Elf Boy's Friends - II
The next morning the young soldiers four woke up early and went out for a run along the cross-country course which looped out into the fields and woods beyond the installation proper. As always the three lightweights ran in the nude while Finn was in short trews and sandals following gamely at a trot.
After the run the youths stretched and flexed and worked on their upper body strength. The three lightweights went off by themselves and spent a little time climbing trees and scrambling to the roofs of the buildings till they were ordered down by a spoilsport non-commissioned officer who mistook them for newbies.
"What do you recruits think you are doing up there on top of that roof? And why are you all stark naked. Where are your uniforms? Don't you realize this is officer country? You there, Red. What is your name and unit?"
"The name is not Red, Sergeant, it is Altair, Ensign Drew Altair, but you may call me Sir for short."
"Oh really, you, a commissioned officer, a bare-assed boy who cannot be more than sixteen or seventeen? Those two blonds look to be maybe eighteen or possibly nineteen, which would make them lieutenants, I suppose."
"A comedian, eh? Well your sergeants will soon knock the impertinence out of you, youngster."
"Ah, sergeant", Jemsen began, "You had better check with the charge of quarters at the unaccompanied officers' barracks. He can establish our bona fides."
Sensing that these youngsters were far too confident and self-assured to be wayward recruits and were unembarrassed at being caught out of uniform, in the rude nude actually, the good sergeant did check with the corporal in charge of the barracks who confirmed that 'Red' was indeed Ensign Drew Altair and the blonds were the Captains Sirs Jemsen and Karel, not only genuine officers but knights, and all of them were Holders of the Military Cross for Valor. As one non-com to another, the corporal also said that grapevine had it that the trio were the personal friends of Generals Zaldor and Urqaart.
Suddenly all smiles, the good sergeant changed his tune.
"So you are officers, after all. Why didn't you say so in the first place?"
"Actually, I am sure we did." Karel remarked blandly, but his wink to the others showed he was not put out by the misunderstanding.
As the sergeant went off, Karel added. "Not his fault really, the way our enhanced longevity keep us perpetually young and looking even younger than our years. Which goes double for you 'Red', given your diminutive proportions."
Drew nodded, adding:
"And none of us has a feather on his body, not even at the fork of our legs, thanks to druidic magic which blocks the growth of body hair. This is an old story for me. I know that I fall far short of normal masculine standards in height, muscular development, beard and body hair, and voice register. I'll look sweet sixteen for half a millennium. But being a boy-toy does have its advantages. It sure helps my social life!"
The trio walked over to the outdoor showers to wash away the sweat and dust, drying their bodies in the early morning sun. The nude youths drew admiring looks from those of their barracks mates who fancied pretty boys, of whom there were more than a few.
Even a certain young officer who did not look at them with lust conceded their attractiveness to his companion:
"You know Ian that I consort exclusively with the female half of the species, but looking at these three specimens over there drying themselves in the sun gives me an inkling of why you prefer your own gender."
"Thanks, Petr. As an elf, I come by my orientation quite naturally. You are right about that trio. For males of my persuasion, all three are walking wet dreams."
Indeed,they were. Of fully human stock Jemsen and Karel were identical twins, young palomino colts whose wiry musculature and strong upper storey evidenced the high level of fitness the boys maintained from archery and all the running and swimming they did. The twins were blessed with fine-boned faces, their heads crowned with cornsilk blond hair. They were of medium height, blond, slender, and incredibly cute.
Although young men in their late twenties, the twins looked like teenage boys a decade younger thanks to their parentage and to the druidical healing magic that let them live for half a millennium or more and keep them perpetually young. The smooth glabrous bodies of the scrumptious blond beauties practically glowed with vitality. The effect was incredibly sexy.
As for 'Red', Drew was an impossibly cute twink with spiky auburn hair and narrow sideburns reaching below the ear lobe plus straight eyebrows with almost no curve to them. They framed a fine-boned face with a high forehead, chiseled jawline, and a perky nose slightly turned up at the end. Drew was slight in build, standing only five foot zero and weighing but a hundred pounds, yet his tiny frame was easily twice as strong as it looked, enhanced by the same druidical healing magic that had lengthened his life.
"It's so unfair that those beauties seem to have eyes only for each other." Ian complained.
"Don't be so sure, Ian. As an elf, your exotic looks and slender physique make you quite presentable, not to mention those killer cheekbones of yours. And, from the way he's been checking you out, the little red-head just might be interested in you."
"Hush! He'll hear you."
Thanks to his enhanced senses, Drew had heard their chatter. The way he suddenly looked over at them gave that away. So Ian's friend Petr called out:
"Uh, no offense there, 'Red'. I was just dropping a hint to my shy friend here."
That earned him an elbow to the ribs.
"Striking a superior officer? Tut, tut."
Drew could see from their easy camaraderie that the young officers were the best of friends. Grinning, Drew introduced himself and the twins.
"Ah, our generals' proteges." the one called Ian said to no one in particular.
"We heard it on the grapevine." his lanky companion explained.
"I am Captain Petr Kwill and my shy friend here is Lieutenant Ian Dentzer, soon to be Captain Dentzer. We both hail from Grayling, which is a town at the head of navigation on the Long River."
"Been there twice. Nice town. Fond memories." Jemsen remarked.
