Elf Boy's Friends - III
"Why aren't you in proper uniform, Warrant Officer Liam?," Captain Dekker asked. "In the Navy we wear blue not Army green."
"I am sorry, sir, this is what they issued me back in the capital."
"Purser, see what you can do to get the boy properly outfitted. I imagine trews would be enough while we are at sea. Bronzed as he is, sunburn will not be a problem."
"Now Liam, you understand that your appointment to this vessel is temporary, made specifically to assist with a big naval operation of which the Petrel is just a small part. I know that you are a war wizard, but you are not aboard to fight the enemy so much as to communicate. This infrasound of the weather wizards will link us to other vessels and to our base here on the northern shore of the Great Inland Freshwater Sea."
"Yes sir, though the farther out we go in search of these raiders and their base, we may have to relay our messages through another ship to reach our base at Alster."
"Now I have never sailed into battle with a wizard aboard. Why don't you brief us on your powers and capabilities."
Liam explained to the assembled officers and warrants that he was strong in Weather Magic and Concealment, pretty good at Water Magic, of middling strength as a Fetcher, and could manage two or three blasts of white fire a day. He could also see in dim light like a cat and physically he was twice as strong as he looked and correspondingly fast. He had no capability for Earth Magic and Firecasting, nor for such exotic gifts as controlling magnetism or throwing lightning. His control of weather let him call lighting but only as an area weapon. He could not direct bolts at specific targets like a ship's mast or the tiller or at the sailor at the wheel.
"How strong are you as a Fetcher."
"Well sir, I cannot lift a brontothere into the sky but I can manage a horse without strain. And I do carry a pair of steel spheres for close combat."
Liam explained about how the spheres were used and controlled with Drew Altair's trademark 'shadow boxing' technique.
His new captain Jan Dekker nodded thoughtfully.
"Thank you Liam for that lucid explication of what we can expect from you. Speak up if you have any suggestions for using your powers. It won't bother me that I did not have the idea myself. As captain, I'll take credit for it anyway."
The captain's mild joke was an indication of his temperament. Captain Dekker had earned a reputation for an even temperament, fair mindedness, competence, and audacity tempered with caution. Everyone agreed he was a good skipper to sail under.
Two weeks later, Liam was finally getting his sea legs. Seasickness had bothered him for only a couple of days. What was harder was getting used to the unsteady deck under his feet. He had slipped and fallen several times, luckily avoiding knocks to the head. His bruises cleared up fast thanks to his enhanced vitality.
The fourth day out a man had fallen overboard and got swept away by the swells before the crew could throw him a line. Nor could they put a boat into the water right away to retrieve him because of the rough seas. Liam looked over to the sailing master and at Crawley's nod invoked his powers to Lift the man out of the water and deposit him safely on deck.
Liam really won their respect for his willingness to take his turn as a lookout seated on the crow's perch at the top of the mast. The first time he went up everyone could see that yes, Liam was afraid of heights, but he was game and climbed up anyway. Used to holding the reins of his teams and with his nearly doubled strength, he had no trouble keeping his grip as he hauled himself up the rope or line to the crow's perch.
After a couple of days of mild terror, Liam got used to the height and to the rhythmic swings of the mast as the ship rocked back and forth with the swells. In a week he found himself looking forward to his watch. There he was sixty feet above the deck, feeling like the master of all he surveyed out to a radius of thirty miles. He sat up there with no visible support but the narrow crow's perch under his rump and the foot rope for his feet. With the wind blowing over and cooling his naked body, this was the next best thing to flying. High up in the air was exactly where a weather wizard out to be. And over the Great Inland Freshwater Sea was where a water wizard ought to be.
And just as Crawley had said, no one thought it was beneath the dignity of warrant officer to stand watch in the rude nude though when he was on deck he wore his blue trews, though they did ride very low on his hips, clinging precariously to his pert rump.
Naturally Liam slept in the nude, and when he arose he bathed on deck every day in full view of everyone, first filling a canvas bucket then hanging it on a hook. A twist and the water drained through a wooden shower head under which he could bathe, with the wastewater running out through the scuppers.
One advantage of sailing a freshwater sea (besides unlimited drinking water) was that the seawater was soft and not hard like the salt water of the outer oceans. It was easy to soap up and rinse off without leaving an icky film. Your skin felt clean.
