- "Glory in this day, sons and daughters of Praes,” she said. “The Age of Wonders is upon you, and though it is great and terrible to behold, let Creation remember this – so are we."
- ―Akua Sahelian
- 1 Biography
- 1.1 Background
- 1.2 Book 1 – Squire Claimant and War College
- 1.3 Book 2 - Liesse Rebellion
- 1.4 Book 3 - Arcadian Campaign
- 1.5 Book 3 - Second Liesse
- 1.6 Book 4 - Tenth Crusade
- 1.7 Book 4 - Keter
- 1.8 Book 4 - Everdark
- 1.9 Book 5 - Princes' Graveyard and Salia
- 1.10 Book 6 - Arsenal and Hainaut
- 1.11 Book 7 - Praes
- 2 Timeline
- 3 Appearance
- 4 Relationships
- 5 Powers
- 6 Gallery
- 7 References
Akua Sahelian is the Heiress of Wolof and a Praesi highborn in general. In the early books, Akua represents the traditional Evil Villain that Dread Empress Malicia and the Calamities have tried to end in the Dread Empire. Setting herself up as Catherine Foundling's rival, Akua uses this to her advantage in order to gain power and resources. This eventually results in her Name transitioning into the Diabolist.
As Diabolist, during Book 3, she turns Liesse into a doomsday weapon that creates greater breaches. This forces the Dread Empire to attack her, initiating the Second Battle of Liesse. Using the Still Water necromantic ritual, Akua sacrifices 100,000 Callowans and turns them into undead wights to fight the Dread Empire's army.
After her death at the end of Second Liesse, Catherine has Masego attach Akua's soul to the Mantle of Woe. Akua, now in the form of a shade, slowly starts to mold herself into something that can fit with the personalities of the Woe. Working hard to constantly prove herself useful, Akua gains the trust of Catherine. However, her personality is also shifted by Catherine, causing her to be more empathetic towards others. This eventually leads to Catherine setting her free, betting on Akua having changed.
During the Praesi Campaign in Book 7, Akua switches sides to Malicia after truly understanding there is no way to undo her past. As a reward from Malicia, she is given a new body. She eventually burns down the Tower, being instrumental in changing the way Praes is ruled. After Praes, Akua still keeps near Cat as an advisor, and is part of the group going to Kerolen. Here Akua is instrumental in restoring Sve Noc to godhood.
Akua comes from one of the oldest noble families in Praes and has a deep respect for traditional evil. She disdains what the Black Knight and the Empress have done with the Empire and wishes to return it to the old ways. At age 13, Akua separated her own soul from her body, already then preparing for the plans that would eventually turn into Second Liesse.
Akua gained the Name Heiress most likely as a result of her status as a noble of Wolof. Her family is aligned with many powerful factions in Praes, with her mother being the leader of a faction which opposes the empress herself.
Book 1 – Squire Claimant and War College
Akua is introduced when she in Summerholm is trying to talk the Black Knight into taking her as the Squire instead of Catherine. She later threatens Catherine and every single person in the orphanage Cat grew up in, before sending a few minions to take Cat out. Catherine easily defeats the attackers, with Heiress not taking to battle herself.
After Cat has entered the War College, Akua provokes her at a session at Malicia's court, taking advantage of Catherine's violent reaction to politically maneuver her into a bet, where Cat will loose leadership of the not yet created Fifteenth Legion to Akua, should she loose a massive five-way War Game at the War College. Despite Akua pulling strings, Catherine eventually comes out the winner of this encounter between her and Akua.
Book 2 - Liesse Rebellion
After the Callowan rebellion started, Akua hired mercenary troops and made herself a player in the events. Among her mercenaries were Proceran fantassins and four thousand Stygian slaves. Said slaves was freed by the Lone Swordsman without Akua intervening, after which they moved to Liesse to defend the rebel city.
Akua in the meantime took Barika, the undead Chider and a number of troops to a hidden temple near Marchford, where she, with the Wandering Bard as audience, deliberately unleashed a demon of corruption left behind as a hell-egg by Triumphant, as well as a number of powerful devils. After Cathrine, Hakram, Masego, the Archer and the Hunter had fought the demon, Akua recaptured it in the original hell egg standard, declaring the stand-off a draw between her and Catherine.
