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 posted for the Weekend Writer's Retreat, we follow him as a seven-year-old, outgrown from the nursery where he'd been brought up with the other children of the blood. When no one from his family claimed him, Scorpius was released to serve a scarred and intimidating master.
The next twelve scenes follow Scorpius as a ten-year-old seasoned falconer's apprentice. The more he understands of his world, the more he learns to beware the nobles who come to the cottage for the hunt. The political intrigues that take the lives of its players can burn anyone who comes too close - including a falconer and his boy.
We rejoin him at age thirteen.
You can follow the progress of this story arc by clicking on the Works in Progress link just under the blog header.
Ingerith gazed at him, haughty and frightened. Her lips parted as she caught her breath, her cheeks flushing so prettily. A cautious gaze in every direction made her seem like a girl scrambling to avoid self-made trouble. But when she closed the distance between herself and Scorpius, she moved like a queen.
He returned her gaze as long as he dared. When finally he bowed his head, Scorpius’ skin tingled with her nearness.
“You were not followed?” she asked, a note of admiration in her voice if he wasn’t mistaken.
Reaching down to lift her skirts, Ingerith ran her fingers along her stocking, along her thigh to a garter that hugged her there. Scorpius was certain he should not be witness to this. But there was no one here but the two of them. Besides, he’d already seen her with her skirts a-tumble in the woods that day. Though she didn’t know that.
He watched as she slipped a sealed note from between the garter and her firm skin. Swallowing against the lump that seemed to block his throat, Scorpius held a hand out to accept the message from her. When she kept it back from him, he looked up into her eyes.
They danced with amusement and...something else.
“This is for your master’s eyes only.”
Scorpius’ face grew hot with annoyance. “Of course,” he snapped.
Lifting her chin and an eyebrow, Ingerith offered the message to him a second time. Scorpius reached out and took it, being very careful not to make contact with her. He wasn’t sure why.
“In the event that something happens to it,” she said, gesturing regally at the note, “I need you to remember three words.”
Scorpius was about to protest that he wouldn’t let anything happen to the message when his master’s lover placed two fingers over his lips. He couldn’t prevent a gasp escaping him.
Her eyes met his, welling with raw emotion. His heart forgot to beat as she loosened the ribbons at her neck, tugging her neckline to the side, exposing her throat. An ugly red welt encircled her there.
At first he couldn’t imagine how such a mark could have got there. Then he remembered which man Ingerith had laid with in the woods that day. He remembered the blow which that same noble had given him, and the horrible burns and bruises and torn flesh his master had returned with, from that noble's questioning.
Ingerith retied the ribbons, bowing her own head under his scrutiny. When she finally looked up again, her face was clouded with shame. How it hurt him to see it. He’d dreamt of seeing it, had burned to see it in the private moments of the night.
Now he would give anything if she would only cloak herself in her imperious manner. Anything so he wouldn’t have to admit to himself that nothing was as black and white as he wanted them to be.
Taking a deep breath, Ingerith said, “Promise you’ll remember.”
“I swear it,” he said, recalling how his own master had spoken those words after kneeling before the lord who had murdered in the name of the prince. Bending his knee, Scorpius lowered himself before Ingerith. It was a relief to be forced to look up at her.
Her face took on a resolute gravity. Not the arrogance he’d craved, but it would do. She took hold of his shoulders. “The words are ‘talon’, ‘gauntlet’ and ‘jess’.”
“’Talon’, ‘gauntlet’ and ‘jess’,” he repeated.
Her fingers grabbed him by the chin and forced him to look into her face. Ingerith’s eyes now blazed with warning, and that was so much better than the suffering that had darkened her face, moments before. It felt good that her grip was too tight. It served him right for having wished something like the mark around her neck upon her.
“Again,” she said.
He said it as many times as she demanded it. She released him without warning, striding away to head back into the forest. “Remain here for awhile. We cannot be seen together,” she cautioned.
“Yes, miss,” he said as she gave him one final glance. Then she wrapped her kerchief over her face and slipped between the trees into the shadows.