Deliberation through Dreams
Chloe continued, “Post Script:
“Due to the grand nature of this request, I am sending one of my most trusted men, Lilllith of the Royal Guard to negotiate on behalf of the Royal Title. Likely, she will test the worth and potential of you, our guests to be. Should anyone be found wanting, she will have the right to reject their route. Certainly, she will be welcomed by all the Solune!”
Chloe finished and then looked up at her father. “The Lussa are alive – and they know of us!”
“Yes, and they called the woman Guard a man…” mumbled her mother.
The King said, “Judging by the letter, it seems that they knew of us in a similar manner that we knew of them.”
“No,” Gwenhime said. Her face was tense, a studied look. Chloe had a feeling that she had been paying more attention than they had. “We know from the Emperor of the Djeb that the Westerners have had contact with the Lussa for decades.”
“What?” Chloe was enraged. “The Djeben people know of the Lussa?”
Gwenhime frowned, “Yes but, would you travel across the desert as we are now? The Kingdom cannot afford such an expedition.”
Chloe stood silent. She looked at both of her parents, then down to the letter. Then, everything shifted into place, and she realized exactly what sort of discussion she had interrupted. Her father had been informing her mother of the letter, that’s why Gwenhime had been holding it when Chloe had entered. They hadn’t yet decided who was to be sent to the Lussa City.
Chloe’s neck tightened again. She strode to her mother and handed back the letter. Gwenhime frowned, but took it. She began scanning through again, this time for important information. She knew what she was looking for.
Where exactly is the Lussa City anyway? Lilllith would know but… I do not know if I would have the courage to ask… Chloe thought back to the letter, When was Lilllith to arrive?
“Ah,” she stammered, “does it say when we are to expect Lilllith?”
“It does not,” both of her parents said in unison.
“But,” the King continued, “shortly after receiving the letter, I sent out an agent, Astore, to find her and calculate the duration.”
Chloe nodded. She knew that, of all the King’s Agents, Astore could courier the fastest, despite his height. “The trick is to take long strides!” He would say. She knew he could cover three days’ worth of land in one.
“We will know the date of Lilllith’s arrival in a matter of days.”
And then she will test whomever intends to return to the City with her. Will that be me? The muscles in her chest and shoulders constricted to match her neck.
“Who will be going with her once she arrives? Who is to be tested?”
“I haven’t decided that yet.”
Chloe didn’t hear him, but by the time he had finished speaking, her mind had finished processing. She said, “It will be me, won’t it.”
It was a statement more than anything, and she knew it to be true whether her father had yet realized it or not.
Rhye looked at his daughter with an expression that bade her continue.
“Well go down the list. Zealott is exiled, we don’t know where he went, Kent is far to the south doing some form of physical research… Ah, Janna and her husband are still hunting for Venus, I think. That just leaves Natasha.”
“And as captain of the capital’s guard, she’s quite busy with all the immigrants,” Gwinhime finished.
“Crystal Jealousy is also out of the Kingdom. Although, she has rarely returned.”
Chloe had forgotten about her eldest sibling.
“Yes.” Gwehime’s face turned cold. “Even if she was here we would not send her.”
“So,” Chloe said, “it will be me, will, ah, won’t it?”
There was a silence as King Rhye’s ancient mind ran through the scenarios. Since Chloe’s late adolescence, he had noticed a sharp increase in her mind’s reason, precision, and breadth. All that, as well as the speed of her youthful brain combined to make it obvious that her mental capacities had far exceeded his own.
Eventually, he said, “Yes. Unless by some accident of fate Jealousy or Kent should return, you will have to be the one to go. It does seem to be in your best interests. At least, it falls within your current interests.”
His words were true, Chloe knew, but she still didn’t like being forced, or even defaulted into things.
“I would rather remain here and continue my research.”
Chloe was intending to continue and explain that if there truly was no other option for her, then she would go, but that she would rather not, and that if she was to go they should not expect too much from her, but her mother interrupted.
“What research? This request is your research. There is not a topic in the Solune libraries that you are not well read in except this. Even were you not the only person we could send, it would be against your own interests not to go.”
Chloe caught in a fight or flight response loop. She said nothing.
Of all the King’s few talents, verbal conflict was the greatest. He said, “I will let Chloe make that decision for herself. Until Astore returns, we do not have a stable timeframe. It is late. We will rest, perhaps deliberate by dreams. Chloe, I would know your resolution before the Agent’s return.”
Chloe mumbled an agreement, and they separated. She returned to her room, and lay down, exhausted.
King Rhye could deliberate through dreams, whatever that meant, but Chloe preferred to deliberate through thought.
She lay in her bed, and turned her head. She looked out the window, her eyes saw nothing.
You can find the rest of the book here.