Sharp, consistent pain blanketed her body. Fresh blood rose from the cuts the trees that whipped out at her left behind. She cringed, murmuring a scream as a startled animal flew out in front of her. What was that smell? What was going on? Why couldn't she stop her legs?
She reached out, trying to grab anything she could. Her cold hands savagely scrapped at the bark of a tall pine tree. She screamed, her hands notable to hold back the rest of her body. She just wanted to stop. She wanted to stop moving.
More animals came running towards her, getting faster and faster, and much more persistent.
Her bare feet were in excruciating pain, running hardly over the rocks that peppered the forest floor. How much she longed for her slippers at her room. Regal, squishy red ones, that her Father had given to her to match her new sheets and curtains. She longed to be home, sleeping peacefully, but instead, she was running out of control at... what exactly was she running towards?
And what was that smell?
The rain pelted down on her, hard and chilled from the early spring months. It made her thin silk nightgown cling mercilessly at her body, revealing everything to the world. She didn't have a moment to think about being seen. What would people think, seeing a near naked princess running through the woods, her hair clinging to her neck, with nothing on her feet?
And then the source of the smell came into view. First, it was just the flames. The yellow-red flames that licked the sky, the smoke blending into the night sky, making the rain tainted as it fell. She found herself screaming endlessly. Just screams. There was nothing else that could come out of her. For a fearful second, she thought that she was doing this to herself, but that didn't last. She knew it wasn't her that was making her run... it was something bigger.
She lunged her body at a tree, wrapping her arms around it. Her feet scrambled below her, kicking and fighting, but sore and tense from running. They needed to move. They needed to get her to that fire.
Her arms gave out. She felt herself being pushed, almost like a big hand on her back, shoving her into a group of children. Here, make some friends.
She panted, out of breathe, and breathing in rain and smoke. Her muscles burned, and her body surged with adrenaline. She could see the fire and ... the lake? The fire was on the lake?
The smell of oil and gasoline were suddenly rich in the air. She started to cough, and panic even more. The lake was on fire! It was the only way to cross to get to the castle! She needed to get home.
She continued running, until she broke out of the forest. The fire was so close, she could feel it on her cheeks already. There was a sound of rustling trees behind her, then shouts.
Someone was shouting her name! They were coming for her!
As soon as her toe touched the fire engulfed lake, there was a sensation of life and death. She was a step away from both, and, unfortunately, she had no choice in the matter.
Time seemed to slow down. The flames slowed to a timid wave, and the shouts seemed to be in slow motion. She closed her eyes preparing for the worst and she lifted up her other foot, preparing to place it into the water. She was inches away... inches away...
It was so rough, it knocked the wind out of her, but she couldn't have been more thankful. The strong arms had her gripped around her small waist. Her legs flared in the air, longing to keep moving, but he hoisted her up, and cradled her in his arms, holding her feet down.
She gasped in a breathe, then another. She couldn't quite get enough. The air, was there no oxygen left? Why...
Her eyes blurred, and she felt like her head was spinning around. I'm going to pass out!
She fought back, gasping in more air, and tried to open her eyes, but the smoke stung. It was so thick, and stunk of chemicals.
Her neck toppled back, and she felt herself slipping away. Her head flopped to his chest, and her legs stopped, only twitching slightly. Her last thought was that she didn't even catch his name.