COPYRIGHT © 2019 Miu
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No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the Author.
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All pictures and multimedia used are not the author’s work and doesn’t claim any legal rights.
MATURE CONTENT and VULGAR words not suited for young readers below eighteen (18) years old.
Two days later
Freezing mountain, the name was derived from its all year round freezing temperature that dropped below zero. The tallest mountain in Frizkiel. Towering at eight thousand seven hundred forty-seven meters above sea level. One of the highest mountains in the world. It’s so high it reached the earth’s stratosphere, and it’s only getting taller. Shifting tectonic plates cause the mountain to rise one fourth each year.
The wind blew as fast as two hundred miles per hour, and the temperature geared towards a negative seven degrees Celsius towards the peak. Unusual weather conditions caused avalanches and massive mountains of ice known as seracs to collapse. At the same time, crevasses as wide as a football field and deep as a one-thousand-meter sinkhole were common as clouds.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, reaching eight thousand meters above, the air was thin. The temperature coldest and the weather angriest. The climb towards the peak was so hostile to human life that is known as the death zone.
What’s more, it was ten to twelve hours of treacherous climb toward the peek all in the oxygen-deprived zone. And yet, many foreigners and locals alike were still sprawling the first base camp of the mountain. Lured in the glory of carving their names as one who climbed the tallest mountain in Frizkiel in the season of winter.
Among the many who attempted conquering the grueling, exhausting adventure was Alvaro and his Frost’s aid. Frost were locals who lived with Freezing mountain, who knew the mountain better than anyone else. Their primary goal was to carry gears and food as well as making sure that their employer stayed alive throughout the journey.
Alvaro roamed her eyes and saw the person he was looking for.
“I told you that we would meet again.”
Surprised, Rozarria stared at him. But the surprised in her eyes were only for a moment before her icy face returned.
“Alvaro,” she greeted, eyeing the expedition badge of his jacket. “You’re in my team.” It wasn’t a question. The pin was proof enough.
Grinning, Alvaro replied, “Yeah, mountain climbing has always been a hobby of mine. Since I’m in Frizkiel, might as well, right?”
Rozarria’s brow rose. “And how many mountains have you climb before?
“Not much. Just enough to make me a pro at this.”
Alvaro scanned his eyes and saw a lot of people. At first glance, he knew they shouldn’t be here. “Shouldn’t the government limit the climbers?” The fatality rate of Freezing Mountain is no joke, and ninety percent of those fatalities were novices and inexperienced climbers.
“There’s already a limit. Any more, and it would affect this region’s income. The locals have to work and eat too,” Rozarria answered.
Alvaro puffed a dry laugh. “Two hundred thousand per person is hardly to laugh about.”
Rozarria smiled without humor. “Yes, but what’s that compared to conquering the tallest mountain in Frizkiel, right?”
Interrupted a woman with dark skin. “Expedition leader asked everyone to gather in base tent.”
Rozarria nodded, and she glanced at Alvaro. “Time for the briefing,” was all she said before she entered and walked towards their expedition tent.
Watching her go, Alvaro didn’t make any movement. He just turned to his helper. “Do you know that woman?”
Sherak, his frost helper, nodded. “Shura. She one of best Frost,” he answered.
Alvaro wondered. It was clear that Rozarria only brought herself, but he wouldn’t buy that. An important person like her must have men lurking in the shadows to make sure nothing terrible befall her. As did he.
He glanced at his men on another expedition team. Many teams were attempting to climb the mountain, all led by experts and famous climbers. Each side had only a maximum of five-person, including the leader. Since his team was already full, he put his men in another group. But the biggest reason was that it was common knowledge not to put your resources in one place.
Arranging his campers backpack, he entered his group’s tent and saw thirteen people almost crowding the tent. They stopped and looked at him except for Rozarria, who resumed drinking her tea like she didn’t know him.
Including himself and Sherak, there are fifteen in their team in total. Ten were Frost, which wasn’t hard to distinguish since they were the only people with white hair and dark chocolate skin among the group. Beautiful people with bright blue eyes.
The remaining five were the actual climbers. One was himself, Rozaria, a thirty-something man with beads of black hair. From the way his eyes were squinting, he was probably Asian. And the leader which he assumed would be that imposing young man about twenty-nine years old with golden curls.
