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She pulled off her satin slippers and threw them to the ground below. Then she pulled up her skirts, stuck one leg over the window sill, then the other, and carefully descended to the grassy land below. She laughed for the first time that day as she slipped her shoes back on. Saleena and Jax walked casually to the gardens. At least Saleena was casual; Jax was doing flips and cartwheels to cheer his friend. Saleena laughed at her friend’s antics even though he was tripping and falling more than anything. He wasn’t known for his coordination. She looked at her friend, his long brown hair covering the tops of his pointed ears, his elfish grin. He was the only real friend Saleena had ever had. “He’s so lucky,” she though, “he can do anything he wants, and no one cares.” She took a lock of her own long brown hair and twirled it around a finger. “What troubles my fair lass?” Jax asked, noticing her concerned face. “I have to announce who I’m going to marry tomorrow,” she stated quite plainly. “I shall be miserable the rest of my life.” “Well,” Jax said, and devilish grin just beginning to show at the corners of his mouth, “I guess you won’t be needing this, then.” He pulled out a long package wrapped in colorful paper. “In honor of m’lady’s birthday!” He stated proudly. Saleena took the package and tore away the packaging. In the folds of the paper lay a magnificent sword. The strong steel blade shone brilliantly in the ‘noon sun. The handle was delicately engraved with detailed pictures of a female knight slaying an evil dragon. Encrusted in the center was a dazzling gem. It seemed to be filled with tiny rainbows. Saleena was speechless. She hugged her friend. “Made it myself!” he exclaimed proudly. Jax may be clumsy and crazy, but he was a master blacksmith. His swords were the strongest, most lovely in the land. “It isn’t Excalibur, but....” he began. “Oh, Jax! It’s wonderful!” she interrupted. What she could not express in words could plainly be read on her face. Jax beamed.

Suddenly Jax’s expression became serious. “Look,” he said, “why don’t you run away, leave this place?” Saleena stared at him blankly. “I mean, you’re miserable here,” he continued, “you can’t do anything you want because of your parents. Master Ryan, my instructor, says that in order to become a knight I must make a journey in the name of the fair land of Reanna and all that is good. I must do something heroic to prove bravery and my loyalty to me land and I can not return home until I do. I want you to come with me.”