A Queen's Ascension: Part One
The Lost Desert is an arid place, in the South of Neopia. It is hot, often the hottest place in the world, discovered by Brucey B many years ago. It is shared by many cities, but two main kingdoms: Sakhmet, once ruled by King Coltzan III before his assassination, and now by a princess, his eldest daughter, Princess Amira, rumoured to be the most beautiful but bored Aisha in all the land, and Qasala, now ruled by King Jazan and Queen Nabile. Qasala faced many hardships over time before now being a growing and prosperous city, building itself to its prior state before it became ruin.
Now, Sakhmet is in need of an official ruler – a King or a Queen. The people are in full support of Princess Amira taking this position, although she dreams of exploring Neopia. The forgotten member of the Sakhmetian Royal Family, considered just a child; spoilt and vain, is Princess Vyssa, a pretty young Usul, the heir King Coltzan wanted after his death, but it was not to be. Vyssa's dream was to rule Sakhmet for decades to come and prove she could be a magnificent Queen of Sakhmet.
What really happens marks the biggest change in Sakhmetian history since the poisoning of King Coltzan. This is the first tale of the events that happen - the events that change the lives of those in the Lost Desert forever.
It was another gloriously scorching day in the Lost Desert, the temperature reaching almost record heights, and there wasn't a cloud in the beautiful blue sky. Along the outskirts of the Lost Desert, various bugs anxiously darted around, finding shade under a large cactus. Qasala was busy at this hour; it was the middle of day, and all that could be heard were cries of market stall owners wanting to sell their goods. The smell of fresh Sand Muffins was in the air and leaving Qasala was a red Lupe with unruly brown hair and tattered rags for clothes. Stood by him was Queen Nabile, a stunning pink Ixi dressed in only the finest of clothing. On her face was an easy smile, though her eyes gave away a hint of sadness. Behind them both was King Jazan, though he was a good distance away to allow the pair some privacy. He stood proudly, politely turning his back from his wife and her dearest friend and instead watching villagers in the marketplace. Everything was perfect at the moment – there were no dilemmas that needed to be solved. Jazan breathed in deeply with satisfaction and absent-mindedly rubbed his eyes. With a groan, and hoping no one was watching, he took out a mirror and checked his eyeliner carefully. It was still perfect. The King smirked. Of course it was!
"You must visit again soon, Tomos," Nabile told the red Lupe next to her sternly, embracing him quickly. Tomos' heart fluttered slightly at the sudden contact, surprised, then shook his head. His best friend was so different now, a real Queen, and things couldn't be the same between them ever again. "And I mean soon!" Nabile added.
"Of course, of course." Tomos grinned, laughing off his negative mood. "You'll be kept busy anyway while I am gone; you're a Queen now in case you'd forgotten!"
Nabile rolled her eyes at the Lupe. "Indeed I am, so I order you to see me again as soon as you can." She joked, turning slightly to check Jazan was still behind them. "I do have to go now. There is a banquet later on to celebrate the peaceful year. We're hoping to get more water in Qasala soon. Where will you be heading next?"
"Who knows? That was always the fun of our adventures, Nabile, do you remember?" Tomos sighed as he recalled these memories. "I'll probably stop by Sakhmet for some supplies, then head off to the outskirts and see where they take me. I will come and see you again whenever I can, I promise. But I'm not the one tied down – I have to carry on thieving and adventuring!"
The Queen nodded at this thoughtfully. She placed a hand delicately on Tomos' shoulder. "Be careful," she murmured, "settling down is not so bad."
"You don't miss it?" Tomos asked. "The thrill of not knowing where life would take you next?"
Nabile frowned. "I barely enjoyed that part of our lives," she muttered quietly, "the part I enjoyed was spending all that time with my best friend – you..." Her eyes widened suddenly. "Why don't you move to Qasala? Permanently? That way you won't have to leave!"
Tomos thought about it. It wasn't like this was the first time he'd considered it. He would be in a lovely town, living with the King and Queen of Qasala, his closest friend and her husband, with enough luxury to last him a lifetime. At one time, this would have been what he wanted. But he realised now he couldn't be tied down like that, he needed adventure. He only wished Nabile could still be with him but he knew that was impossible now. She was royalty, and from the moment she found out he knew things would change forever. So instead of leaping for joy at her offer, he shook his head.
"You know I can't, Nabile. I'm sorry."
She smiled, trying to hide her disappointment. "One day you'll settle down in one place, Tomos. When you have the best reason in the world to."
At this, she left him, turning away and walking towards Jazan. As Tomos saw her eyes light up at the sight of him, and the warm smile Jazan gave her, he felt a pang in his heart. Angrily, he stormed away from the scene, not knowing what to do, how to deal with the sudden loneliness he was feeling. He needed a new companion, someone he could confide in, just like he used to with Nabile. He knew he would never find someone like her again, but if someone could just ease the hurt he felt, that would be at least something. Sweat dripped from his temple down his right cheek. It really was too hot today to be making a move, but he really couldn't stand being around Jazan and Nabile in their palace for a second longer.
X X X
Coltzan's Shrine was a sacred place that many Neopets visited daily. Right now, the sun was high in the sky and it bounced off the shrine, almost making it look like it was sparkling. At the front of the long queue to talk to the shrine, was Princess Amira, disguised in a long hooded brown cloak to avoid stares, comments, and Neopets coming up to her for a conversation. Usually, she didn't hide herself – in fact, she only did if she was doing what she doing today. This was talking to her father.
