The next day, with the full plan in hand, the king called for another meeting of the nine sovereigns.
Each and every one of the sovereigns actually felt happy that they were having so many meetings, as there had been a long gap after that first one where they had been anointed which had made them fear whether the King was going back to his old ways.
This time, they were treated to a pleasant surprise as they found that Aran had broken through to become a warrior.
He had been quite incorrigible even when he was a Human, and he was known for his cheeky remarks and the fact that he had almost no filter.
Now, it looked like this would be taken to another level, as there was already an ever-present smirk on his face, as if he knew something that others didn’t.
Typically, he would already have been hounding Cassandra or irritating her in some manner which was something that gave him a lot of pleasure, but because she was absent, he had no one to target.
Initially, he had considered the others, but he had had to reject each one.
For instance, Kellor was almost always stoic, and he seldom engaged in banter. When he did, though, he was pretty smart, but those occasions were just a bit too rare.
He didn’t even consider Robert as, for some reason, he felt that he would be able to put him on his back in a moment even though he was still a Human.
The grizzled ex-Captain commanded that kind of respect.
Then there were Elanev and Faxul, and both of them gave him a feeling of danger, which meant that it would just be dumb to go looking for trouble with them. Hell, they might even relish in beating him easily, even if he used his full powers. He had just broken through, after all.
Finally, Eloise was too sweet, and he would never be able to bear it if he brought to tears.
An expression of irritation appearing on his face, he realized that he really, really missed Cassandra. He had heard of the story of her power, and if he hadn’t gone through the full manuscript of the Mindhunter Champion Path, he might even have felt sad that his friend had gone ahead by leaps and bounds. Yet, he wasn’t so sure of that anymore. At least, he had full confidence in the fact that their status quo remained the same – Cassandra had always been just a little bit more powerful than him, but he had always been smarter.
Hence, it made for an even match, which was just perfect.
Disturbing his ruminations, the king entered the meeting and immediately began speaking.
“Right, I have devised a plan to handle the Queen. Now, before I tell you about it, it might sound a bit unconventional, but just understand that this is the best way that we can win without attracting too much attention. Attention is the one thing we can do without right now, so that is for the best.”
Five minutes later, the minds of the seven Sovereigns who were present were all blank, as they would never have expected that the king would come up with something like this.
Eloise was one of those who was most shocked, though, but after a few seconds, a tinkling laugh appeared from her, and the others couldn’t help but join in.
Yes, if they carried this out, it would definitely be a sight to see.
Seeing them all laughing, the king heaved a sigh of relief and said, “Good, then. Now, we need to do a few things to make sure that everything goes in the way we want it to. First and foremost, we need to manipulate the Queen to call a grand meeting of all those who are newly joining her.”
Elanev spoke up. Aran looked at him with interest, as he had found out that after an incident in the sect of the Big Four that they had gone to, he had been allowed full rights and privileges to enter and exit the sect as he pleased. So, a mage had been assigned to him who teleported him here if he was needed, and then teleported him back so that he could continue his training. Aran had no idea what kind of training the man was going through, but one thing was certain: whatever it was, it was definitely pretty damn brutal, which was evident from the bandages that surrounded his body that made him look as if he would start dripping blood from his whole body if they were removed.
“Won’t it be easy? Doesn’t it just make sense to call a gathering of all the new people so that they can be integrated into the kingdom?”
“That would be true, if she were going about it in the traditional way. Because she is using that spell, it doesn’t really matter whether she holds a gathering or not. She just needs them to come to her kingdom, and after that, their fate is sealed. Besides, if we push her into calling for a meeting to brazenly, she might also get suspicious, and I don’t need to tell you all just how astute she can be. She was the Chief Commander of all the armies of the Empire, and, according to Drakos, at one point, enemies used to cower on the battlefield as soon as they found out that she would be the one leading the troops on the other side. She was ruthless, and after some time in the military, she is supposed to have built up a genius-level intellect that can handle any and all situations. That…is also the reason why I’m going for something out of the norm.”
Hearing the list of accomplishments took away the breath of the Sovereigns, and made them enter deep through.
Angaria really was a den of vipers and snakes. No sooner had they handled that damn Empire Spirit of Axelor, this one had become a threat.
After a few seconds of silence during which no one could come up with an idea, it was Eloise who finally spoke up, and as the others heard her, one thought crossed their minds.
With all the exposure and experience she had gotten from practically running the Kingdom in Daneel’s stead till now, she had really grown into someone with an incredibly analytical mind from the little girl who had almost been executed after the downfall of the previous King.
Even the King leaned back and thought about for it a bit, before clapping his hands and exclaiming that it was perfect.
So…they got down to it, right away.
In the Kingdom of Arafell, the citizens were talking among themselves about the influx of newcomers into their Kingdom.
