Oh Glory: Part Two
Immediately he was met with overwhelming heat and an air thick with smoke. He coughed, covering his nose with his shirt, and begun to survey the area. He gazed upon a sitting room full of furniture ablaze with flames, couches and chairs steadily blacking under the influence of the heat. The floor was littered in debris from falling support beams and broken glass, and with each passing second the fire grew more intense as it began consuming more and more of the surrounding objects. There wasn't much time.
Darric began his search for the son by darting across the room, avoiding flames as best he could, until he reached a door opposite the entrance. He put his hand on the handle, and recoiled, yelling in pain, as the flames had made the handle red hot to the touch. He looked around, trying to find something, anything to wrap around the handle, but to no avail. Anything he could have used was going up in flames, leaving him few options.
With no other choice readily available, Darric lifted his leg, and firmly placed a kick by the doorknob of the door. Weakened by the flames, the door flew open with little resistance, revealing a kitchen that was also engulfed in the fire, but thankfully less so due to the lack of flammable surfaces. Darric rushed in and glanced around, shielding his eyes from the dazzling reflection of the fire off the tile floors. There was nobody in here, and he doubted anyone had left. He did wonder if the child had escaped through a door into the backyard, but as he could tell, the door was locked from the inside; no one had exited through that way. He had to turn back into the flames.
When he returned to the living room, the inferno had gotten worse, the smoke now hanging so thick in the air that visibility was compromised. Darric crouched, attempting to see through the fires as best he could, and noticed that his next search location was up a staircase that was slowly being consumed by the fire. Darting around the flames, Darric began bounding up the staircase. With each step he took, the weakened staircase creaked and groaned loudly under his weight. Halfway up the stairs, one of them collapsed, his foot plunging through the broken surface. Darric gasped, the shock catching him off guard, as he fell over onto the stairs. He sat up immediately, tugging and pulling at his ankle to free his trapped foot.
Sweat drenching his fur, he finally extracted himself from the stairs, only to hear a loud crash sounding above him. Darric immediately looked up and saw a flaming support beam falling straight down upon him. With a yell Darric threw himself up the staircase, narrowly avoiding the beam, which fell onto the stair below him, collapsing them with a loud CRASH. For a moment, he wondered how he was going to be able to escape now. But there were more pressing matters at hand, and his escape was a lower priority. He had to find that kid. That was the most important thing, and to him, nothing else mattered.
He scurried up the rest of the stairs as quickly as possible, standing once he had reached solid ground, and surveyed the second floor. Three doors greeted him, one near him, and two further down the hallway. The flames had not caused as much damage on this level yet, but there was little time before this floor too was coated in heat and destruction. With the smell of smoke and singed fur filling his nostrils, Darric kicked open the door nearest him to reveal a bathroom, seemingly empty. Quickly he threw back the shower curtain and witnessed an empty bathtub. The kid hadn't taken refuge here, Darric realized, and he left, heading deeper into the hallway.
Darric kicked open the next door in the hallway, and threw himself into a master bedroom that was already covered in flames. The bed, the dresser, and a vanity were all ablaze as the fire crept along the walls and upon the carpet, slowly expanding across the room. And amid the crackle of the flaws, very faintly, he heard it: the sound of sobbing. The kid was in here!
"Hey, is anyone here?!" Darric yelled out, entering the room.
"He... help me..." a faint voice called from the corner, and there Darric saw the young child, a small white Draik trapped under a fallen chunk of ceiling. Jumping through the flames, Darric made his way towards the child, his sleeve catching fire along the way. With a yelp, he patted it out, revealing a charred arm of blackened fur. It'll grow back, he told himself. We need to save the kid.
"Are you hurt?" Darric said, grabbing a hold of the ceiling debris and pulling. It was heavy, too heavy, and he wondered how he'd be able to get that kid out alive.
"I... I think my leg is broken," the Draik replied, sniffling.
"It's okay, it'll all be okay, just hang on." Darric continued to pull with all his might, to no avail. The section seemed too large, too heavy, and there was no way that he himself, a lone Zafara, could pull such a weight off of a trapped kid.
"Mister, please," the Draik whispered, and Darric stopped, looking him in the eyes. Tears were streaming down the little one's face, as he pleaded with Darric. "Please save me. Please... please save me."
For that moment, it seemed that everything else had faded, the heat and crackle of the flames distant in reality. Darric couldn't feel the burns coating his body, the sweat-soaked fur matting his face, or the fear that had been gripping his mind the entire time he was in the house. In that moment, his vision was locked with that of the Draik, the innocent soul that harsh circumstance was trying to steal, and no matter what happened to him, Darric had to make sure the kid made it out alive.
The sound of a crash from outside the room harshly brought Darric back to reality, and with that, he felt everything once more. The heat of the flames made him sweat, the burns on his body caused him pain, and right now, he was fighting for the life of this unknown son. He knew that there was little time left. Taking a deep breath to stabilize his mind, Darric made eye contact with the Draik and nodded.
"I won't let anything happen to you. You're gonna be alright." Darric took a deep breath, and held it, pulling with all of his might against the ceiling debris. To his utter disbelief, he felt it shift and move, lifting slightly with his efforts, and he grunted to the kid, "Come on, move move move." The Draik scooted himself backward out of the way of the debris, and Darric let it go, where it crashed heavily onto the floor. He jumped atop it and turned his back to the Draik, commanding him, "Get on."
The Draik scampered onto Darric's back, and Darric took a hold of him and carried him out of the bedroom. The few minutes that they had spent there had allowed the fire enough time to consume a majority of the room. Darric knew little time remained, and panicked as to what his next step was as they stumbled into the hallway. The collapsed staircase had become an inferno pit of flames, and the bathroom had no windows to escape from. The bedroom behind him was ablaze with flames, leaving just one final avenue: the last room.
Darric threw his weight into the door, flinging it open, revealing what was clearly the little Draik's room. Posters, books, the bed, his toybox; the Draik's entire life was going up in flames, and there was nothing any of them could do to stop it. The Draik, witnessing his possessions being engulfed by the fires, began to sob, but Darric paid no attention. Immediately his gaze fell upon a window, the path to which was not yet blocked by fires. He rushed over to the window and threw it open, glancing out of it to see the crowd assembled below. Up front and center was the mother Draik, still being held back by patrons in the crown, but now a look of disbelief overtaking her panic.
"Your mom is down there," Darric said to the little Draik. "Do you think you can fly?"
"I... I don't know," the Draik replied. "I'm only just learning."
"Well, you're gonna have to try."
"No! I'm scared! What if I fall?"
"It's okay, you're gonna be okay?" Darric turned around and set the Draik on the windowsill, where he glanced down to his mother. Tears of joy and relief filled her eyes, as she called out to her son.
"Mayik! Mayik! You're alive! Oh goodness, thank Fyora you're alive!" she cried, the Neopets holding her back finally relinquishing their grasp. She rushed forward and took flight, her wings extending and her form rising.
"Oh right... your mom can fly too," Darric said, chuckling softly. "You're gonna be okay." Mayik turned back to Darric with a look of concern.
"But you... are you gonna be okay?" he asked. Darric patted him on the shoulder as Mayik's mom surfaced outside the window.
"I'll be fine," he said, lifting the Draik and passing him into his mother's waiting arms. "Now get him to safety!"
"I'm going to have to come back for you," the mother said to Darric, embracing her son in her arms. But before Darric could reply, a loud groan above him interrupted them. He knew what was about to happen, and yelled to the mother, "Go! Get away from here!"
"Just go!" Darric yelled, retreating back into the inferno, as the ceiling above him begun to collapse...
To be continued...
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