Who are the Sky People?
Way back in the days of the "Chronicles of Aesirium" books, I had an idea. Here was this relatively Victorian community, mostly looking like your average European stock of genetics. Pale skin, tanned by years of working the fields, as far as the eye could see. And the main character, Rom, was not just an angel of death - a Reaper, a Sheharid Is'iin - but she was beyond pale. Hair like the color of snow, eyes faint blue like the winter sky. And I thought, somehow, it would be just and fitting for her best friend to not just be different, but in as many ways as could be, her opposite. Where Rom was grumpy and irritable, Kari would be optimistic and sociable, and so forth. So it seemed right that if Rom was going to appear on one end of the pigmentation scale, Kari should look equally distinct. But how to explain the presence of a dark-skinned girl in such a fair-skinned town?
In the history of Aerthos, it had already been penciled in that the once-proud city of Aesirium had split off into its various factionalized cultures over the centuries, from reasons rooted in beliefs and divisions based upon less reasonable factors. And when I used Earth as a template for social constructs, skin color, unfortunately, appeared as a common theme for the justifications we make for our intolerance of others.
Even years ago in the first series of books, I knew I was going to visit the other children of Aesirium. Characters like Force and Inertia from the original series were from these other cultures, and as I dove into their backgrounds, I became a bit obsessed with fleshing out the other groups of people. Also, it seemed logical that Kari, with all her gifts, would have come somehow from one of these groups, and somewhere in that developmental processes, the Sky People were born.
In this world of Aerthos, magic - the ethereal art - is based upon a deep connection to the world. Life. Harmony with its ebbs and flows, its spiritual tides. Magic comes as naturally to them as breathing, as speaking. Music - the tangible counterpart to the mystical - weaves its way around them in their clothing and their building's ornamentation. The creatures of the land and the air share their living spaces in a cooperative community.
Above all, the Sky People believe that magic is a responsibility - a partnership. It is, in fact, quite a bit like breathing, in that they are aware that each breath out feeds the world, and the world feeds back the air they need to survive. This symbiotic relationship is one I personally admire and falls into that "why not?" category of world building. It isn't perfect, but it's perfect for them.
And of course, the challenge for them comes at the price of not just remembering the old Gods, but almost too literally putting their faith in them. This hovers behind the merriment and joy like a cold shadow; like a chain around their necks. Literally that, in fact.
So, who are the Sky People? Who are these mysterious people, floating above the land in their mountaintop citadels? What is their relationship to the world, how are they related to young Hikari Sandston, and why do the people of the Steel Cities despise them so?
Well, I'm not going to give everything away. You're just going to have to pick up my book and find out.