I push Thren out the gap first, yelling at him to run, I know it is only a matter of time before the deadly heat reaches the cave. I throw a stone into it just to check, and the stone dissolves into the depths, disintegrating. I get out of the hole and shove Thren, making him run faster. We run for so long it seems like it will never stop. Then, finally, we reach the bottom, but the lava keeps coming. In fact, it gets faster, speeding through the plants and mud, burning trees before it even touches them. I look back at the mountain, what I see nearly makes me faint. The mountain is a volcano. I can see it now, the lava is going in every way down, the rock is scorched black. Then I see it. Rocks are flying out of the top.
“Thren! Get down,” I yell, trying to decide if I should die of being hit by the rocks or burnt by lava. I would prefer the hit by rocks for one, it’s quicker.
I am still running, but the lava is drawing nearer, burning trees, burning everything. Suddenly, a tree falls right in front of us, it is on fire. Without pausing, I leap over it. Dragging Thren with me. Trees are falling everywhere now, some crumbling to ashes on touch, some snapping from rocks. I am trying to run as fast as I can but it is hard. The heat is pulling me down, wanting me to die. I can tell Thren is getting tired. His feet drag and he is slowing down. As we leap over a scorched black log, I feel a strong tug and Thren is yanked from my side.
I see him skid on the scorched ground for a few metres before he realises I’m stuck. He turns and runs back to me. I look down and see my belt, skewered on one of the outcropping branches from the tree. I know at first sight that Thren will not be able to break me free. I know what I have to do.
“Thren,” I say, “Thren! Listen to me,” I consider saying something but stop. “You can’t break me free. Go before it gets to you too.”
“No,” he says disbelievingly. “I can’t go on without you.”
“I promised Jazi you would win. Not me.” I say. “Now GO!” I summon my strength and shove him away from me. He stumbles and falls to the ground, looking back at me in shock. “Run. I’ll catch up.” Out of the corner of my eye I can see the lava getting closer. It’s either he goes now or both of us die.
“You promise?” He asks.
“I promise,” I say simply, even though I might not be able to keep it. This time, he listens. I can see him disappear through the haze that the fog is making in my brain. My senses go woozy and I can’t see. But I’m a fighter. I said I would catch up and I don’t break my promises. At the last second, when the lava is half a millisecond from burning my insides out, the branch splinters and breaks off. I hit the scorched ground in a crouch and immediately start to run. Every second counts. I jump over and under trees until, finally, the lava stops. I get to a small, burned clearing when it occurs to me. My little ally is nowhere to be found.