As they hurried away, it was impossible for Will not to wonder - why hadn't Tayna stopped it? Was she afraid of being discovered, or was it something more?
'Will...look...' Andrel said darkly, Will turned around, they were far enough not to smell the smoke or see any faces. The crowd had become a mere blur of black shapes circling the fire like primitive masses. Still, Will heard the woman's final words,
'Goddess, give me peace,' she whispered, letting the strength in her legs break, falling to her knees. Her dress touched the flames and instantly lit. She burnt in a white, heavenly light, her lips sealed shut in her suffering, refusing to please the crowd whose claps had increased to an applause.
They could take it no longer, Will - clutching Tayna tightly - and Andrel raced through the Portal, away from the scent of burnt wood and charred skin.
They were met on the other side by a crowd of professors and nurses. Tayna had woken up and was now hysterical, murmuring and thrashing in Will's arms.
'No! I have to save them! They need me! I can't leave them behind!' she shrieked, the moment the nurses saw her in this state, they tried to take her from Will, but she kicked and flailed too furiously.
'Alcander,' Paradam ordered, turning to his Head of Security, 'I want the Portal deactivated. Immediately.'
'Yes'ir,' Professor Conway nodded obediently, taking his wand from his belt and aiming it at the Portal, a spark fired into the centre of the arch and instantly, the red berries amongst the foliage turned white.
Andrel walked towards Tayna, narrowly avoiding her blows. In her delirium, he managed to soothe her with his words, 'it's alright, they're safe, you don't have to worry.You saved them.' She calmed slowly, resorting to whimpers and sobs as she reached out to him like a child reaching from the ground to its parent. He took her gently and took her where the nurses directed him, meanwhile Will was escorted by Conway back to the commonroom amongst a flurry of questions.
Tayna Ilmatar was to lie in her bed for the rest of the day, her clothes stinking of smoke peeled away and replaced with fresh pyjamas. She was shielded from the terrors of reality, but there was no protecting her from her dreams, which tormented her with images of fire and blood. And when she awoke suddenly in the night, rocketing up from her pillow, it was to grab her knees, curl herself up and fight away the agony and desperation that stung like needles in her chest.