Merge changes from master into elisevalenti

Elise Valenti authored
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### Welcome to GrammoWriMo!!

**12/08/14 Update**
Hello GrammoWriMo-ers,
I want to thank those of you who have contributed extra text to our GrammoWriMo group novel. In the last week we've increased our word count by around 6,000 words, bumping it up to around 36,000 total. With the additions of the short stories from our Short Story contest, we'll have a really great, complete novel. Thank you!

You can continue the GrammoWriMo fun by entering our [Short Story contest]( and our [Create our Cover design contest]( Congratulations, also, to Gayle, who is the winner of our Name this Novel contest. The winning title is: Frozen by Fire!

-Ann at Grammarly

**11/29/14 Update**
Hello GrammoWriMo-ers,

With a little over a day left in GrammoWriMo we have about 26,000 words in our GrammoWriMo group novel. Let's finish strong and try as hard as we can to meet our goal of 50,000 words during the month of November! We can do this! Keep writing!

-Ann at Grammarly

**11/19/14 Update**

Hello GrammoWriMo-ers,

I wanted to give a quick word count update: we have a total of approximately 17,000 words in our GrammoWriMo group novel right now. This is a great start, but let's keep going! Those of you who haven't written yet: now is the time. Let's do this!

-Ann at Grammarly

**11/17/14 Update**

Hello GrammoWriMo-ers,

I hope you all had a wonderful, productive writing weekend. I want to take a minute to thank our awesome Vignette Moderators, who are working hard to encourage conversation, approve text, and troubleshoot any issues they run into. Hats off to you, moderators!

Writers, please remember to allow moderators to approve text submitted to your vignette. Our moderators are very active and will get to any text awaiting approval as soon as they can.

Thanks for making this an amazing GrammoWriMo so far. We're more than halfway through November, so keep it up!

-Ann at Grammarly

**11/14/14 Update**
Hello GrammoWriMo-ers,

I wanted to let you know that we just opened our first GrammoWriMo contest of the year, our Name This Novel contest. Click the link to enter for your chance to win cool prizes from one of our sponsors, Scribophile!

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to their vignettes already. I know the Penflip platform can be tricky sometimes, but everyone seems to be figuring it out and helping each other. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Have a great weekend of writing!

-Ann at Grammarly

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### **11/7/14 Update**
Hello GrammoWriMo-ers,

You all should have received your suggested assigned writing day via email on Thursday. Just to clarify, you can write anytime, but you'll receive an email reminder to write on your assigned day.

Please also make sure you're adding your text to the correct vignette. A few submissions have been made to the Example Chapter, and I'm a little worried that some text might get lost in these early days. Find your vignette number, add your text, and wait for your moderator to approve it.

Thank you! I hope everyone has a productive and fun weekend of brainstorming, writing, and general good times!

-Ann at Grammarly

**11/4/14/ Update**
Hello GrammoWriMo-ers,

I wanted to clarify something about the writing process. Each vignette group should write independently instead of waiting for other groups to finish first. Each vignette will be it's own "mini story," and after they're all completed we'll integrate them together in the editing process. That way everyone can write at the same time, but our edits will ensure that the novel will read like a novel instead of a collection of short stories.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you!
-Ann at Grammarly

**11/3/14 Update**
Hello GrammoWriMo-ers!

If you scroll down on this page, you can see that I added individual chapters for each vignette. These chapters are where you will write the actual text of your vignette after you're finished brainstorming in your discussion group.

Once your group is ready to write, go for it! Later this week I will also send out a loose writing schedule that you can follow if you would like to write on specific days.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you!
-Ann at Grammarly

**11/1/14 Update**
Hello GrammoWriMo-ers!
It looks like brainstorming is off to a great start. There are some very exciting ideas being shared in the Discussion groups, and it looks like a great novel is taking shape.
If you have any questions about the writing process, your vignette group, or GrammoWriMo in general, please don't hesitate to email me at I'm happy to help make this process easy and fun for everyone.
-Ann at Grammarly

**10/30/14 Update**
Hi Everyone,
I apologize for the massive influx of emails you received today about the new discussion groups. If you would like to change your email notification settings, go here:

Now that the groups have been created, you shouldn't receive any more email updates about them. Thank you again for being part of GrammoWriMo!

-Ann at Grammarly

Hello, GrammoWriMo-ers! Here are your GrammoWriMo updates:**

- We just finished creating the vignette assignment groups. You will receive your vignette assignment along with your orientation packet either today, October 30, or tomorrow, October 31.

- The first week of November is set aside for brainstorming with your vignette group. Use your vignette Discussion board to talk about characters, themes, plot points, etc.

- We need vignette moderators! Moderators will approve text within vignettes and guide the group discussion. If you would like to be a vignette moderator, send an email to

As always, get in touch with us using the Discussion feature in Penflip,
[@GrammoWriMo]( on Twitter, on Facebook,
or email:

Thank you!

Hello, GrammoWriMo-ers! Here are a few GrammoWriMo updates:**
- We're extending the sign up period until Monday, October 27 in hopes of gaining a few more writers at the last minute. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues about GrammoWriMo and send them the sign up link:

- Our group novel will be composed of many smaller story vignettes, each focusing on different characters, scenes, perspectives, and more. We're developing themes for the story vignettes right now, so if you have any ideas about what our group novel should focus on, please share them using the Discussion feature. We'll assign vignette themes to groups of writers after the sign-up period closes.

-Have you checked out our contest sponsors yet? Learn more about them at:

Get in touch using the Discussion feature in Penflip
@GrammoWriMo on Twitter on Facebook


Thanks for signing up for #GrammoWriMo!
Writing starts in November, but over the next few weeks we'll post updates on the writing process, schedules, and guidelines here and at [](

For now, feel free to do some background research on our group novel theme, the destruction of Pompeii, on our [Research Links page](

Stay in touch with GrammmoWriMo on [Twitter]( and [Facebook](

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It is already past three in the afternoon and the people are beginning to stir after their afternoon rest. A cart drawn by two tired looking mules approaches the Central Baths on Via di Nola through the Nola Gate. A few shop fronts still have their awnings down against the glare of the afternoon sun dipping on the western horizon. The entrance to the baths is brightly lit and the yellow and blue frescos on the walls facing the street, dance in the light. The walls of the houses facing the street are windowless and this practice lends a sense of protection and security to those within the walls. Usually, it is quiet enough at this time of day for one to discern the sound of the many household water fountains, but today it is eerily silent.

“Where are the people? Wake up and drink your fill at the fountain of this blessed wine. You will find no better. Neither here, nor anywhere else in the Empire! Come, Christians and citizens of Pompeii alike.”

“What fountain are you talking about? The fountains have dried up overnight. What do you know about it?” An old woman shuffles along after sweeping in front of her door. ‘Mad Christians! They are everywhere now-a-days and have pinched the ritual of Bacchus and claim it as their own.’ She aims a swiping blow with her broom at the legs of the offending mules and they skid on the cobblestones.

“Woah! I come in peace, Old Woman.hoa!” The mules are steadied and the wagon comes to a stop at the door of the baths. "I come in peace, Old Woman."

“You are too early for the cliental at the baths. They will not arrive before the business of the day has been concluded. Come back just before sunset.,Thea gentleman addressing the driver of the cart holdputs in. He takes the reigns of the mules firmly in his tanned hand.
“Why don’t you take your cart to the Via Consolare.? It will be safe to leave it there. You may visit one of the temples or if you please, one of the many places serving refreshments. This ash that Mount Vesuvius has been sprouting the past few hours has left me parched and I am keen to wash the dust off me. I hope it stops soon as I have a business to attend to and everyone seems to be on edge today, for whatever reason I do not know. Even my dog is hiding under the stairs and would not come out with me this afternoon, as is his habit. ”

“I came to do business, Si,r, and I am in a hurry to settle the business before dark. Others might wait till the people are sated with food and drink to negotiate business deals, but that is not my way. I do more business in one day than some merchants do in a week.”

“Only ill can come of driving a business deal without regard for the comforts of the client. Hungry people do not fare well when confronted with figures and decisions.”

“To the contrary, Sir. I am sure that the prospective clients are all well fed and rested, if not in their beds, at least in the arms of their mistress.” With a wink, the reigns are expertly whipped out of the restraining hands and the driver swings from the seat.

After much heckling by those present, Euseno got the merchant to divulge that the secret to the best full bodied white wines there are to be found in the region, and indeed, the whole of the Empire,, is the tried and tested method of the grapes being stomped by the feet of maidens, instead of using winepresses. Served with the usual carafe of water fresh from the spring fountain, it makes for an excellent thirst quencher; a very welcome libation during the many hot days still being experienced during the month of August. The merchant only has one wagon left of amphorae of wine and wants to sell them to the highest bidder before sunset. Someone enquires who his master is and where the vineyard is that he is speaking so highly of as they all know one another and every inch of the Pompeii viticulture region.

“Didn’t I see you yesterday at Herculaneum? You were selling wine outside the Forum where Emperor Titus was being received. You then also said that you only had this one consignment left to sell ...!

“No. It could not have been me ...-

Before the driver could stop him, Euseno was on the wagon and lifted the tarpaulin covering the cargo. “Here!” he said in triumph. “It is the same seal that was on the flagons being sold at Herculaneum: ‘Vesuvinum’. You still assured me that it was from a private winery just outside Pompeii, on the lower western slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Hence, the name: Vesuvius and vinum* combined! I thought it was a silly name and it stuck in my mind and it had a kick like a mule. It did not agree with my stomach and I prayed to the goddess Caca all night!”

“You are mistaken, sir. I have never seen you before.”

“Are you calling me a liar?” Turning to the ever growing crowd, Euseno, threw his arms wide in a gesture of including everyone in this conversation. “Have I ever knowingly lied to anyone, especially to someone belonging to the honourable and ancient guild of winemakers?”

“Yes, you have.” And a few others in the crowd join in with this confirmation of his guilt.
“You sell water only flavoured with wine at your tavern and the women are, therefore, not as comely at your caupona as at other establishments.”

Ribald after ribald remark beset the innkeeper and he beats a hasty retreat before the crowd can accuse him of more serious crimes against his patrons.

“Tell us a bit more about this blessed wine of yours?. If it kicks like a mule as Euseno attested, then I would buy the whole consignment from you.”

“Thank you, Sir ...”

“I am Gaius et Quintus and I deal on behalf of my master, Quintus Poppeus.”

