Post Reply My Memory Is the Key : Part 5
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25 / F / In my own little...
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Posted 6/8/09 , edited 7/15/09
Find Part 1 here
Find Part 2 here
Find Part 3 here
Find Part 4 here


Last Update to the Story ::
July 2 {{ Gone }} Most of you will hate the next few chapters... You might even hate ME >__<
Jun 30 {{ What's his plan? }} << KAWII <333
June 16 {{ Father... }} && Chapter count :: 22 total (some of them will be long >:3)
May 24 {{ A New Friend... Cont. }}


Chapter 15 Cont.

“What’s a phoenix?”

Ember smiled, and said, “This.” She didn’t know what exactly a phoenix was, but she knew this was one. She set it on the ground in front of them.

She watched as the tiny bird lifted its wings and chirped loudly. She didn’t know what to do with it. She didn’t even really know what it was.

In a desperate attempt to communicate with it, she said, “hey little fella! What do you want?” She knew she would get no response, and did it more to tell herself she was trying. She didn’t know a thing about phoenixes, let alone how to tell what it wanted, and asking it seemed a good shot, even if it was pointless.

Tomarr padded up to the noisy bundle of red feathers, and purred to it. The little bird looked up at him, as if about to respond, but only chirped more. The tiger went back to Pyro’s side in a mix of bafflement and indignation.

Pyro didn’t even bother with what he thought of trying. Some how, he didn’t think that a joke he had just remembered would help, though he might tell it to Ember later on…

The baby phoenix kept chirping loudly, and finally Ember picked it up and tried cradling it like a baby. It fell silent, and a strange noise almost like the low purr of Tomarr emitted from deep in its throat. It nestled closer to her body, and closed its eyes.

For a while, the group of baffled beings sat silently, afraid to move, lest the bird wake up and start chirping again. Finally, Tomarr dared a low mrow of something like laughter; it seemed the bird had taken a liking to Ember. She was, after all, the first face it saw when it hatched. It would follow her everywhere now. It would be her lifelong companion.

Pyro, upon hearing Tomarr laugh, remembered that Ember did not yet know his name.

He turned to her, and said quietly, “Ember, did you know that this great tiger sitting next to me has a name?” Tomarr looked up and seemed to smile.

“No! What is it?” Ember had never really thought of him with a name before. To her, he had always been just the large tiger that snores.

“His name is Tomarr,” he said.

“Tomarr,” Ember repeated, feeling the name on her tongue. “It’s a good one.”

“And he’s been my companion since I was young! When I figured out his name, a memory came back to me. We were sitting in a park. And he was just a cub. There was someone else there too, but I can’t remember who he might have been.” Pyro’s thoughts drifted for a moment back to the voice. Now that he thought about it, he knew this voice was in a lot of his memories. But he knew with a sense other than hearing. Who did it belong to?

Ember looked up in surprise. This was the first time he had spoken of his memories. “What else do you remember from your childhood?” She asked inquiringly.

Pyro stretched, yawning, and said, “not much. They’re mostly of me doing things like playing outside with a friend. The same friend from my memory of Tomarr. They seem to be in many of my memories.” After a while of silence, he added, “I hope I can someday find this friend. I know we were close, but I can not think of who he might be.”

Ember also stretched, being careful not to wake the baby bird in her hands, and moved to sit next to Pyro. “At least you know there were others in your life,” she said quietly. “All my memories are lonely.”

Pyro frowned at this and said, “Oh, come on! There must have been some people, don’t worry.” Seeing that this didn’t help, he added, “and besides, you know there was Fang.”

“Yeah, he was there, but I don’t remember any humans being there. Not a mother, or a father, or siblings. You remember bits about yours, don’t you?”

Thinking about it, Pyro replied, “Yeah, I guess I do. My mom was really nice, and my father was a blacksmith.” The more he thought, the more he remembered. “I had a little brother, but can’t remember his name. He looked up to me all the time. Two years younger than me, I think.”

Ember sighed, thinking about how the dreams she had could be considered as memories, but they didn’t feel like her own. She just knew they were someone else’s. But who’s?

The bird in her hands shifted in its sleep, and she looked down at it, thinking about what to do about it. Then she remembered.

“I got this from the dragons,” she whispered. “And I think they knew what it was! I asked them what it was, and Fang said I would find out soon enough.” She scowled. “A little warning might have been nice.”

Pyro looked up in surprise. “The dragons gave it to you?”

“Yeah.” She saw his look of confusion and remembered when they had given it to her, adding, “it was when we, er, were apart.” She dropped the subject quickly by saying, “How much more do they know that they aren’t telling me?” She knew they were right not to tell her, but she still felt betrayed in some way. She sighed, leaning her head on Pyro’s shoulder.

He smiled at her touch, and they sat in silence, watching the sun set behind the mountains.

Ember decided that she’d go back to the Valley, to Fang and Goldenwing, and apologize for her reaction. She had been so stressed out and the fact that they had kept things from her seemed the last straw in her hay-bale of problems.

But she’d have to wait till morning.

“Hungry?” She asked Pyro, and he nodded enthusiastically.

She got up carefully, still holding the phoenix. She and Pyro walked down to the kitchen, and she made a simple meal of spaghetti and meat sauce because it was quick and easy. She set the baby phoenix on the counter close to where she worked, and since it was asleep, it did not stir much, meaning it didn’t cry.

When she finished, she carried the noodles and the bird, while Pyro carried the sauce and plates and silverware.

They ate, and talked mostly about their memories, with the phoenix still sleeping in Ember’s lap.

“Tell me more about your parents,” she had said.

“Well, my mother had long brown hair, and brown eyes,” he said, remembering the many times she had picked him up after falling and telling him it would be alright. “She had a smile that would make a rainbow seem dim. She was a very happy person.”

