Here's the latest installment of Scorpius' back story.
For the Weekend Writer's Retreat, I'm following the boyhood back story of an adult character I'm writing for a dark fantasy.
You can follow the progress of this story arc by clicking on the Works in Progress link just under the blog header.
Scorpius nearly ran for the cottage once he finished cleaning the mews, out back. How could he stop himself from looking up, always up? It might be swooping down even now.
But the falcons must be fed and attended to. The birds were not Richolf’s but the nobles’. This cottage and their positions here were tied to the nearby estate as closely as the falcons were tethered to Richolf when he took them out for the hunt.
Rounding the corner, Scorpius pulled up short at the sight of three mounts grazing beneath the trees at the edge of the clearing. The last time a visiting hunting party had descended upon the cottage, his master had told him to keep out of sight. Scorpius resolved to make up for his previous error, even if that meant staying out here where he did not want to be.
It didn’t help that raised voices from the cottage made the mounts’ ears prick forward. Scorpius settled himself under a dense sweep of branches just as a tumble of men poured out through the door.
He choked back the gasp in his throat. Two of the lords looked ready to kill each other, rolling over the dusty ground as if they weren’t wearing velvets and brocade. A third nobleman hovered just out of range, sword drawn.
Scorpius’ heartbeat slowed to an icy sludge as the fight rose in pitch. When Richolf appeared at the doorway, relief flared inside Scorpius, only to dash to bits when his master faltered and sank to his knees.
He almost betrayed himself. He almost parted the screen of leaves and branches, nearly clambered to his master’s side. But a cry gurgled up from the throat of one of the fighters. Scorpius crouched still and silent.
The third nobleman with the sword strode over to the victor, stretching his hand out to be clasped. The lord regained his feet, taking weary steps away from his opponent as the sword plunged neatly through the fallen man’s ribcage.
Scorpius clamped a hand over his mouth. The disheveled lord made his way to Richolf, who remained kneeling and bowed low. Scorpius couldn’t make out what was being said, only saw his master shake his head vigorously.
The sword-wielding lord closed in on his master. Scorpius bit down on his lip so hard it bled.
With a vicious kick, the lord sent Richolf sprawling in the dirt. His master choked with it as a boot planted itself in the center of his back.
“Swear it,” the fighting lord said.
His master coughed and spit. “I swear, my lord.”
The boot kicked Richolf in the ribs. His master writhed but made no sound. With no further glance at the falconer or the body they’d left behind, the noblemen climbed into their saddles and cantered off.
Scrambling to his feet, Scorpius burst from his hiding place, hurling himself beside his master who turned his face away.
“Help me inside,” was all he said.
© Julia Smith, 2010
Ann Pino says Wow, sounds like some kind of political intrigue is going on, and Richolf is an inadvertent victim. That's one's lot in an oligarchy, I guess, if one isn't lucky enough to be born into the upper caste.
Janet says OMG - at first I thought Richolf had been stabbed! I, like Scorpius, had my lip clenched between my teeth.
Jennie Marsland says Yikes, the plot thickens! You had me on the edge of my seat.