• Published 19th Aug 2014
  • 1,991 Views, 93 Comments

The Fire and Embers - Tamara Bloodhoof



A girl in Equestria simply looking for a way home, forced to live in a place where she knows nobody and nobody knows her. Un-cannon part of the CGoTG's universe.

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Chapter 1: The Death of a Life

Chapter 1
The Death of a Life

Letters across a screen. Just another strand of words, yet it felt like so much more. Each one was a little lock, a tiny prison I had built for myself, created out of my goddamn need to please them. Why did I even forge them if I knew all they would do is cause me misery?

‘Why do you always ask this question if you already know the answer?’

I felt a pang of anger at those words, my eyes looking down at my keyboard as I struggled to accept such a bitter pill, but my conscious was always right. I knew the answer but didn’t want to admit it. I wanted that simple question to be wrong, that I had no clue why, yet denying the truth always hurt more than simply accepting it. I wanted praise, recognition for what I did and what I always gave up, but it never came.

As I looked back up at the screen I wanted to scream at it, to hurl insults at something that I knew had no hand in my misery. It still hurt to look at it, those words, what they implied, what they would do. I had made a coffin for myself, and, the mouse scrolling over the send button, I closed the lid with a simple click. It was sent, gone, out of my control and now yet another thing I would be chained to. With a small sob I shut off my monitor, my hands cupping my face.

‘Why do you keep doing this?’ asked my conscious. It had always talked to me, a voice that wasn’t my own, yet was an inexplicable part of me, and yet again it asked what I didn’t want to answer. I knew it, I kept admitting it, but I never faced it.
I had already written my college resume, and I had just sent it off to Harvard. I didn’t want to go to college, I never had, but I could tell from fathers gleaming eyes that this was his dream, his hope for…maybe not me, but at least for us. All I wanted was a bachelor’s degree from a small college and a job I didn’t feel I would regret, but that couldn’t be if I wished to be in father’s good graces. He wanted a Harvard graduate, and I was to be his golden girl.

Now, later, always.

I climbed out of my seat and fell onto my bed, not bothering to undress, simply giving myself this rare blessing to wallow in self-pity. I don’t remember when I fell asleep, but sleep came for me all the same.

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My name is Ember, Ember Thompson. I have almost jet black hair and auburn eyes with slightly tan skin. I wasn’t that tall but was insanely skinny, my chest flatter than a board and my ribs showing at all times. I loved to read fantasy novels and to explore the great outdoors, worlds that I could lose myself in, even if just for a moment. It didn’t really matter though, mainly because I never did what I wanted to. I’m seventeen, still just a junior in highs school, but my parents have forced me to be thinking about college since my freshman year, and that’s why people remember me. They remembered the child ‘prodigy’, the smart kid in class who would always put out grade A work and would do whatever the teachers asked me too. Nobody cared about what I thought or looked like.

Nobody really cared about me for that matter.

I was born to my mother Katrina Thompson and my father Wu Jiang Ning. My father was pureblood Chinese, a fact that he seemed exceedingly proud of, but for some reason he had decided to marry my American-British mother instead of some other Chinese girl. It was something that they never seemed to talk about, but they always seemed happy together.
My family was a mixture of the two cultures, and dad was without a doubt the leader of the house, but mother had come up with my name. I don’t know why she got to decide that one time, but dad would complain about it whenever he could, always saying I should have had a good Chinese name. I’m not too sure he hates it though. The way his eyes twinkle when he complains about my name makes me think that he was rather happy with it, even if it wasn’t what he wanted.

One thing that always went his way was my schooling. Dad always held me to a high standard, whether it be spelling or maths, geography or science, he pushed me for the best I could give, and almost always for even more after that. I was his golden girl, his child prodigy that was closer to a finely forged tool than a smart daughter. Mother told me that he was just raised to think like that, but I never understood it. If he wanted a tool for a kid, why did he have a real one?
I had listened to him ever since I was a baby, and I used to agree with him, thinking that I should be the best at everything, that he was just helping me do the best I could. I would work harder than anyone in class, force myself to learn things that I knew nothing about just so I could keep a perfect grade, and I knew that I was smart because I studied, not because I was gifted. I thought dad knew that too, and he had always been pleased with my results, but I was disillusioned the day I had come home with my ninth grade report card.

