The Solune Prince: Modesty

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

Chapter 15: Modesty

 

Chloe continued her descent to the basement, leaving her mother alone in second floor library to worry.

 

Alexandre Dirge walked into the throne room and immediately noticed Astore standing in the dark.

She said, “You would lurk?”

Astore frowned. No untitled citizen had ever entered the throne room before the King.

“Who are you?” he asked. He was far more suspicious of the Riley people, and Alexandre, besides her height, was surely a Riley.

His thoughts were like this: he figured that as a Riley himself, he had some sort of insight into the general temperament of his people. He knew that they were far more likely than the noble Solune to be depraved. Something in the blood, he assumed. He was not an exception, of course, which was why he made for such a good agent of the crown. His depravity, tempered by devotion to the King, became a strength, and he used it against all the law-breaking people in the nation. The ability to predict and counter those who lacked such unified devotion, Astore figured, was what made him different.

Meanwhile, Alexandre simply stared at him and said nothing. She studied his face and judged it a valid measure of his personality. She watched as he came to realize that he had lost the short interaction. A law-abiding citizen was not obligated to justify her presence in the throne room. It was their right to attend royal council meetings.

 

Chloe felt a queasy feeling and frowned a knowing frown. She didn’t finish her breakfast, instead leaving it and running up the flights to her room.

She took a few supplies from her wardrobe and ran to her personal bathroom. (The private bath was, of course, a gift for her coming to adulthood.) She closed the door behind her, and cleaned herself, and sort of writhed as well. There will always be at least this one thing I cannot control.

 

“What of the purebloods?”

“What of them?”

“Certainly, if their…food presents itself, ready to eat, would they not partake of it?”

“I will give Chloe her sword. And I will warn Kent.”

“Hold! Is not Chloe’s sword…”

“It is one of the Royal swords. If she is to face our ancient enemy on the road to even greater conflict on the Underside, love, why shouldn’t she have our blessing and the nation’s honor?”

“Hmmp. Fine.” Gwenhime shrugged to her husband, barring the bedchamber as they entered it. “Now, we’ve yet three hours. Come!”

 

“Oh, we have with us an early bird?”

“Of course, Miss.” Astore nodded, straightening up and stepping out of the dark corner of the throne room.

“Not you, it’s your job to be early. And Astore, I am a knight, you would call me Sir, not Miss.”

“Of course!”

“Now shut yourself, boy, I would speak to the maiden.”

Alexandre blushed. Maiden…

“Yes, ah…” Alexandre had never seen this woman before, but she looked very much like a tall Riley, with the exception of her blondeness. Her skin was different though, it looke…thicker, or perhaps a shade darker. Not the sickly colour we Riley share. She looks…silvery, almost porcelain. How beautiful, I wish I had skin like that instead of this…soggy existence I am cursed to live in.

“No!” Lilllith’s shout brought Chloe back to existence. “No ‘ah’! Talk straight, lass!”

Lass? I’m twenty-one!

“What do you want!” Alex burst, “Who are you anyway?”

She stopped. Uh on. I…I have no control. Didn’t this woman just declare herself a knight, and here I shouted at her? What will happen to me? Can she punish me I wonder? What sort of power do Knights hold? Wait, who is she? Where did she come from, I wonder?

As her mind raced, Lilllith froze, only for an instant. Then, she smiled. “Is this how you speak to those in positions of power, I wonder?”

Daniel Triumph.

Table of Contents

Categorization: An Unsound Guide to Characters [Part 1!]

High Achieving Women

 

  • Openness: 99th Percentile
  • Chloe Rhye, GE Age 14-26 (Adjusted. True age: 830-990)
  • Female, Solune, Incel/Married/Widowed.
  • Apprentice Healer > Autodidactic Study > Liberal Arts BA > History BA > Mentor > Secondary Teacher > Military > Lawyer/Poet > Expedition Leader > Elsara > ?
  • (Born year 3171 by the old calendar, around 16/800 years before the fall of the Wall)

 

