J.F. Posthumus

J.F. Posthumus

About Me

My photo
Virginia, United States
A computer tech and artist that thrives on writing fantasy to escape the harshness of reality.
Powered by Blogger.



Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Enter the Warlord

Previously on "Heiress": Xandra has managed to toast the seat of Budtrizz's robes prior to wrapping him in the vines of his beloved ivy plants. Xantos, her beloved great-grandfather, has now appeared to exact his own form of revenge upon the instructor, give Xandra a gruesome reminder of his power and position, as well as instill fear into her would-be suitor. Now... on to today's show!
Warning: Today's tease includes tasty torture of the instructor. Enjoy!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Perhaps my senses have dulled over the millennia,” Xantos began in the silken, soft voice that he knew would make the skin at Xandra’s nape crawl, “Or perhaps intelligence is no longer a requirement for instructors. I will have to confront the Guild’s board members about their criteria for tenure.” His eyes locked onto Budtrizz. “More of my time wasted upon sniveling animals. There can be no doubt, however, that respect and wisdom are not applied within this room.” Xantos pressed his fingers against the surface of the teacher’s desk. Budtrizz kept his composure, despite the beads of sweat trickling from his hairline. Xantos could smell the man’s fear reagrdless, and cared not. “One teaches first by example. A student that surpasses expectation is a prize rarely seen by those that instruct. A foolish tongue cannot aid its mewling owner after it has been torn from the mouth it calls home. Perhaps you, oh great scholar, have heard these pillars of truth?” Budtrizz nodded nervously once before attempting to stiffen his spine further and hold his head a little higher in defiance. The smile on Xantos’s face widened. “Let us take the rest of today’s lesson to concentrate on those first two truths. The third may be presented in today’s instruction.” “This is my classroom-” Budtrizz began. “Perfect,” hissed Xantos, his left hand rising suddenly and sliding in the air above the teacher’s splayed fingers. “We begin.” Budtrizz yelped in pain. His right hand attempted to clutch his left, and then flew away in reflex. The man looked at the scorched areas on the right hand palm: Areas that were precisely spaced and sized to the rings adorning the left hand fingers of their teacher. The metal of each ring on both hands was now glowing. The smell of burning flesh, strong and pungent, would be later reported by students and teachers alike from several classrooms away. Xantos knew the students present at this lesson would need no such details; the smell sank into their nostrils immediately following the glow of the metal, and would stay with them for days. Xantos remained unaffected by the smell and throbbing heat emanating from the myriad rings Budtrizz had decorated his fingers. The docelfar sprang from the desk, holding his arms wide as if preparing to embrace each child, his voice now the boom of a vengeful tyrant. “Today’s example, good students: How one’s vanity and pride may be turned against him! See how a simple application of heat transforms petty decoration into a useful instrument of torture.” He turned back to observe the teacher’s “progress.” Tendrils of greasy smoke drifted from each finger. Budtrizz had thrown his hands wide apart in front of him. His head was tilted back, screams from his open mouth cutting the air. Xantos leaned towards Segav, who was too fixated on the spectacle to notice. Grabbing the boy at one shoulder, Xantos pulled him closer to the writhing, crying figure behind the desk. He held the boy in place, and spoke to him in the calm, instructive tone of a teacher. “What do you say, boy? Do you feel educated by this man’s example?” Segav nodded, making a choking sound deep in his throat. Xantos knew at this closer distance, the smell of cooking skin was worse, pouring down the boy’s throat and threatening his breakfast with promises of an early dismissal. “Excellent. What enlightenment can you share with the class?” Xantos prompted, still talking in the same, calm voice. “Do… do not display your weaknesses to others. An enemy more powerful than you will turn them into weapons against you!” Segav choked out. Gods be damned, Xantos wondered, I could learn to tolerate this boy. Xantos pulled Segav back and turned him around. The horrified and stunned faces of his classmates would now encompassed the boy’s vision. Xantos watched as Segav looked for Xandra. She was the only one watching him. All other eyes were cast above him towards their new instructor, or beyond, to the horror that suddenly had fallen silent. “Shall we see if the teacher has been educated? Will he now lead by example? Has he taught all of you,” Xantos gestured to the class, “as his example has taught this boy?” Almost the entire class was looking eagerly, frightfully, towards the desk to see what new macabre lesson might be forthcoming. Weeping in tiny, childish sobs, Budtrizz was staring at his hands, which were now less than a foot away from his face. The rings, his treasured tokens of success, the declarations of his supposedly deserved respect, were all twisted into ruin, and barely recognizable. Clumps of melted gold, platinum and silver ran down and disappeared into skin, and most of the precious metals had been polymorphed into iron. Jewels that had sparkled and dazzled were now clouded or cracked. Budtrizz’s fingers, the skilled tools of a thief’s trade, were in front of the teacher’s eyes and he gawked at them as though they were possessions of another body. The digits in front of him were withered, stripped of flesh in some places; two fingers on each hand were now almost completely black. When Xantos leaned over the desk towards him, Budtrizz shrieked and sank back into his chair. “What think you, students?” Xantos asked. “Will the teacher be able to lead you in an example of showing respect?” “You… you will be accountable for this… this… outrage!” Budtrizz croaked in a voice that betrayed the dryness of his mouth. The sigh that issued from Xantos was exaggerated, meant to sound tired, resolved to some unpleasant task. It was completely false and Xantos could sense that a part of Xandra dreaded what would come next while another part, the part that he had long nurtured and coveted, waited anxiously to see what new lesson he would teach her. It was like sweet nectar to him. “I will expand your education further, children. I have displayed the properties of fire, the heating of metal, the price of arrogance without ability. Now, the lesson turns to magnetism!” Xantos lunged over the desk and grabbed the charred right hand of Budtrizz, slapping the damaged fingers and remains of jewelry against the instructor’s neck. Budtrizz managed a startled, strangled gasp. “You understand the basics of magnetism, yes?” Xantos queried the class. He looked to a small girl with straight copper hair and a nervous smile. “You, child, tell me your name, and what you know.”


