I awoke to light slanting through a window. For a moment it took me awhile to remember where I was, and how I got there.
"Don't move," called a voice from somewhere nearby. "You need to let me dress the burns."
"My children?" I asked, or attempted to. All that came out of my voice was a weak rasp. However whoever was administering to me seemed to know what I asked.
"They are safe, downstairs. The little one has a few minor burns, but the boy is watching her. He won't let her out of his sight."
I sank back, relieved, suddenly noticing the pain that came filtering through. My arms felt as if they were on fire, which made sense given what had happened.
I had come out of the bolt hole to a wall of flames. There had seemed to be no way out, and for a minute I was sure I was done for. But then little Lucy's cry had startled me, and brought back my determination. There was no way I would let my children die in these flames, not while my heart was still beating.
I glanced around the room, looking for any escape path, any way I could get my children to safety. My eyes fell on the rug on the floor, a rug that so far had withstood the flames approach. It was not the finest or thickest rug, now the longest but it would provide some protection. Quickly scooping it off the floor, I wrapped it around Dominic and little Lucy, who was still clutched in his arms. It barely covered them, and I knew it would never have covered all three of us. Somehow a water jug, left over from dinner, was still intact on the sideboard. Picking it up I poured the little water that remained over them.
Quickly I knelt before him, so my eyes were level with him. "You have to run fast Dominic, run fast and harder than before. I need you to get your sister out. Don't stop for anything, okay?" I asked, tears running down my cheeks.
Dominic nodded, his expression serious. "Go," I urged him, pushing him towards the doorway to the kitchen, which appeared to have less flames than the other doorway in the room.
I could see the rug catch alight as my children pushed through the flames, but so far the flames had yet to touch them. Soon they were out of sight, and I could only hope they were safe, before I considered my exit.
There was no longer a convenient rug to shelter beneath, now a jug of water to pour over me. All that remained were shattered shards of china, and flames fast approaching.
And yet I couldn't leave my children, to fend for themselves in the hostile night. A rush of adrenalin filling me, I steeled myself, then ran through the flames.I could feel the fire lighting on my skin, burning, the space it occupied between myself and the door seeming impossibly long, before finally I was through and the cool night air was greeting me. I could see my children in front of me, Dominic using his own shirt to beat at flames that seemed to have caught little Lucy's. Nearby I could hear a shout of alarm and the sound of hoofbeats. I only registered that the voice calling for help sounded Iberan before passing out.
And that was all I remembered, before waking up here, with someone tending my wounds and being told my children were safe below. I did not recognize the voice of the woman who tended me, but her voice was clearly Iberan, and for now that was enough for me. Letting the pain take me over, I sank back into unconsciousness.