The Solune Prince: Deliberation through Dreams

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

Chapter 2
Deliberation through Dream

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.

You can find the rest of the book here.

“Keep Dialogue Short”

This article is fairly explorative and contains long passages from literature. Enjoy.

Across blog posts, forums, and subreddits, there seems to be an almost universal rule in the online writing community. That notion that dialogue should be kept short, or even avoided. It isn’t as common as advice like “show don’t tell” or “don’t use the passive voice.” All three rules of thumb are fairly effective, but they can have important exceptions. “Telling,” for example, is very useful for summarization and transitions. When it comes to brevity of dialogue, the exceptions can be even greater.
I’ll begin by stating that I agree, for the most part, with the advice that “often, less dialogue is more.” Dialogue can be a something of a trap for a writer, and I think the reason is that dialogue is interesting. A writer (such as myself, on occasion) could, maybe subconsciously, assume that if dialogue is so interesting, anything spoken by a character must also be interesting. But, the problem is that like any prose or poetry, dialogue can be tedious and pointless.
The idea of limiting dialogue is one that even writers such as Ernest Hemingway agree with. He states, “Good dialogue is not real speech—it’s the illusion of real speech.” Further, the Iceberg Theory that emerged from his writing style is highly reflective of this mode of thought.
“If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water” (Earnest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon, p. 171).
As useful and interesting as the rule might be, I simply cannot see it as absolute. What if you need a scene with long dialogue? Do you therefore also need a giant iceberg beneath it? Should you cut it down, or turn some of the speech into description? Would that not be editing out “showing” and replacing it with “telling?” I wonder about these kinds of things.
When I read Jane Austin’s novel, Pride and Prejudice the mental playing field shifted. It seemed to me that Austin does a terrific job of contradicting a lot of the “write minimal dialogue” advice I’ve contended with. Below is a very good example of effective, but also long dialogue with little prose interrupting it.


“How delighted Miss Darcy will be to receive such a letter!”
[Mr. Darcy] made no answer.
“You write uncommonly fast.”
“You are mistaken. I write rather slowly.”
“How many letters you must have occasion to write in the course of a year! Letters of business, too! How odious I should think them!”
“It is fortunate, then, that they fall to my lot instead of yours.”
“Pray tell your sister that I long to see her.”
“I have already told her so once, by your desire.”
“I am afraid you do not like your pen. Let me mend it for you. I mend pens remarkably well.”
“Thank you–but I always mend my own.”
“How can you contrive to write so even?”
He was silent.
“Tell your sister I am delighted to hear of her improvement on the harp; and pray let her know that I am quite in raptures with her beautiful little design for a table, and I think it infinitely superior to Miss Grantley’s.”
“Will you give me leave to defer your raptures till I write again? At present I have not room to do them justice.”
“Oh! it is of no consequence. I shall see her in January. But do you always write such charming long letters to her, Mr. Darcy?”
“They are generally long; but whether always charming it is not for me to determine.”
“It is a rule with me, that a person who can write a long letter with ease, cannot write ill.”
“That will not do for a compliment to Darcy, Caroline,” cried her brother, “because he does NOT write with ease. He studies too much for words of four syllables. Do not you, Darcy?”
“My style of writing is very different from yours.”

“Oh!” cried Miss Bingley, “Charles writes in the most careless way imaginable. He leaves out half his words, and blots the rest.”

“My ideas flow so rapidly that I have not time to express them–by which means my letters sometimes convey no ideas at all to my correspondents.”

“Your humility, Mr. Bingley,” said Elizabeth, “must disarm reproof.”

“Nothing is more deceitful,” said Darcy, “than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.”

“And which of the two do you call my little recent piece of modesty?”

“The indirect boast; for you are really proud of your defects in writing, because you consider them as proceeding from a rapidity of thought and carelessness of execution, which, if not estimable, you think at least highly interesting. The power of doing anything with quickness is always prized much by the possessor, and often without any attention to the imperfection of the performance. When you told Mrs. Bennet this morning that if you ever resolved upon quitting Netherfield you should be gone in five minutes, you meant it to be a sort of panegyric, of compliment to yourself–and yet what is there so very laudable in a precipitance which must leave very necessary business undone, and can be of no real advantage to yourself or anyone else?”

