Crimson Sunrise - Chapter 1 of (hopefully) many!!!

~Chapter 1~

Jessina scowled as she packed her things. Her brother had strewn them all over her room, and was no where to be found for it. She sighed and picked up a dress off the floor and put it into her bag. She really didn't want to leave, but had no choice. She was 16 now, and all girls had to leave. Her father, the ruler of their small island, was holding a feast in her honor that night, the night before she left. She could only pray to Ulmo that the trip would be safe and she would make it back alive. She threw a few more dresses into her bag, along with some healing herbs. She would pack her food and weapons tomorrow. Once again she prayed to Ulmo that the good weather would hold, as it so often didn't. She straightened up her room, and after putting her things away she changed into something for the feast; a long, shimmering navy-blue dress with aqua-colored sleeves that reached nearly to the floor- much different from her usual clothes. She opened the door and was about to step out of the room when she ran into her little brother.

"Well hello there, Quen," she said, smiling falsely. He took one look at her, gave a glance to the room behind her, and took off running down the long corridor. She followed, trying not to trip over her overly-long skirt. She caught up with the small boy just outside the kitchens. She grabbed him by the arm and lifted him up in the air until they were face to face. "Were you in my room, by any chance?" she asked. The small child shook his head, putting on his best innocent look. She frowned. "Don't give me that look. You know what I'm going to do now," and with this the small boy shook his head wildly and began to struggle against her, but it was no use. She flipped him upside down, and holding him with one hand by the ankles she began to tickle him relentlessly. He squealed with laughter and began to kick.

"Children!" They both stopped moving and turned to look at their father, who was doing his best to give them his sternest look. "Jessina, put him down," he said, sighing exasperatedly. Quen immediately took off down the hall. "How old are you now?" he asked. "Tomorrow you're going to leave for The Test and you're still acting like a child. Look at your dress, it's all wrinkled now." Jessina looked down and did her best to straighten several large wrinkles that had formed. "Now what have I told you?"

"You're becoming a woman so act like one," she said from memory. He nodded.

"Only tomorrow you are a woman. So please, do try your best to act it. Now come along, your mother is waiting for us. The feast is about to begin. Quen!" he called, and the small boy was at his side almost as soon as he had said it. "Now let's go." They started down the long hallway. They came to the large front door and it was instantly opened by the two guards on either side. They went down the stairs and followed the path a short way out to where there were many tables and chairs set up on a cliff that overlooked the ocean. The sun was just setting, so the torches and fires were being lit around the clearing. The trees around them shone with the light of the first stars of the evening, and the sunset made the whole scene quite breathtaking. Jessina took her seat at the first chair next to her mother, and Quen sat next to her father. He stood up and cleared his throat, waiting for the talk to die down. "As you all know," he began, "my daughter is going to leave tomorrow on her Journey."

Oh no, here he goes again, Jessina thought, making a face as he began the familiar speech.

"Tonight she turns sixteen. She has become a woman, and tomorrow she will leave to prove herself- her worth to the village, and her worth as a wife," he continued. Everyone in the village knew that it wouldn't matter whether she passed the test or not. She was, after all, the King's daughter. But it was a time-honored tradition. Long ago, when they had first discovered the island, everyone was expected to help. Men, women, children- it didn't matter. They had been expected to fish, hunt, help with building homes, and anything else that anyone needed help with. Women, to prove their worth to the community, and not to mention as a wife, were sent on a journey when they were 16. They set off in a boat- their birthday gift- the next day, and were expected to use their skills as fishers, sailors, and healers to survive on the sea for one month. After which they came home and were considered a woman- and ready for marriage. Those who came home early were considered not ready, and usually did not marry. And if they never came home, their whole family was dishonored. But in these times, though food was plentiful and most of the harder work was done by the men, they still kept the tradition alive.

"So in honor of her, let us feast!" the King finished, and to much applause. With that, plates were passed, toasts were made, and thus began the greatest feast seen on the island in many years. The people ate their fill of fish, bird, fruit, clams, among many other things. After the feast they sat around a great bonfire and sang and danced until the moon was high in the sky.

"What a beautiful night," said Eranna, one of Jessina's best friends. Eranna was younger than Jessina, and would be taking The Journey in a few months.

"Yes. And I shall hope to see many more while I am out at sea," Jessina answered. "I hope the weather holds up," she commented. Eranna nodded.

"I suppose all we can do is hope," she said. Jessina smiled.

"Let us forget tomorrow and have fun tonight," she said, smiling mischievously. She stood up and took her friend's hand, and both of them joined in the dancing.

Finally the King called an end to the dancing and singing, and the people went back to their homes- a few more than a little tipsy. Jessina sighed as she lay in her bed, she had danced half the night away with her best friends and now she would have to be up in a few hours to begin her journey... her stomach knotted up and she got nervous all over again. She drifted off to sleep, trying to convince herself that everything would be alright...

((This is indeed my first attempt at an actual Tolkien fanfic, instead of just poems, if you couldn't tell. I've been too shy about putting it up for the longest time... but I really want to know what others think. I'm looking for at least 4 reviews saying they would want to read more to put up the next chapter- and if you feel you must criticize, please do so in the kindest way possible. ,_, Thanks much!!!))

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