Since this is sourced from planning notes, there are a lot of brackets with extra information.
The young (relatively speaking) King Rhye had a habit of abandoning the throne for the first fifteen years of each of his children’s lives, and leaving the kingdom to a hand-picked, voted individual.
Chloe’s childhood was therefore easy and carefree. She spent a lot of time in the northern woods with her family (Immediate and extended). The north wood was (and is) a mystical haven of sorts, technically owned by her uncle, Prince Rhye, and previously resided in by his wife.
Chloe was free to associate with and learn about her family, nature, and the wisdom of those around her. Her parents, Rhye and Gwenhime, had four children before her: Zealott, Natasha, Kent, and Janna.
At fifteen, Chloe Rhye was moved back into the Solune kingdom’s capital city, Murdock. The family’s return to the city was a culture shock of sorts. The experience was redeemed by the completion of her literacy, and the discovery of books.
In only five years, Chloe became more well-read than anyone in her family. During those years, she began to mature physically, and her ageing began its slow down to the rate of the rest of her family.
During this time, she took a degree in the seven Liberal Arts—
“Grammar, logic, and rhetoric were the core liberal arts (the Trivium), while arithmetic, geometry, the theory of music, and astronomy also played a (somewhat lesser) part in education (as the Quadrivium)” (E. B. Castle, Ancient Education and Today (1969) p. 59)
—although, at the Solune Academy, the Quadrivium is composed of arithmetic, geometry, natural studies, and civics. Shortly after, Chloe returned to complete a degree in history, although she found it somewhat disappointing.
By the end of it her decade of education, her aging had slowed down to that of the rest of her adult family (about 1/100th the normal rate.) Chloe became a well-rounded citizen ready to take on the world.
Chloe did not take on the world. Instead, she retreated into the city’s libraries and continued reading. She lived the kind of “life of ease” that only a distant-heir prince of the throne could afford to. However, despite her low Conscientiousness, Chloe’s high Self-Discipline and moderate Achievement-Striving kept her learning throughout her early adulthood.
A century passed, and she took on an intellectual apprentice named Zeth. After decades of learning together, they managed to develop what would become the field of physics.
When he died of aging, she was finally faced with the immortal’s dilemma. Instead of accepting that people die, as her siblings Janna and Zealott had, or focusing on career and broader pursuits as her sister Natasha had, she used it as an excuse to turn further inward. She ordered a hundred years worth of imports and also began learning new languages. She also educated herself in kemia and biology, which she found built on physics, and both of which she found more interesting. At the same time, Her oldest brother Zealott was exiled for a few decades.
During this time, the King did what he could to urge her out of the castle, and out of the books, but he was either ignored or subverted. She went out to the academy and the library, she would tell him.
The Legendary Event
When the King’s Agents reported threats from the north, her habits were jarred due to a couple of synchronistic events. First, Chloe was getting sick of second-hand information. Second, the King, her father, decided to send her as an envoy to recruit Plainkind to help defend the kingdom.
A small group of young warriors were assembled, and Chloe was chosen as to become one of them. Suddenly, she had a group of friends.
After the Legendary event, the walls of the Solune Kingdom opened for the first time in a thousand years—the first time in her life. Chloe and Yaska May Däwngale, the only Plainkind she had managed to recruit, remained friends.
After the walls fell, Janna, Chloe’s closest sister, both in relationship and in age, left to find Zealott, and Yaska left to explore the east.
Alone once again, Chloe returned to the academy and completed a degree in Rhetoric and Poetry (the equivalent of a Doctorate in Law)
Janna returned two short years after leaving. She returned a failure and with criminal charges. Chloe defended her in the Solune court. (Note: The current draft of Evidence has Chloe representing the plaintiff (Natasha/the Law), not the defendant (Janna). This is to be altered in the final draft.)
The Solune Prince
This is where Chloe is at the moment, narratively wise.
She intents to go to the Underside in order to learn about the Lussa people. Instead, she gets caught in a political struggle.
“I found this behind the bar.” Setzer handed Natasha a thumb-sized glass vial. It was empty, but lined with a distinct maroon residue. “They must have been poisoned.”
“Yes,” said Jade, “There was something wrong with the taste.”
For the first time since the inn had been built, there was more than one person in its attic. Three of those seven were dead.