  • Extroversion: Low
  • Yaska Rheya May Duskride Dawngale, GE Age 17-48 (True age unknown)
  • Female, Plainkind/Celestial, Marital Status unknown
  • Hunter > Hunting Mentor > Military Mercenary > Wanderer > Servant of the Servant of Death > Military Mercenary > ? > Heratic/Antichrist > Stage 2 Shriken (savage) > Enlightened Imprisonment > Messiah > Return to Mortality > ?
  • (Born year 3983 by the old calendar, around 17 years old before the fall of the Wall)

Unfriendly Women

 

  • Agreeableness: 20th Percentile
  • Alexandre “Jutt” Dirge, GE Age 17-24
  • Female, Riley, Marital status unknown.
  • Gang Member > Expedition Member > Human Slave > Kemia Doctorate > Biology Masters > Royal Harbinger: Hormones
  • (Born year 3983 by the old calendar, around 17 years before the fall of the Wall)

 

  • Agreeableness: 0th Percentile (zeroith, possibly the least friendly person alive.)
  • Janna Rhye, GE Age 17-29 (Adjusted. True age: 900-1100)
  • Female, Half Solune/Riley Half Condor, Married.
  • Prince > Agent > Independent > Felon > Heir > Agent > Redeemer of Souls > King > ?
  • (Born year 3098 by the old calendar, around 17/998 years before the Wall fell)

Men.

 

  • Agreeableness: 85, Extroversion: 77
  • Salt Resz, GE Age 14-26
  • Male, N’Tarial, Married.
  • Domestic > Merchant > Military > Tactician > Merchant > Domestic (Ring Comp?)
  • (Born year 3982 by the old calendar, around 18 years before the Wall fell)

sol-metch-war-copy.jpg

  • Neuroticism: 5, Extroversion: 70
  • King “Mars” Rhye, GE Age 15-40 (Adjusted, True Age 15 or 4000)
  • Male, Solune/Riley, Married.
  • Vanguard > Leader > King > Warlord > King > Advisor
  • (Born year 3 by the old calendar, around 3997 years before the Wall fell and 2997 before the Wall was built. Built the Wall.)
  • Chloe and Janna’s Father

Honorable Mentions / Next Time

 

  • Astore, Male Riley, King’s Agent
  • Jin Sing Resz, Fastest Swordsman in the World, N’Tariel/Elken, Married to Salt
  • Wallace, Journalist/Wizard, Friends with Alexandre
  • Hanna Alz-Aeur, Prostitute > Cleric > Guard > Revolutionary > Emperor’s Assistant > Emperor Slayer > Emperor > Follower of Elsara > Emperor

Daniel Triumph.

The Solune Prince: Alexandre’s Desolation; and; Chloe, Herself, I

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

Chapter 14: Alexandre’s Desolation; and; Chloe, Herself, I

Author’s Note: 

 

Chloe dreamed of the distant past.

 

Alexandre Jutt was not a morning person, which was exactly why she woke up early. Her theory was that it would allow her to be as awake as everyone else was by lunch time, and also allow her to experience her peak thinking hours at some time near sunset instead of long after it. Sadly, her Riley biology worked against this goal, but such things were sacrificed in the name of a university education. Maybe I’ll go nocturnal once I graduate to make up for all the strain.

Alexandre was very pleased (a rare emotion for her) to find that the castle was not locked. Since the wall had opened, it seemed that the castle’s foyer had become a full-time public square, instead of just a daytime square.

“It almost never closes now.”

Alexandre’s head snapped up, almost aggressively.

“Oh sorry,” the tall, handsome Solune guard smiled at her through perfect teeth.

She searched for an excuse to stare at his effeminate features, so she took him by his blue eyes and said, “So you just stand out here, by the doors, alone…all the time? What’s that like?”

“Hah, ah, no,” the guard said. Alexandre stared at his blonde hair. She wondered how often he got it cut. Clearly he waited months. “I’m actually covering for someone else. The guards are assembling the arena.”

The nice youngish man pointed past her, and Alexandre turned around and noticed for the first time what was happening in the field in front of the castle, just outside the city.

“Oh.” Are these preparations for us? For Chloe’s team?

“So I’m left here, mostly to direct any of the guards who don’t know the task for today.”

“Oh.”

“Are you, per chance, Alexandre Dirge?”

If she was younger, she may have exclaimed; if only in an effort to appear a little more helpless. By now, she knew that it did not take long for information to travel across the guard, and so her face remained stone.

