The Solune Prince: Posters Part2; or Alice’s Wondrous Cooking

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

Chapter 7: Posters Part2; or Alice’s Wondrous Cooking

Not since her final year in study had Chloe done so much in a single day. Talking with Finch, meeting the Djeb woman, Senica, encountering Alexandre, making posters, and then the assassination. Assassination attempt. She was so drained that she barely made it home. She reached the city gates, exited, and then re-entered the castle.

“Chloe!” It was her mother.

“I cannot…”

Gwenhime could tell by face that, even though she had good news, it would be best received in the morning.

 

Chloe fell face down on the bed. She craned her neck to face the window above her, and then her eyes pacified.

Alexandre… Alexandre and who? I wonder if that Djeb woman would come. What does she study? I should not have brushed her off. She is from the south, she said. How strange. What is in the south? I wonder if anyone will look at the posters. I should… add a time and place to them… so people know, so I know when to meet.

Vision returned and she took a few notes, and then slept.

 

In the morning Chloe, forgetting that her mother had a message for her, left the castle early and headed to Alice and Finch’s house. Finch was still asleep when she arrived.

Alice was cooking with fire. Chloe had witnessed this before; the younger woman would take the cover off of her stove, light the wood within it, and cook over the open hole.

“We mostly have eggs, because they’re cheap. And moose too!” Alice said.

She had already cracked seven of them into her little pan, so Chloe wasn’t sure why it was being brought up, especially in a manner that implied she had any other options.

“Can you hold?”

Chloe took the pan. “You know that I burn things, so, ah, whatever you’re doing, do it fast.”

Alice laughed, stated that eggs could not be burned, and then returned from the indoor cellar with vegetables and a block of white cheese. She cut them into small bits and, even though the pan was well past maximum capacity, added it all in.

She took over again and said, “Crush me some salt and pepper, yes?”

Chloe found their salt stones and peppercorn, and threw them into the mortar and pestle on the kitchen counter and mashed.

“Ah, I want to add a location and time to all the posters we made.”

“Yes! When do you leave then?”

“The third. So, the day after tomorrow. That’s a guess, but it rides on the assumption that Lilllith would like to rest at least one night before leaving again.

Alice nodded, and then yelled as a piece of something went into the fire.

“You should have used a bigger pan.”

“This is the bigger pan!”

 

Finch woke up around the time that food was ready.

“Usually I cook, you know.” He made sure to inform them.

“I know, and you cook like a normal person too, with the stove elements in the stove, and coals for heat.”

They finished—it was very well made—and updated the posters. Chloe decided that the date they used would be the day of Lilllith’s arrival, at noon.

They hit the university right as it opened, and had enough materials for each building. The cafeteria was their last stop, as it generally was not in use until lunch time. It was not empty when they got there. Senica was present, as well as a dark-haired person sleeping in the far corner. They put up a poster, and then a second after a few excited urgings from Alice, since it seemed they had extras. When Alice and Chloe finished putting up both ads, they turned back and saw Finch talking with the Djeb woman.

“Yeah,” he said, “my morning class doesn’t start for another hour or so. I definitely have time. Why don’t we sit?”

“Sure,” Senica replied.

“Me too!” Alice jumped in.

Chloe sat with them for a while. Senica, it seemed, was an anthropologist, which explained why she had lived in the south: for study.

“So, I am conducting a few surveys. I have talked to the university, and I’ve set up this booth here.” She handed them clipboards. “Do you all have pens?”

“No!” Alice said with glee.

“Okay, you can use mine.” Senica turned to Chloe, “Hello again, what was your name?”

“The name is Chloe.” She paused, then added, “Chloe Rhye.”

“Wonderful, would you add your data?”

“No thank you.”

During the short survey, Finch managed to fish out some information from Senica; she was born and educated in the Djeb, that anthropology seemed far more developed there than in the Solune kingdom—he even got her to admit that she was engaged.

“No ring?” Finch flashed his own.

“Oh, that is not customary in the Djeb, so no. Maybe after the marriage.”

