Chapter 3.6: Like Fire

Chapter 3.6 Like Fire

A/N: I didn’t intend it to be, but I think this chapter ended up being a little bit of a filler, since it sets up future events. The next chapter will be the complete opposite- promise! It requires a lot of set-up as far the shots go though, so it might be a while before that one comes out. Regardless, I hope you all enjoy this one! =)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Screenshot-2442

Things weren’t getting any better with my life, despite my many attempts at attaining “inner peace.” For one, I was having a more difficult time of forgiving myself than I should have. For another, my attempt to forgive myself made me think of Jiang too much, and that drove me insane. I didn’t know what it was about him or why he even stood out in my mind so clearly, but there he always was, warm and comforting…and just not possible.

Screenshot-2446

So I dealt with these frustrating emotions in the only way I knew how at this point…

Screenshot-2448

But I shifted easily from relationship to relationship, nothing feeling right. Maybe I was just kind of asexual and that’s why I wasn’t interested in anyone. Was that even possible? Or maybe my head was just in such a bad place that I wasn’t in any shape for a relationship.

Regardless, none of them lasted very long, and eventually I just gave up.

Screenshot-1983

After my extended stay in China, I again avoided going home by flying straight to Egypt—the place where I had begun feeling like myself again in the first place. I hoped the same would happen again…and in truth as soon as I felt the Egyptian sun upon my face and saw the shimmering haze of desert heat dance above that endless expanse of sand…I began to feel better.

Screenshot-2460

Egypt offered many strange and exciting adventures to be had. I even got to go back to the same tomb that I had when I was a teenager to collect something called “flame fruit.” It seemed to thrive off the intense heat of the tomb, its very being glowing like embers jumping from a raging fire. They even felt warm to the touch.

Screenshot-2466

After that it was general exploring as I collected gems and excavated old ruins, pocketing the treasures I found to put on display at home. I was already planning to build a basement to house them all, if my parents didn’t mind. Even though on our birthday our parents had told us the house was ours to do as we pleased with it as long as we lived there, I knew it was dad’s treasure.

Screenshot-2473

I still ran errands for people too, plucking notices off the board at base camp and running all over Al Simhara to fulfill their requests. Unfortunately, not all of them were innocent little tasks to go collect copper or fetch a statue.

…one of them required that I break into the headquarters of an organization! Granted, it was an organization called MorcuCorp that was seeking to establish a black market in Al Simhara by exploiting its residents, but still….

I pushed the thoughts out of my mind though as I watched the house. It was clear that the hole in the wall probably had some secret switch, but there was no way I’d be able to get to it with the kids playing there….I’d have to wait until they left.

Screenshot-2468

It wasn’t until really late that their parents called them back from the shed, but once they did I crept inside, hastily plunging my hand into the hole and yes, finding a tiny switch….

…which happened to reveal a hidden staircase. Jackpot.

Screenshot-2469

I had to switch out their documents with fake ones, which was actually much easier than I would have thought. Unless it was all a trap….

Regardless, I called up Amen to let her know the job was done. Her response didn’t exactly make me happy though….

“Great! Okay, now hack their main computer!”

Seriously?!

Screenshot-2472

I better be paid well for this.

Screenshot-2534

And indeed I was, a large chunk of change being pressed into my hand as well as some gold coins once I reported back.

“I need you to fetch a relic for me now. …well, one of three to be frank.”

“Of course you do.”

“I’ll reward you handsomely.”

“I’d do it without the reward, to be honest,” I replied with a shrug. I glanced over at the woman’s son then. “What are you looking at?”

“The snake by our feet,” he whispered.

Screenshot-2535

Shit.

“Venomous?” I asked, staying very still as I glanced down at the snake slithering around our feet.

“Extremely.”

“Welp, got to go!” I yelled, running off in one direction while the others ran off in theirs. Dangerous tombs I could deal with. Venomous snakes, not so much.

Screenshot-2474

Screenshot-2476

The next morning it was off to the Pyramid of the Sky, a hidden infrastructure tucked away in an oasis far from the center of the city.

