Elf Boy's Friends - VIII
After another two days and nights of fun and frolic and getting to know one another, Liam opened a portal to Elysion then stepped aside to let the wirs, the bears, the forest rangers, and the twins pass through it before closing it behind them. Liam, Drew, Finn, and Axel would stay with their aerocraft. It was arranged that Liam would reopen the portal in two days' time and bring the other four expedition members back to rejoin their fellows. That would give the twins and rangers enough time to make introductions and to bring their friends up to date on their adventures so far.
One of the garden spots of the continent, Elysion was a bowl at the edge of the Eastern Mountains measuring about eight miles across. Woodlots and sheepfolds and vineyards covered the lower slopes while the flats held the village, the manor, the pastures, fields, and gardens. It was the very picture of peace and prosperity.
As the travelers crossed the stone bridge over the stream that encircled the village, the inhabitants didn't know what to make of six Snow Elves in the company of two huge white bears, but they quickly recognized the uniformed forest rangers who operated out of Elysion and especially the twins who were frequent visitors though garbed in color coded short shorts instead of sarongs. Madden Sexton told any who asked that explanations could wait until after they all paid their respects to the count up in the manor house.
That brought understanding nods though no lessening of curiosity among the populace. Many of the unattached lasses and more than a few of the lads eyed the nude Snow Elves appreciatively. Two young ladies, clearly sisters, were inspired to pluck blossoms from a window box and toss them to the triplets, hoping to catch their eye. Lupo caught one and nodded his thanks. Brushing his shoulder-length ash-blond hair from his ears to reveal the pointed tip, he told them:
"Sorry girls. We're elves, see. We like boys. Nothing personal, of course."
To ease the disappointment Lupo took the girl's and kissed it gallantly.
"If only the local boys had your courtly manners young sir." she said, pleased to have been singled out. At least that was something.
While the forest rangers went by their quarters, the twins introduced the wirs and bears to the druids. Only Dahlderon and Merry were in residence. Owain was away on retreat in the Great Southern Forest, the stronghold of the druidic order.
Dahl was glad to have his friends back if only for a couple of days. They had been away now for nearly three months with only a quick visit by Axel to the capital to teleport the Medkari delvers for training and to drop off Drew's latest reports for the Capital Intelligencer plus Finn's visit to procure air guns for the soldiers at the Stone Ring. So even a flying visit from the twins, Dylan, and Madden Sexton was welcome.
The druids congratulated Dylan on his new gift and gave the new beast master tips on how to better manage animals under his control by calming them as they realized that another mind shared their skulls and was temporarily in charge. In particular they sharpened his ability to split his consciousness between an animal whose senses he was using and his own mind so as to maintain situational awareness in his immediate vicinity.
The Kodiak bears were delighted to find in Merry a kindred spirit. Merry had spent centuries in the shape of a unicorn. Many was the time he wished for hands so he could turn the pages of a book or caress a lovely elf-boy like Dahl. After his transformation back into an elf himself, he got that chance.
The druids readily accepted the suggestion that Snow Elves and the Kodiak bears take up residence in the New Forest. Their presence would help make the New Forest even more special. The druids would alert the corps of forest rangers to the arrival of the snow elves and would introduce them to their new neighbors the brontotheres.
Dahl and Merry asked the bears to join with them to help the elves and themselves forge a psychic link with the New Forest. Not just an expanse of trees and the animals and plants which sheltered beneath it canopy, the forest was itself a magically sentient and self-aware entity that encompassed all the life forms within its boundaries, both animals and plants, ranging from the lowliest creepy crawlies living amidst the leaf litter on the forest floor to apex predators like bears, wolves, and tawny panthers.
The snow elves we urged to take two or three months to explore the expanse of one-hundred thousand miles within the hawthorn hedge and learn the lay of the lay. Only general maps were available. The southern sector near Elysion had the best coverage thanks to the twins who had sometimes filled in as forest rangers. The maps did show the high peaks, the ranger stations, the major streams draining onto the Eastern Plains though not their upper reaches, and Elysion of course. Whatever their shortcomings the maps plus their snow elves' gift of Unerring Direction would keep them oriented.
The druids said would eventually appoint the snow elves as auxiliary forest rangers. As auxiliary rangers they would not take part in regular patrols but would keep an eye out for lost travelers or persons of ill-intent. First though the snow elves would also need to learn the Commonwealth's way of doing things before they could exercise police powers.
And perhaps one day over their psychic link the New Forest would help the Snow Elves enhance their abilities as it had their fellow wirs Madden Sexton and Aodh or indeed the twins and Finn. After all the Forest preferred either elves or shape shifters as forest rangers, and the Snow Elves were both. So their psychic bond with that much stronger, not to mention they were already using mind speech through their link to their protectors. As for them, who knew where the Kodiak bears' own psychic link might not lead?
