Elf Boy's Friends - I

by George Gauthier

Chapter 10

Elysion

Taitos Klarendes, Count of the Eastern March, beckoned his visitors to seat themselves in rattan chairs on the porch, sheltered from the tropical sun. They settled at a low table across from the noble and his lover, the wir Aodh. A servitor brought pitchers of cider and spring water. With a flourish of his hand, Klarendes invoked his powers as a firecaster to chill their contents, dispersing the extracted heat to the atmosphere.

"So what brings all three of you to Elysion this time, Dahl, you, and Owain, and Merry? Don't get me wrong. Even if you three didn't already have a standing invitation, I would hardly turn away three of Haven's senior druids from my door."

"We were on our way to the capital and detoured here for a trip down memory lane. It's almost ten years since we all first met. I could say that the years have been kind to you, Taitos, but we all know it is due to your strong admixture of elven blood. You look like you were in your mid-twenties. That won't change much for several centuries. And Aodh there, as a shapeshifter, a wir, never gets older except chronologically. He will be sweet sixteen indefinitely."

Of medium height though still taller than any of his guests, the handsome nobleman had the bearing and the lean build of the gentleman farmer, hunter, and former soldier that he was. His light brown hair was cut short, a concession to the tropical climate while his regular features suggested both strength and warmth of character. The count was comfortably dressed in a light tunic and sandals, his visitors in riding silks.

The nude youth with them was Klarendes' spouse, Aodh: small, skinny, and smooth muscled, comely as an angel, and with skin like porcelain that never tanned or burned. Though he seemed utterly fragile and vulnerable, the epicene youth was actually twice as strong as he looked. Large green eyes dominated the stunning face of the androgynous youth which tapered from a wide brow down a pert nose to a narrow chin. Adding to his fey look, the wir was sloe-eyed, his orbs shaped like almonds and slanted faintly upward above prominent cheekbones. Aodh's eyebrows bent in a angle rather than a round arch. From there his face tapered to a small mouth with pouty lips just begging to be kissed and a sharp chin. Dark hair worn in a shaggy cut with bangs and tapering sideburns framed a face as cute as a kitten's.

"It's just the two of us here right now. My sons are away. Eborn is courting in Dalnot. I am not sure how serious it is, but it looks like he just might provide me with that 'heir and a spare' before his older brother does. As for Artor, he is at the capital. Something hush-hush is brewing but, as a Hand of the Commonwealth, he could hardly explain what in a letter much less a heliogram that might pass through many hands. Can you tell us anything?"

"No harm in letting you and Aodh in on the secret. With my ability to sense life sign I know that no one lurks within earshot. So here goes."

"The destruction of the great military-industrial-religious nexus built by the Dark Prophet and later the life-leech Urloch ended that existential threat to civilization. And our diplomats and military seem to have the situation in the flatlands far to the west well in hand, at least in these early days of our intervention there aimed at preventing the rise of a military peer on this continent. Nevertheless, we cannot afford complacency."

"As the chief defender of civilization on Valentia, the Commonwealth of the Long River has long exercised a benign hegemony over the continent. Our position here seems secure. We have reason to be less sanguine about what is happening on the other two continents that straddle the equator of this planet of ours so aptly named Haven. So the Druidic Council is sending the three of us to the eastern continent to survey the situation there and also to reestablish the presence of druids in Karelia. A natural disaster wiped out all but one of us over there.

Before we leave for that mission in Karelia, we were asked via MindSpeech to travel to the capital as part in a project that, over time, will boost the magical defenses of the Commonwealth."

"You will remember how I was able to use alchemy and my druidic healing power to confer longevity, perpetual youthfulness, and keener senses on our friends the twins Jemsen and Karel. The treatment also gradually doubled their strength over the next two years. The Order of Druids has since improved the method that I used on the twins. Working in teams of three, we now can perform the same healing magic on several persons in the course of a single day. Ours is the first trio to undertake the task."

"So who will be the beneficiaries of your treatment. How will you select them?"

