Chapter 42: Regimen II
“I would like to point out, youth.”
“Ammelia, that though it was unnecessary because Shalla always cooks too much, Alexandre asked her to make enough for you anyway.”
“I don’t know how much she makes, this is my first time here.”
“And what happened to your eye, child?” Lilllith continued.
Lilllith raised an eyebrow. “Good answer. Have you been educated, youth? I know that women’s education is often neglected.”
“I had a wide liberal education.”
“Fair.” Lilllith took a forkful of the same side from the other day, that rice. “Rockk, you are on for supper. Don’t be late today.”
“I’ll see,” the young man shrugged.
Lilllith shook her head. “And will you be moving out soon?”
Rockk frowned. “I don’t think so, not soon. Not as much work as one might hope in the courts recently.”
“Almost as if it’s being swept under the rugs…” Col mused.
“That, or that the nobles, who usually duel to first blood for honour and take each other to court for minor infringements, have been doing so less. They are up to something.”
“Yes they are,” Alexandre said through a mouthful of food. Lilllith, who was seated near her, slapped her wrist. “Phwhat.”
“Ammelia, what were you taught?”
“History, biology, arithmetic, algebra—”
“You have algebra here?” Alexandre said, rubber her wrist, her mouth clear.
“But the East Metch invented that. Do you have contact with them?”
Kent was nodding even before Senica started to speak. “The East Metch and the Djeb have some contact through the Sol-Metch State. That’s where me and Kent were staying. It’s mostly traders, but a lot of scholars like to travel to learn in the East Metch and vice versa.”
“Vice versa,” Kent nodded the foreign words that almost no one in the room understood.
Ammelia shrugged, “singing, a bit of harpsichord, rhetoric, angleometry, logic, theology, astronomy and literature.”
“Your education system is diffuse then? It isn’t formalized into seven?” asked Chloe, who had long finished not only her first plate but a second and third.
“You didn’t study laws?” Rockk asked.
“I did, but only enough to stand up for my honour in court. You know, noble things.”
Rockk shook his head. “That explains why you need us. You nobles are horrible at defending yourselves.”
“I suppose I will have to learn Lussa law, at least a bit.” Chloe murmured, thinking deeply.
“It would be a good idea,” Rockk said. “How much do you know of your own system?”
“Well, I can serve as a poet, which is similar to your lawyer, in a Solune court. I have, a few times.”
“Beyond Solune, I know common law, and the Old Book.”
Rockk and Lilllith stared at Chloe. Annissette and Alexandre saw them, and so they did the same.
Lilllith let Rockk talk. “You know the Old Book? How?”
Chloe once again cocked her head. “What do you mean how? I brought a copy with me.”
“What!” Rockk stood up and left the room. “No way!” they heard him call out down the hall. Lilllith stood and followed him.
Seeing that everyone was done, Shalla and Col, stood, bowed, and started to collect the plates.
“What did I do?”
Annissette said, “Chloe, the Old Book, assuming we’re talking about the same one, is an ancient and partially destroyed artifact here.”
“By age. We have preserved maybe half of it.”
“Oh. Well I have the whole thing.”
“You do understand how this might rend someone’s psyche, right? We’ve built layers on top of what we have, but the complete edition could ruin centuries of law and custom.” Annissette shrugged.
“You speak as if this isn’t really your problem,” Senica said.
“Well…it sort of isn’t. We in the lower classes live close to reality. It’s the theory junkies, the nobles, lawyers, and scholars, who will have issues. In fact, I bet they will oppose or even destroy your copy.”
“I can always ask for another.”
Astore smiled. “I am a stealth courier after all. I can move across land twice the speed of a conventional runner.”
Chloe nodded intently.
“I am obligating you to get used to this room, and this weapon.”
Lilllith threw a sheathed sabre at Chloe, who clumsily caught it, lost her balance, and then caught herself.
“Do you have balance issues, Prince?”
Lilllith sized her up. She was extremely top heavy. Her legs could use some work, but most of all, she was unusually broad for a woman. Her shoulders, like her wide jaw, had certainly been inherited from her father. It gave her a royal and even strongly masculine look. She was very lucky to have such a beautiful and feminine face, or she might look almost—not exactly, but almost—like a man. The other thing interfering with her balance was her breasts, which were large enough to cover her broad chest. Perhaps too much of her weight was above her waist.
She wasn’t planning on it, but Lilllith gave Chloe her two-handed sword. “Give me a stance with this. We won’t be using it, but—”
“We will not?”
“No. To be frank, I am awful with the two handed sword, and I don’t think I could teach you anything you don’t already know. You’re better off learning sabre techniques and transferring whatever you can. I expect you’ll come to favour my weapon of choice after a while anyway.”
