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"Yes, my uncle is right" The Prince, seated beside him, interjected. "Keeping it a secret from us would be pointless, as we'll eventually find out anyway. Furthermore, it would be in your best interest for us to be able to plan a devastating strategy against the enemy together".

She thought. 'Should I tell them of the situation, right now?' She pondered if it would be wise of her to release a statement that the beast responsible for the dreaded Moonlight's ice was currently roaming and waiting for the right moment to attack her kingdom.

'No!' She inwardly shook her head. She can not --would not tell them now, not when she had barely just managed to put them in a room together. All of which would not have been a problem if she had just controlled and dictated them from the start.

Queen Mavena couldn't help but curse herself again.

What the hell was she even doing during that time?

Although she knew that it was only a matter of time before everyone became aware of its existence, to her, time mattered little if the only resolution they could find was to turn their swords against one another.

"Queen Mavena..." The fallen Grand Duke fixated his eyes on her with a piercing gaze. "Is the identity of our enemy so ominous that you are frightened to reveal the truth to us?..... Or are you afraid of what we might do once you do?".

'Frightened' She shook her head and smiled. She turned her gaze away from the Grand Duke's position and surveyed all of them with her eyes. Despite the burning intensity of their gazes, she remained unperturbed, turning away with a quiet grace and closing her eyes. It was ironic. They really thought that she was afraid of them and that they had the upper hand in this conversation.

She chuckled.

The stiffness of the atmosphere forbade her from bursting into laughter, but still, she couldn't help but find their perceived power over her amusing. Their opinions may have held weight in their own minds, but to her, they meant very little. And, were it not for her duty to her kingdom, they would have mattered even less

"My Queen, it seems that you are taking this matter with a lightheartedness that is unwarranted" Came a voice on the other end.

Her brows rose unexpectedly in surprise. The silent Prince Beck had voiced out his opinion.

"We were summoned here with the task of providing all relevant information about our kingdom, which we have done without fail. And yet, we were kept waiting throughout the night, only to have you arrive two hours before dawn, merely to briefly peruse the reports and request an army to fight an unknown enemy" He continued. "If you are unwilling to share the details with us, then I believe it would be best for us to return home. Our kingdoms cannot be left unattended for such an extended period".

She observed it all - their reactions, everyone!

The Mad King let out a snicker, his lips curling in amusement.

Knight Boris' sigh of disapproval.

The fallen Grand Duke's raised eyebrows, and Prince Murdock's rigid expression.

But she.... she remained unfazed. There was no place for such displays of emotion. . With a regal tone, she announced, "The gates of my Castle are wide open if you want to leave Prince Beck. But don't forget to bring along your belongings and the remnants of your fallen kingdom, for there will be no tolerance for such disrespectful behaviour in my domain".

Again, for the umpteenth time, the hall grew silent.

"Hahahahaha" Until a grand laughter shook the walls and reverberated across the hall. The Mad King's laughter almost made her irritated.

The Mad King brought a finger under his eye and wiped away an imaginary tear before he said, "Forgive Prince Beck for his words Queen Mavena, I suspect that he was merely testing the waters".

She ignored him. Queen Mavena chose to ignore the Mad King's laughter and kept her gaze forward.

"Fine, since you all are that adamant about learning the truth, I will tell you" Queen Mavena decided to release the secret that she had wanted to keep hidden for some while. "The war…" There was a slight pause. "The war is tied to the Moonlight's ice".

Pin-drop silence!

The clamorous hall became deathly quiet.

For the first time since her arrival, Queen Mavena saw the expressions of all present turn to stone-cold seriousness. It was to be expected, considering this was the phenomenon that had stripped them of their thrones and reduced them to fallen leaders.

Taking a moment to let her words sink in, Queen Mavena continued. "As most of you have suspected, the Moonlight's ice phenomenon is caused by an entity... an entity that has been dormant for over a hundred years or more". The Mad King's grip tightened on the armrest of his chair as he leaned forward, eagerly listening.

Her gaze briefly lingered on the fallen Grand Duke Liam. If he still didn't know what she was talking about, then it meant that only she still has her memories.

"According to the annals of both the Eser and the Azuiloth Kingdom, this entity is known as the Sleepy behemoth…."

"CRACK!!" The ground beneath Grand Duke Liam's feet cracked. The atmosphere around him grew heavy as he stared at her. "You are lying. The sleepy behemoth is not responsible for the Moonlight's ice… Though I understand your accusations against it since that beast possesses an exceptional range of talents, from its unparalleled unique mental abilities to its inherited mastery over ice and snow, it is understandable that you think it is responsible for the Moonlight's ice".

Queen Mavena sighed heavily, finally realizing she was the only one privy to the existence of the beast. . With a steady gaze matching the fallen Grand Duke's intensity, she asked. "Fallen Grand Duke Liam, how can you be so certain that this beast is not the cause of our current crisis?".

Grand Duke Liam hesitated, the words stuck in his throat. He finally spoke, his teeth chattering as he remembered the harrowing vision of the serpentine beast coated in icy scales. "Because I would have already slain it a long time ago if it were".

"Then I don't think you understand the gravity of the situation..." Queen Mavena countered. "If you believe that you can simply kill a beast capable of unleashing devastating ice storms that can freeze entire oceans and lands, then I... "

"Queen Mavena!" The room tensed, like a boiling pot ready to burst, as Grand Duke Liam continued. "My younger brother, King Regan of the Houya kingdom, perished while battling this beast". He cast a sorrowful glance at his nephew, who visibly quaked at the memory of his father's death.

"Alongside the king of the Brylen Kingdom" He said, nodding toward Prince Beck, who struggled to hide his emotions but still trembled slightly. "And the king of the Eser Kingdom, they confronted the beast to safeguard us all from its lethal jaws". His face dropped low with a sad smile arching itself on his lips. "And they all died under the claws of that beast, perishing along with it".

His gaze hardened as he locked eyes with her. "Do not imply that their deaths were in vain, Queen Mavena, if not you are asking for trouble" He leaned back on his chair and sighed, "Regardless, if you have said that the Sleepy behemoth had cursed our lands before its death, rendering it into an icy wasteland where even beasts are frozen or succumb to its corruption, I am certain that myself and all the leaders present here would have been convinced".

He continued, his tone firm. "Just because you are the sole surviving monarch does not grant you the privilege to belittle those who were greater and far more competent than yourself".

As Grand Duke Liam attempted to make his point, his magical energy collided with Queen Mavena's. Undeterred, she retaliated with a surge of her own power, watching as a scowl crossed the Grand Duke's face.

Despite being consumed by emotion, he did not lose sight of his objective and immediately attempted to gauge her magical capabilities and rank.

Queen's Mavena eyes grew sharper as she peered into his soul. Sadly, his efforts proved fruitless. Her magical energy thickened as she amplified it by five folds.

Another one. Her head snapped towards Prince Murdock before it turned and stared intently at Prince Beck. The latter declared firmly. "I might not be the Prince that I once was, but I will not stand by and watch you tarnish my father's name".

Queen Mavena couldn't help but click her tongue in annoyance at the two princes.

Her piercing gaze scanned the room, taking in Knight Boris who remained silent and vigilant, and the Mad King, who observed everything with a cunning gaze, probably brewing up new schemes to further solidify his notorious reputation.

'This was getting nowhere' She thought. Under their sceptical gazes, she stood up from her throne and walked towards the door. If they still doubted her words after what she has said, then she would show them something that would make them believe.

"Follow me".

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