With the Calamities arriving to Marchford, Akua and her troops were placed under the Fifteenth by the Black Knight as auxiliary troops while going against the rebel troops holed up in Liesse under Anne Kendall and with William's support. Akua and Catherine both pretended at cooperation, only for Akua to place Barika as a decoy glamoured as her, as the city gates of Liesse were taken. This lead to Barika's death at Catherine's hand, while Akua used a ritual to kill every freed Stygian slave-soldier formerly eating her food, and using their deaths to open a lesser breach, flooding Liesse in devils.
After a stand-down between the three opposing forces in Liesse, where Catherine's group and William and the Thief joined forces against Akua, the Heiress withdrew from the joined opposition. She attempted to use her pattern of three against Catherine with a guarantied win remaining, to have Chider take over the Name of Squire. This however backfired and ended up resetting Catherine's Name with three new unclaimed aspects.
After Catherine defeated William and nearly had Akua at her mercy, Akua managed to blackmail her way to a bargain, having taken control over the pocket dimension they were in, and being Cat's only way out. This bargain secured Akua that Catherine would support the Heiress as governor of Liesse. She did however fail to save all her minions, focusing on those with highest political importance. And while she had bargained her life and Cat not being able to spill her blood, she had not predicted most the bones in her body being broken.
Book 3 - Arcadian Campaign
After gaining control over Liesse, Akua becomes a beacon for young Praesi highborns wanting to push back against Malicia's reforms. She has a lot of people and resources moving from Praes to the Callowan city, despite Robber doing his best to take some out on the way on Cat's command.
During this time Akua gains the Name Diabolist, thanks to a series of actions, beginning the year before with her release of a demon on the town of Marchford, and later opening a lesser breach during First Liesse flooding the city with devils. Each of these actions had been calculated to help her attain the Name, aiming to follow the template of "Diabolist and later Dread Empress" created by Triumphant.
After the Summer fae start their conquest of Southern Callow, Liesse becomes a safe haven flooded by refuges, eagerly taken in by Akua. Once the Summer fae attacks the city, Akua fights back with the full might of Old Praes, bringing both household troops, a high number of Praesi mages and an army of devils to her side. As an opening move, Akua uses the power gained from sacrificing captured fae to make the entirety of Liesse into a flying city. She takes out a fae prince during the battle, but fails to keep his body, before the fae go back into Arcadia as a result of Cat invading Summer at that same time.
Book 3 - Second Liesse
After the Arcadian campaign, Akua sets up a negotiation with Catherine, offering the Squire to be true Queen of Callow, if only she would support Akua to become Dread Empress and later take over the rest of the continent. Catherine refuses, in spite of Akua mentioning the ritual still water, that can be used to turn all of the Callowan refuges in the flying city of Liesse into undeads using a ritual with minimal magic involved in the process. After being turned down, Akua makes good on her threat, gaining an army of 100,000 wights, that are comparable to Binds in the service of the Dead King.
With Akua's undead wights clashing with the Legions of Terror, the true battle of Second Liesse takes place when Catherine and the Black Knight enters Liesse on their own. Going up against Catherine, Akua takes advantage on her rival's predictable use of powers to eventually bind a fae winter-powered Catherine completely to her will. Akua reveals her plan is to break Catherine completely, and then rebuild her into her own Black Knight. Taking down Malicia and the Calamities, before conquering the rest of the continent.
Akua makes Catherine kill the captured Black Knight, only then to learn Amadeus have tricked Akua into capturing the Assassin posing as Amadeus. The real Amadeus is revealed to keep Akua's father prisoner, which leads to Dumisai dying by Robber's goblin-company's crossbows after Amadeus promised Akua he would let her father go. This gives Catherine the opportunity to break her binds, in a combination of help from the Thief and tearing down the spells that helped keep the full consequences of her fae powers away from her. Catherine then freezes Akua's ribcase, before tearing out her heart.
As Akua had separated her soul from her body years earlier, she was able to use it to power the spells of Liesse. This also meant having her body killed, didn't release Akua's soul. The Archer eventually tracked it down in the ruins of Liesse after a month of searching, and gave over the soul to Catherine.
