I was Born the Unloved Twin
"Don't back down- you still got it in ya kid. Gimmie 30 more reps!"
My arms huuuuuurt. Ack I can't I really can't but if I wanna be a stronger girl I have to. Aaaah my muscles! My arms! My core! Ack my thighs!
Tamera what sort of weight training are you enforcing on a toddler!? I know I asked for it but seriously?
Monsters, everyone in this camp is a monster. Actually it may be possible that anyone affiliated with grampa in any way is a monster! Either he finds them or they come to him, he's a crazy monster magnet.
I'm not saying I'm exactly normal here either but I'm nowhere near monster standards. The good news is that despite essentially being the magical equivalent of a squib, and depressingly possessing no powers of my own, I am technical magical. This means I do have the potential to raise my physical body and capabilities above that of the average person. Among the few lesser magically inclined folks out there with minor or non-noteworthy abilities, this is still a pretty good thing.
We can be stronger and more durable than the average person. Many soldiers are favored with this sort of physical enhancement. While any human can train themselves to be stronger and have enhanced senses, those with a magical blessing no matter how minor get that physical boost. Of course, the effects of that boost depends on each person and their vessel, aka how well they train their physical body. It's the same with magical powers, if your body can't handle it or hold anything then there's no point.
I may not get fireballs or laser beams or anything supernaturally cool but I could probably throw a mean hook and punch through a wall given enough time and practice.
Alright, let's aim to be the next karate kid! Anyone can do it, even me! Wax on wax off!
Ow ow ow except Tamera is not peacefully teaching wax on wax off, she's a freaking drill sergeant. My poor muscles, I'm going to need a soda after this.
This season's batch is tart cherry plum flavor instead of just kackleberry.
Funny thing is the kombucha 'sodas' minor healing effects really work well on muscle soreness.
My soaps are in the process of experimentation and curing.
Bread and all culinary experiments go back to food consumed daily by my household, staff and the cafeteria troops.
I haven't made a single cent from all these endeavors.
I don't mind that yet, I'm still quite young. I still have a few more years of relying on my family funds. While I have high hopes for my skincare it won't due to be too hasty and enter the market with unreliable products. And I'm not trying to cause another famine by hoarding food and recipes, quite the opposite.
If it weren't for the Ventrella family money I'd be in debt right now with all that I've spent. Though I'm pretty sure the amount is mere pocket change for many noble houses, not just my own. It might cost what, less than two brand new ballroom outfits that mother likes buying from the capital? Just an estimate.
I really didn't expect to make back any money at all for a couple of more years.
"Ahhh that hits the spot! I'm alive again!"
The fizzy refreshing taste of a tart-sweet and sour beverage is absolutely perfect in the summertime. It's no cola but the ice cold tingling with the natural fruity sweetness makes one feel like they're on a tropical vacation for the split second they take a sip.
The near instant muscle pain relief is also great! My fatigue isn't instantly gone but it's as if 3/4 of the pain and strain has been washed away by a stream of sweet cold bubblies.
Ahhh I made an unexpectedly good thing. How satisfying!
"Wait, hand me one too."
"That will be 3c please."
"How about I give you 10 fewer reps and let you practice aiming and attacking at living targets next time for the price of two sodas?"
"A living target?"
"Vincent, he can't run too fast. Don't worry it won't be hard at all."
"A teacher's discount eh, very well Ms. Tamera it's a deal!"
"I want one in each flavor."
"One kackle berry and one cherry plum coming right up."
Using a rolling wagon chest and the ice stone pendent that Lukas and Gable gifted me, I can set up a cooler in the blink of an eye. I know it was made for me to wear it but it works really well in a small enough space.
I tend to set it up before dying through whatever Tamera has planned for me on days I visit the troops. That way all the 'sodas', transferred from my interdimensional baggie, have time to chill. After two or so hours of physical exertion, I'm ready to set up shop!
"Sodas! Get your sodas!"
In the shade of a big tree in the open square, with Ms. Tamera standing as both a guard and a living drinking advertisement, I have my unofficial little stand. It's not even a stand, just a few empty boxes I've lugged from the cafeteria to make a counter. There's another box for me to stand on to reach the counter.
