A Queen's Ascension - Justice: Part Seven
Morgana stood up, causing Vyssa and Tomos to take a step back each. She sighed. “You’re in charge, are you?” She echoed. Her voice was somewhat changed from last time. It had lost the crackly sound to it, and was instead quite clear. It was now smooth as silk and deep. Vyssa couldn’t help but wonder if everything about her had been a lie.
“We know who you are,” Tomos said, sounding remarkably less confident than before. He shared an anxious glance with Vyssa but seeming to pull himself together and frowning. “We are here to gather evidence against your son Frezon and your daughter Sankara. We need the proof that they – and you – were behind Princess Amira’s death.”
The Uni smiled. Then she started to laugh. It was quite a high, tinkly sound that sounded so unsuitable for her. “And am I supposed to just let you do this?” She asked, amused.
“That would be best for you, yes.” Tomos answered her, seriously. He folded his arms. “Otherwise there will be consequences.”
“Consequences!” Morgana echoed in a mocking tone, imitating Tomos’ deep voice and sounding rather comical. “Perhaps the two of you have forgotten, what with the stressful time you have been enduring. But I am a sorceress, and I am stronger than you.”
Tomos grinned. Behind him, he could hear Vyssa muttering very quietly the stunning spell intended for Morgana. If he kept her distracted long enough, she wouldn’t notice what was going on and by then it would be too late. So he stepped forward once more, trying to look threatening.
“I’m not scared of you, Morgana. You need your books and potions to do any damage.” As he said this, he wondered if it were actually true.
“But I know my spell books like the back of my hoof, dear,” she said, “and my potions are hardly far away, are they?”
“Well then. Prove it! Prove you know your spell books like the back of your hoof.” Tomos challenged, almost regretting his words but not quite. Vyssa had to be done by now, right?!
Morgana raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know if you’re trying to impress the princess here – oops, sorry Vyssa, you’re not a princess anymore, are you? Wait a second – Vyssa, what are you –?”
Tomos turned; Vyssa was standing there triumphantly. Morgana was unable to complete her sentence, unable to move – she was stunned. The Uni’s mouth was hanging open, but all she could do was blink, which she did numerous times in a row to demonstrate (presumably) her anger.
“That was a great idea, Tomos.” Vyssa said. She sighed with relief. “Right. Let’s look at everything. Oh,” she nodded at Morgana, “you’ll be unfrozen in about an hour. But we’ll be gone by then.” She contemplated adding that she would also be trapped down here forever, but decided to leave that part as an unpleasant surprise.
The two of them searched the place from top to bottom, investigating every book, every scrap of parchment, every potion. Tomos even tried to find secret compartments in the floor and walls. It seemed like forever before they found anything, but when they did, it was the most rewarding thing ever.
“Look!” Vyssa gasped. “Oh, Tomos, look what I’ve found.”
Tomos hurried over; Vyssa was clutching a letter. She handed it to him excitedly and his eyes scanned the page.
My coronation as King of Sakhmet will be taking place next week on the Sunday. I would like to think you would be attending, but of course I have my doubts. Nevertheless, we have done well with our plan and I owe you my gratitude. Without you, that potion to deal with Amira would have certainly come from an unreliable source. I can trust you to say nothing, for any amount of neopoints.
I am making Sankara my chief advisor of the military, as well as to be the Neopet who coronates me. I feel the backlash from Vyssa will make the public far more accepting as this. It was so long ago, and the people are distracted. King Coltzan is now a distant memory.
All the best, mother,
Frezon (King of Sakhmet, and soon enough, the entirety of the Lost Desert)
“Oh, Vyssa, this is brilliant.” Tomos breathed. He turned to stare at the large pile of unread spell books. “Come on, if we find the book with the potion in, there can be no doubt. Let’s do it.”
It took another twenty minutes of both of them searching as fast as they could before they finally found it, typically found with only ten or so books to go anyway. Vyssa clutched it protectively to her chest while Tomos gripped the letter. They had one last quick look around and then made for the other entrance, where they knew Nabile and the Eyries would be waiting.
The sound stopped them in their tracks. Morgana was breaking free from her stunning spell.
“You’ll regret this!” She screeched.
One glance backwards confirmed she was still frozen to the spot at least, and the two of them wasted no more time. They exited her cave in a rush, breathless but on adrenaline and excited.
Nabile’s eyes lit up at the sight. “I was starting to get worried!” She said. “Come on everyone, let’s quickly block this entrance. The other one is already done!”
As the Eyries set to work, Tomos embraced Nabile. “Thank you so much for helping us.”
Nabile smiled. “It’s the least I could do, Tomos. I really hope this holds her, but if not, you two will be far away by then anyway!”
Vyssa nodded. “We’ll set off straight away. Thanks, Nabile. You’re a true friend.”
