The Tale of Ander Collins: Chapter Ten

Fiction By LoriAnn // 5/18/2009

Ander learned three very important things that first day of alone, training with Shyllen. Number one: Don’t argue with temperamental dragonesses, especially when she is holding a wooden staff that she knows how to use better than you do.

“Hold it like so,” Shyllen instructed him, positioning his hands on the long, wooden staff. They stood on the sandy floor of the cave’s north corner, their shoes removed and out of the way along the wall. Ander flexed his toes in the cool sand, nervously following Shyllen’s directions.

“Now, stand like this,” she continued, stepping back and demonstrating. Ander tried to copy her stance, his legs slightly bent and his feet placed shoulder-width apart. He squared his shoulders and raised the staff in front of him, holding it so tightly that his fingernails dug into the hard wood.

“No, no, no,” Shyllen shook her head. “First of all, hold your staff less tightly – it’s not your enemy. If you hold it that tight, the first strike you get will knock it out of your grip; it could even break your fingers.”
Ander loosened his fingers and held the staff loosely.

“Not that loose, simpleton,” the dragoness sighed in exasperation. “Here, like this. If it’s too loose, you might drop it before you even start to fight. Use what little brain you have, if you please.”

Ander slouched, but allowed her to arrange his hands in the correct grip. “There,” she said, standing back and picking up her own staff. “Now, swing it at me. Up high, aim for my neck or shoulders.” She settled onto the balls of her feet, staff upraised like a shield.

Ander looked doubtfully at the dragoness, but made a half-hearted attempt at an attack.

As soon as his arms were up, she struck, slapping under his arms with her staff and striking his ribs with a hearty blow.

“Ow!” Ander yelped, dropping his rod and clutching at his side, glaring at the dragoness. “What’d you do that for?”

She leaned on her staff, almost lazily, and grinned at him. “Never, ever, leave your body unguarded in a fight. If these had been blades, you would be dead by now.”

“Then what am I supposed to do?” he demanded.

“Like this,” Shyllen used one half of her weapon to swing at an imaginary opponent while keeping the lower half down to block her body. “This way, you are attacking, but you can switch to defense at a second’s notice. Now – you try.” She stood back into her defensive position.

Ander retrieved his staff and attempted to mimic her actions. He swung with the top half of the staff, feeling the air whistle satisfyingly over the wood grain.

And then he tripped over the lower end of his staff. Sprawled on the sandy ground, he started to pick himself up, swiping the sand out of his face and glowering at his own clumsiness.

Shyllen’s staff cracked down on his posterior, and Ander flopped back down into the sand, this time getting a mouthful of the stuff for his trouble.

“What are you doing?” he demanded, shoving himself to his knees and swinging blindly with the staff. “You can’t just keep hitting me!”

“Oh I can’t?” Shyllen asked coolly, slapping his shoulder with the hardened rod. “As far as I know, I’m the teacher and you are the student. Therefore, I am in charge. Now get up, and try again.”

Ander threw his weapon down and planted his feet. “I’m not going to take this,” he exclaimed, seething at the dragoness’ superior attitude. “Thraluic wanted you to teach me; not beat the living daylights out of me!”

Whack! Shyllen hit the side of Ander’s head with her fist, effectively knocking him to the ground. Ander blinked away the stars that filled his vision and looked up. Shyllen bent over him, hissing in his face. “You will listen to me, Ander Clumsy-foot; or you will die. My uncle tells me that you plan to go on a mission to find your long lost relative. Now tell me, Clod, what do you think the chances of your surviving an attack by robbers at this point? Or a run-in with some of the Wood Queen’s minions? Or, for that matter, anyone who simply doesn’t like the looks of you?”

Still enraged, but now with a blinding headache to boot, Ander said nothing. He rubbed his burning ear and stared defiantly at Shyllen.

She rolled her eyes. “Fine, then, boy. If you won’t listen to reason—“ She twirled the rod almost casually. Then with a sudden lunge – thwack! It slapped down on his shoulder. Smack! His ribs again.

