Nabile of Qasala saves the Desert Scarabs
Her Petpet Anubis was barking uncharacteristically loudly from below. Nabile panicked, and nearly knocked over a golden wash basin filled with rose water, and a clay cosmetics jar of aloe cream. The hot, Lost Desert sun watched non-judgmentally from up above. Her handmaidens quickly rushed downstairs to see what was causing all of the commotion. The pink Ixi arose from underneath her outdoor canopy; the back of her sandals brushing lightly against the long hem of her linen dress.
A familiar Lupe leaped up from behind a roof wall, and deftly landed on his feet before her. He chuckled apologetically, and brushed some desert sand off of his scruffy-looking leather vest. Nabile began to scold her old friend.
"What are you doing here, Tomos?! Jazan would not permit you seeing me without his knowing." She said all this sternly while contradictorily feeding him some fresh figs, and honeyed dates rolled in crushed pistachios from a nearby spread. He wasn’t as enthusiastic as he usually was about free vittles, and held up his hand in weary refusal of the Sakhmetian food.
"I needed to find a time in which to speak to you alone, Nabile," Tomos said empathetically, "The Desert Scarabs are in danger. Advisor Wessle has somehow convinced Jazan to issue a very harsh decree concerning the punishment of thieves in Sakhmet. He recently arranged the capture of Zina and Horace because he was jealous of all of the treasure that they were finding in the old city ruins --- As if he had the skill to retrieve any of those items for himself! I don’t exactly know what he is going to do, but I’m worried! If this goes on, not only my life will be in danger, but yours, as a member of the Desert Scarabs, will be as well!"
Nabile tried to calm him down, unconvinced that her husband Jazan would agree to issue such a harsh decree punishing Sakhmet thieves. She hadn’t seen or heard much from Jazan in weeks; he and his Nightsteed, along with the other Sakhmetian royals, left not too long ago to attend a political conference in Faerieland, and had not yet returned.
"I can’t stay long," Tomos went on, stumbling over his words as he heard the sound of Nabile’s handmaidens returning upstairs, "All members of the Desert Scarab have been forced into hiding until we realize the full effect of this new decree. It’s not safe for me to be here. I just - we all need your help, Nabile. You’re our only hope in convincing Jazan to reverse the decree when he returns. He might choose to listen to you instead of Advisor Wessle."
Nabile barely had enough time left to send her best wishes to the rest of her friends in the Desert Scarabs before Tomos fled from the rooftop.
She had a plan: when Jazan returned from his trip, she was going to treat both him and Advisor Wessle to a private dinner, and convince them during this time to reverse the decree. Invitations were discreetly sent out in advance, and both of them had agreed to attend the dinner. Advisor Wessle was honoured to be invited to a private dinner by the Queen of Qasala herself, thinking that his political influence would only increase with her favour, and Jazan was touched by how considerate she was of him, and was looking forward to seeing her again soon. Nabile even arranged for there to be a lyre and a tambourine player to perform background music for ambiance.
They both arrived on time to a dinner table covered in a cloth dyed vibrantly in turquoise, and seats with bright, tassled cushions. Food was served, music was softly playing, and Nabile happily entertained her two guests with lively conversation. Advisor Wessle was happily helping himself to some grapes and stuffed olives, blissfully unaware of his impending doom. Jazan had an inkling that his wife was up to something, but adopted an outward air of nonchalance, secretly curious as to what her intentions were.
"I’m so glad that you returned safely from your trip to Faerieland," Nabile said, fluttering her lashes at Jazan, "I missed you so much … Is Queen Fyora well?"
"Queen Fyora sends you her regards, my Queen," replied Jarzan good-naturedly, "Her main concern at the moment is dispelling the wraiths that destroyed this year’s Faerie Festival. One of her pupils with seer abilities is assisting her."
"Thank you again for inviting me to such a sumptuous dinner, Queen Nabile!" chirped Advisor Wessle, marvelling in his good fortune to be graced with the attention of the Queen of Qasala herself! With her on his side, King Jazan would soon be in the palm of his hand.
"You’re very welcome, Advisor Wessle," replied Nabile with a smile, "I’ve heard of your strong reputation in the Sakhmet Court. Thank you for your dedicated public service to Neopians living in the Lost Desert."
Advisor Wessle blushed with delight. He reiterated to her his commitment to keeping the Lost Desert a safe and prosperous place for all Neopians to enjoy and admire. At this point, Jazan couldn’t help himself from asking Nabile what the true reason behind the dinner was. He was willing to give up half of the kingdom of Qasala for her.
"I can’t help but notice, Nabile …" Jazan began gently, "Am I wrong to think that something might be troubling you?"
Nabile hesitated demurely, and then quietly asked the background musicians to leave for a moment of privacy. Memories of growing up together with the Desert Scarabs rapidly flooded her mind, of how Tomos and the others cared about her enough to have repeatedly risked their lives for her. She gazed pleadingly in Jazan’s eyes, and then told him exactly what she had prepared to say all along, hiding her trembling hands underneath her sheer evening shawl.
"I am very glad to hear that the conference in Faerieland went well, and will forever love our home in the Lost Desert … but I’m afraid that I do not feel safe!" Nabile cried.
This took Jazan by surprise, and caused him to give a rumbling reply. "Whatever do you mean, Nabile? Has someone put you in some kind of danger? Tell me who it is, and I will have it taken care of at once!" He pounded his fist on the dinner table to emphasize his sincerity.
Nabile burst into tears, and Advisor Wessle was dumbstruck at the turn of events, not knowing what would happen next. There was a dramatic pause; the Sakhmetian evening air rife with tension.
"IT’S HIM!" shouted Nabile, pointing directly at Advisor Wessle.
Jazan reacted immediately in indignation. He was so overcome in conflicted emotion that he swiftly got up and left in order to be alone for a while. This left Nabile alone with Advisor Wessle at the dinner table. Advisor Wessle crumbled to his knees before Queen Nabile, and begged her for his life, grappling desperately at her arm.
"L-l-l-let’s not be so hasty, Queen Nabile," he sputtered, "I had forgotten --- I had no idea that you were still a member of the Desert Scarabs. I had thought that as Queen of Qasala, you would have given up your past as a desert thief. Please! Please forgive me!" Nabile tried to pull away from him, but his grip was too strong.
Once he had calmed himself down, Jazan returned to the dinner table only to see Advisor Wessle still pulling at Nabile’s shawl.
"How dare you threaten Nabile right in the Qasalan palace!" roared Jazan in controlled rage. "Have you no sense of dignity, Advisor Wessle?"
Advisor Wessle released Nabile, and then backed away from the dinner table, quivering.
"I will investigate this matter thoroughly myself," announced Jazan calmly, "... And I will judge who is right, who is wrong, and what action ought to be taken in order to rectify this. But for now, please leave my palace, Advisor Wessle."
It turned out that Advisor Wessle had received King Jazan’s approval to issue his new decree without properly explaining all of it in detail first. The decree was officially reversed, and Tomos and the rest of his friends in the Desert Scarabs were no longer forced into hiding. The Desert Scarabs praised Nabile for her compassion and her bravery in successfully confronting both Jazan and Advisor Wessle. Tomos delivered chocolates to the Qasalan palace every new year, with King Jazan’s permission, and eventually befriended Nabile’s Petpet Anubis.