AGIUTA!!! Fogo d'al Rialto!

10th April 2017; Morning

Easter was over, and the long holy weekend with it. On the Tuesday morning after the Easter weekend, Rialto was slow to wake. Festivities, feasts, churches, and celebrations had gone until late in the day, processions and prayers were led around the city and Ria had done her duty to the church, attending mass, walking with the throng of people seeing her customers, and being seen by them. She had done well and not drawn undue gossip onto herself, or been a danger to her reputation. Her very shop's existence hinged on the widow's reputation, after all. She could not afford to have it ruined by someone claiming she had not done her religious duties.

The seamstress was rarely on her own on those marches, her elderly mamas always by her side. Like quibbling teenagers they had pointed out men, they thought could be eligible to marry. Ria just wished, the two old crones would finally accept that she liked being a widow and had no intention of re-marrying.
She was exhausted on this morning. Easter weather had slowly but steadily increased in temperature with each day. The sun was beating down through a clear blue sky, and brought with it powerful heat. This morning after Easter was stifling and humid.

The stench of rot was even more pronounced than on any other day, with the Adriatic Sea not so much as offering the idea of a breeze to chase the stench away. Venice always had the sweet scent of rotting flesh wafting through the Canals - the cemeteries of the churches were just too shallow to dig deep graves, given the whole city was built on wooden poles sunk in the sea and the closer one came to such a burial ground, the thicker the stench. This day, however it felt particularly acrid.

San Giacomo di Rialto dominated the Campo just behind Ria's shop. She neither held a top spot on Rialto bridge, nor a shop in one of the Arcades circling the church. It also meant, she did not face the small cemetery adjacent to Venice' oldest church - but today, she smelled it dearly. She was not the only merchant sluggishly moving through the unusual hot morning for the time, a cloth pulled over her mouth and nose to escape the thick air.

Closing in on Il Merletto di Lilla, it was thanks to the cloth, that at first she didn't realise the underlying other smell starting to penetrate the atmosphere.
A harsh cough shook her, when suddenly she inhaled a thick cloud of smoke. Smoke? Her eyes widened in shock and frantically she looked around.

The little bakery three shops over had thick smoke billowing from its window. Before Ria could run toward it to see whether it was just bread burning in their oven, or whether something more serious was going on, the wooden window shudders suddenly burst in flames, a large column of hot fire shooting into the air. She screamed. "FOGO!"

From the houses nearby, people started running some already buckets in their hands.
Ria abandoned all decorum, cloth and ran as fast as she could to her shop - she picked the nearest bucket and ran toward the fire in an effort to help. Her first and foremost thought was she had to help stop the fire from spreading into her own store. Her own safety forgotten.
With an ear-crushing blast, the flour stored in the Bakery combusted and the shock wave drove Ria to the ground.
word count: 592

It was supposed to be a quiet day, two days after Easter. Tribiano and Cesare were working in the inn, while Francesco was doing his patriotic duty, taking care of the city's public order. He was on patrol with the corrazzieri, while dreaming of the lasagna Julietta had promised for dinner. It was not an easy situation for the Zanotta brothers to be in; serving in the military and doing their menial duties there while others investigated the death of their brother-in-law and his previous criminal activity. Would they be considered guilty by association? A few thought so, most of their camarades knew better, as they had been training together and patrolling together and even living in the same neighbourhood for a lifetime.

He had done his Christian duty by attending the Easter noon mass, as during the vigil he had to be at home, guarding the inn against any potential villains. He went yesterday also for Pasquetta, accompanying his parents. He had prayed for the solving of the problems and for the safety of Anzola and Dante.

Today it was a work day for him, though. A day with almost no wind, and with more powerful stench than usually.

The patrol came through Rialto neighbourhood, close to home, just to meander around the narrow streets of the market. It seemed, at the beginning, that nothing important would happen… until they saw the fire. And a fire in this cramped little merchants neighbourhood comprising so many flammable goods was a disaster. Such fires happened more often than one could think, with disastruous results for half of the affected sestiero, if not for all of it, as they spread very quickly to the buildings nearby.

"Fire! Let's put order and help extinguish it!" the Corrazzieri sergeant ordered. "The youngest one to run to the station and bring thefire engine. The others, ask people to give all their buckets and ladders, then let's make a row to the waterside and offer continuous supply of water for extinguishing the fire."

As Francesco went forward to ask for buckets, he witnessed the explosion and he saw a woman thrown to the ground. He first ran to help her stand up.

