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Mumblings from Hannibal

This is a very short piece that was removed from a chapter of The Solune Prince. I added the context to make this post interesting, and worth reading.

The parts that were cut out are italicized.

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

Digression IIII: Mumblings from Hannibal

Astore left to prepare their exit through the north gate. It was the least used of the three, so he wanted to makes sure that the process would be as quick as possible when they were on their way the next morning. The kingdom’s gate was guarded by regular Hannibal guards. Astore happened to know these women well, so he simply explained the situation and handed them the correct letter from the King. There were no issues, so he moved on to his next task; hiring a night guard for their overnight stay. The King had been wise to suggest this. Even Astore was a little paranoid about potential Lussa assassins.

“You call this a house?”

“I mean, it is a royal house. King’s quarters.”

“Well, even from that perspective I have issues. If this is King’s quarters, it’s much too small.” Senica said.

“You know, I have never been to this city? Not as it is now, and certainly not since the invasion.” Chloe said.

“Is that what this ‘Legendary Event’ was?”

“Yes. When it ended, we opened up the kingdom to outsiders for the first time in centuries.”

The room was comfortable, expensive even, but not specifically lavish.

“And here, no servants?” Lilllith asked. “Even I have servants.”

“Ah, typically the King will hire local workers, as well as bring his own. We prepared for nothing of this sort and so…”

“And the cupboards are all empty. Kent and I checked.” Senica said. “What are we going to eat?”

“Ah…perhaps we will visit one of the local dining establishments.”

Astore returned. He had hired a guard that he knew to watch over the building at overnight, in case Ammelia or anyone else was still after them. He hadn’t gone with the Hannibal guard, but rather to a group of mercenaries who usually hired themselves out to travellers. The men were very happy to work a local job.

The party agreed to leave the house for the afternoon, so they woke up Siren who had fallen asleep, and then Astore led them to a place he knew well.

 

“Hey you know this is the first time we’re dining together as a group,” Kent said.

“So?” It was Siren.

“I don’t know, it’s just—hey you still grumpy about being woken up? You gotta eat even if you’re tired you know.”

Alexandre laughed.

Chloe said, “How long is the trip? What will it be like?”

Lilllith sighed, and put down her knife. “We should be there around nightfall tomorrow, assuming all goes well and we move at a pace faster than a walk. It is not very far oddly enough; I’m surprised that we hadn’t made contact until now.”

“Well, we had not been looking until very recently. Maybe it was the same for you?”

“Maybe. Anyway, they will be expecting us, though perhaps not tomorrow. This is fine. I own a very large property, so only have to worry about…”

“About Ammelia.” Chloe became serious. “Or rather, the presumably better organized people that stand behind her.”

“Yes.”

“And dessert!” Col said.

“Yes.”

They returned shortly after without incident. The night, too, was uneventful, even for the mercenaries. This worried Astore, but for Lilllith it only confirmed that their issues would present themselves later, perhaps even after they crossed over to the Underside.

While the night had been uneventful, the morning was not. It turned out that very few of them were morning people, and so Lilllith’s calls at sunrise were unwelcome to all but Astore, who was already awake, and Kent and Senica, who didn’t have morning issues.

They didn’t stay in Hannibal very long, making their way north toward the kingdom doors; stopping only for breakfast. They arrived at the gates, and Astore spoke to the guard for a moment and then they were let through. One of them hollered, and then pulleys started turning.

“I never realized how large these doors were,” Alexandre said.

“Yes, seven cubits. Ah, that is three storeys. It used to be two, but we replaced the doors a few decades ago.”

“Huh. Seems excessive.”

The giant doors finished sliding open—all the way for Royalty.

“My father used to have good reasons to be…apprehensive.”

The party went through. On his way out, Astore called, “Expect Agent traffic through here over the next few months.” And then, they were outside, outside of the kingdom.

Chloe had been north, but she had never exited north. The outside world was open before her, without the hind of any walls in the distance. To her right was a cliff face, on top of which lived the N’Tariel. Left was the Elken jungle. In between, where they would be travelling, was the EntElken valley. The plane was barren; just sandy soil and little shrubs.

“What direction?” Chloe asked.

Lilllith pointed straight ahead. “The land moves upward and almost reaches the height of those bluffs. Only a little further, on the edge of a forest, is the hole to the Underside.”

The gate closed behind them.

“Hole?” Alexandre asked.

“Yep!” Said Col.

Chloe had never thought of how they would actually get to the other side of the planet. “So we just…fall?”

“Yep!”

Lilllith added, “Gravity changes halfway though. It is dangerous. Best to jump so that you have a little extra force on your way down.”

Chloe, a little agitated, said, “ What if you miss the other side and fall back down? And then get stuck?”

Lilllith frowned. “Come, this is a one-hundred kilo-cubit trip. It will be near dark when we arrive, assuming breaks, and also assuming a mostly safe trip. We can speak as we walk.”

“Of course. So?” Chloe tilted her head down to look at Lilllith’s face.

“The Lussa-Djeb hole has safety installations. It took years to perfect, but all of the problems inherent to jumping down a giant hole to cross over to the other side are solved—well, addressed over there.”

Alexandre listened intently, glancing back as they left the Solune Kingdom behind them.

“Here…there is something we can do, but it is neither easy nor convenient.”

“You sent someone down with enough extra weight to pick up the person who is, ah, who’s stuck on the way…” Chloe thought aloud.

“Yes…. You know if this?”

“No, I just…”

Alexandre said, “It’s physics.”

“Ah. I am not so learned, but I suppose it is.”

..

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