“Are we there yet?” Alice moaned, trying to stand in her stirrups to ease the pain on her backside.
Raynold turned around and looked at her with a sympathetic smile. “We’ll be stopping to rest very soon.”
Alyssa grinned at her reluctant sister. “We’ve only been riding for a couple hours, Alice.”
“You forget I haven’t ridden horses as much as you have,” Alice replied, still trying to find a more comfortable position in her saddle and failing. “The longest time I’ve spent on the back of a horse was half an hour, and even then I was all stiff after climbing off.”
“It’s called dismounting,” Alyssa corrected without really thinking, “and what that means is that you need to ride horses more. This is the perfect opportunity to do so!”
“It also means I’ll probably be bowlegged by the time I get home again,” Alice predicted darkly, finally settling back down into her saddle. “How are we going to explain that to aunt? It’s not something that happens overnight.”
“Unless you go to a land you created to save it from their worst enemies and do so by riding horses over a long stretch of open country,” Alyssa laughed. “Anyways, I can almost guarantee that you won’t be going home bowlegged.”
Alice remained doubtful, but stopped complaining and focused on trying different positions on Troy, who merely plodded along, seemingly oblivious to the wriggling on his back.
Another agonizing hour passed before Raynold allowed them to take a break. Alice slipped off her horse onto the ground with a moan of pain and stayed there in the tall grass, lying on her back.
Despite having ridden horses more often and for longer periods of time, even Alyssa was glad for a rest. She also dismounted and sat down in the grass, letting her muscles relax fully after being in a semi state of tension during the entire time on Rebel’s back.
Diana bit her lip as she climbed off her horse, Star, but a groan slipped out anyways. “I’m gonna be sore tomorrow,” She muttered more to herself than anyone else.
Raynold looked at the girls and shook his head, smiling. “This does not bode well for the rest of your journey,” He commented.
Alice moaned again, tried to get up, and then fell back onto her back. “The next time someone tells me that riding a horse is fun, I’m going to laugh at them.”
“Once your muscles get used to it you’ll be able to enjoy it more,” Alyssa answered, giving her twin an encouraging grin. “Right now it’ll seem like torture, but once a couple days have gone by you’ll be riding with the best of us. And having fun while you’re at it,” she added.
“A couple more days!” Alice covered her face with her hands. “I’m gonna die!”
There was a general laugh, and Raynold came over from where he had been tying up the horses to ask what the joke was. When Diana and Alyssa told him, he joined them in laughing.
“We should have lunch,” Raynold said at last, wiping tears of laughter from his eyes. “If we don’t eat, we will all really die!”
Alice pulled herself into a sitting position with a little help from Alyssa and Raynold set out the lunch prepared for them by his sister and mother with some help from Diana.
“This is delicious!” Alice exclaimed, forgetting her pain in her delight. “Where did your sister learn to cook like this?”
Raynold smiled, helping himself to more biscuits. “She was taught by mother, and mother was taught by her mother, who was taught by her mother, etc.”
“Wow…so it’s a generational thing?”
“You could call it that.”
“Unfortunately for Alyssa and me, our mother is a terrible cook and I think we both take after her in that way.”
“Maybe once we’re back from our mission you can both take some lessons from Bettina…or my mother for that matter.”
Alyssa’s eyes lit up and she grinned. “That would be awesome!” She exclaimed.
“If we get back alive,” Alice muttered darkly.
“That’s no way to talk, Alice!” Diana cried, “For shame!” She turned to Raynold. “Can I learn too?”
“Of course!” Raynold agreed. “I’m sure Bettina at least would be more than willing. She loves teaching and will take any chances to do so.”
There was a pause in conversation as the girls finished eating and helped Raynold pack the leftovers back into the saddle bag for dinner. Once this was finished, Raynold untied the horses and brought them over.
Alice groaned again, suddenly remembering her aching body. “We’re going to ride more today?” She asked.
Raynold nodded. “Only a couple hours though, don’t worry.”
“A couple hours?” Alice asked. Raynold nodded again. “I’m gonna die!” She added dramatically, sitting back down on the ground suddenly with a moan of pain.
The girls and Raynold exchanged amused glances, and Alyssa mounted Rebel. “Honestly, Alice. Buck up will you? We want to get this mission done, right?”
“Yeah, but…” Alice began.
“No buts,” Alyssa answered severely. “Get on your horse and stop complaining.”
A little abashed by her sister’s rebuke, Alice quickly did as she was told, not forgetting to apologize, though somewhat red-faced while she did so. Diana and Raynold, as well as her sister, willingly forgave her, and soon the adventurers were on their way again.