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, October 6, 2009

More from Heiress

Since it's still in editing, kinda, I figured I'd post another fav scene here. :)  It's after Xandra meets Segav's father and she asks Segav what his family name is... They're in one of the hidden rooms at the Guild talking and asking questions they'd rather not have their classmates know.  Enjoy!!!


“Alright.”  Segav seemed relieved.  “What… is… your sponsor?  I mean, he’s obviously a docelfar and a pretty terrifying wizard, but how did he come to partially own an assassin’s guild?  What does he do?  Well, I mean, what does he do for a living?”
“Oh.”  Xandra had worried that the questions would be all about Great-Father.  He dominated so much of her life, and one of the benefits of keeping her relatives secret was that she wouldn’t have to lie about him.  With Segav, it was somehow disappointing for him to not ask for her secrets.
“Great-Father has done many things, and still does.  He’s been alive for over a millennia, I’m told.  I don’t know everything he’s done to gain all that he has…”  Xandra trailed off, not wanting to say aloud that she never wanted to know.
            “That’s okay, Ali,” Segav said, his voice soothing.  When Xandra giggled, he forgot his next long, drawn-out question in favor of a simple “What?”
Xandra found she couldn’t look at Segav, but spoke regardless.  “That’s what Father calls Mother… ‘Aly.’   I’ve never been called that before.” 
“Oh.”  Segav blushed deeply.  Xandra could not remember ever seeing him blush that much.
“What is it?”  She asked, trying not to giggle.
“I just… didn’t mean to…” Segav stammered.  “Your mother’s name is Alixandra, too?”
“No, her name is Alyssiana.”  Xandra explained.  “A-L-Y-S-S-I-A-N-A.  So, she’s called ‘Aly’- A-L-Y.  At least, she is by my father, and sometimes by her siblings and Great-Father, of course.”
Segav did not outwardly respond to this.  Instead, he asked another short question.  “Why do you call your sponsor ‘Great-Father’?”
Xandra, still felling a little giddy from Segav calling her the same affectionate name her mother had, even if it was spelled differently, giggled again at his lack of understanding.
“Because he’s my great-grandfather, of course!”  She said, still smiling. 

