Elf-Boy and Friends
Chapter 23. Back to Elysion
A few days later, the Count and his party returned to Elysion, with the twins and their friend Ran on leave, coming along as guests. Balan had relayed his regrets via the unicorn then gone back to the capital to report to the Chief Hand. Merry had started right back to the Forest to rejoin Dahl, grateful that the Battle of the Great Entrapment had given their side a breathing spell long enough to empower the recruits to become full druids.
In Elysion, Ran immediately sparked interest among the village lasses once word got out that the eleven cutie was available and that he liked girls. He stirred their blood with his exotic good looks, traipsing around in the nude, giving all the girls a good look at his, er, attributes. And there were no worries about pregnancy, which was very unlikely from such a joining. The blond boy was, after all, three-quarters elf.
Ran was in his element and finally living up to his stage name, Randy. And who could blame the boy. All the girls knew what they were getting into. They knew he could never be the exclusive partner of any one girl, nor could they expect him to ask a village father for his daughter's hand in marriage. This was all about good clean fun.
He did make room on his busy schedule for the twins, preferring to sleep in their bed rather than overnight with his girlfriends. Just because he was crazy about girls didn't mean he didn't like to fall asleep spooned between the twins. In short, Ran was in paradise, enjoying the best of both worlds. He went around all the time with a goofy grin on his face, provoking smiles from Klarendes' boys and Aodh. Everyone warmed up to him. He was a hard kid not to like.
Certainly Arik thought so too. He had fallen for the elf-boy. Fallen hard. And the object of his affections was so good natured about it. He never teased the love-stricken local boy. He even joined their training in unarmed combat, letting Arik grapple with his nude body, his own hard body laid atop to the smaller boy's petite frame, all the while aching to press his suit home, as it were, to the desired culmination. Arik, for all his hard won skill, was strangely ineffective against the foreign boy. The truth is, he wanted to make love to Ran, not to fight that beautiful boy. In short, Arik had it bad.
Something that was not lost on a trio of boys of meaner dispositions. They teased poor Arik in front of everyone. As one who knew all about heartbreak, Randell couldn't abide anyone taking advantage of a lovesick youth, especially on his account. Soon enough, the unkind boys got their comeuppance. At their next practice, they found themselves soundly thumped one at a time by the new boy in town. After which, Ran dragged Arik into the bushes for a proper shag.
It wasn't just that one time only. The two boys found they got along just fine, both in and out of the sack. Arik showed Ran the carpentry shop where he was apprenticed, speaking knowledgeably about his craft and showing off his work on the finer sort of furniture that was increasingly in demand in the village itself. Anyone could take an axe and chop boards or sticks out of a log for a rough chair. It took a skilled hand working with saw and drill and plane and sandpaper to produce a chair that was itself a work of art. Ran knew little of the craft, but as an elf he knew his wood. He could tell any kind of wood by its color, grain, or smell, then tell you what kind of tree it came from, where it grew, and what it looked like. As everyone knows, an elf-boy is the next thing to a dryad, only male, and not rooted in place.
Soon there were two youths going around with goofy grins.
Karol and Jemsen would have made it three and four, but the grins of the faces of these open and honest lads always looked cheery rather than goofy.
While everyone agreed that Aodh had a charming smile, his grin was another thing entirely -- it was much too predatory. It startled people and made them look for fangs. Then again, what else could one expect from someone half-feline. Esmeralda could have told them as much. She had been charming folks for years with her beguiling cat's smile, but she was well aware that baring the teeth was not the way to go on a charm offensive.
Klarendes' older boy Artor finally did raise the total of boys with goofy grins to three.
With the exuberance of youth, his juices flowing, the now sixteen year old Artor was cutting quite a swath through the young lasses himself. The youth had a lot going for him: good looks, elven blood, a strong physique, wealth, and social position. Thanks to his developing magical gift of fire casting he would impress girls with tricks like lighting the candles in a darkened room with a wave of his hand. Or putting them out for a bit of privacy. Strictly speaking, the gesture was an unnecessary dramatic flourish. Fire casting is an act of will.
