Elf Boy's Friends - III

by George Gauthier

Chapter 19

The Participants

"Good afternoon." Sir Willet said to Liam, Axel, and Drew. "I know you have all heard or Sir Angus McFarden or read of him in Drew's accounts in his newspaper or his newsletter even if you haven't met him before today.

Now we are expecting several more participants, so let's mark time till… Ah, here they come now."

The four figures striding into the room ranged in height from five to eight feet. Besides the two at the extremes the other two were studly males of just above middle height and clearly a father and son.

"Let's all take a few minutes to get acquainted or to say hello to old friends.

"I think I'll make the introductions in order of size. The alarmingly large fellow with the war hammer hung from his belt is the Frost Giant Finn Ragnarson of New Varangia, reputed to be an avatar of Thor, Thunder God of the Norse. Next are Count Taitos Klarendes, Count of the Eastern March and his son Lord Artor Klarendes, who is one of the Dread Hands of the Commonwealth in his own right. And the impossibly cute twink with them is Count Klarendes' spouse and life partner, Sir Aodh of Llangollen."

"Aodh is another of your lovers, isn't he, Drew?" Axel asked. "Now the only ones missing from your roster are the twins."

"Not any more we aren't! Here we are, in the flesh!" Karel announced. The wizard's aide spun and greeted the final arrivals with a grin

"You always announce yourselves that way, don't you, Karel: 'In the flesh'.

Drew explained why.

"That's because the twins usually run around skin clad, in nothing but their flesh, though I see that today they have dressed for the meeting in color coded sarongs."

"Indeed. And as always, to help others tell us apart, Jemsen wears green and I blue." Karel noted.

At first the twins had worn various colors but found that their fashion statement confused everybody.

"You must be Axel." Aodh said. "Drew has told me so much about you, I feel I already know you," drawing Axel into a hug then added:

"Such a hard body you have Axel, yet you are a city boy and work in an office."

"Well, I am a soldier after all. We aides to war wizards never know when we might have to deploy to the field with our principals, so we have to stay in shape not only for the rigors of the trail but in case of a fight. Though small as I am I don't know how much help I would be armed only with a long knife."

"Now don't sell yourself short, pun fully intended. We smaller fellows are more about quality than quantity anyway, aren't we?"

"Right. As Drew always says: 'We little guys gotta stick together. It's us against the world!"

"Present company excepted, of course." Drew noted nodding toward those clustered around Finn and McFarden.

But Axel's attention was elsewhere, focused on the exotic beauty of the wir, a boy with slanting green eyes and pearl white skin which neither tanned nor burned.

"Like what you see?" Drew asked Axel conspiratorially in a stage whisper. That earned him an elbow to the ribs.

Yet what was there about Aodh not to like? A raven-haired sloe eyed beauty who looked to be no more than sixteen Aodh matched Drew in height though with a slighter build. A melding of the innocent and the wanton, small, skinny, and smooth muscled, comely as an angel, with a skin like porcelain, and looking utterly fragile and vulnerable, the epicene youth was actually twice as strong as he looked well as being a master of the martial arts.

Aodh was the epitome of a boy in the full bloom of his youth and so impossibly pretty he took your breath away. And he would stay that way indefinitely thanks to his dual nature. Aodh was a shapeshifter, a wir, which in his case meant he could morph into a black panther. The magical process of transformation healed all wounds and injuries and kept him perpetually young, looking sweet sixteen indefinitely until someday misadventure or foul play would end his life.

"So Sir Aodh how long have you known Drew?"

"Just call me Aodh. It's been five or six years now. Drew visited Elysion to interview Taitos, that is Count Klarendes, and the two of us, well we hit it off. Taitos and I rarely indulge ourselves with extra curricular love interests, but I made an exception in Drew's case."

"Of course you did. I am irresistible." Drew affirmed airily.

"Also Finn and I once had a tryst, over the few days of his first visit actually," Aodh admitted," but that was out of mutual curiosity. I was his first wir and he my first and only Frost Giant."

"But even then he was so much larger than you."