“Well, Gaius et Quintus, I will be happy to give you a taste of the wine before you buy. As luck would have it, I have a wineskin of wine right here with me. Now all we need is to find a goblet and I will pour you a fair measure for you to appreciate.” With a smile, the stranger produces the wineskin straining at the seams and awaits the inevitable clamour for a sample of the wine. Soon there is many a wine cup extended by the onlookers, eager to avail themselves of the offer of free wine.

“And might I enquire as to your name, Sir?” says Gaius et Quintus as he wipes the tears from his eyes at the strength of the very agreeable wine.

“I am Flavia Lucia Augusta, but you may call me Flavia Augusta.” Lucia waits for the usual reaction of astonishment from the crowd.

“But, you are a woman!”

“That I am indeed,” says Lucia and drapes the toga she has been wearing in a tighter flourish over her shoulder.

“And you are wearing a toga ...” The people drop their eyes, each with their own thought.

“Yes, astute Sir. It was cold this morning on the road and, therefore, I took my late husband’s toga to keep me warm. I did not think that the citizens of Pompeii would mind the error in dress code as all can see that I am a wine merchant and not a prostibulae as my hair is not dyed yellow, red, or blue.” It took the crowd a while to join Lucia in laughter and some good natured banter is exchanged.

“Does that mean that we can get the wine at half price? You do not have a guild to pay dues to,” asks a cheeky fellow at the back of the crowd.

Lucia looks expectantly at Gaius et Quintus. “It seems to me that you have already drummed up a demand for this wine and it would be prudent of me to make you an offer. Shall we retire to the taverna across the road were we can continue to discuss our business?” He does not wait for Lucia’s answer as he deftly weaves his way through the people, accidently spilling some of their wine still undrunk in their cups.

“Tell me, Flavia Augusta: why are you in such a hurry to sell what by all accounts seems to be the best wine you have produced in years?” Gaius leads the way into the dimly lit taverna and indicates to the young woman behind the counter that he wants two goblets and a carafe of water.

“Well, Gaius, where do I begin? Yes, it is the best wines I have produced in years. Last year’s crop was the highest yield I have had since my late husband and I have planted the vineyard at the base of the mountain. Yesterday, during the festival of Volcanalia, my sister, who serves at the temple at Herculaneum, told me she had a dream that my wines will be served to kings thousands of years from now. I did not know what to make of it and thought that she meant the new religion of Jesus of Nazareth would flourish.”

Gaius bursts out laughing and reaches for the wineskin that Lucia had placed on the table between them. “Mark my words, that cult is just another fancy that will soon blow over. But that doesn’t answer my question. Why are you in such a hurry to sell your stock? If you would be prepared to wait for a year or two, then the wine would be even better in quality.”

“I woke up yesterday morning to a noise in my cellar. Some of the amphorae had burst open and the wine had spilled out on the floor. It was extremely hot in there. I do not understand why this is so. I decided to bring the wine to town and to sell it off as soon as I can, before losing everything. Since my husband died last year soon after the harvest was in, the hard work of pruning and tending the vines has left me exhausted. I intend to leave for Cape Misenum tomorrow morning. I have friends there and it is not as crowded as Pompeii. One cannot move in this town during the summer months. All of Rome seems to take their vacation here during the hot month of August.”

“Yes, it can get pretty crowded here during August. It will be cooler across the Bay of Naples. You will like it there.”

“Well, could you make me a fair offer for the wine, Gaius? I must get back to my house and prepare the evening meal. I have left my slave, Jucista, in charge of the kitchen.”

“I need to confirm the price with Quintus Poppeus as we would need storage place for the wine. I still think that it would improve with age. Why don’t you return to your home and come and see me this evening? I will have an answer for you. Here are a few gold pieces as payment in good faith. Then you can stay overnight in town and make arrangements early next morning for your passage to Cape Misenum.”

“I would rather not travel at night. May we agree to meet here tomorrow morning after you had your breakfast? It will give me time to make arrangements at my house for the tending of the vineyard and the household chores, before my departure. I am already packed and am keen to get away as soon as I have my purse. Do not disappoint me, Gaius.”

Lucia gathers the toga from the chair where she had dropped it when she had entered and drapes it over her right shoulder before stepping out into the road. On impulse, she hands the clasp with the three black pearls, which normally held the toga in place, to the old woman who was standing outside the door eavesdropping on her conversation with Gaius. “I have a feeling I would not have any use for it anymore after today. May it bring you luck.” A sense of finality comes over her, akin to the day that her husband had unexpectedly died of a heart attack.

The ash in the air makes her cough and she draws the material over her nose and mouth. "Look at the mushroom cloud above the mountain. Nothing good will come of this. The god Vulcan was not appeased at the Volcanalia festival held yesterday. Before I depart tomorrow morning, I will bring special offerings to the goddess Opi during the Opiconsivia festival."
Lucia turns away from the dispersing crowd and strides to her wagon, which stands in the street. She checks the cart and fixes the tarpaulin, then gives the weary mules a pat.

The sky is darkening earlier than usual. The ground shakes for a few moments. Murmurs of unease ripple through the crowd as they each return to their business, preparing to finish up before nightfall.

Lucia climbs up onto the wagon seat, coughs once more, gestures her farewell to the remaining onlookers, and with a "Giddyup!" rides down the road.

Suddenly, the ground shudders violently, and Lucia grasps the reins desperately in an attempt to stay upright.

[*Vesuvinum (combining Vesuvius and the Latin for wine, vinum]

There seems no facility to format the text, eg to justify the paragraphs. Also, I had to use double space between the paragraphs, i s o the function of paragraph spacing. It makes the text look "untidy". Furthermore, the 'spell and grammar check' supplied by GRAMMARLY does not function the above script.
*** Vignette 2

Vignette 2: Paint a literary portrait of the scene before the eruption: What does it look like? What does it smell like? What sounds does one hear? What are the animals doing? How is the natural world responding to the signs of volcanic activity? Think of this vignette as a bird’s-eye view of Pompeii in the days leading up to the eruption.

When everything is about to change, the air becomes still. The sky turns a non-descript color of grey and people throw themselves into normalcy with a sense of purpose usually reserved for special occasions. They'll walk through town and wave brightly to familiar faces, laugh a little too loudly, and buy a loaf of bread for dinner. All the while, they understand that their reality will soon shift ever-so-slightly from its axis and life will never be the same again.
They feel it in the air, and so do I.
It’s still dark when I awaken. I unfold my wings reluctantly and flap them about to warm myself up. The people will be out soon. I fly about, determined to satisfy my cravings for a morning worm. I spot a few still basking in the cold night air and scorn their foolishness as I eat. Some animals are far too easy prey.
I rise into the air and survey the half-completed re-construction of the city. My father told me that a couple years ago, right before I was born, an earthquake shook Pompeii, one much bigger than all of the little ones that occur so often. It destroyed many important structures, including homes, temples, and bridges. Even the roads broke apart and had to be repaired. Since that day, many people have moved away, and only some have stayed to help rebuild Pompeii.
I swoop over the city and perch on a rooftop. Many people are already up, getting water from fountains in the plaza. The sun is rising, and the shops are beginning to open. I catch whiffs of baking bread and hear the mounting sound of noisy chatter. Merchants are wheeling their carts into the streets. Children are running about, chasing stray dogs and other birds that are too stupid to stay out of crowds. Homeless families are huddled in street corners and alleys, hungry and empty-eyed, being passed by as if they did not exist.
I know many of them are tired. Yesterday was the festival of Vulcanalia. The people lit bonfires in celebration and sacrificed fish and other small animals to Vulcan, the god of fire. At the beginning of the day they began work by the light of a candle. As was tradition, they also hung their clothes out under the sun. Last night I picked through the remains of the sacrifices and came up with some nice dinner.
A young boy dressed in rags, perhaps six or seven years of age, darts through the crowds. I see this scene every morning. I know what he is doing. I know what he will end up with. And I pity him. He attempts to mix in with the crowds as best he can, staying near motherly-looking figures. He has his eye on one fruit stand in particular. The merchant handling the cart turns around to help a customer, and quick as a wink, the boy sprints to the cart, snatches an apple, and spins around to run when he is collared by the burly-looking merchant.
“You again!” the merchant snarls, holding the boy by the ear and grabbing the apple. “I told you to stay away!”
“I only want some food, sir,” the boy whimpers. “I haven’t eaten since yesterday morning and I’m hungry.”
“I don’t care if you starve to death! That’s no excuse for stealing, y’ little no-good thief,” the merchant growls, he was not the kindly type, “Now stay away or I’ll really get you!”
The boy nods pitifully. The man shoves him, and the he quickly makes his getaway, probably to tackle another food cart.
The sun is rising steadily now. The temperature, although higher than before, remains chilly. I fly into the shade of some trees and watch the hustle and bustle of the city.
Smoke wafts about me as I sit underneath the blanket of leaves. It is the temple, and the people of Pompeii are coming to worship Venus. She is the god of love. I know, because I have managed to fly inside; the walls are coated with paintings of all colours, and there are marble and bronze statuettes abundant. The people are bringing incense and oils of all kinds to honour her, and to ask for her presence as the city is being rebuilt. But I have a feeling she will not be here for long.
Mount Vesuvius stands tall above the city. I pick up my wings and fly again, towards the volcano, beating against the air and letting the wind guide me - a mutual agreement of sorts. The air is clear as the city beneath me fades away, and the land stretches out in front of me. Shouts and bellows from merchants and whining children have ceased, and the cry of nature is stronger. I do not resist it, and continue on to the mountain.
I let out a squawk - the squawk so many humans seem to hate - knowing that here, alone, free, there is no one to hear me but Vesuvius. And she does not hate them. Vesuvius understands. We understand each other's solitude.
I cross the landscape, the trees, the grass, the roaming animals, and I finally look below me. I see Vesuvius, and she seems troubled. She is screaming and gulping, afraid and confused. I squawk at her, but this time she doesn't respond. She simply continues on with her cries, her cries at nothing. Panic surges through me.
Something is wrong. I have never witnessed a scene like this before. And there is more to her cries, she seems angered.I circle my friend over and over as I watched her choke out loads of smoke into the lights sky. I remember what my father told me once before. He talked of the earthquake, and how Vesuvius remained calm through the destruction. But today, I have a feeling, she is ready to cause one of her own.
I don't know what to do. So I fly back. Maybe I can get away from it this way. Maybe Vesuvius will calm down. I don't know. But I do the only thing I can. As I fly, I look below. I see people, foolish people. They are going about their work as if nothing had happened, as if nothing will happen. But how am I better off than them? How will my knowledge help me? If Vesuvius destroys everything, the only thing that will separate us, is this knowledge that we will die together.
Still I can't just fly by and do nothing. How can I help them? What can I do? Maybe a warning signal for all to hear, a loud caw perhaps? I know that seems futile - I am but a bird - but I will not just fly by and do nothing. Looking around I see a few of my brothers nearby. Some are collecting food for their nests; others are teaching their young to fly. Do they sense what is happening? Flying over I call out to them, telling them of the danger that awaits their families. No one responds. I call out again, louder, as I fly over the town. Surely the townspeople can hear me. Maybe they will note my odd behaviour and wonder. Still no one pays any attention to my cries.
Looking down I see the young boy huddled in a corner of a house ruin. Maybe he can help and he can warn everyone! The little boy is crying softly, his small hands cluthing his stomach as if in pain. I watch him for a while and then fly and rest near his feet. Giving a caw I see him look over at me. Calling out to him again I begin to tell him of Vesuvius' anger. But he only smiles and gestures for me to come closer. My cries have been in vain. He doesn't know what is about to happen. Pompeii is its usual self, stuck in its usual routine.
But out there, Vesuvius is stirring. I've seen it.

