I was Born the Unloved Twin
The packages go straight into my little interdimensional bag, which I have since knitted a much cuter cover over. As curious as I am business comes first, besides, it wouldn't be fair to Amar if I opened it first since this is the first time Lukas sent us anything.
As much as Grampa teases, I'm sure he's telling the truth. The two long lost relatives are getting along well, as vastly different as their personalities are.
But hey Gable and Grampa are the absolute best friends and look at their opposite personalities. How funny, Lukas could be like their secret lovechild with both their traits. Now that's a horrifying yet hilarious mental picture.
Anyways the first stop is Vincent!
I feel like I'm neglecting the scrawny young necromancer to be.
Didn't I say I'd be his patron and jumpstart his career and research? So far I've only been hinting at some cheats and recipes, speeding up research he or time would have figured out eventually. Now with actual money I can become a legitimate patron.
Research is expensive, I don't know the specifics but research and such works are always expensive. It's not like I can pay the guy in soap forever, though he does appreciate them. As expected from my memories of his future self, he likes to keep himself and his material as clean as possible.
I make my way to where he's usually set up his station.
"Hey there brat, here to get another lesson on butt whooping?"
"Good morning Ms. Tamera! Not today, is Vincent inside his lab as usual?"
"Huh, Vinny might be out grabbing some creepy boring scrolls and books or something, don't remember where though. He should be back before the sun gets too hot knowing him."
"That's alright then, could I just leave this with you then? It's for his research and well, yeah."
Tamera nods with a grimace but takes the basket I prepared beforehand with no issue. Sometimes the materials the necromancer works with it a little....unsavory. I don't mind but it's probably because I haven't seen the worse of them like Tamera no doubt has. Rumor has it she once crushed and burned a package of his because it was a brood of hatching spider-like insects.
My basket is safe though, it's just plain soap and some dried herbs I ordered on his behalf. There's a few coins in there this time as well, not too much but a nice subsidy.
"There's some more of the 'exfoliating' soap for you too Tamera, this one is oatmeal so tell me how it works out."
"Aww gee thanks brat. Seriously, is it really okay to keep taking this stuff? I asked around and that kind of bars you gave me last time could sell for a pretty penny. "
"Yes it's fine! It's not like I give them to everyone so please just tell me how they work for you!"
"Haha if you say so, I say the second to last one worked best for getting dried blood out."
I may be using as much of 'my' people as possible as test subjects. It's good to have diversity. By the way, Tamera has healthy thick skin while Vincent is an oily combination teenager.
Before I had money all I had was soap. That and my skincare, they're literally my only asset in stock Not unless I start charging for pizza and bread. So skincare and food are all I have to raise favors with people, yes just like an old school dating sim game. Just give people stuff and slowly get my likability up. It's no way to really make friends but it sure doesn't hurt, besides it's not like I'm wooing anyone.
"By the way, Ms. Tamera, do you have any idea where Amar went off to today? Grampa gave us a package from Lukas."
She ponders for a moment before pointing to a large building to the west.
"Good timing then. Kid should be getting the final supplies done and checked with, scouting raid leaves by tonight."
That's the first I heard of it. Why so soon and why head out at night?
Tamera sees the confusion on my face and clarifies what she knows.
"Yeah to account for the time difference. They're not being stingy with this one, using a portal to transport the team most the way there. Sweet right? Saves a good couple months of traveling. That way though they'll get there and start setting camp up by noon there. They gotta work fast since I hear it gets as hot as a Grambbler's ass-"
"Language Tamera!" a sad gamer goth boy yells, appearing out of nowhere. Oh, nevermind it's just Vincent.
"Oh hey Vinny, when did you get back?"
"For god's sake in front Rosalia?"
"Hey wait a fuc-"
I'd watch and join in on their banter but I now have a package to deliver and the clock is ticking. If it's really as hot as something's asshole where they're going then a cooling ice stone would definitely be useful.
No real guarantee how good but hey it's the thought, and magic, that matters.
The warehouse buildings are bustling but orderly as people check over and grab last minute things they need. It takes me a few rows of wandering but I catch a familiar child with three other people looking over inventory stock. Since the abacus is out I assume they're counting and calculating.
Wait why are they making a kid count and do math? Doesn't this mission, even if it's just scouting, a little more important for a child to be playing.
"Whatcha doing?" I pipe up, getting attention.
"Oh crap! Shit kid you scared us, coming out of nowhere!"
"That's the Lord Commander's kid's kid to you."
