Sunday, July 20, 2008

Poetry Train Monday - 58 - Scorpius Excerpt

Just back from the writers' retreat. Ah!

I went there knowing I wanted to start working on a new idea. I plunged right in with it whenever we did writing exercises. Here is what I came up with. It's the result of four different exercises, which I purposely linked so I could follow my new character for a bit. Thanks to Renee Field and Lilly Cain for the workshops which lead to these scenes.


Agony ricocheted from the cells ahead as Scorpius strode along the stone corridor. The weight of the chains he once wore settled upon his wrists and ankles, slowing his pace.

He stopped. The chill of this place erupted over his skin like a cold sweat. He was Chamberlain of the Keep, now. Nothing prevented future tides from returning him to bondage, mind. But at present, his service to Lady Elysande kept him safe enough.

Resuming his pace, Scorpius kept his gaze straight ahead as he passed the cells with their huddled heaps of rags. He must tell the Master-at-Arms about the sighting on the north ridge. Bad enough a recent skirmish between the royal houses left its wounded bleeding all over the stone floor of the Great Hall.

They didn’t need a great-horned dragon swooping in like carrion looking to dine on mens’ bones. But that was what they had, with travelers expected in a few days for the lady’s Bacchanalian Ball. Gods preserve me, he thought. He dreaded telling her the news more than anything else. Lady Elysande didn’t hold back her displeasure. It stung like acid ants.

Scorpius rounded the corner and came to a curved doorway. He swiped his hand over the sentinel eye and waited to be recognized. In a moment the faint beep sounded and the heavy door slid effortlessly open. Gathering himself, he went in.

Pahlmot looked up from his work, distracted and frowning. “What is it?”

“There’s been a sighting.”

The Master-at-Arms laid down his stylus and leaned forward across the desk. “What sort of sighting? Not more wounded?”

“No. Not that.”

Pahlmot’s hard gaze grew harder. “Speak.”

Scorpius sighed. “A great-horn. They took a capture of it. Cleared the north ridge a few times. Nothing more since this morning.”

The Master-at-Arms’ expression clouded. He turned to the view screen and tapped in a few commands. A grainy image showed the dragon’s outline unmistakably against the pink sunrise. The chill Scorpius felt earlier settled over him once more.

Pahlmot wiped his hand over his eyes in an uncharacteristic gesture of dismay. “It’s too late to call off the lady’s ball. Isn’t it?”

Scorpius nodded.

Rising from his chair, Pahlmot headed for the door, which opened at a wave of his hand. “Inform her ladyship. I shall head the first patrol.”

Scorpius followed before the door could close. “Of course. What exactly am I telling her?”

“I shall take one patrol to the Bermu quadrant, and send another along the Triangle. To return at 00:1.”


Scorpius stepped forward into the lady’s marble chamber. Sunlight filled the room with warmth, the muted oranges and pinks of her draperies and cushions promising a welcome he knew was not for him. She was not here, but her charged presence filled every corner of the chamber.

How different it would be if this room held echoes of smiles instead of what really lurked in the folds and swags around her canopied bed. The open windows with their dazzling views might as well be grated doors thick with locks.

He took a deep breath, which did nothing to calm the swirling in his gut. The tumbling flowers in the vase before him mocked the morning like a slap. Lady Elinor would certainly kill this messenger. Or at least draw blood.

Copyright - Julia Smith - 2008


Joy Renee said...

sounds like a page turner already. some interesting dynamics. the mix of medieval social structure with modern technology is intriguing.

my poem this week was inspired by the novel i just finished. a novel for which i'm to host my first book giveaway this week. wahoo!

Bobbi said...

You go girl! That was great - keep up the good work!

And I'm still jealous you got to go to the writer's retreat (sigh, pout, sigh)!

Amy Ruttan said...

oooh chilling and interesting.

I'm glad you had fun!

SandyCarlson said...

Ooooh--you are good!

Heather said...

Writer's retreat seems like a fabulous time. Scorpius is such a great name. Excerpt is a fascinating read thank you for sharing Julia.

Shelley Munro said...

Dragons! It sounds like a great project, Julia.

Kelly Boyce said...

This idea was fabulous, Julia. I loved listening to you read the excerpts after the writing exercises. I can't wait to read the whole thing!!

Thomma Lyn said...

Wow, fascinating excerpt -- thanks for sharing! I enjoyed it a lot. :)

And I'm glad you had fun at the writers' retreat!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

That workshop was good for you. Absolutely.

Dorothy said...

Now, the rest of the story? Sounds good. I like it.