Story for the Day: The Fire Brigade
There was a fire in my building this week, which we all know means there will be a new story to tell:
The Fire BrigadeThe party were prepared to visit Farriage, Alasdair as ready to preside over the case Lord Ruadric presented as everyone else was to see the Inventor’s Row in the municipal capital, to take in the view from the docks, to regale in the tea houses and Marridonian architecture, to see the horses come down from the north to compete at the races, to visit the National Library and the Frewyn Historical and Archaeological societies, and enjoy all the sweets and the gaeities that Farriage had to offer. There was talk of their going there only for a day, and as such Beryn and Lochan, being not far from the city and having Farriage in their way for deliveries, offered to convey the whole party thither. They should be glad to have company besides themselves on the long drive to the north, especially if it were family, and as they should have plenty of room for everyone, it was all agreed to: they should drive with Lochan and Beryn, with Badleigh driving the royal carriage ahead of them. They must have some procession, and as Badleigh needed a something to get him out of the keep, for Alasdair used the royal carriage so seldom, his coachman should at least be given the honour of leading the way. He did not like the drive to Marridon; the road was uneven in places, and the dampness along the coast under the power of so bright a sun was enough to kill, but he should not complain, for he was being allowed to parade the carriage about the northern countryside, he was being given leave of the stables, and there was all his happiness for the morning.
The horses were reined, the carriage was brought out, and everyone was gathering into Lochan’s cart and Beryn’s jaunty when sounds of alarm drew them to the square below. The urgency bells were blaring, the church bell soon echoed, and a few moments saw the eastern side of the capital in an uproar. The armed forces came running down the high street, the call for the fire brigade was sent, and the shout of “A fire, a fire!” rang out. A fulmination of cries went up, the square was in a confusion, a trail of black smoke raged defiant against the sky. The bells along the wall of the capital gave their plangent cries, the pumps along the river were being manned, and as the Royal Guard began sectioning off the street and moving others to safety, the members of the fire brigade poured out of the keep and down from the capital wall, moving with all due alacrity toward the high street.
“It’s an apartment a few blocks in!” were the passing cries. “Just went up, just like that!”
“Small place, just down from the Traveler! Can’t miss it!”
The fire brigade, consisting of many members of the armed forces and the Royal Guard, were already impelling the water from the river into the pressure pumps brought down from the wall. They were all gathered in front of the building, some behind the large hosepipe, and others with their individual pressure pumps and buckets, all aiming at a small second floor apartment. Flames raged from the broken windows, blackening the roof and pouring thick smoke above the capital, the crepitation and rush of the violent blaze drowned out the calls from below, and as the royal party arrived, bringing with them Mureadh, Gaumhin, Dobhin, and the rest of the fire brigade from the keep, the shattering of glass tinkled, a window frame fell forward, and the groaning of wood from a roof beginning to give way resonated along the street.
“Move farther in!” Mureadh bellowed, standing at the front of the hosepipe. “Aim for the beams on the second floor!”
The whole of the brigade moved to follow his command. Water flowed in through broken windows, the flames began to die down, the support beams for the roof were about to give way when there was a sudden cry from within:
“Help! Help! A beam is blocking the stairs! We cannot get out!”
Gaumhin roared for someone to take his place at the pump. He motioned to Mureadh and Connors, and the three of them assailed the façade, Mureadh and Connors leaping up to the first floor windowsills and Gaumhin descending on the front door. A swift strike bore the handle from the door, and Gaumhin slammed his shoulder against the lock, breaking the door from its hinge. It fell forward in time for Connors and Mureadh to enter through the broken first floor windows, and the three of them moved quickly up the stairs, hacking through fallen beams and flaming debris along the way.
“Douse me,” Alasdair demanded, removing his jerkin and standing in front of Nerri, who was aiming her pressure pump at the house. “There might be more in there than they can carry out.”
“Take this,” said Boudicca hastily, giving Alasdair a cloth. “Tie it over your face.”
They incurred some worrying looks as they tied the damp cloths around their noses and mouths, but while some would question whether it should be right for the King of Frewyn to risk himself, he said, “I’ve fought in two wars. I’m a member of the armed forces as well as being a king, and I would risk my life for my people at anytime. Douse me.”
Nerri doused them as Connors, Gaumhin, and Mureadh emerged from the building, each of them carrying someone in their arms. Smoke poured from their armour, their faces smattered with soot, sweat dripping from their brows. A cleric came to them the moment they put them on the ground, and without a thought, Gaumhin turned and shouted, “THERE ARE MOAR INSIDE!”
“Are these hurt?” cried Alasdair, rushing over as Connor and Mureadh leapt back into the building.
“They’re o’ right,” Gaumhin rasped, wiping his brow with the back of his hand. “Nae wounds oan ‘em. A beam fell from the top, blockin’ the stairs. Ah cut it aside. Go! Ah’ll stae with these here.”
Alasdair ran inside, Boudicca ran after him, and it was seconds before Connors and Mureadh reappeared, carrying a few children in their arms.
“There are more!” cried Connors, and he was motioning for Nerri to douse him when Aiden and Adaoire, along with Khaasta, rushed inside.
The brigade continued their work on the third floor and the roof, the flames began to diminish, the roof bent in sad conflagration, and Alasdair and Boudicca emerged, each with a child in their arms. They brought the children over to the cleric, removed their face coverings, and stood with arms out as they were submerged in water.
“Is that it?” Boudicca panted, looking back at the building. “Did we get them all?”
Mureadh and Connors were about to leap back into the house when a loud creak brought the centre of roof down into the garret. A cloud of grey smoke engulfed the lane, the brigade continued extinguishing the remainder of the flames on blind luck, someone somewhere cried out, “Aiden and Adaoire are still inside!” Every head turned toward the building and everyone moved to hasten back inside when the cloud of dust settled, and Aiden and Adaoire emerged from the building with Khaasta at their side. Each had a child under one arm, and Khaasta trotted toward the cleric with a small kitten in her mouth.
“My kitty!” cried one of the children, rushing toward her with open arms.
Khaasta put the kitten down and returned to the jaunty, where she was greeted with hugs and smiles by everyone, and the twins, after making certain the children were in the care of the cleric, returned to their own children, to kiss and embrace them and praise the Gods that they were all well and unharmed.