Chapter One - Life At The Palace
~The thriving, yet tumultuous world of Galacia collides with the kindness of a single man who put righteousness above politics, and the bravery of a single woman who could find her true worth once again~
The young woman named Melody had been out in the vineyards collecting grapes in her woven basket as the palace guards stood and watched by the gates.
The guards never really focused on their jobs, no intruders ever came by Tashil’s palace except the prophet. Instead they used this time for their personal enjoyment and pride-boosting hours, to pick on the less fortunate, and lower people of the world - slaves.
Such was Melody, who was a slave in Galacia and constantly mocked, but she never denied it. Her scorn was so much to herself as it was the others to her. It truly was a worthless and pathetic existence, in her mind.
She walked around the fine fountains and exotic gardens of the king’s yards. From the distance, she heard the constant clamor of vulgar words and hostile scoffing of the palace guards toward her and her unclean body.
She was forced to listen to it, daily. But she didn’t mind it, she mostly agreed with what they had to say, no matter how pathetic or demeaning it was. Most emotion left her. She was inured to the dehumanization of her kind, all slaves. But mainly herself, for at the end of the day when she sleeps, she only has herself, and does nothing but lay there, with her thoughts of the terrible work, slander, and horror that’s thrown at her to make the men of the palace happy and comfortable.
“Hey Melody! Better not slack off! Last slave that was lazy we beat half to death!”
“Wouldn’t want Tashil to come into his beloved gardens to see a bloody slave shoved into the doorway! Not like Tashil would give a damn about a slave girl anyway! He just wouldn't want a mess!”
The guards said what they pleased, none of it mattered to Melody, so long as she got the job done. She plucked grape by grape, occasionally dropping a few or accidentally splattering some into her torso. The guards laughed and degraded her. They were stopped when they saw a man dressed in all black with buttoned attire and a conductor’s cap. Such outfits were likened unto people called 'Masters' in the palace, and they were the top officials in all the land under Tashil. They were his go-to men, his suppliers, his counselors, his intellectuals; they were the ones in second command, yet with Tashil’s absolute power and iron rule, second place felt almost like nothing. But they still held authority. The guards turned stiff when seeing him. He walked onto the platform before the doorway and began scolding them.
Melody, who was minding her own business, suddenly turned around and recognized the man scolding them. It was Master Virgil.
“That woman works hard in this castle and all you have to do is make light of her work and treat her despicably?” Virgil questioned them outright. The guards exchanged glances.
“But sir, she’s just a slave...” one of the guards said.
“You will do what I say right now,” Virgil commanded. The guards did so. Then Virgil bid their leave, and so they went on their way.
Despite standing up for Melody, she was still dissatisfied, for though Virgil was never one to degrade with words, he was someone Melody would rather stay away from any time she could, but she had no rights as a slave and could never truly escape. For the real evil in Virgil wasn’t his words, but his selfish sexual desire, which he’d impose on whoever he wanted since he was given that right by the king to satisfy his needs and exert authority. Out of all the girls Virgil has to choose from, he almost always chooses Melody.
He was in love with her, or at least with her body. She always had fine hair and a smooth face, even for a slave, and her body was naturally attractive to men. Her eyes were captivating, but often lifeless and dead. Perhaps not beautiful in the common person's definition, as she was usually dirty from her scalp to her feet. Dandruff flaked her hair, and her teeth weren't in order. She was often harassed by men, but none nearly as much as Master Virgil.
When Virgil called the guards away, he’d call Melody up to him and told her she was done for the day. She laid the basket of grapes on a nearby counter once they walked into the gates of the palace, passing by the platform.
“Here, sit down, let’s have a talk,” Virgil eased his arms around Melody’s shoulders and sat her down by a bench against the palace's inner wall.
Melody stayed still, she didn’t speak a word. “I don’t like the way those guys talk to you,” Virgil went on saying. “You should speak up for yourself more, or come get me and I’ll handle them.” He caressed his arm down Melody’s back, smoothing out her spine.
“You really are different than the other slave girls, your complexion, your soft skin, your flowing hair. It’s attributes you’d see of perhaps a princess or a fair maiden in this castle. But these heavenly gifts were bestowed unto you, my dear, and I find that irreplaceable, in you,” Virgil spoke softly, he relaxed any of Melody’s muscles that were tense from fieldwork and harsh labor they assigned for her malnourished body.
