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The Solune Prince: Regimen II

The Solune Prince
Novella 2

Chapter 43: Regimen II

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“I would like to point out, youth.”

“Ammelia.”

“Ammelia, that though it was unnecessary because Shalla always cooks too much, Alexandre asked her to make sure there was enough for you.”

“I don’t know how much she makes, this is my first time here.”

“And where were you this morning, instead of the lounge?” Lilllich continued.     

Ammelia stifled a sheepish expression. “I had a bad dream. And, umm, I went somewhere else.”

Lilllich raised an eyebrow. “Fair though perhaps more honest than necessary at the breakfast table. Have you been educated, youth? I know that women’s education is often neglected, outside the Lussa and Antemiles houses.”

“I had a wide liberal education. My father made certain…” Ammelia trailed off at her own mention of her father.

“Fair.” Lilllich took a forkful of the same side from the other day, that rice. “Col and Annissette, you are on for supper. Don’t burn it this time?”

“That was Col,” Annissette said.

“Hey!” the boy yelled.

Lilllich shook her head. “You must watch over each other and take full responsibility for any outcomes.”

“It’s good advice,” Alexandre said through a mouthful of food. Lilllich, who was seated near her, slapped her wrist. “Phwhat.”

“Alexandre, what were you taught?” Lilllich said.

“Eh, kemia, biology, a bit of maths and calculus, philosophy, literature—”

“No, I mean your manners!”

“Oh. Parents weren’t really around.”

Lilllich shook her head. “And you, Ammelia?”

“History, biology, arithmetic, algebra—”

“You have algebra here?” Alexandre said, rubbing her wrist, her mouth clear this time.

Lilllich smacked her wrist again anyway. “Don’t interrupt.”

“Yes, there’s algebra…” Ammelia said. “And calculus.” She shuddered.

“But the East Metch invented algebra. Do you have somehow contact with them?”

“Who?”

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 Kent and I were staying. It’s mostly traders, but 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. “Plus, algebra can be important for doing trade. I suspect the basics of it got passed over by the merchants long before anyone came to the scholars to learn it.”

Ammelia shrugged and continued her list of disciplines. “Singing, a bit of harpsichord, rhetoric, angleometry, logic, theology of the Ekklesia Sotare, theology of the Galuth, astrology, and literature.”

“Astrology,” Lilllich mused.

“Your education system is diffuse then? It isn’t formalized into seven liberal arts?” asked Chloe, who had long finished not only her first plate but a second and third.

“No.”

“You didn’t study laws?” Col asked.

“I did, but only enough to stand up for my honour in court.” Ammelia said, “You know, noble things.”

Lilllich shook her head. “That explains why all the nobles need lawmen. They seem to be horrible at defending themselves.”

“I expect I will have to learn Lussa law, at least a bit…in addition to the political work with the prince,” Chloe murmured, thinking deeply.

“It would be a good idea,” Lilllich said. “How much do you know of your own system?”

“Well, I studied and qualified to as a poet, which is similar to your lawyer, in a Solune court. I have a few times.”

“Oh yes.”

“Beyond Solune, I know some common law, and a touch of the Old Book.”

Seeing that everyone was done, Shalla and Col stood, bowed, and started to collect the plates. Lilllich stood and dispersed everyone except Chloe, who she ordered to the basement training hall.

“I am obligating you to get used to this room, and this weapon.”

Lilllich threw a sheathed sabre at Chloe, who clumsily caught it, lost her balance, and then also caught herself.

“Do you have balance issues, Prince?”

“Ah, yes…”

Lilllich sized her up. Chloe 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, must have been inherited from her father. It gave her a royal and even masculine look. She was fortunate to have such a beautiful, feminine face, or she might look almost—not exactly, but almost—like a feminine but strong young man. The other thing interfering with her balance were her breasts, which were large enough to cover her broad chest and much more. Perhaps too much of her weight was above her waist. Yet, her hips were wide, she assumed a trait from her mother. Lilllich concluded that Chloe would even out fine with some leg work.

She wasn’t planning on it, but Lilllich 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 the two-handed sword from her father. Lilllich strode over and stuck her open hand between Chloe’s arm and chest.

Chloe blushed. “Eh? What! What!”

“Hold still, you.” Lilllich moved to the other side and did the same. “Now hold it low.” Chloe moved while Lilllich 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, twisting her arms as she attacked the air. Lilllich felt her muscles flex and push her hand into Chloe’s chest.

“Just as I thought. Your breasts get in the way, don’t they.”

“Not really.”

Lilllich paused, and then moved her hand away. “Do you wear a brassiere?”

“A what?”

Lilllich frowned, confused. “A bodice? Short stays? Don’t you cover your chest with anything?”

“Ah, sort of.”

“Sort of!”

“Well, when we were journeying, I had them wrapped just in case. Good thing too, with the Riley attack. Right now, I have a chemise.”

“Only?”

Chloe nodded.

“Well…either way, sabre will work better for you. It seems your parts don’t get in the way in most—well, some of your two-handed maneuvers. But the sabre is a single-handed weapon, you will find it more comfortable I expect, since you won’t have any arms crossing over. Today we will only do drills. I will show you the various guard 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.”

Lilllich stood beside Chloe to avoid mirroring. She took a pose, facing 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.”

Lilllich held the sword forward, and waggled with her wrist.

“Ah, okay?” Chloe followed.

“One-hundred times. Let’s go! We need to grow those forearm muscles.”

And so, training began.

“Come now, don’t be shy—thirty-four, thirty-five, thirty-six—that’s good, see if you can make a hundred. Forty-one, forty-two…”

Chloe, at this point, was having a lot more trouble regulating her breathing than doing the repetitions. She was already fairly strong and used to training with a far longer weapon. But with these simple movements, her mind always seemed to wander. To Alexandre, to her group, her mother, to physics, what Lussa parliament might be like…

“Eighty-five, eighty-six…” Lilllich continued the count. By now, Chloe’s arm was a numb, burning mass. It was worked so hard that felt like it belonged to someone else.

“Good. That’s one hundred. Now do another hundred, but you keep count this time.”

Chloe glared at her, her heart still throbbing in her head. What, so that my arm may fall off?

Lilllich went behind her, and then after a moment appeared adjacent, also holding a fencing sabre. Unsure of what to do, Chloe said, “One…” and swung. Lilllich also swung. She kept count and they both practiced.

When they finished the second set of repetitions, Chloe sat on the basement floor to catch her breath. It was tightly woven straw, perhaps soft rush. And it was cold. Chloe was tired, and now her arm really hurt, and she wondered if there was any damage. She wasn’t going to do any more of that, not today. She rested and looked at her new teacher, who was still standing. Lilllich’s breathing was heavy, but she seemed otherwise fine, like she could do it again, even four or five more times.

“What is your role again?”

Lilllich turned and looked down at her. “I am retired.”

Chloe nodded, meaningfully.

Lilllich continued, “Perhaps I told you already, but I was in the military, and then the guard, and eventually I became a royal guard. Then in my final years, I mostly did training.”

Chloe nodded again. “You have been fighting for a long time.”

“And perhaps once again.”

“Where is Chloe?”

“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. [DT1] But, she sort of knew this man from last night, and he seemed familiar somehow.

Elllis frowned. “I am twenty-eight and I am not married.”

“Fascinating.” She gave a dark metallic smile.

“Where is Chloe training?”

“The basement floor, it’s only partial there’s a room there. Well supported, soundproofed. She’s training in there. You shouldn’t disturb them.”

“I come to hail her, that perhaps she would come with me to the law library to see the documents the prince and I spoke of yesterday.”

“Hail, huh?” That’s my mother’s name hmm…irrelevant.

“Yes. I figure she would want to see them herself.”

“Yeah? Let me ask you, about all these laws, you seem to have a properly stratified system here. You have peasants and aristocracy.”

“And workers. The Lussa City fosters a strong middle class of self-employed workers and small enterprise.”

“Okay, sure. But with the aristocrats, does the law privilege them? Is there something of a double standard?” Alexandre asked.

“Laws are nothing more than a set of double standards. One for criminals, one for the innocent. Class doesn’t…it should not have anything to do with it.”

“That’s an interesting point. Anyway, Chloe won’t be down for a while.”

Alexandre walked away. She felt that something was strange. She was particularly abrupt with that Elllis. Shalla, who had been waiting in the hall, came out and greeted Elllis as usual. “You can wait in the lounge room if you wish.”

“No, I will speak more to that woman.”

“Alexandre Dirge?”

Elllis moved on. “Yes.”

Alexandre was down the hall. She turned left, down the maroon carpet, into a room that faced the front of the building and had no 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 sat a young woman with nubs sticking out of her black hair. Elllis entered shortly after.

“AnLussa. Well met.”

“Goldbaum? No…”

“Perhaps one day. Presently, I have no house.”

“Ah. Then you would not have heard of the schism in one of the AnLussa houses.”

“Schism?”

“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.”

“Of course.”

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 little power they had. All they held to was an air of prestige. And they spoke almost 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 if it went on long enough.

“Of course!” Alexandre repeated him, and clapped her hands together once.

“Yes, my father—my estate—oh,” Ammelia took a breath, seeming suddenly full of a fervour that haven’t been there before. “I need to get something, excuse me.”

Ammelia left then, but she didn’t return.


 [DT1]Mania

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