“Nice to see you. Natasha has told me a lot,” the guard continued.

“Wha?” Natasha was the guard Captain-Commander. It was unusual for any random guard to speak with her, especially about other citizens. She looked to his shoulder to check his ribbon. “You—you’re…Vinth!”

“Ah, yeah?”

He’s the Captain of the Castle’s guard!

Alexandre blushed deeply and noticeably. The effect was made worse by her pale complexion, and so she closed her eyes and breathed.

She said, “I must be going.”

I suppose that pretty, successful, and young-looking men are exactly my type. Hmm… I wonder what he is doing right now. Where has he gone… Alexandre entered the castle and let her loneliness wash over her. She began to empathize with the habits of the foolish young maidens that would scout around the barracks after hours to see the strapping young guards.

I have to stop swooning so much. Maybe even act my age once in a while. She laughed not unlike her mother: at nothing in particular, and with an edge of schizophrenic madness. She wiped the blushing from her face and started to act her age, at least in the moment. Jutt looked around the foyer. The throne room, she knew, was straight ahead.

She entered. The room was black—she was four hours early. Alexandre was well aware of this, however, and she intended simply to wait it out.

What she had not expected was that there would be someone else already there in the room with her.

 

Chloe, as usual, woke up about an hour after the sun. In her sleep, she was more sensitive to heat changes than the light, but she still let a line of sun through her heavy curtains. She had accidentally closed them a few times, but to her surprise it hadn’t mattered much; she had woken up as usual. Chloe assumed that her body was simply used to waking up at a certain time after doing as much for centuries. She put on loose clothing; fighting clothes, and then headed downstairs, intending to go to the armoury.

The castle had two sets of stairs, one inside each of the north-facing corner towers. The more commonly used one was on the northwest side. It had wide steps all the way up to the second floor. At the top and behind a locked door was an extra set of steps that went up to the third floor, where the bedchambers were, closed off from the public. Chloe preferred the less commonly used “armoury steps.” The staircase was thinner and had more landings due to being built under newer code. The new construction laws pleased her greatly because they quite considerably reduced the amount of bruising she got from falling down stairs.

On her way down, she spotted her mother through the second floor entryway. Gwenhime was apparently wandering aimfully around the halls, and, Chloe presumed, likely deep in thought. Chloe looked at the stairs and then back to her mother, and decided not to worry about it. She glanced back one last time and, as if on cue, her mother snapped out of her daze, or perhaps simply changed its nature, and caught her by the eyes, and called out.

“Chloe…”

Chloe stopped. Gwenhime’s manner was uncanny, and it took Chloe a few moments of associative thinking to figure out what her mother’s intonation reminded her of. It was the intimate cry of a woman to her lover; she had never heard her mother make such a cry, it was indecent. Indecent just like the woman I heard it from…my aunt. I should probably go—and yet, what…what is she intending?

Gwenhime turned away and Chloe, following her own masculine and feminine intuitions. Accept all information, be not wilfully ignorant. Act without fear all situations for which you have the strength to overcome any anomaly. She was led to one of her small libraries.

When they were inside the room, Gwenhime closed the door behind them and locked it.

“Venus…”

Chloe didn’t understand, “Who?”

“Your uncle…the unmarried one…”

“What?” Chloe’s uncle was not called Venus, and he was married.

“Always…” Gwenhime’s face was flushed, and Chloe finally realized that she was not lusting, but rather, experiencing intense emotional frustration; a form of thought. “Always do I think…always threatened…I am…quite neurotic.”

Chloe stepped forward and took her mother’s hand, leading the shorter woman to the one and only reading chair in the small, shelf-lined room. She tentatively tried to sit on the floor, and then tripped, landing in a semi-seated position. I guess I’ve succeeded, then?

Gwenhime caught her breath and continued, looking down at her daughter.

“Yes, ah, your uncle; the dangerous one. Venus is but a title. His name is something else, of course, but you will hear him referred to only as Venus. He is something of an underground power, and he is centred on the Underside. That is why you must know, you must know that he—” She turned red again, and mouthed nonsense.

“He—!” Chloe grasped at her mother’s thought, “He is likely involved in all this, is not he?!”

Gwenhime frowned, nodded, and regained her neutral tones. “If you encounter him, hesitate not to call on us, your kin, for aid.”

