Elf Boy's Friends - II

by George Gauthier

Chapter 6

The Coach-Boy

The coach continued down the highway, its forward motion creating a pleasant breeze to cool both the young coachman, a coach-boy really, and his huge passenger, whose upper torso poked out of the top of the passenger compartment.

"Would you believe, Liam, that I once walked the length of the Western Plains, from north to south?"

"Of course I believe it, Finn, or should I call you Young Finn? I know all about the Long March of the Frost Giants and the Second Centaur War from your journalist-friend's first book. I read his second book too, the one about the wars against the eastern barbarians. Drew Altair is a good writer and sketch artist. Both books featured his portraits of the main protagonists, such as yourself, the blond twins, and the author too."

"Still think we are going to catch up to the runners, Liam? We've gone quite a distance in the last three hours, and they are nowhere in sight on the road ahead of us. Aren't you tempted to drive your team just a little harder, if only to prove me wrong?"

"Not at all, Finn. No way I am going to run my team into the ground just to prove a point. If your friends really are such strong runners as you say, then so be it. I take care of my teams, and my teams take care of me."

"Well said. You demonstrate a wisdom beyond your years."

"Ha! This from someone only four years older. But thanks anyway for the compliment. We grow up fast on the plains."

"Er, Finn, maybe I am out of line here, but about Drew Altair... I know I met him only briefly yesterday when your party hired the coach and again this morning, but... do you think he noticed me?" the youth blurted out anxiously.

"Oh ho! Fancy him, do you?"

"You better believe it. Drew is so cute, and that sexy little body of his really turns me on. I mean all three of them are impossibly pretty, but the twins have each other, don't they? Is there a chance for a outsider like myself to engage Drew's interest?"

"Well, I could put in a good word for you..."

"Would you really, Finn? I would be ever so grateful."

"Why not? You are a well-set up lad with a fine body, maybe on the slender side but with a strong upper storey. Those wide shoulders and muscled arms are no doubt the result of handling teams of four for a living. Good looks too, a raven-haired beauty I'd have to say. And you have so-called wizards' eyes, one blue and one brown. And our Drew is an easy conquest. The little fellow has a reputation as a social butterfly."

"All right!"

Meanwhile the three runners were far ahead of the coach. Had they been in a hurry, they could have covered the distance to the mid-point in about two hours. Instead they set an easy pace of six minutes to the mile and even slowed down to a walk going uphill, making it easy for conversation.

"Did you guys notice that cute coachman?" Drew asked the twins.

"Coach-man?" Jemsen snorted. "Coach-boy is more like it."

"Actually," Karel began, "what I noticed was the way he stared at you with those wizard's eyes of his, my little auburn-haired beauty."

"His name is Liam." Drew sighed. He's just my type, you know: medium height, slender, and blessed with chiseled features."

"In other words, just like our mutual friend Finn Ragnarson." Karel countered sardonically.

"Hey, can't a guy have more than one type?" Drew asked.

"I sometimes think half the males on Haven are your type." Jensen answered, shaking his head.

"I hardly think that's fair!" Drew retorted.

"Don't worry, Drew. It's in the bag."

"What makes you thinks so, Jemsen?" Drew asked, brightening.

"Because you are definitely this Liam's type."

With this happy thought in mind, Drew picked up the pace. Reaching the crest of a hill, the runners saw a column of riders heading the other way, a patrol of the mounted constabulary. The runners waved, but as neither party was interested in conversation, they simply passed each other by. The mounted constabulary was staffed by humans in the employ of New Varangia. Their outfit had recently taken over responsibility for security on the highways. The cavalry battalion long stationed in Flensborg was moving out soon, heading west as reinforcements.

A little while later the riders encountered the coach. The patrol leader signaled his men to rein in.

"Is that you Finn Ragnarson poking his head out the top of that stagecoach?"

"You know it is, Sergeant Drumm."

"Well met then, though I never expected to see you this far west."

"Yet here I am."

"Have you seen a party of three runners on the road." Liam interrupted. "You would remember them, two blonds and one redhead, all of them prettier than a girl and stark naked."

"If you are asking about a certain trio of shameless showoffs, the answer is yes. They blew past us a while ago, not far short of the post marking the mid point to the way station. Must be there by now."

"Ahem!" Finn cleared his throat theatrically, then smiled and placed a hand to Liam's shoulder consolingly. The patrol leader nodded then pumped his fist to signal his men to ride on.

In the fullness of time the coach pulled up to the black and white striped post marking the halting place, walking the horses the last little distance to let them cool down. Finn waved to his friends who waved back and greeted the young teamster too.