Setzer didn’t like the involvement of Jade Sing. He disliked her for a lot of reasons. Jade was an unusual foreigner, and worse, she was a cannibal. Natasha didn’t seem to be interested in arresting Jade, despite Setzer’s suspicions. Every time he’d investigated one of Jade’s catches, she had come away innocent. Did she eat people? Yes. But did she kill them? Not according to the evidence. Cannibalism wasn’t technically illegal, and so it appeared that Jade simply took advantage of other people’s murders. She was a clever opportunist. Jade had broken into the inn attracted by the scent. She had found the bodies and apparently sampled them. Then she had alerted the nearest guard, Sergeant Alice; a small, jumpy woman built like a brick wall. Alice told Natasha, the towering, stoic, guard Captain, and they had both arrived along with Constable Setzer, a short, often cross young man with long black hair, pale skin, and dark eyes.
To Setzer’s chagrin, it seemed he was again going to prove Jade’s innocence. He surveyed the corpses. Each was missing part of its calf, and one’s face was so bludgeoned that it was unrecognisable.
“Easy to draw a conclusion based on this,” he said. “First, based on the vial and the… taste, we can assume that these people were poisoned. Second, Dhesmond Machina owns and runs this inn. He could easily spike his alcohol and claim that the victim passed out. Finally, the inn didn’t open today, and,” he handed Natasha a copied document, “yesterday’s travel ledger shows he skipped town and hasn’t returned!”
“Wonderful!” Alice clapped.
Natasha studied the list and felt her neck tighten.
“Good job, but this is not enough.”
“Okay…” Setzer said, “what else do I need?”
She looked at him calmly, “Who are these people? Where did the poison come from?”
Setzer wasn’t happy, but orders were orders. “Fine, we’ll identify the bodies first.”
“Good.” Natasha’s face was stern, “After you two are finished, meet me at the Ph.Ch. lab. Alice, I would like you to visit the undertaker for this area and get them to identify the body, whether you identify it or not. If the district mortician can identify it quickly, bring us a note, otherwise, come without it.”
“Sure,” Alice nodded
Setzer sighed. “Alice, do you know who usually comes here?”
“I know almost just about all the people from around here.” Alice’s grasp of syntax faltered when she was excited.
Natasha left them and exited the building, studying the ledger. She surveyed the cobbled streets, and then headed northwest to speak to one of the city’s construction foreman.
Setzer and Alice sat at a table in the bar and drew up a list of all the patrons. Alice identified the two who were dead, and they crossed them off. Then Setzer went out into the city and sought out the rest of the list. Jade stayed behind, tasked with keeping people out of the bar. After much frustration, he had bargained her into promising that she would “try not to eat anything,” and “definitely not touch the mysterious body.” He hoped he wouldn’t have to answer to families again.
It took until noon to find everyone on Alice’s list. Most of them wondered why the bar was closed. One person mentioned that Dhesmond had become too touchy. Most of the other patrons agreed that, in the past month or so, he had seemed more stressed than usual. Setzer and Alice thanked each person for their time, and soon the list was empty, except for one name.
Alice looked, and shook her head, “Reighleigh Straker. We only checked his house, remember? He’s maybe at work.”
It dawned on Setzer why the Captain wanted them to meet her at the lab. “Does he work at the Ph.Ch. lab?”
“Natasha must have known all along… Now we just have to confirm that he isn’t there and our bases will be covered.” Setzer nodded to himself.
Alice just shrugged, “We’ll meet there after I go to the cemetery.”
“I doubt we’ll need it, but orders are orders, I guess.”
To his surprise, Setzer arrived first and had to wait a few minutes. Natasha arrived with the slight sheen of a person who just walked halfway across a city and back.
“Where did you go?” asked Setzer.
“I went to where they are extending the wall.”
“Did you find the identity of the third body?”
“Reighleigh Straker. Not sure why Dhesmond would beat him up like that though.”
The Captain shook her head.
“You will see when we go inside the Philosophy of Chemia Laboratory,” She returned the vial he’d found at the inn. “Search his desk.”
Natasha knocked on the door. It was answered by a woman who looked like her, except she was younger, smaller, wore a white coat, and had more hair.
“Natasha?” She asked.
“Chloe,” she nodded. “We are here as part of an investigation.”
“Ah, sure. I’ll get someone who actually works here.” She turned and called, “Straker?”
