Elf Boy's Friends - III

by George Gauthier

Chapter 15

The Institute of Wizardry

"Ah there you are Liam. I take it that this is your friend and fellow naval hero Ensign Nathan Lathrop."

"Yes Sir Willet. I am showing Nathan around the institute. The way Axel sings your praises he just had to meet you."

"Axel has told me so much about you sir, and how lucky he is to work here as your aide."

"I am the lucky one really. I wonder now how I ever got along without him and his gifts of eidetic memory and unerring direction. Axel takes dictation flawlessly and on recent maneuvers kept me from getting lost in the mountains. And if you ever need a trained healer's aide to render primary care with a wound or injury in the field, Axel is your man. Just don't tell him I complimented him, or he will be hitting me up for a raise."

"I heard that!" Axel said coming into the room, a grin on his face. "Seriously though sir, Sparky, that is Ensign Lathrop, does need to consult you about his gift."

"What I'd like to know is whether I can do more with my electrum sparks." Nathan explained.

"Hmm. I have some time available now. Let's step into the laboratory and see what you can do."

The laboratory wing included a test chamber walled with thick planks and partly open to the sky to contain, redirect, and disperse forces released by magical gifts. At Sir Willet's direction, Nathan snapped several sparks of static electricity at a block of wood, charing the surface slightly where they hit. Nathan also explained how he used his sparks in combat to distract his foes with the electric jolt and the burning sensation they delivered.

"I wish I could throw lightnings bolts, but this is the best I can manage."

"Sorry Nathan, but your sparks are discrete balls of static electricity and thus quite distinct from lightning which is a flow or current of electricity, as from a cloud to the ground. You will never be able to throw bolts of lightning. Nevertheless, you have already proved that even your modest gift can be useful in combat. Let's see if we can make you more effective."

Sir Willet had been watching Nathan's moves. Like many of the gifted, Nathan gestured when he invoked his gift. In his case Nathan held his index finger with his thumb then snapped it at his target. The spark shot from the tip of his finger at considerable speed, much too fast to dodge at close quarters. The young ensign's maximum range was about that of a crossbow after which the spark dissipated.

"Now try it with two fingers."

The results were underwhelming. Two smaller sparks spat across the room at the block of wood. Nevertheless Sir Willet was encouraged by what his magical sight showed him was going on under the surface. Nathan had more potential than he gave himself credit for.

"It is just as I suspected. Right now you are dividing your energy between two sparks, but you can increase your power level by consciously visualizing two large sparks. If you keep at it and practice with visualization every day you will soon be snapping two sparks as strong as your single shots earlier. It will soon become as automatic as what you do now. Eventually you should be able to snap all five fingers at a foe or any enemy formation. Let them try to dodge or shield themselves then. Once you have them distracted, you can finish them off with a cutlass. I understand you are quite good with a blade."

"That's right, sir. Coming from an army family I started training early under the tutelage of my father and older brothers. I got to be pretty good by the time I enrolled in the Naval Academy."

"Remember, like the Army the Navy is about team work. Use your gift to distract your foes and let your men do most of the blade work."

"Thank you, sir for your observations on my gift. What you said just now is very encouraging. I cannot direct the trajectory of my sparks except in a general way, but by flinging five at once I will be sure to hit bare flesh or the blade of a weapon. Hitting a foe in the face or arm is the best tactic since it delivers both a jolt of electricity and the heat of a burn. A steel weapon conducts the charge to the wielder's arm, but dissipates its heat."

"One thing more, Nathan. Don't forget the incendiary effect of your sparks. You can set an enemy's sails on fire or the oil splashed about from broken fire globes. On land, you might set fire to a meadow to block an enemy advance. Our library here at the institute has after-action reports indexed by the particular gifts used. Liam can help you find them and study how sparks were employed in the past. And don't forget Drew Altair's newsletter. Write an article about your gift and see what its readers have to suggest."

"Come on Sparky. Let's go out onto the practice field so you can get right to work." Liam urged his friend.

"I am right behind you, Liam. See you later, Axel."

It wasn't entirely Nathan's imagination that by the end of practice, his two sparks looked a little larger than when he began. By the time his convalescent leave was over, Nathan was well on his way to being able to snap five strong sparks at once with either hand.

Nathan's family and friends were glad that between his gift and his sword fighting skills, Nathan would be able to protect himself in future battles against the trolls. And to protect the sailors serving under him as well.

