First draft disclaimer:
This narrative is a first draft, and is therefor subject to grammar errors, repetitiveness, lack of clarity, and other issues. Later drafts will smooth such things over, but for now they remain. Please be tolerant.
When the sun finally rose, Chloe was already in her library reading. In fact, she had just given up, and snuffed out the flat wick lamp.
She stared at the ceiling, blackened by years of lamp smoke. “No use wasting time on all that. I guess I’ll go find dad, see what he plans to do with the guests.”
When she pulled her door open, she found a man there, about a head shorter than her, reaching forward to knock.
“Oh, uh, hi there.”
“Hello Elliott,” Chloe smiled at him. It was a timid movement, the kind that makes men below the age of thirty blush, and men above the age of thirty scowl.
“Yoooo…” He drawled, “ya’ll have laws against graffiti?”
“Gawhat?” Chloe gave him a hesitant, questioning look.
“It’s like an illegal- umm, uhh…” Elliott just used the word ‘illegal’ in front of one of the top ruling bodies in the nation.
“I don’t want a lesson on Lussa law, I just want to know what you want to do,” Chloe said. She tilted her head and thought on something.
“Never mind.” Elliott skulked back to his room and started stuffing his bag.
Chloe passed his room on her way downstairs. Elliott glanced out his door just in time to see her feet falter. She swivelled, and then snapped to face the other way, exhaling a small, “ah,” and then walking in the opposite direction. It was an accident, but she made it seem entirely purposeful.
Elliott realized something very important in that moment. He saw that, like his own Queen Riley, Prince Chloe was someone who allowed people to underestimate her. Although, unlike Riley, she appeared to be doing it entirely by accident. Elliott had a feeling that there was more to her than she put on. He also decided that it was now his mission to find out what lay beyond the airy, almost ditzy outer shell of Chloe Rhye.
Chloe swivelled and went the opposite direction. Her father would likely be upstairs in his room. He didn’t live in the throne room after all.
On her way, she met her older sister Natasha on the staircase.
Natasha said, “If you’re looking for father, he’s not in his room.”
Chloe went upstairs anyway, just in case. She was surprised with a vision of savage beauty. Her mother.
“Gwen- ah, mother?”
Gwenhime gave her daughter an analysing look. “Chloe.”
Chloe had always felt that her mother had something against her. It was thought that Gwenhime would outlive her husband by a few hundred years, she had some sort of immortal modifications done to her, out of necessity as opposed to eternal youth. Gwenhime was a tall woman, taller than the King. She also seemed wispy somehow, like she physically wasn’t all there.
“Dear.” Gwenhime’s severe expression lightened, mostly, “Elham has told me of how you worry.”
“Ah…” Chloe looked away, timid.
Gwenhime took her daughter by the arm, a grip worthy of the longbows she would once wield on the battlefield. She dragged the comparatively small girl into her room, the room of her parents. She threw Chloe onto the bed.
“Err, sorry. I’m…” Gwenhime closed the door. She instinctively went into a soldier mindset whenever she grabbed someone like this. It was something she’d been trying to get over since she had her first child.
Chloe sat, a child once more before her mother. She shook her head, “I know it’s habit.”
Gwenhime nodded, “What I wanted to do is to check you, before you go.”
“You’re the one that Elham is sending with those nice boys.”
Chloe blushed, “What?”
“He will explain it better than I will. You know that I do the war and he does the politics. He’s so good at his job that I never have to do mine.” Gwenhime sighed deeply. She would have cried, if she was alone. But not here in front of Chloe.
“So, what did you want to check?”
“Remember when you were eight, I thought you were ready then?”
Chloe did not remember. In fact, she had lost nearly a months’ worth of memories from a short but perilous fall.
“Chloe, you are mostly Solune. Everyone in this kingdom is mostly Solune.”
Chloe nodded. Even the Riley had mixed and lost most of their blood to the Solune.
Gwenhime went on, “But I am not. Your father didn’t know what I was until the Legendary event, eight months ago.”
“Chloe, do you remember what attacked the Kingdom back then? You must have, you were on the front lines.”
Chloe nodded, an feeling of dull horror creeping into her mind. She watched something about her mother change. Her silhouette broadened.
“Do you know why I use a ranged weapon? It’s because I’m never close enough to hit anything otherwise. But I’m a warlord, I have to stride into battle on the frontlines. Have you never questioned this?”
An extra set of limbs extended from beneath Gwenhime’s shoulder blades, peeking out from below her flowing, layered dress. It looked like a deranged hand, except the fingers were wild, each bone many times longer than it should be. The effect was almost like a tree. And then the feathers appeared, a pale grey, almost white. The branched limbs filled up, and slowly the room filled with two astonishingly large wings.
Chloe wasn’t horrified like Gwenhime had been expecting. Instead, she marvelled, proving once and for all that she really was still Gwen’s little girl.
“Ah! You’re so beautiful! Can you fly with those? Ah, wait!” Chloe’s eyes widened as she realized, “You… you’re so tall, and your wings, and even your dress! You’re one of them, the angels from the Underside!”
Chloe’s words were unrelenting, “They came here to eat us! A thousand year conspiracy, farming our entire race like, like, like, ah!”
Gwenhime took Chloe, carefully this time, and sat her down on the bed. Then she sat down beside her daughter and turned her torso so she was facing away. Gwenhime felt her back.
“If you’re going to the Underside you might as well learn how to use our race’s ability.”
“By the power of Mother Nature, I’m half angel! Ah!” Chloe gave a weak, broken cry.
Gwenhime grabbed what felt like an elbow, “This is it, you could grow your wings any time now.”
“No! I don’t want it! I don’t want to be part of my greatest enemy! I’m not an angel!”
Gwenhime turned her daughter around, and again Chloe was struck how beautifully the wings complemented the rest of her mother’s figure.
“We are not angels, that’s just a false name. It’s exactly like calling a Plainkind a demon, it’s just a name given because of how we look. Would you call your dear friend Yaska a demon?”
Chloe pouted, “No…”
“Then don’t call me or yourself, or any of your siblings angels. We are called the Condor and like Solune, not all of us are wicked… Although many indeed are.”