The main dining area was no exception when it came to extravagance. The whole room was about twenty meters wide, approximately sixty from the entrance to where the chefs were stationed at the back of the room, which was lengthy enough to accommodate the massive crowd. There were four rows of wooden tables, each stretching to the back. In the back was the buffet table, and as Mura and I made our way through the two rows closest to the center, I could make out the food as we drew closer and closer to the back.
There seemed to be just about anything you could imagine in the heated buffet table that spanned the width of the dining area. Whole omelettes with cheese and peppers, pancakes and crepes with mixed berries and all the fixings, and even a whole section dedicated vegetarians and vegans. You could see the chefs toiling away in the back, cooking and preparing meals for the highly demanding crowd (they were a mob comprised of hungry teens after all).The whole culinary ensemble was three times larger than Crystalline Magic Academy's, which made sense, considering the fact that The E.A.M housed more than five hundred students, a lot more than Crystalline had.
Now, five hundred seems like a low number, but Equestria doesn't have an abundance of people who wish to become wizards, it's a hard job. Granted, magic is used quite frequently in public schools and in day to day menial tasks, but it's applied differently when you want to profess in it like a wizard. If you wanted to be a fully-fledged wizard, you had to commit, you had to train and study. A wizard's job is to educate the next generation and defend the land from supernatural threats like ghosts, werewolves, and vampires. Not for the faint of heart, I can tell you that much. But I work well under pressure, which is a trait I got from my father's side, comes in handy quite often. Of course, you couldn't really tell right off the bat. You'd have to get me in a tight situation, otherwise I'd be just a useless jokester.
I grabbed a bowl from the stack at the end of the buffet table and took one of those packaged oatmeal pouches with the flavoring, like the crappy ones you would find in hotels. Oatmeal is kind of my go-to breakfast when I'm on edge, and the first day of school certainly called for an extra packet, so I took another and grabbed some raisins from a bowl next to the little compartment where the pouches full of oatmeal were. I used the hot water dispenser to fluff-up my oatmeal after I put it in the bowl. I also poured myself two glasses of milk from the cylindrical drink dispenser off to the side on a separate table, to the right of the main buffet. One was for me to drink, and the other was for my oatmeal. I also took an apple, because every time I'd serve myself an improperly balanced meal, I'd imagine a tiny mom on my shoulder scolding me.
Mura had some odd stuff on her plate. Tofu, rice, little rectangular pieces of green stuff, and tuna on one piece of rye bread. She also had an orange, which didn't really go with her meal, but it wasn't really my place to judge, being a person who had just picked out the cheapest, most bland, and least-inspired food on the buffet table.
"What's that?" I asked as I pointed down at her plate, specifically at the weird green things.
"Seaweed," Mura replied as she placed it on her half-sandwich, then placed the tofu on top. I gagged a little as I watched her take the first bite, but thankfully, she didn't seem bothered by my disgust. "It needs pepper."
"Hey, Mura... how old are you anyways?" I asked, trying to distract my mind that was fixating on how nauseating that sandwich looked.
"Fifteen," She answered, turning around to find the pepper on the buffet table.
"Hey, that's my age! Are in the-." She walked away before I could finish.
As Mura grabbed the pepper shaker, I turned around and tried to look for an open, secluded table. After the blue-haired girl was finished, she brushed past my side and motioned to me to follow. Trusting her judgement, I obeyed. "Where are we going?"
"To my table. My friends sit there." To be brutally honest, I didn't expect her to have a group of friends, she seemed far too contained for that.
We made our way back to the entrance to a table on the left, close to the corner of the room where barely anybody was, perfect. The table was secluded and away from the main four rows.
Sitting at her table were two boys. One looked like the typical computer nerd, and I could tell based on the fact that he had his laptop open on the lunch table. His short hair was a dirty blonde color, and he wore glasses over his green eyes. He was pretty short, not as short as Mura, but short enough to mistake him for a younger student. The computer nerd's expression changed from boring to excited as he took a bite from his fancy looking lobster-sandwich. He began typing on his laptop and talking to himself as he chewed his food in a delighted fashion. "Oooo! This is going on the blog! Head Chef Penelope Pinkerton, you've outdone yourself with this masterpiece! This sandwich is like making out with a cherub!"
The boy on the other side of the table looked like a spunky guy, and he had a toothpick in his mouth, but I think it was there just for show. He was pretty built, and he was taller than me, but only by an inch or so. His prickly, silver hair was brushed back like a hedgehog and perked up by his red bandana, which had a runic symbol in the center where it covered his forehead. His yellow eyes looked lively and wild, like a wolf ready to pounce, and he had various ear piercings that didn't go well with his unbuttoned, gold and white school uniform at all. Granted, the black pants and tie of his uniform seemed to balance out his getup, and they went well with his olive skin.
"Hey, Murmur." The silver-haired kid greeted as he gazed at me for a moment with a raised eyebrow, then back to her. "Who's this guy?"
"He's Jonathan Star, the new student Professor Dragoon was talking about." Mura introduced me by herself, but I didn't really object.
