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.
Great drops of blood as big as Scorpius’ palm smeared the floor. Richolf made his way to a chair. The other lay overturned beside the table.
“Fetch some water,” he said, fumbling for the cloth around his neck, pressing it to his eye.
Scorpius stood there, his gaze unseeing. His pulse fluttered beneath his skin. How he wished Nurse could walk through the door and set things to rights.
He remembered the morning when Mirko had walked along the high stone wall. A boy from a well-placed family, he’d never paid heed to their watchers’ threats or warnings. A slip, a fall and his head had split open. But Nurse had been there to sort through all the blood and push aside the crying.
Glancing at his master, Scorpius saw how quickly the neck cloth reddened.
There was a clay jug of water on the sideboard. He heaved it onto the table as Richolf mumbled something about thread. Scorpius entered his master’s bed chamber, ignoring the strangeness of it, and didn’t leave until he’d found the needle and thread in a drawer.
He held the looking glass as Richolf took up the grim task of sewing up his own wound. “One day you’ll join us on the hunt,” he said, carefully pulling the thread taut. Fresh blood trickled over his brow, winding down his cheek to drip from his jaw.
“But I can’t bring you along before you’re ready. Dragons are one thing.” Richolf’s gaze left the looking glass and focused on Scorpius. “The nobles are quite another.”
So many questions tangled themselves around Scorpius’ tongue. But he bit them all back, for his master did not offer anything more. Only scrounged up cloths and a bucket so they could sop up the blood from the floor.
The body of the nobleman lay where it had fallen in the clearing before the cottage. Scorpius snuck glances at it, grateful to be this far away from a corpse.
Richolf gazed off now and then, listening. Scorpius didn’t know if he should dread anyone arriving, or be grateful to have the body claimed. But no one came. Not until the next morning.
This time, when Richolf made that abrupt gesture, Scorpius not only stayed behind in the empty cottage, he slipped into the shadows even as he watched his master open the door to face them.
© Julia Smith, 2010
Ann Pino says I sure hope no one is in trouble!
Alice Audrey says I'd love to hear what the nobles had to say. Is it nobles at the end coming for the body?
Travis Cody says This section contains a fascinating commentary on the social structure in this world. One will be wary of dragons as a matter of course. But one must be even more careful to understand one's place in the world.