"Are you all right, signora?" he asked.

Around him, his companions were still seeking buckets and ladders, meanwhile a part of them organised a human chain to put already in use the buckets they had. But he couldn't join them until he found out if she needed medical help.
word count: 422

10th April 2017; Morning

It had been a fairly calm start of the day at “The Drunken Duck”. Tribiano and Cesare had gotten out of bed and dressed up in their work clothes as they prepared to help Papa Ludovico with the work around the Family inn.

They had just gotten to finish the breakfast serving, and Mario had lost the coin toss about who were to wash the dishes today. He had scowled as he grabbed the bunches of dirty dishes and stomped into the kitchen, without even thanking Tribiano for the laced apron his older brother had tied around his waistline to prevent him from soiling his clothes - much to Cesare’s amusement.

However, the friendly bantering between the brothers was not to last. Soon they could hear the sound of running feet in the streets outside, and they heard shouts. “Buckets… Bring buckets….and ladders!”

The brothers exchanged glances, and Papa Ludovico placed his heavy hands on their shoulders. “Run, boys… Go find out what this is all about - and bring buckets….”

The twins rushed to the bucket closet and grabbed two buckets each, making sure to fill them with water by the Canal as they waited for someone to show up.

“What is going on?” Cesare shouted to one of their neighbors.

The neighbor looked at them with panic in his face - he had never been a brave man. “Fire!” he shouted and ran in the other direction - without a bucket in his hand.

Tribiano, knowing his neighbor’s lack of courage, started rushing towards the direction the neighbor had come from. Soon he could see black smoke on the sky above one of the houses.

Cesare followed close in his heels, and the two brothers stormed through the crowd. “Make way, make way!” they shouted as they rushed down the street. They screeched to a stop as they met the Corazzieri Sergeant. “Tribiano and Cesare Zanotta reporting for Duty,” they said. “Bringing four buckets of water for the fire and our able assistance.”

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word count: 374

An explosion woke the entire population from the everyday blasse which had overtaken their mundane schedules. There was little that could bring a collapsing nobility together, but the self-preservation which came from the threat of a fire brought a unity like no other.

Angelo had been several doors down wondering where the haze had been coming from when the sound shook him from his musings. Since returning from his journies in London, Angelo Bianchi had been spending his time watching the people of the city, learning more of what he could about the city he grew up in.

He sprung to his feet as the fire engine passed by him. Everyone in the vicinity was calling out for buckets. Angelo took his jacket and tossed it aside as he gathered with the rest. His sleeves were filed up, and his hair already pulled back. The man was ready to help where needed. However, when the fire was out, he would want to see the shoppe. Bakeries didn't just explode, and the investigator was already suspecting fowl play.

A man was with a woman near the fire. It seemed the explosion had potentially claimed a victim. Now wasn't the time to see. Since someone was with her there was no need unless a call for help came. Angelo could do little medically anyway. He was an investigator. If she needed to be moved that was one thing, but if she needed treatement that would be best left to professional.

"Tell me where to help, what to do," he called out as he came together with the group.

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word count: 323

The Fire was billowing out the bakery's window and for a moment that felt a lot longer than it probably was, Ria was prone on her backside, staring at bright orange flames licking hungrily outward.
There was no pain, and she didn't think she had anything broken and she hadn't time to figure it out, when she saw a set of boot's by her side. Shortly thereafter, a hand in her vision and a concerned, deep voice asking whether she was alright. <a href='index.php?showuser=119' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-3'>@Francesco Zanotta</a> had bent down to her, offering her a hand to get back up. With gratitude, she dipped her head and scrambled back to her feet. She winced, as a twinge told her she had abused her tailbone.
Well, that coudln't be helped - they had a fire to put out.

"Thank you, Signore - No time for pleasantries. We need to get that fire under control." she did not realise, then, he was part of the Corazzieri and had already taken control. Ria looked around for her bucket and finally spotted it. It had rolled to the other side of the road.

The woman was still slightly dazed from the fall, and the blast so close to her - but at this stage, she did what any Venetian would do when a fire would break out: Social standing, class, duties - it all went down the dregs when the survival of an entire Sestieri could be impacted. She noticed with relief, that already neighbours and market visitors were abandoning whatever they were doing before in order to help contain what at the moment still seemed like only a small fire. With regret, the merchant within her winced - now would be a hayday for the thieves and scoundrels. Corazzieri occupied, and merchants away with buckets. Looters could have their fill. She prayed that even the worst scoundrels would have the decency to not abuse the situation!

