Category Archives: Diary Entries

Day 11: Twitter-pated, the lot of us… (Part 4)

The West Jorvik Highway was the road leading north out of the village, Marley’s farm to the left and Landon’s sheep field on the right. I was looking at the sheep when we turned the corner and a bulldozer about ran us over! Screaming like a pair of magpies, we both took off, Evening having the common sense to jump over the fence and into Landon’s fields without any input from me. I could barely catch my breath as we stood there, shocked beyond words. Honestly, this was worse than pedestrians and bike riders!

Savvy suggested we take the fields alongside the road the rest of the way, and I agreed. Evening shook his head and snorted, suggesting that he was quite happy to not step on the road right now either after that scare. Big scary machinery around horses, honestly…

Mr. Bucket was up on a hill overlooking the work site that seemed to be giving him such a fret. He gestured for us to be silent and to get off our horses. Evening snorted again, but didn’t follow me up the hill at least. I let Savvy do the talking, whispering to him about Marley’s paddock. But the politician didn’t look interested. The construction site was a bigger priority, since they were possibly using a toxic adhesive to hurry up their construction. He just had no proof of it. If we could get him proof, though, he’d be free to get us the papers Marley needed.

Why was it always a case of, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours?” It seems to me like governmental processes were supposed to be a lot simpler. But there was no help for it. We left the horses at the base of Mr. Bucket’s hill and entered the construction site. There were containers, machinery, and all sorts of building supplies everywhere. It wasn’t the most organized mess either. I was a bundle of nerves, and found myself biting the seams of my gloves more than once (at least they protected my nails!) when I thought we were going to get caught. At last, a container had the packaging for the GED-O-Gel that Mr. Bucket was so concerned about, and we took off for Mr. Bucket with it before we got caught.

I thought he was going to grind his teeth to dust, he was so angry. He started scribbling away on papers, talking about delaying the construction for at least a few days. I think that at least made him feel better than standing around, doing nothing. He did hand over the papers for Marley, having done them while he waited for us. I was glad he was at least a man of his word…

We went back to the horses to take pictures of the observatory, with me letting Savvy handle the camera more. I was a bit of a butterfingers when it came to technology, honestly. It was worth it when Olaf kept humming over how nice the pictures were. I hope she took the compliment well.

It took him a bit of considered, but he finally decided on a gondola lift. (Which was apparently the logical answer since the mountain was too steep for a road, tunneling wasn’t an option.) There had even been a gondola lift there before at one time, judging by the old foundations still there and hopefully could be reused. I refrained, barely, from rolling my eyes. Savvy was being a bad influence on me. But it seemed pretty obvious! He gave us some GPS markers to put near the old foundation markers. As we rode away, Savvy started acting strange again, looking all around like she heard something I didn’t. I bit my lower lip, starting to wonder. Was I the one not hearing something important? Mummy always said wearing my headphones while I played video games on my computer would ruin my hearing…

Savvy shook it off though and we went hunting for those foundation blocks. Pretty hard to miss once I realized what they were. The last one was up on the steep hillside. I thought Evening was going to slip and fall a couple times going back down! He was not a happy camper. Once we got back to Olaf, he looked over the GPS information and said while the spots were good, the actual foundations were too old. I was thinking, okay, well, time to go home and leave him to it.

No. He hands us dynamite to go blow them up.

Dynamite. I’m fifteen! Savvy might be considered an adult in some countries, but I am still a few months short, thank you all the same!

Oh, but he gave us a brochure on how to use it, like that would make everything so much better. And apparently once we read it, we knew as much as he did about using it. We were just expected to set it, light it, and run. It was too easy. I whimpered, unable to believe we were doing this. Savvy suggested that if we made it to the next block before the first one went, we should be fine. I don’t like should be’s!

“This is insanity, we shouldn’t be doing this, oh God,” I muttered, but there was no help for it. She set the first charge, and Evening twisted around and ran for the next foundation block before she had even lit it. I sat there, trembling, and forgot to count. Savvy and Heart had barely joined us when the ground shook and my ears rang with the noise. I squealed and covered my ears…not that it did me much good now.

If Daddy ever finds out about this, he will throw a colossal hissy fit.

Savvy handed me the next one with shaking hands, and I gulped. My turn. I set it, and this time when we got behind the next foundation, I remembered to cover my ears. I still jumped, and although he was trying to appear strong and brave, I could feel Evening trembling underneath me. This was just cruel. But we finished and raced back to Olaf as soon as the last charge was set, not even waiting to make sure it went off alright.

He had the audacity to laugh. My mouth tightened and I could feel my face turning red as I got angry, but tried to bite my tongue. Mario needed this, which meant I needed to hold on to my temper. But oh, even now I’m shaking, I am so upset over this! You can scare me and laugh about it, fine. But you do not get to scare my horse!

While I was trying not to give him a tongue lashing, Savvy picked up the reins of conversation again. He had apparently found a lift from the Alps that was for sale, he just needed us to run the letter to buy it to the post office. I let Savvy take the letter, and we rode back to the village at a walk. I let her deal with Derek, and actually kept Evening up by Steve’s 2nd Hand store. I didn’t want to force him down stairs right now. He tried to shake his head and go on, but I slid off his back and wrapped my arms around his neck. His coat hid it well, but he had been sweating all through that, ugh, my poor baby…

She got an extra flirting session with Derek, and then we went to Marley’s to give him his paperwork. But that wasn’t enough. Now he needed the track inspected, and apparently Carney was the nearest licensed inspector. Familial favors at their finest. But we both were relieved to be heading back towards our beds at the winery.

Carney, of course, got very huffy over needing to help his brother. It made me wrinkle my nose. They were brothers, shouldn’t he be happy to help? But he said he would do it on his own time, and who knew when that would be. I had a feeling we were going to have to stay on him. We put the horses back in their stalls for their evening feed, and I went ahead and gave Evening an extra brushing and fussing. That seemed to help him calm down further. I carried Snow back into our room and while Savvy collapsed in bed, I took a shower first to get the dust and sweat off. My clothes were too dirty to put back on, so I grabbed the clothes I had worn on the first day here. I didn’t bother with make-up again, or doing more than brushing my hair. I would look like death warmed over, but I was calm, that’s all I cared about.

By the time I was done, it was almost time for supper. Snow hopped in my lap for snuggles while I waited for the rest of the time to pass. Once we both stopped shaking, we put the rabbits away with some fresh lettuce and carrot shavings for them to snack on and went to grab our own supper.

While we were walking, I hugged myself and bit my lip. I hadn’t been too open about what was going on with me and Josh to Savvy. I think she got more frustrated with him than I did, whereas I just got hurt. But this was important. “I yelled at Josh today,” I managed to blurt out, making her turn to stare at me. “I gave him an ultimatum, told him to decide what I was and stick with it instead of this ping pong game, and I don’t know what he’s going to decide, and I’m afraid he’s going to do something stupid because he’s just as much of a boy as Derek sometimes…” I clapped my hands over my mouth to make me stop babbling.

Savvy was just gobsmacked, I think, and then finally shook her head. “Outside,” she said. “We’re eating outside tonight, and talking in the closest thing we have to privacy around here.” I nodded, and followed along after her. There were disposable trays in the dining room, so we just grabbed our supper on them and took it out to the vineyard. There was an unclaimed picnic table out there, probably rather popular for lunch but not for the evening meal.

Neither of us seemed to know what to say at first. And then Savvy said she couldn’t believe that I had given Josh an ultimatum. I flushed and slumped over the tumble. “Well!” I managed to sputter out. She snickered and I muttered about how it wasn’t fair for him to be such a pain…

“Well, if he’s going to keep being dumb, we can sick Derek on him again,” Savvy tried to reassure me with a smirk. I managed a slight giggle, but considering that the boys had recently devolved to gut-punching and hair-dying, it was definitely a last resort in my book.

Savvy agreed, and then fell into a silence that was full of meanings. She sighed and said, “I don’t know, Misty…” And started listing all the reasons why we really couldn’t afford to stop going to the race. Mostly for Star and Bright’s sake. It wasn’t really fair for the ponies to lose some of their fun because of my feelings.

But there was more to what she was feeling than that. I didn’t have to press too much, and she gave in. Apparently she is just as unsure about Derek as I am about Josh. Yes, they flirted and worried about each other, but she didn’t even know if he liked her or if he just wanted to be friends. Both of us were in such awful knots.