"In a sense they are already self-selected by their accomplishments and contributions to society. Without being specific, the Council asked certain prominent persons in the capital district to recommend persons worthy of the Commonwealth's approbation for their use of the magical gifts to benefit the public, preferably from among the sentient races with shorter life spans especially humans."

"As you know, like Healers we druids have no definite span of life. Our healing magic works as an unconscious level to keep us youthful and healthy and strong indefinitely, till misadventure or foul play ends our existence. That is true for every druid, not matter what sentient race he hails from. Many are elves like Merry and me. Owain is of human stock, of course. "

"It is different with the Commonwealth's war wizards. Most are fully human. Now the lifespan of a human is proverbially said to be five score and ten, or one hundred and ten years. Quite a few chalk up another score, but that is the average span. With a war wizard, his best days are behind him at eighty or so. Manipulating the physical realm as they do is more taxing than manipulating the biosphere the way we druids work our magic. That is why there are so few war wizards available at any one time to protect the peoples of the Commonwealth. If the lifespan of every wizard were increased to five or six centuries, then in time we would have five or six times as many wizards."

"I see. Well they are all men of proven character and trustworthiness. More power to them if you can extend their lives."

"That's less than half the story, Taitos. We were asked to do the same thing for a picked handful of the most powerful among those whose magical gift are Firecasting or Fetching. For too long the state has overlooked this powerful magical resource. The government has never undertaken a census of the magically gifted, regarding their gifts as personal assets, not as state assets. Now the Commonwealth is intent on formally incorporating some of these magic users into its forces, though only in the reserves rather than the active forces. Our society needs these men and women to continue in the many civilian jobs their powers lend themselves to."

"One further development on strengthening our defenses. As you know, Taitos, the Council was impressed by the way that young Fetcher Drew Altair acted as a force multiplier for your son's firecasting in the battles against the centaurs. More generally the army and militia have adopted Aodh's glass globes for general use. The inflammable oils can also be ignited easily enough by flung coals or brands or fire arrows."

"Yes, I understand that the arsenals are turning out the glass globes by the tens of thousands every month. In a couple of years, we will be able to supply all of our forces both regular and militia and later our allies."

"If only I got a fee of just a single copper for each globe, I would be rich! Did I sell out too cheaply, Taitos?"

"And what would you spend such wealth on anyway, my little kitten? Besides, you are already wealthy in your own right from Balandur's bequest. I should explain to you three that Aodh assigned his inventor's license to the Commonwealth in exchange for their paving the road from Elysion out to the military road that leads to Dalnot. That makes our honeymoon resort by the falls more accessible to newlyweds from all over, boosting employment among our people. It was Aodh's gift to Elysion."

"I would have expected nothing less from your spouse, Taitos, given his reputation." Owain answered.

Aodh flushed, embarrassed by the praise. What else could he have done? Elysion was his home now and the Commonwealth his new homeland.

Dahl continued:

"Artor was already a powerful firecaster but with his promotion from journeyman to the status of a full Hand of the Commonwealth, the war wizards have shared their secret of throwing white fire. The Council reversed its former policy of keeping that sort of magic as a near monopoly of the Commonwealth's war wizards. Now since Artor shares your blood he will not need our procedure. "

"You already know the young journalist Drew Altair, the young Fetcher I mentioned. Not only is he good friends with Artor, I understand the young man has interviewed you twice now for his news sheet, the Capital Intelligencer. With his powerful gift of Fetching he is a prime candidate for the procedure."

"Yes he would be an excellent choice. Drew Altair shows a lot of promise. I always read his articles in the Intelligencer whenever I am in the capital. He is a fine wordsmith and a talented sketch artist too. With his keen mind he is clever at finding ways to maximize his Fetching powers. Look what he did in New Varangia, when he joined forces with Artor. He has a whole repertoire of tactics now: shadow boxing with those steel balls of his, flinging incendiaries, throwing drugged darts, a variation of Arik's poison arrowheads, yanking eyeballs to blind an enemy, and so forth. Drew is definitely an asset for the Commonwealth. He has a keen mind and a good heart."

