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5 Things Every Earth Whisperer Needs to Know

Book one in the Silent Skies trilogy, The Last Beekeeper, is now available for purchase as a paperback, and for preorder for the ebook! I'm so pleased to finally share this book with you and, in celebration, here's a sneak peak into the world of the Earth Whisperers, who play a very specific role in the world of The Last Beekeeper.


On the continent of Alphor, with no flying insects or birds to pollinate crop, and many species of ground insects, which keep the soil healthy, also extinct, the Earth Whisperers play a vital role. They have a mysterious magical power which means they can sense and communicate with dormant seeds deep beneath the soil.

By connection with the earth, they can encourage those seeds to grow.

Life in Alphor is harsh. There are no more big cities, or even large town. Instead, humans live in little village communities, ruled over by village Stewards, who are a little bit like monarchs in that they pass the Stewardship of their village on to their children, and will sometimes arrange marriages for their sons and daughters to build alliances between villages.

In these villages, there is very little time to do anything except work the land, so the villages never really have a chance to grow and expand.

Successful villages, which produce plenty of food, are often targeted by wandering bands of raiders who have no village to call home.


So, without the Earth Whisperers, life in Alphor would be virtually impossible. Earth Whisperers tend to discover their powers around the age of five or six. It can be a frightening time for a child of this age because, as you'll see, there are rules around being an Earth Whisperer in Alphor, and most of them are not that fun.

 

1. Discovering Your Power


Discovering your power for the first time can be a scary experience as an Earth Whisperer. Normally, this happens around the age of four or five. Perhaps some instinct makes you kneel in the dirt and press your hands to the soil, where fresh shoots sprout from beneath your fingers. Or perhaps you fall over one day, hands splayed against the earth to catch your fall, and suddenly there's a cluster of ferns in front of you that weren't there before.



It's a confusing time for children with that power, even more so because they know what it means: no village is allowed to 'own' an Earth Whisperer, which means that as soon as a Whisperer is discovered, they are whisked away by a troupe of older, more knowledgeable Whisperers to begin a nomadic lifestyle, travelling from village to village to help the crops grow.

Understandably, most parents are terrified of their children being snatched away by strangers and so, although the villagers need the Earth Whisperers, there's also a lot of distrust between the two groups.

Earth Whisperers can sense the power as it grows and develops in others, a bit like a kind of emotional signal, which draws them to villages where youngsters have newly discovered their gift. This means it's almost impossible for villages to hide young Whisperers.


But, as with any great power, Whisperers must learn to control their talents in order to use them properly. And this is why travelling troupes of Whisperers will take the powerful youngsters with them, to train them and help them understand their power.

It's a hard life, though, away from your family for long periods of time, constantly on the move, facing many dangers both inside and outside village territories.

Needless to say, Whisperers don't have the highest life expectancy.


2. Life on the Move


Although there is a Whisperer Camp (more on this later), most Whisperers don't have a single place they call home. The camp is a meeting place, rather than a permanent residence, and only the oldest or most vulnerable Earth Whisperers spend lots of time there. The other Whisperers are broken into small groups, or troupes. These can be as small as three people or as large as fifteen but, more often than not, are around seven or eight.

Whisperers face a lot of dangers in the Alphorian wilderness, which means mortality rates are high, so lots of Earth Whisperers are young and it isn't unusual for a troupe to be made up of a group of teenagers and children.

This is exactly the kind of group that comes into the village of Sand's End in The Last Beekeeper. They're led by a Whisperer called Mamba, who is around sixteen, the same age as Solma. Although young, he's responsible for the safety and wellbeing of the other six Whisperers in his care and he takes this role very seriously. It's a heavy burden to place on such young shoulders and Mamba takes a long time to trust people.



Luckily for Whisperers, their gift means it's often easy for them to grow food, which they can then harvest quickly. Villages will often give a small portion of their harvest, too, if the Whisperers have been particularly helpful that year.

But lack of food isn't the only danger.

Although it's taboo to harm an Earth Whisperer, accidents do happen and vengeful villagers have been known to hurt or occasionally kill them.


Bands of raiders in the wilderness can also pose a threat, as can hungry predators, disease or exposure to the weather. Whisperers tend to wear green robes, which means they can be easily identified so villagers don't shoot them on sight.


