For the next few days, Buentoille won’t be the most pleasant place to spend your days, if you are sensitive to the heat. The heatwave happens every year with surprising regularity, usually falling in the first two weeks of July. Last year was actually free of temperatures quite so scalding, but this year will be no exception, with temperatures out of direct sunlight expected to be in excess of 35 degrees centigrade. Those who live in more continental or southerly regions might scoff at this being deemed a ‘heatwave,’ but for Buentoille this is often practically unbearable.
Thankfully, the City’s coastal location makes things feel a little cooler, and from today onwards for the next few days the beaches and coasts for miles around will be packed to the brim. The river too, now safe enough to swim in, will be full of swimmers and small boats or rafts, their occupants dipping their toes in the river. Today things won’t be quite as bad as they can get, and the heat should die down, so tonight should be relatively comfortable. The smell of barbecues will fill the air in the afternoon, as folk enjoy the weather before it sours for them.
For groups with cultural or religious dress like the True Traditionalists, who wear thick brocade shawls at all times of year, this can be a tough time, and many simply retreat underground for the duration. The Hidden Library and Unfathomed Archive are both busier than usual, with many Buentoillitants finding solace in the lower, constant underground temperatures.
The Water Brigade will be out in force today, as they have been for the past week, preparing the City’s reserves of fresh water to ensure there will be enough to meet demands. Volunteers will join their core forces, handing out cups of water and electrolyte-infused solutions to ensure heat-induced injuries are kept to a minimum. Their primary function of saving burning buildings is obviously prioritised in the heat, especially with Buentoille’s penchant for outdoor eating, cooking in clay ovens and fire pits from which fire often spreads when not properly attended to. Water from the river is often used to fill their water engines and smaller carts (capable of fitting down the smaller alleyways of the Warren and other tight locales), as clean drinking water is in high demand.
The Brigade has been around for an astoundingly long time, in a very similar form, with mentions of ‘bukett persyns’ as far back as the second century. The group traces its origins even further back, however, claiming that they are directly descended (as a group, rather than through bloodline) from the mythical Dragon Warders. This link they display proudly, the symbol of a dragon adorning their modern protective clothing. Once this would have been a thick jacket, quilted to aid the uptake of water in which it was soaked before tacking a blaze, that was embroidered on both sides, one side displaying a dragon breathing fire, the other a drowning dragon. One they had put out a fire they would turn the jacket inside out to show nearby people that they were safe.
It is because of this ancient link that the Brigade have other, more esoteric duties to perform today, to keep the City safe. In their foundational text, the Dracoveritas, the taxonomy of dragons is laid out: they are nothing like any other form of life, existing in an alternate dimension, a ‘relm of fyre’ as the book puts it. They appear as fiery serpents that twist through the sky, propelling themselves by no obvious means, and everything they touch bursts into flame. When the sky is overcast, the link between our world and theirs is blocked, but on very sunny days, when it has been hot for some time, they are sometimes capable of moving into our world.
When here, dragons can be defeated by the application of several tons of water, at which point they wither and turn to a single long spinal column, or perhaps into ash or sand, depending on which story you believe. One story claims that they turn to glass when cooled sufficiently and if heated would turn back alive. Buentoille was said to be in possession of one such relic, before it was shattered to prevent the dragon’s resurgence. For a long time, the Water Brigade held what they claimed was a dragon’s spinal column, but which, on further analysis, turned out to be that of a whale.
As with all fires, the Water Brigade maintains that the best solution to dragons is to prevent them in the first place. They believe that they can only breach into our world not only when it has been hot for a long time, but when the peculiar unreality of long summer days sets in. When enough Buentoillitants begin to feel that way, that in the bright sunshine things are too bright and beautiful to be real, that they are not quite there, in this world that feels somehow separate from everyday life with its strange customs of cream applying and water-lounging, that is when dragons are able to cross the boundary, and wreak havoc in our world. As such the Brigade holds several ‘grounding’ meditation classes across the City today and for the next few days, under large white canopies to keep the worst of the heat away. The meditation leader encourages the attendees (everyone is welcome) to feel the grass beneath their toes, to listen to the sounds of the City, to realise the physical reality and solidity of the space they are in.
Revellers are reminded to stay in the shade for as long as possible, to keep hydrated, wear a hat, apply sun cream frequently and liberally, and watch out for dragons.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Festival of Poultices
- The Festival of the Pig
- Acrobatic Display Day