Chapter 76:

Ch 76: The Sugar Conundrum

I was Born the Unloved Twin

As winter approaches, everyone's skin will get dryer in the cold harsh air. Thus it is very important to moisturize!

Not that common moisturizing products exist in this world yet, technically.

"It hurts, when can I stop?" a small child whimpered pitifully, the corner of his baby green eyes wet with sleepy unshed tears.

Large watery eyes were made even more woefully tragic looking on his small frame and skinny arms. Splotches of mess and soot not detracting from his plight, rather making his pleas even more righteously heartbreaking. You would think he was being tortured, forced into Cinderella like levels of indentured servitude. Who would be so cruel to reduce an innocent little thing like this to trembling like a withered leaf in the wind?!

If it was anyone else who saw such a scene, they might be swayed into immediately apologizing then wrapping him up into a blanket burrito to comfort those sad sad tears away.

But I have been raised with Lilyanne's dopey cow eyes and famous water fountain and thus very immune. That and this deceptive sweet boy is a criminal.

I have no room for pity.

"Keep stirring."

Amar plops his head down onto the table, little arms fake trembling around the mixing bowl. I've seen him lift far more than his body weight, this little endurance thing is nothing. Stop fake crying.

"My arms don't like me anymore." he moans like a wronged child begging for mercy.

"Hahaha lame! I can keep going!" taunts Lukas despite doing absolutely nothing.

As always this kid's voice irks me into arguing back like a child. Which I technically am, so it's all perfectly acceptable.

"That's because you spilled half of it before Lukas!" I make to smack at him, a spoon too large for me in hand.

"I can just freeze it up and back, duh."

"No that defeats the purpose, the lard and oil need to fully mix. It can't when frozen. "

"Fiiiiiiine, do it the slow boring way."

It's not like I wanna do it this way either, it takes so long. But we live in a world without electricity or mixing sticks or even a common blender. For a world with magic things sure are painfully backward and medieval.

Can someone figure out how to power things to move? Not the butter crank my dad made me, like a blender or something?

"It's the only right way, ice will mess up the lotion."

"It's a very painful way." the tiny criminal cries, soft tender cheeks squishing against the table through the admittedly painful chore. Good, I hope he suffers.

"You, keep stirring."

"But we already made so many bowls..."


" so many."

Today we're experimenting with more lard, so much lard. Gable's big work table is a wonderful mess of lotion and experiments made from child labor.

I'm not sure where Gable and grampa pulled out all this from, there are barrels worth of this stuff? I hear there's ridiculous storage under the troops' encampment grounds and honestly, I believe it. There's a lot of loot and random supplies, including waste products, brought back from raids and hunts.

Okay, I can see where all this stored lard comes from now.

It's not fresh stinky lard thankfully but the already boiled, rendered and filtered stuff that has cooled and solidified. They're essentially barrels of off-colored white wax at this point, which can be kept in cool conditions indefinitely. Yay for processed tallow! So clean.

No one knows which animal beasts this all came from, they might just be mixed all mixed up from previous hunts.

It's wonderful for making skincare! Rather than mass production I'm having more fun with experimenting and tweaking my recipes today. We're lacking on the manpower anyways.

I'm not all that strong, improved physical condition aside. I'm definitely stronger than I was, which is great for a toddler, but this much domestic labor is hard for even experienced adults. Lukas definitely has the strength to do a lot of surprisingly heavy work. In a pinch, he could make a good blender if you let him spin a whisk or two around.

But he's bad at controlling himself and awfully clumsy at certain times. I can't risk anymore spilling or freezing on my precious moisturizing experiments, though I admit the freezing is very helpful for cleaning up.

Thus there is Amar, the sugar criminal, sentenced to stir and pour and stir and stir and you get my point.

Before anyone goes accusing me of child abuse by forced labor, I must present the punishment as worthy. For one, he can handle it, we only made like a dozen testers or so.

"No, it was a lot more than that Rosalia! I can count, there were dozens of candles yeah but then you started-."

"You, shut it. Keep stirring."

"My arrrrrms."


