Wraith Hail

The more of you that I inspect,

The more of me I see reflect (Dave Mustaine 1995).

But when I went to see what’s what,

I looked around, I was a slut.

I’m in this, here, a room, I have a dictionary I have a bed.

You bought me too, paid food and drink,

Oh ho, your story takes a twist, the bed is red.

Tell me, what was I to you?

I’m a scholar, I know the words.

I just…don’t remember, let jog my mind; open the book:

Definition of concubine in English:

concubine
NOUN
historical 

1. (in polygamous societies) a woman who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife or wives.

Example sentences

1. ‘Abraham ended up with a wife and a concubine, Jacob with two wives and two concubines.’

2. ‘Do they mean to train girls to becoming rich people’s wives or concubines?’

3. ‘Round about were the remains of two 20-year-old women (wives or concubines?), two 40-year-old men, and a dog.’

1.1 archaic A mistress.

Origin
Middle English: from Old French, from Latin concubina, from con- ‘with’ + cubare ‘to lie’.

It’s funny, isn’t it?

They used to tell me to…know my place.

This isn’t my place, is it?

It’s only yours. It is Orion. his name is Orion.

There is a pile of papers and books in the corner,

Near my mother,

She is insane.

“Gasoline was too expensive!” She sings, “I got kerosene~, ah, look! It doesn’t smoke as much! How lovely!”

I watch the fire. I’ll die here, impure. How many of my friends; they call it monogamy, but if you’re not a wife, you’re…concubine.

Let it burn me, mother Hail. The grandfather clock on the wall strikes twenty minutes of fire.

“Come now, don’t be retarded, look, it’s your man, calling in the hall!”

The flames are silent. They drift into the vents. The room is stone, it’s stone, it’s stone, it’s…the tapestry, a gift from mom, catches fire, then the rug, just let me die.

“Come, Alexandre, darling, listen!”

The fire, I am a kēmist by training, kerosene, “it is a flammable liquid and the vapors can explode.”

The air in the room ignites, a cold burst of red and yellow and orange and painful and mother help me

Engaged in crime I grasp my throat
Enraged my mind starts to smoke
Enforce a mental overload
Angry again, angry again, angry (Dave Mustaine 1995)—

HELP ME

Come dear, “she says,” I am disoriented, my bed is singed, but it didn’t catch. The rug is finding its way to me though. I’m dead.

“Come on, you can do it!”

I see her beckon. I hear from the hall, calls for his life. He doesn’t call for me, the trash man. All the servants are out, he is alone, but for me.

“Let the wicked burn in hell, my love, we have work to do here yet! Can’t you see them? They dance with the flames, the wicked, still, look! I want to join them, but my lovely, you still need taking care of, don’t you?”

You can always trust a schizophrenic; if she’s your mother.

I stand up, the bed catches, finally, sharing a moment of heat and lust with the rug. I don’t see smoke, but I cough anyway.

“Look!” he enters the room, my mother is still not helping, she’s helping, look, I look, I look, I loo-

“Hey, kiddo,” I say to him, I say to Orion.

Orion, my owner, looks at me, he’s frightened, paralyzed. He; I feel now, that my resentment was misplaced. He scans the books, on fire. I take the dictionary from the smoldering bed and add it to hell pyre (Zelos Wilder 2003), and laugh as my mother does; the saccharin laugh of our family.

“Nice of you to join us, what’s burning, did the vents do their job?” I stride to the window and open it. The flames feed on the oxygen, the atmosphere, my life.

“Everything! There was a burst in every ventilated room—”

I hated him, so I took him and threw him out the window, save them from the flames, I called.

Then, my mother and I, we left the building and let it die, die instead of me, I’m more important. I’m more important.

Daniel Triumph.

Due to an immense amount of stress, this week is a repost of something I posted a while back. This is a repost of a piece I published earlier, but this time it isn’t split into two pieces. I’ve been meaning to put this up as one piece anyway, so here we go.

This is a piece that happens a few years after Dirge’s Second Operation, which is also worth checking out.

Dirge’s Second Operation

Or, “Raze

When she had finished speaking, she stared at me.

I looked at her rather intensely.

She glared at me openly. Perhaps she lacked a sense of etiquette, or perhaps the intensity came from an underlying edge—perhaps more than an edge—of…something.

