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.
No fear, he heard Richolf say in his mind. Don’t let them sense any fear.
But the hot line of pain across the back of his head distracted him. “No, my lord,” he forced out, struggling to banish the shaking in his voice. “I would never forget something like that.”
A quick glance across the field showed his master watching him, the other lord whispering something to Richolf. This noble before him still stood too close. What if he could see that Scorpius trembled?
“It is not your master’s answers I’m interested in at the moment,” the noble said.
Richolf had needed stitching up that day, when the nobles had fought. Scorpius remembered how the royal brother had stayed so very long at the table, drinking wine and shedding tears. And how Scorpius had been shut up in that cabinet for hours.
He mustn’t say the wrong thing. They’d hurt Richolf before. And Richolf had kept Scorpius out of sight until the royal guard and the drunk brother had gone.
He had to keep it all straight in his mind. He couldn’t get it wrong. The noble tightened his grip on the stick, his gloved hands veiling the power lurking beneath. Scorpius swallowed but did not flinch away. Show no fear.
“Were you serving the falconer when Lord Nizhnii disappeared?” the noble asked.
Scorpius’ heart pounded and pounded. Surely the noble could hear it. “No, my lord.”
“Where were you, then?”
“Still at the nursery, my lord.” He had to pay attention, pay attention and remember. He had to tell Richolf exactly what he was telling the lord now.
“Can you describe Lord Nizhnii for me?”
The chilling image of Nizhnii’s body seized up in a pool of congealed blood came clearly to him. “No, my lord.”
“And Lord Zorjak?”
Scorpius shook his head, the memory of the imposing nobleman in tears never very far away. “I’m sorry, my lord.”
“Are you?” the noble said, his lips nearly touching Scorpius’ forehead. “Sorry?”
Scorpius nodded. “I have served many nobles since I came here, but never Lord Nizhnii. And not Lord Zorjak, my lord.” He couldn’t stop the shaking now. There was no way the nobleman could miss it.
The lord pressed the edge of the stick hard against Scorpius’ cheek. “Are you a good boy for your master?”
“I try to be, my lord.”
The nobleman laughed then. “Such a careful answer. A very good boy, indeed.”
© Julia Smith, 2010
Janet says The tension continues! Poor Scorpius - definitely not liking those nobles. I couldn't pick a favorite line because the whole thing is great. It flows - reads beautifully, no one line standing out.
Alice Audrey says This just gets worse and worse for Scorpius. Now I'm really, really glad he didn't try to take them out on his own.
Travis Cody says More great tension. As much as we're learning about Scorpius, we're also learning so much about the world he inhabits and the people he must learn to deal with.