Elf Boy's Friends - IV
Two weeks later saw Ensign Nathan Lathrop return to the capital to train at the Institute of Wizardry and Magic. His assignment was to hone his new gift of delving under the tutelage of Sir Rikkard, a friend and colleague of Sir Willet's. The Institute's annex at Alster had trained him to sound the depth of water under the keel of a vessel, to detect hazards to navigation such as shoals, rocks, reefs, and sandbanks, and to determine the nature of the bottom: sandy, rocky, muddy, whatever.
At the capital he would apply delving to what lay beneath the surface of the earth: the types of rocks and minerals, aquifers, caves and caverns, and artificial structures like cellars, mines, tunnels, aqueducts, and even water mains. He could also tell what lay on the other side of a wall.
In event of a siege a delver could detect tunnels dug by the enemy to undermine the walls of a fortress or city. Sappers typically shored up the roof of their tunnels with timber as the went. When the besieging army was ready to attack, they stuffed brush into the tunnels and set the kindling and the timbers on fire. The collapse of the tunnels brought down the wall above. A delver could point out where his own forces should counter-mine.
The only thing delvers could not do with magical gift, despite their name, was dig up what they sensed below. That took miners and excavating equipment or a mage gifted with earth magic which included a version of the delving gift.
The last time Nathan had been in the capital he had convalesced at home following his release from the Naval Hospital where he had been fitted with a prosthesis which let him walk almost normally. Only a slight limp betrayed the loss of the lower part of his left leg, severed by a troll axe just above the ankle during the Petrel's unprecedented single ship action against a flotilla of longships.
On this trip Nathan left his gear into the guest room of the suite shared by Liam, Drew, and Axel, though he slept in Liam's room and bed. Those two had much lost time to make up for. Their nightly lovemaking rose to new heights of passion as they joined their bodies in all the ways that lusty young males may do and in some ways that were only possible when one of the lovers was a fetcher, able to raise, hold, and move his lover's body in ways that defied gravity and the usual possibilities of human anatomy.
Both were versatile in bed, as ready to bottom for the other as to top or to delight each other with mutual oral service. Familiarity with each other's bodies and erogenous zones made it easy for them to arouse each other. Actually it usually took just a wink or a quirky smile to get them hard and send them off to bed. The big bed was a welcome change from the narrow berths aboard ship or even the visiting officers' quarters in Alster.
Theirs had been a torrid love affair from the moment they met, both of them struck as if by lightning with an instant overwhelming and mutual physical attraction. Liam had a thing for red-heads and in then midshipman Nathan Lathrop he found a boy from his dreams.
Only nineteen, Nathan was boyishly cute, a freckle-faced carrot-topped youngster who looked much too young to be an officer in the Navy of the Commonwealth. He stood just a shade under Liam's height with the willowy build of an elf though he was fully human. Since his convalescence Nathan had worked on his upper storey, repeatedly hauling himself up the yards again and again. Constant training with a naval cutlass also strengthened his arms and shoulders.
Liam was a bit older than Nathan, a well-set up lad with a fine healthy body standing just under medium height. He was on the slender side but with a strong upper storey. He had wide shoulders and well-muscled arms from driving four horse teams for a living. Liam was a real raven-haired beauty though pretty rather than handsome. His fine-boned features were accented by a light sprinkling of freckles, and he had the mismatched eyes common among wizards. His left eye was blue and the right one brown. His eyes shone with a moon-glow visible in dim light which gave him night vision as acute as that of a cat.
Liam was evenly tanned from all the running he did ashore and from swimming and standing watch in the nude in the crow's perch of the Petrel. Nathan's tan was more of a patchwork since as a deck officer he had to remain in uniform. Despite his handicap he was still a strong swimmer though not so fast as before.
Their relationship of the two youngsters now went far beyond mere physical infatuation. Theirs was now a life bond. They were lovers, best friends, shipmates, and comrades in arms. They had implicit faith that the other would always have his back.
The circle of friends celebrated the solstice festival with a picnic which once again featured fresh sweet corn-on-the-cob. Nathan sat bemused as he watched Sir Willet and his corn-OFF-the-cob technique of consuming the tasty vegetable. Then Karel reminded the war wizard that he had never demonstrated how folks in high society ate bananas without using their fingers, the table manners of monkeys as the wizard's aristocratic mother had put it.
Sir Willet agreed it was time he provided a demonstration. Spreading a dinner napkin on his lap he addressed the banana on his plate with knife and fork. Spearing it in the center with the fork in his left hand he held it down while he cut off the tips then deftly slit the skin lengthwise. That enabled him to pop the meat out and set the skin aside. Finally, with his fork in his left and knife in his right, he sliced bite sized chunks off one at a time and brought them to his mouth.
Karel shook his head.
"Now I've seen everything!"
It wasn't long before Nathan was recruited as an informal member of the task force, helping his friends with their important work. As a recent graduate of the Naval Academy Nathan was well versed in naval doctrine and tactics, and he too was a decorated combat veteran, twice Mentioned in Dispatches and with a Navy Cross for Valor on top of that.
Nathan's participation in the task force on naval aviation bore fruit later, after he returned to the Petrel, but that is another story.
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