This short story is part of a series of blog posts that I have been writing. To read part one of “Pryon”, please click here. Thanks for reading!
The fire reached Linyeve’s right hand first; she had left it jutting out in front of her as she had stood staring into the fire, and, as the flames begin to shoot up her arm, she was overwhelmed by a pain, the like of which she had never imagined. She stumbled backwards, a white-hot pain taking over all sense and reason, and collapsed onto the grass beside Kanalin.
She could hear Jakob crying from somewhere behind her, and felt her own screams join with his. Hot tears were streaming down her face, and as she glanced down her arm, she caught a glimpse of the blackened stub that had once been her right hand.
As each moment passed, she waited for the flames to consume them all, but the seconds ticked by and the shouts from the village died down. After a while, she chanced a glance back towards the houses, and then let out a staggered sigh of relief.
Just as when the flames had engulfed Little Bringleton, they had formed a dome around the village, and as Linyeve had stumbled backwards, she had passed out of their perimeters. They were safe.
She looked around and saw Jakob on his knees beside her, bawling his little eyes out. On her other side, Kanalin was lying perfectly unscathed. She took a few, deep breaths, steadying herself.
“Kyla was at home,” sobbed Jakob, but Linyeve didn’t know how to respond. She had instinctively rubbed her blackened arm on the grass, hoping that the beginnings of morning dew would relieve her pain a little, but that had only seemed to intensify it.
The injury itself wasn’t as bad as she had first thought; her entire hand had not been burned away, but she had lost two fingers and her palm was shrivelled and peeling, a deep reddish liquid underpinning the black mesh of ash and dirt that coated her skin. It was a horrific sight, though, and Linyeve felt a small amount of vomit rising up in her chest as she looked away from the hand.
“Wha-what happened?” Kanalin had woken up.
The fury that Linyeve had suppressed as she had dragged her from the village returned as their eyes met. She watched coolly as Kanalin’s eyes found the ruin that had once been Wrenstead, and fought back her pity as she watched tears form in the young woman’s lined eyes. She stared mutely at the flames for a few seconds, and then whirled around, eyes wide. She saw Jakob and reached instinctively for him, whilst she continued to scan the area. Then she turned to Linyeve, angry.
“Where is my daughter? Where is Kyla?”
“She didn’t make it,” Linyeve said bluntly. She would feel sympathy for the woman, but she was too tired, and too angry, to let the emotion in. She knew Kanalin had only been trying to protect her children, but Linyeve had had enough. She wanted answers and, this time, she was going to get them.
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