The Tale of Ander Collins -- Chapter Twenty

Fiction By LoriAnn // 10/9/2009

 

The four companions strode boldly up the walk to Ravin’s front door. The night was dark enough that there was no fear of anyone spotting Jagsod, and Thraluic refused to leave anyone behind.
“There’s strength in numbers,” he told Shyllen firmly, when she objected. “Besides, Ravin might be…influenced by the presence of our comrade ogre.” The dry twinkle was back in his eyes, and he seemed to be regaining his energy quickly.
Ander pushed his worries about Thraluic’s recovery to the back of his mind and concentrated on the moment. Part of him was angry that Ravin had dismissed their request for help so quickly – but another, larger part was just slightly embarrassed that they had come back to knock at Ravin’s door again, barely two hours later.
He let Thraluic pound on the heavy door.
There was no answer. The house was dark and quiet, and the only sound that Ander could hear was the soft noise of a small town at night – the distant singing of inebriated sailors, a dog barking in a nearby yard, and the ever-present shush of the sea. Somewhere, a clock struck eleven.
Thraluic banged with his fist again, and Jagsod leaned over to Ander. “You’re sure this is the right house?”
“Of course I’m sure,” Ander hissed, annoyed. “You think I can’t identify one house?”
The ogre shook his head. “Only because I can’t. All your human dwellings look the same to me.”
“Hush, you two,” Shyllen commanded them in a low voice. “As if Uncle’s noise wasn’t enough – you’ll wake the neighbors.”
Ander glanced at Thraluic, who was snorting slightly with exertion. He was sure that the older dragon had heard his niece, but he ignored her. Rattling the doorknob, he grunted. “Blasted human locks – give me an open cave any day.”
Ander scowled behind the old dragon’s back. “Yeah,” he retorted. “And we saw how well that worked with Aunt Cellie.”
Thraluic threw a withering look over his shoulder, just as the door creaked open a crack.
“What do you want at this hour?” a sleepy, male voice asked.
Ander pushed past Thraluic. “Dorlan? It’s Ander.”
The door opened wider, and the young man stood before them in a nightshirt, holding a candle that flickered in the night breeze. He sheltered it with his hand and gaped at Jagsod. The ogre grinned craggily.
“Come in, come in,” Dorlan tore his eyes away and motioned them into the hall. “Shall I rouse my father for you?”
Thraluic stepped in. “Yes, lad,” he said gruffly. “And quickly, please.”
Dorlan cocked his head at the dragon thoughtfully, then shook his head and turned to the closest door. “Here – wait in the parlor. I’ll be right back.”
Thraluic refused to sit, pacing the length of the small sitting room impatiently. Jagsod, ever patient and practical, found a tinderbox on the fireplace mantle and coaxed up a small blaze.
He sat back on his heels and nodded in satisfaction. “There,” he said in his bass voice. “That’ll chase away the sea chill.”
Ander sat on a plush ottoman, his feet suddenly sore and tired. Well, no wonder. He had probably walked a good ten miles altogether today. He glanced at Shyllen, who had curled up sleepily on a nearby couch.
She met his gaze and rolled her eyes at her uncle. Here’s hoping, she mouthed.
Ander grimaced in return.
Just then, the parlor door reopened, and Ravin stepped in, wearing a russet-colored robe and slippers. Dorlan followed behind him with a tired-looking woman holding his arm. Ander took in her friendly – if a bit careworn – face, and knew that he must be looking at his aunt. She shared Ravin’s fine features – Celzara’s too, if he thought about it. She must have been Feielve like her husband, doubtless born and raised in the Denwold.
Ravin’s eyes quickly took in the imposing sight of a young ogre in his front parlor, passing over Jagsod with hardly a blink. His attention was immediately captivated by Thraluic’s face, instead, and he stared in disbelief.
“Thraluic?” he asked incredulously. “Thraluic the Strong? Ander said you were here, but I didn’t expect…It’s been so long –“
Thraluic interrupted him, and Shyllen sat up straighter in her seat. “We need to talk, Ravin,” he rumbled, his voice still daunting despite it’s smaller conduit.
Ravin sighed. “I should have known you weren’t here to reminisce,” he said in resignation. “Not at two in the morning, anyway.”
Thraluic glanced at the clock on the mantle. “Is it really that late?”
“Early, actually. Please, have a seat.” Ravin waved an accommodating hand. “We might as well have our arguments in comfort.”
Ander’s aunt sat down next to Shyllen. “Hello,” she whispered, arranging her nightgown and tucking her dainty bare feet under the hem. She smiled with her gray eyes. “I’m Maire.”
“Shyllen,” the dragoness replied, equally quiet. “And that’s Ander, Thraluic and Jagsod.”
Ander’s aunt nodded and turned her attention back to her husband and Thraluic.
The dragon was glaring at Ravin. “How dare you shirk your responsibility like this?” he demanded, his voice hard and intense. “Your people need you. Your nephew needs you.” He made a sour face, but admitted, “To be perfectly honest…I need you.”
Ravin shook his head. “I can’t go back, Thraluic. I know you mean well, and I’m thrilled beyond belief that you came all this way. But I just won’t put my family within my sister’s reach. Not again.”
Dorlan was leaning against the wall, the firelight flickering ruddily across his handsome face. “Dad,” he said, “What about all those things you’ve always taught me – duty to responsibility and all that?” he didn’t sound as though he was testing his father, Ander thought, but more as if he was really curious.
Picking up a pipe from the small table in the center of the room, Ravin nodded. “Yes, Dorlan,” he agreed, lighting the pipe and tucking it into his mouth. The half-pleasant, half-acrid smell of pipe-root filled the room, and Aunt Maire reached behind her to open the window. “All of what I’ve taught you is right,” Ravin continued. “But my greatest duty is to my family – your mother and you, and now Ander, if he wants it.”
“But the people in Denwold are your family too,” Ander protested, interrupting the conversation.
Stubbornly, Ravin shook his head, clamping his teeth down on the pipe stem. “Not in the same way. Truly, Thraluic,” he said, turning back to the dragon. “If it were just me, I’d go with you without a second thought. But I have responsibilities here; to Dorlan and Maire, to the men I employ and their families…I couldn’t leave if I wanted to.”
Strained silence filled the room. Ander stared into the red light of the small fire and fought back bitter words.
Finally, Thraluic spoke, his voice heavy and resigned. “And…there is no way to convince you?”
Ravin shook his head again and smiled sadly. “No, old friend. I will not be persuaded.”
Ander’s resolve broke, and angry words burst out like water from a breached dam.
“It’s not right!” he exclaimed, rising to his feet. “You have no right! I never even knew you existed until a little while ago, I never even knew that I had a family. And then I find out that I have one, and not only that, but they’re royal! Royal fools, if you ask me!”
“Ander,” Ravin tried to interject.
“No, Uncle!” Ander ranted, taking a step forward. “I’ll say my piece.” The firelight stained his vision, and Ander felt again the anger that had filled him that first day of sparring with Shyllen. Anger will almost always get you killed; he heard Shyllen’s voice again in his head.
Taking a calming breath, he continued, facing his uncle squarely. “I thought you would come and save us all. This whole time, the thought that we would bring you back to win the battles for us was what kept me hoping. Hoping that, maybe, we’d get through this alive after all. And now, we finally find you – and you say no? It’s…it’s inconceivable. What happened to the heroic prince Thraluic told me about - the one who could withstand a dragon interrogation, and outwit an evil queen by turning an exile into a new life? I wanted to meet that uncle. I—“ Ander stubbornly forced back angry tears “—I wanted to follow him wherever he led. But…when I found him, he wasn’t what I expected. He said no.”
Ander stopped abruptly, unable to voice the desolation and abandonment he felt. Somehow, all the anger and disappointment that had ever filled him because of his parent’s absence found its mark in Uncle Ravin – and Ander couldn’t speak a word past the hot bulge in his throat.
There was a slight wetness in Ravin’s eyes, and he looked away, unable to meet Ander’s gaze evenly. “I’m sorry, Ander,” he said softly, a note of true regret and guilt in his voice. “But my decision remains the same.”
Ander stared at him, his anger growing – and then dying away into dull, grey ash. “Fine,” he mumbled, turning his back on Ravin.
The room was deathly still as he stepped to the window and gazed fixedly through the glass.
Ander looked out at the moon, slung low in the sky over the island horizon. Dawn seemed to be coming already – in the west, a dull orange light brightened the sky. Ander swallowed back his disappointment and took a second, sharper look.
The sun didn’t rise in the west.
Dread clawed at Ander’s belly. “Oh, no,” he said softly, his voice rebounding off the windowpane.
Jagsod was immediately at his side. “What is it?” he asked.
Ander pointed. “I’m not sure.”
The ogre squinted into the darkness, his yellow eyes reflecting the mysterious light.
Ravin and Thraluic both stood, as did Shyllen. Ander heard skirts rustle as his Aunt Maire joined them.
Ravin took one look out the window, peering over Ander’s head. He let out a long, slow breath, full of dismay and foreboding. He spoke, and his voice was thick with alarm.
“Fire on the wharf.”

