J.F. Posthumus

J.F. Posthumus

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Virginia, United States
A computer tech and artist that thrives on writing fantasy to escape the harshness of reality.
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - A Gift from Xantos

Ok, so I figured I'd continue where I left off last week, mostly 'cause I love this scene. It was fun to write and it turned out pretty well, I think. Not sure how much more on Banshee's Daughter I'll keep posting... especially since we're only at just under 60k and haven't been able to write much in the past few weeks. (Gotta plot and write, plot some more, write, lather - rinse - repeat)


Without further ado:


The host, however, bypassed all the tables and led her towards a hallway or sorts near the back of the restaurant where several doors sat off to each side.  The main door in front of her was a rich dark cherry or oak with the engraving of a raven in flight holding a crown with its right foot stenciled in the center of it.
Opening the door, the man stepped to the side and bowed deeply.  Iliana glanced briefly at him before stepping into the large room.  A circular table about five feet in diameter sat in the middle with chairs surrounding it.  On the opposite end sat Xantos in all his docelfar glory wearing robes of black and blood red.  His silver hair was pulled back and tied at the nape of his neck and Iliana had the foolish desire to purchase a few Celtic hair clips, and offer them to him as a gift.
The desire was short lived however, as she began to fill chilled in the room from the tears in her blouse and skirt.  As the docelfar’s eyes narrowed slightly, she groaned in dismay.  For a few moments, she had actually managed to forget that she probably looked like something the cat dragged in. 
Self-consciously, Iliana quickly ran her fingers through her mussed hair and offered a cheerful smile. 
“Every good weapon needs a test and, well, a few rogues on the way here offered to, ah, help out with that,” she quipped.  “Unfortunately, one was a bit more interested in fashion design than sparring.”
“This self-professed designer does not know how to cut for flattery.”  Xantos observed.  “You have lovely skin, but the dress looks ragged.  Perhaps a change of clothing will help with your appetite.”
“He must have just been starting his ill-fated career,” Iliana chuckled.  “It would be nice to be wearing something not in tatters.  I presume you have a suggestion?  Short of my going shopping prior to our meal?”
Xantos only gestured, and a server came forward, holding a wrapped parcel.  The server, a portly but pale human with short brown hair, smiled and held the parcel towards her.
Taking the package, Iliana glanced at it briefly before turning her gaze back to the warlord.  “Did you arrange that group of annoyances just so you could dress me in something of your choosing?”
“Certainly, I would do that.  But not tonight,” was his smirking reply.
“You are so very reassuring,” Iliana replied sardonically.  “I presume you have a ladies’ room I can use to change?  As much as you might enjoy it, I don’t do strip shows.”
The server came forward again, and gestured past her to the left. 
“If you will follow me, Lady.”
Batting her lashes at Xantos, a smile curving her lips, Iliana replied, “Be delighted.” 
Following the server down a short hallway to a door, she nodded once and stepped inside the room.  There was a trio of stalls, a mirror that stretched almost the entire wall across from the stalls, and a counter beneath the mirror.  A pair of basins and large pitchers sat on the marble counter.  Soap rested beside the basins and several towels hung on rods.  It was all very beautiful and artistically done.
Setting the package on the counter, she neatly and carefully unwrapped the package, to find a gown of dark, yet vibrant purple and black fabric folded carefully. 
Silently bemoaning the loss of her favorite outfit, Iliana quickly stripped out of her tattered clothing.  Relieved to find her satin bra and underwear remained unharmed, she quickly pulled on the gown.  Her lips pursed as the gown remained open in the back and she twisted and turned, trying to reach the cords that were supposed to keep it tied shut.  As she glanced in the mirror, she groaned aloud. 
Though strapless, her bra was revealed due to the criss-crossing string.  Glowering at her reflection, she unsnapped her bra, slid it off, folded it up, and tucked it into her leather pouch. 
The conniving son of a bitch, she grumbled silently.  Not only was the gown practically backless, but strips were cut away elegantly from just below her breasts to her waist in diamond shapes.  To add to it, the bodice was low-cut and if the damned gown was laced snuggly, it would make the Victorian ladies look modest.
As she stalked from the lavatory, the skirt swirled around her and her ire rose that much more due to the slits on both sides that stopped not even a hand’s width from her hips.  The sword belt did nothing to help prevent too much skin from showing.  If anything, it helped to show her legs, from foot to hip.
Plastering a sweet smile on her lips she didn’t bother pausing in the doorway to the dining room.  Instead, she stopped with her back to Xantos and pointed towards the loose strings. 
“Be a dear and tie this for me,” she asked sweetly.  “I must admit, though, that I believe I was wearing more clothing in my tattered attire than in this... gown.  It was certainly less revealing.”
“But far less flattering.”  Xantos corrected her.  She felt his hands confidently tie the strings and his breath on her bare skin as he spoke again.  “This shows your figure, and skin, in the most flattering and honest light.”
Okay, so she was actually enjoying having him tie up the gown and surprising her with the gift of a beautiful, if revealing, gown. 
Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sword Fight & Banshee Magic

Well, figured I'd post something a bit different from the novel.  A short fight scene after Iliana's been invited to join Xantos for a meal.

