“Very good, my dear,” said Bramble, smiling at the simple still-life of the vase his charge was painting.
Princess Isabel glanced at her teacher. “Do you think my colors are a bit too… vibrant?”
The eunuch shook his head. “Oh no, child,” he replied. “You capture the inner spark of beauty.” He gestured to the painting. “To me it seems that what you paint here is not the vase as it is, but the vase as it should be…”
Isabel averted her eyes. “I… Bramble, I simply chose the colors I thought would be pretty.”
The eunuch patted her hand gently. “Exactly.”
“Fire! Fire! Fire!” shouted Edith, rushing into the room.
Bramble turned swift as can be. “All right, you two must follow me now. If we move quickly, and precisely, we can avoid any misha--”
Edith blinked. “Oh, not here. Outside. In the capital.” The young princess shifted awkwardly. “I thought you should know about it.”
Bramble stared at his young charge for a moment, and then sighed. “My dear, I must admit you are… an experience…”
Mote rushed in followed by several others. “All right!” declared the Master of Chambers. “We are here. Now--if we hurry though here quickly, we…”
“The fire isn’t in the Maiden’s Palace, Mote,” said Bramble tiredly.
Mote blinked. “But… why…” Bramble gestured to Edith. Mote stared, then nodded. “Ahh. Yes. Of course.” He took a deep breath. “So then, my dear, may I ask where this fire is?”
Edith pivoted, her excitement obvious. “Oh, just come out to the Grand Courtyard! You can see the smoke billowing, all black and… smoky!”
Mote and Bramble shared a glance as the Princess darted out, then stepped to follow her. “We have spoiled her dreadfully,” said Bramble, quietly.
“She deserves it,” answered Mote. “Usually.” He was surprised to see Isabel rising to follow them. “You aren’t going to finish your painting?”
Isabel shrugged. “Well, I do feel an urge to see if I’m in any danger of being immolated…”
The eunuchs nodded. “That is sensible,” agreed Bramble.
“See? See? See?” said Edith gleefully, as she danced outside, gesturing to the great clouds that were streaming from the city. Mote, Bramble, and Isabel stared at it in horror. “A fire! A fire! A fire!”
Isabel stepped forward and grabbed her sister by the shoulders. “Edith!” she hissed. “This is serious! People may be--are probably dying right now!”
Edith blinked, and looked away, embarrassed.. “But… This is Tintagel. We have the finest fire brigades in the Lands of Light.” She gulped. “I’m sure that they’re making certain things don’t become too awful.”
Mote turned to Bramble. “Go get some runners, and see what is happening,” he said. “If we can help stop this, do so. If not…”
Bramble nodded. “Return home safely.”
Mote shut his eyes as his fellow headed away. “Mote…” said Isabel quietly. “It--it won’t spread here, will it?”
“Not yet,” he whispered. “Not for awhile.”