  1. You've got a lot more action in this than the earlier teaser and you're doing good character development, particularly with the students' reactions. Of course, I'm not really your intended reader, as I'm not a fan of high fantasy-style prose. (e.g. "like sweet nectar to him.")

  2. Tough for me to judge whether or not some of the prose is standard in high fantasy as I don't really read it. Some of it (like "Xantos could smell the man’s fear reagrdless, and cared not.") feels clunky to me but perhaps it's my lack of experience in the genre.

    The head-hopping I found to be a little disorienting. I think it keeps me emotionally reserved from the action, like I'm not really there. Have you ever considered doing each section/chapter from just one POV?

  3. It's definitely a good description of torture, but I'm with Gretchen as far as the head-hopping: this really feels like it should be from Xantos' POV only. I think it would pack a lot more punch that way.

  4. I already gave you my comments, but just thought I'd stop by. You know me--ditto on the head-hopping. :)

  5. The POV shifts interrupted my reading, so it was hard to get through this. See if you can confine points of view to just one per scene and that will help a lot.

  6. Hey - I agree about the POV being a bit confusing, and I think this scene just has a few too many words overall, and that the language take a bit of simplifying without reducing the effect of old-school classiness. But I reallyreally enjoyed reading!! I think the form of torture is ingenious, and I get the feeling that on some level the instructor deserved it, and I really want to read more! Well done.

  7. Ahhh.... I thought we'd gotten rid of it and switched it to Xantos's POV, but I see, now, what you mean.

    Glad you guys enjoyed it and thanks for the compliments!!!

    for the most part, we keep to one POV but occassionally, we'll want to toss in thoughts of others. It always seems like a good idea at the time.