Elf Boy's Friends - III

by George Gauthier

Chapter 24

Flensborg

No one was more excited about the expedition than Axel Wilde who, at eighteen, was very much the youngest member of the expedition. The wizard's aide would finally get his chance to go into the field on a real mission, not just on maneuvers as he had done so often before. This was the real thing.

"Who knows what secrets lie hidden in a land cut off for millennia from all contact by the centaur menace and the unpromising topography of the Barren Coast. We might come upon the remains of a lost civilization destroyed by the centaurs. Perhaps those lands harbor monsters every bit as alien as the centaurs themselves, giant spiders or beasts with tentacles or poisonous spines."

The twins smiled indulgently at Axel's boyish enthusiasm, merely reminding him of the point Balandur always made that adventures were dangerous and uncomfortable and you couldn't count on regular meals.

The first stage of the journey was easy enough. The party booked passage on a riverboat heading south on the Long River. As the miles passed Axel saw at first hand the reason for the power and prosperity of the Commonwealth. Its agricultural heartland was a huge rift valley hundreds of leagues long and eighty wide created eons earlier by tectonic forces which raised parallel mountain ranges east and west and dropped the bedrock under the land in between. Its alluvial soils were the most productive cropland on the planet.

The party left the boat at a port far to the south and took a coach over the highway which crossed the valley, passed through the Western Mountains, then crossed the Western Plains all the way to Flensborg.

The team got a proper reception there. The Frost Giants made much of their heroes. The twins of course were giant-friends and veterans of the Long March of the Frost Giants and the Second Centaur War. Drew was another giant-friend and a veteran of the second war against the centaurs and more recently the Troll War.

Finn Ragnarson was the local hero who had made the Long March of the Frost Giants and had fought in two wars against the centaurs and the war against the trolls. And though Finn's status as an avatar of Thor was a polite fiction, it still counted for much among those who had seen him fight at Flensborg or had read about his exploits in Drew's accounts in the Capital Intelligencer and his latest bestseller.

Dahlderon was the druid lord who, not so very long ago, had defeated the evil wizard Sir Janus, which was only one of his many notable accomplishments in the defense of the Commonwealth in particular and the planet's biosphere in general. Sir Willet and Axel were strangers, but it soon became known that Axel and Finn and Drew were lovers.

The leaders of the Frost Giants welcomed the travelers at a banquet in their honor. The speeches by Oddr Bjarnson, the recently re-elected governor of New Varangia, and Harald Sigurdsen, the war chief of the Frost Giants, were blessedly short. Old Arn spoke at length, but then Arn was an accomplished raconteur whose stories and jokes put everyone in a good mood.

Drew renewed his acquaintance with the shipper Ragnar Svenson, the Frost Giant who had devised the wily stratagem of blocking the river at the shipyards to force the trolls to fight on unfavorable ground. Finn's brother Hrolgar was there too. Finn would stay with him during the few days it would take to put the expedition together. Hrolgar was proud of his new street lighting operation which showed that Flensborg with its population of eleven thousand was on the cusp of modernity.

The rest of the party occupied the refurbished officers' quarters in the main barracks of the old fort, which had lain largely unused for more than a year since Major Ter Horst's battalion of cavalry had transferred to the Far West. At the fort the Fyrd used only the offices, armory, meeting rooms, and kitchen.

Built for a garrison of human cavalry men, the old fort was by design and dimensions unsuitable to the battalion of frost giants who formed the current garrison which operated out of a cares built of brick on a site at the edge of town.

Since this was the last time for a long while when the youngsters would sleep in real beds, they made the most of their opportunity. Dahl and the twins shared a room as did Drew and Axel.

Jensen and Karel had been Dahl's first true lovers, the first boys whose companionship was a matter of his own unconstrained choice. Dahl had been happy to get away from home and the more or less compulsory casual sex which young elves were expected to provide to their elders and the friends the older elves lent him to.

The trio of friends had bonded during that first journey across the continent of Valentia, hiking cross country toward and then along the Great Trade Road that linked the League of Independent Towns, then across the Western Plains and down the Long River to the capital, after which the took the road ran across the valley and through the eastern mountains to Dalnot the garrison town on the eastern plains. There the twins joined the army as civilian scouts. Along the way they had met and been befriended by Balandur and Aodh and Count Klarendes, had fought Trackers and Black Riders, and had braved other dangers and foes.

Thanks to elven healing magic all three youths looked no older than when they had first met a decade earlier. The twins would look to be eighteen or nineteen for centuries and Dahl would remain sweet sixteen indefinitely thanks to his innate healing magic.

Their enhanced vitality made for energetic, athletic, and acrobatic sex play, By now all three were experts in the amatory arts. They had had plenty of practice. For one thing they had largely financed their first journey together working as rent boys in taverns and inns along the way. For another, Dahl's mentor and lover the druid Owain had tutored all of them in male love.

Dahl eagerly submitted himself to the ministrations of his blond lovers. The twins were experts at foreplay and were intimately familiar with Dahl's erogenous zones. No one except Dahl's druid lovers back in the Great Southern Forest could arouse him quicker and more intensely. But then the sex drive of druids is incredibly strong thanks to their life affirming magic.

