The 99-cent December Book Blowout Event continues!
My debut Dark Ages vampire novel SAINT SANGUINUS is proudly taking part in this exciting month-long e-book sale.
Browse through 11 genres by 100 independent authors
For more information,
CLICK HERE to visit the BOOK LOVERS BUFFET
I'm now 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.
"Whatever is the matter with you, Scorpius?" said Lord Thibault.
They strode down the long gallery, handing off their practise blades to a servant. Both of them were in need of fresh clothes and a bath, and struck off for their rooms.
Only their footsteps answered his master's question as Scorpius rummaged through his customary excuses. Today, however, they slipped stubbornly from his grasp.
"Perhaps you'd like to take a few hours for yourself this afternoon," the young noble said.
"With no one to guard you?" Scorpius gave a derisive laugh. "Then who should guard me from your father's displeasure?" They rounded the corner and jogged up the stairs.
"I knew there was something odd about you today," Lord Thibault said. "You know my father doesn't give the hind end of a pack horse for my amusements."
"True. Though he would find some interest in the company you've been keeping of late." He felt his master's gaze upon him.
For a moment, Scorpius doubted that he'd be able to hide his fear from Lord Thibault--fear for the safety of someone who might as well be his brother. He forced himself to glance over as he said, "Suppose the duke heard a report. What then?"
They reached the upper floor and passed by several servants and slaves, forcing his master to hold his tongue. Once they reached their rooms and began peeling away sweat-soaked tunics and breeches, his master looked up with eyes twinkling.
"You know, I've found myself dreaming of just that," Lord Thibault said. "Watching his face as I told him."
"Well?" Scorpius prodded. "What would happen, my lord? Was she not an invited guest?"
His master gazed off, his brow furrowed. Leading the way to the bath, he stepped in first and Scorpius followed, sighing as the warm water soothed tired muscles.
"We'll go riding this afternoon," Lord Thibault announced. He gazed at Scorpius with promised answers lurking behind his eyes.
"As you wish, my lord." Scorpius eased back against the smooth stone, picturing his master's forbidden lover and her striped hair unfurling from her scarf. What sort of people could carry such markings? They seemed so fierce, and yet the chancellor with his hidden allegiance to the same people carried himself with calm reserve.
Why were they enemies of his lord's house? It must have taken a great deal of work before the chancellor infiltrated the duke's inner circle. Would Scorpius pay one day for stumbling into this knowledge?
He gazed over at the slave washing Lord Thibault's shoulders. Did the slave ever worry about such things? Would Scorpius have had to wash his master if Richolf had not come for him, to raise him as a falconer's apprentice?
How bad would that have been, really? Washing lords and fetching and tidying, pressing wrinkles from tunics and polishing jewelry. This slave ate, didn't he? He had a bed. Clothes to cover him.
What had Scorpius' life come to if he dreamed of the joys of slavery?
© Julia Phillips Smith, 2011