“And as a result,” I continued, “I’m now in control of our group.” DONTTELLHERTHATSPEAKONLYWHATISNECESSARY I think I spoke too loudly. Hopefully she will just think I’m nervous…

She was rather loud, but she didn’t seem nervous. There was something disconcerting about this woman. “You are telling me that you have taken control of the Caironea gang?”

“The…Alexandre gang now.” I think I spoke too loudly. THINKIMNOTTHINKINGATALLIRUINEDRUINED

I noticed something strange about her mouth.
“You said your name was Alexandre Dirge.”

RUINEDRUINED I couldn’t tell if she had asked me a question or if she had simply made a statement. RUINEDRUINEDTHEREISNONEEDTOTELLALL JUSTLETHERLOCKYOUAWAYAND

When I had received the letter, I was certain that it would lead either to some sort of attack, or perhaps a joke. Yet I am not fighting, and typically those who play tricks do not confess murder to the guard Captain beforehand.

I felt that I had heard the name before…Dirge.

“I may have a proposition for you. I should detain you; however my operation would be undermined if, through justice, you were held in prison. For this reason, I will trust you to return here again, tomorrow. At the same time.”

LOOKATWHATYOUVEDONE I looked at her rather intensely. I waited a moment. I took a few breaths, and then I opened my mouth to speak. “——”

“And no, this does not mean you will escape the law, however….” I was in no position to, on my own, make promises, however I needed to entice her return. “You may be able to make partial atonement if you aid the Kingdom.”

I closed my mouth then winced. I wondered what she had in mind. When I confessed, I had been hoping this would be it, that all this would finally be over.

I saw her wince. I also saw her mouth properly, saw her teeth. This woman had a full mouth of broken—seemingly violently, perhaps even purposefully—broken teeth.

I assumed that meeting with the Captain of the guard herself, meeting with Natasha Rhye, would guarantee my arrest, but it seems…it seems that I’ll have to return tomorrow ANDLOOKATHOWIFAILMYSELFIFAILMYSELFEVERYTIMEIFAILMYSELF I took a breath. My eyes focused on the city wall behind her and then it came back to me; what had put me in this situation in the first place. OHNOWHATHAVEIDONE IVEFORGOTTENMYOHNOOHGODOHHOWCOULDIFORGETMYOWN……
“Partial atonement if I aid the kingdom…” HOWCOULDIWHATHAVEIDONE WHATHAVEIDONEWHATHAVEIOHNOWILLIBE

I could see it in her face again, that edge of something; that edge of madness. It seemed to have heightened. I said, “I can rely on your return, then?”

ABLETOFULFILLMYORIGINALINTENTIONHOWCOULDIHAVEFORGOTTENMYOWN “Yes, I will return.” I made the mistake of giving a courtesy smile. I realized, and quickly hid my teeth.

I confirmed my observations on her mouth. I had thought that there was something disconcerting about her but perhaps it was her situation. Or perhaps both are true.

FORGOTTENMYWHATISWHATISTOCOMEGODWHATISTOCOME

Morning was coming. I could see the light.

I took the day to do research, in addition, obviously, to my job. I spoke to Vinth, Artus and Finch, and then gave up on receiving any information of use from the guard. Though; Finch Dirge Zeth informed me that his mother’s name was Dirge. I did not ask about Alexandre, though perhaps there is some relation. Vinth, too, had some information about a Hail Dirge in the underground gang, but I did not believe her to be the Dirge I sought.

I next spoke to the Solune Agent, Janna Rhye; my sister. The agents knew of the Dirges. There was a Dirge already running a gang: Diesel Dirge, she whose group frequently raided the neighbouring town. There was also another Dirge, in another gang. I assumed this was Hail. Janna said there were three gangs: Diesel, near Baracus; Caironea, in the north east wilderness; and Horith, underground in Murdock, my city.

Perhaps the young Dirge was not lying.

ASINGLECHILDISLIKEASINGLEPARENTUSELESSANDDAMAGEDANDYETMOTHER IS THIS NOT US? AND WHY? WHO IS TO BLAME? And I had forgotten…

“Are you willing to take on this task? The gua—”

“Yes.”

She must have some motive, though why she was so willing when there was, possibly, family in neighbouring groups, I was not sure.

WHOISTOBLAMEWHOISTO And now, it seems we have been gifted with providence, mother. CANYOUSEE This new deal will help us. Truly, a gift from God.