Chemistry had never been my strong point, and I had been struggling to make the grade all year long, working late into the night so that I could pass the tests and make the grade, driven by the need to do the best I could. I wasn’t even supposed to be in the class, something that they usually reserved for sophomores and higher, but dad had written it on my class schedule all the same, and I had told myself that I needed to succeed like always.

When I saw my report card, a glowing B+, I felt like I had just won a marathon, like I’d just landed on the moon. I was so excited that I had gotten a grade that was in the top five percent of the class that I ran all the way home, glowing with joy. When I reached the house I had ran inside and started bouncing up and down in front of dad, my sheet flapping in front of his face. He took it from me and began reading it, but he froze halfway through. He had asked me what my science grade was, and I chirped out the answer, still grinning like a fool.

That all changed the moment his hand hit my cheek, so hard that I felt my knees buckle as I hit the floor. My cheek felt like it was on fire and I looked up at my dad, hoping it was all a sick prank or a bad joke but what I saw made me want to curl into a ball and cry. He was still standing above me but he didn’t have a shred of remorse or anger or even disappointment. Instead he looked disgusted, as if I was some kind of maggot that had wormed its way into the house.

I didn’t get dinner that night, and I heard my dad screaming long into the night, a few words clear enough for me to hear. Words like failure, worthless, ungrateful, and even wench. I learned an important lesson that night.

I wasn’t his favourite daughter because he loved me. He didn’t push me to my limits. All he wanted was complete and utter perfection. Nothing more, and definitely nothing less.
And I hated him for it.

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The first rays of sunshine hit my face, and I tried to swat them away like flies, even though I knew it was futile. I was awake and it was time to face a new day, whether I liked it or not, and I slowly sat up, feeling my cheeks, still damp with tears. A quick glance at my clock told me it was eight in the morning. My legs slid over the side of the bed and I stood up, my whole body feeling shaky, my eyes stinging and my brain throbbing in pain. I slowly made my way to my personal bathroom, washing my face in the sink before undressing and slipping into the shower. I was quick and efficient, in and out within five minutes. After quickly drying myself off I headed back into my room, grabbing my school uniform by instinct before, almost reluctantly, putting it back into my closet, instead grabbing out my favourite dress shirt and skirt to wear instead, both of them almost identical to my schools red and white.

Two minutes later I was walking downstairs into the kitchen, my father sitting at his end of the table, reading his newspaper like usual, a small, “Hello Ember.” Being his only acknowledgment of my presence. My mother was bustling about the kitchen, the sounds of sizzling and the smell of meat bringing an answer to my unasked question as to what was for breakfast. As I looked at my seat I felt my whole body jitter a bit, the query I had for my father on my lips, yet I was almost too excited to sit down and too afraid of his answer. It took me at least three tries before I finally said anything, and even then it was just a whisper.
My dad didn’t even look up from his paper, instead turning a page and simply reading on. “What did you say?”

“I…um…could I join the track team next year? They’ve already been offered a spot in a competition over there and the coach asked me if I’d like to come along, if not as a member than as a senior student, and he even told me that he would cover most of the costs and I’ve saved up the last bit myself so it won’t cost you anything and…and…I’d just really like to go.” I was rambling and I knew it, but I was so afraid of him saying no and it felt like I couldn’t just ask, but that I had to convince him that everything would already be taken care of and he wouldn’t have to lift a single finger.

I had loved track ever since elementary, and back then it was one of the few things that let me get out and socialize with my fri…with other kids. My mom was the one who had vouched for it, but when my dad realized how good I was he supported me completely. Neither of them had any problem with it until my freshman year. That was when dad decided that I had paid too much attention on track and not enough on my studies and had told the coach that I was to quit. I’d asked once if I could re-join the team if my grades went back up but he didn’t even bother to answer me. I had even gone to my coach and asked if he could slip me in, but the sad glint in his eyes had been answer enough. Evidently my dad wanted an academic girl more than he wanted a happy daughter…

“No.”

It took me a moment to process what he had said. My stomach, filled to the brim with butterflies only moments ago had turned to lead, my throat closing up and rendering me speechless. He had taken less than a second to reply and had never even bothered to look up from his newspaper. It was like he didn’t even care that I had asked him a question, too focused on his goddamn paper to actually pay me any attention.

“Can…can I ask why?” I croaked out, fighting back tears at what felt like the greatest injustice of my life. I knew I was being childish, but once, just once, I wanted to act like a little kid and scream that I wanted to go, that I would go, but I knew that those words would get me nowhere.

