Eden- Chapter 1
Our story begins with the tale of overconfident and dogmatic revolutionary Giovanni as attempts a coup. Will he succeed? Eden is a story of an exile who shipwrecks on an island of paradise. Here, he meets a princess named Kei and learns of a world outside of his warring kingdom. Will he bring perpetuate the war and violence of his own occupied homeland in this new land or will right his wrongs and learn there is a better path than vengeance?
Revolution was dawning. I could hear it in the slight buzz of rapid Azzurrian and Cortesian chatter in the streets all around me. Freedom was coming, even if the citizens did not know it yet, as they drifted along obliviously through their nightly routine. My fast paced footprints echoed down the damp cobblestone streets on my way to meet the representative of the Crown of Tiranía as he held court on my home island of Azzurro. This was my homeland, the land where my ancestors had once been kings and queens, ruling in courts of their own. It was time now Azzurro was returned to its rightful inhabitants, and the crown taken away from the foreign Cortesians who currently ruled my people.
Incidentally, life under the Crown of Tiranía wasn’t terrible for me. My father ran a vineyard and I served as an apprentice to a man in the governor’s bureaucracy. We were able to support ourselves and my mother, who will soon give birth to my younger sibling. I am hoping for a brother. We have land and a suitable house, where I grew up playing and splashing around in the shallows of the warm Zaffire Sea. They raised me to be a good man: to love God, my family, my country, and those around me.
And yet, somehow, I ended up becoming a revolutionary against this very Crown of Tiranía. Perhaps this all came about one day 5 years ago, when my older brother, Angelo, told me a story. It was a hot day on the shore of the glistening turquoise sea. We sat down on a roughly woven orange and yellow mat, an artifact that had been in my family for years, as we enjoyed a carved wooden cup full of fresh wine we snuck from our father's cellar. For someone named after an angel, Angelo was quite the troublemaker. As he split a warm loaf of bread between us, he asked if I would like to hear a story. I adored my older brother and his exaggerated tales, so I agreed to listen and squinted to see his warm brown eyes through the glare of the early morning sun. For the first time, I noticed the dark circles lurking underneath them. He told me in a voice filled with drama stories of our family. We were descended from a line of kings dating back to the Caelesars themselves. He told me stories of their palaces and the rich gardens and beautiful white marble columns. This was all I needed to hear. From that moment on, I dreamed of being a prince. But the glory in my imagination took a dark turn when he told me of the evil doers from Cortes who took the crown from our family with all the malice of the devil himself, and the king who now rules us from a distance. He told me of where he had been sneaking off to: to underground meetings of revolutionaries, who wanted to overthrow the Cortesians and place Azzurian kingship back into rightful Azzurrian hands. I was intrigued, and I wanted to participate in this plot so I could one day achieve my Royal ambitions. I attended my first La Libertà di Dio meeting the next night.
That was five years ago. I am now seventeen, a man in my own right, and the time has come for me to fulfill the promises I made to my brothers in arms and to my fellow Azzurrians. It is my time to shine as bright as the heroes and demigods immortalized in the twinkling stars that now pierced the pitch black sky above my head. They seemed to be encouraging me to be brave and face my destiny. I could feel Angelo doing the same, a proud older brother protecting me from the heavens above. Now, the idea of being a prince seemed the silly fantasy of a spoiled child; but the idea of being a hero for my country was a man’s desire, and it burned in my heart and mind as brightly as the stars and moon, no, the sun, which now hid its beautiful golden rays behind the cloak of darkness. Yet, one day, the sun would shine brighter than it had in years. It would smile and give its warmth to its free children, If only I, Giovanni Romano, could dispel the mantle of darkness placed upon us by the Cortesians and the crown of Tiranía.
As I walked along the torchlight streets to the Governor’s house, my thoughts were interrupted by a beautiful young woman in a red taffeta dress calling out for help in front of me. She had dropped her shimmering golden locket in a puddle of mud from last night’s rain. It would have been improper for her to have bent down to retrieve it, dirtying her cherry-red gown. Perhaps she and I were headed to the same destination. I bent down to retrieve the glinting object from the filth and wrapped in a piece of silken cloth. “My lady,” I said, handing her the bundle. She returned a dazzling smile. She was truly beautiful, in her late teens or early twenties with strange, golden-brown hair in tight ringlet curls and blue eyes that almost glowed transparent in the torch-light. She thanked me, and we walked together down the dimly-lit streets. Her name was Gabriella and she was from a nearby town and visiting a potential suitor, one of the King’s seven sons. He had seen her in the market and asked her to join him at the governor’s court. I almost lost track of the time until a large tower with beautiful masonry loomed in the distance like the dark gates of the netherworlds. I reminded myself of the promise Jesus made to Peter: “The gates of the netherworlds will not prevail”. This reassured me only slightly as I took a deep breath and swallowed in anticipation, knowing that this moment would forever change my life and the lives of many.
When we approached the heavy oak wood doors, a guard dressed in full uniform opened the door for me with a creek, and stood aside in perfect posture, like a traditional marble statue, to let us enter castle: Gabriella first, of course. As I walked past the guard, a silver metallic gleam just above the sheath of his sword caught my eye, reminding me of my fate if I was to fail on this mission. The foyer was as large as my house; like a cave with towering ceilings painted with frescoes of God, angels, demons, and even one, my personal favorite, of the Garden of Eden. I enjoyed the idyllic irony of how Adam and Eve had sinned so terribly, and yet, God forgave them and promised to send his only son as the messiah. This kind of forgiveness is not something I have ever witnessed in my seventeen years on this earth. Where I live, there is nothing except cold and unforgiving justice; a life for an eye. But now was not the time to think of this: Angelo had made a mistake. He had let his cover slip when a pretty woman had so little as cast a look in his direction. Here, three years later, I would never do something so childish: I had been trained underground as a warrior and spy, and if there was one thing I had learned, it was never to let your guard down.