The air is becoming thick and humid, and the hot ground offers no respite for those forced to grovel in the dirt. These peasants may be the only ones to have any real sense of what is about to happen, but their ravings have as much effect as my cries; they are simply ignored as noise.

The higher born, however, are typically unaware of what goes on outside their thick stone walls. The women are dressed and tended to by their many slaves, their hair twisted and pinned tightly. Amongst the colonnades, idle gossip and laughter echoes as servants share stories from the amphitheatre. Affairs of business are discussed in the atrium, the chairs tucked neatly in one corner as the sun begins to climb and the air begins to burn.

I pause a moment to listen, hopeful that amongst these people of influence and their advisers, someone may have the wit to know what to do.

"So tell me, where have you travelled from?"

"From Naples; I hope to return in the morning, but I have further business to attend to this day. Your hospitality is most generous, Lucius, I know it is not customary to invite guests to dine so early in the day."

"It is customary in this house to break bread with those who bring us such beautiful things. To have brought us this dining table and chairs with not so much as a scratch after such a journey; well, it would be rudeness indeed."

"Your kindness will not be forgotten. I might say, your frescoes really are delightful. Your artist must be commended on his stunning portrayal of Minerva."

"Thanks indeed; I really must show you our statue of Bacchus in the triclinia at lunch, it is quite a thrill to see. Incidentally, cook is preparing fish in genuine Pompeii garum; I assure you, it is quite the delicacy in these parts."
He pauses for a moment in thought; I pray that he has sensed a change in the air or a tremor underfoot. He beckons to a nearby slave that stands holding an amphora.
"Send for another batch of that wine, my boy." He turned to his companion, confiding; "We rather drank our house dry at the festivities yesterday and it would be a shame indeed not to enjoy that sweet nectar once more."

It was clear there was no hope to be had here. As I lift my wings to continue my search, I lift the weight of my heavy heart as well, and almost cannot fly away. This is going to be a sad day indeed.

I circle the town, resting on each roof, listening for someone, something that can alert these people. But it is all in vain. The only cries to be heard speak of hunger, a thing to fear, of course, but not today. I do not know what more I can do.
Looking skyward, I see that the sun has reached its zenith now and will soon begin to fall. I take to the air once more, rising higher than ever before. The wind is stronger here and I am buffeted about, but I am able to view the whole town, with Vesuvius rising above.
I drink it in; every home and shop, each temple and theatre, each soul a tiny speck. Does our smallness make the loss less significant? I cannot allow myself to believe this. The same air I breathe out is breathed in by those poor souls below me. The same sky above, the same earth below; the same capacity for love. That must stand for something?
Desperate, I fly again to Vesuvius' gentle slopes. The ground is warmer now, her fury intensifying. I coo a gentle lullaby, hoping to soothe her fears, knowing that no help is coming. What more can I do?
It has been a long and hard morning, and my wings are tired.

Perhaps I could rest here awhile?

* * *

It happened suddenly, eerily. The sudden calm before a storm - before nature unleashes its rage upon its unsuspecting victims... but even then there were signs unknown to the inhabitants of the city but commonplace among the peasants and farmers who practised agriculture near the mountain.

A strange disease had been wiping off the sheep one by one with no external signs or symptoms. Its end result was a calm death that gave impression of a natural euthanasia that involved nature weeding out and culling bad breeds to prepare for a purer breed and generation.
In response to nature's change of hand, some farming communities had slowly began shifting away from the vicinity of Mount Vesuvius' fertile slope, abandoning their fields temporarily with plans to return after the season of bad luck had been abetted by a sacrifice to the gods. But this was the only the case for the poor families who had little or nothing to lose to in the migration.
Larger families whose entire livelihood was based on the vast produce from their lands looked at the situation as more of a sheep/animal infection and opted to stay behind to safeguard their interests. Their pilgrimmage they said, would be effective once they had the 'tangible' in this case financial returns to offer as a worthy sacrifice to the deity that kept their city safe.
The clouds themselves held telling signs that to the untrained eye may have been easy to miss. The massive migration of a flock of birds from the slopes and areas surrounding Mt Vesauvius gave the impression of soon -to -come downpour even in the midst of wonderful sunshine. The repeated migration of birds and failure of the clouds to release torrential rain had become such a popular event that the locals had come up with a term for it: 'sunshine clowns'. The older generation whose multittude of years had given them access to archives of history of the years passed mockinlgly referred to the birds as "false rain prophets" and as thus the migration become a meaningless phenomena especially to the inhabitants of the city whose architecture made them immune to torrential downpours.
When the beggar looked, his world was changing; when the prince looked, his world was changing. The entire land was about to be thrown into chaos, a turmoil of the ages. And there was nothing anyone could do. They could only watch, only wimper, only run, as Vesuvius began to release its tumultuous contents.
Today was the day of anarchy. Today was the day of death.

# Lonely Sailor

The stench of rotting meat greeted him at the docks. He also quickly noticed the awkward silence of the usually busy city. The two mixed together created an uneasy feeling in his being. He docked his Daisy at the port and stepped down into a grey mud. Apodemio the Traveller, as his name suggests, was fond of travelling to faraway places on a constant basis. His baptismal name proved his future fate of being a traveller and because he travelled so much, he became fondly known as not simply Apodemio but as Apodemio the Traveller. Owning a fleet of boats, a few caravans and some donkeys and horses, Apodemio was able to travel to anyplace from the next village to the nearby towns and cities. He also loaned travelling vessels to his fellow countrymen and operated this as a business.
Here, Apodemio came to Pompeii, a place blessed with his frequent visits, to pay tribute to a friend and to do some business. The walk from the dock to the nearest residential area was a bit lengthy so it would be a while before he would gain sightings of human life. From the distance he walked, Apodemio had a strange feeling of uneasiness; the place was too quiet. Despite the distance, he would hear the humming of the crowds asunder. The grey mud-like substance relieved his fears in no way neither did the stench which although resembled dead animals, had a distinctively more pungent smell. Apodemio tried to ascertain the ordour’s origin, but to no avail. He knew what dead animals smelled like because in his hometown, there was always some stray dead animal on the roadside due to careless behavior. Be it a month old, or two, this smell was too intense to be that of animals. As he approached closer, it became almost unbearable.
Upon entering the city, Apodemio saw two men. His heart raced faster than his stallion and his speed boat combined. The two men were seated at the foot of an anvil, one with a hammer and nails near him and the other with a few battered shoes up for repair. The two men were covered in the grey mud and seemed frozen. The stench was evidently stemming from them; they had been dead, minimum three weeks. Apodemio instantly gazed around and noticed the emptiness of the city. The uneasiness that he had felt was wholly due to this. He walked around the mud and debris of ruins. All around were dead bodies of seemingly unsuspecting people, many of whom were caught frozen while engaged in various activities.
At the sight of a totally destructed city, sorrow panged Apodemio’s soul. All these people were dead, everyone, even… the thought literally seized him in his spot…Glaucus too was gone. Apodemio had travelled for two months after he last saw his dear friend. He had promised to visit him earlier, when Glaucus fell ill from a terrible flu. Apodemio’s promise was stunted when he got an opportunity to travel to the Caribbean. He had told his friend of this once in a lifetime occasion and was responded with a knowing understanding. He was grateful at Glaucus’ temperament and promised to bring him a token from his trip, besides, Glaucus had assured him that he was recovering fine.
Dreading what he knew to be reality, Apodemio managed to walk the path ot his friend’s little cottage. Oh how he wished he had not taken that trip, how he wished he was there for and with his friend, how he wished….Glaucus was there to walk the path with him. In his remorse, he wished many things even that Glaucus, if he had to, would die of the flu instead rather than this horrible death. Approaching the cottage, Apodemio could discern nothing; all was covered in gray mud. He knew however, the exact spot where the house was because he had been there so many times.
As he climbed the four concrete stairs, he began to sweat profusely, as if his sweat was competing with his heart beat in a race. Shaking hands dusted the dried mud off the doorknob and pushed it open. As if giving him no time to prepare, the body of his friend greeted him. Glaucus was sitting upright on his favourite chair, facing the hills, a spot he admired dearly. He looked peaceful with a pipe protruding off his half enclosed lips and hands well placed on the armrest of the chair. He seemed to have died peacefully. This alone gave a bit of consolation to Apodemio who knelt beside his friend and wept bitterly.
His heart was filled with sorrow which flowed through his tears. After sobbing fir an extended period, Apodemio decided that his mourning would do nothing for his friend. He went to the back, sourced a shovel and dug a hole in the backyard. After hurling Glaucus over his shoulder, he placed him in the hole, facing east, his friend’s favourite direction; he was buried facing the hills. With courage overcoming great difficulty, he heaved shovels of muddy sand over the body and placed the small package that he had brought him over the burial site. Apodemio then placed his last respects to his friend and left the now deserted city of Pompeii.
On his return to the boat, he had decided to pay tribute to this once beautiful city full of beautiful people. He thought shortly and decided that he would name his next boats Pompeii, in honour of the lost city and Glaucus, in honour of his forever friend.

