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Chapter Three – Fire in the night

Ariella woke with a start. What was that? She wondered. Sounded like a fireball. She paused, what on earth did a fireball sound like? She wished that she could remember her past, she felt like in it she must have heard what a fireball sounded like, somewhere, lost along with the rest of her memory before she turned up on the door step of the very house she was in now. That had been nearly five years ago. She was now eleven almost twelve.

Lost in thought she didn’t notice the soft yellow-orange glow outside her window. Cynthia woke and asked as she yawed “Is it morning already?” having noticed the light coming through the window.

“No…” Ariella replied puzzled, morning? The clock tower just struck two! “let me see.” She said as she walked to the window and pushed the curtains away. “Oh no!” she whispered to herself.

“What is it!?” Cynthia asked bouncing on her bed, waking Daisy in the proses.

Ariella’s heart pounded, managing to say one thing, “Fire.”

Cynthia stopped bouncing and looked at Ariella. “Where?”

“Stop playing around and go to back to bed!” moaned Daisy as she sat up rubbing her eyes.

Ariella, ignoring Daisy, replied “Just in the forest, over by the old bridge.”

“Oh, there is a fire!” Daisy cried jumping out of bed. “And if it really is that close then the whole village of BuckleBerry will burn down!”

With that Cynthia did something she would do, she screamed, not one of those little ones like when one of your friends jump out at you from behind a door, this one was a long, loud, high pitched scream. The type you want to run away from while you plug your ears.

“Let’s go wake the other’s, they might know what to do.” Daisy sensibly told Ariella over Cynthia’s ruckus. Ariella glanced out the window one more time before leaving with Daisy and still crying Cynthia. Huge flames leapt over the small stream with the help with the five wooden bridges that crossed it, the fire started to go around the edge of town slowly making its way towards their house.

“Daisy! Seth! Go get our siblings and come down here!” Called Auntie, who was rushing around trying to grab a few things before they left.

“Coming!” Daisy replied grabbing Cynthia’s hand. 

They rushed down the stairs and followed Auntie out the front door.

“We’ll make for the Tyner River, it’s on the Syth plains, near the small town of Phuthi.” Auntie told the children, cursing in her head that it had to be the week that her husband was a way. They started running towards the gap of trees, and to the Syth plains ahead. On the way there they only encountered two small problems. One, every other person who lived in Buckleberry was also headed to the plains, causing Ariella to lose sight of the rest of her family, two, the fire was quickly advancing towards the gap.

Ariella’s mind raced, as she ran. If I can only make it! She thought and leave your family behind! Another part of her mind screamed. But Ariella had no choice for just then, right in front of her the fire loomed. It had closed the gap and now the path to Syth plains was blocked, leaving Ariella one choice, west. Through Tihar, the most magical forest in the world, not even the Bandersnatch wolf went there.

Great! Die by fire or vanish in a forest. Ariella looked around hoping to see another way of escape. All around fire blazed eating up the town, Smoke made it hard to see. I might as well face the forest than to stay and burn. With that she sprinted to the forest’s edge, followed by the advancing fire. She took a step into the forest. Then another. Once she was a few paces in the forest she stopped, not knowing why. Behind her she could make out the flames, but they wouldn’t touch the forest, it was as though the flames were afraid of the forest.

Magic. The one word ran through her head. The forest must be protected by its own magic. So, the flames can’t reach me. Well at least that’s one problem out of the way. As she wandered through the forest, she wondered how the fire had started, if anybody hadn’t made it out. After along while Ariella found a little creek surrounded by moss, so she laid down, after having a few sips of the cool water, falling asleep.

 

……………?……………

 It was chaos. Everyone running around, people yelling. Even though they were at the Tyner River, well away from the fire, everyone was still in shock. Nobody had been badly injured in the fire, but a few had small burns. Nobody noticed that Ariella was missing, Auntie and Daisy were helping an older couple, Henrick and Seth were off helping their neighbors, and Cynthia was sitting on a rock crying. Cynthia cried for a while but stopped when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

“Where is your family?” Asked a kind soft voice.

“I don’t know.” Sniffled Cynthia. She turned around to see a tall young woman.

“Hmmm. Then let’s go find them, it can't be too hard.” The young woman told Cynthia.

“Ok!” Cynthia said perking at this idea, “What’s your name? Mine’s Cynthia, did you live in BuckleBerry? I’m thirsty. Are you?”

“Well…” the young woman said stunned for a moment by the slew of questions, “My name is Reana, no I don’t live in BuckleBerry, and I am rather thirsty. How ‘bout we go get a drink of water then look for your family.”

“Ok!” Cynthia Cheered once more.

After getting a quick drink of water, they set out to find Cynthia’s family. It turned out to be rather easy, Henrick and Seth were nearby, and they knew where Auntie and Daisy were.

“where have you been!” cried Auntie when she saw Cynthia.

“Iwassittingforawhile, thenIgotadrinkwithReana, thenIfoundHenrickandSeth. WhereisAriella?” she gasped.

“Huh?” Henrick said with a furrowed brow.

“Must I say it again?” Cynthia asked, and without waiting for a reply started again, “I… was… sitting… for… a… while…, then… I… got… a… drink… with… Reana…, then… found… Henrick… and… Seth…. W- “

“I think we get it.” Daisy said after a minute.

“Dear,” Reana asked “What do you mean where is Ariella?

“Well she’s not here. And as far as I know she can’t turn invisible.” Cynthia stated.

“Oh my!” cried Auntie, “I’ve lost her! I’ve been so busy that I forgot about her! She could be back at BuckleBerry! She could be dead!” she fretted.

“Now, now. She’s a smart girl, she’ll be fine.” Reana comforted Auntie.

“But she’s never been alone in the wild! What if wolfs get her!” Auntie’s eyes grew big “What if a Bandersnatch got her!”

“Don’t let your imagination get to you, you’ve had a long night, lay down and try to get some sleep, I’ll go out and look for her.” Reana told her.

Just as Cynthia fell asleep, the last one to fall asleep of the children, a figure came towards Reana.

“Finally, they’re all asleep, took them awhile.”

“Ah, Alayah, I was wondering when you’d come, did you find Manaia?” 

“Yes, she is lucky I found her, a Bandersnatch was about to get her, unfortunately I rushed and started the fire.” The figure, Alayah, told Reana

“Nobody’s perfect, I still struggle with some types of magic.” Reana comforted Alayah, as she looked around, “Where’s Manaia?”

“I was about to ask the same of you, but only it was about Ariella. I got Manaia, my sleeping explosion was a bit larger, and more powerful than I expected, she’s in my house a sleep.” Alayah said sitting down next to Reana.

“You did better than me, I haven’t got Ariella yet. Her family wasn’t paying attention and now they can’t find her, she could be anywhere from BuckleBerry to Phuthi.” Reana sighed.

“Ugg!” Alayah moaned, “Thea was the only good one at tracking magic!”

“And Ariella’s mother, Aubrie.” Reana whispered. They sat silently for a while, thinking about Aubrie, their sister. Finally Reana spoke again, “I wish the past could be undone, I wish Aubrie was here and Collin was still alive.”

“Well don’t blame me for everything.” A chilling voice sounded from behind. “We are all looking for somebody are we not?”

“Not that you would help. Thea.” Alayah said bitterly.

“I did what I thought was right, she is better off with out us!” Thea hissed.

“You made the same argument that you did all those years ago.” Reana pointed out.

“Never the less, I will help you find Ariella if you give me back my daughter!” Thea advised.

Reana sighed, “Very well.”


Submitted: September 06, 2019

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