The Son of Sahkmet: Part Three
A graying red Yurble sat as a judge before the court. He
slammed his gavel and called the room to order. The courtroom was small and dark
compared to the rest of the golden desert. It was no place fit to try a princess.
Kontar, Barca, Palpus, and Wessle all stood
in the shadows to watch the secret trial. The public wasn't invited but that
didn't stop them from gathering in huge crowds around the palace. All possible
entrances were guarded by five of the largest pets they could find. The screaming
protests of the Desert people could still be heard from the closed off room.
Tears were in the eyes of the elderly and fierce
hatred in the hearts of the young. It had been so easy for them to believe Princess
Sankara had killed their great King. The young desert Aisha had come to them
mysteriously and had spent her time in the same manner. But this, this was more
devastation than their already devastated hearts could take. They had adored
Coltzan's daughter from the day he'd held up to the same huge crowd on the day
she was born. They'd all seen his eyes so filled with love as he stared at that
How could she have done such a thing?
All the evidence they needed was in the spoken
words of the masses, and however much they wanted to believe she was innocent
it was just as easy to believe she was guilty. It was so easy to hate her for
causing them even more pain.
But none of them were in the room anyway. Vyssa
sat at her own table, all alone, with no one to defend her. She'd wanted to
be on her own her entire life and now she finally was.
A desert Scorchio stood before the court that
contained only several members of the council, none of which were loyal to the
"That's Abasi," whispered Barca, pointing to
the Scorchio, "he's been slowly taking control of the council while the princess
was off on her little adventures. He is very good at making powerful friends."
She shook her head. "I warned Vyssa, I warned her about all of this."
Abasi called the chambermaid who found the poison
to the stand. The brown Blumaroo testified shakily, saying that it had been
behind Vyssa's bookcase in the golden box her father had given her. A gasp echoed
throughout the room.
He then called a palace guard to the stand.
"The princess would disappear for hours at a
time," said the desert Kougra, a long white scar traveling down his cheek and
through the crown tattoo like a narrow crack. "She always wore a disguise to
cover her face too, like maybe she was hiding from someone. Most of the other
guards say they saw her talking to several unsavory characters, too."
"What do you think she did on those escapades?"
"Well, she could've been doing anything, I guess."
Abasi grinned and faced the judge. "Anything,"
he repeated slowly. He motioned for a little blue Gelert to approach the stand.
The washing and grooming couldn't hide the features that marked a homeless orphan.
He was the same little Gelert Vyssa had charitably given a ptolymelon to on
her last trip to the marketplace.
With an honest face he told the court that he
had seen the princess buying the same bottle of poison that sat on the evidence
table the day before Coltzan was murdered.
No one was there to stand up and ask how such
a young pet could remember something that happened so long ago. He even remembered
the time frame, which another guard stood to readily confirm that Vyssa had
indeed "disappeared" between those said hours.
Kontar could have sworn he heard the sound of
bribe money jingling in the pockets of the young orphan. He wondered how long
he could live off the coins that cost a queen her crown.
Yet the Usul held her head high and was steady
throughout it all. Her face was stone and unchanging. Even after spending days
in a prison cell she was still beautiful.
Abasi cleared his throat to make his final argument.
His voice was clear and captivating.
"I have been in the royal court for many years.
Vyssa was always eager to be queen. We all worried that she was perhaps a bit
too eager. The only thing that stood in her way was her father," he looked down
at the princess. "If he were gone the Lost Desert would be hers to rule alone."
Kontar could see Vyssa's stone composure was
"He was strict, wasn't he. Vyssa? Always hard
on you, expecting so much from just a little girl?"
Vyssa didn't even blink. "He was tough because
he had to be. It takes a firm paw to run a nation," she looked at Abasi with
a cocky smirk and the determined, fierce eyes of her father, "but then you wouldn't
know leadership if it bit you in your large behind."
The Scorchio looked as if fire would come out
of his ears. Kontar knew that one jab would cost her whatever small amount of
mercy Abasi was prepared to offer.
"You act as if you, a stupid teenager, would
know anything of that matter!" he scoffed, slowly composing himself. "That's
why you didn't like Coltzan, because you could never amount to his expectations
of the perfect queen. That's why no one ever saw you show him affection in public,
and that's why you killed him!"
"No!" Vyssa stood so abruptly she knocked over
the chair she'd been sitting on. "I loved my father!"
"It was easy, wasn't it?" he asked, slamming
his claws on the table. She recoiled. "All you had to do was slip a little poison
into his drink-"
"Princess Sankara was the murderer! The entire
Desert knows it!"
"And then you framed the foreigner for your
crime," he continued, a smile of victory breaking out across his face. "Almost
all of your palace staff would testify that you two weren't even close to being
friends. You killed two birds with one stone by eliminating Coltzan III and
framing the unwelcome guest for the crime.
"Just tell us princess," he leaned in closer
to Vyssa and bore his eyes into hers, "how did you bring yourself to kill your
Vyssa's lip started to quiver and it wasn't
long before tears ran down her face. She buried her head in her hands and began
That was all the court needed to see. The tears
of a young girl, to them, became the guilty tears of a murderer. They led her
away in handcuffs and neither Barca, Palpus, or Wessle could bear to watch.
