The Tale of Ander Collins: Chapter Twenty Two

Fiction By LoriAnn // 11/6/2009


The crew burst through the door, into the street. It was well that they were ready, for as soon as they left the shelter of the warehouse, they found themselves knee-deep in a battle.
Several townsmen were fighting toe-to-toe with the Raiders, but the pirates outnumbered them by a good five men, and some of the civilians had only their fists with which to defend themselves. With a roar, the eleven reinforcements leaped into the fray, taking the Raiders by surprise.
Ander found himself battling a young man not much older than himself. To his surprise, the young Sea Raider looked more frightened and unsure than Ander, and his blows were clumsy and heavy-handed.
It took Ander only a moment to knock the broad cutlass from the boy’s hands. The Raider sneered halfheartedly, and backed away like a frightened cur.
“Go home!” Ander ordered him, hardly knowing why he bothered. Maybe it was because the other boy seemed even less prepared for the adventuring like than he was. “Don’t you have something better you could be doing?”
The boy froze, a guilty look on his face. “I ran away,” he said defiantly, casting a hopeless glance at his fallen blade.
Around them, the fight raged on. Ander ignored it. “So?” he shrugged. “You obviously don’t want to be here. Go home to your family. Be a farmer or a merchant or a decent sailor.”
“Why should I?”
Ander swatted away an errant cutlass that flew through the air. The boy’s eyes widened. “Because,” Ander continued, as though nothing had happened, “I’d bet good money that the next person you fight won’t be as friendly as I am. This is probably your last warning.”
The boy paused, and looked around him at the carnage and the damage his shipmates had done in Gresham. His face softened, and Ander wondered if his words were really being taken seriously.
Then the Raider met Ander’s eyes again, and snarled at him. With a rude gesture, he turned and ran like a feral cat, snatching up a weapon along the way.
Ander watched him disappear into the shadowed street sadly.
“Ahhhr!” A roaring battle cry exploded in his ear, and Ander dropped into a crouch just in time to miss a violent blow aimed at separating his head from his shoulders. Whirling around, he rose up with his blade at the ready, feet planted firmly and shoulders loose, as Shyllen had drilled into him.
The Raider grinned with fiendish glee at the prospect of a good fight, and circled Ander warily. Ander followed his every move, mirroring the shifting footsteps and keeping his gaze trained on the man’s eyes.
You’ll almost always see a change in your attacker’s eyes, just before he strikes, Shyllen had told him once. Never forget to watch the eyes.
Sure enough, a slight flicker warned Ander a split second before the man launched into a complicated series of thrusts and blows. Ander parried them all—but barely. He was surprised by the man’s speed—were all Sea Raiders trained to be especially fast? It was an effective method, immediately placing their opponents on the defensive as they tried to simply keep up with the deadly barrage.
This kept up for a good minute—swing, thrust, parry, and duck—until Ander noticed something odd. Twice now, that he had caught, the Raider had followed up a strong blow to the right with a lightning-quick uppercut that grabbed at Ander’s sword from underneath.
There—he did it again. And before that, it was a feint to the left that led into a thrust at Ander’s sword arm.
The man was fighting in a rhythm! A memorized series of movements barely more than one of the forms Shyllen had forced him to practice over and over back in Thraluic’s cave!
Now that Ander knew what he was looking for, he caught the pattern easily. A satisfied smile tugged at the corners of his mouth, as if he had just found the key to a riddle. The diabolical grin on the Raider’s face faltered, as Ander began to parry every move perfectly, predicting each attack and countering it nearly before it was made.
Then, Ander spotted it. Midway through the form, the Raider made a clever twisting move that allowed him to rain a series of quick blows down at Ander’s shoulders and neck. But the clever move also left him open for just the barest second—a small opening, true, but Ander thought he could use it.
Sure enough, when the Sea Raider had gone half-way through his memorized routine once more, Ander spotted the unguarded moment. With a strong thrust, he pierced the man’s guard, his blade only slightly off-center.
Only when the Raider dropped his cutlass and clutched at his chest did Ander realize what he had done. Distracted by the excitement of solving the puzzle, and caught up in the spirit of the fight, he had forgotten that these were not wooden poles he was dueling with. These were sharpened swords—and the wounds could be mortal.
“Ander!” Shyllen’s voice rang out through the din. “Ander, don’t stop to look!”
Jolted from his instant-long paralysis, Ander leaped through the smoke in the direction of her voice.
She appeared in front of him, her brow dewy with sweat, and a thin cut down her right cheek. “Don’t ever stop,” she ordered him. “If you let yourself realize what has just happened, you’ll freeze up. And then you’re vulnerable to attack.”
Ander nodded. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I just…”
She nodded. “I know. But there’s no time right—watch out!”
Shyllen shoved him hard to the side, and Ander dropped to the ground with a bone-jarring thump. Rolling to his feet, he found himself face to face with the largest Raider he had yet seen. The man was easily seven feet tall, and had arms as large as Ander’s legs.
No devilish grin stretched across his sly, tanned face; no excitement lit his dead-black eyes. The breath caught in Ander’s throat as the man lifted his weapon: a heavy mace on a chain, the links of which were thicker than a man’s small finger and oiled to a dull gleam. He lifted the mace from the ground, where he had just swung it at Ander and Shyllen. Ander swallowed when he saw how close the spiked ball had come to his head.
The hulking Raider made no noise—didn’t growl or roar, didn’t shout or threaten. He merely moved toward Ander, one massive hand clutching the oaken handle of his mace, and the other flexing into a rock-like fist.
Unable to take his horrified eyes off the enormous monstrosity, Ander sensed movement beside him.
“Bite off more than you can chew?” Jagsod’s voice, jaunty and deep, rumbled below the mayhem.
Ander shrugged, reassured by his ogre friend’s presence. “Maybe just a little,” he said.
Shyllen rejoined them from the curb where she had thrown herself a moment ago, in order to miss the giant’s first blow. “Yeah,” she said in protest, “But he started it.”
Jagsod chuckled darkly. “Well, we’ll just have to finish it, won’t we?”
The giant hardly paused at the sight of three opponents, and Ander couldn’t help but wonder if the man was human at all—or some kind of mechanical nightmare without emotions or feelings. He hoped the monster was human—a machine would be much harder to destroy.
The giant attacked, swinging his mace high and bringing it down in an arching swoop at the three friends. Ander leaped back, and—while the Raider’s arm was down—struck a hard blow of his own, striking the man’s immense shoulder.
Jagsod leaped nimbly behind the Raider, his sword whipping perilously close to the neck of their adversary. However, the Raider jerked his head to the side, and the blow went harmlessly past.
“Shyllen!” shouted Ander, darting beneath the Raider’s guard and aiming a thrust at his other shoulder. “Can’t you shift?”
She shook her head. “I can’t concentrate in this chaos!” she yelled back.
Something caught Ander’s eye, distracting him from their current battle. The wind had changed directions, and cleared the street from the smoke of the nearby burning buildings, and he could see most of the way down the lane.
The giant swatted at Ander, as though he were a pesky dog to be dismissed with the wave of a hand.
Ander went flying, and landed on the hard cobblestones with the breath knocked from his lungs. He gasped for air, unable to fill his chest for a short eternity.
Over his prone figure, the giant loomed, a look of satisfaction in his emotionless face. He raised the mace, poised to bring it smashing down on Ander’s skull.
Ander still couldn’t breath. His eyes widened, and he gaped uselessly, desperate for air.
As if in slow motion, the giant swung downward—slowly at first, but gathering speed as it moved ever nearer. Ander closed his eyes tightly.
The thick, hard sound of a crossbow quarrel striking its target caused Ander’s eyes to leap open of their own accord. As if in response, his lungs finally began pumping again, and he gasped in a vast flood of air.
Above him, the giant stood transfixed, his mace hanging loosely in his chunky hands. Ander spotted the small bolt protruding from the center of the Raider’s throat. Like a tree chopped down at the roots, the giant toppled, and lay still on the cobblestone street, his blank face mere inches from Ander’s boot.
Shyllen was at his side in an instant, worry in her eyes. “Are you alright?” she asked in concern, helping him sit up.
Ander nodded, tearing his eyes away from the downed Raider. He looked behind him to see Hermann Tam standing there, crossbow in his hands. The Feielve smiled grimly at Ander and patted the butt of his bow reassuringly before turning away.
Jagsod followed Ander’s gaze. “I want one of those,” he said under his breath.
Ander began to smile, then remembered what he had seen just before the giant knocked him away like so much refuse.
“Uncle Ravin!” he exclaimed, clumsily scrabbling to his feet. Shyllen helped him up.
“What’s wrong, Ander?”
“My uncle!” he said, pulling away from her and stumbling toward the last place he had seen Ravin. “I think he’s hurt!”


