Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Serialists - Scene 89

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.

Scene 89

Riders met them on the approach to the long road that led through the estate. There was nothing for it but to coax their mounts forward, surrounded by the duke’s men. The disapproval of his master’s father dimmed the cheer of the sunny afternoon, preventing even Lord Thibault from mustering his customary grin.

By the time they’d dismounted to enter the echoing corridors, Scorpius wondered if he was in fact being delivered to the duke for judgment. The fact that Lord Thibault was hemmed in by guards alongside him certainly confused the issue.

How would anyone here know what had happened between his master and himself, anyway? Yet the guards flanked them forward and back, on the left side and the right.

They all turned the corner heading for the duke’s drawing room, every man pulling himself a little taller, taking a breath for courage before crossing the threshold.

Fanning out across the back of the room, the guard halted as Lord Thibault and Scorpius stepped forward. Together they bowed, Scorpius bending lower in a reverence. Two of the guard placed the swords they’d confiscated upon the duke’s desk and backed away as Lord Thibault’s father rose to his feet.

The Chancellor stepped out of the shadows to round the enormous desk as though clearing the way for his master, the duke. Scorpius raised his eyes to lock gazes for a brief moment with the Chancellor, whose grim expression did nothing for the sinking feeling in Scorpius’ gut.

Black boots polished to an impossible shine came to a stop before Lord Thibault.

A crisp gesture from the Chancellor sent the guard turning on its heel to file out through the golden double doors. Only when the click of the door handle drenched the room in heavy silence did Lord Thibault straighten.

His Grace the Duke of Pruzhnino swung a jeweled hand.

Scorpius’ master sprawled on the patterned carpet, his shocked grunt hanging in the air.

“I don’t need to tell you there was a dragon sighting,” the duke said. “Do I?”

Lord Thibault touched the back of his hand to his bleeding lip. “I was aware of it.”

“Were you planning to inform me as to what it was you were doing in the very path of that thing?”

“Not really.”

Scorpius saw the glint of fury light the duke’s eyes a split second before he swung again. As though time had somehow slowed, Scorpius flung himself down in time to cover his master’s body with his own. The duke’s powerful blow drew a cry from Scorpius but did not dislodge him.

Only the wrenching yank of the duke’s hand grabbing his hair managed that.

Fighting the urge to grab the duke’s wrist in order to take some of the pressure from his scalp, Scorpius raised himself to his knees but it did no good. A few sharp shakes from the duke and tears clouded his vision.

“Please, Papa!” Lord Thibault called, a note of real fear exposing itself in his voice. “My man seeks only to protect me.”

“He did a piss poor job of it.”

“I beg Your Grace’s forgiveness,” Scorpius said.

“You do not have it,” the duke growled, shoving Scorpius forward.

“Well, he has mine, and he’s my man.” Lord Thibault regained his feet, shaking off the last few moments as though none of it had happened. Shooting a glance down at Scorpius, he flicked his head up as if to say that Scorpius should join him.

“You were consorting with the Sibiu,” the duke said, taking a few strides away from his son, stopping to turn. The look that promised retribution on his face turned Scorpius’ insides to jelly.

© Julia Phillips Smith, 2012


Travis Cody said...

At first I thought it was out of character for Thibault not to be aware that he would likely be under surveillance from agents of his father...or of the chancellor.

But then it occurred to me that he would be acutely aware of it, and having his father or the chancellor discover his actions through that agent was calculated. If this is the case, then Thibault walks a finer line than just with the Sibiu.

Alice Audrey said...

This is more like the Scorpius I have come to know and love.

oldegg said...

At least the bond between Lord Thibault and Scorpius has been strengthened by this but clearly Scorpius is still fumbling in the dark with only half the information available to him. Somehow I feel that the Sibiu will be the key to their solving the puzzle and somehow getting the dragons on side as well. A post every week just isn't enough!