“Watch out for The GILDACS ghosts”, said Beck as he wished Miran on the start of his gymnasium. The prince bowed in response and left the chamber. The King sent the royal party back to the palace and stayed on at the mystical chamber. “Why did you mention GILDACS?”, he asked with a concerned voice. “O King! Train Miran well. Get him to understand the balance that protects the kingdom of Khupirus and how the GILDACS are always watching for an opportunity to invade. I see that they will come back to haunt Khupirus after your time”, replied the voice from the mystical chamber. King Demian tried to ask Beck for more insight, but the voice wouldn’t speak any further.
A really long time ago, there was a kingdom by name Khupirus. The people of Khupirus lived happily. They enjoyed their work and shared with each other freely as if the kingdom was a big family. The rulers of Khupirus were capable and just. They governed the kingdom in the most benevolent manner.
In the earlier times of the kingdom, Khupirus was plagued by The GILDACS, 7 ghosts. No one knew where they came from. It took enormous courage and effort by the ancestors of Khupirus to drive these ghosts out of the kingdom. The ancient wisdom and power of these ancestors was instilled in a mystical chamber, Beck, that bordered Khupirus. Since then, Beck became the voice of wisdom for the subsequent rulers providing guidance when it is most needed. Beck opened only to the most pressing needs when called upon by the rulers. The only other time Beck opened its doors was when the successor was being introduced by the current ruler. This has been the tradition of Khupirus for several generations.
It is said that The GILDACS are prowling around the borders of Khupirus waiting for an opportunity to get back in.They tried to haunt weak people under stress within the kingdom, but were quickly driven away. These attacks were sporadic and the GILDACS did not gain an upper hand.
King Demian returned to the palace perplexed with the prophecy from Beck. “The GILDACS will come back to haunt Khupirus!”. He called for his most trusted ministers for counsel. “O King! If Beck did not provide anything further it means that we have the power with us to solve the problem. We will be watchful”, they tried to comfort him. “Send word to Chirios (The royal teacher) about the prophecy and that Miran should be trained not just as a great warrior but as a wise King too”.
Chirios was a very wise teacher and expert in training the royal students. He trained Miran and other students in several aspects and principles of the kingdom apart from skills in weaponry. One day Chirios called Miran to give him his final lesson. This was about the history of the kingdom and what kept Khupirus prosperous. “The history of Khupirus has dark chapters too…”, explained Chirios. “The GILDACS, I know, but this was ages ago, no one has seen them and none of us believe in them master”, interrupted Miran. “You should be more mature and wiser than this prince”, replied Chirios with a stern voice. “The GILDACS will look for a weak moment to invade. Keep your people happy and the culture intact. Khupirus’s strength is its people and as long as they are happy and contended, the GILDACS will be at bay. You should also know more about Beck. The mystical chamber is a beacon of hope. The power of your ancestors lies within it. However it will not open as long as you have means to solve a problem by yourself. Go to Beck only when the most pressing and catastrophic problem befalls Khupirus. My wishes are with you”, concluded Chirios. “I am not afraid master, we will guard Khupirus. I will fight the GILDACS if they ever try to come back”, Miran replied confidently.
Several years later it was time for Demian to announce his successor and he crowned Miran as the king of Khupirus in a big ceremony. The people had great merriment and there was joy all across the kingdom. Demian repeated the prophecy of Beck to Miran. He wished him well and bid farewell to the kingdom as he retreated to the monastery in the northern mountains.
Miran ruled well to the best of his abilities supported by the royal staff, some of who succeeded to their positions along with him and were his friends from the royal gymnasium. Phronos, the chief minister was a very wise man proficient in all aspects of administration. Tharros, the commander-in-chief was a great warrior and war strategist. Miran felt supremely confident with such men beside him. Khupirus did not have problems of typical kingdoms. It had problems of plenty and that of abundance. Order and structure was even more important to ensure that there was no waste and people had the opportunity to reap the benefits of their work.
As if to test the new King, the first calamity struck in the form of a minor accident. There was fire in the royal granaries where the grains and pulses of the kingdom were stored and a significant amount was lost before the fire could be put out. “Coupled with less yield this year from our farms, this is a grave problem”, said Phronos. “We were counting on the food we already reaped last year and did not cultivate more, I do not blame our farmers”, he continued. “We should be able to manage for 6 months with what is left and meanwhile we wait for the next yield to turnaround. The situation will be back to normal soon and we will be more vigilant”, he assured the king.