Before she would retrieve her own bucket, she turned back to Francesco - and yet again, before she had time to utter further words of thanks, two men approached them. <a href='index.php?showuser=186' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-3'>@Tribiano Zanotta</a> and Cesare Zanotta reporting for duty to their sergeant. It was then, that it hit Ria that the Corazzieri were there. She let out a deep breath of relief - now they had a real chance of containing that fire. With a brief, grateful smile to the three Zanotta brothers she dipped her head to them and then dashed off for her own bucket.

This moment was not the time for talk - she needed to pull her own weight. A row started to form haphazardly as of yet, the neighbours not fully organised in their attempt to form a human chain from waterfront to the burning bakery.
So, as Ria ran along the folks toward the Canal, she pushed and shoved folks in place, stepped in to pass a bucket that got stuck in too big a gap onward, looked searchingly around - and ended up staying in that spot. And then, the long, laborious task started of passing an empty bucket toward the water, exchanging it for a full one.

Ria's originally dark-red, simple linnen dress, held together by a cotton corset and a black Apron was marked in soot stains, bright white patches of flour all over her and ash-marks. Her black hair, braided on the crown of her head in the early morning had fallen lose and hung tousled over her shoulders - plait swinging in motion with her arms, as she lifted the heavy buckets, unruly curls finding its way, stuck to her temples, and into her eyes. Sweat formed on her forehead and when she reached to wipe it off her brow, she left black ash-stains on her cheeks and forehead.

It didn't matter. She frowned. The breaks between the buckets were still too long and they couldn't bring filled buckets as fast, as empty buckets were handed backward!
In one of the lulls, waiting for a bucket to pass down the chain, she watched as a stranger ran toward them - already prepared and ready to help. Briefly, she eyed <a href='index.php?showuser=220' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-3'>@Angelo Bianchi</a> as he called out for the Corazzieri to ask where he could help - then her attention was back on the work at hand. Her arms started to ache - she ignored it.

Her own voice went up toward the person next to her. "Bring the message forward, we need more people and more buckets at the Canal - get the urchins to help fill the buckets!"
The neighbour nodded, and the message was carried from person to person until it would reach the Corazzieri...
word count: 824

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Thurenza was entertaining Padre Barbaro over a game of chess. It was a newly formed tradition during the week that he come and they war over the checkered board and spoke about worldly and not so worldly matters. Agustin was a very sweet dove and Thurenza liked to spoil the Priest when he would come and spend time with her. They shared hot tea and supped on particular sweets that she had imported by the Captain of the Colomba when he was able to procure and share them at a reasonable price.
The two’s conversation was abruptly interrupted by one of the many street Urchins that Thurenza employed. He was distressed and speaking so quickly it took a moment for Thurenza to understand.
“Signora the market across the square is set afire. We must hurry before it spreads.”
She rose so quickly she nearly dumped her chess board to the floor. Agustin would not need to be prompted on the seriousness of a fire in the square. Thurenza grabbe dhte boy and was speaking rapidly back to him.
“Pull everyone from their tasks, bring buckets hurry now… Hurry!”
She looked to her companion and frowned most severely. A fire had raised the entire square once before. They did not need another. And how far was it now from her business. Sophie knew better to stay and pull certain items out of potentially harm’s way.
“Padre you better have a word with your god for we need all the help we can, yes.”
Together the pair made haste across the square to all the ruckus, flames , ash and debris from the fire falling on everyone. She knew enough to find the line and fill a gap. Soon they’d have 8 more young bodies to run water to and fro. But presently gained herself and the Padre.

</div><div class="sb">

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</div><div class="tt">it was hard to breathe<br><span class="st">She was dark at the top of the stairs, and she called down to me</span></div></div></div><div class="dmc"><a href=" ... comments/1" title="Eisande of RPGD">•</a> <a href=" ... wuser=5743" title="Queen Mirena of CC">•</a> <a href="" title="Queen Mirena of CTTW">•</a> <a href="" title="Lady Claire of Shine">•</a> <a href=" ... wuser=1616" title="Queen Mirena of ATF">•</a></div>[/dohtml]
word count: 666

Agustin was on the verge of winning this game, after having lost already one to Thurenza. She was a good player. Maybe better than him, or maybe the good luck favoured her more? He wasn't sure if to believe in good luck in a game of strategy like chess. It felt well in that quiet alcove, discussing with Thurenza and receiving all kind of treats. Again and again Agustin couldn't help thinking that she was more sisterly than his own siblings. It was this warm athmosphere he was after, more than anything else.

