I was Born the Unloved Twin
If I were to explain a kackle berry to my previous self I'd say it looks like a giant yellow blueberry but tastes like a lychee cherry cross without the pit. Delicious right?
I'd also say they have the tendency to explode like tiny firecrackers.
They are such inconvenient berries, good luck getting some of these things fresh. A literal cherry bomb. They'll never make ti through normal shipment means without exploding into mush. While the mush is still edible, it's quite fun to pop a mini fruit explosion into your mouth whole.
Due to their delicate nature, they're quite expensive in the market.
It should be no problem if I store them in my inter-dimensional bag but it's not worth the hassle to handpick them all. I prefer the mush anyways, I want to boil it into syrup. Wouldn't it make great a great drink mix or desert ingredient?
Sugar is too expensive in this world, any sweetener is going to be useful. At least tooth decay isn't a big issue among the people with the lack of sweets.
Even with my staff and buckets, it's tedious work to smack and collect the kackle berry mash. Well, Gable probably needs more time with whatever 'catching up' those old geezers are doing.
They're honestly not that old, nor do they look it since they keep in good physical condition, at most they're in their late 40s. But if I'm going to be treated as a child they get to be stinking old geezers.
Of course, Gable is a dashingly handsome old geezer, would give any veteran Hollywood heartthrob a run for their money.
Thank all my accumulated karma points for the chance to bask in his presence.
While I am curious about what's going on, I'm not brown-nosed to the point of intruding. It's fine. When I grow bored with berry slush gathering, the sun is still rather high in the sky. To dawdle a bit longer and give them more time I decide a little extra foraging couldn't hurt.
I take my time wandering off the supposed paths. The extended time here has made rather confident in my woodsy surroundings.
It's much easier using an actual forged metal knife than a tooth. The small fixed blade that Gable left me is probably something of a carving blade given its size. It's the most he can trust me not to injure myself with and honestly that's fair.
There's still something bothering me about earlier but I just can't figure it out. It's lingering behind a very flimsy curtain in my mind, something that feels like it should be very obvious and that's what annoys me.
Oh well, it will come to me eventually.
Something else that comes to me instead is a beautiful dark butterfly fluttering in the wind.
Butterflies... don't....have ... teeth!?! What in the shit?
"Get it you imbeciles!"
"I would already if you didn't miss!"
"Can we please get me out of this net?"
"There it went that way."
The surprise of the ruckus of people isn't too much of a shock as a butterfly with actual teeth but it's a fair shock of noise in an otherwise peacefully quiet place.
What really matters is that I recognize some of those voices.
"Vinny just take it easy now."
"Just get the damn butterfly!"
Of course, it makes sense for grampa's personal troops to not be too far.
For a moment I wonder if that means my family is here too. Probably not, since the woods are too dense to really go through. The noises indicate that it's a small crowd, most likely just the inner raid crew. That's certainly my necromancer, Vincent, high pitched screeching through the air.
And yes he is mine, even if he doesn't know it yet. So is Miss Tamera and anyone else I find a worthy investment, *cough*shield*cough*. I called dibs.
Since some of my, future, people are in need of this strange fanged butterfly I'll keep an eye on it. It must be of some value if the inner troops are searching for it.
"This way everyone it's- oh, hello there. Excuse me but have you seen a weird butterfly around?"
"God damn it who the fuck are you talking to now?"
Out of the dense trees comes a pair of a weird little boy and a pretty but grumpy looking teenager. I don't recognize the blond teen, who I can't tell if they're a boy or a girl, but the kindergarten looking kid is definitely someone I know.
"What the crap there's supposed to be no one out here, unless..."
"Oh hi Rosalia! Did you get a haircut? It's very nice, have you been well? Funny we were looking for you for a long time but then everyone gave up and left it to the Commander. Did you see him yet? Oh, there's the butterfly!"
How is this child in Grampa's inner party again? You know what, I don't want to know. Especially not if it involves another sharp something to my neck.
"Hello to you too Amar, yes I'm alive and thank you."
"Mmmm that's good, glad you're ok!"
"Oi does the Lord commander know you're here? He's had us looking out for a week. Has a damn magic tracker and we were fucking still lost."
I don't blame the teen for his rudeness, God knows what Gramps put them through. More and more people in the standard-issue beast leather armor begin to stumble through into the clearing. I even see Tamer. Great, saves me the trouble of repeating myself.
"Yes, I've ran into my grandfather already. He's busying discussing matters with his friend sir Gable."
