It was late June when Cedar came limping downriver into Hylebos. Midsummer, and hot and sticky. Flowers blanketed the road into the city, their sweet, heavy scent nearly visible in the haze. She sneezed and rubbed at her shoulder where the straps were digging into it. There was music somewhere in the distance.
There were torches at every intersection, and a little brazier with a pile of flowers beside it. While she stood on a street corner and waited for the light to change, a woman came out of the house across the street. She took a handful of the flowers and threw them on the coals. She saw Cedar watching her and waved.
People were crowded all along the riverbank, savage in paint and feathers and beads, eyes huge with masks. Metal boats filled with burning oil were strung together in long chains across the water. When the wind blew, she could see figures inside the flames, dancing or writhing.