Enjoy!!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


 A group of rogues stepped from another alley several feet in front of her and she suppressed a groan of dismay.  Why did this always happen when she was dressed nicely and wearing a weapon?  Maybe that was the problem, she mused as she slid the sword from its sheath.  Maybe she should just forget about wearing a weapon when she was dressed up?  Or wear a cloak over her clothing so no one would know what she wore.  Either that, or she needed to hire an escort for each time she entered the damn city.
 Slowing her steps, Iliana glanced around and noticed no one else was watching her or the rogues that smelled worse than her mother’s chicken coops when they needed a good mucking out.  
Holding the sword loosely against her right thigh, she tried using a little fear magic on the group.  No need to ruin her clothing if she could keep from it. 
“Something I can do for you boys?”  She asked glibly, her grip tightening slightly on the hilt of her sword. 
Instead of replying, the five before her spread out to close her in.  It wasn’t a comfortable feeling and she sniffed the air, ignoring the stench that wafted off them worse than a dog sprayed by a skunk.  Iliana suspected it would be just as impossible to remove the stench from them as it would be the skunk from a dog’s fur. 
Beneath the stench was the tell-tale smell of herbs and the feel of magic.  Docelfar magic.  Since she doubted Xantos would have set her up, that left only one other docelfar whom she had pissed off.  Darkflower. 
Dropping her shoulders, she sighed and lowered her eyes for a few intense heartbeats.  It was the opening they wanted and she hoped the idiots would see her as easy prey.  No need to let any of them suspect she was a more than capable swordswoman.
Foolishly, they did not attack all at once, preferring to allow each other the privilege of attacking her.  As she brought her sword up to connect with the rogue in front of her, she quickly blocked, twisted, and shoved him backward, taking a chunk out of his weaponless-arm in the process.
Turning, she met the blade of another, repeating the process before turning to a third.  All the while, a midget of a fighter with scruffy hair, patch-work clothing and boots kept together by sheer will, kept bouncing around her taking swipes at her clothing with a sword slightly shorter than hers.
The air against her skin informed her that her favorite skirt, corset, and blouse was being shredded like a kitten sharpening its claws on nylon hosiery.  Not a pleasing fact, she decided it was time to stop playing with this group.
Crouching slightly, she whipped her sword around, quickly disarming her current attacker and letting loose a sharp, ear-piercing keen.  For once, she didn’t give a damn if she killed the group or not.   The hopping rogue, whose spindly limbs reminded her of a frog, fell over backwards, his hands pressed tightly against his slightly-pointed ears. 
Standing, she glanced around at the others, noticing blood pouring from their ears.  None seemed to be conscious and she took her sword and poked the leader in the throat with the tip of her sword.  He didn’t move.
Grinning brightly, she walked across the body and, not worrying with sheathing her sword, sauntered along, trying to ignore the fact her skirt was flipping like fringe with each step she took.
Fortunately, the Raven’s Claw was only two blocks away so she was able to dart inside the building without having to endure a great deal of gawking from the Fellhaven residents.  Not that they were paying much attention to her, anyway.  Apparently women walking along in shredded clothing swinging a sword as though it were a cane was an everyday occurrence.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Kids' First Winter

Well, thought I'd upload pics of the kids during the first snow this year. They kept me outside with 'em soaking their shoes, socks, and themselves yet still refused to come inside without a great deal of tugging. Cookies were baked (store-bought tollhouse cookies). They had fun and, truth be told, so did I.  We even made a snowman!  (sorry for not having a pic of it...)

I hate the freezing cold, but there's something about playing in snow that even *I* can't resist!





 
Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Back to Banshee's Daughter...

Here's another short snippet from Banshee's Daughter. We've finished plotting out the next bit and now we're back to writing. Highly unlikely it'll be finished before the new year, but oh well. We're currently at around 47k and hoping to have it wrapped up with around 80-90k words. (hopefully... though it might be a bit longer...)

Thanks to everyone who have been reading and commenting. It's greatly appreciated!!!

Backstory:
This happens the day after Iliana's been paid by Saldone, Dante's Father: Iliana has already received several vases of flowers from Dante and a box of chocolates of perfectly designed and proportioned naked male elves from Xantos.

