The Tale of Ander Collins: Chapter Six

Fiction By LoriAnn // 4/20/2009

Thraluic sat back, relaxing his tensed muscles. He curled his tail around his feet, for all the world like one of the scullery cats back home in the kitchen.

Ander lay panting on the grass, his whole right side on fire from the poison of the Vial. He looked up at the dragon, unable to ask his questions out loud until he could catch his breath.

“That,” Thraluic said flatly, “is why I have not had a companion in many, many years. The Queen enthralls nearly all who enter the Denwold. Those I could not keep out, or could not persuade to drop that cursed thing rotted where they stood. Even the few I saved fled the forest in terror.” He looked away. “I was a fool to think I could protect you from her.”

Ander pushed himself to a sitting position with difficulty, cradling his hand to his chest. He dared a look at it and nearly cried out, appalled at the damage. The whole thing was covered in raw, blistered flesh; and where the vial had rested against the skin, it was brown and diseased-looking, like the inside of a rotten apple.

“What is that thing?” he managed to ask, clenching his teeth at the pain.

“It is…a symbol of sorts,” Thraluic answered, looking in distaste at the shining bauble lying at his feet. “But it has a power of its own as well.”

“Why did she want it?” Ander struggled to his feet, and stood swaying. Thraluic bent down and gently picked up the Vial with his foreclaws.

“I will explain it all, lad,” he said to Ander. “But first, let’s get you back to the cave and have your hand seen too. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about Celzara any more today.”

Ander nodded and took several unsteady steps toward the cave. “I’m really, really sorry,” he told the dragon, swallowing back tears of pain and left-over fear.

“Think nothing of it,” Thraluic shook his scaly head, carrying the Vial in one paw and walking on the other three. It gave him a slight limp, and Ander felt guilty; what if the dragon had been injured because of his stupidity? “You are not the first to be beguiled by her, and I’m certain that you will not be the last. Now, come along. I think I have an ointment that might help your hand.”

Ander followed Thraluic into the dimness of the cave, even darker now, as the afternoon sun moved toward the horizon and cast heavy shadows through the clearing. To his surprise, the dragon did not stop at Ander’s bed-nook, but continued down the tunnel, toward the treasure room. Ander paused for a second, but the pain in his hand forced him onward, in hope that Thraluic could ease the fiery throbbing.

They passed through the illusionary “wall” and into the vast cavern that held the dragon’s hoard, where Thraluic lit several more torches and turned to Ander. “Sit there. I’ll need to find a better place for this –“ he motioned with the claw that held the Vial “– and dig up that ointment.”

Ander collapsed onto the pile of velvet curtains the dragon had indicated. Now that his mind was again his own, thoughts and emotions swirled wildly, trying to make sense of the…well, he supposed it could only be called a battle; that he had just endured. Why did Celzara want the Vial – what was so special about it? Why did Thraluic have it, and why did he save Ander instead of just taking the Vial by force?

*Vile thing,* he thought to himself, with a kind of dreary humor. *Vial, vile…that’s appropriate.*

Thraluic’s scaly black head reappeared, snaking out from behind a column of marble and peering at Ander with bright green eyes. “I’ve found the ointment,” the dragon rumbled gently, coming closer. “Let me see your hand.”

Reluctantly, Ander pulled his hand away from the tiny comfort of his chest and held it out to Thraluic. To his horror, he saw that the palm, where it had been brown and diseased-looking before, it was now black, and oozing a thin, foul-smelling pus. He bit back a cry of disgust.

Thraluic sighed and peered closely at the hand. “I was afraid of this,” he muttered.

Ander fixed his eyes on the dragon, distracting himself from the ghastly entity that was his hand. “What’s wrong with it?” he demanded, barely keeping a hiss of pain out of his voice. “Tell me, Master.”

The dragon blew a small stream of smoke from his nostril. “This ointment is very potent,” he explained. “But your hand is almost too far gone, and the poison is spreading up your arm.” With an unexpected gentleness and dexterity, he traced the thin lines of blackness up Ander’s arm.

Ander winced. Even that light touch sent shudders of pain through his arm. “Do whatever you need to,” he said through gritted teeth.

Thraluic nodded, and nudged a small tin toward Ander’s feet. “I’m afraid you’ll have to apply it yourself,” he said apologetically. “These claws where not created for such ticklish work, and I’m not as young as I used to be.”

Ander picked up the tin with his uninjured left hand and opened it. The faint smell of cloves and lavender floated up from the pale-green paste in the tin. Ander wedged the container between his knees and dipped his left fingers into it. He looked up at Thraluic. “Just, smear it on?” he asked.

The black dragon nodded.

