The youngest child of the Solune royalty. Scholarly, but overall directionless, but has an interest in history. A jack of all intellectual disciplines, adept of many, thanks to her slow aging. Reads a lot, has her own library in the castle. Bit of a ditz.
Upon achieving an artificial enlightenment in the novel John Dies at the End, David Wong stats that, “The walls of the maze turned to glass.” In my experience, this is similar to the experience of achieving wisdom. Wisdom is like height, in a sense—it allows you see further in time and in space, but you remain where you stared. It is very strange; distressing even, to see who else is in the maze with you, and who they are…where they are. But, you also know where you have to go, and you know that all you need to do is develop the knowledge and skills to get there.
From, Chloe Rhye, Fifth Prince of the Solune.
You can start it like that if you want, but it’s a bit pretentious, and it sounds more like you than me.
Janna Rhye, Fourth Prince of the Solune and (Heir)
That’s interesting, I like how it all flows into itself. Reading it is very strange though; a challenge in its own right. It’s a strange memory. It may take longer to write out than we expect. I’m not sure that we should be making it arbitrarily more difficult to read than it needs to be.
I know but; it is fun, yes? Is this story you have really what happened all those years ago? I guess it must be, we have the knife still after all. I think we should meet in and discuss further. Anyway, the piece is fairly serious, and so I think that we could try something even older—an ajbad! Look! Interpuncts!
Abjad? What? And did you write that backwards? Have you been getting into Da Vinci again? I can’t use that, it’s unreadable.
Anyway, yeah, we should definitely meet and lay this all out and set the grammar rules, okay?
Next time I’m in the Kingdom, I’ll send a messenger…or an Agent or something.
Okay! :3 Hope to see you soon!! Bye~!
From, Chloe Rhye.
Yeah. I think in a month or…perhaps more. Drake and I have a lot of work left to do out here. Hope the dust of the library is treating you well Sister.
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?”
“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.”
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.
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.”
“So, ah, that is everyone?” Chloe asked.
Natasha said, “No, there is one final person.”
“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.
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?”
“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.
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.
A couple things before the piece starts. You can skip ahead if you just want to get to the narrative.
First: This is a lightly edited sort of experiment. This piece projects itself into a much later chapter of The Solune Prince. Short background, the general concept is sort of a “coming of age” story for Chloe Rhye, and right now, in Novella 1, Chloe is in her own kingdom, but here she’s already at her destination: The Lussa City.
It’s from my Creative Writing workshop, so it’s part of an exercise, which was: write the same piece using two different styles. This is marked with the (1) and (2).
Second: The next chapter of The Solune Princewill be up later today. This is not a “replacement” for it like the IOU from last week. Due to a somewhat stressful existence last week (both mentally and physically), as well as the late-term deadlock of university assignments, I’ll be writing the chapter on the day of its release. So, basically as you’re reading this.
Now, we shouldn’t have to worry about quality control for the following reasons: a) I’ve handwritten this chapter already. The major problem is really that I decided I had to change a few things, and so about 75% of that chapter had to be moved ahead in the story to some completely different parallel-universe chapter. Then b) I do have a decent idea of how I want this chapter to go, and what sort of changes I need to make to continue the story as intended, but also modify the sort-of mess it became. Essentially, I need to rewrite.
I’ll have to elaborate on all that in a full post later but for now I’ll put it like this: There are a few key points I want to re-arrange, some stuff I need to rework, and some stuff that will likely have to go altogether. Thus, chapters 17-19, which have all been handwritten, will need to be redone. (Re-handwritten, and then typed.)
Not a big problem, in fact it’s sort of a relief, as I’m extracting myself out of a sort of narrative hole, and then taking a better grasp of the story. For now, enjoy this projection into the future, and we’ll see whether this, too, get’s changed when the time comes.
(1) It was yesterday. We were spraying, as usual. I admit we were spray painting. Look, I know the law and we had the permits. Show them the permits. We had the right to be there.
If I were less ethical, I could have blamed the other guys. In fact, I could have abandoned them and ran. But I am a man of Noah, and I know the law; at least I know that part. This happens a lot. Police usually don’t know anything, they just don’t. Luckily for us, I do.
‘Hey! You can’t be markin’ up that wall like that! Is that another one of them canted x-shapes? It’s you lot then, markin’ up the town! You best give all that up and come in with us.’
I heard them shouting, so I came, I ran. But, man, my peers are so…so good at fumbling up tense situations. Good thing I know the urban sprint. Hop, skip, run up the walls, onto the trash, swing off the window bars, slide down the side, skid ‘round the corner, man. Nice.
“You best leave my team alone. We’re here on business.” That’s what I said. Business. Usually stops them. But they didn’t even hear! Looks like the ‘prince’ over there already had it down, but damn! She was talking the wrong law! Where is she from?
She said, ‘No, this isn’t public property, it’s without your jurisdiction, unless you get a formal complaint. Look, he has our papers, this is a job. What about you? Do you have your papers? Was there a complaint? Any warrant for you being here?”
Oh man, that’s not how things work here missy! After that, well, whew, violence man. We didn’t even move, but missy dismantled everyone for us. No sweat.
(2) The litigator moved on to a different witness. “And you, you were there, my lord?”
‘As a bystander. I only saw the second part.’
“Please describe what you saw.”
‘Haha. Missy, that’s miss Chloe Rhye, fifth Prince of the Solune. They don’t have the honorific “princess” where she comes from. What a people, the Solune. She dismantled your three officers in seconds. Truly admirable—from a tactical perspective.
‘The draw of her weapon became the first attack, a cut across the chestplate of your first man. She flicked back the instant she’d made her hit; truly, a trained movement. Her weapon was back out before it could be seized—she slid into tierce with little effort.’
“Could you please limit the technical—”
‘That’s a point-up guard. She followed tierce up with a four, and then another four—’
‘—That’s an underhand thrust that ends in an upward sweep. Your men are so slow that she could hit with four twice before having to go back into a carte. And Chloe didn’t even bother moving onto the later cycles, although maybe she doesn’t know them. Regardless, she held carte and just kicked the poor man to the ground.
‘The rest fell likewise; engage stance on the secondary officer, (she has a terrific engage), into a one, into prime parry stance, smack the tertiary officer with a two, up to…I really wish she would protect her sword arm, but no, she slides back into engage carte, beats the secondary officer’s pikesword out of his hand, a smack to the face with the off hand, and then, no guard whatsoever, she grips her sabre two-hand (a very bad idea), and hits an oncoming attack from the tertiary. And then, lo! Kicks officer three to the ground as well! To my great pleasure, she cycled back to a carte, and then a prime hanging guard before sheathing. You may now understand why it is she prefers the military sabre to the officer’s one.’
“…You seem almost pleased about what occurred here.”
‘Truly; I trained her in the sabre.’ At this, the first witness laughed. ‘Further, as royal emissary, Prince Rhye, I believe, is subject to diplomatic immunity. Why she was with these vagrants is beyond my knowledge, however, she should answer to the Lussa royalty, not the law. I assume that you have contacted Prince Ryann?’
There was a short discussion among the court, and then recess was called.
You can see it was a bit of fun, an exercise in style.
See you later today, hopefully, or later than that. You can subscribe if you want, or follow my facebook, which is mostly auto-updates from this page anyway. I mostly chat and stuff on twitter, and my instagram has some cool visual arts and other ramblings.
Anyway, thanks for reading, I’ll be here every week lol. (And also later on today.)