Setzer glanced at Natasha. If Reighleigh was here, alive, then his investigation was worthless. A moment passed, and she called out again, but for someone else.
“Finch? Yes, ah, the guard is here.”
Chloe let them into the lab. It was brightly lit, with large wooden desks. Some were capped with thick layers of metal, but all of them were covered with instruments and lined with drawers. In the far corner was a small room sealed with a heavy door.
Finch approached them. He was a short man with pale skin, dark hair, and dark eyes. He wore a white lab coat and held a mess of papers.
“Oh, Captain Rhye,” he looked from Natasha to Chloe, “Here to talk to your sister?”
“No. We speak when we are not working.”
Setzer said, “Is Reighleigh here? I need to—” see if he’s alive, is what he thought. “I need to search his desk.”
“He’s in the supply locker right now.” Finch pointed, “It’s heavily barred to prevent theft. Some of that stuff is dangerous.”
There was a loud metallic creak and Setzer’s stomach churned. According to his deduction, the man who stood before them was dead, his body stashed in Dhesmond’s inn. He took a deep breath. He hadn’t earned the rank of Constable through faltering. He defaulted to his orders.
“We are here to search your desk.”
Reighleigh gave him a deep frown.
After a pause, Finch pointed to one of the counters, “It’s that one.”
Setzer strode to it and began opening drawers until he found one filled with thumb-sized test tubes, and a labelled jar of distinct red liquid. He took out the vial from the inn. Its size and shape matched, and the colour was the same.
Natasha stood with Reighleigh and Finch on one side and Chloe on the other. She looked sidelong at the doctor. He seemed to be stifling his nerves. She watched his hands and saw that his knuckles were blue.
Setzer read the label on the jar, Hyperthermic Coronary Accelerator and then looked up and nodded to Natasha. She nodded back. They’d found the poison supply.
Then Alice flung the front door open, and jumped inside.
“I got it!—Oh, hi Finch—anyway, I got it!” She waved the mortician’s note in front of her, “The last dead person is not Reigh even for sure now, it’s Dhesmond Machina!”
Reighleigh’s face hardened. He sprinted to the door. Alice smiled and repositioned slightly. Reighleigh tried to tackle her, but unfortunately for him, Sergeant Alice was nearly twice his weight in muscle; a capable guard in the occupational sense well as the literal one. She easily restrained him.
“You’re under detainment for killing three people using this poison!” Setzer ran to the man and seized his hands. he began winding a cord around Reighleigh’s wrists.
The man retorted, “How could I have murdered someone who isn’t even in town!”
“You—” Setzer had no idea.
Natasha finally spoke, “You followed him, but not through the gate. You went through the part of the wall that is under construction.”
Setzer and Alice looked at each other across the man who stood between them. Reighleigh remained silent.
Finch was unsure what to think.
Chloe called out, “go on!”
Natasha strode to the nearest desk and sat down.
She faced Reighliegh, “Jade confirmed for us that all three of the victims were poisoned. The liquid and vial found at the inn match with the poison and containers found here. Likely they were killed under your instruction, using your chemical.”
Setzer had finished, so he presented the items Natasha mentioned.
“Shortly before we came here, I confirmed that, on the same day that Dhesmond left, the foreman saw him return through her construction site, along with someone else; you. I assume you exited before the workday started and managed to convince the poor back. Then you poisoned him like you did everyone else; except he would have known his fate when you handed it to him.
“You threw Dhesmond’s body with the rest. But,” Natasha pointed to his bruised hands, “you beat the recognition off his face first.”
She took the ledger, and dropped it beside her. “You left Dhesmond’s closet full of skeletons, with his name on a document proving that he left town. You framed a dead man. It would have been the perfect crime—if there was no one who could identify a dead body. But what is the job of a coroner if not identification?”
Natasha stood, and said, “Dead men do not sneak into cities or poison and brutalize themselves.”
This is the second draft of “Decay.” There are a lot of differences, to the point where I can comfortably call them different stories, so feel free to check it out.
This was written as an exam for my Detective Fiction course, 01-26-202-01. I got a decent mark in the end, so maybe that’s indicative of the quality of this piece.
I know I’ve been talking about The Solune Prince ALOT and not actually posting about it. Fear not, it isn’t “stuck” or something I’m just talking about, without actually working on. I have around forty notebook pages full.