******************************************************************


After tucking the candy in a kitchen cabinet, placing an invisibility spell on it before setting a small sachet of herbs that would hamper her mother’s magic if she snooped through the cabinet, Iliana returned to the sofa. 
Not bothering with turning the TV off, or even stopping the DVD, she called, “Mother!  I need your advice!”
A single pop sounded and Ceara stood in the middle of the room wearing a dark green shawl over a white peasant blouse and matching, dark green pants.  Her bright red hair was pulled back into a thick French braid with a hairclip holding it in place at the nape of her neck. 
She must have been on a business trip, Iliana mused.
“My, my, I didn’t realize you enjoyed flowers so much, Lena,” Ceara teased her daughter.  “Or were these sent as a thank you from Saldone?”
“Actually, his son,” Iliana replied.  She offered her mother the card from Xantos, adding, “Xantos also sent a present; a box of chocolates and no, I’m not sharing.”
Ceara chuckled.  “Might I suggest a vacation in the Caribbean?  Perhaps a cruise there?  I’m certain you’d enjoy a long extended vacation.”
“Tempting, but I’d rather not anger our dear docelfar warlord.  I do have to work in his world rather often, Mother,” Iliana retorted pleasantly.  “I was hoping you’d have some suggestions about what to do about my little… umm… problem.”
“That’s simple enough,” Ceara replied cheerfully, “Tell one or the other, or both, that you’ll gladly be his concubine if they keep showering you with flowers, chocolates, and other presents.  Oh, and make sure they also pay you a weekly fee of at least a million dollars.”
“Mother!”  Iliana squawked, feeling her face burning. 
As she was trying to force her tongue and mouth into forming more words, the doorbell rang. 
“Oh, gods, what now?”  She groaned as her mother opened the door.
As her mother raised her head in her typical haughty manor used to intimidate humans and fey alike, Iliana called, “Behave, Mother.”
From the hallway, she could hear a squeaky voice saying, “It’s for the Lady Iliana.  A gift from my lord, Dante Saldone.” 
  As Ceara stepped to the side, a short spindly man wearing a red cap, white shirt, black pants and vest with a breast pocket hurried forward with a small box with holes in the sides.
“For you, mistress,” the little man said before darting from the room, leaving the box on the coffee table. 
No sooner than the midget deliveryman vanished, the box began shaking.  Iliana scooted to the edge of the sofa and carefully unfolded the cardboard handle.  As the box fell open, a small round head that reminded Iliana of an earless raccoon popped up.  Long, silvery whiskers twitched a few seconds before the animal pounced from the box and onto her shoulder.  A long, bushy tail, long enough to wrap around the animal’s body, wagged almost like a puppy’s tail.
The fur, black that lightened to dark brown tips, was surprisingly soft and the feet grasped Iliana’s blouse were like hands.  It purred deeper and longer than a cat, even as it draped itself around Iliana’s neck and began rubbing its earless head against her cheek.
Iliana looked to her mother who stared at the creature with a mixture of shock, amusement, and concern.  She pointed to the creature and said, “Explain?”
“Your… Dante… just gave you a puka.  A banshee’s familiar,” Ceara replied, folding her arms across her chest.
“He’s not my Dante, Mom,” Iliana grumbled.  “Though, if he’s giving me these gifts, he can’t be all bad, can he?”
“Just wait till his horns come out,” Ceara countered with a malicious grin.
“Horns, huh?  Kinky.  Could be fun!”  Iliana commented, trying to not giggle. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Something Different...

This is what I get for having really weird dreams. I loved the cabin that I dreamed and had to write it down. So, I wrote it differently. In First Person. If it sucks, PLEASE TELL ME!!!!! (You can even say it sucks and I need to stick to 3rd person...)

Anywhos, I have no clue where to go with it or anything, which means it'll probably sit in the "other stories" folder and take up space. :)

Enjoy!!!

*********************************************************


I was supposed to meet my father-in-law in Ivy but the way the car was acting, there was no way I’d make it.  Fortune, however, was smiling down on her for the next exit held hope.  Taking the offramp and following the sharp curved road between the dense trees, I veered right and kept following the road through the small subdivision.  Well, it wasn’t even a subdivision, considering there was maybe five houses a four-way stoplight with a service station across from her, a small building to my right, on my left, a house. 
The light turned green and she urged the car forward, thankful it hadn’t, yet, cut out on me.  Following the straight road, I grinned as I saw a family shield with what looked like a flourish of feathers on the top and a bright yellow shield cut into four parts.  A raven sat in the top portion with a pair of crossed swords directly below it.  A helmet to a suit of armor sat smiling at the very bottom.
Turning beside the sign declaring the Hoggenshire Restaurant was straight ahead, I followed the road lined with trees on both sides to the rustic, yet unusual looking building situated on the left.  A parking lot half-full sat on the right and in front of the restaurant.
Coaxing the Chevy Blazer into the first available space on the parking lot, I hopped out of the car, slamming the door shut and clicking the lock twice.  The horn sounded twice as I turned towards the rustic cabin-like building. 
It was a two-story building built like log cabins, except where log cabins used rounded logs, this building had flat light brown, almost tan, flat wood siding.  A wide ramp led up to the restaurant and I couldn’t help but smile at a childhood memory of playing on the restaurant side as it was being built.  My cousin and I would hopscotch and run across the unfinished, open floor.  My aunt and uncle had not even started placing the booths and they were free to run and play. 
Now, the sides were almost solid panes of glass kept spotless on the outside and inside.  Or as much as a restaurant could, that is.  Patrons of the restaurant could watch from the three walls of windows as others strode up the ramp to the restaurant or the birds that flittered amongst the trees and bushes.  In the winter, bird feeders could be seen filled with food for them while large squirrel feeders were filled with corn. 

The fourth side of the restaurant was opened into a more rustic-appearing open room where there was a large wood stove in the dropped floor.  Screens lined each side and a wood box filled in summer and winter both, kept the fire burning.  Never did the restaurant fill with smoke, which was a miracle in itself. 
Running up the ramp, I opened the door, and paused to look around in search of my aunt, uncle, or cousin.  Before I could see any of them, or be offered a table by a waiter or waitress, my phone rang.  Hitting the talk button, I answered.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Returning Dante

Well, this is after they escape the crazed docelfar witch and her minions and Iliana calls her mom to come get them. And before you ask, no, this is NOT going to be a romance.

I highly doubt I'll be "winning" NaNo this year, but oh well.  I refuse to push myself in writing when I've been doing that for the past year.  Besides, being sick then having kids that feel icky and visiting family on the weekends is more fun and more important than writing, in my opinion. :)

anywhos, enjoy!

