So, apparently earning your true name is a pretty freaking big deal. Like, a lot a lot a lot bigger than I even realized. The last person to earn her true name died right after ward, so she got a funeral, and none of the usual festivities had ensued at the time. But since Luke - uh, I mean Blaze - was alive and well, then let the feasting commence!
Everyone earns their true name, but since we're alive for so freaking long (like, a thousand years type long) it's a slim chance that more than one person will get their true name at the same time. It does happen in war, but that's even better because it's a bunch of consecutive feasts in a row. (Wait, did that make sense?) Loads of fun for royalty, like me, because I'm automatically invited to every single one. (Win!) Anyway, the feast is always held at the castle and about a hundred to two hundred people attend, most of them chosen by the person of honor, though many, like me and Star and Tamwyn, get an automatic invite no matter what the person of honor thinks of them. Good thing for Luke that he likes us. Or at least, likes me and Tamwyn and tolerates Starfire and the temper that comes with her. Regardless, it's always a lot of fun. At least, according to Tamwyn, that is, because he had been the one explaining this all to me.
So early the next morning, I did not get into fancy schmancy clothes at Luke's - I mean, Blaze's - request. Tamwyn, Star and me all met up at around six ish, after spending a day doing whatever. (I was shooting arrows pretty much the whole day - my aim still needs improving, as in, it's suckish. Star, for some weird reason, spent the whole day in the library. It occurred to me that I have no freaking clue what Tamwyn does with his time.) So yea, as I was saying, we began to walk toward the castle. (I still don't understand why we don't just fly every freaking where - I mean, it takes energy, like jogging minus the cramps, but it's still awesome.) Eventually, others walked with us or in a separate group but headed in the same direction, all chattering animatedly. Everyone seemed really stoked for the food, and but mostly they were swapping rumors about how Luke earned his name. Wait, how BLAZE earned his name. Apparently, his rendition of what happened wasn't exciting enough. One girl was telling her girl friends about how I (Prince Flame, as they referred to me, though I find that so super weird) was near death when Luke - BLAZE! - fought the dragon that was about to eat me and cut off its head. The only part of this story that bothers me is that no one thought to tell me that dragons exist. I mean, c'mon, DRAGONS?! What, are there gonna be pixies next? How about centaurs too?
I swear, if I see one sexy vampire, I'll blow a gasket.
But dragons are pretty cool.
We reached the castle. Okay, picture the most stereotypical medieval castle, all gray with fancy schamncy flags and high turrets and palace guards standing as still as humanly (or, um, fire-ly?) as possible. It also occurred to me at this point that I don't know what I am; I just know that I'm not human.
So, back to the castle. See, take that medieval castle that you see, and then make it shiny. Like, it's gray, right, but it's pretty, shiny, really impressive. Now put a freaking HUGE garden in front of it, with a long winding path through a beautiful garden that makes the hanging gardens of Babylon look like crap. There were routes that branched off from the one we were walking on, and I imagined that it would be nice to just walk through, you know, on that day off that I don't have. However, we stuck to one route that ran straight, and eventually we reached this huge, medieval style castle, and entered, as the doors were already thrown wide open. I suddenly wondered if this was where my real parent's were. I hadn't spared them much thought. As I said, I was already used to getting around lacking parental units, and everything happened so fast that there wasn't enough time to really stop and think about it. But suddenly the fact that I am the prince, and there is a king, and that I am the royal heir, meaning that my real mother and real father were in this building, became very real to me. Maybe I would meet them. They must attend these banquets, considering they are held in their house. Though this could be faulty logic.
The inside of the castle was beautiful. The decorating was everything you'd expect, bright red and gold tapestries, deep red carpets, paintings of fires, of kings and queens, of warriors and archers. There were also grand statues, some small, some life size, some much much MUCH larger than life. They were in gold or silver or various colors of marble, and there were archers, and kings, what looked like writers, as well as what looked like small fairy things and, yep, you guessed it, dragons. I mean, seriously, when was someone going to mention dragons?! Mythical creatures don't just suddenly become real when they feel like it, people!
We reached a huge set of doors that had an inscription painted in gold. It said:
If you are a child of the earth, you are welcome here.