By then, we were both depressed enough that I thought we needed a subject change, or we would never fall asleep. So I mentioned all of the beautiful horse breeds we’d seen and wondered how on Earth we’d ever choose which ones to buy, provided we did so. Savvy instantly agreed, and we spent the rest of the evening chattering about them excitedly, cheering both of us up considerably. Now if only everything else was as easily solved…

Oh well. I’ll my answer in the morning, one way or the other.

Money: 3208 SC, 1664 JS

Have a question for Misty about her experiences at Moorland or before? Ask her over at Ask Mountain Song over on tumblr.


Day 11: Twitter-pated, the lot of us… (Part 3)

The brother has a ranch that is just down the hill on our way from Silverglade to the winery. Before we caught up with him, we got distracted by what he had in the sale stalls. Tinkers! And two different kinds of paints! I would have taken them back today…except Evening and I hadn’t had a conversation yet, and I was possibly going to be in enough trouble for buying two horses.

His name is Marley, and apparently he had bought a paddock online without looking into any of necessary paperwork or regulations. Oh goodness. He was so excited about this beautiful show jumping track he wanted to make, but now he needed to back track and get belated permission. So that meant going to talk to Councilman Gilbert.

Well, that meant going back through the village, which was on the way back to Valedale. So we agreed, and he was quite grateful. Of course, Savvy had to get distracted by a new shop. Sigh. We had just had a full day of shopping!

At last, she finished her browsing and we could go speak with Gilbert. Well, he knew absolutely nothing about paddocks, so we had to find a Mr. Bucket to talk with about Marley’s plans. But he was gone and had been so for several days, worrying over the workers up at North Link possibly using illegal means with the tunnel they were building. If we wanted to talk to him, we’d have to go find him in that general direction via the West Jorvik Highway.

Savvy checked her GPS and said that it wasn’t anywhere near Mario, and we’d promised Steve we would talk to him first. I frowned, since I didn’t want to exhaust the horses by going back and forth from Valedale, and then going up very far north. We moved away from the councilman to debate which way to go when Donald popped up out of nowhere and scared the liver out of me.

He said he wanted to thank us for all the wool by making us a new vest, but we’d have to help even with that reward by helping gather dye. Well, he’d heard about a pink dye that Elizabeth Sunbeam could make out of special flowers. We promised to talk to her for him. And that additional task settled it, despite my unease about the horses’ stamina. Valedale first.

On our way to Valedale, Savvy and I talked about the Friesians that Steve had. I knew some of the history of the breed, so I told her what I knew, and about how they had required breeding permissions now and most studs had the chestnut gene eliminated. We both pouted a little over that.

Elizabeth was outside her house when we rode in, thankfully. She knew all about the dye Donald wanted, and apparently the special flowers were the same ones we collected the tears of Aideen from. They were also protected, but as long as we only gathered withered flowers, she would make us the dye. The flowers were out with the cattle–I assume the bright color would keep them from eating them, since that usually marks poison to grazers. We gathered plenty of withered flowers left over from the winter, and took them to Elizabeth, who said she’d need a day to set the dye.

Savvy asked her for directions to the observatory, and Elizabeth blushed! Savvy showed her the GPS, and Elizabeth gave us better directions. After we thanked her and headed on our way, Savvy asked if I knew what the flushing was about and why Elizabeth seemed to know the best way to the observatory, despite it being so out of the way. Looking up at the branches overhead, I pondered if maybe she had a crush on Mario? But that just made me giggle when I told Savvy. At least she laughed too. To quote my favorite Disney movie, we were all getting twitterpated. Me over Josh, Savvy over Derek… Maybe now Elizabeth over Mario. It is spring, I suppose.

Along the road leading up to the observatory were steaming rocks that looked hot to the touch. Both Savvy and I wondered what they could be. But that was quickly forgotten when Savvy stopped in the middle of the bridge and started talking about loud, clanking noises.

Oh no. Not again.

Was it the altitude this time? I mentally dithered and swore that I was going to start packing little bags of snacks and water so this would stop. It couldn’t be healthy for Savvy!

But she blew it off and said it was probably nothing, so I kept my mouth shut. Mario was standing just aside from the bridge. He was blonde, very French, with a colorful scarf he wore like a banner. I tried very hard not to wrinkle my nose over his compliment over our names. I can’t help it, I’m British! We have a thing against our cousins across the channel! But he was otherwise very nice. He assured us quickly that he could help us, but obviously he couldn’t drop everything he was doing. It would have to wait until tomorrow (again).

Since we were here, however, he asked if we would do him a favor and gather some fallen stars for him. He waxed very poetic about the stars, and you could really hear how much he loved his job. They were scattered on the mountainside, where the terrain was too rough for him on foot, and he had no horse.

Well, that explained the stones along the side of the rode. We went along snatch them, laughing when we found them as we had to almost juggle them until they cooled enough to handle. We brought them back to Mario, and he was so excited, he gave us each one. I thought it would be a neat souvenir this time, but if he has us do it again, I think I’ll sell it. They are just too heavy!

Savvy was still acting strange, worrying me. But Mario was already talking again, complaining about the horrid winter weather and being all alone up here. (Uh huh, seems like Elizabeth’s crush is returned!) He had written to Gilbert about this problem, and he’d received an answer yesterday. The council apparently had a plan, but hadn’t told him what it was and he couldn’t leave the telescope to find out. So he was asking us, the first people he had seen in ages.

Well, down the mountain we went again. Savvy seemed to regain herself, and started some gentle mockery of Mario, making me giggle. Gilbert was waiting for us in Silverglade, and he had the news we were looking for. The council had actually hired a construction company to help the observatory out, and the head guy was already here, needing to see the observatory.

Master Builder Olaf stood out pretty clearly in the town square, compared to the other girls riding around and various townsfolk. He also knew right away we weren’t Mario, obviously. But he was more than willing to work with us. He gave us a camera, telling us he needed pictures of the build site and he would meet us at North Link.

North Link again. Well, at least it would be a little easier on the horses… I shrugged at Savvy. Well, there was some luck.

Day 11: Twitter-pated, the lot of us… (Part 2)

We kept up the laughter as we did the stable chores, especially after I finally managed to duck into our rooms to safely store Josh’s hat for now. I’d have to find a way to flaunt it in the morning, and I wanted to wear my new helmet for a little bit longer. Evening had been eyeing it with a little too much interest anyway, reminding me that my horse was a possessive twit and I didn’t know how this applied to humans yet. The baroness found us shortly after we finished getting the horses ready to leave, needing our help to find pearls that had broken off their string, and were part of an heirloom piece. She’d found most of them, but there was a half dozen or so still scattered somewhere on the winery grounds.

It didn’t seem like that big of a deal, so we agreed. She gave us her route, and we split it in half between us, planning to meet at the back of the winery where the races started. There was a fair amount of scrounging to do. The baroness’s inspection had been no morning constitutional! We found them mostly around the front, which made me sigh in exasperation. Trust our luck to start at the opposite point we should have! The baroness was grateful and gave us a yellow trench sort of jacket. I rather liked it, and decided to keep it instantly. But rather than run it back to our room, I joined Savvy in thanking the old dear so we could be off. Linda was waiting for us, after all.

Linda was back at the castle, and seemed down. She cheered up a bit when we rode up, and said she had a lot to do now that she was back. But she had all sorts of adventures of our own to go on. Suddenly, I was so happy Savvy took me on a holiday or else I will be guaranteed to go batty.

She did have the beginnings of two. One of Carney’s brothers was setting up another show jumping track, making me perk up in interest and Evening shift in a way I think was uncomfortable. Poor dear. Linda told us how to find him, but also mentioned that she had been in contact with Thomas back in Moorland, and he wanted to see us.

It was unanimous pretty quickly that we should go see Thomas first, and see how well he was handling Justin being missing. He tried to put a smile on for us and the other campers, but you could see he was worrying. There wasn’t any news on his end, and he seemed caught up with our own recent distractions. But that wasn’t why he had called us here. Apparently, the git was having a bit of a kerfuffle with his latest batch of tourists. I bit my lip to keep from whining. He got himself into trouble, surely he could get himself out of it this once, right?

But no, that would be mean. So we turned towards Fort Pinta. James was really upset, making me feel at least a little bad for the mite. A small family of tourists had disappeared, parents and a girl. He was certain the horses were calm ones, so he had no idea what could have happened to them. But he told us where they were supposed to be going, towards the castle via the road alongside the Fields of Gold. His face really paled when we mentioned we hadn’t come from that direction, so we had no news. But Savvy was pretty sure that meant they had to be between the abbey and Steve’s farm, so we agreed to take a look around and send them back to James.

