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.
“You have no master, you say,” the noble said. His deep, silky voice caressed Scorpius’ neck, his lips nearly grazing his ear.
Clenching his bound hands behind him, Scorpius fought the urge to cringe away from the lord. It wasn’t easy. Lightheaded with his heart beating so fast, he feared pitching backwards off the stool. “None,” he said, his voice betraying his fear.
The guard captain closed in behind him, leaning forward to speak over his head to the noble. “No master to look for him should he not return.”
Straightening, the noble said, “Yet he must have family awaiting him.”
Scorpius’ mouth went dry. He stared hard across the cell, his mind flashing back to his young days in the nursery waiting to be visited by his parents as all the other boys and girls were visited. He remembered vividly the sight of Richolf with his grim, scarred face, speaking to Nurse, then turning to claim him.
“No master,” Scorpius said, his voice weary with the truth of it. “No family.”
The noble exchanged glances with the captain. “Conjured out of thin air, were you?”
The mention of magicke – the spectre of being accused of any knowledge of it – seized Scorpius with an alarming urge to puke. The threat of being burnt alive filled the cell like a lightning bolt. “Begotten as you were begotten,” Scorpius said, shocked that any words had formed at all.
An explosion of pain nearly wrenched his head from his shoulders. Toppling from the stool, he sprawled upon the stone floor, his bound hands unable to stop his fall.
“I doubt his lordship entered this world as you did,” the captain said.
Shaking his head to clear it, Scorpius said, “As you were begotten, then.”
The captain lunged to strike him again, but a mere tap from the noble stopped him in his tracks. No blows, only assistance to sit once more upon the stool.
“Lord Thibault’s father will not be as welcoming as I,” the noble said, pacing slowly.
Shivering at the idea of lesser generosity, Scorpius held his tongue and tried to keep track of the captain’s whereabouts from the corner of his eye.
“Although no doubt he will reward those who came to his son’s assistance,” the captain said from very close behind him. Scorpius jerked away from his voice as though singed.
“No matter,” the lord said. “This one’s already wearing his reward.”
Circling in front of him, the guard captain roughly loosened Scorpius’ jerkin and tunic. Scorpius’ pulse hammered in his veins as the captain took several steps to stand behind him once more.
Gathering every strand of courage blowing loosely inside of him, Scorpius sought the gaze of the noble as rough fingers yanked his clothing down to his waist, as far as the iron shackles would allow. He watched as the expression quickly changed on the lord’s face. Confidence gave way to dread.
“No marks, my lord,” the captain said.
Scorpius thought of the young guard flogged to a bloody mess during the nightmare hunt. Shaken by the force of gratitude for his unscarred back, Scorpius tried to cover his emotion by thrusting his chin forward, again seeking the gaze of the noble. Stepping close, the lord pulled up Scorpius’ tunic and jerkin himself.
“As I said, let’s not distress our guest,” the noble said, as though Scorpius wasn’t trapped in this cell with his arms bound and bruises forming.
“We’ll leave that to the duke,” said the guard captain, and the two men chuckled.
© Julia Smith, 2011