Today I will briefly introduce you to another of my main characters, Macalla. A ghost. Not literally, you understand; this is a nickname given to the araquan people of the Velderwood. The araquan are an elder race, beautiful in an otherworldly fashion with skin as pale and flawless as virgin snow, white hair and grey almond-shaped eyes. The araquan speak to the spirits, seeing them in all natural things, from wind and streams to the rocks of the earth. These creatures are rarely seen among humankind but are tolerated, feared even – when they appear. The old tales speak of angels who walked with the gods, and in a ghost’s presence a man is reminded that greater powers than his walk the earth.
Macalla’s sword Spiritsong and bow Starthorn are weapons of ancient make, alliances between spirit, steel and wood. He is an archer and woodsman without compare. Yet in the vastness of the Velderwood he lives not with his own people but close to the human village of Torlenmere. He owes a debt to Ethné’s uncle, Jerechai; one which he will not speak of but which binds him to Ethné’s side as friend, guardian, protector. We do not see through his eyes until later in the story, but gradually we will come to see that behind his silent loyalty he knows more than he allows others to realize. About Ethné, the world, and the past.
The inspiration for the araquan is an odd blend of religious, cultural and literary sources. A starting point was the stock race of fantasy literature, elves, but really this was not a direction I wanted to go in. I wanted my elder races to be more in tune with the earth, more elemental in nature. Like the Faerie races, but yet not. From my reading and travels I saw an interesting similarity in beliefs in the Australian Aborigine peoples, Native Americans and the Shinto religion of Japan. A belief in spirits of nature, in every rock, river or breath of wind. I was even inspired by the First Ones of Babylon 5, stories of beings who crossed the stars before the first man was ever born.
Eventually the araquan took shape. They are the first of a number of elder races a reader will encounter on the journey. I am saving the best, for last of course 😉
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