• Published 19th Aug 2014
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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 3: Questions and Answers

Chapter 3
Questions and Answers

My first breath was pain, my lungs, hungry for air, trying to fill themselves gasped for air. What they found instead was water, my own actions causing excruciating agony. I gagged and instinctively pushed upwards, towards what I hoped was air. My wish had not fallen on deaf ears, for it was granted in full as my head broke the surface, still gasping for air even as I hacked up the liquid already in me. I couldn’t see thanks to the water in my eyes, yet it wasn’t painful in the slightest, merely blocking my visions behind swimming goggles.

I wasn’t in the water long enough to ponder this though. Instead I was picked up by something very large, a quartet of digits wrapped around my waist which lifted me high into the air. Yet again I was staring at the sight that had haunted me since this entire mess had begun, but for some reason I didn’t feel the same fear as before, only the burning in my lungs as I spat out the rest of the water.

“Prithee thou doesn’t drown, tis most ill a fate for one of the sky.” Came a deep, rumbling voice, the eye focused upon me as the claw around my waist gently laid me upon the ground. “Or is thou through playing coy with their elder?”

I shook my head slightly, wiping the water from my eyes as I looked up at the eye…no…the dragon before me. It was massive, at least a hundred feet in height, it’s neck a massive pillar of scales black as midnight. It had two wings, both of them unfurled and each larger than a city block. Four legs supported a building of a torso, all four limbs tipped with a quartet of sword length claws. The head was enormous, the creatures mouth alone larger than my entire body. Despite the darkness of the dragon’s body its eyes were bright. They seemed to glow like a pair of fierce bonfires, its pupils a darkness that blotched the light.

It was obviously impatient and had begun to tap its clawed foot against a fallen tree, each tap creating a huge gouge in the wood. I looked away from it for a moment, trying to get my bearings. The pair of us were in what looked to be a forest, specifically in a rather massive clearing. To my left was the pond that I had just gotten out of and to my right was a path larger than the dragon in front of me, most likely how we had gotten here. My inquisitiveness wasn’t without punishment though, for it had finally run out of patience and with a roar that cleared the trees of birds it bellowed at me. “Who art thou and why hast thy forest become an unwitting bearer of a child so ungrateful it cannot speak a word of thanks?”

I squeaked, my legs turning to jelly as I looked at the being who I knew could eat me in a single gulp. My mind was still trying to process the fact that I was staring at a dragon that I couldn’t think of any reply to its question. I felt my mouth open and close time and again, each second that ticked by only adding to the fury on its face.

‘If you cannot answer a simple question, then maybe you should let another do it for you.’

What?

“I’m sorry sir, I wasn’t seeking to intrude upon your forest, but I’ve gotten lost, and I needed to find shelter. I ask for your forgiveness, I didn’t meant to intrude.”

I had just spoken. My mouth had moved, words had come out of my throat, but I hadn’t said it. Something had opened my mouth for me, had supplied me with the words I needed to say but couldn’t. What had just happened? Had I been possessed?

“Forgiveness is much to give, but allowance is far less of a burden. Thou art given permission to reside here, but I wish to talk and here is not the place.” it said, turning around and walking off through the trees.

Without even thinking about it I clambered to my feet and began following him, trying to keep up with its massive strides and finding that, surprisingly, it was an easy thing to do. My mind was racing as we walked. How in hell did this thing exist, why was I here, and, most of all, what had I become? I knew that I had changed, it kept walking forward upon what was clearly a well-trodden path until the two of us reached another cave, the entrance right upon the ground. It walked inside, giving a quick puff of fire that lit what looked to be a dead tree in the middle of the stony floor, and turned to me.

“Sit, and tell thy story.”

I looked up at the dragon’s eyes and saw the last thing I expected in them; worry. It was rather amazing that this beast, something which I had just met and only recently learned to exist, could possible care about me. Out of everything that it could have done that was the one thing that could truly calm my nerves. I sat down and took a minute to sort out my thoughts, deciding that everything that wasn’t to do with it would go to the back-burner for now. This simple decision filled me with what felt like strength and I began to speak, feeling my tongue move while not hearing my own words. I didn’t understand it but all the fear that had wormed its way in had vanished as I talked to him. I suddenly realized that I had somehow finished talking, despite never actually focusing on the tale that I had told him.

