It was frustrating. For two days we had been sitting down in the hot, humid cellar. Our wine was warm, our food was cold. At least we could breathe down here, unlike in the street above. The choking fumes clogged our nostrils, the tiny wind-blown cinders got into our throats. Everyone was coughing and the stench was unbearable.
From what they said it seemed to be getting worse outside. Last night only a few of us had come down but today more and more people started arriving. Most had not brought anything down with them in their panic. They were just concerned with getting away from the ash cloud that sat like a dragon atop the hill. The very ground had started to groan and shudder as if all the denizens of the underworld were on the move.
My father had told us that we need not worry as this had happened many times before.He stayed in the villa thinking that it would soon pass but the Gods appeared to be really angry this time. No-one was sure how to placate them. Even the priests from the temple had decided to join us.
As the daylight, what there was of it, Helios having been smothered by the dark, impenetrable cloud, began to fade for the second day, we heard a strange noise as if the very rocks and earth beneath our feet was moaning in pain and it seemed to be getting louder.
I shouted for everyone to be quiet and as our babble subsided we realised that the sound was coming from a great wind that was blowing through the passageways. Some of the women started to wail and before long both men and women started to sob as we realised something terrible was about to happen. Strangely there was no panic and I could hear my companions muttering low incantations. Before long even the chanting ceased.
Wrapping my cloak around my shoulders I took my wife and daughter in my arms. Their eyes were wide with fright and tears in the warming air. We huddled against the wall and the stifling air grew steadily hotter. We will try to rest, perhaps sleep and with the aid of the Gods return to our beloved Pompeii home in the morning.