Donovan Piquesby arrived in Verdantia around mid-day. His stomach had started rumbling nearly a league before, as soon as the warm autumn breeze had carried the festival to his quite large nose. He was leading two wagons piled high with goods for the market. Mostly consisting of carved stone, some ironwork, and pelts from his home of An’dalucia; the only Delving in all of Port Royale, mayhaps all of Mytharbor itself.
The real reason he came all this way was hidden within the wagon he drove, a flower. The festival of colors gave him hope that his little village could grow into a proper town, maybe even a city someday. But that needed gold, more gold then they could mine, or fish, or carve, without gold no Hrothi in their right mind would venture so far south and help them build. The festival of blooms had a reward for the most-amazing-never-before-seen flora. Donovan, and his entire village, were hoping they could win that prize.
Momma was driving the other wagon with Baby D on her back, sound asleep. Donovan knew he was asleep as that was the only time the lad wasn’t screaming his bloody head off, well that ‘an when he was eatin’. The other five kids were currently atop the mound on her wagon cheering and pointing at all the colors draped across the trees. As he wheeled the wagon onto the paved thoroughfare leading to the main gates he could hear music and singing, his stomach rumbled again at the thought of a heady mead awaiting him inside. There were guards at the gates but they were unarmed and greeting all the travelers lined up to come inside the treeline.
Once inside the children begged to explore, Donovan gave them all three copper and told them to find their way to the market by sundown. Looking his oldest, and until recently “only”, son in the eye, Donovan said “No Mead ‘an no fighting.” The children ran off and Donovan and his wife went to the market square, rented a booth from a nice Kypiq fellow, and began unloading the second wagon.
He parked his wagon behind the stall and then stabled the oxen. Momma was already barking and selling by the time he returned. He watched her for a moment, still totally in love with her after all these years. She noticed him out of the corner of her eye while selling an iron sculpture to a To’Resk noble and blushed. “Even if we don’t win I’m still the richest mann alive” he thought, joining her in barking their wares (after placing a bucket beneath the wagon to catch the ever increasing drips of water.)
The following day the children all ran in the dye dash at dawn, laughing and jumping into the river to make the powder stick. Sara, the smallest, came out with her clothes stained a horrible brown. Momma was quick to stop her crying with a bright yellow cloak made with a lovely purple Kypic silk liner. Once she put it on her face lit up like the sun itself.
Just after noon, the barkers began to announce the main event, the flora contest. Donovan hooked up the ox to a noticeably smaller-loaded wagon and made his way to the judging area, leaving a wet trail behind him.
Donovan removed the tarp from atop the wagon and attached it to the tent poles they brought just in case the contest was held out in the open. Almost immediately a crowd began to form at the sight of the mound of snow beneath. Donovan began carefully carving out a viewing door, reinforcing a makeshift igloo roof with wood. In the center of the snow mound was a glass cloche covering a delicate white flower. Donovan examined it closely, and was overjoyed that it made the journey intact. When the Judges came to his wet wagon-display he unrolled a parchment the whole village had helped prepare. It read:
What you see before ye, ladies and gents, is an extremely rare Frost Flower found only in the Alpine Tundra of the far, far north. Mountain folk cherish the frost flower for its unique taste. Melted down it makes an effervescent drink or tea, taking flavors from the region in which it was picked. Look closely as its beauty is one of a kind! Each frost flower is different from the next! They are born from ice crystal blown in the wind and grow as any other crystal would, forming the beauty you see before you. Take it in as you will never see this exact sight again! I humbly present, for your consideration, the Frost Flower.
Donovan pulled the glass dome off and stepped back. His face beemed with pride as the crowd ooo’d and awwwe’d and the judges stepped forward to admire the beauty of it. The months of searching and the wagons full of snow his kin had to replenish was all worth it in that instant.
Once the judges had thanked him and shook his hands he replaced the cover and packed the snow against the sides of the glass so the line of festival goers that formed up could all have a look at its splendor.