Elf Boy's Friends - VII
Two days later the party of eleven stepped through a portal created by Dahl to the large square in front of the palace in the capital city of the Amazons, a fair sized town really. A military parade was in progress, with battalions of infantry and cavalry and support troops passing in review before the Queen and the members of her governing council. All the soldiers were large women who looked to be tough and well-drilled. The logistical forces were male.
Trumpets brought the parade to a halt as all eyes turned toward the strangers. A high official left the reviewing stand and hurried towards them, the soldiers parting to let her through. They watched with hope on their faces, correctly surmising that the humans and elves who appeared in so magical a manner must those their queen had sent for.
Nevertheless, to establish their bona fides, Owain gestured dramatically to create a break in the low clouds to let a shaft of sunlight fall on the travelers. Onlookers took that as an augury of good fortune. Surely these figures bathed in light were demigods sent to succor them in their hour of need.
Addressing Sir Willet, whom she took to be their leader, she told them:
"Welcome strangers. I am Lady Vannsetta, Chair of of the Governing Council. May I know your names."
"This is our leader." Sir Willet said indicating Owain who was standing at his side.
"Excuse me. I just assumed that the most senior of you would be in charge, or if not you then this gentleman of noble bearing with you", meaning Count Klarendes
"Don't be fooled by appearances or the touch of gray at my temples. Lord Owain is a druid. He may look like a teenager with head of lustrous strawberry blond hair, but he has nearly passed the two century mark. I myself am little more than a quarter his age. And the studly teenager with the snow white hair has lived for a thousand years, though only the last decade or so as an elf-boy. Before that the druid Meirionnydd wore the form of a unicorn."
"Remarkable. That would explain why his hair is the color of fair weather clouds, which is how we describe what some folk compare to snow, something unknown in this country."
Owain took it from there and introduced the members of their party. After which Lady Vannsetta lead them into the palace for a meeting with the queen.
She received them cordially.
"I greet strangers whom I trust will soon become friends plus one who is not a stranger at all. Hello Dahl. You haven't changed a bit in a dozen years. But then druids don't age, do they?
"No we don't my lady. Nor, it would seem, do Amazon queens."
"Thank you for your gallantry, Dahl, but I expect our troubles have permanently engraved worry lines on my visage."
"That is why we have come, to ease your worries by countering the impending attack of the trolls. I have to say that I expected a degree of hostility from you, given my role in upsetting your social order."
"Not just our social order. You touched off a political, economic, military, and cultural revolution."
"Of course I was furious at first and dismissed the letter you left behind to explain and justify your actions, though I never blamed you for destroying the battalion my headstrong and cruel daughter set upon you. Whatever our grievances with you, she had no call to slaughter the innocent crew of that logging barge or a servant I myself had set free and to whom I had granted safe passage to the outer world."
"In time I came to accept the inevitability of change and to prepare for it, to adjust as best we might. I had hoped for three generations of peace for my people to make the inevitable adjustments. That was not to be. Now our society has become militarized to a degree I regret but accept as necessary as long as the trolls threaten our very existence."
"But you all must be tired from your long journey. Please accept the hospitality of the palace. Lady Vannsetta and the steward will show you to your lodgings where you may refresh yourselves. Later, at dinner, we shall talk and get to know one another and try to establish trust and confidence among us. Tomorrow is soon enough to confer on the strategic situation and on how your Commonwealth might help us."
Actually the travelers weren't tired at all. Stepping through a portal let them avoid the fatigue of long distance travel. Nevertheless, they withdrew from their audience with the queen and repaired to the suite of guest rooms placed at their disposal to bathe and change from their travel garb to their dress uniforms.
The connected suite of rooms were simply but comfortably furnished and featured large windows looking onto a well-tended rose garden. A water closet and shower room were en suite. The accommodations came with a pair of pages, Hylas and Hakkon, cute red-heads in their mid-teens who stood ready to provide any and all services that might be required, which the guests understood to mean the pages were also available for sex.
Like all youthful males in the land of the Amazons the page boys were nude though without the gold rings that would once have constrained their manhoods.