Liam loved it whenever the ship was brought to a halt to let everyone dive or jump in for a swim. For some naval reason, the order the sailing master gave to the hands for that particular maneuver was "Heave to", though they never heaved anything either to or fro, as far as Liam could tell.
The official reason for the swim breaks was to allow the men to maintain their fitness and to practice rescue swimming. The swims were a welcome break in routine that let everyone blow off steam.
One particularly fine day after a month at sea the Petrel rendezvoused with the rest of the squadron at an anchorage off an uninhabited island. The other three scout ships were there plus the squadron's strike force of five three-masted vessels and cargo ships carrying supplies.
While the purser and some of the hands transferred supplies from the cargo ships, Captain Dekker and Chief Crawley took a longboat over to the flagship to pay their respects and to get the Petrel's new orders. Dekker reported an uneventful voyage though of course the commodore already knew that from Liam's twice daily infrasound reports. They had had good weather too, easily steering around the squalls that Liam had sensed from afar.
The squadron commander, Commodore Van Zant, had also brought along the final member of the Petrel's crew, a midshipmen who had missed their departure through no fault of his own.
When the longboat returned to the schooner, there were three passengers instead of two. As they trio climb back aboard the Petrel, Captain Decker had the bosun summon the officers to the wardroom. Chief Crawley sent a man up to replace Liam on lookout, but did not give the young wizard a chance to duck into their cabin for his trews but waved the boy to go in with him.
"The Captain said for you to just come as you are, Liam. No need to stand on ceremony."
"The first order of business," Captain Dekker said when all were assembled, "is to introduce you to Midshipman Lathrop here. Nathan Lathrop. It wasn't his fault that the river boat he was on ran aground and made him miss our sailing date. You will have to excuse Mister Liam's informal state of dress as he was just called down from the crow's perch."
As the captain made the introductions, starting with his executive officer Lieutenant Dahlgren, pointing to each and stating their names and jobs, everyone nodded politely. Everyone except the midshipman in his blues and the warrant officer in his skin.
Those two just stared at each other, their faces marked with longing.
The one in his blues stood just a shade under Liam's height with the willowy build of an elf though he was fully human. He was boyishly cute, a freckle-faced carrot-topped youngster who looked much too young to be an officer in the Navy of the Commonwealth. Though only seventeen, this was his final cruise as a midshipman before promotion to ensign.
Liam gulped and clenched his fists, trying to control himself, to keep himself from making a complete fool of himself over the beautiful boy standing in front of him. He could hardly believe his eyes. Here was yet another stunning red-head come into his life. Liam opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out but an inarticulate squawk.
Likewise with the midshipman who bit his lower lip and blushed furiously. This Liam was everything he had ever dreamed of in a lover. Though slender, he had a strong upper storey with muscled arms he ached to have wrapped around him. Here was the kind of boy he had always hoped to meet, a boy he could give his heart to.
Captain Dekker looked over to Crawley and rolled his eyes. He cleared his throat to get the attention of the youngsters who were so obviously smitten with one another.
The boys shook off the spell they had cast on each other long enough to mumble proper greetings then stared at the deck, embarrassed by their behavior.
After reviewing the latest orders, the captain dismissed them. As his officers filed out, he took Crawley aside and said. "Talk to them, will you?
"I'll take care of it sir. Though I must say that they make a lovely couple."
"Exactly what they were thinking just now," the captain returned dryly, shaking his head.
Crawley shrugged his shoulders and asked rhetorically: "Teenagers and their instant overwhelming physical attraction, what can you do?"
Ignoring the rhetorical nature of the question, Dekker chose to answer, stating patiently:
"See that it does not get out of hand, Chief Crawley, that is what you can do."
Crawley ushered the two youths to his cabin for a private talk. He had them sit across from him on a lower bunk, Liam's own as it happened.
"There now Liam, you should be comfortable enough sitting on your own bunk."
"The midshipman turned red as he realized that he was in bed with a naked boy whom he ached to make love to. With an older man watching.
He just hoped his body did not betray him. The thin silk of his blues would not conceal any involuntary reaction to his proximity to the naked beauty he longed for. Liam was so close Nathan could feel his body heat.
The midshipman flinched as their legs touched briefly. With his hip pressed against Liam's the midshipman was acutely conscious that the boy next to him was completely naked, and his own thin silks were little more than a second skin over his own body.