Ahem, where was I?

Ah yes we started out craft time with candles! It was an idea that my jr. chef Georgie, who is basically my personal assistant at this point, left in my head months prior. Now that the winter months are approaching, the need for candles now prevalent.

Magic stones and devices may exist but the whole world doesn't revolve around the scarce amount of magic. For the most part, people use things like candles, fire hearths and oil lamps to light the way in the dark. Even my mansion uses these simple things on the daily, especially the servants.

Unless I can get my hands on whatever glowing moss Lukas has, is that sustainable?

Gable, of course, set up everything in the beginning. Everything we would need all provided, nice and safe! Safe enough for even Lilyanne and grampa to join in on the fun. Though I don't think those two made any useable candles, either too small or too overwhelmingly large. Well, that's grampa for you, go big or go home.

Lilyanne, however, got into a terrible but adorable mess by bathing herself into soft warm candle wax mix. No worries, she's perfectly safe. Grampa would never let a thing harm his precious granddaughter.

Though he did find the results amusing and tried making a Lilyanne shaped wax mold.

She's perfectly safe and fine! Gable was here! And now he's not.

The candle making craft session was finished up, our tools and cooling racks put away while a waxy Lilyanne and grampa were taken off to the baths. Before Gable left though he set up to continue safely crafting as we pleased.

Overall we had a lovely child-friendly craft time making dip and drip candles of all sorts. Not including the horrifying attempt at a life sized Lilyanne candle, that was destroyed by Gable immediately. Praise Gable, blessed be Gable.

Very creative, very fun. Feels like elementary school all over again. You can even make plain candle sticks fancy with pretty rolled herbs or carve them up in molds.

With Lukas we could flash freeze and cool down our specialty candles easily.

I really am excited to bring some home to mother and Alfonso. Let's see if luxury candles are a viable product? Maybe talk to father about upping the apparently low quality of standard candles.

The efforts to light homes prior to electricity is truly a burdensome one. What about oil or gas lamps? Eh another day, I shouldn't juggle so many things I don't know enough about. Candles are simple. candles I can do.

The tallow and wax rendered smooth to a rich creamy but surprisingly clean-burning candle. Not at all stinky like you would expect, and trust me I smelled some awful ones on the farm. Not everyone has figured out how to clean and filter lard into decent candle wax it seems, that of the effort is too high. I admit we're cheating a bit by mixing it with beeswax too.

Of course, by adding aromatic oils, herbs, spices or all three they smell even better! So many spices to play with.

Ah yes, spices. I sure do wonder where they came from.

"I said I wasn't hiding anything?"

"Did I say stop? Keep stirring!"

"But I'm huuuungry." cries the little human whisk.

It's not like we're making soap, why so much complaining? The sugar hoarding brat can handle this much pain yes?

If that was the case I would have bust out the hand crank whisk, though most of those are rightfully in my home kitchen and not with me. Really, it's an easy day. We're just 'playing' with making variations of tallow based cold cream right now, though admittedly on the thick side. Isn't that great for dry hands or feet in winter?

When the hand cream has reached an acceptable consistency that I finally approve of, Amar half collapses onto the table. Geez and people call me dramatic?

"Lukas, freeze and help me pack em up with the rest!"

"Aye aye!" yells Lukas with his mouth half full, happily munching away on sweets.

Among them are a thin stack of my precious cinnamon sesame cookies. They may be simple but I can't ever seem to stop reaching for them. After all the work we've done today sweets taste extra good. My tiny arms are pretty sore you know?

"I'm huuuungry" comes the limp muffled crying between us.

Sheesh fine already, really he brought this upon himself. I slide over our giant shared snack plate while Lukas lifts Amar's head to pop food in his ready and open mouth.

See he's fine!

Tantalizing cubes of colorful nuts encased in delicate nougats and gel candy lines a box, powdered with sugar finer than magical snow. Buttery dunes of tiny assorted cookies, including my favorite roasted sesame ones, the tastes, and textures all different though one wouldn't think it from how similar they seem to look. But wait, there's more.

