Penelope felt her blindfold lifted. She opened her eyes to see herself face to face with King Lee.
“The famous Penelope,” said King Lee. He clapped.
“What do you want with me? Why do you want to kill me and my sister?!” she demanded.
“Didn’t the chamberlain tell you?” King Lee. “Oh well, now he’ll just add to the ire.” Penelope looked down and saw the still form that used to be the chamberlain. His throat cut.
“Isn’t it obvious? I want war!” he shouted. “If I can’t win the baking or cooking competitions, I’ll win by force!”
“What if you let me go and I just let you win next time? I’d rather do that then cause a war,” replied Penelope.
“No, no, no!” replied King Lee. “I don’t trust you but we are going to have the baking competition and you are going to lose.”
“Guards!,” King Lee called. Two soldiers walked through the door. “Take this body away and have someone clean up this mess. And take Penelope somewhere to have her cleaned up for the cameras. We’ll be on air in half an hour.”
The guard shoved Penelope into a room. There was a hot bath drawn and some clothes on a bed. Penelope ripped the clothes in frustration. Her calm, cool, fastidious self gone.
“I can’t believe this! I can’t do this!” she shouted. Then she started to cry. Normally Penelope never buckled under pressure. It is one of the reasons why she won the competitions all these years. In the first five years, all of Penelope’s competitors had more skill and knowledge. She won because no matter how difficult the challenges, she never lost her head so her dishes always tasted great. Now she didn’t have any chance of winning if she couldn’t get her emotions in check.
After a few minutes, she heard a soft voice behind her. “M’am?” Penelope turned around and saw a young woman.
“What do you want? Get out of here!”
“I’m sorry M’am,” continued the woman. “I’m supposed to get you ready for the competition.”
“Well, I don’t need your help and I’m obviously not wearing those clothes. People can see me the way I am!”
“Please M’am,” pleaded the woman. “King Lee will kill me and my family if I don’t get you ready proper.”
This statement sobered Penelope immediately. “Of course, we better hurry. Can you get me a different set of clothes while I take a quick bath?” The woman nodded and left the room.
After her bath, the woman brought Penelope a bowl of Jokaetang or Clear Clam Soup with rice and kimchee. It filled her up with love and goodness.
“You’re on camera in two,” said a voice behind her.
Penelope straightened her hair and walked through the door.