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.
When Scorpius rounded the curve in the road that revealed their cottage, the sight of his master sitting on a stool near the front door drew a smile, then a chuckle from him. Certainly, Richolf was busy polishing his boots. It was most definitely a fine day to sit outdoors and work.
The dog bounded up to greet him halfway along the road, trotting happily beside him as he approached the falconer.
“How did you fare?” Richolf asked, glancing up from his polishing.
Scorpius opened his leather satchel and retrieved the coins. He described his successful negotiations with the pelt trader, and warned his master as to why he’d paid too much for the falcon jess bells.
“How much is left, then?” Richolf asked, his expression darkening more than Scorpius had expected.
When Scorpius told him the sum, his master put down his boots and stood, taking the money from Scorpius’ hands with an abrupt swipe. Re-entering the cottage to secret away the coins, Richolf left Scorpius to stew alone.
For a moment, he considered picking up the boots and finishing the job for his master, but the unexpected reaction from Richolf stirred tight anger in Scorpius’ chest. He’d only meant to spare his master the pain of the journey to the estate. Why should he act like Scorpius had done some terrible crime in helping out the market girl?
Striding quickly past the cottage, Scorpius headed for the falcon mews, needing some time to cool down. He entered the dwelling of the hawk in need of the new bells, ignoring the raised wings and screech as the bird sensed his annoyance.
Scorpius grabbed the jesses from the hook and went outside to restring the bells. Just handling the delicate metal balls calmed him down, recalling the feel of her palm as he returned them to her, following the chase after the little thief.
He would have thought Richolf would have approved of Scorpius coming to her aid. Apparently not. It was the sum of four hundred or nothing at all. Scorpius released the old bells and replaced them with the new ones, his anger merely simmering as he worked, not dissipating as he’d hoped.
No more was said of it until the time came to bring the next delivery of pelts to the estate market.
As Richolf counted up the furs and readied the bundle for the journey, Scorpius’ heart swelled with hope that he would be granted permission to accompany his master. Oddly enough, his chest also squeezed with the echoes of anger. It wasn’t fair, the way Richolf had responded to Scorpius’ first efforts at trading in the marketplace.
Likely, he wouldn’t be allowed to go. Scorpius mucked out the falcon mews with sharp movements, unable to believe his master could be so harsh.
He’d barely thought it when he remembered that night when the nightmare hunt had shown him what a cruel master really looked like. Giving a hot sigh, Scorpius stopped and leaned on the rake, just as Richolf entered the mews.
Scorpius started up with his work again, even though his shoulders ached, not wanting to make eye contact.
“I’ll be needing you to take the pelts to market for me,” Richolf said, as if he’d never yanked the coins from his grasp or insinuated that he’d made a poor trade.
“Sir?” Scorpius said, stopping his work and forcing himself to at least face his master, though he still avoided his gaze. His face burned hot with both the effort of raking and with unspoken words.
“You should be able to get five hundred for this lot.”
“Five hundred,” Scorpius said, nodding.
The memory of her face already lightened his heart. But what if she wasn’t there? What if it was her mother, returned to health and running the market stall?
No matter. She lived somewhere near the estate, or perhaps at the estate – he would soon discover where. The prospect of finding out her name drove the weariness from his muscles as he flew through the last of his chores.
© Julia Smith, 2011