That brought some color back to his face.

One turned up by the abbey, sure enough. The family was apparently German, and his name was Gunther. Bald with a rather intense mustache to compensate and a rather loud shirt that I swore no one actually wore on vacation, he was also missing his horse and the rest of his family! His wife, Helga, and their daughter, Gretchen, had apparently gone on ahead after his horse and a bumblebee had a bit of a spat. The horse had run off, and he needed help finding it. He thought he was hearing it over by the ruins.

So around the stone fence we went until the horse appeared. He was perfectly content, grazing. I had to apologize to him for interrupting his snack, but grabbed his reins. He was a bit indignant, and I explained that not only was his rider worried about him, but eating around the bit wasn’t good for him. Savvy checked him over as he calmed down, pronouncing him fine. We led him back to Gunther, who promised to go straight back to Fort Pinta to tell James what was going on.

I dithered a bit about whether we should walk him back or not. But the horse seemed to have calmed down after his snack, and Savvy was off. Evening made the decision for me and took off to catch up with Heart.

The road was only in use by various other girls going from place to place, chattering loudly like a bunch of birds. I was suddenly glad that Savvy and I could both talk and be silent and comfortable with each other. But there was no sign of the missing tourists at first. I was looking around just to be safe when I spotted them out in the field, which worried me right from the start. Steve had a machine running there!

Thankfully, they seemed to be alright. Well, being relative. No one was dead or seriously injured…yet. Gretchen was almost in tears and Helga was trying to comfort her. Savvy was quick to introduce us and give her the news of Gunther. That set Helga a little at ease, but their problem was definitely a more immediate one. Gretchen’s horse was trapped in a hole.

I immediately led Evening away from the area to be safe, and then dismounted. Savvy did the same, and we both turned grim when we got a better look at it. It wasn’t just a singular hole that the poor thing had gotten stuck in, but a huge series of them. And right on the race track! I quickly reassured the worried Gretchen that we would get her horse free. (I was reassuring the horse too, since it needed to stay calm before it hurt itself!)

The hole was too deep, though, so Helga suggested a shovel. We led the horses away from the area (just to be safe) and down a bit of a hill next to the stable to find him standing by the well like normal.

And he quite alarmed about what we had to say. Big holes in the field weren’t a good thing, either for farming or for the horses! I was a bit fretful, so he quickly wrapped it up and gave us a shovel. Savvy and Helga quickly took charge of the digging, so I helped Gretchen keep the horse calm. It also helped calm her down. Once they had gotten the dirt cleared away, I didn’t pause and think, just slid right down there with the horse.

He was a bit scared, and I could feel him being sore. I gently ran my fingers down his leg, checking for anything that would be a problem when he stepped out. And there it was again. That strange spark, like with Wendy the cow. I rubbed my hands as I climbed out, frowning, but told Savvy I hadn’t felt anything wrong. The horse’s ears perked forward, and with a bit of encouragement, he hopped up out of the hole. Not even limping. I breathed a sigh of relief.

…And even now, I’m rubbing my knuckles, trying to figure out what I was feeling both times. It just didn’t make any sense. That horse should have at least had some bruises. But James texted us after supper to confirm he was fine. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Well, I gave Gretchen another hug and helped her mount back up. They were on their way back to Fort Pinta and Gunther. We took the shovel back to Steve and told him more about the holes…which were everywhere in that section of the field. Poor farmer was understandably upset. His poor fields! And we weren’t the only campers who used that path for a shortcut, apparently, not to mention the race. He needed to know what was going on. So we left the horses in the barn and tried to sneak up on what was going on.

Savvy swears that she saw something like mice or moles, but bigger, poking out as we walked up. I wouldn’t know. As soon as we got close, it was like that old arcade game, Whack-a-Mole. Not a thing to be seen.

As disappointing as it was, we went back to Steve and told him we just weren’t stealthy enough.

But he had an idea. There was an observatory up near Valedale. He thought we should talk to Mario, the man who ran it, and see if we could borrow the telescope. I wasn’t quite sure an observatory telescope would work like that, but what the heck? We didn’t have any better ideas.

Since Valedale was pretty far off, I pointed out that we had better swing by Carney’s brother’s place first before we went that far north. We had no idea where he was going to send us, and too much running around would wear out the horses. Savvy agreed, and we went back through Silverglade. (I caught her waving at Derek, sneaky, sneaky.)

Day 11: Twitter-pated, the lot of us… (Part 1)

April 13, 20xx

Dear Diary,

I was so excited to see Bright in his new gear this morning, I could hardly stand it. I think I bounced more than Snow! It was a welcome distraction from the fact I was going to have to see Josh again. My temper had faded with sleep and I was back to being nervous and upset about him. I put on my sailor shirt, my new helmet and white gloves, let Savvy pull me through breakfast which I probably would have skipped since all I managed was some toast and tea, and then we were finally at the stable. Along the way, Savvy told me the new name for her bunny: Cinnamon. It was so appropriate, I giggled. Cinnamon and Snow Belle also seemed to get along fairly well too, waving at each other from where we were holding them.

Bright stuck his nose over the stall doors, nostrils quivering as he got his first good look at Snow. I sat her on the ledge so they could make friends while I fetched his gear. It was actually here, just like Alyx had promised! Poor Evening’s gear looked rather sad next to it on the rack, making me a bit more determined to help my picky horse find something else he liked. The bridle and saddle bag were at least good first clues! I grabbed the nautical themed items and took them back to Bright’s stall.

And found Snow nibbling on the flower chains, and Evening all smug about it. Rabbits. I sighed and set her down into a safe, dry spot in the hay for now, and then wagged a finger at my gelding, accusing him of encouraging her to do it in his stead since he didn’t like the flowers. Evening’s ears drooped, but he stuck his nose up in the air, not denying it or apologizing for it. Git. I even muttered that under my breath at him, which I think shocked Savvy!

Thankfully, Snow hadn’t been at the flowers for too long, and I was able to fix them with a few tugs and re-braids. Honestly, they wouldn’t last more than a couple more days. Evening could just get over himself. I then set to work on Bright. His feet were much better today, so I think the last of the thrush is coming out at last. Once I got him tacked up though, I realized how utterly ridiculous, or worse, childish, we could be looking right now. I mean, I love the sailor-theme and I think it’s cute, especially on a plucky little thing like Bright is, but… Well, I could also just be weird!

Bright, at least, kept craning his head around, whuffling in excitement. That helped ease my nerves. At least he likes it. Snow gave me bunny kisses once I found her in the hay, and I grinned. She was so sweet. Into her new saddle bag she went, and I was ready to leave.

My pony pranced out of his stall.

I almost burst into giggles, making him nudge me with his head. I could tell he wanted to show everyone his new gear and how amazing it looked on him, such an ego on him today! I led him outside where Savvy and Star were waiting to mount up. Savvy giggled when she saw us, almost making my panic. Good giggle or bad giggle?! But she quickly reassured me that we looked good, very coordinated, which set me at ease again. I think some of my nerves must have shown on my face, since Savvy suggested going through Silverglade first and to Pony Point and then to Moorland. That would give me time to find my anger at Josh again, so I agreed and kicked Bright off into a run.

And I do mean a run. I don’t know what got into him, but off he was like a shot! I guess he was excited for more people? I don’t know. I just know I had to pull him to a stop at the gates to the village to wait for Savvy and Star to catch up! She sputtered at me, but all I could do was flush, shrug, and glare down at Bright’s head. I wasn’t sure what had caused that! He just flicked his ears, unperturbed in the slightest. I checked on Snow, but she seemed pretty happy just to be on an adventure.

At Derek’s booth, Savvy plopped Cinnamon down in front of him for introductions. I covered my mouth to try and muffle my laughter at his reaction to the bunny’s usual tricks. Derek started to do the same, laugh, but then he just folded up in pain! Savvy was so concerned, and so was I! What had happened?

“Josh punched me,” he said like it was no big deal.

I gasped, dropping Bright’s reins to cover my mouth in shock.

Derek tried to pass it off as no big deal, but Savvy wouldn’t let him. And then he revealed that he had been teasing Josh about being so protective over me. I could have died. I should have never given him those things to take back to Josh, I should have just sucked it up and done it myself.