 I'm going to have gray hair

 I'm going to have gray hair before this is over, LoriAnn, if you don't quit dangling me over a cliff like this.  But a very good job describing the battle.  You gave me close-ups and details, but I still felt like I had a sense of what was going on in the bigger picture too.  Wish my fight scenes came out that well.

Mary | Tue, 11/10/2009

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!

This is probably the only

This is probably the only fight scene I have ever written that turned out like I wanted it to. I sweat and work and referance these scenes, but they never seem to work right... "They take up so much precious time/now where's the sense in that?" LOL

LoriAnn | Tue, 11/10/2009

Ditto to Mary's comment. You

Ditto to Mary's comment. You did a good job keeping the overall happenings of the battle going. I tend so much to focus on one-on-one battles that I kind of forget the importance of other happenings. :0)

Heather | Wed, 11/11/2009

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

Awesome chapter!! One thing

Awesome chapter!! One thing though, six feet isn't all that big. :-/

KatieSara | Fri, 11/13/2009


"Are all humans like this? So much bigger on the inside?"

Yeah, Trav, I'm  6'!" and my

Yeah, Trav, I'm  6'!" and my dad is 6'5". That's not very tall, unless your people are very short. Good chapter otherwise.

Julie | Fri, 11/13/2009

Formerly Kestrel

Well, to a 5'2" person such

Well, to a 5'2" person such as myself, 6' is more than sufficiently intimidating. But anyway...

What a great chapter! You're a master at keeping us at the edges of our seats (pardon the cliche).

Annabel | Sat, 11/14/2009


I don't know what ya'll are talking about. It distinctly says "seven feet"...LOL

LoriAnn | Sat, 11/14/2009


Very nice chapter LoriAnn. I'm slowly catching up... NaNo has been hungrily consuming my time

Kay J Fields | Tue, 11/17/2009

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