Chapter 111:

Ch 110: Ride Back

I was Born the Unloved Twin

"My darling...really... I don't think this is quite necessary?"

"Oh hoho! Of course, it is."

"My dear...there's plenty of space."

"Thus plenty to escape."

"Amor mio,...please...the sun is still out..."

If someone sent a camera drone, just smack it on a bird, and have it zoomed onto the moving carriage, through a plush curtained window- they would find a revolting sight.

A scandalously disgusting scene. One of a grown woman sitting not in a proper seat but on my father's lap! Trapping him down as much as she was claiming, a safety precaution.

At least I think it's my father. From my bleary senses, I assume that is his strained voice and his particular shade of red. If that's not father down there then oooh boy is this awkward. I don't think my mother would have an affair but hey who knows? Maybe those other ladies gave her some even weirder ideas.

I don't know how it works ok? I'm just trying to survive.

Which is very hard to do when I'm right on top of this mess.

That's right, I'm using the scariest being as my pillow. A very precarious spot.

There's so much space in this stupid carriage but here I am on in this disgusting dog pile and- wait no don't move me. I'm trying to stay as unconscious as possible. Blerg, no moving! Mama!

"Oh dear. There there now darling, mama's got you. Go back to sleep."

Good mochi pillow. Stay.

I don't care if you're shamelessly trapping or crushing the nerd anymore. Just don't move.

It's not like he's at court all that often these days nor any overnight trips besides in our own rural territory. Where is some other noblewoman going to try seducing him? And it's not like he was flirting with those milkmaids while he was inspecting the wares, even if they have great complexions. It's still too early for all those other women to be active yet.

"Too early...other women?... Oh daaaaarling~ Frederick, Freed, my bloody heart, my beloved husband who swore till death do us part.... just what is our innocent baby talking about?"

Ahhhh it feels so nice and cool all of the sudden. I don't recall us having air conditioning? Let alone in the carriage. Maybe we're going under a tunnel bridge or something.

"...Sleep talking babble. Utter delirium. My love, you know how motion sick our Chippy gets."

"...those young milk maidens had such....wonderful skin....did they dear?"

"Remarkably so! There's a school of thought going about that those exposed, even infected, with the diseases of herding livestock, become resistant to Pox diseases. When outbreaks do occur, farmers, particularly dairy workers make it out the most unscathed. The scarring minimal as the rest of the symptoms. Fascinating."

"Is that so~ Is this limited to ....young milk maids? "

"Oh no the resistance goes up with age and exposure. Why the elderly in those circles are riddled with sunspots and age lines but not a noticeable pox scar. But just what is it about the livestock? What indeed. Many further observations are needed to isolate the determining factors."

"Hmmm. Very well. I'll let you go...for now."

"Maria? Cuore mio, do you mean it? More research?"

"Hmmf, oh don't be such an awful tease.

If I open my eyes I'm sure a disgusting scene awaits me. Sounds lovey-dovey as always, it makes me want to puke even more. Urg, couples. Why aren't they tired of each other yet?

According to mother earlier though, it's not just her being stupidly gross in choosing this seating arrangement. It's apparently to prevent any husbands from running off.

Or getting snatched up. As ridiculous as it is amusing how easy it is to rile up her jealousy. She's acting as if some other woman is just going to ride up and lasso him out the window.

"Fret not Maria, for everyone else might as well be but a sack of hay next to even the thought of you." that teasing voice soothes.

Someone, please throw me out the window. Blerg.

"...Ouuuut....I want out- bleh." is that my own voice?

"Darling, get the bin for Rosa."

"Yes dear."

"...Darling... take our child out of the trash bin."

"It's effectively sanitary though, besides just look at her. How amusing."

"Darling. Now."

"Yes dear."

Well that explains why the world went full dark. Blerg, blah bleck ah false alarm.

Nothing to vomit here, that's all be done and over with. Just dry heaving blindly. Nothing left to spit up over Lilyanne's sleepy rolling form or any of my mother's skirts. The only thing helping me tell up from down.

If I just....keep all my senses shut down, then maybe I can survive this ride?

