The smell of smoke overwhelmed their small noses. All was deathly quiet but for the crackling flames turning nearby homes to ash. No more desperate cries and pleas for mercy could be heard. The people were all dead. This village would never see a smile again.
The older of the two girls stood up, her legs stiff, and pushed the hatch open. Their home was wrecked, and could no longer be called a home. Carefully, she climbed out of the crawl space.
"Wait here," she told her sister.
"Amber, no! Don't leave me here!" the young girl cried quietly.
"I'll only be a moment Vivian," Amber comforted. She crawled on her hands and knees, feeling her way around. All there was to be smelled or felt were warm embers left from the fire.
Despite her sister’s orders, Vivian pulled herself out and stood up. Her sister was still on her hands and knees, picking things up trying to recognize belonging by the way they felt or smelled. Vivian took pity for her older sister and stooped to help her up.
"There's nothing left, Amber," she said solemnly. Before she could help herself, she started to wail wildly, and flung herself to the floor.
"Shh... It's going to be okay. We'll think of something to do," Amber told her quietly, hugging her close.
They sat there for a long time, crying and comforting each other in the midst of their ruined life. Finally, when their tears ran dry and sobs became nothing more than whimpers and sniffles, they helped each other up.
Amber had picked something up in her hand, and held it out, asking what it was. Vivian stared wide-eyed at the object in horror.
"What is it?" Amber asked again.
Vivian screamed when she realized what it was. Amber dropped it, screaming too, though she did not know why.
It was their mother’s hand, left untouched in the fire. On the middle finger, stained in blood, were two gold rings. When Vivian recovered, she took the rings and handed one to Amber.
"It was mother's hand," she whispered. Amber tried to hold herself together, though she could very well have thrown up.
"This is one of the rings she wore on her finger, then. Am I correct?" she asked, voice hoarse and dry from the damage of the smoke. Vivian nodded.
"Come. We must go find somewhere for shelter. We have a long journey ahead of us."
Amber and Vivian walked away from their childhood remains, crossing the border and into the woods. They no longer feared the outside monsters that lurked in the shadows of the forest. It wasn't as if they had much to lose, after all. They pushed on, though, their feet dragging lethargically with every step they took.
The sky was midnight blue, and the stars burned and twinkled brightly. The moon was covered by gray clouds, leaving hardly any light to see. It didn't make a difference to Amber though. She was used to the darkness.