January – 1027 YD
January began to wane, and the heat of summer continued unrelenting. There had been no fires since those of Archoak forest three months previous, yet the threat crouched in the air, prowling each time the wind flew from the north.
Régan dismantled a slice of bread while watching the day begin below. With Brennan’s departure some days before and the Duke and Duchess in Dara, she was perfectly bored. The heat forbade activity; her rank precluded touring; her disposition opposed mingling. She had received a letter from the Baron of Bescon near the northern border, begging she dissuade her father of further trade with Miggest. The Baron was certain the Archoak fires bore an ill omen, and that care must be taken to prepare for the years ahead—a sentiment she shared. Perhaps she should return to the capital, and make yet another attempt at diplomacy and filial piety.
__There was a change in movement on the ground: a messenger had arrived and words were spreading outwards. Curious, Régan returned to the Great Hall.
Through the northern windows, the steward of Lirna Palace pointed—superfluously—at the waves of smoke on the horizon.
__‘The fields have caught, Your Highness.’
__ She inhaled and blinked for patience. ‘You have a keen eye.’
__ ‘I am instructed to secure your safety, and insist on your making for Offenure at once.’ There was resistance in her silence, and he added: ‘The wind will press the flames toward us.’
__ Régan hardened her jaw. The threat was not the fire, but the contents of its smoke: the harvest was lost. Not two weeks before Lughnasadh.
__ ‘Your Highness?’
__Lord Carrick, wet from the waist down, entered the Solar. ‘I have come to escort you to Offenure. I have a rigged boat to transport you in, if you are daring enough to face the waves.’
__ Wild water was not her friend; the base of her stomach retracted; yet she nodded and bowed her farewell to the steward. ‘Send your warriors to collect those fleeing the blaze. Move quickly.’
__ Carrick placed a hand on Régan’s back as they descended the main staircase. ‘Now the fires have begun, I fear only the river and sea will stop them.’
Image courtesy of https://denniswitmer.wordpress.com/tag/alaska/