A Queen's Ascension - Justice: Part Eight
By the time the three of them reached Jazan’s private office, it was the middle of the night. They stood outside the door, Tomos and Vyssa waiting for Nabile to make the first move. She was standing there looking a little uncertain.
“Are you sure he won’t be asleep?” Vyssa hissed, trying to keep quiet. She was wearing a hood and also a mask over her eyes as a disguise from the several guards the three of them had to go through to get to Jazan. Tomos was wearing the same. It made her feel as though she truly was dangerous, truly a criminal that had to hide her identity. But she knew that wasn’t true.
As much as Vyssa tried to ignore it, as soon as she began doubting herself like this her thoughts travelled to her wonderful sister, Amira. It had been her fault that Amira had died. She had given her the potion, refused to have the potion checked for dark magic by Jazan. She rushed everything in the hopes it would save her. Yes, she had good intentions. She tried to tell herself that. She tried to listen to Tomos when he told her that no, of course it wasn’t her fault. She was tricked. But it was hard to listen to either herself or indeed Tomos.
It was her actions that fed right into Frezon’s plan. If she didn’t exist…Amira still would.
She blinked back tears furiously, grateful for the mask and hood covering her face so the others
wouldn’t see this. She had to remain strong. She was, after all, doing this for Amira, for her father.
She was the last link of the true Sakhmetian Royal Family and she wasn’t going to let her thoughts get her too down. She had to do this. She had to make them proud.
“He’s going to be so mad at me.” Nabile mumbled, as her hand hovered next to the door, wanting to knock it. “But we have the evidence now…surely he will listen…”
“Why don’t we do this in the morning?” Tomos suggested.
No one had the chance to respond, however, because at that moment the door swung open and Jazan was standing there with his arms folded, looking absolutely fuming. He was still wearing his royal robes, but he was tired, his eyeliner smudged under his eyes to give an even more exaggerated outline. His dark eyes were directly pointed at Nabile in an intimidating glare, but to her credit Nabile stood up a little straighter and frowned straight back at him.
“I think we need to talk, Nabile.” Jazan said, in a low voice. He briefly glanced at Tomos and Vyssa. “This is Tomos and Vyssa, no doubt. Come in, all of you, before the guards hear any commotion and want to know what’s going on.” He sighed at that. “No doubt they are already curious as to why their queen is marching around with two hooded figures…Nabile, what were you thinking? Everyone knows how close you were to Tomos. This is exactly why you had to keep a low profile and refuse to help them, this is just ridiculous, I –”
“Jazan!” Nabile snapped. By this point the four of them were in his study and the door had closed behind them. Tomos and Vyssa had lowered their hoods and removed their masks, prompting an eye roll from the king. But his wife was looking determined.
“Nabile.” Jazan hit back, sounding equally as ferocious. “When one of my Eyrie guards informed me why he had been gone for most of the day I could scarcely believe it. But it’s true, I see now. You have been helping Tomos and Vyssa. Of course I disciplined each Eyrie guard and suspended their employment for the foreseeable future. And of course I am going to banish Tomos and Vyssa from ever entering Qasala ever again.”
Nabile’s mouth fell open. “You fired those poor Eyries? Jazan, they were working under my command! They could not say no to me, I’m their queen!”
“And what an irresponsible queen you have turned out to be,” Jazan said coldly, prompting Nabile to hang her head.
This was too much for Tomos, who stepped forward in Nabile’s defence. “You don’t understand,” he accused Jazan angrily, “she was helping us save the entire Lost Desert! Frezon is going to take over everywhere, including Qasala, you know that, don’t you? We were trying to find evidence from Morgana of his evil doing, and you are just shouting at Nabile as if we don’t have bigger problems on our hands!”
The room fell silent. Jazan was looking at Tomos in completely astonishment. Nabile was still looking at the ground, but the tiny hints of a smile were appearing on her face. Vyssa, meanwhile, opened up the book they had brought out of Morgana’s cave with them, the page with the spell Frezon had used being bookmarked with the letter inviting his mother to his coronation. She silently offered this to Jazan while he was still thinking of something to say in response to Tomos’ outburst, and he took it slowly, bemused suddenly.
“What is this?” He murmured, now distracted from his fury. He studied the letter and the page intensely. “Is this…you actually found something?”
Vyssa nodded. “We would not have come to you, Jazan, if we did not have solid evidence. We are sorry that Nabile has been caught up in all of this. But we need your royal authority as a vouch on the authenticity of this evidence, as well as a vouch on my character and innocence. A vouch on Tomos’ character and innocence too. Only Frezon and I know what went down in the room with Amira. It is my word against his. But if I gather enough witnesses and evidence, we can bring him down.”
“It is sufficient enough to incriminate Frezon, I believe, with my support.” Jazan said. He sighed.
“Rather unfortunately, none of this does anything to incriminate his sister, Sankara, who I believe to be the real mastermind behind this plot.”