***************


As the pair opened the doors and Ceara led Perry into the rangers' station, Iliana turned in the seat to face Dante.  "Ready to go visit your dad?"
"Not even close to ready," grumbled Dante.  "It's going to be an hour of lecturing me on how careless I was, why he's surprised this hasn't happened before..."
"Poor thing," Iliana cooed.  "I'm sure he'll still give you ice cream and cookies."  Snatching his hand, she gave him a wicked grin and spoke a phrase in Welsh, the language she preferred.  It was so sing-songy and fun to speak.
Reappearing in the front yard of the bauchen's home, Iliana brushed a stray strand of hair from her face, and smiled sweetly at Dante.  "Don't make me drag you in there."
"Perhaps I like a woman who takes charge- as long as she doesn't torture me with spells, later."  Dante said, and the grin on his face was unmistakably sly. 
Was he flirting with her?
"Bah," Iliana scoffed, waving a hand dismissively at him.  "I have no interest in you, Lord Dante.  I want nothing to do with Braesil or the nobles there."
Shoving him towards the door, she stepped around him and strode up the rickety steps.  The sooner this was over, the better.  He was starting to get under her skin, and not in the bad way, either!
Dante started forward, walking towards his father's place.  "You do know that a lack of interest in our money or position makes you more attractive, not less?"
"You just don't give up, do you?"  Iliana snapped over her shoulders as she knocked on the door.  "I am not interested in you!"
Dante tapped the tip of his nose. 
"Never lie about attraction to someone with a hobgoblin's sense of smell, lovely one.  Your scent gives you away.  It's mild, but it is there."
"Oh, fine.  You're handsome and can be charming, but that doesn't mean I'd want to date you," Iliana retorted, rolling her eyes.  "If there were chocolate around, you'd discover I have an unhealthy love for it."
"So I should approach you, nude, covered in melted chocolate?"  Dante chirped as he opened the door.  "That's good to know!"  He smiled at her and then stepped inside.
Face burning, Iliana glowered at the young lord as she followed him inside.  "I would prefer you not approach me after this," she muttered.  "I fear to think what your father would say if he heard you speaking like this to me."
Dante did not reply; he walked quickly down the hallway leading to his father's office.  He called out loudly.
"Father!  I am here!  I love the hunter you sent after me- may I spend a month being her love slave?  Or do we have enough in the coffers to hire her to be mine for a week?"
"For that, the price of returning you just doubled," Iliana grumbled as she folded her arms across her chest, clenching her hands into fists.  She still wore her gun and it was so tempting to reach for it.
She followed him at a calm pace, picturing a round bull's eye in the center of his back.  It would figure he'd wait until he was out of her mother's sight to begin declaring an interest in her.  Or perhaps this was his way of seeking revenge for returning him so soon to his hobgoblin father?
The old man emerged from the office.  He hurried toward Dante, and Iliana thought that father was going to embrace son like something out of a bad cable movie.  There was a blink-and-miss-it hug from the old criminal, and then he began looking Dante over.
"You're not harmed in any permanent manner?"
"Nothing that wasn't already permanently wrong with me, before the witch grabbed me."  Dante replied, and this bit of dry humor also seemed to be lost on the parent.
The mobster parent nodded, patted his son's left bicep, and ambled back into the office.  Dante looked back and smiled at her.
"Please be aware that I'd expect to pay at least a million for that week." He said softly, and Iliana repressed a shudder- not in revulsion, but in response to realizing he was serious; he considered her worthy of such a price, even in jest.
"I don't sell myself out to the highest bidder, your lordship," Iliana murmured, passing by him.  She still had to discuss payment with the hobgoblin, then she needed to leave.  The sooner, the better and before she agreed to a date with this lord's son. 
"I'm not bidding."  Dante's voice rang of sincerity.  "I'm negotiating for a once-in-a thousand-lifetimes experience.  Which I am certain you are, Iliana."
The hobgoblin don re-emerged from the office at that moment, carrying a briefcase.  He passed by Dante and approached her.
The briefcase was turned dexterously in the older hobgoblin's hands and opened so she could see the contents.  There were thick stacks of hundred dollar bills and five hundred dollar bills. 

"In my joy of having my son returned in such good condition, I have forgotten our original agreed-upon price."  The old criminal smiled benevolently.  "This is five hundred thousand.  Large bills, yes, but all legit.  Will this do?"
Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Discover in the Mountains....

A little longer snippet from Banshee's Daughter, which takes places after Iliana is sent to rescue a hobgoblin's son.  It takes place deep under the mountains in Virginia.  Perry was a spelunker who was attacked by the kobolds and took several spears to his ass and Dante is the hobgoblin's son.

This has a mixture of setting, action, and (hopefully) humor. 

Enjoy!!!