The midpoint was hard by a hamlet of farmers, all Frost Giants, for only they could take title to farmland in their new homeland. One of the farmers was waiting their arrival with a shovel and pail to scoop up the droppings from the horses, valuable as manure for their kitchen gardens. Liam parked his rig under some shade trees, then jumped down and watered his horses at a stream-fed trough. He set a small sack of incoming mail in the drop box, drawing a nod from the local. Outgoing mail got picked up by a coach going east, toward the capital, for sorting, distribution, and eventual delivery.

When the coach pulled out again with all four passengers aboard, Finn suggested that Drew ride on top, sitting next to Liam in the driver's box. The view would be better than from inside the coach and Drew and Liam could get better acquainted. Both boys grinned at the idea.

"Matchmaking are we?" Jemsen asked the young giant in a low voice.

"Just being accommodating, that's all." Finn replied blandly.

"Uh huh. From here on out though, butt out. Don't stick your head out the hatch and join the conversation. And don't listen in."

"I wouldn't think of it."

Drew propped his feet on the front boot and leaned back, stretching out to let the breeze generated by their forward motion blow across and cool every part of his body. His posture tempted the coach boy with an unimpeded view of Drew's sexy little body. Liam stared at the vision of youthful male pulchritude so close to hand. Taking Drew's posture for an invitation, he reached out with his free hand to stroke Drew's chest and abs and squeeze his firm thighs."

"Don't you need both hands to drive the coach, Liam?" Drew asked innocently.

"The reins are rigged to allow four-in-hand driving by a single driver instead of the old fashioned way with two drivers for four horses. I hold the reins to all four horses in my left hand, leaving the right one free for the whip or for the brake."

"Or to stroke a naked boy who happens to be sitting next to you, eh?"

Liam wanted to go further in feeling Drew up, but thought better of it. Though he could drive with one hand, he really needed to keep both eyes on his team and the road ahead. Still, he didn't need his hands or eyes to talk, so he chatted up the auburn-haired beauty stretched out so temptingly next to him.

With nothing to distract him Drew focussed his attention on the strong young body on his left, taking pleasure in the play of the muscles of the slender coach boy with the wide shoulders as he handled his team. Liam's entire musculature was bared to sight since the coach boy was next thing naked. Only the fork of his legs and the cleavage of his rump were covered by a loincloth that amounted to no more than a narrow panel of buckskin. The same hue as his sun-bronzed skin, it passed between his legs and was flipped over a leather thong tied low around his narrow hips. Viewed from the side, Liam might as well be naked.

The only discordant note in his attire were the leather boots Liam had to wear, for obvious reasons, when dealing with animals. Still in his perch on the driver's box he had no need for them and kicked them off, letting them drop into the front boot while he set his feet on the foot rest and flexed and aired his toes.

That suited Drew just fine. Bare feet were a real turn-on for the auburn-haired youth. Most guys might not realize it, but the toes form an erogenous zone all their own. Licking, nibbling, and sucking on the toes in foreplay stimulates the libido and produces a flush of lust in the loins. Drew had learned that trick from the twins who picked it up during their rent boy days long ago. Now it was Drew's turn to kneel before a lover, sucking on a big toe like a cock, letting the male he served loom over him, gazing down at the boy crouched submissively before him, a posture that emphasized his pert rump thrust out behind him suggestively. He couldn't wait to try it on Liam.

Drew and Liam got on famously. The coach boy praised the author's books while Drew in turn complimented his new friend's handling of the team. Drew allowed that, as a city boy, he himself was only adequate as a rider and could not drive a team at all whereas Liam controlled four horses with only one hand on the reins.

"I see. So what is your magical gift, Liam? You already know mine."

"Unfortunately I don't have one, not yet anyway, and here I am going on eighteen."

"That's too bad. Those wizards' eyes of yours give promise of a powerful gift, whatever it turns out to be. What can I say except to be patient? There is a very good reason our gifts don't manifest till our mid-teens at the earliest. Just imagine a temper tantrum in a two year old who was already a Fetcher."

"Good point. Little boys like to play with fire, but if an eight-year old were already a firecaster, then whoosh, the whole house goes up in flames."

"Anyway what's with all the weapons you guys have packed in the boot? And don't you feel a little insecure with all your weapons stored aboard the coach? What could you do if you ran into trouble on the road with all of you caught empty handed?"