Nevermind! Pothole! Behead the soul who made that pothole this instant! Blerg, burp.

S.O.S. Send help.

No matter how light the carriage gets it doesn't ever feel like it's enough. These sturdy stone-paved roads are never smooth enough. No matter how much work is done on them. No matter how large and luxurious a carriage gets, even with magical aid, I take ill when I'm trapped in this moving vehicle.

I can hold on during the short and very heavily worked on wagon shuttle commute from my own home to grampa's troops. I can survive in the not baby sling when I hitch a ride on whichever steed father or grampa chooses to ride that day.

But this?

Bleerg. Hic. Nope.

I should just forget it. I got sick on asphalt and modern cars. In long rocky rides. In stop and go traffic. When someone took a U-turn that was too sharp. What chance did I ever have in this world with stupid carriages?

"Sttttupid carriage."

Mother pats comfortingly at the dead body in her lap. My limp dead form to be specific.

I am not in any state of sanity or normalcy, so I'm sorry in advance for anything I do or say. I swear I'm not such a sticky rice cake. I'm not a cry baby mochi or anything.

"Oh dear. There there now sweet. That's a good girl. There there, mama understands."

Mother holds me as if I was a baby, somehow balancing two three year olds while still trapping a grown man beneath her. How inappropriate, kick him out. Or make him useful. What else is a nerd for? Go make the stupid carriage stop moving. Make it sttttttaaaaahp.

I'm not really crying, I swear this is just this weak body's reactions. It feels so nauseous all the time, burp. Ahhhhh how gross and frustrating. Kids are messy.

Normally all this squishy protectiveness from mother would be suffocating but now it's a safe steady spot. The soft fats of her body cushioning and shock absorbing the motions that must be going on around me. Shock absorbant!

I'm not a crybaby mochi, you're the mochi. Super mochi! So much mochi.

"Darling? What's a mochi?"

"I believe my dear, that we do not take anything our children say in their feverish deliriums very seriously. Remember? "

"Is she calling for someone? Perhaps it's a name?"

"Unfathomable. I would certainly think not."

"Ahh Rosa didn't even do this as a baby~ It's awful how ill she gets but this needy side of her is also just cute~"

Mochi make it stop. No more moving. Only soft stillness now.

How is Lilyanne sleeping so peacefully? Do we have the same genes? Why is it only me?!

How the hell did the original Rosalia ever travel anywhere if I'm so pathetic even in this other body? What the hell!? How did this body survive carriages?!


Oh yeah. I didn't.

The gilded carriages were for Lily. I- or well the original Rosa, would ride horseback near everywhere.

It saved a lot of travel time while items and luggage could be sent for later. I, she, was a very busy girl. After a certain age, riding and safety became no issue, with the number of troop escorts. The only memories I have of the original and any long-distance carriages feature her fast asleep, usually forcibly scheduled by Alfonso.

Uggg, I'm not even moving and I felt that one.

Crazy old man?! Nerd?! Anyone? Come lasso me out the window right this instant with your stupid steeds. This wouldn't be an issue if only I was older and had my own rides or...horses...

Adorita! Radicchio! Caprice! Biscotti! Mignon! My darlings!!!

I forgot my own babies! I'm a horrible mother!

" I'm truly lost on what she's saying."

"Don't mind it my love. Just allow yourself to be amused by the curiosity that is a child's subconscious."

"But...our Lily sweet is more that perfectly understandable in her sleepy mumbles..."

"My love, that's because our precious girls consist of very different mindsets and capacity. Lilyanne has only named one food item in her sleep today. Rosalia on the other hand has named at least 3 in the last minute. "

"But what does that have to do with..."

I'm a horrible pet owner! Who cares about identity crises my pets are innocent! My horsies!!!

"She wants horses."

"Darling no! You just said not to believe a single thing out of her mouth. "

Oh wait, I'm only three. How am I going to ride anything?

My stable obviously hasn't been formed yet. Most of my darling steeds aren't even born or weaned yet. I can't do much at this point. Ahaha silly me.....


