The Tale of Ander Collins: Chapter Eleven

Fiction By LoriAnn // 6/16/2009

Ander shouted in surprise, and stumbled to the floor, covering his head with his arms.

“Uncle!” Shyllen shouted above the noise of tumbling rocks.

“Get out!” Thraluic roared, his forelegs clawing the ground in pain. “The cave could collapse at any moment!” As if to prove him wrong, the terrifying thunder halted abruptly.

“Oh, I don’t think that will happen.”

The cool, icy-green voice was barely louder than a hiss. Ander started to his feet, his heart jolting into his throat in fear.

“You!” Thraluic growled, vainly trying to push the huge stalactite off his back.

“Yes, me. How astute of you, lizard.” Celzara stepped through the magical door and stood calmly, her arms crossed over her chest. “But you really should have known. I’m harder to defeat than you seem to have believed.”

Shyllen scooped up a sword from a nearby treasure-stack, advancing on the queen threateningly. Celzara rolled her eyes.

“Be still, wench,” she ordered, waving her hand imperiously.

Shyllen instantly froze, tendrils of greenish mist twining about her body like eerie snakes. The dragoness’ eyes grew large with shock, reflecting violet sparks in the dim light.

Ander felt petrified too, as though the Queen’s spell had ensnared his arms and legs as it had Shyllen’s. He violently racked his brain, trying to understand what was happening, and how he could stop it. Or rather, stop her.

Before he could move, Celzara darted – like some dark bird of prey – to Thraluic’s side. The great dragon writhed, attempting to evade her, to attack.

“You have no right to be here, witch,” he spat at her, smoke roiling from his nostrils. “You violate every covenant my people have ever made with yours.”

“And…what? I’m supposed to care?” Celzara shook her head in mock pity. “Dragon, if I honored every single treaty my forebears ever made, I’d hardly have room to breath, let alone rule. Now,” she drew her long, jagged dagger from her belt. “Boy, I believe you owe me a certain object.”

Ander finally found the courage to stir. “I…I don’t know where it is,” he stammered, hating himself for not outright refusing. But Celzara’s eyes bored into him, and he vividly remembered the horror of her voice in his brain. “Thraluic took it.”

The Queen smiled a frozen, strained smile. “Well, dragon?” she asked, turning to Thraluic. The black dragon labored again to rise.

“Innocent people will not be enslaved if I have any say in the matter, Celzara! You won’t get your claws on the Vial, ever.” He spat harshly.

“Maybe you have no say in the matter, snake.” Celzara’s eyes flashed green, and she raised a hand. A bright streak of flame – like lightning in a summer storm – shot from her fingertip, striking Thraluic solidly in the chest. The dragon roared in pain and collapsed beneath the stone pillar, panting for breath. In desperation, Ander lunged forward at the witch, who whirled on him and caught him in her inhumanly strong arms.

In a trice, she had her dagger at his throat. “Give it up, dragon!” she cried, triumph in her voice.

Thraluic blinked blearily up at her, and Ander was frightened by the dimming light in his eyes. The dragon said nothing, still struggling for each breath that filled his scaly chest.

“You won’t get the Vial, Celzara,” a small voice said bravely. It took Ander a moment to realize that it was his own mouth that formed the words. “You’ll have to kill all of us to do it.” Frantically, his gaze darted around the cavern, searching for a way to defeat the evil queen. Out of the corner of his eye, behind and slightly to the left of the Wood Queen, he saw movement: Shyllen, struggling against her magical bonds.

Admiration glinted briefly in Thraluic’s golden eye. “You – you heard him, witch,” he managed to force the words out. “You’ll get nothing from us while we still draw breath.”

“What a grand idea…” the queen said in a musing voice, absently scraping her sharp fingernails over Ander’s arm. “Kill you all…I rather like it. Very well.” She raised her dagger and pointed its deadly tip at Thraluic, her knuckles white with the strength of her grip.

