I. My Worth
When I opened my eyes, I was surprised to find myself in a luxurious place.
There was a lone man sitting in the huge room. He was dressed in fancy clothes, but appeared to be in his fifties.
“Looks like he could be useful.”
He probably came to this deduction after observing me for a few seconds.
He is my Master Attendant. From his conversation, I found out that he was a royalty of the country, the King's younger brother.
Although he was looking at me, he didn't seem to be talking to me. I couldn't see myself in those eyes.
I certainly did not expect to be summoned by a person like this.
He walked slowly towards me, with an annoying smile on his face.
"If you are a food soul, you should be able to accomplish lots of things that we humans are not able to, right?"
He patted my shoulder as if I was a lifeless doll.
I didn't like his actions, but I couldn't do anything to stop him either. After all, he is my Master Attendant. To food souls, they have the complete authority.
However, I began doubting it the next instant. Why was he clutching the dagger that was stabbed into my abdomen?
"Cassata, you are to obey and serve me from now on!"
Those words sounded like a curse, dragging me into the darkness.
I did not dare to look at his expression. From the moment we met, I realized that his smile held greedy intentions.
What does he want? To judge my loyalty?
He pulled out the dagger. The pain was more excruciating than I thought it would be.
I held a hand to my wound and stumbled a few steps back. My whole body felt weak. As my strength left me, it was gradually replaced with a pain that could be felt deep in my bones.
"I need an obedient spy to stay close to the King. Fortunately, my brother goes to the church every week to pray for his beloved daughter. You shall pretend to be a homeless food soul who happens to pass by."
He spoke as if he was narrating a fairy tale.
"But no one must know that you are my food soul."
I bit down hard on my lip, causing a metallic taste to fill my mouth. I could feel the contract binding me to his orders slowly weakening.
"You do understand that I do not need useless things, don't you?"
Useless things? So I am just an object at your disposal right from the start.
My wound was healing too slowly. I caught sight of a logo made up of a pair of intertwined snakes on the dagger just before I lost consciousness completely.
Why am I brought into this world?
The man who is my Master Attendant was not even looking forward to my existence. All he needed was a tool to obey him.
Is this the purpose of a food soul’s existence?
When I woke up a second time, I was already at the countryside.
I've yet to recover from both the severed contract and the physical wound. With great effort, I tried to take in my surroundings.
There was a church nearby, just like he had said. Sun rays reflected off the beautiful building, but it only made me feel desolated.
At that moment, I never imagined that one day I would be grateful towards the man who used to be my Master Attendant.
If it wasn't for his plans, I probably would not have met them.
II. Inescapable Destiny
The countryside has always been a perfect place for the fallen angels to hide. I was no exception.
When the fallen angels spotted me, they started attacking ferociously. My attempt at escaping only made me look pathetic.
If I am really just a tool in humans’ fight for power, perhaps it might be better to end it here.
I smiled. As the fallen angel came closer to me, I closed my eyes.
"Never close your eyes in a situation like this!"
A cheerful voice sounded from above. It belonged to a blond teenager in a blue cloak. He landed next to me and waved the flag in his hand to fend off the fallen angels.
"Although I'm probably not in any position to say this."
He turned around and gave me a smile that was brighter than the sun, even though I was a stranger he had just met.
Ah… What an idiot…
That was the only thought that came to mind as I watched him.
"Are you alright?"
Not a single trace of reservation was shown towards me.
“Oh my gosh, you’re badly hurt! You have to come back with me!”
I wasn’t expecting him to be such a boisterous person…
It was clearly a demand, but somehow, I felt relieved. A sudden weariness washed over me and gradually took what was left of my consciousness with it.
Whatever happens… I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.
The body of a food soul is indeed still too weak for my expectations.
When I woke up, I was lying on a comfortable bed. I shifted my gaze from the elaborated ceiling to the side of my bed. That idiot whom I’ve just met had fallen asleep at the edge of the bed.
His blond hair was bathed in the sunlight and his features were akin to that of an innocent child. Though it would have been better if he wasn’t drooling.
Is he a food soul like me?
It was hard to imagine the kind of world he lives in.
I gently poked his cheek with my finger. He brushed away my finger and mumbled in his sleep.
“Ah.. Cheese, I can’t finish it…”
"Pizza! He's awake! Why are you still sleeping?!"
A girl dressed in a long white dress pinched Pizza's face.
"Ouch! Cheese! How can you bear to pinch my handsome face!"
Pizza cupped his cheek, his eyes still blurry from sleep.
"Looks like you are not fully awake~"
Cheese twitched her ears and a devious smile spread across her face. She swished her tail in a beautiful arc and placed an ice bag at the back of Pizza's neck.
