Two Weeks Later...
"Your majesty, I object!" The young man called, rising to his feet and raising his left fist into the air. "And I'm sure all the people inside this room object too!"
Neferiti sat on her throne and barely managed to keep the scowl off her face as she surveyed Minister Heku suspiciously. He truly was the bane of her existence. For two hours they had been discussing the best course of action to take yet whenever Neferiti made a suggestion, the pompous idiot would jump to his feet and voice his objections. At first she had let him speak but she was old, she was tired and had no patience for arguing with a bunch of petty children any longer.
"Oh do be quiet!" She snapped, struggling up out of her seat and glaring at the minister who stared back in shock. As leader of her country Neferiti expected Heku to treat her with a certain level of respect and obey her every command, but in fact, the opposite was true.
He was a radical plain and simple and Neferiti couldn't take much more of his rubbish.
"My say is final and however disagrees shall be dismissed without question." She barked, her voice cracking a little from the strain. But although the Hall was brimming with six hundred or so ministers, there was no doubt everyone had heard her words and they didn't look pleased in the slightest.
"This session has now come to an end," She called, waving her arm dismissively as the first grumbles of discontent began. Neferiti didn't care. She slowly tottered down from her stage, completely ignoring the chaos unfolding beneath her.
Even Taz seemed taken-aback by her abruptness, and he was well used to her short temper. Neferiti ordered him to stand and escort her to her carriage and with much spluttering and haste, Taz jumped to his feet and obediently led her out of the Hall.
They took a small side entrance which was hidden beneath the fourth balcony. Taz was obviously bursting with curiosity; Neferiti spotted all the nervous glances he was giving her, but he restrained his tongue when he noticed the five Sapient agents trailing along behind them. They were Neferiti's personal guards but anyone with a brain knew not to trust the Sapient Institute, so Taz realised it would be best if he kept his mouth closed.
He instead decided walk faster and out of their earshot, so he could interrogate Neferiti about her reckless actions inside the debate hall.
"Slow down man, my poor feet cannot keep up with you!" Neferiti snapped but Taz didn't pay any attention, deciding to quicken his pace instead. He was probably the only person in the whole of Yohannez who wasn't afraid of defying Neferiti's orders in the slightest.
"Your highness, what are we going to do about your public image now?!" Taz hissed, turning right into yet another hollow marble corridor. "The camera drones would've captured every moment in there, and you know the people won't be impressed-"
"I have no intention of impressing the people!" Neferiti retorted. "I will serve my children and protect them, which certainly isn't what Heku's planning. He's a lunatic!"
"But your majesty, Heku is going to gain momentum for his campaign now!" Taz argued, slowing down a little so he could walk side by side with the Queen. "The Crone stuff was already quite popular, but can you imagine what an Akyiro campaign would do to your position?"
Neferiti jerked her head away from him, deeply offended but unwilling to call him out for it. In one of Heku's campaign trails he had publically called Neferiti a crone, saying that she was a senile old women standing in the way of the Kingdom's success. It had been a provocative action that had gained Heku attention and eventually led to him being elected as Head Minister, and was just one of the many reasons why Neferiti despised him.
"Leave the ruling to me Taz, I know what I'm doing." She replied sourly, barely noticing the look of brief hurt on her physician's face.
They walked in silence, passing several grand arches and paintings as they made their way to the back entrance of the Parliamentary building. The front had been jam packed with drones, protesters, reporters and City folk in the morning and Neferiti had no doubt that the situation was probably now even worse. They didn't come across a single person as literally anyone of any importance had been stuffed inside the hellish debate hall. Eventually however, they reached a inconspicuous wooden door at the far end of the building and the small cavalcade came to a sudden halt.
"You can manage a short jog to your carriage, can't you?" Taz asked, as Neferiti was offered a large green cloak by one of her Sapient agents. "Some of the crowd may have slipped round to the back."
Neferiti nodded briskly, although she was fairly certain she wouldn't be able to muster up anything more demanding than a waddle. Her knees ached and her head hurt and her people must have noticed because they were surveying her anxiously.
"Don't worry ma'am, we'll guard you at all costs." One of the Agents reassured her, moving to stand protectively in front of them. "Ready?"
Neferiti gave her reply and suddenly found herself being bustled out straight into the glare of the early afternoon Sun. It was nice to finally get a bit of fresh air but she didn't have time to enjoy it, as she she was immediately frog-marched by her guards towards the motorcar parked at the foot of the marble steps.
"Your majesty, I apologize but we need to make a run for it!" An agent gasped, before picking Neferiti up off the ground and slinging her across his broad shoulders. She squawked in panic as her vision was flipped upside down, feeling quite sick as the vibrations from the agent's feet travelled throughout her body.
She was thrust inside the car without a word of warning and barely had time to compose herself before the agent jumped in and immediately pressed the accelerator, causing the car to lurch forwards and Neferiti to fly backwards.
"Are you out of your mind man!" She howled, as Taz helped her sit back up. "Is this the way you treat your Queen!"