For the benefit of the pages Axel ran down the names of the eleven guests ending with: "And these two fabulously sexy blonds would be the famous twins Jemsen and Karel."
Stumped looks appeared on the cute faces of the pages.
"Er sir, no offense, but what are these twins famous for?"
That brought an "Ouch!" from Karel while in answer to their question Jemsen pointed to the three small blue tattoos on their left shoulders.
"We are the only humans alive to bear tattoos certifying us as to be elf-friends, dwarf-friends, and giant friends all three, hence persons to whom all three races will automatically extend their hospitality and protection."
The pages shrugged.
"We don't have elves, dwarves, or giants in this country, sirs, only humans.
Karel and Jemsen looked so chagrined that Corwin burst out laughing. After a moment the twins saw the humor in the situation too and joined in, though their laughter had a distinctly rueful tone to it.
"I hope you are not going to mention this in your reporting Corwin." Karel told him severely.
"I cannot believe that you are asking me to violate my journalistic integrity!" Corwin gave back with feigned umbrage.
"And as for you, Axel." Jemsen told the wizard's aide. "Just forget that any of this ever happened."
"How?" Axel asked breezily. Tapping his head he added "Eidetic memory, remember?"
The twins slumped crestfallen and deflated till the pages cheered them up by promising to come back later to "turn down" the twins' bed.
The travelers had chosen the rooms they would take. To the surprise of the palace steward the Klarendes, father and son did not share quarters. Instead the elder Klarendes shared his room and bed with one whom he referred to as his spouse, which the steward realized was a reference to the impossibly cute twink she herself had had her eye on the whole time.
She couldn't help thinking to herself: "Darn! Why are all the supremely cute boys only interested in those of their own gender?" She thought back fondly to the old days when she would not have had to ask.
Another room furnished with two full sized beds accommodated the twins in one bed and Axel and Corwin in the other. The three druids took the third chamber while Sir Willet and Artor perforce were left with the last one, which at least had separate beds. They were after all the only two members of the party who consorted exclusively with the female half of the species.
Later at the appointed time, the visitors went down for dinner looking resplendent in their full dress uniforms.
Dahl, Owain, and Merry donned formal druidic regalia: green tunics, sandals, and cowled camouflage cloaks blown out like wings for dramatic effect by a discreet zephyr Owain called up for the purpose. The trio stood before the queen and struck the most imposing figure possible for pretty boys little more than five feet tall, standing with their feet shoulder-width apart, theirs staffs braced next to their right feet, the long shafts angled away from their bodies and gripped near the top at arm's length.
Sir Willet thought their stance was a bit much, too melodramatic for his tastes but harmless enough. He himself was in his army greens including the leather cuirass with the wooden yoke built into it by which he might take flight. His uniform sported a Combat Mage insignia and badges indicating that he had been Mentioned in Dispatches twice while his sleeve showed no less than three wound stripes earned over the course of long career fighting the eastern barbarians.
His aide Sir Axel Wilde, and newly minted as a war mage in his own right, had seen combat only briefly in the Barren Lands and again in the Eastern Mountains against the orcs but had acquitted himself well enough to earn the Expeditionary Medal for their survey of the Barren Lands and a wound stripe of his own.
At his throat Axel wore an ensorcelled amulet which countered hostile magic. Dahl had one just like it, both taken from beaten foes. It was of no use in a fight against trolls who had no magic of their own though it was just possible that trolls might overcome their repugnance to magic enough to coerce or blackmail human mages into serving them.
The twins too were in full uniform, sleeveless tunics with color coded sashes, green for Jemsen and blue for Karel, with the shoulder pips showing their reserve ranks as captains and badges for two awards of the Military Cross for Valor, the Expeditionary Medal, plus no less than four wound stripes. Even more impressive in most situations were the three small blue tattoos on their shoulders which declared them to be elf-friends, dwarf-friends, and giant friends, though their significance was lost on the locals.
Even Corwin, who looked to be no more than seventeen wore a badge for the Military Cross plus a wound stripe earned during a brief war against the eastern barbarians. Aodh too had won both awards though he never bothered with a wound stripe. What did wounds matter to a shapeshifter who had only to shift to his alternative form to heal all hurts? Only once, after his confrontation with the dire wolf, had he been so grievously wounded that he was too weak to call right away on his magical healing.
