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.
He should have thought it strange about the dog.
Scorpius rose from the pallet, his master’s soiled bandages in his hands, just as the dog picked up its head expectantly to gaze at the door. Bleary from looking after Richolf and the falcons and the dog on his own, he didn’t question the lack of barking or the slight tail wag as the door to the cottage swung open.
A woman swept inside, her strangled cry at the sight of the falconer reducing Scorpius to a stranger in his own home. She collected herself enough to ask, “Are you Scorpius?” Her stricken expression made her calm question surreal.
Looking back at his master, who lay in a half-sleep, tunic spread wide to allow for new dressings, Scorpius bowed to her and nodded.
“May I?” she asked, indicating the pallet. He nodded again and stepped aside.
She moved gracefully across the rough cottage floor, kneeling in a billow of skirt to take Richolf’s face gently in both of her hands. She couldn’t stop the tears then. His master’s eyes opened to focus upon her face.
With surprising strength, Richolf grabbed her to him, both of them crying and kissing and laughing all at once. Scorpius had never felt the desire to be elsewhere so intensely.
Dropping the bandages in the basin, he signaled the dog to follow and the two slunk out into the morning. He should see to the birds, but he was so tired. He’d just take a moment.
Settling himself in the shade of a tree, he nestled in the soft grass, the dog curling beside him. When he woke the sun was past the midday position.
Getting groggily to his feet, Scorpius lurched toward the cottage, not sure at first what he’d been doing sleeping outside. As he neared the cottage door, the memory of her cry and their kisses quickened his pulse.
The dog barged past him as he paused on the threshold. His master and the woman both sat at the table. The smell of food filled the cottage, and a dish of it sat waiting for him.
“Come,” Richolf said, gesturing. “I’d like you to meet someone.”
Scorpius closed the door and slid onto his chair, too shy suddenly to gaze into her face which now shone with joy.
“Scorpius, this is Ingerith.”
All he could do was nod, staring instead at the feast she’d somehow conjured up while he slept.
“She tells me you’ve taken very good care of my wounds,” Richolf said.
Scorpius glanced up then, to see her gazing at him with gratitude. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. There had been many beauties come to the nursery to fetch their sons and daughters. But she was the first gently-bred woman to ever look him in the face, the first to see him.
A shiver of delight ran over his skin.
© Julia Smith, 2010
Travis Cody says This made me smile. There has been so much tension, and now suddenly a bit of gentleness. This segment is well-timed.
Janet says This is a wonderful scene after so much tension and turmoil for Scorpius! And I'm thinking, perhaps his first crush?
Ann Pino says I'm glad to see Richolf is better, but it seems there's a new mystery now. I can't wait to learn more about Ingerith.