A Queen's Ascension - War:Part Seven
Queen Fyora was direct with them. “I cannot help you,” she told them, her voice soft, but with an undertone of disappointment. “My power is too great; helping you would admit that I was taking sides in issues of Neopets and acting upon my own biases. I cannot do that.”
“We thought that would be the case.” Vyssa stated glumly.
“However,” she continued, seemingly acknowledging Vyssa’s interruption, “I have written you a letter with my signature on it stating that I believe your cause to be a just and good one. I will also help to spread the message of what truly happened in Sakhmet. This I can do, and so I will. Vyssa,” she took Vyssa’s hands in her own and looked intently into her eyes. “You will change the world, you just don’t know it yet.” Suddenly, her eyes widened in surprised and she dropped Vyssa’s hands quickly.
“What’s – what’s wrong?” Vyssa asked.
“Nothing,” Fyora assured her, though her carefree attitude had dipped slightly. “I just saw…something that surprised me. You will see soon enough.” She waved a hand as if to wave that issue away. “Take this letter, and spread the word, and recruit your armies. I believe in you.”
Without beina'fergg able to say anything else, the moment the letter was dropped into Vyssa’s hand she and Tomos found themselves standing on the edge of Faerieland, a bit bemused as to what had just happened.
“That was strange, right?” Tomos frowned. “That wasn’t just me that thought that was all a bit rushed and intense?”
“No, I agree. What do you think she saw in me?” Vyssa wondered. She sighed and looked down at the pink letter she was still clutching. “I guess…we’d better get on with it. Where to first?”
“The closest location to here is Kiko Lake. Let’s try that first,” Tomos decided.
“Done.” Vyssa agreed, and they began to walk together, not quite able to shake off the strange feeling of apprehension that had been left by Queen Fyora.
“Are you sure we should have bothered coming here?” Tomos asked uncertainly as they entered Kiko Lake. It was a very small set of houses surrounding the lake and a harbour.
“We need all the help we can get,” Vyssa frowned. She looked around. “Who is in charge here, exactly?”
A passing Kiko chuckled at them. “Tourists, are you?” He inquired. “Why don’t you take a Glass Bottom Boat Tour?”
“We don’t really have time,” Vyssa said. “No offence. This place is beautiful – but we were looking for some help.”
She explained the situation. The Kiko frowned, considering.
“Well, that is a problem,” he murmured. “There’s not much we can do to help I’m afraid. We’re an underwater bunch mainly, and we don’t have any armies or anything like that. Just boats and sweets I’m afraid.”
“Well…we could use a boat.” Tomos said slowly. He turned to Vyssa. “Think about it, how are we going to get across to anywhere else? We need a boat to do that.”
“In that case…” The Kiko turned and whistled, a loud screech that seemed to travel across the harbour.
Another Kiko popped her head up from a boat inquisitively. “What is it, Ren?”
“This here’s an ex-princess and this one’s an ex-thief turned friend of nobility,” the Kiko, apparently named Ren, called out to her. “And they’re in need of a boat.”
The other Kiko jumped down from her boat and came over to them. “I’m Mika,” she introduced herself. “You need a boat, you say? You know how to sail?”
“We’re from the Lost Desert,” Vyssa mumbled.
Mika and Ren laughed. “That’ll do it,” Mika giggled. “You’ll be needing a captain then. I’m your gal. Where do you need to go?”
“Everywhere, really…Roo Island, Brightvale, Meridell, even across to Altador…” Vyssa could have hugged her there and then. “You’ll really do this for us? Whatever can we do in return?”
Mika nodded. “You seem in pretty dire straits, so I’ll let you off. I could do with trading in Altador anyway, it’s a great port. It’ll take me a couple of days to prepare, but then we’ll be ready to set off! Ren’ll happily host you in his boat until I’m ready.”
“Oh, I will, will I?” Ren pretended to be outraged, but it was clear from the twinkle in his eyes that he was joking. “We’ll spread the word of your innocence too.”
