Chapter 36: The City; The Prince I
He sat, listening less and less as the council droned on. Was this the life of a leader? To listen and wait? Why was no one listening to him anymore? He shook his head, drearily, staring off into the thick tapestry on the wall.
“And this law? Please sign if you agree.”
Someone handed him a stack of forty pages.
No. Not today. You will not demean me, asking me to sign, and pressuring me not to read due to its sheer volume.
“Come, prince, this council waits on your signature. Until you act, we cannot move on.”
“No,” said prince Ryann, “we will not be moving on. Prepare to wait the fill cycle until I have finished reading the laws in question.”
“Do not fool around your highness.”
The man—who was that man even? He didn’t look familiar. When had he become part of the court?—handed him a pen. The pen. It had the deep red ink that all laws had to be signed in. Signed in blood. Though it was animal blood harvested from the butchers, there was an amount of blood added to the ink’s mixture. It was mostly symbolic, but there was a law written centuries ago that required it. All laws must be signed in blood. Later legislators and clever monarchs footnoted this law until it required only a certain percentage mixed into the ink. Then, an innovative ink mixer created a blend that utilized the properties of blood. This formula was purchased from him and recorded into law. Layers and layers were built. This was the nature of Lussa law, and this was what Ryann grew up learning.
He took the pen, and lightly tossed it out the window.
“The prince would like to meet all of you tomorrow at noon. He also requests that the Solune Prince and no more than one other join him within the hour,” said the taller of the two robed men.
“Are either of you eating?” asked Lilllith.
“I am,” said the shorter.
“What did I tell you about eating in your robes?”
“I will be right back.”
He left, leaving the dining hall with only one standing man. Those at the table looked up at him, expectantly.
“That is the extent of my message. I will not eat, and whoever is coming with me should please finish up and follow in a hurry.” The young man surveyed the foreigners, stopping at Alexandre and noting with a hint of confusion her exposed skin and tight clothing. He couldn’t tell who the prince was. He figured it was possibly the tall, confident looking man next to the Djeb woman.
Chloe waited for Lilllith to address him. When she didn’t, Chloe said, “within the hour?”
“Yes. Who is the prince, and who, if anyone, will be accompanying?”
“I am the Prince,” Chloe said. She looked around. “Who will come with me?”
Siren fidgeted. He would volunteer if no one else did.
“I will come,” said Annissette.
“No you will not, you are a child,” Lilllith said, “and you are not a Solune.”
“Maybe Senica should go, since she’s learned in the right subjects,” Kent volunteered.
“But not Solune subjects,” Chloe mumbled.
A few people started eating again. Chloe surveyed her party. She considered Astore, but she was not sure if she wanted to take another Solune official. She had an intuitive idea of who she wanted, but she weighed the options in her mind until finally agreeing with it. “Alexandre will accompany me.”
“She’s injured,” said Shalla.
“It’s fine. It’s just walking, right? I’ve done more in worse condition. This is…” Alexandre shifted in her seat. “Royal business.”
Chloe looked past the table at Alexandre. She hadn’t seen the Riley’s fight. “You scaled the prison wall while injured?”
Alexandre frowned. The other newcomer returned, dressed more like Col, in pants and a thick but plain shirt. Shalla served him and he started eating too.
“It is decided then?” said the standing man.
“Sit down and introduce yourself first. Let the women finish eating. You should really read up on your etiquette in between all of your philosophy and law,” said Lilllith.
Shalla appeared with another chair, and found an awkward place for him on the corner. There were twelve people seated at the table. Lilllith knew that it could seat far more, but it had to be set up properly for it beforehand. The man sat and surveyed the dining hall and its inhabitants. Alexandre took her time with the simple mean, but Chloe finished quickly due to nerves.
“So you are the Solune?” said the man. “Is this one not a Djeb?”
“We are not all Solune,” Chloe replied. “Astore and Alexandre are Riley.”
“—Half,” Alexandre said through the food in her mount.
“Half?” said Chloe. Her mind began to race. No, not that half.
“Oh, that explains why you’re so tall!” Senica clapped once in triumph. “I have been wondering about that since we left the Solune kingdom!”
“—father was Solune. Interesting.” Chloe mulled over this.
“Did you know that the Royal family is also mixed?” Said Kent.
“Really?” Alexandre mumbled, shoving more food into her mouth. She was only halfway done.
“Yes, but it was…the first instance of interbreeding that brought my father into the world. And it was with a hundred-percent, interestingly enough. Legend has it my grandmother is quite the wild person.”
“That is quite interesting. The Lussa Royal bloodline is also mixed. You may have noticed that many Lussa, such as myself, are dark. The royalty are both. My name is Elllis, by the way. I am a politician. I used to be a lawyer.” He wanted to shake someone’s hand, but everyone apart from Lilllith, who he already knew well, was very far away. Etiquette. He bowed his head to the Solune Prince.
Chloe, entirely unfamiliar with bowing, glanced at Lilllith, who looked at her expectantly, and then bowed back. She had no idea what to do afterwards, so she gave the Solune military salute. Palm outward, sticking up the two middle fingers, middle and ring. Elllis looked at her hand and gave her a face of confusion and supressed disparagement, but reciprocated.
Lilllith slapped his shoulder. “Don’t make faces.”
“Was I making a face?” Elllis said.
Chloe stood up—Elllis did the same—and walked across the room, looking at Alexandre’s plate on her way over.
“I am Chloe Rhye, Fifth Prince of the Solune. I am a scholar.”
“I am Elllis.” Hes tried to shake her hand, but Chloe did not move. She looked at him with indignation.
“Oh, you can’t touch a Solune Royal,” Kent said. “There’s strict decorum on that.”
“I did not know.” Elllis withdrew his gesture. “Shall we go meet the Lussa prince?”
“Yes.” Chloe looked behind her to Alexandre, who was finally finishing her plate.