Segav felt the blood drain from his face.  Oh, I didn’t want to hear that.
He tried to swallow the panic which that fact had lodged in his throat, and when he noticed how Xandra’s eyes were now sparkling as she looked at him, he found it much easier to do.
Thinking carefully, forming another, intelligent question, he was alarmed to hear his voice speak the words, in a numbed, dreary tone, “Oh, well that explains a great deal.”
He had known that was a terrible thing to say, he could not believe his traitorous mouth had uttered the words.  He waited for the terrible reaction; Xandra’s face suddenly looking as though he had slapped it, the hurt in her beautiful eyes…
Xandra threw her head back and laughed.  When she looked at him, and spoke words that filled him with relief, she was still smiling in the way that lit her whole face.
“It does, doesn’t it?  He’s always been so protective of me, at least as long as I can remember!  It gets to be irritating, and hard to deal with.”
“Well, yes, of course it would!” was all that Segav could think to say. 
He tried to fathom what kind of a childhood he would have had if his life included such a terrifying, dangerous being in it:  Worse still, if it had been a blood relative.  
Xandra had never struck him as really evil; she was mischievous, certainly, but docelfar blood meant that the ability for unbelievable cruelty lay in the blood. 
No wonder she is studying to be an assassin, and has so much ability at our age, Segav thought, and how could someone so beautiful be like the man that terrorized our classroom, and then my dorm quarters?
“This is just a guess,” Segav ventured, “but your great-grandfather taught you some things before making sure you got into this Guild, didn’t he?”
“I had to pass my examination test, same as everyone does.”  Xandra said, and there was a little resentment in her voice. 
Wonderful, Segav chastised himself, if I keep going on foolishly, perhaps I should spare us both and have the alchemy tutor poison me!
“But, yes,” she continued, “Great-Father had already tutored me in some unusual weapons, as well as some alchemy, spell-casting, chess, strategy, how to properly kill someone from behind with a dagger, and picking locks.  My mother taught me to move silently- Father couldn’t, really, he’s part human – and how to climb just about anything.  Father mostly taught me how to hunt, and hand-to-hand combat, how to fight with every weapon we had around the house, he also encouraged my brother and me to learn music-”
            “Wait,” Segav pleaded with Xandra, his head still dizzy from the over-abundance of information.  His mind grasped at the first skills she had mentioned that had startled him. 
“You know how to mix chemicals and cast spells?” he asked, making a mental note to try and get her to teach him about the weapons she was fluent with, as well as how to back-stab:  They weren’t supposed to learn that at the Guild for another two years!
“Sure, I just said Great-Father taught me that; didn’t I?” Xandra giggled again.
“Could you… could you show me something?”  Segav was already feeling like a small child next to her.
Gods, she knows so much!  He thought. 
The urge to see proof, and simple curiosity, won out over his other feelings.
“Of course!”  Xandra exclaimed gleefully.  She looked around for something.  “Let me see what I can… ah!”
Leaning to her left, she pointed at the side of the bookshelf that was close to them.  Segav did not understand, and then his keen eyes noticed a small spider crawling along the outer plank of the bookshelf.  Xandra hurried over to it and swatted the spider with her bare hand.  She cupped her hand and walked over to him; the cupped hand held up in front of him.  When she was only two feet away from him, he could see the corpse of the spider.  It lay, curled up and belly exposed, on her soft palm.
Bringing her other hand above the one holding the spider, Xandra winked at Segav.  Then, she looked down and whispered something towards her hands.  The empty hand began to glow a sickening green in the center of her palm, and she cupped this hand over the one with the spider, making a shape like a ball.  There was a brilliant flash of the same sickening green light between the fingers, and then nothing.
Moving the top hand away, Xandra revealed the spider, now looking whole and standing upright on its eight tiny legs.  It did not move, however, until Xandra’s free hand gestured.  The spider moved in the direction her hand moved:  Up her arm, back down her arm, and then, when she knelt down and placed the hand holding the spider against the floor, across the floorboards until she stopped gesturing. 
The look on his face must have shown some of the awe and horror he felt; when Xandra looked at him expectedly, she almost immediately frowned in disappointment.
“What’s the matter?  That wasn’t impressive enough?”  She asked him, a twinge of hurt in her voice.
“That’s… that’s necromancy!”  He blurted, unable to stop himself.
“Oh, just a little bit… not even that much.  It’s a fairly common spell used by wizards and priests to raise a familiar,” Xandra said, sounding like she was trying to make light of it all.  “Really, Segav, it’s not used on humans, or elves, or anything like that.  I’m not that good at it, either.  I can’t raise so much as a bird; only insects.”
“Right… of course,” Segav said, trying to will himself to believe that what she had done was as innocent as the tone in her voice, and the look in her eyes.  He was starting to believe it.  He was.
“Well, how about this?”  Xandra asked, and then she turned back to the spider and pointed.  A cone of blue magic shot from her fingertip, flew towards the spider, and engulfed it.  Nothing remained when the glow faded from the floorboard.
“Brilliant!”  Segav cheered. 


  1. Cool stuff! A little softer side of Xandra, too, which is nice! :)

    One crit--careful of over-explaining things in dialogue--the first bit where Segav points out everything that Xantos is sounds a little info-dumpy.

  2. Wow, Xandra has quite the skills! ;-) Interesting with the dual POVs how you can see the way they both play off each other.

    Houndrat has a good point about info-dumps. The one that stuck out for me was when you were explaining the names./nicknames.

  3. Thanks, ladies! I was wondering if that was needed, so I think I'll chop it out. Or at least the spelling. :D

    I'm glad the dual POV's worked. I was kinda worried I'd be getting a comment saying the opposite! lol.

    thanks, again!!!!

  4. Thirding what Houndie said about infodumps, and also - remember we don't always need to see every move made. We're ready to believe this! Trust your reader. :-)

    Nice to see a different side of Xandra. Good job.

  5. The POVs worked fine for me but there is so much explaining going on. I'm not sure you realize just how much this slows down a scene. In places it grinds to a complete stop and then my eyes starts to skim down the page, looking for something else to happen. You either can't resist the urge to over-explain or you don't give your reader enough credit to pick up on your relationships.

  6. Yup, I;m with the anti info-dump brigade. You don't need it.
    Other than that, nice job.:)

  7. lol, thanks. (where's the smiley waving the white flag? lol). I'll chop out the excessive explaining.

    For what it's worth, this was the... third? novel we'd attempted, which probably explains a lot. We've improved our technique and writing since, but reapplying it to something already written is, well... daunting! LOL.

    anywhos, thanks again and the next teaser will be less info-dumpy. I promise!!! :D

  8. This is really good. I enjoyed it a lot. I agree with the others about a bit of overexplanation, but I haven't read many of your other excerpts from this so I was a bit lost and did get something from the extra info, as well.

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