Chapter 68:

Ch 68: Back to the boring stuff

I was Born the Unloved Twin

Ahhhh it's been so long since I've had a relaxing face mask. A little 'me time' you know? Life as a little noble lady can be so stressful, especially when you're me.

"Um, my lady? Are you sure those vegetable slices go... there ... on your eyes?"

I can't see anything with the chilled cucumber slices cooling down my puffy eyes, but I can hear my young private maid Abbey fuss around the room. While she has calmed down considerably since first arriving here, it's hard to get this girl to relax.

"What have I said about calling me by my name? And of course they do! The cool sensation is wonderful for tired eyes and these vegetables have other good properties for your skin. Yes, yes we shall do more research on cucumbers when they're back in season."

"Yes my lad- err Rosalia. More on cucumbers."

"Actually this is your new assignment, you are now required to test these face masks mixtures at least once a day for 30 minutes. You must lay back and relax with a mask and maybe a warm foot daily from now on. "

"Bu-but the work-"

"By my command Abbey, we must test not only the beautifying effects but the relaxing ones. Both are quite important. Rich clients demand all the best, more than what they're advertised. That's how we up the price. Do you understand?"

"Yes! Forgive me ignorance! I will diligently test for the calming and relaxing qualities of each mask blend!"

"Don't forget to massage yourself with our 'warming oil' blends, you must test for uh...absorption? Yes, absorption and muscle relaxing. I expect the heating oils will be a hit as it gets colder."

"Yes my l- Rosalia!"

It's so hard to get this girl to chill out. I have to 'assign' breaks and such otherwise she'd find some work to do over and over again. My skincare research room is steadily filling up new varieties of things other than just soap. They're all so perfectly organized that even I get scared to walk into my own research room.

It's like I'm walking into a nice store full of goods to check out but there's an overly attentive employee right behind me, watching my every move. How nervewracking. It makes you not even want to enter.

Except I'm the store's boss and my unfortunate employee is Abigail here. It's wonderful she's such a hard worker but I'm not into abusing children with labor. At least her education is going well, does all her homework. She's the 'wants extra credit' type of student.

Of course, the basic soap is the most popular item within the staff and household, it's the thing most often used. Seasonal scents and testers are nice too.

"Roooossaaa, the zucchini bread is ready, did you want to take off your scary face gunk and come try this out or can we just eat this without you?" calls Georgey-boy's voice from the direction of the doorway.

How dare he, I've been waiting for this!

The main reason I've put on a face mask and been laying here is to pass the time waiting for the zucchini bread to bake!

No I was not stress baking, I was merely too excited to finally put the souvenirs spices to good use.

After the disaster that was grampa's and mine's crying session I had him at least sneak me off to the kitchen, so I wouldn't get caught by mother. Unfortunately, my face was a mess but I am too tired to care.

It was uncomfortable though so why not hit two birds and multi-task. With this season's goods, we have both baked and made skincare, my routine specialty. This is good and familiar, yessssssss let's go back to this.

No more grampa drama, nooooooo. No more conspiracy shit for today. Give me my break already!

Autumn is a lovely time for walnuts and there's still the late zucchini's from summer but more importantly, we actually have the spices to make zucchini bread. Praise the gods and goddesses of this world, I can have zucchini bread. Ohhh, I can make pumpkin pie! Tis the season for pie! The possibilities are endless!

Cumin! Vanilla beans! Cloves! Tumeric! Cinnamon! Nutmeg! Cardemon! Even anise seed!

Oh the haul of spices is just so lovely, I wish to toast, roast, grind and drink them all up! Chai, I can make chai! Bless!

No. I am not stress cooking and eating, I'm just examining the possibilities. Besides, I deserve this!

It's not like it's impossible to grow or get some of these things here, they're just far more expensive or elusive. But a good portion of this is quite hard to get locally or unheard of at all. I know Georgey and some of my other chefs had a grand culinary trip.

Expand your horizons young man!

I think our land is suitable to grow a portion of these things though. Let's plan that out better in the future. For now let's just enjoy my easy zucchini bread and warm spiced lattes, no coffee though. Does coffee exist here? Not that I should be drinking caffeine at my age.