Artor wore the buff uniform of a Hand of the Commonwealth with the white kepi with neck flap which was standard headgear for the Dread Hands. Klarendes himself wore his uniform as captain of the local militia. That uniform boasted a badge for the award of the Shield of the Commonwealth, the second highest battle honor the state could bestow. As for the young shape shifter, Aodh wore his forest ranger uniform sporting a camouflage pattern based on Sir Willet's research: brown with splotches and slashes of green and black.
All of the mages sported ribbons for the various wars they had served in: the Troll War, the First and Second Centaur Wars, or the First, Second, and Third War for the Eastern Plains.
None of them carried weapons nor did they need to. They themselves were weapons.
Queen Seerah sat at the head of the table, Owain sat on her right in the place of honor, and Dahl on her left. Merry, Sir Willet, and Axel were at the far end. The rest were in between alternating with the members of the council and three generals.
The palace cooks did themselves proud. Not knowing their visitors' tastes, they provided a selection of well prepared and tasty dishes to appeal to the most diverse of appetites. As Dahl had remembered from his journey, the Amazons ate little red meat preferring fish and fowl. But there were also dishes based on eggs and beans and mushrooms, and the vegetables were cooked to perfection al dente.
Everyone made a point of avoiding talk of the business which had brought them together. Instead they talked of the changes Dahl has set off in Amazon society.
Since Dahl had blighted the herbs that were the basis of the sexual dimorphism which favored Amazon women, all the males born to Amazons were what on the rest of the planet were normal. Their growth and development had not been alchemically retarded. The oldest of the new males and the corresponding smaller females were as yet only eleven years old. So far the major impact on society was on its child rearing practices. Boys were much more of a handful than they had been before, certainly no longer meek and complaisant and dutiful though none had yet reach their difficult teenage years.
The situation of the adult male population was improved in that the virile members of males were no longer ringed and locked to control their sexuality. That had not lead to any increase in sexual congress that led to births since a good many males preferred the company of their own gender to that of their recent oppressors. Anyway the stunted males were still too small to physically dominate females and would always be too unsure of themselves to act aggressively with the other half of the species.
It was still too soon for the institution of marriage as understood on the rest of the planet to become the norm. That was for the coming generations to work out.
For males emancipation did not yet mean they were wholly free of their labor obligations, but they were no longer corralled in labor gangs under the thumb of female overseers nor were they bullied by enforcers wielding batons who had hitherto kept their sort in line. Mostly they now worked for wages though many still lived in communal housing.
Primary education for males was now compulsory rather than merely allowed. Boys started half days at school when they turned five and left school to the end of the year when they turned eleven. Schooling focussed on basic literacy and numeracy plus a bit of geography and the history of their own country. Literacy was the key to further intellectual development since the public libraries were open to males.
Their education was intended to prepare young males for economic roles different from the unskilled labor, really virtual slavery, they had formerly been consigned to though with their greater mechanical aptitudes males had always worked as artificers, artisans, and mechanics.
The plucky ones might forge a future as independent artisans such as joiners or potters or as shopkeepers, truck gardeners, or food cart vendors, the first occupations that offered hope of economic independence, though there were no legal restrictions on jobs for males except for soldiering.
"I have to give your society credit for embracing change they way you have." Dahl commented.
Queen Seerah shrugged.
"Change was inevitable. You made sure of that. Our best chance was to bend with the wind as the grass does rather than stand stiff and resist like an aged forest giant in a storm which gets blown over. Besides our society was frozen in time and would never have found its place in the new world that the Commonwealth is creating with its magic and modern industrial economy thanks to its progress in natural philosophy and the mechanical arts. Your industrial revolution has not touched us, not yet, though I expect it will once the trolls are defeated and we join the wider world."
As they talked around the table, Dahl and the others came to understand how and why the Amazons had created the unique society Dahl had found a dozen years earlier.
Centuries ago a horde of refugees from the far southeast, mostly female and many pregnant fled from lands devastated by war and depopulated by fighting, disease, and starvation. Those males they brought with them were mostly servants, escaped serfs and slaves and younger boys and a few older men.