“I promise when I am restored to the succession and become Queen of Sakhmet, I will repay you Mika,” Vyssa promised.
“You’re gonna be a Queen, huh?” Mika said. “Well, I’d appreciate a bigger boat!”
Vyssa promised she would, and the plan was set.
Roo Island was a breathtaking place. As the boat docked in the harbour, Vyssa and Tomos couldn’t believe their eyes. There were sailboats delicately floating around the harbour, with the gentle waves lapping against the soft sandy beaches that contained many Blumaroos playing sandcastles. There were circus attractions, a variety of shops that left pleasant aromas and tinkling music and rows and rows of houses. Up a small hill was the massive castle that housed King Roo and his advisors. It was known that King Roo was a rather soft, gentle king who preferred playing games more than issues of real diplomacy or war – he left all of that to Advisor Broo, who was something of a dark, mysterious figure that obtained power in Roo Island very quickly.
So it was a surprise when, upon arriving at the castle, they were told that Advisor Broo had “gone away on a long journey” and they could see King Roo directly. The King seemed different to what the rumours had suggested – that he was dumb, and rather ignorant of the world – as he instantly recognised Vyssa and offered his support for her cause.
“Forgive me, Your Highness,” Vyssa said. “We appreciate the support, but we were hoping for more than that. We know that Roo Island is a largely peaceful place, with no need for defence…”
“So my Advisor told me,” the King muttered darkly. “Things are changing around Roo Island. I have been lost in silly games for too long. We do not have much of an army, but I would like to prove myself a strong leader and a capable king to the Neopets across Neopia. Fyora has already contacted me and let me know of all your troubles. It would be my honour to help you win this war against the evil Queen Sankara.”
Vyssa trembled; someone was agreeing to help her! The plan was already starting to work! “Oh, Your Highness, thank you, thank you so much!”
“We’re not much, especially without too many years of training, but we will be there for you. We will prepare ourselves and be in Faerieland awaiting your return from your travels to find more support within the next few weeks.” King Roo informed her. “I am looking forward to proving myself a worthy king.”
“You already have,” Tomos said. “Thank you so much.”
They left Mika at the harbourside near the edge of Brightvale and Meridell, promising to return soon. They went to Brightvale first, knowing it to be a place filled with knowledge. The lush greenery surrounding them was unlike anything they had seen before from their lives spent in the desert, but they couldn’t stop to admire it. They went straight to the castle and joined the queue of Neopets waiting to bestow their wisdom upon King Hagan, who very occasionally was impressed and rewarded them handsomely for it.
King Hagan was short and to the point in his audience with Vyssa and Tomos. Vyssa had started to explain their predicament when he cut her off sharply with an, “I’m not dense, youngin’, I already knew that!”
“Oh.” Clearly Kiko Lake’s promise to spread the word had already been enacted. “Well…” She hesitated. “Can you help us?”
“Words are the best help I can give you.” King Hagan boomed, standing proud and tall with perfect posture. His thick eyebrows seemed to be constantly frowning, but his tone was neutral. “It is my uneducated brother who can assist you if armies are what you seek. But I will promise to spread the word of your plight to all I come across, as I have pondered on it muchly and have decided it is a just cause.”
This was high praise from the smartest Neopet indeed. “Thank you,” Vyssa told him, knowing there was no point in wasting any more of his time.
They left quickly for Meridell, which was only a small number of miles away. A brighter, more colourful place that evoked a greater sense of freedom of expression, if not high academia. It was evening by the time they got there, so they spent the night in a small, homely inn that was very welcoming. Vyssa could almost say she was finding this fun, but had the constant reminder of why she was doing this eating away at her.
The next morning, they set off for Meridell Castle. It was not hard to miss, a bright white castle with red turrets and a massive queue of Neopets coming out of the doors, all in line to try and make the Grumpy Old King Skarl laugh. Very occasionally, it worked; more often than not, they came back out of the doors looking glum, or even worse frightened after a bad telling off for a particularly bad joke.
