A Queen's Ascension - Justice: Part Three
Queen Nabile returned to Qasala in the early evening, the following day of the coronation. She had stayed over in the Sakhmetian palace for the night, wanting to witness Frezon as king. Alongside a few other nobles and royalty who stayed to recuperate before their journey home, she witnessed what she could only call a Lupe that was certainly at home in the palace despite his remarkably short time being there. He seemed to know the palace as though it was his birthplace. Surrounding him were guards who had joined him from Khamtef, and apparently more were going to be arriving in the next few days. The Sakhmetian guards that remained had been demoted in their ranks to simple soldiers rather than generals or commanders. The senators were still around, despite being absent at the coronation, but they looked tired and unhappy. They were not seated at the grand table anymore and it seemed while they held their position of senator, their powers had been stripped rather dramatically and rapidly. Advisor Wessle was nowhere to be seen, and Frezon was discussing at dinner how Queen Sankara was to be his Chief Advisor and Field Marshal of the Sakhmetian army, despite the fact she would be returning to Khamtef to rule in a month’s time.
The whole thing seemed fishy to Nabile. Sankara was being highly elevated in position here (Frezon’s first official law had been to lift her ban in Sakhmet) despite being a queen in her own right in a city hundreds of miles away. She had no doubts that before long Sakhmet and Khamtef were going to be officially linked and joined under one kingdom, but she did wonder how that would benefit Sankara, who would then become a princess, rather than a queen. Something was happening anyway, and Nabile didn’t like it. She didn’t fathom for one second that Tomos and Vyssa were the culprits for Princess Amira’s death. She knew that Frezon and Sankara were bad news, but there was nothing she could do about it.
In the morning of her departure back to Qasala, she enquired about visiting Tomos and Vyssa in the dungeons. Even though she was Queen Nabile, the king was apparently too busy to talk to her and she had to go through Sankara instead. Even being in the same room as her made Nabile nervous.
“I am afraid that will not be possible, your Majesty,” Queen Sankara told her, “for we have just received news in the dead of the night that these two prisoners have escaped.”
“Escaped?” Nabile gasped. “Tomos and Princess Vyssa?”
“Vyssa.” Sankara corrected with a small smile. “She’s not a princess anymore, your Majesty. We believe they escaped during the coronation to avoid our knowledge of the matter until some time has passed.”
“That’s…unbelievable.” Nabile murmured, already thinking in her head that surely Tomos and Vyssa must be heading to Qasala, to a safe zone, to seek her help. She had to get out of Sakhmet. “Well then.” She said. “I had better be leaving.”
As she turned to go, Sankara stopped her by placing her hand on her arm.
“I apologise for touching your person, your Majesty, but I am sure as a fellow queen you can find it in your heart to forgive this breach of protocol.” Sankara said. Her tone was serious. “We are all aware here in Sakhmet just how close you and Tomos used to be. It is well known that the two of you were close friends right up until Princess Amira’s untimely death at the hands of Tomos and her sister.”
Nabile frowned. “What is your point, Sankara?”
“Your Majesty, if you please.” Sankara smiled. “It would be a crime for you to help Vyssa or indeed your good friend Tomos. Or shall I say ex good friend? You surely are not still companions with him after what he has done. But if you were foolish enough to help him…Sakhmet would find you accountable for these crimes, despite your status as queen, as I am sure you are aware.”
“I see.” Nabile said. “Goodbye, your Majesty.”
As she was walking away, she heard faintly from behind her, “Goodbye, Nabile.” But she did not stop to correct her. In fact, she was sure Queen Sankara had deliberately called her that. And she was sure that was a warning of what was to come.
As she arrived in Qasala, she was met by her husband, King Jazan, at the entrance of their own palace. Her face lit up when she saw him, and she immediately felt safe. She rushed to him and they embraced warmly. As they broke apart, she whispered in his ear, “We need to discuss Sakhmet.”
Jazan nodded. He turned to address the servants. “Queen Nabile and I are going to my study. We are not to be disturbed unless there is an emergency. Please pack away her luggage and then you may have your dinner.” With that, the two of them went to Jazan’s study and closed the door.
“Right.” Jazan said wearily. “What’s the situation?”
“I think it’s bad, Jazan.” Nabile answered. “The coronation went well for Frezon. He made a convincing speech about the dreadful loss of Princess Amira, the crowd were on his side, he talked about justice against Vyssa and Tomos. But then he brought out the overseer of the coronation and it was his sister, Sankara.”
Jazan’s eyes widened. “Already? He didn’t waste any time bringing her back…”
“His first official law was lifting her banishment from Sakhmet.” Nabile informed him grimly. “She’s been made Chief Advisor and Field Marshal of the army too. It’s ridiculous. The crowd booed her at first but Frezon has managed to convince them to at least consider forgiveness, and frankly that was enough. She’s in now. There’s nothing anyone can do.”
