Chapter 81 – Lost in the Flames
Though it was a tiny voice, it was easily heard by Tiana even amidst the blazing sounds of the flames. She ran in the direction of where the sound had come from, to check the exact location. Fortunately, the flames along this path had died down more than any other place, but the thick, black smoke and burning embers were just as dangerous. Blocking her nose and mouth with a cloth, she searched through the smoke, moving forward in search of the faint voice.
After emerging from the smoke, Tiana discovered a girl–who was almost out of breath–leaning against a tree not too far away. Tiana kneeled down next to her and put the cloth in her hand over the kid’s face.
“Hey, hey wake up! Are you alright? Are you hurt?”
Looking more closely at the child holding her hand, she realized it was the little girl from yesterday. The one who had smiled brightly at her before giving her the blue flower. Sad at the unfortunate turn of events, she picked the girl up into her arms and cradled her close to herself. It looked like there were some signs of injury on her face and body, but thankfully she was still breathing.
What if I hadn’t heard her voice?
The girl might not have survived. Tiana hadn’t followed Lucius’ command to stay behind and had run straight into the fire, but her discovery of the trapped child justified her for doing that. She decided she’d apologize later on; for now, the kid had to be saved.
“You’re alright now. We’re getting out of here, don’t worry. You’re safe.”
“What did you say?” Tiana was about to step toward a less dangerous part of the garden when she heard the kid struggling to say something.
“My brother… I don’t… see him… my brother…”
“Your brother? He’s in here?”
“…Please save… save my brother…” The child, after exerting herself and breathing heavily, was now unconscious. Looking at her slumped over in her arms, Tiana’s jaw clenched.
“If they were together that means…”
She was positive that the girl was talking about the same boy she’d been with yesterday. If they had been together earlier, then he had to be around here somewhere. But it would be almost impossible to find him considering his sister’s condition.
Should I yell for help?
As her feet frantically moved back and forth, she heard Lucius’ voice from the other side.
Not a moment later the royal knights broke through the flames with their swords, Lucius running closely behind them. He looked traumatized; tears framed his eyes and his forehead was creased.
After seeing his face, all of the tension in her body was released, and she barely sidestepped a burning tree that was falling. To avoid it, she hugged the child tighter in her arms and turned around just in time.
She managed to avoid it but it scratched her arms and back on its way down. A hot pain scorched her back and she couldn’t help but let out a groan, knowing surely that she had a few bad wounds.
“Tiana! You’re cut!”
“Lucius, I’m alright.”
After passing the kid in her arms to one of the knights, she was instantly wrapped in Lucius’ gentle embrace. His face contorted when he saw the cuts on her body.
“Didn’t I tell you not to move!? What is—” He broke off in a cry.
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t send you off into the blazing fire and just stand there doing nothing. If I hadn’t gone in, the girl could have…”
“Lucius, are you okay? You’re not injured, are you?”
“I am fine. But you…you need your wounds tended.”
“I know. Sorry for worrying you.” She held his hand tightly to calm him down, looked into his eyes, and smiled softly. Having checked Tiana over and over again, he kissed her on the forehead with a relieved face. Lucius’ ice-cold lips made her realize how nervous he was. Tiana smiled gently and leaned into his arms, calming down her trembling body.
“Sir, we’ve extinguished the fire.”
“Did you save more children?” Lucius asked.
“We have rescued the ones who survived. And we’re also recovering the bodies of the ones who could not make it,” replied one of the knights.
“Okay. I’m counting on you all.”
Following behind the knights who were going back to the scene, Tiana could see a path on the charred floor where the fire had stopped. Black smoke covered the ceiling, soot layered everything, and the flower garden was now just a pile of ashes. It felt unreal how the once beautiful garden had abruptly gone up in flames. Just a few minutes ago this beautiful place was filled with sounds of laughter from the kids.
“Lord Lucius! Lady Tiana!”
It was Viscount Grassell, and standing behind him were Lona and Kenil. The viscount, seeing the couple’s condition, was extremely shocked.
“Are you alright? Are you hurt?”
“Tiana was injured while saving a child,” informed Lucius.
“What? She should seek medical—”
“I’m fine. It’s not that serious. Instead of me, go check on the kids. Hurry! And take them to the other side of the building.”
At her words, three sets of eyes landed on the child a knight was holding. Holding her arm out to embrace her, Lona ran up to the knight, on the brink of tears.
“I… I’ll take her. Thank you, Your Highness. For saving this child.”
“No, no. Thankfully she doesn’t seem to be too injured, but she inhaled a lot of smoke. Please get her some help.”
As Lona staggered away with the child, Kenil trailed right behind her. While Tiana was staring at their backsides, Lucius placed an arm around her shoulder.
“Everything will be okay. She’ll get better soon after she gets treated.”
“I hope so. She’s the girl I bought the flowers from, the one who gave me the blue roses.”
“That was her?”
“They’re looking for her younger brother. I wanted to look for him myself, but… he should be safe, right?” As Tiana spoke, tears threatened to spill from her eyes.
“Of course, he is. He will be fine. Don’t worry about it too much, Tiana.”
The girl’s voice from earlier came to mind as Lucius carefully wiped the cold sweat from Tiana’s forehead. The voice that’d been struggling to breathe while calling for help.
If only he is safe and sound…
Tiana couldn’t forget her tiny voice begging to save her brother.