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.
Lord Dirske rejoined Richolf and Scorpius, leaning in to say, “So far I’ve been pleased with this event, Falconer. This is merely housekeeping.”
Richolf nodded but said nothing, glancing down at Scorpius, his eyes shadowed with warning. Scorpius’ heart pounded in his chest. He didn’t want this to happen. He didn’t want to be here. But the noble stood right beside them. There was nowhere for Scorpius to go.
Lord Dirske got what he requested at the very first cut of the lash. The young guard, who’d seemed so worldly and seasoned when they’d stood together watching the hunt, now screamed so that Scorpius’ hair stood on end. He couldn’t look, repelled by the way the young guard’s body flailed against his bonds. But there was no way to stop up Scorpius’ ears.
He was a heartbeat away from puking by the time the young guard was cut out of his bonds. How he wished he hadn’t glanced up at that very moment when two men from the detachment took the faltering guard by the arms and dragged him away. It was only a glance, but it was enough. More than enough.
Lord Dirske turned to Richolf, making final adjustments to his doublet. “The cottage will make for a nice little nest,” he said, a terrible smile playing over his face.
But Richolf simply bowed smartly and deeply. “My pleasure to serve, my lord.”
The noble turned while Richolf was still in the midst of speaking and strode away. Scorpius’ master froze for a moment. Then he let out a deep sigh, straightened and ran a hand through his hair.
“I want you to find out where they took that poor bastard,” Richolf said in a low voice. “Get him some water, some fresh cloths to clean him up with. You can’t enter the cottage. You’ll have to take the bandages from the hawk supplies.”
“Yes, sir,” Scorpius said. He dashed off in the direction they’d dragged the young fellow. It didn’t take long to spot the huddle of guards and to hear the moans of the one who’d failed to silence the only slave to have responded to her circumstances as logically as possible.
Scorpius passed the supplies to the man who’d swung the lash. Up close, he could see the dismay in the older man’s eyes at what had just transpired. The young guard’s moans continued in a stream of mindless suffering. Glad to be rid of his duty, Scorpius hurried away to rejoin Richolf, but his master was not where he’d left him.
Once he found him, Richolf ordered Scorpius to do this for the nobles and that for the servants, ensuring that everyone had whatever it was they needed. His master didn’t stretch out on the grass for a few hours of sleep until the night was nearly over.
Scorpius resorted to shaking his head and hopping in place to stay awake so he could assist his master. Once everyone was settled, Richolf chose a patch beneath a giant tree and stretched himself out. With a private nod between just them, Richolf motioned for Scorpius to join him.
Laying on the lumpy grass beside his master, he returned Richolf’s sad gaze for a long moment. Then the falconer reached out his hand and brushed Scorpius’ cheek where it was still tender from the blows his master had given him at the start of this nightmare hunt.
How mortified Scorpius had felt to suffer that first physical correction before this assembly.
“Problem, falconer?” Lord Dirske had asked, just after Scorpius had informed Richolf of his error in judgment, the one that had led him to feed the hawks before the hunt. His master had hesitated. Panic had flooded his master’s eyes, panic stemming from Richolf knowing only too well what type of man was asking as to whether Scorpius had created a problem.
Before Richolf’s hand withdrew from Scorpius’ cheek, Scorpius reached up and clasped it with his own. A bruise was not a lacerated back. Hurt feelings and confusion when he hadn’t realized, well they were not the same as those shrieks the guard had made.
© Julia Smith, 2010