“Ah.”

Chloe asked, “How long are you staying in the kingdom?”

“Not very long. Conducting studies doesn’t actually pay very well, so I just go wherever he does. For now, we are here.”

“What does he do, to have enough to support both of you?”

“Ah!” Alice jumped up, “Work!”

“Well—” Senica stopped to watch Alice. The Plainkind woman tripped out of the room, waking up the sleeping individual on her way out.

Chloe looked to see, and they locked eyes. She recognized her from last night—the dark haired girl in the corner was the failed assassin! She gave Chloe a cheery smile, watched Alice leave, and then went back to sleep. The girl, Ammelia was her name, seemed to fit in with the university very well, looking like a typical sleep-deprived student, asleep in the cafeteria.

“When does she work?” Senica asked.

“Still has an hour probably,” Finch replied, “she just likes to be early. She’s likely to be Captain soon you know, what with Natasha Rhye ascending to Captain Commander.”

“Really? Well, thanks for participating. We’ll compile this for the university before we go. You should grab a copy of the journal!”

“Did you talk to her?” Chloe motioned to the person in the corner.

“No. She’s actually not a student here. She looks quite sickly too.”

“Yes.”

“And did you see her leg? I saw when I got here. It’s bandaged and pink.”

“Pink?”

“Blood pink.” Senica had the uncanny look of maternity, “Although I don’t think it’s still bleeding, it must have been pretty bad when it was, to go through all that expensive cloth.”

“And you said she was here when you arrived?”

“Yes—and I got here quite early! Likely she came some time last night. This building is always open, you know? For the students.”

I believe I have an idea of when she arrived…

“Well, if your husband is interested,” She gave Senica one of the extra posters, “Feel free to join the Lussa expedition. In fact, if you do, I will answer your list of questions.”

Senica read it over. “You’re working for royalty?”

“I am the royalty.”

Senica’s eyes widened.

They spoke for a while longer, and then Finch left for class. Senica folded the poster and followed him out to meet her fiancé. Chloe was left behind, but not alone. She stood and moved to sit across from her Lussa visitor. She intended to wait, but eventually she lost focus and her mind wavered.

Senica the anthropologist, Alexandre the Kemist, and who… me the historian? That might make a decent team, but if feels like we are missing a leg from this table. I wonder…

She wondered herself to sleep.

Daniel Triumph.

Table of Contents

Link to Alice and Finch; my first novel.

 

The Solune Prince: The Assassin’s Secret; or The Lussa Part1

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

Chapter 6: The Assassin’s Secret; or The Lussa Part1

Before she left Alice and Finch’s home, Chloe said, “When do you think I should—”

“We!’ Said Alice.

“When should we put them up? Tonight?”

“Probably in the morning,” Finch said.

“Before work!” Alice shouted.

“So, come by the same time you did today.”

Chloe nodded, and exited, leaving the advertisements with them.

 

The clouds above, as well as what Chloe believed was a lack of moon beyond them made for an exceptionally dark night. Chloe had mapped out the city in her mind long ago, so she had nothing to worry about. At least, I hope so. As she walked, Chloe hummed the old Solune Royal Lullaby.

 

     “—is what they say,

Shed no tears is what they say,

But my little baby, shedding tears you may

      Shedding tears you may.

Your father’s died the people say,

Not coming back, so cry you may

Your fathers died—”

 

As she crossed between residential districts, rather unceremoniously, Chloe was grabbed from behind. Unable to see, she struggled and shouted.

“Guard!”

But she knew that there were none around. She had memorized the patrols as well as the streets; no one would be here for more than half an hour.

Chloe steadied herself. She felt metal on her neck. What do I do? And this to a prince! Why—

“Are you the royal going to help the Lussa?”

What is this about?

Where did she come from?

Why me?

You ARE going to help the Lussa.

That makes her a stated enemy to, ah, to my current tasks, right?

Fight back.

