The village was a burnt out shell, the buildings crumbled and burnt black. Zed looked around. It was so much like his own village. The same central courtyard, with wooden houses on each side and a large stone building straight ahead. Zed knew from his lessons that this particular village had been built before the large mines had been discovered in the north, and was therefore made from mostly wood, with stone supports. The smaller villages were such a contrast to the larger towns near the cavern, where Chase and Halie obviously came from. Zed moved towards the nearest wooden building ahead of him.

'Careful' warned Chase, but Zed ignored him. Halie noticed that Sandra followed her brother closely, never taking her eyes from him.

Chase walked further into the village, making sure to keep to the centre, clear of the dilapidated, burnt out buildings. Zed however, was pushing his way noisily through the broken, charred wood. Chase paused as he watched Zed force his way into a building, and his eyes narrowed as he saw the structure split, and in slow motion the remains of the roof began to cave in. 'Zed! Get out of there!' his yell broke through the quiet of the village, as he raced over to the building, pushing Sandra out of the way and following Zed into building as the roof collapsed in on them.

Sandra backed up quickly and looked over to Halie, trembling, tears already spilling down her cheeks. Halie awoke from her shocked state and hurried over to her. Wrapping her arms around the smaller girl she held her tightly andmoved her further away from theunstable structure.

'It's going to be alright.' She whispered. It has to be.

Chase choked on the dust which enveloped him, the ashes of dry charred wood. Although the front half of the roof had collapsed, the other half was still intact and blocked out the light.

'Zed?' he tried to call out but coughed harshly as the ashes entered his throat. He pushed a fallen beam out of the way, but let out a cry as it dislodged another, which fell, glancing off his shoulder. He bit his lip as the sudden pain coursed through his right arm.

As his eyes grew accustomed to the dark, he saw a dark shape in the corner. He crawled over to it, his right arm useless as he waited for the feeling to return and the tingling feeling to subside. As he reached the shape his heart sank. It was Zed. He was trapped under a piece of wood and his eyes were closed. Chase pulled himself up and placed a hand to his neck, feeling for a pulse.

Halie stood trembling as she held Sandra. She had heard the crash and Chase's cry of pain. She stared at the doorway, willing them both to walk out unharmed. Sandra made a strange whimpering noise as a figure appeared in the doorway. It was Chase and he held Zed limply in his arms. He stumbled out of the doorway and walked over to the central courtyard without looking over at the girls. Placing Zed down with the utmost care he knelt in silence as Halie took Sandra by the hand and led her over.

Sandra knelt on the other side of Zed and reached out a hand to her brother. Chase looked up, but avoided looking directly at Sandra as she wiped the tears from her eyes and went to put her hand on his shoulder, a sad hopefulness apparent in her eyes.

'He's dead isn't he?' a voice came from behind Halie and she spun around sharply, aware that both Chase and Sandra had scrambled to their feet behind her. In front of her was a boy, slightly taller than her, with straggly dark blonde hair and wary hazel eyes. His clothes were dirty and by his side was a large dog. Halie recognised it as a common hunting dog with a dark muzzle and a dark line running down its spine. Her neighbour had kept two as watchdogs. As the group stood watching them, the boy reached down a hand to stroke to dogs head.

'He's dead, isn't he?' he repeated.

Out of the corner of her eye, Halie saw Sandra look pleadingly up at Chase, but realisation had already appeared on her face before the older boy nodded sadly. Sandra fell to her knees beside her brother, and she stroked his pale face sadly, silently pleading for him to wake up. Chase hung his head and watched her. Halie turned back to the boy, turning away from the sadness and spoke to him 'Who are you?' For some reason the boy relaxed slightly, the tension disappearing from his body. 'Pax. This is Tain.' He smiled down at the dog with obvious love, but the smile quickly disappeared.

'What happened here?' Halie gestured at the remains of the village. Pax's face clouded

'There was a fire about four months ago. People died, the rest left.'

'Mum! Dad! Pax shouted for his parents as he fought his way against the rush of people fighting for the exit. He could hear Tain barking furiously and he followed the sound, relying on his ears rather than his sight which was hindered by the smoke which billowed around him. He reached the burning remains of his home and felt Tain next to him. 'Mum? Dad?' he called out again and this time heard an answering call from inside. He moved towards the entrance but was forced to stop as the house collapsed in on itself. He put up an arm to ward off the heat and then gazed in horror at what had been his home, but was now his parent's grave.

Halie frowned at the sudden change that had come over Pax, but was distracted by a movement behind her. She half-turned to see Chase crouched by Zed's lifeless body about to lift him, whilst Sandra watched, her hands clasped tightly together since she could no longer hold onto her brother.

'Don't' Pax spoke up, and Chase turned. Under Chase's scrutiny, Pax became defensive. 'Well what are you going to do with him? You can't bury him.' His tone was matter of fact but Sandra looked shocked. 'We can't just leave him! He's my brother!' she choked out.

'Of course we won't leave him' Chase spoke and shot an angry glare at Pax who looked unfazed and merely rested a hand on Tain's head again.

'The grounds too hard, the cold's setting in.' Chas glowered as Paz spoke.
'Then we'll find another way to bury him. He is not going to be left here like this.'

Chase lifted Zed's body and Halie saw him tense as his right arm took the weight. 'Are you hurt?' she asked concernedly, flinching as he shot her a dark look. Chase started to make his way towards the stone buildings behind the courtyard.