The migrants left a trail of dead and broken bodies as they crossed hundreds of miles of indefensible country that any foe might invade and conquer till they found a hidden pass through the Great Eastern Barrier Range. Beyond it lay a pleasant and fertile land, protected by the rugged mountains to the east, by its spurs to the north and south, and by impassable swamps to the west. In any event, the lands immediately downriver were lightly or even totally uninhabited except for the vast numbers of brontotheres who roamed those lands unbothered by civilization.
Determined never again to become subjected to male domination, the ancestors of the Amazons selectively bred their males for smaller size and docility, castrating the aggressive or rambunctious boys or those likely to grow up big and strong. In time their alchemists concocted a more merciful way to cull their natural increase, a potion which acted during pregnancy to produce large girls but small boys. And so the Amazon race was born.
"Our land has long been isolated and protected by the sea of reeds which stretches down to where the upper Amazon breaks through it to flow freely, eventually to reach the Great Inland Freshwater Sea. The swamps also extend laterally, north and south, fed by tributaries of the main river which have formed swamps of the own creating a vast sea of reeds where the waters are too shallow to float a boat and the current too feeble to offer a directional guide, while the soggy ground is virtually impassable on foot, in short a region too wet to walk upon but not wet enough to float upon."
"Then why do you fear the trolls so much?" Owain asked. "Won't the swamps stop them too."
"Unfortunately no. The trolls are our first serious enemy to have both the motivation and the numbers to dig channels through the reeds just as we ourselves did several centuries ago for the narrow canal we use for our modest commerce with the outside world. No, the swamps alone will not stop them, not without an army to stop them far stronger than any we might muster. We Amazons are large and powerfully built as females go but trolls are twice as massive as our soldiers and their fighters number two million though most of those face your armies in the west.
At that point the Queen tabled the discussion till the strategy session the next morning.
The twins did take the pages to bed that night after assuring themselves that the boys had not been ordered to do it or coerced into sleeping with them.
"You don't understand." Hakkon said. "We volunteered. Actually a bunch of us pages volunteered, so the steward had us draw straws. Hylas and me, we won!"
Pointing to his own plumped up member, Hylas said:
"Nothing demonstrates sincerity quite so much as a soldier standing at attention!"
Besides the twins rationalized that they might elicit information from the pages during pillow talk, information the pages would otherwise be on their guard not to divulge. The pages did say enough to confirm a real improvement in the place of males in Amazon society but otherwise had nothing of importance to relate.
Still a good time was had by all. Hylas and Hakkon, both sixteen going on seventeen, were certainly no strangers to male sex, but this was their first tryst with lovers from a society where males had never been dominated by females, so in their minds it was macho males versus the milquetoasts of their experience, though the twins themselves would have laughed at the notion that the label macho could apply to slender pretty boys like themselves. Twinks like them might be many things but never that.
To start with, the four paired off: Hylas with Jemsen, Hakkon with Karel. Later they switched. After the first two rounds the pages wanted something more: to bottom for both twins at once. Halas went first, getting pronged at both ends, his supple body shoved back and forth by strong thrusts of the twins' hips. Then it was Hakkon's turned to be double teamed.
But even that was not enough for the insatiable pages. For the climax, as it were, of their night with the twins they wanted to try a double penetration, that is, a page taking two cocks up his quim at one time. Jemsen and Karel weren't sure that was a good idea, but the pages wanted it so bad, they gave in and agreed.
To facilitate it Jemsen lay supine as Hylas straddled him and settled on his shaft sinking all the way down till it was wholly inside him. Then the page posted like a rider on a trotting mount. Just when they got a good rhythm going, Karel stilled him and pushed him forward to a more horizontal position and took advantage of the way Hylas' taut little body was bent forward. He poked at the page's tight hole and slid his cock in next to his brother's. It was like he was making love to both Hylas and Jemsen simultaneously. Karel went lightheaded with a surge of lust.
