I was Born the Unloved Twin
So you know how mother basically grounded me just now?
There is only one person that can override mother's orders. It's not father. It's not grampa.
It's the one, the only, great Gable!
Yes, Gable solves all, let's contact Gable! Didn't he examine me when I was down and out somehow? Did you say something about that right gramps? Let's get Gable here! Or somehow contact him!?
Wouldn't that be a much better idea than this?!
Grampa's smiling expression gives nothing away as she peers at me through his scarily perfect smile.
"....actually yes that is a much better idea."
Aaaaaaaaaand he breaks. Just sighs with comical relief as his panicked stupid expression comes back out.
"Right! It's a great idea, we should get Gable to help."
"We should call Gable!"
"You can do that gramps? Well, get on it!"
That actually worked? Who cares, great, we're on the same page here! He doesn't really want to have whatever this bad conversation is either.
With another sigh of relief and strange-looking artifact he seemingly pulls out of thin air, from the plain leather wristband tied to his person I finally noticed, grampa draws an electric circle in the air. It materializes into a port key sort of things and rings in electric vibrations like a phone.
Grampa and I silently await the magical equivalent of a phone call to ring and connect.
It's too awkward for me to even yell because he had this device the whole time? You know how much effort it would have saved if he just gave me one? Why are we still using messenger birds if you have this sort of magical technology!?
I mean, obviously, no one else has it so maybe it's rare and Gable exclusive. I'm still low key mad about it though.
The floating circle bloops to life and one of Gable's portals solidifies as his image appears. Blessed be Gable! Today his hair is in a dashing bun! So lovely! He looks very handsome and not at all like a tired new parent to a hyperactive child!
"I see the both of you are calling, yes?"
Before Grampa nor I could get a word of confirmation out Gable directs a glare over to grampa.
"Ronald, stop being a dammed coward."
Before I can get over my confusion at what's going on or why grampa has suddenly crumpled like a popped balloon, my world's favorite person turns to me. I know it's directed at me because his voice turns much more gentle but no less pinpoint sharp.
"And Rosalia, I'm disappointed in you."
Ouch! ow ow ouch! I'm not kidding, this actually hurts.
These short curt words are so deadly coming from Gable's lips. He sounds actually let down! But what did I do?!
...I mean I have an idea but.....ah this is really difficult.
"Talk it out you two, you're already here. Don't even think about using me as a distraction or a translator. "
Damn, Gable truly is amazing. With one look he's seen through the both of us.
If there's one thing grampa and I automatically agree on, it's how much we don't really want to address the elephant in the room.
Except we're each other's elephants and the topic is reincarnation. Or is it transmigration? I don't know! World hopping?
How does one even bring that up?!
Oh hello great big scary muscle bear man, I, a tiny toddler am actually an adult woman with mostly all my memories intact. Would you like to perhaps discuss the strange limitations of life and the universe over a beer?
No, I can't just go right out and say it like that! I can't even drink!
...grampa what are you doing? Grampa what is in that flask? Grampa!? No fair how come he gets liquid courage and I don't!
"Because I made this wine and you're only two and oh god do I really have to do this right now? Can't we wait till she's older? Til I'm older!?" pleads gramps to the mirror.
For once I agree with him.
Sure there are many things I'd like to know from grampa but now that we're here this is too awkward for the both of us. We're clearly not ready for this conversation. Let's put it off a little while longer yeah?
I'm not at risk of dying just yet right? We can wait! Please don't make me confront this, I am feeling very attacked right now. Wait I'm weak, I'm recuperating from whatever just happened to me! Yes, lets put this off for another better time.
Gable gives us both very unimpressed stares from across the magical screen.
"....you two are certainly related, I'll give you that."
"Well, of course, that's why we're even here." declared grampa in such a simplistic way that had Gable rolling his eyes.