Set haste! I need to get my horsie! We need to move! Up! North! But not too north. Just a little bit, right past the territory. It's where my first horse is waiting for me!

"She clearly wants a horse."

"Oh stop that, Frederick no. Frederick stop, don't you dare I see that look in your eyes. "

"We need to search the markets. I need to put in requests. What is a good breed for children?"

"Darling I said no. They're dangerous!"

"My love I'm carefully buying it for her, not making her go catch and tame it in the wild on her own. But if she ever does go on such an outing with your papa', I'm sure our Rosalia knows what's equestrian appropriate to bring home and not giant-"


"Oh, you beautiful and awful man. I told you never to bring that up again!"

Why is this memory only hitting me now? When I'm trapped sick and can't do a thing? Huh that hit sounded kind of harsh? Must be the shock.

My Adorita, my first steed. I got her when I was only 4 years old. Yes, before all that baptismal fun. But what about now? It's not like I can even ride her yet when I'm so small. But I must save her! Even if it's by just a year. What's the point of getting reborn with this girl's shitty memories and feelings if I don't save the horsies?! They're innocent!

Sure I've ridden other steeds besides my father's Gino and Damask, but that's just sitting along. A kiddy pony ride led by someone else, usually an instructor.

Adorita is different than all the rest. She's mine. Mine you hear!

Radicchio can wait. Caprice can definitely wait. It might be a headache but they'll come to me naturally in time. Damask isn't even pregnant with my Biscotti yet. Then Mignon is way too far off ahead in the future. To think I have to work hard to find you all and take responsibility again. Ah my babies! Wait no, none of you are not mine yet. Yet!

Oh my stable, my carefully trained and collected stable of prized horses. Left orphaned, abandoned without me. Lilyanne wouldn't have known poop about what to do with them. There was Alfonso remaining to care for them, perhaps find them good new homes.

What must have become of you all?! After Lilyanne. After Rosalia....oh no my stable.

"...She wants a whole stable."

"She's crying in ill health!"

"Crying for a stable, yes. It must be different for a young growing girl. Much different than any of mine. Hmmm."

"Frederick you stop thinking right this second. You stop that! You're not building another horse filled stable. Go to the troops to play if yours aren't enough."

"It wouldn't be for myself?"

"You're not giving our toddler an entire stable."

"I think the girls need ponies? Don't you? Yes, it's about time to start training them on how to safely ride. I mean what's the harm? They're ponies not giant feral-"


Blerg, oh no, urg I feel so very sick again. Okay, no more thinking or being awake right now. None. I can't stand any of this. I'm not even standing.

Mama! No sudden movements!

Oh curses. Bleh.




I'm awake again and starving

Infants sure do sleep amazingly well. There's a lot of growth and development at this age. Thus the need for long hours of sleeping and day time naps.

I'd rather eat though, my stomach is painfully empty and seems to have recovered from today's carriage ride home. It was the shameful roaring that woke me up.

I always get so pathetic in my motion sickness. Are there any other ways to avoid riding the carriage? Any vehicle?! Ahhh I just hope I didn't cry anything too weird and got mother stuck to me like a rice cake again.

It's the middle of the night and there's a sticky toddler snoozing away in my bed. Well, it's our bed, the shared one in the nursery. The most effective cure to the lifetime of illness. Sleep.

Lilyanne is such a heavy sleeper, a real infant all right.

Like many children, Lilyanne could use a stuffed animal to cuddle with in her sleep. Since I absolutely forbid her to bring....'bunny' to bed, she's always grasping or cuddling me. I've tried throwing pillows and crochet cuteness at her but in the end, I'm the favorite sleep aid. Even if I make a pillow fort in between us, by morning this child will somehow find her way to sucking my thumb and cuddling away.

Talk about sticky.

Well, it can't be helped. Sleeping while sick is a very unpleasant experience. If I just assume her crippling illness of a lifetime ago makes her as bad as I am when motion sick, then most things can be forgiven. Even the awkward thumb sucking.

It's more a well-practiced routine now prying her off of me after all these years of practice. She really does sleep well, much different than the fussy crying baby in those memories. Everything is better. Maybe not her personality...that seems honest about the same, despite her young age. Funny.

