Kingdom of Tofu (Chapter 8)

Ronald had no control over the situation. The beautiful woman dragged him outside the house. He was not even given a chance to say goodbye to the Witch, or even take some of his things with him. The beautiful woman did not talk to him. He did not know what to say either so he did not say anything. But he found out one thing about the woman. She’s well skilled in riding a horse. There was only one horse so he was at the back of the woman. He was able to smell her and be fascinated by her white strands of hair. It was actually his first time to see someone– who’s not old enough— to have white strands of hair.

It was a long journey. He wanted to stop and drink water but the woman was too quiet. He was afraid to request for rest because the woman might get angry. Finally, the beautiful woman spoke.

“We’re almost there. Let’s rest when we get there.”

“There?” he asked.

“There,” she replied, pointing to a palace.

“Are you a queen?”

The woman did not reply anymore. And their pace increased. And finally, they reached the place. The people were attentive to them. The guards were quick to open the gate for them and escort them inside the palace. Once inside the palace, men and women approached them.

“We need to eat and to rest,” the woman announced.

“What would you like to eat, Queen Veronica?” one of the servants asked.

Ronald realized that he was right. She is indeed a queen.

“Anything,” she replied. “He,” pointing at Ronald, “will have whatever I’ll have.”

Moments later, Ronald and Veronica, were having their meal. The Queen noticed that Ronald was eating little so she encouraged him to eat some more. But he refused. He was still confused. A Queen abducted him. And the Witch did nothing to stop her.

“Stop thinking. You look just like your brother when you do that,” the Queen said.

And now she could read my mind.

And she mentioned something foreign.

Brother.

He looked at her. He wanted to ask about what she had said. It was new to him. It was so new to him he wanted to cry all of a sudden.But as he was about to ask questions, she spoke again.

“Finish eating. Then we’ll talk.”

Kingdom of Tofu (Chapter 7)

Not long after Ronald left the Witch’s room, he heard heavy footsteps outside the house. It was not of a man, but of a horse.

“Another strange thing, he thought.”

Having a visitor is a strange thing. They never had any visitor, as far as Ronald could remember.

He went outside to check who their visitor is. He hurriedly opened the door. He was surprised to see a very beautiful woman standing outside. Ronald could see a black horse in one of the trees on their yard. The woman looked like she was about to knock when he opened the door.He was too stunned by her beauty that he was unable to utter any word. The woman was also shocked upon seeing him.

“Who are you” both of them asked at the same time.

None of them answered their question. The woman, unsure of what to say or do, went inside the house.

“Auntie!” she called. When she heard no response, she looked at Ronald. “What did you do to my aunt? Who are you? Why are you here?”

My aunt? The Witch has a niece? She has relatives? Could this woman be a witch as well?”

“Ahm”, he started. “I’m Ronald.”

“Ronald?! You are Ronald?” The woman said. She said it too loud, like he just said a miracle. “This is insane”, the woman whispered. She started walking back and forth in front of Ronald. Her head was bowed, her arms crossed her chest. She was biting her lips and in deep thoughts. After a while, she stopped walking and looked at Ronald. “Your name is Ronald?” she asked.

“Yes. I’m Ronald and I’ve been with the Wit—- your aunt for eighteen years.”

“Eighteen years!” she screamed. “Where is she? Where is she?”

The woman ran to the room of the Witch. She slammed the door when she entered, and closed it. Ronald could hear screams from the room but he was too afraid to eavesdrop. He felt that he would not like what he would hear so he just waited for either of the women to come out of the room.

The screaming continued. He just stood there wondering who the beautiful woman is. He was in the middle of thinking when the door opened. It was the beautiful woman who came out of the room. He waited for the Witch to come out, but she did not. The woman went to him. She looked like she just cried. She placed her hands on Ronald’s shoulders. She touched his face and looked at him with so much longing.

“Ronald, listen to me. You are leaving this place today. You will come with me.”

Kingdom of Tofu (Chapter 6)

Ronald was in a hurry. He had been in the market for hours. The Witch would be mad at him for being out too long. He walked— ran— walked to the Witch’s house. He passed by two villages, a forest and crossed two rivers. Her house was in an isolated forest. No one have ever been there– except Ronald who had been with her all his life.

Finally, he could see the house. It was a small house— made of stone from floor to roof. It looked clean since he cleaned it everyday. He could see the Witch at the door, looking at him with a bored face.

