Elf Boy's Friends - V
In the mountains west of Elysion, a black panther crouched up a tree above a much-used game trail. The creature was hungry but patient, confident that suitable prey would come by before very long. And if not, well he could wait. Stalk and pounce predators learn patience. The panther had already ignored a fat bustard he might have taken earlier simply because he did not care to deal with feathers. The meat on deer and antelopes was so much easier to get at.
Sure enough less than an hour later three antelope trotted by, a mother and two yearlings who looked nearly full grown and about ready to strike out on their own. Alas, one of them never would. The panther dropped from the tree onto a the back of the third animal in line. Digging in with his claws to hold on, he bit through its spine, killing the creature instantly. It was a merciful killing inspired not by his animal instincts but by his human ones.
For this black panther was no mere predatory beast. It was the animal form of a human being, the shapeshifter Sir Aodh of Llangollen, sometime minstrel and spouse of the nobleman Count Taitos Klarendes, Lord-Zamindar of Elysion and Count of the Eastern March.
All shape shifters became uneasy and irritable if they stayed too long in their human shape and ignored the call of the wild. Ten days earlier Aodh had realized that it was time for him to go on walkabout, which for a wir meant an extended hunt since all wirs were predators of one sort of another: panthers, jaguars, leopards, lions, tigers, bears, and so forth. It was better to be at the top of the food chain than a rung or two below. Still the smaller hunters had to watch out for their bigger brothers who just might hunt them. There was no professional courtesy among predators. Anything smaller was literally fair game.
That wasn't much of a problem for Aodh. His acute senses and preternaturally quick reflexes let him avoid any creature he did not care to tangle with. And if he had to fight, his innate magic made him more than twice as strong as his size suggested. Maybe he could not overpower a larger foe but he could surprise it, get clear, and take off.
Then there was his extraordinary agility. With legs proportionally the longest of the big cats even a normal tawny panther could jump forty feet (12 m) horizontally and nearly half that vertically, but Aodh could do much better than that. And over short distances he could outrun an antelope.
Besides Aodh always had the option to just climb out of harm's way. With his lighter weight and powerful forequarters and sharp claws on all four feet he was a better climber than bigger cats. Once in the treetops he could travel considerable distances never touching the ground. Even where tree boughs did not interlock he could jump to the trunk of the next forest giant and continue on his way.
Which was why he had carried his kill up into the trees to dine in peace. Much later the growling of a dire wolf woke him up from his post-prandial nap. Against a foe so much bigger and stronger discretion was the better part of valor. True he had once killed a dire wolf in single combat, but that had been to protect a six year old boy who had wandered too far into the woods. Though Aodh had won the battle, it had nearly cost him his life. The stakes were much lower now, just the half-eaten carcass of an antelope. The panther dropped the remains of his kill to the ground to occupy the dire wolf while he traveled via the forest's aerial highway to a glade some distance away where he descended to the ground.
The next day Aodh came upon a trio of hunters out for boar. They were clearly a practiced team. The two sturdy blond youths in the lead were armed with boar spears and were trailed by a tall raven-haired archer with a powerful recurved bow which was standard tactics on a boar hunt. Though they moved quietly through the woods they were upwind of the panther who had caught their scent before they came into sight and approached carefully. Changing into his human form Aodh stepped behind a tree for cover and called out:
"Hello the hunt!"
The trio spun around, the archer drawing his arrow to his ear just in case.
"Who is there?" he called. "Stand forth and declare yourself."
"Gladly, once you stop pointing that arrow my way."
Nodding the archer relaxed his bow and held it down to his side.
Aodh stepped out from behind the tree and walked up to the hunters.
"Hello there, friend. My name is Aodh. As you can see I am unarmed."
"I'm Brandon, and these are my cousins Garret and Lorn. We are hunting boar. I have to wonder though what are you doing in these parts? You are certainly no hunter, and where are your clothes and gear?"
Actually I am a hunter, though of a different sort. As for not having clothes or gear, I like to travel light."
"Light? That's putting it mildly. You're out and about in the woods bare-assed naked and without a weapon in your hand or a pack on your back. Not that I am complaining. You are easily the prettiest boy I ever laid eyes on, but a little guy like shouldn't be tramping about these woods alone and unarmed. You'd better stick with us. Wild boar are the least of your problems. Tracks we came across earlier today indicate that there is a panther in the area. So take care."
