Chapter 1

"I've told you for the fifth time today…I'm not hungry. Not in the slightest."

"I know what you've told me, Sir, but yet your stomach would suggest otherwise." A small gurgling rumble filled the air, as if to add to the conversation on cue. The man continued. "Are you sure you won't reconsider? The food today looks rather delicious, if you ask me."

"Really? Well then why don't you eat it?"

"I was ordered to bring it to you, Sir. Doing so would not be appropriate."

"Seriously? It's called sarcasm, Anders. You've been our butler for seventeen years now! The least you could do is recognize it."

"My apologies, Sir. I forgot that 'sarcasm' was your specialty."

"Oh, of course, you simply forgot. It's not like that's a foreign concept for me or anything, people forgetting about me."

"Shall I inform the King that you refuse his offering, then?"

The man sitting down on the bench remained motionless for a moment before briskly standing up and walking towards the patient Anders, who was holding the plate of food in his hands in silence.

"You consider this 'food'? I mean look at this mess! It's all mushed together and soggy. It's not even lukewarm! What makes you think I'll eat this?!"

"To be fair, Sir, it would've been warm and not so, 'soggy', if one had agreed to take it when I first presented it."

"Alright, so it's my fault then. I'll admit it. Happy now?"

"Sir, I'd be happy if you just accepted the food and let me get back to my palace duties. I didn't count on this taking too long, and I'm starting to get rather col-"

"FINE! I'll take the stupid food." The man knelt down and reached through the gap at the bottom of the steel bars he was encased in to grab the plate as Anders slid it through. He didn't even bother standing back up as he began to reluctantly pick at the food, listening to the butler's footsteps as he began his exit.

"Is there anything else, within reason, that I can do for you, Sir?" Anders swiftly asked, standing just at the entrance of the room they were in. The man in the cage just scoffed.

"No, I guess not." He took a nibble of some of the food on his plate and made a face, obviously not pleased. "You know, for the record, you get used to the cold, damp feeling down here after a while." he added, remembering Anders' comment of the temperature just a moment ago. The servant let out a sigh and cleared his throat.

"I would surely hope so, Prince Hans, because from what I understand, you're going to be in this dungeon for a long time."

It had taken approximately eight minutes and thirty-seven seconds for Hans to go from the prison chambers of the ship he sailed from Arendelle, to the prison chambers of his home back in the Southern Isles. In front of the entire royal family and staff, Lord Gunnar, who had accompanied Prince Hans on his journey, informed the King of his youngest son's vile behavior and his attempts at murdering both Queen Elsa and Princess Anna of Arendelle. Before he could even speak on his own behalf, Hans was taken to the dungeons, as per the King's demand. He was ordered to stay there for an entire year's time without any of the luxuries he was accustomed to, such as a warm bed and finely prepared meals, or even simple luxuries like a window to look out of, or the freedom to wander about the kingdom, let alone the castle, as he pleased. Had he been just a commoner on the streets, his sentence would've been far worse, possibly including death. He was a prince, though, as well as the King's son, and as such his punishment wasn't nearly as gruesome as many would've liked to see carried out.

This didn't mean the King would go easy on him, however. Hans knew this. He spent the entire journey back to the Southern Isles fearing what his father would do to him. He wasn't his father's favorite of the bunch, and this sort of crime shamed the whole of the royal family, disgracing the entire kingdom along with it. Hans knew this would make him the black sheep of the family. It would give his brothers plenty of material to work with when it came to teases and taunts. The kingdom had trusted him in representing the Southern Isles in a respectable and courteous manner during Elsa's Coronation celebration, and instead he practically spat in the face of anyone associated with the event. Hans knew all of this, and he understood the severity of his actions. He didn't need the dungeon and the dampened cold to make him aware of it. He had had plenty of time on the way back to think about all he'd done and said.

Deep down though, he still wanted a throne. He wasn't sorry, had no real regrets, other than what he could've done differently so that his plan would've worked. He treated this all like a game, and that being in this dungeon was just punishment for playing the game poorly. He loathed Anna for so many reasons, and detested Elsa for most of the same. They prevented him from becoming King. They didn't want him to have what he wanted and stopped him. As far as Hans was concerned, they were just as horrible as his twelve inconsiderate brothers, yet he was the one to suffer while they roam their lands freely without care or scolding. He felt the world was ganging up on him, and that life was dealing him a rather shoddy hand to play. For now, he decided to just wait this round out in his very own dungeon, and see if the world got any better for him with time. It was all he could count on.