Tentatively, Ander touched the salve to his ruined hand. Instantly, a feeling of coolness soothed the place where the ointment touched. “Oooh,” Ander moaned in appreciation, eagerly daubing the entire hand with the stuff. The roaring pain became a mere whisper, and he twisted the lid back onto the tin. Looking up at Thraluic, he smiled. “Thank you, Master.”

The dragon smiled toothily “Call me Thraluic, lad.”

Suddenly bleary, Ander nodded. “Thank you, Thraluic.” The room seemed to grow dimmer, and Ander blinked. “I’m very tired,” he admitted. “But I wanted to hear about the Vial and Celzara and you and…” he yawned mightily.

“Sleep, then, Ander. My tale can wait.” The green eyes of the dragon also closed. “You are safe here.”

Thankfully, Ander gave in to his weariness, and the cave faded away, to be replaced by images of Cook and the kitchen and sweet rolls in honey.

Thraluic cracked open one eye and glanced at the sleeping boy. He chuckled slightly – Ander’s stomach was growling.

When Ander awoke, he found himself blinking drowsily in the dim, glittering light of the treasure chamber. He sat up slowly, trying to remember where he was, and why.

“And how are you feeling, lad?” Ander looked behind him, to where the great black mass of the dragon was curled comfortably around a pile of emeralds. They brought out a greenish tint in Thraluic’s scales that Ander hadn’t noticed before.

“I’m feeling…” Ander steeled himself and dared a look at his hand. Clean, pink flesh stared back up at him. “Better?” he finished; his words more a query than an answer to the dragon’s question.

Astonished, Ander poked at his palm gingerly with his other hand. What kind of salve was that? Whatever it was, Ander was sure it would fetch a fortune back in Kelner – especially in the kitchens, where burns where common and often severe. Ander could remember one year, when he was still little, when one of the maids had gotten too close to the fire, and her skirt flared up. By the time they doused the flames, the poor girl had been so badly burned that she never came back to work in the kitchens again, a cripple for life.

Ander tore his eyes away from his miraculously healed hand and looked back at Thraluic, who smiled contentedly at the boy. “Wonderful stuff, that ointment,” he commented lazily, stretching his forepaws like a cat. “Works nearly every time.”

Ander shook his head and probed at the newly healed skin again. Except for a dull ache in his head, and a crick in his neck from sleeping in such a cramped position, he felt fine. “Thanks, Thraluic,” he said in a grateful voice. He grinned cheekily at the dragon. “It’s nice to have two hands – cleaning your cave might have been difficult with just one.”

The dragon chuckled lowly. “Indeed it might have, lad.”

Ander bent down and retrieved the small tin of ointment. Holding it out to his master, he asked “Would you like me to put this away?”

Thraluic rose. “No, you couldn’t reach the shelf. I’ll do it.” He took the proffered tin and padded toward the back wall of the cavern.

Now, with the extra torches lit, Ander could see that the entire rear wall was a mass of shelves, carved from the solid stone. He was too far away to see exactly what they held, but small glints of light indicated more treasures, probably even more rich than the ones that lay piled around him.

Absently, Ander picked up a small silver orb. It was delicately engraved with pictures of birds and flowers, and around the circumference was inset a ring of pale blue stones. Ander rubbed the smooth thing over his healed hand, relishing the cool softness of the metal.
The orb shifted somewhat in his grip. Ander dropped it hastily, unwilling to go through another episode like the one with the Vial, even if Thraluic did have a miracle salve. The orb rocked gently at his feet. Curious, Ander peered closely at it, though he still didn’t touch the thing.

Just above the line of blue gems, a crack had appeared. “Oh,” Ander muttered to himself, and picked up the small orb; a little embarrassed by his initial fear. It was only an ornate container, like Cook kept her little trinkets in. The lid simply twisted off. Ander pulled the lid away, and examined the contents.

A small lock of dark black hair tied with a bit of red string lay curled around a framed miniature. Ander picked it up and studied the portrait carefully. The frame was made like the orb – silver, with tiny blue stones set into the corners. The picture itself was merely a sketch done in charcoal – smudged a bit in places, but still mostly clear. The man that stared back at him looked stern, but the eyes seemed to dance with hidden mirth from within the charcoal. His face was rather long and fine-boned, with high cheekbones and a thin, dignified mustache above a mouth accustomed to fair speech and song.

Ander wondered who the man was, though some nagging thought at the back of his mind suggested that he should know – or at least have an idea. He brushed his thumb along the side of the frame thoughtfully.

“What are you doing?” Thraluic’s voice echoed angrily through the huge cavern. “Have you not yet learned your lesson?”

Ander fumbled to return the miniature to the orb and seal the thing. “I was, that is I –“

Thraluic appeared again, out of the labyrinthine piles of riches. Before Ander could say a thing, the dragon snatched the orb from his hands.

Ander stood shaking before his master’s unexpected anger. “Never, never touch anything in this room while I am not around.” He growled in a voice so low that Ander could feel it vibrating in his chest.

