Elf Boy's Friends - VII

by George Gauthier

Chapter 8

Shaping

"It seems your group is one short. Where is the young naval architect Eike and why hasn't he joined you to celebrate your reunion?" Konrad Quentin asked.

It was Corwin who answered.

"Eike is working on armaments to help us fight the war. Just what they are none of us knows. It's all very hush hush."

"Why such secrecy? The trolls do not speak our language nor can they read what is in our news-papers. And with their distinctive body shapes and physiognomies, they could hardly send spies among us to ferret out our military secrets."

"Maybe not troll spies but what about humans forced to work for them while their families are held hostage?" Corwin suggested.

"Hostage? Don't they just kill every human, elf, giant, and dwarf who falls into their hands?"

"They did so at first, yes, but now they sometimes enslave those who are useful such as sailors of captured sailing vessels. Of course, once the captives are no longer useful to the trolls they too get the chop. Literally!"

"Oh?"

"Trolls favor the axe over the sword." Liam explained.

"Little good axes will do them once I loose my ball lightning at them." Corwin said confidently. "Metal axe heads are excellent conductors of electricity. So the weapons they threaten me with will only make it easier to kill them."

"On the offensive I can zip my balls of lightning back and forth and left and right, something like Drew's steel spheres but a lot slower, taking out a score of foes at one fell swoop. With just a touch the electric charge will stop their hearts, and when a ball engulfs a foe, the intense heat turns him into a crispy critter. On the defensive, a ball of lightning three or four feet across serves as a darn good missile shield against, arrows, quarrels, or slung bullets."

"I've been practicing a new technique where I juggle three lightning balls at once, either two up front on offense and one on defense to the side or back, or the other way round. Alternatively I turn the third globe into an area weapon, exploding it into a hundred fist-sized balls of lightning to maybe stop a cavalry charge or open a breach in a shield wall."

"That's very clever of you Corwin, finding new ways to use you gift."

"It's not entirely really my doing Jemsen. I chanced upon a mention of the technique in Drew's newsletter 'Magic' then I followed up with research in the library of the Institute. Before he left for the front Axel showed me how to find the materials that would enlighten me on the subject."

The proprietor frowned. "I understood you were to be a war correspondent, Corwin, not a soldier. Yet here you are talking tactics."

"Knowing how headstrong my colleague can be," Drew said, "I suspect that at some point he will throw his powers onto the balance and join the fight rather than simply observe and report it."

"As you yourself did, Drew, in battles against centaurs and trolls, when you were just a cub reporter." Corwin reminded him. "Besides, I am a member of the militia. All war correspondents are activated during their time with the forces, putting them under military authority and control."

"But I had another purpose in my researches: how to use my gift constructively so I too might be called up for rescue work like Drew. And Jemsen and Karel have used their mastery of earth and air magic to control floods and wildfires. I want to help people too."

"Good for you, Corwin." Axel said in support.

Suddenly Nathan stood up and pointed:

"Look! It's Eike!"

Wearing only the skimpiest of loincloths, which for Eike was practically formal wear, the young naval architect ran up and embraced Nathan and held him in a clinch that spoke of how much he missed the naval officer who had rescued him, became his best friend, and in time, his lover. They made a fine looking couple, a slender redhead in naval blues and a cute and very nearly nude blond boy.

Eike was slightly built, slender, and smooth muscled. Though almost nineteen he looked to be no more than sixteen and would stay that way for centuries thanks to druidical healing magic. Far prettier than any boy rightly ought to be, he had a flawless complexion and fine boned features including a broad brow that hinted at his intellect, high cheekbones, a straight nose, plus subtly pointed ears and chin which gave him an elfin appearance, His large green eyes were set wide apart under finely arched brows, their lashes too long to have ever have been meant for a male.

Nathan held him at arms' length to evaluate the changes since they had last seen each other,

"I am surprised Eike that you haven't turned pasty white from all those hours indoors in your office and workshop that are keeping you working late."

Eike had the tawny skin of someone who habitually went about in the nude, as indeed he had done for five years as a castaway after his clothing had rotted away.

"Ha! We don't build ships indoors, you know. As a naval architect, I am always scrambling about the yards and the scaffolding as the ships rise on the ways or inspecting new lots of lumber and so forth. And I am often out at the proving grounds to test my inventions. And then there is all the running and swimming I do to stay fit and keep my body pleasing for those who fancy pretty youths with hard bodies."

"In that regard do you have anyone in particular in mind?" Nathan asked slyly.

"While I do like to tempt the many who gaze at me with longing in their hearts I reserve myself for a select few, including a certain naval officer who hasn't had the sense to kiss me yet."

Taking his cue, Nathan pressed his lips and body against the youth who had won his heart.

"Get a room!" someone shouted from the bar.

"We will!" Eike shouted back then turned his attention back to his Nathan. When they finally came up for air, the couple sat together at the table where Liam and Axel began plying Eike with questions about not only about his work but also about his newly manifested magical gift. Eike's long awaited gift had developed while the trio were away on campaign. They had only read about in letters.