It was not all work and no play. The six friends: Nathan, Liam, Axel, Drew, and the twins got together many an afternoon after work to fling the Gemini Zinger around. The athletic game helped Nathan recover his strength and stamina. The young sailor was fairly agile with his prosthetic though handicapped in making sudden changes of direction. Still, in a straight sprint and with his lithe build he could run pretty fast. You would hardly think he had lost the lower part of his leg at all.

At first Nathan was self-conscious about exercising in the nude though not from any shyness about displaying his body. As a youth of the Commonwealth of the Long River he was used to public nudity. It was his prosthetic that was the source of his concern. But his friends treated him no different than before, and soon everyone else was doing it too.

Nathan was happy about the way Liam's friends had included him in their circle. They were a great bunch of guys. Intelligent, inventive, and loquacious and driven by an insatiable curiosity the twins were always pestering people with questions. Their stated justification was that questions were how you learned things not written in books. Drew was a tiny powerhouse both physically and professionally. An engaging conversationalist, correspondent, editor, and writer of award winning non-fiction, he was a bon vivant and a social butterfly.

Axel was the quiet one, a bookworm like Drew, and not much given to rough housing. He was content to spend his free time in sedentary pursuits like playing games of strategy, particularly a board game whose pieces represented cavalry, infantry, chariots, and olifants all of which moved in different ways. The object of the game was to capture the opposing army's general.

Many an evening the group visited Twinkle Town. Named for the twinks who were its prime denizens, Twinkle Town was a district or rather a cluster of drinking and dancing establishments favored by those who fancied pretty boys and by pretty boys who favored being fancied.

One of Liam's acquaintances saw him come in to a place with Nathan and asked:

"Another red-head for your collection?"

It was true enough that Liam had a thing for boys with red hair of all shades. Drew's locks were auburn, Axel was a fresh faced youth with a head of hair the color of copper, while Nathan was a true carrot top. But he wasn't into merely recreational sex the way Drew Altair was. He had really bonded with the three red-heads.

Nathan and Liam watched their friends whirl themselves through the dances with a fast tempo, but contented themselves with slow dancing, their bodies pressed together, their moves languorous and sensual. Everyone agreed they made a fine-looking couple.

To the extent possible life had returned to normal, as normal as things could be with a war on. Soon enough Nathan would travel back to Alster and take up his duties on the Petrel.

In bed Liam was ever the attentive and eager lover, not the least bit deterred by the fact that one of Nathan's legs was shorter than the other. Nathan and Liam made love with as much energy, athleticism, acrobatics, and noise as ever. For all their slenderness their bodies were strong and limber allowing the lovers to adopt all manner of naughty positions to engage in sexual congress.

Being much the same height, they found it easy to trade mutual oral service either lying side by side or with one lover on his knees and elbows straddling the one who was on his back. Or they covered each other, Liam's stallion to Nathan's colt or Nathan's sire to Liam's bitch, descriptions drawn from their family backgrounds. Nathan was a natural horseman, born and raised among the nomads of the Western Plains. The Lathrop family raised hunting dogs in the kennels of their country house.

"It's too bad that in this tropical climate we cannot enjoy the full experience of a classic Frost Giant sauna" Liam observed while stretched out on a wooden bench in the steam filled room. "Finn swears that the contrast between the heat of the sauna and the cold of an icy pond is what makes the sauna experience so invigorating."

"Brrr! He can keep that part thank you. I see no point in cycling between a hot room and an icy pool. And why take a birch switch to yourself as if you were a naughty child?"

"Actually they just rub bunches of birch leaves and twigs on the skin rather than strike it. And you don't have to plunge into an icy pool; you can ease yourself into it slowly."

"Thereby prolonging the agony? No thank you. Just think what that freezing water might do to your manly parts. It's a good thing you are not interested in engendering offspring. That's all I can say!"

"Well you don't have to immerse yourself in ice water. You can roll around in the snow instead."

"Right! I can just see myself rolling in the snow stark naked and likely getting it packed into my ass crack. No thanks. I'll pass on that one too if I ever travel to their land in the far north." then he added:

"Some of the customs of our friends the Frost Giants are perverse though the basic sauna is fine with me. For one thing I like the way you look Liam, that slender nude body of yours laid out for my delectation, one bent knee high, the other low below those narrow hips of yours, a posture that emphasizes the chevron of your ribs, the hollow of your belly, and the slenderness of your limbs."

"You don't look half bad yourself, Sparky, stretched out on your belly, the curves of your delightful rump on display. If it weren't considered bad manners in a sauna, I would throw myself on top of you and have my way with you right here and now. Especially since it won't be long now before you leave for Alster. I will miss you. These last weeks have been great. I don't know when I myself will rejoin you on the Petrel."

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