“What about your father?”

“My dad had black hair, kinda like mine. Come to think of it, I look a lot like him now.” He surveyed himself critically.

“Well, I can see why your mother fell in love with him then,” said Ember quietly. She smiled at him as he slurped some spaghetti loudly to cover his embarrassment.

“And what about your younger brother?”

“I still can’t remember his name, but he looked more like my mother. He got her brown hair and her smile. Now that I’m trying to remember, I remember a lot more things than before. He used to tag along with me and that friend I had all the time. He really liked my friend. Almost as much as he liked me.” He smiled at the memory, and Ember couldn’t help but be jealous that he remembered so much of his past. All she had were hollow memories of nothingness.

“What kind of things did you and your friend used to do?”

“Well, we played outside a lot. The sandbox when we were little, then the forest as we got old enough to wonder on our own. And then we used to train together when we got into martial arts,” he smiled at the memory. He was doing a lot of smiling today.

But a frown cut into his smiling. “What’s wrong?” Asked Ember.

“Hm… I think there was a time for a while when we didn’t hang out anymore. I don’t know the details, but for a bit of time we only saw each other passing in the hallways at school. But then we started hanging out a lot more than before. I guess we had a fight and then made up or something… I think it might have been just before we got into martial arts.”

“Hmm…”

“Well, let’s take these dishes to the kitchen, and then go to bed. I’m pooped.”

“Yeah, let’s do that.” Ember picked up her plate as Pyro picked up his, and carried it and her baby bird to the kitchen. She left the plate in the sink for the moment and went with Pyro up to her room, where he said goodnight and headed to his room with Tomarr by his side.

Ember went to her wardrobe to change into her nightclothes and brushed her teeth in the bathroom. She snuggled into bed, with the phoenix close to her head on her pillow.

She thought of Fang, and how she’d acted earlier. She felt guilty about it, and this made it hard to sleep. And she knew she had really upset Goldenwing too. She felt worse about this, because she knew Goldenwing was sensitive. She reached out with her mind.

Fang?

Yes, Ember?

I’m sorry…

I know. Get some sleep. You’ve had a long day,
his voice was soothing, and she was asleep in seconds.



She dreamed a memory. A real memory. With people.

She was two years old. This was one of her earliest memories. She sat with her mother. She looked into her face, and saw her for what seemed to her like the first time. She made a point to memorize it. The long red hair that was just like her own, and the fiery red eyes. The fine curves of her cheek bone, and her slender neck. She had her hair tucked behind her right ear, and falling over her face on the left. Just like I always do. There was a gold circlet around her forehead, the sign of the queen.

She was sitting on her mother’s lap, and they were reading a story together.

There was a knock on the door. Her mother got up and sat Ember on the chair, placing the book in her lap. She walked to the door, and opened it to a woman holding a baby, which looked like a girl for all Ember could tell in one arm, and a basket of breads in the other. There was a little boy standing behind her, clinging to her long skirts. He was shy.

Her mother invited them in, and the woman entered. The boy still clung to her and stayed close. Her mother and the woman were chatting, and Ember struggled off of the chair. Her short limbs just barely touched the floor while she dangled, holding on for dear life until she could feel the floor on her toes. She waddled over to her mother, and imitated the boy, clinging to her skirts. Her mother laughed, and so did the woman. She handed Ember’s mother the basket, and her mother took some gold coins from her pocket to pay for the delivery.

The woman stayed to chat and tell the latest gossip from around the city for a while. Ember and the little boy played a game of sorts. They’d peek around their protective shields until the other did too, then giggle and hide again. After a while, Ember got tired of this and ran to the boy, took his hand, and dragged him to the book her mother had been reading, saying, “Look a’ da book I ha’. ‘S cool!” The boy followed and they flipped through the pages, as Ember told him what it was about.

And they giggled a lot, being little and all. Eventually the woman had to leave because the baby in her arms was restless. She took the little boy’s hand and led him to the door. Ember followed for as long as she would dare, this being to the doorstep. She was still afraid of the world outside. The little boy waved all the way to the big gates, and when they were out of her sight, Ember returned to her mother and said, “Can he be my fwend?”

“Do you want him to be?”

She nodded vigorously, and her mother laughed.




Ember woke up and found she was smiling.

She rolled over to look at the phoenix and found it sitting calmly next to her head, wide awake, and looking intently at her.

“Um, hello there,” she said to it.

It cheeped happily, and snuggled closer to her.

She sat up and rubbed her eyes. Today would be a good day. She could tell. She walked to the balcony, and saw that Tomarr and Pyro were up already.

“I’m going to visit the dragons. They know more about this bird than I do, I think.” She indicated the bird in her hands by raising it a bit in the air. “You coming?”

“Sure!”

She made a disk of fire and they all hopped on. She laced it with lightning and they went at high-speed to the Valley of the Dragons. The baby phoenix flapped its wings and cheeped happily, liking the feeling of the wind on its feathers.

She guided them to Fang’s cave, and found him waiting for them. Goldenwing was there too.

“I’m sorry, guys,” began Ember. “I overreacted yesterday, and I didn’t mean what I said. I was just stressed.” She bowed her head in apology.

“We forgive you Ember!” Goldenwing nodded eagerly, happy that Ember wasn’t mad at them anymore.

“I see you figured out what the ‘jewel’ was!” Said Fang with what could be considered a smile on his face.

“Yes, I did. And I’m utterly confused!”

Fang chuckled, and said, “You know it’s a phoenix, right?” When she nodded, he continued. “This phoenix will be a lifelong companion to you, Ember. If she-”

“Wait, ‘she’? It’s a girl? How do you know?” Interrupted Ember.