Ah…

Chloe pushed her toes into the ground, steadying herself, and then pulled her hands in, grabbing the attacker’s arm and digging her thumbs into the wrist. She heard metal hit the cobble and quickly took her assaulter’s arms, pulled them forward and craned her own head straight and back. She heard the other person’s face smack the back of her head; and pain ran through her own. Ah, I hate that feeling.

She turned around and, underwhelmingly, saw only a shadow of a person standing in the dark. It took a few steps back, rubbing its head.

It spoke, “If you leave the city, if you go north with Lilllith, we will kill you.”

Chloe searched her waist. Unarmed as usual…

“Is that clear! Don’t help the Lussa, we don’t want it! We don’t want you in the City.”

It was clear to Chloe that this person was a woman, and she seems to be young.

Chloe stepped forward. Her foot hit something. The dagger.

“If Lillith makes here, then I will be returning with her.” She said.

The shadow shifted, doing something with its arms.

With a single blunt word, it said, “No!” and dashed forward, cutting across with some sort of weapon. Chloe dropped to a kneel and pawed the ground for the knife. She kept her eyes up. She felt a slight wind pass above her head. She felt a sharp edge with her and took up the dagger with an overhand grip. She saw the woman’s weapon glint as she recovered, a dull, thin sword.

“Damn it! Why is it so dark here?”

Chloe closed her eyes and opened her ears.

“Where are you! I… I can see you!” The assassin stammered, trying to seem in control, “I don’t have to kill you, you know, just give you an injury severe enough that you don’t take the trip. You know, send a message that—augh.”

Chloe let go of the knife. It lodged firmly in what she assumed was the woman’s thigh.

“Now, ah, now you have my message—you would do better to fight me in the bright of day.”

The woman grunted through her teeth. Chloe took her by the shoulders, and kicked her legs out from under her. She fell, and Chloe followed her, dropping and pinning her to the stone path underneath her knee.

“So, who are you? What brings, ah, what brings you to my kingdom?”

Instead of answering, the woman, whose arms were still free, swung at Chloe. It was a slow and clumsy attack.

Make sure she does not cross us again.

Chloe let the blow hit her in the abdomen. The attacker, now detained, took this a sign of victory, and swung with her other hand, cutting across with the sword. Chloe pulled the dagger out of the woman’s leg, blocked the attack with it, and then pushed it back into the wound.

“Ah,” her voice writhed, “what did you—!”

“You have to keep it in to slow the bleeding.”

She stood up and held the woman’s chest underfoot, then stomped on the weapon with the other leg. To her surprise, the sword shattered into three pieces.

“What, ah, what kind of weapon is this?”

Chloe waited for a response, but got nothing. She said, “The guard will be here any second now. We will learn what we need from you—even if you do not speak. Your clothes, your skin, your blood, Natasha can read it all and learn what we want to know.”

“No!”

The intonation was filled with terror, so much that Chloe began to question which of them was the assaulter. “What do you mean no? Why not?”

“I can’t—you surviving is one problem, but then to be captured—no, they will abandon me! And then—”

“Then?”

Chloe knew the words weren’t meant for her, but she figured she could pull something useful out of the hysteria. Instead, there was a long silence. Chloe couldn’t tell the time that passed.

“L—just let me go.”

Chloe looked down with condescension. For a moment, the clouds parted to reveal that there was in fact a moon in the night. They saw each other clearly in the silver light.

The attacker, assassin, the woman; she was very young, a girl almost. She couldn’t have been any older than nineteen. Her hair was long and black as ash. Her skin, in contrast, was a slickly pale in colour, and her expression matched her tones, a face of desperation. There was something wrong with her eyes as well, but Chloe wasn’t sure if it was just the dark of night. Her look sought Chloe’s eyes for mercy. Never, in all her life, had Chloe been subject to such a request. Before she could make a silent reply, the clouds took over once more and they returned to the black.

“Tell me about yourself and, ah, I’ll let you go after.” Chloe addressed the darkness beneath her foot. “Why did you attack me?”

“Secret.”

“What?”

“That’s a secret!”

“Okay, what is your name then?”

“Secret!”

