Elf Boy's Friends - IX
In Nordstrand, Finn met with the town's mayor Thurig Karlsefni and its three Councillors, two of them giants: Herjulf Eriksson and his father Erik Svenson who was a ship builder and Ward Barrow, a human. Finn introduced Karl-Eike Thyssen and told them that he was there in a dual capacity as both a naval architect and as the inventor of the autogyro. He reminded them that Liam and Drew were experienced pilots while Lieutenant Nathan Lathrop was one of the naval officers sent to learn to sail ocean-going ships. All of them were also Pioneers of Flight. Finn gave the officials a roster to the personnel he had brought with him.
Herjulf Erikkson explained that he had been put in charge of the establishment of an aerocraft industry in the Northlands. Capital for the new venture had been raised by selling ten-thousand shares in the new company to local investors, with a limit of one hundred shares for any single investor. That created a broad constituency for the project and also distributed the ownership of the new venture among some three hundred investors instead of letting the industry fall into the hands of a few wealthy persons, however well-intentioned.
They had created two separate companies: Northlands Aviation to build the autogyros and the Northlands Air Service to transport mail, passengers, and freight. Northlands Aviation would sell its aircraft not only to the air line but also to the coast guard for scouting, search, and rescue, to air taxi companies, and so forth. Everyone saw a bright future for aviation in a region where overland communications were utterly impractical.
At a technical meeting the next day the Commonwealth delegation met their local counterparts, skilled workers and engineers drawn from local industries, all with extensive hands-on experience.
Eike told them that while he may have been the inventor of the autogyro, they should learn from the real experts on building autogyros, the skilled workers and aeronautical engineers who ran the production lines, who could show them how it was done, not in a tinkerer's workshop, but in a suitably tooled manufactory. Eike wanted to focus his attention on naval architecture once he had explained his design philosophy to the would-be aerocraft builders.
"When I started out I designed everything on paper, first sketching my ideas and later creating formal blueprints. Later I came into my magical gift of Shaping which lets me work directly with solid materials like metal, stone, or wood and form them without tools. With my mind alone I can transform a lump of steel, lifting it into the air, flattening it, squeezing it into a rod, hollowing it out to make a cylinder or sphere or take on any shape my mind can conceive."
"What I always strive for is simplicity, economy, and ease of maintenance so I make the parts and subassemblies easy to install or remove. You want to make things easy to fix even out in the field and in the weather."
"I use standard hardware components like screws and nuts and bolts, gears, bushings, and housings. Mass production requires precision, close tolerances, standardization, and interchangeable parts. An important aspect of my gift is what I call exact dimensioning. I always know the dimensions of anything I am shaping. And I can shape things to exact measurements."
"However the job gets done, whether with a gift of with conventional techniques, keep these principles in mind."
"Shaping must be the most wondrous gift an engineer can have." One man of middle years enthused.
"That is so true, sir. As I am sure you know from your own experience, ideas are easy to come by. They just pop into your head. The hard part is turning a notion into something solid and tangible that will do the job you want it to do. With Shaping I can make anything I can think up, try it out, and make corrections, changes, and improvements, speeding up the cycle of trial and error by a factor of ten."
"Of course, shaping is just for creating prototypes and models. To turn out any great quantity of my gadgets takes a suitably tooled manufactory. That is where my colleagues come in. Their manufactories have made millions of bicycles and many hundreds of autogyros. You can rely on their proven expertise."
Eike's colleagues, all much older than he, appreciated the boy's modesty and his endorsement of the contributions they would be making to the project as production experts.
While the others in the Commonwealth delegation made do with the rather spartan accommodations provided by the locals Finn, Eike, Nathan, Liam, Drew took a suite of rooms at one of the better hotels that catered to sea captains. The furniture was sized for Frost Giants. Couples like Eike and Nathan could cuddle in an armchair built for a giant. It also left the little guys with plenty of room to disport themselves on the large beds.
Two days after the formal dinner to celebrate the start of their collaboration, Eike, Nathan, and Liam sat on the porch of their hotel to watch the stars come out in the unfamiliar skies of the northern hemisphere. Nathan picked out out the main navigational stars depicted on the star charts he had been given by local mariners. The northern sky had no prominent polar star but the pole's location could be found by interpolating between two circumpolar constellations. Even without the gift of Unerring Direction Nathan was an expert navigator.