“I just do. A dragon can tell.” He said, still smiling. “If she dies, she will be reborn from her ashes. All phoenixes do this. She will burst into flames and then be reborn. She will grow fast, so she should be bigger than your head by the end of the day. Soon, she’ll be able to fly along with you. She will protect you at all costs. Even if she ends up dying. Because if she does, she’ll just be reborn and have to grow again. She’ll be a chick again, you see.”

Ember took this all in, overloading her brain for the day. Couldn’t go a day without taking in too much information, now could she?

“Have you named her?” Asked Goldenwing eagerly.

“No… am I supposed to?”

“Of course you are supposed to!” Goldenwing sounded shocked.

“Um…” Ember thought about it for a while, and produced, “How about… Hima?”

Fang looked approving. “That’s a good name for a phoenix,” he mused.

“Hima,” Ember said the name again, as if confirming it. Hima looked up, somehow knowing this would be her name for the rest of her many lives. She chirped, and hopped to the ground, where she hopped around for a moment. She went up to Fang and Goldenwing, and she looked up at them, taking in their enormity and beauty. She seemed to vow to one day be like them.

Then, Ember remembered her dream-memory. The little shy boy, and her mother… her mother had been there.

“I just remembered something!”

“What’s that?” Asked Pyro. “Did you leave something at the house?”

“No, I mean something from my past. My mother was reading me a story,” she trailed off. “It was that story I was singing in the… er… pond, that one day. The one about the dragon who fell in love with the human, and how he became the first mountains and she the first trees.”

“That legend is well known throughout both the human and dragon races. The story of Gilon and Medora.” Fang remembered when his mother had told him the story for the first time and thinking how sad Gilon must have been. He sighed. He did not want to think of how he would feel when Ember’s time was up. He shoved these thoughts aside, concentrating on the good news that Ember remembered more of her past.

“Yeah… mom was reading it to me, and we had some visitors. A woman and her two children.” The memory was fresh in her mind, as if she’d always remembered it. But the faces in it were distant and blurry. She could not recall the clarity she’d gotten from the dream. “Me and the older one played a game, then I showed him my book. Then my mom asked if I’d like him to be my friend.” She trailed off, trying to recall the face she had seen so clearly in her dream. But now it was just a blur. She couldn’t tell what her friend had looked like. She’d seen it all in her dream, but now that she was awake, it was blurry, only a memory from when she was two.

Fang and Goldenwing sat in silent thought for a moment, both knowing who this friend had to have been. Her best friend since childhood.

But they couldn’t help her out with this. She had to figure things out on her own.

Hima cheeped and Ember absentmindedly picked her up.

“What does she eat, by the way?”

“Good question. She’ll find her own food once she can fly, and before that she will live off of the nutrients left over from the egg.” Fang replied, looking down at the bundle of feathers in Ember’s arms.

“Oh, good. Another mouth to feed is just what I needed.” She smiled at Pyro; a mocking smile.

Fang smiled, and so did Goldenwing. “Why don’t you go take a look around the palace? See your throne room,” suggested the latter.

“Hm, that sounds fun!” Ember looked thoughtful, and then turned to Pyro for an opinion.

“Love to!” He said simply, seeming to be in deep thought, just as she had been.

So they said their goodbyes and left Fang and Goldenwing to muse over her dream.

It had to be him. Who else could it have been? This was Goldenwing’s first statement.

It was. I remember clearly when she told me about their first meeting. Everything fits with what she told me at the time.

But she wasn’t supposed to regain those memories till after…
She couldn’t bear to finish the sentence.

I know. But we must let things go as they will. So she’s remembered her childhood friend… it’s better for her not to know what he is today.


Chapter 16

Ember and Pyro now walked up the wide stone road to the palace entrance. The huge double doors in front of them seemed large from where they were, and when they got close enough to touch them, they were even bigger.

They both stood and stared for a moment, and then Ember raised her hand to knock for some reason. She knocked, but nothing happened immediately, and she felt foolish for knocking on the doors to an empty palace.

Then, without warning, the doors swung open, some spell on them kicking in after a period of disuse.

They stepped through the threshold and into a dimly lit chamber. But as she stood, the candles on the walls burned brighter and brighter. She wondered if they had been burning for very long or if they had lit when she walked in, by some magic. They looked around, and saw that the chamber they stood in was long and wide. There were marble pillars rising on either side of the long hall, and they rose to the ceiling high above.

Ember looked up, and saw an intricate pattern on the marble of the ceiling, and stared for a while, admiring its beauty.

When she did look down again, she saw that at the end of the hall they stood in, was a raised Dias with a large throne on it.

“Let’s go,” she said to Pyro, daring him to keep going. Something about the throne seemed to be intimidating him. Or was it pain she saw on his face? She couldn’t tell, but when she spoke, the look passed and he was his normal carefree self again.

They walked up to the throne, and as they got closer, she noticed that it was wooden, made of cherry. It had the royal color of a deep, beautiful orange on the upholstery.

She stepped up onto the Dias, and ran her fingers along the chair; her chair. She sat down in it, and surveyed the large hall before her.



“Mommy, why are there so many people here?”

“Honey, it’s your birthday today, you know that! They’re all here to wish you well.”

“All these people are here to wish me a happy birthday? But I don’t even know most of ‘em.”

A figure moved in front of her vision, and its long red hair fell over Ember’s face. Her mother.

“Well, you’re the princess. The little queen. They all want to get to know you. You’ll be their ruler some day, after all.”

She felt her mouth curl in a frown. “So they didn’t come because they want to be my friends because of me, but because of what I am going to be? They just want to get to know their future ruler?” Her young mind of age five twisted things, but was oddly good at discerning things about the way people thought.

