I. Qualified King
I was summoned into a magnificent palace. My Master Attendant is the only child born to the owner of this palace - the only Prince of the country.
The Queen passed away at a young age and was not able to leave behind more children. The King, who loved the Queen deeply, did not marry again.
The boy standing beside his father couldn’t resist the urge to wave at me. He was the one I wanted to protect.
But at that time, I was just like my Prince, immature and naive. My flames contain great power but they weren’t as stable as those of the other food souls.
While I was under their care, His Majesty treated me as if I were his own child and I got to enjoy the best treatment alongside the Prince. The relationship between the Prince and I grew to be more than just that of a Food Soul and a Master Attendant. We were almost like brothers.
His Majesty often watched us play from afar and he was happy to see that we were getting closer to each other with each passing day.
Many ministers had come forth to protest to him, voicing out concerns that I will take away the status and assets of the Prince in the future. But His Majesty never changed his attitude towards me despite their "predictions." Instead, he calmly appeased and persuaded them that it wouldn’t be a problem.
One night, when the prince had fallen into a deep sleep after a day of studying, I was called by His Majesty to meet him at the highest point of the palace. He opened a window and the lights illuminated the land below with a gentle glow. He pointed to the beautiful land and said to me:
"These lands will be your responsibility in the future. I hope that you can protect this land just as how you have guarded my child. Both of you will be the Kings of this land. Its rise and fall, its future… it all hinges on you both. Perhaps, my child and I can't protect this land for a long time… but you have a much longer time than any of us. I hope you can protect it in our stead."
I looked at His Majesty's expression and all the questions that were on my lips were promptly swallowed back down. From that moment on, I decided that I would never betray his trust or let him down in any way.
One day, just as I thought we had ample time to catch up on our learning, the King collapsed without warning.
I am not a qualified guardian. Neither is the Prince a qualified king.
As the Prince’s Food Soul, there wasn’t much need for me to participate in the battles with terrifying Fallen Angels. But for the few battles that I was in, my flames couldn’t ignite in time and it almost gave the Fallen Angels an opportunity to hurt the Prince.
As a Prince, Master Attendant did not have a strong command like his father. He was already struggling to maintain the peace of the country and he was at his limit. Since we are not strong enough on our own, we agreed to combine our strengths and strived to become qualified Kings of this country.
The sudden onus fell onto the Prince’s slender shoulders. But we were determined to take on this heavy responsibility. We will learn to grow up as fast as we can and guard this country that belongs to us. We will not let His Majesty down.
As we were not mature enough, our reliance and dependence on each other became our pillar of support. At this point in time, we can no longer dwell on our decision anymore.
Numerous obstacles came in quick succession, causing the smiles on the Prince's face to dwindle.
I tried to help him as much as I could.
But when the ministers came up to us with difficult questions, we always failed to answer them well.
This not only disappointed those who had high hopes for us. It caused us to be disappointed in ourselves too.
Growing up is an arduous and long process.
But during our journey, there were people who cared about us and gave us a helping hand so at least it wasn't quite as painful.
The Prince has a very good friend. He was slightly older than the Prince and was also the only son of His Majesty's brother.
Strictly speaking, the Prince has to call him ‘brother’. Growing up with the Prince, the two of them have a close relationship. Even after he has mastered the garrison of the King's site and became His Majesty's minister, their relationship did not grow distant despite the difference in their identities; one being the monarch and the other being a minister.
Whenever the Prince and I encountered problems that could not be resolved, we would seek him out for a solution.
I have to say that he's actually a very smart guy, although he wasn't that much of a ladies-man.
Unlike us, he was better at making quick judgement and had far more experience. The Prince and I had both secretly thought that he may be a better candidate as the King of this country instead of us.
Of course, as to why he wasn't good at pleasing ladies, both of us agreed that the talent of doing so was probably all transferred to his Food Soul.
His Food Soul is called Eggnog, who is totally different from him. He is an idiot who likes to bully others.