“Nay,” cried Bingley, “this is too much, to remember at night all the foolish things that were said in the morning. And yet, upon my honour, I believe what I said of myself to be true, and I believe it at this moment. At least, therefore, I did not assume the character of needless precipitance merely to show off before the ladies.”

“I dare say you believed it; but I am by no means convinced that you would be gone with such celerity. Your conduct would be quite as dependent on chance as that of any man I know; and if, as you were mounting your horse, a friend were to say, ’Bingley, you had better stay till next week,’ you would probably do it, you would probably not go–and at another word, might stay a month.”

“You have only proved by this,” cried Elizabeth, “that Mr. Bingley did not do justice to his own disposition. You have shown him off now much more than he did himself.”

“I am exceedingly gratified,” said Bingley, “by your converting what my friend says into a compliment on the sweetness of my temper. But I am afraid you are giving it a turn which that gentleman did by no means intend; for he would certainly think better of me, if under such a circumstance I were to give a flat denial, and ride off as fast as I could.”

(From Pride and Prejudice, chapter 10; By Jane Austen, 1811)


The section quoted above contains short and banter, but is also a quite perfect depiction of Darcy’s introversion. Then, very shortly after this passage, the dialogue goes on for a couple more pages, with characters throwing entire paragraphs of dialogue at each other.
It’s an example of long dialogue from a classic—a classic in the literary canon nonetheless. And it isn’t just her. Anyone familiar with Leo Tolstoy would know that he’s no stranger to long dialogue himself. I think the way that he gets away with it is by only writing out explicit speech when the characters are saying something important, or in a specific manner. At other times, it seems, he leaves communications in prose.


This first quarrel arose from Levin’s having gone out to a new farmhouse and having been away half an hour too long, because he had tried to get home by a short cut and had lost his way. He drove home thinking of nothing but her, of her love, of his own happiness, and the nearer he drew to home, the warmer was his tenderness for her. He ran into the room with the same feeling, with an even stronger feeling than he had had when he reached the Shtcherbatskys’ house to make his offer. And suddenly he was met by a lowering expression he had never seen in her. He would have kissed her; she pushed him away.

“What is it?”

“You’ve been enjoying yourself,” she began, trying to be calm and spiteful. But as soon as she opened her mouth, a stream of reproach, of senseless jealousy, of all that had been torturing her during that half hour which she had spent sitting motionless at the window, burst from her. It was only then, for the first time, that he clearly understood what he had not understood when he led her out of the church after the wedding. He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began. He felt this from the agonizing sensation of division that he experienced at that instant.

(From Anna Karenina, Part 5 Chapter 17; By Leo Tolstoy, 1877)


Here, most of Seryozha’s lesson explanation and not dialogue. It could easily have been dialogue, but instead Tolstoy focused on the actions and emotions, rather than the words that were said.
Despite this example and its effectiveness, I should point out that, in both Anna Karenina and War and Peace, there are often large strings of dialogue, sometimes entire chapters devoted to conversation. Tolstoy doesn’t write communication all the time, but I thought this style was very interesting.
From my experience with these two writers I’ve gathered a few things: Like any other part of a story, dialogue must either advance/address the plot, or reveal character. By my recollection, all the dialogue in Pride and Prejudice follows the two rules, and by reverse, a lot of the impressions and opinions the characters express in that novel could only be properly conveyed through dialogue. Leo Tolstoy shows (occasionally) that sometimes explaining what a character is trying to communicate through prose can be more effective than dialogue.
Impressions, opinions, and… emotions. I think that a solid overarching reason for why the dialogue in Anna Karenina and Pride and Prejudice is so effective is because it offers a direct emotional conduit between the character and the reader. The long passages of dialogue in either work will often cover an emotional arc. One of the speaking characters will often be feeling strong emotions that shift and change as they talk. It keeps their words engaging, and it allows the reader to tune in and empathize with the speaker directly.
This sort of effect isn’t always possible through non-dialogue prose because that comes from (or through) the writer, whereas dialogue feels more like direct quotation from a character. That isn’t to say that a reader shouldn’t connect to a writer, or a writer’s ideas. It just means that dialogue could be a better medium than prose if a writer wants their reader to connect with a character.
But then again… there’s always “revealing character through action.” Aren’t actions supposed to be louder than words? Well now I’ve sort of come full circle.
I think it’s clear that there are few universal rules in writing, and that “keep dialogue short” probably isn’t one of them. It’s a good rule of thumb, but if you can strongly justify your dialogue’s place in the story, then you might have an exception on your hands.