The slender blade began to glow with a sinister green light, like a piece of grass catching fire and smoldering from the edges first. “I suppose you’ve all served your purpose in this world anyway. As soon as I deal with you, I can have my minions search this cave thoroughly.”
Ander squirmed in her grip, yanking on her arm with all his might. He couldn’t even shift her aim.

The knife was shining so brightly, he couldn’t even look directly at it. “Wait!” Ander shouted, “I’ll do it! Just don’t—“ He never finished the sentence.

Something hit Celzara from behind with a mighty wump. She staggered, tripping over the long hem of her sumptuous red dress, and the magically-charged dagger slipped from her hand.

Seizing the opportunity, Ander scrambled out of her grip, clawing at the sandy floor and trying not to fall. He looked over his shoulder, and saw Shyllen standing, tall and very draconic, above the sprawling Wood Queen.

“Get out,” she growled, a low, menacing hiss in the back of her throat. “Or be toasted.”

Celzara struggled to her feet, her dress tangling around her legs and making a very un-dignified picture. “You won’t be rid of me that easily,” she shrieked at Shyllen, raising an already-glowing arm.

Whoof.

A small fireball puffed from the dragoness’ maw, stopping mere inches from the queen’s head. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Shyllen warned, more fire gathering in the back of her throat.

The queen shot a hate-filled look at Ander. He shuddered, and took an involuntary step back. “But you aren’t me, lizard,” she hissed at Shyllen. “And you have no idea what I can do!”

Chanting in a low, dark voice, the queen hunched herself over, as though in pain. Sickly tendrils of green light began to gather around the witch, quickly cloaking her in an impenetrable cloud of mist.

“Hurry!” Thraluic groaned, from where he still lay pinned to the floor. “Go while she’s distracted!”

Shyllen ignored him, nosing under the stone pillar and heaving upward with her incredibly strong neck. The column moved slightly, but not enough.

“Help me!” Shyllen ordered her uncle. Ander rushed forward and lent his comparatively tiny strength to the task. The dragons lurched up, and the pillar slid down Thraluic’s back, scraping deep gashes into the dragon’s black scales, and ripping tears in his wings. He winced in pain, but managed to yank his tail out of the way just in time to keep it from being crushed. Gasping, he sank to the ground. “Get out of here,” he commanded them breathlessly. “I’ll keep her distracted.”

Ander whirled around to look back at the evil Wood Queen. He thought that she was still curled in on herself – but it was hard to tell through the ever-growing tower of mist. As he watched, an ear-splitting scream rent the air of the cavern, exploding from the mist with an almost physical force.

“Go!” roared Thraluic.

“But—“ Shyllen began to protest, flapping her violet wings in agitation.

Urgently, Thraluic shook his head. “I’m counting on you to get Ander out of here! Go, Shyllen!”

With a titanic roar of frustration, Shyllen grabbed Ander up in her teeth and darted, like a cat, toward the magical door as green mist filled the room.

“Wait!” Ander shouted, trying to wrench the back of his shirt out of her grip. “I can walk by myself!”

Shyllen growled. “No!” she said, her voice muffled.

Ander struggled harder. “You’re choking me!” he insisted, prying the neckline of his tunic away from his throat.

“Get over it, Clod! We’re in a hurry!”

They burst out of the cave into an overcast afternoon. Shyllen dropped him roughly on the floor of the clearing. “Get on,” she ordered him.

Ander leaped onto her back, too unnerved to take satisfaction in his own speed and grace. Shyllen took off before he was entirely settled, and he slipped to the side as she banked sharply over the clearing.

“Whoa!” he shouted, scrabbling with his fingernails to find purchase on her smooth scales. “Where are we going?”

“I don’t know, Clod!” she yelled back at him, sounding half enraged and half despairing. “How about you come up with an idea for once?”

Ander ventured to let go with one hand so he could wipe the hair out of his face. “Mor,” he suggested. “We can hide there.”