Her mother frowned, concerned and understanding. “Oh, sweety, you have plenty of friends. And all these people want to know you and be your friends too. The whole kingdom wants to know you. It’s too bad this hall isn’t big enough to fit the whole kingdom though. Big parties are always so much fun. Look, your Auntie Mina is here, with her husband and daughter.”

But she wasn’t satisfied, and the frown stayed on her face.

“Honey, everyone loves you for who you are, not for what you’ll be.”

Ember heard a call from somewhere in the Great Hall.

“Fira! Come look!”

Her mother turned to the caller, and smiled.

“Adam!” Her mother’s voice faded into the background.




Ember opened her eyes, and found Pyro holding her up.

“Whoa. What happened?” She mumbled.

“You sat down, looked across the room, and then blacked out.” He held her up, with his arm wrapped around her waist and her arm slung around his neck. He smiled down at her, worried. “You seem to be doing that a lot lately.”

She smiled an ironic smile and nodded. “Yup.”

My mother… she called out to Adam. Who called her Fira! That girl from my dreams must be my mother!

She told him she could stand, and they continued on their tour of the Palace.

There were two great big doors in the Great Hall; one on each side of the throne. There was also a smaller door right behind the throne, set back a bit from the others.

They decided to take the little one first, and found it to lead into a chamber most likely used for the queen and her advisers. They could talk in private, and the room looked comfortable.

They took the big one to the left of the throne next. But they soon found that they both lead to a large ballroom. Parties were held here, and Ember smiled at the thought of more to come… when all the people of the kingdom returned from wherever they were.

The ballroom was large, but only about half the size of the Great Hall. The dark granite and white marble floor was patterned intricately, and the room was wide and circular. It was perfect for dancing.

At the other end of the room, large curving staircases lead up to a balcony around the whole room, and above it, the ceiling arched in a dome with a mural on it. She realized that it was of Gilon and Medora. She smiled at the reference to the legend that seemed to be very important in the culture of Flaria.

Two more doors exited this room at the bottom, between the stairs, and there were double doors at the top of them, in the middle where they met.

They went through the bottom doors first. A long, narrow hallway wound around, meeting at the two doors. Maids’ rooms and bedchambers filled the bottom floor. There was another industrial kitchen, but a few times larger than the one at the palace house. This one was built to accommodate hundreds, maybe even thousands of hungry mouths.

The laundry room was large too. There were old-fashioned tubs to wash and rinse and wringers to dry, and clothes lines along the walls. None of the devices that she knew were at the palace house seemed to be in the Palace. They completed the loop, and went up the stairs to the double doors.

They pushed them open, and entered into a much better lit and well-furnished hall. Paintings lined this hallway. They were of landscapes, and a few had old-fashioned looking women or men, posing for an artist. The wall in front of them was actually an opening with three arches across its span. It opened into a living room with a fireplace at the other end. There was a couch and two chairs, and a cabinet along the wall to their left, with windows lining the right wall. On either side of the fireplace, there was a door, one of which led to a study-like room with small windows on the wall to the right of the door. The other led to a dinning room. It was a beautiful and old-fashioned room. The table could sit eight comfortably, and had candlesticks on it, over a fine tablecloth. Both rooms would be lit with oil lamps when it was dark, and it was a nice effect.

She smiled at the nice, open space. There were windows on the left in this room. There was an opening at the other end of the dinning room, which lead to a sitting room, also with the windows on the left. To their right, there was an opening into a short hall, which had two bedrooms on the right side. There were large windows in the bedrooms, and wood floors. The beds in both had linen bedsheets and comforters with down in them. The rooms also had little benches at the ends of each bed, and a trunk. A vanity and mirror stood against a wall in each. A small bathroom joined them.

They went back to the sitting room, and saw another opening at the other end of the room from the door to the dinning room. It lead to another living room, this one with a piano in it. Ember walked to it and stroked the keys, hearing their beautiful sound with delight. She remembered that her mother would sometimes come to this room to play for her. But Ember herself had never had the patience to learn to play it. She’d been more interesting in honing her powers. This room was the size of the first room, and also had windows lining the right, and also the right.

They turned around, and came back to the hall in front. The paintings seemed to follow her as they turned right, to follow a hallway around. But when they turned the corner, they found stairs, not a hall. They went up to the top floor, with consisted of one hall with two doors; one on the right and one on the left.

They decided to take the door on the right first. Ember put out her hand to open it, and it clicked quietly before swinging open.
Bright sunlight met them. They looked up to see the sky light in the ceiling. They looked in front of them and saw that they were in another bedroom.

This one was large. There was a king-sized four-poster bed against the wall directly in front of them. To their left was a fireplace, with a couch and two chairs in front of it, and a rug on the wooden floor. The wall with the bed against it had two large windows on the left and right of it, and the bright light of the cloudless day shone through them to the floor.

Already, they had known this building was much older than the palace house. This must be where the King and Queen had slept before the palace house was built. Ember loved this room. The rooms downstairs were the family areas and children’s rooms, and this was the other part of the living quarters.

On the wall to their left were two wooden doors. One led to a bathroom with sink, bathtub, and toilet. It was much larger than the one between the other bedrooms, and much more elaborate. There was no shower, but the bathtub was a deep bowl on brass legs, and she loved the old look it had.

The other door led to the closet, where the cloths were kept. This room held a surprise for them.

At the end of the long walk-in, there were two hangers with the royal color of deep orange, in the form of velvet cloaks. They were long and flowing, and had hoods that could keep your ears warm when traveling in cold weather. One of the cloaks was slightly smaller than the other, and Ember took a liking to it immediately. Pyro very much liked the other, but didn’t want to put it on. He felt it might mean something more serious than he knew.

Ember put hers on, and checked the mirror behind where the cloak had hung. She liked the way it hung from her body, and the hood was nice. She clasped it around her neck with the orange stoned broach, and twirled a bit, watching the cloak move with her. She loved it!

Pyro clapped for her, smiling and laughing, but still avoiding the other cloak. She didn’t notice this.

She looked up, and saw the little display shelf just above where the cloak had been. A golden circlet was there. At its center, a large orange stone, the same kind as the one on the broach, was set into the gold, and the light sparkled off and through it. It was the same one her mother had always worn.

She gasped in delight, and gently took it out, running her finger along the finely detailed circlet. When she put it on her head, she looked in the mirror and admired the orange jewel in its center. She smiled, and put the cloak and circlet back where they had been, not wanting do ruin them at all. And she didn’t need to wear them now. She guessed they were for when she was in front of the kingdom or when she traveled on business. Somehow, she didn’t feel she had the right to wear them yet.

They headed out of the closet and out of the room. When they were back in the hallway again, they went strait, to the other door. Ember opened it.

A small click as the door opened, and another bright room opened before them. But this one was much, much larger. It was a library. A huge one. The one at the palace house had maybe a quarter of the selection of this one, and the one in the palace house was big. Ember gaped in silent awe.

“Wow.” Pyro whistled and leaned on the wall, his arms folded.

After they recovered from the shock, they noticed another door next to the one they stood at. It led, yet again, to more stairs. They went down this time, and farther down than they could see in the dim light. The basement. They could tell that it went further down than the first floor.

So down they went, curiosity overcoming them, and were led to a long hallway with candles at regular intervals for lighting. All the lights in the Palace seemed to be magic, because they were always on when someone was there to need them.

The hallway was lined with portraits of past queens on the right, and their kings on the left. As she understood, the royal line was always passed from mother to daughter.

She walked along the line of portraits, noticing there were no names. She regretted this. She desperately wanted to know which one was Fira. She knew that this person had been a queen of Flaria. But she didn’t know when. It had to have been recent though, because the first dreams about her had been in the palace house, which wasn’t very old yet.

She got to the end of the hall, which had her mother’s portrait. Her father's, whom she had never seen, was opposite her, on the left. She looked at the picture for a while.



“Papa, How did you know you wanted to marry mamma?” The six-year-old Ember asked her father.

“Well,” he started, a bit surprised by this question from his young daughter. “I met her when we were both young, and we grew to love each other over the years.”

“But how’d you know you loved her?” The little Ember was very persistent.

“I could feel it in my gut.” He smiled, and ruffled Ember’s red hair.

She smiled up at her dad, and climbed onto his lap. He sat in one of the comfy couches in the living room at the palace house, and the fire roared in front of them. It was in the cold-months in Flaria, and they had settled there after supper. Their tummies full and their minds tired from the day, they had been relaxing a bit by the fire.

“I love you, sweety.” He ruffled her hair again, his mouth curled into a smile. His light beard and mustache tickled her as he laid it on her head. His dark hair shone in the firelight, and his dark red, almost black eyes glinted brightly.

“How d’ya know, papa?”

“I feel it in my guts,” he said smiling. He squeezed her, and she was soon asleep in his lap.




She was back in the hallway, and Pyro was holding her up again. “Aw, did I do it again?”

“Yeah... but don’t worry about it. What did you remember this time?” Pyro tried to keep the worry out of his voice.

“My dad.” She trailed off, standing on her own now. There was a door at the end of the hallway, near where they stood now.

She wanted to know what was behind that door.

So they walked up to it, and Pyro turned the handle. The room was well lit, and had many orbs and instruments. There was a large table with a huge map of the whole kingdom as the tabletop. There were radar looking things along the walls, and strange lightning powered orbs to view the city and other parts of the country.

Some how she knew this to be a situation-room. This was where they went to keep the kingdom under control, and where they went in times of war, to plan strategies out. She thought back on what Fang had told her that one night, about the other country and the war they had fought.

She didn’t want to think about that, so they turned away from the room and made their way back to the library. She browsed a bit, and then they returned back to the palace house to retire for the night.


Chapter 17

And so time passed. They began to grow used to the empty city, the empty halls of the Palace House, and even (for Pyro) to Ember and Fang speaking with their inner voices. They trained regularly, and Ember had been experimenting with her powers. She could do so many things now that she’d never thought possible before.

Hima had grown into a full sized phoenix, and it had been nearly two month since they had woken up on the beach on that day that seemed lifetimes ago.

“I’m going to go out and explore for a while,” said Pyro to Ember as she sat on the balcony reading a book.

He said “I…”

“Alone…” he finished.

Funny. He’s never wanted to go alone before… I wonder if something’s wrong… Ember looked up, and was concerned, but knew that if he had something to think over, he would rather do it alone.

“Just be careful, okay?” Was all she said.

“… I will…”

And he hastily left her. She watched him walk down the path to the gates, and into the forest beyond. The city was in that direction, and not far. Maybe he was going there… but he wanted to be alone for a bit, so she’d let him go for now. But if he was gone too late, he knew what would happen to him. He’d be hunted down and sent to bed without dinner. She smiled, thinking of the one time she’d had to use this policy so far, when he had caused a huge uproar at the Valley of the Dragons a few weeks ago. His stomach had been growling so much by about 10 at night, and she could here it from her room. So she’d trudged into his room, flipped on the light and said, “Come.” She had gotten him a sandwich, and she couldn’t keep her grumpy mood, watching him wolf it down.

She turned to Tomarr, who was taking a catnap at her feet. He was awake, but not paying much attention to things, as cats will sometimes do; even tigers.

