A Queen's Ascension - War:Part Four
General Hadon stood in front of Queen Sankara, arms folded. The Grarrl didn’t like the Queen, and it was relatively obvious from his previous workings with her brother, King Frezon, whom Hadon had admired as a war hero. Sankara had little experience with actual wars – indeed, she had run from the one that had killed her own father and placed her on the throne of Khamtef. But as Field Marshal and monarch, all decisions had to be run through by her and it was clear that Sankara did not like Hadon either. But he was the best general she had, and so she was reluctant to get rid of him, even with their tremendous odds.
They were in the throne room, which had been decorated to an even more elaborate scale since Frezon’s death. The only thing that remained constant and traditional was the throne itself, as though Sankara didn’t want to touch Sakhmetian tradition, to make it feel as though she did truly belong on it if it was the exact same one all the King Coltzans of the past had sat on.
In Hadon’s view, it didn’t feel like she truly belonged on it. Not that he was a purist for the Sakhmetian royal line – he was from Khamtef after all, and respected King Frezon above all. He would have wanted him to remain on the throne, not his sister or indeed the spoiled daughters of the last King Coltzan. Now though? There were only two options for the throne in his eyes…Queen Sankara, or the criminal Vyssa, even with her royal status and title stripped. After Frezon’s suspicious death, which in his eyes was clearly due to Sankara, he wasn’t so sure that Vyssa’s apparent dealings with her own sister were truly as they seemed. But he could never prove it. And he kept these musings completely to himself, to avoid a charge of treason, no less.
The two of them, alongside some other generals of the other territories’ armies they had gathered up in their conquering, had been discussing the best way to take Qasala for several hours now. They were just putting the final touches to their first plan of attack, and the way things were looking, it was going to be the only one they needed before Jazan would be forced to surrender his crown.
The Queen was sat on her throne, drumming her sharpened nails on one of the armrests. Hadon had to hand it to her, she was an intelligent strategist, only showing some slight inexperience and ignorance over certain ideas that would be too costly, but never outright stupidity considering this was a subject of which she knew little. But Hadon always knew she was the most intelligent of her and Frezon, and that was Frezon’s downfall.
“When will we be ready?” She asked suddenly, seemingly impatient. It had, after all, been a long morning and it was beginning to stretch endlessly into the afternoon. In her other hand she held her favourite drink, downing it in one go and standing up. As ever, she was effortlessly beautiful, wearing a long white dress which seemed to hang off her thin frame as though gliding down her body. The only thing which let her looks down were her focused eyes, always frowning and considering and conniving.
Hadon, sensing she was really asking him as the lead general, cleared his throat. “We could get the armies prepared and ready within a fortnight, and then it would take a week to march everyone to Qasala.”
Sankara sat back down and smiled. “Perfect.” She replied. “Now, let’s cut that down to fifteen days total and I will be satisfied.”
Jazan faced the table of soldiers and generals all around him. None of their faces promised hope, optimism, or even a little bit of foolish overconfidence. It was a dismal picture, every one of them acknowledging the massive advantage in terms of numbers, finance and resources Queen Sankara had. It was basically every army in the Lost Desert against their Qasala one. Even the Sakhmetian army on its own would likely have been enough to topple them, let alone this.
“So what you’re all saying is…we’re doomed.” Jazan surmised glumly. He wasn’t surprised. This was inevitable. The question was whether or not to share his secret plan with Tomos and Vyssa with his trusted advisors, when those two were still fugitives.
There was an awkward exchange of glances around the table, and then an even more awkward silence.
Jazan frowned. There was something that they were not telling him. “What is it?”
One of his most trusted friends, Nightsteed, stood up and looked seriously at him. “We have been discussing something amongst ourselves,” he began, looking slightly uncomfortable, “and we weren’t sure whether to bring it to you as a suggestion.”
“Nightsteed, you know you have my complete and utter trust…” Jazan looked perplexed. What was going on here exactly? “Surely you feel comfortable enough to suggest anything to me?” He gestured around the table. “Any one of you. If you have a plan, say something.”
Nightsteed nodded, seemingly expecting this response. He sighed deeply before continuing. He had been Jazan’s friend for years, and he knew it would come to him to be the one to break the news of what everyone had been thinking. “The reason we are reluctant is because we know that you have vowed to never again delve into that…stuff. To never end up like…well, your father.”
Razul’s sneering and evil, laughing, face instantly appeared in Jazan’s mind. The image was almost crystal clear, as if his father was once again stood in front of him. It had not been easy defeating him, and Jazan had spent most of his life trying to forget him ever since. It was obvious, now, what the table was suggesting, what they wanted Jazan to do. And he would be lying if the thought hadn’t crossed his mind also. But he couldn’t…he just couldn’t get into that again, because it had a way of sucking you in and taking no prisoners.
“I’m sorry,” Jazan murmured. “I can’t do that. If I did – well, you’re forgetting Queen Nabile is currently a prisoner of Sankara, and think of all those lives in armies that never truly did us any wrong, they are just under the control of Sankara.”
The Uni shook his head. “Not the armies, Jazan.” He replied. “We could never ask you to – well, it would be unheard of. Neighbouring states would surely get involved if you did that. We were just thinking of Sankara.”
“Sankara?” Jazan echoed, the idea forming in his mind.
Nightsteed continued, “If Sankara is out of the picture, the war will be over. The fighting will stop. The other territories can regain control of their homelands and the armies will return to them. Sakhmet will be without a monarch, but maybe you and Queen Nabile could –”
The King held up his hands to signal silence. “There is a rightful monarch of Sakhmet.” He said, quietly. “Princess Vyssa.”
Another soldier from the table piped up. “Your Grace, you can’t be serious? She was the one who ousted Princess Amira in the first place!”
As others began to voice protests, Jazan slammed his fist on the table, achieving silence at once. The atmosphere was tense, already uncomfortable since their suggestion to Jazan had not been directly answered, only questioned and deflected. Jazan was still considering it himself. They were asking him to get rid of Queen Sankara through use of dark magic – magic Jazan had sworn never to touch again. But it was tempting. He could banish Sankara to another dimension and never have to worry about her ever. And they were right – the war would stop, everything would be all right again. The only issue would be Sakhmet’s monarch, because Vyssa was still seen as a guilty party.
But how would he ever get close enough to Sankara to be able to use magic against her? They would have to be negotiating. And the way things stood, Qasala was hopelessly outnumbered. They would fall to Sankara before anything could be done.
Unless…Vyssa and Tomos were successful in bringing foreign armies to assist them. Stop Sankara in her tracks and force her to talk to Jazan and come to a compromise. That could be when he did it. And Vyssa and Tomos would have been clearing their names all the way.
The plan had taken full shape in his mind. At this, Jazan made a decision. He was going to tell this table everything. The whole truth, and nothing but the truth. They were his advisors, and if he wasn’t honest with them, then he wasn’t a very good king at all.
And Nabile…he didn’t like to think about her at the moment. He could only hope that she was coping, and was doing okay.
“All of you, listen,” he said, drawing their attention to him instantly. “There are things you need to know.”
To be continued…