“Well then Secret, my is Chloe Rhye, Fifth Prince of the Solune.”

“The Solune Prince!”

“Why are you here? To kill me?”

“Secret!”

Chloe put her other foot back down, and the girl finally spoke.

“There are those who oppose the Lussa crown.”

“What is your name!”

“Secret!”

“Chloe pressed her right foot down into the girl’s chest. A threat.

“…Can you keep a secret?” She spoke in a tiny voice.

Chloe nodded, but then remembered how dark it was. “Yes.”

“I am Ammalia. Don’t tell anyone, especially not Ryann! I am Ammelia, a Lord of the Northern Quadrant.”

“I will say I was attacked by a Lussa.”

“Telling others that would… be in my best interest,” said Ammelia.

Chloe frowned in the dark. She began to doubt whether she really should tell someone.

“…Now let me go?”

Chloe looked at the Lussa girl’s face. Her vision was only now beginning to adjust. Whatever had been wrong with the girl’s eyes before was currently gone.

“One more.”

“—”

“How old are you?”

“Seventeen!”

She sounds like it. She even acts like it.

“Do not remove the knife until—” How long do I have? Probably at least ten minutes before the guards come, I think.

 

Five minutes later, Chloe finished dressing Ammelia’s wound. She had removed the sleeves from her silk overcoat and created a makeshift badge from them. It seemed to her that she hadn’t hit anything important or cut particularly deep, so it wasn’t too difficult a procedure.

The last thing Ammelia said before leaving was, “Thanks” and “I’ll see you the next time we attack you.”

Chloe sighed, hoping that whoever Ammelia was referring to was as incompetent as she was. Though I doubt it.

The girl disappeared into the night, and shortly afterward, two guards showed up with torches. Chloe told them what happened, keeping the secret, but pointing to the shattered sword on the ground as evidence. A report was made, and then Chloe was offered an escort home, which she accepted.

Daniel Triumph.

Table of Contents

Link to Alice and Finch; my first novel.

 

Alexandre’s Inquiry

If you’re new to this series, or want to review, you can follow these links:

6 Primary Dawn IIII

Finch left his class very confused about natural studies and science. He headed toward the lounge and cafeteria building. He found a table and sat down. He looked around for anyone he knew, and shortly after returned to staring at the table. Eventually, the sneakiest person he knew snuck up on him.

“Finch!”

He knew the voice. “Alice?”

It was not the first time she had come to him at lunch time. In fact, they had planned around it, scheduling his classes specifically avoid running during her lunch. So, often they ate together.

“What have today?” Alice asked.

Finch rummaged and took out two sandwiches. Alice’s digestive system didn’t really like anything that wasn’t meat, but bread was cheap, and they were both living on her payroll, so she didn’t complain.

“Wonderful!”

Across the room, Alexandre entered, followed by her new friend. They saw Alice and Finch and joined them.

“What did you get for lunch!” Alice shouted.

“Uhh, nothing.” Alexandre said.

“What?” Lunesca asked, “You don’t have a lunch?”

“No.”

[July 27: The writer stopped. He has lost his inspiration. Or better yet, he has been inspired to write something else… or focus on his classes. Something. He has resolved to take it easy and finish the book anyway. For your sake.

This book began to solve a problem in the writer’s life, but now he’s solved it. So, it will solve a different (although likely lesser) problem now instead.]

Lune sucked her teeth. “Do you ever bring food?”

She sat down next to Alice. Finch moved over to make room for Jutt, but Jutt continued standing.

“No.” Alexandre crossed her arms.

Lunesca made a face, a really stern, sort of disappointed face. Alexandre scowled, turned, and began walking away.

“Where is she going?” Lune asked.

“You made her mad, and she has no reason to stay,” Alice said, “of course she would leave. She doesn’t want to deal with you and she doesn’t have to!”

“What?”

Finch shrugged. “That’s how she is.”

 

As they spoke, Ansel entered the room. It was much larger than he expected, and it was all open concept.

“What a feat of engineering!” He thought, “There aren’t even supports. How did they do this? I wonder of Alex knows.”

