Here's the latest installment of Scorpius' boyhood back story.
Scorpius is 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.
“Let’s get you inside, sir,” Scorpius said, pulling his master upright and out of the cart.
Richolf shook with effort and fever. Scorpius was too consumed with his wobbly attempt at support to give into the fear that nipped at his heels. The falconer could not stand, and it was still a long way to get his master into bed.
Scorpius’ body swayed and buckled as he cajoled, coaxed and commanded Richolf to keep moving. They just managed to cross the threshold into the cottage when his master slipped from his grasp and crumpled to the floor.
Fighting to catch his breath in the gloom of nightfall, Scorpius gazed across the cottage at the bed that was too far away. Unnerving moans drifted up from the falconer, while the dogs continued their noisy quarrel outside. Crouching down beside his master, he laid a hand upon Richolf’s back while gathering the wits that meant to desert him.
It seemed an age before he finally struck upon a plan. Hauling his master’s pallet from the bed frame, Scorpius dragged it across the kitchen and rolled the falconer onto it. Richolf gasped in pain. “No, my lord,” he said, and his master’s desperation tore into Scorpius like talons.
He wrestled their dog inside to keep watch over Richolf, then ordered the cart dog to follow him to the shed, loading the fur pelts to the top for the trip back to the estate he meant to make first thing in the morning. It was late when he returned alone to the cottage, leaving the cart dog to spend the night on his own.
He returned to find Richolf had been sick over himself.
Scorpius spent a long night curled up on the pallet beside his master, offering sips of water, covering him up when he shivered, uncovering him when he sweat. Muttered words haunted the night, words that bore witness to endurance, to unyielding will. Each time Richolf woke with a start, Scorpius saw the courage marshaling behind his master’s wary gaze.
Morning dawned like an outgrown fairytale. Scorpius set off with the pelts to return the dog and the cart to their owner. Once he reached the estate, he inquired as to where he might sell the furs, striking out for the cottage again with money and several tonics for his master.
The walk back without the dog or the estate servant gave Scorpius a chance to settle his fears and sort his thoughts. His master had never spoken directly about that night, the one that seemed to be of such dreadful importance. But now he’d been summoned to answer for the actions of that night, actions done by another, actions that swept them both up like a flash flood.
If he were to keep his own grasp steady, Scorpius needed to truly understand what had gone on that day. So he had it all planned, all the questions he would put to his master, until he re-entered the cottage and saw the shuttered look in Richolf’s eyes.
Sitting on the edge of the pallet, Scorpius took in Richolf’s pale, bruised face, mottled with dirt and sweat. How could he add himself to his master’s list of tormentors?
But he would do it. He must succeed where the other men had failed.
© Julia Smith 2010
Naquillity says Another great segment today. I wonder if Scorpius will succeed in finding the answers he so desperately needs?
Alice Audrey says Oh, careful Scorpius. I'd hate to see you become no better than them. On the other hand, I really would like to know what's going on.
Travis Cody says Caution. Circumspection. Independence. Perseverance. All these previous lessons leading to this next one...Resolve. Nicely done.