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.

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.

Digression I

This is an aside from The Solune Prince. It is placed between and Chapter 2 and Chapter 3.

(The Solune Prince Contents)

Within every man it comes
From every mind it comes
There is no escaping it—
Except through death.

The actions of the day are remembered
Only now, during its process.
Thoughts and tribulations
Ideas and mistakes
Every failure and success
Taken one step further,
Solidified in memory by—
Are filtered and strengthened by—,
The Mind’s Connections strengthened by—
Only through me.

The flesh will seethe into the mind
This is when it comes.
May call it an accident,
Thinkers and prophets in time
They know the truth.

Truth, once found,
is to be distilled
Archetype and myth
Proverb and poetry
Politic and action

Not a sphinxian proposition,
No enigma for confusion.
It is dreams, the gift of sleep
Translation across hemispheres
This, the key to Revelation.

The Solune Prince

Daniel Triumph.

Copyright 2018 Daniel Triumph.

The Solune Prince: Mental/Physical Resisance

The Solune Prince

 Novella 1

Chapter 4
Mental/Physical Resistance

“Why did I say anything? Was it nerves perhaps?”

 

Chloe exited the castle. The city had been built around the stone building’s backside, which meant that in order to get into the city, she had to exit from the front, walk half a kilocubit, and re-enter through the impenetrable main gate. In concept, it was an effective way to keep the citizens safe from bandits and raids, but in everyday life, it was nothing more than a detour.

To assemble a research team, the university would have been a good first stop. It was not where Chloe went. Her default response to meeting new people was simple—don’t. She was aware that such an approach was flawed and impossible given her task, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t procrastinate. Chloe, instead, headed for the home of someone she did know.

The door opened after a few tolls on the bell. A pale man with dark hair and bright eyes opened the door. He was an entire head shorter than Chloe, so eye contact was a chore for both of them.

“Good morning, Chloe.”

“Did you just wake?”

“Yes, but not because of you. I live with the earliest bird in the tree. As a result, I enjoy waking up an hour before even the sun on a daily basis. Even off days.”

“Right. Where is she?”

Finch, Chloe remembered, had married somewhere between three and seven years ago. (Her memory for such things was limited.)

He said, “Well, while it is a weekend, she should be leaving…” he looked to the sun, “A little while ago. Alice!”

Finch called out behind him, and a muscled, bare-chested woman skipped to the door, her upper half jamming itself into a top that seemed too small.

When she had dressed, she said, “Hi Chloe, I have to go! Visit me some time?” And then sprinted away.

They watched for a few moments as she ran towards the heart of the city, and then Chloe said, “Ah, can we sit maybe?”

“Sure, I happen to own a kitchen table.”

They sat and caught up. Finch had left the guard to study kemia and physics. Chloe told him about her trip, and the Lussa, and then finally her current mission.

“Oh nice. Isn’t that the whole thing you’ve been complaining about this past month?”

“Yes. I’m wondering if you know of anyone I could bring. Anyone academic.”

“You should check out the university.”

“Yes, but who for?”

Finch considered. He really didn’t know anyone. “Oh, well, you could always try my cousin Alexandre.”

“Yeah? What field?”

“Kemia, but more recently the hormonal differences between the kingdom’s various ethnicities. We are all quite unique, it seems. Especially the N’Tarial, and Riley like myself.”

“Oh. Is he married? Okay with leaving town for a few months?”

“She should be fine.”

“Hmm.”

They ended up having tea, and then eventually lunch before Chloe finally stood to leave. Before she went out the door, Finch added, “She’s just out of prison a couple years ago though, so she can be a little rough around the edges.”

“Ah…” Chloe lost what little momentum she had at this. I guess it would be right to assume that she is going to be something of a hassle.

 

As usual, the university’s flora was entirely overgrown. The grass was knee-high, and vines draped over trees and buildings. There had been a set of large stone letters that read ‘THE SOLUNE ACADEMY’ but the rock was new entirely covered in lichen and leafed plants. At least it is still readable. I can understand everything else, but why not clean off the lettering?