"Thanks for the warning, but that panther is no threat to me. Not at all."
"Oh? How can you be so sure?"
"Because I am shapeshifter, and I made those tracks myself.
"I see. That's quite a trick, shapeshifting. Our own magical gifts are much more modest. I can see in the dark or rather dim light like a cat; Garret has the gift of unerring direction; and Lorn can throw electrum sparks."
"Sparks, eh? Just like a friend of mine, a friend of a friend really. We call him Sparky."
"It's getting late with no real sign of a boar, so why don't we pack it in and return to camp?"
As Brandon's cousins nodded agreement he asked:
"Aodh, would you care to join us?"
"Sure. I could use the company. Understand I wouldn't be much use against a boar. They are too massive for a predator my size. Also they are mean-tempered, and their tusks can disembowel a foe in an instant."
"Right. Boars are hard to kill, which is why a boar spear has a cross piece to keep the animal at bay. Stick an ordinary spear in a boar and it will keep on coming, letting the spear push right into or even through its body just so it can get at the hunter. My job with the bow is to put an arrow through its heart once my muscular friends have speared it and fixed it in place."
"You know, for cousins, you don't look very much alike."
"That is because those two are of entirely human stock while my father is an elf."
"That explains the killer cheekbones, one of the features that has always attracted me to young elves."
"You're not so bad looking yourself, Aodh." the handsome archer said with a grin and a wink.
"You and your boys!" Garret said shaking his head.
"Well I am half elf, am I not?"
"Garret and Lorn consort exclusively with the female half of the species," Brandon explained.
"You make that sound like a personal failing." Lorn grumbled good-naturedly.
"Don't mind those two. They just like to tease me about my preference for pretty boys, and you certainly are that, Aodh."
"I can see where this is heading." Garrett confided to Lorn with a nod.
Brandon and Aodh grinned then flirted shamelessly all the way to the hunters' camp which lay only a short walk away.
Instead of tents the hunters had set two rain canopies over beds made from blankets laid atop leafy boughs. Stones had been set in a circle to contain the campfire and the hunters had cleared the area around it of combustibles lest a spark start a wildfire. A nearby brook furnished water and even a place to bathe. The hunters had hung their food cache by a rope from a tree some hundred paces away, on the opposite side from the sanitary trench the trio had dug, standard practice to avoid drawing bears into the camp itself. All in all it was a simple but comfortable ecampment.
The cousins volunteered to handle the camp chores, which gave Aodh and Brandon the chance to get better acquainted. The pair sat with their backs to one of the forest giants and told each other something of their backgrounds. Brandon and his cousins hunted boar, deer, elk, and other game to supply wild game to the kitchens of a several of the mountain resorts scattered in scenic spots on the western slopes of the Eastern Mountains. Aodh spoke of his origins in the land of the wirs and of his idyllic life in Elysion, of his spouse and friends and something of his past adventures.
"You don't care to tangle with a boar yet you tell me that you have killed both a dire wolf and a Frost Giant in single combat. Why would an overgrown pig be any harder?"
"With a boar there is no way my claws and fangs can get at its vitals, buried as they are in a mass of bone, muscle, and gristle. And a boar is so low to the ground I cannot get at its belly."
"The fight with the dire wolf almost killed me. I lost so much blood that I was too weak to transform which would have knitted my wounds and healed me. The Healer's magic could do only so much for me; it worked best on humans. She did stop the bleeding and prevented infection and nursed me along till I was recovered enough to invoke my own magic to transform and heal."
"And the Frost Giant?" Brandon prompted.
"A bit of luck there too. The Frost Giant did not see me crouched atop the watch tower guarding my spouse Taitos. Just for a moment he looked over to the other giant who was with him, smiling because he thought they had caught Taitos while he was intent on destroying centaurs. In that moment of inattention I launched myself across the gap so I was on the giant almost before he realized what was happening. I tore his eyes out and slashed his jugulars. He would have bled to death if Taitos, that is Count Klarendes, had not cut him in half with white fire."
"White fire, eh? This count Klarendes sounds like a bad man to cross. You sure he won't mind our having a tryst?"
"Not at all. First he is not the possessive type, and anyway, a walkabout is a time out from normal life. We wirs always say that what happens on walkabout stays on walkabout."
