“Umala, let’s go!” yelled Ashleeka, as the smoke filtered up through the windows. It was getting harder to see. The smoke stung her eyes and choked her. She coughed violently as another plume enveloped her.
The floor suddenly jerked under her feet. She fought for her balance as Umala zoomed back around the corner with the pack. It held their lives in it: food, clothes, and a few precious artifacts. Ashleeka grabbed Umala in her arms and raced for the master bedroom. For a moment she forgot where it was. The girls were staying in a guest room in Skyglass for storm protection and for an important assembly in which their parents were required to “decide on something very important,” as they had said. Yes, I would say that voting to have your eldest child’s wings confiscated is rather important, thought Ashleeka darkly.
Another change in the angle of the tree sent her flying through the air, and she smacked her head on the edge of a door. She would’ve fallen if Umala hadn’t kept them up and pulled them the rest of the way. Ashleeka peered through the stream of red coming down her face to see Umala lift a chair with the flick of her finger and shoot it at the window. With everything she had left, Ashleeka pulled Umala to her chest and fell out the window.
Heat blinded them and they choked on the smoke invading their lungs. The flames reached like greedy hands and fingers out of the windows and passages, perforating the immense side of the tree. Ashleeka struggled to stay conscious as she angled right and left, but the fire seemed to follow her, reaching out further and further. Umala, she thought, what’s going on? I can’t get away!
The tree is going to fall into the river. Turn left!
But the right bank is closer!
Just do it! Umala screamed. The tree groaned, leaning, exhausted, out over the river’s dark waves.
Ashleeka angled her wings as hard as she could, but it wasn’t enough. They were diving too steep and too fast, and she didn’t have the strength to make it to the other side of the river. She lost consciousness and they continued to plummet from the smoke-filled sky.
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