It was Old Mother Bel who raised the alarm. The shoreline families had evacuated to the church on the leading edge of the ridge for the night in the face of a storm coming in on a rising tide. The gale was ferocious outside but the old woman had insisted in ducking out to the privy when her family’s backs were turned. There had been a break in the clouds while she was outside and she knew what she was looking at when she saw the moonlight on the water and charged back inside, her walking stick moving faster than anyone thought it could, and made her grandsons start ringing the church’s bells in alarm.
That alarming jangle, so different to the harmonious call to services, brought the new parson out of his bed to see what the refugees were doing in “his” church. He hadn’t been happy about the fishermen, beachcombers and others staying in the church for the night but had conceded the point on the grounds of common sense. When he was made to understand the severity of the problem, he dashed back into the parsonage behind the church to get dressed just as the first of the villagers proper began to climb the hill.
Lord Halpfiger, who‘d built his fancy house only a little beyond the outskirts of the village, sent his running footman to complain about the noise. The running footman was sent back with the message, “The sea’s flooding!” The man went faster than he came, the lord having bought a tract of land that was no higher than most of the village.
In the end, the village was lucky. No-one died, although there were some narrow escapes. Lady Halpfiger is said to have had hysterics when the sun rose and she saw what the sea was doing to her beautiful house. There was lost livestock and property but it could have been worse.
South along the coast the land is higher and it’s not so easy for the sea to roll in over the shore. To our north, well our immediate neighbours have a hill too so most of them are safe, but beyond that it was flat beaches backed by salt marshes. The villages are all drowned and the sea hasn’t retreated back within its borders. Baumkirke used to be five miles inland and now it’s on the sea. Trombolt was the biggest town in these parts, with a fine port, and now it’s gone beneath the waves.
Lord Halpfiger is poorer than he was before the storm, much of his wealth was in land that’s now sea bottom, but he’s more important than he used to be because there are far fewer nobles now. It seems the loss of his house doesn’t matter so much because he spends so much more time in attendance on the King,
Here? Here we’re deciding how far back along the ridge we should go to rebuild.