Twenty minutes later, Sandra was saying a final goodbye to her twin. As the tears streamed down her face, she lovingly scratched his name onto a piece of wood and placed it on the mound of earth and ashes which covered his body. She brought her hand to her lips and kissed her fingers, then placing her hand on the sign. She wiped her eyes, and there was silence as she stood up and walked out of the village. 'Sandra' Halie made to follow her.

'Leave her' Chase stopped her gently.


'No buts. Trust me.' Halie frowned at his order.

Sandra stood outside the village, staring across at the open space on the other side of the road. Tears coursed unashamedly down her cheeks as she mourned for her brother. She had always felt closer to him, than he seemed to feel about her. Two minutes older and he thought he was more mature than her. He'd always been there though, no matter how horrible he'd been to her at times he had always been there. She had loved him for it.

'Sandra, you alright?' Zed's voice came from the doorway. Sandra looked up, a bruise apparent on her cheek. Zed's face hardened at the sight. Coming into her room, he took her hand and drew her up into his arms. 'I'm sorry' was all he said. It was all he needed to say.

Sandra took a deep breath, the memory being replaced by an image of his cold, peaceful face. It was only then she realised her brother was never coming back. She'd outlived her twin. It seemed so unnatural, so wrong.

'Why did you take him?' she whispered, then threw her head back and screamed at the sky 'Why the hell did you have to take him!' She dropped down to her knees as her sobbing intensified, a picture of abject misery. 'Why did you take him from me?' she choked out.

There was no answer.

Inside, the teenagers heard the scream and realised they were all thinking the same. Why?

Sometime later they were all sitting by the side of the road opposite the village entrance. Sandra was hugging her knees; next to her was Halie with her legs stretched out in front of her, ankles crossed delicately. Pax was sitting opposite them, legs crossed with Chase slightly further away, avoiding Tain who was lying close by, head raised regally, surveying them all. Chase sat with his knees drawn up, elbows resting on them with his hands hanging loosely down over his knees, and he appeared to be staring away from the village at the distant glimpse of the sea, a thin sliver of colour, alive with motion.

There was silence amongst the group as they allowed the dramatic events of the day to catch up with them. Halie felt strangely numb as she surveyed Sandra. The glow which had been in her cheeks when they first met had gone, and she looked more like her brother. Emotionless. Halie remembered how she had previously been considering how she had lost her family. That was temporary. Sandra's loss was permanent.

Pax pushed himself to his feet and Tain rose as well to stand loyally by his side. 'I assume we're going to stay here for tonight and move on tomorrow?' Sandra and Halie both brightened slightly at the thought of a plan but Chase continued to stare at that fragment of ocean.

'Who said there was a 'we'?' he said calmly. Pax glared at him.

'You can do what you want then. I'm not planning on freezing to death.' At his words, Halie scrambled to her feet, Sandra close behind.

'Freeze to death? What are you talking about?' Halie asked, panicked. She looked hurriedly between Chase and Pax. 'Chase?'

Chase laughed. 'You just don't get it do you?' He slowly got to his feet and turned to face them. 'It's all locked up' he emphasised every word. 'They've gone underground. We must have missed the travelling.' He looked at them, eyes full of resignation.

Pax was the only member of the group who seemed unperturbed by this revelation. 'They left a couple of days ago. The last village due to make the journey was the one nearest the sea, Haedan. If we can join them on their journey, we'll be fine. They're due to come along this road soon, so if we walk towards them we'll meet up at some point. I've done this before.' He paused, waiting for the relief to show on the girl's faces. 'Now I'm going inside.' With this he walked into the village, Sandra and Tain close by. With one last glance at Chase, who had turned back to watch the ocean, Halie followed.

His fingers felt the cold neck and he held his breath. But the only heartbeat he felt was his own. Time froze as he waited for movement under his fingers but none came. Zed was gone.

Chase closed his eyes sadly. Hours had passed since the others had gone inside, it had got much darker and much colder but he barely noticed. The death of Zed had reminded him of what he had tried so much to forget.

Chase had been 5, his older brother Brett had been 15. Brett was tall, with short dark blonde hair and laughing brown eyes. As was their custom everynow and again,they had gone for a walk across the moors, enjoying each other's company, Brett protecting his little brother. Except it had gone horribly wrong. A storm had come in, drenching them both and making it impossible for them to find their wayhome. Instead they just got hopelessly lost. Brett had taken his coat off and wrapped his younger brother in it, carrying him and protecting him from the fierce rain and howling winds. Chase flinched as lightning flashed overhead and buried his head in his brother's shoulder.

Eventually they had taken cover under an overhang, Brett placing himself so Chase was wedged between him and the rock. He smiled down at the scared child. 'I'll get you home. Don't worry.'he said, voice barely heardover the storm. Chase was too young to notice the fear behind the brave words. Hours passed. Chase held tightly onto his brother and didn't notice as Brett got paler, and his shivering became more violent.

As the storm eased slightly and conversation became easier, Chase was surprised by his brother's talking, the confessions he told, of loving his brother and parents, and of how he knew that Chase and himself would grow up to be best friends and ofhow he hoped Chase would end up musical like talked for ages, holding Chase tightly until finally his voice ran out. Chase was surprised to find his brother had fallen asleep and tried to wake him. When the rescue party found them much later, Chase was still trying to wake his brother, shaking his cold, still body in confusion.

It wasn't until the funeral a week later that Chase realised his brother wasn't coming home.

Chase stared out at the ocean, just visible through the darkness, and a single tear trailed down his cheek at the memories. Brett would have been 28. Things would have turned out differently.

A/N: Well there's another chapter for you! Hope you enjoyed it. Lots more drama and angst to come. It's fun to write : )

Please review if you read this, it's very much appreciated. Much luv to all my reviewers!