“So then, thy is a simple maiden who was traveling in the woods for some reason, unable to remember who you truly are and what you were doing before now?” it asked, what seemed like scepticism written all over his face. I felt my tongue tie in my mouth and nodded, trying to smile as widely as I could even as my heart began to race. I might not fear it at the moment but it would be better for both of us if it didn’t start bellowing again.

“…So thy is a lost wanderer then, one who couldn’t keep their way to the path even though they remembered naught? Tis a fate so often met with death. Your tale is one of great luck.” it said. “But names are of a fairer breed than past alone. In this I would beseech you to at least give me the name that you are using, be it one you remember or one you have chosen.”
I thought about lying for only a second, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Besides, who would believe a massive dragon if it said that it had met me anyways? “My name is Ember.”

I didn’t expect my simple response to elicit much from the dragon, but it simply stared at me, dumb-founded. After a few moments had passed with neither of us speaking its mouth clamped together, cheeks bulging wide before it began to laugh. It was deep and booming, even worse than its roar, and I shook with each chuckle that escaped from its mighty lungs. “Thy name is Ember? Either you are a jester of fine calibre or thy mother had no sense of decency. Ah, but a name given is a name received. I am Coalheart hatchling Ember, ancient wyrm and sovereign-lord of this dominion.”

His jab at my mother stung, but my head cocked slightly at his comment. ‘Hatchling’?

“Sir, why would you call me a hatchling?” I asked, avoiding his real name in case it annoyed him to have a 'hatchling' use it.

“What else would thou call you? You are without a doubt young, and to my eyes naught more than a child.” he chuckled. “But I must also offer my condolences, for to be born wingless is a shame and a curse, one that none should bear.”
Things were finally clicking into place, even if only slightly. I gripped my head again, my cheeks, then pressed my hands to my mouth only to feel something akin to a small snout, about as long as my palm and scaley. The answer was so simple!
I had become a dragon.

That was why I had scales all over my body, why I had a tail, why he had cared about me in the first place! I was starting to feel a wave of joy at finally solving some of this insane puzzle, but only then did his words sink in. I looked over my shoulder and saw what looked like to small stubs poking out of my back, neither one larger than a curled fist. My back was also covered in scales, but these weren’t. They looked like a stumpy wrist, the hand having been lopped off and the wound healed over. They were ugly blotches upon an unfamiliar body, but I didn’t feel sadness or anger. I had never had wings before, so the supposed loss of them didn’t sting that much.

I turned back to Coalheart, giving a small bow of my head to acknowledge his comment and he returned the small bow. “Sir, may I ask a question of you?”

“Knowledge is power hatchling, but you may still ask.”

“Where on Earth are we?”

He looked at me in shock as I said that, eyes going wide. I gasped at his sudden reaction, praying he wouldn’t get angry, but it had to be a trick of the light as his face was pitying the next second, not a sign of shock or anger.

“Thou has truly lost thy memory to forget thy world’s name and replace it with a trite fancy. We are in Gaia, on the border of Equestria in what are commonly called the Forgotten Mountains. Truly, it is those without imagination that discover what requires such a gift.”

I felt my feet slide out from beneath me yet again as I heard that. I was talking to a dragon. Hell, I WAS a dragon, and I wasn’t even on Earth. I wanted to cry, to simply curl up into a ball and hide, but I couldn’t. My eyes began to burn, but no tears fell from them.

Coalheart looked at me, my shaking shoulders and shivering body, and the next thing I knew he had draped a wing over my body. “Hatchling, you speak of homelessness and loss, and though thy cannot offer much, I do offer home and food.” Coalheart said, giving me what looked like a small smile. He gave a small toss of his head, gesturing to the back of the cave where there seemed to be piles of old vegetation, all tossed together to make a make-shift bed.

I couldn’t speak anything in response, instead simply blubbering into his wing. I had solved one small fraction of a puzzle only to find out just how large it truly was, and I didn’t care anymore. I simple sobbed into his wing as he drew me against his scaled body, and I didn’t stop until the flames had died and darkness helped me drift off into fitful sleep.