• Chapter 3
    Trial by Fire

    Ri and Phoenix left the side room and walked down a hall. The hall led to another set of doors. As they approached the doors, Phoenix noticed something.
    "You're shaking, Ri."
    "So are you." said Ri. They laughed but stopped as the doors opened. The doors opened to a large theater-like room.
    "This," said Phoenix "is the assembly room for Order of Sunna members. And the front, that's where you'll sit- after the initiation."
    "You'll sit too." reminded Ri.
    Ri, who had been deemed Heir Phoenix since age five, had not been invited into the Assembly Hall, for protection purposes. Phoenix, as a Order member since she turned thirteen, knew more about the meetings than Ri. Ri looked around.
    "Wow." was all Ri could say. The room was beautiful, with red and white banners, each with a phoenix on them. The chairs were made with dark red velvet. The room was semi-circular, with the chairs raised in tiers around a stage. On the table on the stage, there was a white-on-red cloth on which there was a statue of a phoenix surrounded by flames. There were also chairs and a small round platform. On the platform, there was a pedestal with two handprints in gold.
    "Wow." Ri said again, but as she got to the stage, she didn't know where to sit.
    "In the middle, Ri." said Phoenix. But Phoenix sat on the far right end.
    To Ri's surprise, Ami sat on her right side and her uncle Anubis and another important Order counsel member sat on her left.
    "Hi Uncle Anu." said Ri.
    Anubis Midnight was Ri's Da's identical twin brother. He taught Magical History at Ruby Towers, the school for Flamari. On hearing his name, Anubis turned around.
    "Hey Ri." he said. "ready for this?"
    "As I'll ever be." said Ri.
    Ami got up, approached the table, and stood in front of the platform.
    "Today," she said, “we will be initiating our fiftieth Phoenix. Sirietta Midnight, will you step forward?"
    Ri stood and walked forward. She put her hands on the handprints on the pedestal.
    "Do you swear to uphold the honor of the Order, to lead us on the path that is best for us at all times, and to never betray us?" Ami asked.
    "Yes." said Ri.
    "Will you fight for the Light, never letting anyone get in the way?"
    "And, if you have to," said Ami, "will you, for the greater good, punish those who betray the Order, even those you call friends?"
    "Yes." said Ri.
    Suddenly, there were flames around the platform Ri was standing on. She jumped.
    "This is the Trial by Fire." said Ami. "If it accepts you, the initiation is complete. Any feelings of betrayal and the flames will burn."
    "Great,” Ri thought, "now she tells me."
    She concentrated on the flames. "I can do this.... I will do this!"
    At this thought, the flames died. Then came the pain in Ri's hands and head. When she looked down, she saw runes on her hands.
    "You are now the new Phoenix." said Ami. "Who will be your second?"
    "Phoenix." said Ri
    Phoenix stood.
    "Very well then," said Ami "you are all dismissed"