• 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 5: Pain and Comfort

Chapter 5
Pain and Comfort

I was cloaked in darkness again, unable to see a thing, my feet flat against what would best be described as solidified air. It had no texture to feel and neither heat nor cold seeping through the ground. I kept turning around and around, searching for a way out, but nothing broke through the void that surrounded me. I started walking, my hands extended before me, blindly searching for an anything, but all that I felt was the continued oblivion. When I had come to the darkness the first time I had lost all of my senses, the second time I could always feel…something, but now I had nothing that I could sense. I was in purgatory yet again. I could hear my breathing, the rapid and erratic gulps of air, and the sound was the only thing that reminded me I was truly there.

‘I need more than that, I need a way out of here! If only there was a door…’ I thought, panic beginning to set in. But even as I began to imagine everything that could be happening to me I was met with the unexpected. My hands pressed against something hard and smooth. ‘Is it a door?’

My hands began to scrabble all over the thing, and after a few moments of scrabbling I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t a door since it didn’t have a handle. That and it was wooden, as the rough grain of the wood feelt bumpy under my hands. ‘Even if it was a door, it couldn’t help me if I can’t open it. It needs a handle!’ I thought as I punched it hard. The next moment was filled with screams and expletives as I felt my hand collide with solid metal instead of wood, my action suddenly becoming a lesson in self-inflicted pain. I took a deep breath and grabbed the thing, tears in my eyes as I realized it was a handle. An old sphere handle, but a handle all the same.

“Where were you when I didn’t have an aching hand?” I asked the door, which expectedly didn’t answer me. I sighed and slowly turned the knob. A simple push saw the door swing wide, and before me I saw a glowing desert, clean sandy dunes as far as the eye could see. Wait, how had I opened a door in a perfectly pitch black room that led to something like a barren desert? There had to be a gap between the bottom of the door and the ground or I would have struggled to push it open. Since there would have to be a gap then some of the light would have shone through it and illuminated the room.

I turned around to see what the room looked like now that it was illuminated and if it held any answer to my question, but it wasn’t there anymore, just more sun covered dunes. My throat started to grow tight as I started wondering if I had gone insane, and again I spun around, this time to look at the door that I’d yet to walk through, but even that had vanished, frame and all. I was left in a desert somewhere, and I had no recollection of ever seeing it before.

I started to walk forwards, looking around at massive hills and valleys of sand, a gentle wind sending massive plumes of it swirling into the air. There didn’t seem to be anything here, living or dead, just myself and the sun beating down. At least, it seemed that way until I heard a voice from behind me. It was a voice that had haunted my nightmares for years now, one that held no real power over me yet guided my every move. “Why are you playing when you still have classes to study for?”

It was my father’s voice.

I spun about to see where he was, but nobody else was on the hill. How had I heard his voice if he wasn’t there? For that matter, where was here? Nothing was making sense and I was growing sick of this. I started walking again, muttering beneath my breath as I forged onwards, my eyes searching for something other than the endless dunes.

“You need to finish what you start Ember. Why don’t you ever listen to me?” came my father’s voice, once again coming from right behind me. I turned again, my head flicking from right to left, searching for a parent who had again vanished the second I looked. Where was he, and what was he playing at?

“If you can’t listen to your father, then what kind of daughter are you?” whispered a voice in my ear, dark and serious. I felt my feet leave the dirt, my hands swinging wildly at thin air as I shrieked in fear and alarm. A second later I slipped in the dirt, my face crashing into the sand, my mouth still open as I hit the ground. I immediately sat up and began to spit, but I could still feel hundreds of small grains in my mouth, my hands scrubbing my eyelids clean so that I could crack them open without blinding myself. My eyes scanned the desert for some sign, any sign that my dad had been there, but again he had vanished right after speaking, leaving not even a footprint behind. I was starting to hyperventilate again, not able to understand just what was going on.

“Are you taking a break already? Why can’t you do it all in one go like a good girl?”

I snapped. My hands slapped over my ears and I started to shout at the top of my lungs at him, tears streaming down my face as I tried to block him out, to block everything out. “SHUT UP! SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!” I shrieked, barely able to breath as I heard him continuing to order me around in that goddamn passive aggressive way, never telling me outright to do what he wanted yet never leaving me any room to make my own choices. I couldn’t hear the words anymore, but his tone was still that same condescending voice, the inane jumble of words that made me hate him. “JUST LEAVE ME ALONE, I DON’T NEED YOU!” I cried.