The little Usul they had raised to be queen seemed doomed to spend her life
in a prison cell. No one protested, no one cried, and no one asked why princess
Sankara, the first one convicted for the crime, wasn't there to testify.
They met in the secret chamber.
"How could we let this happen?" asked Barca.
"We knew Abasi was dangerous all along. If only Vyssa hadn't been such a headstrong
teenager, if only she had listened to me! I warned her that if she turned her
back for one second someone would plot to steal the crown from her head!" It
was the first time Kontar had ever seen Barca so distraught. All his life she
had been so solid and calm.
"There is nothing we can do now," stated Wessle
gloomily, "we must focus on what lies ahead."
Kontar looked around at the old senators and
the advisor. "That's it?" he cried. "You're just going to let her go to jail?"
"What do you think we can do about it?" asked
Palpus, "we don't control the palace court anymore. Vyssa was careless and left
it to those she barely knew while she went out in secret to do who knows what.
Any effort we make to clear her name would be silenced by Abasi and the rest
of those corrupt councilmen, no matter what we found."
"Then maybe we should find out what Vyssa wants,"
The cell was dank and dark, despite its small
window. It was the highest tower in the entire palace and it overlooked all
Vyssa stood before them in her tattered rags,
her face free of golden makeup and dark eyeliner. "I have been betrayed," she
said, "and I have been stupid. I don't suppose you know what will become of
None of them could bear to tell her that it
was most likely she'd be executed after they installed a new ruler. The corrupt
council couldn't risk having the true heir of the throne come back to claim
"Do you know your next move?" she asked. The
once great thinkers could think of nothing to say. "Then how are my people?"
"They loved you Vyssa," said Wessle softly,
"their hearts are broken."
"They can't all think I did this," she whimpered.
"You don't think I did it, do you?"
Barca hugged the princess tightly. It occurred
to Kontar that he had not been the only child she'd cared for. "No," she said.
"We know you didn't."
"Then what do you plan to do?"
They all looked at each other for a moment.
"What would you want of us?" asked Palpus at last. "The situation, princess,
is bleak. We could negotiate for you to be sent far away from here so that your
life would not be spent in a prison cell, but even that is uncertain."
Vyssa's eyes narrowed determinedly. "No," she
said. "I will not be exiled from my country. My father would never have had
such a thing." The accusations had somehow made the princess older; her demeanor
was no longer that of a child but a queen. Somehow they all saw that.
"Then you won't," said Palpus, "for the sake
of your father. He would turn in his grave if he knew such atrocities were happening
in the great kingdom he built. We will do what we can for you, princess; that
is all I can promise."
A tear slid down Vyssa's cheek and she smiled
a little. She didn't need to say any more.
They all walked towards the door slowly and as
a red Blumaroo guard went to open it Vyssa motioned to Kontar.
"What is your name, Lupe?" she asked. He told
"Something in your face," she said softly, looking
up at him in puzzlement, "it reminds me of someone." She glanced at the old
court members. "They cannot do this alone," she whispered so they couldn't hear,
"and they are too old to try. I have to trust you, something in your face tells
me I can."
Kontar nodded, unsure of what to say. She was
so beautiful he would've jumped out the window if she asked.
"Find Sankara," Vyssa said.
"The streets are full of whispers," said Wessle
as they sat once again in the dark chamber. "They say the council is already
looking for someone to assume the throne."
"They can't do that!" exclaimed Kontar. Artu
rustled on his shoulder.
"Oh I assure you," said Wessle, "the council
can do anything they want now that Vyssa is out of their way. They will give
the crown to someone young, someone easy to control. And then," he said, swallowing
hard, "they will kill us."
"No," gasped Kontar, "you are all too essential
to the court."
"We were essential to Coltzan and Vyssa's court,"
said Barca, "not Abasi's. It would be too risky for them to keep around someone
so loyal to their enemy."
Palpus nodded. "We can't leave the Desert to
rot at the hand of a corrupt leader. Not after all we worked for."
"How much time do we have then?" asked Kontar.
"I'd give them three days to find someone they
could claim was related to Coltzan," said Palpus. "That's three days for the
people to forget about their once beloved Vyssa, three days for Abasi to eliminate
anyone else in his way, and three days for us to come up with a solution to
all of this."
Just then, muffled music and cheering sounded
from the world above.
The four dashed up the tunnel and burst through
the passageway unnoticed. The grand hall of the Sahkmet Palace was flooded with
all the important people of the Lost Desert.
They all parted as a long golden carpet was laid
out across the floor. A hooded figure emerged from the crowd and walked lightly
down it. The hem of gold stitched robes spilled out from the brown cloak. It
was Abasi who led her arm in arm with a glowing, evil smile.
Two young brown Usuls removed the cloak and the
pretty face of a desert Kacheek was revealed. Her hair was clipped back by gold
blown flowers and necklaces of amber hung around her neck.
Kontar looked at the faces of his friends. Their
mouths hung open in horror.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the Desert," said Abasi.
"I give you Lady Pazori Ehlah of Dahmal." He paused and looked out over the
astonished crowd that had gathered. "Second cousin to the great Coltzan III."
The crowd was shocked. It didn't seem right to
install a new ruler so quickly.
"Coltzan had no cousins," whispered Palpus, infuriated.
"They can't do this!"
Barca stared blankly at the Kacheek as she graciously
shook hands with the rich Neopians. "We have less time than we thought," she
To be continued...