Updated: May 26, 2020
My Urban Fantasy habit has given me a taste for starting in medias res and that's exactly where my own UF series begins: in the middle of things.
This offering (my second ever Blog post, woo!) is the opening scene for my first ever novel Rakshasa Rising (working title). I'm about 20k words into it right now, but I suspect only about half of that will actually make it to the final cut.
On the bright side, I know the opening scene linked here will be in the final product.
There's so much I want to say about Maddie and her family, and why I chose to incorporate Indian myth into the traditional Caribbean folklore... but then I'll be here all day and I won't have anything to say when it's time to talk about what happens behind the scenes XD
Needless to say, the decision-making process wasn't an easy one, but I'm happy with it.
I hope you enjoy this scene from Rakshasa Rising !
Coming back from the dead was a lot like waking up. Except for the screaming. Or maybe just like it, if your neighbours are the annoying kind. The difference is, after a moment, you realise the screaming is coming from you. Even then, it’s not so bad… until the weight of the world hits you again and you figure out the reason you’re screaming is - of course - the pain. And it. Is. Excruciating. It’s every neuron, every fibre of your being lit on fire and allowed to burn and burn, and burn white hot for eternity. So, I guess coming back from the dead is more like being in Hell.
After the pain passes, you can open your eyes. Not that you’d want to, seeing as you’d be surrounded by blinding light. The plus is, once you get a glimpse of that light, it’s like the burning and the pain never happened. It’s cool water poured on those screaming nerve endings, drowning out their misery, snuffing that fire. Then you begin to feel light, floaty. Like you’re rising to meet something beautiful.
In that moment, you wake up and whatever chaos you were living just moments before reasserts itself, leaving you to deal with the fallout.
So that’s where I was when I woke up. In the fall out that killed me. I had a vague idea of how and why I was resurrected, but that wasn’t important right then. What was important was the full-blooded rakshasa that was tearing through my family, and most - okay, some - of downtown Port of Spain.
Since I’d come back from the dead, there probably wasn’t much to worry about. So, I took a moment to myself. Hey, I deserve a moment, okay? I did just die.
Groaning, I sat up and looked around, assessing the damage. The good news was - not much. The building we were in just moments ago was rubble, and still somewhat on fire… but the rest of the block seemed to be standing. It was late and this part of the city, mostly government offices, was empty. I thanked the Gods and Trinidadian work ethic, since I wasn’t really interested in going viral tonight. There had been a few security guards, but the scene wasn’t particularly bloody, and I suspected that was my little cousin Shivana’s doing: getting all the people out of the building and away from the fight. A few cars were turned over, and others were scratched and dented… and a little burnt.
Well. That’s what insurance was for, right? Besides, who parked in a deserted part of town and then wandered off?
I took stock of myself: my clothes were stained with blood and ash, but quality jeans meant they’d stood up to the wear and tear of sliding along concrete. My shirt had a giant hole right through the middle, and I suspect that’s what killed me. The bloody rebar protruding from a giant piece of concrete immediately to my left confirmed that, and I wondered briefly how I managed to extract myself while unconscious. Clothes notwithstanding, I seemed to be fine, if a little stiff.
I stepped out from behind the concrete to see Shivana and Arielle toe-to-toe with the rakshasa. Shivana’s short hair was plastered to her skull with sweat, and soot stood out starkly against her light skin. Her eyes - normally plain, dark brown - were glowing white, a sure sign that her height and fitness couldn’t cut it, so she had tapped into our otherworldly nature for the advantage. Even so, she only narrowly managed to dodge and weave around the rakshasa.
Unlike her half-sister, Arielle’s eyes were still their natural brown, and despite her petite nature she was hammering the son-of-a-bitch with her… well, hammer. Technically it was a zaghnal, which was like a hammer, but with a tapered, scythe-ish blade. She insisted on calling the thing Mjollnir, though, and would dutifully give you a good cut-eye if you called it anything else.
Anyway, she was significantly more dishevelled than Shivana, likely due to taking the brunt of the assault. Arielle’s long, thick braid was completely undone, leaving her curls to wave wildly around as she turned, twisted and swerved around the rakshasa. I was grateful the demon in question hadn’t thought to grab it or set it on fire. Not that fire would bother Arielle, but we’d already allowed part of a building to be brought down and insurance wouldn’t look kindly on us if there was more damage.
Neither of my cousins spoke. If they communicated with each other at all, it was a silent exchange facilitated by Shivana’s abilities. I doubted that they needed to. We didn’t fight as a team often, but we were a practiced bunch and acted like a well-oiled machine.
It was time to be a cog. My talwar was between me and the fight, but my bow was nowhere to be found. It was the third one I’d lost or destroyed this month and I groaned loudly, seriously considering whether I could flop back onto the concrete until they’d dealt with the problem. I was pretty sure they had Vin’s blessing, so neither would be in danger of dying.
I muttered to myself, instead, insisting that I shouldn’t feel so exasperated… but goddamn it! The little bastard was more trouble than he was worth. I suppose I should just be glad his parents were both moneyed and connected, so we wouldn’t - shouldn’t - get any flack for bringing down a building to take the kid in alive.
I jogged over and picked up my talwar, stretched to get out the last kinks of dying, and took off at a run. Luckily, my cousins had the rakshasa’s both heads and all four arms thoroughly distracted. I was fed up of this fight and ready to go home, so I summoned just a little of my power, focused on my feet and fists. One good hit was all I’d need to end this.
With a running jump, I took the rakshasa square in the back using both feet and he tumbled forward, hissing fire instead of curses, a look of shock on one of his faces as he turned to stare at what hit him. Bet you weren’t expecting that, were you, punk?
I clouted that face with the handle of my talwar hard enough to draw blood, while Arielle kicked the other head. A human being would probably be dead just from the force of our blows, much less the magic behind them. He fell to his knees in a daze, arms slumping and heads lolling forward.
“Now!” screamed Arielle, and Shivana took a deep breath, clapping her hands three times. White-blue light fell out of her palms and she touched the monster, one palm to each forehead. In a flash it was gone, and a skinny, light-skinned young man was looking at us in confusion. Shivana smiled at him, and as he smiled back, she punched him so hard he fell right over into unconsciousness.