"Woah, Woah, Woah! Star? Hold the phone! You're tellin' me this guy's the descendant of the Regulus Star?!" The silver-haired kid was positively gobsmacked. "Wow!"
"Well, don't make too big a deal out of it." I chimed in, but that didn't seem to lessen his excitement. I really wasn't looking forward to all of this attention.
"Nice ta meet ya, Johnny!" The silver-haired kid put out his hand, and I grabbed it. We shook hands for a few seconds, then he broke it off and introduced himself. "The name's Fraylick, Fraylick Hernandez! I'm a certified Runemaster, and I'm also the top magic duellist in our class!"
"Fraylick, you're only the second strongest duelist, right behind Augustine." Mura pointed out his lie, and Fraylick's face turned red.
"Well, I don't count know-it-all's when it comes to magic duels!" Fraylick shouted in an embarrassed-rage. "Miles, back me up here!"
Fraylick had rolled his sleeves up to his elbow, and I could see runic symbols tattooed all over his forearms. A Runemaster would usually grow up to become a battle-mage, work for the army, or join the police force. They were like guardians who protected towns and cities, and they used magic runes on their bodies to cast a wide range of spells. They were rare to come by, and back in Crystalline (a school of three hundred and fifty), there were only three of them.
"Yo, Miles." Fraylick snapped his finger in front of the computer nerd's face, but he didn't react. Then, Fraylick clapped his hands together, the nerd jumped and gasped as he snapped out of his technological daze. "Miles!"
"Ah! Sorry! My name's Miles, Miles Redheart!" The nerd panicked and frantically shook my hand, then he brought out an inhaler out of sheer stress and sucked back some air. "It's an absolute honor to meet a member of the Star family!"
"Thanks. May I sit with you guys?" I asked them both, and they shrugged, which I assumed meant 'why not?'. I sat at the end of the table where an extra chair was set up to accommodate for another person.
"Bro, what the hell are you doin'?" Fraylick had a look on his face that just screamed 'you messed up'.
"What?" I wondered as I set my bowl on the table and began eating.
"Listen, that's Augustine's spot, so you should probably-." Mile's body tensed up as a hand was placed on his should, and based on his expression I could tell he knew whose hand it was.
"Who's this crimson-haired hooligan, and why is he sitting in my spot?" A girl questioned the whole table as she poked my nose.
"Ouch!" I exclaimed as rubbed the bridge of my nose. "What was that for?!"
This girl was rich, I mean, super-rich. I could tell just by looking at her face. It was all dolled-up and proper with a heavy amount of makeup, but not enough to be off-putting. Her uniform was perfect with not a single flaw, and right off the bat I could tell she had some major OCD issues. Her straight, rosy-pink hair looked like a sheet of silk, perfectly coiffed and neat, and her deep indigo eyes distracted me for a brief moment. She was beautiful, no doubt, but she had a malicious look in her eyes that contradicted her kempt and graceful exterior.
"C'mon, August, just let him sit where he wants to..." Fraylick groaned as he rolled his eyes impatiently.
"I shall do no such thing, you delinquent!" Augustine insulted Fraylick, and he stood up to face her down.
"What did you call me?!" Fraylick clenched his fist and brought it close to her face. It was an obvious empty-threat.
"You heard me, you ruffian!" Augustine got so close to him that her nose almost nicked his. "And don't try to act all tough in front of the new kid! You're only defending him because he's in the Star family, and you want to suck up to him!"
"Oh, that's rich!" Fraylick pressed his nose up against hers. It looked as if they were in a nose-jousting competition. "Don't act like you weren't going to kiss his boots too!"
"You know, I'm right here." They didn't really listen to me, and they continued to throw insults at each other back and forth.
"Murmur, would you do the honors and quiet them down?" Miles gestured over to Mura, and without hesitation, she intervened.
Mura gave them a truly terrifying glare that would send shivers down anyone's spine, and her little voice may have been soft, but somehow it emphasized what she said even more. "Sit down and eat."
Fraylick and August turned white, then sat beside each other without a word. Truth be told, I'd probably be scared too, knowing full-well what that tiny girl was capable of. As they all sat, Fraylick and Augustine shivered a little. "We're sorry, Mura."
As they sat down beside each other, I looked over to Augustine. "Hey, you can have this seat if you want, August."
"No, it's fine." Augustine insisted as she began eating her omelette. "But I'm only giving it to you for now! If I see you in my seat tomorrow, there will be hell to pay!"
We ate pretty casually; talking about Miles' culinary blog, Augustine's daily beauty regimen, and Fraylick's morning exercises. It was all pretty weird and random, but it was comforting to talk to some people my age for once. It had been almost three months since I left Crystalline Academy, and admittedly I was pretty lonely.
After we were done, everyone turned their attention to the entrance. Headmistress Sparalk was standing there with the four house leaders not far behind. "Attention! Attention everyone! Can all new students please grab the paper slip out of their jacket pocket, please?"