"So? She still scared the crap outta us! All quiet and stuff- "
"You mean just you?"
Amar waves from the stacked boxes he's sitting on, mostly undisturbed by the noise. I can see the ledger in front of him and confirm that yes he really is doing the math on whatever it is.
"May I borrow Amar for a moment, I know you're leaving soon but Lukas sent a package."
"Oh nice, how is his apprenticeship going?"
"I'm not sure but hear from grampa it's going well."
"Nice nice, an apprenticeship away will do the kid good. Go ahead and see what you got Amar. Just be back to check if dunceface here made any mistakes."
"Okay, thank you. I'll be back."
The crew of men I don't know the names of bicker but get back to work while Amar quickly neatened up his space and hops down the boxes like a fictional cat in boots. I lead us outside to the side where it's less stuffy but still private enough for me to pull out the package from my space.
"Were they really making you do their math?" I question.
"Well, just the checking part. Sometimes Gorden makes mistakes so I catch them and redo it."
"But aren't you like- "
Too young I mean, hypocritical of me I know.
"It's okay, I just count really fast!"
Okay whatever, he says it so casually that I just let it go. Sure make the dopey 5-year-old do inventory, nothing weird here in this place of monsters. I'm sure their accounts are greeeeat. Well not my problem for now.
I pull out the two packages with a flourish, excited to finally be opening it.
"Wah so pretty, is it really from Lukas and sir Gable?"
"That's what grampa told me, anyways we open them at the same time ok. On my count - 1 -2- and 3!"
And I'm off.
Initially, after untying the twine I wanted to just rip into the package but when I saw how nice and neat Amar was trying to open up his package I stalled myself. I suppose it would be a waste to ruin Gable's pretty pressed herbs and decoration.
Inside my box, I saw a fat letter addressed to me in Gable's elegant script and stored that back away for later. Another messy scrawling note was more likely from Lukas. It was short and very....creatively... explained basically what grampa had told me about getting his first ice stones forged and charged.
That's interesting, I didn't know they could be forged or made. Artificial magic stones huh? Can they be used as batteries? Devices?
The small stone was polished smooth with a braided leather string hooking through it so that it sat like a pendant. It wasn't only cold to the touch but let out a refreshing air. In my box, there was also a nice crochet pair of little sandals, probably done by Gable himself, and some dried candied fruit. Everything was lined in bunches of nice smelling herbs and on the bottom, perhaps out of spite from a certain someone there was a pair of socks
Amar's package was also similarly lined and packaged with herbs but his was larger and thus filled with more items. He also received a dark leather corded necklace but with a slightly larger and bulkier ice stone. Putting it on instantly relieved one of the approaching summer heat and the stuffiness of the warehouse air.
Not bad Lukas, not bad at all. I think I understand a lot better why charged these rocks are such a big deal.
There was also a share of the same candied fruit but there's where the similarities ended.
Inside his pack was an interesting pair of goggles with a shimmery coating over the eyes and a tin of some sort of medicinal smelling salve. In addition, there was also an appropriately kid-sized and probably enchanted hooded cloak in a dark green that Gable typically wore.
As that sort of girl, I am glad to note that the cloak has buttons and lots of inner pockets. Very nice.
Out of the same spite, I'm sure, socks were also included in Amar's very full box.
"Is this embroidered?" Amar asked, waving out the nicely made cloak.
It looks tighter and far more durable than my own handmade weatherproof bear cloak. The stitching flowed subtly in a darker green the weaves around the hem like a lush climbing vine. Definitely Gable's handiwork.
"I think it is, I'm sure it's enchanted with something good. Either way, you'll definitely keep cool with this and the stone, the goggles are pretty neat too."
"Huh, yeah it will be really good in the dessert. It's thick enough for night time too. Supplies are tight out there and I can save on getting some clothes with this. I keep telling them heavy armor isn't a good idea above ground."
"Nah, the armor we use gets really hot. I think the bigger guys are going to faint from heat before getting attacked or injured by anything."
"Are they not listening to you?"
"In some things yeah, guess they don't believe me enough. Or it doesn't really matter. That's okay. It should be fine to buy the clothes there if they decide they need them? There should be a market or a trade road along the way...."
"There are? The chefs would love those."
"Yeah, I hope we can stop by some. I want snacks."
Suddenly I remember that Amar is leaving on a raid mission this very day and I didn't prepare him anything of a going away gift like I did my own chefs. At least I made sure they were well prepared, can't have them dying on me.