Eggnog always wears a smile on his face and there will be a commotion among the maids whenever he comes to visit.
But behind his benign and innocuous appearance, he has the soul of a demon.
I have no idea why Eggnog likes me.
When his Master Attendant and I are busy with something important, he likes to come up to me and either poke my cheek or pet my hair.
One day, when I entered Master Attendant's royal study, I found a dignified and elegant woman sitting in there.
The Prince told me that she was the Countess.
According to His Majesty, the Prince's birth mother died when he was very young. In the eyes of the Prince, the Countess existed as his mother figure. She is gentle, dignified and amiable.
Whenever the Prince is exhausted from his duties, she has her own methods to reinvigorate him.
She lost her husband and even had to deal with a group of greedy relatives. Consequently, she lost her own children too. Despite suffering so many misfortunes, she still stayed strong and lived on.
Such a seemingly perfect lady has a Food Soul who frightens me. The Countess calls him Bloody Mary. He has abnormally pale skin and a languid demeanour.
There was always an indistinct aura around him. But every time I tried to distinguish it clearly, it felt like I was overthinking things.
Nonetheless, his aura gave out a bone-chilling sensation that prompted me to keep a distance away from him.
But the others don’t seem to sense it. Even the Prince himself would comfort me and say that it was nothing more than a mere misinterpretation of my senses.
Bloody Mary was so powerful that he could single-handedly dispose those foolish Fallen Angels who attempted to harm the Countess.
Perhaps I had mistaken his strength as a dangerous aura. Still, I can't get over this feeling of hostility and the need to be on my guard.
Every nerve in my body is screaming and cautioning me that this guy is dangerous.
Bloody Mary appears to have noticed my wariness. A sly smile spread across his face as he made his way towards me.
Startled by his approach, I unconsciously tried to back away but my footsteps were stopped by someone behind me.
Eggnog stood behind me. He looked at Bloody Mary without showing any signs of weakness. Yet the warmth in his usual gentle smile did not reach his eyes.
Bloody Mary gave a strange smile, then abruptly turned and left.
At that moment, I realized that notwithstanding his mischief, Eggnog was actually a rather good person.
This relationship lasted for a long time, until a conversation between the Countess and the Prince began to break it apart.
Back then, I was slightly distracted by the pouring rain outside when my Master Attendant called out to me helplessly.
"Turkey... What should I do..."
Since the fall of His Majesty, the Prince was often distressed but he rarely displayed such strong emotions on his face. He looked devastated.
"The Countess said... she found out that he was corrupted and there was evidence of attempting a coup..."
Although the Prince did not explicitly tell me who he was, there was only one person who could make Master Attendant feel this amount of desolation.
That guy... the one guy he regarded as his brother and whom he had asked for help. Eggnog's Master Attendant.
What should we do... Who should we believe?
After that day, Master Attendant and I did not see our most trusted friends for a long time.
He had asked to meet my Master Attendant countless times, but was rejected for some unwise reasons.
The Countess repeatedly requested for the authority to manage the garrison. After hesitating for a long time, Master Attendant finally agreed. Since then, they had stopped approaching us.
Until one day, a furious Eggnog broke past all the guards who tried to stop him and rushed into Master Attendant's study room.
It was my first time seeing him angry.
He crossed towards the desk and grabbed Master Attendant's collar, lifting him up and started bellowing at him in anger.
"I don't care about what you’ve heard nor what you think about us, but now that so many girls have disappeared, how long are you two intending to ignore it! Are you guys waiting till all the girls in the kingdom disappear?!
His words left us in confusion, to the point where I almost forgot to release his grip on Master Attendant’s collar.
"What do you mean by that…"
"Kanaria, Andoris, Jelica. These three are the only ones I know who have disappeared for the past half month. The authority to manage the garrison is gradually being transferred to the Countess and there are insufficient people to investigate into this matter. Have you not heard the Countess talk about this?”