Thanks to their gift of projective mind speech Bjorn and Bjarni were able to join in the conversations around the dinner table. Count Klarendes hosted all the bipeds at a welcoming meal at noon the day after their arrival. In the country the main meal of the day was called dinner and was consumed at midday. Supper was taken in the evening, a lighter meal consisting of cold meats, cheese, fruit, and bread or corn muffins or the like. For city folk dinner was taken as the evening meal. It was the main meal of the day, much more substantial than the noontime meal which city slickers called lunch or even luncheon.
The count's steward had a hog butchered for the bears and presented it to them cut up, which was considerably more convenient than a whole carcass. The bears had a taste for pork though it usually came in the form of wild boar. Now the wild boars of the forests were wily and tough and normally too quick for a bear to catch, but the Kodiaks did not operate alone. They could count on the wirs to herd a boar toward them or at least hold it at bay long enough for Bjorn or Bjarni to make the kill. Coordination via mind speech made them an unbeatable team.
The Kodiak bears were accommodated in a disused shed which last saw service as a shelter for the dogcart used by the count's late wife. Theirs had been an arranged marriage which turned into a genuine love match and given them two fine sons, Artor and Eborn, now both young men in their twenties. Her death in a fall from a horse had left Taitos Klarendes bereft till he encountered the second great love of his life, his spouse the shape shifter and sometime minstrel and maths teacher named Aodh who hailed from the hidden land of the wirs far to the east.
Standing an inch shorter than Dahl, Aodh was a boy so beautiful he took your breath away. Impossibly pretty, he was a melding of the innocent and the wanton, the epitome of a boy in the full bloom of his youth. Small, skinny, and smooth muscled, comely as an angel, with a skin like porcelain, and looking utterly fragile and vulnerable, the epicene youth was actually three times as strong as he looked as well as being a master of the martial arts.
Now the count was understanding about his spouse's prior relationship with the twins and Dahl whom he had known long before the count came into the young wir's life. Klarendes knew that their love in no way threatened Aodh's bond with his spouse. And Klarendes also indulged Aodh's very occasional flings with exotic types such as his one time tryst with Finn Ragnarson, whose arrival in Elysion led to Aodh's first and only liaison with a Frost Giant. That had happened years earlier back when Finn was still a teenager, standing only six and one half feet tall. Aside for what might happen on walkabout Aodh was content in the arms of his nobleman spouse who was quite the catch in his own right.
Thanks to the considerable admixture of elven blood in his ancestry Taitos Klarendes looked like a well-built young man of twenty-five though he was actually two decades older. Of medium height the handsome nobleman had the bearing and the lean physique of the gentleman farmer, hunter, and sometime soldier that he was. His light brown hair was cut short, a concession to the tropical climate. He had regular features which suggested both masculine strength and warmth of character.
None of this allure was lost on the wir wolverine Gulo who hung on every word the count uttered, utterly entranced by the man. To the hitherto monogamous Klarendes, his own attraction to the cute snow elf came as a surprise, though it really should not have been. Gulo was exactly his type, being much like Aodh, though the one was human and the other elven, one was dark and the other light. Gulo was taller though still short for an elf, standing five and a half feet compared to Aodh's five feet zero. Both were skinny, pale skinned, and glabrous with vivacious personalities and a keen sense of humor.
Aodh noticed and leaned over and said to his spouse sotto voce:
"That elf-boy fancies you, Taitos. Anyone can see that. So go for it."
"What! Oh, no Aodh I really couldn't."
"You say couldn't when what you really mean is that you think you shouldn't. But why not? Expand your horizons, why don't you? Let it be my turn for a change to indulge you in a brief fling with an exotic male. Monogamy eventually leads to monotony. In a long run that is the real threat to a life bond such as ours which we hope will endure for centuries."
"All right. I think I shall seek him out, if he'll have me."
"Oh he'll have you all right. I can smell the desire on him, just as I am sure he can detect yours for him."
"It's that obvious, eh?"
"To the senses of wirs it is."
"All right, Aodh, I'll do it. So which of the lovely snow elves have you picked for your own fling with exotica?"
"My fellow kitty kats, of course, the wir leopards Leon and Brand."
And it was. After a noisy and energetic night of lovemaking the three cute boys fell asleep in a tangle which resembled nothing so much as a litter of sleeping kittens. The druids stood apart knowing that they would have plenty of time later to become better acquainted with the Snow Elves. They would be working together for a very long time.
For his part, Taitos Klarendes found himself in bed with a real wild one, though a wolverine under the skin not a cat. Little Gulo was enthusiastic, demanding, and insatiable. The handsome count was just his type and unlike Finn he was manageable. A Frost Giant like Finn was really too much for a little guy like Gulo, but Taitos Klarendes fit just right. And though in time Klarendes came to know all the Snow Elves really well, little Gulo always had a special place in his heart and very occasionally in his bed. Not that there was ever any idea of Gulo joining Taitos and Aodh in a menage a trois. Gulo already had a family to belong to.
And that was how the Snow Elves and their protectors the white Kodiak bears, became part of the saga of the Elf-Boy Dahlderon and his friends on the planet of Haven.
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