"Rosa can you please wash that off first?" deadpans Georgey.

What me? My beauty masks? My puffy sore eyes though!

Alas, I am lazy, also no one else needs to see these beautifully puffy eyes. No one else needs to see my shame any further than they already have. I don't need a crybaby reputation.

"Hmm, how about no? Allow the bread to cool for a bit, has it sunk in the middle at all? I think we made the loafs small enough to avoid that."

"Yeah, they look good though small. You can see for yourself if you take those vegetable slices off your eyes!"

"This is called beauty Georgey, try it sometimes! It does wonders for your stress. Oh Abbey, get the pink one in a jar for our Georgey here. That should be good for his acne prone skin!"

"Yes my lad- er Rosalia!"

"Why is it so pink!?"

I can hear him scream, ah Abbey must be scooping that pot now. Yes the rose water and turmeric clay one. I so love all the options I now have with my new ingredients.

"Shush it's good for you."

"What's wrong with the oatmeal one?!"

"Variety! Different skin concerns! Potency! You're getting this for free so don't complain so much, I'm making you the most naturally beautiful boy in the land."

"I'm a guy, I don't need that! Use Abbey, she's a girl."

"Eeep! I wouldn't dare my lady- Rosalia." squeaks the maid, clumsily clattering something in the background.

"Abbey is younger and has different skin concerns, she's nowhere near oily as you. " I explain lazily.

"You.....who calls people oily?! You don't just- Nevermind. Rather, get back into the kitchen, we're taking out your new bread."

I mean it's not so much free as it is getting used as skincare lab rats. Georgey is my favorite subject for his problematic teenaged skin. Sure he looks good now but that's because of constant testing. He's the most supple skinned boy or girl in this entire mansion! I think I even spied mother giving him a curious look at the transformation.

Shame I have no camera to take before and after pictures of his face. It would have been a great advertisement.

I hear Georgey make rough breathing noises but waits on me in his own way. He then taps his foot in that impatient way of his.

"Are you going to get up anytime soon?"'

I consider this, for I am very comfortable but also very hungry.

"Carry me!" I compromise.

"Really now?"

"Yes I can't be bothered to move."

"Well.... if you so command my lady."

Surprisingly Georgey complies just like that, he's been more strict around me as of late. Like I'm a petulant little child asking to play and he's the tired older babysitter. I really should have been more ready when he was being so yielding.

I shriek when my face is splashed and scrubbed with cold water.


"No complaining, it's good for you. You're not allowed at the table like that." he mocks, imitating my tone from earlier.

"Cold! That's no excuse, that was a shock of cold! How dare yo- oh the bread turned out alright!"

My little loaves of zucchini bread are ready! They're quick and easy to make, perfect for a stress eat bing- er I mean snack. As far as my knowledge goes, this may be the very first zucchini bread of this world!

Welcome to the world my dear sweets.

As horribly lax and careless my kitchen staff seems to be around me now, they still must await my word before attacking our new creations. It is the unspoken rule that I get first bite of everything, lest I become so displeased I stop giving out recipes and advice.

Don't I sound like a vengeful goddess demanding offerings? A true villainess in the making alright. I am still very scary and not at all a crybaby, no not at all.

Just cut the cake and let me stuff my face in leftover misery in peace. I'm sensitive right now.

"I smell cinnamon!"

Ah, it seems we are still holding Amar hostage in our kitchens. Really Georgey? Really? Everyone?! You're all accomplices. We can't just keep kidnapped kids!

Well, the more the merrier I guess.

This is a serious moment, and as per ceremony, I motion for the first loaf to be sliced. Steam still wafts out and I swear a handful of people swoon. This scent, this sweet vanilla and cinnamon scent overwhelms the room so quickly!

It's best when it's still warm, not too hot but soft and moist.

It's such a quick simple recipe, it can't fail. My happiness depends on you my bread!

My hands have gotten less sensitive but it still feels uncomfortably hot to hold without a napkin. This isn't the time for tony tiny forks and knives, it's time to dig in.

Puffy, hot and fluffy goodness. Oh sweet cake I have missed thee so.

