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. We rejoin him at age ten.
You can follow the progress of this dark fantasy story arc by clicking on the Works in Progress link just under the blog header.
Scorpius sensed a movement behind him and turned.
One of the lords had followed him out to the tall reeds, where he was set to flush out the larger marsh birds. The noble smiled at Scorpius, his display so at odds with the piercing expression in his eyes. Unnerved, Scorpius nearly dropped his stick.
“My lord,” he said, no longer at liberty to turn his back, to search for the game. Keeping his head slightly bowed, he could still see his master out on the edge of the tree line, likewise speaking to the other hunter.
“This is where you find them, I suppose,” the noble said, gazing around with disinterest.
“There’s bound to be one or two, my lord.” He didn’t smell any spirits on the man’s breath that would explain such odd behavior.
The noble closed in on Scorpius, coming uncomfortably close. Scorpius kept his gaze down, but his breathing shallowed. Without warning, the lord yanked the stick from his grasp and held it up for both to see.
“What would I have to do to coax them into the open myself?”
Scorpius fought the stammer that dragged at his tongue. “Y-you take swipes at the clumps of reeds there,” he said, gesturing towards the nearest one.
The noble stood nose to nose with Scorpius for a terrible moment, the stick raised to strike. Scorpius didn’t dare to look up, could only keep track of the stick from the corner of his eye, his heart beating fast.
At last the hunter turned, strode a few steps and swung with assurance toward the possible hiding place. “Ah, yes,” he said, turning back toward Scorpius to swing again.
The blow struck the back of his head, and he ducked. The yelp that formed in his chest did not get past his lips.
The noble chuckled. “Guess it can get away from you,” he said, again closing in till Scorpius could feel the noble’s breath lifting his hair. Scorpius didn’t answer other than to nod quickly.
“You seem a smart young chap.”
His mind went blank. But he had to hang onto his wits, even as his skin erupted in tiny bumps.
“How long have you been with the falconer?” the noble asked, his voice mild and unsettling.
“Three years this summer, my lord.”
“That would be the very time for which I have an interest.”
The welt along the back of Scorpius’ head burned and protested. He kept his eye on the stick.
“A smart boy like you wouldn’t forget something like a dragon sighting. Surely not.”
Scorpius’ breath snagged in his lungs. His mind flashed back to when he’d first arrived here, when the lord was stabbed to death right in front of him, as he’d hidden in the bushes outside of Richolf’s cottage.
He nearly looked up into the lord’s face.
© Julia Smith
Alice Audrey says But at least he can honestly say that yes, he had seen a dragon in that time period.
Janet says Holy Crap! Great pacing, fantastic tension - I was on the edge of my seat. And I don't like that noble!
Travis Cody says Outstanding tension.