"I have to wonder though what the Commonwealth will expect from Drew and the others in return for the boon of extended youth and longevity. From the war wizards the state gains a much longer period of service. What will the Commonwealth require from the other beneficiaries of the procedure?"

"Public service when called upon. For legal reasons they will be enrolled in the ready reserve as lowly ensigns which puts them under military discipline and control during active service. Oh, and they will have to report for a month of initial training in procedures and tactics."

"That sounds quite reasonable. I cannot imagine anyone turning down that deal."

Just then Klarendes' other feline companion, the personable ginger cat Esmeralda, padded onto the porch. Instead of going to Klarendes she sniffed at the visitors. Owain she hardly knew. His visits had been few and far between. She liked Merry, who always fed her cat treats, but had long thought there was something strange about him. For some reason, an image of a white horse with a horn on its forehead always popped into her mind when he showed up.

Dahl, she knew well. On his last visit Dahl had cured her arthritis. No, she hadn't been rejuvenated, but he had taken the stiffness and pain away. These days she ate better and her coat looked sleek and glossy. She clambered onto Dahl's lap and head butted him. Aodh smiled.

"She remembers what you did for her when you were last here."

"How could I let arthritis handicap an old friend like Esmeralda. She is otherwise in pretty good health for a cat her age. All I did was give her a few more good years free from pain and stiffness."

Stroking the cat under the chin, he added:

"Too bad I cannot, in good conscience, extend her life, but that wouldn't be ethical. Nature must take her course. Oh, and it might surprise you to learn that the Ruling Council said the same thing about themselves."

"How is that?" Klarendes asked.

"As you may know, except for a couple of elves, three humans with elven blood, a dwarf, and one of Balandur's people, the rest of the council are fully human. But they were unanimous that the council not become ossified by overly long tenure in office. Experience counts but so does a fresh persecutive from a continual renewal of new blood. Council membership is and always must be the cap of a career, not a career in itself. That is why those with long tenure retire after a time and the council co-opts replacements from prominent industrialists, natural philosophers, retired military officers, city mayors, and the like."

"To their great credit, the Council ruled out political power, social position, fame, and great wealth as factors in choosing the beneficiaries of your druidic healing magic. The Commonwealth has no shortage of politicians, plutocrats, aristocrats, or celebrated personages. What it has too few of is war wizards, who number fewer than two dozen. As for sentients with powerful gifts for Firecasting or Fetching no one knows how many there are but whatever the number, it is too many for our team of three druids to work on between other assignments.

"Besides, we druids made it clear that anything except scarcity of talent would not be acceptable to us. That gave the council the necessary political cover to reject requests from any other reason."

"Good for them. Good for the Commonwealth to have such leaders." Klarendes nodded.

The conversation then turned to less weighty matters. Aodh asked the former unicorn:

"So how is your love life these days, Merry, now that you are an elf-boy once again?"

"Just fabulous having these two for lovers. But I am gratified that on my visits here Aodh and I can also get together. In the old days, as an equine, I could not abide the touch of a feline. As an elf-boy once again, I relish it. "

"I have such a vivid memory of our very first tryst together, what was it, five years ago now? Aodh was so incredibly lovely he took my breath away, but unapproachable as he was before my change, he was an itch I longed to scratch but could not. After the change I stayed at Elysion for a spell. Klarendes saw us looking at each other, saw our longing, and practically pushed us into the sack together."

"Nonsense! I merely told Aodh that Merry had been pining away for him for years. It was about time he took him over to the lake, went for a swim, stretched out on the grass in the sun, and did what came naturally to two preternaturally comely youths who were attracted to one another. I even had a picnic basket sent over from the resort."

The nobleman indulged Aodh's liaison with the twins and Dahl, not to mention very occasional dalliances like the wir's recent tryst with the young Frost Giant Finn Ragnarson. So it was not much of a stretch to include their old friend Merry, turned into an elf-boy once again. Klarendes was wise enough to see that Aodh's love for Merry in no way diminished his bond with the count.