"Hello, Father..." said Amira, bowing her head. "How are you today? That's a daft question. Yet I always ask it. I hope wherever you are, you are doing well. I miss you. Vyssa misses you, even if it doesn't seem like she does." She paused to look up at her father's face on the statue. "Queen Sankara shall never be forgiven."
Queen Sankara, the one responsible for the death of her father. She killed him in an attempt to usurp the throne and was banished from Sakhmet for good; on punishment of permanent imprisonment in terrible conditions should she ever return. Her name, as time drifted by, had long since been forgotten by many, but not by Princess Amira. It was like a curse in her mind. What made it even worse was that they were cousins.
When she looked back down, there was a necklace half buried in the sand. It had a red jewel hanging from it that seemed to almost glow. Surprised at such a gift, one she had never seen before (usually Amira was given food to give to the poor on her journey back), she studied it closely. There were coughs of impatience behind her, so she decided to look at it more lately. Amira fastened it around her neck quickly and stood up. "There's a meeting today, Coltzan. I wonder what it is about. The senators are looking very troubled. I best go and make myself presentable for it. Until the next time I visit, I shall think of you." She reached out and touched the statue, then walked away without looking back.
As she reached the palace her disguise long since discarded, Senator Barca hurried up to her and grabbed her arm. "You incorrigible girl!" The Acara sighed. "Really, Amira, you must start facing up to your responsibilities a bit more, especially in the current situation we are in. Now follow me, this is arguably the most serious thing to happen here since the death of King Coltzan, may he rest in peace."
Amira blinked, startled by Barca's reference to her father. It was a rare moment the Acara mentioned him, and certainly not his death. "What has happened, Barca?" Amira demanded. "Have those nasty bugs come back again?"
Barca threw her a glare. "Really, princess, I dealt with those things years ago. This is something else, and it involves you directly!"
Before Amira could comment, she was led into a room in the palace, the room where meetings were held. There was a grand wooden table in the centre of the room with at least twenty matching chairs surrounding it. Aside from a few statues and paintings of the royal family around the room there was nothing else in here. That was, apart from Senator Palpus and Advisor Wessle, sat at the table, looking very serious indeed.
"Would someone please tell me what is going on?" Amira asked, settling herself at the head of the table, bemused and cautious. She sensed this was something not only serious, but bad.
Senator Palpus sighed heavily. He was a large, green Tuskaninny that was usually quite jolly and jovial about everything. "What is it in a month's time, Amira? What event?"
The beautiful Aisha grimaced. "You already know this, Palpus. It is King Coltzan's ten anniversary of his tragic death. What does that have to do with anything?"
Barca cut off whatever Palpus was going to say next with an impatient wave of her hand. "We have no time to ease her into this, Palpus! We need all the time we can get. Listen, princess, because this is going to come as a bit of a shock to you. In a month's time, it will have been a decade since there was a king ruling Sakhmet. Sakhmet has always been ruled by a king, yes? Ever since it was first built. Because it was built so long ago, some of the laws surrounding the heir to the throne are a bit..." Here, she pulled a face. "Dated. Nonetheless, we must abide by these. If in a decade, a king is not ruling, the next heir must take the throne on the tenth anniversary of the previous king's death, or resignation, whichever. This is to ensure Sakhmet is not to become a weak and defenceless city, liable to wars. Do you follow me so far?"
Amira nodded. "I think so. But haven't I been ruling over Sakhmet for the past ten years? What is the big problem?"
"You have been ruling over Sakhmet as a princess. According to Sakhmetian laws, a princess or a prince cannot rule completely. This is why we, as senators and advisors, have guided you with many decisions over these past few years. You must be a king or a queen to rule over Sakhmet, and have complete power. On Coltzan's anniversary, there must be a coronation for you so you can be crowned queen of Sakhmet," Senator Palpus explained, but he still looked worried.
The princess nodded again, the realisation sinking in. She would have to become queen, and be bound to Sakhmet forever. Her dreams of freedom, of running wild in a far-away place like Mystery Island or Terror Mountain would never be fulfilled. It was her duty as the eldest child of Coltzan, even though he wanted Vyssa as the original heir before he died. She would be tied to Sakhmet, ruling over these people, for the rest of her life. It was hard not to protest. Would Vyssa rule if she wanted to just run away? Would she become Queen instead?
No. Amira wouldn't put that on her younger sister. And besides, this was what she had been doing for the past decade anyway. Perhaps this was her destiny.
"I shall become the queen then," Amira stated in a low tone. "We shall make the announcement to the people of Sakhmet later. Is that all?"
Barca shook her head. "If it were that simple, I could have told you at any moment!" She snapped, losing her patience. Barca was a very bossy Acara, always determined to get her own way and very arrogant, but she was a good, strong senator and did genuinely care for Amira and her sister. "The law states for a queen to rule... there must be a king alongside her."
Amira stared at Barca in astonishment. The Aisha was infamous for rejecting countless suitors and preferring to live life alone, and now she'd have to find one? This had to be some sort of a joke. "What a ridiculous law!" she cried. "I refuse to abide to such a law as this."
"If you don't find a suitor in thirty days from now exactly," Barca murmured, "your cousin gets the throne."
"Q-Queen Sankara?" Amira gasped. "That's impossible! She's already in control of her own throne –"
Senator Barca shook her head. "Not Queen Sankara, you're quite correct. She already has a throne. Plus she is banished from Sakhmet. No, I am talking about her younger brother, Prince Frezon."
Amira put a hand to her mouth.
"And if what the things I hear about him are true, if he rules over Sakhmet, our days are numbered."
To be continued...