Daniel Triumph.
Pride and Prejudice and Anna Karenina (as well as Alice in Wonderland and War and Peace) are in the public domain, meaning that you can legally find them all, in their entirety, online for free.

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P.S: For readers of The Solune Prince (or any of my other fiction)

I’m still coming up with a schedule for the release of The Solune Prince.

If I can get rigid writing schedule down, then I might be able to manage once a week, but it would likely be at the expense of other kind of post, or at least any other kind of quality post.

Once every two weeks seems decent, but that might be too long between chapters. What might end up happening is a “minimum of one chapter every two weeks.” Or I might tighten the blog down to just chapters of The Solune Prince for the summer, and then loosen up around when university re-opens.

For now, know that, exactly as before, the schedule is up in the air. (But I’ll get that nailed down in the future.) Either way, Chapter 2 will be released next Thursday.

(also check out https://danieltriumph.com/the-solune-prince/ for the first chapter.)

P. P. S.: This is the original Anna Karenina quote I had. I switched it for the marriage one, since it was a better (and perhaps more interesting) example.


“You understand that, I hope?” said his father.

“Yes, papa,” answered Seryozha, acting the part of the imaginary boy.

The lesson consisted of learning by heart several verses out of the Gospel and the repetition of the beginning of the Old Testament. The verses from the Gospel Seryozha knew fairly well, but at the moment when he was saying them he became so absorbed in watching the sharply protruding, bony knobbiness of his father’s forehead, that he lost the thread, and he transposed the end of one verse and the beginning of another. So it was evident to Alexey Alexandrovitch that he did not understand what he was saying, and that irritated him.

He frowned, and began explaining what Seryozha had heard many times before and never could remember, because he understood it too well, just as that “suddenly” is an adverb of manner of action. Seryozha looked with scared eyes at his father, and could think of nothing but whether his father would make him repeat what he had said, as he sometimes did. And this thought so alarmed Seryozha that he now understood nothing. But his father did not make him repeat it, and passed on to the lesson out of the Old Testament. Seryozha recounted the events themselves well enough, but when he had to answer questions as to what certain events prefigured, he knew nothing, though he had already been punished over this lesson.

(From Anna Karenina, Part 5 Chapter 27; By Leo Tolstoy, 1877)

The Solune Prince: A Letter to the King

The Solune Prince

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 one 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.”

Daniel Triumph.

Table of Contents

Chloe Rhye’s Past (Brief)

Since this is sourced from planning notes, there are a lot of brackets with extra information.

Early Childhood

The young (relatively speaking) King Rhye had a habit of abandoning the throne for the first fifteen years of each of his children’s lives, and leaving the kingdom to a hand-picked, voted individual.

Chloe’s childhood was therefore easy and carefree. She spent a lot of time in the northern woods with her family (Immediate and extended). The north wood was (and is) a mystical haven of sorts, technically owned by her uncle, Prince Rhye, and previously resided in by his wife.

Chloe was free to associate with and learn about her family, nature, and the wisdom of those around her. Her parents, Rhye and Gwenhime, had four children before her: Zealott, Natasha, Kent, and Janna.

Adolescence

Hortus_Deliciarum,_Die_Philosophie_mit_den_sieben_freien_Künsten
The Seven Liberal Arts from Hortus deliciarum (Garden of Delights) of Herrad of Landsberg (12th century)

At fifteen, Chloe Rhye was moved back into the Solune kingdom’s capital city, Murdock. The family’s return to the city was a culture shock of sorts. The experience was redeemed by the completion of her literacy, and the discovery of books.

In only five years, Chloe became more well-read than anyone in her family. During those years, she began to mature physically, and her ageing began its slow down to the rate of the rest of her family.