Mostly, I’m just adjusting to my new job and whatnot. If I don’t have anything started, I’ll publish a backstory or something.
When I was young, very young, it was my mother who took care of me. She taught me to walk, and she was the one that informed my early actions. But, as I grew older, my father’s frustration changed how it was our family functioned. Understandably, what he wanted was a pupil. He would talk about this, and about hunting over many afternoons. It was because of him that I learned of my unusual nature . . .
In order to make this post worthwhile, I’ve also put some commentary on the tail end of it, about my plans for later chapters of this story.
He said, “Why, then, child, are you here?”
I told him that I had become very unhappy because my father was unhappy. I said that he was longing for a son, someone to teach and apprentice, and also that I very much enjoyed and missed listening to his knowledges. I said that we would not have another child, and that my mother told him to stop speaking about things that he could not change. He laughed at me!
“What, Talc, who cuts our meat, would like to kill it too? He considered me. …
So I asked my father about hunting again and he sighed, saying that Sandgrain (awful name, he added,) had a son who had just begun hunting, and that he might go mad with jealousy. Mother spat at the ground, and my father shrugged at her.
I ignored them both, and said, “You would like to teach someone to hunt then?”
He nodded slightly, and then glanced at my mother. She threw up a hand, resigning herself for the night. My father made an exaggerated frown and looked back to me.
“Maybe I will be happier once I am grey like Sunk. Then I can finally have a pupil!”
I swallowed my nerve and asked, “Why not teach me?”
There was a silence. My heart became the loudest thing at the circle, and I watched my father look around to my mother for an opinion. I was, after all, the child of both. My mother’s expression shifted a few times as she considered my words with severity.
“It does not matter to me! She is very slow at any task that is not cutting animals!” At the insult, I looked at her, and she added, “You are good with children as well.”
My father’s expression was one of deep thought.
He bared his teeth, “Tomorrow, you will have to wake up earlier than usual.”
Span is a story that sort of hit a dead end for me, and I don’t really know where it wants to go, even though I know exactly where I want to take it. Well, I didn’t know where until I started thinking about the location.
Jin was born in the northern woods, and began exploring the south as she began to reach adolescence. I always thought that the first person she met was her soulmate Salt*, but perhaps that was too romantic, too unrealistic.
Maybe the first person she met was Talc.
Anyway, we’ll see where this goes, if it goes anywhere at all. Span is a series I’ve been considering simply leaving hanging, but it’s modestly successful, and I think I can figure out how to propel the plot forward to the places I care about—that is, her adulthood, and more specifically motherhood. Oh, and she also becomes a seer, due to her interest in the dead; divination by entrails.
Perhaps more thought is required. We will see. I will state that Span is currently set up as the backburner story for The Solune Prince release (As Evidence was to Alice and Finch). Unless it gets replaced by something like Alexandre Jutt’s story, we should be seeing more of it in a semi-consistent manner.
*I feel it obligatory to mention that soulmates are fictional. So, while I don’t believe it to be a real phenomenon, so to speak, I do believe that fiction works in fiction—Jin Sing only marries one person, and that person is Salt Resz.
On this, the one year anniversary of the first post of my blog (proof), I’ll be looking into the past and the future in one fell swoop, and all on one topic. This post will contain talk on The Solune prince, followed by a re-release and edited version of the second rough draft of The Solune Prince. (What a sentence…)
Tracing the Origins of The Solune Prince
The Solune Prince is a novel that I’ve been trying, and failing to write since September 6, 2016. That’s the first time I wrote it down in text. The idea underneath The Solune Prince—the idea of Chloe, sixth prince of the Solune going to the Underside to fight some sort of revolution—has been around for far longer. I don’t know when the ideas for The Solune Prince first came into my head, but it was very early into the creation of Däwngale as a world. The oldest concrete date would have to be October 10, 2014, nearly four years ago, when I ran the “Demonic Chaos” Dungeons and Dragons campaign. It’s hard to track the specific date of any idea, but I can say with some confidence that it came after September 30, 2013. Let’s start there. Mind the old drawing quality.