He said some sort of parting shot about lunch, pulling me out of misery to give Savvy a questioning look. But she decided to ignore it and just go off about how she couldn’t believe he had done that, but then again, yes she could. I didn’t know his motives, but that didn’t stop me from teasing her about this lunch date that she wasn’t talking about. I only stopped when we reached the pony race to give her a break while we raced. At one point, I worried Snow was going to fall out of the bag, she reached for the sea water. (How fitting a trait for my pet, I know.)

There was a lot of whispering from other girls as we approached the pole bending arena at Moorland, making me wonder what had happened now. Was Josh in another bad mood? But imagine my surprise when I saw him! Despite him trying to tug his hat down low enough to hide it, it was impossible to miss. His beautiful blonde hair had been dyed some awful shade of greyish black! I was shocked, but it didn’t take me more than a second to figure out who must have done it. Oh, Derek was in so much trouble!

Of course, getting angry at Derek helped me remember exactly how angry I was with Josh, and there was no comparison. My grip on my reins tightened so hard that they creaked. Savvy suggested I go first, and I gladly lined Bright up at the starting point. I ignored Josh’s eyes on me, just wanting to race…hoping concentrating on the pattern would help me calm down enough to manage to keep my cool while Savvy was racing.

Bright skid to a halt at the finish line, and Josh consulted his stopwatch. A new personal best for me. I walked Bright around in a circle, letting him catch his breath as Savvy lined up to take her turn. I unclipped my helmet, an idea coming to mind, and pulled my hair over my shoulder to help finger comb the curls…not because I liked how the color of them contrasted with the white of my clothes or anything.

Star had barely past the first pole when I felt Josh come close to where we were standing. Before I could do anything, though, he actually spoke. “Genevieve… What do I have to say so you’ll stop ignoring me?”

I flushed, angry and frustrated now all over again, and it helped loosen my tongue. “You just… I’m not…” I huffed, not able to look at him. This wasn’t explaining myself very well. This boy had me all tangled up in knots for days over a misunderstanding, and that’s after he started treating me differently than he had been in the first place! Hot and cold, like a pendulum or something that a cat would swipe at. “My feelings aren’t a toy, Josh.”

“I know that!” he protested, sounding shocked that I would think he didn’t.

“Then act like it!” I snapped, turning my head to look at him. He was taken aback, both by my tone…and I think by the fact my lower lip was trembling. It was angry tears rather than the depression of yesterday, but I was sick of crying over him! He needed to decide how he was going to treat me so I could react accordingly.

“I… You’re…” he stammered for words, only to sigh at last, resting his hand on Bright’s front shoulder. “It’s not that easy, Genevieve.”

“That’s an excuse,” I muttered, teary, jerking the reins so Bright had to side-step his front quarters away. I was at my limit, I was. Josh’s face fell, and I think he was upset too, but trying to keep his face from showing it.

And Snow chose then to make her escape attempt, almost falling out of her bag again as she reached for Josh. He was shocked, but caught her to my relief, holding her in the crook of her elbow. She nuzzled up against him, happy as a clam. I scowled, unable to help it. “Traitor,” I muttered at my far-too-nice rabbit.

Savvy coughed, alerting us to the fact that she had finished. Josh flushed and returned Snow to her bag, and I made sure she was settled. Then, while he was reading off Savvy’s time, I reached up and snagged his hat like had been my original plan. “My hat,” I said, slipping it on to my head. It was a little big, but I was able to tilt it so it fit. I stuck my nose in the air and nudged Bright to the side.

Josh’s face was pure shock before I was turned completely around, but he managed to protest, “Hey! That’s mine.”

I managed a tight giggle and ran my finger along the brim of the hat as I twisted to see his face. “Mine now.” I gave him a pointed look, making it clear that all joking aside…he needed to get his act together. He swallowed, Adam’s apple bobbing, and I quickly turned back around to watch where I was going.

Savvy caught up with us pretty quickly, since I was keeping Bright between a trot and a lope, my helmet tucked in front of me until we got back to the winery. “You took the hat because he punched Derek,” she pointed out shrewdly.

“Yes,” I said primly with a nod of my head, making the hat slip further down my forehead. Drat it, I’d have to figure out something to make it fit better… But it would serve him right, since he shouldn’t be punching his friends. He needs to learn to control his temper.

Savvy immediately burst into giggles, making me stare at her, aghast. “Savvy!”

“His face!” she managed to gasp out. And that set my own giggles off. It felt good to laugh after finally having words with Josh!

Day 10: A Holiday (except for the shopping) (Part 5)

We went back to Gordon’s shop first. And I actually enjoyed myself! We had adjoining rooms, and it felt like we tried on the whole store. There were so many things I liked, I really had to restrain myself or I would have spent every dime I had. There was one dress that Savvy and I both liked, though I liked the rose pink and she liked the champagne yellow. The sets of school uniforms were comforting to see, but I didn’t want to buy one if I wasn’t going to school here. They had the nautical clothing like I had seen at the docks. I know I didn’t need another helmet, but I went ahead and bought the blue and white striped one.

Now we got to look at different equipment for the horses. I didn’t want to buy anything without Evening, he was proving to be far too picky. But they had the entire sailor set here too. I heard Savvy getting Heart’s purple and pink set, making me burst into giggles. If she was going to, though… I asked Alyx about the sailor set. I thought she was going to do a little dance right there in the store! I gave her Bright’s measurements, and she had them in stock. With a lip wiggle, I not only used most of my shillings but some of my star coins to just buy it outright. It would make Bright’s day, and if Evening complained, well, it was a lesson in not being so particular! Alyx said she would ship it out, and it should be at the winery itself before I was, so I didn’t have to try and carry it with me.

I looked at the decorations in the store with Savvy, but I wasn’t about to buy anything for my geldings just yet. She didn’t seem to find anything either, so that signaled us being ready to go. The janitor seemed a little sorry to see us leave, even inviting us to come back (though honestly, like I needed reminded to wipe my feet). We talked about our purchases today on our way back. I definitely wanted to wash everything, since it had been in my saddle bag all day, along with a brush covered in horse hair and a hoof pick.

We managed (somehow) to get all of James’s order back to him. And then the little git almost didn’t give us the reward he promised us! I huffed, more than a bit annoyed, but he did go digging through the boxes and came out with this pink riding vest that I liked. Savvy was less than thrilled.

Before we went back to the horses, I grabbed Savvy’s hand and begged her to at least go look at the pets. She let me drag her along, and we went into the pet store first. (No reason to buy new saddle bags with a pet compartment if we didn’t have a pet!) I cooed over the kittens, but I was just not a dog person. As cute as they were, though, thinking of a kitten in our dorm room with the lofted beds was the sort of thing that would give me anxiety attacks all day.

You could actually sit and hold the bunnies, which I gladly did. The shop owner brought over a big white one with floppy ears first. I expected her to be rather timid, but she just looked up at me and settled in my lap, happy as could be to be cuddled and petted. I beamed at the store owner, not needing to meet the others, and gladly handed over the star coins expected. Savvy was a lot more leery about the rabbits, but I watched as a brown one with white spots did some tricks to win her over. I was thrilled that she’d found herself a friend too! (And one that wouldn’t harass mine…)

We both walked out, giggling over our new pets. I named mine Snow Belle, Snow for short, as a nod to the horse I’d left behind at school. Hopefully she will understand when I show up with Evening at the next term! At the saddle bag stall, I dithered a bit. Bright was easy, they had a bag that matched his new gear perfectly. I didn’t even mind spending my star coins on it, since I was completely out of shillings in that high of amount. Evening was the problem. I didn’t know what he would like. There were a couple of green bags, and even more black ones, but I didn’t know his preference.

With a sigh, I told Savvy I needed Evening or else he would refuse what I bought just out of principle. She laughed, and we went to fetch the horses. He sniffed at Snow, but seemed pretty indifferent. I told him that he needed to come pick out a saddle bag for her to be in while we rode around. Snorting and whuffling, he reluctantly followed me back to the booth. He considered a very expensive black bag for a second, but finally settled on the green plaid one. With relief, I purchased it and managed to loop it with his current bags so Snow could sit in her compartment for the ride back to the winery.

We chatted on the ride back and over dinner some more, both of us feeling much more relaxed with each other. The gossip didn’t stop when Nikki joined us, and she eagerly wanted to meet the bunnies. So we crowded into the Mountain Song room, Savvy and I doing laundry and sorting clothes to make outfits while exchanging gossip with Nikki, who was content to pet the bunnies.

