Ander shouted and pointed downward, just as – with a mighty splash – Jagsod plunged into the ocean!

Comments

Oh...yes, that's a

Oh...yes, that's a problem--dragon afraid of thunderstorms. I've asked Chris once if he ever was a afraid of heights--since he's a half-dragon with wings, that might be a problem.

p.s. PLEASE read Sheltering Wings 1&2

Julie | Fri, 07/31/2009

Formerly Kestrel

:)

LOL - I almost made her afraid of fire...but I figured that wouldn't work. I've read Sheltering Wings 1, and I'm working on 2. So far, I like.

LoriAnn | Sat, 08/01/2009

Oh boy

A dragon afraid of fire? Well, if you read Enoch's Ghost, there are ice-breathing dragons, so they might be afraid of fire.

Julie | Sat, 08/01/2009

Formerly Kestrel

This is such a great story.

This is such a great story. This is one of my favorite stories...books...whatever, anywhere.

 

The Brit | Tue, 08/04/2009

*blushes*

I am absolutely and completely flattered. :)

And...*sheepishly* I never finished "Enoch's Ghost". I got too...confused.

LoriAnn | Tue, 08/04/2009

Love It!

Great Chapter. So what is Jagsod doing? I kinda like him, but well, I guess A oger is a hard thing to trust, huh? Cant wait for 16!

Kay J Fields | Tue, 08/04/2009

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

Ummmm...what's Jagsod up to

Ummmm...what's Jagsod up to now? Can't wait to find out in 16! And I LOVE your descriptive writing, btw.

Heather | Wed, 08/05/2009

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

I love, love,

I love, love, LOVE THE THUNDERSTORM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I would love to fly in it, and you described it so well.  The rest was cool too, but I'm still hung up on the awesomeness of the storm.

Bridget | Wed, 08/05/2009

"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

16

Chapter sixteen is in the works. I'm a little stalled, but I think it should be finished soon. Who's ready to meet Uncle Ravin?

LoriAnn | Thu, 08/06/2009

!!!!!

Me, me, me! :0)

Heather | Mon, 08/10/2009

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

????????????????

OK,  I've posted both chapter sixteen (in which we do not yet meet Ravin, sorry Heather...wait for seventeen.) and the second part of "The Captain of Chi Lung". But while they appear on the page labled "Fiction", they are for some reason not on my account page.

What's up with this?

LoriAnn | Wed, 08/12/2009

Actually LoriAnn, they don't

Actually, LoriAnn, they don't appear on the fiction page for me--they probably won't for you either, if you log out. For some reason, they're just taking a long while to be accepted.

Annabel | Wed, 08/12/2009

...

Yeah...now they just say "not published, visible only to you." I'm confused...but patient. Mr. Ben knows what he's doing. We hope...:)

LoriAnn | Thu, 08/13/2009