"Get away from the window!" Someone tugged on Ariel's arm. She couldn't seem to tear her eyes from the scene on the other side of the thin glass.
Armored men were storming past her house, torches in hand. They set fire to everything in their path; and one held his torch to her house.
The window she had peered out only moments before was ablaze. Her brother frantically attacked the flames with a blanket, but they only grew. "Go out the back door!" He shot her a quick glance before returning to the fire.
Ariel hesitated, fear gripping the eight-year-old and holding her in place. "Go!" He shouted again. She finally managed to move, stumbling toward the back door. Smoke was beginning to fill the house, clouding her vision and choking her.
She weakly shoved at the bolted door, barely able to open it. She tumbled into the street, coughing harshly. Bodies surged past her, but Ariel couldn't keep up with the crowd.
She ended up moving with the stream of people for maybe half a mile, before the crowd thinned, allowing her to finally stop. Out of breath, Ariel collapsed at what would have been the backdoor of someone's home. All that remained was a low, smoldering pile of wreckage that concealed her from the soldiers she could still hear.
They were on the other side of the house, screaming and burning still. They offset the rubble, causing it to slide. Ariel hardly had time to realize she was in danger before it smothered her.
Somehow, she wasn't able to scream. There was too much smoke filling her lungs. Panic compelling her, she flailed wildly, carving a hole in the pile of flames.
Ariel desperately threw herself from the burning pile. She landed on the cobblestone street, staring back exhaustedly at the fire.
The smoke was taking its toll. Ariel's vision began to blur, and breathing became a challenge. The soldiers moved on, apparently unable to see the tired little girl. Ariel rolled onto her back so she could see the sky. The myriad of stars seemed particularly beautiful. She fought to keep her eyes open; to see the stars as long as she could, but finally gave in to the temptation of sleep.