The smokey hot wind blew embers that caught on our horse’s tail, causing the animal to jerk forward and fight Torgood’s hold on it.
Flames circled us. Men and animals panicked.
A small opening to the right appeared, barely wide enough for two mules to ride through. Everyone jostled for that opening. Smat on his mule and Torgood and I were the last to reach it. Torgood let the horse have its head and it galloped, head down and jumping any thing in its way. Smat’s mule and the others did their best to follow.
We ran toward the foothills, the terrain getting steeper and rockier. The horse grew sweaty as did I. My chest burned and my eyes watered. I could hear the elemental roaring behind us somewhere. I felt dizzy. A memory of searing pain made me let Torgood go for a moment and clutch my arm.
“We can’t get up here,” Smat yelled to Torgood.
“I know.”
“Let’s head for Southallow.”
Torgood didn’t like that idea for some reason and argued. I clung to his back and tried to keep from vomiting on it.
Smat turned south anyway and our horse, although Torgood fought it, followed.
The wind whipped fire nipped at our heals as we came back down slope.
“Gestin, make the wind blow the other way,” Torgood shouted over his shoulder and bunching up as the horse jumped over a log. I slammed back hard on the landing and only his grip on my leg kept me safe.
“Want me to pray from rain also – we have an equal chance at both,” I yelled back at him, annoyed.
His shrug bumped me in the nose. “Can’t hurt.”
I coughed and another dizzy spell made me clutch his tunic. I prayed and the world tilted.

I came to, once again laid out like a dead animal across the back of a mule, in the town of Southallow.

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