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It is Vesuvius has awakened.

In a vision one year earlier, Mira, a fifteen-year-old slave, saw the devastation of Herculaneum, and extinguishing of all life there as Vesuvius’s molten centre poured down its sides to cover Herculaneum.
To fulfil the promise made to the mother of the child in her care, Mira must convince the slave set to guard her, by the child's father, to let them slip away, or to flee with her.

Though there is little time left to reach safety, their Dominus insists sacrifices must be made to the gods, even as others around them run for their lives.

Knowing how little time there is left to make their escape, Mira becomes desperate enough to consider murder to save herself and the child before they are buried along with the town.

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