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.
If you missed last week's installment due to the holidays, you can read Scene 80 HERE
As he neared the head of the pass, Scorpius leaned into the saddle and pressed with his leg to guide his mount, twisting slightly to scan for signs of the expected recipient of the message tucked into his jerkin. Scorpius' mixed signals stopped the horse in its tracks, nearly sending Scorpius tumbling head over heels.
Pulling himself upright in the saddle, he barely had a chance to register the hands grabbing him by the shoulders. Dragged backwards, the breath knocked out of him as he hit the ground hard, his empty lungs holding his full attention.
Once they filled again, Scorpius hung in the grip of Sibian scouts, his mount pulling hard against his reins but stopped by one of their war band. That's all he saw.
A hood pulled roughly down over his face as he was bound and thrown over a saddle. Scorpius slipped dangerously close to falling off the mount without hands to grip anything, and the jostling made it hard to breath with the hood and the pressure of his body weight. He didn't know if it was a relief when he felt hands hauling him roughly backwards.
His feet touched the ground but he couldn't stop himself from sprawling onto his back. The hood was whisked away and a man stepped forward to gaze imperiously down upon him.
"How did you know to look for us?" he said in a gravelly voice.
Taking one moment to gather his wits, scanning the other faces who all gazed down at him, Scorpius felt that he mustn't speak from this prone position. Not among this lot.
In two quick motions, he rolled to his knees and sprang to his feet. The Sibiu surrounding him tensed as though making ready to fight, but the speaker smiled and laughed.
"Did you not call for me?" Scorpius said. He was glad he was taller than any of them.
The lead scout took two steps forward, closing the gap. He didn't seem at all cowed by being shorter than Scorpius. "You don't look like the one I was calling," the scout said.
"Do you suppose my lord comes when called?" Scorpius said, making certain to meet the gazes of all those surrounding him.
Several chuckles erupted from the men. The hair on the back of Scorpius' neck prickled.
"What does your master say then, messenger?"
"If you reach inside my clothes over my heart, you'll find a scroll."
The sharp gaze of the lead scout raked over Scorpius from head to foot. As though satisfying himself that it was worth the risk, he deftly reached into the fold beneath Scorpius' jerkin and found the scroll straightaway.
Untying the lace that held it together, the Sibian unrolled and read it, his gaze flicking up to threaten Scorpius as he did so.
What could he be warning him against? Scorpius couldn't fathom it. The men surrounded him, he was bound and he didn't know where he was. Still, if the Sibian felt he had to caution Scorpius not to consider attacking when he was outnumbered and without weapons, it only made Scorpius draw himself as tall as he could to look down upon them all.
© Julia Phillips Smith, 2011