"Ahh it's so cold! Cheese what are you doing!?"
"Heehee I just took out these ice cubes~ Now you're awake~"
Pizza did not seem to be angry over it. Suddenly, he turned to look at me. "Eh? You are awake? That's great! You were out for so long, I thought you would never wake up…"
"Ah! The wound still hurts? I'm so sorry!"
This fellow really is an open book… All his feelings are always displayed out on his face for all to see.
"Pizza you idiot. He has a really deep wound!"
Cheese handed me the ice bag. "Here, put this over your wound, although I'm not sure if it works on food souls."
"Cheese, do you think he knows how to talk?"
"Shut up". Cheese elbowed Pizza in the stomach.
"Where am I….?" Although I was not planning on spending too much time with them, I still ought to know where I was.
"You finally spoke! Oh yes! What's your name?"
Pizza looked at me as if he had just discovered a new continent.
"This is the palace. Pizza and the King found you outside the church."
"I was the one who saved you! Haha! Aren't I amazing~ We can go on adventures together in future! Ouch ouch ouch~ Cheese let me go!"
"Don't mind him, he likes to joke around. Your wound hasn't healed yet so please have a good rest!"
"Cheese! Let me go! It hurts!"
"Stop disturbing him and let him rest!"
They left the room noisily. I peered at the ice bag in my hands .
In the end, I could not stop what was meant to happen.
I have entered the palace successfully just as he had expected.
What am I suppose to do next?
The door opened again.
An elderly man dressed in royal clothing walked into the room with a warm smile and stood by my bed.
"I see you've met Pizza and Cheese. Pizza is my food soul, and Cheese is my daughter's food soul. I have no idea what has happened to you, but if you'd like to, you can stay here and keep them company."
"… Aren't you afraid that I am plotting something?"
"Pizza is a very understanding child, he rarely asks me for anything. This is his first request so I will not let him down."
"He hopes that I will allow you to stay."
"Regardless of any intentions that you may have, you are hurt badly so I don't think you have a much better life out there. Moreover, Pizza was worried that it would be difficult for you If you were to wander around without a master attendant."
He gave me an reassuring smile and patted me lightly on the shoulder.
"I, personally, am not worried about your motives for coming here. Just promise me one thing. Do not harm my children, alright?"
However, if I continued staying here, I cannot guarantee that I will keep that promise. Because that man may order me to commit heinous deeds. His words were even more horrifying than curses.
I can't stay here forever. So I tried to sneak away when no one was watching.
Just as I was preparing to climb over the wall, a familiar figure appeared from the other side of the wall and landed on top of me.
I guess I can never truly escape from this person.
Having gotten my wound hurt again, I could not help but let out a groan.
"I am so sorry!"
He is such a weird boy. I am the one who's hurt and bleeding, but he's the one who is crying. Drop by drop, his tears landed on my face.
"Why…why are you crying?"
I couldn't understand what Pizza was thinking.
"Because you are not crying even though it's obvious it hurts! Even when you were about to be killed by the fallen angel…. You…. You were smiling…"
Tears rolled down his cheeks silently.
What..? This person is crying because of me? The worthless me?
"It's not painful anymore. It healed."
Even though it was a lie, it seemed to work.
"Really. By the way, were you going to find the King?"
"Nope! I am going to find the princess! Do you want to come along…er…erm…"
"Cassata, my name is Cassata."
The desire to protect him probably started from that day.
III. The Assailant
Soon, I became appointed as Pizza's guard and stayed in the palace.
The King is Pizza's master attendant. Unlike mine, he did not see Pizza as his tool and treated him like a son. The princess, who is Cheese's master attendant, loved Cheese as if she was her own sister.
The king treated me very well too. He provided me with a nice and warm room, delicious food and tailor-made clothes.
As I watched Pizza and Cheese fool around, my mind started to wonder.
Master attendants do care for their food souls…
Food souls do not exist solely to be used as tools by humans…
Pizza, Cheese and the princess noticed the casual smile that had unknowingly appeared on my face.
"Cassata! Did you just smile?"
"I do know how to smile, don't I?"
"No no no, I mean, your smile looks so much better than before!"
"You mean his smile wasn't nice before?"
"I…I didn't say that!"
"Alright alright. Stop arguing, you two… Cassata recalled a happy memory right? Cough…cough cough."
I've never had any happy memories before. Everything that could be counted as a memory only started after I met them. When I am with them, I forget about the things that made me anxious and upset; I can talk and laugh freely.
The King and the princess never discriminated against me despite not knowing about my past, treating me like their child and friend. Time spent with them has been the best time of my life ever since I was summoned.
However, the princess fell very sick after some time.
