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“Ow!” Alice exclaimed. “I thought this was supposed to help!”
Bettina glanced up from her work. “It will. You just have to give it time.” She continued rubbing the salve into Alice’s wrists.
Alyssa walked over. “How are you doing?”
“Not very well.” Alice grumbled. “Now my wrists feel worse than before.”
“How much worse? On a scale of one to five?”
“Probably only three, but I feel like it’s a five!” Alice answered and then proved her point by yanking her wrists away from Bettina again with another startled, “Ow!”
Calmly, Bettina took them again. “Trust me Alice, your wrists will feel much better after you’ve had this on for a few hours.”
“It had better hurry up.” Alice groaned. “We’ve got to finish that book!”
Alyssa sat down next to her sister and put a comforting arm around her shoulders. “It’s all right. We’ll finish. Do as Betts says and rest your wrists.”
Ray walked into the room. “How are your wrists?”
“Terrible.” Alice said. “But thanks for asking.”
With a smile, Ray also sat down, opposite the girls. He looked at Bettina and she stopped her rubbing. “I need to talk to the girls.”
“Alone?” She asked.
Ray shook his head. “No, that’s alright, you can stay. I just need both of their full attention, and your rubbing may distract Alice.”
“I’ll say it will…” Alice muttered under her breath.
Bettina smiled at her brother and stopped. Alice let out a sigh of relief through clenched teeth.
Ray began. “Alright, so you both know why you’re here.” The girls nodded. “And you know what Diana is supposed to do?” Again, the girls nodded. “Well, I know that you girls can’t go on this mission alone, so I’m going to speak to the council about having me go with you.”
Alyssa grinned. “Would you? I’m sure we’ll all feel a lot safer with you.”
“Thank you.” Ray smiled. “Hopefully we can talk them into letting me go with you.”
“I certainly hope they do!” Alice exclaimed. “I wouldn’t want to complete a mission without you!”
“If all goes well, and no complications arise, we should be on our way to starting the mission tomorrow. How’s the writing going?”
“We’ve gotten started on the sixth chapter, but had to stop in the middle because Alice’s wrists were hurting so bad.” Alyssa answered.
“I see. Well, at any rate, I’ll go see the council with you next.”
“Next!” Alice squeaked.
Ray, Alyssa, and Bettina all looked at her. “What’s wrong with that?” Alyssa asked.
“I’m not ready!” Alice replied in distress. “I need to brush my hair and get into clean clothes and make sure I’m presentable and…”
“Enough.” Ray held out his hands with a smile. “Of course you have time to freshen up, but we the sooner we get the councils permission for me to go with you, the sooner we can get started on the mission and then you’ll be able to complete it and go home. How long do you think it will take you to get ready?”
“It’ll only take a few minutes.” Alice said.
Ray stood up. “Then I’ll get our horses ready.”
Alyssa turned shining eyes to her sister and then looked back at Ray. “Horses?” she asked.
“Yes.” Ray nodded.
“Come on!” Alyssa exclaimed, yanking her sister towards the curtained area that they had been given as a room during their short stay. “What are we waiting for?”
Alice followed her sister after telling Ray to let Diana know what they were up too.
The girls got dressed as quickly as possible, both of them glad that they had brought extra clothes and other accessories in their back packs.
“What are their names?” Alyssa stroked the soft muzzle of the horse nearest her who replied in a soft whinny.
“Peace, Troy, and Rebel.” Ray answered.
“Can I ride Rebel?”
Ray smiled mysteriously. “I thought you might choose him.”
“Then I can?”
Alice looked over the other two horses. “Which one should I ride?” She asked carefully, hardly daring to hope…
“You’ll ride Troy.” Ray answered.
“Thank you.” Alice let out her breath in relief. “I wanted to ride him.”
Ray smiled again. “I know.”
Alice looked over at him, searchingly. “You seem to know a lot more about my sister and me then we thought you did.”
“Yes.” Ray replied unsatisfactorily. He swung up onto the remaining horse, Peace, and smiled down at the girls. “This is my horse so she wouldn’t have let you ride on her anyways. Mount up! We have to hurry so we can make it back home before dark.”
Alyssa grinned and swung up onto Rebel. He snorted and looked back at her, unsure as to whether he wanted to let her ride him or not. Alyssa sat up confidently. “I wouldn’t cause me any trouble if I were you.” She advised the horse. “I’ve ridden a lot harder horses than you, and I have triumphed over them all.” Rebel seemed suspicious of the truth behind that statement, but apparently he didn’t feel up to a fight and let her take over.
Alice looked doubtfully at Troy. “You’ll let me ride you, won’t you?” She asked in a whisper. Troy’s ears pricked forward and his large brown eyes met her green ones in absolute trust. “I haven’t ridden horses as much as my sister has.” She warned him, but mounted anyways. Troy looked back at her for further instructions. Alice gave a rare smile. “I think we shall be good friends, you and I.” She said, confidence growing.
Triumphant from on top of Rebel, Alyssa looked over at Ray. “What do we say to get them going?”
“Onward to adventure!” He replied, waving them to follow him as Peace began to trot along the dirt path.
“Well then…” Alyssa said. “Onward to adventure!” Immediately, Rebel began trotting. Alyssa felt the wind in her face and tears streamed down her cheeks from it as she laughed and urged Rebel into a canter. Truly, this was an adventure!
Alice watched her sister and Ray grow further away from her. “Alright.” She said in grim determination. “Onward to adventure!” Troy broke into a trot and soon she had caught up with the others.
It didn’t take them long to reach the village and soon they came to what Ray told them was the village hall. In it, as they already knew, was where the council of leaders met and decided important matters such as who would replace a deceased council member and was where the fate of criminals was decided. Silently, the girls dismounted and tied their horses to the nearest hitching post.
The double doors creaked open at Ray’s knock, and the girls followed him through them into the hall beyond. Alyssa and Alice looked around it in amazement. The village hall was of course just as they had pictured it in their minds, but was still dumbfounding to them.
Ray beckoned to them. “Follow me, and do not be afraid. Many of the council members are friends of mine. They may seem a bit foreboding at first, but they’re not really.”
They soon came to another door and this one too opened at Ray’s knock.