Chapter 13:

13: Choices Choices

I was Born the Unloved Twin

The dining hall is a large but simple affair. Crowded but lively with more than enough food going around. As much as I like peace, this natural environment suits me more naturally than dining in a stuffy mansion. I'm a commoner in heart and mind after all.Bookmark here

Lilyanne and I are still in the process of teething and the savory bread rolls served are the perfect to gnaw on. The maids initially softened them with some soup but as I was missing eating like an adult, or just having texture in general. I grabbed a whole one without any repercussions. Bookmark here

It's a really surprising discovering that both Lilyanne and I seem to enjoy. There are orders to have them delivered to our household regularly now, compliments to the chef. Bookmark here

After a relatively peaceful lunch, primarily because everyone was distracted with eating, the tour continues in more detail. Bookmark here

While there are no exciting matched fights going on like I've fantasized it was still very worth seeing. Through the mess, there's a sense of organization here. Like a graded cultivation school with many subjects and majors that one can listen into to or join if they feel up to it. Unlike a bored little girl, I take in everything with eager eyes. Give something to work with here, some excitement!Bookmark here

There are obviously parts and places we're not allowed to see but it's been a more than satisfactory day, especially with my brainstorming. The maids are also more than ready to call it a day, their nerves caught up to them a few hours ago. Bookmark here

Useless things really, I'll get rid of them form my immediate service as soon as I'm old enough to do so. For now it's either just putting up with them or avoiding them. I sneak out enough for that. Bookmark here

"Before you head home, I've taken the liberty of preparing a little something for the children."Bookmark here

"Oh? What's going on ol Geoff?"Bookmark here

"Nothing much, just a little game. Something nice to finish with"Bookmark here

Uncle Geoff makes a signal and a crowed of various school aged children appear out of nowhere. They're all carrying different items or baskets and placing them spread out on the once empty field in front of us. A particularly rowdy bunch of younger boys catches my attention.Bookmark here

The main reason being their overall playful rambunctiousness stands out among diligent students lining up the items. The second being that I recognize that shock of amber carrot hair, which leads me to even more dread. Bookmark here

It's one of my conniving cousins, Phillip, and his disaster group of friends. Bookmark here

In the future, Phillip carries a very gentlemanly but overly flirtatious appearance. It was something that women fell for and men underestimated about him. Even Lilyanne, though that's not saying much given her 'pure' easy to scam heart. He looked like nothing but a rich playboy but behind the scenes, he's a terrifying schemer. Till my death I could never fully unwrap nor figure out his depths. There's no cousin I'm more worried about than him.Bookmark here

He never schemed against me directly, he never bullied me but he was the one who put his sword into my back. It was certainly him. Don't think I didn't see his indirect plots in the surroundings. He knew I knew, in a way we were playing a cold famial game of deadly ping pong. Bookmark here

For those reasons, Rosalia never trusted him and she was right. But it was still a shock to get stabbed in the back, literally. Bookmark here

I recognize one of his little friends too, the overly pale boy. He knocked me down in a block when I first thought I could run and escape. Stood there like wall, I didn't bother begging him to help, to let me go.Bookmark here

It's not like anyone ever would.Bookmark here

The rage in me stirs. If I was a beast, if I had fangs, they'd be growing monstrously sharp right now. These feelings. It's a feral monster on chains, collared up but clawing on a dingey cage. It's bitter but I don't care right now. I couldn't stop it even if I wanted to. I can't take my eyes away.Bookmark here

One of them in the gaggle must feel me glaring. A child I don't recognize looks over at me curiously. I can't place a future self yet but what does it matter? He's with Phillip, thus most likely a future enemy. They all are, just in varying levels of cannon fodder, soldiers and actually dangerous individuals to look out for. Bookmark here

But right now he's just a child and like a child he innocently waves at me. He can't be all that much older than me, a few years, about the same age as Phillip? But he makes those silly faces you make when you catch a baby looking at you in public. I can't help but deflate from my anger at that.Bookmark here

No good, I'm just baby. I have time to plan, to protect myself.Bookmark here

Patience, I have to be be patient. There's nothing I can do right now being as young as I am. I need to play nice and bide my time, strengthening myself. Bookmark here

