“Bonfire” comes from “bone-fire,” which is to say a fire that can turn calcium to ash: so a very hot fire indeed. You hold two bonfires in autumn and two in spring, and you drive cattle between them, lowing and foaming. It funnels their life into the planting or the harvest.
“Professional arsonists,” the police told the news. More like vocational, thinks Donnchadh, as he and the other priests watch the West Pier burn. Their fingers tingle. They’re thundering with it, the crashing strength of its iron skeleton, the gape-mouthed worship of those who shuffled its hot bright length.