The Tale of Ander Collins--Chapter Twenty-Eight

Fiction By LoriAnn // 2/9/2010

 

Ander, drawing his sword as Shyllen swooped over the heads of the wall guards, shouted a defiant cry.
“The Denwold!” The dragoness roared in agreement, spouting a ribbon-like flame of intense purple fire that scorched the stone wall above the drawbridge.
“The drawbridge is suspended on a chain!” she shouted back to Ander. “If I can get you in there, can you lower the bridge?”
Ander scrutinized the gatehouse. “I think so,” he yelled back, fighting down the alarm that rose in his chest.
Shyllen banked sharply and dove headfirst toward the gatehouse. “Get ready!” she bellowed.
Ander slipped halfway from his scaly seat and held on tight with one hand, keeping his sword in the other.
“Sheath your sword, you nitwit!” Shyllen shouted. “You’ll kill yourself!”
Too apprehensive to blush at his blunder, Ander obeyed and readied himself to leap.
One heartbeat.
Two heartbeats.
Three heart—
And he jumped!
Dropping like a stone through the air, Ander shrieked. Or at least, he thought he did. But before he really had time to be afraid, he hit the stone floor of the parapet. At least he had the sense to bend his knees and roll as he landed.
For a second, he lay there, the wind knocked from his lungs. Then, with an effort, he forced himself to his feet and stumbled toward the door of the gatehouse. There was no guard inside—probably because he, like many of his fellows, had defected to Dorlan’s side. The enormous chain that held the heavy drawbridge had links as thick as his upper arm, and Ander glanced around the gatehouse, trying to figure out how, exactly, he was supposed to lower the contraption.
There—a giant wheel, like the ship’s wheel aboard the Bee, was built into the side of the room, with the chain wrapped around it. Ander grabbed onto the spokes that protruded from the sides of the wheel and pulled hard, grunting with the effort.
The thing creaked, but barely moved.
“Hurry up, Clod!” Shyllen’s voice was a faint shout from outside. “They’re almost here!”
Ander threw his entire weight onto the wheel, pulling and heaving as the wheel moved slowly—ever so slowly—downward.
“Ander!” Shyllen yelled again. “You dumbnoddy! You’re doing it the hard way—let the lever loose!”
“What lever?” he screamed back, his chest tight with tension. Dorlan’s army would be here any second!
Then, in the midst of his panic, Ander caught sight of a large wooden lever that stuck up from the floor on the other side of the wheel. Desperately praying that it was the right lever, he snatched at it and yanked backward.
The contraption moved much more easily than he had anticipated, and Ander flew backward with the force of his pull. Landing on his backside with a loud oomph, he ripped the skin from his palms as he caught himself on the rough stone floor of the gatehouse.
The weight of the drawbridge—no longer held in place by the elaborate gears and whirligigs of the braking system—crashed downward. The chain whipped around the wheel, causing the heavy mechanisms to spin like a balsa-wood top. Sparks flew as the slack chain slapped against the stone wall on its way down, and Ander ran to the small arrow slit that looked out over the moat and the charging army.
The drawbridge slammed to the ground, digging deep into the soft dirt sides of the moat. One of the chains snapped under the sudden pressure, but since the enormous wooden bridge was resting on level ground, it didn’t matter—for now. Ander had a sudden image of Mandy, the cook, scolding some scullery maid for breaking a plate, and deducting the price of the dish from her salary. He was pretty sure that a drawbridge was more expensive than a china plate…
Shaking the irrelevant thoughts from his mind, Ander darted from the gatehouse and met Shyllen as she swooped down again. Landing heavily on the narrow walkway, she gasped out,
“Get on, Clod—Celzara’s waiting for us in the throne room.”
Ander leaped onto the violet dragoness’ back and felt something sticky under his hand. Shyllen winced.
“You’re hurt!” he exclaimed, jerking his hand away from the deep cut on the side of her neck. Rage boiled up in his throat at the thought of someone injuring the dragoness.
“Some idiotic archer,” she explained, launching into the air. “He just nicked me—there are a lot of people hurt worse than that.”
Ander swallowed his anger. “Let’s get this over with,” he said.
They flew above the castle as Dorlan’s army flooded inside the grounds.
“Celzara knows we’re coming,” Shyllen said, soaring above the roof of the palace and circling a turret. “We’ll just have to hope that she can’t enspell all of us at once.”
Ander shuddered a bit, remembering their last encounter with the witch-queen. “She didn’t seem to have any problem taking on both you and Thraluic,” he pointed out. “There’s no way we can simply overpower her.”
“We might,” the dragoness argued. “There’re more than two thousand of us—at least there was at last count.”
Ander shook his head. “It won’t be enough,” he said with certainty. “Old Cellie’s sure to have figured out some new tricks since we last saw her—and she’s known we were coming for days.” He frowned.
“You know—this almost seems too easy,” Shyllen voiced his thoughts aloud.
“Doesn’t it, though…”
Ander studied the huge structure below them as they circled again. It was basically two large rectangular buildings, with a smaller one nestled in between. Spires rose from every conceivable point, but the largest towers were built at the outer corners of the structure. The smaller, central building was doubtless the main banquet hall and the throne room.
There was a large, white-stone-paved courtyard in front of the central building, with a large—dry—fountain in the middle. Dorlan’s men were swarming over courtyard, and the castle grounds, but Dorlan himself hadn’t yet arrived, and no one was brave enough to lead the charge without him. Loyal to the true king these Denwolders might be, but they remembered well every atrocity and tragedy of Celzara’s rule. Ander didn’t blame them—he was pretty nervous himself. Then something caught his eye.
“The window,” he said quietly. Then, louder: “Shyllen! Does that window lead into the throne room?” She turned her head to see where he was pointing, and examined the mammoth stained-glass window that fronted the middle palace.
“I think so, but…” her voice was questioning.
Ander smiled grimly. “If we surprise Celzara enough, it might give Dorlan a bit of an advantage when he gets in there. And I’d be willing to bet my socks that dear old auntie will be waiting for us on her oh-so-shiny throne—she’s not the type to inconvenience herself for revolutionaries, you know.”
“I think I’ll let you keep your socks,” Shyllen said with a sarcastic puff of violet flame. “You’re probably right. Except that I hope you’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking.”
“I’m thinking we should fly right through that window.”
“And I think you’re nuts.” She spat flame at the heads of a few bold archers on the balcony of one of the towers. They shouted and dove for cover.
“Hey—you’re the one who told me to think up my own ideas for a change.” Ander tried kneeing the dragoness in the side like he would a mule or horse.
Shyllen snorted and deliberately swerved the opposite direction. “That was when we were fleeing for our lives,” she protested. “Not in the middle of a battle!”
“A battle where we’re fighting for our lives,” Ander pointed out. “What’s the difference?”
“The difference is,” Shyllen roared, as the last of Dorlan’s troops pounded over the drawbridge. “The difference is…Oh, I don’t know. But I’m sure there is one.”
She turned, and began to fly away from the castle.
“What are you doing?” Ander demanded, looking over his shoulder at the rapidly shrinking building.
“Getting up some speed for your idiotic charge!” She banked steeply and again faced the castle. “If we aren’t going fast enough, Celzara might meet us head-on with a shield spell or some such rot.”
Flapping her wings harder than ever, Shyllen sped like a crossbow’s quarrel through the air, her head aiming directly for the ornate window. Ander’s eyes grew wide as the castle loomed nearer with every wing beat.
Over the wall again! They dove at—literally—a breakneck speed. Ander blinked away tears from the wind and felt them stream into his ears from the force of their momentum.
“Get down—and cover your head!” Shyllen screamed.
Ander obeyed instantly, just as Shyllen’s hard-plated nose broke through the very center of the great window.
As if in slow motion, they pierced the heart of the window, rainbow shards—more wickedly sharp than a thousand flying knives—exploding into the air around them. Ander felt one sliver slice across his back, and he arched against the sudden, fiery pain. Shyllen screamed, but whether it was a battle-roar or a cry of anguish, Ander couldn’t tell.
Then they were through, and Shyllen dropped to the floor, skidding across the marble tiles. She braked frantically, and the violet claws ripped into the stone floor with a horrendous screech, leaving deep furrows behind.
Ander tumbled from her back, landing on the ground and rolling over several times before thudding to a halt against one of the stone pillars that lined the great throne room. Crying out at the pain in his back, he lay still for what seemed like an eternity, feeling hot blood seeping from the wound.
“Ah,” a cold, well-remembered voice said. Ander scrambled to his feet, an unreasonable fear filling his chest. This was the voice from his nightmares.
Ander looked up to meet the queen’s hot, green gaze.
“Greetings, kitchen rat,” Celzara said.

