A Bit of Me, Aekhartain, Writing

Secrets of Icarus: Part Five

With all the Icarus Child books now out and available, I thought I’d wrap things up with one last secret before I take a bit of a break from the Aekhverse.

Secret #5 – This Isn’t the Last You’ll be Seeing of These Characters

With the trilogy being a prequel to the Tales of the Aekhartain this might seem like an obvious secret. But I’m not talking about Shaiel or Maskai, though of course both of them do come back and make many, many appearances in the other stories. No, this is about the others.

Cover_3 Icarus ChildIt’s all Maskai’s fault, of course. The short story – Star and Shadowborn – that I’ve included at the end of The Icarus Child hints a little at this, because it’s all to do with Maskai’s power and how in the early Aekh days she was a bit careless with it. In fact, when she wasn’t paying attention, it had a habit of rubbing off on people around her and changing them – which is how the Aekhartain come about. It’s all because Maskai wasn’t paying attention and ordinary folk got caught in a power splash.

Which means that plenty of characters in Icastar’s life have the potential to become Aekhartain further down the line. It isn’t reincarnation, not quite, but some personality quirks and other aspects do keep turning up over and over again.

Cover - Dark RebelIn fact, if you read Dark Rebel closely, you might think there’s something a little familiar about one of Caligo’s companions – especially if you look up the meaning of his name and find a russet-coloured animal on the other end. There are quite a number of Aekhs to spot in DR, but since I haven’t got around to rewriting most of their stories yet, it’s not entirely fair.

I also have an unfinished Regency tale about Fox and Cana, so those two definitely come back – a little changed, but essentially themselves (because I couldn’t let them go after the original IC and a friend challenged me to write a Regency romance). Look out for Howl and Rudh again too, because I backtracked on them, bringing in characters from later Aekh tales to amuse myself.

Cover_2 Crying ChildI have also since realised that if anyone is likely to come back, Saekara is most qualified and I’ve already laid a few clues about Icaria (or rather, as I was writing it I made a few connections and had a light-bulb moment). The biggest clue is in the prologue for The Crying Child, for those who like playing Spot-the-Aekh in advance. Names are always a massive clue too, even if they are mostly in a different language.

Spot-the-Aekh is mostly just a bit of fun between me and my readers. You won’t be missing anything vital if you don’t make the connections or follow along, but those who do play often feel an extra understanding about how the story is progressing. It’s one big in-joke that helps tie the long, long bunch of interconnected stories together and hopefully make it all more enjoyable.

Some characters are a lot more obvious than others, because I like to make sure everyone can play and also pose a bit of a challenge. So when it comes to the characters in this book, look out for future appearances from interesting names, familiar hair colours and eyes and those intriguing qualities that you can’t quite put your finger on, but feel familiar nonetheless.

Because in the Aekhartain world, death is never the end.

Aekhartain, Free Fiction, Writing

Deleted Scene: Impossible Things

This scene originally appeared in Impossible Things, just before Freyda meets Maskai for the first time. Personally I love this scene, but a friend advised me to take it out. I didn’t want to, but what she was saying made sense. This scene is much more about Shaiel and the bigger Aekhartain story, while Impossible Things was supposed to be about Freyda and finding her place amongst the Aekhartain.

However, I liked it too much to just ditch it. So here, have a deleted scene, in which we learn a little bit more about the Aekhartain story, especially the three figures right at the heart of it all.

* * * * * * * * * *

“My Star?”

Shaiel stirred at the sound of Maskai’s voice. He’d been lying on his back, staring up at the night and dreaming of nothing in particular while she worked nearby. At some point he must have dozed off. Now she knelt beside him and ran her fingers through his hair, bringing him back from his drifting.

Opening his eyes, he smiled. She had changed. When she was alone, working or with him, she wore her first and most natural form: a woman made of shadows; dark, beautiful and mysterious, as befitted a Shadow-born Entity. Now she wore the face of the woman he’d first met, back before he’d even know what an Aekhartain was.