“Okay. If things get too intense, I will call on you.”

“No! If you even so much as hear his name, you must send to me a message. A verbal one preferably; such communications can not be allowed to be intercepted!”

“Ah…” Chloe started and then stopped. She studied her Gwenhime’s face for information and realized that this was one of those times where her mother would only get more serious, more intense, and more severe until Chloe agreed.

“Okay. I agree.”

Gwenhime nodded, took the only dust-free tome from the little reading table next to her seat, and gave it to Chloe.

“And your brother too! I will inform him and his woman.” She raised her arms in exaltation.

Chloe took a breath. It was all starting to come together in her mind. Obviously Venus has kidnapped (or killed!) the heir. Thus, when we get to the Underside, if we catch word of him, we should follow whatever paths we have and track him down. She nearly thought her way to all the flaws in her plan when Gwenhime spoke again.

“Before you leave for the Underside, remind me and I will teach you how to use the gift of the Condor.”

Chloe’s eyes widened. She dropped her book and fell back, catching herself with her right arm and leaning on it for support.

“What? Now? I thought you said you would wait until I was an adult and—oh no. Mother, I cannot! I cannot handle all this about my uncle, and I have to leave home, and then…This is far too much at once, mother!”

The ex-Warlord smiled, then stood and helped her daughter up. She took the young woman by the shoulders, and looked up into her youthful eyes.

“Too much is the only correct amount for the Rhye family.”

Daniel Triumph.

Table of Contents

The Solune Prince: Lilllith I

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

Chapter 13: Lilllith I

Author’s Note: >:3

They arrived at the castle as the guard were lighting the lamps for nightfall. Chloe tried to see if she could spy Alice, but she didn’t even see any guards that she recognised.

They met not in the throne room, but in the awkwardly-placed banquet hall. When they entered the castle, Astore led Chloe through the foyer and to the left. There were two sets of doors on the left wall. Chloe knew that the first one led to the armoury and also to the Royal archives, and the other one opened on a long corridor that led south, in between the throne room and the armoury. That was the door they went through.

Chloe opened the door, and Astore slipped past. They went down the hallway to the large room inconveniently placed in the back corner of the first floor.

“When did she get here?” Chloe called ahead.

Astore slowed. “Maybe an hour now.”

They reached the door. Chloe asked, “Has supper started?”

“It should have. The king told me that he would start shortly after dark, so…”

“So we will not be…too late.”

“Allow me.” Astore stepped ahead and opened the door for her.

Lilllith watched as Chloe strode into the hall. Astore entered behind, dressed formally in his grey, modestly decorated guard’s uniform. The blue pinwheel of the Solune kingdom was displayed on his right shoulder.

Chloe, however, was dressed in her day clothes; a loose-fitting white chlamys with a knee-length tunic underneath. She was the only one other than her mother who was wearing anything so loose fitting. She scanned the room as she walked to the seat across from her mother.

The seating arrangement seemed to amuse the King, though he did his best to hide it. Gwenhime had been placed between the King on her right, and the woman Chloe knew to be Lilllith on her left. Gwenhime, much unlike her husband, did nothing to hide her emotions. It was clear that she did not enjoy the company of her guest.

So I am to sit…with Kent on my left, and then Natasha on the end; and Senica on my right—oh no…And, ah, I guess Astore is on the far end?

Chloe did not sit yet. She first drank in all the presences around her. She almost had to; to mentally map out the people in the room in order to calm her anxieties.

And on the other side is…Alice on the end, across from Kent? Then my father, then mom right here across from me, and, ah, Lilllith, and… Is this a child? Who is this youth? Did Lilllith bring him? She must have.

Finally, Chloe moved and sat down. Astore sat after her, a curiosity on his part. He’s being very formal. Chloe and Lilllith examined each other. Lilllith looked very much like what Chloe had come to expect from a Lussa; that is, essentially a tall Riley. Black hair, pale skin, and sickly features to go along with it all. Lilllith lived up to the expectation except for her bright platinum-blonde hair. Apart from that, she was quite old, forty perhaps, and at the zenith of her beauty.

As Chloe sat, the King stood and exited the room, returning shortly after with the waiters and the food. He himself carried only a bottle of red syrups. She filled everyone’s glasses as the food was passed around.