“Wonder what he’s up to…” she murmured to him.

He just looked at her.



Pyro had indeed walked to the city. When he got there, the sun was at its highest. Noon. He’d left in the morning, and the walk had been good. Good for his legs and good for his mind. He had a lot to think about at the moment.

Is this really what I want? Even if it is, how will I do it?

After a few moments of this kind of thinking, he reverted to a different way of thinking.

How can I say that? I know this is what I want. I’ve wanted it for a long time. But how can I do it?

He paced the streets, stopping to sit on park benches, peering in through store windows, still deserted of the city’s inhabitants.

He soon came to the courtyard where he and Ember had fought for the second time since their meeting. What a day that had been! He looked back on it with fond memories. He’d actually kissed her then! He hadn’t even known he was doing it until it was too late! His muscles had reacted to her being in his arms without his brain’s consent. But he was happy for the result. He had let his body take over some times since then, not allowing his brain to think about things. Just let things happen.

He walked past shop windows, trying to formulate a plan.

It’s gotta be perfect.

On he walked, just thinking.

By the time the sun was halfway down in the sky, he knew he’d have to get back or else he’d lose his supper rights for the night again. He laughed to himself thinking of that time. His stomach had been the only thing he could hear till it was satisfied. He shook his head, chuckling, and headed back home.

Tomarr, can you here me?

He felt the familiar signal that the great cat heard him, that presence in his mind. Over the time, he’d honed his communication with the tiger. Now it seemed all too natural to him. But he still wondered how he could talk to his friend.

Tomarr, I’m gonna need your help for something…



Ember was sitting on the swinging loveseat with Tomarr at her feet, and Hima perched on her shoulder. Even though the phoenix was fully-grown now, she was no bigger than a large eagle. Ember was reading a book, and stopping at the end of every few pages to send her mind out, awaiting Pyro’s return.

She sat and thought about all the things she and Pyro had learned about themselves. He’d learned a lot more about his family, but he still could not remember the name or appearance of his childhood friend. No matter what he tried to remember, he couldn’t remember his face, or his voice, or even what color his hair had been. Ember had the exact same problem with her friend. She remembered a lot more about her older sister, whose name she now knew to be Tara. She had had brown hair, like her father, and his dark eyes. She remembered more and more about her mother and father every day. And she remembered about a year and a half of her friendship with the faceless friend. She remembered what they did when they played, and how her mother had been so happy that she had found someone to play with on a permanent basis.

Pyro remembered his little brother’s name, John, and learned his own last name. His full name was Pyro Eneroe, and he learned that his father had come from another country and moved to Flaria because he’d wanted to find better work than was available in his own country. He’d met Pyro’s mother, Luisa, here, and they’d gotten married.

Ember had listened smiling to this as he told it, and she was so happy that he remembered more. Her own parents’ pasts were unknown to her. All she knew was that she was royalty, and her mother had been queen before her. She hadn’t learned the first names of her parents, and had no idea what her last name was. But she had a growing suspicion that her parents’ names were Fira and Adam.

She looked up from her reverie at the sound of the doors to Pyro’s room opening, and Pyro walked to sit next to her on the swinging loveseat. He let out a huge huff.

“Did you have a nice walk?” She turned to him, innocent but incredibly curious as to what he’d done on his time out.

“Yes, a very nice walk. I just walked around the city, admiring its simple beauty.”

“That was way too poetic for you.” After a pause, “what’ve you been thinking about?”

He looked uncomfortable for a moment, then, gaining control over his facial messages, said, “Oh, just things…”

Ember could tell there was a lot more to the story, but didn’t press further. She’d known him long enough to know that if he didn’t want to tell something, he wouldn’t… until he was ready to.

She watched the sun setting behind the trees, and Tomarr yawned, showing his gleaming white teeth.

“Let’s eat!” She got up and stretched, having been sitting for a while. She headed downstairs, with Pyro hard on her heels.



That night, Pyro lay in bed, Tomarr curled up at his feet.

You ready?

The tiger just looked at him as if to say, “What do you think?”

Pyro got up, and Tomarr silently followed him out to the balcony, where he found Ember standing at the rails, staring at the stars. He’d noticed her doing this a lot lately.

Ember was startled to see him up. It was late, and she thought he had been asleep by now. She didn’t think he had noticed her nightly stargazing. She’d been having trouble sleeping, starting a few weeks ago, and had come out here since then, until her eyelids drooped. And he had noticed.

“Oh, hey,” she said, seeming far off.

“Hey.” He walked to the balcony rail, and leaned on them next to her. “Wanna go flying?” He looked over only to see her look oddly at him. “I can’t sleep either.” He hastily added, not wanting to blow his plan.

“Sure,” she said, instantly making a flame disk, and making it big enough for her, Pyro and Tomarr, and hopped on. Pyro and the tiger jumped on after her, and he wrapped his arms around her, as he always did. Tomarr crouched, as he usually did.

Her mind took them to the waterfall clearing, just as Pyro had hoped it would.

They got off, and Ember walked to the center of the small clearing, and lay down in the grass, looking up at the stars. Pyro sat down close to her, and he gently lifted her head and put it in his lap. He looked down at her, and she smiled up at him.

Forgetting his plan for the night, his muscles led his head down, to kiss her. A bit surprised, but welcoming it, Ember closed her eyes and kissed him back, and Pyro’s hands moved to her face, to hold her close for a long moment. Tomarr pretended to watch a cricket hopping in the grass. But his head was swarming with Pyro’s racing thoughts, and he couldn’t block them out. They were too strong.

He lifted up a bit, and whispered, “Love ya,” and then lifted all the way up, to gaze at the stars. Ember kept her eyes closed, a smile on her lips.