September 30, 2013: Chloe as a Character
The development of Chloe as a distinct character is sort of interesting. I may get into the specifics in a later post, but essentially, above is the oldest picture I have on my computer of the character who would become Chloe. By her expression and dress, the woman on the far left looks of it a lot more like Janna, and there’s good reason for this. Chloe, Janna, and Natasha were all once represented by the a sort of primitive Psuedo-Chloe character, who I will be referring to as “Chloe” with quotes.
Long story short, Chloe started off as something like two and a half characters in one. I have a couple more pictures in storage that illustrate this development quite well, but I only have access to one of them right now, as you can see on the right with the “Height Comparison.” Maybe next time, if anyone is interested, I can get into what used to make each of the three sisters distinct from one another.
You can see that the confident, combative Janna isn’t in the height comparison picture. She would become her own character shortly after, although you could easily argue that she came first—and you would be partially right, but not entirely. That’ll have to be another post.
The “Height Comparison” established some core aspects of young Chloe, and Natasha that remain half a decade later. Natasha remains a very tall (I think 6’6″ or higher, although Solune people are about a foot taller or more than an average human), stoic, and an agent-to-be. (Currently she’s a guard, who appears briefly in Alice and Finch, and has a detective story to call her own.) Here, young Chloe has a sort of waifish, airheaded expression. I say “young Chloe” specifically, because, while she does retain airiness, she grows out of a lot of things. I mean, she has to, especially considering her role in The Solune Prince.
It’s this young Chloe who displayed amazing potential in her Laszor/Laszor-eyes abilities—which is linked to her potential as an individual who is capable of projecting their vision into reality, symbolized literally. The Solune Prince is about the realization, and taking control of that potential.
October 20, 2014: “Zeroith Draft”
My early (and to only a slightly a lesser degree, my later) Dungeons and Dragons campaigns were very scattered, and often included references to the ideas and stories floating inside my head. The second one I ever ran, “Demonic Chaos,” took place in the midst of Chloe’s adventures on the Underside. Why? I don’t really know. It didn’t really help the campaign much, and it sort of fell flat. However, this was the first inkling I had of Chloe as a sort of revolutionary figure. And, it was the first time the Lussa people had appeared, previously known for their striped faces (related to their unusual laszor eyes) and still known for their outlandish everyday fashion.
The idea came out of the fact that the I had recently come up with the Underside, and the Lussa, and the fact that Chloe was on the Underside. And Chloe being on the Underside actually originated from this song:
I don’t really listen to Anarchy Club, but I did enjoy a lot of the music in the first Rock Band game, and this was one of them. I have a drawing from these days that shows Dooll (from the drawing above (also, apparently I did not make creative names in 2014)) teaching Chloe how to use Lussa Laszor Eyes, (also known as flamethrower eyes, despite being purple). In those early days, the Underside was dangerous, dark, and oppressive.
Since then, I’ve found a city, and the flamethrower eyes have faded, but it was essentially still like that in “Demonic Chaos.” Chloe and her army liberated all the Lussa and Chimera (the creature on the far left) people from the work camps that were run by Venus. Venus is still sort of relevant, although I’m pushing him in the back for later. The Chimera are interesting, but I don’t know if I want to include them in this story. It’s fair to say that they still exist though. As for work camps? That’s all but gone. I feel like, what with all that happened in the twentieth century, labour camps might be too blatantly evil, and also imply things that this story isn’t about.
What did stick is Chloe having some sort of army. It’s weird that she has an army even though she’s an outsider, from the other side of the planet—literally—but I guess that’ll be one of the conflicts in the book.
September 6, 2016: The Awful First Draft
Almost nothing was salvageable about this endeavour. It was written during a particularly hard time in my life, and to be honest, there’s just a lot of problems with it that I won’t bother explaining because they’re embarrassing. What did survive from this draft was the character Rickur, and our good friend Lillith.
Figuring it Out
The events that occurred during “Demonic Chaos” were more similar to what will be found in The Solune Prince than what I wrote afterwards. Let my try to roughly illustrate what I mean. Here’s an exhaustive list in chronological order, including unwritten, non-canon and canon items.
40% relevant: Chloe during Evidence(Canon, but troublesome.)