Across the land that connected all the various kingdoms together was one in particular that resided west of Arendelle, named Grimmstade. It was the second largest kingdom in the entire County, behind Arendelle itself, as it were. Its King and Queen were beloved by all in their land, as well as their five Princes and Princesses. Three sons and two daughters made up the royal kin. The oldest daughter and second youngest overall, Laila, was the most social and interactive of all of them. She made a point of visiting the townspeople every day, talking with them and partaking in their daily activities as much as she could. She felt it important to know the kingdom her father and mother ruled over, and even though she was pretty certain she would never be in a ruling position, her stance on the matter never changed. The entire kingdom loved her all the more for it, and she never regretted her decision thus far.

It was in the prime of the Autumn season when one day, the King announced an upcoming journey to a neighboring kingdom. The entire royal family was seated in the dining hall for supper when he decided to bring up the matter.

"Would any of you wish to travel with me on a kingdom surveillance trip? There are a few kingdoms that I wish to do trade with, and I'd like to scope them out before I make any concrete decisions."

Almost immediately, two feminine hands shot up high into the air, and almost just as quickly, they fell back down. The two princesses saw the look their mother, the Queen, gave them in response to their inappropriate manner and quickly corrected themselves accordingly. Laila was the one to speak.

"Father, Astrid and myself would love to accompany you on your trip." she said formally, glancing at her mother who nodded in approval of her response. The youngest daughter and child overall, Astrid, smiled as wide as she could whilst trying not to bounce in her seat. The princesses loved travelling, more so than the princes, and hardly passed the opportunity to see new places, and recount unfamiliar ones of visits past. The King and Queen never understood why only they enjoyed it so much and not their brothers, but were glad the two sisters could at least experience their journeys together. The King nodded firmly at Laila's response and raised his chalice to reaffirm so.

"Good to hear. I know you two love our travels together, and I suspect this one shall be no different. We have three kingdoms to survey, and I intend on spending a few days at each one to get a firm grasp on how business works there. I trust that will be alright with you two?"

The young women both nodded enthusiastically, Astrid more so than Laila, and the King continued.

"Very well. We leave first thing in the morning. Our first stop will be the Southern Isles, which is a great deal south of here..."

"Wow, who would've thought the Southern Isles were SOUTH of us?!" one of the princes playfully muttered to the others. Three male chuckles filled the air, and even with the glare of their matriarch, the giggles couldn't be helped. The King cleared his throat.

"Fredrik, since you seem to be energetic enough for the rest of us, it seems as though you won't be needing your dessert after all." he said simply, taking the bowl of chocolate truffles away from his youngest son and handing it to a kitchen staff member who was standing nearby. Fredrik silenced himself immediately and hoped his sudden attempt at a respectable demeanor would bring his precious truffles back. Alas, they never made their way back around, and disappeared behind the kitchen doors without even so much as a farewell. He chose to hold back his tears until he could grieve in peace. The King simply laughed at this display and took a drink from his chalice. "As I was saying, our first stop is the Southern Isles. I continuously hear nothing but good things about their specific trading of certain types of metals. I know we have more than sufficient amounts here in Grimmstade, but I feel we'd get a better variety if we traded with them. I seem to recall a certain type that was known to..." Laila, who had been listening intently up to this point, had officially lost interest in the conversation her father was having. Her siblings seemed to react the same way, staring off into space, looking up at the ceiling, swirling the remaining food on their plates in an attempt at mediocre entertainment. The only one who was still paying him any mind was their mother, and as long as at least one person was listening, her father would continue to speak.

Laila had other things to think about now, such as what she and Astrid would be doing once they were on their journey, what dresses to wear, what sights to see, etc. She felt her heart warm at the thought of all the people she would meet, all the scenery, and all the various other things she would encounter outside of her kingdom, so much so that she could practically feel the warmth reaching her face and causing her to grin to herself. She glanced over at her sister, who in turn looked over at her, and they both shared an excited smile. It was the kind of smile they shared when they knew they were in for an adventure, one that was apparently set to begin in the Southern Isles.