The Solune Prince: Modesty

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

Chapter 15: Modesty

 

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

 

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

She said, “You would lurk?”

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

“What of the purebloods?”

“What of them?”

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

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

“Hold! Is not Chloe’s sword…”

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

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

 

“Oh, we have with us an early bird?”

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

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

“Of course!”

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

Alexandre blushed. Maiden…

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

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

Lass? I’m twenty-one!

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

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

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

Daniel Triumph.

Table of Contents

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

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

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

Author’s Note: 

 

Chloe dreamed of the distant past.

 

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

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

“It almost never closes now.”

Alexandre’s head snapped up, almost aggressively.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh.”

“Are you, per chance, Alexandre Dirge?”

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

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

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

“Ah, yeah?”

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

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

She said, “I must be going.”

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

“Chloe…”

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

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

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

“Venus…”

Chloe didn’t understand, “Who?”

“Your uncle…the unmarried one…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Okay. I agree.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Triumph.

Table of Contents

The Solune Prince: Lilllith I

The Solune Prince

Novella 1

Chapter 13: Lilllith I

Author’s Note: >:3

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

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

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

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

Astore slowed. “Maybe an hour now.”

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

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

“So we will not be…too late.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chloe said “—” nothing.

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

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

“Who,” Gwenhime corrected.

Lilllith sneered.

“It is, ah, it is I…” Chloe failed.

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

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

“How hospitable,” said Lilllith.

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

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

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

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

Daniel Triumph.

Table of Contents

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: A Letter to the King

The Solune Prince

Chloe Library

Author’s Foreword

Thanks for visiting, I hope you enjoy. Please remember to check the Table of Contents for new chapters; I update every Thursday. I hope to stimulate the imagination as well as the intellect, or as Cicero says, “to teach, to delight and to move.”

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.

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