Sorry it's so long, I have a hard time keeping things short.
I stepped outside of my house into the cold, clear mountain air. It wasn’t sunrise yet and the sky was bleached a cold grey. A slight breeze ruffled my long brown hair that I had yet to tie up. Our families horses whickered as I approached the shed near their pasture that held their feed. My family had trained and sold horses for generations and ever since I was a baby I had been part of the family business, riding, training, breaking, and taking care of the dozen or so horses we had at any given time. It was my month to do the morning feed, so I had to wake up well before dawn every day to feed them. It just happened to be my birthday today but I still had to feed the horses. It was my most important birthday too. I was turning 14 and today my future would be decided. Still, the horses didn’t care. They wanted to be fed now, so I unlocked the shed and hauled two bales of hay out, separating the flakes and tossing them over the fence, then going back for the grain bucket and measuring out ten pounds to pour into separate feeders. My favorite mare, Starlight, a bay and white paint, came up to nose at me as I poured in the grain.
“Hey girl,” I said softly. She neighed back at me, making me laugh.
“Jessica!” I heard my mother call from our cottage door. “Come in!”
“See you later,” I said to the horses and took off running.
“There you are, girl,” my mother said. “Today’s your big day! I’ve already started on breakfast, you go and get dressed in something pretty, just remember you will be riding to get there!” That was how my mother always talked, fast and almost impossible to understand unless you were used to it. I nodded and went to my room at the back of the house. Now, what to wear. This was the most important day of my life, after all. I finally settled on a sky-blue tunic that fell just to the middle of my thighs and a pair of tight black pants. To finish it off, I added a light brown leather belt, a thin gold bracelet, and just a little makeup to darken my eyelashes and redden my lips. When I reentered the kitchen, my mother had finished the first round of breakfast and two of my brothers had seated themselves around the table.
“Oh, you look beautiful, Jess!” my mother exclaimed. “I can hardly believe it! My little girl turning 14 and getting her Destiny!” She hugged me tightly and I hugged her back.
“Yep, little sis is getting her Destiny,” my oldest brother, Justin drawled. “You gonna be a great warrior or something?” he said.
“Or something,” I said. Justin was the best brother I could hope for, even if he teased sometimes. John, my younger brother, was silent, probably because he was jealous I would be Destined today and he had to wait another year. Mother sat down a plate of eggs and ham in front of me and I ate quickly. The ceremony wasn’t for a while, but it would be close to a half hour ride there.
“Where’s Father?” I asked.
“Outside saddling Starlight for you,” Mother said. “Speaking of Starlight, we’ve decided to give her to you as a birthday present.” I jumped from my chair squealing.
“Yes! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I cried, hugging my mother.
“Alright, alright, calm down,” she said. “You better go now or you’ll be late.” I darted out of the house, my heart pumping in excitement. Starlight was tacked up and ready to go, with my father standing next to her.
“Good luck,” he said gruffly, hugging me tight.
“I’ll make you proud,” I said, meaning it. I swung myself up onto Starlight and was off at a hard canter. After around an hour, I reached the nearest town square where a crowd had already gathered. I signed in and settled down to wait. Then, after about ten minutes, all those who were to be destined were called to stand in a circle. Family wasn’t allowed and it felt strange to not have my mother there to watch.
“Jessica Allyis,” the announcer called. Swallowing nervously, I stepped up onto the raised platform and held out my hand to the old women who would read my Destiny. She took it and placed her thumbs on my palm, closing her eyes and breathing deeply. I felt as if something were being sucked out of me and suddenly, the old women’s eyes opened.
“Captain of the King’s Guard, to be trained,” she announced. Gasps and murmurs spread. There had never been a female Captian of the Guard before! But somehow, it felt right. I bowed to the woman as she released my hand and accepted the paper she handed me. I walked off the stage, legs slightly shaky, towards my Destiny.