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Long ago, in a cold land far, far to the north, two young boys had to make a long journey to return some books to the library far away, to save their mothers from getting inconvenient and bothersome late fees. Their mothers made sure the boys had warm coats, gloves, scarfs, a package of food, and a small bag of nick-nacks for the trail.

The boys started through the woods, making sure to stay to the path as their mothers told them. “No matter what, don’t go off the path when you’re in the woods,” the mothers told the boys, for the boys, Mike and Conor, were the adventurous type who were easily distracted by thoughts of adventure and excitement.

Mike was a tallish young lad, blonde haired and blue-eyed on most days, clearly of strong stock from the olde world country of Scandinave. For uncounted generations his ancestors were prized for their reindeer-herding and -tracking and -taming ( and sometimes -whispering) abilities, and not long after ships started sailing to the East, great swaths of his people were imported to the New World by reindeer speculators who planned to cover the most inhospitable, unwelcoming, most ice-hell area of that New World with millions of this useful deer for the waves of immigrants who were expected to soon flood into these new lands.

Mike’s family got a bargain price on their passage to New Reindeerland courtesy of the Scandinavy, by working their passage as navigators on the target drogues that the Scandinavy used for target practice when at sea. When they arrived in New Reindeerland, they thrived for a few years until the great Reindeer Bubble of 1612 saw the industry perish so thoroughly that there is no record of it today except in the oral traditions passed down in Scandinave families from generation to generation.

Some independent reindeer ranchers tried to carry on the trade, but the native “caribou,” as soon as they saw they had superior numbers, hunted down and killed all of the invading reindeer species with surprisingly brutal raiding parties on such ranches, until there were no reindeer left on the entire continent, just that native, racist caribou bastards.

Ever since that time, millions of Scandinave lost souls, torn from their one true calling in life, have wandered the great northern wastelands that once was New Reindeerland, doing dull, unsatisfying jobs such as waiting tables, giving payday loans, and becoming basement window washers (anti-Scandinave prejudices prevented them from getting the good high-rise window-washer positions).

 

His friend Conor, who was just a little bit younger and about 1/18th of a yard shorter than Mike, came from a proud family heritage of pole makers; flag, tent, barber shop, totem... if you had anything needing pole design or manufacture, they were the clan to go to. Their history traces back to the ancient land of Sniberia, which was a portmanteau of “Snyder-Berlinia,” because everyone there was too lazy to say their city-state’s full name, whose actual location is lost to us today, as it was one of the smallest city-states in the world, covering only 64 square city blocks.

The Sniberians were so forward thinking that they had smoothed out and paved actual roads in stone (complete with painted lines on the sides and in the middle) centuries before single-axle wagons were invented. They also competed directly against the local Neanderthal population for resources such as the hearty tundra toad, which actually hibernated in the short three-week summers experienced in ancient Sniberia. These amphibians were so tough that the Sniberians actually trained them for war and took these toads into battle beside them. The ancient Sniberians were tough, clever, and resourceful. And Conor was as tough and resourceful as some of them were in the olden days.

 

About 47 5/8 minutes after the two boys entered the woods, an unkempt deer approached them from the trees to their right.

“Hello, little boys.” The shabby, sloppy stag showed scars and scabs on the seemingly scratch-scoured side of the sylvan skin they saw. Scorch marks blackening its displeasingly asymmetrical antlers, and it looked as if its whole body had been swept by the breath of the Devil incarnate, and then later saved by a wise and tired sage.

He said. “I’m glad you came along, young lads. I just found a sack full of candy. It is a big bag bulging with brownies, Bit o-Honeys, Big League Chew, Butterfingers, Baby Ruths, Bean Boozles, black-jacks, Big Red, banana laffy taffy, butter mints, Bubblicious, bon bons, Bottlecaps, butter brickle, butterscotch blow pops, and Hubba Hubba bubble gum, that make you bouncing bairns and bambinos both go so bonkers. I didn’t know what I could do with it, but now you can take it away so it doesn’t go to waste here in the forest.”

It was tempting to the two young lads, as you can imagine. They were normal children and any form of candy and sugar was very alluring. But they remembered the warning their mothers had given them.

“Sorry, Mister Rabbit,” young Conor said to the ugly cervum, which is the Latin word for stag. “We have a very important task to do for our mothers, and they told us not to stray off the forest path for any reason.”

The hideous deer was not happy and muttered to itself darkly as it watched them disappear from view as they walked further down the path, and muttered to itself darkly as it watched them disappear down the path for a few seconds, before it fell off its ledge, plunging to the ground below, where it hit the ground with a deep thud and a cloud of unhealthy looking fur, followed by an enormous explosion. It hadn’t been a real stag after all, but a robot stag assassin bomb sent to assassin the boys, which was a new technology being used by nefarious future e-drug gangs and disturbed woodland creatures.