"Mine is the rare gift called Shaping. It lets me work with solid materials like metal, stone, or wood and form them without tools, which is why the gift is called Shaping. 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."

"With practice I have learned to create complex mechanisms like clock works made of many different parts. In fact the clock on my mantlepiece has just such a mechanism which I installed in a wooden case I had built for it by a joiner."

"My gift was a long time in coming, but this one fits perfectly with who I am and what I do. What better gift can there be for an inventor and tinkerer? Ideas are easy to come by. They just pop into your head. The hard part is putting the idea to work and making a prototype out of often recalcitrant materials. With Shaping I can make anything I can think up, try it out, and make corrections and improvements, speeding up the cycle of trial and error by a factor of ten."

"Of course, shaping is just for the prototypes and models. To turn out any great quantity of my gadgets takes a suitably tooled manufactory. So a lot of thought goes into making the components easy to manufacture and assemble. Ease of maintenance is also an important consideration. You want to make things easy to fix even out in the field."

"As 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, which lets me use standard hardware components like screws and nuts and bolts, gears, bushings, and housings. Exact dimensions are absolutely vital for mass production which require exactness, close tolerances, and standardization, as you can imagine."

"I can also take the measurements of anything I turn my attention to. For instance, I can tell you the diameter of this table we are sitting around to a tiny fraction of an inch. And I know exactly how far I am from any distant point I can see. It that respect my gift is supplementary to a gift of Unerring Direction."

"That sounds great, Eike," Drew asked, "but these devices you have invented gotta be more important than another bunch of toys."

"My new inventions have military uses, but don't knock toys. Aren't toys a part of a happy childhood? The toy business is lucrative; it is almost magical the way it turns wood and tin into gold!"

Eike's new company, Thyssen Toys, had burst upon the market a year earlier with an hot line of innovative toys. Eike was the owner and the creative force behind the company though with his commitment to the Navy and to naval architecture, he himself was too busy to manage the business. Eike's business agent, the wily dwarf Lennart had recruited a manager with experience in the toy business to supervise operations. Manufacturing was contracted out, but the firm handled design, art work, promotion, wholesale sales, and so forth.

Eike described for the friends returned from Amazonia just what his toy business entailed.

One of the simplest of his toys was a model aeroplane made of balsa wood which a kid could assemble in a moment then pitch into the air and watch it sail downrange or even loop the loop. Another was the returning boomerang, an airfoil made of wood. Originating as a hunting weapon in ancient times, the uneven flow of air over its bent shape made it return it to the thrower's hand in a way reminiscent of Finn Ragnarson's war hammer Mjolnir.

The company's line of toy trains was a huge seller. The model trains were especially popular with fetcher families as a foretaste of the lucrative career they might one day have pushing freight wagons or street cars along iron roads. Some very young children could muster enough telekinetic strength to push the toy trains along the tracks themselves. If not, then the youngsters watched while their older brothers or dads did the honors. Normal kids had to move the trains with the hands, which was less realistic though still a lot of fun.

Toy train sets enjoyed vigorous after-market sales for components like extra track, switches and sidings, rolling stock, and buildings and human/elven/giant/dwarf figures cast in tin to scale. (The company also offered a line of tin soldiers and sailors.) The buildings were made of stiff paper stock which could be folded and glued into the right shape to look like a depot, a townhouse, a commercial building, a farmhouse, a barn, and so forth. Not out on the market yet was an urban layout for street cars instead of long distance freight trains.

The most important toy, though his friends did not yet realize it, was the gyro, a wooden blade or propeller on a shaft which a kid could spin by pulling on a cord wrapped around the shaft. Upon release from its holder it would lift into the sky.

"OK enough about toys. What about your work for the Navy. Are you finally going to share with the rest of us?"

"Ha! There speaks the inquiring reporter."

"Drew is not the only one who is burning with curiosity." Karel asserted vehemently. "Karel and I are bursting with questions!"

"Why am I not surprised?" Eike teased then announced grandiloquently:

"Friends, enlightenment is at hand. Tomorrow, all shall be revealed. Repair to my workshop. There you shall see that which I have wrought. And yes, Drew and Corwin, it is all for publication."

"Hoorah!" the pair of journalists and the twins chorused together.

After their meal everyone returned to their residential hotel where Eike and Nathan did get a room together, namely Eike's bedchamber in the suite of rooms he shared with the naval officer and the war wizard. The trio of Drew, Axel, and Corwin Klarendes shared the adjoining suite on the left, while the twins were in the suite to the right, their living space forming a U at one end of the third floor of the hotel.

Just recently the management had agreed to their request to combine the three suites into a single set of rooms. Workmen erected a partition in the hallway isolating their living space from the other suites on that floor, leaving only the one door giving out onto the public corridor from the section of hallway that became their new foyer. The workmen then cut doorways and took down non-load bearing walls to connect and open up the old foyers, sitting rooms, and studies of the three suites, allowing all eight residents to circulate freely throughout their space.

