Chloe re-entered Lillith’s room, this time with Elliott.
Lillith sat back at her desk, “come to change your mind?” She smiled, “or perhaps you’re just here to interrupt my work?”
“I’m here to say that I don’t want to work all the time.” Chloe paused, nervous that she had implied the wrong thing, and then added, “I don’t mean that I don’t want to work, I mean that, ah…”
“Yes?” Lillith said.
“Ah,” Chloe had run out of steam. She had many arguments for how doing the same thing every day could put you in a rut, but she hadn’t bridged that argument into how a break might help solve that issue.
Lillith said, “what would you do outside of working and training with me?”
Elliott spoke up, “I’d like her to come out and help me with some projects. We could use more hands.”
Chloe nodded, “I don’t want to have to spend all of my time here. But… I still want to work with you enough that I’m not… neglecting my duty to the Lussa royalty.”
Lillith exhaled, “It seems what you really want is time to do the things you want to do.”
Lillith said, “Consider my situation. I work with Prince Riley, and with the rest of the Lussa royalty. Then I also have this building to maintain. I don’t think I told you this, but you’re not the only person living here, this is a government-owned apartment complex; although that’s a story for another time. On top of all that, I have to train you in fencing, and probably also certain Lussa customs and culture, what little I know of all that.”
“I don’t know what you were expecting, but I can’t be with you every hour of the day. Possibly, I’ll have time for a few hours every morning and into noon, for most of the week. We can practice sword fighting and battles, then we can talk during a late lunch, but after that I’ll have to go back to my own business.”
“Wait wait,” Elliott said, “So what you’re saying is that we have the whole afternoon? That’s great, isn’t it Chloe?”
“Yes…” Chloe said slowly, “I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before.”
Chloe cleared her head and added, “So, you have from morning into noon, and then in the afternoon I have my own time, and I can go out with Elliott, or explore independently.”
Lillith smiled, “if that’s what you want. But please remember to be well rested in the mornings.”
“Which means not to return too late,” Chloe said.
Lillith gave a tilted nod.
“Well, thank you for helping me come up with a more clear schedule.”
“Of course. I think I said this the first time you came in here, but I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”
Chloe and Elliott sat on a bench outside the building eating a dinner, and watching the city get dark.
“I’m pretty happy that this while thing was settled,” Elliott said, “it all ended up working out fine.”
“Yes, it did.”
“Are you okay? You don’t seem that happy” Elliott said.
“Well, we didn’t specifically solve anything, right? We just found out that my worries didn’t exist in the first place.”
“I mean, I guess.”
“No, it’s true. I assumed that I was going to be working with Lillith all day. I didn’t consider that she would have her own responsibilities outside of me.”
Elliott frowned, “so what are you saying?”
“I’m saying that I was only thinking about myself.” Chloe said.
“I don’t know what to say. To be honest, I didn’t think about her side of it either,” Elliott said, “I guess it’s just easier not to worry about other people.”
Chloe sighed, “yeah. But, despite that, I think I’ll try to be a little more considerate.”
They picked at the food in silence for a bit. Chloe wasn’t sure what she was eating, but it looked like rice.
“Hey,” Elliott said, “I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon then. We can meet up at the building we’re painting, if you remember where that is.”
“Yeah, I remember.” She looked at the darkening sky, “Is that the sun getting brighter?”
“Hmm? No that’s not the sun. That’s Opsto.”
“It’s like the Lussa moon… It’s not the same as the normal moon, it’s a second planetary object that kind of just stays in one place in our sky. Honestly when I went to your side of the planet I was a little surprised that you didn’t have one.”
“So you just have a stationary planet in your sky?” Chloe said.
“Pretty much. That’s why it’s dimmer for most of the day. Partial eclipse. Opsto literally means hinder. Didn’t you notice it?”
“I couldn’t see it past the clouds. I also assumed that’s why it was so dim.”
Elliott nodded, “that’s one reason, but it’s actually dim for most of the day every day. It’s only evenings and mornings when Opsto isn’t in the way when it gets bright. And it can get really bright. The break of dawn is actually blinding.”
Chloe tried to process this. She said, “Is it brighter because when that planet… er, when Opsto is off-center, it also starts to reflect light to the surface?”
Elliott said, “that would make sense, although I’m not particularly sure.”
They finished their dinner and, as Elliott said, the city did start to get brighter. Light began reflecting off the metal buildings, and eventually they headed inside to escape it. Other people started to trickle in too, Chloe assumed these were the other residents Lillith spoke of.
The two stood in the hall near the entrance of the apartment and waited.
“Now I understand why the halls are on the outside of this building,” Chloe said, “that way the morning light doesn’t hit the room.”
“Yeah, the rest of us have to use heavy curtains. It is not cool to wake up to blinding lights, let me tell you.”
“Huh, I would have thought that your buildings would be built with this in mind.” Chloe said.
“Well,” said Elliott, “not everyone can afford a house with exterior hallways, or special windows or whatever. But heavy curtains? Now that’s something anyone can go out and buy.”
“Oh. That makes sense.”
Sunlight came in through the front door window, and Chloe and Elliott watched as it got brighter and brighter, and eventually, suddenly faded out. Afterwards, Elliott said goodbye, and went home in the dark, where his eyes were safe.
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First draft disclaimer: This narrative is a first draft, and is therefore subject to grammar errors, repetitiveness, lack of clarity, repetitiveness, weak character voice and other issues. Later drafts will smooth such things over, but for now they remain.
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Wow, this one turned kind of weird. To be honest, I’m a little unsure of the whole day-night cycle in the Lussa City and the Underside.
The original setup was that the sun got really hot during the day due to a thinner atmosphere, and the moon reflected a lot of light, so most creatures flipped the clock. Night time was safer, and bright enough to see, so people went out then. Day time was treacherous, so people decided to stay in caves, settlements, and so forth.
Then I decided I wanted things to happen at night, so I changed the treacherous only to apply at sunrise and sunset, like it does here. That’s when the planet (which is bowl shaped) gets sunlight at the edges. The theory was that the atmosphere acted like a lens an amplified the suns rays like a magnifying glass.
Now I’ve added Opsto, the giant planet that sort of acts like a binary to the “diskworld” or rather “bowl-world” of Dawngale. I came up with this because I couldn’t explain how the moon would get light when the sun is on the other side of the world. And I ended up making things way more confusing than they have to be. Maybe I’ll cut this part out in a later draft.