These was Artor's salad days which he knew would be brief. He would sail with the wind as long as he could. Soon enough, maybe in a year or two or three, his father would dump the wind out of his sails and make him heave to. That is when he would sit his first-born son down for that talk, the serious one where he reminded his son and heir that it was time to settle down, to take a wife, and to ensure the succession with an 'heir and a spare' of his own. Scions of the aristocracy paid for their privileges by a much shorter time to travel, explore, and sow their wild oats.
Now sixteen year old boys don't do serious well at all. What was the hurry with their extended lifespans? If all he had was two or three years, he would make the most of it and take care not to bring his salad days to a premature end. Artor had to be careful lest he get a lass with child. Which was why Artor often used a lambskin sheath. The slight loss of sensitivity and pleasure was more than balanced by the reassurance of protection from premature paternity.
True a healer could terminate a pregnancy easily enough with her magic. But many girls of humble station would chose to carry the illegitimate child of an aristocrat to term, if only for the material benefits that would accrue. Fathers were expected to provide decently for all their children, whichever side of the blanket they were born on. And that meant taking care of the mothers as well.
Klarendes hoped his son would take a wife from outside the valley, preferably a young lady with elven blood herself, lest Artor find himself a widower by simply outliving a purely human spouse. That was one reason he had sent his sons to Dalnot for a while. He would send them back, once the barbarian threat was put to rest. Till then, there was no place safer this side of the mountains than their secluded valley.
Whatever their differences on which direction to direct their sexual energies, the five leading young males in Elysion shared a disinclination toward clothing. No real surprise in a society without serious nudity taboos anyway, at least for males. Young children and schoolboys were perpetually naked everywhere in the Commonwealth. Many teens and early twenties many never bothered with the genital pouch or loincloth. They were more common in urban areas, perhaps as a way to maintain social distance in such populous and crowded environments.
Besides in the humid tropical climate, nudity was eminently practical. You coped with the heat with nudity, hydration, perspiration, and frequent resort to showers, baths, and swimming holes. For athletics, martial arts training, swimming, and running nudity had been the norm since shortly after the Formation Wars.
With an elf, a wir, two elf-friends, one apprentice carpenter, and the count's own sons as trend-setters, public nudity was confirmed as the default condition in Elysion, except for the older generation, of course.
In one way, that pleased the local females. On the other hand, it made them jealous. They had to wear clothes, human nature being what it was. In childhood, boys do have more fun. Even sex only partly redressed the balance. At least no girl had to keep an unwanted pregnancy. One quick visit to the healer or midwife, solved that problem.
One day Ran left word that he was going for a long walk in the surrounding mountains. They should just hold supper for him. He might be back late. Maybe not till after dawn. In the event he never did show up that day. Late the next morning, the Count and Aodh and the twins went looking for him, tracking his trail by sight or by scent, with the help of the Molossian mastiffs. Soon enough they found the boy halfway up into the mountains, his nude body curled up on leaf litter, with his back to a fallen tree branch, head resting on his hands. A squirrel was perched atop the branch he lay against. It chittered angrily at the searchers before running off.
The dark blond elf-boy was obviously safe and healthy and clean except for the dirt on the soles of his feet and the bottom of his rump, which was spotted with bits of leaf litter. One of the hazards of parking your arse on bare ground. There were twin flashes of blue as the eyes opened and delicate eyebrows arched up in surprise and delight.
"What are you all doing here?" he asked.
"Looking for you, my young friend." replied the count.
"Whatever for? I left word. Surely you did not think I was lost. I am, after all, more than half elf. Hence I am at home in the forest. Besides, you cannot really get lost in Elysion. The valley is a great bowl. Up is toward the outside world, down is toward the flatlands, the village is in the middle."
"Still, that's quite a rough camp you made last night: lying on bare ground, no shelter, no fire, no tools or weapons, and no provisions."
"From your point of view, perhaps. We elves live close to Nature. A rough camp to you, to me I was simply curled up comfortably, slumbering in the bosom of the forest." the elf-boy tossed off with his characteristic insouciance, along with that irresistible grin of his.
He got to his feet and brushed off his ass with his hands, mustering what dignity a short nude youth with bits of leaf litter plastered to his bare butt was capable of in the situation. With a toss of his head he headed downslope toward the manor house.