Obviously, I can't beat this Gable+Lukas care package, especially on such short notice. Who knows what Gable decked this shit out to do?
What to do, what to do, I ponder over the inventory I have on hand or well, in my bag.
Again I am a useless sort of child with only soap, snacks, and knickknacks in there. Nothing that can actually be of use in camping or anything really. I take another once over at the kid in front of me and assess.
While I know he cleans up regularly since I've started aggressively throwing soap at people, he's always dirty again from some activity or something.
Today it's from storage dust and the black smeared ink on his little hands. At least the shampoo bars are working well and his short curls are clean and fluffier than ever, even in the rising humidity.
Like a cartoon character I typically only see him in one to three outfits on rotation. Those old clothes seem like an odd combo of modified hand me downs, hanging off his wiry frame. Here in the camp, grampa's people shouldn't mistreat you but Amar is too skinny for a boy his age.
It all makes me wonder about who is even watching over the minors in this place? Is that even an issue here? It should be!
I organize the only thing I really do have, money. Leaving most of the coins in my space I pull out the drawstring sack mother gave me earlier. It's a sturdy thing made of some more than decent quality material and would do someone else more good than it would me. Inside I leave a couple of child-sized handfuls of coins remaining and stuff to fit some soap and a jar of cold cream as well.
It's dry out in the desert, right?
"Don't be so stingy then, take this."
Amar makes a little yelp of surprise since I pulled the money purse out of nowhere. His eyes widen when he looks inside after hearing the jingle of the coins. This is only a mere fraction of what mother gave me but I'm pretty sure this is the same expression I made when she presented the full cash bag to me yesterday. Shocked and a little miffed at rich people.
"Wait! I can't take this, this your money." at first he's nervous and tries to shake the bag back at me to my firm refusal.
"What is my name?"
"Answer me. What is my name?"
"That's silly Rosalia, you know your own name. Unless you don't but then t-"
"Now what is my last name?"
I promptly interrupt before he goes into another ramble. The kid looks at me carefully, trying to figure out the trick to my question.
"Um... Ventrella? The same as the Lord Commander?"
"That's right! I am Rosalia Therese Ventrella, first of her name! Something like money is no issue for me! Get it? I'm a Ventrella."
I boast in my naturally haughty little voice, the kind that was perfectly suited for a future otome game villainess. It's funny how my natural voice is so different than my sisters as we get older. I thought we were supposed to be identical twins? Well, I guess I could perfectly imitate her voice if I wanted to. I might be able to impersonate her if I tried but naaaaaaaahhhh.
It's not exactly a lie with my family's name and not heeding something as trivial as money, but it's such lies. I really do need money on a personal level.
Please, I want to stockpile a hell lot of money for the future. I need to gather that nest egg for when I need to get the hell out of this family and territory. Who knows when that will happen. That's why I'm working so hard now to set the research and foundations for my business.
But I can afford to spare a couple of coins right now. I even invested money in other sources, didn't I? All reasonable investments. At this point in time, it won't be too difficult to get access to my family funds.
"Stop complaining and take it! Lukas gave you something so here's mine. You better go buy some more clothes and tons of cinnamon goodies and all sorts of nice stuff when you need to, got it?"
Since he's trying to hand back the bag I take it and plop it right down into his package box. It's a little embarrassing compared to Gables and Luka's nice things, like giving someone a gift card on their birthday or Christmas.
Since it's a shitty gift card equivalent I might as well make it a $100 value gift card, or well cards. I prefer more personal well thought out gifts but that's too much effort and who can so no to cash? I love birthday and holiday money!
The kid in front of me still looks hesitant but finally lets it go when he looks at the purse sitting innocently in Gable's present package. Smart, it's a battle he can't reasonably win against me.
"Alright. Thank you for the presents!" he gives a bashful smile and that's that, I win.
As I should.
Hopefully, the brat takes better care of himself out there. He's a nice kid but he doesn't have an overly powerful long lost uncle out there watching out for him like a certain someone else. Fighting!
Amar quietly stares at the stuff then packs the items neatly back into the box, even folding the wrapping paper and twine to take with him. Not wasteful at all. He seems to make up his mind about something and bounces back even more cheerful than ever.
"Thank you! I'll be sure to bring back something amazing for you guys!"
"Uh yeah, you better get me some sweet souvenirs." I scoff.
In fact, can you take the chefs out shopping with you? Marketplace? Trade roads? What kind of trades and merchandise are there? Seriously go get me some spices and stuff! Bring me back good souvenirs!