# Vignette 1

The sunlight slips through the curtains wrapping me up in cozy warmth. I move slowly one of my eyelids but it seems too heavy. I decide to stay here a bit longer but the noise that comes from the kitchen won’t let me enjoy the peace of sleeping.

In some weeks the harvest time will come. I love the aroma and the sight of our blossoming olive trees so beautiful and peaceful. This year we couldn’t hire many men to do the collection of fruits but my father believes we will be able to do it. My mother and I will have to check that the leaves are removed and the olives are properly washed to take them to the trapetum. She always advises me to be sure that additional oil is kept to go to the temple. I can’t tell her I lost my lunula, the amulet given for my protection! My mother will be furious if I tell her I've lost it. It's my only protection from evil forces, like demons and, worst of all, the evil eye. But I'm sure I'll find it before too long, and my mother will never need to know it's lost.

The noise from the kitchen doesn't get any quieter, and I can still hear it no matter how much I try to cover my ears, so I sit up, resigning myself to the fact that I'll actually have to get up. Covering a yawn with my hand, I pad out of the room, heading towards the kitchen where I know the others will be. I adjust the neckline of my tunic as I go, hoping to hide the fact that my lunula isn't hanging around my neck.

As I enter the kitchen, I feel the earth below me tremor. My heart drops and the first thought that comes to my mind is that this is an effect of loosing my lunula. I shake my head and realize that I'm being paranoid. After all, Pompeii is known for it's tremors. This was normal.

Looking around, I notice that there are extra members in the kitchen today. This explains the unusual amount of noise.
"Hi uncle Alanzo, aunt Livia!" I acknowledge them and take my seat at the table where fresh cheese and hot bread are presented to me by my nonna and I look at her gratefully. This is not a regular breakfast.

I look at them, my dear ones, and I'm grateful to be here in this wonderful place surrounded by love. I look at my mother and she looks back at me...something is wrong. Her look is swamped in sadness. I have never seen those remorseful eyes before. I try to ask her what is this all about but before I could say anything she tells me: "My pretty little girl, it's your birthday...your last birthday here...please try to understand us". She starts crying while everyone's faces turned white, red and then white again.

My slice of bread and cheese stilled halfway to mouth as my head shot up. There were few possibilities: it was my fourteenth birthday, and many girls were betrothed and married by fifteen!

"But I've barely started weaving my _tunica recta_" I stuttered. Aunt Livia knew how much trouble I was having with that blasted loom..

"Sweetheart -" Papa began, as my beloved Mama turned into his arms and began to weep.

The words were cut off as another tremor rumbled through the house, far stronger than the first. My uncle and I dived under the table, Mama and Aunt Livia clutched the solid outer doorframe, and Papa raced to protected the _lares familiares_, the small statues representing the gods who cared for our household, while plaster rained down from the walls on all sides. My hand automatically reached for my _lunula_ - it wasn't there, of course, but Uncle Alanzo held me close while gripping the dancing table with his other hand.

We stumbled outside as soon as we dared, still wobbly and choking on the dust, each one of us staring toward the apparently placid Mons Vesuvius. It was the feast of Vulcanalia as well as my birthday - what could this mean?

My little brother Claudius, must have seen me reaching for my lunula by reflex.
”You lost your lunula! This is your fault!” he said with a look that made me realize he probably knew where it was, otherwise why would he say that i had lost it? Wouldn’t he have said i wasn’t wearing it?
Everyone turned and looked at me. ”Ah, um, It’s not …” I stammered. I turned to my little brother “what did you do with it?” I yelled at him. “Give it back before something else happens!”
“Claudius” my mama says, “Do you have your sister’s lunula? You know how important it is, give it back to her.”

"N-No, mother, I... I don't have it!" And then Claudius started to run out of the house, thus proving my hunch that he has something to do with the loss of my lunula. Everyone else was calling out his name, but to no avail - he was gone like a wild horse. So, I decided to chase after him, but not after another tremor hit the ground, causing me to lose my balance and stumble to the floor.
I was now in the main road, shouting out Claudius's name, but it was all hopeless - he had hidden himself well somewhere in Pompeii. As I continued my search, the unexpected suddenly happened - the great mountain Vesuvius spewed out a dark tower of black cloud from it's peak. The tremors intensified; pots were falling down from everywhere, stalls suddenly collapsed without warning, people were panicking and running around in circles. What if the loss of my lunula is connected to this very, very, very bad omen?
an say anything she tells me: "My pretty little girl, it's your birthday...your last birthday here...please try to understand us". She starts crying while everyone's faces turned white, red and then white again.

My slice of bread and cheese stills halfway to mouth as my head shoots up. There are few possibilities: it is my fourteenth birthday, and many girls are betrothed and married by fifteen!

"But I've barely started weaving my _tunica recta_" I stutter. Aunt Livia knows how much trouble I'm having with that blasted loom.

"Sweetheart -" Papa begins, as my beloved Mama turns into his arms and starts to weep.

The words are cut off as another tremor rumbles through the house, far stronger than the first. My uncle and I dive under the table, Mama and Aunt Livia clutch the solid outer doorframe, and Papa races to protected the _lares familiares_, the small statues representing the gods who care for our household, while plaster rains down from the walls on all sides. My hand automatically reaches for my _lunula_ - it isn't there, of course, but Uncle Alanzo holds me close while gripping the dancing table with his other hand.

We stumble outside as soon as we dare, still wobbly and choking on the dust, each one of us staring toward the apparently placid Mons Vesuvius. It is the feast of Vulcanalia as well as my birthday - what could this mean?

My little brother Claudius must have seen me reaching for my lunula by reflex.
”You lost your lunula! This is your fault!” he says with a look that makes me realize he probably knows where it is - why else would he say I've lost it? Wouldn’t he have said I'm not wearing it?
Everyone turns and looks at me. ”Ah, um, It’s not …” I stammer. I turn to my little brother. “What did you do with it?” I yell at him. “Give it back before something else happens!”
“Claudius,” my mama says, “Do you have your sister’s lunula? You know how important it is; give it back to her.”

"N-No, mother, I... I don't have it!" And then Claudius starts to run out of the house, thus proving my hunch that he has something to do with the loss of my lunula. Everyone else calls out his name, but to no avail - he's gone like a wild horse. So, I decide to chase after him, but not after another tremor hits the ground, causing me to lose my balance and stumble to the floor.
I'm now in the main road, shouting out Claudius's name, but it's all hopeless - he has probably hidden himself well somewhere in Pompeii. As I continue my search, the unexpected suddenly happens - the great Mount Vesuvius spews out a dark tower of black clouds from it's peak. The tremors intensify; pots fall down from everywhere; stalls suddenly collapse without warning; people are panicking and running around in circles. What if the loss of my lunula is connected to this very, very, very bad omen?

I shake off the thought and sprint down the road. Lamenting at my missing lunula will not get it back. I must find Claudius - he knows where it is. I hear my mother calling my name from afar, but I keep running. Must find Claudius. Must find Claudius. What if something happens to him? What if something has already happened to him? What if he is hurt?

I run faster still.

I try to remember where he usually hides with his friends. Outside the bathhouse were they like to hear the echo of their voices as they sing, or by the market where they usually like to toss rocks at the goats and see them buck in the enclosures. The Market is closests, and I run in that direction as fast as I can. People are already outside now looking over at the Mons Vesuvius. The sky is starting to darken, and more people are coming out into the street to look at the dark cloud that is rising.

I don't stop to look, I only find that my legs carry me faster towards the Market. The road now is starting to fill with the chatter of people as they start to talk and some are now praying. "Claudius!" I start screaming at the top of my lungs. I no longer care about he Lunula and I find that tears are now running down my cheeks.

I'm no longer sure if I am crying because Claudius is missing or because my father just told me I was being betrothed. All I want to do now is find my little brother and hug him. Hold him tight and take him back home. I can't find him I can't see him, and more tears rush down my face. "Claudius!" I scream once again as the animals in the market start to look of fear. Their eyes wide, the goats pulling on their leashes. The horses are now restless as their owners start to lash them to keep still.

The sound of birds now flocking as the ground shakes again scares me. There have been tremors as long as I can remember but never this long. I feel the ground now shift below my feet and I fall, my hands hit the dirt next to the enclosures. I feel as my knees scrape and my tunica is now soiled with straw and mud. I sit up on the floor. Looking around as people start to pack up their stores and belongings.

Cyprian one of the hands that works for my father during the harvest sees me as I fall and comes rushing over to me. "Little bird, be careful," he cries out as he leaves the fence he was mending to come by my side, leaning down and lifting me back to my feet.

I try to clean my tunic but my hands are so dirty they only smudge the dirt more. Cyprian takes some water from his goat skin and pours it over my hands as he helps me clean them. The dirt is washed off as well as some of my blood. "Cyprian, have you seen Claudius, he ran off and I need to find him."

"Ah yes, I'd just saw him running in that direction." He points in the direction that is further into the market. "But why? Why is he running away from you?"

"It's hard to explain, Cyprian. But I have reasons to believe that Claudius had make off with my lunula."

A rush of cold water pours over my hands as Cyprian drops his goat skin. He has turned pale. "This is a bad omen, it's evil. It certainly is."

"I can't afford to lose him, Cyprian, not now. My family cannot lose him now. My family... I... We just can't..." I started to sob. Cyprian stood still, very close to me but seems not sure what to do to console his master's beloved daughter. Finally he sighed and whispered, "Listen, precious, why don't we just pray to the gods? They must be able to bring Claudius back, not just alive, but safe. Come on, here's my bulla. Let's hold the bulla and join hands as we send our humble request to the powerful gods of our ancestors. May they grant him safety and guidance..."

I tried to stop crying, but couldn't. And even as I nodded to Cyprian and joined my hands to pray, I felt the dread rising in my heart. The tremors below my feet seemed to be getting stronger and stronger.I tried to concentrate on my prayers. But couldn't. My eyes just wandered around, trying to spot my brother. But instead of him, they saw shock and terror, on every face. And then I noticed, it wasn't just me who was crying there.