Far from being cross with the elf-boy's cavalier behavior, Klarendes chuckled at the parallels with his discovery of Aodh just short of a year earlier. The two looked over to one another, realizing that the same thought was in both their minds and smiling, a private moment over the heads of everyone else, for just the two of them. Then again, that was what love brought, wasn't it? Mutual understanding without words.
On the trail back to the manor, Ran ran into Arik who was wearing only his carpenter's apron. The two boys embraced and kissed ignoring the sawdust and wood shavings his sweat had plastered to Arik's otherwise nude body. Then the young carpenter swung the smaller boy around in a circle. They walked hand in hand the rest of the way, talking animatedly. Everyone watching their hard young bodies in motion agreed that they made a fine looking couple.
The next evening after supper, bellies full and feeling at peace with the world, Klarendes and Aodh repaired to the side porch and sat themselves down. They shared a sturdy chair made of flat boards, which was wide enough to fit both comfortably. Off to their right, the setting sun sank toward the horizon, though still above the western mountain range. Its rays slanted under the roof of the porch illuminating the nude boy. His pale skin, which never tanned, served as a canvas for the solar paintbrush.
"Do you know how preternaturally beautiful you look just now, Aodh? Your skin is gleaming with red and orange and yellow hues as if my magic and our love had set you aflame."
"You say the sweetest things, Taitos, quite enough to turn a boy's head." Aodh said, mock-coquettishly.
With his boy nestled against him, the nobleman prepared his pipe for a post prandial smoke. Practiced hands went through the age-old ritual beloved of pipe smokers everywhere, tapping the turned down bowl to empty it of any remaining ash, filling the chamber with the count's special blend, packing the tobacco with the tamper of the well-worn pipe tool handed down by generations of counts of the Eastern March.
No need for tongs to fetch a coal from the fire which was burning in the hearth. With a flourish of his right hand, the count produced a flame at the tip of his index finger and applied it to the tobacco, kindling the pungent mixture instantly. Blowing out the flame on his finger much like a candle, the count puffed away contentedly. Life was good.
Both of them, man and boy found the scent of pipe tobacco to be a pleasant one, reminding them of the incense some of the cults used in their temples. The spicy scent was quite unlike the foul stink of the newfangled rolled smokes called cigarros and cigarillos that, unfortunately, were increasingly popular with smokers. Less fuss and bother was their appeal, the count supposed, though he had always seen that as one of a pipe's attractions. In his mind, the pipe was the smoke of a gentleman. Other smokes were for the working classes. If that made him a tobacco snob, so be it. As an aristocrat born and bred, he came by it honestly.
Once he got his pipe burning properly the count reached out with his magic and morphed puffs of smoke into fantastic shapes: a round tower, the head of a wolf then of a cat.
"I cannot achieve with smoke the detail that I can with flame," Klarendes explained. "Smoke is as much of earth as it is of fire."
Aodh nodded and snuggled against him, utterly content. "This is perfect" he murmured.
"Not quite, but help is on the way." the count pointed as Esmeralda joined them and settled across their lpas and allowed them to stroke and pet her. "Now it is perfect."
The ginger cat didn't have to be psychic to detect the quiet contentment her two humans shared. Being a cat, she took full credit for it.
As for other possible liaisons, Aodh was wholly satisfied with Klarendes. The young wir was not interested in forming new attachments either. That said, he always made time for the twins,. He was determined not to let go of his bond with the twins. They had crossed a continent together, stood shoulder to shoulder against evildoers, and had thoroughly enjoyed each other's bodies. Though they were still only eighteen, Aodh could see the kind of men the twins were growing into, and he thoroughly approved.
The nobleman indulged Aodh's continuing liaison with the twins, but he had no interest in a threesome or foursome. For him, there was only Aodh, the second great love his life. If all went well, they would enjoy centuries together, living, learning, and loving. In any event, Klarendes' bed was crowded enough, thank you, with him, his boy, and their ginger cat, who lately had taken to commandeering more than her fair share of their feather bed.
What Esmeralda herself thought of all these goings-on has not been recorded. She had long since learned to be philosophical about her companion species, accepting that they were an impenetrable conundrum.
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