These were all raide-er I mean rightfully confiscated from Amar's packs and belongings. Gable gave him away when he pulled out the spices for our craft time. A polite souvenir, luxurious even judging from these Turkish delights, or lokums as he calls it, from his unexpectedly short mission trip.

I understand how he may have been ill-prepared in bringing back and sorting all the goodies that he could have. Not enough time or a chance to arrange my rightful snack pack.

However, the brat has been massively holding out on us, which Lukas and I have obviously found. What oh what could the boy have possibly been hiding to incite such a reaction where Lukas and I would team up to such an extent?

"This weird brown stuff is really really good! It even makes boring fruit taste good!" exclaims Lukas, happily devouring another apple's worth of slices.

I agree, dipping a slice into the gooey melted down candy. It smells divine and sticks beautifully, a delicacy I somehow have not seen in this world.


Caramel exists and I have obviously been living under a rock for the entire 17 years I spent alive in another lifetime here. Caaaaarrrrrraaaaaamel!!!

"My snacks...." mourns Amar, looking utterly defeated.

To shut him up I take a short basketball shot of a caramel apple slice to his open mouth, which he still manages to greedily catch without difficulty. Score.

Do I feel kind of bad at taking candy from essentially a baby, kindergartener? Naaaaaaah, not if there are caramels involved, which we melted down into a creamy shareable dipping sauce.


Though I am still very mad about how I missed the existence of caramel? What even?

Caramel is essentially just sugar, boiled down and cooked into a beautiful shade of not burnt brown. Maybe you add some top milk or butter to get it creamy and rich. Easy peasy, even without candy thermometers or such modern tools.

I could have made my own caramels given enough time.

Here's the issue though, sugar is expensive. Not the, 'oh I should wait till it goes on sale before I buy some', kind. I mean really, you better be a well off noble household or something to get your hands on regular access to this luxurious sweet stuff.

Oh hell honey is expensive! Molasses, basically anything sweeter than what a vegetable can naturally taste like is pricey.

I really should do something about that, it's not just for the sake of my sweets. Perhaps a honey farm? That would be good for our farms and vegetable production. Oh bee hives, right! Mental note to work on beehives later.

Back to why I'm both so furious and exasperated with the secret stash, caramels included.

I may have provided Amar with a small sack of gold not only as a gift card for himself, but to get me some foreign goodies. Like how you make your friends buy you stuff when they go abroad.

After the whole bleeding from a cracked head fiasco though, it turned out he let Georgie boy hold on to most of that money?

Sure George did a wonderful job of spending it responsibly, I've very impressed with the stocks he brought back. Now that I know he has such super shopping talents, I'm definitely sending him out on more market trips.

But that also meant Amar spent like, a little itty bitty portion of his gift card. Even if Georgie and my chefs may have forced dressed him on a shopping spree or stuffed him silly, that's barely any money. Not even a scratch on what these snacks should have cost if we're talking pure sugar alone.

Where did he get all these heavenly sweets!?! How did he afford them?!

"I'm surprised too how expensive sugar is here, okay? I'm really sad about that still." whimpers Amar, arms still splayed out like a dead sea creature.

In a slight show of pity, and amusement, I aim and throw a candied nut cake at him. At the same time Lukas backs up to throw some green chunk of fruit. It's a game at this point. We lack amusement here okay?

"Keep talking, there are places where sugar isn't a terribly gold draining?"

"Mmmm! Yeah, it was hard getting used to the meals here at first but you get used to it. Food is food I guess."

"The sweets."

"They're all stuff you can buy easily in the streets and markets. I promise, all the lokums cost about half a small copper for mixed bag."

Sacrilege, these delectable chewey little rose water and fruit gums that are absolutely covered in fine white sugar are that dirt-cheap? I take a bite of a stacked brown cereal bar looking thing, tossing him rest because I'm honestly getting full with how much I've been snacking on.

Which is a lot given how all girls have a separate stomach for dessert.

Dates. Figs. Walnuts. Something aromatic, a little bitter, but powdery. A bunch of little seeds I won't bother to identify. It tastes delicious.

