Nothing in the world could surpass the hatred Valencia felt for idiot politicians more than traveling on a horse for hours on end. While they are on different sides of interest, both are boring and painful.
And yet, it wasn't nearly as bad as Valencia thought it would be. Because, not only was the weather warm, not humid like usual, but the company wasn't so bad. In particular, Sir Axel wasn't that bad. Yes, the best part of the whole trip would probably be looking at his gorgeously chiseled face.
Valencia felt a bit of drool spill out of her lips. Sighing, she turned back to Opal and listened in on her conversation with Ariyan and Ainsley.
"I have a feeling that we are going to be on our guard there. We don't know what traps they might have set up for us." Opal said, then sighed. "We need to throw them off first."
Ariyan looked over at Valencia. "Val, is it ok if we do the usual parts for most of the trip?"
By usual parts, Ariyan meant changing the princesses personalities in order to shield the truth.
"By usual, do you mean the 'Valencia is a total mean girl and Opal is as hard as a rock.' parts? Don't you think that'll come back and bite us in the butt if we do manage to get a deal?" Valencia wondered allowed.
Opal looked over at Ariyan. "We need something that will help us gain their favor, and not something that will make them think poorly of us."
Ainsley suddenly spoke up. "I think that it will be in our best interest to go with your blessings." She was referring to the powers the gods gave the girls.
"Yes, I agree if we dig a hole too big, we won't be able to get out of it. In this situation we need to make sure to stabilize your places next to the highest powers." Ariyan told the sisters.
"Not only that, but if we stick to what we are known for, it will help our reputations and hopefully strengthen our bonds with Ustrah." Opal said, contemplating.
Valencia looked over at Ainsley. "Should we let the rest of the group know how we are going to play this trip?"
Ainsley nodded. "We wouldn't want any of them to accidentally say the wrong thing."
Turning around, Valencia and Opal signaled for a stop.
"From this point on, with any company besides our own, my sister and I are the ruthless and cunning Altacia princesses." Valencia scanned the group.
"If anyone dares betray us, your punishment will rock the ends of the universe." Opal glared at the company, turned her horse around and signaled for them to start riding.
Everyone visibly shivered.
Riding on, Valencia waved Ainsley towards her, smiling slightly.
"I think Opal did a really nice job of hammering that into their brains." Ainsley giggled.
"Oh yeah, they wouldn't dare say anything now!" Valencia smirked. Changing the subject, she said, "I can't believe my dearest mother would allow such a good looking knight ride with us." She gestured towards Sir Axel.
Ainsley looked over at the knight. Shaking her head, she replied with, "Yeah, he's nice eye-candy. But, that still doesn't change the fact that I'm not so sure about that man. Don't do anything stupid, okay?" With that, she galloped back to Ariyan's side.
Ha! As if I would do something stupid around him! I am a level headed woman who can make her own decisions. Valencia thought, scowling slightly.
Looking at Ainsley, she seemed subdued, and calm on her horse. So why, had she said it like that? It almost seemed like she was mad, and not like she was concerned for Valencia.
It was probably nothing.
So far, they had made good progress for the day, even though they left a tad bit late, thanks to Opal's freakout. But, the fractional amount they had traveled today was nothing compared to the six weeks ahead of them.
Luckily, not all of the travel would be on horse.
. . .
I knew everything was going accordingly to plan. With the help of an inside man, I understood how the princesses ruled and their influences. With a little bit of time, I could get the information I needed and return home.
They weren't naive, so it would be harder to get under their defenses. But hopefully, my years of training would pay off and would help me uncover all the secrets they were hiding.
. . .
Hours later, the group stopped in a field, with trees scattered across the mostly deserted plains. Setting up camp was quick and easy, so they finished before the sun fully went down. With all the tents making a circle, they lit a fire and began to cook dinner.
Walking out of her tent, Valencia looked over to see her sister sitting around the fire, along with the maids and soldiers. It seemed as though one man was telling a story, and Opal was laughing along.
Valencia smiled. Times like this made her forget how they had grown up. Opal had never had a problem conversing with those "beneath her". She had never wanted to live among them, only wanted to get to know them.
Not only that, but people around Opal always felt calm and unsuspecting, thanks to the deities gift. Almost like, a bunny would feel safe in an open field, even if there's a wolf besides them, because the wolf assures them that they only want to chat.
So, people loved Opal, and Opal loved people. Those who didn't know the princess thought she would be angsty and shy. But, Opal was a flurry of words and excitement. She spoke her mind and dared anyone to think bad of her. It made her the perfect heir to the throne, even though technically Valencia was the heir.
But, Valencia was often antisocial and quiet. The exact opposite of her younger sister. Good fortune and beauty could only help you if you had opportunities to use them. And Valencia had only gone to the castle and capital in the time her gift had fully bloomed.
Her family history was well known throughout the land, but currently, the rest of the world knew virtually nothing about her kingdom or the people inside of it. Which is why Opal would be a better choice to become the queen than Valencia, since she had everything needed to properly rule a kingdom so fierce that no one dared spy on them.
No one expected Opal to rule, especially since she was the second daughter. But, she was most like Queen Katarah, in a way that Valencia never could be. Even though she wasn't fit for the job, Valencia was expected to be crowned queen when her mother stepped down, which was closer than it seemed.
Opal loved the prospect of being the future ruler of a kingdom, even if it might not be Altacia. But, Opal wanting to rule the kingdom was not the problem.
The problem was, Valencia wasn't sure she wanted to rule at all.