**Vignette 1: Write from the perspective of a peasant citizen of Pompeii living his or her regular life leading up to the eruption, and then witnessing the eruption first hand. (We will submit this vignette as our official Guinness World Record attempt, so please make sure you contribute to the story!)**
# Vignette 14

**Vignette 14: Write from the perspective of a tourist exploring the ruins of Pompeii. What thoughts and feelings do they have? What questions do they have about the eruption?**

The first thing Octavius felt in the morning was creaking. Slow, rigid creaking of wood, and the harsh slap of water against the walls of the ship carrying him back to the lost city. The sensation curled up his spine and Octavius' eyes rolled open, looking up at the ceiling, which had ornate wood designs carved by hand. The boat lurched and Octavius sighed, rolling over in his bed, which was nailed to the side of the massive boat he had commissioned to take him on his journey.
Octavius stumbled out of his huge bed, feeling tired and anxious. The sound and smell of the ocean assualted his senses as he got dressed. He was coming back to Pompeii, a lost home he had escaped ten years before.

After he dressed and ate, Octavius had gone up on deck to see the view. The fresh salty air woke his senses and he looked around at the other people on deck. He had noticed the change in the other passengers and crew as soon as they could see the volcano in the distance. Every person on board the creaking ship had become quieter, more withdrawn. The reality of the trip started to sink in. People were going to see for themselves what happened to their beloved city. Look for loved ones missing since the fateful day. Octavius sighed and reached into his pocket. The bracelet was still there. It had been a part of him since he left Pompeii. Since he left _her_ behind. He squeezed the bracelet tight before he pulled his hand out of his pocket. He had to see for himself. He had to know what happened to the owner of the bracelet.

Taking in a shaky breath, Octavius pulled his gaze from the view of the volcano and once again slid his gaze over the other passengers. A woman, pressed against the railing of the ship, her shoulders slumped, caught his eye. Her long golden curls hung passed her waist and a shawl was wrapped tightly about her upper torso. He could see only the side of her face, which was angled downward, staring into the depths of the sea rather than the heinous view in the distance, but it was evident she was crying. Though he preferred to keep to himself, a strange pull seemed to beckon him to her. He knew that if she was traveling to Pompeii for the same reason as himself, to see what had become of a loved one after the horrible destruction, that she was in desperate need of being comforted. With one final glance about the deck, Octavius straightened his stance and strode slowly toward the woman. He stopped a few feet short of her and gently cleared his throat, not wishing to startle her. The woman’s head lifted slowly and vibrant blue eyes settled on his. A lump formed in Octavius’ throat at the sight of her tear stained cheeks. As her eyes searched his, a slight crease in her forehead, Octavius suddenly found himself at a loss for words. He’d approached the woman with the intention of offering comfort, but now that he stood before her, the words didn’t seem to want to form themselves.

Octavius handles the bracelet in his pocket as he gazes into her eyes, lost in the blue that reminds him of the glazed pots Lucretia threw and glazed in her small shop. The sea disappears, and the scent of the salt air fades, replaced by the narrow streets of Pompeii. He visits the street vendors, poring through their merchandise, looking for something for her, something to give her today, something with which she might remember him. He finds a necklace, a simple chain, with seven jeweled beads strung on it. He catches the attention of the vendor.

"Could you add another bead onto this necklace?" Octavius asked.

"But that would throw it out of balance," the vendor responded, pointing out that the middle bead featured red jewels, as opposed to the clear jewels of the other six.

"Perhaps you could add another red bead in the middle," Octavius said. "Then, there would still by symmetry."

The vendor shrugged and agreed to do it. After a brief discussion about the price, Octavius paid, thanked the vendor and left, sliding through the crowds to get to Lucretia's house. Tonight, he would tell her about his business opportunity in Palermo, and give her the necklace. He didn't know it at the time, but she would give him her bracelet, and make him promise to return to her one day.

He releases the bracelet, and the city fades from view, and he finds himself back on the ship, rocking and lurching towards the port. Looking around, he doesn't see the woman with the golden curls. He asks those standing near him, but none remember seeing her. Leaning against the rail, he gazes out over the water as they pull in for a landing.

Refugees and tourists crowd the port, some looking to travel the area, others trying to find a way to go on with their lives. Octavius had heard of the devastation, rumors and tall tales of levelled cities and mass casualties, but until he walked down the ramp of the boat and looked into the eyes of the refugees and other people who had already visited the area, he hadn't believed much of it. What had the gods wrought on these people? Blank stares greeted him at every turn, hollow eyes and bowed shoulders. An agent at the edge of the town offered horse-drawn wagons to rent. Octavius order the servants to load his luggage, then paid the man, but told him to wait as he strode back into the crowd, looking for the golden-haired woman. Walking all the way back to the boat, no one, not even the captain, could recall even seeing her on board, let alone after they disembarked. He made his way back to the wagon, and told the driver to head out.

The ride from the port inland was short, and Octavius occupied himself by staring at the sky. Grey and choked with smog, nothing like the clear blue he remembered, and staring up at it felt smothering. He was so used to the freshness of sea air after his days on the ship, and his time spent living on the coast in Palermo, that this desolate grey was terrible and terrifying. Nothing else was like this. He thought of the woman, with her golden hair and blue eyes, like the blue of the sky he is missing, and he wondered what had happened to her. She had vanished like smoke in the wind, as if she had never been there at all. Maybe she was a spirit of the lost, he thought, and shivered even in the heat.

When the driver stopped, all Octavius could do was stare. There had been a city there once, and now Pompeii was a black plain, with nothing but soot and ash and a few glowing rivers of lava. The gods had brought down their fury upon this place, and now only the dead were left, trapped beneath the dried blood of the mountain. The great beast itself was still belching smoke into the air, but it had come to rest. Octavius clenched his hand around the breacelet in his pocket, and only the feeling of the beads biting into the soft skin of his fingers kept him from collapsing to his knees. Somewhere below all that was Lucretia, and all hope was lost. He understood now what had possessed those in the port, what force it was that had drained the life from their eyes and left them hollow, like dead men walking. The mountain had buried the city into a single mass grave, and all life had simply gone away, as easily as snuffing a candle.

"The lava is still flowing, Master," the driver called from the cart. Octavius had not notcied himself walking away, and now he turned back. "It's not safe."

Octavius swallowed. "I must look," he said. "For something, some trace."

"The city's buried."

Octavius only shook his head and ignored the driver's incredulous look, and set out across the desolation, eyes darting the earth below him to the horizon and back, again and again.

As he walks, the remnants of the mountain looming in the distance, he covers his mouth and nose with the sleeve of his tunic, protecting himself as much as possible from the dust he kicked up as he walked. Still, the acrid taste filled his mouth, burning his nose and throat. His eyes watered, tears rolling down his face, but he continued to focus on placing one foot in front of the other, plodding forward, until his feet simply refused to move, and he fell to his knees in the dirty ash.

He pulled the bracelet out of his pocket and gazed down at it, almost unable to see it through his swollen, watery eyes. He didn't know where in the city's layout he was, he didn't know if he was anywhere near Lucretia's house. All he knew was that he shouldn't be here at all, that there was nothing but death to be found here. Death for the residents, and for any that came to look for them.

"You should not be here," a voice said from above him. Octavius could not bring himself to look up at the speaker. "Octavius," the voice said. "You should not have come."

He realized that he recognized the voice, that it was that of the girl he'd left behind. It was the voice of Lucretia. Looking up, he saw the golden hair and blue eyes of the woman from the voyage here. He held the bracelet up for her to see. She smiled down at him, tears flowing down her cheeks. She reached down and touched his cheek. At her caress, the burning vanished from his eyes, nose and throat, and he found he could breathe normally again. He rose to his feet, feeling the energy coursing through his body.

The woman runs her hand down his face, and then his arm, pushing his hand and the bracelet back into his pocket. "There is nothing for you here anymore," she said, caressing his face again. "It is time for you to go."
He closed his eyes and bowed his head. The ash dissolved beneath him, casting him forward to slam into the large stones of the road like a bag of meat. He lay there a moment, trying to rectify where he was and from where he had fallen. Rolling slightly and looking to the sky, he saw nothing but clouds and the sun. A fellow pedestrian paused and helped him to his feet, checking to see if Octavius is okay, and then advising him to watch his step in the future. Octavius stared at the man for a moment then nodded. Another passerby handed him the small wooden box he’d been carrying.

Octavius looked down at the box in his hand, at the ornate carving on the lid and smiled. He was on his way to Lucretia’s. He thanked the men for helping him, told them he would be more careful, and strode off, marveling at the storefronts and homes as he passed. He waved to the book dealer on the corner as he turned down Lucretia’s street. Five houses down, he ducked inside the vestibulum and knocked on the wooden door. A servant let Octavius into the house, and led him into the atrium, where Lucretia sat on a stone bench reading a small book in the fading light, her golden curls hanging down her back. As he entered the courtyard, she looked up at him and smiles. Her face fell as her eyes took in the wooden box in his hand.

“So soon?” she said.

“I am sorry,” Octavius replied. “This is an opportunity on which I cannot pass. The timing is poor, but sensitive.”

“And so you bring me gifts to placate me as you leave?”

“I bring you this as a promise,” he said, handing her the box. “I must leave, but it is only temporary. I will come back.”

She held the box in her hands, staring down at the brass latch and hinges, and at the intricate monogram on the lid. “Why can’t I come with you?”

He shook his head. “My benefactor has extended a generous offer to me, but to me alone. I cannot impose on him.”

Lucretia nodded, undid the latch, and lifted the lid of the box. Her breath caught in her throat as the sun, now just barely visible over the edge of the atrium, glinted off the gems. “It is beautiful,” she said, setting the box on the bench between them and holding up the necklace. Octavius took it from her hands, and she turned away from him slightly so that he could drape it around her neck and clasp it in the back. She stood up and led him to a mirror where she admired the necklace. A small cloud of dust particles disturbed by the sudden movement dance in the afternoon sun.

“It is beautiful, Octavius. I shall never remove it.”

He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. “It was made for you. Eight gems, two in the middle a bright red.”

Lucretia’s smile faded again. She turned and looked up at him, her face serious. “It is beautiful, and I will keep it as your promise, but how do I know that you will remember me?”

“Why would I not?”

“Are there no women in Palermo?”

“I suppose there are,” Octavius said, hold her hand in his. “Do you not believe, though, that the gods themselves brought us together? None can match that.”

“The gods may decide to test you while you are away, to tempt you away from me.” She slid the beaded golden bracelet off her wrist and pressed it into the palm of his hand.

“My mother gave me this bracelet just before she died,” she said. “Keep it with you wherever you go, and think of me. The gods brought us together and take you away from me now, but I believe they will bring us together again.” She looked up into his face, her bright blue eyes holding his for a moment, and then kissed him on the lips, a tear rolling down her cheek.