Screenshot-2479

Screenshot-2481

Instead of being infused with heat and fire though, this tomb was cool, and wherever you went you heard the sound of trickling water, rushing like an underground stream…and I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was one nearby.

“Shit,” I muttered to myself as I realized the key I needed, as well as the entrances, were found across deep pools of water. I stared down into the glimmering, clear moat, but could not see the bottom. I also couldn’t see another way across.

Screenshot-2482

Well…it was a good thing I’d decided to wear my bathing suit under this, having been sick of getting soaked all the time by dive wells.

“Geronimo!!!”

Screenshot-2483

I had expected the water to be sub-freezing, but as soon as I was within its depths I realized that it was actually quite warm. Maybe it was because it was in the middle of a desert…or maybe there was some kind of hot spring that ran through here, but regardless, the water felt like a warm bath.

Strange.

Screenshot-2484

Screenshot-2486

Piece of cake.

Screenshot-2492

After fetching everything I needed, I grabbed up my clothes from the side of the pool and put them back on, venturing into the depths of the tomb.

Of course…it didn’t look like any tomb I ever saw. It was…beautiful.

Screenshot-2494

Golden sand carpeted its floors and an iridescent blue stream sparkled as fire from huge basins crackled in their containers. Huge cattails sprouted out from the water, fluffy and oddly still in this windless chamber. …a secret paradise built by the ancient gods and goddesses themselves.

Screenshot-2495

Aw, hell no!

So much for a paradise!!

Screenshot-2508

Screenshot-2498

After I disarmed the many deadly traps that riddled the tomb, it became much more like a paradise again with its water plant life and walls painted a subtle, pale blue that reminded you of spring skies and May mornings.

I felt like I was in a trance as I explored, taking my time. I wondered briefly if it would be possible to live here.

I was so deep in thought and so absorbed by my surroundings that I very nearly died when my cell phone started ringing.

How the hell did I have service down here!?

Screenshot-2502

“Hello…?” I answered uncertainly, feeling strange holding such an advanced piece of technology in such an ancient place.

“Tamara? Hi! It’s Jiang. I just thought I’d call to see…to see how you are. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen you.” My heart twisted in my chest. For a moment, I couldn’t speak, but I quickly forced myself to regain my bearings.

Screenshot-2500

“Hi!” I said, forcing a smile that he couldn’t see. “Wow. Um, I’m doing well. How about you?”

“Umm…been better, I guess,” he said in a weird voice. “What…what have you been up to lately?”

“Exploring. In fact, I’m in a tomb right now. I must be close to the surface though to have service….” I thought out loud.

“Tombs are mysterious places.”

“That’s why I love them. …….so…so why have you been better? Is everything okay?”

Screenshot-2503

“Oh, well, yes. Um, Liu’s sick. My daughter.”

“Oh,” I responded, unable to say anything else. Why must you torture me so?

“It’s just a cold though. She’ll be-” Jiang was suddenly cut off though by someone else on his end who was asking him something in Chinese. A woman. He responded back in Chinese as well, which was odd to hear. Since he spoke such good English, I had almost forgotten that his native language was Mandarin. “Sorry. It’s my wife. She was wondering who I was talking to,” he explained, but then was cut off again when his wife spoke again, this time sounding annoyed. I was getting nervous.

Screenshot-2504

“I can call you back a better time, if you want,” I supplied, noting that his wife didn’t seem to plan to stop talking.

“No, it’s fine. She does this. Hold on,” he said…which was then followed by a rush of muffled Chinese, like he was covering the mouthpiece of the phone. As if it mattered…I had NO idea what anyone was saying. I heard a shrill response, followed by a few words from Jiang, followed by straight up shrieking. What the hell was going on?

Screenshot-2501

I opened my mouth to say something, but instead jumped when I heard the distinct sound of shattering glass. It had been so loud that I thought it was the tomb, but I realized half a second later that it was coming from the phone.

“Why do you always do this!?” Jiang snapped in English, clearly not to me. “Tiān ah!!” He added with a shout. That was actually one random phrase I did know. It was kind of like the equivalent to “oh my god.”

Oh my god, indeed.