When Chloe saw what was served, she began to squirm. Senica, being Senica, noticed. She said quietly, “What’s wrong?”

Chloe continued to fidget, organizing an explanation as she did so. “Ah, this is, it’s ah…this is a very traditional dish.”

They stopped talking as they were served, as not to be overheard. When everything was set, thanks was given to the Past and for the Future, and then the room began eating.

Senica turned her head and said, “Your mother looks far less grumpy than usual.”

Kent, who, sensitive to his fiancée’s voice, had heard, laughed. He said, “Oh, that isn’t about the food per say, Niccy—I mean Senica.” He blushed and lowered his voice, craning in. “Rather, she’s waiting for Lilllith to taste it.”

“Why?”

Chloe began, “Traditional Solune food consists of fairy bitter meat and…” she trailed off, as she had lost the attention of everyone—including herself. They had all turned their attention to Lilllith to see how she was going to react. Chloe became pensive, but Gwenhime nearly overflowed with supressed anticipatory laughter.

Lilllith took the utensils; the spoon and fingerspear (called a knife in other regions), and ate some of the meat. Her face froze in an ambivalent expression. She proceeded to chew, and swallow. Gwenhime sighed, and she, as well as the rest of the room also began eating (except for the King, who was far too polite to gawk).

She proceeded to eat about half of the main course very quickly, and then moved on to the side dishes for the rest of the meal.

The King, surprised and also unwilling to let his wife have the first word, said, “What do you think of the meat?”

Lilllith made a subtle movement that only Chloe and Senica recognised as a reflex gag. She rather smoothly said, “You are a bold man, King Rhye. We do not serve foreigners such alkaline dishes before they have acquired the taste where I come from. It is very fortunate that the Lussa use this sort of seasoning as well. Tell me, what is your motive?”

“It was a diplomatic decision.” He said flatly. Gwenhime, finding this to be extremely hilarious, let out a pitched giggle. The King continued, “Every second you are here doing official matters, you will be tested by me. You are the ambassador of another realm. You can expect to be treated as such.”

Lilllith smiled and moved wisps of her hair from her face. “Good. And what of any other time? As I sleep or tour the city, or speak to you and your family informally? When I am not engaged in official matters, how am I to be treated?”

King Rhye was impressed by how quickly she found the gap in his words. “You will be treated as any other foreign guest.”

“Very well. Then you would treat me better than the Emperor of the Djeb!” At this she, laughed, and to everyone’s surprise, so did Senica. The two women cut their mirth short and shared a look for a moment. Senica flushed and frantically looked at her food.

“So,” Lilllith continued, “let us discuss wherefore I have come. Which of you are to return with me to aid the Lussa City?”

Chloe said “—” nothing.

“It is to be my daughter,” said the King.

Lilllith smiled. “Nothing like a diplomatic woman, and a skilled man, as the old saying goes.” Chloe had never heard that saying. “Which is it?”

“Who,” Gwenhime corrected.

Lilllith sneered.

“It is, ah, it is I…” Chloe failed.

Lilllith examined her a fourth time and then emptied her cup. “Interesting. Let us rest. Set up an arena for the morrow. I would test the physical capabilities of the Lussa City’s new guests.”

The King nodded and ordered the servants in waiting to do as the ambassador bid. They nodded formally, almost curtly, and then exited.

“How hospitable,” said Lilllith.

“This is how the Royal workers acknowledge their tasks. It is efficient,” Gwenhime stated.

The King cut them off before anything happened. “They are to be subject to your whim, within limit.”

“Of course. I too am subject to limit.”

Only Gwenhime heard the touch of resentment in the woman’s voice. She sighed. Lilllith reminded her of herself when she was young and stupid.

Daniel Triumph.

Table of Contents

The Solune Prince: Stained Class; or The Stupid Tower Problem

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

Chapter 12: Stained Class; or The Stupid Tower Problem

Bronze

Bronze

Bronze

Bronze

Bronze

“Brass…”

Bronze

“No, it is bronze.”

Astore looked down from the belltower. “Who—Chloe?”

I should be able to see her. Where—oh man, how can I, as an Agent of the King, not see someone who’s within earshot?