Book 4 - Tenth Crusade
After the Doom of Liesse, Catherine had Akua's soul inserted into her cloak, with Akua being trapped inside vaguely conscious but without knowing what was going on while she was in the cloak. Cat would call on Akua on occasion, releasing her into Creation as a shade only Catherine could see, while asking questions or advice. She used Akua's invisible guidance during monthly meeting with Cordelia Hasenbach. And also occasionally talked to her about Praesi conditions or political advice. This didn't stop Catherine from occasionally ordering Akua to torture herself, should the shade say anything that displeased Cat enough.
During the Tenth Crusade, the Saint of Swords takes a cut out of Catherine's winter powers, and Akua uses this to her advantage, securing some of the power in a plan to free herself from her solitary prison. After the Grey Pilgrim knocks both Catherine and Masego into a coma, as they dropped a lacked on the Proceran forces, Akua uses this to her advantage.
Akua takes control of Catherine's body, making the Black Queen rise from her bedside. Her ruse is immediately revealed by Vivienne, who in return takes control over Cat's Akua-controlled body using a codeword. It's revealed that Cat has bound herself to Vivienne with several powerful oaths, as a safeguard should Winter ever take over her personality. Vivienne uses this control to make Akua pull out Cat's eye many time in a row simply to make a point. After this, Akua is ordered to pose as Cat in an upcoming battle against the Crusade heroes.
Going fully in during the battle against all the heroes of the opposite side, Akua has a blast playing Cat acting as a hero, while at the same time revealing she understands and can use Cat's winter power a lot better than Catherine herself has managed. Eventually, Akua learns Catherine installed another safeguard meaning the more power Akua spends, the more Catherine will be taken back into control. Akua then proceeds to fully lean into this, instantly releasing Cat. Facing all the heroes. Not knowing what was goin on up until that point.
Book 4 - Keter
After Catherine's winter powers suffered a cut from the Sword of Saints, Akua managed to secure some of it for herself. This became evident, as all of the Woe could see Akua when she was called on by Cat, and the shade by then also was capable of taking a shape more to her own liking, instead of the one she had at her death.
No longer stuck in Cat's cloak, Akua was brought with the Woe on the trip to Keter. Here she attempted to make friends with the other Names - or alternatively just talk to people again after about a year stuck in a piece of fabric - with limited success. Cat did note that Hakram seemed to be the one she talked most with, despite Akua being a highborn and expected to be racist against orcs. But this most likely was because Vivienne vocally wanted Akua permanently dead, Indrani thought the shade would make for nice targeting practice and Masego was too busy studying Arcadia. During this trip, it became evident that Vivienne had the ability to get under Akua's skin, making the dislike between them more than just one-sided.
As they neared Keter, Catherine used her control over Akua to disguise the shade as a fae. Keeping Akua actively travelling together with the Woe a secret.
Book 4 - Everdark
After the botched attempt to ally with the Dead King, the Woe split with Cathrine and Indrani planning to go to the Everdark in an attempt to instead ally with the drow. As Akua was still bound to Catherine's cloak, this also automatically included her. Having only these two as her travelling companions, Akua did much better getting along well with everyone. Playing cards with both when they encountered their first drow.
As Catherine slowly butchered her way through the drow ranks, while getting herself all their subordinate lower caste drows in her retinue, Akua ended up as one of Cat's direct second in commands. While closely monitored by Catherine, who'd question her for plans of treachery routinely and then subsequently wipe Akua's memories about this, Akua did her best to be a loyal follower, while trying to figure out a way to get her own life back.
During the final battle against Sve Noc, all of Cat's winter was released with explosive results. This would have been Akua's chance to flee, but instead she choose to help Catherine in her battle against the dual deity. By tearing a hand through Catherine's ribcage and into her heart, proudly proclaiming the power of friendship. Akua fought a hopeless battle with Catherine and stayed at Catherine's side during the final negotiations with Sve Noc, where Winter ultimately was given to the drow goddess by Cat - with no guarantee of getting even their lives in return.
Book 5 - Princes' Graveyard and Salia
Princes' graveyard + post Salia
Book 6 - Arsenal and Hainaut
pre-Arsenal + Hainaut
Book 7 - Praes
Return to Praes
Akua was born in 1306 a.D., which makes her about a year older than Masego and two years older than Catherine. When she was thirteen years old she removed her soul from her body in order to use it as a key to her ritual creating a Greater Breach; this was seven years before it was put to use at Second Liesse, i.e. in 1319.
