A Queen's Ascension - War:Part Eleven
Sankara knew she was beaten the moment Tomos and Vyssa had arrived with their armies. The Sakhmetian army, with all its might, was not prepared to battle international armies with backups ready to reengage even if they did defeat this first wave. But she had continued, she had agreed to negotiate, under the false, perhaps naïve assumption that they would still allow her to retire gracefully – as a Royal Duchess, maybe – and go back to Khamtef as its queen. After all, she was the one who united the Lost Desert under one monarch, other than Qasala. Sure, the economy had suffered, the poor were struggling to eat – but who cared about them? As long as the rich prospered and she ensured there was a good military strength against Qasala, everything was fine. All of these thoughts had stopped the instant Tomos and Vyssa produced the evidence that showed it had been her plan all along, and her conniving with Frezon that had led to Vyssa poisoning her.
She was beaten before. But now – now she was in serious trouble.
Standing before the great court in this gorgeous palace she had called home, she had owned and ruled over, knowing her time was up, she did the only thing she could think of.
She tried to run.
It was a futile attempt, and even before she reached the bottom of the steps leading up to the throne from which had been seated, her stern looking general grabbed her roughly by the arm and held her in place.
“Hadon?” She screeched. “I am your Queen, I order you to let me go!”
“Technically, you are still my Queen,” Hadon conceded, his grasp strengthening on her thin arm, “but today marks the day when I no longer take any orders from you.”
Jazan, who had been watching this all with a resigned frown, cleared his throat. “Let her go, General.” He said quietly.
Hadon did so, but still remained at Sankara’s side, ready to make another grab if she tried to run again. But she didn’t, she simply stood there rather limply, all of her previous arrogance and confidence drained. Rosy spots appeared on her pale cheeks and she cast her eyes to the floor.
Jazan folded his arms. “You will no longer be Queen of Sakhmet, Khamtef, nor any other of the territories you have claimed supremacy over. These territories will be returned to their previous leaders, and in the case of Khamtef, a new leader will have to be elected. Your ambition is inextricably linked to destruction and death, and you are a danger to the Lost Desert. To banish you would mean you are a danger to others across Neopia, and it was something Tomos and Vyssa agreed would not happen in their travels.”
“So I am to be a prisoner? To spend the rest of my days in the dungeons?” Sankara whispered. She did not look at Jazan; she did not look at anyone, her watery eyes focused on her feet.
“That is not…” Jazan struggled for a moment. Was he really going to do this?
Nabile, sensing his hesitation, continued for him. “Keeping you in a dungeon leaves opportunity for escape, rebellions to rise up in your defence, for you to work your magic on unsuspecting guards or other prisoners.”
Sankara’s head snapped up in surprise. “You can’t seriously be suggesting –!”
“There is no justification for what you have done.” Jazan said quietly. “Princess Amira is in the Royal Tomb. Vyssa was stripped of her right to succeed her sister and subject to cruel punishment. Sakhmet has fallen into disrepair with your focus on military action. The poor are starving. The Lost Desert is in ruins.”
The Queen sneered at him. “There is no justification for what you are about to do!” She looked about her wildly, seeking an escape route and finding none. So she had to find some way to break Jazan’s resolve. “Using dark magic against me, eh? All along, underneath, I knew, Jazan. You have always been desperate to succeed your father in his deeds!”
“SILENCE!” Jazan shouted, waving his hand in the air, creating a surge of red magic that he charged at Sankara, causing her wrists to be bound with this red energy that stuck to the floor like a magic. There really was no chance for her to run now.
“You see!” Sankara cried triumphantly. “Look at you, so at ease with it, considering you apparently never use it.”
“Sankara, stop!” Nabile cried. “Aren’t you going to ask for forgiveness? Try to atone for what you have done?”
She cackled. “What’s the point? You have told me there is no justification, so I must be punished. So come on then, Jazan,” she turned to him aggressively. “Do it!”
And so he did.
Within a second or two, a giant vortex had opened in the middle of the throne room. It was at least a metre high and wide, a swirling red, black and yellow that seemed to hum with dark energy. Around it the air seemed to be sucked in, creating a whistling sound that screeched around the room. General Hadon quickly backed away from Sankara to where Nabile, Tomos, Vyssa and the senators were standing. She was still bound by the previous red magic, holding her in place, mere centimetres from the vortex. The walls and the floor seemed to shake with the force of it. Jazan held both hands up, face contorted from controlling it from spreading.
Sankara’s beautiful face was now one of complete shock. She hadn’t really believed that he was going to do it. He was really going to banish her to another dimension, just like his father before him? She knew he had this power, but she was counting on him to refuse to do this. How was this going to end? Was she doomed to live her life in some unknown place? It occurred to her, briefly, in the back of her mind, that perhaps she deserved this.
But that was a very brief thought.
Now it was time to beg.
“Jazan, I am really sorry,” she pleaded, the desperation seeping out of her like a snake sheds its skin. “I will do anything, just please don’t’ –”
“How dare you.”
Jazan and Sankara’s heads turned; the voice had come from behind them.
It was Vyssa.
“You’re not sorry.” She stated coldly. “You’re just desperate to get thrown in a dungeon so you can escape. If you were truly sorry you wouldn’t be apologising to Jazan – but to me.”
Sankara opened her mouth, then closed it promptly. There was nothing she could say to that.
“You poisoned my father and made us all suspects in his death.” Vyssa continued, her voice low and yet carrying across the room and audible to all despite the vortex that continued to whistle and hum. “You made me poison my sister. I was thrown into the dungeons for the rest of my life. If I had not escaped, I would still be there. You poisoned your own brother in your ambition for the throne and made the whole of Neopia consider me a wanted criminal. You stripped me of my titles, my home and my right of succession. You turned the Sakhmet I loved into ruins. The people I love are struggling in destitution while you sit in my rightful palace. So, no Sankara – you are not sorry. And I will never forgive you for what you have done.”
There was a silence as everyone digested this sobering speech.
Then Jazan spoke. “You also captured my wife, Queen Nabile, and kept her prisoner for months. For all of your crimes, past and present, I sentence you to eternal residence in my magical vortex, with no chance of escape.”
“No chance of escape, eh?” Sankara hissed. “We’ll see about that. You’ll regret this. All of you!”
Jazan waved his right hand and the red energy that bound Sankara disappeared. She immediately tried to run, but it was too late – with another wave of his hand, Jazan dragged Sankara into the vortex. The last thing everyone heard was her scream before Jazan used his left hand to seal the vortex up for good, leaving the room suddenly in silence.
Sankara had been defeated. [i]Sankara was gone![/i]
“It’s done.” Jazan murmured. Nabile immediately went to him and embraced him, sensing the moral conflict he felt about having used his dark magic.
But the rest of the room was ecstatic. As soon as the silence had descended it had vanished, leading to cheers and yells of celebration. Vyssa stood triumphantly in the centre of it all, feeling vindicated at last.
As the cheers died down, Senator Palpus approached Vyssa and bowed low before her. Around Vyssa, everyone else started to do the same. Even Nabile and Jazan bowed their heads in acknowledgement.
“Forgive us, Vyssa,” Palpus said. “Or should I say, Your Royal Highness. You will be reinstated as our Princess, and will be crowned as our Queen.”
Vyssa felt like she was going to faint. It was all that she had ever wanted. There was still something bittersweet about it all, with the loss of Amira, but she knew that she could do her and Coltzan proud. She was going to be the best Queen she could.
There was a lot to do. But she knew where to start: helping the people.
To be continued…