The Tale of Ander Collins--Chapter Twenty Five

Fiction By LoriAnn // 12/8/2009

 

Dorlan hesitated for a moment, his bright-blue eyes intently studying the Vial. “And just what will happen if this thing decides that I’m not the rightful king?” he asked.
Jagsod chuckled dourly. “Wouldn’t that just put a damper on everyone’s day,” he muttered. Thraluic shot him an amused, but quelling, look.
“I don’t think you’ll have to worry about it,” he said confidently. “But if for some reason the Vial should reject you, we would know it in plenty of time to keep you from harm.”
Ander shuddered, remembering his own poisoned hand when Celzara had coerced him into taking the Vial. And they hadn’t been able to find that amazing salve of Thraluic’s either, back in the ruined cave. He tried to remember if there had been any warning signs before the Vial had mutilated his hand, but couldn’t think of any. Then again, what with the attacking bats and evil voice in his head, he probably wouldn’t have noticed anything.
Or maybe Thraluic didn’t know as much about the Vial as they thought.
Dorlan squared his shoulders. “Very well,” he said, in a firm voice. “Let’s find out what this thing thinks of me.”
He reached forward, and plucked the glass object from Thraluic’s cautious hand.
Nothing happened.
“Well,” Jagsod said after a moment. “That was a little anticlimactic.”
Shyllen elbowed him. “Wait.”
No sooner had the words left her mouth, the Vial exploded to life.
Ander jumped, and Dorlan gave a loud shout, as green light poured from his hand, spreading in glowing tendrils over his arm and down to the floor. It looked as if luminous vines were springing from the Vial, and seeking a place to grow.
A look of profound joy spread over Dorlan’s face, and everyone else stared in wonder. He held the Vial with both hands, the light-vines leaking through his fingers and gradually curling up his legs and chest, until there was little of his body to be seen under the hypnotic light. Ander took all of this in between one breath and another, but his attention was fixed on his cousin’s face.
As the light moved up Dorlan’s body, he seemed to grow—not in height or age, but in greatness or wisdom or…Ander wasn’t sure what the word was. Dorlan’s face became nobler, somehow, and the lines of care and worry that had appeared there throughout the previous day were erased.
The green light worked its way over his chest, and fanned out behind his back like a pair of radiant wings. Suddenly, a green glow appeared in his eyes, lit from within.
Dorlan laughed aloud—a pure, merry laugh like that of a child—and his mother gazed in awe at the change worked in her son. Ander thought she looked as though she were seeing him for the first time—really, they all were. Seeing him for who he fully was, that is.
He was a king.
Thraluic was the first to move. Pushing his chair back from the table, he offered reverence to Dorlan, bending low at the waist in a formal bow. Shyllen and Jagsod followed suit, standing solemnly and giving deep homage to the king. Even Maire curtsied.
Ander could only stare—then he abruptly remembered himself and presented the most elegant bow he knew—the one Mandy had taught him to perform when meeting royalty. But he made it deeper than ever before, lowering his head in honor of his cousin.
Dorlan laughed again—he seemed unable to react any other way. “Please;” he said confidently “Don’t do that.”
Ander looked up, as did the others, and he didn’t think that there was a dry eye in the room. Well, except perhaps for Jagsod, but he was an ogre. What could you expect?
“I have waited a long time for this moment,” Thraluic said, clearing his throat. “You have much joy into an old dragon’s life, Dorlan.”
Dorlan colored. Then puzzlement crossed his face and he looked down at the still-glowing Vial. “What am I supposed to do now?”
As if hearing his words, the incandescent vines shuddered pleasurably and vanished—but not back into the Vial, as Ander had half-expected, but seemingly directly into Dorlan’s skin. His eyes flared brightly for a second, and then returned to their normal blue hue.
The small group was silent for a long moment, partly wishing that the beautiful light would return, and partly unsure of what to say next.
“Well.” Maire said.
And that about summed it up.
 