So on that day five years earlier, with his blessing, the two youths, the wir-panther and the elf-boy who was once a unicorn went swimming and canoeing at the lake. Then they stretched on the grass to bask in the sun. Nothing says you are naked like the kiss of the sun's rays on your bare ass. In late afternoon a serving boy from the resort came by with a picnic basket and a tatami mat, set it down without a word and left. They dug into the delicious food and drink.

After their meal they rested on the mat, digesting their meal, talking and joking heedless of the passage of time. The planet's second moon rose just after the sun set, bathing their youthful bodies in a pearly blue effulgence. In due course the two young lovers became locked in an embrace. It was hard to say who was the more beautiful or the sexiest.

Aodh was a walking wet dream. Impossibly pretty, he was a melding of the innocent and the wanton, the epitome of a boy in the full bloom of his youth. Small, skinny, and smooth muscled, comely as an angel, with a skin like porcelain, and looking utterly fragile and vulnerable.

As for Merry, the wir was two inches taller, slender, lithe, and tautly muscled, with good shoulders, narrow hips, and a ripped torso. Like Aodh his skin was like porcelain and neither tanned nor burned. Merry reached out and caressed Aodh's face, stroking his pouty lips with his thumb.

"See, no jolt of electricity." Aodh pointed out. "Well not that kind anyway," he amended.

"How lovely you are, Aodh. I have wanted to touch you for so very long."

"Sorry I can't say the same. No offense, Merry, but I never favored your horse-faced look. A real turnoff if the truth were known."

"Tsk, tsk. Joke all you want, but I know you are just stalling. You are hesitant to express your longing for me, Taitos's blessing notwithstanding."

"You're right, Merry." Aodh said, suddenly serious. "I do want you, very much. We have been friends and allies for years, and now here you are, no longer a unicorn but an elf-boy and druid. In your new form you are a walking wet dream, a vision of youthful male pulchritude."

Unfamiliar as they were with each other's bodies, at least to the touch, the lovers took things slowly. Merry laid a tentative kiss on the young wir's lips. He held the second kiss longer. He smiled shyly then shifted his lips to Aodh's nose and chin and cheeks before skipping down to the wir's tiny red nipples which he favored with both kisses and gentle nibbles. Aodh giggled and ruffled Merry's snow white hair. Merry's kisses trailed lower, down the mid-line of the chest to the navel and then to the corners of Aodh's narrow hips. A stirring of Aodh's manhood showed the kisses were having their intended effect.

Merry and Aodh, druid and wir, made love with an eagerness which was was born not only of lust and friendship but of years of longing for what had always seemed an impossible consummation. Only now it was possible.

Limbs interlocked their kisses and caresses grew more ardent, even frenzied. They rolled on their sides and pleasured each other's cock orally, hands roaming all over their rumps, touching, stroking, probing. They came quickly, tasting and swallowing each other's gism.

Their cries during their simultaneous eruption were a paean to life and love, to the powers of generation, to the continuity of the flesh and the great chain of being, and, supremely, to the beauty of the sexual male. The climax was a catharsis for them both.

As they had done on that day years earlier, on this day too Aodh and Merry left the others at the manor and once again disported themselves by the lake. It was indeed a trip down memory lane. After their tryst, their route back to to the manor passed the grassy area where groups of nude youths were flinging Zingers to one another. Everyone knew that Aodh and Merry were friends with the inventors, the twins Jemsen and Karel, so they asked the pair to join them, so Aodh and Merry played for an hour.

More than a few participants took a fancy to these two nude youths of surpassing beauty and wished fervently they could bed one or both of them. Regardless of sexual fantasies, everyone thought they made a stunning couple.

Later Merry and Aodh soaked their tired bodies in a hot tub. It was big enough for them to stretch out. With Merry only three inches over five foot and Aodh only oner their slender wiry physiques left plenty of room to stretch their legs for a good soak.

"Yes," Merry summed up "It was a day I will never forget! I am glad we have had a chance to relive it."

Then he raised a glass of wine in a toast to love, youth, and long life.

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