More than an Iron Stomach

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It was… strange, coming to the Verdant Castle. Mika felt a little underdressed for such a regal and opulent part of the kingdom, her first time brushing elbows with the nobility. But the rumour had reached her fins that King Nero was taking donations of his wife’s cooking, and Mika just so happened to have a… lovely looking bowl of stew in her hands.

She held it carefully as she casually wandered through to find the King, but as was her prerogative it was soon apparent that Mika was easily distracted with exploring the palace.

Quirked brows followed as the Royal Guards observed the inquisitive dextro perusing around the various gardens, twirling about the ballrooms (doing her best not to spill any of the precious stew), and otherwise poking at anything shiny or peculiar that caught her eye.

There were a few times she was told off for trying to pick some of the nicer looking flowers and shrubbery, or shooed away when Mika tried to pick up any items that weren’t nailed down that looked like they’d be fun to add to her collection. Apparently it was ‘rude’ and ‘theft’ to just take things lying around, and now she had to ‘explain her purpose.’

She didn’t exactly end up finding King Nero, so much as one of the royal guards escorted her pointedly to meet him deeper within the Verdant Castle, in the barracks…

In the midst of training with some of the other Guards, the King blinked as the strange dextro arrived with a soft smile… in stark contrast to Nero’s own expression at seeing the item held within Mika’s hands. The pungent appearance of the stew caused a twitch of the eye and a moment of silent reflection, his stomach already coiling in knots at the smell.

“I… see you’ve come to donate some of Iola’s stew,” Nero remarked with a nervous smile.

He put his hand up to his sparring partner, handing off the weapon he had been training with and made to approach Mika, who held out the bowl with a gentle nod in response.

“Yeah, I was going to eat it myself,” Mika explained, “but heard you wanted it yourself.”

Nero blinked, stunned for a moment at hearing that as he stared down at the dextro. “You were… going to eat it yourself?” A mixture of befuddlement and… a tinge of relief hit him at the potential of at least getting out of eating some of his wife’s dubious cooking…

Recovering from his momentary confusion, the King gave a subtle smile. “Well, I must insist then. My wife’s cooking is a delight, and should be tried by all,” he assured Mika.

A stifled chorus of chuckles erupted from the Guards who had gathered around to witness at least one of these two endure the frightening meal, earning a brief glance from Nero which quickly shut them all up for but a moment. With that, he turned back to Mika.

“Oh…” She gave a shrug at last in response, looking down at the bowl. “Sure thing.”

Mika finally took a moment to properly examine the contents, as she shifted to hold the bowl in one hand and drew up a spoon in the other. It had all the makings of a stew with the ingredients used; choice meats, finely cut mushrooms, some sort of potatoes. Of course, one doesn’t just make a meal with ingredients alone, and this was perhaps a good example as to why knowing what to do with said ingredients was an important part of cooking…

The intense aroma reached her nostrils, her eyes studying the purple colouration with slight curiosity: How does one get a stew to turn purple, she wondered. The meat in particular had a particularly vibrant green colour that to a discerning eye did not look healthy.

Luckily for Nero, Mika was not a discerning eye. After what seemed like an eternity of her staring into the depths of the bowl, she smiled, gave a light nod, and dove into the meal.

The King’s face was initially one of utter relief, stifling a sigh that escaped him, and the Royal Guards all witnessing the endeavour had giddy expressions as they waited for the pin to drop. But as the seconds passed, all their expressions soon turned to utter shock.

Jaws dropped. Eyes widened. The onlookers all stared incredulously as Mika hoovered through the bowl’s contents without slowing down for a moment. A few times she had to pause and chew a little more aggressively on a particularly stiff piece of meat, but she was right back into it soon after. One after another, she scooped her spoon and devoured the contents of the bowl, until only the dregs were left to miserably stain the bottom…

Satisfied, Mika tipped the bowl up to her lips to drink the last of the stew’s contents down and properly polish it off. “Mmm… Delicious,” she remarked, with all sincerity that one could surmise as she handed the bowl back to King Nero and wiped her brow clean.

She blinked in surprise as she saw the dumbfounded faces of everyone staring at her.

“You… I… That was… How did…?” Trying to find his words, the King just stared in a mixture of confusion, shock and… perhaps a bit of fear at Mika. Who… What are you? he pondered.

Mika tilted her head, scratching idly at the back of it. “It was nice,” she muttered with a soft smile. “You’re very lucky to have such an amazing cook making you food like this every day.” For all one could tell just by looking at her expression… Mika was telling the truth.

It took Nero a moment to recompose himself enough and figure out how to respond, but eventually he managed to ask, “Would you be so kind as to tell me your name, miss…?”

“Hmm? Oh, yeah, I’m Mika. It’s nice to meet you, Your Majesty.” Mika held out her hand.

Pulling the bowl aside to hand it off, Nero slowly and cautiously reached out to take that hand and give it a tentative shake. “It’s… nice to meet you too, Mika,” he muttered in reply.

She shook his hand in tandem, sliding her own free afterwards to smile and give a gentle wave to all the Guards. “Hello to you all as well. I’d stick around to chat more, but I should probably get going,” Mika remarked, turning to the King to give him a respectful bow.

As Mika turned to wander off back through the Verdant Castle in satisfaction, King Nero looked down at the empty bowl in his hands, twisting and turning it as if to try and find the trick to it. But there was none to be had… she truly had eaten the entire contents.

He felt the cold shiver that ran down his back, looking back up to ponder… everything.

More than an Iron Stomach
1 ・ 2
In Prompts ・ By SerenitySpace

King Nero meets the true contender to the rumour of who enjoys his wife's cooking.

Submitted By SerenitySpace for Iola's Dubious MushroomsLocation: Verdant CastleView Favorites
Submitted: 1 month and 5 days agoLast Updated: 1 month and 5 days ago

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Lunathyst avatar frame
Lunathyst Staff Member


Nero now loses sleep wondering just how Mika could stomach such a thing....

2024-05-19 13:32:07


She is an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a blank expression.

But I'm glad you liked it!

2024-05-20 00:03:45

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