"In three days we'll be sailing beyond the line of skerries all the way out to the scenic Loften Islands whose peaks just peek over the horizon… er, no pun intended. It's our introduction to sailing the open ocean, the real high seas. We'll be gone a couple or three days."
Nathan's voice betrayed a hint of nervousness. For all his maritime training and experience, this trip to the Northlands was Nathan's first experience at sailing upon salt water. So far he and his colleagues had stayed in the calm waters within the line of skerries just off the coast which created a sheltered inner passage which was safe for fishing boats and coastal craft. Only stout oceanic vessels ventured beyond those sheltered waters even unto the Polar Isles.
That night it was Nathan's turn to be with Eike. He led Eike back to his quarters and kissed him gently. Eike melted into Nathan's arms. The press of their bodies left no doubt about their mutual ardor.
Touching his index finger to his lips to silence him, Nathan slowly stripped the trembling youth. Still looking like sixteen going on seventeen thanks to druidical healing magic. Eike blushed as Nathan removed his clothing and touched him in all his private places. Nathan stroked the lovely young body standing before him then led Eike over to the bed.
Nathan laid a trail of kisses from lips to nipples to chest and belly and down to his manly parts. Now Nathan was well practiced in pleasuring a boy with oral service. Eike's cock was already engorged and rigid, cantilevered over his flat belly. Nathan tongued the head and the shaft and then the balls before returning his attentions to the glans. He licked the head and poked the tiny slit with the tip of his tongue.
Nathan's oral ministrations soon had the boy at the brink of release. The trigger was when Nathan bore down and took in the cock to the root. Nathan nearly swooned as he felt his member engulfed in the wet warmth of Nathan's mouth and throat. Raising his head a little Nathan sucked and pumped the cock for a bit then poked a finger into Eike's nether hole to stroke his joy knot which triggered Eike's eruption. Even after Eike's cock started to soften Nathan kept it in his mouth tonguing the sweet spot and making the boy shudder with painful pleasure.
"And here you've always denied that you were ticklish, Eike." Nathan chided facetiously
"That's not the same thing, Nathan, and you know it."
After a break for Eike to catch his breath, Nathan mounted him face to face with the boy's calves thrown over his shoulders. His rhythmic thrusts quickly brought both of them to orgasm. It was often that way with boys their age, not taking long to reach climax and ready sooner than you might think for seconds and thirds.
The next night it was Liam's turn with Eike. Liam's lovemaking technique capitalized on his telekinetic gift to lift, hold, maneuver, and turn his partner in ways that defied gravity, adding an extra dimension to his and Eike's couplings. With physiques enhanced by druidical healing magic, and with supercharged teenage sex drives the lovers could go at it time and time again and still come back for more.
Still they were all there to work. Eike spent a lot of time at the shipyards not only reviewing plans but also scrambling over ships under construction. He became a familiar sight to the local ship builders: a pretty boy running around in next to nothing, just a breechclout and moccasins with a tool belt hung from his hips as he climbed the framing and hauled himself up lines as agile as a monkey.
Their naval architects explained why the ships they built were so sturdy. The first reason was their frames were cross ribbed. In the Commonwealth ribs were built perpendicular to the keel. In the North, pairs of ribs criss-crossed at the keel, their ends braced against the pairs fore and aft.
The second reason was that wood from the live oak was used for key components. The tree was called that because it was an evergreen species of oak. The lumber from live oak was specifically used to make curved structural members of the hull, such as knee braces which supported the ship's deck. The lumber was cut so that the line of the grain would be perpendicular to the lines of stress, creating a structure of exceptional strength.
Live oak was not used for planking. Live oak trees were short and had low branches. Their trunks often had a curved and convoluted shape which did not lend itself to being milled into planking. Instead planks were made of red oak or white oak instead. Those trees grew straight and tall and yielded trunk sections straight enough and long enough for sawing into planks.
It wasn't all work and no play at the shipyards and autogyro manufactories or at sea for the sailors. The Commonwealth contingent had ample chances for diversion and recreation and companionship.
Besides swimming in the warm water of the fjord Eike, Nathan, Liam, Drew had brought the paddle boards they had been taught to use by the Medkari living around the Lesser Inland Freshwater Sea. Both a sport and a means to travel short distances over water, the pointed board supported a standing rider who propelled himself with a paddle. Fetchers like Drew and Liam could just push the board along telekinetically. Though they moved their boards telekinetically Drew and Liam also wielded the paddles though only for balance.