Poor Hyalas had never been stretched so far. The double penetration hurt at first but the pain soon faded. He lay still while two males worked at his hole, his body shuddering as their cocks stroked his joy spot. In the fullness of time he came, shooting his spunk onto Jemsen's belly and chest. The contractions of his anal muscles set off his lovers and they spilled their seed into him. Then all three sagged and caught their breath.
Later it was Hakkon's turn, which went the same way except that Hylas did not simply sit still and watch the other three. He stood straddling Karel's head and presented his cock to Hakkon for oral service. The page boy was in heaven taking three cocks at once. Afterwards they all slept together till morning when the pages took their leave of the visitors.
Everyone was sure the pages would report anything they overhead from the delegation so all the Commonwealth folk watched their tongues. Anything of a confidential nature could be circulated among them via Mind Speech.
Anyway the druids were intent on watching and listening through the senses of animals to happenings and conversations not only in the palace but in the surrounding town. Nothing they saw and heard contradicted what Queen Seerah had told them, something which inspired confidence in their new ally.
In the morning, with everyone gathered in a council of war the queen lost no time in getting to the point.
She first described the military establishment of the Amazons, which featured a small standing army augmented by well-trained reserves. It numbered some thirty thousand which was small for a population of five million but not too surprising considering the lack of threats that land had had to face historically, shielded as they were by geographical barriers that discouraged incursions. Across the swamps the land was largely empty, a vast range of grasslands and brush and copses of trees over which brontotheres roamed at will.
The number of females eligible for military service in the reserves continued as before; the new cohort of young ladies were still fully replacing those who aged out. In the last year many had been inducted temporarily and rotated through reserve units for three weeks of initial or refresher training.
Its geography aside, the land of the Amazons was basically indefensible. There were no walls around around any of its small cities. East of the swamps the landscape was flat bottomlands covered with fields and orchards alternating with low rounded hills, the whole of it dotted with small towns.
"When I asked the Commonwealth for help I expected direct military assistance, not the dispatch of less than a dozen males, a group that looks more than a little like a pack of rent boys and their procurers. No offense, gentlemen."
The visitors smiled. "We get that a lot," Owain said, to nods from the pretty boys in his party. As to what we bring to the table, let me pass out copies of Axel's transcription of a briefing we gave to General Urqaart about our magical capabilities."
At Sir Willet's suggestion, Axel had invoked his eidetic memory to transcribe their briefing with General Urqaart, suitably abridged and edited, to give the amazons an idea of the capabilities of the mages without mentioning certain powers they wanted to hold in reserve such as the druids' ability to inflict heart attacks on a score of foes at a time. A formal written description would get a better reception than an oral briefing which might come across to the Amazons as bragging.
As the members of the ruling council read Axel's notes, the expressions on their faces changed from skepticism to wonderment and finally to hope.
"I had no idea," Queen Seerah said, "that males could wield such powerful magic. Even after you showed some of your power by blighting our special herbs and later contacting me via Mind Speech from two hundred miles away."
"Given the circumstances of my departure, I had to reach out to you and explain if not justify to you my course of action, drastic though it was for your people. I also wanted to assure you that the friendship we had formed was very real, not a subterfuge to disarm your suspicions. Deceiving you was one of the hardest things I ever had to do."
"When I told our council that how you had contacted me via mind speech, my colleagues dismissed it as an hallucination born of my regrets and my longing for a broken friendship. After a while I began to doubt it myself."
"Dahl, with the powers I just read of, it is clear that you were never truly in our power, were you?"
No. I might easily have escaped and never suffered the torments your daughter inflicted on me, but then I would have failed in my mission to find a control species for the Emerald Ash Borer and been unable to help the Ashokan islanders. In the end it was you Amazons who found it for me."
Queen Seerah shook her head.
"You suffered so you might help the people in that archipelago you spoke of. How did that work out anyway?"
"The epiphyte did control the invasive insect and does to this day, but when the trolls reached the Ashokan Archipelago they exterminated the entire human population."
"Which will be the fate of all our peoples if we do stop them."
The queen summed up by saying:
"Only now do we realize what we denied ourselves by stunting our own males. Given time we too might develop our own mages to defend us. Meanwhile, we have you."
"Not exactly a ringing endorsement," Sir Willet observed dryly, "but it's a start."
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