Her soft voice continued. “Brass dents too easily. You cannot make a bell whose wounds deepen at the sound of every toll or knell.”

Astore looked around the tower. He circled the bell and even examine the stone in the floor, and the pillars that held up the bell and its cover. Where… he almost called out for her, but, of course, a young man is fifty-percent pride. Instead, he mumbled to himself.

“Where… is she invisible? Why can I hear her? Is this…some form of ventriloquism?” He scanned the rooftops that surrounded him. Most of them were empty. There was a group of more wealthy noble Riley on a roof to the north, but no Chloe.

Finally, he gave up and called out. “Where are you?”

She said, “I believe I have made a mistake…”

“Why?”

She didn’t answer, but Astore had been paying attention this time. Her voice was coming from below and to the south. She must be downstairs!

Then, he saw a hand grab the ledge, gripping tightly.

Chloe jumped up off of the beam. She was just tall enough to reach the fingers of her left hand up around the stone guard. She grabbed tight and hauled herself upward, managing to get one elbow safely up onto the ledge. Her muscles shook with the effort.

“Hey!”

Chloe tower

Astore’s voice startled her, and her arm slipped. Chloe lost her strength and fell down the side of the tower.

“Ah!—Ouch.” Chloe’s rear hit the scaffold beam below. “Hmm…maybe these are not that useless after all…” she mumbled.

Anxious, Chloe let her head fall and touch the tower’s outer wall. She leaned on it, breathing.

“Hey!” Astore peeked over, “we have to go back! Come on, I’ll help you.”

Chloe looked up. She didn’t have the energy to reply, so she sort of just waved at him, trembling. She was sure that Astore was still talking, likely saying something important. She heard a name that was familiar too, but she was dazed and her mind would focus only on the issue at hand:

She was dangling on an ancient support beam, level with the ceiling of the third storey. She looked down and the vertigo rush grounded her senses. I…I am dangling here, floors above the ground. Likely a lethal height to fall from, and I do not have the strength left to pull myself up after that. How—there are three and I’m on the third. If I drop down, the trip will be easier on my…arms. Chloe vocally sighed and opened her eyes.

“Hello?”

Astore was waving his arms from the roof like an idiot. “Yes! Prince! Come up, I’ll help you! Didn’t you hear me?”

Chloe stood and then kneeled back down. She grabbed the beam and dropped off of it, hanging by her arms.

“I said that Lilllith is here already! Woah! What are you doing?”

Chloe, a highly neurotic woman by nature, lost her grip when she heard this. She fell; two cubits down; landing on the next beam. Uhhg. …that is beam two…one more and then the ground. I have to get rid of Astore before he gets me injured.

“Meet you on the ground,” Chloe called.

Then, she kneeled, grabbed the second beam, and dropped off again, pushing her body back and away from the tower.

“Are you crazy? Are you sure that’s safe?”

“It is not safe if you do not hold your words!” She shouted back in anger. Her long legs hit the wall and she braced into it.

Astore frowned and then disappeared.

Chloe walked her hands forward, climbing down the wall, digging her toes into the mortar cracks. When she was ready, she let her feet dangle, and then dropped again.

And there is the ground below me…

She considered beam hopping to the support that stood over the doorway and then jumping on Astore. She blushed and changed her mind immediately. Don’t flirt with the servants again Chloe! She kneeled and hopped the eight cubits down to the ground. The instant her feet touched earth, her anxieties caught her by the throat.

Then the prince’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.

She cried aloud.

Then came Astore: but his words did not make sense to the prince.

Chloe blinked. She was on the south side of the tower, between it and the city wall where no one could see her. What was that?

It took a full minute for Astore to get down all of the tower’s steps and find her. By then, she had mostly composed herself and was sitting on the ground despondently.

“Er…to the castle then? Miss? I mean, Sir?”

She stood up, caught her balance, and spoke to Astore.

“Are you okay?” They both said in unison.

“No, you don’t get to ask that, you scaled a tower. I just went down some stairs.”

Chloe laughed and wiped her eyes. She tried to stand up and failed, and then stood up again with Astore’s help.

“Y—ah,” she exhaled back, and then continued, “Let us return to my home…and let that I may greet our guest” Lilllith…

Daniel Triumph.

Table of Contents

Sketches of characters from this scene: