Author's Chapter Notes:

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Author's Note: A big huge thank you to Cameo Corbin for Beta reading this! Reviews are always welcomed :) Enjoy!

Chapter 1

Jaden gazed out of the plane window at the puffy white clouds outside. She was so excited; she didn't think she would make it through the eight hour flight from Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, to her destination London, without squealing in glee. She was going to Oxford!

Only a few short years ago, Jaden wouldn't have thought this day possible. She had lost her mother when she was five years old, and had long since forgotten what she had been like. The only thing she remembered about her were her eyes. Dark midnight blue eyes were the only physical resemblance she had of her white skinned fair haired mother. The rest of her was African.
Jaden ran a hand nervously over her flattened braids. She wore her hair in long curving cornrows hugging her skull. She leaned back in her seat, trying fruitlessly to settle her churning stomach. What would it be like? London, Oxford...

She had experienced much since leaving Nakuru, the rural town she called home This morning she had traveled to Nairobi for the first time in her life. It was a long and tedious trip where the matatu or Kenyan bus had been stopped 3 times, twice for over two hours, at police check points. Some of the other passengers had lamented the delay. They said it hadn't taken this long before the elections.

The violence that had torn her country apart after the 2007 presidential elections was still fresh in people's minds, in particular the Gikuyu. They were the ones who had been affected most severely. She could still remember the fires, terror, and confusion which lasted for weeks after the fateful elections. She had stayed indoors as often as possible, especially since the schools had been closed, some even looted or burned.

Many of her friends' families had fled the area, seeking safety in Nairobi. But her father and her had remained to ride it out; but staying had borne a price. She had witnessed to the brutal murder of her friend Wanjiku who was savagely hacked to death by the Mungiki, and their gang. Many more had died, and for a few lengthy months it seemed as if her entire world had become steeped in madness.

Jaden closed her eyes pressing her fingertips against them in an effort to wipe out the hideous images flooding her mind. She could still see it, as if it were yesterday. She hated the Mungiki. The intensity of her feelings terrified her, yet at the end of the day she felt they were justified since the barbarians had reduced her father to nothing. Before the Mungiki had come, he had been a respected member of their town.

The Mungiki were known for embezzlement and intimidating others to get what they wanted. Jaden knew many people respected and were even willing members of the secretive and powerful cult. Their influence stretched across the land, and no one could openly criticize them for fear of retaliation. Many of her friends' parents as well as high ranking members of the government were deeply affiliated with the cult.

Jadan's father had been lucky. While he had only paid with his leg, others had paid with their lives. When her father had stood up to the Mungiki, Jaden had never been prouder or more terrified for him. He had never been the same after that. He had taken up drinking, and neglected his duty to support not only himself but his only child. It would have been only a matter of time before Jaden would have had to drop out of school to beg and forage for food, if one of her schools board members hadn't offered to sponsor her schooling. She knew just how lucky she was. She could never repay the man. Without his intervention she would have been just another one of thousands of street children who ate out of the garbage and turned to drugs and alcohol to dull the pain. As a girl she would have also faced the constant threat of rape, which was almost unavoidable for girls living on the street.

Jaden was wrenched from thoughts when the stewardess touched her shoulder, making her jump.

"Oh, I am sorry my dear! I did not mean to startle you."

"Don't worry, it's all right." Jaden reassured the woman.

"Would you would like a beverage?" Asked the stewardess, gesturing to the cart she was pushing.

Jaden thought for a moment before making her choice, "I'd love an orange juice."

She was still somewhat uncomfortable around whites. She had grown up in Nakuru where few foreigners traveled. She had never seen so many white people as the day she entered the airport. There were so many of them that she found herself unconsciously staring at various ones.

The stewardess handed her an orange juice, and Jaden opened her folding table. She reached for the book that she had been trying to concentrate on earlier to take her mind off her destination. It was "The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring." While she had already read the book many years ago, she found she had forgotten much of it. She had read in the newspaper that the books had been made into movies a few years ago. She remembered she had enjoyed the books enough to seek out "The Hobbit" and "The Silmarillion." Her small village had no theater, and the few televisions it housed were used solely by the men of the village for news and sports. They were not too interested in watching a movie about a fantasy world.

Jaden flipped the page happy to be making some progress. She remembered the first half of the book was a little dull, and she was happy she was past the council in Rivendell and onto the exiting part - the quest.

Jaden had just finished reading about the fellowships encounter with the watcher in the water outside the gates of Moria, when she felt the plane give a jolt. She could hear a few of the other passengers' surprised gasps.
It happened so suddenly Jaden barely had a chance to drop her book and clasp her arm rests.

Gusts of ice cold air hit her face, and her breath felt like it was being ripped from her very lungs. She couldn't open her eyes to see what had happened, but she didn't need her eyes to know the plane was in serious trouble. The wind roared about her filled her ears. Her chair shook so violently she thought her neck would snap under the constant jolting. The last thing she felt was something sharp and cold pierce her shoulder wrenching an unheard scream from her lips. Jaden welcomed the darkness that engulfed her, offering her relief from her burning lungs, and the agonizing pain ripping through her shoulder.