After a brief hiatus while I was on Christmas and New Year's vacation, 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, fetched from the nursery by a falconer to become his apprentice.
The next twelve scenes follow ten-year-old Scorpius as he discovers the dangers of serving the nobles he'd once imagined were family.
The third set of twelve scenes give us a thirteen-year-old Scorpius, who discovers the true extent of his master's attempts to shield him from the cruelties of life outside their falconer's cottage.
We rejoin him at age sixteen.
You can follow the progress of this story arc by clicking on the Works in Progress link just under the blog header.
Scorpius watched as his master struggled to tie up the pelts for delivery to the estate. The dampness of the past three days of rain took its toll on the falconer’s joints where they had been pulled and wrenched in the interrogations, back when Scorpius was a boy.
Richolf was a little slower to rise from his chair these days, took a little longer to get through his work, grimaced when he thought Scorpius wasn’t looking. Another man his age wouldn’t be so hobbled. But another man had not tasted the bite of the nobles’ displeasure.
Turning the corner as though he’d not stopped to observe, Scorpius halted before Richolf and waited for instruction. His master seemed to block him out until he finished with his laborious knot. It gave Scorpius the ammunition he needed.
“Let me take that to the estate for you, sir.”
Richolf merely glanced up at him in irritation.
He tried another tactic. “I know I don’t drive as hard a bargain as you do.”
“You don’t drive any kind of bargain at all,” his master said, smiling slightly.
“Just tell me what you mean to get for it, and I promise I won’t leave without it.”
Richolf braced himself and then rose to his feet. “I’ve got other supplies to get while I’m there,” he said.
“Sir, you know I can get those for you.”
His master sent him a sharp look, and Scorpius realized he’d done it again. It was just that Richolf was so stubborn. Sighing, he looked away so his master couldn’t see his own frustration.
Richolf limped slowly to the door, gazing out at the downpour with his back to Scorpius. What could be so hard about collecting up an order of supplies, anyway? There must be some other business waiting for Richolf, something he couldn’t –
Scorpius’ face flushed with heat. Of course. How could he be so stupid? It must be Ingerith waiting for him. Of course it would be.
He looked over at his master with unspoken apologies. When Richolf faced him, Scorpius forced himself to meet his gaze. His master’s expression changed from weariness to curiosity.
“I suppose you can’t learn to drive a bargain if I don’t send you to make one.”
Relief and hope rose in Scorpius’ chest. “I’ll do my best, sir.”
“You’d better,” Richolf said. “Those traders will smell your inexperience and fall over themselves to fleece you.”
Scorpius bit back what he nearly said. He was so close to being granted permission. Biting his lip, he squared his shoulders and waited.
“I’ll draw up a list of provisions,” Richolf said at last. “I want four hundred for the lot. Nothing less.”
“Four hundred. Yes, sir,” Scorpius said.
“As soon as this rain lets up, you may head out.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”
Richolf eyes shadowed a little. “Let’s put on the kettle. I could use a hot tea just now.”