The Solune Prince (Act I, Scene v)

 

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.

On Growing Things

“I know I seemed all resolute back in the throne room but…” Chloe’s mind was racing with anxiety, “I’ve only ever left the kingdom once, I don’t know…”

It was noon, and the basement of the castle was half filled with vagrants, children and lazy people. The castle sub floor was a soup kitchen of sorts, where anyone, regardless of financial status. It was filled four rows of long stone cafeteria tables. The King generally ate here to be among the more needing of his people.

He and Chloe were sitting near the center of the room. There was a quiet buzz of voices, and his words softly faded into them. Chloe had to focus to understand.

“Chloe, you are very young in mind. I know that you have been studying since the day you achieved literacy, but all you have learned is the theory. It is now time for you to leave the womb of this city and stretch your wings. The Lussa City and the Underside are both alien to our civilization.”

Chloe remembered her pile of books. She hadn’t bothered looking through them. There was no mention of the Lussa anywhere in her collection and she knew it.

“Ah,” She exhaled.

“I think it’s time you stopped being just a reader and began to mark your own observations. Put a bit of your mind on paper and share it with the rest of us. Even if you don’t, even if you just experience and allow your presence to bolster our foreign allies, it will help you in the future. You are so young, you are a growing thing, and I think it’s time you went out and got some sunshine on your leaves.”

The King smiled at his daughter.

“The rest of the world deserves to be blessed with your presence.”

Chloe flushed and pulled her head into her chest.

“Oh…”

The biggest shame Chloe had was that her handwriting was illegible. Not even she could read her old writings. That’s why she hadn’t ever written any textbooks or journals. But she couldn’t admit that to her father.

Chloe looked up and said, “I’ll try.”

*

Chloe took the initiative to talk to her visitors. She knew that they were in the armory with her mother, preparing for the journey back, so after she had luncheoned with her father, Chloe headed there.

The armory was behind one of the few locked doors in the castle. The door itself was on the east side of the busy foyer. Chloe could hear the same man auctioning off one of his shoes. She ignored him and strode to the locked door and knocked. Chloe wasn’t allowed to have keys because she had a habit of losing them, and was thus considered a security risk.

Elliott opened the door.

“They’re talking about armour man. I’m so lost, you have no idea.”

She could hear Dool talking to Gwenhime among the rows of hanging cuirasses, coats of plates, longshields, worker blades, and longswords.

Chloe, who knew almost everything about everything said, “I know a bit about armour.”

They could hear Gwenhime in neighbouring row arguing with Dool.

“No, leather armour is not practical at all! Especially on the underside. There simply aren’t enough animals from which to acquire it.” Dool said.

“What? Nonsense.” Chloe could hear the joy in her mother’s voice. Gwenhime loved to argue.

“No, it’s true. We have an abundance of iron ores, so everything is metal. And not metal plates stitched to a leather coat like this. It’s all plates that are tied on to the body.”

“Yes, we used to have plate armour, but it’s too heavy. What if someone comes at you with a tuck or an estoc? Hmm? You cannot dodge because you are encumbered!”

“What?!”

Chloe said to Elliott, “Do you not have armor slaying weapons where you come from?”

Elliott shrugged, “Look, I’m just a volunteer. The only thing I know of that can crack police armor is a war pick, or maybe an axe or hammer, also for war. Obviously tools are not made to be effective on a battlefield.”

Chloe knew of weapons like this, a pole with something on the end that you swing into people, like you swing a sword to cut.

“We use spears, or spear-like swords. That’s what an estoc is, it’s a long sword with no edge. You just stab. They tend to be unusually long.”

Elliott shrugged, “Honestly, I don’t really fight a lot. No need for weapons in my daily life, not at all.”

Chloe swayed her hips, which both aroused and confused Elliott. She said, “I carry no weapons on my hip either, but that is only because I have no need of weapons to defend myself.”

Elliott nodded, “Flamethrowing eyes?”

“What?” Chloe was entirely shocked. She had never heard this term, and she had heard of everything.

“Flamethrowing eyes. You can push joules or fat energy into they eyes and fire beams of plasma. You burn people!”

“Oh! Sort of, I am adept with laszor eyes. It’s similar, I think.”

Elliott nodded, “Yeah, I heard of that. Apparently it’s the natural, unmodified form. We Lussa have mixed blood, and so things are different.”

Chloe had always been interested in mixed races. She herself had recently discovered she was half Condor. She said, “Mixed with what?”

“Well, it was a few thousand years ago, so we’re not sure what they’re called. But they have black skin like me, and a single horn, and they have a lot of joule based abilities. I think they went extinct. Oh, and they had an albinism┬áproblem”

Chloe looked at him, taken aback. She was beginning to realize that maybe she was more ignorant of the world than she had once believed. “What is albinism?”

“It’s a reverse of pigment. Like, if I were albino, I would be all pale, like you.”

Chloe blushed. She wasn’t proud of being a pale woman, but she spent so much time indoors in libraries that it couldn’t be helped.

“And,” Elliott continued, “If you were albino, you would be dark like me!”

“Wait, so your skin colour isn’t really an identifier of your race? Here, the N’Tariel are all dark, the East Metch and Plainkind are all brown, we are white, and the Riley are very pale, like moonlight.”

Elliott considered this.

“Sort of. About twenty-percent of people are albino, so you can tell for the most part.”

“Oh.”

“Alright!” Gwenhime thundered, “Don’t take anything!”

Chloe and Elliott watched as the extremely tall Condor shoved Dool across the shelves and into vision.

“It’s not that, miss!” Dool was on the defense.

Gwenhime shove a finger into his broad chest and pushed him, only using a single finger, into a shelf of full armour suits.

“I guess you didn’t notice these! Full metal plates! We do it too, but it’s situational!”

Elliott whispered, “is she going to kill him?”

Chloe whispered back, “maybe,” and then giggled.

Gwenhime saw that there were other people here, and made a concious decision not to compose herself.

She shouted even louder, “Never show an ungrateful face around me.” She stuck the one finger deep into his skin. A bruise would appear in that spot tomorrow.

Dool, mortified, ran away and confronted the much shorter Elliott.

“You gotta help me man! She’s mad!”

Elliott shrugged, “You shouldn’t be so ungrateful, according to her.”

Chloe went from hushed giggling to outbursts of laughter.

“Oh my!” She laughed.

Gwenhime put her hands on her hip, “Oh, Chloe. You father wants me to give you his side sword.”

“His what?”

“It’s a fencing sword with a full blade. It is far more durable and weighty than a regular sabre or rapier.”

Chloe turned red again, and tried to hide it with her hands.

“Oh, am I getting gifts now?”

“Yes!” Gwenhime often shouted, “The King’s Sword! Be grateful!”

“Yeah, Chloe, be grateful or your mum will shove you into a shelf of armour.” Elliott shrugged.

Chloe was lost once again in laughter.

Daniel Triumph.

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