“What about the other advisors? The senators?”
“Advisor Wessle is gone, I think. I couldn’t see him anywhere at dinner or the coronation. The senators are still there but there powers have been stripped from them. I think they’re just for show now, a pretend that Sakhmet is holding on to some traditions. The highest ranking guards are now from Khamtef too. It’s just a mess up there.” Nabile said. She folded her arms. “And I think I was issued a thinly veiled threat when I was leaving.”
“What?” Jazan frowned. “By who?”
“Sankara herself. I asked to visit Tomos and Vyssa in the dungeons and was told they had escaped. So I was about to leave when –”
“They’ve escaped?” Jazan shouted, cutting Nabile off. “Oh for goodness’ sake, they’re bound to be on their way here right this minute. This is ridiculous.” He was scowling, furious. Then he remembered what Nabile had said. “So what was the threat?”
“She said if I help Tomos and Vyssa I’d be a criminal in Sakhmet and they’d hold me accountable. They would definitely find me guilty in a trial and they’d take away my royalty. I’m not sure even you could help me there – we’d still be married, but I’d be lying in some Sakhmetian dungeon. And that’s the problem. I think she wants that to happen so that you declare war.” Nabile explained, her voice shaking with worry. “We can’t let this happen.”
“No, we can’t.” Jazan agreed. He sighed. “Which is why when Tomos and Vyssa appear on our doorstep, we take them as our prisoners and send them back to Sakhmet.”
Nabile’s mouth fell open, stunned. “What on Neopia are you talking about? We can’t do that! We have to help them! They’re innocent!”
“I told them in no uncertain terms the last time they were here that they should have let me check that potion, or I would no longer help them. I am sticking to my word, Nabile. These are dangerous times. Frezon and Sankara plan to take over the entire Lost Desert and I won’t stand for it. I will protect Qasala no matter what the consequences.” Jazan said darkly. “You can beg me all you want to change my mind but I won’t. This is my final word on it. The moment they appear at my gates, I’m ordering my guards to arrest them. It is the safest option for Qasala.”
“You – you can’t do this…” Nabile stuttered in disbelief. “Tomos has done so much for us! He’s our friend.”
“Your friend.” Jazan muttered. “I will never forget what Tomos did for us during my dark time. But he would agree that the safety of Qasala and its people is far more important than saving just one Lupe and a ruined ex–princess.”
Nabile put her head in her hands. “I can’t believe this. Jazan, please.”
“I’m sorry, Nabile.” He hated seeing her sad. But he knew he had to do this, to protect his people. He was sure pretty soon the rest of the Lost Desert was going to fall under Frezon’s rule and he couldn’t bear to see it happen to Qasala. “I’ve made my decision. We can’t be held accountable in any way.”
“I understand.” Nabile whispered. She stood up. “I have to be alone now, Jazan. I’ll see you at dinner.”
Jazan nodded. He watched her leave and sighed again. It was certainly going to be a difficult time for the both of them.
As Nabile closed the study door behind her and began walking down the long hallway towards her own private room, she was startled when a guard came hurtling down the hallway, stopping barely short of colliding into her. “Goodness, what’s the hurry?” She asked.
“I know you weren’t meant to be disturbed unless it was an emergency, your Highness, er, I mean, your Majesty, but I was far out of Qasala as the lookout for this afternoon and with my telescope I spotted who I think to be Tomos and Vyssa, only a few miles away from here!” The guard gasped, breathless.
“Oh my!” Nabile was torn for a moment. She looked back at the door she had just left, and then out of a window to her side. She made her decision. “Tell me, did you tell anyone else what you saw?” She demanded.
“No, your Majesty! I rushed straight here!” The guard replied.
Nabile smiled in relief. “I want you to keep this a secret between you and I, okay?” She said.
The guard frowned. “But why, your Majesty?”
“I cannot tell you that. But I will triple your pay and send a quarter of a million neopoints straight to your home this very evening if you promise not to tell anyone. Not even Jazan.”
“A…a quarter of a million neopoints? And my pay tripled? Your Majesty! I think I’m going to faint.” The guard babbled, turning a little pale.
“Do we have an agreement?” Nabile asked. “I will also tell you that this is a royal order. If you disobey me, I will have to lock you away in the dungeons.”
“Done, your Majesty! Done!” The guard said quickly. “Thank you so much, your Majesty!”
“Now go home.” She said. “You’re finished for the night.”
The guard practically skipped away from her, deliriously happy. She rolled her eyes and hoped he wasn’t as stupid as he looked. She needed this to stay secret. And with another quick glance at the door of Jazan’s study, she was off, hurrying out of the palace in a disguise grabbed from her room, and out of Qasala, knowing that before long she was going to see Tomos and Vyssa.
And no matter what Sankara or Jazan said, she was going to help them.
To be continued…