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 watched the sweep of Ingerith’s skirt as she disappeared around the crest of the boulder. Scorpius scanned the sky for dragon signs, but in truth he sought to avoid hearing the bittersweet laughter, the muffled sounds of his master and his lover.
An hour passed while Scorpius sat on watch. His master had not seen Ingerith since that two-night absence, just before the nightmare hunt began. The two of them never knew when they would reunite, which served as a hurtful reminder that their lives were not their own. This meeting today set them all on edge, as Ingerith’s current noble patron had proven himself to be a cruel adversary.
Scorpius’ mind kept latching onto the way Richolf no doubt cradled his lover behind their screen of granite. Shaking his head to stop his mind from wandering back, Scorpius couldn’t prevent his memories of her neckline when he’d met her in the ravine, revealing her soft curves beneath her bodice. His body insisted on responding to something that was none of his business.
Whenever Ingerith smiled at him, even when she didn’t smile at him, merely looked at him, Scorpius’ skin shivered. Yet her sighs were for his master, and not for such as him.
His gaze scanned the treetops, recalling the horrible sight of the dragon on that morning years ago when he’d raced for the pillar rock. Clapping hands over his eyes, Scorpius grasped for something else to fill his mind. Insistent moans from Richolf and Ingerith brought the equally horrible images to mind from the slave hunt several nights’ past.
How his heart had broken for that poor girl who had not been able to stop herself from crying. Such a pitiful figure she’d made, her body ghostly as she struck out into the darkness. Lord Dirske had toyed with her, chasing yet not quite grabbing her down, until eventually she’d turned to face him in exhaustion, wordlessly pleading with him to get it over with.
Scorpius didn’t want to know what that moment felt like.
To be driven to the point of embracing his own ruin, it was starting to weigh on his mind, ever since the last of the nobles has ridden away for the estate.
Dwarfing leathery wingspan or vindictive lord – which was worse? The shrieks of his little friend just before the dragon fire burnt her down to cinders, or the cries of the slave as Lord Dirske pierced her body before the cheering assembly – all of it rattled around in his mind, dogging him when he tried to be about his work.
Hugging his knees to his chest, Scorpius thought about the guard who’d shared his food with him before the hunt had turned gruesome. He must have known what the evening would bring. He’d even grinned at him and said, “Well, aren’t you the sly pup,” when Scorpius had assured him his master provided successful hunts.
Should Scorpius feel repulsed by that young man? How could he when his attempts at preventing the crying slave from disrupting the surprise had not been blows but quiet words? How could he when the guard had walked toward his penance with calm dignity?
Things had seemed so simple only a few years ago. Back then he’d still longed to discover his unknown mother and father, nobles like the ones who attended the hunt of screams. He hadn’t known who might have come for him at the nursery. He’d been so crushed when it had been the falconer and not his father.
What would his life have amounted to, if it had been Lord Dirske to collect him? If his father had been such as that man, what would Scorpius be like now? If Lord Dirske had taken him to serve on his estate, would he have been able to bear each day as the young guard did?
Tears welled in his eyes. For a moment he resisted them. But he heard the sounds coming from behind the boulder, and so let them roll down his face with no one to see or hear.
© Julia Smith, 2010