The Solune Prince: Mental/Physical Resisance

The Solune Prince

 Novella 1

Chapter 4
Mental/Physical Resistance

“Why did I say anything? Nerves?”

 

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 more than 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 an athletic-bodied, 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. Alice was undoubtedly one of the friendliest, most competent, and certainly the physically strongest of the Solune city guards. The strength came from her heritage; Alice was of the Plainkind, a people who were particularly biologically deviant. Mhm… larger teeth, wider torsos, and musculature that is simply and unfairly more naturally powerful. What an unfair race to be put in our midst.

Chloe had come to know a certain Plainkind very well almost a year ago during the Legendary War; the war which had opened the walls to outsiders for the first time.

Chloe caught herself daydreaming. She turned back to Finch and said, “Ah, can we sit maybe?”

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

They sat and caught up, as they had not spoken for so extended a period in nearly a year. Finch explained that he had recently 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 could 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. The Djeb had sand coloured hair and down-turned eyes. Her skin seemed a touch darker and thicker than even an a moderately outdoorsy Solune. She was, all in all, not that much different than other Djeb people Chloe had seen—not even that much different than the Solune when, she thought about it. The woman also had the universal Djeb neutral expression, one of both constant joy and concern.

“I am Alumni.”

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

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

“Oh, probably not.”

“Yes… You would not happen to know where she is, or how I might contact her?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Ah, is there anyone I might leave a message with?”

“I’m not sure.”

Chloe wasn’t quite sure if the woman was being evasive on purpose. She said, “You, you’re a little frustrating to engage.”

“Why’s that?” The Djeb smiled.

Chloe frowned, “Do you need something from me?”

“Yes—but wait, aren’t you busy?”

“Ah,” she paused, lining up her contractions before speaking, “not if Alex isn’t here. If she is not, I won’t be busy 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, “the south.”

That does not make sense, there’s only a mountain to the south. Chloe decided, despite the contradiction, not to get into it. Senica was already irritating her enough on her own, she would rather not keep her talking.

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

“I, ah, Senica, I am not in a good mood.”

“Oh, well… okay.” She looked a little dejected, but recovered quickly; a good skill for someone conducting surveys to have.

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?”

Chloe’s system released a hit of adrenaline, and her senses sped up. She took a good look at Alexandre. She really did look like a feminine Finch, but her hair was a little longer, and oddly kept. It was as if she patted it down in the morning, but as the day went on, the split ends tangled together, making it all look rugged and pointy. Her face was more pale than was usual for a Riley, and her expression seemed to be stuck in one of scorn. The biggest difference, however, was that she could look Alexandre squarely in the face. She was almost as tall as Chloe, which was quite strange for a Riley. It was also quite an advantage, as Alexandre used her height to throw aggression laden looks at her as they spoke.

“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

Next week will be an unrelated story.

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.

The Solune Prince: Deliberation through Dreams

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

Chapter 2
Deliberation through Dreams

Chloe continued, “Post Script:

“Due to the grand nature of this request, I am sending one of my most trusted men, Lilllith of the Royal Guard to negotiate on behalf of the Royal Title. Likely, she will test the worth and potential of you, our guests to be. Should anyone be found wanting, she will have the right to reject their route. Certainly, she will be welcomed by all the Solune!”

Chloe finished and then looked up at her father. “The Lussa are alive – and they know of us!”

“Yes, and they called the woman Guard a man…” mumbled her mother.

The King said, “Judging by the letter, it seems that they knew of us in a similar manner that we knew of them.”

“No,” Gwenhime said. Her face was tense, a studied look. Chloe had a feeling that she had been paying more attention than they had. “We know from the Emperor of the Djeb that the Westerners have had contact with the Lussa for decades.”

“What?” Chloe was enraged. “The Djeben people know of the Lussa?”

Gwenhime frowned, “Yes but, would you travel across the desert as we are now? The Kingdom cannot afford such an expedition.”

Chloe stood silent. She looked at both of her parents, then down to the letter. Then, everything shifted into place, and she realized exactly what sort of discussion she had interrupted. Her father had been informing her mother of the letter, that’s why Gwenhime had been holding it when Chloe had entered. They hadn’t yet decided who was to be sent to the Lussa City.