During this time, she took a degree in the seven Liberal Arts—

“Grammar, logic, and rhetoric were the core liberal arts (the Trivium), while arithmetic, geometry, the theory of music, and astronomy also played a (somewhat lesser) part in education (as the Quadrivium)” (E. B. Castle, Ancient Education and Today (1969) p. 59)

—although, at the Solune Academy, the Quadrivium is composed of arithmetic, geometry, natural studies, and civics. Shortly after, Chloe returned to complete a degree in history, although she found it somewhat disappointing.

By the end of it her decade of education, her aging had slowed down to that of the rest of her adult family (about 1/100th the normal rate.) Chloe became a well-rounded citizen ready to take on the world.

Adulthood

Early

Chloe did not take on the world. Instead, she retreated into the city’s libraries and continued reading. She lived the kind of “life of ease” that only a distant-heir prince of the throne could afford to. However, despite her low Conscientiousness, Chloe’s high Self-Discipline and moderate Achievement-Striving kept her learning throughout her early adulthood.

Psychometrics - Chloe Rhye2
Chloe’s personality psychometrics. (openpsychometrics.org has, in my opinion, only moderate reliability. Despite this, the metrics mostly agree with my current perception of Chloe Rhye.

 

A century passed, and she took on an intellectual apprentice named Zeth. After decades of learning together, they managed to develop what would become the field of physics.

When he died of aging, she was finally faced with the immortal’s dilemma. Instead of accepting that people die, as her siblings Janna and Zealott had, or focusing on career and broader pursuits as her sister Natasha had, she used it as an excuse to turn further inward. She ordered a hundred years worth of imports and also began learning new languages. She also educated herself in kemia and biology, which she found built on physics, and both of which she found more interesting. At the same time, Her oldest brother Zealott was exiled for a few decades.

During this time, the King did what he could to urge her out of the castle, and out of the books, but he was either ignored or subverted. She went out to the academy and the library, she would tell him.

The Legendary Event

When the King’s Agents reported threats from the north, her habits were jarred due to a couple of synchronistic events. First, Chloe was getting sick of second-hand information. Second, the King, her father, decided to send her as an envoy to recruit Plainkind to help defend the kingdom.

A small group of young warriors were assembled, and Chloe was chosen as to become one of them. Suddenly, she had a group of friends.

After the Legendary event, the walls of the Solune Kingdom opened for the first time in a thousand years—the first time in her life. Chloe and Yaska May Däwngale, the only Plainkind she had managed to recruit, remained friends.

Evidence (?)

After the walls fell, Janna, Chloe’s closest sister, both in relationship and in age, left to find Zealott, and Yaska left to explore the east.

Alone once again, Chloe returned to the academy and completed a degree in Rhetoric and Poetry (the equivalent of a Doctorate in Law)

Janna returned two short years after leaving. She returned a failure and with criminal charges. Chloe defended her in the Solune court. (Note: The current draft of Evidence has Chloe representing the plaintiff (Natasha/the Law), not the defendant (Janna). This is to be altered in the final draft.)

The Solune Prince

This is where Chloe is at the moment, narratively wise.

the-hustle-copy-e1527787449841.jpg

She intents to go to the Underside in order to learn about the Lussa people. Instead, she gets caught in a political struggle.

The Epic of Yaska / The Epic of Däwngale

To be discovered.

Daniel Triumph.

The Solune Prince page

 

Kēmeía (Chemia)

“I found this behind the bar.” Setzer handed Natasha a thumb-sized glass vial. It was empty, but lined with a distinct maroon residue. “They must have been poisoned.”

“Yes,” said Jade, “There was something wrong with the taste.”

For the first time since the inn had been built, there was more than one person in its attic. Three of those seven were dead.

Setzer didn’t like the involvement of Jade Sing. He disliked her for a lot of reasons. Jade was an unusual foreigner, and worse, she was a cannibal. Natasha didn’t seem to be interested in arresting Jade, despite Setzer’s suspicions. Every time he’d investigated one of Jade’s catches, she had come away innocent. Did she eat people? Yes. But did she kill them? Not according to the evidence. Cannibalism wasn’t technically illegal, and so it appeared that Jade simply took advantage of other people’s murders. She was a clever opportunist. Jade had broken into the inn attracted by the scent. She had found the bodies and apparently sampled them. Then she had alerted the nearest guard, Sergeant Alice; a small, jumpy woman built like a brick wall. Alice told Natasha, the towering, stoic, guard Captain, and they had both arrived along with Constable Setzer, a short, often cross young man with long black hair, pale skin, and dark eyes.

