A Queen's Ascension - Justice: Part Nine
It had been two months now since King Frezon’s coronation. The time had passed far too quickly for Frezon and Sankara. Indeed it had passed very quickly for Tomos, Vyssa, Nabile and Jazan as well. But for the people of Sakhmet, it had a long, confusing, often difficult time. Frezon’s army of guards were everywhere, all the time. And this was only a fraction of them. It was well known that in the past month the majority of them had been out conquering the different territories of the Lost Desert. They had also remarkably succeeded. For each territory conquered a great celebration was held in the main square, organised by Princess Sankara.
The people were absolutely astounded by her. They had assumed she was evil and not to be trusted, but in these difficult times, she had been their guiding light. She volunteered in the local soup kitchen, she gave away her jewellery to the poor as well as neopoints, and these celebrations she organised were complete with music, dance and theatre. Everyone got involved – well, all the ordinary citizens and peasants anyway. The only noble person there to speak of was Princess Sankara herself.
The king had been passing stricter and stricter new laws seemingly every day and it was difficult to keep up. The people had to deal with their freedom of speech being watched over, they were unable to publish any writing without Frezon’s permission, and even the electorate had been dramatically reduced, with only the top five per cent of Sakhmet now able to vote for new senators, advisors and representatives.
Frezon was becoming increasingly disliked amongst Sakhmetians, and indeed across the Lost Desert. The territories which had been conquered were left in charge of inexperienced guards with no clue how to run a city and it often meant there were food shortages, economic downturns and even outbreaks of disease epidemics due to welfare schemes not being kept up.
But Sankara was becoming “the people’s Princess”. She was there if anyone needed to talk, there to visit orphanages and give them funding. The people knew she would do the same for other territories if she could, but she had told them herself how Frezon had forced her to stay in Sakhmet, not even letting her reside in her home city of Khamtef.
The people were on her side. She was seen as intelligent, graceful, beautiful and above all, kind.
Because that was exactly how she wanted them to see her.***
Nabile returned to Jazan’s study after dropping off Tomos and Vyssa to the hiding place. She looked happy and relieved, and proved it by hugging her husband tightly in gratitude. “Thank you for doing this, Jazan,” she whispered, “I know how hard it has been for you.”
“As long as you’re okay, that’s all that matters.” Jazan said, and he meant it. He would do this for Vyssa, for Tomos, for Qasala, for the Lost Desert, even for the whole of Neopia. But he was really doing it for his queen; his Nabile. Despite all they had been through lately, she meant everything to him. And he knew that he had needed to prove it.
“I mean it. I’ve been quite – well, not selfish really, but…it’s been my way or I’m not compromising, hasn’t it?” Nabile said. “And thank you for being understanding.”
“I feel like you’re putting me in a very good light. I’ve been very quick-tempered, haven’t I?” Jazan laughed. It was amazing. He actually felt like laughing. Despite everything. “We’re going to be alright, aren’t we, Nabile?” His tone was suddenly serious.
“Better than alright.” Nabile told him firmly. “I have a feeling that from now on everything is going to get better.”
Jazan was about to respond to this with wholehearted agreement when the door knocked. It was extremely loud and it didn’t stop. It was persistent.
“Who on Neopia could that be?” Jazan frowned. Nabile looked equally as perplexed. “You don’t think there’s an issue with Tomos and Vyssa, do you?”
He walked across the room and opened the door. Standing there were two large blue Grarrls, dressed in Sakhmetian armour. They were both holding shields, and were wearing swords. One of them held a parchment in his hand tied with a red silk ribbon, and he passed it to Jazan. “We have a warrant for Queen Nabile’s arrest, Your Majesty.” He said gruffly.
“You’re…what?” Jazan was in disbelief. “I don’t understand.”
“Queen Nabile is known to have aided the escaped prisoners Vyssa and Tomos. She was even involved in a nefarious plan to trap King Frezon I’s mother in her cave for the rest of her days. We have a team that will be deployed to get her out of there. This is unacceptable, and under orders of the Princess Sankara, Field Marshal of the Sakhmetian Military we have to place Queen Nabile under arrest, where she will be detained in our prisons whilst awaiting a fair trial.”