“Let me visit Beck”, Miran announced. “But he will not offer counsel for every problem King”, Phronos replied. “I will find out. This is the first time I will be visiting that place after my father”, Miran left to visit the mystical chamber.
“Is this the most important problem at hand?”, boomed Beck. “I think so…”, Miran replied. “Who does it impact? Principles, People or Palace?”, asked Beck. Miran did not respond. “Go back King! consult your counsel, work with your people”, so saying Beck went silent. Miran waited for a while, but the voice did not come back.
Before the first problem was resolved, there was news that some miscreants from the bordering kingdom attacked and looted the villages of Khupirus. “We will take care of that, I have sent a contingent to these villages and we will increase the forces”, said Tharros. “We have our spies reporting that both the neighboring kingdoms are joining hands to attack Khupirus soon. They had their eye on us for a while and they think that after the change of guard we have become weak”, Phronos said. “Then they are in for a disappointment, Khupirus has never been more powerful than now”, Tharros was infectiously courageous. Miran recollected the message of his teacher “keep your people together, balance in the kingdom is important”. “Prepare the armies, and let us be ready”, he told Tharros. “Phronos, it is important to keep our people secure and happy. Let us announce a month of celebrations and bring the neighboring people into the capital, far from the borders”, said Miran.
The Gildacs were watching the happenings within the kingdom with all intent. “I can smell tension in the air”, said one of the ghosts. “Yes brother, time is near for us to regain this kingdom. Our influence on the neighboring kingdoms has finally worked, war is near and it will topple the balance in Khupirus. Then we will feast”, said the other. The scariest one of all zoomed above them like a huge floating dark shadow, “the King will be my prize, I will devor him myself. You have done well G and A!”, he said addressing the two ghosts as others hovered on the neighboring branches looking intently at the conversation. “Soon you will all be unleashed on Khupirus”, said I, the biggest one of them all.
As anticipated, both the neighboring kingdoms under the influence of GILDACS attacked Khupirus from two directions. Tharros lead the armies with excellent strategy and kept them from entering the kingdom. However some of the bordering villages and some of the large fertile lands of Khupirus were lost as enemies marched in.
The barons of different counties and several village heads of Khupirus sprung into action to retain order and keep normalcy. This worked for some time. But this environment was new to the people of Khupirus as they have not faced calamities and disturbances of this magnitude before. They tried their best to support and help the King overcome the situation. However, the ghost of Distraction infested them and they stopped having fun with their work.
Miran considered going to Beck one more time. “Is it the most important problem you have to resolve?”, Beck boomed. “Yes Beck, this indeed is”, replied Miran with conviction. “Principles, People or Palace?”, asked Beck. “People and Palace”, responded Miran instantly. “You have not tried all the means you have, depend on your people to solve the situation”, Beck went silent again. Miran conveyed the message to Phronos. They along with their most trusted ministers and governors tried to work out plans to relocate people further into the kingdom and help them restart their living. New lands were quickly identified and irrigation started with rapid progress. “You must push your men to work hard and support our people, I want to see quick results”, ordered Miran. There was panic and fear in the minds of the ministers, Barons and marshals.
“Attack the king’s servants and ministers S”, ordered the ghost named I. “With pleasure”, took off S and haunted the ministers, governors and marshalls. Phronos maintained his balance and S was not able to penetrate him yet.
“Whichever of you shows quick improvement in your counties will be rewarded”, said Miran another time. Some of the counties were doing better than the others and this was a way to encourage the others he thought. The ghost of C was closeby and it attacked the minds of the Barons. They in turn went mad with competition and pushed their people, further upsetting balance and creating more stress.
“It is going rather well”, said I to the other ghosts. “I will attack Tharros. It is time to create the Illusion that he is winning. Animosity and Greed bring another kingdom to attack Khupirus. Make them believe that the war is being won and the bounties of Khupirus are in the offing. With a third attack there will be more stress”, said the ghost of Illusion as it floated in air and rushed towards Tharros. It found the right moment and haunted Tharros. He became instantly arrogant and his strategies started to slip.