How unrelated and somewhat offensive Gable. I love and respect you but I don't see the family resemblance between grampa and me. Perhaps you're mistaking me with Lilyanne? Though that's increasingly harder to do since my hair's turned closer to my father's shade. I am tanner, like grampa, though?
Through the camera portal Gable gives a long sigh and makes to threateningly hang up.
"Handle it between yourselves, ...god they're so much fucking alike."
"We are not." I manage to cry out
"Still can hear you Gabbey."
Gable looks down somewhere off-screen, there's the sound of childish screaming and a roaring clucking in the background. I'm guessing Lukas is in trouble with the chickens again.
"By the gods, it's not that bloody hard to...just talk it out you two- now Ronald."
"No one is forcing you to do anything, no one can force you to do anything, not even me."
"I beg to differ! There was most certainly that time w-"
"Then beg." Gable interrupts curtly, shutting grampa down with nothing more than his cold voice and a colder glare. I can almost see grampa's doggy tail droop down into obedience.
I would also like to beg to differ about this topic but do not speak out. It's rude to interrupt and honestly, I think I would die if Gable talked to be the same harsh way he does grampa.
"Ronald...don't do this for anyone else but yourself. Do this for the 13-year-old you or the 10 year old or hell even the 2 year old. Do it for you."
"....which one are we talking about here?"
"You know that better than I would hero."
"...so about the begging?"
But before grampa could distract and divert the topic, Gable turns to me, instantly softening. Oh thank god, glaring Gable is scary. Very very pretty still don't get me wrong but scary.
"And Rosalia, you're still a child no matter what you may think. It's alright to cry or seek help because that's what children must do. You're allowed to be scared or frightened of things, everyone is. Do you understand me Rosa?"
"...yes Gable." I sulk, already uncomfortable all over again. But I can't say no to Gable.
"Don't hold everything in till you go mad, or rather, you don't have to. Alright dear?"
"You're a good girl you know that? You may call yourself many things, many names inside that overthinking head of yours but, there's a very good and kind person there. Don't sell yourself short kiddo."
That's stupid, I am not good. I never scored any of the good on the alignment chart. I'm a chaotic neutral at best.
I am selfish and only interested in anything that can benefit me. Only Lilyanne is my strange exception for reasons I don't fully understand myself. Even then that's complicated. But I don't say so out in front of Gable, because if he says I'm good then at least for my favorite person I'll be good. Just in front of him at least.
"You're better than you think you are...the both of you. Ronald, you've proven that again and again despite the odds so....so I'll be waiting for you when you're done alright. You won't get through everything in one day, but you can start. I believe in you, the both of you."
And with a zap of light, the portal dispells and he's gone. He really hung up.
It's a complicated feeling, being both scolded and comforted. I never feel more like a vulnerable child than when under the scrutiny of Gable.
I am very uncomfortable but growth oftentimes is.
This isn't something we can just get over, it's a hard topic to breach. But a part of me wants to be the sort of good that Gable thinks I'm capable of. What a strange messy sort of person I am, a really ugly person.
Like a tiny caterpillar, squirming around and feeding myself fat. In order to grow into a butterfly, I have to melt into goo and restructure myself atom by atom as a pupa. Except in this mental picture, I'll never be a butterfly. I'll melt into goo and something beautiful won't come out of it, if I even do come out at all.
Maybe a moth or something. Those annoying flapping things that keep flying into your house at night, maybe into your computer screen when the room is dark. Dumb things.
While I'm contemplating the futility of my very sad existence, grampa takes another long and unfair swig of his flask.
"A thousand flaming arrows." he finally croaks out, voice breaking from either a burp or something else I don't know.
"I don't know, somewhere around that number? I couldn't exactly count! So a thousand something enchanted flaming arrows just hailing from the sky."
".....that's....uh...dramatic? Epic? I don't know."