“Hey!” Ander shouted, trying to scramble back.

Crack! She hit his shins with the next blow.

Ander kicked out blindly, and a large clump of sand flew into the air, catching Shyllen in the stomach. She gave a small “oof”, and paused in her attack for the barest of seconds.

While she was distracted, Ander swept up his own staff and swung it wildly in her direction, hoping to connect.

With a sharp clack, his staff met Shyllen’s. She held it in a guarding position, grinning toothily over the wood. “Better, Clod.”

With a roar of frustration, Ander disengaged his staff and backed away, clutching the weapon and eyeing Shyllen. She stood calmly, swinging her own rod idly.

Ander felt red rage douse his brain, and he dimly realized that this was probably a bad thing. Ignoring that little voice that warned him not to do it, Ander rushed at the dragoness, determined to wipe that smug grin off her smug face.


He ended up face first in the sand again, with Shyllen’s rod planted firmly in the small of his back. “Dead,” she stated simply. “Anger will almost always get you killed.”

Lesson number two: don’t get angry while in a fight.
That little voice sniggered. Told you so…

Ander fought for nearly an hour, trying to find some weakness in the dragoness’ defense. Sweat poured into his eyes and caused tiny granules of sand to clump on his face; his feet blistered, and were rubbed raw from the constant abrasion of the sandy floor; his hands were knocked and stubbed and smashed by the clashing rods; and he received far more blows than he dealt.

Finally, his anger spent and even his injured pride muffled by a layer of bruises and aching bones; Ander gave up. Collapsing into a sweat-drenched heap on the training room floor, he gasped “I surrender.”

Shyllen, only slightly winded, and with only the thinnest sheens of sweat on her face; grinned slowly. “Wash up then, Clod. Then we’ll work on your tactical skills.”

Ander gaped at her in disbelief as she sashayed away, tossing her staff against the wall.

Lesson number three: it’s never over.

Three entire weeks passed like this: with Ander learning to spar with Shyllen in the morning, and then studying thick tomes of strategy, tactics, and historical battles until late afternoon. They ate a quick lunch during the study time, and afterwards would venture into the cool green of the Denwold, where Shyllen would quiz Ander on the different uses and properties of the various plants they saw.

“What is this plant called?”

Ander would study it carefully. “Vermillion, I think.”

Shyllen would shake her head in despair, boxing the side of his head with her hand. “No, Clod. How many times will I have to tell you – that is poison oak.”

Ander would yank his hand back quickly, but it was almost always too late. Before the end of a single week, he had rashes up and down both arms, and dotting his neck and legs as well.

Nighttime was torture, even with the soothing salves Shyllen gave him; and sparring was worse. Sweating irritated the itch like fire, and it was all Ander could do to concentrate well enough on the fight to keep from getting slaughtered.

He grumbled to himself sometimes, late in the night. Why couldn’t Thraluic give him some of that magical salve that had worked so well on his hand? The answer – Thraluic seemed to have vanished. For fourteen days on end, Ander saw neither claw nor scale of the black dragon. And since Ander didn’t himself know where his master kept the ointment, and Shyllen of course wouldn’t look for it, he had to simply tolerate the rash as best he could.

However – slowly and surely – Ander improved. After a week, he could keep Shyllen’s staff away most of the time; and by the time Thraluic returned, he could even land a blow himself once in a while. He had problems remembering the dates and names of the battles he studied, but when Shyllen found a huge chessboard and demonstrated the maneuvers using the gold-and-silver chessmen, he started to understand the principles behind the battles. And he finally figured out how to tell if a plant was poisonous – before touching it.

On the fifteenth day since Shyllen’s arrival, Ander was sparring with the dragoness on the training floor. The cave echoed with the sharp retorts of staff on staff, and the soft grunting as each opponent swung, ducked, or connected.

Ander was feeling confident. He had yet to be hit today, and it almost seemed as though

Shyllen were tiring. He figured that if he could just hold out long enough, he might be able to land the finishing blow this time – something he had not been able to do yet.