A servant entered, lighting the torches as the afternoon sun faded. The brazier at the middle of the atrium flared, an ashen smoke billowing out of the stone enclosure, knocking the servant backwards to the grass, and startling Lucretia. She looked up at Octavius and the color drained from her face. Even her eyes seemed to fade.

“It is time for you to go,” Lucretia said. Wiping tears from her eyes, she turned and disappeared into the house.

Octavius saw himself out, bracelet clutched tightly in his hand. The smoke from the brazier tore at his throat and stung his eyes. Smoke and ash poured out from the doors and windows of the house opposite Lucretia's, then from every house on the street. His legs buckled. He fell to his knees in the middle of the street. As the smoke flowed and swirled around him, darkening the sky, a fine film of ash coated his skin. Tears rolled down his face and the buildings in front of him blurred and faded.

“It is time for you to go,” Lucretia said again, from in front of him this time. He opened his eyes, saw nothing but the vast field of swirling dust and smoke, the evil mountain off in the distance, and howled at the gods. He had once believed them just and righteous, meting out punishments to fit the transgression, but nothing done in Pompeii could have warranted the complete erasure of the city.

Unless it was his own transgression. He should have come back sooner. Maybe he should never have left. Maybe this punishment had been meant for him and the other survivors, not for the residents. They have moved on to the next life, unconcerned with this realm, while he and those that still live can do nothing but mourn. He buried his face in his hands, trying to rub the tears from his eyes, but only increasing the inflammation.

A hand, soft and feminine, reached down and stroked his face. At her caress, the burning in his throat and eyes faded, strength returned to his legs.

He stood and looked into Lucretia’s eyes, holding up the bracelet for her to see. “I promised,” he said.

She smiled, though the tears still flowed down her cheeks. “There is nothing for you here anymore,” she said.

“I don’t believe that,” he said. "Come with me this time."

She shook her head, the rings of gold hair shaking. "I cannot."

"Then I will stay here with you."

“The gods will bring us together again,” she said, “but not yet.” She caressed his face again, her hand trailing down his cheek to his shoulder, his arm, and then his hand. She closed his fingers around the bracelet and pushes the hand back into his pocket. “It is time for you to go,” she said, caressing his face again.

Octavius closed his eyes and reached his hand up to touch hers, but found nothing but his own face. Opening his eyes, he saw nothign but the desolate plain. Clutching the bracelet again, he turned and walked back the way he had come. On the return trip, the smoke and ash did not sting and burn his airways or his eyes. The heat from the lava flow didn't affect him. His servants, when he arrived back at the wagon, claimed that the dust rose up around him, but would blow past him, as if diverted by the hands of the gods themselves.

"Did you find anything?" the driver asked.

Octavius shook his head, told the driver to turn the wagon around, so they could head back to the port. "All I have to remember her is this," he said, pulling his hand from his pocket. The servants gasp. They had seen the bracelet, and don't recognize the object Octavius now holds in his hand. He looks at it, the long chain, strung wtih eight jewel-encrusted beads, the middle two a vibrant red.
# Vignette 16

*Hello everyone, your friendly mod Jared (wjw42) here! Let's get writing! Our tTopic:* **Write from the perspective of a criminal who is in jail during the eruption. Do they see it as an opportunity for escape? Do they resign themselves to this end?**

[Make sure to discuss recent changes here!](

Look at real Pompeii jail cells [here]( and [here](

Read more about the volcanic eruption [here]( and [by watching this really cool video](

Story plan (so far, can be changed):
-Character Name: Lucilla Felix (?)
-Written in scroll ✓
-Backstory ✓
-In mostly underground prison in Pompeii when Vesuvius erupts ✓
-Most problems are avoided because of the protection of being underground ✓
-Screams from other cells (what going on!?), Lava starts to seep in ✓
-Sees it as a chance to escape, escapes with some type of damage ✓
-(More adventures outside.)

Most likely,
-Her roomate should die.
-Her family should probably be dead, already, too.
-She leaves this scroll as a record of her family, so they are not forgotten, and she leaves it in a library or something. It is ambiguous if she survives or not.

*And start writing below!*


This scroll tell
Grammarly mods, a note:
If a chapter title is needed, I think a good one is "Unbroken" or "Lucky".
-wjw42, Vignette 16 mod


This i
s the story of my last day in prison. I had been in prison for almost seven years before I escaped. I've lived in Pompeii all my days, but they have not treated me well. The days seemed to turn into weeks and into months without me taking notice of the sunrises and sunsets. We couldn't tell much anyway since the prison cells were mostly underground. I didn't care much either. My days were consumed with thoughts of my demise and my children. Just like that, for seven years.

All I was doing was trying to provide for and protect them. They were still young when I entered this place, although by now they will be grown up into young men and women. Thinking about the days before everything fell apart, as a single mother with no family around, every day was a struggle. Wondering if each meal would be my children's last. Wondering if anyone would want to buy my body anymore. Waking up hopeful each morning, only to be met with the fact that likely there was no hope. But getting out of bed, anyway. Putting on a smile anyway. Covering my bruises, concealing my pain. Loving my children in such a way that they didn't didn't know the truth. The ugly reality. And I didn't know how much longer I could play this game. Or what would happen when my mind told my body that it simply couldn't take it anymore. And when I believed it.

The day that I "believed" is still a blur, a whirlwind. He hit me, there was a knife. He was a military General. I knew I'd get caught. That there was no longer any use in trying to hide. But I still tried. Later on that day more of his kind found me tucked away in a closet, with my four children shielding me from the eventuality of what I had done. I had killed a man. It didn't matter that he was trying to kill me. It didn't matter that if I had stayed with him his anger would have carved me up into a thousand pieces. I was a woman. And I had killed a man. An important man.

And then the earthquakes came. We had earthquakes a few times a year, but never so often as these. A day was filled with two or three. So there I sat, listening to the earth as it kept trembling. We did not know what was going on in the city, but I felt something was wrong. Could my actions have brought about this? Did I anger the god by shedding the blood of a vile man? Slowly, the thoughts that consume me shifted from "Will I ever get out?" to "Will I ever get out alive?".

We were on the outskirts of Pompeii. If you could reach it, the tiny hole they called a window had a view of the whole city, with the large mountain to its left.

"Vipsania, anything special?" I called to my roomate, who was tall enough to see through the hole.

"Nothing much, Felix." My full name was Lucilla Felix, but everyone called me by my surname. A surname which, when translated, meant "luck". Despite my life being mostly unlucky, I always felt a sense of hope when people called my name.

"It's the same city as ever. I don't know why you are so worried, the guards told us everything was fine."

But she didn't understand. She had no family, no friends, and no other ties that binds her to the life outside the prison cell. As I sat there, again diving deep into my emotions, the earth shook like it never had before. But not only could I feel it, but I could hear it too.

"F... Feli... Felix...." she could barely, breathlessly articulate. "Vesuvius... exploded. Jupiter's wrath is upon us."

Emotions flooded me. I needed to do so much - save my family, my friends, even myself - yet there was so little I could do trapped in that cell. We could only sit, wait, sit some more, and watch as the sky grew darker. Or rather, Vipsania could, as I sat there, only knowing what she could tell me. Hours that felt like years passed. The thick, black clouds rolled over the city until they met us.

Suddenly, black and grey ash shot through the hole. The room grew hot, cramped, the air unbreathable. The ash covered Vispania's face and got in her eyes and mouth. She screamed, but I didn't know what to do, then-

Darkness. The hole had been plugged up by the ash. It settled, and it was only slightly easier to breath. Like the ash that filled our cell, moans from the prison cells surrounding u
kept on the outskirts of Pompeii. If you could reach it, the tiny hole they called a window had a view of the whole city, with the large mountain to its left.

"Vipsania, anything special?" I called to my roomate, who was tall enough to see through the hole.

"Nothing much, Felix." My full name was Lucilla Felix, but everyone called me by my surname. A surname which, when translated, means "luck". I never really liked that name. I was far from lucky.

"It's the same city as ever. I don't know why you are so worried, the guards told us everything was fine."

But she didn't understand. She had no family, no friends, and no other ties that bound her to life outside the prison cell. Yet I could only sit there, trapped in my self-loathing. And then the earth shook like it never had before. But not only could I feel it, I could hear it too.

"F... Feli... Felix...." she could barely, breathlessly articulate. "Vesuvius... exploded. Jupiter's wrath is upon us."

Emotions flooded me. I needed to do so much - save my family, my friends, even myself - yet there was so little I could do trapped in that cell. We could only sit, wait, sit some more, and watch as the sky grew darker. Or rather, Vipsania could, as I sat aside, only knowing what she could tell me. Hours passed that felt like years. The thick, black clouds rolled over the city until they met us.

Suddenly, black and grey ash shot through the hole. The room grew hot, cramped, the air unbreathable. The ash covered Vispania's face and got in her eyes and mouth. She screamed, but I didn't know what to do, then-

Darkness. The hole had been plugged up by the ash. It settled, but it was only slightly easier to breath. Like the ash that filled our cell, moans from the other prison cell
s filled the air. I reached out for Vispania but I couldn't find her.

"Lucilla!" she screamed. I didn't even know she knew my first name. I grabbed her and hugged her tight. "My eyes... they feel as if they are on fire! Help me!" But like before, I could not do anything. I felt so hopeless, so alone, meandering in the dark void.

Again, we waited for endless hours. We sat on the floor, she crying out of pain, me crying out of fear. We had seen and gone through so much, yet it was the waiting that seemed the worst. Hours would pass by with no activity, but you knew something would happen. Something you could not prepare for. Always helpless.

We waited. I had no idea what time of day it was, it was continually dark for us. The only thing that permeated the silence was the screams of others. So many others. I had no idea how many - dozens? Hundreds? All locked behind a veil of darkness, no way to escape. The screams were contstant and unceasing.

But slowly the screams loudened. Something was different, something in the severity of the sound. I looked to the hallway. Only very faintly I could see the iron bar door again. A glow grew brighter, from the right side of the hall. Had a guard come to save us? The screams discounted this. And then I heard it, from down the hall. *Liquid fire.*

I had heard of it before, coming from deep beneath the ground. It was red, hot, and it had to be deadly. The glow was brighter still.

Vispania's cries grew even louder. "We are going to die, now, aren't we... aren't we Felix?"

I knew we didn't have much of a chance, but I had not given up. This was a time, not for death, but for freedom! I frantically began searching my mind for ways of escape.