These people were long-time residents of the Kingdom, and they were all also life-time admirers of the Queen. Every time they were able to even see her in person was considered a festival, and many even dreamed of the day when they might get the chance to actually talk to her.
For them, she was an ethereal being who sat in the sky and showered goodwill down upon them. Their Kingdom had always had excellent living conditions when compared to the others, and although that might not be the case right now due to the rise of the Alliance, everyone was still very happy.
As for the Giants, nothing even needed to be said about them. They worshipped the Queen, and their gentle mentalities also allowed them to thoroughly mix into human society and become integral members of many families.
One such conversation was going on between two shopkeepers who were quite glad that their sales had gone up, so they were remarking on the reason and hoping that the trend would continue.
“They should consider themselves lucky, you know. You remember how strict the conditions were to enter this Kingdom back in the day? I remember that rigorous tests were done where each and every thing was tested, from how someone reacted to specific situations and what they liked and disliked. Now…there’s nothing like that, at all.”
On the wide road in the capital, these two were standing in some shade beneath a tree and observing the passing people during the break they were taking from work.
Hearing him, the other man replied, “Well, for some reason, I think that they would easily pass the test even if it was administered. Have you talked to any of them? I was talking to one casually…he was completely normal at one point, but after I said ‘Praise the Queen’, he began heaping praises on her, as if I actually meant it instead of just saying it like we always do…it was weird, to be honest.”
Shrugging, his friend said, “Well, eccentric people exist everywhere. In the Black Raven Kingdom, it’s said that a citizen can’t even sleep if they haven’t been to a Battle Royale. They say that Ravens are worshipped so much that some even spend their whole lives taking care of the animals, and the government even pays them for it.”
Their conversation was interrupted when they saw a giant bump into a man who wasn’t wearing local garb.
The giant had been carrying a huge bag of wheat from one side of the road to another, and when it saw what had happened, it said, “Gorat sorry!”
The poor man had fallen over, and as he got up and dusted off his clothes, he smiled good-naturedly and asked, “It’s all right. Can you tell me where this address is? I’m new here, and I got a job in this place…”
Instantly dropping that huge sack in his hands in the middle of the road, the giant smiled wide and said, “Oh, newcomer? Queen says all newcomers very welcome! All giants should help! Come, Gorat will show.”
And that…was when the ‘change’ happened.
The moment the word ‘Queen’ was heard by the man, he said, “The Queen! Oh, how kind and caring she is. I feel so happy that I can be in her Kingdom!”
Nodding, the giant said, “Yes! Also beautiful and smart! Queen take care of all giants!”
“Wow! She must be a goddess sent by the Heavens!”
“Queen more than Goddess! Queen…Queen!”
“Yes, more! She must be…”
For 10 minutes, the two kept exchanging more and more outrageous statements regarding the Queen, with the two shopkeepers looking on, gobsmacked, while their jaws hung open.
Finally, it was only broken up because a guard had come over as the road was being blocked.
As the two departed, the second shopkeeper looked at the first with skepticism and said, “‘Eccentric’, right?”
The sarcasm was evident, but the first one just shook his head and replied, “Yes, I still call it that. It’s best not to ask too many questions. You know what happens to those who ask too many questions.”
Sweat instantly appeared on the other man’s face as he heard this, and with nary a word more, the two left.
Meanwhile, the Queen of Arafell had been seeing all this from her Palace.
“Queen, what do we do if they get too suspicious?”
With a humph, the Queen replied to the little girl she was inhabiting.
“It’s all right. After the third seal opens, I’ll release the spell. But, until then…maybe we should do something, too. I-”
Interrupted by a sudden knock on the door, the Queen frowned, but let it open.
In ran a man who said, “My Queen, the Network! The King is making a surprise announcement!”
Hearing this, the Queen instantly walked to her Throne from the balcony she had been standing in and activated the display trinket.
In it, the King was comfortably sitting on a grand throne and addressing those watching.
“This is to all those who have graced the Alliance by joining us. I will be hosting a large gathering to commemorate this next step in your lives, and all of you are invited. After all, as your new leader, it would be strange if I did not accord you at least this courtesy. Such important moments in your lives should be celebrated, and that is exactly what we will be doing. In fact, I even encourage those who haven’t joined, or have joined other Kingdoms to come, as this will be open to all. Come, and see all the dreams of yours that will come true in the Alliance. Come, and enjoy. Come, and be welcomed…to the Alliance!”
As applause from an unknown source was heard, the Queen grit her teeth.
She could clearly tell that this was so that those who hadn’t been reached by her emissaries yet would be further moved to join him.
No! She couldn’t let that happen.
Immediately, she called for the top-most minister under her and said, “Arrange an even grander gathering for all the newcomers to our Kingdom! We have much more people, so his should seem lackluster compared to ours! Go all out- I will personally be involved in the planning! Go now, and begin! We should be able to announce it by tonight!”