The Carrot and the Stick Part 4

Chapter 3: Snap!

Keflin aren’t originally from Elcon, they didn’t arrive by the Train of the Tunnels either.

They came from the wastelands that surround Elcon, which are even more frigid than Elcon is. The wastelands connect the fourlands, yet at the same time, they are endless. If you fall through the cracks in the tunnels, the wastelands is where you end up.

If you get lost badly enough, you’ll end up in the wastelands.

Most things that live in the wastelands want to escape them, but leaving them isn’t such a simple matter. A number of keflin tribes however did just that.

Normally, keflin are quite small furry blue creatures. A long furry tail, three furry claws on each limb. A long drooping snout, orange eyes and triangular ears. They happen to be around three conepeople tall.

They are most known for cultivating things that produce spices and for being merchants, primarily spice merchants. Most commonly they are found in the northeasten hills of Elcon. It is there that the tribes of keflin comfortably reside, living well and enslaving and counter enslaving each others.

Oh, yes, if there is one thing keflin are known for, it is despite their small size, they are often slavers. Given that Elcon doesn’t have much in the way of nations or laws, you’ve not much recourse if a keflin tries to enslave you. Well, other than bonking the slaver on the head that is.

What is it that allows the Keflin to be slavers? Incidentally this was a very valuable skill in the wastelands. The tribes know of a secret method of making slaving bangles!

Golden bangles that make one into a slave! Others can break this bangle, but for the one who has it on it is quite impossible.

Elswipe the Fat was very much your typical spice selling slaving keflin except for one point. He was huge. It wasn’t just a matter of being fat, he was, but he was also just genuinely really big. His ring covered fingers were big. His ring covered tail was big. His bracelet covered arms were big. His bangled legs were big. All of this jewelry was encrusted with many coloured gems.

Clearly Elswipe was doing good business. In part the Firelord had been good for the spice trade, after all many spices that could be sold could be had with uncooked food, and many of these spices warmed the body, which in the absence of fires, was quite welcome.

Ulex, Gheel and Eadam stood before the bulk of the Keflin merchant, who was seated on a plush cushion that was being held by what looked like a bunch of stone statues of winged brutes.

Gargoyles. The tell was that each of these gargoyles wore a blank mask of gold to hide their nightmare-inducing faces. They also each had a golden bangle on one of their arms. If not for that, they likely would not be straining under the weight of Elswipe the Fat.

Gargoyles have standards too you know.

Surrounding the Gargoyles was a collection of keflin, both free and enslaved and behind all this were a pair of massive and mean looking snow white bears. Bears holding maces with bear faces on them. Bears who for all their fierceness had bangles on their arms.

Behind the Bears was a mighty blue wood caravan, one which had a plough in front and skis along with wheels. It didn’t look like there was any place for a some creature to be hitched to, so likely it was like the bikes and mopeds of the reckless ram riders.

The latest in a long line of ‘Fats’ stared at the three people before him and licked his flabby chops.

Since you fellows are before me now, I take it that you’ve reconsidered and are willing to become my slaves. I think I’ve been more than fair, since after you tried to steal supplies from me, nobody would call me a bad man for enslaving you all” He said.

The surrounding followers broke out into flattery.

Master is a good man, a good man”

It’d be only fair!”

I would have made curry from them, carrot curry, I mean he looks like you could make curry for weeks from him!”

Too good for such horrible no good theives”

Truly Elswipe the Fat is the most honest and merciful of men!”

Elswipe lazily waved a paw and the followers grew deathly silent.

So then what say you my good carrot?”

Ulex fiercely grinned and he held out his hand to Gheel.

We aren’t going to become slaves, we’re here to pay the ransom and buy supplies! Gheel, the gems if you please!”

Making a horrible guttural sound, Gheel coughed something out onto Ulex’s hand.

In the next moment, Ulex let out a manly yell of dismay and pain.

Well, that was going to happen sooner or later” Kepo observed

Are you alright my bro?” Eadam said with concern, fussing over Ulex.

Latched onto his hand was a green ball with a tail and eyes, and of course a mouth filled with a great many fangs, a mouth that was wrapped around one of Ulex’s hands. A rather common kind of chomper. The common green turnip chomper. This one had four odd little bumps around its mouth though.

Uh, well, that wasn’t supposed to happen, dreadfully sorry Mr. McHeft” Gheel said.

Take your time, don’t worry about me” Elswipe the Fat said, inciting another wave of flattery from his followers.

Gheel carefully whacked the chomper off as Elswipe watched, slightly amused. Turning the chomper around his his claws, Gheel frowned as he stared at the unrepentant creature with his single eye.