It is like I have ascended on a steaming cloud of sugar and spice, an ultra puffy of dense cloud of zucchini bread. This moistness! What a cinnamon vanilla dream!

"Good?" motions Georgey impatiently, his foot tapping again.

But I am busy rolling in bliss and munching away. Sweets and carbs are truly the best medicine to a young girl's heart.

"Why are there green pieces in there? Is this a common dish?" asks Amar with honest curiosity. A band of chefs and kitchen shakes their head in confusion, in awe and wonder, as they try to explain.

"It's vegetables, there are vegetables in the bread!"

"But it's sweet, we used apple sauce to stretch the sugar but it's supposedly sweet!"

"By the goddess our young miss is insane, green vegetables in sweet loaves of cake. But this smell, who can deny this smell!"

"She's either insane or a genius, I don't care. I just want to taste it already!"

They can gossip all they want but without my ok no one gets anything. I am very very busy not paying attention right now. Out of spite and my own stress eating, I am not hearing anything but the sound of my happy munching.

This is for dunking me in cold water Georgey. At least my eyes aren't as red anymore.

"Oh that's funny, huh. Is it very tasty?"

I am too busy to respond to anyone, not even innocent parties. Besides, it appears that I need to discipline my staff better and what is a better punishment then watching me eat?

Amar seems to consider my silence before coming up with his own solution.

"If we trade you something then do we get to try?"

Eh, that warrants a shrug. A maybe depends on the trade. I don't know what my own staff can trade me though.

What are they going to do? Wave around more salad dressing?

It's my kitchen, or well my family's. Same thing while I'm still here as the eldest young miss. I know everything they make here because everyone is always making me taste things for approval.

There's a ruckus as people start basically foraging the kitchens for an acceptable offering. It's like a bad scavenger hunt, how amusing.

Wow way to make me feel like a vengeful goddess. This is my real power, holding baked goods over people.

Of course, nothing they pull out can interest me. It's nothing I can't make better myself given enough time and it's not like I'm particularly craving anything right now. Why don't these people understand a young girl's heart? Nothing but sweets shall do. I'm perfectly comfortable with my cake-like bread and spiced warm milk.

"Rosalia pleeease, oh god I'm sorry about dunking you in well water.... I'll never do it again pleeease." begs my rebellious junior chef.

I don't believe him, Georgey is a two-faced lair towards food. They all are.

While their pleas and cries are very pleasant to my ears, especially Georgie, nothing can make me part with my beloved. I'm very stubborn when I want to be you know?

At the silent treatment and overwhelmingly delicious smell, something in Georgie seems to snap and darken. The allure of forbidden vegetable sweets right in front of him, leading him to the point of threatening a child.

Not me of course.

"Amar....I know you stashed away some sweets. Go get them!"

"Eh?!" yelps the boy in question, eyes wide.

"Bring her the goods or none of us get this bread before it cools down."

"Oh.....but I only have so many."

"Get them and we will feed you so much. Please you're our only hope!"

They've turned into a mob of pathetic beggers and whiners. Is this truly the well-respected staff of the Ventrella household. Alfonso, do something about their discipline!

With this much people begging, the boy relents and hops away, quick as ever.

When he ninjas his way back, pouting the whole time, I completely understand. Anyone who dares threaten my sweets would meet with a swift temper tantrum.

I really don't know what he could trade me that would be equivalent in value enough to part with my fresh baked cake though. How old are these sweets? Did he pack them from when he was still over at the raid site? That doesn't sound very appetizing.

I'm not expecting anything but I'll play along. It's just a plain wax paper package though, what's in there? Cookies? Old cookies aren't going to be worth in trade in for-

What?....Is that? It can't be!

Sesame seeds!

My lord those cookies are covered in toasted sesame seeds of various shades! Where did - oh my god there are sesame seeds in this world!?! And black ones too! Never in all of Rosalia's memories did she see sesame seeds. I thought I would never see, smell nor taste that once familiar and common ingredient again!

The memory of the addictive aroma of sesame prompts my mouth waters all by itself.

And the green ones! Pistachios! Those must be pistachios! I knew those existed here but they're not local nor popular here. There were none to be seen in the markets!

They must be mine.

"Hand them over."