After a while, when Ember had drifted into another thoughtful reverie, Pyro shifted the position of his legs. They were crossed, and were falling asleep. “Sorry,” he said quietly.

She just mumbled something, the smile still on her face.

“Hey Ember?”

“Yeah?”

After a long pause, she shifted and looked up at him, to see his face thoughtful and uncertain. “What?”

Another short pause, and he said, “I love you so much Ember. So much that I don’t want you to ever leave me. And I don’t want to ever leave you.” He paused a bit, and Ember raised her eyebrows, prompting him to continue. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a little box, and he opened it and said softly, “Will you marry me, Ember?”

Her eyes widened, and she drew in her breath in astonishment. Personally, she’d never thought Pyro would ever have the guts to ask a question like this. “Yes! Yes, Pyro!”

The joy in his eyes was evident, and he leaned down and kissed her again, longer than before.

When he lifted his head up again, he took the ring out of the box, and slid it onto her finger. It had a diamond in the center, a traditional cut, and two triangular cut diamonds on either side of it. There were tiny orange crystals lining the triangular diamonds. She gazed at it, seeing how the starlight sparkled off it. She rested her head in his lap again, and they sat there for a while, in silence.

And here Tomarr made himself known, jumping on the happy couple, surprising Ember, but not Pyro, though he admitted he had completely forgotten this part. He smiled and laughed, and Tomarr licked Ember’s face. She laughed and joy overflowed in her eyes. They both stood up and chased Tomarr around the clearing, laughing, with their sleepiness completely forgotten.


Chapter 19

The next morning, Ember and Pyro flew by fire to the valley of the dragons. Goldenwing and Fang met them at the top of the surrounding mountains, and Goldenwing smiled at them both. Fang said, “hello, Ember, Pyro.”

“Fang, we have great news!” Ember could barely conceal her joy and eagerness.

Fang and Goldenwing just looked at her imploringly.

After a pause charged with eagerness and drama, Ember burst. “Pyro asked me to marry him!”

Goldenwing squealed, the best a dragon could, and Fang smiled broadly, obviously satisfied.

“So I need to ask you this, Fang. Since you’re the ruler of the dragons, will you marry us?” She held her breath but didn’t really know why she had to.

“Of course! I’d be honored to do it, you know that.” There was a twinkle in his eyes and Goldenwing rushed to her, and took her aside. They had landed by this point, and she rushed Ember away to plan the wedding.

“There has to be this kind of flowers, and there will have to be a grand feast and…” Goldenwing’s exited voice faded away as she drew Ember away.

Fang looked down at Pyro, who stood smiling contentedly. Fang looked him in the eyes, and said, “Are you ready for this?”

There was no doubt in his voice, and no hesitation whatsoever. “Yes. I think I am.”



A week later, Ember sat at her vanity, brushing her hair.

Hima chirped next to her.

“Yes, today is the big day!” She couldn’t even contain her happiness.

Goldenwing stuck her head in through the glass doors and said, “Ember, I’m so exited! And I’m nervous! Aren’t you?”

She thought about this, and then said, “No. I’m not. I know this is the right thing for me to do. I have no doubts.”

Goldenwing smiled and blew a little ring of smoke to Ember, before leaving to help the other dragons with the preparations. The ceremony would be held at the Valley, and Fang was to take Pyro, then Goldenwing would take Ember there.



A little bit later, Ember sneaked out of her room.

She knew that Goldenwing had said she couldn’t see the groom the day of the wedding before the ceremony, but she had to. She crept down the hall to the training room, which was where he was supposed to get ready. Fang had gotten a mirror and everything they needed to get him ready in there.

She closed her eyes and sent out her mind first, to make sure Fang wasn’t there, and when she knew the coast was clear, crept through the door.

“Pyro, it’s me!” She called softly into the room.

He poked his head out from around a tree, and beamed at her. She wasn’t in full uniform yet, but he was. He had on a tuxedo and a tie, and looked quite handsome.

He drew her close in a tight hug, since they hadn’t seen each other that whole day.

“Are you nervous?” He sounded worried.

“No.” She answered simply, and he immediately relaxed.

Tomarr padded up and purred. Pyro smiled down at his companion. “He seems very happy today! And I am too!”

Ember smiled fondly at her husband-to-be. “Me too.” She sensed someone coming toward the house, and hurried away, saying, “Gotta go! See you later!”

She crept back to her room, and got back just before Goldenwing and Fang landed on the balcony.

She walked out there to meet them, and once Goldenwing saw that she wasn’t ready yet, she shouted, Ember! You have to go get ready!!

“I know, I am,” Ember assured her scaly friend. “I’ll just go and get the dress on, then do my hair. Then I’ll call you so you can tell me I’m beautiful. Though Pyro would be able to tell me the same thing. I don’t see why we can’t see each other before the wedding,” she pouted. She kept the fact that she’d just seen him to herself.

It’s tradition! Goldenwing smiled and added, and it’s bad luck!

Ember stuck out her tongue playfully and walked back in to get her dress on.



An hour later, she was all ready and Goldenwing had indeed told her repeatedly that she looked great, and then left to finish the preparations. She sent out her mind again and knew the coast was clear, so she rushed to Pyro’s “get-ready-room” and opened the door.

Tomarr met her at the door, and she called, “Hey, Pyro! I’m so exited! Only an hour and a half until we’re married!”

Silence.

“Pyro, are you hiding from me?” She teased. “Not nervous, are ya?” She walked through the trees to the open area normally for training, now for getting ready for a wedding.

There was no one there. What was there was a note.

She picked it up, and read it, knowing he’d just gone to get a snack.