Her immune system has been weak since birth. The King took great care of her but couldn't heal the illness that the princess had inherited from her mother.
The princess's illness gradually took a turn for the worse.
I grabbed her hand and snatched the handkerchief which she was attempting to hide. A smear of bright red appeared on the lightly-scented handkerchief.
Pizza and Cheese were stunned.
The princess looked at me with a bitter smile on her face. "I hid this from them, but I couldn't hide this from you, Cassata…"
I knew how important the princess was to them. Likewise, they were important to the princess too, or else she would not have pleaded for me to take good care of them. Of course, I would have done so even if the princess had not requested it.
The princess's illness eventually worsened. The King was exasperated and felt hopeless.
Fortunately, not long after, a mysterious merchant came.
He called himself Vita and claimed that he is able to heal the princess's illness, and improve her immune system.
The princess did get better under his care but it did not last long. The King fell into a state of depression once again and almost went crazy.
Unfortunate events often happen simultaneously. While everyone was trying to help the princess recover, Pizza disappeared.
I was about to leave the palace to find him, when I ran into a man whom I haven't seen in a long time at the door.
"Haven't seen you for a long time, Cassata."
I had feared that this moment would happen. Despite that, I cannot leave. I will protect Pizza no matter what, even if it means sacrificing my life.
So I came to my master attendant's house in the middle of the night.
My master attendant was the King's most trusted brother, but he wanted to steal the throne for himself. To him, it was more important than anything else.
"Cassata, this is Mr Vita. This time, he will enter the palace to help me out too. The throne should have been mine a long time ago!"
Vita smiled at me politely.
But when I noticed the logo on the box that he was holding, I clenched my fists. It featured two intertwined snakes. That same logo was on the dagger that I was stabbed with. I finally understood everything.
"Why would a mysterious merchant side with the King's brother… Mr Vita, I think you owe me an explanation."
I looked at him coldly, but he didn’t seem perturbed by it.
"You will pay the price according to your answer."
Vita, who was about to take a sip of the black tea, cocked an eyebrow in shock.
"Pay the price? Haha…."
He laughed as if he had just heard something hilarious.
"I don't remember having done anything to have angered you. But you, did you forget whose side you are on? The people in the palace are only your stepping stones, aren't they?"
"What? Enjoying too much of that good life that you’ve forgotten the reason for summoning you? "
Like a devil's whisper, his gentle words stirred up a storm in my mind.
Yes, I have forgotten. The carefree days spent with them in the palace were only part of a huge lie.
"The story is about to reach its climax. We’ll have to trouble you for the remaining period of time."
As I watched Vita leave, I could not bring myself to berate him like how I had a while ago.
I had never told Pizza the truth. I had never told him the reason for my appearance by the church or the plans that this guy harbored. I was on the villain's side right from the start.
But it is different now. I am Pizza's guard. I am supposed to protect him.
"So Cassata, we will follow the plan…."
"Cassata, what did you say?"
His smile dissolved into something terrifying.
"I am your master……"
"You were never my master attendant. Never was, and never will be."
With that, I walked away without looking back.
IV. To Live For You
Just as I was about to leave the place, I saw a familiar
blue cloak in a servant's hand. It was spotted with blood.
The next moment, I was already grabbing the servant by his collar. "Where did this cloak come from?"
The petrified servant quickly told me the location. Following the directions that he gave, I reached a locked iron door. Behind the door was a dimly lit room with a small window next to it.
Through the dust-covered window, I finally found Pizza. He was lying on a stone table, his face pale and his eyebrows furrowed in pain.
I heard my teeth grind together and took a deep breath to calm myself down. I took a careful look at the surroundings.
The guy named Vita was standing beside Pizza. He brushed Pizza's hair aside and squeezed Pizza's chin, as if he was observing a laboratory animal. After several checks and observations, he simply abandoned Pizza to one side.
Pizza's head landed against the stone table with a thump. I couldn't contain my anger any longer.
How dare he? How dare he!
When I came back to my senses, I had already barged into the room. I will never forgive anyone who harms Pizza.
Vita was not as simple as I had expected but there was no time left for hesitation. Avoiding his attacks, I hurried towards Pizza.
I was desperately trying to free Pizza from the chains that bound him. Despite trying to avoid the barrage of attacks, a stab of pain still erupted in my left eye as blood began flowing from it. I couldn’t open my left eye.
But I can’t give up… How can I give up on that idiot?
After what seemed like forever, I finally managed to free Pizza from the stone table. But Vita had no intention of letting us go easily. He told us about the things he had done and divulged everything about himself, including his real name, Whiskey.
Then, I witnessed an impossible scene.