"No problem. Here east of the border, with settlements at intervals along this main road patrolled by the mounted constabulary, we are safe enough. That's why you don't need a second man riding guard. Anyway, with all due modesty, I daresay I could handle almost any threat even without my spheres or darts or anything else."

Drew explained his eyeball technique.

Liam grimaced at Drew's graphic description of his tactic of choice. If suddenly confronted by a slash bear or dire wolf, he would yank its eyes out. He would do the same to a centaur, not that any of those six-limbed horrors were left alive in those parts.

"I saw the twins kill the very last one here in their homeland. My friends and I destroyed the last infestation up north of the Eastern Plains."

"OK, you can stop fierce creatures. What if a gang of bandits charged your party?"

"I'd Lift the lead rider out of the saddle then flail away, using him as a club to knock the rest of the gang off their horses. I might not kill anyone that way, but I'd break bones. Or, for truly lethal effect, I'd take control of one of their blades, slide it our of its scabbard, and wield it with my gift to lop their heads off."

"Wicked!"

"OK, let's say you run into an ambush. Archers loose a flight of arrows at you!" Liam challenged.

"I'd catch them in mid-flight, flip them around, and send them right back to where they came from. Kind of like undelivered mail stamped 'Return to Sender'." Drew replied confidently.

That set the coach boy to chuckling.

Actually it had taken practice for Drew to achieve control of more than an arrow at a time. In the beginning Drew had had the twins fire blunted arrows at him. For this exercise they used repeating crossbows. With rapid fire the twins could put four arrows into the air at once.

In these practice sessions, Drew's only real protection was a helmet with visor. The thin silk fabric of his expeditionary outfit protected his skin from abrasion but not his flesh from impact. The twins had been careful not to target his dangly bits. The shots that got through Drew's defense hurt and left bruises but gave the young Fetcher all the incentive he needed to sharpen his skills.

For the benefit of Fetchers throughout the Commonwealth, Drew had described his training technique in an article of his newsletter, 'Transactions of the Confraternities of the Gifted', which went out by mail to subscribers in all corners of that vast land.

One of his readers turned out to be the War Wizard Sir Willet who wrote back that Drew's technique was fine when arrows came at you one or a few at a time, but what if the enemy launched a volley of arrows at you or you got ambushed and the shafts came at you from several directions at once? He offered to share the technique by which he and his fellow war wizards coped with an arrow storm -- in as much as he considered Drew a colleague in his capacity as a reserve ensign in the army of the Commonwealth.

Through mental discipline and visualization techniques, war wizards had honed their awareness of the mental field by which a Fetcher was always cognizant of the position of an object under his control, regardless of whether he could see it. The technique created an omnidirectional mental sphere of awareness, which could be held for several hours at a time if necessary. The wizards called their technique a Missile Shield, though the shield itself did nothing to stop arrows, quarrels, or slung stones. That took conscious use of the Fetching gift to deflect incoming missiles.

"Fortunately, I haven't had to kill anyone yet with my powers, except for a whole lot of centaurs, but those were monsters not people. As a reserve ensign I've been tasked with rescuing folks stranded by a flood or freeing people trapped under debris from an earthquake, missions where I work with the mounted constabulary and fire brigades rather than with the combat forces of the army. Fetching can be turned to constructive ends."

"I don't mind the interruptions when the Army activates my reserve commission. I would want to help in such situations anyway, if I knew about them and could get to the scene on time. The postal and army heliograph ensure that I know where I am needed. And the Army pays the freight getting there. If official transport is not available, I can take passage on a riverboat, buy a ticket on a stagecoach, or rent a horse using stamped chits which I sign over to providers who can cash them at any bank."

"It's easier now that there are a hundred of us reservists all around the Commonwealth. The druids have enhanced two additional cohorts like they did mine. The three druids who developed the technique are back from their assignment to the eastern continent. The corps of druids there was all but wiped out by a rogue wave, a wall of water created by a landslide. Dahl, Owain, and Merry recruited local talent and trained them. Brought them along till all seven were at least journeymen level druids."

"So if all three senior druids are back on Valentia whom did they leave in charge over there?"

"Another senior druid named Bjorn who, I understand, is a really big guy thanks to Frost Giant blood. This Bjorn is a shapeshifter who can turn himself into a brown bear. He was one of the apprentices in Dahlderon's own cohort of trainees, so many years ago now, back when I was a just a kid."

"As long ago as that, eh?"

"All right, but the years from twelve to twenty-two are years of great change in our lives and our bodies, which makes them seem longer than any other decade is likely to be."

"Thank you for sharing that, oh wise one!"

That drew a snort from the young journalist.

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