"Ah, but you must remember that as a shapeshifter I can adjust my body to accommodate the most endowed of lovers even those eight feet tall."

"I'm pretty flexible myself, thanks to my enhanced vitality," Drew said, "but I can no longer take Finn fully up my quim."

"You're an inventive fellow. I am sure you have other ways to pleasure him."

"Indeed I do."

"Aodh shared a secret about wirs, but I don't suppose I can tell Axel, can I Aodh?"

"Oh, go ahead. We are all friends here. Though don't pass this on to any one else."

"Wirs can not only morph into a particular animal, they can mimic another human being, a specific person, not just anyone. It has to be someone with the same mass, and the process of acquiring a template requires a considerable degree of familiarity such as through repeated intimate contact. Aodh can mimic both me and the elf-boy cum druid Dahlderon, as he did a few years ago when Dahl was on a mission to Karelia."

Ad nodded and explained.

"I maintained the masquerade for many months, switching forms back and forth to give the impression that both of us were in residence in Elysion. We wirs use such mimicry when we are trapped and the only way out is to assume an impenetrable disguise and walk right past our enemies. You can understand why we wirs like to keep this aspect of our powers to ourselves."

Meanwhile Finn Ragnarson and Sir Willet were discussing Finn's magical gift which had manifested as a set of unusual powers which mimicked those of the ancient hero Thor, the thunder god of the Norse. Finn drew energy from the sky which doubled the strength conferred by his eight foot frame and six hundred pounds of bone, sinew, and muscle, much as a magical power belt doubled the legendary Thor's already prodigious strength. Like Thor, Finn commanded thunder and lightning. Thanks to his control of the planetary magnetic field, Finn could throw his war hammer and retrieve it, drawing the steel head back toward him and smacking the haft into steel backed gauntlets much like Thor's iron gloves in the old stories.

"And I don't have to worry much about missile weapons, at least not anything metallic. I can use the magnetic field of the planet to make arrowheads and even lead bullets veer away from me, though I cannot return them to sender they way Fetchers and war wizards can."

"So your shield works even against non-magnetic metals. The natural philosophers will wonder why?"

"Magic, what else?" Finn shrugged, ever the pragmatist.

"Ironically my shield offers no protection against the missiles we giants traditionally fling with our slings, which are smooth round stones taken from river beds. Which is why for battle I wear light armor, namely a helm, a breastplate, vambraces, a buckler strapped to my left arm and steel-backed leather gauntlets. None of it needs to be particular strong or heavy for the level of protection I require. Anyway strong as I am, I will hardly know I am bearing its weight."

"Another difference," Sir Willet pointed out, "is that you create a field that actually protects you, whereas the Missile Shield we fetchers create is only a field of mental awareness. We must still invoke the Fetching gift to divert arrows and quarrels and bolts or even the pebbles you Frost Giant sling."

"You two are making me feel nigh onto naked," Artor complained facetiously. "My only protection is an army style kepi."

Recently adopted by the armed forces, the kepi's white round cap, bill, and neck flap protected soldiers from the sun while an inner cap of steel protected the skull from impacts.

"Ah but you Hands are enforcers not soldiers. Anyway as a firecaster you can ignite the wooden shafts of arrow and turn them into so much ash."

"When they make me a Hand," Finn averred, "I'll still wear armor. After all my Frost Giants expect a thunder god to look the part!"

Finn laughed genially at his own fanciful expression.

Just then Angus McFarden raised his voice and asked everyone to take a seat around the conference table.

"Sorry Sir Willet," McFarden told the wizard, "but there will be plenty of time later for you and the giant to talk shop."

"Your point is well taken." Sir Willet conceded.

"As for you smaller fellows, can you table the discussion of your love lives for a more appropriate occasion. I must say today is the first time I ever heard young males brag about who was bigger down there and not be referring to what they had up front!"

"That's hardly surprising, Sir Angus. As a man of conventional tastes your circle of acquaintance is comprised of those like yourself who consort exclusively with the female half of the species."

"Which includes me," Artor Klarendes pointed out.

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