“No offence,” Tomos said as they joined the long queue and began the seemingly neverending wait, “but being funny is not your forte. Leave it to me to tell him a joke.”
Vyssa pretended to pout, then conceded with a shrug. “You’re right. I’m not a funny person. But shouldn’t we just try to talk to him about our situation? Do we need to go through the formality of telling a joke? It’s enough that we have to be in this queue!” Sometimes her old self slipped out. It was hard for her to go from a life of luxury and opulence and everything handed to her to this – being just an ordinary Neopet, made to wait in a line without even a guarantee of a proper audience rather than a formal announcement and dignified reception.
“King Skarl is grumpy at the best of times,” Tomos muttered. “I think we should play ball.”
After about an hour or so, they were finally granted an audience with him. The blue Skeith was even more fearsome and off-putting in person, but Tomos persisted and told him a particularly witty joke that had an excellent punch line – something about Peophins and tins of olives. What was funny about it Vyssa wasn’t particularly sure, but then she had already admitted she hadn’t much of a sense of humour.
There was a moment’s pause as Skarl considered the joke. And then to their immense relief, he began to laugh an uproarious laugh that echoed across the entire throne room.
“Fantastic! Fantastic!” He spluttered. “What fabulous prize would you like?”
“Er…” Tomos exchanged a glance with Vyssa, who nodded at him. “An army would be great, Your Highness!”
“An army?!” King Skarl burst into laughter again. “That’s an even bigger joke than your first one!”
“No, seriously…” Vyssa said nervously. “I’m Vyssa of Sakhmet, you may have heard of me, I used to be a princess, until, well –”
“NOT A JOKE?” King Skarl roared, his mood suddenly switching. “How dare you come in here demanding use of my valuable army?”
“I…uh…well…” Vyssa floundered.
“Your Highness!” It was Jeran, the noble blue Lupe, commander of King Skarl’s army and held high in his regard. “We’ve discussed the current issues impacting the Lost Desert in our meetings, remember?” He turned to Vyssa and winked at her, effortlessly charming, and Vyssa couldn’t help but blush and look away from him.
King Skarl gave a deep sigh. “Oh yes, I remember. I don’t see why this requires my army though.”
Tomos jumped in to explain, offering Skarl the whole story with little filter.
“I see.” King Skarl said. “And King Roo has already pledged?”
“Yes,” Tomos told him. “We visited your brother too – but he just offered his words.”
“Pah!” Skarl said. “That’s my brother for you. Actions speak louder than words – and I will prove I am not weak-willed like my brother. You may have my army. Jeran!” He barked. “Ready the armies.”
“With pleasure,” Jeran grinned. He took Vyssa’s hand and pledged his support to her on one knee. “Noble lady, I will do my best to assist you. Our armies will be ready and waiting for you when you have need of us.”
“Oh, thank you!” Vyssa gasped, flushing with embarrassment once more.
Mika was waiting for them on the boat when they returned.
“How did it go?” She asked.
“Perfectly,” Vyssa told her with a wide smile. “Jeran is readying his armies and will meet us when we are ready to go.”
“Where to next?” She said. “My little boat isn’t much, but it can take us anywhere you need to go.”
“Altador,” Vyssa replied, although she sounded uncertain. “Will that be okay? How long will that take?”
“A couple of weeks, maybe more, depending on weather,” Mika shrugged. “It’s not a problem though. I’ll be able to do some trading in the Altadorian harbour.”
“It’s decided then,” Vyssa nodded. “Right, Tomos?”
“Right,” he agreed. He pulled a face. “I am definitely going to get seasick though!”
“We can do this,” Vyssa whispered.
Tomos gave her a hug. “Yes we can.”
“In that case,” Mika said, “I’ll ready the ship.”
To be continued…