Rite of Passage
Across the countless dimensions and the sentient cultures within them, there are similarities of ritual. One of these is the rite of passage. Some thresholds are simply age; others are by merit. Regardless, a change in one’s status is recognized by all.
Amanda and Erwyn hold solitary, all-night vigils of contemplation in separate rooms of Nom’s Tower in Sawrey Castle. The dawn comes which heightens the anticipation. It is perhaps another hour until the vigils are ended by the arrival of the escort. As one of the girls is the crown princess of the realm, the escort is six Royal Archers. As if to the gallows, the girls are placed single file in the middle of the formation. They are marched out of the tower, through the palace halls, and out into one of the courtyards.
What appears to be a large rug has been laid down in the center of the courtyard. On it stand eight people: Teleperien, Xenograg, Amaltea, Borin, Gwindor, Murelle, Grimblade, and Urrograg. Behind them stand a dozen royal pages holding various burdens in their arms. The escort formation opens when it reaches the rug. Erwyn and Amanda, each dressed only in a simple white gown and slippers, step onto the rug. Xenograg steps forward. He is dressed in a blood-red robe with yellow piping and elaborate yellow embroidery at his cuffs. The other seven are also dressed formally.
"Kneel," he commands. The girls deftly lower themselves onto both knees. Xenograg speaks to them but projects his voice so the entire courtyard hears him.
"Each of you was given over to my instruction in the arts magical and martial, including the ethics of their use. Being satisfied with both your performances, I hereby end your apprenticeships." Xenograg smiles, and the girls grin from ear to ear. Xenograg turns and waves to one of the waiting pages. The boy approaches bearing folded cloth of two colors. Xenograg takes the top garment which is dove grey in color.
"Arise, Erwyn, and claim the ranks and titles of Warrior and Enchantress." She stands and puts on the robe Xenograg holds. She looks to Teleperien who wears this identical color. Mother and daughter share a brief, special moment of pride while Xenograg takes up the remaining garment. This robe’s color is identical to his own; and to that worn by Grimblade and Urrograg. Urrograg’s has no yellow at all while Grimblade has the piping but less cuff embroidery. The robe Xenograg holds has only yellow piping.
"Arise, Amanda the Sorceress." Amanda’s smile disappears, and she takes a deep breath before standing. She appears to go a bit pale as she dons the robe. She looks to her mother in turn, and her smile returns at the sight of Amaltea’s.
The girls’ attention returns to Xenograg as he resumes speaking.
"You are as yet unproven in battle," he begins, sobering the girls, "but not for much longer as you have chosen to join Lady Graymantle’s quest for justice. So that you may properly discharge your duties," and Xenograg makes a gesture to the seven people behind him, "we have come with the traditional gifts for this ceremony." He steps back into the line. Amaltea and Borin step forward, and Amaltea speaks.
"Our gift is armor worthy of princesses: mail forged by Vinyamar, himself." Two pages stride forward and lay a bundle of shining mail at the feet of each girl. Each gapes at the steel works of art. Amaltea’s embrace of Amanda is short but fierce. Borin and Amaltea then step back into the line. Grimblade steps out next. As always, he carries his sword scabbard in his left hand; special dispensation to be so armed in Teleperien’s presence was ill-received by the Royal Archers.
"My gift is the exclusive badge of the warrior of rank: golden spurs." He does not bother to look behind him but simply gestures. His assigned page hustles forward bearing two pairs of riding boots with the spurs already attached. The page sets each pair of boots down before the girls and indicates they are to don them. Amanda and Erwyn remove their slippers and pull on their favorite, well-worn, and now-improved boots. This time they smile to each other as they admire the shining points in the morning sun. Amanda gives a quick smile and bright eyes to Grimblade as he steps back into line; he responds with a tiny smirk. Gwindor and Urrograg step forward. Gwindor speaks for both.
"Our gift is the primary weapon of both our peoples: the bow." Two pages step forward. These gifts are very different from each other: an Noldor longbow for Erwyn, a Rellugai horsebow for Amanda. These are laid next to the armor.
Gwindor and Urrograg return to the line. At last, Teleperien steps forward.
"Kneel," she says, and the girls obey.
"Even before your training under Xenograg, you were friends. Through the trials of that instruction, and of simply growing up, that friendship has deepened. You are all but sisters, despite being from different worlds. The Two Kindreds have learned—slowly, painfully, but eventually—that we are better together. As you two are." Teleperien raises a hand and two pages approach.
"My gift is The Twins: a matched pair of Noldorin arming swords. They were forged in Avallónë during my retreat there expressly for you both." Teleperien turns and lifts one of the swords from its cushion with both hands, horizontally. Erwyn raises up her hands and receives the naked blade flat across her palms. Erwyn holds very still as Teleperien likewise presents Amanda with the other sword.
"I charge you with this duty: to guard, serve, and love one another all your lives. May the blessings of the Valar be with you, always."
( Originally posted in the Red Dragon Inn web community forum. )