Her hair was gold and red and platinum, fiery and shining, while her skin was sun-kissed bronze. Only her eyes remained the same. A deep, fathomless blue shot through with golden streaks, like sunbeams trapped within her gaze. She was beautiful in either form, but this one held extra special memories.

“Hello, Kaia.”

She smiled down at him but, even as he watched, a mask began to form over her features. An incredible mask, made from glossy black feathers. It was undeniably lovely, but it stirred the coals of an ancient rage deep inside him, and had done so for almost a thousand years.

“Why do you still wear it?” he asked, as he had countless times before. “Is he still that important to you?”

Her smile turned sad, as it had too many times before. “You are the most important thing to me,” she told him, touching his cheek. “But there are other things that must never be forgotten. Essential things.”

He’d never known exactly what had happened that day, so many centuries ago, between her and Nawaquí. All he knew was that Nawaquí had lost his Wings and Maskai had taken to wearing a mask that hid her face from the world.

It still stirred an age-old anger inside him, urging him to go in search of the man he had once called, however briefly, friend and demand answers. Demand restitution. Demand something, everything, to put an end to whatever still haunted his Maskai.

“He isn’t worth it,” he told her, trying to restrain his rage, knowing she saw it anyway.

Her eyes glinted with gold. “The others are.”

And that quickly she reminded him of his responsibilities: to her, to the others, to the Garden. It was one thing to dream of confronting his old enemy, of finishing their battle once and for all, but another to abandon everyone in a fit of selfish gallantry.

She touched his arm, restraining him, grounding him. “It’s just a mask, melaruhm.”

Except it wasn’t. It was a symbol of an unhealing wound, one he could see but never quite touch. And yet, it wasn’t his to heal. So he put away his private dreams for another day, yielding to the unspoken plea in her sun-questing eyes. “And you wear it well, oyeparní.”

“Flatterer,” she chuckled, breaking the tension and tugging at his hand. “Come, you must go. I have company coming, and I think it best if we meet alone.”

He’d guessed as much when she’d put the mask on, so he sighed and sat up. “As you wish,” he murmured, turning her hand over in his and planting a kiss in her palm.

Maskai smiled and brushed a kiss across his lips, tickling his face with feathers. “Go,” she urged, pushing him to his feet. “It will be better without you here.”

Clapping a hand across his heart, he staggered playfully backwards. “Such cruel words, my lady. You wound me.”

Easier without you, then,” she laughed, and flicked her fingers dismissively. “Go. She will be here soon.”

Even as she spoke a huge raven glided out of the tall trees, skimming low over the budding saplings to land on her shoulder. Its feathers merged with those of her mask, turning her into a strange two-headed bird-woman.

Spotting him, the raven extended its neck and shouted, crronk, crronk, crronk, sounding not unlike a dog with a cold. Apparently taking this as a challenge, a magpie dropped onto Shaiel’s shoulder and chattered something highly uncomplimentary back.

The raven gave a dismissive tonk.

Shaiel laughed. “I do believe we’ve been routed, Messenger,” he told his magpie. “So now we must vacate the field, while we still have some pride left.”

The magpie on his shoulder muttered low and grumbling, making him chuckle. Behind them the raven burbled something surprisingly musical, revelling in its victory.

Shaking his head, Shaiel gave Maskai a wave and took the path that led around the edge of the birch wood. Somehow he didn’t think his lady would be too appreciative of him running into the guest she seemed so keen for him to avoid.

“Love is a many, varied thing, Messi,” he misquoted to his magpie.

She tutted impatiently and took off, flapping ahead, her opinion on the subject quite clear. Smiling, Shaiel tucked his hands into his pockets and ambled back to his tower.

* * * * *

Notes: Melaruhm – Dearest one
Oyeparní – Beloved

Nawaquí was the man Beatrice Winters spoke to on the phone. His tale is coming. If you don’t know who he is yet, don’t worry, you’ll know quite a bit about him soon.

* * * * * * * * * *

Like what you just read, but aren’t familiar with the characters?

Why not give Orion’s Kiss a try?

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.