Chloe’s neck tightened again. She strode to her mother and handed back the letter. Gwenhime frowned, but took it. She began scanning through again, this time for important information. She knew what she was looking for.

Where exactly is the Lussa City anyway? Lilllith would know but… I do not know if I would have the courage to ask… Chloe thought back to the letter, When was Lilllith to arrive?

“Ah,” she stammered, “does it say when we are to expect Lilllith?”

“It does not,” both of her parents said in unison.

“Oh.”

“But,” the King continued, “shortly after receiving the letter, I sent out an agent, Astore, to find her and calculate the duration.”

Chloe nodded. She knew that, of all the King’s Agents, Astore could courier the fastest, despite his height. “The trick is to take long strides!” He would say. She knew he could cover three days’ worth of land in one.

“We will know the date of Lilllith’s arrival in a matter of days.”

And then she will test whomever intends to return to the City with her. Will that be me? The muscles in her chest and shoulders constricted to match her neck.

“Who will be going with her once she arrives? Who is to be tested?”

“I haven’t decided that yet.”

Chloe didn’t hear him, but by the time he had finished speaking, her mind had finished processing. She said, “It will be me, won’t it.”

It was a statement more than anything, and she knew it to be true whether her father had yet realized it or not.

Rhye looked at his daughter with an expression that bade her continue.

“Well go down the list. Zealott is exiled, we don’t know where he went, Kent is far to the south doing some form of physical research… Ah, Janna and her husband are still hunting for Venus, I think. That just leaves Natasha.”

“And as captain of the capital’s guard, she’s quite busy with all the immigrants,” Gwinhime finished.

“Crystal Jealousy is also out of the Kingdom. Although, she has rarely returned.”

Chloe had forgotten about her eldest sibling.

“Yes.” Gwehime’s face turned cold. “Even if she was here we would not send her.”

“So,” Chloe said, “it will be me, will, ah, won’t it?”

There was a silence as King Rhye’s ancient mind ran through the scenarios. Since Chloe’s late adolescence, he had noticed a sharp increase in her mind’s reason, precision, and breadth. All that, as well as the speed of her youthful brain combined to make it obvious that her mental capacities had far exceeded his own.

Eventually, he said, “Yes. Unless by some accident of fate Jealousy or Kent should return, you will have to be the one to go. It does seem to be in your best interests. At least, it falls within your current interests.”

His words were true, Chloe knew, but she still didn’t like being forced, or even defaulted into things.

“I would rather remain here and continue my research.”

Chloe was intending to continue and explain that if there truly was no other option for her, then she would go, but that she would rather not, and that if she was to go they should not expect too much from her, but her mother interrupted.

“What research? This request is your research. There is not a topic in the Solune libraries that you are not well read in except this. Even were you not the only person we could send, it would be against your own interests not to go.”

Chloe caught in a fight or flight response loop. She said nothing.

Of all the King’s few talents, verbal conflict was the greatest. He said, “I will let Chloe make that decision for herself. Until Astore returns, we do not have a stable timeframe. It is late. We will rest, perhaps deliberate by dreams. Chloe, I would know your resolution before the Agent’s return.”

Chloe mumbled an agreement, and they separated. She returned to her room, and lay down, exhausted.

King Rhye could deliberate through dreams, whatever that meant, but Chloe preferred to deliberate through thought.

She lay in her bed, and turned her head. She looked out the window, her eyes saw nothing.

Daniel Triumph.

Chapter 3

You can find the rest of the book here.

The Solune Prince: A Letter to the King

The Solune Prince

Chloe Library

Author’s Foreword

If you’ve lurked the blog, please skip to the “Novella 1” header. Otherwise, read on! If you’ve already read this, check out the Table of Contents for new chapters.

Hello, reader. This is the second major Story of Chloe Rhye. It is, however, the first that I am writing, so fear not, for you are not missing anything. Social media is word-of-mouth on steroids (Vaynerchuk), so if what you read affected you in any way, please remember me and tell your friends ❤ .