Crawley spoke to them assuring that the captain was not upset at a perfectly natural and involuntary reaction from young males. It happens. But the two of them would have to be discreet, not about their obvious liking for each other, but about public displays of affection. No holding hands or kissing in front of the hands, that sort of thing. If they wished to consummate their relationship, they should do so in private. Anything else would be prejudicial to good order and discipline.
It helped that they were effectively equal in rank. It was true that one was a line officer and the other a warrant, but they were very close in precedence and drew the same pay. So their liaison would not violate the rule against fraternization in the ranks.
Crawley offered the warrant officers' cabin as a place for their trysts. They could use it when it would otherwise be vacant, like when he and the other warrant officers were on duty. To warn the other lodgers, the couple should tie a green cord around the latch as a signal that they were inside and needed privacy. No reason they shouldn't try that arrangement out right away since Nathan was not on duty till morning and Liam had been relieved from his watch. Still they should show themselves on deck afterwards with Liam giving the new arrival a tour of the ship.
The two boys nodded and smiled as Crawley closed the door behind him. They hesitated for a moment then threw themselves into a clinch. The blood pounded in their temples and they got light headed with arousal.
"Let's get you out of these silks, Nathan." Liam said, and helped his new friend to disrobe then sat back to see what he had uncovered.
A walking wet dream, that was the only way to described the scrumptious sailor sharing the bunk with him. Nathan was very slender with a smooth musculature. Parts of his skin lighter in tone where the sun had not reached unlike Liam's own body which was bronzed by the sun with the even shade that told all who saw him that here was a boy who was not just naked at the moment but, like a typical young male of the Commonwealth, habitually went about stark naked in public.
They exchanged some basic facts about themselves. Liam spoke of the Western Plains, driving a coach in New Varangia, how he became a war wizard, and even mentioned that he had been a witness to the sensational magical duel that had been in the new-papers not so long ago.
Nathan was a scion of the Lathrops of Cavendish, an old military family that went back six generations, but he himself was considered, only half in jest, as the black sheep of the family for having chosen the Navy. All his forebears had been in the Army. Two had risen to colonel.
"You really don't have a second name, Liam?" Nathan asked.
"I am afraid not. My people are too poor for the luxury of two names. And roaming about the way we nomads do, we don't need extra baggage."
"Ask a silly question…
"Anyway, shall we stretch out in my bunk?" Liam suggested.
"Better put the mattress on the deck. The berth is built right up against the hull and has a bulkhead at each end. That makes it is very confining when you are trying to make love."
"Oh? Can I take it that you are speaking from experience?"
"Well I am not a virgin, if that is what you mean. Here, help me arrange things on the deck and we won't have to worry about falling out of the berth from the roll and pitch of the ship or our own movements. We'll lie with our heads toward the stem and our feet aft "
"You sound so sexy when you speak Navy."
That brought a snort from the midshipman but also a sly smile.
"Then here is a bit of naval lingo for you, Liam. What do you call a private boat that offers goods for sale to the crew of an anchored ship?"
Liam shook his head. He had no idea.
"It's called a bumboat!
"Yeah right. You're having me on. No way I am going to use that term until I hear someone else say it."
"You must have greater faith in me Liam, if we are to be lovers."
After that the boys did what came naturally to two healthy youngsters who were attracted to each other. They kissed and petted and explored each other's bodies. They stroked each other's throbbing manhoods. Then they stretched out for full contact, their bodies on fire from desire, their limbs intertwined as they kissed and nuzzled, and murmured.
"I just love the smell of the sea on a boy." Nathan said.
"Whereas I love the smell of a boy on the sea." Liam gave back.
Nathan scooted down, bent forward and took Liam's rampant cock into his mouth. Nathan quickly showed that he was no virgin. He stimulated Liam's cock with lips and tongue and teeth then swallowed him to the root in one sudden move. Liam gasped as the wet warmth of Nathan's mouth engulfed his cock. Then Nathan began working the cock, raising and lowering his head, sucking and tonguing, while his right hand toyed with Liam's balls and even probed his bum. It wasn't long before Liam shot his gism into the welcoming mouth of the cute midshipman who swallowed it greedily.
Then they traded positions and roles. After a breather and small talk they went at it again, this time with Liam covering Nathan who was down on all fours. Invoking his nomadic heritage, Liam said:
"As I learned as a boy on the Western Plains, this is how a stallion mounts his filly."