“When should we take on this…operation?”

“I could have the guard ready in two days.”

WHATNONONONONOICANTDOTHATICANTGOTHATFASTTHATSRIDICULOUSNOTEVERYONEISASEFFICIENTASYOUARERHYE “I…cannot.”

“Of course. If you only just took control of the gang, then you will need to gain at least some semblance of trust from them. Right now there is something else I need from you.”

GAINTHEIRTRUSTENOUGHTHATTHEYWOULDFOLLOWMEINTO

“I will put it very simply. First, the guard will help with the operation. You must initiate, but we will provide the motivation. Then, of course, we will aid with clean-up. That is first. Second, I need evidence. This is to be a large operation. Three parties will be involved. I need evidence of your words that Caironea is truly dead. Finally, you need to send your gang on some sort of small mission to prove to them that you are capable.”

“That’s only two,” GAINTHEIRTRUSTGA “because the way I’m going to… —The task I have in mind is the public shaming of the body. We will take it and abandon it outside the city gates.” I looked at her rather intensely, and pointed.

Perhaps it was madness indeed. I did not think too deeply on in it. If this woman could coordinate a gang of fighting men in such a task, she would certainly be capable of the rest.

We agreed to meet again in exactly one week.

We worked for six days. By the sixth, the group had enough confidence in me to perform the task.

We dragged the body to the city gates and dumped it. Propped him up against the doors. Someone wanted to attach the corpse with stakes through the shoulders, to nail him up, but we were spotted. The guard does their job, it seems. WERANAND On the seventh day we rested, and I again met with Natasha.

“I made sure the guards saw you, to heighten the experience. Should the operation succeed, your term will likely be greatly shortened.” Especially if, as I suspect, you acted in defence.

WEARESOCLOSESOCLOSESOCLOSEMOTHERSO “When is it?” CLOSESO

“Two days.”

I covered my mouth to smile.

“Before we part, you must tell me Horith’s location. I will tell you how our end of the operation will function.”

True to her word, the Captain provided motivation. ANDAPPARENTLYSOMEOFUSHAVEACONSCIENCE A member of Horith’s gang, a man named Vinth, brought news from within the city.

Perhaps there is something divine on that young woman’s side. We did not end up needing to create a scenario by force, rather, our undercover guard Vinth had something for us. Horith’s gang was intent on expanding and overthrowing first the Alexandre gang, in its perceived newfound weakness, and then later the Diesel gang. Monopoly over independents. Vinth simply played the part of a concerned neighbouring member.

“We will take them pre-emptively,” was responded to with mostly cheers. It seems my past mistakes as a tactician were either forgotten or…were not as grand as the disfigurem—as the punishment I received for them would suggest. I tried to clench my teeth, felt pain, and began to assemble a plan. It had been my task before all of this FAILURE had occurred.

Lined pockets. We broke the windows shortly after beating the door in. We moved in headfirst; me first. It seems our architecture of aggression comes into reality faster than theirs. We caught them unaware, men at the boardroom table. I commanded the assault, rocks streamed out and then swords were drawn. I commanded the rest to other parts of the building, and then I moved ahead.

The controlled chaos, organized mess, took to the background as I skulked the building, searching. The noise was finally outside of my mind. Through the roar of dissent, I heard a saccharine laugh. I drew my sword and opened the door.

We watched them fill their pockets with stones and then storm though the front of the building. I told the guard to wait until it became loud, and continue waiting for half a minute. We would fall upon them when they were weakened.

“You did this, didn’t you.” He had her by then neck. “That daughter of yours, you told her!”

Horith had made the mistake of trying to intimidate her. At the point of death, Hail Dirge had a habit of…laughter. “How wonderful I must be, how powerful, to have the ability to be in two places at once!” She giggled.

He turned in time to receive a cut across his face. His eyes widened, which I took as permission to drive my fist into his throat. I kicked him to the ground and smiled openly. “In the middle of a siege, your first instinct is to find someone to blame. Oh…” I put my foot on his chest, and then looked around, “Do you hear that? Listen. The guard is here.”

The Solune guards are trained and skilled. Our weapons, seemingly simple rods of steel, beat past the swords most criminals choose to carry, and keep us committed to blunt force instead of blood. “Everyone who survives, which should be most of them, is to be run through the courts.” We poured in, interrupted the partially-completed battles, and finished them on both sides’ behalf.

