The tall grass whipped painfully at Sephianna’s legs as she half ran, half slid down the hill towards the town. There was something building in her chest, a painful rage that tore at her insides and the wind helped in forcing the tears from her eyes, long wet veins streaking back into her short hair.

  The verticality of the incline was treacherous at the best of times, and Sephianna had a hard time keeping her footing as pebbles and rock clusters slipped out beneath her desperate strides. Craw was further ahead, soaring on the light breeze, buoyant in the blue sky. The monastery was near now, the black fumes billowing from every window already beginning to choke Sephianna as she approached. The ground evened out a little before the large wood doors and Sephianna, fuelled with momentum alone, crashed hard into them, her palms cushioning the impact only slightly. They were hot to the touch, she found, and thin wisps of smoke emanated from every crack and groove on the old and tired oak.

  She danced back warily before moving forwards again, determined, and tugged the white-hot handle hard. As soon as it had opened in the slightest the entrance belched forth a great ball of fire, knocking Sephianna from her feet and back into the hill behind her. Craw screeched from his perch above the doors as Sephianna covered her face with her forearms and winced as the flames licked her flesh. As the fire retracted again she got to her feet, knowing the pain would have to wait.

  “ERIC?!” she screamed into the monastery, her hoarse voice immediately swallowed by the roar inside. She tried again but knew it was just as pointless. Her eyes stung as she desperately tried to calm herself, standing before the tall and vicious heat, so she closed them. Her other senses intensified slightly. She could taste the ash on the air. She covered her mouth with her hand before realising how useless a filter it was and removed her cloth sash and held it there instead. Her ears pricked, the wall of sound before her became ever so slightly more discernable. She separated it. Spliced it. Pushed away the crackle of the flames and the buckle of wood and snap of the timber rafters high above. She delved deeper into the rich acoustics in front of her, searching the sound, and there, so far down it was nigh on impossible to perceive, a small cry, a plea for help.

  “Help me,” it screamed, “I am alive.” Sephianna couldn’t make out who it was, but it didn’t matter. She opened her eyes. There were golden cinders dancing in the smog around her. Quickly she took a drink from the gourd tied around her waist before discarding it completely. She tied the sash tight around her head, a makeshift bandana  covering her nose and mouth the only defence against what lay ahead. Crawmerax shrieked again, looking down at Sephianna as if he knew what she was about to do, as if he was concerned for her well being.

  “Get out of here, Craw,” she shouted, waving him away. As muffled as her order had been, Crawmerax understood. Hesitantly he flapped his wings, beating them against the thick smoke that had begun to engulf him as well, and then took off, high into the sky above. Sephianna only watched him for a moment, clouds of soot erupting from him every time his wings thumped loudly against the air, before she steeled herself against what was to come and hurled herself into the inferno.

Wow, new record – posted today’s story at 11.56PM. Can’t let it be this tight again!.


~ by Joseph Blame on August 9, 2010.

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