"...Okay but you have feed everyone. They get scary when they're hungry."

I readily nod. As reluctant as he was, the boy still willing shares his no longer secret stash. Something tells me he has more hidden away somewhere, smart.

The crowd of cheers and dives in, slicing and sharing the loafs of still warm zucchini bread between them. Their praises ring through the room, no one paying any further attention to me now that they got what they want.


"Is there really vegetables in this! I can't taste it at all."

"I can't- what is this taste? This aroma?!"

"I have died and gone to heaven."

"Alchemy, this is truly alchemy!"

My recipe is a hit, as I knew it would be. But I can't find it in me to be pleased with their reactions. Not when I can smell sesame even at a distance away.

"Cookies. Now."

It's like children trading candy on Halloween, a dealing standoff. Amar looks like he isn't making a good deal for himself. But his shoulders drop and he relents quickly.

"I was going to share anyways, do you feel better now?"

"Yeah I'm fine, thank you. Sorry for scaring everyone. I was just too sleepy and took a nap."

"A surprise nap? Right at the pigs?"

"Yes, a nap!"

That is the story we are using. I did not faint in the middle of the day, I merely took a sudden nap. I'm two ok, it's believable.

"If you say so."

So the kid isn't dumb enough to buy it, but he shrugs and leaves it, stealing a whole loaf of the bread to chomp down on. They're not very big so it's no biggie, I already finished one myself.

"Oh that's it?" my youngest taste tester remarks.

Huh? What's with that lack luster reaction?

"Oh it's tasty! Don't be sad, it's still very yummy and soft."

"....I'm not sad, it's okay if you don't like it."

"It's very fluffy! But still feels heavy in your mouth! The softness makes it easy to eat! "


"I like anything with cinnamon, really it's good. It's sweet."

"But not that delicious," I conclude from his words and expression.

"It's yummy but, not...that yummy?"

Amar tentatively shrugs, looking down regretfully as his traded pack of cookies. I wave him off, grabbing a hard sesame covered cookie. So you can't win them all, zucchini bread isn't for everyone. For the most part, every one of my staff seems to like it so that's more than good enough for me.

Until I snap a piece of cookie in my mouth.

Oh my god.... what fools we all are.

They're not stale at all, rather the crispy outer shell of toasted sesame invades my nose and gives way to a perfectly light honey butter cookie, complete with a subtle grip of roasted cinnamon vanilla.

The aroma of my zucchini bread is but an overwhelmingly cheap farce in comparison to these addictive cookies. Mass quantity over actual quality. But the dough, what is this perfectly crispy dough!? Even pita chips cannot compare in this snap!

"These are horrible!" I shout, stuffing two into my mouth at once and grabbing another. "No one mppff eat these! They're that bad!"

Then there are the pistachio cookies that surprisingly taste of cherries! It's the sweet nutty pistachio along with herbs and spices that I don't recognize, zapping my tastebuds awake. Orange bloosons? Syrup? What is this sweetness? They don't have the addictive quality of the thin sesame cookies but they pack a such potent punch that has me sweating.

We are but lowly peasants in terms of spices and seasoning. I nearly cry as I chomp down on another.

"They're really bad right?" smiles the cookie smuggler knowingly.


He takes a cookie and I feel pangs of regret at their limited numbers. But I can't offend the source dealer. The brat is hiding more I just know it.

I concede! I admit defeat in the battle of sweets! All hail the secret stash!



Bonus short (At this the same time- more grampa):



"Gable how long do I have to keep this up?" asks the small boy at the kitchen table.

"Until either Ronald gets the damn hell up or you freeze his face off, whatever comes first." replied the blond mage, using a single finger to stir 5 different cauldrons and pots at different speeds but all at once, with magic of course.

Invading the table was a large lump in the shape of a man, his head completely face down in a bowl of something putty like and cooling.

"So cool, will I get to learn how to not need to breathe like that soon?" asked Lukas while lightly chilling the bowl.

That was the challenge, to keep using his ice magic in such a controlled manner for a long period of time. It was much harder for the boy to not instantly freeze something.

"Oh that's not a magical technique, that's just Ronald," commented Gable, pulling up a chair.