“She must be hungry,” he thought.

He took his time walking to the house. The Witch frowned when he was in front of her.

“What took you so long?”she asked.

He wanted to lie, but he cannot. He knew she would find out.

“Nicole needed some help in the market,” he explained.

“Nicole?” she asked.

“Again?” he thought. He would always mention Nicole’s name whenever he comes back from the market. Nicole, the daughter of Kharl and Ricka. Nicole, the daughter of the owner of the shop that sells things for witchcraft. Nicole who taught him how to read and write. Nicole his friend. Nicole. Nicole.

“Nicole…,” he started to explain. “She needed some help—“.

“Never mind,” the Witch interrupted.”You should cook now, I’m hungry.”

He hurriedly went inside the house. He sighed. It was a mess inside. The Witch must have had tantrums while waiting for him and threw things everywhere. He made sure that the house was clean before he left. Now, he will have to clean again. He decided to cook first before cleaning. He prepared the Witch’s food and brought it to her room.

He knocked on her door twice but there was no answer. He knocked again, twice, a little harder. But still, there was no answer.

“I wonder if she’s asleep,” he thought.He decided to leave the food in front of her room. He placed the food on the floor and stood up. He looked at the door again, then picked the food from the floor. He decided to take the food and to wait for the Witch.

“Oh no. She would be mad if she skipped a meal.”

He knocked on the door again.

“Joella,” he called.

No answer. He knocked again.

“Come inside,” he heard her.

“Strange,” he hesitated to follow her, but it was the Witch’s words. “She never allowed me in her room.” Still unsure, he went inside.

He opened the door. He looked around to look for the Witch but got distracted by the room. He knew that her room would be big for a single person, but not this big. There was a huge bed in the middle of the room, with a black bed sheet. It was filled with eight red pillows. Just by its sight, Ronald could feel how comfortable it would be to lie there. He was tempted for a moment but then remembered whose room it was. There was a big mirror on the right side of the bed. It was glued on the wall and he can see his full reflection on it. On the left side of the bed, there was a black wardrobe. Basically, the room was filled with big furniture, colored either red or black.

A door opened on his left. Ronald trembled when the Witch came out from the door. He did not notice the door at first because it had the same color and texture as the wall.

The Witch looked at him and walked to the bed and sat.

“Is that my food?”

“Yes.”

“I hope you prepared soup.”

“I did.”

“Good. I need it. I think I’m ill.”

Ronald looked at her face. She was pale. “Strange. She never gets ill. A lot of strange things are happening today.” He was about to ask how she felt when she spoke.

“Someone will come. Send her to my room.”

“Okay.” He looked at the Witch who was eating. He was unsure whether to stay or to come out. She said nothing so he decided to leave.

Kingdom of Tofu (Chapter 5)

The Queen decided to call their attention. She walked towards them. “Isn’t it a beautiful garden, Gabriel?”
Gabriel stopped smelling the flowers, while James looked at his aunt surprisingly— as if she just appeared out of nowhere. While Geo did not show any sign that his sleep was disturbed.
Gabriel walked to the Queen and kissed her hand.”It’s as beautiful as you, my Queen.”
The Queen smiled at Gabriel. Then looked at James and Geo. “Hmm. But not beautiful enough to be appreciated by my nephew, nor Geo.”
James walked to his aunt and kissed her hand.
“Did your father give you his approval to come here, James?” asked the Queen.
“Yes aunt Veronica. He actually sent me here.”
“Really? Why?”
The Queen looked genuinely shocked and curious. James hesitated to answer her for a moment.
“Well…”
“Well?”
“Well, my brother… he disappeared moments after you left…”
There was a moment of silence in the garden. Veronica waited for her nephew¬† to continue but Gabriel was also waiting for his aunt’s reaction. None of then said a word for a long time.
Veronica looked sorry for a moment, then sad, then unsure and suddenly, angry. She grinned.
“I get it. You followed to check whether I have my nephew.”
James looked at his aunt. “It was father’s order aunt Veronica.”
“Do you think I have Ronald?” the Queen asked him.
James hesitated to answer.
“Of course you do! Why did I even bother to ask?”
Geo woke up. He looked at James and Veronica. Puzzled by the scene, he looked at Gabriel.¬† Gabriel ignored Geo’s questioning look and turned to Veronica and James.
“Oh well… you’re free to search the whole palace,” Veronica said. “But I assure you, it would be useless. I don’t have him.” She turned away from them and ran to the palace.
“Aunt Veronica!” James called. But the Queen was too upset to talk to him. Gabriel plucked a flower and walked towards James. Geo stood up.
“Well, what now?” Geo asked.
James looked at the two of them and said, “My brother is not here.”
“Are you certain?” Gabriel asked.
“Yes. Let’s go back now.”