I checked my pocket curiously, and sure enough, there it was. A folded up slip of paper, the same one I had back at the plaza. Only it had been written on in very neat handwriting, it read 'Dragonflame'.
"Know that this house has been chosen for you specifically for academic reasons." Headmistress Sparalk explained, which was followed by the groans of disappointed kids. "This is the house the rating-sphere calculates, and it knows what house is best for you."
"So, what did ya get, Johnny?" Fraylick wondered as he tried taking a peek at my slip. "Oh, awesome! You're with us then!"
I was a little iffy about it at first and didn't really know whether to be overjoyed or mortified. However, my worries were subdued when I heard the cheerful voice of Professor Dragoon, who approached our table with a great big smile on his face. "Hey, guys! I see we've got a new member of Dragonflame! What's your name, buddy?"
"It's Jonathan Star, sir," I answered politely, although I don't think he really cared about manners that much.
"Say, I know about you! You're that student Twilly was talking about yesterday! She was pretty excited about having a member of the Star family in this academy!" Professor Dragoon chuckled. "Can't wait to teach ya in Magic Self-Defence class!"
"I look forward to it, sir!" I replied with a happier tone.
"Great!" He beamed, then looked over to Headmistress Sparalk, who was urging him to return to her side. "Sorry kids, gotta jet! Gonna greet some other newcomers! I'll see you in Dragonflame House then, yeah?"
"Bye Professor!" Augustine waved to him as he moved over to another table.
"He seems pretty cool." I grinned as I took a drink from my glass of milk.
"Oh yeah, he's the best!" Miles said as he closed his laptop and put it back in his case.
"This may only be his second year as a teacher, but he's made a huge impact on this school. He definitely knows his stuff." Fraylick added as he took one last bite from what used to be his egg salad sandwich.
"He's also one of top ten wizards in the world." Augustine chimed in as she took a sip from her chamomile tea. "He had the highest average in E.A.M history, I record I plan on beating this year."
"Really, August. You plan on getting higher than one-hundred and two percent?" Fraylick doubted her and gave her a smug look.
"Yes, as a matter of fact I do!" She huffed as she crossed her arms.
"Students, please follow a prefect or pupil in your house to the main entrance where your luggage is being kept! They will guide you to your dorm afterwards!" Professor Armorè bellowed as he stepped aside to let the students who were done their breakfast get past him.
"I guess I better get going then," I said as I got up from the chair with my bowl.
"We'll come with you!" Everyone at the table but Mura shouted. I sighed, realizing that they'd all be clinging onto me for probably the next week or so.
I got to my room on the second floor, and I tossed my luggage onto my twin bed. It was odd having a room for yourself, but apparently every student had their own. That wasn't the case at all back in Crystalline, you always slept with a roommate, even if you were in your senior years. Feeling free and relaxed, I popped my earbuds in and I looked around the room with some rock set to max volume as I unpacked my stuff and tossed it in the open closet at the foot of my bed messily.
Every damn room had that snotty regal vibe to it, right down to the gold-laced pillows. The white walls with gold embroidery, the red carpet floors, the red and gold silk drapes on the windows, the wooden furniture with complicated wood carvings of grape vines and dragons. Everything was so stupidly over the top and gold in some way, which was something I wasn't looking forward to. It was all too flashy and expensive, too show-offish. I had to fix it, so I put up some of my posters I packed in my luggage of grungy rock bands and techno artists, just to give the room a little vibrancy. I put all the books my mom packed for me on my shelf next to my desk, then I set up my laptop for later, to video-chat with my family.
After I finished unpacking, I put my suitcase under my bed and I sat down on my computer chair, staring at the wall with a spaced out expression. Geez, even the damn ceiling had bloody gold embroidery. It was starting to make me sick to my stomach.
My nausea was brief, thankfully, as there was a knock at my door. I opened it up, and sure enough, there was Miles with an excited look in his eye. I raised an eyebrow as I took out my earbuds. "What's up?"
"Oh, uh..." Miles trailed off a bit, trying to figure out a way to phrase his sentence so that it made him sound cool. "Hey... bro? Did you want to hang out, maybe go over to the plaza with me and the others? Talk, and chat, and what not? There's a bunch of food stands and booths there, did you want to check out the clubs E.A.M has to offer, maybe?"
I figured I needed a club. It would give me a positive outlet, something to do besides listening to music all day and texting, it was a free of classes after all. Headmistress Sparalk insisted that the new students bond with their pupils and join a club, the typical teacher 'cooperation' lecture. Although, there was some validity to that, I had to admit. It's hard to find a sense of identity in school without trying new things, I suppose.
"Sure, Miles. I'll be down shortly, just give me five." I answered him with a half smile as I started closing the door.
"G-great! See you soon!" Miles said excitedly just as I shut the door.
I sighed and looked in the mirror on my left, staring into the sapphire-blue eyes I got from my mother, and running my right hand through the crimson hair I got from my father. I spoke to myself, with a nervous tone in my voice "Alright John, you made some friends, now you've got to keep them. I got this, just don't be stupid. Oh, who am I kidding?!"