"So cool!" awed Lukas, tongue sticking out as he carefully tried to keep in control.

He's been going at it for almost an hour now. It was him against the endurance of great hero Ronald, he would win this strange challenge!


"Try that again Ron? In human this time preferably."

"I said I'm breathing, I just got a lot of things in my eyes."

"Uh huh, wonderful job on washing those things out. Will you get out of my good bowl now?"

"Mmmmppffffno buu nuu nnne"

"I'll take that as a no."

Gable shook his head, Ronald never changed after all these years. Just as childish and ridiculous in too many ways. Sometimes he doesn't know who's the more immature one, Lukas or Ronald. At least his nephew he can still try to raise into better shape. It was far too late for Ronald, who was immune to his complaints.

"Lukas feel free to let go and freeze his head any time now. I won't get mad."

"A true hero does not back down from a challenge!" replied the boy, fully determined.

Besides, commander Ronald promised he would get what he's been asking for weeks now if he won!

*sigh* "I hate how much you quote him. See what you've done Ronald, you're ruining the innocent next generation."

"Nnnpf, wub uuu too." came the blob from Gable's favorite bowl. Great, now he would need to soak and clean that bowl to disinfect it from human faces.

"Gable is Rosalia really that scary and powerful to battle commander down like this!?" Lukas asked, still over-talkative even while feeling the strain in his arms.

It felt like slowly pouring water from a heavy container, he had to keep pouring steadily and not let it drop, even if he wanted to. His guardian leaned back on the chair, massaging his forehead.

" that what he told you now?"

"It was a harsh fight! One of the hardest he's ever faced! She even made him cry! But I think commander is just being weird because it's Rosalia. If it was for the twins I'm pretty sure he would lose every fight on purpose, and Lilyanne can't even swing right."

"Yes that's true, I'm pretty sure he would let his granddaughters beat him up into a pulp."

"Mmmmpfff uuuu tuuu."

"In human please Ronald, I don't speak bowl."

The named man finally lifts himself fully out, goops of purple mush still clinging to his eyelashes and nose.

"I said I'd let you beat me too if you wanted."

"I can do that even without you letting me, now put your head back in there if you're going to speak nonsense."

Ronald laughingly resists the hand half trying to push his head down. Sheesh, get out of the bowl, get into the bowl. Gable can be so indecisive at times.

"Naaaah, I think I'm good now."

"Are you now? Are you really?"

Ronald takes the not really offending hand out his hair and laces their hands together, holding it sure and tight.

"No, I'm not. But it will be alright. We're going to make this alright."

Gable raises a slim eyebrow to that, whether he knew how much that implied no one but the man himself could guess. But he was proud none the less, even if he didn't show it very obviously.

"Good...Not bad for a coward."

"Ahhh you wound me so Gabe."

"Lukas, ice him, this time for real."

The little boy jumps in his seat instead, barely able to contain himself. If he's not careful he might make it snow in the kitchen again and his Gable was very clear about the repercussions for that. Clean up all by himself, extra drills and tending to the chickens again. Gods did Lukas hate the chickens, he rather take on the goat.

"So I won right?! I won the challenge!?"

"Yeah boyo, I suppose you did! Good job!" the older muscular man makes to affectionately ruffle the excited boy's hair, turning pale fluff into clouds. Lukas beams, at the affection from his idol now a familiar presence in his life. To think his world would change so much in this short couple of months.

The little boy's grin has always been far too wide but these days it's genuine and from the heart.


"...what did you promise him?" grumbled Gable sternly, he had a bad feeling about this.

"Well Lukas been asking for a reeeeeaaaaallly long time now aaannnnd-"

"WE'RE GOING FISHING!!! And Amar and Rosa can come too! I won and you promised and it's my birthday soon and I won soooo we get to go!" cheered Lukas, chest puffed up like a pleased cat.

"You what!?!" growls Gable at the other man.

"Please please please please, I did really well to behave please please please I even read books and practiced all my writings please please pleeeeeease."

"Yeah Gabe, pleeeease. You only turn 6 once, and it's his first birthday with us."

As much as he wanted to, as much as he glared with all his will, Gable can't really say no to them and their pleading faces.

He just can't.