A Queen's Ascension - Justice: Part Two
From the dungeons of the palace, Vyssa could hear the cheers and applause of the crowd. The cells were not far from the great steps and high on the wall near the ceiling was a small, barred window letting all of the outside noise in. Very faintly, she could hear Frezon’s booming voice. She’d almost fainted when she heard the boos and hisses, hoping beyond hope it was a sign of people realising Frezon was bad before being stunned by the fact it was Sankara’s return. Frezon and Sankara had well and truly succeeded and she was stuck in here like a common prisoner.
It was disgusting within the cell. The ceiling was dripping, the floor was sand and there were no beds, only four thin blankets. Not that there were four prisoners in here; there was one other.
Tomos, who had helped her realise that Frezon was behind her sister’s fall. He was the one who had caused her to reject her claim to the throne and all those suitors. Sankara had manipulated an entire elaborate scheme and she had fallen for it, giving Amira the potion which led to her eternal sleep.
Vyssa screwed up her eyes in frustration. The tears were coming. It wasn’t fair.
“Vyssa,” Tomos whispered, breaking Vyssa from her cycle of bad thoughts.
She looked over at him. “What is it?” She asked, her voice low too, trying to avoid the attention of the guard outside the door.
“Oldest trick in the book of escaping, okay?” He hissed.
“What do you mean?” Vyssa said, bemused.
As a response, Tomos started shouting at the top of his voice. “Vyssa! Are you okay? Guards! She’s not moving!” He motioned with his hands for her to lie down. “Guards! Help!”
Vyssa did as she was told, lying down flat and trying hard not to breathe too heavily. She closed her eyes and listened to the door unlock and a guard come rushing in.
“You’re going to have to get medical help!” Tomos insisted.
“What’s wrong with her?” The guard snapped. As he walked over to Vyssa, Tomos grabbed a blanket from the ground and quickly threw it over the guard’s head.
“Now, Vyssa!” He yelled. “Run!”
Vyssa leapt up and with Tomos she ran out of the open door, down the long hallway and up the stairs. Her heart was racing. “What if we run into more guards?” She gasped.
“It’s Frezon’s coronation, do you really think they won’t be watching or keeping guard around him?” Tomos replied, a little breathless. They reached the door at the top of the stairs but to Vyssa’s horror it was locked.
Tomos grinned. “No problem.” He produced a set of keys. “Swiped these off the guard, didn’t I?”
Within a flash the door was open and they were outside. Tomos quickly locked the door behind them. “That’ll bide us some time at least before the rest of the guards find out.”
They ran as fast as they could, into one building to steal hoods for disguise and then they were off into the crowds, slowing their pace, completely unnoticeable.
“We have to get out of Sakhmet for now, Vyssa.” Tomos told her. “But we’ll be back. With a plan.”
“I know.” Vyssa replied. She looked at Frezon and Sankara atop the great steps, standing proudly, Frezon wearing her father’s crown. Her hands were fists. “But before the guards realise we’re gone, I need to make one visit.”***
Princess Amira’s tomb was incredible. There were so many lit candles surrounding it the room felt like it was on fire. There were flowers all around it, giving the room a smoky, flowery scent that was intoxicating. Amira was lying in the centre, looking so peaceful. Vyssa almost couldn’t bear to watch.
Tomos placed a hand on her shoulder. It made Vyssa jump a little, before she relaxed at his touch, feeling calmer. The room was so quiet it was almost deafening.
“I still can’t believe it.” Vyssa murmured, her voice echoing across the tomb. “I see her there, and I still don’t accept what has happened. What was my fault –” Her voice broke as she collapsed into sobs.
“Stop it now.” Tomos’ voice was firm. “You did not do this, Vyssa. You thought that potion was going to save her. We both did. It was Frezons’ fault. Frezon, Sankara and their mother.”
“Their mother.” Vyssa repeated. “I had practically forgotten about Morgana. We’ll get to her first.”
“Get to her?” Tomos frowned. “What do you mean?”