To Setzer’s chagrin, it seemed he was again going to prove Jade’s innocence. He surveyed the corpses. Each was missing part of its calf, and one’s face was so bludgeoned that it was unrecognisable.

“Easy to draw a conclusion based on this,” he said. “First, based on the vial and the… taste, we can assume that these people were poisoned. Second, Dhesmond Machina owns and runs this inn. He could easily spike his alcohol and claim that the victim passed out. Finally, the inn didn’t open today, and,” he handed Natasha a copied document, “yesterday’s travel ledger shows he skipped town and hasn’t returned!”

“Wonderful!” Alice clapped.

Natasha studied the list and felt her neck tighten.

“Good job, but this is not enough.”

“Okay…” Setzer said, “what else do I need?”

She looked at him calmly, “Who are these people? Where did the poison come from?”

Setzer wasn’t happy, but orders were orders. “Fine, we’ll identify the bodies first.”

“Good.” Natasha’s face was stern, “After you two are finished, meet me at the Ph.Ch. lab. Alice, I would like you to visit the undertaker for this area and get them to identify the body, whether you identify it or not. If the district mortician can identify it quickly, bring us a note, otherwise, come without it.”

“Sure,” Alice nodded

Setzer sighed. “Alice, do you know who usually comes here?”

“I know almost just about all the people from around here.” Alice’s grasp of syntax faltered when she was excited.

Natasha left them and exited the building, studying the ledger. She surveyed the cobbled streets, and then headed northwest to speak to one of the city’s construction foreman.

 

Setzer and Alice sat at a table in the bar and drew up a list of all the patrons. Alice identified the two who were dead, and they crossed them off. Then Setzer went out into the city and sought out the rest of the list. Jade stayed behind, tasked with keeping people out of the bar. After much frustration, he had bargained her into promising that she would “try not to eat anything,” and “definitely not touch the mysterious body.” He hoped he wouldn’t have to answer to families again.

It took until noon to find everyone on Alice’s list. Most of them wondered why the bar was closed. One person mentioned that Dhesmond had become too touchy. Most of the other patrons agreed that, in the past month or so, he had seemed more stressed than usual. Setzer and Alice thanked each person for their time, and soon the list was empty, except for one name.

Alice looked, and shook her head, “Reighleigh Straker. We only checked his house, remember? He’s maybe at work.”

It dawned on Setzer why the Captain wanted them to meet her at the lab. “Does he work at the Ph.Ch. lab?”

“Yep.”

“Natasha must have known all along… Now we just have to confirm that he isn’t there and our bases will be covered.” Setzer nodded to himself.

Alice just shrugged, “We’ll meet there after I go to the cemetery.”

“I doubt we’ll need it, but orders are orders, I guess.”

 

To his surprise, Setzer arrived first and had to wait a few minutes. Natasha arrived with the slight sheen of a person who just walked halfway across a city and back.

“Where did you go?” asked Setzer.

“I went to where they are extending the wall.”

“Oh.”

“Did you find the identity of the third body?”

“Reighleigh Straker. Not sure why Dhesmond would beat him up like that though.”

The Captain shook her head.

“You will see when we go inside the Philosophy of Chemia Laboratory,” She returned the vial he’d found at the inn. “Search his desk.”

 

Natasha knocked on the door. It was answered by a woman who looked like her, except she was younger, smaller, wore a white coat, and had more hair.

“Natasha?” She asked.

“Chloe,” she nodded. “We are here as part of an investigation.”

“Ah, sure. I’ll get someone who actually works here.” She turned and called, “Straker?”

Setzer glanced at Natasha. If Reighleigh was here, alive, then his investigation was worthless. A moment passed, and she called out again, but for someone else.

“Finch? Yes, ah, the guard is here.”

Chloe let them into the lab. It was brightly lit, with large wooden desks. Some were capped with thick layers of metal, but all of them were covered with instruments and lined with drawers. In the far corner was a small room sealed with a heavy door.