"If you are a child of the earth, you are welcome here." One person whispered. Someone next to them snorted.
"More like if you don't plan on killing me, you can come in. It's different now. We're not all children of the earth; we're Fire, Earth, Water, and Air. Live in harmony my ass." The two chuckled merrily. I wondered if one day, when the tribes are united, we would be just called children of the earth. It sounds better than calling myself a Fire, anyway.
I was about to open the doors when Starfire suddenly grabbed my arm and pulled me aside, rather violently, I might add. Tamwyn took up the cause and opened the doors, letting everyone in. I looked after them in a mournful fashion. Starfire rolled her eyes.
"We will join them soon, young one, so calm yourself down. You need to hear something first.
"Your father and mother will be in there, sitting at the head of the table, on either side of Blaze."
My eyes widened. My mind suddenly created a scene in which my mother ran towards me, arms open and my father looked at me, his eyes shining, his mouth smiling wide. We would talk throughout all of the banquet. Starfire, however, did not give me enough time to think about what exactly I would say to my parents. In fact, she said seven words that pretty much killed my entire fantasy.
"You can not talk to your parents."
"What - but - why?" I spluttered.
"Because you have not earned your name yet."
"But - but I'm Flame!" I cried, seriously pissed off.
She sighed pointedly. "Look, you were given your name immediately because no one would take you seriously with an average name like Alex. You still have to earn your name. We have an old law here: once you turn fourteen - which really means one hundred and forty - your parents aren't allowed to come in contact with you until you earn your true name. You can call it cruel, but it is a law that I doubt will ever die. It's how things are done."
"So, basically, I have to do something bad ass to talk to my parents."
She rolled her eyes again "Yes, pretty much."
"Hang on." I said slowly. "I haven't been alive for one hundred and forty years. Only fourteen. So, I get to talk to them!"
"Wrong. You are fighting as if you are one hundred and forty, and leading as if you were even older. You are an exception. You must earn your name first. Now, go be with Blaze and enjoy the food."
I grumbled a bit, but I couldn't counter her. I mean, she's the boss here, after all. But guess what? This freaking means that now I get sit next to my parents and not talk to them. This food better be freaking delicious, or I'm leaving, whether or not it pisses off Luke. Argh! I mean, BLAZE. Whether or not it pisses off Blaze. Sheesh, I'm never gonna get used to this whole name change thing.
It suddenly felt like all the growing up I'd done in the past month or so (how long had I been here?) just suddenly died and now I'm back to square one, an insecure teenage kid. I took a deep breath and squared my shoulders. Whatever I felt like on the inside, I had to appear as tough as Starfire and Tamwyn. Star looked at me, in a way that looked as if she was making sure I was still in one piece, and then walked in through the huge mahogany double doors, with me right behind her.
The table was huge. I mean, Tamwyn had said that there would be somewhere around a hundred fifty people, but I figured it would be at several different tables, you know, like ten people per table. I did not expect this. Instead of many small tables, there was one huge table. The room itself was giant, but average, with little to no decoration. There was a golden fountain spouting fire in such a way that it looked like any normal fountain, just you know, with fire in it. It was really quite pretty, honestly. There were tapestries on the walls as well as torches creating light, but that was really it. The whole room was marble, but the marble itself had veins of red going through it, so that from a distance it had a pinkish hue. The table was made of a deep cherry wood, and upon it were golden goblets and golden bowls and plates that shimmered in the fire light. Everyone was seated already, and the only seat open was next to Tamwyn.
Tamwyn was next to my father.
He looked just like me, both parents really. I mean, everyone in this entire tribe has similar traits, like you will never ever find a blonde haired, blue eyed person here, but their faces mirrored mine. My father had my sandy brown hair, and my high cheekbones and slightly pointy chin that apparently is what makes me so attractive to all the girls here. (According to Tamwyn, that is). My mother's eyes were like mine, ever so slightly slanted, dark brown with gold flecks in them. Her smile looked like mine too, and I could tell she was trying hard to not smile at me, or look in my direction, though they both clearly wanted to. I walked slowly and calmly towards the empty seat. It seemed as if all they had been waiting for was for me to sit, because suddenly, waiters appeared out of nowhere, carrying huge dishes on golden platters and set them before us.
