Anju was cooking when first they came, the knife in her hand flashing quick, down along the onions, slicing thin, turning and slicing again, cross-wise. Three onions done for the goat, and three more for the lentils, set soaking overnight, plump and ready now. Her husband, Vimal, loved her lentils. Ghee sizzled in the pan; she was lifting the wood board, ready to slide the finished onions in, when they came, one through the door, one the window. Two men, dressed in black silks, tall and slender and swift. The one at the window was closer, with a sword across his body -- but he didnt advance; he stood guard at the window while the second man came for her, a slender strangle-cord in two outstretched hands reaching for Anjus throat. There was nowhere to run in the small kitchen -- but she didnt even try.
She dove forward instead, going under his encircling arms, coming up against his body. The onion-knife in her hand stabbing up, between the ribs, straight to the heart. He slumped against her, but she was already pulling away, pulling the knife smoothly out, twisting to face the other threat -- but he was gone the way hed came, out the window and away. She was left with a bloody corpse on her kitchen floor, the floor shed just washed. A corpse, his drying blood on her knife, and no explanations. Anju filled a bowl with water, dipped the knife in it and rinsed it clean. She had never even hit a body in anger in her life -- not her children, not her little sisters as a child, growing up. She prayed every morning to Lasa, the goddess of peace, of hearth and home. She had just killed a man -- she knew, without needing to check, that he was quite dead. How did she know that? How had she known what to do?
What do you think? If this were the opening to a fantasy novel, would you want more?
(Exactly what I need is a new novel idea. They ambush you, I swear. They sneak up on you and thump you in the night.)
(Karen, the onions are for you. :-) The lentils are for David.)