What am I supposed to make of this random information? Grampa can you be clearer for god's sake....actually you know what I give up. There's no beating around the bush with this man, no subtlety outside the battlefield. If you want anything with grampa you have to ask for it, directly. Conversation with him is essentially hitting the topic straight on.
Let's just rip this bandage off.
"Grampa, what are you even talking about?"
"I don't know! I hardly remember it myself okay, or well try not to."
"Remember what? I'm confused. A thousand flaming arrows falling from the sky? Is that like an attack sequence or something?"
"....Yeah Gable warned me about being clearer... it's just um....well...that's how I died."
"Yes, you do need to be clearer because I'm always stuck guessing what you're really saying and- oh...ohhhh."
Well, I messed up already. The realization of grampa's words coming too late. I'm so used to half tuning through his bullshit that when it actually something as serious as this, I wasn't prepared for it at all. That's my bad.
"....Sorry." I mutter.
Do I pat him on the arm or something? A word of comfort? What do you say to that? I can only apologize for my own behavior because what do you say to 'btw death by arrows'. I didn't realize we were already going straight for the kill.
As expected of grampa, he's ripping his own bandage off first. Painfully, awkwardly and did I mention painfully.
"Nothing to be sorry about, unless you were secretly the one laying siege on us." grampa sighed into his drink.
"So...were you um, injured beforehand grampa? Or with this just a big bad sneak attack-"
"Both, both very injured and they kept attacking. Kinda both? It stops being a sneak attack after the first time."
"I mean...it's still a sneak attack?"
"Yes, I suppose it really was, huh. I mean I knew but- guess it wasn't enough."
"So yeah, death by a thousand or so flaming arrows. I honestly didn't mind that part so much."
Wait wait what! How does one not mind dying?! By a thousand flaming arrows. One arrow is bad enough ripping through flesh or your skull. What's a thousand of them gonna do to the point one doesn't mind!?
Grampa takes my befuddlement with a chuckle, not yet drunk but perhaps a bit more relaxed from the wine.
"The worst part isn't so much dying. Living is full of death. " he takes another swig and a steadying breath.
"It's dying with a sense of loss, a sense of waste. You're the waste. It's dying after watching your world collapse, dying worse than shit without leaving anything good behind you. Where the world and everyone you ever touched really was better off without you ever existing, and you brought this hell to them just by being there."
He looks down at his free hand and examines it in an oddly fascinated kind of way. As if it were a strange foreign things, that perhaps had a cursed Midas touch. He smiles wryly, more than a little self depreciatingly and his eyes unintentionally meet mine.
I think there's still on fire, whatever he still sees when he closes his eyes long enough. It must all still be on fire, ruin.
He holds out his seemingly cursed hand, hovering above me. Then sighs and pats my head with it. When I do not turn into a golden statue or erupt into flames or whatever cursed touch he's imagining, he's roughly messing up my hair into the usual bird's nest.
This time I don't fight it though, not really. There's something awfully disconcerting about the touch, more on grampa's side than my own. As if he's confronting something.
"Well...it's too late for you anyways little one. " he sighs.
Ah, I guess it doesn't matter if we curse me by head pats.
He's not wrong though, out of everyone near him, it really is too late for me. Just by existing, I am something that's not meant to be.
Doesn't mean I want to die so awfully though. But living is also painful.
"Really though, I think the worst part wasn't even me dying worse than dog shit." grampa complained. He sounds so casual about it now, like the way I would complain about work at the bar.
Ahhhhhh, I want a drink too, what an awkward spot to be in. I get nothing to break the tension, nada.
"I had to watch a lot of people die before me, died because of me. They were all better than me, this poor nobody, and they all still dropped dead if they weren't already from the night before."
He leans back and his head hits the headboard with a loud thump. It sounded like it would hurt if he were a normal person.
"....your subordinates?" I ask, a child being told a story they don't get. Did you fail a raid, fail to defend against a battle? Did you lead your men to their death in the wars of yesteryear?