Novella 1

Chapter 1
A Letter to the King

Chloe Rhye looked out the window and saw nothing. Her mind was filled with thoughts and considerations, many paths of thinking that seemed to end in cliffs no matter which she followed. It was the first time this had happened, the first time that there was a gap in her knowledge that no amount of research could fill. The capital city and all its libraries, archives and institutions had no answers for her, and she was left here, in her room, with nothing but her reason. Her mind wandered through informational wastelands.

Who were the Lussa people? Where were they now?

The only information Chloe had to stand on was what little her father had time to tell her. She had, as a last resort, asked him about it earlier that day, but he’d only had a few minutes to talk at the time.

“The Lussa people are our ancient ancestors.” He had said.

Chloe replied, “If that is true, then why is so little known about them?”

“The split between the Lussa and Solune societies predates recorded history. Even though I am the King, the knowledge was passed down through our family from that time is limited.”

“Why? It seems to me to be important.”

The King looked at his daughter and nodded. “I agree. I personally believe that those involved in the incident itself didn’t pass too much of it down to their children for emotional reasons. The splitting of a civilization can be a time a great stress. Further, it is the Solune who left the homelands, the result of which you already know.”

“That’s why there are no artefacts or ruins!”

The rest of that conversation, Chloe remembered, consisted mostly of her father trying to get back to work. He had been engulfed in boarder issues and foreign relations since the kingdom’s walls had opened two years ago.

Chloe stood from her window seat and walked to her bedside table. The little notebook that sat on it contained the small bits of information she had collected on the Lussa in the past three or so months, complete with citations for future reference. She picked it up and sat on her bed, entering one final state of deep thought before going to sleep.

All the information I’ve gathered is from the capital. Only the capital…

Two floors down, Gwenhime paced back and forth. “Rhye, once already you’ve tried and failed to encourage that child to make something of herself. Why should this attempt be different?”

The King stood in front of the throne, listening to his wife with care. This had been their habit for decades. Nearly all of his decisions and ideas, both as ruler and father, were passed through her doubt and scrutiny first. Thus, the kingdom was ruled by his raw wisdom tempered by her zealous reason.

“When we sent Chloe out of the city on a recruiting mission, it only failed because it went against her temperament. You might remember that she did participate in the war.”

Gwenhime frowned, “Yes, but she had a spell of nerves on the battlefield—”

“That worked in our favour.”

“Even so, had I been her commander, I would have discharged her for it. Not that I would have had to! After the war, even before most of her friends left the city, she returned to her den and the library.”

King Rhye nodded. “It seems to me that Chloe will not bother to maintain any activity that does not suit her interests.”

Gwenhime considered this. “I suppose the circumstances are different in this case? A military mission did seem an unsustainable pursuit for such a page-minded girl.”

“Yes, this time I intend to send her on an expedition seeking precisely what she is looking for.” He brandished a letter from his coat pocket and handed it to his wife. Before he could give it any context, there was a knock at the door and the head of a young woman peeked inside.

“Father!” Chloe said, a little too loud.

“It is good that you have come. Your mother has something for you.”

“What?” Chloe entered the room and shut the door behind her, striding over to her mother.

Due to the length of the letter, Gwenhime had time only to scan it before she met her daughter.

Chloe received it. “First, I should tell you why I came here at so late an hour. I think it would be a good idea to visit another city’s knowledge bases and see if they know of the Lussa.”

She gave a defeated smile. It seemed to Chloe something of a hopeless endeavour since the capital was the centre of knowledge, but it was the only thing she could think of.

Her father gave her a look that agreed with hers. He said, “I believe the letter will give you some better ideas. Please read it aloud for your mother, I’m not certain she had time to finish it before you came in.”

Chloe looked from one to the other, and then to the letter. Everything between her shoulders tightened, and she swallowed. Once I start, I should be fine. It’s just my parents.

She began reading. “Hello, Member of the Solune Royal Family—blood relative of our Lussa Royal Family!”

Chloe stopped reading, “This is a letter from the Lussa! They, ah, they’re still alive! And, ah, it seems that whichever of them wrote this very much enjoys punctuation.”

Chloe’s mother squinted at her with a look of pent-up doubt. This, Chloe knew by now, was a common expression of hers. Her father simply nodded, added that the style was certainly unique, and bade her continue.

