One Mind, Two Tails: The Streetwise Twins with a Talent for Mischief
Originally, I sat down to write about this past weekend's success at a team-based mahjong tournament. It was a very fun and exciting weekend, but I also want to start getting ready to introduce some of the new characters you'll meet in book two. And that's when I realized something criminal...
See, while I've spoken with fans who all have their own favorite characters for one reason or another, there does seem to be a consensus... a troublesome duo that stands tall above the rest when it comes to popularity: of course I'm talking about Ailu and Kyon! The fact that they haven't gotten their due yet on my blog really is a crime.
(Spoilers below. You've been warned!)
My illustrator really nailed the twin aesthetic, while respecting the subtle differences. Love!! Insta: @abundisart
Tricksters with a Tenderheart
“Looking for me?” A cool breath on the back of my neck accompanied the whisper.
It startled me and I yelped, nearly jumping out of my skin! I whirled around on the heels of my feet and found a pair of gold and red eyes glaring at me.
“Y-You!” I stammered. “But how? Weren’t you just…?”
I turned my head back towards the stall, but found myself facing a pair of red and gold eyes again.
“… Over here?” She finished.
“Ah!” I yelped again. “How are you doing that?"
I did a double take… but wait, was I seeing double??
Two sets of laughter rang out, and I watched as the gold-and-red-eyed girl in front of me high-fived the nearly identical red-and-gold-eyed girl behind me. They stepped away from me and clung to each other as they laughed." - Welcome to Wis' Apothecary, The Troublesome Twins
At 17-years-old, Ailu and Kyon have practically grown up in the streets of Aramore. As twins, they of course share the same birthday, Juille 22, born under the Constellation of the Fox. Pretty appropriate for a pair of sly con artists, no?
However, as Hybrids, there's one big difference that sets the two apart: one has cat ears, while the other has a bushy dog tail. Ailu takes after their dad, a cat Hybrid, and Kyon takes after their mom, a dog Hybrid. They also have the extraordinary ability to transform into their respective animals, difficult magic - even among other Hybrids.
This is thanks to their time in the streets, dire circumstances forcing them to get crafty to survive. Their father is just a petty thief, and they didn't grow up with much. But when he stole from the wrong person and fled town, things only got worse. The crushing debt saddled with the family caused their mother to become sick, a plight Isabel won't be able to ignore... though these tricksters will certainly test her patience!
At their core, the twins are really kind and considerate - even if Ailu would reject the notion. And though they find a new friend in Isabel, the twins have always had each other, and are truly "thick as thieves." They have the whole "twinepathy" thing down pat... just about the only thing they argue about is dinner!
The Tragedy of Circumstance
In real life, a couple of my best friends are twins. And at the outset of writing this book, I knew I wanted to include a pair of twins. Now, don't tell them I told you this, but they're not nearly as crafty. And they argue way more. But still, I knew I wanted to introduce twins somewhere. Enter this story.
I wanted Isabel to get scammed. I wanted the scam to involve twin, body-swapping shenanigans. And, like any good story, I wanted it to not all be as it seems. The Troublesome Twins was honestly just as tricky to write as the characters are themselves, and it took me a lot of time to work out the plot. But the con and everything else aside, I wanted the characters to be sympathetic.
As a meddling apprentice, Isabel certainly has her share of worries. And she isn't a character without faults. But I think this story is the first time where she is woken up to the amount of privilege she has. Two loving and supportive parents, a busy orchard that kept her fed and clothed growing up, a world-renowned teacher at her side...
But Isabel's mom was sick. The twins' mom is sick. And Isabel is empathetic enough to understand why that's so difficult. Their actions don't define the twins, their circumstances define the actions. And while that's not fair, that's why Isabel is so called to help. She was helped once, after all. It's why she became a witch in the first place.
And that's how, in this story, the scammed becomes the scammer... though we all know it can't go that smoothly, right?
Will the Tails Continue?
As putting off this character post was criminal, so too would be saying goodbye to Ailu and Kyon. Like Becca, they're simply too popular to ignore, and frankly, just too enjoyable to write. From the pranks to the banter... Isabel's headaches are far from over when it comes to these two.
In fact, fans might be happy to hear they actually make an appearance in the very first story of volume two! Though that particular story is about Isabel, their stories are far from over. They're free of one debt, but now they owe a considerable deal to the apothecary - even if just personally. And though things with their mom have been resolved, what about their deadbeat dad? Not to mention, you don't live the way they do without making a few enemies along the way...
Luckily for Ailu and Kyon, they've made a couple of powerful friends too.
How do you feel about the twins? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Are they your favorites, too? Let me know in the comments below! Or as always, feel free to send me an email or drop me a line on social media.
I hope you look forward to more of Ailu and Kyon's hijinx in volume two!
Until next time, thanks for reading.