——————————
Veronica reached her room. She was angry. Really angry. She started talking.
“They thought I stole him.”
“He disappeared.”
“Where is my nephew? Who did this?”

Kingdom of Tofu (Chapter 4)

C H A P T E R F O U R

It was a very chaotic day. Everyone in the palace— and in the Kingdom— was in panic for no one has any idea how Prince Ronald disappeared.

The King requested for the presence of the guards and maids who were supposed to be with the Prince. The guards said they did not leave the Prince’s doors, or even windows. While the maids swore they were inside the Prince’s room all the time. One moment the Prince was sleeping peacefully, but in a blink of an eye, he was gone.

Mikee was torn between hating her father (she was really fond of her aunt) and losing her mind because of her brother’s disappearance. While James, together with their two best knights, followed his aunt and planned to question her about his brother’s disappearance.

The King was very furious. He lost his wife, and now, the last memory of his wife is missing. So he decided to consult the wisest and oldest man in his Kingdom, and also his friend, Martin. As the oldest in the Kingdom, Martin would always have someone asking advice from him. But, never his King. The King would visit him, yes. But he would come as a friend, not as someone who seeks advice.

Martin lived alone. He had no wife, his parents were dead. He had gray hair. He cannot stand straight anymore because of his age. But three things did not change, his sharp mind, keen eyes and open ears. His house was quite far from the palace. It was a small hut, enough for an old man like him. Usually the king would come alone, but because of disturbances in the palace, he had to travel with knights with him. They traveled too fast. And when they reached Martin’s hut, the King alighted from his horse too fast as well. He almost ran to the door. He did not plan to knock but the door still opened just before he reached it. The knights stayed outside the house while the King entered. He refused the meals offered to him, instead, told the old man what happened.

“It is not a coincidence, my King,” Martin said. They were both sitting, facing each other.

“No, it is not. Veronica was in in the palace. Moments after she left, Ronald went missing. If those events are not related, I must be damned,” the King replied. Exhaustion was in his voice. He looked like he did not sleep for weeks.

“But Veronica does not posses the ability to perform such trick.”

“Trick?” the King inquired.

“You said the guards and maids were in the room and Ronald just disappeared. It is a trick. Or a magic. Surely, it is not Veronica’s doing.”

“Are you saying Veronica has nothing to do with the disappearance of my son?”

“As I have said, my King, it’s not a coincidence. It was planned, yes. But it was not Veronica who stole your son. She’s not stupid to show up and steal your son.”

“So, who stole my son?” the King inquired. He was too tired to think of someone to blame. It would be easier if it was Veronica, he need not to think anymore. Just blame. But if it was not Veronica, who?

“You have many enemies more than you think, my King,” Martin stood up. “Let me prepare a drink for you.”

“No. I have to go now,” the King said as he stood up and walked to the door. He opened the door, but remembered something, so he looked back at Martin,”thank you. I’ll visit again,” he went outside and rode back to the palace.

——————————————————————————————————————-

Veronica was in her room, resting. She was still disappointed not seeing her nephew so she locked herself up in her room. She only allowed servants to enter when it was time to eat. Other than that, no one entered her room. She even bathed herself, dressed herself, brushed her hair herself. So, she was really annoyed when a guard knocked on her door when it was not time to eat yet. She did not open the door, but shouted “what is it” instead. The guard hesitated to reply for he was afraid that the Queen might get mad at him. But he answered back. “Your nephew, Prince James, with their two knights, just arrived.”

The Queen froze. Why did he follow me? She quickly got up from her bed, looked at the mirror and fixed herself and went to the door.

“Where are they?” she asked the guard.

“They’re in the garden. They refused to enter the palace.”

The Queen ran to the stairs and rushed to the garden. There, she saw three familiar faces. James was standing and in deep thought. His aunt was in font of him but he did not notice her, or even feel her presence. One of his companions, a knight and also his friend, was admiring the beautiful garden. He was actually smelling one of the flowers when the Queen arrived. The Queen smiled. Gabriel. The other knight was sleeping on a long wooden bench. He was snoring so loud. But not loud enough to disturb James who was still in deep thought, or Gabriel who was busy admiring the flowers. The queen smiled again.The sleeping knight.Geo.