Upright posture put one's physique totally on display, making it visible from all angles and not in a static pose but in a kinetic spectacle of energy and motion. Which was why it was one of Drew's favorite aquatic diversions, shameless showoff that he was. Drew's attitude was that boys like him practically had an obligation to share the physical beauty nature had graced them with. Which is why he spent so much time out doors in the nude, running, swimming, flinging the Zinger, or just lying on the grass with a good book in his hands, enjoying the way the sun's rays warmed his shoulders and bared buns.
For all the interest they aroused paddle boards didn't catch on among the people of Nordstrand. Frost Giants were just too big to ride them. A flat wooden board large enough to float a Frost Giant had to be much bigger than a boat. A chunk of wood floats by the buoyancy derived from modest difference in density between water and wood. A boat takes advantage of the fact that the water its hull displaces is eight hundred times heavier than the air which fills it below the water line.
Another diversion they had learned from the Medkari was to hang on to a swim board while propelling it telekinetically. A fetcher could zoom across the surface of the water as fast as he could run on land leaving a wake strong enough to rock small boats. The short boards had handholds for two passengers so everyone joined in the fun with Drew and Liam, providing the propulsive power.
Even Finn stripped down and plunged in to take part, only he nailed a couple of horseshoes to his board so he could propel it magnetically. His example did get the locals interested. When fully immersed their bodies were neutrally buoyant and could float well enough. Even if there were proportionally fewer fetchers and masters of magnetism among them compared to other races, quite a few were able to join in the fun.
By partnering with a fetcher or a master of magnetism, anyone could enjoy the sensation of flying underwater by holding on to a swim board while his partner moved the board in three dimensions, diving, turning, even rolling it as they traveled underwater for as long as they could hold their breath, a feat everyone could manage for at least three minutes given their high level of fitness and or magical enhancements. The twins especially loved the way the flow of water caressed every part of their bodies at once.
Using shin fins and goggles, the boys explored the coral reef at the outlet of the fjord. Shin fins made of flexible sheet metal were strapped to the ankle. They reached from just back of the toes halfway to the knees, folding around the lower leg yet flaring out to the sides. The downstroke of the scissor or flutter kick delivered the full power of a kick from the hips instead of just from the knees as with swim fins that fit over the feet and with much less back kick and splashing. On the surface the shin fins helped keep the legs horizontal, something the slender boys appreciated since their hard bodies were too dense to float properly.
Swimming at the surface looking down at the reef through their goggles was a lot like flying over a landscape. The reef was spectacular with fish of all shapes and colors, some with false eye spots near their tails to fool predators. They swam singly or in schools,sharing the bounty of the reef amid coral shaped like the horns of a stag, a fan, or the human brain. Lobsters, eels, sponges, sea anemones and brittle stars added to the variety of bizarre life forms. When the swimmers spotted something interesting, they dove for a closer look. The waters of the fjords held no threats thanks to the vigilance of the local dolphins.
Drew was dubious about eating lobster, the local delicacy, despite the urgings of the locals who showed him how to free the meat from the tail and dip it into butter.
"I don't know. The creatures may come from the sea, but they aren't fish. Instead they look like giant bugs only with even more legs than spiders have and nasty looking claws too, plus those icky feelers they wave around just as you drop them into a pot of boiling water."
"Come on, Drew," Liam urged him. "You were just as dubious about locusts in the Hot Lands yet once you tried them you liked them well enough."
"Actually Liam, at Amity I was just being polite."
In the end the wondrous smells induced Drew to give lobster a try. He pronounced the dish absolutely scrumptious and expressed regret that it wouldn't be available back home.
"Maybe not right now," Herjulf Eriksson admitted, "but that could change in the future. There is no reason why live lobsters couldn't be shipped by air freight to the cities of the Commonwealth."
"What a great idea!" Eike enthused. "I happen to know that there is already air freight service to the naval base at Southport on the Southern Ocean. Here is a commercial opportunity we should seize. Let's have our business agent Lennart set up a company to supply lobster to the luxury market in the Commonwealth. And I know just where to introduce lobster to the public: the Sign of the Whale."
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