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.
He barely noticed the darkening of the sky through the dense canopy of trees, until the persistent drip-drip began to fall on his lashes. Blinking away the vision of Ingerith, of her haughty stare and her smooth curves beckoning from the drape of her bodice, Scorpius tapped the message she’d given to him and tucked securely beneath his vest.
Satisfied that it was still there, he increased his pace, glancing up at the heavy sky. Just when he would have appreciated the protection of the forest, his path took him onto the road now bordered by scrub brush and boulders. Before long he was splashing through puddles, the rain coming in sheets.
He finally rushed up to the door of their cottage, shaking the water from his fingertips before going inside.
His master greeted him wordlessly, tossing him a linen to wrap around himself. As Scorpius shrugged out of his vest, he grabbed it back from where he’d been about to drop it on the sodden pile. Fishing around for the pocket opening, his heart stilled as he realized the paper was soft and about to fall apart at his touch.
He looked up in alarm at Richolf.
His master returned his gaze with a dawning understanding. Turning, he strode across the room, rubbing a hand over his face.
Scorpius carefully retrieved the soaked message, as limp as pastry dough. He laid it on the corner of the table, wishing the cottage was somehow bigger. He peeled out of his leggings and grabbed the linen tightly to cover himself, standing awkwardly for a long moment as Richolf said nothing.
His master had never been one to raise his voice. But Scorpius could feel the unspoken shouting hanging in the air between them. Collecting the drenched bundle of clothes in one arm, he dumped them into a bucket, turning to see his master sit at the table.
Richolf stared unseeing at the wooden surface. More than anything, Scorpius wished he could dash past his master and burrow under his blankets. But the falconer had not raised him to be such a coward. Forcing his feet to take him forward, Scorpius took his own seat at the table.
“I don’t suppose you read it,” Richolf said, finally.
“No, sir.” He wanted to look up, to look into his master’s eyes. He wanted Richolf to know how sorry he was. But he dreaded the disappointment he knew would meet him.
The memory of Ingerith’s gaze blazing down at him in the forest jogged him to recall the words she’d bade him repeat. “Talon,” he blurted without warning. “Gauntlet. Jess.”
Richolf rose and stood there for a terrible moment. He walked slowly to stand beside Scorpius. “What did you say?” he whispered.
“Talon,” Scorpius said as clearly as he could, though he shook. “Gauntlet. Jess.”
“In that order?” Richolf said, his voice stronger now.
His master walked to the door and strode out into the downpour. Scorpius didn’t see him again for two days.