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.
Already bathed and attired in his most tasteful doublet, Scorpius threw his master a linen to dry himself as Lord Thibault rose dripping from the water.
“I don’t know why she’s in such a scorching hurry.” His master scrubbed his hair back and forth until it stood on end. Stepping onto the soft mat beside his carefully arranged garments, Lord Thibault held his arms out so the slave could dry him off.
“Apparently, that is the way of mothers, my lord,” Scorpius said, leaning against his master’s bedposts, arms crossed before him. “Even the mothers of villagers and what-have-you.”
The slave drew a comb through their master’s hair. “And just what was so crucial at that precise moment that you left me to my mother’s scheming, utterly unprotected?” Lord Thibault asked.
“Do I not serve the chancellor before I serve my lord?” Scorpius watched as the slave deftly clothed their master in fine hose, hand worked linen and breeches cut to display Lord Thibault’s form as future sire of noble lineage.
Sulking darkly, Lord Thibault shrugged into a velvet doublet sparkling with silver stitching and gem stones.
“Permission to speak freely?” Scorpius asked.
“No,” Lord Thibault said, walking to the bench where he sat to be fitted with elaborate shoes. “You do not have my permission to speak freely, because I know what you’re going to say.”
Unfolding his arms to stand respectfully, Scorpius inclined his head slightly. “My lord.”
The slave pushed gingerly to slip the shoe on their master’s foot, taking care not to press too hard on the encrusted gem work.
“You’re going to tell me to stop being such a simpleton and at least have a look at these noble ladies before I reject them, simply because my mother has made a list of them. I still have a choice in all of this, do I not?”
“As far as I understand it, my lord.”
His master rose, shaking his head. “It’s my choice until my father informs me which one of them will be my mate.” Again spreading his arms wide, Lord Thibault stood as the slave buckled a ceremonial sword around his hips, draping a sash across one shoulder and fixing it with a jeweled clasp.
“You say the village mothers do this same thing to their progeny?”
“As far as I can work it out, my lord, they may chose whomsoever they wish, as long as the bride is one which the mother approves.”
“I suppose it’s entirely possible that there are ladies on the dukessa’s list who are convinced I am not a suitable choice for them.” Lord Thibault adjusted his sash and swordbelt to suit his own taste, now that the slave stepped aside.
“Without permission to speak freely, my lord, I would have to say that is highly unlikely.”
His master took a deep breath before leading the way into the corridor. “I don’t know why you should be so unkind to me today. Really, Scorpius, I could use cheering up.”
Keeping pace with his master, their footsteps striking the polished floor in unison, Scorpius dipped a hand into the fold of his doublet. He pulled the chancellor’s note free and offered it to Lord Thibault.
Gaze searching Scorpius for clues, his master checked his pace only slightly as he opened the note and glanced at its contents. Lord Thibault stopped walking then, and faced him.
“Another list?” his master said, grinning.
“The dukessa knows none of these, I think.”
“But the chancellor does.”
“He does, indeed, my lord.”
Lord Thibault tucked the note away, deep in the recesses of his velvet doublet. Continuing along the corridor, his master’s step grew lighter. “Look at us, Scorpius. We’re ridiculous.”
“Just for a few hours, my lord. Then we can shed all of this, and perhaps gentle hands will aid us in that endeavor.”
© Julia Phillips Smith, 2011