“Phronos, what happened to Khupirus. Have we done something wrong? We are being attacked from outside from three directions. We thought these were friendly kingdoms”, Miran expressed his concern. “O King! this is a phase, we will grow stronger. Let us be strong from within. Our people is my bigger concern. Today our Baron’s openly lied just to escape embarrassment. I see that our people are acting under the influence of something bad”, he said. “The GILDACS!”, reacted Miran. “I never believed them, but may be it is their work”, he said.
The ghosts of Illusion, Distraction, Lying, Animosity, Competition and Stress wrecked havoc in the kingdom one village by another. Where the counties still did well and tried to help others, the ghost of Greed cast its influence and instilled demand for more attention and fame. What used to be one big family soon started to break itself into islands of counties, villages and groups each placing demands on the administration for special rights, reservations, ration and status. The ghost of Distraction haunted the most, making the people of Khupirus forget their true nature and dragging them into doing anything that made them feel better than their fellowmen.
Phronos doubled up his efforts in bringing people together. He constantly reminded them of the glorious history and the culture of Khupirus. People did not pay attention. They looked for rewards and recognition and nothing else. The productivity gradually started to come down and internal riots started to break out. The GILDACS were fully in full reign after several generations and their victory was complete.
“O King! do not feel weak and discouraged with the situation”, encouraged Phronos. “The ruler should never give up on his people”, he continued. “What news from the front?”, asked Miran. “We have lost another 2 counties today, Tharros is severly injured and has been brought back to the capital. Remus is leading the northern armies now”, replied Phronos. “It is time that you consulted Beck”, Phronos advised.
“Principles, People or Palace?”, asked Beck. Miran thought for a moment. “What concerns me most is the threat to Principles. I will win back my people and my palace as long as principles are in tact, but I see a threat to them”, he said. “My people are forgetting who they are”, he concluded.
“O King! you have not done anything wrong to bring this calamity on. Khupirus will emerge stronger if only you retain your belief”, Beck replied. “The GILDACS have returned I see”, said Beck and Miran imagined that the invisible voice was smiling to himself. “You will have to give Kindness to your people within and Courage to those fighting for you. Count on your Belief and it will Energize everyone to drive Khupirus to victory”, Beck replied. “Belief, Energy, Courage and Kindness”, Miran repeated. “I hold the power of your ancestors and during calamity this is what you need. The GILDACS will attack you more. The biggest ghost of them all, Illusion, has been attacking you for a while. I am happy that you have not lost your Belief, else you would not have come to me”, Beck said and opened its innermost chamber which was never opened before. Miran felt a surge of energy hitting him from within the chamber and a pulse of silent blast zooming through Khupirus.
“Remember King, Kindness to the people within so that they are free from fear and reward. Courage to those who fight for you so that they drive the enemies back. The biggest weapon to fight the ghost of Distraction is to make your people have fun. Help them rediscover their potential and instill joy as a way of work in your ranks. The GILDACS will be weakened sooner than you think. Do not lose your Belief, that is your biggest weapon against the ghost of Illusion”, said Beck.
As Miran left the mystical chamber and rode back to his palace, he saw a dark cloud of huge shadow advance towards him. The shadow devoured everything in its path as if it was swallowing the earth and the horse of Miran stopped in its tracks looking at the scary mass. Miran smiled to himself, “you have made it easy by appearing in front of me”. He remembered his father, his teacher and words of Beck. As the dark mist passed through Miran with the most ominous sounds, Miran looked like a flash of lightning cutting through a lump of dark wood setting it on fire. The ghost of Illusion was torn to pieces and as if blown away by the wind it floated out of Khupirus yelling “I will return King!”. The other ghosts also suffered similar fate one by one as the people of Khupirus regained their faith and their fun, with the persistence from Miran and Phronos. Khupirus was restored to its former glory very soon and grew stronger than ever before.
“Each time the GILDACS are defeated, I will grow stronger with the strength of the ruler that defeats them”, said Beck. “But they will regain their strength and will return”, he continued. “And at that time, the rulers of Khupirus will remember you BECK”, said Miran as he left to his palace.