 
“We seem to have a problem,” Jagsod commented, squinting one yellow eye at the sky. It was nearly noon, and the three younger travelers had wandered out into the garden for a bit of relaxation. There was a high stone wall surrounding the place, protecting them from the notice of prying neighbors, and a small fountain burbled quietly in the center of a small orchard. Ander was impressed by the similarities in the Torr’s small yard to the vast reaches of the Denwold. Clearly, this was their home away from home.
“What do you mean?” Shyllen asked, idly tossing a pebble into the water. It sank with a hollow plunk.
Jagsod plucked at a loose thread in his leather vest. “It’s great that we found the true king and all—don’t get me wrong. But it seems like we might have a hard time getting his back to his throne, in spite of all those high-and-mighty words.”
Ander was lying in the grass, watching wispy clouds drift across the porcelain sky. Something tickled his ear, and he swatted at it; only to find that it was Shyllen, teasing him with a long blade of grass. “Cut it out,” he ordered her, snatching the weed from her hand. “That tickles.”
“Why do you think I did it, Clod?” she asked archly, leaning against the back of the stone bench. Ander rolled his eyes.
“What do you mean, Jagsod?” he asked, electing to ignore the irritating dragoness.
The ogre gestured at Shyllen. “Well, unless you want to spend about two months at sea; she’s our only means of transportation.”
Ander sat up straight. “We still have Thraluic…don’t we?”
Shyllen shook her head, her red hair sliding over her shoulder. “No…” she said slowly. “I don’t think we do. The chances of him being able to shift back are…pretty low to say the least.” She looked dismally at her hands, and Ander blinked as long, purple claws slowly slid from the ends of her fingers and vanished again. She met the boys’ gazes sadly. “He may be stuck like that for the rest of his life.”
They sat quietly for a moment, contemplating the life of a dragon confined to a human form.
Jagsod threw a handful of rocks into the fountain and grunted. “See what I meant?”
Shyllen shook her head. “Ravin has--er, had--several ships. We should be able to sail back in the same time we took to fly here.”
“You dragons are such land-bound creatures,” Jagsod said with a teasing shake of his craggy head. “Flying, all we really had to worry about was your stamina and things like that hurricane we danced with. Sailing…you got a whole new set of problems.”
Ander leaned forward, picking absently at the grass. “Like what?”
The ogre shrugged and ticked off his list on knobby fingers. “Winds, currents, water supply, winds, men, food, wind, creatures like that snake thing—“ he shuddered “—and, oh yeah, wind. Did I mention wind?”
“Is wind really that big a deal?” Ander knew little of sailing, but it seemed to him that it had more to do with the water than the air.
“Is wind a big deal, he asks!” Jagsod got to his feet and started pacing around the garden. Ander had never seen him so animated. “My Grandpa Grigly was a sailor for years, and he told me everything he knew. See, on a river, wind’s not that vital. It’s good—yeah, saves you a bit of trouble, especially if you’re going upstream. But the currant’ll carry you well enough, and you can row or pole if it doesn’t. Out on the ocean…that’s completely different.”
Now even Shyllen was interested, her violet eyes following Jagsod’s earnest gestures. “I thought there were currents in the sea.”
Jagsod shrugged. “Sure there are—big ones too. But in the Berik Sea, they’re mostly small and weak, or too far from land to do you much good. The winds on the other hand—“ he waved expressively “—the winds are a sailor’s best friend; and his worst enemy. If you can catch the trade winds in the spring or fall, you can make a large crossing in a short time. But if you set sail in the middle of the summer, you’re likely to get becalmed. In the winter, you’ll run into big storms—way bigger than the one we came through.”
“Oh.” Ander thought about this for a few minutes. It had been time for the Summer Festival when he had left Kelner. Quickly calculating in his head…”It’s only the third month of summer,” he said, his heart sinking. “Are we too early for the fall winds?”
“I’m not exactly sure…” Jagsod shaded his eyes and stared up at the sky. “Grandpa is a trove of information, I assure you, but sometimes he’s not…precise.”
Shyllen stood and brushed her hands on her burgundy skirt. Ander had never seen her wearing a dress before, and he couldn’t help thinking she looked lovely in it. “My uncle and Dorlan will be able to figure it out,” she said primly.
Jagsod shrugged. “All I’m saying is; I hope you’re not in a hurry. Winds are a fickle thing to depend on. If you’re in a hurry to get Dorlan back to the forest, you may be out of luck. I don’t know why a few more weeks would matter, though.”
Ander looked at Shyllen. “We never told him?”
She blinked in surprise. “I don’t think we ever did.”
With a half-strangled laugh, Ander turned back to the ogre. “We’re staging a rebellion, Jagsod,” he said. “Dorlan is going to dethrone Celzara, but every day it takes us is one more day she has to build her power.”
It was as though a cloud had chilled their previously genial conversation. At least twenty emotions flew across Jagsod’s face in a matter of seconds: confusion, shock, alarm, doubt and anger battled for supremacy before his craggy features settled into a general mask of disbelieving betrayal. “And I’ve been a part of this rebellion for the last month, without knowing it? You realize that if you fail, we’ll all lose our heads—or worse!”
Shyllen shook her head. “We won’t fail. You saw the Vial.”
“Yeah, and I’ve also seen what Celzara does to people she doesn’t like.” The ogre exploded in anger. Ander took a step back in apprehension. Gone was the carefree companion that had pulled Ander under the water that day at the beach, or dropped a sack of food to him in the middle of the ocean. Now Ander could see where the stories of marauding, villainous ogres had come from.
“I had a friend when I was a kid,” Jagsod said bitingly. “His dad dared to say that maybe Celzara wasn’t the rightful queen. Worse, he dared to say it in public. Next day, word came that the whole family had been executed in a town square. And you think you’re going to just walk in and say “Sorry, old girl, you’re turn’s over”? Are you insane?” He glared at them, a violent glint in his yellow eyes. “I trusted you—my family trusted you—and you get me involved with a revolution! Do you realize what this could mean for them?”
Ander tried to stammer out some kind of explanation or excuse or…something. “Jagsod, we…that is, I—“
“Forget it.” Jagsod spat on the ground at their feet “You’d just better hope this works out like you want it to. Because if your little coup fails,” he added, turning to stalk away, “And if anything happens to my family, I’ll track you down before Celzara has a chance to find me—and I’ll kill you, Ander Collins. I promise you that—I will kill you.”
Then he had gone, and Ander was left gaping after him, feeling as though someone had just punched him in the stomach.