Some Whisperers learn to use weapons to defend themselves. There's one such Whisperer, Ana, in Mamba's group (you'll meet her properly in book 2!) But the nomadic lifestyle can be very hard on young children.

It takes a long time to settle into your troupe, which will now become your new family.

Once you do, though, there's the issue of choosing your Whisperer name.


3. Choosing Your Name


Choosing a name is a rite of passage for a Whisperer, but it's also fraught with danger. Whisperers are not only responsible for helping crops to grow, they also protect what remains of Alphor's wildlife - particularly its snakes.


Snakes can be very dangerous to village life. Hiding in tall crops, they can be startled by people working the land and can deliver venomous bites that maim or kill. With so much medical technology lost, there isn't much that village doctors (often land workers themselves who have learned the meagre medical science still known to humanity) can do to save bite victims. Because of this, snakes are often killed when they are found.

Whisperers understand that every creature on continent has its place in an ecosystem and so they will save snakes when they come across one in a village.

It helps, though, that Whisperers seem less susceptible to snake poisons than other humans.



So, a Whisperer takes their name from the first snake they were bitten by when they came to rescue it.

After this first encounter, they will tend to gravitate towards rescuing this particular snake, but that's not to say they won't save other snakes being attacked or harmed by villagers if they come across one!


You can learn a lot about a Whisperer from their name. The leader of the Whisperer troupe in The Last Beekeeper, for example, is Mamba, which means he was bitten by - and survived - a mamba early in his life as a Whisperer.

Mambas have very potent poison, so this particular Whisperer is strong and capable.

One of the other members of the Whisperer troupe, who we don't meet until book 2, is named after the anaconda, a huge, powerful constrictor that is capable of dislocating its jaw to eat prey much larger than itself. It is also one of the few snakes known to have eaten a human (though this is rare both in Alphor and the real world!). The Whisperer Anaconda - known as Ana for short - is a diminutive girl of around fourteen-years-old. She's quiet and gentle and spends most of her time with the two ponies that pull the Whisperers' cart of supplies.

But once, she wrestled an anaconda.

4. Meeting Village Folk


Fairly early on in your life as a Whisperer, you're going to travel to distant villages to help the land grow and produce crops.

In theory, villages should welcome wandering Whisperers with open arms, provide them with a portion of the crop they yield and make sure they're protected and cared for during their stay.

In practice, though, things can be very different. Villages are suspicious of Whisperers, and almost every village in Alphor has, within living memory, has had at least one child who developed Whispering capabilities and was therefore snatched away by the Whisperers to live a nomadic life.


It's no wonder, then, that village folk are suspicious and resentlful of Whisperers, and it's not unusual for Whisperers to be driven out of a village of the people living there feel their crop is failing or the land isn't yielding as they'd expected.



So, it's important for Whisperers to keep their wits about then when staying in a village. Whisperers will set up a camp on the outskirts of the village and often politely refuse the offer of staying in a village dwelling. They need to be able to get away quickly if things turn sour.

It's rare, though not unheard of, that village folk might kill a Whisperer. Generally, though, even a village hostile to Whisperers won't harm one.

If a village becomes known for hurting or killing Whisperers, they know the Whisperers are unlikely to return and this would be a disaster for most communities in Alphor.


5. The Whisperer Camp


There is, though, one place in Alphor where the Whisperers are safe. Far to the north and regularly relocated to avoid detection is the Whisperer Camp. Readers won't get to visit this place until book 3, and the Whisperers keep it secret.

It's a place where the troupes can congregate to swap news, see old friends, rest and recover from sickness or injury and meet in council to make decisions.

Although they're disparate and nomadic, the Whisperers do have a kind of leadership, a group of four old Whisperers called The Seasons, who are responsible for making the overall decisions around how the Whisperers live and behave around Alphor.


If you want to find out more about The Seasons, though, you'll have to keep an eye out for books 2 and 3, which will be out later in 2022!

 
Life as an Earth Whisperer can be hard, but it's also very important to the world and communities of Alphor.

The Whisperer characters in this series are some of my favourites, and I hope you enjoy getting to know them as much as I did!


If you like the idea of the Earth Whisperers and want to read about their adventures, get your copy of The Last Beekeeper here.


 

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