And silence fell.

I sat there for what felt like a good minute, waiting for him to tell me how bad I was being, how I had insulted him and our family for merely speaking like that. It never came. I slowly opened my eyes, expecting him to be glaring at me like he had all those years ago, yet he wasn’t. I was sitting on a chair in a room with two doors, one of them a massive metal juggernaut and the other a simple escape door. Both of them had the exact same kind of handle, metal levers, but the metal door also had a sliding peephole. The sand that had been in my eyes, my mouth, all over me had vanished, my body clean as a whistle.

I didn’t know what was happening anymore, but I slowly stood up, looking around at everything like the world had gone mad. I didn’t know what I was doing in this room, but frankly I no longer cared. I was stuck in some demented fun house, and it wasn’t playing by any rulebook I knew of. My eyes slowly travelled from door to door, and for some strange reason I felt drawn to the metal one. It took me only two quick steps to reach it, and with trembling fingers I slowly pushed aside the bolt hole and looked in. I wish I hadn’t the second I saw its contents.

Inside was what looked like the human me, but this one was obviously dead. My eyes were two balls of vein lined white, my skin sunken and tight against my bones, all colour having long since drained from my body as a small pool of foamy spittle drained out of my mouth. All around me were books. Books about chemistry, books about mathematics, books about geography, books about everything. They were piled up to the ceiling, a single solitary book lying open in my now lifeless hands, the page title reading ‘Chemistry 101’ in big bold letters. The me in there had worked herself to death, and I instantly knew why.

I didn’t know if or what I had eaten, but my stomach vacated itself right then, my eyes wide and body burning at the sight, tears dripping down my cheeks and onto the floor, falling into the dark green soup that was pooling at my feet. Why had I seen that, and what was going on here?

‘Ask yourself what you want before you ask why things happen, or this fate is far better than your own.’

It was my conscious again, but it had sounded different this time, almost annoyed. I knew better than to turn around and hope that I could see someone, but I wanted to take its words to heart. I clenched my mouth shut and, with all of my courage, lifted my head back up so I could see through the peephole.

My gaze met another one, a face with two white eyes, blood dripping down its cheeks and a small smile on its face. The room behind it was burning, towers upon towers of tomes falling like small flaming meteors to the floor below, the smell of burning page and flesh reaching me even through the massive steel door. I was looking at the dead me and the next second its hands pushed through the slit into my eyes, her fingernails gouging deep into my head, robbing me instantly of vision. I could feel myself blacking out as pain overwhelmed me, my body falling as her fingers left my bloody sockets, a cruel laugh reverberating in my ears. It was my own laugh. As it slowly faded away I heard someone whisper three simple words before I returned to oblivion.

‘We’ll meet again.’

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I awoke with a gasp, eyes scanning everything around me, claws thrashing out at anything I could reach. When I felt my hand collide with something I gave a scream of terror and tried to move, to flee, but only succeeded in rolling off of the nest onto my the hard stone a few feet below, landing with an pained grunt.

“It is a good thing that I myself have plated skin, or that would likely have caused me some harm.” came a booming voice, one that made me feel both relief and embarrassment. The two emotions provided enough conflict with my blind fear that I could force myself to stop for a moment, to actually register what was going on before I simply acted.

Coalheart had just woken up at my outburst, more startled by me hitting him than the sudden rousing. I had been on the nest till just a moment ago, and, judging by the fact that there was sunshine in the cave, it was at least midday by now. I couldn’t feel any unexpected pain except the ache in my jaw from my fall, and I could still see.

“I’m…I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hit you.” I groaned as I slowly sat up, rubbing my jaw and looking around the cave, still feeling slightly jumpy from the sensation of seeing myself poke my eyes out. I was taking deeper breaths than usual, and I knew Coalheart had noticed, but he simply draped a wing over my shoulders, his eyes full of sympathy.

“Trust me, we all have those dreams.” he rumbled, sighing softly. “Once you are calm we can start the day. You do not need to tell me anything if you do not want to, but remember that I will listen if you need someone to talk to. I am here for you Ember.”

I felt my throat closing up as I began to sob gently into his wing. I didn’t know what to say to him. To be honest, I don’t think I ever will.