Though mismatched in height Brandon and Aodh made a fine-looking couple. The handsome hunter stood head and shoulders above the diminutive wir and had the smooth musculature and willowy build of an elf. A young man in his very early twenties, he had the dark hair, fine-boned features, slender build and taut musculature characteristic of elves. Deeply tanned from constant exposure to the sun, he exuded good health and sex appeal.
Looking no more than sixteen Aodh was the epitome of a boy in the bloom of youth. A melding of the innocent and the wanton, small, skinny, and smooth muscled, cute as a kitten, with skin like porcelain, and looking utterly fragile and vulnerable, though the epicene youth was easily twice as strong as he looked. A thatch of dark hair framed a face that hinted at the feline side of his nature with its pointy chin and green eyes shaped like almonds, set above a pretty fair set of cheekbones of his own.
Although in his animal form he sported a complete coat of black fur, in his human form he had no facial or body hair, not even at the fork of his legs. And like elf-boys, druids, and humans enhanced by druidic and healing magic, he had only one kind of sweat glands, the kind that produced perspiration but not the oils which turned rancid and produced body odor, something that might give him away to his prey.
The brothers Garret and Lorn moved their shelter to the other side of the fire so that once night fell Brandon and Aodh would have a modicum of privacy. Not that the sounds of lusty sexual congress would not carry all across the small clearing their camp was in, but out of sight was halfway out of mind.
Aodh was just the sort of boy who appealed to Brandon: cute as a kitten, athletic and energetic, and utterly uninhibited in bed. And for such a little guy Aodh was incredibly strong, actually a bit stronger than Brandon himself. Fortunately Aodh was very much a bottom boy, happy to have Brandon cover him like a stallion does a filly or to take him face to face which his slender legs thrown over the shoulders of the handsome hunter as he thrust into his hole. Brandon was very well endowed, so much so that some of his partners had had trouble taking him all the way. No such problem for the pretty little wir who could take everything Brandon could give him and beg for more. Good thing too, for Brandon was a stud who recouped quickly and came back for seconds and thirds.
At one point Brandon allowed Aodh to top, in a manner of speaking. Brandon stretched out on his back and had Aodh go to his knees and straddle the half-elf's recumbent form, slipping his rampant cock into Aodh's hungry hole. The pretty wir rode that cock for all he was worth while Brandon's hands roamed all over his chest and belly and toyed with his nipples and cock. He bent Aodh's stiff prick till it lay flat only to let spring back and slap his belly. Eventually all the stimulation got to the pretty little wir and he started shooting his spunk all over the elf-boy's face and belly. The contractions of his quim set Brandon off, filling the wir's innards with his gism.
Afterwards Aodh snuggled in Brandon's lap, left side against his broad chest, as the tall hunter stroked and petted him, running his strong hands along the chevron of the boy's ribs, fingering the sharp hip bones, sliding down the smooth skin of his thighs then back up to fondle his buttocks. The cat in Aodh loved the attention and the petting. His supple body was meant to be touched and stroked. And even in human form, Aodh could purr softly when contented, as after sex or a good meal. It was one of his most endearing characteristics.
The next day Aodh helped his new friends track a boar. They had good tracking skills themselves, but the panther combined the keen senses of a predator with a human intelligence. It wasn't hard to find the spoor of a boar in those woods.
Aodh's keen senses helped them detect the ambush the wily boar had laid for them when it doubled back on his trail then burst out of a thicket and charged the hunters. Aodh reared up and snarled to distract the boar just long enough for the spearmen to set themselves to receive its charge. Even after it ran onto Lorn's spear its legs kept churning, scrabbling at the ground in an effort to close with his enemy and gore him with his tusks. Garret stabbed it in the ribs from the right while Brandon put two arrows into it from the left side which finally put the boar down.
The brothers cut a sapling for a pole, slung the dressed carcass from it, and hoisted it onto their shoulders. As the hunters headed out, Aodh reminded them:
"Elision is not all that far away, so if you ever get over to our neck of the woods, all three of you, you would be welcomed as guests at the manor house."
"What about the rule that what happens on walkabout stays on walkabout?" Brandon asked.
"The rule means that our tryst last night has to be a one-time thing. Walkabout is one thing; Elysion is home."
"Fair enough. As for a visit, we shall see, kitten. We shall see."
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