Here's the latest installment of Scorpius' boyhood back story, a character from my dark fantasy work in progress. 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.
An incident that took place at the falconer's cottage three years ago has political repercussions that now haunt Scorpius and his master, Richolf.
You can follow the progress of this story arc by clicking on the Works in Progress link just under the blog header.
Scorpius turned to look at the cottage, feeling the absence of his master keenly. What of the falcons, tethered inside their mews? And the dog – what about him?
The servant stopped in the road, the habit of taking orders impossible to break. Yet he knew he was higher on the pecking order than Scorpius, so he didn’t bother to hide his impatience.
When Scorpius insisted on seeing to the animals before he set out for the estate, the servant stretched out on a patch of grass, placing his cap over his face until Scorpius nudged him with his foot. Not so inclined to hurry back as he’d been, the young man glared up at him and cursed.
It was a long, awkward walk to the estate. Scorpius kept an eye and an ear out for any sign of leathery wings above, and was appalled by the servant’s complete lack of caution. As for the servant, once he figured out what made Scorpius scan the skyline, he spit derisively into the hedgerow.
The rooftop of the estate appeared in the distance not a moment too soon.
Dumping him at the first footfall upon the estate grounds, the servant hurried back to his tasks as though it were Scorpius’ fault that his work was now behind schedule. Left to find his own way, Scorpius’ steps slowed as his neck craned this way and that. His stomach tightened with dread as other estate servants gave him unwelcoming glances, the slaves scurrying past without meeting his eye.
Whom should he ask about Richolf? Assuming that was the reason he’d been summoned here - that infuriating servant sent to fetch him hadn’t been a lick of help.
Think for a moment, he told himself. Stop. Get your bearings.
Scorpius found a spot tucked against a wall, standing out of the way in order to scout. He tracked the comings and goings on the estate grounds, noting the differences between lowlier servants and highly-placed ones. He rubbed his hair to smooth it down from the dusty journey. He swiped at smears on his breeches, and made sure all his lacings and buckles were fastened. Richolf would be well-known here, and the last thing Scorpius wanted was to dishonor his master among this lot.
Propelling himself forward, he made his way past the outbuildings and closed in on the entrance used by servants and slaves alike. Everyone moved at a brisk clip. Scorpius had to trot to avoid slamming into people.
The entrance led to a dim corridor, which he followed along with everyone who knew where they were going. Finally it opened into a receiving area, where deliveries were haggled over and masters barked at their charges.
Scorpius scanned the faces but Richolf was nowhere among them. A canny older man held him in his sights as he directed staff and signed for purchases. Surely he would know where his master could be found, or might know why Scorpius had been sent for.
Taking a steadying breath, Scorpius navigated his way across the room until he stood before the well-dressed servant. Remembering to bow smartly, Scorpius announced himself and inquired as to his master.
The older man passed his notebook and stylus to another youth who hurried off. Brilliant blue eyes that seemed as if they had seen everything there was to see gazed through Scorpius, raking his thoughts and fears until the hairs on his body stood on end. There was a glimmer of recognition in the head servant’s manner, but Scorpius had never been to this estate before.
Calling another young servant over, the older man said, “Show him to the sick room,” and turned away to the next request.
© Julia Smith 2010
Naquillity says Excellent. And you transition to the next entry so well.
Alice Audrey says Sick room?!! You sure know how to keep me on tenterhooks.
Ann Pino says Oh, dear. But why didn't the servant take him to Richolf or to someone who could advise him? It's so hard to get good help.