I'm 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.
“Yashtii’s people,” the duke repeated. “You think to align the House of Pruzhnino with a girl whose ‘people’ hide in mountain passes?”
Lord Thibault crossed his arms before him. “And which bride did you have picked out for me, Father?”
“That little golden-haired morsel sent by Razlavha,” the duke said. “You were not averse to her charms, by all accounts. And she brings a much-needed ally from the north.”
Scorpius’ master gazed down at the carpet for a long moment. Holding his position, still several paces away from their confiscated swords, Scorpius locked gazes with the chancellor. With his own secret to hide, the duke’s advisor--whose Sibian hair markings remained concealed beneath his hat—kept his eye on Scorpius’ attempts to reclaim his weapon while choosing not to alert the duke.
“A northern ally will not make one speck of difference to The Troubles.” Lord Thibault looked up at his father, his eyes once again lit with an internal fire. “But Yashtii’s people can call forth the most destructive force in the eight kingdoms combined. If we could hold that terror over the heads of the other houses, The Troubles would cease.”
“If all it took to end The Troubles was the dragon, the Sibiu would have called one forth, generations past,” the chancellor said.
“How do we know they didn’t, Your Grace?” Scorpius said. “Perhaps no one ever bothered to connect the sightings with alliances and clashes between the houses.”
All heads turned to regard him. Scorpius swallowed.
“Every sighting is recorded,” the chancellor said.
“By ourselves and the Sibiu, both,” Lord Thibault said with excitement coloring his cheeks. “Imagine what we could accomplish if it could be shown that we have the power to aim the stuff of nightmares into the hearts of our enemies’ strongholds?”
“You sound bewitched, boy,” the duke said.
Instead of taking offence, as Scorpius had been certain his master would do, Lord Thibault grinned widely. “I am, Father. As will you be.”
“You are my second son, Thibault, and with the possibility that my heir, the markiisi might one day come to harm, you must marry as if it were you and not your brother who is marked to ascend to the dukedom.”
“Of course, Father.”
“An alliance with a hidden people who lurk amongst us, concealing their flocks among ours, using our resources but shouldering none of the costs—this kind of alliance will weaken ties between the House of Pruzhnino and many other families.”
“The Troubles have kept every tie between us and the other families so stretched that many have snapped of their own accord. Why not try a new way? The old way has brought nothing but distrust and destruction.”
The duke stood gazing at his son for a long, long moment.
“You will announce an intimate soiree, Thibault,” the duke said at last. “Invite a handful from the fete. You will include the golden haired northerner, and you may invite your Sibian candidate. I will take another look at this girl.”
Lord Thibault’s father started to turn back towards his desk, when his son flung himself to one knee and grabbed the duke’s hand in his own.
Kissing his father’s ring, Lord Thibault’s smile filled the drawing room with his joy.