“I first read about this in the records at my village,” Serena explained. “I didn’t believe it at first; it seemed too otherworldly. But then I came across similar scrolls in the Poseidon royal library, so that must mean it’s a real thing.”
“What is?” Kakane asked. Rean blinked, tilting its head.
“There’s a flower, called the frost breath iris, that is said to grow on the summit of the Yukishi Mountain,” Serena told them. “I’m not exactly sure what this means, but the flower was said to embody all of the Yukishi Mountain’s cold killing might.”
“Well, I’ve heard that the Yukishi Mountain is infamous for killing any traveler who dares try and climb it,” Kakane mused. Rean began fidgeting; more talk about killing?
“The frost breath iris is an extremely deadly flower; holding or smelling it is enough to freeze you to death,” Serena said. Kakane raised an eyebrow.
“Okay, so what does this mean for us?”
“There’s a catch,” Serena said, tapping her chin. “The flower is extremely rare; nobody knows what it looks like. That’s why I thought it was just a legend back in my village. A flower that could kill someone just by touch? It seemed unreal. But the book I read in Poseidos had a sketch; not an accurate one, just figurative. A drawing of what the flower might look like based on the climate of the Yukishi Mountain.”
Rean opened its notebook to a picture Mira drew of several different flowers. It pointed to the one labeled “iris” and showed it to Kakane, who scoffed, muttering that it was probably inaccurate. But Serena nodded, commenting that the frost breath iris was in the same family as the one in Rean’s notebook. Kakane rolled his eyes.
“Let me get this straight: You’re saying that there’s this extremely deadly flower on the top of that mountain,” Kakane jerked his thumb behind him, “but no one knows what its appearance is and it may be urban myth? Where the hell are you going with this, Serena? A king does not like it when people beat around the bush.”
“Let’s say the flower does exist.” Serena closed her eyes, deep in thought. “I read about the flower in two, distinct, very different places; since both places had the same descriptions, that gives some truth to the frost breath iris. It may very well be real. And let’s also say we successfully climbed the Yukishi Mountain and got our hands on the frost breath iris.”
“That’s near-impossible,” Kakane snapped, causing Rean to fumble with its notebook. “Skilled mountain climbers froze to death before they got halfway up the summit!”
“This is all hypothetically speaking,” Serena reminded him. “I can use a spell so that we can safely handle the flower. And then, if we use a concealing spell, we could possibly give the flower to the Doryokan princess or Balinorian crown prince. Once I undo the spell, we’ll have accomplished our goal without having to reveal ourselves. The main issues I see with this are obtaining the frost breath iris in the first place and sneaking it into the kingdoms. What do you think?”
“Well, Gawain is rather close to the Yukishi Mountain,” Kakane remarked. Rean turned around to stare at the mountain. It wasn’t very tall, but it certainly looked very cold, icy, and ominous. “We could easily get to the Yukishi Mountain from here. And Countess Zhi can sneak the flower into Doryoku. All that would be left would be to actually get the flower…”
“Do you think it’s worth it?” Serena asked.
Kakane turned and frowned at the looming peak in the distance. How many travelers had died trying to scale that mountain? What dangers lurked under its snow-covered surface? A chilling wind blew down from the summit, causing Kakane to hiss from the sheer cold. Even if he absolutely had to, he really did not want to climb that gods-forsaken mountain. His scar burned despite the cold, serving as a reminder for the people waiting to be avenged.
Were there no other options than waiting for a chink to appear in Doryoku’s armor?
How long would he have to wait for his revolution?
He was so, so tired of waiting.
This was the last straw.
“I absolutely hate the idea of having to climb up that damn mountain,” Kakane said finally. He turned to Serena with a glint in his eyes, baring his teeth. “But do you know what I hate more?” Serena shook her head and Rean shrugged, looking wary. “I thoroughly despise having to wait around for a ghost of a chance to accomplish my goals! A king does not wait around for anything! A king creates opportunities! For the future that I have long dreamed of, I will risk life and limb to accomplish my goals!”
“Kakane…!” Serena shook her head. “No, I shouldn’t be surprised. You’ve always charged ahead, looking straight at the future. This is no different.” Rean pumped its fist into the air, beaming, and Kakane gave them both a toothy grin.
He turned to the Yukishi Mountain, pointed at it, and announced with bravado, “Tomorrow, we scale the mountain in pursuit of our desired future! Onward, comrades, and have faith in your king!”