As I desperately scanned the room, I noticed that the latch on the door was not on the sides, but at the bottom. I knew these metal bars were not particularly strong, and if it were heated just hot enough...

"No," I told her with a confidence I had not felt in years. "We are going to escape."

Soon, the liquid-fire made its way to our cell, but much slower than I had anticipated, and the metal bar was starting to glow at its touch. I could see already that the bars were starting to mangle. As the molten rock would flood our cell, it would heat up the iron door hot enough to bend.

I looked for something to protect my hands, but in the darkness, I could not see anything suited for the purpose; only a clay bowl and some broken pieces of pitcher which the quake had knocked over lay on the floor. I had to think of something. And quickly.

I pulled up my robe and made an incision on the hem with my teeth. And I tore off a rather large piece of cloth with a loud ripping sound. I tore it up further into six pieces.

I tied the bigger ones over our mouths, covering the noses. I threw the rest onto the floor and squatted over it. I realized I was close to bursting, as I had been kept busy since the initial tremor.

"Vispania, here, quickly, tie these around your hands!" I gave her two of the dripping pieces of cloth. I tied the remaining around mine.

"Grab onto the bars! We cannot touch the floor for much longer!" I made it easily, but she, having trouble seeing clearly, was slow to finally secure herself. The heat was becoming almost unbearable. The metal had better soften quick, or else we would be burned alive. As it started to glow, I pulled with all my might, and the door opened! Thank the gods! We would be saved! We forced the door all the way open, but our next problem was waiting for us. The molten rock had flowed down the length of the hapast our prison cell.

"We have to climb as far as we can, Vispania!"

"I know, but the bars stop here! We cannot go any further!"

We had to jump. Further than I had ever before. But we could not wait any longer. She was scared, I knew, but the longer we waited the further the jump. "Go, Vispania, hurry!"

She jumped, but only barely made it. "Felix! Now!"

I rushed over to where the bars stopped, and looked over. There was no way I could make it. She was even taller than me, so how was I supposed to escape now?

"Felix. Now. You have to! For your family."

Somehow, for some reason, I jumped. I flew. Like never before. I was escaping, I was free! Or almost, until a pain soared through my left foot. I had made it, but my bare foot was not so lucky. Felix, the unlucky girl with the unlucky foot.

Vispania screamed my name and rushed to pull me out of the molten earth. I told her I would be fine, that I just needed to wrap my foot, but I wasn't so sure of myself. And while everything was telling me to stop caring, to sit there and rest my foot, to be buried in that prison - I knew I had to escape, for my kids. They were my only hope, my light in the darkness that smothered that prison cell. They kept me alive.

By the glow of the liquid red rock, we barely made it to the door. I was limping so badly you could barely call it walking anymore. I shook the door. "It's not opening but it's not locked. There's probably something on the other side."

We both pushed as hard as we could, and it budged a little. "Okay, Felix, we're onto something. Just a couple more pushes."

Every push moved the door just a bit more. But it wasn't enough. "The liquid fire. It's getting close again. We must hurry."

We both pushed with all our might, each time moving it some more, but it moved too quickly toward us. We had opened it just enough to let my tiny frame slip through, but Vispania was too tall to fit.

"Here, I can hold it open. Felix, just go. To your family. Save them."

I shook my head. "No, I will not, no, I *cannot* just leave you here!"

"We'll never make it out before the fire finds us. Please, just go. Don't fight it."

We both pushed against the door and it opened that few inches yet again. I made my way to the opening. Hesistantly, I stepped my foot outside, but I couldn't do it.

"Vispania, I will not leave you here! We-" Whatever I would have said was drowned out by another of the thunderous roars that enveloped the prison. The mountain must have exploded again. It was not as large as the previous ones, but it still made my heart race. I heard something fall from the other side of the door, and suddenly we were being thrown outside. The quaking earth must have shifted something that was blocking our way. No one had to die just yet! We looked at each other with relief, but not for long. I could see why the door had been jammed. Rubble and ruins were everywhere. Grey ash covered the ground and the sky matched its color. Thick clouds bellowed from the mountain, which now was sporting a rather large crater at the top, from the explosion I assumed. In the distance I could even see some rocks spewing from the top.

I looked around - there were people everywhere, running from the terror that was Vesuvius. Screams of the citizens filled the air, or at least that which wasn't filled with ash or smoke. How would I make it into the city? Would I ever see my children again? Were they already-

No, I couldn't think like that. Not now. They had been keeping me alive, and now it was my turn to save them.

"Vispania, how will we get to my family? I would never make it if went on foot."

She spat out some ash that had found their way onto her tongue. "With all these people running away, there must be some abandoned cart around here. We can figure something out."

We ran up to the main street the prison was right by and saw, just a few paces away, was a cart with a small, but healthy horse. How lucky was I! Maybe my name was for me.

I turned around, ready to congratulate us on our success in freedom, when the unthinkable happened. Quickly, suddenly. She was on the ground. Still. Lifeless. The smouldering black rock was still rolling away from her.

I stood there, as still as she was, unable to comprehend what had just happened. We had just found the cart, we were going to be free! Destiny had called us to escape!

But apparently it had only called me. A larger rock flew past me. Another hit the cart. I came to my senses. Another rock flared by. They were getting larger. I checked the cart. The wheel was torn to shreds. One came smashing through the prison roof. I cut the cart from the horse. More rock fell. I fumbled onto the back of the horse. More rocks. I pulled the reigns. Rocks. They must have been from that last explosion. Rocks.

Going into the city was harder than I thought it would be. Not that I was really thinking anyway, I just wanted to save my family. Unless they had already left the city. It was likely that orphanage had moved them out days ago when the earthquakes started. But what if they hadn't? What if they didn't make it because I selfishly saved myself instead? Was it wrong to save myself?

Was it wrong to save myself with a dagger? Everyone else thought so. He was military, he was a man - he was important, and I was not. Are the less important less entitled to life?

"No," I said audibly. I was entitled too.

"No." I would not abandon my children.

"No!" They would not die today.

I whipped the reigns and we raced into the city. We ran past grey ash, flying rocks, more rubble and ruins. Pompeii was being destroyed.

And yet the horse raced on. He was braver than I, probably. He never even knew me and he was ready to face death with me.

The closer I got to the heart of the city the harder it became to breath. The air was filled with as much ash as the city was with bodies. Surely they hadn't just died of suffocation? Why did it look like there was no struggle? I seemed to be the last one in the city. The last one alive, that is. Blocks ago I stopped seeing any more people running. They were all still now.

Finally I found the orphanage. I walked inside. My foot still hurt but my body somehow forgot that as I searched for my children. I looked around.

"Empty," I said. Not one soul, alive or dead. Everything was covered in ash, but neat. Where were they now? I looked around some more but found nothing. Defeated, I walked back to the front. There was a small notice on the desk there. *Gone on trip to Neapolis. Returning at the end of the Month of Agustus.*

They were safe! Tears filled my eyes, but soon they became tears of rage. Why had the orphanage not told me!? Wasn't I their mother? Their only piece of family they knew? I should know where they are at all times! If I had known I would have never come back to this ruined city! I would be safe! I would be free! Yet they somehow captured me again. Imprisoned, behind bars and under ash.

I wiped my cheeks. Self pity was not the way out of here. Courage was. I could still be with my kids. I hobbled as quickly as I could outside to the poor horse, covered in a black layer of ash. I dusted him off the best I could and we made our way back out of the city. We rode, even faster than before. This little buddy was one of the bravest souls I ever knew, man or beast. We rode and rode, past burning house and crumbled ruins. The ruins so great and the evening approaching, I couldn't even tell which street was which. Or had that knowledge left me after these seven long years?

I heard a large rumble. Another earthquake. I glanced back. The mountain had not erupted, but it was bound to soon. Suddenly, the horse jumped up on its hind legs and sent me through the air backwards. I was bruised, but nothing had broken. The horse seemed fine, just startled. Even the brave horse was scared now. Slowly, I got up.

Even after all these years, not all of Pompeii had left my mind. And I remembered. Right in front of me. It couldn't be. I limped across the street. Down the stairs. To the door.

I turned the knob. Unlocked. I walked in. It was almost how I had left it. It was covered in ash, yes, but essentially the same. This was the room that had changed my life just seven years ago. Had it really only been seven years? That was a lifetime ago, and yet here I was, still the same. Small. Frail. Bruised.

But there's a key difference between old and new me. I may be bruised, but I am not broken. I came a long way to get here. I leaped. Burned. I saw her die. Torn. I made it to the ashen city. Choked. I was thrown to the ground. Bruised. But never broken. I made it so far to be with my family. I made it here. And I will make it back. I will be with them, whether in this life or in the next.

Now, I sit here, writing the story of my freedom on this wax table. I hope, somehow, that it will be preserved until the next person finds it. By then the city will be ruined, covered in ash, and these people forgotten, but I may not be. I may not see another day but my memory will. Through my children or this tablet I will live on. Fate brought me here, and it will bring me back.

I just heard the mountain erupt again, this time larger than any of the others. The room is growing hotter, like a wave of heat has hit the city. It must be much worse, even deadly, above ground. Once the air has cooled again I hope to make it back. I am not sure where my trusty horse is, but I can expect nothing good. With my lame foot, it will be hard to travel, but I can make it. All I know is that I am lucky. I was lucky to escape the prison, I was lucky to find that horse, and I'm lucky to be down here while the buildings above me burn. I am lucky.

I am Felix
# Vignette 20

**Vignette 20: Write from the perspective of a blind citizen of Pompeii. They can be from any class or walk of life. They might experience the days leading up to the eruption differently than other citizens, and they will certainly experience the eruption itself differently than those around them.**

Sitting at the markets was the best part of the day; it was here that Sarni made her living. Even blind, she was still the best hand at weaving, her nimble fingers working over the nets to repair rents and tears for the fisherman. Day after day, she would walk her way to her spot on the stones, waiting to receive her customers, to give back the nets that she had finished and to carry home the ones she was newly given.

The rich smells occupied her as her hands worked steadily and her unseeing eyes cast back and forth. She guessed at the pungent spices that wafted her way but they were hard to determine with her location being so close to the fish hall. Still, the fish mongers had small pots and braziers set up and sold hot seasoned samples of their wares to those shopping for their household. Business was brisk.