*************************


The castle of the docelfar witch wasn’t like any other she’d ever seen.  It was as though the crazy woman wanted a labyrinth of rooms, hallways, and chambers to confuse not only those who slipped in unnoticed, but those who lived there as well. 
You’d have to have a map to keep from getting lost, Iliana decided as she allowed her ethereal form to slither through the walls and ceilings until she found the room she wanted.  The throne room was as chiseled and dark as the rest of the castle.  The only difference was the torches lining the throne like a flickering orange crown of flames. 
The exiled docelfar sat in a throne of gray limestone with shale steps leading up to the dais.  Unlike most other docelfar and elves Iliana had seen, this woman was plump bordering on fat.  Her hair was piled upon her head, making her pudgy face seem that much heavier.  Beside her, held by two kobolds, was a tray laden with candies and pastries with a pitcher and goblet filled with some sort of beverage. 
Despite the woman’s weight, her magical power filled the room and, unlike that of Xantos and Darkflower and the few other powerful magic users she knew, this woman’s magic was imbued with something else.  It tasted dark, sooty, and bitter, as though someone had brought the leaves from above and were burning them instead of dried wood.
“Alzeina, my lovely,” a soft voice, snapping and crackling with fire, whispered, “I grow tired of the paltry banquet of mortals.  I want the bauchen’s son to dine upon.”
Iliana shrank back into the wall, keeping only her head out from the stones so she could hear with ease.  Thick gray tendrils of smoke curled around the throne, growing thicker in substance until it swirled in a tornado beside the throne.   As the twister slowed, a corporeal figure formed until there was only a fog creeping around his feet and the dais. 
Six feet tall, easily, with hair the color of soot and skin the purest white of a flame with a hint of blue, his eyes were flaming red and he wore a tunic of pale blue that drifted in an unseen breeze.  Loose-fitting pants billowed in the breeze and Iliana felt the blood drain from her face despite the chiseled and toned body of the man leaning nonchalantly against the throne.
A djinn.  It was a djinn that had been feasting upon the misery and dying in that building.  No wonder Asmodeus’s minions weren’t daring the docelfar’s lair, the djinn was keeping the souls hidden from everyone.  Worse yet, a single banshee couldn’t banish a djinn alone.  And she wasn’t even a whole banshee!
As she watched, trying to stave off her panic, the djinn straightened slightly and inhaled deeply.  Oh, gods, he’s scented me, she groaned inwardly.
“Ah, Faust, I shall personally bring the bauchen’s son to you and torture him slowly as you dine upon his dying body.  It will be the finest feast,” Alzeina murmured, running her hand along the djinn’s forearm.  “Perhaps then, you will accept my offer of a night in my bed.”
Faust, though Iliana doubted that was the djinn’s true name, ignored the docelfar’s touch as he stared at the column, which Iliana hid behind. 
Come out, come out, little banshee, Faust’s voice echoed within her head.  I know you’re here, though I wonder what brings you to my lair.  Perhaps you’re hoping to save the boy’s soul from being my feast?
Iliana remained silent as she allowed her body to slide from the throne room.  She had to get to Dante and Perry before the witch and the djinn made a personal appearance for her benefit.  Descending through the floors was faster and easier then rising, but only because she allowed gravity to assist her.  Since banshees were created from the dead and they were ‘raised’ from death, rising was as easy to a banshee as flying was for a bird.
Dropping to the floor in her corporeal form, Iliana gestured towards the lock and snapped out a command.  The lock drifted softly to the floor even as the door swung open. 
“That was a quick trip,” Dante commented as Iliana moved towards the door.
Iliana shot him a glower.  “Keep quiet, make as little noise as possible and follow me if you want to get out of here alive and in one piece.”
“There’s a difference?”  Perry asked, looking from her to Dante in fearful confusion.
“Yes.  You can be alive and in several pieces as the main course to an evil spirit.  Sound like fun?”  Iliana asked with forced cheerfulness.  “Your choice: follow us or remain as the main course for a hungry monster?”
Tsk, tsk, child, to call me a monster, Faust’s voice floated into her thoughts yet again.  I’m merely a powerful being with a large appetite.  Perhaps you’d enjoy staying and joining me for a meal?
An appetite for pain and suffering, Iliana retorted sharply.  Sorry, but I’m not a masochist.  Now, be a good little annoying djinn and get the hell out of my mind!
A laugh that snapped and crackled like burning embers filled what she thought was just her own mind, until she saw Dante stiffen and heard Perry gasp.  So much for sneaking out.  Maybe he wouldn’t tell the crazy Alzeina what they were up to.  She could handle escaping from the djinn, provided the docelfar didn’t get in their way.
But, just in case, she pulled her gun and moved towards the stairs leading up.  Perry followed close on her heels and Dante followed behind the human spelunker.  No sounds echoed down the stairway towards them, which raised her suspicions.  Somewhere, Iliana knew the djinn was waiting with a platoon of docelfar. 
From the stairwell, she moved narrowed her eyes and peeked down the hallway, but again, it was empty.  So far, so good, she thought as she led the pair towards the doorway that would take them to the city and then freedom.
The sound of maniac laughter echoed from behind them and Iliana closed her eyes in a two-heartbeat groan of dismay.  Opening them, she looked past Dante but saw nothing.  The djinn was playing games with her which meant only one thing.  He wanted them to escape from the castle. 
Sighing, she decided to give into defeat and motioned for the pair to follow her as she headed towards the door. 
“Rather strange, don’t you think, that we were able to break out that easily?”  Dante commented as Iliana led them through the twisting, curving streets of the kobold city.  “Even out here, there isn’t anything to hinder us.”
“It’s a trap.  It’s all a trap,” Perry moaned.  “I’m going to be speared to death by crazy, deformed midgets and their lunatic queen!”
Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In the Lion's Den

Well, here's a bit more of the scene from last week. I'm rather happy with how this played out.... it shows another side of Xantos, but only because Xantos is attracted to power. And if the power happens to be in the form of a pretty female, well....

anywhos, enjoy!

*********

“Perhaps you will tell me why you have been brought here,” the docelfar declared. His voice was melodic, deep, and silken; she could understand how that voice would be feared and still urge the mind to crave the sound of it.

“My guess would be I have something you want. A small spellbook, perhaps?” So it probably wasn’t the most proper answer, but it wasn’t as though she were an invited guest.

“Ah...” the warlord smiled thinly, “Someone who dispenses sarcasm in an attempt to save herself. Even while showing a sense of humor. There may be hope for the humans of your ‘place’ and time.”

Iliana hid the snicker that bubbled up. The man had a sense of humor. Dark and twisted, yes, but it was still a sense of humor. “You’re far too generous. After all, I’m not entirely human, but I’m certain you already knew that.”

