My Scorpius serial now posts on Tuesdays for Tuesday Serial.
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 who must obey his own masters.
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.
He couldn’t stop himself from looking into the dukessa’s eyes.
His young master’s mother returned his gaze, eyes shining with gratitude and tears. Scorpius knelt before her once more, extending his hand so she could place the ring upon his middle finger.
In a silver setting worked to resemble plumes of wind or smoke, the rectangular black onyx lay along the base of his finger to the center knuckle. A strange sense of well-being came over him, as though his hand had always longed for the weight of this stone upon it.
As he turned his hand slightly, the carving over the onyx revealed itself – a dragon in flight. The sound of the dragon’s wings filled his mind, raising the hair along the back of his neck. At just that moment, the dukessa wrapped her fingers around his jeweled hand and calmed him.
Scorpius bowed his head. “Your Grace.”
“You have returned my son to me. When a mother has already lost one child, the joy you now bring cannot be truly expressed.”
Another subtle nudge from Lord Thibault helped Scorpius rise to his feet. His master's young sisters surged forward to take up his hand and admire the ring.
“Have you showed Scorpius his new home?” the dukessa asked.
“We went to my father straight away, and then to you.”
“You must show him the estate and grounds, then, but take a guard with you.”
“Yes, Mother,” his master said, leaning close to kiss the dukessa warmly upon the cheek.
“May I come, too?” the boy said, suddenly forlorn.
“Hurry, then,” Lord Thibault said, already striding from the room. Scorpius bowed deeply and backed away as the boy dashed past him.
Catching up to his master easily, Scorpius fought the urge to gaze at the hand that now wore a ring such as he’d never imagined. It turned his falconer’s clothing into shabby rags, but no doubt that would be remedied before he turned in for the night.
As he hung back from the sight of the two brothers delighting in one another’s company, the younger one skipping along and dragging on Lord Thibault’s hand, Scorpius felt the keen loss of Richolf.
A part of him didn’t want to think of his former master ever again. But that would be an insult too horrible to contemplate.
He would just have to learn to live with the stabbing ache that erupted inside of him from time to time, wouldn’t he? He had done so as a boy, even younger than his master’s brother. He’d learned to live with the loss of the parents who’d never come for him, unlike the duke and dukessa who had come for Lord Thibault when it was time for him to leave the nursery.
They passed through gleaming corridors, polished and smooth enough to slide upon, as the boy did with practiced ease. They rounded corners and flew down staircases, made their way through galleries and ducked through servants’ entries. Staff stepped artfully out of the way as the brothers raced for the door to the grounds.
Scorpius trotted to keep up, crossing the threshold into the sunny afternoon. He paused to take in the bustling village of outbuildings and servants behind the estate, which was impressive enough. But as he jogged ahead to rejoin his master and his brother, they crested a small slope that opened onto an ornate garden and revealed rolling parkland beyond.
Lord Thibault turned to smile at him. Scorpius fought the sense of betrayal towards his former master, the falconer, for his heart soared with the sense that he had finally come home.
© Julia Phillips Smith, 2011