They're all amazingly sweet, everything the little cookie dealer has managed to smuggled back to my family's territory would go for absurdly high prices in the capital.

The fruits and nuts I can understand, they grow in a different climate. Native to a different region. Figs and dates themselves have a great sugar content and preserve well.

But the sugar? Now that stuff is hard to make, hard to process. How does another region have such widespread sugar access?

"I don't know why you don't have sugar either? No one grows it?"

"Don't be dumb Amar, you can't grow sugar."

"Um, I'm pretty sure you can. Can I have another lokum? Oh and a pear?"

"Aye aye Amar!" yells Lukas, backing up even further to aim and throw the snacks.

I have to pull him back by the collar because we're beginning to miss more and I will not stand for wasting precious sweets.

"Alright then, where does the sugar come from?" I interrogate, waving a fat date in front of his face.

I know these semi-dried fruits are his particular favorite from the heartbroken cries he made upon confiscation. Let's see you play smart now huh?

"Can you cut it in half and stuff goat cheese in it? It's yummier that way."

"Answer me or I eat it whole."

"Okay okay okay don't eat it all! From the markets, or traders. Um it comes in a lot of colors and the white ones is the most expensive, just like flour? They call it powdered honey in some countries near here? That's funny though because powdered honey is a different thing, that's made from honey."

"Less rambly more talking, how is it made?"

"I don't know? From boiling and drying? I'm not a sugar farmer?"

"Sugar farmer?! What plants do they grow?"

"That's a silly question, sugar comes from sugar stalks."

For being a good little interrogatee, I allow Lukas to bring over the goat cheese for us to try out, throwing the first one into Amar's mouth. The normally annoying snowball of a boy is much more cooperative when there are sweets in the picture.

Ah it's actually really tasty of a combo! I suppose you can't go wrong with fruit and cheese.

"They kinda look like old marsup poops but I think I like em" chomps down Lukas on a stuffed date, as if his mouth wasn't already half full from whatever other goodies he's been eating.

"Guys?" pleads Amar, who should be fully capable of using his arms to eat but does not.

Oh well, free shot.

Then I continue my interrogation using bait and lure of Amar's own stolen sweets stash. Ah, I am truly very evil. Can't be helped.

"Sugar stalks? Do they look kinda like long skinny trees, stalky but watery? The juice is yellowish to brown and sweet?"

"Yeah? Sugar stalk juice is really really good."

The boy drools a bit in memory then peeks out a pink tongue, trying to lick off a splatter of dark caramel on his nose that we missed.

I'm no basketball star ok?

"Okay so there's sugar 'stalks' and sugar farms. People can boil the juice and turn them into grades of sugar?"

"And molasses! That stuff is cheaper, and it's yummier if you mix it with fruit. So fruit molasses? Except for pomegranates because that's a sour molasse, but a little sweet? Both? I like pomegranates! But I didn't get to bring any back...."

There there, I understand- have another err a cookie? Yeah, one of the jam ones.

While he munches away and Lukas plays tabletop basketball, my little brain runs through the information.

Sugar production is such a viable and common thing in some other parts of the world that sweets of this caliber can be considered cheap and easily accessible. Wow-what a world we live in, one that the original Rosalia apparently didn't know existed.

Another important point, sugar canes exist!

From what I understand, sugar here comes from a specialized crop of sweet underground beets. That stuff is then chopped, processed and rendered down into a condensed juice. Then dried and spun around, until it forms molasses and then dried and processed further to actual raw sugar crystals. The more stripped of molasses and polished it is to the point of modern table sugar, the pricer.

The process is tiresome and terribly labor-intensive, and only done in small batches during the right seasons. Understandably all processed goods are labor heavy, sugar cane juice is processed about the same way I would guess.

But there's something awfully suspicious going on. Sure, maybe the sugar beets don't produce as much sugar content as the canes, that's reasonable. Even if production is just a lot better elsewhere, why hasn't this 'common' commodity entered our markets? They're not even available?