Akua first met Catherine, pretending to be a contender for the Name of Squire, in the spring of 1324 and in the summer of 1325 she became governor of Liesse. Her transition into the name Diabolist took place sometime during the three months Catherine was in Arcadia, so more or less in the middle of the first half of 1326, and Second Liesse was about four months after her return (i.e. in the late summer or early fall of the same year).
Akua is a highborn Soninke, meaning she has dark skin, high cheekbones, long hair and very distinct golden eyes. Bred for good looks, Akua has been blessed with a perfect hour-glass figure and supernatural beauty. She's been noted as tall, but rarely as often as is the case with someone like Masego. She makes a point of dressing to show her status, with a preference for red and golden tones.
After her death, Akua as a shade was stuck with the look she had at the moment it happened, leaving her with a hole in her chest where her heart was ripped out, while wearing the red and gold outfit and veil she was in at that time. Later, she learnt to control her own look as a shade, allowing her to pick her own outfits and appear without gaping wounds.
During the visit to Keter, shade Akua was disguised as a fae with larger vivid scarlet eyes, pointed ears, long dark hair and more pronounced fae features.
During her time as a shade Akua goes through several distinct changes of wardrobe. First winter-themed accessories when Catherine is the Sovereign of Moonless Nights, then black outfits with her face veiled as Advisor Kivule while Cat is First Under Night. After Catherine frees her Akua is noted as no longer wearing jewelry, which is a habit she continues after she returns to life as well.
Black swan: During the war against Keter, Akua takes advantage of her ability to shapeshift, taking the form of a black swan when she needs to travel. This motif is from then on occasionally repeated in her accessories or clothing.
Dumisai of Aksum: Akua has a unique relationship with her father, Dumisai of Aksum. She wishes he had taken the name of Warlock. She also thinks that he is the one person who does not have any ulterior motives and loves her for who she is.
Tasia Sahelian: Contrary to her mother Tasia's designs, Akua does not wish to remain underneath her mother's control for long, but she uses her influence to further her own plans.
Barika Unonti: While neither Akua's smartest nor most important minion in the early books, Barika stood out for being the most loyal. Akua had no issue using Barika to her fullest, which eventually lead to the minion's death. After this, Akua concluded that for all that had happened, Barika's absence was the loss she'd feel the longest, with the other girl no longer around whenever Akua wanted to speak to someone else.
Akua's main weapon is her mind, with which she is able to weave schemes that manipulate her many powerful enemies. She twists one of her subordinates to create a wager wherein she either stalls the Squire's progress or gains control of an entire legion, in a win/win situation for her costing nothing but the broken finger of a minion. Akua also has a deep knowledge of Names; she knows about the nemesis story between her and Catherine, and she also understands how to make a pact between Names. She transcends her Name by playing a chess game that she hates as well as freeing hordes of demons, and nearly gaining control over an Angel of contrition.
Heiress: Is not a combat-oriented Name; her skill lies in planning for confrontations but in direct combat it has been shown she prefers to use mercenaries (as evidenced in the closing of book 1) and plan situations so that she is out of the line of fire. Her Name tends towards subtle means of dispatching her enemies.
Diabolist: The Diabolist gained the ability to manipulate otherworldly beings, such as devils and demons; her Name allowed increased proficiency with opening breaches to the Hells. After acquiring her name she became more proficient with using combat magic, in addition to a magical shield.
In just a few months she gained all three of her aspects: Call, Bind, Claim.
- Call: Allows her to command any force she has personally brought into Creation.
- Bind: This allows the binding of creatures; works more efficiently on beings that exist out of Creation.
- Claim: Allows the theft of power; any power directed at her can be claimed as her own.
- Book 2 - Epilogue
- Book 4 - Interlude: Kaleidoscope VI
- Book 3 - Villainous Interlude: Crescendo
- Book 3 - Villainous Interlude: Chiaroscuro
- Book 3 - Chapter 16: Shambles
- Book 4 - Chapter 3: Chat
- Book 4 - Chapter 32: Kernel
- Book 6 - Chapter 4: Shadowed