The remaining five girl were called down to the courtyard. London slapped a hand over her mouth to keep from gasping. The entire courtyard had been remodeled. Where two bubbling fountains and a beautiful paved path once stood now had a huge, round waterhole in it’s place.
“What the plum?” Ming said incredulously.
“Language!” Simcess chided as she descended the stairs. “You’re not the only ones to get a makeover. I know it’s a lot to take in, but deep breaths, girls. It’s okay. Today we’ve got a brand new challenge for you, but before we get started, one of you must be eliminated.”
“Eliminated?” Raina asked, placing a hand on her hip. “I thought we weren’t going to be eliminated from the challenges anymore.”
“That’s true. I’m talking about elimination from the second part of this challenge. Today, all five of you will get a chance to fish in this pond. Whoever catches the fish that is worth the least amount of simoleons will not move on to compete in the chess challenge.”
The girls looked at each other and nodded.
“I’ve never fished before,” Lyric admitted. “Is it hard?”
“Plum if I know.” Alex retorted. “I’ve never fished either.”
Raina smiled inwardly, thinking back to her first date with Stellan. Sure, she had only caught one fish, but that meant she had caught one more fish than Lyric and Alex. Probably the rest of the girls, too. Raina couldn’t recall a time where anyone else left the palace grounds, so there would have been little opportunity to learn unless you brought the skill with you. And really, there had been so many other skills to learn around the palace that fishing never came to mind anyways.
“Let’s begin!” Simcess shouted, snapping Raina from her thoughts.
The girls each took a spot at different points along the pond and cast their line into the water. Fish teased them, jumping up and down and spraying water. London hopped back as the back splash from a huge fish sent huge droplets of water towards her dress.
“Hey!” She scolded, pointing a hand at the general vicinity of the fish’s whereabouts. “That’s not nice!”
Alex chuckled at the display of London shouting into a pond with no one (or fish) to reply. Lyric caught Ming’s eye who shook her head and did her best impression of London. Raina looked down at the water, not aware of the spectacle around her. She had laser-like focus on the undulating water in front of her.
Lyric was the first to catch a fish. She beamed at the catch as she felt a surge of pride course through her. It was just a guppy, but Lyric reveled at the fact that she had caught the little guppy all by herself.
“Lyric, your guppy is worth five simoleons.” Simcess said.
The next to catch a fish was Raina. The bobber began to appear and disappear beneath the small waves, so Raina tugged on the fishing rod and reeled in the line. A small fish was hooked onto the end of it, dangling helplessly in the air. She held it up to examine it. It was a small fish – nothing to phone home about – but it was a bigger catch than the one she’d gotten with Stellan, so at least Raina was improving.
“Seven simoleons!” Simcess called out. Raina sighed out a breath of relief – she would be competing in the chess competition.
Ming had some difficulties as she cast her line out. No fish seemed to bite.
“It’s the glasses, isn’t it?” She scoffed, pushing her turquoise spectacles higher up on her nose.
Eventually she was able to get a measly little fish that hung limply from the hook. Ming scrunched her nose as she unhooked the fish, but eventually brought it close to her face to examine the scales on it’s body.
“Ming, you’ve got glasses on!” Alex shouted, laughing. “You don’t need the fish that close to your face to see it.”
Ming laughed along with her friend before turning to Simcess. “Seven simoleons!” She called.
Not long after, Alex caught a fish as well. It was the same kind as Lyric’s – a guppy. Alex smiled slightly at it’s vibrant colours that seemed to leap off it’s body. Alex laughed at the thought that the fish saw her yellow dress and perhaps thought she’d be a kindred soul.
“Sorry, little guy.” She mused. “We’ll throw you back in later!”
“Six simoleons!” Simcess said, scribbling the price down on a piece of paper.
On the other side of the pond, London was struggling. Perhaps the fish could sense her unease at pulling an innocent being out of it’s habitat. Or maybe she just couldn’t fish.
Finally, a tug jerked London upwards. She smiled brightly as she reeled in the line, giddy with the thought of catching a huge fish.
“That’s seaweed.” Simcess said, rubbing her temple.
“It looks like Kara!” Ming called out. Lyric snorted as Simcess shot a glare in their general direction.
“Keep fishing,” She said to London. “When the other girls couldn’t catch anything, we allowed them to continue. So you may as well.”
After another seaweed fake out, London’s muscles tensed as she reeled in the biggest catch of the day.
“Nineteen simoleons!” Simcess called out.
London did a little jig as a tear rolled down Lyric’s face.
“I’m sorry, Lyric.” Simcess said earnestly. “You won’t be competing in the chess match, and you won’t have a chance for a one on one with Stellan.”
Lyric nodded solemnly before practically running off.
“The rest of you, follow me. It’s time for part two!”
While the others made their way to the study, Lyric found herself seeking comfort near the grand piano.
Is this it for me? Stellan won’t even remember me once he goes on a date with one of the others. London is so kind. He’d love to have someone so positive around him for the rest of his life. And Raina – she’s the most intelligent woman I’ve ever met. She’d make a wonderful queen. She was meant to be royal – you can tell, almost as if it runs in her veins. Ming is so unique, too. I’ve never met anyone like her. I mean, she did yell at me for playing the violin yesterday, but she’s so much fun to be around, yet she matches that hilarity with an equal intensity and insight. And Alex! She’s so well-rounded – anything I do, she does better. I watched her paint yesterday, and she’s truly gifted. Such a talented woman would make a wonderful queen.
Then there’s me. What do I have to offer? A measly piano solo? Stellan has people he can call on to do that. I can’t save a country from war with my violin!
As Lyric pondered her place in the competition, the other girls sat down to duel. A randomizer was used to pair Ming with Alex and Raina with London. The two groups would go head to head, and the two winners would then play again for the date with Stellan.
No one ever said they had to play fair.
“Look, a dancing dog!” Ming shouted, pointing a finger behind Alex.
“What? Where?” Alex asked excitedly, twisting around in her chair. Ming smiled deviously as she switched a few of the pieces on the board.
On the other side of the room, Raina and London were talking lightly as they made different moves. Both weren’t any kind of grand chess master, so they had fun just messing around.
“What’s this called again?” London asked, holding up a piece.
“That’s the Raina,” Raina pointed out.
“Really?” London asked. “That’s your name!”
Raina chuckled. “The piece is also called a queen, but I prefer calling it a Raina.”
In the end, it would be Raina against Ming for the date with Stellan. The two shook hands gamely before taking a seat. Both were aware of each others’ tricks. Raina kept one eye on Ming at all times, while Ming zipped her lips for fear of revealing her strategy.
After an intense game, Raina came out victorious. She would be getting a one on one with Stellan, but it would have to wait for the next day. The sun had set hours ago, and the girls were all yawning. London’s head dipped forward as Alex rested her cheek on the window, half asleep.
However, everyone was woken up once they got back to their room.
There was a note on one girl’s bed, along with a single rose and champagne.
Without you, the day is long
I could barely hold my head up, for keep me strong
I know what’s between us could never be wrong
Who do you think the note is for? Vote Here