The paths that lead from building to building were where the health and safety concerns really began. The cobble had a thick layer of moss, and it would detach and slide if you stepped on it incorrectly. The liberal and academic solution was simply to put up a sign, ‘slipping hazard.’ Luckily for the faculty and the students, there was someone more conservative and practical who had added ‘shovel walkways’ to the list of janitorial tasks.

The only thing that kept the path up to municipal code was the footpath of stone that ran through the moss, wide enough only for one person, and cleared weekly.

Chloe sighed. I love it here.

She headed first to the administration building. Then, because it was locked and unlit, she went to the biokem building to see if anyone was there. Also locked. The lounge building maybe?

There was only two people in the lounge. What is going on? Chloe surveyed the building. Lunch tables, some longer seats, a café area, and a woman who looked like she was from the Djeb. Chloe looked around and saw a calendar.

Oh no, it’s Secast, ah, it is the weekend. Of course everything is closed!

“Hey!”

Chloe spun around so fast that she lost her balance and fell forward. She was caught by the Djeb woman.

“Oh, ah, thank you.”

“Sure! Are you a student her?”

Chloe looked at her. She had sand coloured hair, and down-turned eyes. Her skin seemed a touch darker and thicker than her own. Not that much different than other Djeb people she had seen—not even that much different than Solune when she thought about it. The woman also had the universal Djeb neutral expression, one of both constant joy and concern.

“I’m Alumni.”

“Oh! Even better! Would you like to do an interview with me?

Chloe squinted, “Not right now. I am, ah, I’m looking for Alexandre Dirge, but I do not think she’s here today.”

“Oh, probably not.”

“You, you’re a little frustrating to engage.”

“Why’s that?” The Djeb smiled.

Chloe frowned, “Do you need something?”

“Yes—but wait, aren’t you busy?”

“Not if Alex isn’t here. Not until next day.”

“Wonderful! My name is Senica, I’m an anthropologist from the south!”

“You mean the west, where the Djeb is.”

“Nope,” Senica grinned, “south.”

That does not make sense, there’s only a mountain to the south. Chloe decided, despite the contradiction, not to get into it.

“I came here to do some research and ask people some questions.”

“I am not in a good mood, Senica.”

“Oh, well… okay.”

They parted ways. Chloe went homeward.

 

On the way back, passing through the market, she saw someone with short black hair and pale skin. Finch? No, far too tall… and feminine. Who…

The woman was arguing with a stall keeper. Chloe got close enough to hear.

“Look, I’ve even used these before. I’ve worked with the guard too.”

Chloe saw that she was at a smith, a swords booth.

“It doesn’t matter, you need a permit.” Then he added under his breath, “This is why I hate coming to market.”

Chloe, feeling bored, failed and frustrated, decided to step in and see if could help one of them; she just wasn’t sure which one. I just need… an outlet, a distraction. Maybe I can solve this, or at least try.

“What is, ah, what’s happening here?” She slipped up in her first sentence, and the Riley noticed. She also noticed Chloe’s nervous tone of voice.

“This Riley wants to get a hard edge sword, but lacks the permit. She’s not allowed to purchase a weapon, no one can without a permit!”

Chloe thought for a moment, and then said, “No one?”

His eyes widened with recognition, but he quickly returned to his unhappy expression. “Well, there are exceptions.”

“Not exceptions. They are clear and in the law. There are no exceptions in Solune governing. And,” she turned to the Riley. Her speech was beginning to speed up, she was reaching her limit. “What of you? Who are you?”

The Riley spat on the dirt. “I am Jutt. Soon, you would call me Dr. Dirge.”

“Are you Alexandre Dirge?”

“Don’t worry about it, Prince.” Alexandre turned to leave.

Wait! No, I need to say something more forceful than wait. “No.”