Chloe frowned, but brandished her two-handed sword. Lilllith strode over and stuck her open hand between Chloe’s arm and breast.
Chloe blushed. “Eh? What! What!”
“Hold still you dolt.” Lilllith moved to the other side and did the same. “Now hold it low.” Chloe moved while Lilllith held on to her inner arm. “Now above your right side.” Chloe took a pose her father had taught her, hilt up near her forehead, weapon upside-down pointing forward. “Now extended forward, like you’re attacking.” Chloe thrust forward. Lilllith felt her muscles flex and push her hand into Chloe’s right breast.
“Just as I thought. Your chest gets in the way, doesn’t it.”
Lilllith paused, and then moved her hand away. “Do you wear a bra?”
Lilllith frowned, confused. “Don’t you cover your giant breasts with anything? Hold them in place at all?”
“Ah, sort of.”
“Well, when we were journeying, I had them wrapped just in case. Good thing too. Right now I just have a camisole on.”
Chloe nodded. “I was trained to move in a dignified manner…so I just walk carefully and otherwise let nature do what it will.”
“Well…either way, sabre will work better for you. It seems your parts don’t get in the way in most—well, some maneuvers. The sabre is a single-handed weapon, so you will find it more comfortable I expect. Today we will only do drills. I will show you the various positions we train with. Each is numbered, so memorize them. Okay?”
Chloe was sweating. She leaned her sword against the wall and took the sabre from the ground. “Okay…”
“We will not spar today. Or this week, most likely. Just follow with me.”
Lilllith stood beside Chloe to avoid mirroring. She took a pose, side on. Chloe took a few repositions and fidgets to get the stance correct. She was used to standing straight forward, or on an angle, to use a two-handed sword.
“I will teach you the twelve guards later, but first, do this.”
Lilllith held the sword forward, and waggled with her wrist.
“Ah, okay?” Chloe followed.
“One-hundred times. Let’s go! You need to grow those forearm muscles.”
“Where is Chloe?”
“She’s training. You are quite good looking, are you married? How old are you?” Alexandre was almost never this forward. She wondered what had come over her. But she sort of knew this man from last night, and he seemed so familiar.
Elllis frowned. “I am twenty-seven and I am not married.”
“So where is Chloe training?”
“The third floor, it’s only partial there’s a room there. Well supported, soundproofed. She’s training up there. You shouldn’t disturb them.”
“We are waiting on the prince’s hail.”
“Hail, huh?” That’s my mother’s name you know.
“Yes. I figure it would be best if we waited together. The woman who will come will be new to you.”
“You met Ryann’s night shift. He has a day shift too.”
“A proper harem then.”
Alexandre shrugged. “That’s a lot of women.”
“He does not only hire women. He says it would look suspicious.”
“The outfits make it look suspicious. So he has a scantily dressed man?” Alexandre laughed.
“No!” Elllis shook his head. “Such a thing would not be permitted.”
“The law is nothing more than a set of double standards. One for criminals, one for the innocent.”
“That’s an interesting point. But Chloe won’t be down for a while.”
Alexandre walked away. Shalla, who had been waiting in the hall, came out and greeted Elllis as usual. “You can wait in the guest room if you wish.”
“No, I will speak more to that woman.”
Elllis moved on. “Yes.”
Alexandre was down the hall. She turned left, down the maroon carpet, into a room without a door. It had two large windows, a luxe loveseat, a small table with two books on it, and beside that, a grand dark red chair. On the couch was a young woman with sharp nubs sticking out of her black hair.
“AnLussa. Well met.”
“Maybe one day. I have no house.”
“Ah. Then you have not heard of the schism in AnLussa.”
“I am the legal heir, but my house has defected. I have two followers left.”
“Oh? And your name?”
“Ammelia AnLussa of the Northern Quadrant.”
“Of course. And yet, it is closer to the center now, isn’t it.”
“We do not stem the expansion of the City.”
Alexandre Dirge marvelled at their sharp noblespeak. The Rhye noble family didn’t speak like this, but their distant relations did. There were nobles in Murdock and some in Hannibal, however they had little power. All they had was an air of prestige. And they spoke just like this. Alexandre knew because she had a friend, Lune, who went to the academy with her. It was initially infuriating, but eventually Alexandre found this way of speaking to be quite hilarious.
“Of course!” She clapped her hands together once. Then, Alexandre turned and gazed out the window. “What are those young people doing?” she asked.
Elllis ran out of the room.
“You know, one of them looks like him.”
Ammelia sank into the couch, and smiled knowingly.