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The Solune Prince
Novella 2

Chapter 45: The Young One’s Trouble’s Erupt

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“How do you think it will go with the prince?”

“I expect it to go quite well,” Chloe said. “I’ve dealt with Metch princes before, and as far as royalty go, the Lussa prince is rather agreeable, even amiable.”

“You think? I thought he was trying hard to appear mature.”

“There are worse things to try to.”

The two women decided to relieve Elllis, who apparently needed to find some document or other from the library. Instead, they parted ways, the lawman escorting them out of the Palace and moving on to finish his work. Chloe was unsure which roads to take to get back to Lilllich’s, but she was certain she could figure it out. Alexandre, fortunately, had memorized the way.

They followed the woven wire path forward down the road the Palace was build on, and walked right past the street that would have taken them north, towards Lilllich’s tower of Malakh. Alexandre said nothing. She wasn’t sure how one was supposed to correct a Prince. Further, the mansion was on a parallel street, so once they reached another that bisected this, they could zig-zag and make it home fine.

“You know…” Chloe seemed sombre, wistful. “You asked me about two things. My age, which…I am not such a woman who thinks that is an improper question. I do not mind, but it was simply the wrong time.”

“…Right. I am sorry if it was rude.”

“No, I like questions. I even like difficult questions. Personal questions.”

“…I understand.”

“You relate to this?” Chloe stopped at an intersection. Their conversation would surely end if she turned north. “Let us go…” She walked forward. Alexandre nodded and followed. It was getting dark, but they would take the detour.

“The scenic route?” Alexandre smiled a little.

“Of course,” Chloe said. It is necessary at times like this. “You asked something else, I can’t recall.”

“…Your age, your family being in power forever, it seems…hmm…”

“I can tell you about my family, my father and mother founded the Solune Kingdom shortly after they married. Before, we were simply the ‘Sol’ half of the Sollussa.” She gestured around, “This, I suppose, being the Lussa half who stayed behind during the schism of the nation.”

“Oh. Does that mean that…your father is the first and only Solune King?”

“Exactly. When my father…you must not tell anyone, but when my father descends from the throne, it will be the first time there ever was a new King.”

“What? When?” Alexandre Dirge, like nearly all citizens of the Solune kingdom, had a sense that King Rhye had never had a predecessor, in all the centuries he ruled, and yet simultaneously had a part of the mind which pushed this reality away. No, thought this higher rational portion, of course he’s only the most recent of many kings. Of course. Alexandre considered this. Were the assumptions of reason always correct? Even if the facts undermine that logic? She said, “Who will be his successor? Is it you? Is this a training mission to prepare you?” Alexandre felt like her homeland was shifting. The one thing that was constant in her life, she realized, was the King. The capital, yes, but especially the King. Though, should it not have shifted long ago? Strange…

“Not me, I do not think. Signs point to…Janna Rhye.”

“Oh.”

“You know her. You met, I heard from her.”

“Hmm. But, then you know more, don’t you? About your sister. I met her yes, for a period, and in stressful circumstances, so it isn’t too easy to recall. She’s…eccentric. And aggressive.”

“When she has to be.”

“She would be quite a King, are you sure she would make a good…no, perhaps good, but would she make a proper and decent—huh? Is that…” Alexandre pointed and then dropped the hand to her waist and drew her sword.

“Yes, it is…” The two women continued walking closer. “And she is not alone.”

It was the young, failed assassin Ammelia, and she was retreating out of an alleyway, her sword crossed against two opponents. It was hard to see in the dark, the sky clouded over a full moon, but Chloe could tell they were toying with the poor girl. For what? Do they intend to exhaust her and the…kill her? Or capture her? And what if—

“Chloe do something. Prince!” Alexandre took a step forward. She leaned forward, her body fighting to act, and yet…around the Prince, she felt she needed to be directed. What is this feeling?

