Chapter Four- Fiera
Azkedelia stood in front of the thick oaken doors that led to the dining hall. She put her good hand on the door, but couldn't find the will to open it. Azkedelia stepped back and turned away.
"Come on, Az," she whispered to herself. "You can do this!" Her resolve momentarily strengthened, she faced the door again and pushed it open. Table by table, the whole dining hall fell silent. Azkedelia looked around, her momentary resolve failing. She gritted her teeth and forced herself to walk forwards. Azkedelia passed the phoenix table. A few dipped their heads as she passed.
"Thanks," Azkedelia mumbled. She kept walking.
"Az! Over here!"
Azkedelia looked up and saw Merlin standing at a table by the front. "Thanks."
"No problem." Merlin looked around at all the stares. "So I think I know who the new prom queen is."
Azkedelia laughed. "Not me!"
"I don't know, the phoenix table looks like they're rooting for you."
Azkedelia turned around as half of Pyro's Grellon stood and walked to her table. She leaned towards Merlin. "What are they doing?"
"Well, I'm no phoenix expert, but it looks like they're here to accept you as Fiera."
"Fiera Az, may we?"
Azkedelia turned and looked at the large group of phoenix. "Um…sure."
Merlin scooted closer to Azkedelia to make more room for the phoenix. "So what are you doing here?"
A phoenix with black hair tipped in gold spoke up. "We're here to fly with you, Fiera."
"And you are?"
"Blaze. I was Pyro's Sulphero and was hoping that maybe I could…"
Azkedelia finished for him. "Continue being my second in command? Well, since I'll need someone to watch the Grellon while I'm…suspended from my duties, sure."
Blaze reached across the table. "You have my thanks, Fiera."
Azkedelia nodded as trays of food were brought out by nymphs and dryads. Gold trays piled high with exotic fruits from both the human and mythical world. Tureens full of steaming broths and soups were set in between every tray. Peacocks led the procession for the meats, steak, fish, and fowl. The scent of the rich food made Azkedelia's head swim. She looked at Merlin, who was leaning back in his chair as the food covered the table.
"Summer wine, phoenix ale, or mermaid grog?"
Azkedelia smiled and held out her heavy copper goblet. "Phoenix ale, please."
A steady stream of flaming gold-orange liquid that crackled like fire appeared, splashing against the smooth copper. The rest of Azkedelia's Grellon followed her suit and picked the same drink. Azkedelia took a sip and her mouth was taken over by smoky herbs. The ale tasted like liquid fire, but didn't burn. Azkedelia gingerly touched her cup, expecting it to be hot. Instead, it was cool as ice.
Merlin leaned closer. "So let's compare first days. On my first day, I move in to my dorm, walk around and find my classes and old friends. And on your first day, you get waited on by a djamphir when you first arrive, then fight a phoenix, win, and take over his Grellon."
Azkedelia laughed. "My day's been pretty busy."
Merlin smiled. "You know, I think I'm going to stick around with you this year. It should be interesting."
Azkedelia laughed and lightly hit him on the shoulder. "So you're only going to be my friend because I'll make an interesting year? Some friend."
Merlin smiled and grabbed a roll from a passing floating basket. "Well, that's just the main reason. And it's also the fact that you're one of the Keystone Three."
Azkedelia laughed and flipped an apple core at him. Merlin caught it before it hit him. "Didn't your mother tell you it's not nice to throw food?"
Azkedelia laughed as she flipped a small square of cheese. "Nope."
Merlin caught it again and set the cheese and apple core on the table. "So you done here?"
Azkedelia looked around. "Yeah, I'm done. I don't have much of an appetite tonight. Why?"
Merlin's eyes lit up as he stood and held out his hand. "Do you want to take a walk with me?"
Azkedelia stood up. "Sure."
The Grellon stood up. Azkedelia waved her hand. "Sit. Stay and eat. I'll be back."
The Grellon took their seats. Merlin grabbed Azkedelia's hand and pulled her out of the dining hall.