The world is recovering yes. Travel is difficult yes. But surely with the great love and demand of sweets, no just ingredients, and supplies in general, wouldn't there be more offerings for sale? Merchant ships, caravans, private networks, anything?

The original goods may have been a spoiled rotten princess essentially but she was very much the top queen candidate. That meant lessons, so many lessons. My then scary father was especially harsh on topics such as economics, trade, and both micro and macro politics. At least he was while he was alive...

...but that's an issue for future me to delve into. The nerd must be growing on me with his usefulness, yes that's it. I'm an average person, of course, I don't want my birth parents to just go off and die, leaving me in a vulnerable position all over again.

Another day, we confront that red flag on another day,

Those lessons and practical practices forced on me was very necessary for running the family's territory, businesses, and expenses, both at home and in the capital. In all my time personally, looking over trade stocks and logs though, sugar of such price or quantity never even blipped on the radar? Nor was it available on the stupid prince's side, bleck their nation's food is even blander as a whole.

But the supply exists and is available in markets accessible to common people. I can confirm with Georgie and my chefs on the expedition, the heavy supplies sugar and foreign spices filling up space in my home kitchen.

This isn't just a simple issue of shipping and logistic- I think there's something deeper going on. Something a lot more complicated than border tariffs, though that's a headache on its own.

But what? Politics? A sugar stronghold monopoly? Trade walls?

I feel like it's a matter to consult with my father. He has a much stronger background in these sorts of business than I ever did, that around nerd. There's also his side of the family's business?

"Imma lick the bowl!" declared Lukas, our caramel somehow now down to the very bottom of the container.

Serious thoughts for later, precious caramel now!

"No no no you don't, there's still so much good stuff on the sides."

"That Imma lick."

"Lukas don't you dare, get away from my caramel!"

"It's mine! Butter and cream was my idea."

"I said melt it down into a sauce!"

"Too late!"

"Get your nasty mouth away from the caramel!"

Yelling can only get me so far, for Lukas has topped the whole bowl victoriously over his head. Disgusting. Seriously, where does he get it from? Not from Gable that's for sure.

What a shame, my wonderfully indulgent caramel sauce gone to the mouth of a little beast. I can only cry into the remaining pile of terribly delicious sweets leftover. Woe is me.

" candies." weeps the caramel criminal pathetically, limp in his seat.

Eh I'll make it up to him eventually, no need to feel bad. Really, it's fine. Here have another cookie!

" the forsaken realms is going on in here?!!"

Uh oh, Gable's back.

Just to be clear, I didn't do anything wrong today. I put all of my moisturizing experiments away. All the sugar on the table technically belongs to Amar, so you should punish him on that. Shame on him for hiding so much right? Then there's Lukas, he's is the one with a sticky bowl on his head, just saying.

What a shame that we're all out of caramels....I wonder if someone has some more hidden somewhere?



So the strangest little world-building details bother me. In this case, with the Nobel villainess girls trope which often places the setting in vaguely West Europe around 1600-1900.

This applies with all times/geographic-based settings. Sometimes the characters in a tech gap world just seem to have access to things they shouldn't? I know we are not going for historical accuracy because, " hello magic fantasy world", but some technical details are just like annoying sirens to me.

Does your vaguely Western European 1700s setting serve green tea? Ice cream? Running water? How though?!?!

So there's a lot of details/explanations running in the background of Unloved Twin otherwise it will bother me too much. (Black and base tea that lasts a long time is imported from tea-growing lands, re-roasted and flavored where they land- then repackaged to be sold to noble/wealthy households where it's a status drink).

Forgive me for my hypocrisy, there are things that are just magically here despite the tech/trade gap.

Like tomatoes or pumpkins, hiya you MesoAmerican deliciousness. What are you doing here? Did grampa Ron bring you? (yes, along with potatos and beans!)

Oh did you guys know old Europe was terrified of tomatoes for a few centuries, they believed it was poisonous? Then pizza came around in the late 1800s and ppl be 'welp I guess I'll just die'( I joke, don't take my retelling 100% seriously I'm no historian.)