A chalk slate hangs from a small knife stabbed into the tallest box. It reads '3c', or three small coppers, each. Below is a picture of a bubbly 'soda' bottle and a fizzy overflowing cup that I drew.
Ah, I always wanted to do this as a kid.
When I was little I saw on TV how other children would set up lemonade stands and sell them on their neighborhood streets. It felt like one of those 'Rites of Childhood' things. But my parents would never let me, they saw it was too dangerous and stupid to do so.
They were right of course, I lived in the wrong sort of time and place. There was also no foot traffic in my neighborhood. Everyone just drove home. Who would stop by my neighborhood lemonade stand? It's not so much that I wanted to be a little salesperson, I just wanted to copy what I saw in cartoons and newspaper comics.
It's a little bit of a time waster when there's so much else I could be doing but I'm fulfilling a necessary piece of childhood here. Every kid must go through a lemonade stand! Though it looks more like a makeshift bar counter than a lemonade stand, that sells better to adults right?
I'm not doing this for any other reason, not really.
I also like money. Who doesn't?
"Oooooh so the little chip is here today. Get me one of your originals please would ya Rosie?."
"One kackle berry soda, did you finish your classes for the day Mr. Roka?"
"Yeah those rascals sure keep me on my toes. I wish they were as well behaved as you are."
"You can't expect too much from 12-year-olds Mr. Roka, I'll get there one day."
"Hey! Did you sneak off without me?! Damn it leaving me to clean up after the kids. Oh our pop and kackle Rosalia is here today, I see I see!"
"Hello Mrs. Abhamh, would you like to try our summer flavor today? It's cherry plum."
"Yeah, sure why not sweetie, and another kackle berry to go, no need to pop the lid for me. Oh you're just too cute. "
Before long there is a little line forming at my counter bar. Nothing would happen even without Tamera keeping watch, in fact, I don't think she's even watching. She's napping against the tree after finishing both her refreshing sodas.
For the most part, my customers are regulars who enjoy the taste of the sodas and keep the secret of the muscle strain magic hush-hush. I'm not here every day and when I am the supply is limited to my cooler, which can hold max 5 dozen. I used to only place a couple in the cooler but since the popularity has soared by word of mouth among instructors and certain troop members I now stack as many soda bottles as I can fit.
To be honest I struggle with pricing them.
I haven't sold anything here and it's not like I initially planned on making bank off my sports drink sodas. Drink products don't make as much high revenue profit as beauty does, but they're still pretty good if you sell a high volume low cost. Also if you price drinks too high, no one would actually buy them.
So for now at least I placed them at 3 small coppers, about half the price of a standard tavern ale.
It doesn't cost that much to make the sodas but the effort is high since I'm on my own with my staff here. It's gotten a bit easier to make and store the sodas with the help of my father to design and commission more tools and containers.
Toys mother calls them, pfffft how insulting.
Today I'm testing out a new tool that father helped me with, aka completely designed for me. Drink kegs!
To do this my father had to do extensive research!
He went to the local bar.
People drink ale and stuff here, they have to have some way of serving drinks. Unless they just scoop their fermented drinks from barrels, which is honestly how it's sometimes done. Luckily he did plenty of research and got the excuse to go see 'a pub'. It was very exciting for him and he jumped on the chance to go see 'a commoner's watering hole'.
What a nerd.
As I am obviously a small child I sadly was not allowed to go with him, mother forbids it. Shame, I wanted to see what a fantasy world pub looks like too. As an ideal young noblewoman, Rosalia never stepped near any places like that.
The results I have with me today are two portable drink kegs like those you would see at bbqs or football games in my modern world. Done specifically to my requests of course.
Still, father isn't done with his keg research yet! Or well pub research, so much to see so much to do there he tells me. I honestly worry about his work schedule and political career.
Though he has no problems affording the finest wines and spirits of this world all his life, he's never had access to 'commoner's' drinks. Nor could he ever find a good enough excuse to step in such a bar. Really it's no big deal, but mother disliked such rowdy places. And so he's never gone, until now that is.
I wanna see too! I can't get drunk myself yet but I want to see! Do they have butterbeer!? Or mead, that's more realistic. I want to try historical honey mead!
Until I'm old enough for mother or when I can sneak out into one myself I will simply have to settle for father's illustrations and his commissions.