The last one, oh the last one . . . was a young woman who he was very familiar with.
Maxine smiled, showing him her prize set of teeth while Rozarria glanced at him through the side of her eye before resuming to drink her tea –– unaffected.
For a moment, the ground Alvaro was standing seemed to be moving in a stomach twisting way.
“What are you doing here?” Alvaro could not contain the edge of his tone when he asked.
“I . . .” Maxine pursed her lips while her eyes shone in grievance. “I-I wanted to be with you.”
“Go back,” Alvaro said with finality.
Maxine frowned and pouted. “No.”
It was clear she wouldn’t listen to him anymore. She was becoming spoiled from always having her way that she didn’t even think what the dangers of climbing a mountain means.
Alvaro’s eyes narrowed, no longer gentle while the smile on his face disappeared. “Don’t make me repeat myself.”
“. . .”
To Alvaro’s surprise and annoyance, Maxine turned away and ignored him.
Ah . . . this woman . . . is annoying.
“Everyone.” The leader clapped his hands to get their attention. “Take your matters outside. What we will discuss here is important, and I don’t have time to listen to your lover’s quarrel.”
Alvaro looked at the leader, and the man stared back at him. Not one bit intimidated by his stare. He was one of those types –– the type who wanted attention all to himself. Alvaro thought.
Alvaro’s face gradually loosened, and he let out a smile. “Pardon me. It won’t happen again.”
The leader snorted. “Good. Now sit. If you don’t want to get killed out there, all of you should listen to what I have to say.”
Remaining quiet, Alvaro sauntered towards a seat opposite Rozarria. Ignoring Maxine, he helped himself with some tea and no longer opened his mouth. He was thinking about a lot of things. Now that Maxine came into the picture, the arduous climb became so much more dangerous.
He knew that the woman had no experience climbing a mountain whatsoever. He didn’t even know if she was in any physical shape. But considering their family relations, he had to make sure that she is not harmed.
The cup trembled from the force he exerted before he took quick breathes to calm himself.
No matter. Her appearance wouldn’t change his plans.
He glanced at Maxine, and she quickly avoided her eyes that were peeking at him. He ignored her and flicked his eyes to the woman sitting opposite him. Rozarria was still enamored with her drink, not even glancing at anyone. Lost in her world.
Meanwhile, the leader introduced himself as Aaron Dave. He was speaking nonstop about things he already knew while the man’s eyes never left Rozaria. Alvaro didn’t have to guess that the man was interested in her.
The short meeting was quick, and Aaron had told them to check their belongings, making sure that everything was ready before the first climb tomorrow.
Rozarria stood to his feet without a word and sauntered out of the tent, followed by her helper. Not before long, Aaron scrambled to go after her.
Alvaro got up, scraping the chair against the ground. Pocketing his hands inside his winter pants, he walked towards the exit. “Let’s go, Sherak.” He still had to set up his tent before nightfall, after all.
“Alvaro . . .”
Alvaro stopped, but he didn’t turn around. He was going to make sure that she would be alive throughout the climb, but he no longer had any intention of prolonging their fake relationship. The moment he returned to BlackPine, he would make his intention clear to their families.
Not looking back, Alvaro disappeared from Maxine’s line of sight.
“Alvaro . . .”
Feeling dejected, Maxine didn’t know what to do anymore. She did expect Alvaro would be angry, but she didn’t expect that he would be this upset.
No worries, he wouldn’t stay angry at me for long. It had always been the case in the past.
Feeling renewed, she smiled.
“What a beauty.”
Frowning, Maxine turned towards a man in his thirties. From his lofty posture and extravagant clothes, she could tell that he was a young master. But anyone who could afford the exurban price of the climb was rich.
“Excuse me?” Maxine said.
The man chuckled. “Pardon me. My name is Henry. I can’t help but marvel at your beauty that I blurted it out without thinking.”
Maxine didn’t reply. Her eyes traveled to the two dark bulky men beside him before she nodded politely and walked out followed by her helper.
She didn’t have time to flirt with some stranger. Now that she had almost two months to be together with Alvaro, she would not let the chance slip by.
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