Kingdom of Tofu (Chapter 3)

C H A P T E R T H R E E

The queen left the Kingdom of Tofu with a smirk on her face. But the moment she entered her own palace, she started throwing things and shouted at every servant. Then she sat on the floor and started sobbing. The servants around her looked terrified but they seemed to know how to deal with their Queen. They just watched her and waited for her to finish.

Few moments later, the Queen calmed down.

“I’m hungry,” she said and the servants moved immediately to serve her food.

“That old damn man. I swear I’ll have him killed. But I need to have my nephew first,” she said while standing up. She was talking to no one in particular.

She started walking over the dining room. She was still mumbling about her plans on having King Tofu killed. She was always like that. She talked to no one in particular. She would just talk. And she would freak out if in the middle of her speech, she asked a question and none of the servants answer.

“Those children are the only relatives I have. And I wasn’t even able to see them! And my sister! She’s gone without hearing me say goodbye!”she continued talking. She reach the dining room and walked over her favorite seat. She liked to sit on the chair across the door so that she could see her visitors coming—- which never happened yet.

Meanwhile, in the Kingdom of Tofu, Mikee was knocking hard on her parents’ room.

“Father! Father!” she shouted.

“Come in,” the King replied.

Mikee entered the room and found her father lying on the bed. She walked to her father and sat on the bed.

“Where’s Aunt Veronica?” she asked.

“Gone.”

“Gone?!”

“Gone.”

“But I haven’t seen her yet! It has been years father!”

“What’s the point of seeing her? She’s no one.”

“She’s my Aunt. She gives me beautiful dresses, she braids my hair and allows me to play in the garden.”

“I’m sorry,” the King apologized but he did not look apologetic. I thought you were sleeping so I told her you were asleep.”

“Asleep? You asked me to get something. You promised to tell her to wait for me. But when I came back—!”

“Stop it Mikee, I’m… tired,” the King said dismissing his child.

Mikee was about to protest when a knight opened the door and said…

“My King… Princess. I apologize for my sudden appearance but— the Prince… Prince Ronald… he’s gone.”

Kingdom of Tofu (Chapter 2)

C H A P T E R T W O

Days gone by. Two days after her death, the queen was buried. The people in the Kingdom mourned and shed tears.

The news of the birth of a new royalty in the Kingdom of Tofu and the death of their queen reached other Kingdoms. Condolences and congratulations poured in. Neither the King nor his children were happy or sad. The memories of the queen brought them sadness and the laughter of Ronald brought them happiness.

Seven days after the birth of Ronald, a Queen visited the Kingdom of Tofu. She had no knight with her. She was riding a very black horse. Her skin was white, as well as her hair. She was wearing an elegant, long red dress. People gasped at the sight of her because she had a beauty which no goddess can surpass. She was the sister of the queen of the Kingdom of Tofu.

She entered the palace without help from people. Neither was she welcomed by any of them. She had their attention, yes. But no one dared to approach her. She made her way to the room where the King usually stayed. It was a big room with a long table in the middle. When the Queen entered the room, she found the King seated on one of the chairs. His legs were on the table. He was almost daydreaming but the presence of the Queen brought him back to reality. He almost laughed at the sight of the Queen.

The Queen remained few steps away from the door.

“I demand to see my nephew,” she told King Tofu.

“He doesn’t want to see you,” the King replied.

“Oh sure. Babies can talk 7 days after birth now?”

The King put his legs down and stood up.

“He doesn’t want to see you.”

The Queen smirked.

“Okay,”she said. “Can I at least say hi to James and Mikee?”

“Oh. Them? They were so frightened when they heard you were coming. They barred their doors.”

The Queen chuckled. And smirked. “You shouldn’t treat a Queen like that.”

“You’re a Queen, maybe. Tyrant, yes. Respected, no. Everybody knows my wife deserved that throne. Everybody knows you poisoned your mother and killed your father while he was sleeping.”

The Queen gave him a sharp look. She turned her back and walked to the door. She stopped one step from the door.

“You talk as if you know everything. One day, I’ll have you killed,” she told the King without looking at him. Then she reached for the door and walked out.