60% relevant: Chloe during The Legendary Event (Unwritten, canon)
50% relevant: Chloe during “Demonic Chaos” Draft 1 (Not canon)
15% relevant: Chloe during The Solune PrinceDraft 2 (Very Not canon)
70% relevant: Chloe during The Solune Prince Draft 3 (Goodish draft)
There are some issue with Chloe’s development. The two bolded bullets define her character development, whereas the two bullets with links have her as a solid side character. The bolded events might need to happen first for consistency reasons. It’s very frustrating trying to organize all this. Can a Chloe who is overall nervous be a teacher to Finch in Alice and Finch? How the Chloe who is a lawyer in Evidence? That sounds like a career-move, and yet she’s still adolescent-like during The Legendary Event. This might work better.
60% relevant: Chloe during The Legendary Event (Unwritten, canon)
40% relevant: Chloe during Evidence(Canon, but troublesome.)
50% relevant: Chloe during “Demonic Chaos” (Not canon)
15% relevant: Chloe during The Solune PrinceDraft 1 (Very Not canon)
70% relevant: Chloe during The Solune Prince Draft 2 (Goodish draft)
This means that during The Legendary Event, Chloe has already been a teacher. Then, in The Solune Prince, Chloe has already been a teacher, a fighter who has Laszor-exploded (see above) and a poet/lawyer (although only once).
What I mean to say, is that Chloe Rhye is a very difficult character to work with. She’s functionally immortal, due to her father’s gene quirk, she’s been reading for hundred’s of years, has a bit of formal education, and has already had an adventure.
There are also other glaring issues.
I have a couple of antagonists, but I don’t really know their motivations, or how they struggle for control of the city.
I’d also like to explore the subcultures of the Lussa city:
the metal workers
the nightclub life (which dresses even more extremely than standard Lussa clothing.)
I need to actually figure out what the supporting cast is like. Maybe I’m bad at characterization?
How do I manage the creeping power of the state?
How does Chloe actually get to the Underside?
And more! Maybe I can’t handle it as my second full-length novel. I’ve already failed twice. However, I think it’s necessary to see if I am to fail a third time. Especially since the previous attempts got progressively better. So, without further ado,
August 1, 2017 – November 23, 2017: The Second Draft
It all started with a song, and so it continues with a song. A lot of what exists in the planning for the Second, and even Third (present) drafts was “dreamed up” while listening to one song.
The most recent draft, and it was live on this blog for a long time, months really. It ran a whopping twenty-five chapters, that were decent, a microstep above Evidence. but I couldn’t figure out where to take it. Chloe didn’t have motivation, and so I guess neither did I. I didn’t know why she had to do the two things she had to do, and certain ideas I’d imagined out of songs didn’t fit into the reality of the narrative. That’s what I’m trying to avoid with all the planning for the third draft.
I decided that there were issues here and there, and also giant things I would feel uncomfortable with people reading. One of them being the descriptively indulgent first chapter, which I’m including at the end of this post. It has been slightly edited, but I’ve left the absurd amount of description of Chloe Rhye—almost Victorian-era-like.
The Solune Prince (Act I, Scene i)
Second Rough Draft
There was a conference going on in the next room. Chloe could hear the voice of the King, her father, booming through the wall. Apparently they were visitors here, foreigners from the other side of the planet. They were called the Lussa.
Chloe had never heard of Lussa. She had read thousands of books, and despite all the information, the Lussa people still managed to fall outside her ocean of knowledge.
They were strange, the two of them. They had the darkest skin then she had ever seen, darker even than that of an N’Tariel or an Elken. And they were so different from each other, too. One of them was small, the other huge and burly. One had a two-handed sword, the other had some sort of unusual dart launcher.
The King had stopped speaking, and Chloe assumed it was because one of the Lussa had begun. The King, it seemed, was the only person with a voice deep enough to penetrate the masonry. Chloe sighed and sat up from the clinic bed. She had been trying to eavesdrop, but unlike her mother, she wasn’t used to it. She hadn’t figured out how to translate the deep buzz of her father’s words into sentences.
“Well, I guess I could just walk into the throne room and listen like a normal person. I’m a Prince, I’m allowed to these things, I think.”
Chloe’s voice was sweet, and it was accepted generously by the air around her. She had a feeling that this was a vocal quality inherited from her father. Her voice carried and almost always demanded attention, but she never knew what to do with that attention. That was why she avoided talking to people. They always seemed to expect her to say something important or tell them what to do, and she rarely did either of those things.
