The second boat joins us. The two men also successfully negotiated the currents. Together, we retrieve as many flood victims as we are able to without overloading our vessels. We then ferry them to the outcrop where I first met Damin. It is relative high out of the water still.
On the second delivery I leave the boat also. This way there is space for another and I am able to create some order in the chaos on land. It is chaos indeed. Everyone is wet and cold. The children cry and mothers are wide-eyed silent. Men rush about. Many shout across the dark waters, each hoping for an answering call.
Many have drowned this night.
How dare Normur’s city fathers call themselves civilised?
When Damin returns with another load of survivors, he leaves the boat as well, and another man takes his place. Together we survey the desperation all around us.
“This is wrong,” I murmur. “I understand now why you stayed.”
Damin sighs then and his arms enfold me, holding me close. I allow it, for I need the comfort and the warmth and I suspect he does too. I make smoothing motions on his back, marvelling at the lean muscle my fingers encounter. We draw apart and I know Damin will kiss me. I want him to.
It is not to be.
A scream tears through the night, this one far more intense than any of the wails we have heard thus far.
We move apart and run towards the sound.
A woman gesticulates wildly near the edge of the outcrop and already many surround her. Looking ahead, we see the grey light of dawn to the east … and a churning wall of black water on swift approach.
“The dam upriver has burst,” Damin breathes.