Today felt different, but Sarni could not exactly say how. The air felt heavier, if that were possible, and she could feel the press of it against her skin. It felt like a storm was coming but the sun shone warm and loving high above, proof that the gods watched over them. She could hear the chatter and murmur of vendors and customers alike, the market packed with slaves and owners, business of every sort being discussed between the walls of the Macellum. Her fingers worked over the tough cords that made up the net and enjoyed the caress of the warm morning sun. Her place by the wall was advantageous. By the time the heat of the afternoon arrived, she would be in the shade and still be comfortable.

Sarni allowed the familiar sounds of the hum the market made in the morning to flow in, and felt her fingers move quicker through the intricate twists of the net, when a rumble shook through her, something deep that was not a sound per say, but more of a vibration that caused Sarni's entire world to shake, the half finished net tumbled to her feet landing in a pile of soft fiber. She waited, expecting to hear shouts from those surrounding her, but no one made a sound, only the continued sounds of people selling and buying their wares.

"Maybe it was simply my own imagination" , she told herself, but something in her gut told her that it was so much more than that, something had felt sinister. ** The recent tremors reminded her of the tremors leading up to the Great Quake during the anniversary of Augustus about 13 years ago. ** The priests said there was no reason to be alarmed though, so she prayed to the gods that they were right.

She felt around for the fishing net she had been working on when she felt a pair of leather sandals.

"Salve Sarni!"

She instantly recognized the voice. It was Cacallus, her longtime friend. When so many abandoned her after she lost her sight from being hit on the head during the Great Quake, he stuck with her. She had lost her shop, her livelihood, and was near broke. Cacallus would get her food from the nearby Thermopolium.

He still brought her treats from time-to-time, even though now she didn't need the financial help

"I brought you an extra special treat today, Opimian Vintage!" Cacallus exclaimed.

"You are too kind Cacallus, but how can I ever repay you?" Sarni asked.

"Don't worry about it amicus, it only cost an extra 15 denarri," Cacallus answered.

"15 DENARRI!!!" Sarni cried, "that's nearly a week's wages for you!"

"Don't worry about it, you deserve it."

"Why do you waste your money on me? You need to save up and leave the city. Go to Roma, or Syracuse or Alexandria even! Just leave this place like all the other smart people, Pompeii is well past its prime for trade after the Great Quake," she said.

Cacallus paused for a minute, and although Sarni could not see his face, she could imagine that he had on a small smile.

"Leave you behind in the city? I fear the both of us would become fearfully lonely."

Sarni replied with a humorless laugh, "You would never be lonely, Cacallus. You are far too friendly for all of that."

"No matter," Cacallus said, "Pompeii does after all have the best wine, I'd be lost without it."

His words caused Sarni to break into a fit of laughter, a rare occasion for her, after the accident, it sometimes felt as if the ability to laugh had left her in the same blow as her sight. If anyone could bring a laugh to her mouth, it was Cacallus though. Her heart was full when he was near.

The faint scent of melting wax reached Sarni's nose, signaling the beginning of the Vulcanalia Festivities. Sarni began to feel around her surroundings so she could stand up.

"Let me help you," Cacallus insisted.

"Thank you," Sarni replied.

"We'd best get to the temples, the sacrifice should be starting soon," said Cacallus as he helped Sarni up.

Sarni didn't know why, but she had always hated these festivals. There were so many in such a brief period of time. In fact they had just had one two days ago. But there was something else, the way they had been celebrated for the past several centuries seemed heretical. After all, they were supposed to sacrifice a human to repay the gods for their generosity in keeping all of our souls on Mother Earth, but now they just throw a few small animals and fish into a big bonfire and call it good. She felt that this would have been evident as not being a good practice after the Great Quake and the Great Fire of Rome, but there was no change.

"And who knows? Maybe we will go back to the old traditions like you always go on about. Watch out though, maybe you'll be the first sacrifice," Cacallus snickered.

Sarni couldn't help but smile, but she still had a feeling of dread hanging over her.

Since losing her sight, Sarni's other senses seemed to work better than others. Those senses, combined with her sense of intuition, which she had always trusted, made that dread thick today. She tried to keep that smile on for others. She didn't want her mood to affect them.

"Maybe I'm just imagining it," she thought to herself. But her sense of smell was picking up an unusual scent as well. "I think maybe I should tell someone," Sarni whispered softly.

"What did you say"? Cacallus asked gruffly.

"Nothing. Nothing", replied Sarni quickly.

She didn't want him to worry and mostly she didn't want to worry herself.

"Oh well, come on then," he said.

They both walked in silence to the temple each preoccupied in their own thoughts. Cacallus couldn't help but wonder what was worrying Sarni. He has known her long enough to know when she was hiding her thoughts. He knew better than to press her about it.

With passing minutes, Sarni felt the danger more and more. Just as she was about to confide in Cacallus, she realized that they had reached the temple.

She never liked the new sacrifices because she preferred the original one where humans were sacrificed. It made more sense that way. That was the way the elders did it. It was the only way to truly satisfy the gods. Today, she didn't even notice the sheep that was sacrificed nor did she complain to Cacallus about it the way she normally did. She was just lost in the lingering sense of danger. She didn't even realize when the ritual was over. By then, Cacallus was really worried. As they left the temple, he took her aside and asked her what was bothering her. Sarni was initially hesitant, but she finally gave in.

"It's just that I can feel that something is wrong. I don't know how to explain this to you. I can just feel it," Sarni said.

"What do you mean?", asked Cacallus.

"I just feel it -- the smell, the air, everything. Do you feel it?"

"No sorry. I don't feel anything different. Maybe you are just imagining it. Come let me walk you home, we'll walk by the Sarno River. I know it always calms you".

Sarni reluctantly agreed but she knew that her senses were not deceiving her.

They went back for her nets and started for her place. She lived near the Sarno River. Sarni was a young, vibrant girl, being youngest in the family she was always loved and pampered. She had beautiful brown eyes which captured everyone's attention.

Cacallus, the best friend she had there. He lived next door. They use to play and eat together. They wandered in the streets of Pompeii, and beside the river from morning to evening. They use to swim and fish.

Sarni grew up to be vary beautiful woman, with her brown eyes she could spellbind any man in Pompeii. Her flawless black hair resembled the clouds over the mountain on a rainy day. She had dimples in her cheeks when she smiled. Sarni was nothing short of the most beautiful woman for miles around, but Sarni had always been in love with Cacullus. She never told him about her feeling as she was waiting for the right moment.

She never got her chance. The earthquake took everything from her; her family, her friends, her house and her eyes. Now she lived just in a small house close to the river for fresh water and also far from civilizations for peace and freedom.

Cacaullus has also loved Sarni. He loved the way she smiled when they were together. He loved for the innocent soul she was. He was also waiting for the right moment but earthquake messed up everything. In the aftermath of the earthquake what Sarni needed was not a relationship but a friend. He kept his emotions in check and waited for the perfect moment again. Cacaullus was always worried about her. Given her condition, it was easy for her to be injured and there was no one close by to help. He has often expressed her fear to her. She would just reply: "I place my trust in the Gods."

"I will stay with you always, Sarni. I will keep you safe."
and being the youngest in the family she was always loved and pampered. She had beautiful brown eyes which captured everyone's attention.

Cacallus was her childhood friend. He lived next door. They use to play and eat together. They wandered in the streets of Pompeii, and beside the river from morning to evening. They use to swim and fish.

Sarni grew up to be very beautiful woman and with her brown eyes she could spellbind any man in Pompeii. Her flawless black hair resembled the clouds over the mountain on a rainy day. She had dimples in her cheeks when she smiled. Sarni was nothing short of the most beautiful woman for miles around, but Sarni had always been in love with Cacullus. She never told him about her feeling as she was waiting for the right moment.

She never got her chance. The earthquake took everything from her; her family, her friends, her house and her eyes. Now she lived just in a small house close to the river for fresh water and also far from civilizations for peace and freedom.

Cacallus has also loved Sarni. He loved the way she smiled when they were together. He loved her for the innocent soul that she was. He was also waiting for the right moment but the earthquake messed up everything. In the aftermath of the earthquake what Sarni needed was not a relationship but a friend. He kept his emotions in check and was waiting for the perfect moment again. Cacaullus was always worried about her. Given her condition, it was easy for her to be injured and there was no one close by to help. He has often expressed her fear to her. She would just reply: "I place my trust in the Gods."

"I will stay with you always, Sarni. I will keep you safe."

That's what Cacallus always felt like telling her but the time never seemed right. Maybe today was the right. His mind made up, Cacallus was going to tell her today. Suddenly, the ground shook. It was just like Sarni had felt earlier. She felt to the ground. Cacallus quickly helped her up.
"Are you fine?", he inquired worriedly.

"Yes, I am fine, this is what I was talking about".

"But this often happens, don't be worried. Let me take you home".

They were quite accustomed to minor earth tremors in the region. Cacallus could not understand Sarni's concern.

Sarni had a hard time sleeping, she would again and again relieved the earthquake that took everything fromm her. Every now and then, she felt an earth tremor. Indeed she was quite accustomed to the tremors but this time it felt different and dangerous. She silently prayed to the gods to keep her safe.

The next morning she made her way as usual to the market. However, she couldn't concentrate. She could not complete some of the nets. They were due from last night. Some of the customers were angry with her. Around mid-day Cacallus came to seeh her. He knew she must still be worried. Even during the nights there had been many tremors. He could not sleep as he was worried about her. He reached her spot only to find an unpleased customer leaving angrily.

"Sarni, are you okay"?. He asked her softly taking both of her hands in his.

"No, I'm not. I feel like I am going crazy. I so want to get out of here."

Cacallus was silent for a while the he said: " So lets go".

"Are you serious? I am not joking!"

Cacullus took her face in his hands and told her: " I am always serious about you. Tell me when you want to leave."

"As soon as possible".

"Fine. Just give me two days. I wrapped up everthing here. I have a friend in Velia. We can go there".

These two days were so long. Also there have been many minor earth tremors. However, the only one that was worried about it seemed to be Sarni. Sarni prepared her things and impatiently waited for Cacullus. He should be here any moment.

Cacullus was finishing some business and was making his way to get Sarni. Suddenly, the ground shook violently. He felt to the ground and hit himself on the head. Black clouds began appearing in the sky. He suddenly realized as he heard a loud noise that these were not clouds but smokes. The Mount Vesuvius was in eruption. That is why they had been feeling those tremors for the fast four days. He quicky made his way to Sarni's. He hoped that she was fine.