But as a child.

Eating well.

Sleeping well.

Staying safe and healthy.

That's all people who care want. That much is enough.

She doesn't get motion sick like me so, of course, she must have eaten her dinner properly. She's not too picky either. A real child. She can live happily. She doesn't know about anything, has never been hungry in her life. Never been a burden.

Not like me.

Not like him.

Are you eating well?

The child in front of me is very healthy and very cute. Everything I ever wanted for her, for him.

Magic is so convenient for those that can afford it. It makes no sense how but it can heal? At no great cost to her, the user? So convenient.

In another world, there are hospitals and bills. Needles, disinfectant, and a schedule of doctor appointments and physical therapy to keep.

In the dark I imagine this child to be someone else. Just for a moment. I'm somewhere else.

You who suffered so much, you're much stronger than this stupid but cute pampered little girl. You've made it all this time without any cheats. So well. Keep eating well.

I'm not there to nag you anymore. I can't pick you up after class or take you to your appointments. You always said I'm embarrassing you must have gotten inconvenient without me at least? I can't worry after you or make your favorite foods anymore. Sorry.

Sorry, I left you alone. Sorry.

Wherever you are, don't cry ok. Eat well and don't cry without me.

I sniff back the pressure at the back of my nose and wipe at the sudden tears. Because I must still be feeling ill from earlier. Because there's no one to answer back anyways. No matter how many apologies I make. Nothing left I can do for him.

"bwa- zzzz- mikies-zzz " Lilyanne mumbles, rolling herself over from my escape. Snoozing deeply as ever.

That's right. In this world, there is only Lilyanne. I only have one sibling in the world and its Lilyanne. It's fine. I'll respect the original body's wishes and take care of this strange and honestly annoying little girl. For a protagonist, she sure needs a hell a lot of work no?

I get it, I was a big sister myself after all. That's just the way siblings are.

And like all siblings, it's time to abandon them to go stuff my face. That's the same in any world or universe. My younger brother would honestly sell me out for a shitty corndog or even instant ramen so who the hell cares! Time for a midnight snack or else my stomach kills me. Off I go!

Ah but I should use those rafters just in case those pesky guards are still on duty, spying at this time at night. They have a rotating shift, right?

It's admittedly very hard to stay stealthy when you're hungry but I persevere on.

I don't know how many leftovers are actually there but there's always bread and dips. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar is yummy. The fresh organic produce of this land is always tasty, even if my childish tongue can't handle the more bitter things just yet.

Sneaking around in my own home is a lot harder than it looks. I would hope I'm getting better at this but let's not be too unreasonable.

To throw things off, shall I take the path to one of the small side kitchens?

Throughout at night, my residence isn't completely dark. From the courtyards to the oil and magic-lit lanterns. Something is always lit, a little something going on, even if the majority of people are asleep.

There are the regular night shift guards making their rounds. The prep cooks and assistants getting things ready for the next day. A poor soul stuck on scrubbing something. Even the old gardeners waving down any wandering night owls outside, sharing a bit of good toast and red wine under the moonlight.

This is a very picturesque and almost romantic world I'm living in, with the beautiful Mediterranean setting and scenery. You know if not for all the medieval technology gaps and gross violence.

I honestly would not be surprised to find someone standing in the side kitchen. In fact, I rather expect it. Perhaps they would be mixing up cream and butter for the next day. Washing some stubborn pot with a bit of citrus peel.

Not....lugging a limp body upside down with one hand.

Uh okay, maybe now is a good time for any secret guards to make their appearance. Not that I would make a sound. Oh hell no. Staying hidden and out of sight.

The stranger seems to have had the same original idea that I did, making himself a snack of cold cuts and savory bread. A bit of some grilled artichoke still left out. Lovely.

As if that body was just a sack of potatoes.

I rub my eyes.

Yep that is still a body.

Should I be worried? In another place, I would be but this is my own house. Who knows how many skeletons we have buried around. My only question would be which Ventrella is responsible, Grampa, father or even mother?