Pizza lost his composure and his lifeless eyes filled with hatred. His flag was swallowed by a black flame, turning into a huge scythe.
Before I could stop him, he swung it towards Vita.
What happened when I wasn’t around?
How did this happen?
I could not figure out an answer.
My instincts told me that it had something to do with Whiskey. At that moment, I realized how dangerous Whiskey is.
We didn’t stand a chance against him in our current state, so I brought Pizza away from that place.
Finally, we found a place to hide and catch our breath.
"Pizza, are you ok?"
Pizza had never looked so lost. He glanced at himself and laughed lightly.
"I look exactly like you when I found you…”
His usual smile caused a stabbing pain to slice through my heart.
I was always saved by him in the past.
So I will risk everything to save him.
I did not probe into his relationship with Whiskey, but his expression told me everything.
Pizza, you probably don't know that I am hiding a lot of things from you. But now is not the time…..
One day, I will definitely tell you everything……
"I will always protect you."
"After all, I am your guard."
"Oh, thank you, Cassata."
All negative feelings were chased away instantly with his smile.
Because of you, I'm alive.
From Cassata’s point of view, he had two lives.
The first, was the day he was summoned.
The contract ended just when he got to know that the well-dressed man was his Master Attendant. In that moment, Cassata realized that he meant nothing to that man.
The second, was when his real life began. When he had wanted to end his life under the hands of the fallen angels, a ray of light woke him up from the nightmare.
Pizza's smile was the only ray of light in Cassata's life. Even in the face of ferocious creatures, he kept his child-like smile on. Only someone who loves this world so wholeheartedly could smile like this. Others may think that Pizza is simple-minded, but he was a source of inspiration for Cassata.
From that moment onward, Cassata stopped rejecting life and learned to have faith in this world again.
He believed that was when he started to really live.
Pizza has the ability to influence people, his smile could warm the hearts of others in times of difficulty.
Pizza’s actions saved Cassata and encouraged him to be a better version of himself. He forced himself to forget about his past and to never bring it up again.
The days in the beginning were pleasant. It made Cassata smile whenever he thought about it.
They went to the orchard to steal apples, climbed onto the rooftop to admire the stars, and ate cookies in the garden…
The simple yet wonderful life seemed to be demonstrating to Cassata that his past was merely a nightmare that no longer exists after he awakened.
But reality pulled him back from that dream.
Just as he had almost forgotten about his past, the princess's illness became the cause of a chain of tragedies.
The merchant who came to treat the princess's illness, the King who was slowly losing his mind, and the sudden disappearance of Pizza.
All these events eventually led to the disastrous outcome.
The merchant, who was working with the King's brother to fulfil his own selfish intentions, finally removed the King's last line of defense.
But Cassata did not dare to confess to Pizza, the person who had saved him from his miseries. Because he had gotten close to them with the initial intention to cause harm… He is a liar who thought he could easily get rid of his past and lead a perfect life.
Cassata could not bear to imagine that one day, Pizza would look at him with a loathing expression.
When he brought Pizza back to the palace, they received news that the King had passed away. Without a chance to even explain themselves, they were labelled as culprits for the king's death and placed on the "wanted" list.
When cassata tried to sneak pizza back into the palace through a secret passageway, they found Cheese crying inside.
"The princess…princess instructed me to look for you guys.."
After they left the kingdom, they traveled to several places.
On a usual day, Pizza and Cheese would browse through the new and fancy stuffs sold on the streets while Cassata stood under a tree, watching them.
He couldn't help but touch the scar on his face. It reminded him of the events that had happened in the palace every single time.
"What are you thinking about?"
An icy and gentle voice sounded from the other side of the tree. Cassata knew that it belonged to Whiskey, and Whiskey did not bother to hide himself either.
"What if one day, they figured out who you really are?"
Cassata's heart pounded. He couldn't tell if it was out of anger or fear. He rushed towards the other side of the tree, but Whiskey had already left. Even the words from a moment ago felt like hallucinations.
"Cassata, is the weather too warm?"
Pizza stood before Cassata, his arms full with food.
Cassata suddenly realized that his forehead was sweating.
"The lady gave us a lot of food! She gave a lot to Cheese too! Wait, Cheese? Where's yours? "
"I ate them! Carrying all the food was exhausting!"
"You ate them again? Tsk tsk tsk"
"Pizza, if you still treasure your life, you'd better shut up."
The King and princess had both passed away, so he had missed his chance to confess the truth. Cassata always knew that he could not erase the past no matter how he may try to explain himself.
"Cassata, I heard that the King's brother passed away too."
"I wonder what will happen to the kingdom?"
Cassata smiled coldly, "Those who befriend the devil, will be killed by the devil eventually."
"…..Nothing, let's go"