“Ha!” he grunted, swiping a strong blow at

Shyllen’s right shoulder. She ducked under the swing, and tried to sweep his feet out from under him.

Ander leaped into the air and over the stick, just as the kitchen girls did back home in their free time. Only, they jumped over rhythmically swung ropes, not randomly lashing oak-staffs. He attacked again, swinging fiercely at Shyllen’s guard.

She brought her rod up to meet his. Crack!
Ander’s rod splintered in his grasp.

Stumbling back, he shook out his stinging hand, and looked at Shyllen. She was gazing at the shattered remains of his rod in disbelief.

“That was oak,” she said in a strange voice.

Ander rubbed his palms together, trying to get rid of the sharp throbbing sensation in his fingers. “Tell me about it,” he grumbled. “I’m going to be digging that tree out of my fingertips for the next month.”

Shyllen shook her head, and opened her mouth to say something, but another voice interrupted her.

“I see you have made some progress, boy knight.” Thraluic’s deep rumble filled the cave warmly.

Ander grimaced up at the big dragon. “Yeah, you could say that. Personally, I wouldn’t…but that’s beside the point. Where have you been?”

Thraluic shrugged his wings. “Out and about, as I believe you humans like to say. I’ve been gathering information on Celzara’s troops.” He narrowed his golden eyes, nodding at his niece in greeting. “Hello, Shyllen. Has he behaved for you?”

She shrugged. “Ah – as well as a human shrimp can, I suppose.” But – to Ander’s surprise – she winked at her uncle. Ander stared for a second, and shook his head. He’d never understand girls.

“Never mind that, Thraluic,” he said, looking back up at the black dragon. “What did you find out?”

Thraluic settled down onto his haunches. “We may have a problem,” he admitted, pitching his voice lower. “I take the blame for having not noticed sooner, but the Queen seems to be gathering an army in her depths of the forest. I saw at least four infantries of root-goblins alone, not to mention a few troupes of feielves and a small force of mounted trolls. It wouldn’t surprise me if she’s recruited a few of the harpies and cats, too.”

Shyllen squinted broodingly. “How long do you think this has been going on?”

Her uncle shrugged. “Who knows? But my guess would be that she only started within the last month or so – probably as soon as she saw that I had taken Ander into my care.”

Ander gulped. “So this is my fault?” Dread grew in his stomach. He knew how ruthless Celzara was – even one encounter with her in her true form had been enough to teach him that. What chaos could she inflict with an army of evil creatures to back her up?

“No, lad. Not directly, anyway,” Thraluic assured him. Shyllen rolled her eyes.

“You’re not quite as important as you seem to think, Clod.”

“I don’t think I’m—“ Ander began.

An explosion rocked the cave, sending piles of slippery gold coins scudding across the floor, cascading down their stacks like metallic avalanches.

“What’s going on?” Shyllen shouted above the rumble. Thraluic opened his mouth to answer, but another tremor shook the cavern, and an enormous stone pillar collapsed and fell onto his back, pinning the great dragon to the sandy ground!


Auggh! Bad end, bad

Auggh! Bad end, bad end!
"I for one am getting bored, and boredom is something up with which I will not put!" ~Phineas and Ferb

Anna | Mon, 05/18/2009

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief


Ander, some advice,
Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with frosting.
But it's too late for you...
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 | Mon, 05/18/2009

Formerly Kestrel

HOw could you end it there?!

HOw could you end it there?! NO! NO! NO! BAD! BAD! BAD!
On another note, I like Shyllen. She reminds me of a slightly crueler version of me. Yes I am very....what's the word? um, not quite snotty, but close.

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

airlia | Mon, 05/18/2009

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

I really like Shyllen. I

I really like Shyllen. I have since I first read about her in that one forum.

It seems that purple cows
Are on every person's sig.
But I refuse to join the game
Oh wait, I already did!

Keri | Mon, 05/18/2009


Hee-hee. It's been a while since I did a good cliff-hanger. LOL - to be honest, I simply got stuck and figured "Hey, let's blow something up." That's how James Bond and Indiana Jones got to be what they are - why shouldn't it work for me? LOL
I like Shyllen too - and I'm starting to think that there's more to her than meets the eye. I don't know what yet...:)


"Imagine long, smile much, laugh often."

