Elder Ponmay called a council of elders the next morning in the tavern. The three of them, Elder Ponmay, Elder Cosank, and Elder Inveer, sat at a table in the corner and held a whispered conversation that included several looks in my direction. I did my best to ignore them and made Jeslynn serve them breakfast. Many of the other villagers made an excuse to stop in and “have breakfast,” even though most of them didn’t eat and only drank small beer. Soon enough of them sat near the corner table that the conversation naturally spread to them to the whole room.
Elder Ponmay gave me a frustrated look when Weaver Noth declared to all that, in response to something Elder Cosank had whispered to her, the weather gods and the elders could suck rocks if they thought he was going to spend another week weaving up another funeral shawl for some poor sacrificial chicken just to get the creek running again.
“If they wanted privacy, they should have had it in the meadow,” I said softly to Jeslynn.
She fanned herself with her hand. “Too hot in the meadow.”
It seemed hot in the tavern as well. I went to prop the front door open, only to jump out of the way of Beekeeper Helent, who rushed in, a bucket swinging wildly in her hand and screaming for the elders.
Elder Cosank stood up, his tall lanky body towering over the beekeepers trembling frame.
“My peet – it burnt up.”
“Her what?” several people asked.
“Tiria’s memorial item, I think,” Jeslynn said in the sudden quiet.
Elder Cosank took the bucket from her and poked his finger in the bucket. A puff of tan ash plumed out causing him to jerk his head back.
“What was it?”
“My peet.”
Elder Ponmay patted the hysterical woman on the arm. “Yes, dear, but what was the peet? I mean, piece?”
“A basket. I went to put my eggs in it and it just burnt up.”
Elder Ponmay gestured toward me. I had no idea what I could do for the woman. Jeslynn pushed a cider in my hand and I hurried over.
Elder Ponmay sat Helent down and the rest of the room sat, listening.
As Helent sipped her cider and told her tale, a loud crash from outside made most of us jump. I went to look. The butcher’s wagon had lost a wheel. He stood there, hands on hips, cursing. The wagon slowly tipped over, making his mule cry out in surprise and bolt forward. The tongue broke off with a screech and the mule dragged around the square, causing sparks to leap up from the stones. I rushed out to help him catch the creature before it hurt itself.
We unhitched the broken tongue and both looked over at the wagon as it made a strange sucking sound. The entire thing turned into tan ash and puffed into a plume.
Wulfgit made a sign of warding.
Torgood rushed out of the tavern, some books in his hand.
“Gestin, your books…”
They turned to ash before he reached us.

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