Hmm probably not mother, she's much scarier than I ever remember but just as clumsy. Something tells me a corpse wouldn't even be left. And grampa has many other places of business, particularly the troop grounds. This isn't that crazy old man's style. He's much pure violence or bluntly tortures the interrogation subject type. So that just leaves.....father.

Alfonso also counts but then it's automatically Father's fault.

"You've arrived early." enters the dashing butler, perfectly pressed even at this hour.

Ah, definitely father then. Really with shady genes like this, is it any wonder how I became a villainess?

The tall dark hooded stranger bows. Though his head is covered, the belt cinching his short coat and long probably blood proof boots show a fit and strong body with a masculine shape. Even from my strange vantage angle, I can make out he's much taller than Alfonso. My old butler always had a bit of a pole like appearance with his perfect posture and this man easily tops him by at least two heads.

Did I ever have a secret guard that tall?

"I apologize that no one was able to see you in properly. Please right this way, further refreshment shall be provided. I see there has been no complication nor injuries. "

"Yes Maître, it is done."

Oh no his voice is hot. All deep and low on the bass.

The stranger respectfully bows and stands, the potato sack moving along with him. The hood slips purposefully and oh no he IS hot!

A mature man, definitely older than my father, with a head of shaved short premature gray that contrasts greatly against the rest of his deep ebony skin. Cheekbones of a ridiculously paid high fashion model and facial bone structure that just screams 'hire me'.

I could put this glorious man in a trash bag, post a picture on social media with an artsy filter, and sell trashbags for hundreds each.

This is probably a bad time for my business and aesthetic senses to go off. More importantly, how come he wasn't in my services?! I would have definitely remembered a looker like this?!

"Weeded with all ends tied. Very well. Please, follow along this path. It shall lead you where you need to go without bother."

"Le bon petit souris?"

"Survived. I expect it shall continue."

"Hmm. What of that up there?"

Both men look up suspiciously to...exactly where I am hidden. Yep. Why bother! I'm three! Did he just call me a mouse? My stomach then decides this is the perfect time to growl....

"The young miss is quite shy and missed her dinner." nods Alfonso after a beat, indicating with his hand to the, not at all shady corridor to one of Father's quarters.

Tall, dark and handsome simply nods in a half-bow, once towards Alfsono and even towards my direction, before disappearing into the night.

And then, there were only two. Not awkward at all.

"Young Miss Rosalia, if you come down all on your own I shall have a light and hot supper prepared."


"And I won't tell your Lord Father."


Oh god did my voice squeak? I really am a mouse.

The old white butler chuckles and promises.

"Nor mother? Or grampa! He makes fun of me the most."

"I do promise my little lady, to not speak of your mouse adventures to anyone."

Fine if he makes that much sense, I'm coming down. Not like I can start a fire on my own nor get away with it. I'm up against Alfonso after all.

"He was very handsome, was he one of ours?" I hop down, taking a cushioned seat on the nearby bench. Obviously prepped up by Alfonso for my pathetic height.

"Something like that my young miss."

"His accent. From closer to the Bicchieri's?"

"Perhaps my astute young miss."

"Does mother know what father is doing in the middle of the night?"

"For the most part, I believe. Especially when my Lady interrupts to....physically escort the Lord to retire for the evening, and part of the mornings, as he should."

"Ah, say no more Alfonso. Those are things no one needs to know."

"Dutifully noted. One more thing my young miss."

A simple but elegant bowl of warm onion soup and triangle herbed toast clatters in front of me. The aroma was tantalizing. Supposedly to distract me from that slight trail of blood outside, not yet cleaned up. The corridor now strangely dark, as if all the lights have gone off.

I should inquire more about that, but there's still plenty of time. It's already pretty good that no one is threatening me or giving me any awkward 'talks'. Such a violent world we live in, can't be helped.

Really now, was the original too busy with her strict schedule not to notice her father's shady villain activities or did she just find it too normal growing up? Quite possibly both.

I shall let it go for now as Alfonso showcases a cup of freshly poured strawberry sweet milk. It's Korean strawberry milk! Just like I requested before. How wonderful!

"Welcome back home Miss Rosalia."