My Scorpius serial is now joining The Serialists as well as continuing with the Weekend Writer's Retreat.
To recap this dark fantasy story so far:
As a small boy of seven, Scorpius was fetched from the nursery where he'd been raised to live among the nobility - fetched not by his family, but by a falconer to serve as his apprentice.
Scorpius soon learned that a close encounter with a dragon was preferable to the cruelties of the nobles he'd once hoped were family. His master did whatever he could to shield Scorpius from the world outside their cottage, but the falconer was merely a servant, when all was said and done.
An attempt on the life of a young noble while on a hunt sent the falconer and his apprentice on abruptly different paths.
We continue with Scorpius at age sixteen as he enters the service of Lord Thibault.
You can follow the progress of this story arc by clicking on the Works in Progress link just under the blog header.
Scorpius stared at the pebbles at his feet, the same pebbles at which he’d been staring since dawn first broke and Lord Thibault had delivered him to his uncle in the guise of a prisoner.
How much longer would he be forced to linger here, arms wrenched behind him, chained high upon the stone column, forcing Scorpius to bend forward to stare at the pebbles? His back had gone through a rising wave of agony throughout the day, but he found that if he could remain as still as possible, the pain held its breath.
But his legs had gone numb. He needed to shift position.
Yet another biting fly made up his mind for him. It landed on his cheek in the rivulet of sweat and blood left from the guard's blow. Shaking his head to dislodge the fly, Scorpius sent a forked bolt of agony through his hips, up his spine, flaring out across his shoulders, snaking up his arms and exploding along his neck into his head.
Gasping with the force of it, Scorpius squeezed his eyes tight, tears joining the sweat, the blood, the dirt, his matted hair that stuck to his face.
“It will be hard,” his new master had said. He’d known what Scorpius would face.
Taking as deep a breath as he dared, Scorpius concentrated on the memory of Lord Thibault writhing upon the table as the guard had dug the arrowhead from his shoulder. He remembered just how it had felt to press with all of his might against the young noble’s attempts to get away from the pain.
His new master was now laying the framework to wrestle justice from his would-be assassins. Scorpius no longer served a falconer – he served a young noble whose life would always be in danger. So here Scorpius hung in chains in the relentless sun.
His stomach rumbled as he thought of the young noble sitting down to eat. Stretching out his tongue, Scorpius licked the sweat from his upper lip. He had not eaten in a very long time.
In fact, no one had come to check on him in hours. He was bound here in a walled-in courtyard quite apart from everything or anyone. He could hear sounds of life just over the wall, but here there were just the pebbles, the sweat, the flies, the pain and his own desire for revenge.
If he put his faith in his new master who had his own score to settle, the torments once visited upon his former master Richolf would come full circle upon whoever was responsible. Until the gray hours of this morning, Scorpius hadn’t even hoped such a thing could come to pass.
So he hung here, the iron cutting into his wrists, his head swirling with fatigue, his muscles seizing up to draw cries from his cracked lips.
When he finally heard the creak of a door and the rhythmic cadence of footsteps, the jingling of keys and the solid sway of a guard’s uniform, Scorpius didn’t know whether he should be grateful or terrified.
The guard released the shackles from the rings embedded in the stone column, only to grab hold of Scorpius’ aching arms, shoving him forward still bound. Scorpius stumbled on legs that were stiff and swollen. Slaps from the guard spurred him forward.
He entered a cool corridor, so dark after the day he’d spent in the sun that he was as good as blind. He trembled as the sweat chilled on his skin, fear stealing his breath. Kicks from the guard kept him moving.
The corridor turned, revealing a door. A young guard stood at the ready beside it, nodding at Scorpius’ escort and pushing the door open.
The room was empty except for a stool, a rough table and a chair, upon which sat an imposing man in noble attire. Another man turned to fix Scorpius with a stare that shriveled any semblance of courage if it had ever existed inside him.
The guard shoved him forward. Scorpius landed on his face at the lord’s feet.
© Julia Smith, 2011