Vincenzo Leroux was a legendary name in the magic world, known for his unrivalled acts. During his prime, he was regarded as the most influential figure by the International Magician Organization. All of the tickets to his shows easily sold out under 5 minutes. His fame and fortune exceeded those of most celebrities working in the entertainment industry.
However, that fateful day changed everything.
A huge accident happened to Vincenzo's assistant and beloved wife, Melinda, during one of his performances. A stray flame caught on her clothes, ignited the leaked gas and caused a huge fire. The spectators were immediately evacuated but Vincenzo, seeing that Melinda was still stuck in cuffs, stayed in a desperate attempt to save her. In the end, both of them lost their lives in that tragic event, leaving their daughter, Reine, who just turned sixteen at the time, behind. Worse, a week after her parents’ funeral, Reine was forced to move out of her own house because Melinda’s brother, Malvin, stole the rights to all of the deceased couple’s properties. Reine was kicked out without a single penny in her pocket. The only thing she had was a small suitcase which contained some clothes, a toothbrush, a plushie, an old notebook and a deck of cards. The last two items on the list were the final gifts from her father.
Fortunately, even though Reine was born into wealth, she didn’t live a sheltered life. She was educated about the basics for survival. There were too many risks for a young girl to remain on the street at night, so her priority was finding a place to stay. Luckily, the local library was open 24/7 so she figured it could be an adequate temporary option. Moreover, she also got a job at a nearby cafe. It was convenient because she could just eat the unsold food and put her pay into savings. She also registered for monthly membership at a gym and use their facilities to take care of her other essential needs. Reine lived like that for 2 years, all the while thinking about her future plans. She was determined to take back her parents’ fortune, but in order to do that, she would need enough money and power. From her previous experiences and recent investigation, Reine realized that Malvin wouldn’t be an easy target. As Malvin used to be a cop, it seemed like he was able to maintain great relationships with the higher-ups in law enforcement. It wouldn’t be wise to challenge him in court, especially considering her current financial situation. Coming up with a scamming scheme wouldn’t do her any good either. That snake might just see through her lies easily and even turn the table on her.
Reine sighed. If only she inherited her father’s magic abilities…
Suddenly, Reine was reminded of the presents her father gave her. The old notebook’s content was filled with Melinda’s recipes. As for the playing cards, except for the unique pattern design on the back, nothing seemed out of the ordinary as well.
‘Maybe I should check them again.’ - Reine decided. Who knew? Maybe she missed something crucial. Such as memo about a secret fund or instruction on how to make it rain money like what Vincenzo did in one of his acts.
Reine smiled as she skimmed through the texts in the cookbook. “Ocean Jewels”, “Golden Halo”, “Heavenly Harmony”,... her mother had the tendency to use weird and extravagant names for her recipes. Reine finally stopped flipping the pages when her eyes caught the word “Scarlet Queen”. It was Melinda’s specialty and also Reine’s most favorite.
‘Maybe I should try to make this one day.’ - Even though Reine wasn’t very good at cooking, she’d like to at least learn to make her mother’s signature dish. - ‘Let’s see. 1 butter, ½ lobster, 1 orange, 5 breads… Wait a minute, this isn’t the recipe for Scarlet Queen!’ - Reine’s eyes widened. That was strange. She was certain that there shouldn’t be any bread in there, much less 5! And why 5? Such an odd number to put in there. It didn’t match the proportions of the other ingredients.
‘Is this a hidden message or something?’ - Reine pondered. - ‘It was something my parents made for me. If they purposefully wanted me to find out, the actual code shouldn’t be too hard to crack. Alright, let’s think simple. Perhaps it had something to do with the number. Hmm… what if I just count the letter for each word corresponding to the number? 1 butter… would be B, ½ lobster hmmm… L and O, 1 orange… another O, then finally 5 breads would be… D. Combine all of that and we have…’
Reine’s eyebrows knitted together in confusion.