Chapter 34: Reunited II
“So how far—“
“It’s right there.” Col pointed to a square five storey building. Kent noticed that it was made mostly of stone brick, rather than the various iron alloys of the rest of the city.
“Is that the same material as the palace?” Senica asked.
“No, but I heard it was nearly as expensive,” Col said, adding, “not the whole building, I mean just the materials. Stone is expensive in quantities this large.”
“How did Lilllith come to own such a place?” Astore asked.
“Don’t you know who Lilllith is?”
“No. No we do not. Not at all,” Astore stated. “All I know is that she seems close to the Prince.”
“Lilllith was a general for the guardians, the soldiers I mean. When she retired from there, she trained the polits for a few decades. She was promoted to the royal guard.”
“So she was in every military and fighting position in the city?” Astore raised an eyebrow. No wonder she was confident enough to journey to the Solune Kingdom with only one boy as an escort.
“Uh…I guess so, huh. Either way, she’s well known, especially by the polits and anyone old enough to have been trained by her. And even though she retired, she still holds the title of Royal guardsman, first rank.”
“Honorary first rank?”
Alexandre Dirge, still asleep, said, “Why.”
“You mustn’t sleep too deeply. Your humours are out of balance. The black bile will drown you, and you will die. Wake up.”
What nonsense is this?
It must be Lussa medical philosophy.
Alexandre decided not to argue. She looked around. These aren’t my clothes. And their too small for me. Brings me back to my crop top days… She bolted up, took a dizzy spell, and vomited on the lap of the girl who happened to be beside her bed. Her vision was hazy.
“You’re not the girl from yesterday.”
“Eww, what in haids!”
Alexandre blinked into sight long enough to see who had waken her up, before she ran out of the room. She was a much younger woman with long black hair and the pale, light purple tinged skin that Lilllith had. The Lussa all seemed to have skin like someone who only came out in moonlight.
Alexandre lost consciousness again.
Alexandre bolted up, and vomited on the floor this time. No, not the floor, into a tub. The girl wiped her face. “Better.”
“What is?” Alexandre asked.
“I solved all the problems. Except I still have to wash the clothes.”
“Oh, sorry about that. How old are you?”
“Are you…a servant?”
Alexandre waited for her to elaborate, but she didn’t. “Are you mad at me?”
“You are sick.” The girl put a lid on the tub and pushed it under the bed. “What do I have to be angry about.”
“And you’re thirteen.”
“Are you Lilllith’s daughter?”
Alexandre’s dizziness was not subsiding, and the young woman was getting on her sleep-frayed nerves. “Please,” she said, forcing a smile, “tell me about yourself. Join me.”
Alexandre shifted on the bed, an action more difficult than she expected due to her weakness and her sinking into the bed. The girl helped her moved and then, like a child, hopped into the bed beside her.
“It’s because you’re tall. I bet you’re six feet tall.”
“Six…?” Alexandre knew of imperial feet, but she was used to the Solune cubit.
“That’s four cubits. I guess you use the Djeb system?”
“The Djeb use our system. We conquered them a few centuries ago and they became a vassal state for a while.”
The girl’s eyes widened. “You’re perfect! I saw your body when I went to wash your clothes. You’re tall, strong, and you’re even smart.”
“Umm, thanks.” Alexandre awkwardly glared around the room.
The walls were all some form of iron. She figured she could probably figure out the alloy if she had a chance to melt down a piece and run some tests. Mostly iron though, perhaps some chromium to prevent rusting. And they looked a little damp. The walls were covered in thin sheets of cloth, similar to a castle tapestry. Alexandre guessed that it was to catch the moisture that built up on the walls, rather than to hold back the cold of a stone castle wall.
“I want to know more about you. And maybe Lilllith. And…maybe the city after all that, if you have time.”
“Oh.” The girl turned completely red. “I am Annissette.”
“You are holding one Chloe Rhye, are you not?”
“No we are not. Where did you hear such a thing?”
Lilllith leaned her hand on her sword. “From someone who spoke to her through the window. Let’s not play games Jessshun.”
The prison guard sneered, but called out to someone else.
“We’ll bring her out. No need to come in.”
No need to come in, Lilllith wondered. Strange. Suspicious, even.
“And so the City became very prosperous after we began trading with the Djeb.”
“But the Djeb is on the other side of the planet. It must be very inconvenient to transport goods through a giant hole.”
“No, it isn’t like the one that you used to get here, the one to the Djeb had a lot of construction done to it.” Annissette shrugged. “But it would probably be better to ask someone else about that.”
“I still can’t believe that Lilllith is a royal guard. It seems like she’s lived multiple lifetimes.” Alexandre said.
“Oh, she has. Lilllith is…different from us. She came from the east. In fact, that used to be her name, Lilllith of the East.”
“What is it now?”
“Lilllith of the Lussa City. She’s probably older than most people’s grandmothers, though she looks to be in her mid-thirties.”
Alexandre shook her head. “Not this again.”
“I asked Chloe about her…and her family I think. I can’t really remember. But the Solune King, he’s been king for a long time. Since I was born at least, and I think…well…”
“Well?” Annissette looked beside her to Alexandre, and shifted to her knees, sinking deeper into the bed.
“Well, I have access to the academic library, being a student and all—”
“What do you study!”
“Biology, and a bit of chemistry. Anyway, I did some research, and it seems that the King has been in power since…since the founding of the kingdom, Annissette. He was the first King, centuries ago, and he’s still the King. Ever since then, I’ve wondered how old Chloe was, but she won’t tell me.”
Annissette tilted her head again and then smiled. “I’m sure she will. I just hope Lilllith can set her free.”
“Why is everything made of metal?”
“It’s more common than stone.”
“And why are they all different shades of silver?”
“There has been a lot of experimentation with anti-rust alloys in the last few decades, especially since chromium went up in price.”
“Do you think we’ll meet the prince soon?”
“I sent Roccck to contact him. He’s getting into law, so I figure he could navigate the prince’s guards and courtiers and relay the message.”
“How far is your house from here?”
Lilllith sighed, looking over at the Solune Prince as they walked. The girl seemed completely unfazed about having spent almost an entire day in a prison cell. Perhaps the all the questions were some sort of psychological avoidance tactic.
“We are halfway there. No more questions from you.”
It’s been quite a while
This is the first chapter I’ve actually typed in about four months.