Comments

What?!

Okay, at first I was like, ooh, wow! and then it turned to a kind of 'poor Thraluic and now this whole thing with Jagsod? What?!

Kay J Fields | Fri, 12/11/2009

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

Whoa--I WAS NOT expecting

Whoa--I WAS NOT expecting that with Jagsod. I was beginning to really like him! And now this...bummer. Well, all I can hope is that he comes to his senses and forgives Ander, although I'm very suspicious of what hes going to turn out like now.

You're addicted to cliffhangers, aren't you? Grrr.... :0)

 

Heather | Sat, 12/12/2009

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

Wow. I never realized that

Wow. I never realized that they didn't tell Jagsod what was going on...

KatieSara | Sun, 12/13/2009

Katie:-)

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

Oh my!

LoriAnn, I think this shows the most mastery of the writer's craft I have seen thus far in this story. You really used this scene to devolop Jagard's character and motivation, while creating stress and depth. An excellant job!

Julie | Sun, 12/13/2009

Formerly Kestrel

 Okay, I did NOT see that

 Okay, I did NOT see that coming.  But then, like you said, he's an ogre - "What could you expect?"  ... I think...

Mary | Sun, 12/13/2009

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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!

In Jagsod's defense...

Wouldn't you be irritated if, through someone else's neglect, you unknowingly put yourself and your whole family in danger?  I would be mad too.

Bridget | Sun, 12/13/2009

"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

exactly

That's precisely what I was going for, Bridget. Thanks.

LoriAnn | Wed, 12/16/2009