Screenshot-2507

“Erm…Jiang?” I asked hesitantly, wondering if he could even hear me what with the shouting and all.

“I’m sorry,” his voice came back, sounding strained. “Truly. She-She’s had a bad day.”

“I understand.”

“I’ll talk to you another time. Maybe…maybe you’ll come back to China someday.”

“Yeah. Maybe. Zàijiàn, Jiang.”

“Zàijiàn,Tamara.”

Screenshot-2497

I hung up the phone hastily, my eyes starting to burn. It doesn’t mean anything, Tamara. You can’t let this string you along.

I couldn’t go back to China. Nor could I talk to Jiang again. Talking to him just made everything worse. With a sinking in my chest, I went into my phone’s contacts and deleted his number.

I couldn’t do this. Not today. Not ever.

I stared at the oasis around me, not seeing anything. …Its peace had been shattered…just like my world.

Screenshot-2510

Screenshot-2511

I was much less enthused at first as I continued to explore the tomb, but after awhile I grew too tired to even think. This pyramid was so massive that it was literally taking days to explore every corner.

Screenshot-2518

More than once I had to set up my tent—a huge, fancy tabernacle that I’d bought off a merchant for a hefty sum of gold coins. It was worth it though, with its soft silks and warm interior. Despite the fact that it was just a tent, I always left it feeling as if I’d slept like a queen.

Screenshot-2521

The next morning found me exploring a very peculiar room which had all sorts of weird plants in it. There was one which had flower that I could have sworn had the face of a skull, its petals a deep purple-red.

Screenshot-2522

Screenshot-2523

I had to have it of course, but as soon as I picked the strange flower, the plant shriveled up and died.

Even as brave as I typically was…this fact made me nervous.

Screenshot-2528

Screenshot-2529

There was another plant on the other side, with glowing fruits that looked like pears, only with strikingly white halos around them. I’d never seen anything like them before, so I collected some of those too. Luckily, this plant didn’t die on me though, successfully restoring some of my former courage.

Screenshot-2524

Screenshot-2526

Screenshot-2532

I finished exploring the rest of the tomb quickly, successfully finding many more treasures, the relic the woman had been looking for, and even a strange little insect called a “crypt moth”…I guess for obvious reasons.

After spending days in the pyramid though, I was eager to get out, so my next trip was to the market—for one to restock on supplies, but also to meet up with some old friends that I’d met when I was a teen.

Screenshot-2536

“Tamara! I didn’t recognize you,” the bookstore owner cried once I said who I was. “It’s a pleasure to see you again.”

“And you,” I admitted. I had always liked the bookstore owner, Farouk. He’d even given me a discount because he’d heard of my name. I guess my dad was more well-known than I’d thought.

Screenshot-2537

“Forgive me, but…you’ve really grown into a beautiful young woman,” Farouk said after a time, his customers forgotten as we’d fallen easily into conversation. How long had it been?

“Thanks,” I said quietly, my cheeks burning. He was looking at me so intensely. Had he always been this close?

“I’m serious,” he said with a smile. “I’ve never seen anyone more beautiful,” he added softly, leaning toward me. I saw the gesture as if it was in slow motion, but my brain seemed to be moving in slow motion as well.

I should move back, I thought to myself.

Screenshot-2539

But I didn’t.

I couldn’t.

He thought I was beautiful. And he was kind. And I was still alone. And at least he did make me feel warm. The other guys hadn’t even done that. Maybe…maybe, that was a sign?

Screenshot-2540

Farouk pulled back when the kiss got more intense, an apologetic look on his face. “Sorry. It’s just-, you’re so-…forgive me, again.”

“There’s no reason to be sorry,” I found myself saying, as if on auto-pilot. “I…I,” I hesitated, my mind suddenly running way too quickly.

“Barring that, what is the next best thing?”

If I couldn’t have…I mean this would be….second best?

My mouth ran faster than my thoughts then as I heard myself whisper, “I have a tent set up not too far from here. Will you join me?”

Screenshot-2541

And join me he did, amongst those silks and the stars and the silent spell of night.

And for once it didn’t feel wrong, but rather kind of….

Screenshot-2543

Nice.