“No, mother you have to go!”

She said, “Where?”

“Out.” I pointed to the window, breaking it open with my sword and clearing it. She looked at me with deep apprehension. Reading my face, she gave a tragic smile and then…laughed.

She leaned in close to my face and whispered, “I’ll see you some other time then. And…take care of yourself, okay?”

I nodded, we said goodbye to each other, and then she climbed stupidly out the window.

Shortly after, Captain Rhye appeared at the open doorway.

There’s a lot to talk about here. First of all, you can finally see the past conflict of Alexandre Dirge alluded to in The Solune Prince. Second, the story of “Broken Teeth,” a project that I had abandoned over a year ago, has finally been told, at least in part.

Third, this piece could (perhaps even should) be followed up by “Wraith Hail,” which features Alexandre and her mother yet again in a new and exciting situation.

Actually, I think that’s it. Hope you liked it,

Daniel Triumph.

The Solune Prince: Jagged Assembly III

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

Chapter 18: Jagged Assembly III

[Link to part 1: The Solune Prince: Jagged Assembly I]

Natasha approached the elevated thrones, moving past where she had stood before, and positioned herself where Chloe had been.

“I can now answer any questions about the expedition.”

A hand went up.

“What is it, Siren?”

“Who’s paying.”

“The state.” Natasha said. “Since he has some experience handling expeditions, Astore will maintain an account and manage wages. Perhaps he can explain for me.”

“Sure,” Astore began, “Any residence or food will be supplied. I am unsure of the exact numbers at the moment. I will maintain communications with the treasury via a messenger while we are down there, but we will be travelling with a large sum of gold. Assume that wages will be modest though, as a lot of what we will take will account for room and board.”

Natasha said, “That was actually a good question. Likely, as a royal envoy group, you will be provided something reasonable, and if more payment is needed, we can negotiate government to government through letters.”

 

The King and his wife entered quietly; politely. They joined the group and stood near the centre.

The King announced, “The arena is being assembled. There is a field we keep cleared outside the wall, in front of the castle, for arenas and other similar events. Tomorrow it will be finished. The event, we have decided, will be advertised in the city today, and proceeds used to fund a portion of your expedition.”

Siren looked up.

Lilllith said, “Truly? You believe your men can assemble this in one day?”

Chloe smiled with the pride of her city.

The King said, “Yes, it is a little modest, but it’s finished.”

“Colour me impressed; though in disbelief. Never have I encountered such an expedient group of contractors.”

The King said, “They are not contractors. We have contractors in this city, but as you suppose, they are slower workers. Contracting assumes a certain lack of trust—it’s why they have their name: they must be held to their work by contract.”

“I am aware, King.”

“The guard has developed more networked trust, and so I have sent them to build. They are trained in such things, of course. We had to do something to compete with the image the East had set forth.”

“If the guard is building your arena outside of the walls, then who is keeping the peace within?”

“Higher ranking individuals in key roles. Such people can do the work of many; it is why they have been their positions. The Captain of the castle guard is here watching to door, I am sure you have seen him.”

“Yes, I had assumed that your men were simply all so well trained.”

The King laughed, then his wife, and then certain other members of the room. “Not so much well trained, but I suppose you could call it that.” The King continued, “When citizens encounter a guard from the upper ranks knocking on their door, inviting them to the arena, if it is within their schedules, they—”

“They feel the presence of force within the city.”

“…Something of this sort. Of course we are aware that most people are very dutiful, or busy, and will therefore be unable to make it, or simply uninterested. But, as you say, the point is made; the presence is felt.

“Further, should anything go wrong, the ranks within should be able to manage. If not, it is not as if the guard has been commanded to a battlefield. They are right here, outside the wall, waiting to be alerted.”

“How interesting. You must understand that such expedience is highly abnormal where I come from. It takes a certain massive amount of energy to rile a crowd, even of workers, to get a job done. I am sceptical, but I will be interested in seeing if your empty field will have an arena in it—a modest arena as you said, on the morrow.”

The King acknowledged her and then announced, “Everyone who has arrived and volunteered your time, I hope you have a sufficient grasp on the situation. Please come to the arena tomorrow at the same time, noon.”