Today is the debut of my kegs!
The cooler can only hold so many bottles, and those cost resources. Even if I ask for the bottles to be recycled back to me after people are done drinking it's still something of a hassle.
With kegs and cups, I can make my own little soda bar and increase productivity! Oh hohohoho!
Eh? Why does my mother's strange laugh come out of my own mouth at times? What a horrible rich girl villainess laugh? I see, that's where Rosalia gets it from. What a bad draw of genetics.
"If anyone is having their drinks right away, may I interest you in a soda on tap?"
"On tap?" asked the woman that was next in line.
It's the eye patch lady from grampa's last raid troop, her name escapes me but I'm pretty sure she has a fish or sea-related power. See I'm doing my very best to network with the troop members as the little soda bartender. It's better than being known as just the Lord commander's other granddaughter, which differentiates me from the favored Lilyanne. I'm also trying my best to get rid of the bread-based nicknames.
It seems the non-cafeteria troop members are already catching on and I need to stop this before it spreads. My name is 'Rosalia', not pizza not chip!
"Oi did I hear sodas were here!" yells a familiar little blond head. While Yuna is much taller than me by barely being a teenager he's still a few heads shorter than all the adults.
"Perfect timing part-timer!"
"Ugh, it's already so busy. What a pain."
"Wash your hands and get back here!"
I yell and gesture for him to get around back and help me out. Tamera is fully snoring against the tree and he has to hop around and over her.
When did I start employing Yuna in the soda stand?
I'm not sure how it started either but he's always in the camps when not out on a mission or a raid, so it made sense to drag him along. I pay him primarily in food, hair care, soap and soda and while he complains a lot, he hasn't really been against it.
There's a reason he stalks the cafeteria after all.
In my personal biased opinion, he and Tamera also make my ideal 'soda' advertising models. All perfect tans and sporty strong complexions. They're like the cool people you see on the beach, what an ideal summer look!
Come get your sports drink 'sodas' and be this refreshingly cool!
"To explain, 'tap' is where we serve the sodas freshly poured like ale in a bar."
I make to demonstrate with Yuna closely watching and the growing crowd of customers. The kegs have already been precooled and set up on my inner 'bar' counter of storage boxes. I grab a cup from a stacked pile of resin-like cups made from some strange sap to resemble bar glass, without the sharp breakability or cost.
Glass is a luxury, the clear the pricier. It's what my cousin's family is known for, their crystal clear glassware. Even if I wanted to I can't make that kind of pristine glass without competing. So my resin cups are a lot murkier than regular glass. It's still transparent enough to see the fun fruity soda colors and bubbles.
I've commissioned them to looks like vintage fountain drink glasses, how elegant yet nostalgic. On the bottom of them, I started using the design of my new crest. Now if only I had milkshakes to use them with. They would be better if I chilled them first but I need more ice stones for that.
Tipping the sap glass at the perfect 45-degree angle, I pull flip the nozzle to the lightweight wooden kegs and let the contents freely flow and fizzle until a nice light foam forms at the top.
Since this is the summer edition cherry plum, it gets a fun plum fruit garnish right on top. Then I repeat the process with the other keg, which is the original flavor. You can't garnish using actual kackle berries due to explosions so I just used whatever slices of citrus fruit are in season because those go with everything.
"And Tada! These are our sodas on tap! This way I'll be able to serve a little bit more sodas to everyone since I always run out so fast now."
I'm quite proud of my drink making and decorating skills. Since they don't get to run off with the glass like they do the plain bottles, presentation matters to the customers.
"Ohhhh they're so cute!"
"Is this more or less soda than the bottles?"
"Guys I gotta say it looks a lot more. Cost wise, cups are better."
"I'll take 3!"
"It looks so colorful, I want both flavors!"
"...Is anyone else weirded out!?! Seriously do you not feel weird watching the Lord Commander's grandchild be a barmaid?!"
"Shut up it's cute!"
"She honestly looks more like a little boy, what are your eyes seeing you weirdo?"
"Don't make it such a terrible thing good sir, these are clearly 'sodas' not alcoholic ales. None the less do not besmirch the good serving maids of the taverns!"
"Yeah that's pretty rude of you."