I don’t know how we got on the subject of Josh, but we did, and I quickly busied myself with getting my helmets and beach hat to sit on my shelves just-so. And then Nikki said something that made me almost shake, though with what feeling I couldn’t tell you.

Loretta is Josh’s sister.

Sister! My emotions untangled themselves, and I was utterly livid. Why didn’t he say something? I mean, I know we haven’t known each other long, but surely he would have expected me to notice he was closer with her and pinched it in a bud early! Oh, I was so angry, I could have… I didn’t even know! I couldn’t think of anything adequate. It made Savvy giggle, making me give her a dirty look. It wasn’t funny. And then she mocked my accent and said how absurd the whole thing was, and just… I threw a pillow at her.

Which set off a whole fight between the three of us. We laughed and squealed, having so much fun and it helped me forget my anger, at least enough that sleep would be possible tonight. We had to find the rabbits again, who had found favorite hiding places, to put them away for the night lest they chew their way through everything in the room. Nikki went to bed, and Savvy and I went to bed, the rain just beginning to fall outside in a gentle patter like a lullaby.

Our holiday had been a good one.

Money: 3208 SC, 312 JS

Have a question for Misty about her experiences at Moorland or before? Ask her over at Ask Mountain Song over on tumblr.

Day 10: A Holiday (except for the shopping) (Part 4)

But it could never be that simple. We needed our own bus tickets, since they were apparently user-specific. It wasn’t too big of a hassle, and the ticket was good for the entire bus system, making it a worthy investment in my opinion. It wasn’t too expensive, only 110 shillings, and then we were set to go! James said the bus came in on the other side of the bridge, thank God. Riding a horse over that bridge was bad enough! But we didn’t want to leave the horses in the heat with nothing to eat or drink, so back to the stables they went. Evening snorted and grumbled, I don’t think he liked me going so far from him.

“I’ll be fine,” I told him. “And you won’t fit on the bus, so you can’t come along.”

I got the feeling from him that he thought if he couldn’t take me somewhere, I had no business going. I rolled my eyes and gave his nose one last pat. “I’ll be fine,” I repeated. Savvy was ready to leave, so I hurried along after her to the bus stop. We didn’t have too long to wait. The buses came every three minutes, which was convenient. We claimed seats towards the back, since everyone else seemed pretty content to crowd the middle or the front. I looked out the window, trying to tune out the loud music in case it set off my bad feelings again. The bus lurched into motion, and I was curious about what the rest of Jorvik would look like outside of the little area we had been exploring.

Savvy took a deep breath, and I turned to look at her, curious. “Do you ever sense Evening’s emotions?” she asked.

I blanched.

She quickly rushed on, describing feelings so similar to what I’d felt around horses, and about Heart seeming so smart, Star a little less, but still. I bit my lower lip and shook my head. “I could feel what the loaner horse I rode at school felt,” I admitted. “Evening is stronger, though, and you’re right, they are too smart, their personalities are so much stronger…” Even Bright’s. Horses had thoughts and feelings and moods, but…not like ours seemed to. We compared further notes, finding more things in common with how we reacted to horses. It was so strange… Could this all be a coincidence?

The bus pulled up right to the mall, so we didn’t have to wander around the city to find it. I hate the spinning-style doors, but these were thankfully normal ones that we just had to pull back in. I had barely finished wiping my feet on the carpet before stepping on the tile floor when there was someone yelling at us! I squeaked, but Savvy thankfully got between me and him. It was the janitor, who was quite protective of his floors. Savvy told him about our favor from James, and he didn’t look happy about it a bit. Apparently James was too cheap to buy his own ticket, and kept sending other people instead! But he wasn’t going to help this time, not a bit.

Poor fellow seemed like he was being taken advantage of, without a bit of gratitude. I thought maybe if I asked politely, he would change his mind. And sure enough, all he needed was to be treated with a bit of respect and kindness, and he turned right around.

…Well, sort of. He wanted a bit of help first before he gave us his. First, we had to set out signs to indicate the floor was wet. Savvy and I used it as a chance to see what the mall had available. The first floor was a café and two shops, both for horse gear and clothing. There was also some sort of stage set up for a rapper who was there, selling his latest single. Both Savvy and I received free t-shirts for it, and Savvy actually got close enough to the stage to deal with the rapper. His music just hurt my ears, so I stuck to the back, waiting for her to finish. Upstairs, there was an event space, a wall of lockers that I assumed were used as buyer storage, and then a decorations store that I knew better than to investigate. Evening did not do ribbons or flowers.

I wasn’t much of a mall person, but this was about the right size for me. Any bigger, and I’d be completely overwhelmed. Savvy insisted on investigating the third floor, despite it being closed off. I stayed downstairs and fretted. At last, she came back and we went back to the janitor. And he accused of us of being lazy! How rude! And little princesses? I seethed, and had to bite my tongue from telling him what I thought of his manners. Savvy thankfully stood up for us, but now we had to prove it. Now we were picking up the trash. Ew, ew, ew! I at least got to giggle a little as Savvy pointed out that his plan to keep others out of the mall would mean he wouldn’t have a job. Otherwise, I might have just pitched a fit.

At last he seemed willing to help us. I thought he had been a bit cruel to James, but it certainly explained why he’d asked us to fetch his order. I wouldn’t want to come back either after that bullying! Well, the orders were split between the clothes store and Gordon, and Alyx at the gear shop. I offered to take Gordon if Savvy would take Alyx, and she agreed easily enough. We wanted time to actually look at the shops for ourselves!

Well, Gordon immediately spotted me when I walked into the store. (Curse my hair, it makes me impossible to miss.) He started to herd me towards the dressing rooms, and I had to quickly protest that I was there for James’s order first. He deflated a little, making me feel bad. I wasn’t sure I wanted to buy anything in the shop (first things I saw on the rack were velvet dresses, which just didn’t seem practical), but I promised him I’d be back once I took care of James’s order first. That seemed to cheer him up a bit.

He had to think, but remembered that James’s order was in the stock room. He locked it every evening, and just needed to get his key from his backpack (which he kept since he was a bit absent-minded). As proven when he discovered he’d lost his backpack! That wasn’t good, not at all. He asked me if I would mind looking around the mall for it. Of course I had to do it, heaven forbid… Sorry, my temper is getting the better of me. I said I would, and went searching. I passed by Savvy carrying a tub and looking around for something too, so at least I wasn’t alone. We shared looks, both of us obviously in disbelief that on our holiday, we were still running all over the mall on errands.

I found the silly thing on the second floor of all places and brought it back down to him. He then admitted that he had actually forgotten to lock the store room door, so he hadn’t needed his backpack at all. I crossed my arms and gave him a look that showed how not amused I was. He quickly fetched James’s order, several heavy boxes of clothes, and gave me a handful of shillings for my trouble. I took them with a sniff, but only because I wasn’t going to say no when I had two horses to keep fed.

I brought the heavy boxes back to the janitor with a bit of difficulty. Savvy was already waiting, having gotten the equipment already. I gladly gave my boxes over to his care, and we were free at last.

Continue to Part 5…

Day 10: A Holiday (except for the shopping) (Part 3)

At the cafe, I stretched out my knee on a spare chair again. It was a lot better than it was yesterday, but I was going to elevate it again today when I had a chance. We placed our orders, and I let our drinks arrive before I bit my lip and forced myself to say what I wanted to say. “I thought… Well, Nikki talks about her family all the time, and I thought we could talk about ours a little?” It went unsaid that it would be a lot easier for me to do it in one-on-one conversations than in a group because of my shyness. And I opened the front cover of this book and pulled out the handful of photos I kept there. I went first and splayed them out for her to pick up and look at as she wished.

This previous year’s Christmas photo was in there. Daddy was seated in a chair in front of the parlor’s fireplace, in his charcoal suit with a white shirt and blue tie. His hair was combed back, the grey at his temples more obvious than last year. He wasn’t smiling again, but I think his eyes were brighter. Mummy stood behind him with her hands on her shoulders, her hair not showing any gray thanks to her hair stylist and up on the back of her head, showing off her long neck. I really did like her outfit this last year, a blue silk dress with a white cashmere jumper over it and her white pearls.