“Yes, yes... such interesting blood and magic on your mother’s side of the family.” Xantos observed ryly. “Your inherited abilities are the source of your confidence. Perhaps you even believe you could leave here without my consent.”

A smile slid across Iliana’s lips and, out of pure impudence, she strode to one of the incredibly plush chairs in front of his desk and dropped down into the one to her right. She asked innocently, “Why would I want to do that, when I was extended such a delightful invitation?”

“Do your lovely manners come from your mother or father?” Xantos retorted in a pleasant, casual manner.
“A lady, good sir, does not conduct business while standing,” Iliana retorted with a thick Southern accent. She winked, dropping the false accent. “Besides, if you’re going to kill me, I might as well be comfortable when you do.”

“A well thought observation.” Xantos might have had approval in his voice, but she was a banshee, not a psychic. After sitting back, he surprised with his next statement. “We shall get upon the business, then. I shall pay you double what you were offered to retrieve the book. Also, I shall extend my protection over you for a period of no less than two months.”

Iliana shrugged. In this realm, it wasn’t unusual to have someone ‘outbid’ another on a job by way of force or cajoling. Darkflower might have hired her, but she had to admit, she much preferred the man before her. There was only one other renowned docelfar and this elf met every rumor and tale spoken, sung, and written.

“An extremely generous offer, Lord Xantos,” she replied easily, leaning back against the soft cushion. “I don’t doubt Darkflower will be very... upset... that you waylaid me and outbid him yet again. You have not, however, asked what I was offered. Forgive me for finding it odd that you are willing to pay twice an unknown amount.” She tilted her head to the side and gave a sly grin. “Or has Darkflower been bragging again?”

By way of answer, the elf leaned forward, steepled his fingers and declared, “The one-hundred-thousand gold pieces will be given to you in whatever denominations you desire.”

A soft laugh finally escaped Iliana’s lips. Not resisting the urge, she twisted her wrist before holding her hand out, palm up. The book sat in her palm and she handed it to Xantos. “I will trust your judgment in what you deem an easy and appropriate mode of transportation between the realms.” She paused and gave him another easy grin. “The book has a rather interesting teleportation spell.”

“Indeed? I may have to skip some pages in the book to get to that spell more quickly,” he answered. “I had intended to go through the book systematically.”

She studied Xantos for several moments before speaking again, choosing her words carefully. “I found it rather useful, though I believe one has to be more specific about what their desired destination would be.” She paused, biting her upper lip before mentally shrugging and forging ahead. “How many are aware of that books existence? Other than you and Darkflower, that is.”

“The few that have mentioned their knowledge near my influence are dead.” He might have been speaking about his latest meal, for all the emotion Xantos was exuding about his declaration. “You need not worry.”

“I was more concerned about the reception I’d receive upon my return home.” Though’ she had to admit, she was definitely going to need a good strong drink from the Bartered Soul before departing Fellhaven. “I’ll presume that your comment means I won’t need to worry about unexpected nighttime visitors.”

“Unwelcome visitors, no. Unexpected...” -the warlord smiled- “... if one of my minions must make themselves known, I do not expect them to have been noticed by you before.”

Batting her lashes, Iliana retorted with a playful smile, "If you desire for me to return, all you would have to do is call, Xantos. I do have a mirror you could use. I'd hate for anything to happen to any of your... minions if they surprised me in an poor fashion." She paused before adding, "It's such bad manners to return the bodies when host is so gracious... and handsome."

Unexpectedly, Xantos chuckled. Iliana tried to control her features, but she knew the skin on her face was blushing. The warlord did not seem to heed her reaction, but continued on in the same silken, even tone.
"I am sure many of my minions would, if given a choice, die with you as the last vision in their lives." He waved his right hand dismissively. "If you wish to be summoned by my family's methods; so be it. I shall grant your request, as long as you do not keep me waiting when summoned."

Iliana bowed her head, even as her cheeks grew warmer. Eventually, her mother's warnings would come true and her tongue would be the death of her.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - Into the Lion's Den

Well, here's a little more to Banshee's Daughter.  I skipped ahead, since I didn't want to give out the whole first few chapters. ;)

Previously on Banshee's Daughter: Iliana has acquired a spellbook from Earth and, after being chased by three goons, continued on to Nid Tir where she caught a transport to the Fellhaven.  (Though most believe Fellhaven is pure fiction, it's an actual land on Baradwys.  And everything that goes bump in the night?  It's all true.)  In Fellhaven, she goes to the Bartered Soul.  From there, she's approached by two Thorns (hirelings of Darkflower, a docelfar hated by almost everyone).