Chloe, feeling a certain obligation to end the discussion she had started, stood up and addressed the room. She closed the discussion and invited further questions to be directed to her father or to Natasha. She concluded with, “As I am aware that some of you are…busy in the mornings, I believe that it would be fair for you to be accommodated with a meal before the arena event begins…yes?”

She looked to her father, who nodded. “This is within our power. Any of you may come to the basement of the castle tomorrow morning. I will have someone inform the staff of your names.”

He looked to Natasha, who nodded.

 

The session ended and the non-royalty among them, along with Natasha, exited; leaving the King, his wife, and Chloe behind to discuss.

Lilllith, having inquired, moved ahead of the rest and exited the castle to watch the assembling of the arena-in-progress, and perhaps make some suggestions or modifications of her own.

Alexandre and Siren exited shortly after, but quickly went their separate ways, leaving Astore and Natasha in the noise of the foyer.

Natasha said, “Keep an eye on the Lussa woman. She…” Natasha considered her words carefully. She reminds me a little of my mother. Instead, she said, “Not too close an eye. She is a guest, and yet…”

“She is still and outsider.”

Natasha frowned, and then her face hardened. “We do not speak of our guests in this way. She is from outside the city, outside the Kingdom. Yet, she is a guest.” She sighed. “Watch yourself, especially as you exit the city and become the only uniformed ambassador of the Solune Agents.”

“Eh, right.”

Natasha looked at him with severity, and then left him to himself, standing in the foyer. The noise of the crowd, of the little Solune square, opened up around him.

Daniel Triumph.

Table of Contents

The woman in the header is Natasha Glass Rhye.

Natasha sketch
Natasha Glass Rhye, Second Prince of the Solune.

The Solune Prince: Jagged Assembly II

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

Chapter 17: Jagged Assembly II

[Link to part 1: The Solune Prince: Jagged Assembly I]

Natasha did not wait for anyone to introduce themselves, rather, she began for them. “Astore, here on the wing. Something of a reliable man. Want is your name and station?”

Astore straightened. “Astore Reginal. I am an ex-guard and current rank three Solune Agent.”

As he spoke, Natasha wrote.

“Next, you.” Natasha looked ahead to Alexandre. “Dirge.”

“Yes, um, yes.” Alexandre was tense. She breathed. “I am Alexandre Dirge. I have a degree in Kemia, and I am between semesters for my masters in Kemia.” Natasha wrote, andw hen she had finished, she looked up at Alexandre and frowned. She hoped that by doing this, she could compel Alexandre to continue.

Alexandre did continue, though nervously. “I am also an ex-gang leader, and an ex-convict, and umm…it was only for a few months.”

“Yes.” Natasha nodded. “Next, to the Lussa guest, Lilllith.”

Lilllith spoke, composed. “I am Lilllith of the Lussa City, though I am known to some as Lilllith of the East.” She paused for a moment, possibly omitting something, and then continued. “Though I retired from the Lussa guard, I am still technically satellite member, and am often called to serve the crown. Before I had the honor of serving the royal guard, I was in the police for a period of fifteen years. I was part of the force during the time of the brief military operation that occurred a few years ago.”

Natasha nodded again and wrote.

Chloe squinted at the ceiling in order to avoid eye contact with anyone in particular while she thought about what she had just heard. So Lilllith has always been a woman of combat. And; she is rather aged after all, isn’t she. How strange…

“Next, Kent Rhye.”

Kent stopped whispering to Senica when he heard his name. “What?”

Natasha sighed visibly. “State your name and station so that the rest of your travelling party knows who you are and has an idea of what you may be capable of.”

“Oh, we’re doing like a roll call. Okay.” Kent straightened, deigning for once to look like a dignified part of the royalty. “I’ve done a whole lot of work studying the Sol-Metch in the south. They have some interesting but dangerous methods for creating energy. Nuclear. In the past, I also served as a judge, although that was under a different law system, and it was a long time ago, so I’m not sure if I could do that again.”

Natasha frowned. She wrote documents like this in point form, so she had to translate his words to fit. “Fine. Next, your woman.”

Senica, not realizing that she had been so rudely addressed, said, “I am Senica Eir-Aeur…for now anyway.” She smiled and looked around, bashful. “I work as an anthropological researcher from the Djeb, although like Kent said we also work in the south. While I was in academia, I…worked part time. Due to the nature of that work, I was trained in unarmed fighting.”

“Fine.” She finished writing, then said, “And you…the man who would hide his given name.”