“And possibly endanger a bunch of local yokels?” Shyllen snorted.

“You got a better plan?”

The dragoness said nothing, but after only a moment’s hesitation, she made an abrupt turn and headed for the village of Mor.

“I’ve slept in better beds among the trolls,” Shyllen said in disgust, surveying the tiny room in Mor’s only inn. The two straw mattresses sagged on their rope-strung bed frames, and the blankets folded at the foot of each bed were ragged and patched – though clean and ironed. But it was cheep – even if they only had money for one room. Shyllen had insisted that they register as brother and sister, since they couldn’t afford separate accomodations. Ander flopped onto the bed nearest the door.

“Better than anything I’ve ever seen,” he said with a sigh. “Except for those curtains in your uncle’s cave,” he quickly amended.

Shyllen shrugged. “At least it’s clean,” she grunted, wiping her finger along the fireplace mantle. “Now what do we do?”

Ander was surprised that she would ask him – after all, he was only Clod, right? But he sat up with as responsible a look as he could manage and thought. Shyllen watched him with an expectant look on her face.

“Well,” he said after a moment, “Dinner’s the first thing on the agenda.”

An expression of disbelief from Shyllen made him hold up his hand. “Listen,” he said. “We don’t know how long we’ll be here. Hopefully not too long, but you never know. Tonight, we’ll eat a good supper and sleep. Tomorrow, we’ll head back to Thraluic’s cave and find out what’s what. Alright?”

The dragoness seemed as though she were about to argue, but she snapped her mouth shut, and nodded silently, her face flushed

“Good then.” Ander stood up and went to the door, amazed that she had agreed with him and trying not to show it.

“Where are you going?”

“To get a haircut,” he answered, looking at her sheepishly. “Thraluic told me to last time I was here, and I just sort of forgot. And then when Celzara had me, she kept yanking on it. It’s too long.”

To his surprise, Shyllen burst into laughter. “A haircut?” she demanded, almost hysterically. “You just survived an attack by the most evil woman in this part of the known world, and you want a haircut?” she fell backward onto her bed, gasping with laughter until a tear ran down her cheek and toward her ear.

Ander stood in the doorway uncertainly. “Shyllen?” he ventured, wondering if she really thought that it was that funny – it didn’t seem particularly humorous to him. She was gasping harder now – if he didn’t know any better, he might have said that the tough, care-for-naught dragoness was sobbing. “Are you alright?”

She didn’t answer, only waved a hand vaguely in the air.

A knock sounded at the door behind Ander. He started, and turned to open it slightly. The innkeeper’s wife stood there, a worried look on her face.

“Is aught the matter, lad?” she asked with a thick rural accent. “We can hear thy sister down the hall at the bar.”

Ander opened the door further. “I don’t know,” he said, perplexed. “I said I was going to get a haircut, and she…well, I don’t know what she’s doing.”

The woman looked past him to where Shyllen still lay, now curled up on the bed. Ander was shocked to see a steady steam of fat tears streaming down the dragoness’ face – she really was crying; and hard, too.

“Um, she’s had a bit of a shock today…” he said nervously. The innkeeper’s wife pushed past him and sat next to Shyllen on the bed, gathering the girl into her ample arms.

“Get thee on, lad,” she said, rocking Shyllen gently back and forth. “She’s overtired, thy sister is; just needs a bit of love. Go on and get thy mop trimmed.” She smiled slightly.

Ander reddened, but – comforted by the matron’s gentle presence – he nodded and stepped out the door, closing it softly behind him.

In the hall, he shook his head. Girls were far too complicated, in his humble opinion.

Walking down the semi-dim hall toward the common-room, he felt for the three coppers still in his pocket. “Excuse me,” he said to the innkeeper behind the bar. “Is there a place around here where I could get a haircut?” He glanced around the small room as he asked, half expecting to see Celzara seated among the half-dozen or so patrons nursing ales and hearty stews at the solid wood tables.