The brat keeps making silly gestures at me till uncle Geoff sends them away, complete with their task. Bookmark here

Phillip and his friends laugh and tug at him but the Innocent brat waves and mouths at me "bye bye" as if I could understand him. Stupid kid, normal babies wouldn't be able to.Bookmark here

"So are all these presents? For my little girls, oh you shouldn't have!"Bookmark here

Grampa speaks in a teasing tone that says he already knows everything. Bookmark here

I'm still confused about what's going on, the ground is littered with random items, from toys to books to weapons that small children most definitely should not handle. Bookmark here

"Well one or two items. I missed their first birthday but just couldn't decide on a gift. Then I thought, why not let them choose."Bookmark here

"Oh I see, how interesting."Bookmark here

I see it now too, it's that test. The one where you place a few items in front of a baby and watch what they crawl too. The item they choose is a prediction for their future careers, say if a child picks up a pen they will be a sort of scholar or scribe. A toy sword for a soldier and so forth. I didn't know people actually did that, it's all nonsense. Bookmark here

"I see quite the spread here Geoff."Bookmark here

"Yes I've arranged a little bit of everything I suppose. You can never be too sure"Bookmark here

"Down you girls go then, I want to see what you two will pick!"Bookmark here

Ah is grampa talking in general or directly to me again? His words have a strange enunciation to them, this is a message isn't it? On that innocent babies like Likyanne can't possibly understand. I'm being targeted again!Bookmark here

This thing is all nonsense but I'm not a real baby here, isn't this like choosing my starting pokemon then!? Ack the pressure!Bookmark here

Luckily for me, Lilyanne is taking the initiative and crawls off first. I'm more than ok with watching her choose first. She giggles and stops to clap her hands in amusement but after a short time the thing she picks up is a paintbrush? The crowed oos and ahs at her choice.Bookmark here

Ok, I'd be a little more creeped out if she wasn't sucking the paintbrush like the drooly baby she is. Later on Lilyanne will be called an art prodigy. She was a very accomplished painter, and Rosalia could never catch up and realistically admitted defeat against her sister in this area. Bookmark here

It's all coincidence right? Right just nonsense.Bookmark here

My choice won't be nonsense, grampa knows bout me and he'll be judging carefully. It's absolutely nerve racking! This has to be some secret test. I can't just pick randomly here!Bookmark here

I calm myself in the only way I know how, silly comparisons. What would I do if this was a game? What would I do if this was my starter item? Hmmmm.Bookmark here

Well... this though process is not helping. My usual answer doesn't count. I would just find a cheat code online and get multiple items. I didn't have that much free time to suffer through every tedious part of the game when cheats and guides exist. Bookmark here

Wait, can I do that here? Well here goes nothing. Bookmark here

I toddle off, scouting the items on the floor as if it's a buffet. You have to scan and plan out your selections before you put it on your metaphorical plate. Get the good stuff.Bookmark here

The first things I grab are right next to each other so I pick them up simultaneously, one in each hand. It's a gold coin and the roll of bread that I liked. There's more than a few curious eyes watching besides grampa.Bookmark here

"Oh well that's new."Bookmark here

"I never seen a child choose like that before."Bookmark here

"I suppose she'll never go hungry nor want for anything?"Bookmark here

But I'm not done and the crowed watches curiously as I place the items on my skirt. I hold it flared out and stock up on whatever the cloth would fit.Bookmark here

I add a feathered pen, an exotic sheathed dagger, a small telescope and a pretty looking cup. All small easy to fit things.Bookmark here

"Pffft! BHahahahah oh lord isn't she's a greedy little thing."Bookmark here

"Isn't she just grabbing what she likes?"Bookmark here

"Oh that most definitely reminds me of you Roland."Bookmark here

"Hey what's that supposed to mean!" yells out my grampa, his voice not at all offended. Good, I haven't failed whatever he's testing me on just yet. If anything he sounds amused. Bookmark here

When there's no more room I gathered and bunched up my skirt, securing the items and grabbed one last thing with my free hand.Bookmark here

A whipBookmark here

----Bookmark here

Author: Who thought it was okay to place these kinds of things out for children?Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.