The blonde-haired man mumbled to himself from the corner before speaking up. He said, “Siren.”

“Sure.” Natasha wrote. Chloe peered down the steps and over Natasha’s shoulder at her papers, something she would not have been able to do if not for her elevation, as her sister was even taller than she was. She saw that Natasha had written down a different name, quite likely the young man’s real name.

“And?” Natasha continued.

“I study biology and the liberal arts. I can play certain stringed instruments.” He scratched his stubble. “That’s it I guess.”

“Very well.”

“So, ah, that is everyone?” Chloe asked.

Natasha said, “No, there is one final person.”

“Ah? Who?”

“You.”

“Ah, yes, me! Ah—”

Natasha unclipped the sheets she had been writing on, put away her clipboard and stepped forward so that the stood with the rest, facing Chloe.

Chloe looked around at her audience. She was more alarmed than nervous. She started and then stopped a few times, failing to speak. She realized that she had accidentally begun engaging in one of her greatest fears: speaking to a crowd. She gazed around, dazed and frightened. She found confidence in her sister, Natasha, likely the oldest person in the room.

“I am Chloe Rhye, fifth Prince of the Solune. I have spent most of my life studying. I dabbled in tutoring. I can play keyboard instruments like the harpsichord…sort of. I know a bit about everything, and a lot about certain things.

“My father trained me in the royal weapon, the two handed sword. I am also versed in other forms of martial and offensive fighting, thanks to my mother. And, umm, that is all. Thank you.”

Chloe then sat down in her mother’s throne, exhausted by her effort.

Daniel Triumph.

Table of Contents

The woman in the header is Natasha Glass Rhye.

Natasha sketch
Natasha Glass Rhye, Second Prince of the Solune.

The Solune Prince: Jagged Assembly I

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

Chapter 16: Jagged Assembly I

[Auhtor’s note: This is the full version of the poem: The Solune Prince: Jagged Assembly A]

Three members of the Rhye family deemed it necessary to wash before continuing to the throne room. Chloe finished first (by a large margin), and headed down to the throne room.

 

“Come now, your rudeness, are you to be on Chloe’s expedition team then? Is that why you are here this morning?” Lilllith’s smile was wide, her eyes approaching feral.

I’ve killed more depraved looking people by accident. I’ll not fear her. That Alex had to remind herself of this disturbed her, but she spoke regardless.

“Yes; I believe I’m the first to join.”

“Of course you were.” Lilllith’s expression, despite her words, softened. “I am very interested in your manner. Likely you, you appear to care nothing for status. Is that not so? Is it that you believe everyone to be equal?”

Jutt stared.

“One of these dissident, ‘respect the janitor as we respect the ruler’ types, then?”

“I have a hierarchy. Even criminals rank higher than the lazy.”

“So what’s a janitor on such a scale as yours?”

“Well, obviously above a criminal, if they’re law-fearing.”

Lilllith gave Alexandre a strange look, a look of disbelief; as if she couldn’t understand how the woman had come to such a conclusion.

“You, of all people, teeth of silver, smooth skin around your eyes, the lips and—”

Her words stopped. She didn’t understand why, but she felt the need to speak no more. Alexandre stared, her grey eyes piercing Lilllith’s.

“Perhaps you are correct, and I am not law fearing. I fear he who creates the laws,” Alexandre said. She maintained the stare, blinking passively. Lilllith had the strange feeling that even this statement wasn’t entirely true.

There was the crack of iron on stone, as if someone very powerful had tried to open the door without turning the latch.

Lilllith, intimidated, jumped a little at the sudden noise, and froze. Astore (who had been nervously observing the two women) also jumped, though far more visibly. The handle turned.

“Ah!” Said a small voice.

“Who? Oh, Chloe it is you.” Lilllith composed herself. “Prince Chloe,” she corrected.

The surprised young women mumbled into the room and closed the door behind her “Ah ha, yes, it is me…”

 

Lilllith regarded her. Chloe had cheery, worried eyes. She noticed that when Chloe saw who was (or perhaps wasn’t) in the room, she became openly worried.

This, she who will not even hide her expression, is to be the ambassador of the Solune Royalty? Surely, she thought, this was the same nervous woman from last night. Chloe was dressed in loose clothes, though not in the same robe-like sheets as she wore during the supper. Instead, loose pants accompanied her shirt. Her hair curled softly down her back and chest, ending only past the waist save for the eye-level bangs in the front. Chloe blinked with weak eyes.

