Saturday, August 21, 2010

Weekend Writer's Retreat - 21

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.

Scene 21

The babies’ crying filled his head, pushing him out from under the covers faster than he’d normally arise. Scorpius walked sleepily over to where Nurse and her maids dressed the little ones for their visit with their families, set to collect them today.

Once upon a time, he’d supposed, he’d had a little suit to receive visitors. But the years came and went, and no one ever came for Scorpius. Instead he helped Nurse to occupy the babies while they waited, making sure their lace collars and shiny buttons were not messed with spit-up.

A pair of elegant parents swept in and scooped up their darling, and Scorpius watched the little family leave with a horrible longing twisting in his chest. The feeling grew and grew until suddenly he was awake and lying on the pallet he’d dragged onto the kitchen floor so his master could heal upon it.

Richolf jerked and twitched on the bed, coated in sweat. Scorpius barely had time to scoot out of the way before his master bolted awake, Richolf’s disturbing scream raising the hairs all over Scorpius’ body.

He knew enough by now that it only made things worse if he tried to touch his master after one of these nightmares. Hanging back, he waited until Richolf’s wide-eyed gaze found him as he swept the room for his torturers.

“Good morning, sir,” Scorpius said in as normal a tone as he could manage.

Richolf cleared his throat. “Morning,” he said gruffly.

Scorpius rose and set about feeding the dog and preparing their breakfast. His master had not been too interested in eating since returning from being questioned. But how would he ever heal if he had no strength?

Kneeling beside his master, Scorpius held the plate with a plain biscuit and gave Richolf as stern a look as he dared. “You must eat, sir.”

Nodding, the falconer reached for the bread and brought it to his lips. But his hand shook. It may as well have been made of stone, the way his teeth barely ripped a mouthful of it. Scorpius got an idea and gently took the bread back.

Tearing it into little bite-sized pieces, he fed it to his master as though he slipped cookies to the fussing, teething babies back at the nursery where he’d grown up. Or the way they rewarded the falcons with bits of meat when they trained them in the field.

It took a while, but eventually the falconer managed the entire biscuit. It was the most food he’d eaten in a week. Probably longer, if Scorpius included the time his master had spent in the dungeon. His heart eased as he stood and brought the empty plate to the sideboard.

He had to leave him then to attend to the hawks out back. As he cleaned the mews and fed the birds, his mind fixated on the men who’d come here to fetch his master away to hurt him. Whenever he’d waited for the mother and father who’d never showed up for him at the nursery, he’d always assumed they would be good people, his parents. But who was to say his very father wasn’t one of the men who made his master bleed?

As Scorpius rounded the corner of the falconer’s cottage and made his way through the door, he was unprepared for the elation that filled him at the sight of his master sitting up on the pallet and stroking the dog around the ears. There was a time when he’d been certain that only the discovery of his parents’ identities would ever give him such a feeling.

But as he entered the cottage and Richolf’s gaze softened at the sight of him, Scorpius realized he might never want to know who those two people were.

© Julia Smith, 2010

Naquillity says Glad to see Richolf is doing some better now.

Apprentice Writer says Having just returned from a visit to the National Gallery in Ottawa, I'll say I love the use of light and shadow, and color red, in the pieces displayed in your art sidebar. Very beautiful and evocative.


Naquillity said...

i think Scorpius is finding that he can love others as much, if not more than, his parents. Richolf has become a father figure for him, :) glad to see Richolf is doing some better now too. have a great weekend.

M. said...

Having just returned from a visit to the National Gallery in Ottawa, I'll say I love the use of light and shadow, and color red, in the pieces displayed in your art sidebar. Very beautiful and evocative.

Julia! I would so love to meet you when you visit my neck of the woods! My email is mayamissani AT yahoo DOT ca, so we can set something up, and I'm assuming that Wylie would like to be part of the plan also.

Also: thanks for the garbage can icon tip on dealing with spam, however - I see no such icon in my comments (or yours for that matter). What am I doing wrong?

Julia Smith said...

M - When I'm signed into Blogger, there is a little grey icon near the date at the bottom of each comment. If you click on that, you'll be taken to another screen where you then have the option of deleting the comment. Hope it works.

Otherwise, you can turn on the moderate comments option from your blog control panel. Go to Settings, Comments, scroll down to Comment moderation and click Always. Unfortunately, this means you always have to sign into Blogger in order to find out if anyone commented. But you will have the comments waiting on your dashboard - they won't appear on your blog unless you release them.

Thanks for the comment about my Sidebar Art Gallery! And I'll email you about meeting in Real Life (woo hoo!)

Alice Audrey said...

Richolf has been more of a parent to him than his genetic parents. It's nice to see that he appreciates him.

Travis Cody said...

This is an interesting insight. Scorpius begins to consider whether it was more blessing than curse that he was never claimed...particularly since what he has seen of nobles thus far has been mostly indifference to those "beneath" them, or outright cruelty.

bunnygirl said...

I like that Scorpius is beginning to see that family of choice can be just as valid, if not more so, than family of blood kin.

Janet said...

Sorry I'm late, Julia! But what a wonderful read this week. Do I sense some foreshadowing?

Your hints at the torture Richolf has endured are more horrific than if you had written them out for us to read. My mind is going crazy imagining all kinds of torture that poor man was put through. Well done :)

The feeling grew and grew until suddenly he was awake and lying on the pallet he’d dragged onto the kitchen floor so his master could heal upon it,

Great transition line!!