Virgil and Melody would just sit there for a few silent moments, Melody just forced to endure whatever suggestive thoughts Virgil had been devising, until some great force shook the palace and rung all the glass and expensive jewelry and ornaments in the long halls. An attack! Everyone was on alert, and the Masters came out from their rooms. Slaves were called in case of back-up protection for the king, and all the guards and king’s soldiers rushed down the hallways toward the entrance where the intruders made their crude appearance.
The attackers were none other than King Tashil’s long-standing enemies, Prophet Vashti and his men. Wyatt and Izan tagged alongside Vashti on his journeys and important missions with which he carried out in Galacia often. Tashil could never kill Vashti, for he was too loved by the people for a public execution, assassinations never worked for he was too evasive, and so the only time Tashil had the chance to eliminate him was to do it himself whenever those two came face-to-face with one another; which was quite often to say the least. Vashti would always intrude upon Tashil and challenge him to some sort of fight or war of words, or Tashil would come with soldiers to Vashti’s hideouts and duel him, but there would never be a victor.
When it was reported to the king that the prophet Vashti entered the palace, he immediately clothed himself in his royal robes and came down, dagger in hand, to face off against him. His guards lined up like a human wall between the broken door passage and the rest of the palace and main lobby. Tashil walked down the stairs, creating a moment of suspense between the two rivals and the guards standing back. Vashti could only look on in disgust, spitting at the ground and aiming his dagger at him.
“Tashil! Your long and unforgiving reign will be put to an end by my hand. Your terror will be stopped,” Vashti announced to him. The king only shrugged his shoulders.
“Vashti, you’re a fool. I am the inherited king of this entire land. Overthrowing me would mean overthrowing the entire royal bloodline. You are nothing, just a low-down prophet who tries to suade the people with minced words and forbade the masses of my reign. Yet none of these masses which you’ve contaminated with your doctrine have come after me. Only you and the two goonies behind you,” Tashil replied harshly.
“It doesn’t matter how powerful you think you are, or how pitiful you think I am. All men are born and all men die the same. Don’t think being king prevents that,” Vashti warns.
“I’m aware of that, but when you’re only given one life to live, and you’re the king, why not make the most of it? You were born an ant that refuses to be squashed,” Tashil held his fist in anger.
“Being able to do whatever you want doesn’t make your life fulfilled, but walking the righteous path, and keeping close to community in love and brotherhood, that is fulfilling.”
“All just meek words that mean nothing. Every man wants power and money in the end.”
Prophet Vashti paused for a short moment, but then spoke, in an almost powerful yet soft spoken vibe.
“You know Tashil, there was a time when people lived together before money existed...” Vashti tried to open Tashil’s eyes, but they were sealed shut. They held the words in their tongues, but not in their hearts, so they clashed. Tashil rushed at Vashti, and Vashti likewise. Vashti’s knife was thrust against Tashil’s dagger, and they dueled for moments at a time, their arms flailing at one another, aiming to cut each other into ribbons...
Part of Vashti’s raiment and Tashil’s fur coat were sliced up, their faces had scratches of blood on them. The soldiers behind him persisted that they’d fight for the king, barking and saluting their service to him. Despite Tashil deeply wanted to settle this score alone, he listened to his men for the time being and dropped behind them so they could charge. Vashti, Wyatt, and Izan all charged in response, and were able to fight off the guards with ease, embarrassing Tashil’s power. He was fueled with anger. Again, he came to the forefront and faced off against Vashti and raised his dagger, only to fall onto Vashti in one fell swoop with his sheer might, and larger body composition.
Their clashes would always be fierce; their relentless hatred of each other created incredible confrontations.
Vashti’s knife against Tashil’s dagger would collide with hot clashes and swift speeds as they dragged on a duel of prophet vs. king. Eventually, Vashti went to cut Tashil and sliced him by the arm. Tashil had to fall back, holding his arm and giving an evil glare to Vashti.
“I’ll say it again, Tashil. Give up this throne and repent from this evil,” Prophet Vashti charged him.
But King Tashil did not listen, and sent his soldiers out again, this time tenfold, along with his masters in the back, and set traps against them near the palace entrance. Vashti was forced to retreat, but he still warned Tashil more and more that his kingdom would come to an end, and he would not have much longer to continue this wickedness. He proceeded onto his steed, and rode away across the palace entryway. Tashil and his men gave no regard to the prophet’s words, and were willing to proceed after him, but Tashil ordered against it, merely accepting this as yet another draw, and retreating back to his courts where he may be treated for his injuries.