"No, nothing like that. I was a bastard of nobody, I had no power to subordinate anyone really."
"But-" but that doesn't make sense.
You're the hero, the strongest most renowned hero of this world. How could someone larger than life as grampa be a cursed nobody?
Well, I guess that's where the reincarnation comes in.
"And then?" I ask, prompting the next line in this impromptu script.
"And then....well I'm not sure what happened. I died, I died very miserably. I died and I couldn't save the people most important to me. I died only a few feet away from the cold corpse of my most precious person, I couldn't even....yeah. I died."
It's like he can't decide on what to say, how to word his thoughts in the proper sequence and order. So he takes another drink. That's the magic of alcohol, it gets the words going. I can smell the red wine that spices his breath. It's not infused with honey, herbs or anything that would dilute it. This wine doesn't need to be masked, it's a proper aged red wine, none of the cheap stuff I know is local to the taverns and troops.
"I died and that was that. And somewhere else, a boy dreamed bits and pieces of that sad nobody's life. And that boy grew up to be a fine general in his own right. It was a different world than here, where people didn't rely so much on magic, where the world wasn't wrecked by beats and war, and there was actually wine to be had. Did you know no one here knew how to brew a good wine a couple of decades ago? Preposterous!? Everything was weaker than cat's piss or it tasted just as bad."
I nod in understanding and can feel as grampa shivers at the memory. A world with no wine? Ah how utterly depressing. That's how I feel about the lack of rice wine, I still haven't found it here. It's hard to replicate the taste of cooking without rice wine.
" What about beer? Other spirits?"
"Mead! They had mead for the rich and cat piss for the rest of us!"
"....do you mean ale?"
"No! I updated everyone's cat piss into an actual ale! It was awful, and then there were convincing people to actually grow hops! Or grow anything that wasn't immediately meant to be eaten! Oh god the farms- oh by the gods I had never seen such pathetic excuses of farmlands."
....They actually are still pretty sad and lacking. The lack of modernization and techniques still had be cringing. I don't want to imagine just how bad they were back in grampa's youthful days.
There there, I pat his chest where I can reach. I finally understand some of your pain gramps.
Taking another lingering sip of his properly made wine, grampa shudders but realizes he's gotten off
"So one day, the general, who was everything that nobody ever was, one day he died."
"...he doesn't know exactly. Maybe it was in battle, but it probably wasn't. He died, maybe a little too angrily and then.....he was born again."
"Into a Ronald Ventrella?"
"....no....and yes. I didn't have a name, first or last. But I was born with all of that boy general's memories, and then all of my own. And while I was remembering the weight of it all, the woman who must have gave birth to me disappeared."
"She just vanished?"
"She left us in the wilderness. Thus the no name."
The more he speaks the more confused I get. Grampa gives me three more questions for every single one he answers.
"My brother I suppose, he didn't make it for long. Never had a chance out there. "
"Wait wait wait?! What sort of brother? A twin brother?!"
"Hmmmm yes I suppose that's considered a twin brother."
"Language Rosalia." shruggs grampa, who has his priorities in all the wrong places.
What the hell? What in the world is with all these revelations! What could they all mean?! Gable please, Gable come help me out. I'm so confused and also rightfully terrified!
"Annnnnnd I'm out of wine. Used it all up while we're at those farms. Gods they look so much better than back then. Your turn little one."
"Wait no grampa, you can't just leave off at that part! That has to be important somehow!? Twins?! Lilyanne and I are twins!"
"Yes, yes I think everyone already knows that."
"So?! You don't find it fishy or....or you already know something about that."
"Rosalia dear I am still very much out of wine and I'm not hearing much from your side. I am absolutely complaining to Gable after this."
Well...that's fair. I'm still reeling in shock at all the tibbets I've hears thus far. It's informational overload. The conspiracy theories in my brain are not connecting shit but they're connecting something with these dots.