Ever since that conversation with the Countess, almost all the garrison of the capital city, apart from Eggnog's personal knights, were gradually transferred into the Countess's hands.
We have never heard of any reports about girls disappearing from her.
Eggnog stared at the both of us in disbelief, as if he suddenly realized what was going on. He loosened his grip and took half a step back. He started to laugh. There were some traces of taunting in his laughter.
"I should have known earlier. That's right, if it wasn’t for your agreement, the knights wouldn't have fallen into her hands."
"No! We're just..."
Eggnog rubbed his brow and let out a long sigh before reaching out to me all of a sudden. The guards finally caught up. Before he was restrained by the guards, he managed to slip something into my palm.
"If you still believe us, just open it and see." Eggnog left us with these last words and was immediately taken away by the guards on charges for attacking the King. I stared after his back and clenched my fist.
Eggnog gave me a secret letter which mentioned a plan that he and his Master Attendant had carefully laid out to capture the culprit.
After the Prince and I had read the letter, we were hesitant and filled with apprehension.
Nonetheless, we finally came to a decision.
Numerous worst case scenarios had ran through our minds.
But never in our wildest thoughts did we consider the possibility of her being the culprit. Master Attendant and I stared at the body of the Countess for a long time, unable to accept this reality.
Eggnog, who had been released from prison, and his Master Attendant stood in the distance. They gave Master Attendant some personal space while he grieved.
The Countess was like a mother to Master Attendant.
Yet, his mother had attempted to destroy his relationships with his closest friends and relatives. She had misused his trust in her. Just so that nobody could obstruct her plans in performing the evil deeds on those innocent girls.
I was disheartened.
Who exactly are we protecting?
We doubted ourselves and became disappointed with the real world. Master Attendant and I lost confidence in ourselves for quite a long period of time.
We could no longer trust anyone nor make any decisions.
Until one day, a proud Food Soul woke us up from our self-pity.
Champagne is open and arrogant but he is a natural King. He is the complete opposite version of us.
We quietly observed him as he lectured us. We soon realized who we had forgotten while we were drowning in our own sorrows - The people. It was a wake-up call for us. There is no time for further grieving.
I turned back and looked at Master Attendant who was equally alert. His smile was a little forced but the indecisiveness in his eyes had gradually dispersed.
The smile that bloomed on his face was no longer as cautious as before. His confidence seemed to make his entire body glow.
After a short discussion, the Prince openly apologized to his brother in front of a number of aristocrats and reinstated him as a minister.
When Master Attendant heard that his brother was marrying his other half, he even prepared a grand wedding ceremony for him and his sweetheart.
Following that, Master Attendant stood on the National Square and apologized to the people in the capital with his head bowed. He is no longer the weak and deceitful little Prince that he was a while ago. He was now a qualified King.
And I was surprised to find out that I could finally manipulate my flames freely on command.
I looked at Eggnog who was once again surrounded by the girls.
He was smiling brightly at the girls as usual.
I knew that the naturally arrogant King couldn’t have dropped by a neighbouring kingdom just to help sort us out.
Before the man left, he did drop a hint as to who we should thank.
"You should count your blessings for having such a good minister and a good brother. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have given a damn about your survival. You guys better not let him down."
Turkey is not a very brave Food Soul.
Just like his appearance, he is still childish.
Turkey and his Master Attendant were both at a loss when the King collapsed. They’ve always thought that they would have enough time to learn the ropes, but the sudden illness robbed them of the opportunity. It was a huge burden on their small shoulders.
Both were not strong enough, and sometimes, they would even secretly cry beneath the blanket. Yet, they have to shoulder this responsibility.
Although their efforts did not produce outstanding results… although they do not have an exceptional talent at governing a country…
They still managed to maintain peace in the city, just as before.
Only by doing it themselves, did they realize how difficult it was.
