“Jessina. Jess, get up,” Jessina rolled over and groaned. She opened her eyes and saw her mother. “Jessina, it’s time to get up. You must begin your Journey soon.”
“No. Let me sleep,” Jessina groaned. She rolled back over and pulled the blankets up over her face. Her mother pulled them back off and opened the curtain on the window next to her bed. A pale ray of the sun slipped over the horizon and into the room. “It’s not even light yet,” she groaned.
“I know, and you’re already late. Come on,” her mother said, shaking her again. Jessina sat up, rubbing her eyes sleepily and grumbling. Her mother suddenly had her in a crushing hug. “My girl has grown up,” she said, sniffing back a few tears. Jessina struggled to get herself out of her mother’s tight grasp.
“No, I haven’t,” she grumbled as her mother let go, still trying to sniff back her tears.
“Hurry and get dressed. You’re almost late for breakfast,” she said as she left the room, shutting the door.
Jessina stood up and went to her wardrobe. She chose to wear a plain white dress with short sleeves of an almost see-through material. She grabbed her two bags and set them near the door, then went down the hallway and into the kitchens. There she found her brother digging into a try of cakes. “Where are mother and father?” she asked, pulling him out. He pointed in the direction of the dining room. “Thought so,” she said, dropping him. He immediately dove back into the tray. She took the next door into the dining room and took her seat at the table. Her father looked up from the seat on her left, and her mother entered the room carrying Quen. After a few moments, friends and relatives began to arrive. Jessina smiled and waved to Eranna, who had shown up, being that she was one of her best friends. Another small group walked in the door and started talking their seats at the table, and Jessina looked up in surprise when she saw…
“Jaren?!” she exclaimed, getting up and running to him. He hugged her tightly.
“Of course I had to see you off today,” he said, giving her a small smile. You didn’t think I wouldn’t, did you?” She tapped him on the nose playfully.
“No, it’s just that you aren’t usually up before the sun.”
“Speak for yourself,” he said, laughing.
“I didn’t see you at the dance last night,” she said, frowning.
“I know. My father made me come home right after the feast. He wanted to have a certain `talk’ about what I was not to do with you before your Quest,” he said, frowning at the memory. Jessina blushed, but began laughing. She let go of him as the last of the guests took their places at the table and went back to her own seat. Once again, as soon as the food was served, her father stood to address them all.
“My friends and family,” he started. `Today my daughter will begin her Quest. Let us all pray to Ulmo that the good weather holds and the sea stays calm. And,” he added, his eyes shining, “let us toast to the young man she will marry when she returns!” All eyes turned to Jaren, and it was his turn to blush at all the sudden attention. Glasses were raised and the unanimous toast of, “To Jaren!” was heard. The King smiled and turned to his daughter, who had about the same look on her face as her fiancée. He laughed.
“And of course we cannot forget the one whom all this is for,” he said as he raised his glass in the direction of his daughter. “Jessina!” was heard around the table. The King laughed as his daughter gave him an icy glare. “Now, let us eat!” Foods such as bread, milk, wine, fruit, and sweet cakes were passed round the table. Things were considerably quieter than the night before, as this meal was more family-oriented.
At the end of the breakfast, servants and cooks began to come and clear the table. The guests began to leave, going up to Jessina and hugging her, and wishing her the best of luck. When everyone except Jaren, Eranna, and some of her more immediate family had left, the King gave a sigh. “We will give her her weapons and see her off now,” he said sadly, looking fondly at his daughter. Jaren took her hand and the king led them down to the armory- a large, cold room of stone in the lower levels of the palace. He reached into his pocket and took out a small silver key on a chain and went to a large, locked cabinet in the corner. He put the key in the lock and slowly turned it, as if trying to slow the moment down, to delay her parting. He paused for a second once it was open, and a servant appeared out of the shadows to hand him a delicate silver lantern. Jessina’s mother came forward, and as the King held the lantern aloft she took out an elegantly carved bow and a quiver full of arrows with silvery-blue fletching. Jessina let go of Jaren’s hand and took them. Her mother then handed her a spear, almost taller than herself and with carvings of the same fashion as the bow. Next she received a belt with a large dagger in it, and finally she received a sword with a beautifully carved handle set with a shining navy-blue jewel. She sheathed the sword, and her father shut the cabinet with a bang that made them all jump in the eerie silence of the room. Despite being thus equipped with what seemed like a million tons of weaponry, she was determined not to succumb to old graceful habits and drop anything.
“It is time,” her mother whispered, and turned to lead them up the stairs to the docks. Jessina looked up to Jaren; who tried to give her an encouraging smile despite the nervousness they both felt. Eranna gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze and she looked back and gave her a brief smile of thanks, though as they took the paths down to the docks she could not help but think of all the stories she had heard of things that had happened on the Quest; maidens coming back injured and near death, or sick, or of not having been able to get any food while they were out, or of not even coming home at all. Her father’s words brought her out of her trance.
“Jessina, today you leave as a girl, but you will come back a woman,” it was the age-old ceremonial speech her mother had forced her to memorize. “You have been given all you should need to survive on the ocean. We all wish you luck and pray to Ulmo for your safe return. You will be missed by all of us, these long four weeks.”
“And I will miss you all. I will do my best to return to you. I will come back stronger, braver, ready for anything, and a fitting wife. Ulmo will guide me and keep me safe,” she glanced at Jaren as she gave the correct response.
“Go now, my daughter, and may you come back better than you were before, as I did, and my mother before me, and her mother before her, and all the ages back,” her mother continued.
“All the ages,” all who were there repeated. There was a moment of reflective silence, and then Jessina dropped her weapons on the dock. She ran to her mother, father, and brother and pulled them into a crushing hug, with more than a few tears. She turned to Eranna and hugged her as well. She looked Jaren in the eyes and he leaned down and kissed her, embracing her tightly. She pulled away and did her best to control her tears. She turned to her other relatives and hugged them each in turn, before she picked up her weapons and set them in the boat. She climbed in and her little brother handed Jessina her two bags.
“Goodbye, big sister,” he said. She pulled him to her and hugged him, suddenly remembering the first time he had fallen and hurt his leg after he had just learned to walk. She had hugged him and told him it would all be fine…
“Goodbye,” she said, finally letting him go. He ran back their mother and she picked him up. “I love you all!” she called to them softly, hardly hearing their responses. Her father untied the ropes that kept the small boat in the dock. She picked up an oar and began to paddle away, trying her hardest not to look back- and with that her journey began.
((Thanks very much for all the nice reviews last time! Ulmo is the Valar of the waters, for anyone who doesn’t know. To clear it up, no they aren’t elves, they’re humans. But she does eventually meet some elves! ,.,))