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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Monday, June 1, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Word count on snippet: 849 (total word count in WIP so far: 15,329) Currently on "the Shiftless": Akiela has been assigned the task of spying for the merchant guild known as "The Protectors" in an effort of discover who is killing the Protectors off. After being escorted to her home by Ilario (the Protector who asked her guardian and her employer for assistance) he becomes an unwelcomed houseguest. The following morning he gives her a necklace with a charm that she is forbidden to remove. They depart for Leishii in a comfy carriage. It's a two week journey and Akiela is now wanting answers. writer's request: is the information I put in about the Consortium (towards the end) too much backstory and more 'telling than showing'? I was hoping to have it where she's kinda going over it in her mind, so let me know if it needs reworking??? Many thanks ahead of time and hope you enjoy it!!!
The glass windows returned her reflection and she stared at the necklace. It was an unusual emblem, to say the least. From the delicate gold chain hung a griffin poised in a typical heraldry stance on the bottom tip of a crescent moon. The griffin she understood to represent the Protectors reputation to be guardians of the merchants; it was one reason they were so powerful. The moon, however, baffled her. Regardless, it was rather pretty and at least it wasn’t silver. She’d never been too fond of silver. “Will you now tell me what you know of the murders?” Akiela asked, her voice soft as she continued to stare out the window. Ilario sighed and Akiela glanced back to him. The conflicting emotions of anger, grief, and despair warring on his handsome features took her by complete surprise. It also caused her to turn completely to him, ignoring the passing countryside. “There have already half a dozen murders and even more attempted assassinations. I won’t bore you with the details,” he paused and Akiela frowned darkly. “Very well, I will tell you the details. All were killed in grisly manners. Two were beheaded before being slashed to ribbons, their entrails placed in a circle around their bodies then burned. Another was dismembered, beheaded, and their torso branded with a six-sided star within a triangle.” He paused, leaned across to the window and pulled the thick curtain closed. He explained softly, “It is a ritualistic symbol of the undead covens that claim the Shades of Death as their home. Do you truly wish to know about the last three?” “Yes, as well as what weapon you believed was used in these gruesome murders,” Akiela replied, crossing her feet at her ankles. She felt pity and remorse for Ilario’s friends and fellow Protectors. No one should die in such horrific ways. She added softly, “I’m sorry.”A small smile crossed Ilario’s lips. “Thank you, Akiela. The last three were staked to the ground like a child would pin a butterfly to a piece of wood. All were beheaded and burned. As for the weapons used? We don’t know. All but two were men.” “What of the attempts? Did no one see their attacker?” Akiela asked. Ilario shook his head. “The attempts were made either at night while they were sleeping or by way of poison or gas.” “So essentially, I’m there to spy on everyone; servants, accolades, and apprentices as well as other merchants, traders, and the occasional guard? Do you not have any idea on who could be trying to destroy the Protectors?” Akiela pressed, leaning forward slightly. “We… have our suspicions, but without proof there is nothing we can do,” Ilario conceded. “That is why we need you.” Akiela snorted delicately. “Suspicions? If you have suspicions, I want to know who they are, Ilario. Otherwise, I’m going to be walking into a den of angry hydras and I’m going to be a mighty tasty treat. That isn’t a very appetizing thought. I’d rather know who you think is the behind the murders and attempts so I can either prove or disprove your theory.” She paused and leaned calmly against the back of her plush seat. “Otherwise you can just send me back to Marzwin and I’ll explain to Giada you aren’t the least bit concerned about my safety or well-being.” Ilario, Akiela could tell, considered her words as he chewed the inside of his lower lip. His dark eyes betrayed no thoughts or emotions; they were flat and calculating. “Very well. We believe it to be the members of the Draugar Consortium. The Strigoi, to be exact.” Akiela inhaled sharply. She knew of the Draugar Consortium. Who, in Urshad and most of the lands surrounding the Shades of Death, didn’t? It was a loose allegiance comprised of vampires, leiches, and therians. They had a sort of compromise amongst each other that divided the Shades of Death up into territories and, of course, the vampires claimed the largest section with the privilege to invade any other part without prior warning. The leiche, magic users whose use of dark magic allowed them to live even after their mortal deaths, kept to the caverns and tunnels deep beneath the mountains of the Shades of Death, content to prey upon the dwarves and vast array of unsuspecting miners. Sunlight was a leiche’s worse enemy. The vampires, favoring the title of Strigoi, held themselves in a very high regard. They claimed the cave entrances and preyed upon the unwary and unsuspecting travelers that dared the Shades of Death during the night. Of course, they also fed from the villages, towns, and cities that surrounded the edge of the Shades, being careful to not be caught or followed. The shapechangers typically lived on the outer most edge of the Shades, or in the Great Swamp, their own meals consisting of not only the frequent mortal, but the farm animals and wildlife, as well. If the Stigoi, worse yet, the entire Consortium, were now trying to destroy the Protectors, the situation must be dire, indeed.


  1. The last few paragraphs are a bit info-dumpy, but they didn't bother me. It seems like a natural time for Akiela to ponder the information. In edits, you might want to consider a better spot for it, but I didn't find annoying here.

    One other thing I'd point out is to watch your adverbs. Snorted delicately, in particular, made me pause and wonder how someone did that. :-)

    Interesting and dangerous stuff going on! I wouldn't have minded knowing a bit more of what Akiela is feeling about her mission. But the snippet definitely leads me to expect dark and exciting scenes are ahead - there's a real good sense of foreboding.

  2. Thanks! For the compliments and comments. I wasn't sure about the last few, but I kept them short and tried to make 'em sound like they were her thoughts.

    I'm glad you like it! I'm also glad I'm hitting the right notes with the writing (danger, creepiness, foreboding, etc). It really REALLY isn't easy!

    I typically keep to the light and fluffy stuff instead of the darker stuff. I blame Dark Shadows!

  3. I agree with Ink on the adverbs. Other than that, I really like this and I would read more because it is very interesting. Keep up the good work.

  4. Very interesting! Again, just watch the adverbs, but I think you've improved from the last few teasers of yours I've read! I think the exposition at the end was warranted because, like ink said, it was a good time for Akiela to think about WTF just happened. Such great world-building as usual!!

    Also, I'd think about changing the name Strigoi to something else. This is because Richelle Mead uses Strigoi for her vmapires in her bestselling series Vampire Academy.

  5. Thanks! Strigoi is from Romanian mythology, so it's free to use. (See, I do research!) I'm glad the writing is improving and you're all enjoying this! I promise to keep an eye on the adverbs, too, and cut back on 'em. :-D

  6. There is a lot of setup here, but it feel like you're giving us stuff we'll need to know for the following scenes, so I think it's ok.

    One thing that made me pause: Ilario smiles right before he describes how these people were killed. I get the feeling it was supposed to be a polite thank-you, but considering what just happened it felt out of place.

    Definitely interesting, though. :)

  7. Thanks for pointing that out! I think a little editing will cure that bit of problem. :)