"Are we done for the day Rosalia or shall we get to talking about your little episode. That might happen again if you're triggered by anything too close your death but it gets better as you get stronger. Obviously fire and arrows doesn't bother me at all. I don't know how it will be for you but I stopped being so terribly affected after childhood. Cept for that one time that-"
Grampa sprouts off, scratching his chin like he's not just throwing his reincarnation vulnerabilities at me.
But he is and it's awkward and uncomfortable for both of us, even with the wine. But holy shit he's actually trying. This man famous for wandering and disappearing through the land, the world's most powerful hero yet awfully the biggest goof is actually being real with me.
I don't know how to feel about this but a strange hiccup is rising up in me.
It must be thirst and the envy for drinking yes. I'm not getting emotional or tearing up for any other reason!
"A couple of dozen stabs."
"I don't know I didn't count! It's not a thousand arrows but maybe it totaled into the hundreds, I wouldn't know. There was a sword wound and some other things in the mix in there too and I'm sure the blades were enchanted. Shit the stairs! I tumbled down the super gigantic stairs too ok so-"
And for the first time ever, I tell someone how I died.
How does one go about addressing the woolly mammoth in the room?
I may be rash at times, I admit- actions speak far louder than words. But I don't think I can just go:
Why hello there tiny easily killable human being who happens to be the unfortunate seed from the fruit of my loins. Welcome to this world- you're going to have a bad time by no fault of my own.
Really it's not my fault the world is just awful. I'm just here riding the currents.
I just so happened to have noticed that you're not exactly of this world. Why I was once like that, fumbling through confusion fear and trauma! Ah feels just like yesterday, wait it was just yesterday. Here let me pull up a chair and we can mull over it over a jug of wine.
No I can't just do that. See Gable there are very good reasons why I can't just- oh never mind. You don't actually listen to this part when you're weaving cloth with your little hooks. Why do you call it such odd names, crowchetting? Obviously it's called knotting, spinning or weaving.
Ah see I forgot what I was saying again! Oh age! Grand glorious aging, I swear I have not always been like this and easily distracted. Oh have you done something new with your hair, a new braid? It looks lovely as always.
What I'm saying is, this conversation is not happening, not any time soon. What do I even say to her?! How do I start!?
No I can't just say what I just told you! That's just idiotic!
Yes I know my own eldest grandchild already thinks I'm an idiot at times but this conversation would truly be a mistake. This isn't our Maria, Rosalia is a far more intimidating creature! We'll never look at each other the same! Well not that we already interact normally. It's been too late for us since her birth hasn't it?
I don't know I was never trained for this!
There was no protocol in the military for any of this! I can make a catapult out of near nothing not talk to supernaturally intelligent toddlers! Oh gods, was I ever like that? I would think not, I was still running around hunting dinosaur tails at that age. Ah, life was so much easier back then. No people, no clothes, of course, it was horribly lacking but what a simple life!
I was not a savage feral barbarian Gable. I was simply a free child, a very free and spirited child living in the wilds. It was a wonderful training experience growing up.
...What if I just took Rosalia on a training trip? A real one this time? Just like when I was young! That's bonding right?! Just like you said? What communication!
....okay I was wrong, Gable put down the wand, please. Sorry sorry ow, I got it no more leaving kids alone in the woods! Sheesh, what's the big deal? I did it and I turned out fine.
Okay okay shutting up now, I was wrong. Gable I'm sorry! Gaaaable, don't ignore me this is serious.
Being a grandpapa is so difficult, especially when your grandchild is the cute but troublesome Rosalia.
What do you mean I'm far more trouble?! Sure we got into some, many, messes in our youth but you liked it right? You're still here. Come on, it was fun on its own, I admit chaotic, way, don't deny it. I am a grand delight!~
Author: Idk how rankings work.
And I know there are other ways for authors to get involved. But really, I'm just a slow person who wants to share my trash stories.
So thank you to anyone viewing and still reading this.