"We just finished sword practice", Ian explained, quite needlessly since they both carried practice swords and mesh masks and were wearing protective padding. "Would you care to join us for breakfast?"
A while later, cleaned up and in uniform, the five of them settled down to eat. Petr started the table talk:
"I don't know if you newcomers realize this but here in garrison they serve two hot meals a day, with long sitting times to accommodate everyone's schedules. That lets early risers like ourselves chose exercise or training before sitting down to breakfast. So the cooks serve for two hours in the morning and for two and a half in the evening. That doesn't mean you can dawdle over your meals. A bit of chit-chat is fine, but then it is off to work."
Jemsen nodded. "We have no problem with that. No one ever called us lazy."
"I can believe that with all you have accomplished in the last ten years. You know you guys are living legends in the Army, you and your friends like the firecasters Artor Klarendes and his father Taitos Klarendes, Count of the Eastern March. Plus it was the count's lover, that shapeshifter Aodh, who conceived the vital spy mission to the lands of the barbarians, which led to our ultimate victory. He also invented the fire globes, as we are now calling them."
His friend Ian added:
"And you twins were the proteges of the late Sir Balandur of Leinster and accompanied him on some of his later adventures. The stories they tell about him! Dread Hand of the Commonwealth indeed! You boys were his lovers too, despite the obvious mismatch in size between humans and giants."
"Tell me about it!" Drew commented dryly, then explained: "I never met Balandur myself, but I have a giant of my own for a boyfriend. His name is Finn Ragnarson, and he is around here someplace."
"A giant for a boyfriend? For your sake Ian, let's hope that he is not the jealous type."
"Oh, very funny, Petr."
"Look, here he comes now", Drew said nodding as Finn walked up.
"We were just talking about you, Finn. What took you so long?"
"I passed by the smithy and had to try my hand at shaping hot metal once again. Fire and steel are in my blood. As a professional courtesy, the master smith let me work on a steel wheel rim. I did a fair job of it too, if I do say so myself. Anyway who are your friends, Drew, and what have you been telling them about me?"
"Actually I was just saying to this darkly handsome elf-boy, who rather fancies me, that it is a good thing for him that you are not the jealous type," Drew quipped, winking a cue to Finn.
"Oh, but I am!" Finn growled, glaring at Ian with feigned menace till he could no longer maintain the pretense and broke out in a grin.
Drew made the introductions. The officers mentioned that they worked in Military Intelligence. Petr ran the scouts, and Ian was the staff cartographer who whipped up the many maps an army requires, explaining:
"My gift is an Unerring Sense of Direction, which is a perfect match for cartography. And who would know that better than the twins who invented contour lines, which show elevation or altitude if you will."
"You will be interested to learn that I recently developed another use for your contours: a graphical method for determining which parts of a landscape, when viewed from a given vantage point, are masked from observation by intervening terrain features. It involves drawing a terrain profile to scale along a particular azimuth."
"That technique helps my scouts select the best vantage points." Petr added then continued with:
"During maneuvers a couple of months ago, the opposing force snuck up on our side through low ground my scouts had not taken under observation. Very embarrassing, I can tell you. Our commander chewed me out right royally. My mishap inspired Ian to develop his technique which also shows a commander where he might conceal his own approach or reserves from enemy observation. It's a tremendous tool for an army, at least in an area that has been fully surveyed and mapped, as we have been doing around here these past four years"
"You must show us how your technique works," the twins urged in unison.
"Me too!" Drew piped. "A new way to use the magical gift which you three share definitely merits an article in my newsletter."
"Actually you don't need my gift to use this technique. A compass works just fine for determining an azimuth."
Thanks to peculiarities of geology, the magnetic poles of the planet of Haven were very close to its geographic poles and pretty much stayed put, not wandering around the polar regions as on other planets. So the southward pointing needle of a compass indicated true south or close enough for tactical purposes.
"Actually I have an article of my own due to be published very soon in the Army Journal. I hope the Guild of Cartographers will accept it as my master piece and promote me to full membership. I am a journeyman now, as are all Army mapmakers. They train us, you see."
"Once it's been published, Karel and I can endorse your application. We ourselves are masters in the guild."
"Now the Army Journal is fine for getting the word out about your technique," Drew picked up, "but articles in my newsletter also highlight the man behind the innovation. So we'll publish an interview as well."
"Hey, I'll take all the publicity I can get. To rise in this man's Army you need to get noticed, for the right reasons of course. As a staff officer, I have little opportunity to prove my courage or my leadership, but if I can help our forces take better advantage of maps and the terrain they depict, I'll have made a significant contribution to our Army."
"Ian's invention is why he is getting his captaincy so early. The lad is barely twenty, which is damn young, especially for an elf, when all is said and done."
"At twenty-four, my dear friend Petr is starting to feel the full weight of his years," Ian intoned deadpan, drawing a snort from his friend.
"Since we are speaking of rank," Ian said, "I wonder why a sergeant like your friend Finn is sharing quarters in officer country. It's fine with me, but probably not with traditionalists, of whom there are more than a few in this man's Army."
Drew explained that though Finn's brassards show him to be a non-commissioned officer in the Fyrd, the militia of New Varangia, for this mission he held a concurrent appointment as a temporary ensign in the Army of the Commonwealth.
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