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.
“Four hundred.” Scorpius stared down the trader as if his heart wasn’t beating a little too fast.
The weathered man’s expression soured. “This isn’t worth half that.”
“You’d say that to my master’s face, I suppose? And these are the same quality he always brings you. Four hundred.” He’d already knocked it down from five-fifty. A promise to Richolf for four hundred was starting to sound less likely by the moment.
“Your master was drunk when he asked for such a figure.”
The trader’s derision shoved against Scorpius, chipping away at his resolve. But he remembered Richolf’s prediction that he wouldn’t be able to drive a good bargain. It was now or never.
“You know exactly who my master is. Who else brings you such pelts?” Scorpius forced himself to lean in and speak in a lower tone. The trader’s brows knit together in confusion at first, but he cocked his head to listen.
“The truth is, my master trades here because it’s closer for him,” Scorpius said. “He has a hard time walking these days. But I don’t have the same problem, do I? And there are three other estates a day’s journey from here, all with markets, all with traders who’d love to get their hands on these inferior furs.”
Scorpius stepped back and gave the trader time to make up his mind. The man was too experienced to give anything away, so Scorpius turned to gaze toward the gate and the road leading away from the estate. A hand upon his arm made him turn to the trader, who held out his other hand to shake on a deal.
“Four hundred,” the trader said, and Scorpius made his first deal with a surge of pride flooding his chest. He helped the older man unload the pelts onto a cart, took the money and strolled away toward another market stall. There were a few items to purchase before he made his way back to the cottage.
He stopped short at the stall where he would find the little bells they needed for the falcon jesses.
The old woman who sold at this stall wasn’t there this morning. In her place was a girl about his own age, perhaps a little older. An idiotic smile spread over his face before he could stop it.
The girl smirked, her eyes sparkling at his approach. “Good day,” she said in a deeper voice than he would have imagined. He loved the richness of it.
“It’s very good,” he said, forcing his mouth to put away its grin. But it fought him.
“Is there something you’re wanting this morning?” she said.
Scorpius could only gaze at her. He was certain she must think him a simpleton. “Bells,” he said at last.
“Bells?” she said, her look of confusion so charming, the way her lips parted – if she didn’t stop he would have to kiss her right there in front of the entire marketplace.
“For my birds,” he said.
The girl’s brow creased with annoyance, as though he were taunting her. Then she lit up with a smile of recognition. “Oh! You’re the falconer’s boy!”
Scorpius grinned again, far too widely for this simple trade at the seller’s stall. He should take care that she didn’t fleece him worse than he’d avoided with the pelt trader. He was in danger here.
But a reckless joy made the possibilities intoxicating.
© - Julia Smith, 2011