Sarah O'brien, Grade 8, St Mary Mackillop College -
My name is Ruby; I am the only survivor of Celstia and was fifteen years old at the time. Not many people know this story, most likely because I am the only person who knew of Celstia and saw it perish.
I only survived because Mama sent me out on an errand to go to Sanderic and buy some spices and Aranja, which are traditional decorations. My eldest brother was coming home from France and we were going to have a party and invite our friends from around the area. Not only had Adam brought honour to the family name, but he had saved ten soldiers from death, risking his own life.
Sanderic was six kilometres from Celstia and I was on my way home, about one kilometres away when it happened.
For company and protection on my journey I had taken our dearest dog, Luis. He had been in the family since I was born and took especially good care of me.
He was the first one to see the beginning of it and walked as if he was about to pounce, while also lifting his black button nose in the air, sniffing very carefully. He detected the smell almost at once and would not let me walk any further, so I looked ahead to see the reason.
Great, billowing smoke hung over the humble and now helpless town and all I could do was gaze from my watchtower of safety on the green, rolling hills that lay still in the moments of destruction. Shouts and screams were heard echoing through the valley. People could be seen scattering and running away in vain from the hot, sizzling lava.
It ran down the sides of Mt. Plonay, filling the valley. It swept over the trees, houses, factories, and destroyed everything in its path.
Soon everything below me was reduced to ash, dust and burning hot lava.
Luis was now standing as still as a statue and growling as he too watched his home and owners perish in the mighty flood of destruction.
As I gazed below I felt the fabric of my life being torn apart. A flood of tears rushed over me as it dawned on me that I was an orphan; penniless and homeless. All of my family and friends, their houses, animals and possessions: destroyed, lost forever, and I was the only one who survived.
After the eruption had subsided, I made my way back to Sanderic and slept the night in an old stable, just outside the busy town. When I came to the town, it was like a busy bees nest, humming with activity.
To my surprise, however, no one was talking about the explosion, or even mentioned it once. The smoke had not travelled in this direction and there was no earthquake or loud noises to be heard, so the burnt town lay forgotten.
I never found out what happened to Adam, but I expect he couldn't find his way to the city. I hadn't told my story until now, for fear no one would believe me.
And so, alone with Luis, I made a life in Sanderic, where every so often I would take a visit to Celstia, the hidden land of my past life.