“I figured you guys would do that.” Nabile said. She produced two large backpacks. “One is filled with water, the other food. This will keep you going for at least a week. I will support you two no matter what. What are you going to do?”
“We’re not sure. We’ll formulate a plan. We may need your help again.” Vyssa whispered, so the Eyries could not hear. “But we’ll keep you informed.”
Tomos, however, was shaking his head. “That will not work. We’re escaped prisoners, Vyssa. We need powerful support.”
“Powerful support…?” Nabile looked at him. “You can’t mean –?”
“Jazan is our only hope.” He said firmly. “And now we have the evidence to convince him.”* * *
King Frezon was sitting on his throne in the throne room that evening when Hadon came to discuss their earlier conversation about Sankara and sign the official documents. Frezon was looking thoughtful, staring off into space with his brow furrowed, making his scar look more jagged and vicious. The Lupe seemed in a world of his own, not even noticing Hadon's entrance. This was unlike him. Frezon was far more often glancing at everyone and everything, taking in the little details of a situation no one else would notice. He prided himself on knowing everything there was to know about a person, and using that to his advantage. To not even acknowledge Hadon was out of character.
"Your Majesty?" Hadon ventured after the silence had dragged on for far too long. He was standing beneath him, speaking only after first kneeling out of respect and then rising solemnly. "You wanted to see me to discuss what we were planning earlier this morning?"
Frezon finally blinked, as if it was the first time he had seen Hadon. "Yes," he said, slowly. "I feel like we may have been too rash with our decision-making."
"I'm...sorry?" The general was stunned. What was Frezon talking about? Too rash? This had been exactly what he had wanted only earlier that day! Had something happened?
"Apology accepted." Frezon shrugged. "The people of Khamtef are doing well enough with their current representative. It seems worthless to send my sister, her Royal Highness Princess Sankara, off to a worthless position when she has great merit here in Sakhmet. She's the commander of my army, after all."
Hadon frowned. "But I thought that I was taking over her position. I thought that you felt threatened by her presence -"
"Threatened?" Frezon echoed, darkly. His menacing eyes flashed as he glared at his general. "You thought that I was threatened by my sister? Me?"
The Grarrl wanted to kick himself. That was rule one of being a subordinate! Never, ever, acknowledge your superior's weaknesses or threats as genuine thoughts. But he had been flustered by the sudden change of heart, confused by the speed of which things were developing and then not developing. He had spent all day drawing up the correct documents to send Sankara away and now they were useless. He couldn't believe this. Why had Frezon changed his mind?
His gaze drifted from Frezon to the grand chair next to the throne. It was not as big or elaborate, but it was right next to the throne and was usually reserved for the queen. In the past the kings' wives all had sat there as gracious queens - after the assassination of Amira and Vyssa's father it became an empty chair. Amira took her father's place on the throne and the chair next to her was almost forgotten, as though it was a prop rather than an actual part of the palace way of life. But now, the chair had finally been in use again. Sankara had been sitting in it ever since she arrived. Any official ceremony or speech or meeting with advisors, there she was, in the queen's chair. She was not queen. But she was certainly acting that way. And Hadon knew, in his heart, that Sankara's current position would not be enough for her. He knew that Sankara held even more wits than her brother, held more intelligence in her brain that would almost put King Hagan to shame.
She was dangerous. And he knew with this change of heart that Sankara had to have gotten to Frezon first, before he could. She had to have changed his mind with clever words or tricks, and now there was no escape. He respected Frezon to an immense degree - he was the hero of Khamtef, an impressive commander and a brilliant king. But his sister? She was something else. She was sneaky, and worst of all, she was cruel and manipulative - to anyone who stood in her path.
Frezon was still fuming; he had stood from his throne. "Answer me!" He shouted.
Hadon had been so caught up in his thoughts it took him a second to register why the king was mad at him. "Of course I do not think that. My words were running away with themselves." He replied, coolly. "All I meant was to express my bemusement at the sudden change of events from our discussion this morning. I have with me the documents that would send Sankara away." He held out his hands, which were indeed carrying a bundle of manuscripts. "Am I to burn these?"
It was only a moment, but Hadon recognised a sudden flash in Frezon's eyes. It was want. He wanted the documents. He wanted to send Sankara away. But it was so fast, and then the blank look was back, and Frezon nodded at him. "Yes." He said, quietly; he was calmer now. "Burn them. Sankara stays here. Never talk of this again." The king slumped back down into his throne, but rather than looking the impressive sight he usually did, he now seemed tired and uncomfortable in the chair.
"As you command, your Majesty." Hadon bowed, and then left the throne room without a glance back. He did not want to see Frezon in that state. Something was wrong. But he believed in duty above all. And he had to follow orders. On his way back to his private chambers, he passed a wood burning fire and threw the documents into it, not pausing to watch them disintegrate into ashes and dust.
To be continued…