*********************


Some things never changed.  May it be the service of a business, food, or the slums of a city, which was where the Thorns were escorting Iliana.  The slums of Fellhaven started in the Fifteenth District and continued further down until you encountered the cannibals in the lowest districts, where few people ever ventured. 
Buildings were made of patchwork-materials, scavenged from anywhere possible.  Tents made of shabby and gauze-thin materials littered the roads, alleys, and bazaars where tables and wooden booths were impossible to keep together due to the fact if it wasn’t nailed down or too heavy to move, it would be stolen. 
Merchants barked their wares to anyone passing them.  In the lower districts, they sold nearly rotten meats, stale and partly moldy breads and cheeses as well as fruit that only looked fresh and edible, but one didn’t start encountering that until the Nineteenth District.  If Iliana wanted food, she’d eat at the Bartered Soul, whose reputation outshone all but a few of the others in the district, or eat someone in the higher districts. 
One of the Thorns opened the door to a rundown building, much like the one she’d used originally when Darkflower had first approached her through his minions.  It smelled of mildew, mold, and dust.  It looked even worse.  The sound of squeaking followed by skittering feet told her rats lived in this particular warehouse; which explained the distinct, rancid odor that could only belong to the vermin.  She hoped they were only rats and not the wererats that were said to inhabit the older, more rundown buildings. 
Following the Thorn in front of her down a set of rickety stairs, she felt her own unease growing.  Something about the pair didn’t set right; the last time there had been more Thorns escorting her the closer they neared Darkflower’s domain.  So far, she hadn’t seen any but this pair.  It didn’t help that the one leading was a powerful magic user, a wizard or sorceress, perhaps. 
  Iliana also hated the fact they were in total darkness, which mean the pair escorting her were either pure blood elves, or half-elves.  Yet again she thanked her bean sidhe blood for allowing her to see in total darkness, otherwise, she’d be panicking.
Fortunately, they soon neared a door.  The figure leading them paused and Iliana felt the familiar essence of magic being used.  The hair on the back of her neck stood on end and she forced herself to remain relaxed and unconcerned.  Especially when she noticed the fine edge of silver that defined the outline of a portal. 
Oh, hells, this can’t be good, she groaned inwardly.  She knew the pair wouldn’t answer, but she couldn’t prevent herself from asking, “You aren’t really Thorns, are you?”  Silence.  The “Thorn” didn’t even bother to look at her.  No surprise there.  “Didn’t think so.”
The door opened and she felt herself shoved forward unexpectedly.  Bloody hells, I’m going to… 
She trailed off as she swirled around to face the Thorn only to realize there was carpet under her feet, a dim lighting reminiscent the perfect image of an ancient study, and walls covered with beautiful artwork. 
Turning, she focused her attention on the man sitting behind the desk and couldn’t help but smile her appreciation of the handsome, dark-skinned elf that was studying her as a scientist studies a new specimen.  Beneath a microscope while holding a scalpel.  At least he wasn’t holding anything in his steepled fingers.  Yet.
Iliana knew the elf before her was a docelfar; his power and magical aura was too much like that of Darkflower’s and the rare few other docelfar she had met.  She also knew that the docelfar weren’t the nice, kind, charitable type of elf, either.  Unless you included their charitable acts of stabbing they friends and enemies in the backs when it suited them.  Iliana always thought of the docelfar as being similar to the mafia, with the exception being women ran them and the head honcho was titled “empress” instead of “don”. 
There was also the fact that the docelfar put the Mafia to shame when it came to scheming, backstabbing, treachery, and secrecy.  And that was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
The man before her, most certainly had the presence and bearing of a Mafia Don.  Including the cold stare and amused Mona Lisa-type smile.  She couldn’t prevent herself from raising her own brows in query as she waited for him to speak.
Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween-themed Art

Right, so, I did these for the contest over at Daz3d in one of the forum's.  I'm sure something else will spring to mind and I'll have yet another entry or two to enter before Halloween. :)  anywhos, figured I'd post some of the ones I've done for the heck of it.. for those who like my art...

Also, I might add that everything (except for the morphs I used for M3 & V3) are freebie items.  No easy feat to accomplish, I assure you!!!  Especially when you're picky about wanting to have everything PERFECT.



Musical Offering


Cemetery Serenade 

 
The Flutist
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another Teaser from Banshee's Daughter

Right, so, I figured I'd post a bit more from the new WiP. It picks up a few paragraphs after the prior Teaser and continues to the end of the chapter. So far, I've only managed to get 4,800 words written, but... oh well. My miniature monsters come first. (Doesn't help that I haven't felt up to writing, nor has Mark.)

Besides, I've got a few contests for digital art to enter before Halloween. Who knows, maybe I might actually win something. If not, at least I'll have tried...

Anywhos, here's the teaser. Enjoy!

***********************************

It may have been small, but the spells inscribed on the pages gave it a distinct flavor and the smirk faded into a puzzled frown. It was powerful, written by a powerful immortal witch or sorcerer, but it held the distinct tangy mixture of Dark and Light magic. Definitely an oddity for few immortals delved in both types of magic and the rare mortal that could control magic, typically weren’t taught anything other than benign witchcraft that had little power in any world.

Banshees were one type, but it didn't have the usual feel of the bean sidhe. As she turned it in her hands, rubbing her thumb along the locked clasp, she considered the type of magic imbued in the leather. The more she thought on it, the more it felt like the rare few books that had been written by the elves. Though, all the other books she'd held were books of Light magic, not Dark. Except for the one her great-aunt had shown her when she was five.

Dear gods, did one of the damned docelfar magic books get stolen and brought to the mortal realms for 'safe keeping' by some crazed mortal? Or, worse yet, another immortal? If it were another immortal, they would know who had retrieved the spell book and would, undoubtedly, be looking for her. It also explained her employer's interest, as well as the reward he had offered if she succeeded.

No sooner than the thought had come to life than the feel of magic indicating someone materializing washed over her followed by several branches breaking. Glancing over her shoulder, she snickered as she saw three men clad in black jeans, shirts, and jackets plowing their way through a thicket of briers. Whoever had sent them, hadn’t known the terrain, but that didn't mean she was going to be able to simply sit here and wait for the three goons to catch her and steal away her prize.

Leaping over the rocks, she ran her finger across the latch and spat out a single word to open it. Fortunately, between her power as a sidhe and the book being in the mortal realms, it clicked open and the pages unfurled.

