Kevin and I had just reached the forest edge when suddenly there was a lot of light, heat and screaming. I turned to see the fire had caught a home, and the camp was fast setting alight. Kevin ran, and I followed closely, coughing and blinking as the smoke began to attack my eyes and throat.
"Irene!" I yelled, searching through the flames to where she had been. She couldn't move, I had to save her. I found her, shrieking and crawling her way towards the other side of the clearing, and attempted to pick her up but she was struggling in fear. Kevin appeared out of the smoke, Oti on his shoulders.
"Here, let me." He yelled, and passed Oti to me before picking up Irene easily. We ran, the villagers appearing and disappearing in the smoke. I kept close to Kevin, knowing he would know where to go, and soon we reached a wide open space. Water splashed beneath my feet and I realised it was a river. We were crossing a river. A crowd of the outcasts were already huddled there, and Kevin placed Irene on the sand next to a woman who was badly burnt. I held Oti tight as we stared back at the forest, which was burning at a rapid pace. Then, over the crackling of the fire, I heard a dark rumble.
"Thunder." I murmured, and sure enough I was right. Rain began pouring down, and the light across the river began to disappear in clouds of smoke.
The group began to gain more people, stragglers who had survived. Kevin told me later that there were five people still missing; three women, one man, and a child.
Everything was lost to these people; they would soon re-build their home, but they had still lost everything they had achieved. We could not go to find supplies for the pain medicine, as it was too dangerous where the forest was as burnt as it had been. Luckily, the little pain medicine that Oti had found had worked on Irene. But I had to go soon, or else she might have another attack.
Some of the men stayed awake with a new fire, muttering and keeping watch. I checked that Irene was asleep then wrapped Oti in a cloak and held him till he slept. Kevin watched me.
When Oti slept I lay him next to Irene and wandered over to the men. They all shot me dirty looks and turned away.
"What have I done now?" I asked Kevin, who was sharpening his blade.
"They don't think it's a coincidence that you arrive with the injured princess, someone annoys you, and then their home burns."
"So, I'm a witch now?"
"Apparently. But I would pay them no heed. They just need someone to blame, and you can take care of yourself."
I smiled at him, then stood.
"We need to collect supplies at dawn. Until then, I will sleep."
I turned my back on the fire and went to lay where Irene and Oti slept.
I woke just as the sun was rising, and uncurled myself from the cloak I had been sleeping in. Irene was sleeping peacefully thanks to the medicine, and Oti was curled against her, sleeping sweetly.
I went to wash in the river, then returned to the group. I stepped lightly to where Kevin slept, and touched him on the shoulder. His arm swung at me, dagger in hand, and he stopped inches from my throat. He stared at me then put away his knife.
"Why did you sneak up on me?" He whispered.
"Habit. Come on, we need to collect supplies. Nice control by the way." I commented, before tossing him his boots and standing.
Before we left he woke his second in command to tell him what was happening and what to do, then we strode side by side across the river and back towards the trees. Perhaps whilst we searched for supplies we would find some of the people who were missing. I only hoped they would be alive.