“If you couldn’t pay attention to your studies and do track when you were fourteen and your classes were easier then you can’t do it now.” he said, still reading his paper.

The injustice of his comment stung me. I couldn’t do it? How could he say that? I had been doing random classes for him since I was five, I had been learning Spanish for years, had been taught basic Mandarin Chinese, and had even been taking remedial chemistry since my freshman year. This was the first time that I had even asked for something this big, and I had already gotten everything prepared for it. The coach had talked me through all of our plans, from plane tickets to bus routes, had shown me the money he had set aside for me out of his own salary and making sure that I could make up difference. We had done so much to make sure that I could go, and my dad just crushed all of his hard work and my hopes by being such a bloody self-centred prick!
I felt my feet move, unbidden, dragging me away him and into the kitchen. All that I could think of was keeping myself from breaking down like I had last night. I didn’t want to let him know how much this hurt, because I knew he would just dangle it in front of me as an unattainable prize. I was in such a daze that I wasn’t looking forward and I didn’t even notice anyone was in the room until I felt arms surround me, two wet hands on my sides. As I looked up I noticed that it was my mom, and I forced a grin onto my face, praying she didn’t notice how I felt. She obviously didn’t as she was also smiling, giving me a quick kiss on the forehead.

“Ember, I wanted to give you a treat today. Go ahead and buy yourself a breakfast out with that, okay?” she whispered to me, and I felt something pressed into my palm before she broke the hug, a massive smile on her face.

I looked absently at my hand, a folded Benjamin in my palm. It was the most money that I had ever been given at one time, but I didn’t understand why she had given me it. But now was not the time to look a gift horse in the mouth. I quickly ran upstairs and grabbed my wallet and watch then came back down, quiet as I could, slipping my shoes on and rushing out the door before anyone could stop me. It was a Saturday, and I was going to take full advantage of that fact, even if there was going to be hell to pay having some fun.

The next hour was a blur. All that I can properly remember was that I had gone to a café and ordered breakfast. I can’t even remember what I had actually decided to eat, but the next thing I knew I was on the high street. Cars were flying across the asphalt roads, people rushing in and out of shops, the sounds of rampant consumerism filling the air. I preferred quiet forests and lakes to the hustle and bustle of cities, but I had always enjoyed seeing everything in the stores and shops, even if I couldn’t buy much. This time was different though, and I was determined to get myself something.

Up and down the high street, shops selling books, kitchenware, vacuums, beds, everything. Nothing was that interesting though, not until I saw a shop that was so different from the other. Unlike the other stores who had their front windows clean as a whistle so that people could see into them, this one was full to the brim with books. From hardbound to soft, epics to noir, it seemed to have a bit of everything and wanted everyone to see that. I wasn’t sure if there was anything in there that I would want, but it was worth a shot.

I slid into the store and heard a bell tinkle overhead. The store was just like the front window, over-packed and crowded to the brim with merchandise, but I was smiling as I looked across the shelves, reading title after title. This wasn’t heaven, but for me it was a small patch of paradise. I walked right up to the shelves and started grabbed the first book I saw, gently un-wedging a book called ‘Brimstone Angels’ from the shelf and plopped myself down. The next few hours flew by, book after book coming into my hands as I finished a couple of chapters until I realized with a sinking feeling that I had collected over two hundred dollars’ worth of books.

I slowly stood up and walked to the counter, putting them all down and resting my face in my face in my palms, muttering softly to myself, mentally ticking up the price of the cheapest of the books, unable to get more than five of them that I could purchase with my remaining money.

“Do you need some help?”

The voice startled me so much that the book I was holding was flung out of my grasp, only to have a small shout accompany it. I spun about and saw a rather dumpy looking man rubbing his head as he bent over to grab the book from the floor. He seemed like a stereotypical shut in nerd, but he had a rather large grin as he walked behind the counter.

“So do you like your books or hate them?” he asked, still rubbing his forehead.

“Umm, why would I hate them?” I asked, feeling a mixture of embarrassment at hitting him and nervousness at talking with someone new.

“People usually don’t throw things if they like them.” he chuckled, giving me a small wink.

“I’m so very sorry for that, I didn’t mean to!” I spluttered, my cheeks going red at his joke.

“Not a problem, not a problem. Well then, if you like reading why haven’t I seen you around more often?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at the stack of ten or so books that were still piled on the counter.