The tall, wiry man nodded jerkily. “Two rights, fourth door down,” he said in a sharp, staccato voice, like a small bird.

Ander looked at the door. “Which way from here?” he asked; unsure if two rights meant one right out the door, or two rights later on.

“Two rights, fourth door down,” the innkeeper repeated, nodding again and turning back to polish some glasses behind the counter.

Ander opened his mouth to ask again, and then shrugged. He’d find it – Mor wasn’t that large. He turned to go, nearly walking into the large, grey-clad belly of a farmer. “Excuse me,” he mumbled, looking up. His breath caught disbelievingly in his throat – standing over him was the cabbage farmer whose wagon he had hid under during his escape from Kelner.

The man smiled at him. “I’ll take thee there,” he said broadly. “Me shop is only next door to the barber’s.” He cocked his shaggy head thoughtfully. “Art thou from nearby, lad? Thou looks’t familiar to me eyes…”

“I – I don’t think I know you, sir,” Ander stammered. He still didn’t know what actions – if any – the king would take against the boy who had assisted his daughter’s elopement.

Personally, Ander felt that he was small fry, and that anything the king tried to do was overkill; not to mention the fact that it would be nothing compared to Celzara’s wrath. Still, it was probably best to play it safe.

The farmer shook his head. “I could have sworn that I knew ye from somewhere,” he muttered. “Ah, no matter. Ye want the barber, lad? Follow me then, I’ll lead thee over.” He plunked a copper coin on the bar counter and waved at the barkeeper, who smiled back absently. “Best ale in town, as usual, Clide,” the farmer said.

The barkeeper shrugged. “Only ale in town, as usual, Duncan.” The lines sounded habitual, as though they said this every day. Ander smiled to himself; remembering how he had done the same sort of thing back home everyday. He missed acting out the set-in-stone traditions of a place where everyone knew everyone else, and what they would say to any question.
Ander sighed. He felt fit for this sort of place – a simple, down to earth town like Mor was much more comfortable to him than drastic quests, lost royalty, dragons and who knows what else.

They left the inn and stepped into the bright light of the setting sun. Ander followed the farmer – Duncan, the innkeeper had called him – down the street. Left out the door, and then two rights before the surgeon-barber’s shop, with its distinctive red-striped pole out front, came into veiw.

“There ye are, me boy,” Duncan said. He squinted at Ander one more time; then shook his head and walked away.

Ander let out a little sigh of relief and walked into the barber’s shop, fingering his thick mop of hair. He’d be glad to get it cut.

Comments

So..... is Thraluic dead?

So..... is Thraluic dead? You can't have killed him!!!

"It is man's inherent nature to scare himself silly for no good reason." - Calvin and Hobbes

Bridget | Wed, 06/17/2009

"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

...

Oh, can't I?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"I remember when trust went forth free
Sold for a smile on the face of a fantasy
Truth found a home in the pages of fairy-tales
Decadent words born from phrases in dreams that failed."

LoriAnn | Wed, 06/17/2009

*Shakes fist at evil

*Shakes fist at evil author.*

"It is man's inherent nature to scare himself silly for no good reason." - Calvin and Hobbes

Bridget | Wed, 06/17/2009

"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

Kill off charries?

whether or not Thulric is dead depends on two factors--one, how much LoriAnn likes him, and two, how much it messes up the plot line. When the two clash--remember Joraiem's death, Trav?--nasty internal arguments ensue.
---
The Word is alive/and it cuts like a sword through the darkness
With a message of life to the hopeless/and afraid...

~"The Word is Alive' by Casting Crowns

May my words be a light that guides others to the True Light and Word.

Julie | Thu, 06/18/2009

Formerly Kestrel

*Evil grin*

There's one more element: how much the author wants to cause his/her audience pain.
*mwa-ha-ha-haaaa...*
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"I remember when trust went forth free
Sold for a smile on the face of a fantasy
Truth found a home in the pages of fairy-tales
Decadent words born from phrases in dreams that failed."