The mostly rattan furnishings belonged to the hotel which prevent stylistic clashes though pictures hung on the walls and souvenir and objets d'art differed from room to room. Shade-tolerant ferns and fronds and cycads provided soothing green accents to the mostly tan and dark wood decor.

More than just friends, more than just lovers, the eight youths were virtually a family who shared their common space just as they shared their lives and their bodies. Each had his own bedchamber, but seldom slept alone, instead sleeping together in a constantly shifting constellation of pairs and trios of lovers.

At home they usually went around in the nude, letting the uniforms or garments they had to wear for professional reasons hang in their wardrobes and closets until required. They did dress for dinner in the dining room on the ground floor and for forays into Twinkle Town.

The boys thought nothing of leaving their quarters in the nude and taking the outside stairwell to lounge in the garden or stretch out on the grass, perhaps while reading or chatting with friends, their hard young bodies totally and (mostly) unselfconsciously on display. Later they might head over to the running trails in the park, only to return afterwards for a quick douche under the outdoor showers and then a swim in the pool, all the while remaining as nature had made them.

Living in a tropical climate in a society that had long since given up nudity taboos, clothing was optional for young males in many situations. Except when swaddled as infants, children never wore clothing. At puberty youths might elect to wear a silk modesty pouch or a brief loincloth as visible signs of their coming of age or to establish some social distance from potential suitors. Many seldom bothered with even that much.

Thus nudity was the rule for all forms of sports and exercise and many forms of sweaty labor or just when relaxing. The public parks were full of young males strutting their stuff and repairing to bowers specially planted to facilitate impromptu trysts.

As members of the armed forces, Nathan and Liam would wear Navy blue silks when on duty, though Liam would always stand watch in the crow's perch in the nude. Axel typically dressed in a sarong and moccasins for work at the Institute though he switched to Army greens when on campaign. The two journalists wore their smart professional outfits of white silk at the offices of the Capital Intelligencer or when out on interviews.

As for the twins, since the age of fifteen when they had been adopted into a clan of elves they had mostly gone about skin-clad, like elven males. On formal occasions they wrapped sarongs around their hips, color coded so everyone could tell them apart. Jemsen always wore green and Karel blue.

From childhood and his years as a castaway Eike had even less use for clothing than the twins, hence his simple loincloth as professional wear. The skimpy garment, if you could call it that, was a single narrow panel of buckskin passed between the legs and flipped over a leather thong tied around his hips, leaving him next thing to naked. It also made it quick and easy to get entirely naked for a night of fun and frolic with the lover he had longed for during the months Nathan was away on campaign.

That night Nathan and Eike made up for lost time and then some, joining their bodies in all the ways that healthy young males can to express the love and passion they felt for each other.

Nathan and Eike's relationship had matured slowly. At first Nathan had cautioned the sexually innocent fifteen year old castaway about the attentions that a cute blond boy like him would attract. He wanted the boy to make his own choices, not be inveigled into pleasuring sweet talking sailors. Warned to keep their hands off, the crew of the Petrel soon warmed to the young innocent, coming to regard him as a sort of ship's mascot. Indeed they guarded him against untoward advances.

Once on the mainland the boy had bloomed and come into his own. In time Eike did make his own choices. And Eike had realized first that he preferred boys to girls and second that he fancied one boy in particular: his rescuer and mentor and best friend Nathan Lathrop.

Both youths had had their constitutions enhanced by druidical healing magic which provided them with longevity and perpetual youth, acute senses, resistance to disease and strong healing powers. It also came with a stronger sex drive, as if those two needed it. Their doubled strength and stamina made for energetic, acrobatic, and loud marathon sessions of lovemaking. Good thing for the thick walls.

Eike was very much a bottom boy. He liked nothing better than to make love face to face with his legs thrown over Nathan's shoulders while the sailor thrust into him, impaling the boy on his manhood. All the while they could kiss, feel each other up, and drink in the youthful male beauty of their lover.

Nathan also liked to flip the boy on his belly, firm curvaceous buns uppermost, and mount him from behind. As his cock slid in and out of Eike's quim it would hit the boy's joy knot, setting his whole body to shuddering helplessly with unalloyed pleasure. Eike would plead for a chance to catch his breath, but when Nathan would ask if the boy really wanted him to stop, Eike would tell him no, of course not, that he wanted Nathan to continue, to keep at it no matter how lightheaded Eike became — even if he swooned, as he sometimes did.

Nathan liked to tease his lover, to bring him just to the point of release then ease off, stroking more slowly, keeping him on the edge, delirious with lustful pleasures. Eventually one or the other would climax triggering the other's orgasm as well. If Eike came first, the muscles in his quim would spasm, squeezing and gripping Nathan's cock, rubbing the sweet spot behind the glans and setting him off. Or Nathan would climax first and shoot his hot seed deep into Eike. The sensation of wet warmth filling his innards set the boy off too.

As for Axel, yes that eager young wizard's aide did get first dibs on Liam that night and made good use of his opportunity.

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