The discussion was interrupted by the news that there was a fire in the neighbourhood. Thurenza said that he'd better pray - and he agreed with this, at least half. He'd pray but he'd help concretely as well.

Agustin already wasn't shocked anymore about her scandalous wording your god. He had learnt to take her eccentricities as such, and to see the good and the wise beyond them.

"I think you should bring also the kind of medicine you need to treat burns," he suggested. "I won't content only with praying, a concrete hand of help might be a good contribution as well."

He was praying on his way to the place of the emergency. He lined up, next to Thurenza, passing buckets to and fro. There was already a crowd, helping or hindering (he couldn't say which more), and the Corrazzieri were trying to ensure the order. New forces were coming with a fire engine.
word count: 256

The fallen young woman was able to get up, with Francesco's help. Her little grimace told him that she had a pain, but nothing in immediate need of medical assistance. And she was determined to help with the fire, looking for her bucket and finding it before Francesco could react.

"We'll get it under control. Soon the fire machine will arrive too."

At his turn, Francesco felt a bit relieved when he saw his brothers reporting for duty. Another man asked how to help, and the sergeant replied:

"Tell people to wet blankets and sacks and put them on the houses which are in danger to get next caught by the flames. This is one reason what the ladders are for. Wet blankets can keep the fire away until we succeed to put it out with the fire engine."

In the meanwhile, the much awaited fire machine arrived too, and with it a bigger team of corrazzieri. The wheel-mounted hand pumper was nearly ten feet long and about four feet wide, and its capacity was of about one hundred gallons of water. It was activated by hand levers and foot treadles. Several strong men were needed to work the levers and treadles to pump water through an air vessel and out a pipe, or branch, aimed at the fire. Bucket brigades were needed to fill the pumps. It was hard work. The engine was equipped with a long hose, allowing water to be drawn from the canal to the reservoir. A screen prevented debris from getting into the tank.

Francesco went to help them pump. He had done drills on the fire engine and he knew that four people had to stand up on the raised foot treadles on either side, gripping a bar as they used their feet to pump the two-cylinder machine up and down. Six or eight more people had to take hold of the hand levers on either side, pumping in time with the others, while a man had to mount the top of the engine to direct the spray from the long spout.

All this time, the neighbourhood dwellers kept passing buckets from hand to hand, taming the smaller fire sources.
word count: 370

Finally the fire machine was here. Tribiano and Cesare looked at each other and sighed with relief. They saluted the sergeant and went to perform their orders. Wet blankets were offered from the nearby houses, and the two brothers handed them out to teenager boys who now came to help. They instructed the boys in how to keep the flames away with the blankets, and then they moved over to the fire machine.

Cesare and Tribiano with their length of 6 foot 2 were put at work by the fire engine. Like Francesco they had done drills on this fire engine before, and they joined their brother. There was only one problem - they were only three strong men here now.

“We need two more men to help us at the pumps!” Cesare called out. “And two more men at the hand levers!”

Tribiano placed his wet scarf in front of his face to protect it from heat. Today it was his turn to mount the top of the engine to direct the spray from the long spout. He knew it was a dangerous task. If anything exploded he would be the first to get hit. But this was a chance he was willing to take if they only could get this fire under control.

As soon as he was on the top of the engine, he nodded down to the others to show he was ready.

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word count: 308

Men were needed at the pumps, Angelo had overheard. He nodded and ran to the engine to help lend his strength. If they didn't act fast the fire could ravage the entire market, if not more of the city. Angelo was not going to let that happen.

Gripping the wooden handle, Angelo started pumping. His hands could feel the wood rough against the skin, and he knew by the time this fire was out there would be blisters all over the palms of his hands. He had never been a worker, raised among nobility with servants his whole had made his hands soft. Any work ethic he had was a result of his time away, his adventures among the British had shaped who he was today.

His forehead broke out in a sweat as he was closer to the flames. While there was water to put out the fire, those working would need to stay hydrated as well if they hoped to remain effective.

"We will water for the workers, more men to help keep the pumps going as we get tired. A solid rotation will help."

Angelo added his own thoughts as he pumped the engine without any sign of slowing.

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word count: 275
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