“I don’t have that much money…” I mumbled, my cheeks growing even darker.

“Never heard of a bargain bin have you?” he asked, smiling widely as he bent over, pulling a massive bucket out from behind the counter. Inside it were dozens of books, most of them fairly beaten or obviously well read, but a note on the front made me feel a flood of joy.

‘All books are only $1’

“Is…is this for real?” I asked, pulling out copies of at least five of my books, each of them in fairly decent condition. “You’re not just pulling a prank on me?”

“Hell no! Used to keep these out in the store but had too many people just grabbing them and running off. I keep them behind the counter now just because I don’t want people to say they got away with theft, bad for business.”

I went through the box and pulled out at least another dozen books until I came across what looked like a little girl’s book. It had a pony on it, one that I recognized despite its cartoony appearance. I mean, not only was it drawn like a manga character, but it had pink fur and an even darker mane and tail. What was the weirdest thing was how she had a trio of balloons painted onto her flank, like some kind of tramp stamp.

“Oh, are you a brony?”

“A what?” I asked, squinting at him in confusion.

“Sorry, do you prefer pega-sister?”

“No, I meant do you mean by that?”

“Oh, well, that books based off of the new ‘My Little Pony’ show. I watched it a few times and it’s not that bad. The book isn’t that bad either, why not give it a shot? I’ll throw it in for free!”

“You’ll give me a one dollar book for free?” I groaned, changing from confused to sceptical in a snap.

“Why not, it’s not like I’m losing anything for doing so!” he laughed, his whole body shaking in mirth.

I looked at the book and snapped it up along with my other books and within a few minutes I was outside again, two huge bags filled to the brim with books. I was on cloud nine, so happy that I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going, not even noticing that I had turned into some strange side alley. It was old, broken discarded paint staining the ground all around me, a couple of bins littering the already cramped space. My eyes glanced around my surroundings, seeking for a clue as to why I was here, what had drawn me into such a gloomy place, but nothing caught my eye. I was about to turn around and leave when I noticed one of the bins shaking.

I slowly crept forward, nearly rounding the bins, but I retched as I finally could smell…something. It was dank and smelled like metal and rotting meat, as if someone had left raw chicken out here for weeks. I took a massive gulp of air and took the last few steps. I dimly felt my bags drop, their contents spilling all over the ground, but what I saw was nauseous. My hands tried to cover my mouth in time, but I was too slow and my I felt my breakfast push up and out of me, vomit splattering all over my hands and against the rough pavement, covering my legs and the mess before me.

It was a bloody heap of mangled limbs, torn flesh, and shredded cloth, the remains of what once was a living human. The head still covered in matted hair, dark as the midnight sky, the pile was mere inches from my feet. For some reason the face was still intact, and what once was pale skin had changed colour, looking like little more than soured milk, the nose having become little more than a tiny bump. However, despite everything else, the most apparent cruelty was how both of the things eyes were missing, only two black holes remaining. I wanted to run, to hide, to scream or shout and panic, but I was frozen, my eyes unable to break away from those soulless pits.

As something snatched at my ankle I was finally able to break from its gaze, looking down to see one of the hands latched onto me, the arm broken at least thrice, some of the bone sticking through the sickly skin. I tried to shake my foot, but I was still immobile, my limbs stone for all the good they were. My heart was in my throat, my mind screaming at me to run, but I couldn’t move a muscle, the only sensation left to me the tears streaming down my cheeks. I looked once again at the things face, and to my eternal terror the mouth creaked open, giving an eerie chuckle, part spluttering hack and part wheezy laughter.

“Who’d have ever thought that the one I was looking for would stumble upon me?” it said in its sickening voice. “But it’s not time to speak, it’s time to sleep, for both you…and for I…”

The next thing I knew my mind was drowned in a miasma, my eyes unable to see and my lungs burning with a cold flame. I couldn’t even scream as I felt life leave my limbs and soon the world was dead to me.

Author's Note:

This is a reboot of Dancing Flames, Cooling Embers. I am redoing a lot of things, so I am sorry if it doesn't please everyone, but I do hope that it lives up to most peoples expectations. Again I am sorry for simply vanishing and thank you all for believing in me after all this time.

A quick message to anyone who wants to downvote. I don't mind you doing so and I thank you for your opinion, but would you mind sharing a comment so that I could improve my story for the better? The people who hate my story may give me the best advice for improving it and any help you could give me would be nice! Thank you!