“I don’t understand.” Jazan repeated. He held the parchment in his hands but he wasn’t really reading it. He was in complete shock.
“I wonder which one of our guards talked for the least amount of neopoints,” Nabile commented bitterly. She hugged Jazan quickly, and then pulled away and nodded at the guards. “I’ll come peacefully.” She told them. Before walking over there, she leaned forward and whispered in Jazan’s ear.
“Save me, Jazan. I am counting on you, and I trust you.”
Jazan knew it would be ridiculous to fight this. So, despite the boiling rage building inside of him, despite every fibre in his body screaming not to let Nabile go with them, he let it happen.
“I’ll save you, Nabile,” he mouthed to her, and she nodded, and he was relieved for the acknowledgment.
Then Jazan was alone.***
Jazan sat at his desk. He was trying not to be in despair, he really was. But Nabile was now off to be a prisoner in Sakhmet, Frezon held every territory other than Qasala in the Lost Desert and hardly anyone had responded to his letter practically begging for help. He did not know what the right decision to make was. But he had to try something.
And if they were going to respond to his letters, he was going to have to send Tomos and Vyssa to every place in Neopia. They needed to come face to face with the reality of what was happening to the Lost Desert. Because Frezon and Sankara were not going to stop once they had Qasala, he knew that. Next they would target the Haunted Woods, and Kiko Lake. Easy targets. Then Brightvale, then Meridell, and then most probably Neopia Central. And once those were all conquered Faerieland would be a piece of cake. And with Faerieland under their belt, Sankara and Frezon would be unstoppable.
The world of Neopia had to see this. Vyssa was the living proof it had begun.
And if they all banded together, maybe, just maybe, they could all save the Lost Desert.
He had to put his faith in them. Because Jazan was writing another letter now to Frezon himself, a letter he knew the brother and sister had been eagerly waiting for.
He was declaring war on Sakhmet.***
“I feel like we have done very well for ourselves, brother,” Sankara announced. She and Frezon were sitting in his private chamber. It was a warm evening, but a cool breeze was drifting through the window. Sankara was dressed rather grandly for such a private, casual meeting between the pair of them. She was wearing a long white dress with a golden belt (real gold) cinched around her tiny waist, and a cloak decorated with amethyst stones across its pink silk material tied to her neck and reaching the ground down her back. Her eyes were rimmed with thick dark eyeliner, and her lashes stood out because of the layers of mascara she had applied. Her lips were painted a deep crimson red. The only simple item of clothing were the white sandals on her feet, but they marked that she was a Neopet of the desert.
Anyone would think she was off to some grand event with thousands of people there to observe her. Frezon, on the other hand, was dressed rather simply, not expecting a visit and actually ready for bed. He wasn’t too pleased when his door knocked and Sankara entered, armed with fruit and juice, claiming she had sent the guards on a break and they had to celebrate their recent victories in terms of territories. But he let her in, because she was, after all, his sister.
“Very well indeed, Sankara.” Frezon agreed. He reached for a grape and put it in his mouth. They were really delicious. And they had done very well. With all of the territories in the Lost Desert now theirs other than Qasala, they were in a really strong position.
“Jazan will be declaring war any day now.” She said almost giddily. “Won’t you have some juice?” Sankara offered, holding the jug above Frezon’s cup, ready to pour.
He placed a hand over the top with a smile. “No thank you. I’ll stick to water.” He refilled his cup from his own jug of still water and took a sip rather pointedly. Then he took another handful of grapes.
“Fair enough, my dear.” Sankara shrugged. She filled up her own glass and raised it into the air. “Shall we toast to our success?”
Frezon raised his glass too, but then hesitated. “Isn’t it bad luck to toast with water?” He asked.
“Bad luck?” Sankara echoed. “Don’t believe in such rubbish, Frezon. What bad luck could possibly be coming your way? You’re the King of the Lost Desert. Well, almost.”
Her brother nodded, seemingly convinced. “You’re right,” he said, and he clinked his glass with Sankara’s.
Later that night, Sankara left his room amused. He had been smart enough to drink from his own jug, but she knew he probably would be.
Poor old Frezon, she thought, “almost” King of the Lost Desert was all he’d ever be.
Because she had poisoned the food instead.
To Be Continued In: A Queen’s Ascension – War!