Ansel looked around, and saw her exiting the building. He followed.

 

“So she just got triggered?” Lunesca asked, “She’s that type? Touchy?”

“Not really, it’s actually a lot worse.” Said Finch.

“Tell me.”

Finch at some of his sandwich. It was mostly cheese. Alice’s had no cheese, since her dairy tolerance ended shortly after she was weaned.

Finch started. “Alexandre was in the mob, you don’t remember? You’re the one who brought it up when you guys met.”

“So?”

“So!” Finch threw up his hands.

Then he had an idea. He grabbed Lunesca’s arm from across the table, her right with his right, and then with his left he reached under and grabbed her neck. Lunesca, of course, tried to stop him, but her right arm was in the way of her left, and Finch had control of it.

“What!”

“So, this is how she’s been conditioned to respond.” He let go and sat down again. “In the gangs, she’s told me, you just fight it out. Someone argues with you? Beat the shit out of them. Show them who’s boss.”

Lunesca considered this, rubbing her arm. They ate the rest of their food in silence. Alice kept glancing over to see how Lune was taking it.

When they were done, Lunesca sighed.

“So her default response is to fight, and since she’s a civilized person, she leaves instead, is that it?”

“Yeah.”

Lunesca frowned. “If I wasn’t such a weak bitch I’d fight her.”

“What language!” said Alice.

“Well,” she shrugged, “Alexandre Dirge is going to have to get used to leaving.”

Table of Contents

The Solune Prince: Alice and Finch; or Posters Part1

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

Chapter 5: Alice and Finch; or Posters Part1

Why did I let her go?

Because I did not have an answer for her.

What do I do now?

Find a reason, and give it to her. Figure out what will entice her to join
Certainly she has not given the offer a fair chance.

Certainly!

When Chloe finally came back to reality, she was extremely disoriented. She opened her eyes and looked around, getting a feel for her situation. It was still afternoon. She was still in the market. The sounds returned to her, the bustle of trade. She had unconsciously moved to a bench. There was a child on the bench with her, and he was poking her face. She was so tall, however, that the child had to stand on the bench to reach.

Chloe didn’t like this, so she told him to stop. He sort of yelped and then ran away. As usual, she recounted that which was useful from her bout of deep thought.

Alexandre did not say “no!” she said, and rather arbitrarily, that she was not going to work for the castle. I said that it was an expedition, and all she had said was, “So?”

Chloe held onto the fragment of hope.

 

The sun was setting by the time she reached the western-central residential district. To her surprise, Chloe ran into Alice. Or, more appropriately, Alice almost ran into her, tripped in the act of avoidance, and gallantly turned to apologise.

“Sorry madam—oh hi!”

“Alice, what brings you here?”

“Going home, evening shift’s starting almost soon now.”

“Hmm, well, I am going to visit Finch again.”

“Why?”

“Alexandre Dirge was… difficult.”

“Oh, let’s go then!”

Then, unceremoniously, Alice grabbed Chloe by the hand, and she was forced into running. Chloe didn’t have much trouble up through, due to the difference in leg length. She is so much shorter than me, while Alexandre…

Very soon they did reach Alice and Finch’s home, and Chloe was able to have her discussion.

 

“She must have been in a bad mood”

“Is she always in a bad mood?” Chloe retorted.

“Ah, well, truly; she’s been conditioned to see the bad in the world. But do you think there was anything specific?”

“She was trying to buy a sword.”

Finch frowned. “I guess you interrupted the exchange with your offer.”

“And?”

“Well, maybe she took it as a bribe? You, as the Fifth Prince, could easily get the sword for her.”

“What!” Chloe stood up. “Why would she take that as a bribe! I was not even going to do that, and even if I was it would be fair payment for a job! An…”

“An advance!” Alice finished.

Finch’s eyes tightened. “Didn’t I just tell you that she sees the world—”

“Hang on!” Chloe shut her eyes. She didn’t hear them anymore.