Comments

Wow

That last scene would make an incrediable movie. You weren't by any chance thinking of Shrek I when you wrote that scene, hm? "Ander has a dragon and he's not afraid to use her!"

Julie | Thu, 02/11/2010

Formerly Kestrel

WOW!!!

That. Was. EPIC!!!!!! This is the very first thing i've commented on and WOW!!! It was just AMAZING! I love Anders! It reminds me of Eragon and a whole bunch of awesome fantasy stuff!!! IT WAS AMAZING!!!! I wish i'd read the rest of the story, though, because i'm a little lost as to why everything has gone so TERRIBLY wrong in this kingdom!

Clare | Thu, 02/11/2010

LOL. Love the chapter

LOL.

Love the chapter LoriAnn, kinda a cliff hanger... POST MORE!!!!! :) sorrry  'bout that.

Kay J Fields | Fri, 02/12/2010

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

Actually, I've never seen

Actually, I've never seen Shrek...

*pst*--sneak spoiler. Something big is coming. Something that involves an evil queen, a death, and a well-loved character--oh yeah, and HUGE DRAMA!!! lol

LoriAnn | Fri, 02/12/2010

Haha

Ooooh...sounds amazing!!! I am LOVING this story!!!!

Clare | Sat, 02/13/2010

"Well-loved character"?

Don't you DARE kill off Thraluic!!

Love this chapter though! So exciting. I love that the Denwold guys all turn to the good side. ^.^

KatieSara | Sat, 02/13/2010

Katie:-)

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

Why does everyone love that

Why does everyone love that crotchety old dragon so much???? LOL--I tried to ask my sister, but she just wailed and said that he was "wonderful".

LoriAnn | Mon, 02/15/2010

:|

Don't you DARE kill Thraluic! He is wonderful!

Btw, nice chapter, very cliff-hanger-y ending.

Sarah | Mon, 02/15/2010

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

Oh dear, Thraluic IS going to

Oh dear, Thraluic IS going to die, isn't he?  I know it, I know it, I know it, and LoriAnn, many aforesaid threats will be carried out if he does.

Bridget | Sat, 02/20/2010

"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

THAT WAS!

THAT WAS 

!!!!! AWSOME!!!!!

I agree that would really make a good movie !

wonderful cant wait to read more!

Kassady | Tue, 03/30/2010

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