Alexandre glanced back apathetically and stepped away. Chloe, who was both taller and broader, grabbed the Riley’s wrist.

“I have been looking for you. You are a student of Kemia, right?”

Alexandre tried unsuccessfully to wrench away.

Chloe sort of lost herself in thought. I am stronger than someone who wishes to wield a sword. I wonder why? Perhaps that is why she wants one, because she’s weak? Wait… Chloe remembered what Finch had told her. Why was she imprisoned?

“I’m not working for the castle.”

She wrenched again.

“No, not the castle, I am going on an expedition to study the Lussa, I, ah, I’m assembling a research team.”

“So?”

Chloe let go. Alexandre skulked away, rubbing her wrist only when she thought she was out of sight. Chloe still saw. She turned back to the blacksmith and said goodbye, and scanned the market.

“Hmm.”

She stood in the middle of the bustling market, and entered a state of deep thought.

Daniel Triumph.

Table of Contents

The Solune Prince: Decision, InConcision

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

Chapter 3: Decision, InConcision

Morning came, but far too slowly. Chloe woke up mired, she felt as if she had slept a fraction of the hours that she’d spent in bed. When she woke up, time seemed to be moving faster than normal. She was used to mornings like this, days with less-than-ideal sleep always seemed to mess with her perception. Nothing had come from her tainted rest, in fact, she couldn’t even remember what she had dreamed. So much for deliberation.

With a sigh and an empty mind, Chloe went down the three flights to the basement. The trip did nothing to rouse her mind. She ordered food from what was effectively a ‘castle residents only’ canteen or diner.

It was a full breakfast, meats and eggs and a potato, fried in a slew of animal fats. It is good that we finally have cooks. For all of her adolescence, Chloe had simply burned whatever she wanted to eat, and then eaten it. A morning-lunch chef is far better.

When she had finished, Chloe decided to take a bath rather than meet with her parents, but the idea of drawing water for herself changed her mind. Perhaps a trip to the library? But all that walking… and more stairs too. It was extremely difficult to procrastinate when each of her alternatives required more effort than what she was avoiding.

Resigned, Chloe walked back up to the base floor and entered the throne room. It was located directly across from the foyer, the grand double-doored entrance to the castle. Usually, the entrance room was empty around this time, but since the walls had opened there had always been a few people lined up to see the King—even though he would not be in the throne room for some time. They were of all backgrounds; light, dark, darker; from the north, east, and west; all looking for a better life.

Chloe skipped the line and entered the stone-walled throne room. Having no windows, the room was dark, so she dropped the iron chandelier and lit it. She raised the metal lights using the rope and pulley system, and then finally felt the presence in the room. Someone else was there. Chloe looked around, and then the door opened behind her. An extremely tall woman entered wearing guard uniform. Her hair was neck length, the patches on her left shoulder kept unobstructed, identifying as Guards’ Captain. It was Chloe’s oldest sister, Natasha Glass Rhye.

“Astore, you have returned,” she said.

“Yes,” a voice came from the edge of Chloe’s vision, the edge of the light.

Chloe turned and finally saw him on the leftside wall. “You were in her? Why did not you say anything!”

Astore shrugged, “Why didn’t you?”

“The King is coming presently,” said Natasha.

She strode to the secondary throne and stood. Chloe and Astore waited near the door. They stood silently and waited. Natasha, the reluctantly early riser, was used to this. For Chloe it was very awkward; especially with everyone else there.

“Ah!” Chloe said. Astore! I should have made up my mind by now! Oh no, I wish that I had come up with something when I… and the dreaming… nothing helped. Astore turned to her, and she pretended that she had been yawning. Natasha, as a result, caught the fake yawn. She fidgeted, not knowing what to do. Her mind wasn’t yet active, and wouldn’t be until noon at least. I need more time. I will ask for more time. It will be fine.