Alexandre “Jutt” Dirge. What has Finch told me about her?
Negative perspective.
I mean in the past.
She’s half Solune. Very tall. Taking a Masters in Kemia.
She was a gang member for a while, right?
She started the Murdock-Baracus gang wars.

“Why did she start the Murdock-Baracus gang war?”

“What?”

Alice became starry-eyed. “To save her mother!”

Chloe frowned. “I would have her on my expedition.”

“Umm, okay…” Finch was lost, but this was not the fist time he’d missed a few steps in conversation with Chloe Rhye.

“Yes!” Alice jumped, shaking the house.

“But, if she is to be this volatile all the time, it will make problems with the rest of the team. Talent is nothing if one is anti-social and unable to apply it.”

“Well, she’s not anti-social, not technically.”

“She’s nice!”

“Not technically? Is that a fact?” Chloe eyed him calmly.

“I mean, no but…” There was a minutes long silence, “maybe…”

“She’s just having problems with teacher!” Alice cut in.

“Professors,” corrected Finch.

“And writing her Masters final paper essay!”

“Masters Thesis.”

“You just have to learn how she is and she’s fine.”

“What a strange family you have Finch,” Chloe said, “I do not know if I should take Alexandre after all though. Do you think there is, ah, that there’s something wrong with her?”

Alice kept a neutral expression, but Finch spoke, “I know there’s something wrong with her, but look at what she’s done anyway!”

Chloe sat back down. She closed her eyes to think, but nothing happened. She would have to move with intuition; Limbic Thinking.

“How do I get Alexandre on my expedition, and how do I control her once she is on it.”

“Get to know her!” Alice said.

Finch said, “Set it up as a challenge. Give her a threshold, something that could stop her from actually being able to go.”

Chloe took a breath. “I, ah, I really do no know…”

“Posters!” Alice shouted, excited.

“What?”

“Yes!” Finch said, “Advertise, you’re so smart Alice! You need a whole expedition team! Send out a general advertisement—”

“One with high standards, something that might compel Alexandre,” Chloe finished.

“That’s actually a good idea,” said Finch, “put up some notices around the academy, namely the cafeteria and the Philosophy of Kemia building.”

“Although, probably you want everywhere,” Alice added, “so she doesn’t think it’s targeting her. Oh! She’ll think that since she said no, that you gave up on her and are doing this for that reason instead, wow!”

Chloe laughed, then said, “We will, ah, we’ll make her come to us instead of the other way around. Ah, now, how do we actually do all this?”

“Well, since we don’t have a printing press, so I would say by hand,” said Finch.

Alice jumped again, knocking over her chair and shaking the house. “Wonderful! I’ll help!” She bared her teeth, and they left the little house to get craft supplies.

 

The walk was fairly short, and over it they discussed what criteria they would list as requirements.

“So, Kemia, Anthropology, History, or Biology, right?” Finch asked.

“Maybe open it up to the Liberal Arts kids too,” said Chloe.

“Hmm…”

By the time they had returned, they had a good idea what they were looking for in an expedition member. When Finch brought up that the standards might be to broad, Chloe decided to add even more qualifications. At the end, they made about fifteen posters that each read:

Help Wanted – Work for the Castle

Summer position working for the Royal Family regarding international relations and cultural research.

Paid position. Travel required.

Academic Qualifications, One of: Biology, Kemia, Anthro, Solune History, Liberal Arts.

Other Qualifications Needed: Preferably a completed undergraduate.

Also Required: Some combat/self defense experience.

This is to be a dangerous exploratory excursion to the Lussa Kingdom. There is currently a political conflict, potential for a civil war. We would remain if any conflict breaks out, and potentially provide aid through knowledge or forces.

Finch asked, “Why does it say, ‘work for the castle’?”

“To see how Alexandre takes it.”

“And fighting experience, and all that about maybe a war? You won’t get a lot of people with that; not at a university!” Alice said.

“I know that, but you said that she was in conflicts before, so she must have something. Also, it’s better that they don’t make the expedition guards’ job harder. I’m sure we will find some people.”

Alice clapped with glee.