Screenshot-2578

“Tamara!!! Oh my god, it’s been so long!” my mother cried when she saw me walk through the door, a sheepish smile on my face. She immediately pulled me into a bone-crushing hug, but I let her because I couldn’t blame her…it hadbeen a long time since I’d been home. So long that toward the end of my trip to Egypt I’d started to feel homesick…and so here I was now.

“You’re going to strangle her,” my dad said as he walked up, a huge smile on his face as well.

“Well, I should do that anyway for staying away for so long!” she replied, but she let go, simply standing back to smile at me. “You haven’t changed at all. Maybe a little more mature, but that’s about it.”

Screenshot-2584

“You guys-”

“Are old now. You can say it,” Dad said with a smile, adjusting his glasses (those never changed).

“Ugh, no, don’t say it,” Mom said with distaste, clearly not as enthused about her growing age. She’d always been really preoccupied with her looks, so starting to look her age was probably pretty traumatizing for her. I thought she still looked beautiful though. She was the most beautiful person I knew.

“You’re still beautiful, Mom,” I said, deciding to voice what was on my mind. “Where’s Catherine?” I asked then, eager to see my twin.

Screenshot-2570

Screenshot-2571

“Right here!” Catherine said, ambling down the stairs. “It takes me a little longer now!” I looked up toward the sound of her voice and my eyes immediately widened, staring up at her in surprise.

“Y-y-you’re—”

“Growing to the size of a small seafaring vessel?”

Screenshot-2592

Screenshot-2600

“Pregnant!” My sister laughed as she stepped down the last of the stairs and pulled me into a hug. Her round stomach pressed lightly against my abdomen…a weird feeling to say the least. “Why…why didn’t you tell me?” I asked then, crestfallen. “And where’s Riley? Is he-”

“Yes, he’s the father,” Catherine said with another laugh. “My husband is upstairs reading Lynn a bedtime story. He says he wants practice,” she said with a smile. “And I didn’t tell you because you didn’t seem to want to hear from us.” Her smile faded now as she looked at me, not at all amused.

Screenshot-2598

Husband? Jesus! And that’s not true. I just…I didn’t have time to think. I…I have so much to tell you,” I said quietly, meeting her eyes. She looked at me for a long moment, her face a picture of annoyance, but after a moment her gaze softened. She never could stay mad for long—that part of her hadn’t changed a bit.

Screenshot-2593

“Well, if you stick around, you can tell me everything,” Catherine said, not in a mean way.

“You can always talk to us too, if you want,” my mom joined in, looking concerned.

“Always,” Dad added, a comforting smile upon his face.

Screenshot-2607

I looked at them for a long moment and then felt tears come unbidden to my eyes. Why had I stayed away from them for so long? They were clearly there for me and loved me no matter what, and what did I do? I practically ran away. All this time I’d been looking for peace…for someone to confide in…for someone to love me…but I had already had all that, right here in Neverglade.

As if to further prove that point, as soon as my tears fell, my family was holding me. They really had always been there for me.

Screenshot-2612

That night I told my family everything. Everything. I even started way back when I first met him in high school, that good for nothing scumbag. We cried so much I was convinced we’d form a pond right there in our home, but we laughed as well, and for the first time since I’d been running, I felt really and truly happy.

Screenshot-2619

Little did I know, however, how short-lived that happiness would be….

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “Chapter 3.6: Like Fire”

  1. The cliff hanger certainly made up for any ‘filler-ness’. Actually, I take that back. Where is the filler chapter? This chapter help exhibit her weakness, further the plot regarding Jiang, helped resolve a good deal of her chlidhood trauma, dropped several family bombs on us, AND gave us a major cliff hanger. That was certainly not a filler. 😀

    Maybe it’s just me, but Cathrine is soo pretty pregnant! It breaks my heart that she had to miss her twin’s wedding; it just seems like she should have made more efforts to contact her. Does she not have an e-mail? Could she not have at least called the resort while she was in China? It just feels like you’d put in more effort for your twin.