LoriAnn | Wed, 05/20/2009

I finally got around to

I finally got around to reading these last two chapters. So, this is a great story. Um, I do wonder though, how do you pronounce her name? Shyllen I mean.

I was thinking what a good movie this would make...alright so maybe that's a little premature, but everything is possible (that really is not true, so whoever came up with that saying was gravely mistaken...but that doesn't mean that it isn't possible with this...yeah). No, really, the part where they're training would be lovely if it were just music and and different scenes flowing into each other...yeah, it would be just lovely...Hey, you never know...I'd watch it anyway.

Lovely chapter(s). Hurry up with the next one, I'm dying to know what the rumble, really, I'm laying on the floor gasping for breath...a long dark tunnel...look! what is that light?...Alright, maybe not, but do hurry.

"I decided to be sensible the other day and tore up David's picture. Could you please send me some Scotch tape?" Audrey Hepburn (Sabrina)

The Brit | Fri, 05/22/2009

Handy Pronunciation Guide

OK - here, I'll make this easy.

Thraluic: THRAH-loo-ick

Celzara: kel-ZARE-uh

Ander: AN-der (duh...)

Shyllen: SHILL-ehn

Ravin: RAH-vihn

Denwold: DEHN-wold ("o" as in "cone", or "mow")

I'll add other characters as they come up.
And thank you knidly, Brit. It's nice to know that someone likes this enough to think in such big terms...if you know any producers, I'd be happy to talk to But making a movie would be HUGE...not something I plan on doing for a good long while. :)


"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 | Sat, 05/23/2009

"Ander: AN-der

"Ander: AN-der (duh...)"

Keri | Sat, 05/23/2009

lolz..... I like Shyllen!! I

I like Shyllen!! I like this chapter, too. Hurry up and train, Ander!!!
I've never seen a purple cow,
I never hope to see one.
But I can tell you anyhow;
I'd rather see than be one.

Sarah | Mon, 05/25/2009

"Sometimes even to live is courage."

Blogging away!


Next chapter coming soon - how's this for a spoiler?
Shyllen + Mor + haircut + Evil Queen = confusion for poor Ander!

"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.
Now trust is a costly commoditiy,

LoriAnn | Tue, 05/26/2009

Awww, c'mon Thraluic!!!

Awww, c'mon Thraluic!!! LoriAnn, how could you do that to him!!! To make matters worse, I've finally caught up, and I can't just click on the next chapter! Post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You're killing me!!!

"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


It's coming, it's coming...I was grounded from the comp a whole week, but now I have my own, so it should be done soon.


"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 | Sat, 06/06/2009

How did you get

How did you get grounded?

"True love is the greatest thing in the world - except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, when the mutton is nice and lean, and the tomato is ripe." - Miracle Max, from The Princess Bride

Bridget | Sat, 06/06/2009

"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

Don't get grounded

We need you at Outtakes. BTW, love your siggy Bridget.
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, 06/11/2009

Formerly Kestrel


How could you be so cruel????!!!!!!!Poor Thraluic!
You are so mean, how can you even live with that???

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 | Fri, 06/12/2009

Visit my writing/book review blog at


Bridget: Talked back to Mom - won't do that again. lol - actually though, I now have my own laptop, so I can type more.
Kestrel - see you there!
Kay - lolololol.

Chapter eleven is written, but - long story - I couldn't bring it in to the library to post today. So i'll try again in a few days - sorry for the wait.


"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 | Mon, 06/15/2009


AHhhhhh.. No not Thraluic! That is intence Thank goodness I have time today to read the Next Chapter or I would have died of not knowing what was going to happen

Kassady | Fri, 02/26/2010

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


If only I could give that drangoness I lesson ohhhh... I would ruffel Her scale's alright ( even though I can see she is just like a sister to a brother with Ander and she wouldn't really hurt him badly)

Kassady | Fri, 02/26/2010

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