A one-eyed woman I don't know the name of raises a dramatic eyebrow as she approaches the gathering.
"Gable? As in our pissy Gable? Gable with the illusions and perfect hair is out here?"
"Yes, the mage Gable is the one to thanks for my care these past weeks. I was told to "go play' while they're catching up but I can lead you back to them right about now."
The small crowds of mostly hardened adult warriors half groans and half panics, how odd.
"No no no no oh god no that really won't be necessary Young Miss."
"Please just call me Rosalia."
"Oh hey Rosalia, dang nice cut, didn't recognize you like that."
"Hello and thank you Lukas, nice to see you're well too."
Everyone's a little roughed up but overall the troops look to be in fine health. Though some of their expressions aren't very good.
"Ahem, then Rosalia, how long ago did you last see them?"
"I would say about 2 hours ago."
"Yeah, way too soon."
"Nope! Not dealing with that. Not again!"
"Little Miss Rosalia, those two have some long ...talks, very very long talks. Don't want to disturb now."
"Oh no, no disturbing, you don't want to do any disturbing."
"Really best to leave them at it for ...another few hours. "
"Do we even have enough healing droughts ready? Calming ones?"
How strange, but the troops know their dynamic better and for much longer than me. They're awkwardly suspicious but I don't sense anyone is trying to lie. What are those two going to violently fight or something?
I never saw Gable as the type to, what a surprise.
Well whatever, they're grown adults with hero & magic shit to go over. I just hope Gable remembers to take the quiche out of the oven before it burns.
Vincent coughs with the subtly and patience of a rhino but it gets my attention.
"Well it's very nice to see you're alive and well Rosalia, truly I'm glad, but have you happen to see a strange butterfly, say about this large, purplish."
"The one with teeth?"
"Yessssssss that's the one."
I not towards the younger grumpy teenager and point to where I last saw the creature fly off too.
"I believe Amar followed it into that bush?"
"Shit! After him!"
What's the big deal I want to ask, but it looks like it's chase first ask later. At least no one is negligent enough to forget about me and leave me behind. The problem is that I'm picked up and carried off like a puppy dog again.
Well at least it's Tamera and not someone I don't know. She has a very comfortable hold and some wonderfully defined biceps, very strong arms, nice arms.
Unlike a certain muscle-bound grampa she can actually use control and not crush me to death even while running. Much appreciated.
In due time we catch up with who I think is Amar or well half of him. He was on his knees and half crawled into a bush.
"Is it in there Amar?"
"Oh thank the goddess, let me see."
"Ah be careful Vincent."
"I know what I'm doing, now show me where it is."
"Ohhh I want to see too."
"I can't believe we're doing this for one shitty bug."
I agree with the teenaged grumpy cat. Now that we're here can someone explain what's going on? Also teeth on a butterfly? Never heard of that before, why would a bug need teeth?
"Damn it's flying away again!"
"I did say be careful."
Luckily for those who no longer wanted to run the fanged butterfly nearly flutter around the area before gracefully attempting a landing on someone.
"Fuck! Shit! Get it away from me!"
Screamed grumpy Blondie, wildly waving his(?) hand in the air to shoot the little thing.
"Don't do that Yuna!"
"Get your creepy bug away! AHHH Fuck!"
So that's what the teeth are for... obviously. Call me old fashioned but I just don't think butterflies should have teeth, especially sharp ones. It's just wrong and painful looking.
"Net! Use the net while it's hosting!"
"It's doing what now?!"
Some of the most powerful well-trained people in the known world, stumbling over a butterfly. This is just reality now.
To be fair it's a really freaky butterfly.
The crowd cheers around Vincent except for the bite victim, who's turning redder and less focused by the second.
"Fuck shit what did that thing do to me?"
"To be honest I'm not exactly sure. That's why I wanted to catch the specimen."
"Yuna you're not looking so well. Here drink this down."
Even with two mid-tier healing droughts he's becoming increasingly incoherent, he almost looks...drunk. This obviously underaged teen looks roaring drunk. Is it a natural drug? Like those psychedelic toads?
Most everyone exchanges looks among themselves except for those straight out laughing at the possibly poisoned teen or busy examining the caught specimen. I can make out snippets of excited murmurs and whispers of legends I've never heard of.
At least he doesn't seem to be dying?
"Yuna how many fingers am I holding up?"
"Smashhy, fuuu, I'm gonna beat yall ashes....guh."
Oh dear...any healer know what's going on here? Anyone? Vincent?
Yeah, we may need some more help.