As part of the October Frights Blog Hop, I'm posting a short story from the world of my YA Paranormal novel, The Reaper's Daughter. You don't have to have read my book to follow this, because this story stands on its own. It's more like the beginning, a prequel, so to speak. This is the story of the Grim Reaper's banishment from the underworld.
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“I dare you.” His rough, hard face creased with a taunting smirk, his narrow dark eyes flickering with challenge. From his hand hung a sword, the whistle of steel meeting air still echoing from where he’d only moments before tried to slice off her arm—the one that held the scythe.
Grim laughed, the sound bouncing off the glittering crystals and craggy rock of the caverns. They had come to the walkway of the dead, near where Styx guarded the doorway between the underworld and the land of the living. The guardian deity hadn’t intervened yet, and for that Grim was thankful. She was ready to end the death deity war Hades had set in motion.
Hefting the scythe she so easily held in her hand over her shoulder, she shook her head, gazing at him imperiously although he dwarfed her by the mass of his bulk, his shadow almost vanquishing hers. “I will not kill my brethren, and you are that, even if I find you … well, I’ll be honest, repulsive,” she said dryly, arching a dark brow.
He smiled, and Grim stared at him impassively, eyeing the sweat clinging to his long hair and glistening against the pale of his skin with an inward distaste. She had always disliked the deity and his brutish ways, never felt he carried with him the compassion for those he crossed, and she didn't respect his need for power. Now, his eyes glittered black and he held her gaze, his focus only wavering away from hers for a moment to focus on the gleam of the silver scythe she held. He gestured beyond himself. “If you are to stop me, you will have to kill me.” From the shadows stepped his army, more than she could count.
“Your devil’s spawn,” she said, inclining her head in acknowledgement.
“Oh, well I’m hurt you would refer to innocent children so,” he said calmly, a mocking thread running through his tone.
“Innocent? I could say the living are happy when they see me, but that doesn’t make it true.” She smiled humorlessly, glancing to the figures of Hades’s children standing behind him, around her, with weapons in their hands and ambition in their souls. Glancing back to Hades, she caught the gleam of his sword slicing through the air, sending her into motion, her hands folding securely around the scythe and swinging it, the clang of metal reverberating off stone pierced the night with death.
“War then,” he said.
“You and yours began this,” she said, gritting her teeth and shoving him back with the force of her weapon, making him stumble back, a grimace of surprise flashing across his face.
Grim grinned, the power from the scythe crackling within her. How could he think he’d beat—a wind slapped her, and from the corner of her eye she caught the mass that was Hades barreling toward her, his hybrid goons closing in on her.
Thought wasn’t an option, and she swiveled, instinctively putting the power of the scythe into physical action by stepping forward and slamming the blunt part of the weapon into his chest. A crack of bone shattering filled the cavern, and Hades was sent flying back into a part of the wall that jutted out, his body hitting it with a slap. A strange expression flickered across his face, his black eyes losing the steel twist of corruption for the briefest of moments, and then he slid down to the ground, his eyes closing.
That must have hurt, she thought, glancing dismissively at the deity. He was immortal, so he’d heal fast enough, and he would be punished for his crimes, she would see to it. Grim eyed the kids moving in on her and sighed softly. Indoctrinated by Hades with his hate and misdirected power grab, and as many as there were, they’d be a challenge, but ultimately, they’d be no match for her.
A moan drew her attention back to Hades, who sat up slowly from his spot on the ground and rubbed a large knuckled hand over his chest. “Feeling under the weather?” she asked, wondering when the council would show and provide her the support to bring him and his brood to justice. But when he looked at her, she was startled by the creases of pain that worried his face. “He’s quiet … I can’t hear him … You-you killed him!” he growled.
“Killed who?” she asked slowly, watching him carefully, the scythe still clutched in her hands. He couldn’t possibly mean--
“You killed my brother. Pluto’s dead.”
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Stay tuned for Part II, which I'll post on Sunday.
It's a sad state that I seem to have become a once-a-month blogger. But I have been busy, I promise, and right now I just wanted to post a few updates. Although I was hoping to release The Reaper's Daughter earlier in 2015, I think the later release date is well-worth it. The official launch for The Reaper's Daughter is May 9. I will most likely be hosting a big giveaway right here on that day. More to come on that soon!
Next, for Fractured Dream readers, I'm currently rolling out the prequel to the saga on Wattpad, called Fairytale Lost. Currently, the update is every Wednesday. I'll also occasionally be updating with new short stories coming form the land of Tressla. Take a look if you're interested: http://www.wattpad.com/106534307-fairytale-lost-chapter-one
Meanwhile, I'm in the midst of working on Shattered World, the second in the Dreamer Saga trilogy. While I'd love to release it later this year, I'm thinking realistically it will probably be early next year again. But I'll update here as I get closer to finishing it.
Finally, we're also looking for advance readers, so if you're interested in getting an ARC of The Reaper's Daughter in exchange for an honest review, please feel free to email me: KMRANDAL@GMAIL.COM.
I'll leave you with a small excerpt from The Reaper's Daughter. Here's one for all you romance lovers:
Rishi rolled the car into a parking spot and put it in park. I was turning to wake Shelby when a warm hand slid down my arm and over my hand tugging on it in a way that insisted I look back at him.
He was suddenly so close I felt trapped in my seat, his gaze intent, but not on my eyes—on my lips. He smiled slowly, finally raising his eyes to meet mine, a slow, golden burn igniting my blood with heat. “Yes?” I managed to say, arching my brow in that way I’d practiced.
“Do that thing again,” he said, his voice low and smooth, invading my senses as I never thought a voice could. My heart lurched in a way that hadn’t happened even when we were in a high-speed chase. I swallowed thickly, trying to find my voice around his desire that smelled like musk and car leather.
“What thing?” I finally managed to murmur, sipping in a deep breath of air as my breathless voice gave away my weakness for him.
His smile widened, as if he knew he had me, his high cheekbones and loose, shiny black hair lending him a certain primal male beauty that made me retreat until I could feel the door handle pressing into my back. “That thing with your tongue. When you chastised me,” he said, mimicking my tsking of him from only moments earlier. “I found it interesting.”
I couldn’t help it, my eyes fell to his own lips while I tried to wrangle my cutting wit and Artemis-like spirit. I shook my head, so lightly I was surprised he saw it.
“Let’s go get rooms, we could all use the sleep,” I finally managed to say, nearly choking on the words that sounded liked a sordid invitation. “I mean separate rooms,” I amended, inwardly bringing back the defense he’d torn down, but only by avoiding his gaze.
He brought me back to him by clasping one hand under my chin and bringing my eyes up to meet his. “First, do that thing,” he insisted, his dark eyes glowing with amusement.
K.M. Randall writes fantasy and paranormal for both a general and young adult audience. Her debut novel, an epic fantasy called Fractured Dream, launched in June 2014, and her second book, The Reaper's Daughter, launched May 2015. Randall also published Fairytale Lost, a prequel to Fractured Dream, as an exclusive on Wattpad. She blogs about dreams, female heroines, and activism and its relevancy to the literary and fictional world. And when in the season, sometimes she just likes to talk about Halloween. She is currently hard at work on the second book in the Dreamer Saga series, Shattered World.