“I’m sorry, Master,” he stuttered. “I wasn’t thinking, and then it came apart and –“

“Hmm? What’s that?” Thraluic peered at the object in his claws. “Oh. Well, I suppose you could have chosen something worse.” He said in a calmer tone. “I was going to show this to you anyway.”

Ander relaxed a bit. “Then…I’m not in trouble?” he asked, just to be sure.

Thraluic chuckled. “No lad. Not this time anyway.” He settled down into his catlike crouch and breathed out a ponderous stream of smoke. “Now, where to start?”

“Are you going to tell me about the Vial now?” Ander sat as well; settling in for what he sensed might be a long story.

“Yes, Ander. And everything else that it involves. Including you.”

“You know something about me?” Ander sat upright, his voice incredulous. “What?”

Thraluic shook his head. “I wasn’t sure at first, you understand,” he said, half apologetically. “I thought to myself 'how could this be possible? It’s only a coincidence.' Then I realized that there is no such thing as a coincidence. There is much to this story that affects you.”

Ander sat back again, this time tense in anticipation. Cook had never known who it was that left baby Ander’s basket beside the bread ovens; perhaps Thraluic could tell him instead.

It started many years ago, when I was young and foolish,” Thraluic began.

Comments

I really like Thraluic, and

I really like Thraluic, and Celzara.........I wonder why they hate each other so?
Great new chapter, LoriAnn
~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~
"I wish I could fly, like dandelion seeds
Following currents, floating in the wind
Leaving behind the old and tormented
Seeking a place to start anew
I wish I could fly like dandelion seeds..."
~Unknown

Sarah | Mon, 04/20/2009

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

I love this chapter! Why

I love this chapter! Why did you stop it there? That wasn't very nice.
Thraluic is my favorite. He has a certain calmness about him, that is appealing to me. Great chapter.

"Here are the beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron." C.S.Lewis

airlia | Mon, 04/20/2009

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

APPLAUSE!!!! """"""""""""""""

APPLAUSE!!!!
"""""""""""""""""""""""""""
"There's a differnce between food and a meal."
-My bro and I have no idea what it means either

Keri | Mon, 04/20/2009

Och! (my new favorite word! lol)

Why did you Have to stop it there...he was so close to revealing the past!!! Write more soon, please:):):)
------------------------------------------------
"Yes, words are useless! Gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble! Too much of it, darling, too much! That is why I show you my work! That is why you are here!" --Edna Mode (the Incredibles)

Ariel | Mon, 04/20/2009

*****************************************
"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

This is getting good. Who's

This is getting good. Who's the guy in the silver thingy? Father, uncle, brother, Thraluic? I like Thraluic. Nice dragon. I like it when he laughs. Every time he laughs it makes me think more fondly of him.

"...And I'm Lukas, his evil spawn." my brother introducing himself, after my dad.

The Brit | Mon, 04/20/2009

Oops

I wish this were a published

Anna | Mon, 04/20/2009 - 3:49pm
I wish this were a published book so I could turn the page and go on.

Same here! Post the next
| Tue, 04/21/2009 - 9:22am
Same here! Post the next chapter soon please!!
Heather

Sorry - these two comments were posted on my accidental double post of this chapter. But when I realized that I had double-posted, I changed THAT one to chapter seven and brought these comments over here. Sorry about all that folks - stupid computer kept messing up on me...I actaully tried to submit this chapter EIGHT TIMES before it finally worked. X[
But we're all good now, and chap seven should be up soon. Hope you like it - most of your questions will be answered.

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

"I am a dreamer, take me higher, open the sky up, start a fire...I beleive, even if it's just a dream." -Bethany Dillon

LoriAnn | Tue, 04/21/2009

Tempermental computers! Keep

Tempermental computers! Keep it up, Trav..
---
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 | Tue, 04/21/2009

Formerly Kestrel

OHHH!

Nice, nice, nice! Very good, LoriAnn, I don't like that you left it off there though!
-------------------------------------------------
"Their most active years are the first six months"--Old Fashioned Girl, referring to cats.

Kendra | Mon, 04/27/2009

<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\
"Are you sure this water is sanitary? It looks questionable to me! But what about bacteria?"--Tantor the elephant from Tarzan.

I wish I could live with a

I wish I could live with a dragon. *sulks* Awesome chapter!

"California", he said, "is a beautiful wild kid on heroin, high as a kite and thinking she's on top of the world, not knowing that she's dying, not believing it even when you show her the marks." - Motorcycle Boy, from S.E. Hinton's 'Rumble Fish"

Bridget | Sun, 05/31/2009

"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

awwwww....

awwwwww....

This story is one that IS magic and pulls people into to it. It makes the imagintion grow stronger and dream more. Thank you

I will read on

Kassady

Kassady | Tue, 02/23/2010

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