"Filly? If you going to use an equine metaphor for me, at least call me a colt. I may be a city boy, but I do know that some stallions cover mates of their own gender."
When they again exchanged positions Nathan told Liam. "The Lathrop clan is famous for its kennels that breed hunting dogs. That is where I learned how a sire covers his bitch."
It was clear that in their sexual relationship they were both tops and bottoms, equal partners.
Whenever he got the chance Liam watched Nathan bathe. Of course he longed to join him, to soap him down and run his hands everywhere on that delectable body of his, but that would have been, as the saying goes, prejudicial to good order and discipline.
And with Nathan aboard those occasional swim breaks were a fun time for the young couple. He and Nathan could openly lay hands on each other's naked bodies without raising eyebrows, since it was just good clean fun, with nothing overtly sexual about it. The could shove and dunk and splash, and engage in all manner of grab ass rambunctiousness typical of youths their age.
One afternoon Liam got around to asking Nathan what his magical gift was.
"Nothing so far, nothing of any significance. I can throw electrum sparks. That's it."
"Electrum sparks? Sparks the color of electrum, a dull yellow, isn't it?"
"No, silly. The name comes from the sparks you can produce with electrum which is semi-precious gemstone, really a fossil tree resin [i.e. amber] with electrostatic properties. Rub a piece on wool and it attracts fluff or dust balls to itself or makes your hair stand on end. Hold it close to someone else and a spark jumps the gap, the same as that spark that jumps from your hand when you reach for a door latch after scuffing your shoes or sandals on a carpet. That kind of spark."
"I snap my finger when I throw a spark. The gesture helps me invoke my power, if I can call it that."
"We fetchers use gestures too, like our 'shadow boxing' technique to control our steel spheres."
Like Liam the young midshipman needed to establish himself aboard, but in his case the issue was not to head off untoward advances. He had to earn the respect of sailors who were older and more experienced, to get them to do what he wanted without constantly standing on his authority as an officer. At the Naval Academy they had taught him that the art of leadership was getting men to do what YOU wanted because THEY wanted to do it.
To that end an officer should neither drive his men nor coddle them to gain popularity. An officer who is liked too much can be neither respected nor effective. That was especially true with a fully professional military like the Commonwealth's staffed entirely by volunteers. Only service in the militia was compulsory though that obligation was sweetened with a possible reduction in taxation as the reward for superior performance of a town's militia.
Nathan had absorbed more at home than he had realized about how an officer conducts himself: what to do and what not to do. Like finding fault or putting men on report just to demonstrate your own diligence or importance.
One night when he was officer of the deck Nathan noticed the lookout in the bow was starting to nod off. He walked the length of the deck with heavy footsteps and when that did not work, he slipped the catch on his scabbard and let the cutlass clatter down the ladder to the main deck.
The sailor jerked around. Nathan pretended not to notice that the man had nearly fallen asleep. He merely observed aloud that a tired man might want to walk back and forth a bit to get his blood circulating to keep from nodding off. Falling asleep on watch would be a serious infraction indeed.
On another occasion he noticed that a sailor had tied the wrong knot, distracted by chatter with a mate.
"Seaman Ward. Check that knot would you? You tied a slipped buntline hitch instead of the regular buntline hitch needed for a permanent connection."
"Oh, no sir. I know my knots sir. Ten years in the navy. Those two knots do look alike, but I am sure this is not the slipped version."
"I'll grant that you know your knots, Seaman Ward, likely know them better than I do myself. You know them so well that you tie knots mostly from muscle memory. Just now you were paying too much attention to that joke your mate was telling and not to what your hands were doing."
"I was watching you. That is indeed a slipped buntline hitch. Just pull on the free end. If I am right the knot will come loose. If your are right, it should tighten."
More than a little annoyed but trying not to show it to an officer, Seaman Ward pulled the end of the knot, which came undone. The seaman looked up appalled.
"I am sorry sir. Does this mean I am going on report?"
"No. We'll let it go this time. I won't punish a man for a momentary slip when he was distracted. Not the first time anyway. I am sure you will be more attentive in the future. Am I right, Seaman Ward?
"Yes sir, and thank you sir."
Incidents like those established the midshipman's reputation as a solid officer.
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