Here's the latest installment of Scorpius' boyhood back story. For the first twelve scenes I've posted for the Weekend Writer's Retreat, we've followed him as a seven-year-old, when he outgrew the nursery where he'd been brought up with the other children of the blood.
But when no one from his family came to claim him, Scorpius was released to serve a falcon master as an apprentice.
You can follow the progress of this dark fantasy story arc by clicking on the Works in Progress link just under the blog header.
The falcon fussed on his perch. Scorpius sighed sharply but carried on, ducking out of reach of the bird’s wings as they beat the air in irritation. This was the third mews he’d cleaned today, with nine more waiting for him.
Refusing to settle down, the hawk instead beat its wings even faster, whipping up dust and feathers. Scorpius barked at it to calm down just as two men entered the small building.
Dressed down for hunting, they were nevertheless clad in handsomely-worked leather and finely-woven wool. Swords hung from their hips and jewels glinted from their fingers.
Dropping to one knee and bowing his head in the smooth motion he’d perfected, Scorpius said, “My lords” in a clear voice. The nobles were just like the falcons, Richolf had taught him. Handle with the deference they demanded, but show no fear if he wanted respect in return.
“Your master about?”
“Yes, sir.” He stared at the lord’s polished wine-red boots.
“Fetch him, then – there’s a lad.”
From the corner of his eye, Scorpius watched the nobleman move toward the bird. He bit down on the words that wanted to warn him away from the already moody falcon. But he’d been dismissed. There was nothing for it but to obey.
As he dashed through the door into the sunlight, the falcon screeched and the lord cursed.
His master’s intention for the day had been to inventory and bundle the fur pelts he took to the estate for trade. Scorpius headed for the shed where the pelts were cured, but when he breathlessly rounded the doorway, the shed was empty.
A sinking feeling gripped his belly. The nobles hadn’t given prior notice, but that wasn’t so out of the ordinary. However, he felt certain they would not take the news well if he couldn’t locate his master and they were denied their hunt.
Taking off at a run, he sped to the cottage, not expecting to find him there but hoping for it anyway. “Sir?” he called as he burst through the door. “Sir?”
An idea surfaced but he rejected it as he hurried back to the noblemen. He’d never been instructed in such a plan. It could make things worse.
But his mind worked quickly and boldly over all the preparations he’d need in order to lead the lords to the hunt on his own. He’d take the large red-tail. They would get a guaranteed kill, and Scorpius had a good rapport with the bird.
When he re-entered the mews and saw Richolf gathering up the very bird he’d planned to use, he swallowed disappointment to focus instead on the relief that spread over him.
© Julia Smith, 2010
Ann Pino says Ah, poor kid. He almost had a great opportunity there. Maybe it's for the best, though.
Janet says A more mature Scorpius, but one who still has a streak of independence! And then to discover his master would use the same bird he had planned to use - yep, Scorpius is certainly growing up :)