    I really enjoyed this chapter! It flowed together really well, especially the sequencing. It can be extremely difficult to skip over segments of time in first person, and you did it wonderfully! I also have to say the cell phone conversation was written beautifully. Can’t wait for the next chapter!

    1. Aw, thanks so much!! Your comment made me feel a bit better about this chapter, haha. And Catherine is alwaysssss pretty. I think this chapter is the first time there was an in the light, up-close photo of her though. I almost chose her for heir since she’s just so gorgeous, but I couldn’t quite see her for generation three. Any other, yes, but this one not as much. Her twin, however…Tamara’s spunky and outgoing personality swayed me her way. Plus she’s totally gorgeous as well! Hehe. So I still won there 🙂

      Also, Catherine didn’t end up having a wedding, her and Riley preferring a private affair. It was kind of a spontaneous decision! That being said, she SHOULD have done a better job of trying to contact her twin to tell her. I mean, Tamara was clearly trying to avoid home, but that’s some big news she missed out on!

      Again, thank you! I’m really glad you liked it ^_^

  2. I’m going off your respone from the next chapter…but I think she’s pregnant. That store guy (sorry, I’m too lazy to scroll up right now, and I can’t remember his name) seemed really nice, but…ugh he bugs me, somehow. I don’t exactly know why, he just…does.

    Catherine is soooo pretty!! I love her hair ❤ I used to have that hair…I don't know where it went, now that I think of it…oh well! That was a pretty good filler, I have to say 🙂 It brings up the question of Jiang or the store guy (oh god maybe i should scroll up…this is embarrassing…) Farouk! That's his name 🙂 Jiang or Farouk, although I'm 90% sure that if she had the chance, she's choose Jiang.

    Loved the chapter as always!! I love how you're doing this generation, by the way. Is this Adventurer generation hard?

    1. Hehe, well we shall see. And yes, Catherine is gorgeous! I’m not 100% where her hair is from though…I have so much custom content that I lose track. It’s probably from Anubis or something though. That’s where I get most of it. As for Jiang or Farouk, I definitely agree that Tamara would choose Jiang anytime…but is he even an option? Hmmmm….hehe.

      And again, as always, thank you!! The adventurer generation isn’t hard, but it is time-consuming because of having to get a level 3 visa in all of the locations. There’s an optional requirement as well too to unlock ALL the tombs, but there’s just so many that I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to do that, lol. There’s also a lot of loading screens to sit through, which takes forever on my computer. I just read while I wait XD Works out well! Haha.

  3. I love, love, love, LOVED this chapter so much. It wasn’t a filler – not in my opinion anyway. You did wonderfully and the transition Tamara underwent (taking comfort in guys then going to the tombs then the relationship with Jiang) was really well presented.

    Catherine! She looks so pretty pregnant! ❤ And Reed! Old Reed is so cute! 😀

  4. Gah I’m so late commenting, though I read it the day it came out (on my phone). I’m so glad that Tamara has finally told her parents everything, and hopefully that will help her in the confrontation that sounds like is soon to come.

    Farouk seems nicer than the other men Tamara has been with, and I’m happy she got to have a better experience. I wonder if she got something even more from Farouk than she was expecting… though she’s obviously still hung up on Jiang. She did the adult thing by deleting Jiang’s number from her phone. That’s just a big mess that she really doesn’t need to get involved with.

    Can’t wait to see Catherine’s baby!

  5. I don’t think this was a filler at all. Quite a lot happened. 🙂

    To be honest, I don’t like Jiang much after this chapter. He doesn’t seem to treat his wife very well, so why would he be any different twith Tamara? And I quite like Farouk, even if they did take things rather fast. XD

    I’m so glad Tamara talked to Catherine and her parents about everything. Bless her.

    But gah! Cliffhanger! D:

    1. Interesting…that’s the first time I’ve gotten that comment. Very interesting. I didn’t even realize it could be construed that way until I read your comment and then I went back and yes, I could definitely see that. It’s hard to really figure out what all went on seeing as we only get Tamara’s point of view. Makes you wonder what the full story really is….;) I think Jiang was just frustrated though. Things have been stressful for him as of late.

      Cliffhanger indeed…and it’ll be a little while before the next chapter is up since I’m back to teaching. Many apologies for that, but it’ll be worth the wait…promise!