Finch approached them. He was a short man with pale skin, dark hair, and dark eyes. He wore a white lab coat and held a mess of papers.

“Oh, Captain Rhye,” he looked from Natasha to Chloe, “Here to talk to your sister?”

“No. We speak when we are not working.”

Setzer said, “Is Reighleigh here? I need to—” see if he’s alive, is what he thought. “I need to search his desk.”

“He’s in the supply locker right now.” Finch pointed, “It’s heavily barred to prevent theft. Some of that stuff is dangerous.”

There was a loud metallic creak and Setzer’s stomach churned. According to his deduction, the man who stood before them was dead, his body stashed in Dhesmond’s inn. He took a deep breath. He hadn’t earned the rank of Constable through faltering. He defaulted to his orders.

“We are here to search your desk.”

Reighleigh gave him a deep frown.

After a pause, Finch pointed to one of the counters, “It’s that one.”

Setzer strode to it and began opening drawers until he found one filled with thumb-sized test tubes, and a labelled jar of distinct red liquid. He took out the vial from the inn. Its size and shape matched, and the colour was the same.

Natasha stood with Reighleigh and Finch on one side and Chloe on the other. She looked sidelong at the doctor. He seemed to be stifling his nerves. She watched his hands and saw that his knuckles were blue.

Setzer read the label on the jar, Hyperthermic Coronary Accelerator and then looked up and nodded to Natasha. She nodded back. They’d found the poison supply.

Then Alice flung the front door open, and jumped inside.

“I got it!—Oh, hi Finch—anyway, I got it!” She waved the mortician’s note in front of her, “The last dead person is not Reigh even for sure now, it’s Dhesmond Machina!”

Reighleigh’s face hardened. He sprinted to the door. Alice smiled and repositioned slightly. Reighleigh tried to tackle her, but unfortunately for him, Sergeant Alice was nearly twice his weight in muscle; a capable guard in the occupational sense well as the literal one. She easily restrained him.

“You’re under detainment for killing three people using this poison!” Setzer ran to the man and seized his hands. he began winding a cord around Reighleigh’s wrists.

The man retorted, “How could I have murdered someone who isn’t even in town!”

“You—” Setzer had no idea.

Natasha finally spoke, “You followed him, but not through the gate. You went through the part of the wall that is under construction.”

Setzer and Alice looked at each other across the man who stood between them. Reighleigh remained silent.

Finch was unsure what to think.

Chloe called out, “go on!”

Natasha strode to the nearest desk and sat down.

She faced Reighliegh, “Jade confirmed for us that all three of the victims were poisoned. The liquid and vial found at the inn match with the poison and containers found here. Likely they were killed under your instruction, using your chemical.”

Setzer had finished, so he presented the items Natasha mentioned.

“Shortly before we came here, I confirmed that, on the same day that Dhesmond left, the foreman saw him return through her construction site, along with someone else; you. I assume you exited before the workday started and managed to convince the poor back. Then you poisoned him like you did everyone else; except he would have known his fate when you handed it to him.

“You threw Dhesmond’s body with the rest. But,” Natasha pointed to his bruised hands, “you beat the recognition off his face first.”

She took the ledger, and dropped it beside her. “You left Dhesmond’s closet full of skeletons, with his name on a document proving that he left town. You framed a dead man. It would have been the perfect crime—if there was no one who could identify a dead body. But what is the job of a coroner if not identification?”

Natasha stood, and said, “Dead men do not sneak into cities or poison and brutalize themselves.”

Daniel Triumph.

This is the second draft of “Decay.” There are a lot of differences, to the point where I can comfortably call them different stories, so feel free to check it out.

This was written as an exam for my Detective Fiction course, 01-26-202-01. I got a decent mark in the end, so maybe that’s indicative of the quality of this piece.

P.S.

I know I’ve been talking about The Solune Prince A LOT and not actually posting about it. Fear not, it isn’t “stuck” or something I’m just talking about, without actually working on. I have around forty notebook pages full.

Mostly, I’m just adjusting to my new job and whatnot. If I don’t have anything started, I’ll publish a backstory or something.

… Or I’ll publish more stuff I wrote for class …