Oh. My. God. There was every kind of amazing food imaginable, from roast duck to chicken to turkey, every kind of vegetable I had ever seen, and some I had never seen in my entire life, puddings and rich sauces and thick chowders and what looked like chicken noodle soup, just a lot better than Campbell's out of a jar. Everything was steaming, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. The waiters appeared again, with pitchers full of a deep red liquid that I realized was wine. They poured some of it into the goblet before me, and I turned to Tamwyn questioningly.
"It is physically impossible for you to get drunk." He said soothingly, before taking a sip of it himself.
"Why?" I asked him, thinking of some books I had read about immortal people who couldn't get drunk. I'm not immortal.
He laughed softly. "You are much, much stronger than alcohol, Flame."
I shrugged, and tasted some of the wine in my goblet as well. It was kind of bitter, but it was alright. I think I prefer milk, personally. I guess it's an acquired taste. I turned slightly to ask Tamwyn a question, but instead I caught my father's eye. He winked at me, but then quickly looked away, and I wondered if it had actually happened. I really hope it did.
Luke - I mean, Blaze! - stood up. He smiled really wide at all of his guests and simply said "Dig in!"
Someone let out an appreciative whoop, and we all reached forward and began serving ourselves. And Oh My God, it tasted just as good as it looked. Everything was rich and savory, with millions of different kinds of sauces and flavors, and yet I could keep eating for what seemed like forever, without ever getting full. Cheerful chatter filled the air, along with the sounds of people eating, but I was to busy enjoying the food to engage in conversation with anyone. Soon - too soon - the waiters reappeared and took the mostly empty platters away, as well as my (still half filled) plate. At first, I just went with the fact that they were appearing out of nowhere, but as I followed one with my gaze, I saw that there were really concealed doors in the wall. Now, that is genius.
Soon after, the waiters reappeared with more platters, this time silver. Inside those were every kind of desserts imaginable, cakes and pies, puddings and ice creams, cookies and pastries, and everything was covered with a fine layer of powdered sugar. Blaze, again, had to take the first bite, but once he did, we all dug in just as enthusiastically as we had with the main course. And, just as with the main course, everything was rich and warm, full of chocolate, and essentially, happiness. (I would also like to point out that I finally got his name right this time around. Score!)
I was so busy eating that I didn't hear any of Luke's - Blaze's! - speech. It was boring and quick, anyway. He just thanked me, Tamwyn and Starfire for being there for him and blah blah blah. I mean, he's my best friend, but he can thank me any old time, preferably when there aren't obvious distractions.
The feasting went on for hours. Eventually, a band with those strange instruments appeared from the concealed doors and began to play. Blaze got up and began dancing with Ember, and soon the food was gone and everyone was up dancing. I was dancing with Hannah, who had two left feet, but I sucked at dancing too, so it worked to my advantage somehow. At least, it made everything a lot more funny. I figured that this girl could be my friend. Should probably work on socializing with more than three people, anyway. Plus, it seemed Hannah liked me for me, you know, the Alex me, versus just liking me for being Prince Flame. That's always a bonus. I find it kind of funny that even here people are just as superficial as they are in middle school. Everyone here hates humans so much. Yet it seems as if we act just like them. Or maybe it's all just perspective. Whatever.
Hannah and I stumbled around for a bit, laughing and what not because we were dancing failures, and then finally sat down next to Luke. No, we sat down next to Blaze. Blaze, not Luke, Blaze. I got this. Blaze had been smiling the whole time, throughout the entire feast and dance and even now.
"Does your jaw hurt?" I asked him, laughing. Hannah laughed too.
"What?" He asked, not really getting it. "Oh, well, sorta, but I can't help it! I'm just, you know, happy!"
Hannah and I kept laughing. Luke didn't really realize what was going on. "Why are you laughing then?" He asked, looking perplexed.
"Because we're happy!" Hannah said, and the three of us cracked up for no apparent reason at all.
We really needed a new adjective, but it was loads of fun anyway.