My Scorpius serial is now joining Tuesday Serial which moves my serialized fiction series to Tuesdays.
I'm also posting with The Serialists which appears on Wednesdays.
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 followed Lord Thibault down the long gallery, their footsteps echoing against the polished wood. His master’s cheeks flushed as they neared the double doors, which only served to make the pit in Scorpius’ stomach grow heavier.
“Remember to address him as Your Grace,” Lord Thibault said in a low voice.
“I’ll remember, my lord.”
The two servants flanking the doors turned to grasp the handles.
“I am not a favorite of his,” Lord Thibault said.
The doors pushed open, to reveal a dark room that bristled with mounted weapons and hunting trophies. An imposing man turned from conversation to regard them as Lord Thibault stiffened, though forcing himself to walk forward.
Scorpius’ heart forgot to beat. Then it pounded so loudly he could barely think. His legs threatened to buckle, yet somehow he kept pace with his master and entered the duke’s reception room, the doors shutting solidly behind them.
The man speaking with the duke withdrew to a respectful distance as Lord Thibault approached his father. Scorpius halted, hoping he’d not already overstepped his place. But the duke was too focused on his son to notice anyone else.
Lord Thibault dropped to one knee, surging forward to grasp the duke’s hand and kiss it. “Father,” he whispered in a thick voice.
The duke’s face softened for a fleeting moment. Then he bid his son to rise.
Scorpius used every shred of courage he possessed to remain standing as his master and his father, the duke turned to regard him. Gazing down at the impossibly ornate rug upon which he stood, Scorpius felt his skin prickle with the desire to be anywhere but here.
“And whom have you brought before me?” the duke said.
Lord Thibault swept his arm wide to invite Scorpius closer, which set off a great battle inside of him. Move, his brain commanded, but his limbs would not obey. Was he to kneel? Kiss the duke’s hand?
His whole body trembled. His stomach rolled as if he might be sick.
But his master stood with arm outstretched, the duke looking on. He must not humiliate his master before such a father, especially as he was not his favorite.
Though it felt as though he lurched forward like a drunk, Scorpius strode towards the duke and bowed with deep grace, pulling his arm elegantly towards his heart.
“This is Scorpius, Your Grace,” his master said. “He’s the one who saved me from my murderers.”
“Is he, now?”
Scorpius remained bowed, especially as the duke closed the distance between them.
“He looks a sight. Did you not think to refresh yourselves?”
When the duke turned, Scorpius shot a look over at Lord Thibault, who flicked his head to indicate that Scorpius could release his reverence. Taking his cue from the other man still in the room with them, Scorpius straightened, standing tall but with lowered gaze.
“You think to keep him, do you?” the duke said, his voice tight with derision.
“He has already served me as well as anyone has ever served our House.”
The duke turned, grabbing his son and roughly yanking away his doublet and tunic from his shoulder. Lord Thibault’s raw scars from the arrow brought the attempt on the young noble’s life into the room with them.
“Could he not prevent this?” The duke released Lord Thibault to stumble and hurriedly cover himself.
“The only one who could have prevented it, is the one who sent his assassins after me,” Scorpius' master said.
With a dismissive grunt, the duke paced around Scorpius before returning to the man whose conversation they’d interrupted. “Your mother awaits you,” the duke said.
Lord Thibault bowed. “Your Grace,” he said, already sweeping away to grab Scorpius by the arm and head for the double doors in long, bounding strides. The servants scrambled to open the doors in time.
“The fates have blessed us,” Lord Thibault whispered, dashing along the corridor so that Scorpius had to scurry to keep up.
“My lord?” Scorpius asked.
“That was the chancellor in there with him. My father the duke was much distracted by whatever business they had together.”
Scorpius thought of the rough way the duke had disrobed his son. “This went well, then?”
“Very well,” Lord Thibault said, a wide grin lighting his face. Scorpius hadn’t seen its like since the young noble had first rounded the corner of the falconer’s cottage on his black stallion.
He followed his master through a maze of twists and turns, until one of the corridors unfolded to reveal another set of double doors. This time, Lord Thibault was too quick for the young lads on either side of it. He yanked both doors wide open.
“Thibault! My darling boy!” a woman’s voice called from within, until all was kisses and sobs of joy.
© Julia Phillips Smith, 2011