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.
With the arrival of Ingerith, Scorpius was free to sleep in his own bed for the first time in over a week. He hadn’t realized how poorly he’d rested until that first night. No more keeping an ear out for Richolf. No more dodging out of the way before his master bolted awake from nightmares.
He awoke the morning after her arrival to find the day well underway. He leaped out of bed, hopped into his clothes and tore across the main room. He nearly collided with Ingerith, who juggled several dishes in her hands.
“Watch yourself!” Richolf barked.
He couldn’t even apologize. Words lodged in his throat at the sight of his master’s sweetheart once again preparing a meal for them all to share.
“Come and sit,” was all she said.
Scorpius stole a glance over at Richolf, who simmered with the ill temper of a man too long abed who is used to full days of activity.
Gathering his courage, Scorpius said, “I should see to the falcons, sir. It’s late.”
Before his master could answer, Ingerith pulled a chair from the table and bade Scorpius to sit. “A few moments more won’t be missed by the birds. You need to start your day with something in your belly. Now come.”
Something about her manner made any thought except obedience completely out of the question. Scorpius walked over the stone floor and sat on the chair, gazing down at the plate of food piled generously and artfully.
Stealing a glance at his master’s pallet still set up on the kitchen floor, Scorpius watched as Ingerith knelt beside his master, already coaxing a reluctant smile from his lips. Her care and her presence here had pulled Richolf from the low mood that had dogged all of Scorpius’ efforts to get the falconer back on his feet.
“You mustn’t give me trouble,” she said to Richolf, both of them smiling at one another. It astonished Scorpius that she could lift his master’s mood so completely.
“I thought you told me it’s the only thing I’m good at,” Richolf said.
‘It is the only thing you’re good at,” she said, forcing him to bite into a sweetcake she’d made for him.
Scorpius shouldn’t listen to them. He should eat up and run out back to start attending to the birds. A few of the falcons would be fussy and hard to handle by now. But there was something about Ingerith that made Scorpius tingle all over whenever she spoke. Why should he hurry? She’d gone out of her way to prepare this lovely meal for him.
His master and his sweetheart laughed softly as she continued to feed him. Scorpius could not get over the shock of discovering this side of Richolf. Everything about his master brightened when she said things to him, when she smiled at him, when her fingers brushed Richolf’s temple.
She worked miracles with her salves, as well. All of Richolf’s burns, slashes and bruises were well on their way to disappearing since she’d come to the cottage.
Scorpius concentrated on his dish of food. He sometimes felt a stab of jealousy when all of her efforts bore such wondrous fruit, while the hours he’d stayed with Richolf, dressing the nauseating wounds, listening to the midnight ravings, when none of these had brought relief to his master.
“…won’t be able to stay much longer,” she was saying.
Scorpius stopped chewing.
“I know what it means that you came out here,” Richolf said.
“Yes,” she said, rising to her feet. “It means you very rudely missed our appointed meeting time.”
“I tried telling them that, but they’d have none of it,” Richolf said.
Glancing up again, Scorpius saw the playfulness dancing in his master’s eyes as he followed her movements. Was he truly joking about the torture whose memories pierced the nights with his cries?
Ingerith sat at the table beside Scorpius, leaning her chin into her palm. “When you’re done eating,” she said, “and when you’ve seen to all the birds out back, I’ll need to go over his care with you.”
As though she could feel the stab in his chest at the suggestion that he didn’t know how to care for his master, Ingerith leaned in close. “I’ll show you what all the salves and tonics are for. You’ll need them. The better he feels, the more insufferable he becomes.”
She smiled a conspiratorial grin, wrapping Scorpius in a blanket of acknowledgment that warmed him like afternoon sunlight. Still, no words would come to him. He simply nodded and forced another bite of food down his throat.
© Julia Smith, 2010
Galit Breen says Julia, what an exciting and amazing work in progress! I'm so impressed and inspired.
Naquillity says This story gets better with age. I'm loving your characters and this Ingerith is bringing a certain bit of mystery to the story as well.
Ann Pino says I love the psychological things going on here. So much is happening just below the surface. Intriguing.