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.
Scorpius fought the urge to look back into his memories, needing every part of him to remain here in this moment. Pressing his master firmly into the dirt, Scorpius kept his dagger blade trained a mere whisper away from Lord Thibault’s eye.
“So the lord exercises his right to choose,” Scorpius said between clenched teeth, admitting for the first time how wide the chasm between them truly stretched.
“That’s right. I refuse every excuse for a bride they’ve been parading before me.”
He couldn’t help it. Scorpius’ mind cast back to the last time he’d seen his master with the Sibian maiden, clutching her to him, pulling sighs from her lips.
That was all it took, one split second of distraction and Lord Thibault made his move. Scorpius’ dagger spun from his hand. His master rolled forward, crushing Scorpius’ neck and shoulders into the ground. The motion wrenched Lord Thibault’s arm, ripping a cry from him but failing to block his escape.
Scorpius scrambled to retain a hold upon his master, but found himself pinned instead.
“This is a death sentence,” his master had said.
Lord Thibault’s rigid fingers pressed like darts into Scorpius’ throat.
Working to catch his breath, his master said, “After everything we have been through. You would fight to stop me in this.”
Scorpius struggled to read the emotion in Lord Thibault’s eyes. A lifetime of training cloaked his master’s heart from revealing itself.
Words could not form with Lord Thibault’s fingers choking him. Still, he forced his lips to move, his breath to rasp out whatever it could.
“Why bring down your noble house?” he said.
“You fight even me to protect my family?” Lord Thibault said.
“Can you not simply flee?” Scorpius said. “You seek union with her. Can they not take you to live among them?”
After a long moment, his master eased off the pressure on Scorpius’ throat. But he kept him firmly pinned down. “If I had done that, would you have followed me there?”
A flare of anger filled Scorpius with reckless disregard for his own self-preservation. “You forget that I’ve never had the luxury of choice, my lord.”
He was unprepared for the emotion that flooded his master’s face. “So you would have elected to stay in my father’s house.”
“How do I know what I might have chosen? You did not give me such a gift.”
Abruptly, Lord Thibault pushed up from the hold he’d used to immobilize Scorpius. Gazing down as he fought to conceal the myriad of feelings that battled within him, his master said, “No, I did not. Instead I have an attempt on my life.”
Pacing in agitation, Lord Thibault halted in his tracks. “We will return to the palace,” he said, stooping to pick up the scrap of Sibian cloth. “If any word of this circulates, I will know its source. At which time, my memory of your dagger drawn against me will surface.”
Scorpius regained his feet. “Understood, my lord.”
“I don’t think I understand you, Scorpius. If you only knew who it was that the Chancellor suspects of siring you. If you did, you would not be so quick to defend my father, the duke. You would be just as eager as I to leave them all behind.”
© Julia Phillips Smith, 2012