Or simply, “On Kings.” Formatted like a classical dialogue.
Ryann: Yes, ultimately we’re in a struggle for control of the City-State. There have always been plots against the throne, both external and internal, from enemies of the monarch and from family.
Chloe: From family?
Ryann: From those cousins and siblings and so on who sought to challenge the line of heirs, or to usurp, or even kill for it.
Chloe: Prince Ryann, I am not certain I will be of much help on this subject. I am not very familiar with these sorts of challenges to the monarchy.
Ryann: Are you not yourself of royal lineage? I’m surprised you do not now of these issues. They are as old as the establishment of the Kingdom itself! Is this somehow not a problem in your own Lands?
Chloe: No, not a very great or common problem.
Ryann: I have my doubts. Perhaps I can jog your memory and your learning?
Ryann: Has your Kingdom ever had plots against it? Against the throne, specifically from within.
Chloe: Of course we have had wars, but internally, problems have been very limited. Most have been lost to the archives; lost to time. The only recent conflict I can think of would be the Cult of Bones.
Ryann: Cult of Bones?
Chloe: They were a group that opposed the King. They accused him of putting human bones inside the mortar of the kingdom’s perimeter wall.
Ryann: Quite a strange accusation!
Chloe: Yes. They were a little strange, and then later a little radical. But again, I believe this falls outside of our discussion. The cult did not seek the throne at all, rather they took issue with the King personally.
Ryann: Does no one in your Kingdom seek power? I find this hard to believe.
Chloe: Ryann, our cultures are quite different. My family, the royal family, is respected of course, but not necessarily revered. Many of the kingdom’s decisions are not made by the King; they are made by other powers beneath him.
____I will not go too deep into the Solune monarchy system at the moment, but I think it is enough to say that from our perspective, ruling the kingdom is not quite as grand as it is here. Authority is quite divided, and as a result we benefit from heightened specialization and efficiency. Monarchic delegation is thus a taxing act of delegation and holding the burdens of the state. I believe ruling is commonly seen more as an encumbrance than a prize to war over.
Ryann: Truly? This is quite strange to me. Does no one question the King? Challenge his power or laws?
Chloe: By most, he is seen as just, even wise. Others see him as benign, or perhaps through resigned eyes. More frequently, issue is taken up against those who delegate below him—often it is others who hold duty to the nation.
Ryann: I see. We need not dwell. Tell me, what of the family ties? Does no one within the family ever fight for the throne? Or maybe sabotage or assassinate heirs to ensure succession?
Chloe: I must repeat; I doubt I can be of much help on this subject. As with the rest of the citizens, my family, too, is not particularly interested in taking my father’s place. There was…my eldest brother, who wanted to succeed long before the King stepped down. What happened I will keep private, but my brother is now outside the kingdom.
Ryann: Was he not the rightful heir though, being the eldest?
Chloe: He…was, ah, I think. But the eldest no long takes the crown by default in our lands.
Ryann: Oh! How wonderful! That isn’t the case here either!
Chloe: Oh no? How is succession decided then?
Ryann: Simply this: of the king’s children, the citizens vote who they would like to have as their next ruler. There are a lot of other regulations, but that’s the underlying principal. It reduces opposition from the citizens, as they have a hand in the matter, and it helps reduce familial strife, since the heir is unknown until the ceremony of succession. This was put in place a few generations ago, and I believe it has been quite effective.
Chloe: So, why is the Lussa City currently between rulers then? Should the city not vote and solve this issue?
Ryann: It is not so simple. I told you there are other laws, well, one of the most important is that all the heirs must be present for the ceremony; for the vote.
Chloe: Ah, and your sister is missing.
Ryann: Yes, any deaths or absentees have to be thoroughly investigated, or else the whole point of the system is undermined. Ideally the heir is decided long before the death of the current king. But tell me, how is it, if not by primogeniture, that you pass the crown?
Chloe: Our system is far simpler than yours. The King decides who the heir is. That is all.
Ryann: Really? That’s quite arbitrary. And, suppose the king dies before choosing? What then?
Chloe: He has chosen already, but it is kept secret for many of the reasons that your kingdom votes, but especially to prevent jealousy among his children.
Chloe: He tells a handful of people, including his spouse. Like you, I think we should avoid tangential specifics.
Ryann: Fair. Now, have you never had a bad king? One who would then choose a successor who was even worse?
Chloe: …I suppose I cannot dance around this much longer. There has never been a successor to our throne.
Ryann: You must be speaking in hyperbole. How could that be true? How could your Kingdom never change hands since its founding? Either your king is some ancient man, or your Kingdom is very young!
Chloe: My father…led the people to the land we have now. He conquered, he built the walls, he assembled the government. This is likely why he is so uncontested as a ruler. It was he who, as you said, founded the kingdom.
Ryann: He can’t be…centuries old?
Chloe: Perhaps I will explain it to you another time. But you can see now, why I have been insisting that my kingdom is not a good model to compare against.
Ryann: Yes! Now I understand! Why haven’t you said this before? Is this another secret that your monarchy keeps?
Chloe: Not a secret, just not spoken of much. The people, I believe, can tell that my father is the same King; the same King that always was.
Ryann: And you, his daughter, you must be like him to! You must tell me!
Chloe: No, I need not tell you anything. We live a few lifetimes longer than usual, that is all.
Ryann: But how! Immortality! How? Alkemia?
Chloe: No! We…we have investigated it. It is enough for now to say that, for my father anyway, it is some sort of…it is in the same class as a birth defect; an abnormality. It has to do with his mixed blood.
Chloe: An unusual and perfect mixture.
Ryann: So you aren’t the same then?
Chloe: I am…similar.
Ryann: Some other time then.
Chloe: Perhaps. For now, if you wish, we can discuss the dynamics of a state whose central leadership is missing.
Ryann: Or whose leadership has never changed!
Wrote this over a few days. This is a second draft. I hope it wasn’t too dry.
This dialogue covers some of the core conflicts of novel-in-maybe-progress, The Solune Prince. I’ve got a few chapters of the first draft up, you can read it for free. Or, you could read something shorter. Or not.
You might notice some issues with the capitalization of “Kingdom” “State” and “King.” If you look closely, you’ll notice that different characters capitalize or don’t capitalize consistently. They line up with the emphasis and ideology of their respective kingdoms.