"I didn't mean it like that!!!!"
"I mean, you're the one calling our cute little Chippy a barmaid so..."
While the crowd reacts in their strange various ways I have Yuna practice pouring and garnishing drinks up. It's a little more work than just grabbing a bottle out the cooler but nothing too hard. A 13 year old can easily learn something like this.
But they're not exactly wrong, I am proud of my hard earned drink making skills. I slaved away long and hard as a bartender all through college you know? You're getting professional service with me here. Hmm, I should get us a tip jar for this stall. Maybe serves some snacks, as much as I hate the nickname chips are good soda bar snacks.
"Not bad kid." says the eye patch lady as she gulps down a glass and slides the money over for two. She picks up the other and over the rim munches the garnished fruit.
"I hear that desert scouting team is planning on half returning, some of your little cooks on that trip ain't they?"
"Eh, that's the first I've heard of it! Yuna did you know?"
"Nah, not a word."
Georgie boy and a few of my cooks most certainly are on that thing as well as Amar. It's been about two months now since they left. I don't know how long raids are normally supposed to last but I guess since this one is so far away it would be longer than this.
"Yeah, that's because I just heard it myself. Switching out people, letting some take breaks by coming back. They being pretty spendy on this trip, using portal access and all. "
"Do you not get to use portals all that often?"
"Hard to refuel those things kid, gotta save em up for the big ones. Your ma's old man does have the tendency to be spendy without someone watching him though."
See, being a little soda stand bartender is already paying off. People tell all sorts of things to their bartenders. More importantly, that means my spices are coming! What perfect timing for fall! Bring home the cinnamon!
Business goes much faster with a bigger set of hands and longer limbs helping out. Go Yuna, I'll make you a wonderful bartender in no time. I even pulled out an empty cup as a tip jar so stop being grumpy and get to pouring!
The counter can't fit everyone so people take to nursing their drinks and relaxing around the shade. It's like a picnic with no food. Eh, it's a work in progress, like everything else I'm doing.
Everything was going splendidly until I hear that earth-shattering booming voice.
"What is this! A beaming summer day filled with sweet refreshments! A delightful social watering hole in my humble little camp, why what an idea!"
"My dear little Rosa, your 'sottas' are so well received!!!"
"They're 'sodas' grampa."
"Yes that's what I said!"
Attached to his bouncy overly energetic self is the snoozing little angel that is Lilyanne in her usual baby sling. It's so hot but somehow she looks perfectly comfortable in between his breasts, I mean pecs. Meh, same thing.
She sleeps so very well through all the noise and movement it's really astounding. Maybe she's just used to it? She sure naps a lot, even for a baby but our charging sessions must really tire her out. Huh, portals are hard to refuel eh? Not with Lilyanne here, and by extension me I suppose.
"Yes, what an ingenious idea! To bring people together in a social well to enjoy the breeze of nature and drink the splendor of the season!!"
"Oi is your grampa going to just stand there spinning in the way or is he going to buy something?" whispered Yuna to me.
By being around me too much he no longer reverently calls grampa Lord Commander. That and it's really hard to take grampa seriously when he acts like this, which he does, all the damn time.
"Hmm, grampa? Do you want to purchase a soda?"
"Of course my little red munchkins! Yes, give me a glass! "
"Okay that will be 3c."
"Eh? I have to pay?"
"But I'm your grampapa."
There he goes with the sad cow eyes. Really am I supposed to fall for that? You're a super muscular old man, how are you doing that? Like it doesn't work on me because grampa is grampa but wow, what a terrifying display of puppy dog eyes. Mother and even Gable are particularly weak to them for some odd reason.
"You're right grampa, you get a family discount."
"A family discount! I'm so touched to be-"
"That will be 3Cs, large coppers please."
"Bwahahahahahahah! Your family discount is 100x the price!!! Holy moly, fuuuaaaa hahahaha." howled my part-timer from right behind me. Glad he has a sense of humor, being grumpy all the time isn't good for his young face.
I hear hushed snickers from my onlooking customers.
"3 large coppers please."
"But I don't carry any money around here."
"3Cs, take or I make it 3s."
"Oh the betrayal, the pain."
"It is now 3s, grampa please pay three small silvers."