 

“Where is my father and mother? Or—” She finally caught herself, “Is anyone here who has authority or royal direction?”

Chloe looked to Astore, but she could tell by his expression that he too was uninformed. She began to gather her existence, but was interrupted by two more visitors.

Kent and Senica entered quietly, breaking her flow. She asked them, “Is Natasha coming? Or father?”

Kent shrugged for the two of them. Chloe was on her own. She rubbed her forehead with both hands, and then walked up the three steps, standing between the two thrones to address the room.

“I, ah…”

Lilllith stared her down, and Chloe noticed. As royalty, she wasn’t used to such looks, but she had in her life certainly encountered enough that it did not cause her to falter.

“I suppose that we must wait for everyone to arrive before—” Chloe started, and then immediately rephrased. “We shouldn’t, ah, get too specific before everyone is here, so, as we have yet perhaps half a sixth, I mean an hour, since we have some time yet, I suppose that I will explain in broad strokes what I believe will be happening?”

Alexandre nodded, and Chloe gave her audience a slight smile, continuing. “Although ultimately we are the party offering and sending aid, Lilllith is the only person from the Underside—” She thought of Ammelia and repositioned, “—the only person from the Underside who has come to help us, and therefore I believe that her wish to test the knowledge or strength or…whatever criteria she as chosen… I believe that such a notion is ultimately appropriate.”

Chloe looked around the room. She was unsure of what else there was to say.

Lilllith said, “Well, I suppose I should be glad to have garnered your approval, although, is not the arena being assembled already?”

“Ah, yes. I suppose it is nearly finished, though I am not sure of the details. Natasha would know. Where is she?”

Astore said, “She can be extremely punctual at times. I think that, as you said this was a noontime meeting and it’s still a few minutes to noon, she’s not here yet.”

“Just as the sun is not here yet.” Chloe nodded, and then looked up at the ceiling. The throne room was two stories high, unlike the rest of the first floor, and there was a hexagonal hole in its ceiling.

“How is it that you keep time in this city?” Lilllith asked.

Chloe replied, “There is the belltower, but even that is tuned to high noon using” she pointed at the hexagonal hole, “noon-poles. They only shine when light filters down the entire tube.”

Lilllith followed Chloe’s finger and saw the hole, between the thrones and the hanging lantern. It was filled with glass, a sure feat of pure craftsmanship. It made perfect sense. “So, when this illuminates, we should expect Natasha?”

“Ah, I suppose.”

Alexandre looked up. She hadn’t noticed it before, but the hole explained how there could be any sort of ambient light in the throne room when the lamps were unlit.

 

As high-noon hit the castle, the glass embedded in the ceiling acted as a lens, brightening the entire throne room three or four times as much as the lantern had.

Natasha arrived as the light began to dim, opening up the door and ushering in a fairly shabby looking blonde man.

“I believe with this one, we have everyone.” She led the man into the room physically, grabbing his blue-grey coat by the shoulder and gently but firmly pushing him into the room ahead of her. She entered behind him and let the door close itself behind her.

To Chloe, the man looked rather dishevelled, but she couldn’t tell if it was because of being somewhat rudely handled by her sister, or if he was like that in general. He seemed young, his hair was shaggy and lightly coloured, and he had a lazily stubbled face.

“Ah…” Chloe surveyed her audience, getting a good look at them before the noon’s light left the chamber and they were returned to less organic light. “Ah…”

Natasha noticed that Chloe was a little lost, so she stepped past the rest of the group towards the throne, stopping at the bottom of the steps, and to Chloe’s left, as not to obstruct line of sight to her.

“You have a somewhat small party. It is fitting, I suppose, that it is to be a small group of supposed elites.” Natasha spoke, echoing the words of her father many months ago. “Let us introduce ourselves while we wait for the King and his Wife.”

“That sounds good.” Chloe nodded a little frantically.

Natasha took a clipboard from her satchel, and took the clasp from the bottom out. She brandished a fountain pen.

Chloe, nervous, yawned and then blinked a little.

Made it! Sort of!

Daniel Triumph.

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Also, the woman in the header is Natasha Glass Rhye.

Natasha sketch
Natasha Glass Rhye, Second Prince of the Solune.