Chapter 15: Modesty
Chloe continued her descent to the basement, leaving her mother alone inside the second floor library to worry.
Alexandre Dirge walked into the throne room and immediately noticed Astore standing in the dark.
She said, “You would lurk?”
Astore frowned. No untitled citizen had ever entered the throne room before the King.
“Who are you?” he asked. He was far more suspicious of the Riley people, and Alexandre, besides her height, was surely a Riley.
His thoughts were like this: he figured that as a Riley himself, he had some sort of insight into the general temperament of his people. He knew that they were far more likely than the noble Solune to be depraved. Something in the blood, he assumed. He was not an exception, of course, which was why he made for such a good agent of the crown. His depravity, tempered by devotion to the King, became a strength, and he used it against all the law-breaking people in the nation. The ability to predict and counter those who lacked such unified devotion, Astore figured, was what made him different.
Meanwhile, Alexandre simply stared at him and said nothing. She studied his face and judged it a valid measure of his personality. She watched as he came to realize that he had lost the short interaction. A law-abiding citizen was not obligated to justify her presence in the throne room. It was their right to attend royal council meetings.
Chloe felt a queasy feeling and frowned a knowing frown. She didn’t finish her breakfast, instead leaving it and running up the flights to her room.
She took a few supplies from her wardrobe and ran to her personal bathroom. (The private bath was, of course, a gift for her coming to adulthood.) She closed the door behind her, and cleaned herself, and sort of writhed as well. There will always be at least this one thing I cannot control.
“What of the purebloods?”
“What of them?”
“Certainly, if their…food presents itself, ready to eat, would they not partake of it?”
“I will give Chloe her sword. And I will warn Kent.”
“Hold! Is not Chloe’s sword…”
“It is one of the Royal swords. If she is to face our ancient enemy on the road to even greater conflict on the Underside, love, why shouldn’t she have our blessing and the nation’s honor?”
“Hmmp. Fine.” Gwenhime shrugged to her husband, barring the bedchamber as they entered it. “Now, we’ve yet three hours. Come!”
“Oh, we have with us an early bird?”
“Of course, Miss.” Astore nodded, straightening up and stepping out of the dark corner of the throne room.
“Not you, it’s your job to be early. And Astore, I am a knight, you would call me Sir, not Miss.”
“Now shut yourself, boy, I would speak to the maiden.”
Alexandre blushed. Maiden…
“Yes, ah…” Alexandre had never seen this woman before, but she looked very much like a tall Riley, with the exception of her blondeness. Her skin was different though, it looked…thicker, or perhaps a shade darker. Not the sickly colour us Riley share. She looks…silvery, almost porcelain. How beautiful, I wish I had skin like that instead of this…soggy existence I live in.
“No!” Lilllith’s shout brought Chloe back to existence. “No ‘ah’! Talk straight, lass!”
Lass? I’m twenty-one!
“What do you want!” Alex burst, “Who are you anyway?”
She stopped. Uh on. I…I have no control. Didn’t this woman just declare herself a knight, and here I shouted at her? What will happen to me? Can she punish me I wonder? What sort of power do Knights hold? Wait, who is she? Where did she come from?
As her mind raced, Lilllith froze, only for an instant. Then, she smiled. “Is this how you speak to those in positions of power here?”