“She’s alone and unguarded. Only Frezon and Sankara know where she is. We can make sure she never harms another Neopet. We’ll smash all of her potions and rip up all of her books…” She stared at Tomos. “You’ll help me, right?”
“Of course I will, Vyssa.” He said. “But we should go there first with the intention of gathering evidence. If Morgana has some kind of letter incriminating her and Frezon – we could actually use it to take down them both!”
Vyssa nodded. “You’re right. Evidence first. Then we’ll destroy everything she has.”
Something in the corner of her eye caught her attention and she turned to her sister. Amira was wearing a stunning necklace with a red stone that seemed to glow against her skin. It had to have been the candles reflecting off it but the effect was mesmerising. Vyssa was finding it hard to drag her eyes away, but she knew she had to go.
“I’ll make sure Frezon is off that throne, Amira.” She whispered.
With that, her and Tomos left the tomb, feeling less defeated than they had before.***
As the two of them left Sakhmet, Vyssa visited one last family member. Coltzan’s Shrine stood proudly in the Lost Desert. There were no lines of Neopets to visit him today; everyone was at the coronation. Tomos held back as Vyssa reached the shrine and bowed her head, kneeling in the sand. She could feel the tears threatening again but she held them, taking deep breaths. Around her the breeze picked up, making her hood fly off and her hair dance. Taking no chances, she quickly pulled the hood back up again and glanced around. She was safe. She looked down at the sand in front of her, but there was nothing there.
“Why does my father not respond to me, Tomos?” She asked, quietly. “Every time I come here, it’s just…nothing. I don’t understand. What am I doing wrong?” Her voice had picked up a desperate tone by the end.
Tomos sighed. “I don’t know. He is watching over you though, Vyssa. He would help you if he could, you know that.”
“What if he blames me?” Vyssa said, revealing her innermost worry. “He blames me for Amira’s death. I gave her the potion, Tomos.” She couldn’t stop the tears this time. They fell, wet and heavy, into the sand, disappearing in a flash.
“No he doesn’t!” Tomos snapped at her. “You’ve got to stop blaming yourself, Vyssa, or we’ll never defeat Frezon and Sankara. Come on. We’ve got to get out of here. The coronation will be ending soon and the guards will be coming after us.”
Vyssa nodded and stood up. “Can you try getting through to my father?” She asked.
Tomos complied, kneeling in the sand in front of the shrine and closing his eyes. After a few seconds, he opened his eyes and looked down, searching for something.
“Anything?” Vyssa said, trying to hide the hopefulness in her voice.
“Yeah, actually…” Tomos answered, sounding a little puzzled. He stood up and offered what he found to Vyssa for her to see. “I found a ring.”
It was a beautiful ring. It had a gold band, with a large garnet stone set in the centre. Vyssa looked at it curiously. What was this supposed to mean? What was her father trying to tell Tomos with this? Was he supposed to give it someone? Wear it himself? She was bemused. But she knew better than to question her father’s actions too much. The ring clearly had some kind of purpose, be it for their own aims or not.
“You’d better wear it.” She said after a minute. “My father wanted you to have it for some reason. Maybe it’s magic.” As she said this, she frowned. She felt like her memory was trying to tell her something. Try as she might, she couldn’t think what it was, and pushed the nagging thought away. “Come on, let’s go.”
“We should visit Jazan first. Maybe he’ll help us.” Tomos said, as he put the ring on his finger. It was a tight fit even on his smallest finger, making him wonder if the ring was really for him to wear.
Vyssa nodded. “Do you think we’ll beat Nabile there? She’s much more likely to help us out.”
Tomos frowned. “I doubt it. She’ll have an Eyrie flying her back for sure. But we should still hurry. For all we know they’re coming after us right now.”
Before they left, Vyssa glanced back once last time at her father’s shrine. There, in the sand, was a large bottle of water, just enough for the journey if they were sensible about it, and remarkably cold.
She allowed herself a small smile. Perhaps her father was helping her out after all.
To be continued…