Eggnog and his Master Attendant could tell that the two guys were trying hard to maintain a serious demeanour to prevent others from underestimating them. But they had also witnessed their trembling hands behind their backs.
It was at that moment that Eggnog and his Master Attendant decided to help them both. It could have been due to their years of brotherhood or they had just wanted to do something for the country. It didn’t matter.
Turkey thought that everything could only get better.
And the same can be said for everything else. Even the bed-ridden King was showing signs of recovery.
Until the woman started carrying out her plan…
Turkey and the little Prince were not willing to believe the Countess's words regarding his best brother's betrayal.
But as the Countess provided more of the so-called evidence, the trust in his heart was slowly being destroyed bit by bit.
While Turkey and his Master Attendant were hesitant on making a decision, the Countess grabbed her long-awaited chance.
Although she did not receive the little Prince's consent, he had not tried to stop her either. The Countess soon took away Eggnog's Master Attendant's authority over the King's garrison. She can finally start on her unscrupulous hunt.
The girls in the kingdom gradually disappeared one after another.
Turkey and his Master Attendant, who had refused to make a decision, hid in the study which was their sanctuary. They had the misconception that by putting all their efforts into work, they would be able to escape all the thinking and questioning. This way, they could prevent relationships from souring between the brothers and delay having to deal with the many issues on hand.
Eggnog's intrusion was something unexpected for them.
The secret letter brought by Eggnog provided a series of careful arrangements to lure the culprit.
Even at the expense of using himself and his Master Attendant as bait.
After running away for so long, Turkey and his Master Attendant arrived at a decision after reading Eggnog's letter.
The plan was carried out successfully. Sure enough, after Eggnog's Master Attendant was “under house arrest”, the person who was originally committing the crime in secrecy became bolder with her actions.
Turkey and his Master Attendant have considered many worst-case scenarios. They had even thought about the subsequent actions to take if the Countess was being forced by the person responsible for the evil deeds.
But they have not thought about one possible scenario...
That the true culprit is the Countess herself whom they trusted so much as an elder. The truth almost destroyed all the confidence and courage that was left in them.
After discovering that their trust had been taken advantage of, Turkey and his Master Attendant fell into despair and could no longer make any decision on their own.
The person who finally pulled them out of their self-pity, was the King of a neighbouring country. He is a Food Soul too.
The ruler was an invincible and natural King - Champagne.
He was initially dissatisfied with the two rulers of the country. But under Eggnog's repeated pleas, he finally arrived in front of Turkey and his Master Attendant.
However, Eggnog probably did not expect the plain-spoken King to disregard Turkey and his Master Attendant's pride.
"What's with your expressions? It’s as if the country is going to be destroyed. If that’s going to be the case, I can consider taking it."
Champagne seemed to have awakened them from their trance-like state. He was looking at them with disgust. The duo opened their mouths as if they were going to reply, looking somewhat guilty.
"Such a foolish expression. With that look, don't you dare say that you are responsible for the people of your country. Are you two even able to handle the responsibility? I might as well take this responsibility off your hands before it's too late. At least, I don't have to see that disappointed look on your face."
"We what? The two of you are the Kings of this country! Look at yourself now!"
"But what? You are Kings, not children! Stop acting spoilt! You must be responsible for everything! No one will bear it for you!
Although his words were harsh, the scolding did serve as a wake-up call for them.
They are still too dependent on others.
After sending away the imposing Champagne, Turkey and the Prince looked at each other. The hesitation in their hearts had unknowingly dispersed. They were no longer children who relied on the protection of His Majesty. They should start bearing their own responsibilities.
Even if they are wronged… even if they are deceived… they must come back stronger in order to protect their country.
It was on this day that the little Prince became a qualified King. Even Turkey's once unstable power seemed to have sensed his determination and stabilized completely.
After that incident, Turkey had always wanted to thank Champagne personally for waking them up. He was the one who taught them that they should be courageous and strong, traits that a King must possess.
He was also the one who helped them recognize who their most important companions were.