The Carrot and the Stick Part 24

Chapter 23: The Birth of Rumours, Adventurers or Circus Performers?

Mossmallow is quite unsurprisingly a kind of spongy moss… or perhaps a mossy marshmallow.


Mossmallow, being a spongy, mossy, light and tasty thing, commonly grows in cylindrical clusters, a bit like mushrooms.


Apart from being neither fungus, moss nor mallow, mossmallow does not grow terribly large. Indeed mossmallow tends to be quite small. Elcon being Elcon sometimes for no good reason at all, this isn’t always the case.

Scattered throughout the Great Snowy Forest are countless Mossmallow henges, and consequently countless clans, sects, families, dens and so on and so forth laying claim the the name ‘Mossmallow Henge’. Indeed in areas where there are too many these groups often end up battling for the honour of the name.

In the case of this Mossmallow Henge clan, they weren’t a well known bunch. They only had one henge after all. It was really quite cheeky of them to call themselves the Mossmallow Henge Clan when they didn’t even have a single henge ring.

The first thing that showed that Ulex and his companions were drawing closer to the clan’s henge were the lanterns. There were actually glass bottles tied here and there on the trees. Inside these glass bottles were bits of glowy fungus or crystal or even living things that glowed a bit. One even had a glowing dagger.

Hidden beyond these lanterns, placed in the shadows cast by them, were totems and scarebeasts. The scarebeasts of rag and wood did not move, but the adventurers felt the gaze of those guardians upon them. Both the scarebeasts and the totems had the materials from several mighty creatures worked into them, and the spirits animating the scarebeasts were undoubtedly quite savage.

It looked like the shamans of the clan weren’t too bad at their job.

Past this defensive net they next encountered the clan orchard! The trees in this area had been lured, kidnapped, grown, tricked and planted in this area. Each tree bore fruit! There was mainly the common drangle. A kind of dark triangular fruit that droops down from the branches of a Drangle tree. The tree itself is a sad looking thing, a blue barked tree with navy leaves. The whole thing has a dejected droopy look to it. Drangles are segmented fruits, with a bitter yet sweet taste to them.

The second most common fruit was from the helm tree. The helms of the helm tree cover it completely making a helm of helms. As for the pale brown helmfruits, those are exceedingly tough, but within is sustaining if slightly bland and suspiciously sweaty white fleshiness.

They had a few rarer trees they had obtained. Though it was a fairly questionable thing to have a ninetail-lashwaller about. The yowling of that tree’s cats could be heard clearly in the distance.

There were relatively more gentle goadskulls and a few other denizens tending to these trees. There were of course quite a lot of mothers with their children tending the orchard. Quite a number of the workers would take a break now and then to play upon a flute of their own making, and many of them sang as they worked. They were a happy cheerful bunch. Well, except for the folks tending the ninetail-lashwaller or the other carnivorous trees. It wasn’t uncommon for those that broke the clan rules to end up having to tend such trees.

The hunters have returned!” a child cried out!

It’s the company of the six!” Another shouted.

They’ve got some kind of freak vegetable with them!”

Ulex was quite used to that kind of reaction. It didn’t hurt him to hear it, rather he was still confused as to why nobody could appreciate the aesthetics of his muscles.

Ohhh, is it a circus? I love circuses”

Look, there’s a horse, do you think he does tricks?”

I don’t know, he looks a bit beaten down. Maybe he hasn’t been eating properly”

My, how terrible, his face does look a bit longer than usual for a horse”

-My face is the regular length!- Eadam mentally wailed.

Oh look, it must be a circus, see that bat in the garish coat! He must be some kind of performer!”

Waufronk stiffened so much he almost fell out of the air.

They don’t appear to have a cannon to shoot him from though”

I bet he does some kind of water thing”

Wait, what about that thing?”

What is that? Is it one of a kind?”

Doesn’t feel like it. I don’t like the way it is looking at my pet chomper though”

I hope he eats your chomper. The little beast has eaten three pies I made!”

It must be the weapon swallower! You’ve got to have a swallower like that in a circus!”

You shouldn’t leave your pies out where chompers can get them”

You know, I’m not sure it is a circus!”

They were in an ice box. One which I had locked, because of the first time!”

Yeah, well what about that lumpy gingerbread man? Clearly the strongman”

Spongy strong!” Spongy Snaps helpfully shouted out.

Well, it does seem a bit like a circus, but don’t they need beasts? Clowns?”

I think a good circus has no clowns”

Aren’t you just saying that because you hate clowns?”

Any forestdweller with their head screwed on hates clowns, don’t you know that they steal people’s noses?”

We don’t have noses though”


Hey, hold on a moment, I think we got a bit distracted by those weird people, look at what the hunters have with them!”

Lumps covered in tarp?”

Really really big lumps?”

Maybe they found a lump of fat that bubbled up from underground”

Wait, look, that head poking out through one of the tarps!”

A barkerlug?”

They finally got old Jaggletusk?”

Cheering shouting and shoving ensued as the goadskulls and other denizens rushed towards the hunters, eager to find out what was the story. The hunters however were keeping mum. They would boast at the feast, until then, there would only be whispers of their deeds, increasing in number as the cook-shamans prepared the meat.

It was however, good to be welcomed home.






In other news, the first compilation volume of Fabled Hearts can now be bought on Amazon at Hmm I should probably figure out a less hideous link for when I make a page or something for this. You can get it on the other amazon sites too, in case you live in beagle-land instead of womble-land, or somewhere more exotic.

Author: SnowyMystic