Chloe did, now deeply interested. “We, the Lussa Royalty, are the ancient kin. We are your land-crossed family! It is with this in mind that I, Prince Ryann, after thousands of years neglecting our distant relations, ask with deep regret for assistance.

“Our King has been dead for one-quarter-annum. He died a martyr at the hands of an outsider, in defence of our City. Of course, we immediately began the planning of the new heir’s coronation. But, alas! She, rightfully so, sought her father’s revenge, and took half the guard and one of the two Captains, out of the city to seek it! Fourteen days later, they returned, and she was missing!”

As Chloe read, Gwenhime considered her carefully. She was often unkempt, and even today her unnecessarily long hair fell down her back in a mess of blond curls. Gwenhime always believed that her daughter looked a lot like her, except for the features that were muddled with elements of her father. She had the same feminine brown eyes and small, upturned nose, but the effect was interrupted by the King’s wide chin. The same quirk was continued in the rest of her body. Chloe had moderately broad hips but, to Gwenhime’s chagrin, a slightly broader chest, and almost masculine shoulders. Gwenhime was concerned that her daughter’s mixed-bag physique and attitude would end up working against her in the future.

Chloe glanced at her mother as she read. They locked eyes, and Chloe saw her severe look. Unaware of the banality of Gwenhime’s thoughts, she nervously returned to the letter.

“Both the death of the King and the missing of our heir have left the Kingdom in a state of flux. Worse, the City Denizens have deemed none but the original heir as worthy enough to lead. They demand that she be found and crowned. The desert continues to be searched, even as I write this message. This would have been managed internally if it had not been for rising unrest. My advisor, the ancient and young Lilllith, reminded me of the ancient split. Certainly, the conflict that arose between our people four thousand years ago has been left behind in irrelevance, if not memory—my appeal relies on it!

“Now I proceed to the request. It is simple, but not easy. We are in need of someone of Royal Blood to aid us and to help sway the people to peace. Should, heaven forbid, the heir be found dead AND the Denizens a second time reject the rest of the potential heirs, then the line may fall to you, our distant kin. Please send us a reply IMMEDIATELY, or any time near.

“Ryann Lussa,

“Second ‘non-heir’ to the throne.”

Chapter 2


Daniel Triumph.

Table of Contents

Of Heirs

Eight day of the The Month of Resz, 4011th year of the Solune Standard calendar.

Monarchy is a touchy subject for some. It is not for me. Corporations have begun to appear in the Lussa and Djeb realms, and they are quite similar to what I have in my Kingdom. I have been around since the foundation of this nation, I, in fact, founded it myself. Very few of my citizens question or take issue with my rule.

Soon, I will be announcing my stepping down, I will be announcing my heir. I have spent three centuries considering all the options. I have made many conclusions. The gravity of my conclusions are not to be questioned by those who have not been considering their own subjects for at least a century. By this measure, most of the people in the Solune Kingdom are unfit to veto with my decision, and I doubt that they will. My considerations are thus:

  1. If wisdom increases with age, than mortals, especially those with mundane life expectancies, are too unwise to rule. On average.
  2. Those who have eclipsed adulthood are unfit to rule. Their brains have finished developing and they will therefore never truly adjust. Thus, a ruler should ascend before her mind is made, that she may develop with the people and for the people.
  3. She must not use violence except as a last resort. A ruler should lead by example and inspire respect. Only brutes lead with fear, and brutes are overthrown, always.
  4. The people must come to respect their leader. Respect is not the same as like. She must be someone whom no one us hateful when following, someone with drive.
  5. My one weakness is a lack of progress. I am extremely old fashioned. We have not stagnated, but we are close, especially compared to the Djeb, the Lussa, the Metch, their science, trade, and industry. Our next leader must be progressively minded. Youth is particularly inclined to such ways of thought.
  6. Finally, it would be best if the heir is not one of my own children. This might cause jealousy, or suspicion of favouritism among my followers and peers. It might be misconstrued as a norm.

I have a shortlist in mind, and yet, only one person stands out… She fits all but one point. No, if I follow my whim, my kingdom may fall, just as the Djeb had. And yet, she is the most qualified by my measure.

But, is leadership to be chosen by a check-list? We will have to see.

Daniel Triumph.