Daniel Triumph.

Table of Contents

Link to Alice and Finch; my first novel.

 

Alexandre’s Inquiry

5 Primary Dusk II

“This course is an introduction to Greek Rhetoric. If this is not your class, and I know it isn’t yours Corey, then please leave now before I start,” the professor said, writing the name and code on the board.

Four people, including the person the professor stared at, stood up to leave. Ansel tried to hold in a laugh. This was his first class of the day, and he was very excited. It seemed that most of the professors were more intelligent than him, and it was extremely humbling. In academia, it seemed, his intellect was far less unique. This did not discourage him; instead it became a driving force. Intellect is nothing without action, and most of these kids (older than him) hadn’t done anything. He had started a band.

And then she walked it, and it was like the first time all over again. Ansel nearly vomited, but he didn’t. He turned away and tried to act all cool. Alexandre Dirge passed by him.

He said, “Nice teeth.”

She froze in his periphery. “What?”

He looked up at her and she staggered, “What!”

“Do you two know each other?”

“Yeah, she’s my bitch.”

Lune gave Alexandre an incredulous look. As far as she was concerned, they were friends now, and men didn’t get away with saying shit like that to friends. Alexandre, to her confusion, blushed.

“Yes, and you’re my slut. And here I thought Degenerate culture was dead.”

“Can’t kill the Degenerate movement!”

Lunesca searched her mind. She had heard of this she had—“Are you Lussa?”

“Nope,” they both said.

“I’m a musician, you know? I played in the Lussa City, although I was centralized in the Djeb.”

“Yes, we go back.”

For the first time, Lune noticed that Alexandre’s teeth were silver. She didn’t feel like asking questions, so she didn’t.

The professor said, “Can you please sit down if you are in this course?”

“Right.” Alexandre said.

They sat next to Ansel, and shortly after the lecture began.

The professor spoke about how Greece was originally thought to be a fictitious or religious location lost in time, until they began finding documents from it. He then handed out the textbook. (All textbooks were free with classes; that is, included in tuition.)

Ansel looked at the publisher’s page first. He wanted to know how out-dated it was. It read 3910, and it was translated by Chloe Rhye.

“Alex… isn’t Chloe Rhye part of the royal family?”

“Yes.”

“And isn’t she… pretty young? Like your age?”

“Sort of.”

“Then how is she the translator of a hundred year publication?”

“…I’ll explain later.”

Ansel shrugged.

The professor went on. He was called Dr. Fagen, and he seemed to already know some of the students.

“The Greek Rhetoricians were divided in three. First, there were the Sophists, who were almost universally hated. It seems to me that they were something like infomercials that sold themselves. The Sophist’s texts were all lost or destroyed—or not yet discovered. What we know of them, therefore, is second hand, and it seems that they were quite despised.

“Right, as I was saying, they were like infomercials. They were fairly interesting to the masses, they gave knowledge that wasn’t all that useful but was knowledge nonetheless, and they charged for their services. Most rhetoricians spoke for free, and tried to educate, so their methods were looked down upon by many. The other two were the rhetoricians that were loved, and the rhetoricians that spoke in the courts—usually these were the accused themselves. Later, we will also talk about the philosophers.”

Someone asked what the difference between a philosopher and a rhetorician was.

“Good question. You can be a rhetorician and say nothing as long as you do it in an interesting manner. A philosopher can be as boring as a block of wood and as long as he is pursuing Truth, he is a philosopher.”

Someone else raised a hand and asked why the professor used male pronouns to describe philosophers. It was a woman.

“So far, all the philosophers I have read about or met were men. If you would like to change that, please do. I’ve been looking, fear not.”

He was frowned at.

Ansel laughed, and then he too was frowned at. Lunesca decided to join in, and then Alexandre, and then most of the class was laughing at this strange answer. The professor waited.

He added, “I suspect it’s because women are less interested in pointless fights, about half of philosophy is exactly that. It’s a mark of intelligence in my opinion. Although as far as Sophist rhetoric—well I’d better not say that.”

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