Thanks to their travels through the nations, business had never been this good for the entrepreneurial fishermen Fifi & Sons. "Not enough to keep us in clover until we're pushing up daisies, but we're sitting pretty…" said Chairmane. The coldest part of winter was in theory over, and Chung and his father could therefore hit the road again, with a new idea in mind…

Flovor was coming to an end and yet huge cottony flakes filled the sky. A carriage pulled by four Dragoturkeys with bluish fur struggled into the wind. The driver and a smaller passenger were covered in snow. Wrapped up snugly from head to toe, their faces were covered by long scarves leaving only the tiniest slits for them to look through. Their hats were stuck firmly down on their heads, held in place by scarves tied under their chins. The driver snapped the reins to encourage the animals who were also being beaten by the driving snow. Luckily, the road ran alongside a forest, otherwise the travelers would have been wandering blindly in the cold.

Afternoon. The snow had stopped falling. The wagon wove across the immaculate hilly landscape. In the distance, a figure appeared like a dot in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. When the carriage pulled up alongside the figure, it stopped.

Chairmane took off his hat and said, "Whoa there, easy…" (to the animals) and "Need a lift, friend?" (to the stranger).

"Hello, travelers!" called out the stranger with his face hidden. "It'd be welcome, for sure! I've been walking for hours, and I don't rightly recognize anything with all this snow…"
"We'll be going north for two solid hours yet, headed for Astrub Port."
"Anywhere far from this wretched place!"

The stranger was wearing a waterproof coat that reached his calves and had snowshoes on his feet. He was especially dirty. He was pulling a litter piled high with three large bags behind him. He put the bags one by one in the wagon very gently, stowed his litter, and went to sit beside Chung in front. The father and son couldn't help but wince at the smell… His pestilent odor was enough to unplug their stuffed noses! Then, he took off his hat and scarf, and they discovered a man covered in green hair.

"Kimar Renwar, hunter-trapper, at your service!"

"Chairmane Fifi, 'fisher-merchant', and my son and associate, Chung."

The Sadida took off his glove to shake the carters' calloused hands, and then the wagon continued its route.

"Where did you shelter during the storm?" asked Chung, intrigued.

"I'd been tracking a brown Bearbarian for three days. The beast must have weighed some 700 or 800 kilopods, but I never was one to turn my nose up – if I had a nose, that is – at a tough challenge. I was on its trail when it started snowing again. So I followed its tracks in the snow… I knew there wasn't much time before the tracks would be completely covered… So I pulled three arrows from my quiver, readied my bow, and picked up the pace. I started to think I was going to lose its trail – or become its prey – in the blizzard! So I stopped. I closed my eyes. And I listened… It had to be there, real close. And that's when I had the scare of my life… After a few seconds, I heard fast, heavy footsteps coming rapidly closer. I barely had time to turn around when a shadow appeared in front of me, giving off a cry that would curdle your blood! I don't know what happened next… I yelled and shot my three arrows at once into the mass looming in front of me…"

Stoic but paying attention to Kimar's tale, Chairmane kept driving his wagon straight ahead. Chung seemed to be living out the tale vicariously:

"And then what?"

"It hung there for a few seconds, motionless. The wind whistled. I struggled to stay on my feet, sunk down on one knee. I was at its mercy… Luckily, my shot had hit home. The gigantic Bearbarian collapsed in front of me."

Chung was enthralled. Chairmane took a more pragmatic view.

"And so… where did you shelter during the storm?"

"Well, that weren't no pleasure cruise… Far from it! I sliced open the beast's belly, thrust my hands into its still-hot, sticky innards, pulled out as much as I could, and then climbed into the carcass…"
"Eew!" exclaimed Chung, disgusted.
"I admit… 'twas disgusting, but… I was snug as a bug in a rug. So snug I eventually fell asleep! I don't know how long I slept… But when I woke up, it wasn't snowing any more so I cut the beast up for its meat and its hide. Then I saw you in the distance… What about you? What brings you out this way?"
"We're freshwater fishermen, we are, my son and I. We were content for a long time – well, really, I was content – you see, Chung is, well, bubblier than his father. Always with ideas rolling around his head! At first, he wanted to see a bit of the world and visit a friend in Sufokia. So, he convinced me there was business to be done, what with our fishing and his wanderlust together. The next time, we went back to Sufokia with our best catch yet. We sold some of it and traded the rest for goods from the Asse Sea. On the trip out, we were loaded down with freshwater Snappers that we could sell for a pretty penny in the city, and on the way back, with crustaceans, seafood, and huge fish that we then sold back home for an even prettier penny… And best of all, we had zero competition!"
"We started delivering to every nation," continued Chung. "I got to see the new wonders of Bonta, Brakmar, Sufokia and Amakna, built on the ruins of Ogrest's tantrums, with my own eyes."

A ray of sun shone through the clouds.

"And what did you think?" asked Kimar, intrigued in turn.

"Magnificent! The inhabitants re-used stones that fell from the sky, from Mount Zinit, to build new ramparts and shore up the cities. And that's what gave me the idea…"
"This young fella' here has seen the great nations in the World of Twelve," Chairmane continued, "all but one, the only, the insurmountable…"
"… Mount Zinit!" interjected Kimar.
"Same as all the nations, we needed the business to be right, something that would at least pay for the trip," added Chung.
"The beach?" the Sadida guessed.
"Yes, exactly. That was our first thought. Zinit Cwabs are in high demand at the best restaurants in Bonta!" said Chairmane.
"Let's just say that the beach is our plan B… a guarantee in case plan A fails," said the young Osamodas with a mysterious look on his face.

The hunter fidgeted on his seat.

"By Sadida's beard! What's your plan?"

"He's not planning to just stay at the base of the mountain…" revealed Chairmane.
"We're going to take advantage of the exceptional opening of Mount Zinit to all adventurers passing by to climb it, searching for rare and unique species in the freshwater springs created by Ogrest's tears!" exclaimed the young Osamodas.
"Proof once again that Ogrest's Chaos has its good side…"

As the wagon continued its slow plod north across the snow-covered countryside, the bags Kimar Renwar had loaded into the back began to fidget…

To be continued…

Mount Zinit Weekend

From Thursday, February 28 8:00 AM (server time) to Sunday, March 3 11:59 PM (server time), see you on Mount Zinit, exceptionally open to all!