LoriAnn | Thu, 06/18/2009

You are awful!!!!! Oooh. Bad

You are awful!!!!!
Oooh. Bad LoriAnn. Shame, Shame. >(
************************************************
Lying in my bed despite the raging storm I tried to look at the Brighter side of things... And so sat in the darkness for a full ten minutes.

Kay J Fields | Thu, 06/18/2009

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

Oh,

LoriAnn said:
>There's one more element: how much the author >wants to cause his/her audience pain.

Like Clefy's mallet! But we aren't there now...
---
The Word is alive/and it cuts like a sword through the darkness
With a message of life to the hopeless/and afraid...

~"The Word is Alive' by Casting Crowns

May my words be a light that guides others to the True Light and Word.

Julie | Thu, 06/18/2009

Formerly Kestrel

So.....

At the inn...could Shyllen turn into a human girl? Just curious. Or maybe I mised something in the other chapters.
Just warning you, Thraluic better not be dead, or I'll do something equally as horrible and nasty in Halfblood. Oh, the power of authors... :0)
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Heather | Fri, 06/19/2009

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

My Threat!!!

If you kill him I'll hang you by your toes in my courtyard, to be pecked at by the crows, after which, I'll shoot you seven times, spin you around eight times, and lastly, send you to bed without super. If that's not a sufficient threat, I don't know what is.

By the way, are you ever going to go back to the princces and and that story? Also, what did they do to Priest Under? If you killed all those people back there, then you'll really be in trouble.

And also, this was a really good chapter. I like the way it actually made me scared. That's the great thing about this story; it's all so believible, and you go through everything with the characters. Good job (but that doesn't mean that I'll take anything out of that threat if you misbehave).

"Start at the beginning, and when you come to the end...stop." Alice in Wonderland (movie)

The Brit | Fri, 06/19/2009

Answer to Heather

A few chapters back Thulric told Ander that he could become a human--presumably, all dragons can.
---
The Word is alive/and it cuts like a sword through the darkness
With a message of life to the hopeless/and afraid...

~"The Word is Alive' by Casting Crowns

May my words be a light that guides others to the True Light and Word.

Julie | Fri, 06/19/2009

Formerly Kestrel

You just left Thraluic

You just left Thraluic there, with no one to help him. Oh well, in every good book someone needs to die....But did it have to be Thraluic? That is not kind at all.
How short is he getting his hair cut? It can't be too short because that just wouldn't work. Really, I don't see why he got his hair cut at all...It was better long...added more to his character.

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.
General George S. Patton

airlia | Sun, 06/21/2009

"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived."
General George S. Patton

Generating replies

First off, I'm shaking in my boots here. Who knew homeschoolers were so violent? lol
Second - yes, in case you missed this, dragons can shapeshift into human form. That's what got Thraluic into his trouble with Cellie in the first place. However, this takes an enormous amount of energy as they get older, so while Shyllen frequently shifts, Thraluic is no longer able to.
As for those back in Kelner...just think of the "Return to the Shire" bit in the Lord of the Rings for now. Sound good?
And regarding Ander's hair - read the next chapter. lol

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"I remember when trust went forth free
Sold for a smile on the face of a fantasy
Truth found a home in the pages of fairy-tales
Decadent words born from phrases in dreams that failed."

LoriAnn | Tue, 06/23/2009

Thraluic had better not be dead...

...because I'm almost positive I still have a pitchfork around here somewhere.

KatieSara | Wed, 09/23/2009

Katie:-)

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

Oh no

Oh no not thraluic!

And I can't believe after somthing like that Ander would just be like ' Oh what ever' but then when I think about it . Girls are all silly and confusing to boys even authors. But it is our job to see that boys know their place in the world and make sure they don't do anything stupid. I have to thik that I would do the same thing Shyllen did back their.

Kassady | Fri, 02/26/2010

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