The King entered. He spoke with Natasha about the allocation of guards. The plain-faced Captain was almost taller than her colossal father. The issue of recruiting immigrants was postponed for a different hour, and she left.

“Astore,” said the King.

“Lilllith is treating the trip as some form of expedition, mapping the lands as she goes. She will arrive in three or more days at her current pace. Also, I noticed a group tailing her. At their pace, they could be here comfortably by the end of the day. But, of course, they weren’t following me, so I doubt they’ll be coming here.”

“Who were they?”

Astore shrugged, “No clue, but they were all Lussa, and they looked like the sort that would rather kill than speak to you. And, I made sure they never saw me, even when I was speaking to Lilllith.”

Did you tell her about them? Chloe wanted to ask, but she didn’t yet have the energy to open her mouth.

“Did you tell her?” Natasha asked. Chloe felt muted delight.

“Yeah, she told me she knew about them and figured that they were part of the other side. Whatever problems the Lussa have might end up bleeding into our Kingdom. I don’t think that we should keep Lilllith here for too long.”

“Very well, I agree. We should send her and ourselves over as soon as we can. Chloe?”

“If I could have another day to—” The door hit her in the back.

“Fool, don’t stand so close.” It was her mother. “Oh, and Astore is here. So?”

“Three days.”

“Very well.” Gwenhime walked across the room and stood to the King’s right.

Rhye said, “Hmm. Chloe?”

Entirely distracted with the pain in her back and the door, she said, “Ah, I am fine.”

“Excellent. Be ready to leave the kingdom in three days.”

“The third of the month,” added Astore.

What. Chloe wanted to scream. She had accidentally consented to going before she was ready. She wanted to revoke it, take it back! Quick! But, like with her unspoken question to Astore, her mouth said nothing. She felt like a soft, violently oppressive wind had caught in her mouth and pushed down her voice.

In the throne room, decisions were binding, and she was not interested in going through the legal process required to undo it, so she let it go. It would be far less effort to just go. Terrific.

The look on Gwenhime’s face was one of doubt, and discontent.

She said, “Send with her an army.”

Everyone’s face turned to her.

“That will not be necessary,” the King said.

Gwenhime broke in the instant his sentence ended, “The political climate is unstable. A war is inevitable. We might as well be on the winning side.”

“No, a war is only inevitable if you bring an army. You are not even to go with her—I know you were intending to place yourself at the head of the force.”

While Gwenhime knew her husband better than he knew himself, the reverse was also true. To save her image, she pressed on regardless.

“No, it is to be a small force of elites.” She echoed words the King himself had coined years before during the Legendary Event. “A body of guards. You wouldn’t send her alone in the power of some Underside woman would you?”

The King frowned, “Who then?”

Gwenhime smiled, baring the teeth of a carnivore. Genetics had ensured that most of them were canines.

“Just cull from the guard and the standing army—oh dear. I suppose not.” This is how they spoke, and often it would grind on Chloe’s nerves; this manner of predicting the other spouse’s response and then replying to it mid-sentence.

“Exactly,” said Rhye, “Everyone who could go is tied up with immigration and settlement. The walls have just opened and they are congested. The army stands at the border, the guard in the cities.”

“Who would have known so many would want to come here?” Said Astore.

“But, you are right. She should not be sent alone. Astore, you are to assemble a small team for this post before Lilllith arrives. Maybe four or five. Find anyone who is willing and suitable.”

Chloe laughed. “A research team!”

“Yes!” The King’s ancient eyes lit up. He joyously mistook her joke as a sign of her enthusiasm. “Yes Chloe, you are to assemble a research team to compliment the trip. You are going on this expedition to study, are you not? Perhaps a historian, and a biologist would be suitable.”

“Ah, of course!” Oh no.

Daniel Triumph.

Table of Contents

P.S. The next chapter will be a little longer… See you on the 19th!

P.P.S. This has been edited 3 times! Wow! That’s a lot more than usual.