Ammelia looked nearly defeated with exhaustion. Chloe studied the situation carefully, as if it was a diagram from a book rather than a living street fight. How long has she been fighting? Who are those people? Again, she had lost herself in her mind, and this time, with another’s life at stake. And, upon realizing this grave problem, she contemplated even further. Why is it that I get so carried away? Perhaps I am used too much to the library, where time is secondary and I am my only company. The most pressing matter is copying down a quote or citing an idea into a commonplace book before—ah! No!

Finally, Chloe called out. “Cease!”

It was not the command to attack Alexandre had been awkwardly waiting for, but the weight of the call was immense. Impressive. Chloe’s word echoed into the alley Ammelia was retreating out of, and then it echoed right back out, cutting the air. Chloe had issued forth in an even, deep, and commanding tone, which ran across the street, much further than it needed to. It made all of the combatants, even Alexandre, jump. But only for a moment. The fighting did not stop.

“Let me,” Alexandre said, almost frantically, brandishing her weapon.

“Go.”

Alexandre ran ahead, but Chloe continued at a walking pace. No one had time to notice, but she seemed different now. Ancient, suddenly. Now, rather than slowly churning information, her mind began to spin, taking in the situation and processing it intuitively. How was it that Ammelia, who she knew to be low in skill, was able to hold of two fighters. Even if they were messing with her and playing the long game, it seemed to Chloe that there must be something more to the Lussa girl than she thought.

When Ammelia glanced at the approaching Alexandre Dirge, Chloe got her answer. Her face was tensed around the nose, below the eyes. Muscles clenched, muscles that most people did not have. Is that…her mind fell back into its libraries. Pages and pages, tomes and codices passed in front of her mind’s eye. Chloe, with great restraint, closed them and returned to the present. “Strange,” Chloe murmured, “I have the information. I know what sort of being has such features, but I do not have the time to work it out. What is she…”

Alexandre had joined the fight and already taken one of the fighters from Ammelia. But it wasn’t enough. Chloe was close enough to see into the alley now, and standing there, laughing at the previously unfair fight, were four more men, one much more nobly dressed than the rest. Ah! Do they truly mean to kill her? What is this scene?

Upon seeing this third woman approach, a couple of them stood from the bins they had been spectating from. The well dressed one made a complex motion with his hands and two of the four, rather than heading for Chloe, strode towards Ammelia. They turned the fight around, literally, so that Ammelia was caught with the alleyway full of fighters on one side, and three more on the other. The well-dressed man moved forward.

Alexandre stabbed her opponent in the thigh and tried to run him all the way though, but hit a bone and got stopped. She intended to help Ammelia again, but the leader had already directed the final two to cover the girl and keep the Riley out of the way.

Chloe started moving faster, drawing her sword out and walking in an intimidating stride. Because her sword was so incredibly long, as tall as her, this took some practiced effort. Pulling the hilt under her shoulder and flipping the weapon downward, Chloe let it slide out. When the hilt was almost dragging on the steel pavement, Chloe took the blade and pulled it the rest of the way out. But this elaborate movement had wasted too much time. She now saw the leader grabbing Ammelia at the shoulder, kicking out one leg and then the other. The girl was helpless, surrounded by four fighters. He stomped at her leg, making the damage felt. Ammelia screamed, but his had was already over her mouth. No one would hear.

Alexandre finished off another, but now the three men that had been dealing with Ammelia, seeing this, moved to keep Alexandre off.

Chloe now stood in front of the well-dressed man, only a few paces away. He had Ammelia in his arms. Alexandre seemed to somehow be holding her own against the three that surrounded her, but Chloe wasn’t sure she would last much longer. She brandished her two-handed sword.

“Ah, careful.” The man slowly drew his own weapon, a shining curved sword with an ornate protective hilt. He initially pointed it forward, but then whipped it back, nicking Ammelia’s sword hand and causing her to finally drop her weapon. It seemed that she dropped it more out of surprise than pain.

“Chloe…I…will handle this…” Ammelia said with a raspy voice.

“Tell your friend to stop fighting.” He pointed the sword at the girl’s chest.

Chloe looked to her right. Alexandre. Alexandre’s fight, three versus one, looked like it could go either way, somehow. The woman was frantic, blocking two strikes with one blade, and kicking a lot. She even saw her gently redirect a sword swing with her off hand. A sword fighting prodigy? A hero before her calling? This reminds me of…what was his name…Ah! Not now! Perhaps this leader had enough wit to realize himself, that Alexandre might just win. All she had do to was down one opponent, and the odds were in her favour.

“Hurry now,” he added, shifting his blade a little.

“I’ll be…fine…don’t listen…he’s dumb…” Ammelia, apparently, was not worried.

Chloe pulled her sword up so that the hilt was by her cheek, the blade forward and upside-down.

“Don’t try to do anything you’ll regret now, maiden.”

Chloe swung so fast that she surprised herself. But she was so far away that the weapon missed by over an entire sword’s length. She let it continue to arc and smashed into one of Alexandre’s opponents. He was wearing armour under his coat, but it didn’t matter. Chloe pushed into the swing, driving deep in between two plates and nearly knocking him off his feet. Alexandre’s boot did the rest, burying into his stomach as she blocked a swing from somewhere else. Alex took a moment to study Ammelia and Chloe’s situation, but had to return to the remaining two enemies.

“Shameful behaviour,” the well-dressed man said, and stabbed his weapon all the way through Ammelia’s chest, right above the left breast, stopping with a crack as it hit something. The shoulder blade? Ammelia screamed, but again her mouth was covered. He didn’t stop, digging around in her chest cavity for a bit, and then pushing under the shoulder blade, and between her back ribs and finally out the other side of her body.

Alexandre drove her cross guard into someone’s face, a woman apparently, and kneed the other one, giving her a moment to see what happened. She caught her breath and, eyes trained on the leader, spoke to Chloe. “He thinks he has time to pull it out. He thinks we’re both far enough away.” The man she had kicked recovered and thrust her rapier forward. Alexandre shoved the attack away with her sword and then pulled her arm back, readying a lunge, but not at him. She laughed, maniacally.

In the split second the sword exited through Ammelia’s back, the girl frozen in shock, Alexandre’s hair burst white. “He thinks he has time!” She laughed again and wrenched past her opponents, lunging forward and closing the four-strides-large gap in a single step, driving her sword all the way through the leader’s upper chest.

He, now face to face with the battle-maddened Alexandre Dirge, seeing her hair not bright, but simply white. Her dark teeth clenched and bled in the tension, smiling. He said, “You…missed my heart, and that you will regret.”

Alexandre ripped her sword out, rocking it as she went. Chloe was right behind her, dragging Ammelia out of the shocked man’s hand and pulling her far away.

The man recovered and squared off against Alexandre. He said, “That is a game that two can play at, but I don’t play fair.” He snapped his fingers, wincing a little from the wound which was slowly bleeding.

Alex did a quick headcount. One of the men from the beginning was missing. The two left over that she had been fighting were standing ready, waiting for commands. And— “You’re joking…”

“And you’re dead. You’ll see I was right. You should not have missed.”

At least a dozen men, hearing the snap summoning them, emerged from deep in the shade of the alley into the street, marching double file; two by two. They must have been sitting and watching, just like the others had been, just much further in the alleyway, or perhaps waiting a street or two over. They, and the two Alex had escaped from earlier, surrounded her. In a brief moment, Alex saw the wounded man from the start of the fight in the dark. He had sent the message.

Chloe was across the road. She leaned Ammelia against a building, and ran back in glancing around as she covered the distance. There was at least one plain-looking civilian in the distance watching what was happing, very quietly. It wasn’t that late, was there any more witnesses?

Alexandre was moving inhumanly fast, and Chloe entered the melee to support her. Swinging upward with her sword, she again caught someone underneath the breastplate, lifting them briefly off their feet. The moon, for a moment, peeked out from behind the thick cloud cover. Chloe could see the odds clearly now.

Twelve Lussa duelists. Two Solune diplomats. And the had to finish before Ammelia lost too much blood, and before they like her accumulated too many injuries to continue the fight.


More Chapters
Something Else


Daniel Triumph.

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