Chloe decided it was time to go, before she missed anything important. She was her mother’s clinic. It was a long thin room with two beds and a large hardwood desk. After her Gwenhime had retired and the hospital had been built, this little castle medical centre was rarely used.
Chloe hopped off the bed and walked to the door. She wore a white button-up shirt and light-coloured shorts. She crossed the room in four long strides. Chloe’s immense height was mostly due to her legs. When she used to go to the academy she would run or jog, but since her graduation she hadn’t been particularly active.
She could still run, and did occasionally when she went out. Her arms were toned, but this was mostly from moving stacks of books and the occasional combat training her mother, an ex-general, gave her; so she wasn’t particularly strong. She had what could be called a balance. Most of her time was spent in the library or at the Solune Academy.
Because of this, Chloe had a few layers of fat throughout her midsection and thighs. She didn’t mind though, such was fairly common for her class. Otherwise, Chloe was particularly well endowed, like her sister and mother. Unlike them, Chloe was at times frustrated with her breasts. Whenever she tried to do anything dexterous with her arms they got in the way.
The face that sat above her shoulders was that of a young woman who had just exited adolescence. She still had a round chin and open eyes. Her head was covered in knee-length blonde hair that was noticeably yellow. Chloe was convinced that she had gotten it to its maximum length because it had nearly stopped growing. This made her feel excited, did head hair have a specific length it grew to like body hair? Chloe eyed the door with deep brown eyes, and then opened it.
After passing through another doorway and a foyer filled with people, She approached the large double doors of the throne room, and swung it open, entering boisterously. She walked across the room, her legs were a deliberate rhythm of muscle as they did their work to push the rest of Chloe’s body forward.
When she arrived at the second throne, Chloe turned and sat in the seat next to the King. It was usually her mothers, and was less ornate. Even without the royal bands around their necks, it was clear that they were both royalty, both related; both father and daughter had an unquestionable regal air about them.
The tall man continued, “That is correct, Majesty.”
“And why does it have to be a member of the royal family?” The King asked.
“This is a conflict between the Lussa royalty and it’s government. Another member of royalty would look good.” He shrugged, “The Queen is desperate. Our heir is missing.”
The King shifted, silently urging the Lussa man to continue.
“The Lussa Queen, Riley*, has asked specifically for a member of the royal family, that’s all that’s official. I am bound to his word.”
“Do you have proof of his statement?” The King boomed.
The smaller one spoke now, and Chloe realize he wasn’t as short as she thought. Just short in comparison to everyone else in the room. He was probably almost average.
He said, “We have a letter, he signed it and put the royal seal on it. We should be good, right?”
Chloe, still not entirely sure if she should be there, decided to push her luck. She said, “Alright, fine. I believe you even, but what about other heirs?”
The taller man shook his head, “That’s not how it works on the Underside any more. There is only one heir, and she’s missing. Out in the desert somewhere. We sent,” the man paused, “Well, I am not at liberty to discuss it, but she is missing. Neither of the older children, Riley* or Jesssssssssssssssssssper are allowed to rule. They have taken the title of Queen, which I’ve heard even here implies that one is not allowed to take the throne.”
“Riley* and who?” Chloe asked.
“It’s as unusual to spell as it is to say.” The man put a hand in his hair. It was matted into dreadlocks, “Jesper* but with nineteen S’s.”
Chloe’s face scrunched up, “Why?”
“If there is one thing about the Lussa language that is distinct,” The smaller man said in scholarly tones, “It’s the presence of extra and unnecessary extra letters, specifically consonants. In fact, seeing as you can clearly understand me, that may be the only major difference between our languages.”
Chloe thought to herself, letting her father take over again. She had actually heard of the Underside of the planet before. Her father had said that four thousand years ago the Solune came from the Underside, aliens to this side of the planet. That’s why he struggled for so long to claim land and build a kingdom.
The King nodded to the visitors, then said, “You may stay on the second floor. It is specifically for guests.”
They had added a third floor in around half a decade ago and moved all the royal quarters up. The floor was very thick and insulated against sound. Gwenhime, Chloe’s mother, had been complaining that she could hear the citizens through the floor in her room. The castle doubled as a public town square, and so it remained loud most of the time. And so, the castle guard had been called in to build a third floor with more soundproofing. Chloe had realized that soundproofing meant brick-tiled slats of softwood over a cubit thick. And it worked.