The Solune Prince
A Letter to the King
Chloe Rhye looked out the window and saw nothing. Her mind was filled with thoughts and considerations, many paths of thinking that seemed to end in cliffs no matter which she followed. It was the first time this had happened, the first time that there was a gap in her knowledge that no amount of research could fill. The capital city and all its libraries, archives and institutions had no answers for her, and she was left here, in her room, with nothing but her reason. Her mind wandered through informational wastelands.
Who were the Lussa people? Where were they now?
The only information Chloe had to stand on was what little her father had time to tell her. She had, as a last resort, asked him about it earlier that day, but he’d only had a few minutes to talk at the time.
“The Lussa people are our ancient ancestors.” He had said.
Chloe replied, “If that is true, then why is so little known about them?”
“The split between the Lussa and Solune societies predates recorded history. Even though I am the King, the knowledge was passed down through our family from that time is limited.”
“Why? It seems to me to be important.”
The King looked at his daughter and nodded. “I agree. I personally believe that those involved in the incident itself didn’t pass too much of it down to their children for emotional reasons. The splitting of a civilization can be a time a great stress. Further, it is the Solune who left the homelands, the result of which you already know.”
“That’s why there are no artefacts or ruins!”
The rest of that conversation, Chloe remembered, consisted mostly of her father trying to get back to work. He had been engulfed in boarder issues and foreign relations since the kingdom’s walls had opened two years ago.
Chloe stood from her window seat and walked to her bedside table. The little notebook that sat on it contained the small bits of information she had collected on the Lussa in the past three or so months, complete with citations for future reference. She picked it up and sat on her bed, entering one final state of deep thought before going to sleep.
All the information I’ve gathered is from the capital. Only the capital…
Two floors down, Gwenhime paced back and forth. “Rhye, once already you’ve tried and failed to encourage that child to make something of herself. Why should this attempt be different?”
The King stood in front of the throne, listening to his wife with care. This had been their habit for decades. Nearly all of his decisions and ideas, both as ruler and father, were passed through her doubt and scrutiny first. Thus, the kingdom was ruled by his raw wisdom tempered by her zealous reason.
“When we sent Chloe out of the city one a recruiting mission, it only failed because it went against her temperament. You might remember that she did participate in the war.”
Gwenhime frowned, “Yes, but she had a spell of nerves on the battlefield—”
“That worked in our favour.”
“Even so, had I been her commander, I would have discharged her for it. Not that I would have had to! After the war, even before most of her friends left the city, she returned to her den and the library.”
King Rhye nodded. “It seems to me that Chloe will not bother to maintain any activity that does not suit her interests.”
Gwenhime considered this. “I suppose the circumstances are different in this case? A military mission did seem an unsustainable pursuit for such a page-minded girl.”
“Yes, this time I intend to send her on an expedition seeking precisely what she is looking for.” He brandished a letter from his coat pocket and handed it to his wife. Before he could give it any context, there was a knock at the door and the head of a young woman peeked inside.
“Father!” Chloe said, a little too loud.
“It is good that you have come. Your mother has something for you.”
“What?” Chloe entered the room and shut the door behind her, striding over to her mother.
Due to the length of the letter, Gwenhime had time only to scan it before she met her daughter.
Chloe received it. “First, I should tell you why I came here at so late an hour. I think it would be a good idea to visit another city’s knowledge bases and see if they know of the Lussa.”
She gave a defeated smile. It seemed to Chloe something of a hopeless endeavour since the capital was the centre of knowledge, but it was the only thing she could think of.
Her father gave her a look that agreed with hers. He said, “I believe the letter will give you some better ideas. Please read it aloud for your mother, I’m not certain she had time to finish it before you came in.”
Chloe looked from one to the other, and then to the letter. Everything between her shoulders tightened, and she swallowed. Once I start, I should be fine. It’s just my parents.
She began reading. “Hello, Member of the Solune Royal Family—blood relative of our Lussa Royal Family!”
Chloe stopped reading, “This is a letter from the Lussa! They, ah, they’re still alive! And, ah, it seems that whichever of them wrote this very much enjoys punctuation.”
Chloe’s mother squinted at her with a look of pent-up doubt. This, Chloe knew by now, was a common expression of hers. Her father simply nodded, added that the style was certainly unique, and bade her continue.
Chloe did, now deeply interested. “We, the Lussa Royalty, are the ancient kin. We are your land-crossed family! It is with this in mind that I, Prince Ryann, after thousands of years neglecting our distant relations, ask with deep regret for assistance.
“Our King has been dead for one-quarter-annum. He died a martyr at the hands of an outsider, in defence of our City. Of course, we immediately began the planning of the new heir’s coronation. But, alas! She, rightfully so, sought her father’s revenge, and took half the guard and one of the two Captains, out of the city to seek it! Fourteen days later, they returned, and she was missing!”
As Chloe read, Gwenhime considered her carefully. She was often unkempt, and even today her unnecessarily long hair fell down her back in a mess of blond curls. Gwenhime always believed that her daughter looked a lot like her, except for the features that were muddled with elements of her father. She had the same feminine brown eyes and small, upturned nose, but the effect was interrupted by the King’s wide chin. The same quirk was continued in the rest of her body. Chloe had moderately broad hips but, to Gwenhime’s chagrin, a slightly broader chest, and almost masculine shoulders. Gwenhime was concerned that her daughter’s mixed-bag physique and attitude would end up working against her in the future.
Chloe glanced at her mother as she read. They locked eyes, and Chloe saw her severe look. Unaware of the banality of Gwenhime’s thoughts, she nervously returned to the letter.
“Both the death of the King and the missing of our heir have left the Kingdom in a state of flux. Worse, the City Denizens have deemed none but the original heir as worthy enough to lead. They demand that she be found and crowned. The desert continues to be searched, even as I write this message. This would have been managed internally if it had not been for rising unrest. My advisor, the ancient and young Lilllith, reminded me of the ancient split. Certainly, the conflict that arose between our people four thousand years ago has been left behind in irrelevance, if not memory—my appeal relies on it!
“Now I proceed to the request. It is simple, but not easy. We are in need of someone of Royal Blood to aid us and to help sway the people to peace. Should, heaven forbid, the heir be found dead AND the Denizens a second time reject the rest of the potential heirs, then the line may fall to you, our distant kin. Please send us a reply IMMEDIATELY, or any time near.
“Second ‘non-heir’ to the throne.”