Wildfires



Egfor and Dem had just fallen asleep when the alarm came. A wildfire had started from the celebratory fireworks the mayor had insisted the city keep. Tradition, he claimed. Now wildfires from a stray spark or two were spreading in the farmland. Some close to the Estate. Both men, exhausted, hauled themselves out of bed.

“We warned him, think he’ll haul himself out of bed to help?”

Dem shook his head, “Doubt it. As long as it don’t threaten the city, he won’t care.”

Stomping into boots and they ran out of the house, Dem’s hesitation letting all the dogs out. It shouldn’t get this far, but he could not live with himself if it did, and they died in the house. So he jumped on Calysto without even saddling him or bothering with a halter. Egfor jumped on Elf.

The two men followed the man who raised the alarm, thundering toward Bree and its surrounding farmland. Even in the dark, they saw the flames. The brisk dry wind would not help. It blew the fire away from Bree but headed directly toward the Estate of the Lost Ones. Dem heard Egfor’s cry of despair or was it his own.

Trained warhorse, the balked only slightly as the flames grew closer. Egfor jumped off Elf and ran to those throwing buckets of precious water onto the fire.

“Where are you getting your water,” Egfor yelled over the roar of the fire.

“Well, it’s the closest thing, but it is near dry.” A farmer yelled back.

Dem stood in his stirrups, surveying the situation. A young lad, maybe five or six, standing helpless, scared, and watching the adults work. Dem jumped off Calysto, and the horse followed him.

“You have plow horses here, lad?”

The boy nodded.

“Can you work them?”

When the boy just stood wide-eyed watching the fire, Dem grabbed the lad’s chin gently and forced the boy to look into Dem’s eyes. “Here’s what you need to do. Harness your plow horses and bring them out here. You and I have important work to do.”

The boy nodded, work he understood. Dem only hoped the boy did know how to handle the horses; he was pretty young. But he brought out two draft horses in tack. Dem hooked them up to the wagons he had loaded with barrels. He sat the boy on one of the draft horses, tying the other to the rear of the first wagon and head the short half-mile to the river.

Others came to help, and soon a steady stream of horse-drawn carts from the river to fire began. The boy stuck close to Dem but seemed less afraid. But, even with their best efforts, the fire continued to spread because of the wind.

Egfor grabbed half a dozen men, and they attempted to dig a fire break. It worked, the fires were finally under control, and the men and women put out the last of them. Children ran through the burnt fields searching for embers. The sun was just past midday, and the Estate’s wagons of food came and fed the fire workers today.