And then I stood on Daddy’s side. I remember that Mummy had been so put out that my school uniform was the wrong shade of purple to go with her theme, so I’d gotten to wear a blue dress over a white shirt with a Peter Pan collar. I’d also snuck some snowflake barrettes in to hold my hair back instead of the headband she’d wanted. In my opinion, I already looked like a duck among chickens since my hair was bright red instead of muted auburn and their eyes were both blue and mine sort of aren’t. I might as well be the only person very obviously celebrating the holiday we were taking the photos for. (I am considerably more festive than Mummy, I just have to be subtle about it.)

Of course, the wedding picture of Daddy and Mother was in there, the one Lawrence found and gave me so I would know what she looked like. It was also the only picture I had of Daddy smiling. They both looked so happy, even if you could tell that Mother was a little underweight for her frame. And Mother’s carrot-top orange-red hair mixing with Daddy’s auburn certainly made more sense to end up with my hair, the same for my eyes being a perfect mix of his blue and her green. Daddy had worn a white suit with a purple tie, and Mother’s wedding dress had been simply perfect, a white satin A-line with an off-the-shoulder ruffle. She’d done a full wreath of flowers instead of a veil, with a purple ribbon woven through it and another around her throat in a choker. The bouquet was a teardrop type of white-veined ivy, lavender roses, and calla lilies.

Savvy gave me a strange look so I had to explain. Yes, I had two mothers, sort of. Mother and Daddy had met while in school from what I could figure out, one crazy competition with each other that he took far more seriously than she did later, and they became friends. He eventually courted her through letters, it had been very romantic. I wasn’t sure what else had happened, since it hurt him to talk about her and Lawrence had been hired just after I had been born, so he hadn’t known much either. Just that Mother was very sick when I was a baby and had died before I was a year old. Daddy, Lawrence, and Mrs. Kettle had tried to raise me, but Daddy had wanted me to have a mother, so he made a marriage of convenience with Mummy when I was four, so she was the only mother I’d known. (And I was still raised more by Lawrence and Mrs. Kettle, so I saw no point to this whole endeavor. But that’s my opinion, and I love my parents.)

And since I brought up Lawrence, I pointed his picture out. Mrs. Kettle had taken that one. I was twelve and gawky, throwing myself at him and expecting to be caught, and he was the overly patient butler, always there to make sure I didn’t fall. I was in my white sailor dress, back when it had been my favorite to wear on weekends free from school. Lawrence was his usual self–thin and almost fragile under his uniform-suit, his hair wavy and cut fairly short to fall across his forehead, a full mustache his one indulgence. If I was honest with myself, he looked far more like my father than Daddy did in the other picture, at least in terms of affection.

I missed Lawrence. But he’d been fired a few years ago for reasons I didn’t know, and driving the other butlers away hadn’t been working to get him brought back. And now Charles was being stubborn, making me pout a little. Savvy handed me back my pictures, and opened up too, telling me a little bit more about her childhood.

Apparently she was the only child to fairly successful parents. At least she knew more about what they did than I did about mine. They were closer when she was younger, but things have been changing lately. At first, she was just sent to relatives that she obviously loved, but it has been getting worse lately. She was being cut off from them too, and being forced into…well, my social set, the American version. Even I could tell that Savvy wasn’t meant for that kind of life. I wasn’t either, but at least I could be polite enough to survive. She was too bold, too free-spirited. It would make her miserable, and it obviously wasn’t what she wanted. And she’d been sent here without being told what was going on. I felt a bit incensed on her behalf.

We both turned to our food for a little bit, needing a chance to let the air clear. I had to adjust my leg, wincing. The sports tape wasn’t doing as good of a job as the brace had done. Maybe I was a bit hasty… As if reading my mind, Savvy expressed some concern, hoping my leg would heal soon. And then adding that maybe Josh would stop fussing over it, if we ever talked to each other again.

I felt my face grow warm, and I was at a loss for words. I tried to turn it around to her and Derek, but Savvy wasn’t having any of it. And well, I was out of my depth here, I didn’t want to wake up like this morning ever again! I admitted that I had a crush on Josh, but he… He was with Loretta, and I didn’t want to get in that way! I almost cried. Savvy tried to cheer me  up, telling me that if Josh was willing to walk into that sort of relationship, then he wasn’t the guy for me. And besides, Loretta seemed to be interested in Justin Moorland.

Well, that just made me feel even worse and I told her so. I didn’t want Josh to get hurt either! But Savvy suggested we find out what was going on around Moorland that wasn’t about the end of the world as the locals knew it. Someone had to have the latest gossip, such as Tan or May. And then Jenna could give us the real version of events after. I hiccuped, embarrassingly, and giggled, relieved that she at least had a solution.

But I wasn’t about to be the only one doing some confessing of feelings! I pressed her about Derek, and she finally started…sort of. She was pretty back and forth. She thought he was handsome, but he was such a boy and she was fretting about his age. Honestly, Josh being older than me hadn’t even crossed my mind, so I suppose she was being more responsible than I was. I pointed out that he seemed to worry about her, which made her burst out that she definitely worried about him!

But she was having a bit of the same problem I was. She couldn’t tell if he was trying to be a friend or something more. I wasn’t much help there. I thought there was something there, but what did I know? I did point out that she didn’t have anyone else to compete with, at least. But she argued that she had the rest of Jorvik and the other campers, so I bit my lip to keep from pointing out that she was the one who he saw everyday. I couldn’t keep from rolling my eyes, though.

Savvy saved the carrot sticks from lunch for Heart, I saved half of my apple for Evening. He woke up enough to take it from me, but he shook his head and went right back to his doze as soon as it was gone. Poor gent. I needed to consider getting a racing horse or taking Bright around to more races or something, so he wouldn’t have to go all over the place and race a good deal. It was wearing him out.

Savvy did not have the same luck with Heart, who was determined to join us in the next leg of shopping. I giggled and followed along, letting Evening continue his doze alone. He didn’t seem too upset about it. I didn’t see anything particularly catching at the gear shop, and quickly moved on with Savvy to the booth selling shirts designed by campers. I had bought the one that looked like a sailor’s shirt, including scarf, there and none of the others caught my eye.

But Savvy’s Heart did. I watched, flabbergasted, as Savvy tried to handle her horse, who was quite enamored with a set of gear. One that looked purple with pink hearts. I clapped my hand over my mouth, trying not to burst into giggles. I was more frilly-girly than Savvy, and even I wouldn’t get that set. I quickly turned and let Savvy handle the situation with her horse and the shop keeper. I didn’t want to get involved, or I might have started laughing and made it worse.

I poked around in a few of the other stalls. I ended up buying my own lilac, collared shirt like Savvy had bought to wear in our first meeting with the baroness. It was just too cute and well-priced for me to ignore it. Nothing else really caught my eye, so I sat on the edge of the stone planters and watched Heart follow Savvy along, constantly looking back to the gear stall.

When Savvy finished and walked back to me, I couldn’t help it. I giggled. I fetched Evening from the stall (he was not particularly happy to be out and about), and we went to talk to James about the mall. Or, well, Shopping Plaza I suppose. Savvy and I both agreed that it sounded like a mall, and if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck… But after the debate, he admitted he needed to go himself, but he couldn’t get away.

And because Savvy and I are gluttons for punishment, we agreed to help.

Continue to Part 4…

Day 10: A Holiday (except for the shopping) (Part 2)

Back at the winery, I took the flowers and wrapped them around fronts of both my geldings’ stalls. Bright seemed pretty okay with it, but Evening snorted and gave me this affronted look. “I know, I know, you’re a boy,” I told him while I fed Bright and put his gear away. “But I’m a girl and I like flowers. You can deal with it for a couple of days.” He shook his head, but didn’t put up any more fuss.

Then, anyway. I have a feeling his half of the flowers will be eaten or dragged into his stall and trampled by morning.

Our chores at the winery were pretty simple, and then Judy told us that Felicity in Firgrove had sent her an e-mail that morning asking for a little help with a wolf problem at some point this morning. With a quick consult over the map, we decided we’d go back through Silverglade to Steve’s, then up to Valedale and to Firgrove. We could lunch at Fort Pinta and do our shopping there before we went to the mall.

I was a little exhausted thinking about all that browsing around. It was like a full day of spring or autumn shopping with Mummy, since I had managed to limit her to twice a year.

But I’d agreed to it once already, so there was no help for it. I got Evening tacked up and Savvy did the same for her Heart. While I trusted Evening, I wasn’t nearly as sure if people would be thrilled with us for leaving our horses standing, so I grabbed simple rope halters with attached leads out of the tack room that would easily fit both of them so we could tie them to hitching posts if someone got irritable. I offered the purple one to Savvy, not daring challenge Evening’s seeming masculinity further today since it also had bands of pink in it, which left him with the aqua one and blue one.

