Once upon a time, I started a historical series based around an old legend I found hidden in the stacks of the AFB library. It was a medieval legend of a female pirate, and while it was little more than a footnote in a book on Scandinavian and Russian history, it fascinated me, and I set out to write the account of a female pirate in 12th Century Europe.
Only, I was never really happy with how it came out. I adored the character, but she just didn’t fit her era right, and the politics of the time period made some of the aspects of her story border on the unbelievable. I just was never happy enough with it to really think about publishing it as more than a lark.
And then came the most wonderful idea… I realized it didn’t have to be history as we know it. I had other options! And, in early 2002, I started redrafting Sasha’s story into an Alternate History/Speculative Fiction series… And from the characters and background in her story grew an entire series. This series considers the possibility that Christianity never took hold, and that magic and mysticism prevailed. The continental shift happened differently, leading to a completely different allocation of resources and civilizations, and eventually to a power struggle within the ruling family/caste of the world, between the religious/spiritual and the pragmatic, warrior caste.
And thus was born the Icarian Chronicles, into which I would eventually introduce someone strange to their world, whose understanding of history I will proceed to totally warp. :). But, for now, the series starts several years before Sasha’s birth, with her parents.
“Imperial Blood” – Excerpt from THE EAGLE’S MISTRESS
(Icarian Chronicles, Book 1) –
Nira returned to her teacher’s side, tugging the shawl up around the old woman’s frail shoulders to ward off the evening chill. With a fond smile, she settled on the low stool beside Malisina’s chair.
“Tell me what you know of him, Mala,” she plied eagerly, curious to know everything about the man who came to disturb their peaceful home. “What kind of man is the Emperor?”
“Emperor, bah!” The older woman fluttered a scoffing hand through the air. “That pup is no more Emperor than I am the Goddess Efri!”
Nira’s eyes widened. This was the first she ever heard gentle Malisina speak ill of the new Emperor. “Have a care, Mala! He may mean to cause us harm.”
This brought a chuckle from Malisina, even as one trembling hand reached out to stroke her face lovingly. “Ah, my sweet child, not you. You have the power to show yon fledgling Eagle the error of his ways. Besides, I mean him no harm. I only tell them as I see them, and he is not yet an Emperor, and nor shall he be fully so, as long as our own sweet Mistress Eleindra draws breath. I fear those two shall be the death of us all, child, if one is not soon tamed.”
Nira drew back, puzzled. Malisina had a tendency to ramble, of late. Some whispered that she grew feeble-minded, but Nira wondered. Malisina was gifted with the Future Sight of a Truth-Sayer. Could her words be prophecy, not mad ramblings? A cold chill brushed Nira’s skin.
“What do you know of him, Mala?” She pleaded, clutching her guardian’s hand.
“Nothing to cause such fear, sweet child,” Malisina assured her gently, her wise old eyes sparkling. That look, alone, told Nira her teacher was far from mad.
“Impatience, child,” Malisina scolded her, a familiar rebuke. Then, a soft smile turned up the woman’s lips. “Very well, I will tell you what I know. Yon Eagle has been groomed for this day since he was in leading straps. He was harnessed for war before he sat upon his first horse, or flew his first war bird. And yet, there is a sadness to him that speaks of a man who wishes for peace. You must remember this, child, or all that would come after you is lost.”
The warning furrowed Nira’s brow, but she nodded and scooted nearer. What Mala meant, she had no idea, but she would remember. Indeed, how could she ever forget these words?
“Eleindra once told me that her brother drew the blood of war from his own wrists. Some say there are scars there – marks of a boy who does not yet understand the man his father’s death created. And yet, he is strong, with great courage, and even greater arrogance. I believe they breed such qualities into all of Imperial blood, myself.”