Racing through the field and towards the dilapidated and abandoned buildings that had once been houses, Iliana held the book with one hand as her right flipped through the pages, allowing her magic to find the right spell by touch alone. The next time she saw her cousin Colin, she'd thank him for forcing her to learn that talent.

Glancing down as she raced towards the gravel road overgrown by weeds, short saplings, and wild rose bushes, she read the words for teleporting, giving the destination as Nid Tir, more commonly called the Dimension Depot, due to the trains that could take a person anywhere in the mortal realms, space, or immortals lands.


The all-too-familiar feeling of being swept onto a tilt-a-whirl flooded over her, the greenery vanished in a swirl worse than a child's finger-painting and was replaced by the orange-red of the barren land of Nid Tir. Even worse was the fact that Iliana had spoken the words as she was running and, like most teleportation spells, she was still moving as she materialized in Nid Tir. It wouldn't have been so bad had she also not been dropped in the middle of the giant wasteland of soil mounds.

Picking herself up off the ground after tripping over one of the mutant anthills, that fortunately did not house ants or anything else, Iliana dusted the orange-brown sand-like dirt from her clothes and closed the magic book.
That is the absolute last time I read anything from an unknown leather-bound book while running, Iliana fumed silently as she thumped the book against her hip before sliding it into a hip pocket.

Staring across the barren landscape of small hills and knolls, Iliana shrugged and started trudging across the dunes that ranged from waist-high anthills to small rounded knolls. She would have preferred using her usual spell to whisk her to one of the small, hidden colonies tucked safely in the mountains between Swoope, Virginia and Sugar Grove, West Virginia, and catching a train from there. Unfortunately, whoever had hidden the book, or someone else who knew of its location, had sent those three goons after her and, well, desperate times called for desperate measures.

After what seemed like hours, though she suspected it was more like minutes since time was different in Nid Tir, she finally found the train tracks that led to and from one of the stations. Unfortunately, each train was labeled for her home realm.

Iliana didn't want to return to Staunton, Waynesboro, or even Richmond. She had to go to Fellhaven and hand the book over to her employer before the goons figured out where she had went; especially since whoever had sent them to get the book probably also knew about the Dimension Depot.

Why hadn't she listened to her mother and become an accountant?
Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Banshee's Daughter

My shiny new WiP.  It's coming along very nicely and I'm editing as I go... except I didn't get to edit last night.  Too much to do and not enough time to do it in.  ah, well, c'est la vie!

Here's the first snippet of it, and this time I'm not posting that much.

Enjoy!!!

**************************


Arms bent slightly and crossed at the wrists, Iliana bent backwards a few inches, her left leg posed as though she were going to take a step forward, her auburn hair swaying in the light breeze.  A classic pose of a belly dancer, Iliana could have appeared to be practicing the sensual dance her petite form would have been perfect for.  Except for the three-headed hydra in front of her that was rearing backwards preparing to unleash it's breath attack. 
Despite the fear coiling like serpents in her stomach, Iliana instead kept her blue eyes fixed upon the hydra as she began chanting the soft, melodic words to a spell.  Elvish, a distant cousin to Welsh, was a sing-song language dead to all but the sidhe and was the only language magic could be worked in.  The fire and ice feel of magic flowed through Iliana's veins and burst from her palms, streaking across the short distance to the hydra.  Before the monster could release an attack, it vanished, revealing a very irritated dragon.
Clenching her teeth, Iliana slid backwards a few steps, flexing her fingers, but not lowering her arms.  Instead of an attack, the dragon peered closely at Iliana before streaking upwards and vanishing.  Dropping her arms, not sensing anything else, Iliana strode forward to the pile of rocks at the base of the large oak tree.  She had no clue what had just happened, but questioning it wasn't in her nature.  Some questions, she had learned the hard way, were best not answered.  Especially when they involved the fey, magic, and mythical beasts long believed imaginary. 
Iliana knew better, but only because her mother was a banshee banished from Braesil, an island off Ireland where the sidhe and other fairy folk live.  During her youth, she'd had the annoying problem of screaming and then having the dead rising from their graves.  It would've been a delightful Halloween trick, or even a fun prank to pull at a funeral, but not in the front yard of a friend's house or at a high school football game.
Having a legion of undead pets and farm animals, not to mention the roadkill, suddenly walking around isn't a very good thing.  Especially when you end up being forbidden to even consider uttering a screech or be sent to some unknown island where one day island-time equals one-year in the mortal world.  At least it only happened twice and neither time no one noticed except for her mother. 
Mortals were not supposed to know of the magical creatures that walked amongst them.  It had already occurred once and being the cause for another round of witch hunts would not end prettily, especially when the witches hadn't, yet, recovered from it. 
             Everyone knew the government had a lousy retirement plan and even worse health insurance.  The pay wasn't that great, either.  Besides, who wanted to end up as a science experiment for the government?
Iliana was her mother's daughter, except for being a professional thief.  Her mother and a fairy tutor who called herself a baba yaga, who was far prettier than the Slavic myths claimed, trained her in magic from early childhood.  Though Iliana had asked her mother how she had managed to get another fey to train her, she'd never received an answer.  Banshees could keep secrets better than any one else, mortal or immortal. 
Crouching at the edge of the rocks, Iliana wrinkled her nose at the sooty smell and heat that radiated from the departed dragon.  She suspected that someone had placed the dragon here, cast an illusion on it to make it appear to be a hydra to further frighten people away, and it had been released by her spell.  She suspected whoever chained the dragon to this pile of rocks and tree was going to be a quick snack.  Angry dragons were not fun playmates.