The King of Candyland Wants a Wife

Once upon a time, there was a great King who was wise and just and kind. He lived in a far off realm and ruled a land full of beauty and wonder – and candy. This King, named Richard, was the King of Candyland. From his Peppermint Palace in the Jellybean City, the King governed the four territories that made up Candyland: Cookie Kingdom, Lollipop Land, Truffle County and the Gingerbread Province.

Each territory was far different from each other, such as the Lollipop Land, which was a forest of giant, tree-like lollipops that had the power to move about on their great white trunks and speak to each other in a sweet, indecipherable language. The Lollipops were kindred spirits, always willing to help people, even if they could not communicate with them. They would form paths for lost travellers, parting themselves like the Red Sea before Moses and offering safe passage, while rustling their brightly coloured, perfectly circular leaves. Lollipop Land was also home to the Soda Sea, an ocean that instead of being made of salt water, housed bright pink sugary liquid that washed up on beaches of sherbet. If a fisherman were to take to the waves of the Soda Sea, in his nets he could expect to catch brightly coloured gummy fish and long strings of sour-seaweed, a delicacy in Jellybean City.

But this was in contrast to the barren Truffle County, a wasteland of rough, chocolate plains. Winds howled across the surface of the flatlands that were only interspersed by enormous rocks of sharp toffee jutting from the ground and high into the sky. A wide river of thick milk flowed sluggishly through the County, cutting it jaggedly in half. The only way to cross the Milky River was over a delicate wafer-bridge. One had to be extremely careful crossing the bridge, lest they not make it to the sanctuary of the Marzipan Tower on the other side. The Tower was a lone pillar of habitation in the stark Truffle wastelands. It offered refuge to the travellers that dared brave the harshness of the County. The Tower was inhabited by small truffle people, by which the territory got its name. The Truffle People were quite literally walking chocolate truffles, about the same size as a cat, with little black arms and legs and beady black eyes. They did not speak and seemed grumpy all the time, but efficiently tended to the explorers of the County none-the-less.

The Cookie Kingdom and Gingerbread Province were both similar, but were inhabited by very different creatures. The natives of the Cookie Kingdom were large walking cookies, all in a variety of flavours, but God help you if you try to eat one! The Cookies were extremely snobbish and rude. They believed they were better than everyone else in their Snickerdoodle Citadel and the whole of Cookie Kingdom. The Cookies were always trying to usurp the King, but thankfully to no avail, as the King was clever and knew that if the Cookies were to rule, Candyland would no longer be a peaceful place. The Cookies were ruled by the Cookie Overlord, preferring independence from the Kings leadership because they believed that, as a human, the King was not fit to govern the Candy People. The Cookie Overlord was a brutal dictator and showed obvious favouritism to the Cookie People of his land and severely mistreating the unfortunate humans who resided there. Outside the Citadel, the Cookie Kingdom was a place of rolling marshmallow hills covered in pale green floss-grass and the occasional Lollipop Tree and dotted about were villages in which some of the less snobbish Cookies lived, along with humans who had managed to escape the Cookie Overlord and his prison of Snickerdoodle Citadel.

Not all Cookies were bad though, as was demonstrated by the Gingerbread Lords and Ladies of the Gingerbread Province. The Gingerbreads were civilised people, always composed and very polite. They were distant cousins of the Cookies, but shared none of their hatred of humans; in fact, the Gingerbread Baroness was close friends with the King of Candyland and had been for many years. The Gingerbread Province was a very majestic place, filled with beautiful sprawling castles and mansions nestled into tall mountains formed completely of Peanut Brittle with tops dusted with sugary snow, dubbed the Peanut Peaks. Among the summits of the mountains, high waterfalls of sparkling golden maple syrup fell and splashed into glittering pools metres below. Near the middle of the Province, all the syrupy springs joined together and formed a vast lake. Small gold waves gently lapped at the chocolate pebbles of the shores. The Gingerbread People dressed in thick coats and dresses woven from the floss-grasses that dusted the base of the Peaks to ward off the frosty temperatures.

Despite their differences, King Richard ruled the territories with an even hand. No one could remember when humans had come to Candyland, but it was common belief that they had once invaded, a very long time ago, seized control of the land and had retained leadership ever since. The people of Candyland, with the exception of the Cookies, loved and cherished their King, which was why they thought it unfair that a great tragedy had befallen the King. Sixteen years ago, the King's beautiful Queen of Candyland died while giving birth to the King's son. The people of Candyland whisper among themselves that the King was never the same after Queen Mirth died. They say it always took more to make him smile, that the light never quite reached his eyes when he laughed and that he would sit by a window, high up in the turrets of Peppermint Palace, and gaze out over his city for hours on end, holding a picture of his dead love. The King's subjects thought it was a great shame to see their beloved King diminished to such a state. They did everything within their power to try to cheer him up. They held jubilees, balls and circuses but the only thing that made the King truly happy was his baby son.