The twins loved to double team the smaller elf-boy, plugging both ends at once or sandwiching him between them. Dahl relished the feel of the sculpted musculature of their hard bodies pressing against his own, all slick and slippery and salty with perspiration. Not to mention that Jemsen and Karel were reasonably well-endowed and knew how to use the equipment nature had supplied them with.

But Dahl's relationship with the twins went beyond sex. Jemsen and Karel were boys he knew would walk with him down the centuries as lovers, friends, companions, comrades in arms, and participants in all manner of future adventures. The keen minds of the twins were part of the attraction too. Dahl had no time for dullards. And if the twins were incessant chatterboxes plying everyone around them with endless questions, it was to good purpose. Asking questions was how you learned things not written down in books.

As for Drew and Axel, what had originally drawn them both together was their relationship with Liam. Now they were friends, roommates, and lovers in their own right. Besides the great sex, the boys had quite a lot in common. Both were short, smart, and literary even bookish but also athletic and outgoing. Neither was a shut-in. They had grown closer while their lover Liam was away on assignment with the Navy where he was paired with another nice boy, Ensign Nathan Lathrop on the CS Petrel whom they too had met while he convalesced at the naval hospital in the capital.

Now Dahl was friends with all of them though not lovers with Finn or Axel, much less Liam or Nathan. Nevertheless he knew them all for good kids, nice kids, guys he liked and admired a whole lot. Take Axel, a boy of humble origins who had found his way into a job that perfectly suited his talents, had joined a circle of worthy friends, and was well on his way to financial security thanks to his pioneering street lighting business. You could do a whole lot worse than having people like that in your life.

Finn's temporary stay in the capital was drawing to a close. Once Finn got instated in full he would most likely be based in Flensborg. A Dread Hand was not usually assigned to his native region to prevent even the appearance of partially and conflict of interests, but an exception would likely be made in Finn's case. The Frost Giants would feel more secure having an avatar of their thunder god around in these perilous times.

Sir Willet did not seek out companionship while in Flensborg. He was in a long term relationship with his housekeeper, a fine lady who kept refusing his offers to make an honest woman out of her. She said that she had no desire to rise above her station as she perceived it. No one would ever call her Lady Hanford.

[The wife of a knight is addressed as Lady; a female with the rank of a knight is a Dame]

Finally the expedition was ready to set out. The explorers would be escorted by two squads of Frost Giants making a total of twenty-one heavy infantry. They were all volunteers, recent immigrants whose service would them earn a government grant, one large enough to get a farm going. Farmland itself was free and for the asking. You only had to register it with the land office. Sergeant Sven Ingersen was placed in direct command of the two squads of infantry with Finn in overall command of the expedition.

There were also ten human teamsters to drive the five supply wagons and a cook and his driver cum helper on a cook wagon, There were no villages or towns or even farms where they were going. So large a party could not live off the land even with a druid to draw in prey for the hunters. They would have to bring most supplies with them. Not that they wouldn't take the occasional deer or elk they ran across. Finally the Fyrd assigned a pair of human scouts from its mounted constabulary which normally patrolled the highways.

On the morning of their departure as a crowd looked on the expeditionary corps formed up on the outskirts of Flensborg. The march order had an infantry squad up front, then the explorers mounted on horses, all of them tractable mares, next the supply and cook wagons, with the second squad bringing up the rear. Once past the settled area, the scouts or the twins would ride ahead as much to select the route of march as to look for trouble.

The Frost Giants marched unencumbered by their heavy shields and caltrops which were in the wagons. The did bear their standard weapons of a long sword, a sling, and a pouch of smooth round stones or lead bullets hung from their belts. They bore their twelve foot spears on their shoulders or used them as walking sticks . For armor Finn wore only vambraces and steel backed gauntlets and a buckler hung from his belt. For weapons he contented himself with his war hammer Mjolnir.

On this mission even the twins stayed in their army uniforms of green silk rather than going skin clad as they usually did. Sir Willet wore riding boots; the others wore sandals — even Axel who usually favored moccasins — but the hard sole of a sandal was better with stirrups. Mounted as they were, they brought no quarterstaffs. The twins had their bows and kukris and Drew his pouches of steel spheres and soporific darts. Axel carried only a long knife. His job was not to fight but to watch Sir Willet's back and to treat wounds or injuries with the medical kit in his saddle bags.

Like Drew the twins held reserve commissions in the Army, which in their case carried the rank of captain. Sir Willet outranked the twins and Drew with the courtesy rank of major but only in precedence. War wizards never held command. Axel ranked as a warrant officer, while Dahlderon, as druid, was beyond mere military rank.

No more soft beds or even cots, only groundsheets and mats to keep their bodies away from the damp of the earth. They would all sleep in tents made of tough silk big enough for Frost Giants. Finn would bunk with his own people. The human members of the expedition would sleep in one of two tents with the teamsters and scouts. That made for a lot of naked bodies in close proximity. So for the sake of decorum, the boys suspended their love lives while in such close quarters. Not that they didn't look for opportunities to pair off and find some secluded spot.

Heads held high and full of hope and excitement, the intrepid explorers set off into the unknown.

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