On our way through Silverglade, I gave into temptation and asked Savvy to stop at the shop and salon tucked behind and across from the vet’s. The dressage set in the window was just too pretty. I think she was just glad that I had a place I wanted to go instead of just letting her decide where we went. I didn’t want to spend that much in Star Coin at once (and they were insistent on Star Coins only), so I settled for the gloves and the pants for now. Both were white, so while not the most practical for summer camp, I’d wear them somewhere. I think Savvy liked some of what she saw, but was willing to wait to spend it elsewhere. I can understand the idea, but I was willing to shell out the coins now rather than go bargain hunting.

Things were surprisingly calm on the way to Valedale, and I really got to appreciate how quiet Jorvik was, when we weren’t darting from one crisis to another. I didn’t remember there being anything I particularly wanted there, but I went and at least looked around. Maybe some other trip, but I just wanted bare essentials to get comfortably through a week instead of scrounging today. I did manage to wave at Elizabeth when we passed by! I was quite proud of myself over that.

At the lake, I took off my boots and stood in the shallow parts near the start while Savvy ran the race. The water helped make me feel better, as I imagined it carrying the emotional pains out with each lap against my ankles. Evening nudged me from behind, and I adjusted my stance so I could wrap my arm around his neck and scratch him under his ears. It was too soon when Savvy finished, but at least I had (to borrow a little from Jayne from Firefly), found at least a few scraps of my calm after my massive mood swing this morning.

Ugh, I needed to figure out what to do about this boy so he would quit tying my feelings in knots. And that meant talking to someone about it. And Savvy was the best person I had to turn to.

The path to Firgrove required too much of our attention, and while we were helping with the stalls, Felicity told us about the wolf problem they had down at the sheep, which took over the attention for very different reasons. I blanched, Savvy looked excited, of all things. Well, what she had us do was pretty easy. There were some down fences that needed fixed, and some torches that needed lit around the pen.

We met a boy named Andy, who seemed to be responsible for taking care of the sheep and had his own part to play in wolf-protection. Namely, marking the sheep. He gave us a bright red pencil, and while Savvy walked around lighting the torches, I spared her and did the sheep markings. The little dears baaed as I approached, but were quite agreeable to my marking them. I briefly hoped that the red wouldn’t ruin the wool…until I noticed the pen wasn’t waterproof. Wonderful. We’d be doing this again sometime after the next rain storm (which if my hair was right, would be tonight). It took both of us to thread wire through the gaps to rebuild the fence. I’m not sure how good of a job it was, but it held up for now.

Felicity was quite happy with our results, and awarded us handsomely. Savvy started poking around again, and I took Evening over to the horse gear to wait. But then he started shifting around in a way that was not characteristic of him at all. Curious, I looked at what was on display. Some reds, some black, all manners of gear. If I reached for anything blue, Evening would shake his head or give my shoulder a jostle. Obviously not what he wanted. They didn’t have his size in the green blanket, so I picked up a black and forest green bridle instead. His ears perked forward, like it was an apple.

And, well, he had been remarkably patient with the borrowed gear. “Alright,” I told him with a grin. “If I’m getting me a bunch of clothes, no reason you can’t have a new bridle.” I slid the shillings to the shopkeepr and ignored the strange looks with practice. I changed them out right there rather than risk him sulking the rest of the day. He was quite happy about it, tossing his head and showing off at Heart, I think. It sparked a laugh out of me, which just made him worse.

My horse is a pill, diary.

We reached Fort Pinta just in time for lunch. If we rushed the chores to get to it faster, well… James is still a git, I don’t mind slighting him just a little bit once in a long while. He was willing to let our horses take their tack off and doze in one of the open stalls together over lunch. I don’t know how much Heart liked it, but Evening stacked out a corner of the big stall and leaned with one hind foot resting on the tip like an old man falling asleep in an instant. I grabbed you, diary, to take with me to the table so I could finally talk at least a little with Savvy.

Continue to Part 3…

Day 10: A Holiday (except for the shopping) (Part 1)

April 12, 20xx

Dear Diary,

I woke up to a different kind of pain this morning than yesterday. One of the few singers I had on my phone that wasn’t British came on this morning. Her first song, I just laid there, hiding under the covers to listen to it. I hadn’t realized it, but it was exactly what I had been feeling lately. Was I falling for Josh? The idea terrified me. Before I could think about it too much, the song changed to another song of hers, and that one… Oh, it hit too close to home. Hello, heartache, indeed. My good mood from last night was gone, and I just curled up tighter under my quilt, not wanting to face the day. Specifically, I don’t think I could stand seeing Josh today.

The next thing I knew, the corner of my quilt was pulled up enough that Savvy could see me. I could tell she was concerned, but I couldn’t untangle my tongue to answer. But then she got this determined look on her face and she said firmly, “We are taking a holiday.” Then she dropped my quilt and bounced off somewhere.

That shocked me into moving. I sat up some, pulling the quilt from over my head to stare at her as she started getting ready. “We’re already on holiday,” I said in confusion. That’s what this whole thing was, a summer camp, wasn’t it?

But she quickly argued that it had hardly been much of one at all, and I had to agree. We’d been running all over the countryside since we stepped off the ferry. Plus, she pointed out that while I had scrounged together enough to get by on our last shopping trip, both of us were severely lacking in clothes we’d actually wear, making me grimace but nod in agreement. So she declared that we would take the ponies to their special race at pony point, stop by Moorland to help with feeding and do any shopping there we felt like, and then we’d come back here to get the horses and go where we felt like going to do chores and shop as we go. This afternoon was definitely going to be going to that mall James mentioned.

I hate malls. They were too crowded and too loud. But if it made Savvy happy and let us relax today (and let me avoid Josh), I was game. It was enough incentive to get me out of bed, at least. I threw on the blue tank top and denim again, just pulling my hair back in a horse tail since I could tell already that the curl was too excited. There must be rain coming in tonight. But rather than wear Josh’s brace again, I grabbed some of the sports wrap and used it on my knee. I stuck the knee pads and brace in my saddle bag, determined that they would find their way back to Josh today, even if it wasn’t through me directly. And since there was plenty of room if I packed carefully, I grabbed the things I wanted to sell too so I’d have plenty of shopping money, without me needing to duck back into the room. Savvy did the same, though she had much more to sell than I did.

After breakfast and some small talk with Nikki that I let Savvy handle (I was not in the mood to talk to anyone, really), we left for the stable. Savvy went to the gear shop next door to get rid of her gear now, but I decided to wait and go give Bright’s feet a particularly thorough cleaning. They were a little better today, so I cleaned out the straw and chips in his stall and put down fresh to keep up the progress. And I realized… I was being really unfair to my friends. There was being shy, and then there was being stand offish. So I ducked back to the room and grabbed this diary (and what I kept tucked in it), and came back just as Savvy was finishing up.

We took the road past Steve’s and down to the tomb rather than Nilmer’s today, which made Bright’s ears perk forward at the new sights. The race went well enough, though I still kept Bright from going straight into the water like he wanted to because of his feet. Such a splashy pony! And then it was on to Moorland for our bit of shopping there and pitch in around the stable. I stuck to pants for shopping, since I’d seen a couple there that I liked: some black denim like I was wearing, and then some looser blue denim that while not my preference, they would get me through the weeks a little easier.

Savvy heard a rumor about some shop up by the old G.E.D. work site. I whined, since she’d gotten more than I had at Moorland, but she was quite determined that we at least go check it out. We went up, and it took very little time for me to realize this was not my look at all. While she did her poking around, Bright and I went on a bramble in the nearby field. I managed to gather some flowers and wove them in a chain (not that I had a clue what I was going to do with them yet, I just thought they were pretty). They draped over Bright’s neck for now, and he didn’t do more than sniff at them.

Then we took the road back by the smithy to go to Silverglade to check for mail. And that’s when I had an idea. Derek delivered mail. Surely he could do a quick drop off, especially if he and Josh were chummy. Going first so I didn’t get between them flirting, I dug the knee pads and brace out of my bag, setting them on the counter.

