A Queen's Ascension: Part Seven
The suitor hurried away, looking insulted and a bit surprised. Princess Amira sat on the throne with her arms folded, bored and tired of the relentless chain of suitors coming and going without so much as two words passed between them. She was never going to pick any of them. The throne belonged to her cousin, Prince Frezon. That's just how it was. She knew this feeling right in her heart and her brain. It surprised her that it had taken her so long to realise he was the perfect match for Sakhmet. It didn't matter about Sankara because he was the true leader, the new king. She just had to put up with this for six more days. Then she was free. She could go traveling; do whatever she wanted to do. Sure, she'd still be a princess but there'd be no responsibility ever again.
Advisor Wessle moaned loudly. "Princess Amira, have you completely lost your mind?" he cried. "Prince Frezon is a dangerous individual. His sister, in case you've forgotten, killed your father. He will let her back into Sakhmet! They'll have got what your father fought against."
Amira smiled at him. Silly advisor, he would never understand the stress she went through on a daily basis. Frezon was right when he spoke to her that time. She was too stressed and he'd be a better man for the job.
"Calm down, Wessle," she simpered. "Prince Frezon will make Sakhmet a wondrous place."
"Yes, I will."
Advisor Wessle pulled a face as he realised he had been caught out. He turned, and Frezon was standing in the archway, smugly chuckling. "Princess Amira is right," he continued. "I will make Sakhmet the once great city of the Lost Desert brilliant again. And there's not really much you can do about it, Wessle. If I hear any more words like those you have just spoken and I'll have to relieve you of your duty next week."
"Do it," Advisor Wessle snapped. "I wouldn't want to work for someone like yourself."
"Now, now, why the anger? I have never done anything wrong." Frezon laughed. It was a menacing laugh, and about the most joyless laugh one could ever utter. "I've saved my sister's monarchy. Her people consider me a hero. I want the people of Sakhmet to do the same."
"You and I are very similar, Frezon," Wessle admitted. "We like to know things about everyone. And that is precisely why I do not trust you and cannot work for you. At the time of the coronation, I will resign the moment that crown is put on your head."
Frezon shrugged. "You make it sound like this is going to affect me, Wessle. Quite the opposite, in fact. I'll have no need for you when I am king. Oh, and senators?"
Senator Palpus and Barca reluctantly faced him.
"I won't need you either. Lost Desert will be completely under my control, so I'll only need guards and servants."
Senator Palpus gave a deep sigh. He sounded tired as he addressed Amira. "Please, your highness. Something has happened to you. You've changed. You need to stop this."
Princess Amira shook her head. "I'm sorry, senators. You too, Wessle. But my mind is made up."
Advisor Wessle muttered under his breath, "Then that means we're all doomed."
To Vyssa's surprise, she landed on a soft pillow. It was a comfortable landing and a huge wave of relief washed over her. However, as she peered upwards to the source of the light coming from the top of the well, she realised their mistake immediately.
"Tomos," she whispered to the Lupe, who had unfortunately landed half on the pillow, half not, explaining the thud she had heard earlier, "how are we going to get back up there if Morgana isn't in here?"
He then looked up too, judging the distance. A laugh escaped his mouth. "Oops. Well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. There might be another way out through this tunnel."
Where they had landed was this large pillow, and ahead of them a small tunnel that had been expertly dug through the wall. It was just big enough to accommodate their height if they walked in single file. There was no light, so they cautiously felt their way through the tunnel. After what felt like almost half an hour, Vyssa began to realise she could start to see Tomos in front.
"There's light over here, Vyssa!" he hissed, seconds later. "Too dim to be the moonlight, but perhaps this is where Morgana lives."
Finally, the tunnel came to an end in another cave. This was lit up with dozens of candles that each had a different aroma. There was a mixture of fruits, honey and spices in the air and the smell of something cooking over on the stove in the corner. There were shelves with bottles and ornaments covering them and plenty of old books scattered around. It was like a secret cavern full of treasures.
"Would you look at this place?" Vyssa gasped. Paintings hung on the cave walls of wizards and witches. There was even a painting of Razul, which unnerved Vyssa a little. She kept her back to it instead. She picked up one of the books and saw it was a potions book and got excited. "Tomos, have a look at this. There must definitely be a potion in here that can cure Amira. This has to be Morgana's home." She couldn't keep the excitement from her voice and it got louder, echoing around the cave.
"Shh!" Tomos warned her. "We don't know who we're dealing with her. She could be another Jhudora."
"Don't be silly, Jhudora's a powerful faerie," Vyssa said, but she lowered her voice and put the book down. Tomos was busy looking through all the bottles, trying to understand their cryptic labels. They were old and yellowed and peeling at the edges.
"Do you think she's still here?" he wondered.
Vyssa didn't think of that. "She must be. The candles would have gone out by now if she wasn't. Hey!" She spotted another, bigger, tunnel, tucked neatly away behind a stack of books. "Come on, through here."
"Just be careful, Vyssa," Tomos whispered. "We don't want to mess this up..."
Preparations for the coronation were underway. There was a long, red carpet all down the steps of the palace and seats were set up for everyone to watch. The throne of was also now out there by the front doors for everyone to see. Who would sit in it? That was the question. The commoners had by now realised there was a commotion at the palace. Princess Amira no longer wanted the position. Prince Frezon was going to take it if she didn't change her mind fast and find a suitor. At this point, the palace was desperate enough to open the position of king of Sakhmet, married to Amira, to a commoner. Hundreds of them gathered outside the palace for this opportunity, but Amira turned away them all. They all noted the slightly glazed look in her eyes, as though she wasn't all quite there.
Throughout all this chaos, few questioned the whereabouts of Princess Vyssa. She had been missing for several days now but no one had noticed. The senators were busy trying to convince Princess Amira of changing her mind. Advisor Wessle was doing his best to find something incriminating about Prince Frezon. King Jazan and Queen Nabile were worried also, but more how long Vyssa and Tomos would be in the well. They decided if they had not returned by tomorrow evening, they would send out a search party for them.
Princess Amira, when she had a chance to be alone, sat in her room painting Maraqua. It was very far away and the complete opposite to here. Something was pulling her away, willing her to never come back. She would never come back.
Amira did not think of her sister either.
Queen Sankara spent her days congratulating herself on her diabolical plan. She received her brother's letter and knew not to worry about the servant. She was dealing with that. Sometimes she thought it was very unlucky she was already queen. But Frezon would be a good king and together as brother and sister they would control almost all the Lost Desert.
The only city left would be Qasala. King Jazan was a powerful Neopet, she knew that. They would have to train up some soldiers before they tackled him.
But they would tackle him indeed. Because Sankara wouldn't stop until she had control of every single part of the Lost Desert. And as soon as Frezon had control of Sakhmet, the first step would be recruiting these new soldiers.
Jazan had better watch out, she thought with a malevolent grin.
The bigger tunnel revealed a smaller cave, with a bed and a rug and a chair. Sitting on the chair was an old, desert Uni. She was staring directly at them without even a faint flicker of surprise on her face. Her large dark eyes seemed intimidating but full of knowledge. It was like was expecting them, and her next words confirmed this to the shocked pair. She spoke in a crackly voice that sounded hoarse, as though she need a drink badly. It also gave a suggestion of her wisdom.
"I've been expecting you, Princess Vyssa and Tomos."
To be continued...