  6. Ooh, is that a death flower? The one she found but the plant died right after? I have never found one in my game before.
    Jiang’s phone call is interesting… I wonder if he isn’t having a good marriage, but he stays because he has kids, especially when he said “She always does this,” and then “She has bad days,” almost like he’s making excuses for his wife, even though he’s tired of having to live like he does. LOL anyway, just me thinking out loud from what he said on the phone. XD
    Silly Tamara, why did she think she was alone? Her family has always been there for her… as Daniel and Catherine proved on their first trip to Egypt… I mean, I understand her not being ready to tell people what happened to her… was that just it? Like she didn’t want to tell them, and she knew they’d ask, so she just stayed away… that would make sense… but she’s still silly for thinking she’s alone. LOL.

    1. Yes! That is a death flower. You know, I never really see all those special plants either with the exception of when I did all these traveling quests with Tamara. Then again, I admit I don’t send my sims running around the world much. Maybe if I did I’d run into more. I do know though that the death flower is often found in cemeteries, so if you get curious you could take a look!

      Jiang’s phone call is quite telling; I like how you’ve thoroughly analyzed it 😉 I definitely added it to provide some hints 😛

      Ah, Tamara. You’re right, she was never alone, but she removed herself so much from her family that she MADE herself feel alone, if that makes sense. Her family has always been there for her, but by staying away so much it made her feel significantly less connected. Then, since she felt less connected, she felt like she wouldn’t be welcomed there anymore, so she avoided it entirely. But THEN by avoiding it she made herself feel guilty for avoiding it and then not want to return because of shame! SOOO she looked to other sources for the connection she craved, but then when she didn’t find that, she deduced that was truly alone! OIY! *smacks forehead*

      So all along the issue was a creation of her mind x_x Tamara really never was actually alone.

  7. This definitely wasn’t a filler chapter, I loved seeing more of Tamara, it explored her woes more, and Jiang’s phone call was incredibly intriguing, to say the least. I’m so glad that she’s telling her family what happened, they’re very loving and supportive, if she needs someone or something, they’ll be there for her.

    And aww, Catherine’s expecting a baby. 🙂 ❤

    1. Hehe, thank you. I still have those moments when I’m writing sometimes where I’m like, “Did this chapter even move forward the story?” so I’m always relived when people say that it did. That phone call really was intriguing, wasn’t it? Hmmm. Of course, she did delete his number afterward 😦 Gah.

      On a more positive note yes she has the care and support of her loving family ^_^ A family which is about to grow larger! Catherine is so adorable pregnant ❤

  8. I picked up you’re story last night, and I am totally, completely, 100% addicted to it!!!

    I just have to say that I really loved this chapter.
    I am Chinese, I can speak 3 dialects, and I enjoyed reading the parts in Shang Simla and with Jiang.
    Keep up with this! You’re good at storytelling 🙂

    1. Aw, thank you so much!

      Oh goodness that’s such a relief. I was so nervous writing many of these parts because I didn’t want it to feel inauthentic or inaccurate (I did so many Google searches haha), so to hear that you enjoyed reading this makes me extremely happy 🙂 Also, wow, 3 dialects!? That’s awesome!

      Thank you so much again and welcome to Different Winters!! I hope that you continue to like it ^_^;

  9. Hrm is she doing well? No…yes…no…and then really not XD
    At least she seems to be dealing with it…though that phone call gave her the wrong type of hope.
    It seems very rare to have a chapter end with a happy Tamara ;-;
    And from the sounds of it, it’s only going to get worse!
    Oooh old Reed and Miranda XD

    1. Tamara is pretty resilient…As you’ve pointed out, she regularly has significant challenges thrown at her, but she always manages to get herself back up again. Question is how much a single person can take…..

      And ahh yeah, for reasons I don’t even know myself Different Winters gets more and more….I don’t even know the word…as time goes on. Darker? More serious? Regardless, there’s a shift…and I think Generation 3 is where that really begins.

      Yes, old Reed and Marina!!! Cuties! XD ❤

So What Did You Think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s