The ashen clouds began to clear, letting sunlight stream into the twisted wrecks. It was only then that Harlowe actually began to see the real damage that the fire had caused. Metal was warped into grotesque shapes. Some of the wood that had managed to survive was casting menacing shadows down onto the piles of ashes and charcoal that had once been the farm buildings that her sister, parents, grandparents, and great grandparents had worked so hard to build.
“Oh. Oh Wow,” Hana let out a low whistle, coming up beside Harlowe on the little hill. “Oh my. All that gone in just a matter of hours. Less than a day.”
Harlowe’s instinct was to point out that it could have been worse. She wanted to remind Hana that they had all gotten out with the lives, and they’d even managed to save most of the animals that Hana and Conlyn had so recently added to their little kingdom.
But she knew that Hana knew that. She knew that Hana could be relieved that they saved so much but still be devastated that they lost so much. So, instead she turned to her sister with all the sympathy that she could possess and said “Oh, Hana. I am so, so sorry.”
Hana turned to look at her sister, and gave her a weak smile. “I know. I do. I—uh—I managed to save all the books, so I’m going to look at the numbers tonight, see what we can do.” Hana looked back out to the mess that was once their home and her livelihood. “I hate to ask, but is there any way you can delay your return to the city? We could really use the extra hands in the cleanup effort here.”
“Yeah. Yeah, of course.” Harlowe looked back too, but looked away just as quickly. Each passing moment made it look even worse. “I’ll send a message to the king today. I’m sure he’ll understand that your need has to come first right now.”
“Alright, thanks.” Hana’s voice was empty. Unlike her sister, she couldn’t make herself look away, no matter how bad it looked. “This is going to take a lot of work.”