I dressed in my best, which meant that I made myself a new set of leathers. I cut my hair and trimmed my beard. I even polished my sword. Then the three of us set off for town.
Our journey was only a little more dignified than the last time me and my three best friends had made this same trip so very long ago. Haines was hard pressed to keep up; even I was having more trouble than I anticipated. Carm’s legs had grown far longer than mine since I was last here.
As we traveled, I noticed some storm clouds building in the south. Carm kept a wary eye on them, but I didn’t think much more on it; it was cool today for a change and I had other things on my mind.
Before we entered the village, we jostled ourselves into some semblance of dignity, but our entrance was not what we had planned. About the same time I noticed the new well in the center of the market square, I also noticed a commotion near the inn.
When we reached the gathering, a much-disheveled young man saw us and ran up to me. Much to my surprise, he bowed to me and addressed me quite formally. “Master, it is fortunate that you have come. My father’s fields have been struck by lightning and they are burning. Please, Master, will you come and help?”
The storm clouds and lightning, and I don’t remember the last time it had rained. With everything so dry, a fire could wipe out miles of farmland and killed people and livestock. “Where? How far?” I asked. All thoughts of love were wiped from my mind.
He pointed and answered my question, but I didn’t hear his words. I could see the growing pall of thick smoke that was feeding the black thunderheads overhead.
I was running. I had no plan. I had never seen a wild fire before, though I had heard of them. I had learned to control fire to a certain extent, but could I do anything with a fire this big? I had no idea. Thoughts of this sort raced through my mind as I raced across the land toward the wall of smoke.