Except now I had to try and talk to him. Swallowing, I felt my ears grow red, and was sure my face was trying to match them. “Could you please take these back to the pole bending track for me?” I managed to squeak out, followed by a quick thank you, and then I quickly turned Bright around and went to the nearest shop to sell my unwanted gifts. He was still too much of a stranger for me to be comfortable talking to him! Savvy would cover for my shyness, I hoped, provided she didn’t get distracted.

I had just been handed my share of shillings when Savvy came back over, flushed and obviously flustered. I wanted to tease her, but it made me think of how Josh and I had been those first few days before things had gotten weird. That took the wind out of my sails. Bright sensed my change in mood and skipped his way out of town, trying to make me laugh. It at least got me to smile.

Continue to Part 2…

Day 9: Poker Face (Part 3)

A deck of playing cards, still wrapped in plastic, with a note wrapped around them and held there by a rubber band. I took it off, and discovered it was from Mrs. Kettle! “Hopefully you find someone who can whip your tush at poker!” she’d written, making me giggle. I tucked the note in my back pocket and showed the cards to Savvy. “Something to do tonight?” I suggested.

Savvy thought it was a good idea, but she wasn’t sure what to play. I suggested poker, blinking innocent eyes in my usual sham, saying the girls in the dorms played sometimes so I knew the basics of that game at least. She knew the basics too, but she was against us betting money. I hadn’t been expecting to bet anything at all, but she was right, it would make things more fun if we were betting something. Though poker wasn’t a traditional get to know you game anyway…

She snapped her fingers and said we could merge the game with truth or dare, using them like tokens. I agreed, but suggested you could also use a token to avoid doing something, such as using one of your dare tokens to avoid another dare. I grabbed a sheet of paper and quickly made “sets” of tokens, one dare to every five truths, with two stacks a pieces. I folded them up to take with us to Harold in their larger form, making it easier to carry. I knew how to tear them apart neatly once we got to Silverglade.

Nikki came back, and we were ready to leave. We finally met her other horse, a brown gelding named Dragonpromise. Evening snorted, but otherwise kept his manners around the new horse. I think as long as I wasn’t the one planning on riding Dragon, he’d be okay. She was quite happy to be out of the library, since she was apparently not having much luck finding anything relevant. I tried to help her figure out how to navigate the built-in system to find the information she wanted, but she wasn’t in the mood to talk about it and instead started plying us with questions about our plan tonight.

I huffed, but let Savvy explain our truth-or-dare poker game. Nikki was excited, since apparently she’d played a few hands with some of the clowns in her parents’ circus. (Her mother would apparently have a fit if she ever found out.) She got a little affronted when Savvy suggested the clowns didn’t take it seriously. I bit my lip and stayed quiet rather than risk instigating a fight.

In the village, Harold’s bakery was still open, with two tables inside. Alex and Linda had pushed them together to make room for us all. Linda and Nikki were introduced, and Harold was soon taking our order. Pizza rolls were the obvious first choice for dinner, and I requested both a cup of tea and a glass of ice water, earning me a couple looks. With both tables pushed together, there were plenty of extra chairs, so I once again grabbed on to put my knee up.  The swelling was a lot better, but I wanted to baby it when I could.

I let Savvy explain the game as I pulled out the deck and the sheets of tokens. Then I started creasing the folds on both sides, then took off my gloves to dip my finger in my water and run it down the seams. Once damp, it was easy to put the seam on the edge of the table, and just gently pull the paper apart, leaving even edges. I’d learned the trick from Lawrence when I had been working on some craft project for school and we hadn’t been able to find a pair of scissors.

Linda caught on to what I was doing, and since I had two sheets of paper (one only half full, I’d run out of space on the first), she started doing the other after checking that I wasn’t planning on actually drinking the water. “No, it’s for throwing at Savvy or Nikki if they start gushing about boys,” I joked without thinking about it.

Savvy immediately called me on my little thing-not-really-a-thing with Josh with not so many words. I flushed and shut my big mouth. She seemed satisfied about it, and declared that there would be no truths or dares about boys. I giggled but agreed. (I wasn’t the only one laughing, Harold was too behind the counter.)

With the tokens finished, we all started playing poker at last. The first hand or two laid out what kind of players everyone was. Savvy was pretty conservative, which surprised me. Linda was the same, though she had the look of someone with their eyes on the bigger game. Nikki bet like she talked, freely and based on luck, which led to some fantastic bluffs and some horrid losses alike. And then Alex quickly set herself up as the one I had to watch. She knew how to play and had a good poker face. And I think by my third win, my false innocence began to stop being effective with her.

I was dealing for the second time when the door opened behind us. I turned my head to look and refrained from giggling as Derek came in. Oh goodness, did that get amusing. He greeted Savvy and she had to shoo him away from the table so he wouldn’t try to join the game. He pouted, but she wasn’t having any of it. That didn’t stop him from nicking some of her pizza rolls, and she stopped playing fair at that point, shoving him right out the door.

She came back to the table. I’d been holding it together fairly well at that point, but I met Alex’s eyes and I cracked. I immediately burst into giggles, and Nikki was right behind me. Alex threw fuel on the fire and mentioned that she now understood why Savvy had declared no talking about boys.

Linda though looked over her glasses at Alex and said quite pointedly, “Justin.”

Alex turned bright red and shut her mouth with a snap. I blinked and gave Linda a look of my own. Was that the way the wind blew? She winked at me, making me giggle and hide behind my hand. Alex and Justin, oh, Loretta was going to have a fit…which sent a pang through my heart, since it would just make her cling that much harder to Josh, despite him not being the one she wanted. And he’d be blind to it, and, and…

I quickly reminded them that we’d sworn off talking about the boys before I really sent myself spiraling into depression. It was a near miss as it was. That got their attention back, though Savvy was giving my pile of tokens the stink eye. Uh oh, someone was really on to my game now. I shifted my cards and eyed the girls. I think Linda was preparing to start her long strategy too, if I were to guess…and Nikki was getting antsy. Time to wrap this up before we got slapped around by Linda in the end or Nikki got impatient.

So, in my usual style for the first game with a group, I lost the last two hands, one by a good deal so I folded and the other by losing against Alex by a hair. Linda had started talking to Nikki while Alex and I dueled it out in the end, and apparently Nikki knew trick riding. With my loss, I asked if she could show us some. I goofed around on Angel at school, and there was the thing with Evening and the birdhouse, but it sounded interesting.

She was more than happy to agree. Everyone pocketed their wins, since nobody was completely cleaned out, and went outside. Nikki brought Dragon around, and showed us some of her tricks, which were very impressive. I tried to pay attention, I did. She did some amazing balancing tricks, and you could see Dragon was quite used to her antics, probably from last summer. I wished I knew how to do some of that.

But it had been an exhausting last few days, and my knee was beginning to ache a bit. We agreed it was time to go back to the winery. Alex offered to give Linda a ride, since she didn’t have a horse at the moment. I was barely up on Evening before I heard Nikki call mockingly, “Last person to the winery is a rotten tater!” And the little sneak even tried to copy my accent!

Evening didn’t understand what was going on, but when I gave him a sharp tap of the heels, he knew it was time to run. He snorted and took off with a leap that made me gasp and then burst into laughter as we almost skid on the cobbled paths of the village. I don’t think either of the three of us cared who won, it was all about fun.

Nikki of course did win, since she left first. We walked the horses for a little while to let the catch their breath and cool down before putting them up for the night. I was in such a good mood, I even let Evening tug on my hair in an affectionate good-bye. We waved good-night to Nikki at the rooms and went inside. I was gathering my bath things when Savvy held up a truth token and asked me about my poker skills.I had plenty of truths to counter, but I decided why not? I grinned and reached into my pocket, grabbing Mrs. Kettle’s note and leaving it for her to read while I grabbed the first shower. I had just started undressing when I heard her start swearing in our room, making me burst into laughter again before I jumped in the spray.

She was still muttering when I came back, but I just grinned. It was nice to pull one over on somebody else for a change! I was brushing my hair while she took her turn in the bathroom, which gave me time to think. I had set the brace down with where the knee pads had been left this morning, making my frown a little. What was I going to do about them? Ugh, I didn’t want to ruin my good mood. I put them out of my mind and climbed up into bed to write up this entry.

I had so much fun tonight! Maybe I’ve finally found a group of girls here that I can be friends with. Now if only everything else could be that simple, right?

Money: 3575 SC, 6917 JS

Have a question for Misty about her experiences at Moorland or before? Ask her over at Ask Mountain Song over on tumblr.

Continue to Day 10…