The King had named his son Lukas, after Queen Mirth's father. He was a beautiful baby. His hair was white as the frosting on a cupcake and it already curled around his little ears. When he opened his large eyes, they were an enchanting deep emerald, like the swirls on the walls of the Peppermint Palace. When he opened his musk-pink mouth and gave a sweet, musical gurgle, even the sugar-birds paused to listen. At only a few months old, Prince Lukas was the spitting image of his dead mother. As the little Prince grew, he slowly brought some life back to the castle. The boy was like a sherbet candy; a burst of sweetness after a sour shell. The King loved his boy dearly and gave him every luxury growing up. But the little Prince was not spoiled as the King taught him how to be a kind and dutiful person and how to appreciate everything he had.

On Prince Lukas's 16th birthday, there were great celebrations in the Jellybean City and all over Candyland, even in some parts of the Cookie Kingdom. That night, the King held a ball in his son's honour. The men dressed in their best suits and capes and the women wore dresses in shades of spearmint, caramel and musk. There were foods from all over Candyland. Sour-seaweeds from the Soda Sea, a brittle sculpture carved from the highest peaks of the Peanut Peaks and cocktails of the purest Mountain Maple Syrup.

When the ball ended, King Richard invited his son to join him in the throne room. When Prince Lukas arrived, his father was seated on the beautiful, intricately carved Peppermint Throne. The Prince walked down the long hall, which was bordered by thick, candy-striped pillars. The King was slouched to the side, his chin propped on his hand and his elbow on the arm of his throne. He had a faraway look in his eyes, as if he were disjointed from the world, lost in his thoughts. The Prince coughed, catching the King's attention,

"Ahh, Lukas," King Richard said, a sad smile spreading across his features.

The King was a big man, not fat, but muscular with broad shoulders and powerful stance. He was very tall; he stood at least a head above all his officials in the Candy Court. The King had hair as red as cherry liquorice that sat on his head in bouncing curls. At the roots, his hair was turning a soft grey, indicating he was on the other side of 50 and getting on in years. To outsiders, the King looked imposing and frightening but the people of Candyland knew he could never harm anyone. Prince Lukas often likened his father to rocky road: a bit tough to begin with, but there was always the soft, marshmallow centre.

"Hello, Father," the Prince returned the King's smile,

"How did you like your ball?" the King asked,

"It was beautiful, Father, thank you," the Prince replied,

"I'm glad," the King said softly, a slight forlorn note in his voice.

Prince Lukas could tell something was wrong with his father. He approached the Throne and sat at King Richard's feet.

"Penny for your thoughts?" asked the Prince,

The King was silent for a few moments and then began speaking: "I've been thinking lately, about your mother." He gestured to a large tapestry of Queen Mirth, with her long, straight white-blonde locks and eyes as green as the hills of Cookie Kingdom, "I have come to the realisation that for Candyland to run properly, it needs a Queen. You know no one can ever replace your mother. You know how much I loved her. How much I still love her. But Candyland needs a Queen. I need a Queen. I am getting old," he gave a light chuckle then, "I cannot rule by myself and you are too young,"

The Prince nodded along with his father, but was slightly confused, "Why are you telling me this, Father?"

"I want you to find me a Queen. I cannot go, the journey is too rough for someone my age and the Cookie Overlord and his Cookie Council are becoming restless. I smell an uprising. If I was to overlook your age and you were to rule while I was gone, you would not be able to deal with the Cookie People. You are still far too inexperienced."

"Why can't you marry a lady from the Jellybean City? I'm sure there are plenty of suitable women there," the Prince asked, still puzzled,

"Because my new Queen must be a Candy Person," the King explained calmly,

Prince Lukas was shocked. Never, ever, ever, EVER in the history of Candyland had a Candy Person ruled. Humans have always held regency, ever since they invaded, many, many years ago.

"And, why must she be a Candy Person, Father?" the Prince asked slowly,

The King sighed, "The Cookies are right. I may be a great King and everyone may love me, but I am a human and I will never completely understand the Candy People. A Candy Queen will. When you are King, Lukas, you will know what it feels like to make decisions for an entire kingdom. You will know what it feels like to want to do the best for your people, make sure they are happy. I believe a Candy Queen will at least appease the Cookie People, and so a Candy Queen is what we shall have."

Prince Lukas softened. He had no idea his father felt this way.

"Alright, Father, I will find your Queen. How will I know her?"

"The Candy Queen will be kind and fair. She will have opinions on how to rule Candyland. She will be honourable and not afraid to speak her mind. She will be everything I taught you to be. You will know her when you see her. "

So, uumm, this is an idea I had a looooooong time ago, like, when I was still living with my dad… 5 years ago? Probably more… Anyway, this plot came to me in a dream and I've finally built up the courage to put it into words… Not sure if I should continue… What do you think? Yay or Nay?

Love, Tarver 3