Ah, I see, developing into a pouch chomper are we” Gheel mused.

He squeezed and the chomper’s eyes bugged out and with a *kacha* sound, its mouth opened and a bag jumped out from within the chomper.

Ulex caught the bag with his unbitten hand and then opened it in front of Elswipe.

The bulky keflin was moderately surprised, but then he frowned, he pointed at one keflin, a shifty sneaky looking fellow with a wicked goatee.

Ramalsin, go check the strong boxes” Elswipe ordered eyes narrowed.

Hey, those gems are all ours! We even got them honestly this time!” Kepo objected.

They won’t be yours soon either way” Elswipe muttered.

After vanishing into the caravan a dopey voice shouted out.

Uhhhh but I don’t wanna, I’m comfy here, it nice. Real nice”

Ulex beamed with pride.

That’s my boy Spongy!”

I’m glad he’s doing well” Kepo said.

Ooooooh all right. You ask nice, so Snaps be nice”

Ramalsin quickly returned as I being chased by beasts.

I managed to convince Snaps to move from sitting on the safe, everything is still inside lord Elswipe” Ramalsin snivelled, wringing his paws.

Elswipe tumbled over in surprise.

It happened so quickly that nobody could stop it the ground buckled under the impact and everyone just stared in shocked silence. Then, in a flood Elswipe’s servants and slaves rushed to help him up. It roughly took all of them working together too.

Ahem, well you seem to have come across quite the stroke of fortune” He said.

I knew I should have set the ransom higher” he whispered to himself.

What was that Mr. Fat?” Gheel questioned.

You’ll return Spongy Snaps then” Ulex stated.

Elswipe held out his hand, Ulex looked at it nonplussed and then opened the bag of gems, planning to give out the ransom amount.

Just hand the whole thing over man, You were going to buy supplies weren’t you?”

Eh, but what about haggling?” Kepo objected.

With you lot?” Elswipe sneered.

What’s wrong with us? Are we not good enough to haggle” Eadam said.

Oh, so you want to be slaves after all?” Elswipe mocked.

They may have not been the brightest collection of instruments, but Gheel, Kepo, Eadam and Ulex knew that Elswipe was suggesting that if they tried to haggle they’d perform so badly that they end up as slaves. That was serious confidence that Elswipe had.

No, we don’t want to be slaves, we want Spongy Snaps returned to us and we want supplies. Enough to reach the market circle” Ulex said firmly.

Elswipe tossed the bag of gems up and down in the air.

Hmm, I’ll give you a bit above the regular amount, if the land decides to play tricks with distance, that isn’t my problem. Ramalsin, go call Spongy Snaps, I’m sure he’ll be glad to be reunited with his companions.”

Ramalsin shuddered a bit and with a sorrowful face tramped through the snow to the caravan.

Do, do you mean I don’t have to play anymore snap with this brute?” A voice shouted in glee.

But Snaps thought you like snap”

Like? Like? Maybe before you had me play it over and over, since the day you got stuck here! Now, if I see a deck of cards I’m going to burn it. Just like this! HAHAHAHAH, eh, DON’T TRY TO STOP ME RAMALSIN, I DON’T CARE THAT THIS CARAVAN IS MADE OF WOOD!”

Elswipe gestured to the two bears behind him to go into the caravan to help calm down the person who was guarding Spongy Snaps.


Shortly after the bears went in, Spongy Snaps came out with Ramalsin.

Nasty liar, he said he love snaps. Bad man yes?” He said seriously to Ramalsin.

Ramalsin smiled weakly and nodded.

Spongy Snaps was a gingerbread man. A giant misshapen gingerbread man, a giant misshapen gingerbread man with a pair of purple metal gauntlets on his hands. These gauntlets were in the shape of beasts. One was some manner of hound with thick lips, heavy brows and grim teeth. One was some manner of feline with a jagged maw. Both had horns. Honestly the gauntlets were more than a little worrying, seeing as out of the corner of one’s eye it seemed as if there was a glint of life in the eyes of the beasts.

As for his clothes apart from a ragged sheet of icing, he didn’t have anything. His head looked half caved in too.

Insane laughter came from caravan.

Spongy Snaps waved at Ulex and crew.

Holiday over now, we fight things again?”

Gheel looked uneasily at Elswipe.

We are still getting a bit more than regular amount aren’t we Mr. Fat?”

What did I say about Haggling?” Elswipe warned.

Waufronk had been flying above for a while, and seeing and hearing events play out, had decided that staying flying in the bitter cold was the best option.

Author: SnowyMystic