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, bringing Scorpius into the service of Lord Thibault's noble house.
We now continue with Scorpius at age nineteen.
You can follow the progress of this story arc by clicking on the Works in Progress link just under the blog header.
Pulling free of her sleepy grip, Scorpius slid from under the covers, rummaging for his trousers.
His master lay sprawled in the arms of last night’s amusement, who now snored with indelicate persistence. The gray shadows warned of dawn. Time to be off.
Slipping outside to be sure the horses were saddled and ready, Scorpius returned to the slaves’ hut, ignoring the gaze of the older woman, now roused from her mat on the floor. She sat and watched him as he tapped Lord Thibault on the temple.
He hadn’t been able to make out whether she was the girls’ mother, or just someone who lived here with them. She said nothing as his master groaned loudly and stretched.
Neither girl awoke as Lord Thibault stumbled into his clothes, but the older woman’s gaze followed Scorpius as he prodded and cajoled his master to the door. As Lord Thibault shook the night off and placed his foot in the stirrup, Scorpius crept back to the woman’s side and knelt beside her.
“For your hospitality,” he said, placing a kerchief bundle in her hand. The aroma of spiced cakes filled the small space, bringing a surprised smile to the woman’s lips. Ducking out into the dew-heavy morning, Scorpius swung up into the saddle and nudged his horse forward with the heels of his boots.
Catching up with his master, Scorpius waited for the grin he knew Lord Thibault would flash at him.
“Determined to keep me on schedule,” his master said.
“If I do not, I shall catch it from the chancellor.”
“Remind me to somehow lace your drink with a sleeping draft next time, would you?”
“I shall do my best, my lord.”
“You shall do your best for the chancellor and not for your master,” Lord Thibault said, turning back to look at the slave hut with longing.
“He serves your house, as do I, my lord.” Scorpius had already pushed the slave girl from his mind. Her kisses and caresses had been ordered, making him long for their rooms and a hot bath.
“Can we refrain from mentioning my illustrious house, just at present?” Lord Thibault twisted back to gaze at the road that would take them home. “I shall be back in its clutches soon enough.”
They rode for a time in silence, the swaying gaits of their mounts the only thing to break the stillness of the morning.
“Do you know, when I first met you at the falconer’s, you gave no indication whatsoever that you would ruin lovely mornings like this one,” his master said.
Scorpius snorted derisively.
“And I went out of my way to find a sweet little thing for you to enjoy.”
“Your generosity is never in question, my lord. Merely your punctuality.”
“Who is asking for me at this time of day?” said Lord Thibault, sober realization dawning in his face.
“You take me for a fool, my lord?” Scorpius flicked his hair out of his eyes. “You shall find out only after I have you bathed and dressed.”
“Why did you let me drink so much? I feel like death.”
“You say you feel like death, and yet you repeat all the nights like last night,” Scorpius said. “Do you not tire of it?”
“Weren’t you drinking?” his master said. “Why do you look so presentable?”
“One of us has to keep his head.” His horse wanted to challenge his master’s, but that would not be tolerated as they neared the estate. He held his mount back to follow Lord Thibault’s horse just slightly.
“By the gods,” his master chuckled. “I’m a slave to my man.”
“You merely serve your house, my lord,” Scorpius said. “As do I.”
© Julia Phillips Smith, 2011