Goddess of a Mad King Excerpt – Shaheen

Goddess of a Mad King by Jody J Hill is an epic fantasy novel told from the viewpoints of the four main characters. The following is an excerpt from one of the protagonists:

Entering the cozy little house, Shaheen started the cook-fire under a hanging pot and set some water to boil. She made sure that her father was seated comfortably across from Azeem at the table and her handcrafted mugs were filled with sweet mead. She didn’t speak, as her father and Azeem chatted casually about their work, but her mind was full of unanswered questions. What is going to happen to Miusa and the others that have been taken advantage of? When are we going to have this conversation, Father?

Her knife flew through the vegetables, preparing them for the soup pot. When their dinner was simmering over the coals in the fireplace, she pulled up a chair next to her father and looked at him questioningly, begging him with her eyes to give her some answers.

“Shaheen, my daughter, I want you to know I did the best I could,” he said in a weary voice.

“What do you mean, the best you could?” Her eyes narrowed as she predicted his answer.

Azeem quickly answered for the older man, sounding full of resentment, “It means that he brought up your questions during our allotted time instead of trying to negotiate for supplies for the journey to the Canyonlands as he intended.”

Even though she could hear the reproach in Azeem’s words, she pushed for an answer from her father. “What did the Council say about the treatment of our People, father?”

Azeem threw up his hands and taking his mug of mead stepped outside, leaving Shaheen alone with her father.

She watched the door swing shut and bit her lip in frustration. What is wrong with him? Why is he treating me like it is all my fault for these problems, instead of the Delosians? It’s like he’s blaming me for wanting to protect them.

Her father took a sip of mead and gave a light sigh as if it were an effort to answer her questions. “I requested a review of the by-laws governing the Arakesh during our contract and you were correct. There is no provision for Arakesh to be tried by the Delosian Court. However, there is a provision that states that the Arakesh community as whole is responsible for any damages done by a person of Arakesh descent.”

Shaheen started to counter this statement but her father held up his hand to halt her comments.

His voice took on a harshness unfamiliar to Shaheen as he continued, “The Delosian delegates said that the girls could work to pay off their employers for any losses they accrued.”

“But Father, our people are the ones suffering. This is wrong! It is my friends that have been soiled by the swains of the Traders. It is our neighbors that have been accused of theft without proof. Didn’t you listen when I told you what a found out?”

“Yes, I heard you. You have to understand; without hard proof I have little say in what the Delosian’s decide.

“What better evidence than my word! Why didn’t you let me talk to them? I could have told them in person everything I found out.” Shaheen dropped to her knees before her father and pleaded. “You are turning your back on those who rely on you. All the Arakesh believe you have their best interests in mind but now you have betrayed their beliefs by siding with the Delosians.”

“Shaheen, that is enough!” Her father’s voice was firm. “We are severing our ties with Delosia in less than a month. We need them to give us wagons, food, and livestock to make our journey. The last thing we need is some wayward children upsetting the delicate political balance that I have procured. You are thinking of the needs of a few individuals. You need to be thinking of the needs of your People.”

“And I suppose Azeem and the other Council members agree with you?”

“Yes, they do,” her father said with finality in his voice.

Shaheen’s face tightened with dismay as she fought the tears that were threatening to come. “So, we sacrifice a few so we may have comfort in the long run? Even if those few are my friends? What if I chose to work in the Great Houses? Father, it could have been me!” The tears broke free as she rose from the floor.

She slammed her mug against the table shattering it and spilling sticky mead across its surface and onto the floor. “You can fix your own soup,” she growled as she stormed out the door.

Azeem was sitting just outside and tried to calm her but she shrugged him off and ran without destination in mind. Her tumultuous thoughts pounded like a war drum against her skull.  I can’t believe he would be so callous. He spent so much time working with the Delosians he is starting to think like them. And Azeem and the others agree with him. Delosia owes us! We have built all the beauty in this place. Just wait until we leave and they have to weave their own blankets, craft their own statues, serve their fine meals on dishes THEY HAVE MADE THEMSELVES!!

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