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Grand Duke Liam, elder brother of the late King Regan of Houya, sternly expressed, "To surrender all our men would leave the gates of the fallen kingdoms unguarded. Such a request is simply too much".

Her patience waning, she let out an inward sigh at their persistent refusal. "Let me be clear, I am not asking for the entirety of your troops, but merely a modest portion" She reiterated.

The young man beside the fallen Grand Duke spoke up, "We understand your request, but conceding 89 per cent of our military might leave us exposed to any potential attacks".

'And whose fault is that?' She thought. The men before her were more shameless than she had imagined.

From her observation, the young man was none other than Prince Murdock of the Houya Kingdom, son of the late King Regan. While she could not determine his exact position of power, his presence among the leaders indicated he was a likely contender for the Houya throne.

"Indeed" Another voice concurred with the Grand Duke's statement, "Surrendering 86 per cent of the already diminished Eser Kingdom's people would be tantamount to burying what remains of it".

She turned her gaze to the source of the voice, Prince Murdock was not the only one to agree with his uncle's words, it seems.

"Knight Boris, I am aware of the predicaments faced by your kingdom and I am willing to give you a special proposal" She said.

It took mere moments for the knight to grasp the implications of her words. His eyebrows rose slightly, and he repeated "A special proposal?"

"Yes," She smiled, "One that I am confident will greatly benefit you".

The knight gazed at her, stunned. Despite the hour-long discourse, it was her sudden statement that left him unable to conceal his disbelief.

The Knight's gaze was fixated intently upon her "If your majesty truly has a proposal to make" He expressed with a touch of scepticism, "I am eager to hear it".

She responded with a more beautiful smile on her lips. "I offer to take only half of the remnants of the Eser Kingdom" She said, leaning back on her throne. "In return, I vow to increase the supply of food, wood, and other daily necessities by 50 per cent - a personal commitment I shall enforce through the royal court".

The Knight's eyes widened, his disbelief palpable. "Fifty per cent of the remnants of the Eser Kingdom for fifty per cent more of food, wood and other necessities?" He echoed incredulously, as if unable to fully grasp the offer.

She nodded her head. "Yes".

His demeanour darkened as he intoned. "I thank you for your generosity, Queen Mavena, but when contrasted against the might of the Sloywoth Kingdom's feared assassins, or the prestigious Brylen and Houya Kingdom with its numerous royalties and factions, the Eser Kingdom is represented solely by myself - a lone Knight capable of marching into battle without flinching. So if you don't mind, may I ask why?".

Unlike the other Kingdoms, the Eser Kingdom are the only one with the injured and disabled making up a huge percentage of their population.

So, she could understand the Knight's worries that this was some kind of trap. She shook her head and wanted to reply, but was rudely interrupted.

"Isn't it obvious?" The Mad King spoke up.

Queen Mavena stared at the Mad King, her eyes picking up the mocking smile on his lips. After an hour of silence, he finally decided to speak up.

She knew his name -King Bor of the fallen Sloywoth Kingdom. Her eyes held a mixture of respect and caution at him. As an ascendant, he had lived long enough to reign during the time of her father, earning her admiration for being one of the only kings to have survived the icy grips of the Moonlight's ice.

Despite this, she couldn't help but feel a twinge of disappointment as she remembered how the other King foolishly ignored her invitation.

Regardless, the corner of her lips twitched subtly cause she knew that nothing good was going to come out of his mouth.

The mad King continued. "Of all of us, you stand alone as the only one viewed favourably by the Queen, earning praise for your obedience and docility" He turned his head and gazed back at her "Is that correct, Queen Mavena?".

She met his gaze, responding simply with a nod. "Yes." The truth of the matter was to her advantage, and she saw no need to elaborate. "Infact, I intend to do more for the Eser Kingdom, as they are the only kingdom to have earned the favour of the royal court. I also wish to fully integrate them into the Vrymath Kingdom".

This was something that she should have done a long time ago, before the riots, and different factions that grew like cancerous roots in her Kingdom.

"You see, she admits it" The Mad King stared back at Knight Boris. "With enough points, I am sure that you can even become a Knight of the Vrymath Kingdom".

He then cast his eyes towards Prince Beck, who watched with a calculating expression. The Mad King continued, his gaze settling on Prince Beck. "That goes for you too. It's never too late to make amends, by pledging your loyalty now, maybe you will be able to avoid any future repercussions for the actions of your siblings…."

"King Bor!" She declared, loudly.

Everyone stared at her.

"My apologies" The Mad King said with a half-smile playing on his lips. "I was merely attempting to diffuse the tense atmosphere you created with your illogical proposal".

Queen Mavena couldn't help the tug pulling on her lips. She was not amused but rather irked. If she hadn't witnessed the mayhem that transpired outside her castle and detected the odd, unspoken alliance between them, she would have sliced open his head by now and ordered her troops to feed his body to the kingdom's caged, magical beasts.

Queen Mavena exhaled inwardly. If she had handled this matter earlier, then things would have not become like this.

'What was I even thinking about during that time?' She thought. Unfortunately, despite her best efforts, she still hadn't recovered all of her memories as most of them remained blurred and almost indistinguishable.

Still, despite their regal standing and overblown egos, Queen Mavena recognized the need to instil fear in the hearts of the men before her. Fear that would cause them to consider their actions thrice before making a foolish move.

"Despite offering you refuge within my Kingdom, where I have not made a single request in return, you dare claim that my demands are illogical?..... Such audacity, King Bor" And she would first start with the Mad King.

King Bor shook his head with a sombre expression. "I regret to say that the gratitude we feel for your aid over the years cannot outweigh the suffering of our people, labelled as 'Invaders' in the Vrymath Kingdom. This hateful moniker has cast them out of society, leaving them subjected to abuse and hatred".

His piercing gaze intensified. "You publicly addressed this issue, but it seems your efforts were not enough to rectify the situation. And now, we are being plunged into war without any explanation for our foe. Who is our enemy?.... Is it perhaps Captain Crimson eye?" King Bor's eyes blazed with intensity.

Queen Mavena frowned. Her eyes flickered across the room and stared at every leader present. "I see" She closed her eyes. Unspoken cooperation. The Mad King was their mouthpiece against her. A suitable person to carry out a brave role. She opened her eyes, her gaze lingered on Prince Beak who still had his lips sealed and sat in silence.

After the show they had demonstrated earlier, she was sure that apart from Kinght Boris, the Brylen Kingdom would be the first to seamlessly integrate into her Kingdom, and gradually she will expand the Vrymath Kingdom into a powerful empire through successive assimilation of the other fallen kingdoms.

The more she remained silent, the more Queen Mavena felt the atmosphere in the room slowly thicken.

She took in a deep breath of fresh air and released it before she responded. "I have no business with Captain Crimson eye right now, as we are only associates, dragging over a limited territory" She released her magical energy and filled the throne room with it. From their solemn expressions, she knew that they were currently trying to evaluate her current capabilities. "So please, be careful when saying words that might land you in trouble".

She cleared her throat. "And as for the war…. I am not willing to release something so sensitive unless you will willingly participate in it. No tricks and no games".

"Well, it's not as though we have a choice on whether or not we are going to participate in a war that will affect us too" Said, Grand Duke Liam. "We only want to know who or what we will be fighting against to prepare for whatever that is coming".

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