“But surely if we bring Frezon down, people will go back to not trusting Sankara? It’s not like anyone has forgotten what she did to my father.” Vyssa replied.
Jazan shrugged. “You’d be surprised. There is a new generation in Sakhmet now. With you and Amira out of the picture, the memory of your father is turning into something of a legend, with
many believing his shrine to be over a thousand years old…”
“That’s ridiculous! Why would anyone believe that?” Vyssa gasped.
“Propaganda spread by Frezon and Sankara no doubt, ever so subtly. The older generation know this is wrong, of course, but many prefer a romanticised picture of their fallen king.” He crossed his arms. “And while we’re on the topic of propaganda, I have heard unsavoury depictions of me are being passed around in Sakhmet, referencing my past. This is not going to be easy.”
Nabile lifted her head and placed her hand on his arm, gently. “But you’re with us, Jazan? You support us?”
“I am sorry for shouting at you, Nabile. I am just terrified…” of you being hurt, he thought, but did not speak out loud. Instead, he shook his head. “I cannot publicly claim support for Tomos and Vyssa. That would be far too easy for Sankara to charge us with assisting criminals. Nabile, you need to be careful with what you are doing. You cannot involve yourself too much. This is dangerous.”
“Then what are we going to do?” Vyssa asked, a little desperately. “I’m tired of talking, we need to take action.”
“The two of you can stay in Nabile’s ‘secret’ hiding spot for now.” Jazan said. He allowed himself to smile at the surprised expression on his wife’s face. “Of course I knew about it, Nabile. But that’s your personal space and I respect that.”
“And then what? For how long? We can’t waste time!” Vyssa demanded. She knew she was sounding a little like her old impatient self but she didn’t care. They had to do something about Frezon now!
“I am going to write to some friends about this.” Jazan said. “And by friends I mean influential Neopian state rulers. With their backing as well as mine and Nabile’s, we might just be able to do this. Queen Fyora owes me a favour, after all.”
“Thank you, Jazan,” Nabile breathed, “so much.”
“Yes, thank you.” Tomos said, who had remained silent since his rather passionate shouting match at the king. “And, er…I’m sorry about earlier.” He mumbled.
“On the contrary, Tomos,” Jazan smiled, “I was rather impressed with your chutzpah. You gave me the talking to I needed, so instead I apologise to you and Vyssa. And I thank you, too.”
“Well…you’re welcome.” Tomos replied, somewhat stunned.
“No problem. Now…” Jazan looked serious. “Let’s get you two back into hiding. I will contact you when I’ve heard back from everyone.”***
It had now been a week since Frezon had changed his mind about sending Sankara back to Khamtef and Hadon couldn’t help but notice the king was still acting strangely. He often walked about as if in a daze, only responding when spoken to rather than introducing a conversation. He sat with his guards and senators in meeting but offered nothing new, merely nodding or occasionally commenting in monosyllabic form. Hadon suspected he knew what was going on, but he had no proof. And he certainly couldn’t do anything about it.
So at the meeting this morning, he was surprised when Frezon marched into the room with his usually steely look in his eyes. The king sat down in his large chair at the head of the table but not before commenting on how successful of a week it had been. It was not only Hadon looking surprised. The rest of the guards, advisors and senators were all a little shocked, with the majority of the guards definitely relieved.
But when Frezon announced his plans for that day, the initial surprise at his countenance seemed absolutely trivial. At this announcement Hadon knew for sure what was going on, it was no longer a suspicion. And all they could do was watch it happen.
“You want to do what, Your Majesty?” A guard asked, as if hearing it again would make it any better.
“It is not something I want to do, it is something that I have to do.” Frezon snapped at her. “What if I were to have three daughters as my heirs? Do I want my throne passing to some suitor from a far away kingdom? No! I want my eldest daughter to be queen. We all saw what happened with the Princess Amira. I will not have the throne of Sakhmet in such a sorry state again!”
Senator Palpus, who was usually quiet in these meetings due to his intense dislike of King Frezon, finally spoke up. “I actually agree with the king. If we had had this law, Amira would be our queen right now.”
Frezon glared at the senator, fully understanding the jibe. “Actually, senator, I think you’ll find Vyssa would have poisoned Amira for the throne, and I’d still be king. Your input is not needed here.”
Senator Palpus smiled at him. “Whatever you say, Your Majesty.”
“We will change the law of succession. From now on, females will have the same rights as males. A girl born into the Royal Family will not need to find a suitor in order to become Queen.
This law will go into effect today and will extend to all existing female Royal Family members.” Frezon announced. At this, he stood up. “This meeting is ended. See you all tomorrow morning.”
Senator Palpus stared after the king as he left the room. All existing female Royal Family members? Exiled as she was, that included Vyssa. And the senator couldn’t help but hope everyone was wrong about her.
To be continued…