"Sorry ma'am but we were spotted by a rather large group of protestors." The driver replied. He wasn't out of breath in the slightest, as if he hadn't sprinted 10 metres with an 80 year old woman perched on his back. "The rest of the agents are preoccupied and there will be chaos for the rest of the week, so I think you best stay confined in your room Ma'am."
"Am I your dog Hilbert!" Neferiti snapped, irritated by his words. "Do you give out orders because I am somehow lesser than you?"
"No ma'am. Sorry ma'am." Hilbert replied, yanking the steering wheel to the right and causing the occupants of the car to topple over slightly. "Are you alright back there ma'am?"
Neferiti didn't reply, yanking herself off of Taz and patting down her frizzled hair. Hilbert was one of her most respectful agents but for some obscure reason, he irritated the heck out of Neferiti. Perhaps she was just getting moody with age.
"Drive us to the palace and don't let anyone approach my quarters." She ordered, as Hilbert made yet another erratic turn and almost crashed into a tree. "Keep an eye out for those pesky reporters too."
They arrived at Palace Hecate barely 10 minutes later and around 50 Sapient agents had already assembled. They would be responsible for isolating Neferiti from the public and the task ahead of them didn't seem to be possible. Already cameras flew around above their heads, spiralling the Palace's towers despite the agents efforts at shooting it down. Neferiti stepped out of her car and a cloak was thrown on top of her, as she was immediately escorted inside the wrought iron gates.
"Ma'am, we will not disturb you tonight." The head of servants announced as the Queen was ushered past. "Please ring if you desire anything."
"Yes yes, I will!" Neferiti babbled in response, before being manhandled up the impressive main staircase. "Do not speak to any reporters, or you'll face the consequences!"
She didn't hear Mina's reply, as she was immediately rushed up the stairs and into the hoist, which lifted them up onto the top floor where Neferiti's quarters lay. The agent that had escorted her and Taz gave a deep bow, before fleeing down the stairs without a word of farewell.
"Unmannered brute!" Neferiti scowled, rubbing at the arm where the man had clasped her. "Honestly, people are just so uncultured nowadays, aren't they Taz?"
"Your majesty, with all due respect, I think we have bigger issues to deal with at the moment." Taz replied, his eyes wide and nervous. "Dont you think the agents were behaving rather uncharacteristically today. By grabbing you and driving recklessly? Isn't there something much bigger going in?"
Neferiti sighed, turning away from him and walking towards her main bedroom. It was an impressive room with a plush red carbet and intricate jewled designs across the walls. Few people had seen the insides of Neferiti's room and she wanted it to remain that way, so she made sure to draw the curtains across the Windows before switching on the lights.
"Sit down Taz, there's no need to look so awkward!" Neferiti insisted, throwing herself down onto her plump bed and gesturing towards the plush chair pushed up against the walls. "Forget the Sapients, I'm far more concerned with Heku! Lord knows whatever he's planning to do now!"
"Isn't it obvious?" Taz answered, gingerly lowering himself into his seat. "He'll twist your words against you. He'll tell the people you're a traitor, an Akyiro. He'll have you abdicated if he manages to find a way."
"I will not move from the throne, believe me!"Neferiti interrupted, giving a shrill laugh of disdain. "Who does he think he is, turning the people away from me! I could have him killed in his sleep!"
"That wouldn't be wise ma'am." Taz said warily. He was used to the Queen making pointless threats against her enemies. "That would only make the people turn against you, and you're nothing without the support of your people."
Neferiti growled, clutching her pillow and almost tearing the fabric with the force of her fingers. Ever since the terrorist attack in the Savannah things had been going from bad to worse. The fragile peace her ancestors had set up was falling apart before her eyes and the whole country was suffering from the stress of waiting for a retaliatory attack. The other Kingdoms were begging at their doorstep for salvation. The actions of Noira and John Bridge wasn't only affecting Yohannez, but the whole of planet Earth.
"We need to plan ahead." Neferiti suddenly announced, sitting up straight. "Heku and his petty actions must not distract is from the bigger picture. The Djinns must be kept at bay and a treaty formed-"
"Your majesty, Heku rejected the proposal of the treaty." Taz interrupted "He wants to go straight into war and so do the people, judging by the support he's getting-"
"Forget the people's support, they don't know what's good for them!" Neferiti snapped. "Where is my nephew? Can't he play a part in talking to them?"
"Seth hasn't seen you in 20 years." Taz said, confusion evident in his voice. "Why would you want to drag him into this mess? He's a grown man with a family of his own! He told me he didn't even want to acknowledge your existence!"
"If I abdicate then he's the only option we have." Neferiti replied, staring at her wrinkled hands thoughtfully. "I am old Taz. I am old and I'm weary and who knows if I'll even see the light of day tomorrow? We need to talk to Seth, so he can take charge if things go wrong."
"Don't talk like that!" Taz said sharply, sounding affronted. "Your health is under control your majesty, there's no need to think that way-"
"Call Hilbert here." Neferiti ordered, ignoring his words entirely. "Tell him I have a task for him to do..."
A short chapter like the prologue, but thinks will get longer in chapter two. And thank you DreamOracle for leaving a review!