The village was on fire. Not the small, controlled burn of spring clearing, or even the accidental burn of lightning. It was large, flaring through the common and down the cobblestone streets, gutting the houses.
"Where is the fire brigade?" Victana asked. It was all she could think to say.
Amos said nothing. His hands were over his ears, shaking his head.
"They're screaming," he said at last.
"Who?" Victana asked.
"Them," he said, pointing.
Victana left the wicker basket behind and walked through the last hundred yards of grasses. Burrs pulled lightly at her skirt as she walked onto the outskirts of the village. At the edge of the grasses, she saw a lumpy shape lying on the ground.
"Them," Amos whispered. He had been following her. The roar and heat of the flames filled both of their consciousness. Victana could feel her heart hammering in her chest. She was close enough now to recognize the shape on the ground.
Gravden the Baker lay on the ground. His body had beaten repeatedly until his form was essentially no longer human. His face had been mashed by something into an oozing pulp of brain and blood. His shoulders and rib cage had been broken and caved in. The only way to recognize it was actually him was his orange apron. His daughter, Elesie, had made it three storm seasons ago. She had dragged almost every villager into the project in one way or another. Her father had even acted surprised when he had received it, despite hearing lengthy daily updates from the gossips who wandered in and out of his shop.
The same shop that now burnt in a wall of flame and soot behind his mangled corpse.
Beyond that, the fish market was a sheet of solid flame. More misshapen lumps lay about, falling where they had been smashed.
"They're still screaming," Amos said. "I can hear them screaming."
"Are they all..." Victana began. Amos nodded.
"I don't sense a single life form," Amos said. "No trees. No animals. No...people."
They were still standing in front of the burning village. The heat kept them out. The Barkhsun's house collapsed to street level, sending a cloud of sparks high into the air.
"I feel like the whole earth is screaming," Amos said.