Dearest Ember,
I’m so sorry about this. I know this is going to hurt you, but I can’t allow myself to enter into a marriage with someone I don’t truly love. After thinking for a long time after seeing you earlier, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t love you enough to spend the rest of my life with you. So I’m leaving you, and I’m leaving Tomarr with you. As a token of my apologies. I never meant it to go this far, and wasn’t thinking right when I asked you to marry me. For your own well-being, please don’t follow me! Don’t try to find me. It will only hurt you more.
Again, I am sorry.
Pyro




It was written and signed in his own hand, the one Ember had come to know. The off-white paper shook in her hands, and then fell, after collecting a few teardrop sized wet spots. Only three though. That was all that would fall.

Ember stood stone still for a long time, barely breathing. For half an hour, she stood and couldn’t do anything but stare wide-eyed into nothing.

And then all the mental dams she’d hastily put up burst, and she fell to the ground. She was so agonized that she couldn’t even cry. She just curled up and stayed there for a few moments, until Fang came to check on Pyro.

Fang had flown to get Pyro... instead he found Ember on the ground, with Tomarr fussing over her.

She was oblivious to the efforts of Tomarr, and had forgotten he was even there.

Fang’s face went as hard as stone, and he sat next to her in silence. At the moment, he had the urge to hunt Whoever made Ember hurt down, kill him even. But he knew that wouldn’t do any good. He saw the note, read it, and then slashed at it with his tail, slicing it in two. Damn it!

Goldenwing, come quick, and tell everyone to stop getting ready.

Fang could sense Goldenwing flying at top speed to the house, and she got there in just about ten minutes. By this time, Fang had Ember curled up tight to his chest. She didn’t move, didn’t resist at all.

They took her and Tomarr, though grudgingly with the latter, to the valley of the dragons, where they hurried her to Fang’s large cave, keeping her away from the penetrating minds of everyone else.



Ember eventually fell asleep, with Tomarr curled gently around her, keeping her warm.

Goldenwing and Fang talked quietly from the other end of the cave.

If I ever see his face around her again, I don’t know if I’ll be able to control myself. Fang spat the words, hissing vehemently.

Now, calm down. I’m sure he was just getting the jitters or something... She sounded more desperate to prove it to herself than to Fang.

No, he did this for himself, and didn’t even think about what it would do to Ember. He tore her in two!

He was shouting, and Goldenwing sat silent for a long time, watching Ember sleeping.

Yes. He did. And he may have cursed the whole country.



In her dream, Ember wandered the forest. She just walked silently, having no purpose, no goal.

She walked for what seemed like hours. And then she found something that made her stop and think. She found a red gem, and picked it up to look at it.

It reminded her of something distant, and she put it back down on the ground before waking up.




She blinked, and was not even blessed with that moment before you remember the events of the day before.

She felt hard. The sleep had given her mind time to harden itself up again, this time ten-fold what it had been when she found the note and hastily put up a mental dam. It prepared itself for something that would be just as hard to bear as her loss the previous afternoon.

And now, she felt oddly tranquil, as if nothing mattered anymore.

Fang woke up first, to find Ember scratching Tomarr behind the ear, a blank expression on her face.

Ember, are you okay?

She looked up blankly. Not sure…

He didn’t say any more, and after a while, Ember said out loud, “I’m going to walk around in the forest.”

She herself didn’t even know what her true intentions were, and Fang only let her go reluctantly. Tomarr tried to join her, but she shook her head, and he sat down obediently.



She flew for a while, just wandering aimlessly. She eventually landed in a part of the forest she’d never actually been in, far away from the palace. It was on the other side of the country, and she knew that no one could have gotten there in one night without the help of lightning.

But she still searched for him. And she did it without really knowing she was doing it. Her heart told her to, but her brain paid no notice.

After an hour or two of wandering, she flew again, to the beach where she’d woken up. She stood silently at the shore, water lapping at her bare feet. And it was then that she realized she was still wearing her wedding dress. It seemed to weigh her down tremendously, but she ignored it. Thinking about it caused a piercing pain somewhere in her body that she didn’t care enough about to locate. She knew it must be in her heart, but didn’t seem to care, and ignored it.

The white summer dress hung from her shoulders, and she tried not to think about it.

She retraced her steps from the day she’d woken up, and climbed the dunes, not noticing the exhaustion when she reached the top. She walked around the field, and then into the woods, skipping over one of the two spots in the whole country that she felt she could not bare to enter in a million years. She went to the pool, and dipped her finger into the water, not feeling the cold bite of it.

She sighed and made her flame disk, which seemed to be dimmer than usual, and harder somehow. She flew again, just wanting to get something out of her system.

By early afternoon, she realized how tired she was. She ignored it.

She came to the waterfall clearing in the mountains, which brought another sharp pain to her chest. It was close to being another place she couldn’t bare to go. But she still stood, and she knew she could take the pain, so she walked to the pool, and looked in.

She was amazed and terrified to see the red fish completely gone. It had vanished, and she remembered how they had moved from the pond by the clearing she and P- the clearing she’d slept in on the first night- to this pond, and wondered where the red fish had gone.

She stood staring at the pond, and then turned around when she heard a rustle.

She caught a glimpse of a male figure walking through the bushes to catch her before she fell to the ground. And then she saw black.



She opened her eyes to see the top of the forest canopy. She sat up frantically, and looked around eagerly for the dark figure she’d seen. She knew it must have been Pyro. There weren’t any others in the country.

But the forest was empty, and she sighed sadly, berating herself for letting down her barriers and letting the false hope rush in to harm her again.

She closed her eyes again, and fell back into a fitful sleep.

More Soon :[ DON'T HATE ME T^T

Find Part 6 Here
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