Comments

Oh no!

What now? I can't wait for the next section.

BTW, Anger will almost always get you killed; should be italized, since it's a thought. I like it all though.

Julie | Sat, 10/24/2009

Formerly Kestrel

italics

Yeah, it should. So should a bunch of other things that are italized for emphasis. But for some reason, I can't get AP to recognize my italics. So...just imagine that it's italized.

LoriAnn | Sat, 10/24/2009

Great chapter, but...urgh,

Great chapter, but...urgh, cliffhangers. I want to know!

By the way, I used to have trouble with italics too. In order  for them to be recognized, you have to type the italics in the box itself, not just paste them in. It's a bit complicated--you have to paste the section, and then go over it and find all the italicized places and re-type them.

Annabel | Sat, 10/24/2009

Agh!!!! How could you leave

Agh!!!! How could you leave it at a clifhanger like that!!!

Heather | Sun, 10/25/2009

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

Oh, I like what Ander said. 

Oh, I like what Ander said.  How long is this story now, anyway?  Oh, BTW I love the avatar you have now.  Is that going to be the book cover?

Bridget | Sun, 10/25/2009

"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 story is now 25 chapters

This story is now 25 chapters long, and I am stuck. I actually wrote a little "extra bit" where I popped into the story and threw Ander off a cliff--that's how stuck I am. LOL. But at this rate, I won't have to write any more for a while anyway. Plus, November is coming up, and that means NaNoWriMo...

And yes--I love that pic too. It's my cover for now, but...you never know!

LoriAnn | Mon, 10/26/2009

Cliffhanger?! You cannot do

Cliffhanger?! You cannot do that! Is Ravin ever going to change his mind? I admit I'm angry at him too. (And so much for his heroic 'i dont want to bring danger to my family.' Might be a little bit late for that)

Kay J Fields | Mon, 10/26/2009

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

LOL

I sympathize...I'm stuck on the fourth chapter of the book I'm rewriting...if I could just get past the part I'm rewriting, then editing would go so easily...but of course, it's not going to happen that way.
I love the book cover, too! :0)
And I heard about throwing Ander off the cliff. :0P LOL, that's awesome. I want to read it!!

Heather | Thu, 10/29/2009

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

LOL

I'll get it to you. :)

LoriAnn | Fri, 10/30/2009