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"Well, we comprehend your point, but allow me to comprehend one thing first…" Grand Duke Liam articulated, his voice carrying an air of authority. "So, if I am not mistaken, we currently have a Mage-ranked pirate within our territory, and you have forged an alliance with this individual to easily defeat the sleepy behemoth in one fell swoop, and ultimately overpower Captain Crimson Eye and his crew, is that an accurate summary, Queen Mavena?".

"Indeed it is" Queen Mavena concurred with a firm nod. "And as for his reward, I am confident that--".

"Do not concern yourself with it" Grand Duke Liam interjected, waving his hand dismissively at her. He shook his head in a contemplative manner before responding, his tone measured and deliberate. "Several of us have already pledged our unwavering support to you, provided you make the right decision and keep us informed. Our loyalty to you is unchangeable, come rain or shine".

"Grand Duke Liam is absolutely correct. It is impractical for us to continue squabbling over trivial matters such as King Ameal and King Bor" Prince Beck stated. The young prince had astounded him with his remarkable leadership skills, although they paled in comparison to those of his own nephew. Shaking his head in dismay, Prince Beck heaved a deep, sorrowful sigh. "Had these two kings resolved their differences, we would not have to resort to any strategic planning. We would have had the manpower to execute any plan with ease and successfully eradicate both of our enemies".

Queen Mavena noted their expressions and listened to their words, unable to conceal her delight; He could tell. This was precisely what she had been striving to accomplish since the outset, even if it required the destruction of one of her cities. the demise of King Ameal and his people, as well as King Bor and his armies. And a knight gone rogue.... To her, he could tell that the end results were unquestionably worth the sacrifices made.

As he pondered the identity of this banished prince of Endossa, a wave of curiosity washed over him. Although he was well-versed in the history of the Empire of Endossa and their myriad conflicts with other great human empires, he had never encountered a member of their royalty - whether banished, alive, or deceased. Consequently, he couldn't help but raise his expectations for the calibre of person he was about to meet.

As the queen addressed the assembly, Grand Duke Liam scanned the meeting hall with his sharp eyes. His gaze meandered past the fallen royalties in attendance before locking onto Knight Boris.

Sensing the duke's scrutiny, the knight, still consumed by a surging torrent of emotions, turned his piercing glare towards him. "What?".

At the utterance of those words, Grand Duke Liam emitted a sound that was both mirthless and vexed - a snicker laced with irritation. His gaze swerved away from the black armoured-clad Knight and returned to the queen, who appeared to be drawing the conversation to a close.

Queen Mavena, perched on her throne, held court over the quartet gathered around the rounded table. "This, then, is our plan once we penetrate the frozen forest" She declared, sweeping her eyes across the assembly. "Yet, for reasons unknown, the effects of the Moonlight's ice have begun to weaken. Although not sufficient to prevent our soldiers from transmuting into frozen statues, it is imperative that we, the five of us, tackle this crisis head-on by ourselves".

Suddenly, Beck feigned a cough, interrupting the queen's words. "Six," he interjected.

"Six?" repeated Queen Mavena, nonplussed.

"My brother has expressed his wish to accompany us and lend his aid to the battle" Prince Beck explained.

His gaze shifted to the discomfited Prince Beck. He rolled his eyes and snorted loudly at the prince's statement.

"Does your brother think this is some sort of capricious undertaking that he can engage in and abandon at will?" Grand Duke Liam asked brazenly. He would prefer the backing of the deceased mad king over a mere letter of alliance from a prince of the Brylen Kingdom - at least King Bor had the conviction to keep his promises, even in the face of the most outrageous circumstances. That was one quality he had always respected in the mad king, even if he was dead, thankfully.

"Well, he indicated that he would participate only if the queen..." Prince Beck faltered, attempting to rectify the blunder that had already escaped his lips. "Ju--".

"Enough!" Queen Mavena interrupted. With her eyes pointed at Prince Beck, she questioned. "Prince Beck, will your brother be present to aid us in this battle or not?". Her words were simple and precise.

Prince Beck nodded "He will".

He scoffed. Scoffed at the fact that he was hearing this for the umpteenth time.

The Miracle Queen's regal demeanor commanded attention as she nodded her head. Her eyes blazed with a fierce authority, making it clear that her words were not to be taken lightly. "Okay..." she declared, her voice ringing out with a potent mix of determination and menace. "If Prince Bern fails to show up when he is called to battle or withdraws his statement again, I swear upon my throne that not only will he bear the consequences for his incompetence, but the entire Brylen Kingdom will suffer as well".

If he had another reason to care, he could have scoffed at how an incompetent man, capable of not taking any decision, and incapable of bearing the burden that comes with authority, was able to become the leader of one of the fallen kingdoms.

Unfortunately, he didn't.

And so, he spoke soon after the miracle queen was done.

"Now that we are done, and the sun is about to set, I think that it is safe to assume that the pirate you mentioned ought to have arrived by now" War was coming. This was not a question of it any longer. Nor was it even a question of how. The most prominent question was when?

Queen Mavena focused her gaze back on him. A small wave of tiredness escaped her lips. She cleared her throat and responded. "From what he told me, he should be here at any mome ---".

Suddenly, a loud, heavy knock echoed through the room.


Despite the interruption caused by the heavy knocking on the door, the miraculous queen seemed oddly pleased.

"Open the door and let them in!" Queen Mavena barked her orders to the soldiers who stood at attention by the door.


As the door swung open, it wasn't hard to know why she was so pleased.

Grand Duke Liam, for the first time, properly arranged his sitting position in order to properly scrutinize him. Even if the features of the man they were waiting for were not properly described to him, from his position, he could tell that this was him… the pirate that they had all been waiting for…. The banished prince of the Endossa Empire.

Dressed in a tattered brown coat, with a black undershirt and boots, and equally disheveled brown trousers, his unkempt hair caked with snow and dirt, the man before him spoke volumes without saying a wor--

Grand Duke Liam's eyes shot up.

This ---

This overwhelming magical energy ---

How old was the banished prince of Endossa, he wanted to know.

No! He wasn't surprised by the large amount of magical energy that radiated from the banished prince but was astounded by the density of it.

With this kind of potent mana that encircled him and radiated off of him, Grand Duke Liam knew that the man in front of him could cast spells and techniques with ease.

His footsteps rang as he step into the room, boldly. "My queen" He stopped and bowed down in front of Queen Mavena. "I hope that I am not late" He smiled. His pearly white rows of teeth diverged off some kind of aura towards the miracle queen.

Grand Duke Liam blinked. He had almost missed it. With his years of experience as a potent man, he had almost missed a scene of the queen being wooed in front of him.

'Prospertrous' he thought. 'Can't he read the room?'.

"Hmmm….. I had almost thought that you didn't take my alliance to heart and left" She responded.

The banished prince's tongue clicked with denial as he shook his head in refusal. "I am late, but it was for a good reason".

"Oh! What is so important that made you make us wait for too long?" Grand Duke Liam interjected, drawing the attention of everyone towards himself. His question hit the air with a grace of authority that had been formed from decades of experience.

Queen Mavena nodded her head in agreement too. "I am curious too. Was there any problem that delayed you in getting here, and considering your strength, is it one that we should be wary of?".

Grand Duke Liam peeled his ears and listened, ready to unleash a barrage of questions to test the character of the man in front of him.

His strength was…. okay.

But his character was where it lies, directing how such strength would be used. After all, strength without character was like a blade without a hilt.

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