Elf Boy's Friends - Volume XIII

by George Gauthier

Chapter 11

Invasion

The Commonwealth folk introduced the locals to the technology of refrigeration which was fast becoming the standard ice-breaker, as it were, between peoples. The utility of refrigeration was obvious. It retarded spoilage of meat, fish, milk, and eggs and preserved leftovers.

Refrigeration was also a time saver. It spared shoppers the chore of going shopping every day at the butcher, the fishmonger, and the dairy. Cold beer and iced-cream were ancillary benefits of refrigeration.

The system was simple and straight-forward. It used ordinary materials every people would have at hand: wood, nails, and pegs for the ice-boxes and wood beams, earth, and sawdust for the ice-houses. The design of ice-houses and delivery carts was straight-forward except the locals could not use the wire wheels standard on Valentia. They would have to use wooden wheels with heavy wooden spokes.

The system did need firecasters to freeze the upper layer of the ice pond, but there were always a few firecasters in any considerable population. The locals had all the usual magical gifts from lesser ones like Calling Light, a Green Thumb, Healing, and Unerring Direction to telekinesis and other abilities useful in defense like fire, air, water, and weather wizardry though rather fewer earth wizards compared to a similarly sized population of dwarves.

The difference was that the Commonwealth could draw from a much larger population and had systematically recruited the gifted as war wizards and war mages and assigned detachments of the gifted as organic elements of its military units on land and at sea.

Until the raids started nearly a decade earlier, the Benign Coast had not known war. There was simply nothing to fight about. Lightly settled as the region was, arable land was there for the taking. There were no concentrations of wealth. Organized military forces simply did not exist. The militias formed since then had been called into existence only by the threat of the raiders as had the crude fortifications of towns like Argyll.

"So who are these raiders?" Commodore Dekker asked. "Are they pirates who simply rape and pillage or do they run a protection racket where you pay them tribute not to attack you or interfere with your commerce?"

The mayor shook his head.

"These raiders are no ordinary pirates or brigands but revolutionaries called Communalists, extreme egalitarians who are rigid in their beliefs, self-righteous in their attitude, and tyrannical and controlling, setting spies and secret police to watch everyone including each other."

"The Communalists dress almost identically in sober grey clothes. They despise private property as theft, and believe that all property should be held in common. Work for hire is regarded as wage slavery. Profit is a dirty word and businessmen are a class of criminals while artists and writers are deemed social parasites. Skilled workers are assigned to regular jobs in their trade, but those at loose ends get rounded up in work gangs."

"Their motto is: 'From each according to his abilities, To each according to his needs'. Without the normal incentives to hard work, thrift, and civic spirit their system is simply not sustainable in the long run. The machinery is already seizing up, hence the need to supplement their own output with the fruits of the labor of others. They seize what they want 'according to their needs' whether it be the fisherman's catch or the farmer's harvest. They will even sweep through a town and carry off the prettiest human lasses and the most comely elf-boys to gratify their lusts."

Dekker wondered if anyone had tried to resist or fight the Communalists.

"Mariners from the port of Rock Island formed a naval militia and rehearsed boarding tactics to counter the depredations. After a couple of minor successes they got their comeuppance when the raiders came at them with fireships. By fireships I do not mean sailing ships filled with inflammables, set alight and aimed at the enemy with the wheel lashed."

"No, these fireships are small and highly maneuverable fishing smacks. Though they normally move under sail, in battle they are propelled or at least guided telekinetically. At the bow is a bronze siphon which spews an inflammable liquid whose flames cannot be doused by water, indeed the liquid will float on water, burning merrily all the while. Against liquid fire boarding tactics were worse than useless. They were suicidal. The vessels of the naval militia were set ablaze before they could close with the raiders."

"What is the range of this liquid fire?" Dekker asked.

"It is not very far, no more than fifty feet. We think they propel the liquid by compressed air rather than a pump."

Dekker learned that the Communalists were based far to the South in a rain soaked region where the coast was broken into many islands, fjords, channels, and twisting peninsulas, restricted waters which they knew well. The sea had submerged the central valley between the coast range and the high mountains forming a long narrow gulf. Beyond that lay a land of many lakes and short rivers, none of them navigable for any length. Beyond that lay alpine mountains. All in all it was quite a challenging geography.

There was no way Dekker could stretch his orders to justify a campaign against the territories of the Communalists in the South. The town fathers of Argyll understood. They did not like it, but they understood.

As luck or the gods would have it, the raiders arrived before the flotilla had left on the next leg of its voyage. Aerial scouts gave warning of a raider fleet consisted of dozens of warships plus scores of transports. This was no mere raid but an all out invasion.

The flotilla might then have sailed away, but Dekker could not bring himself to abandoned their new friends to their fate. Besides it was clear that the Communalists were a long term threat to the Commonwealth and to its naval ambitions in the Southern Ocean. So the flotilla weighed anchor and sailed around the headland to the next bay up the coast where the ships could conceal themselves behind a wooded island.

The folk of Argyll raised the newly repaired chain to block the entrance to the harbor, closed the landward gates, and manned the walls. The townsfolk were indifferently armed with spears and axes; they had few swords and fewer crossbows. Also the defenders had hardly any artillery, just a handful of catapults and ballistas. Mostly they had piles of rocks ready to drop on anyone attempting to scale the wall.

The enemy warships split into two groups. One stood out to sea to hold the weather gage. The larger portion provided close escort to the transports, with a pair of ships breaking off from the main body to torch the fishing fleets of the two villages on the other side of the bay.

The transports carried a landing force of some twelve thousand infantry armed mostly with a cutlasses and spears though with a corp of bowmen. This was an army if a rather disorganized one, understandably so since its commanders had no experience of land warfare and the maneuvering of large bodies of troops. They had no horses either, so even their commanders went on foot as they approached the South gate and demanded the town's immediate surrender.

The mayor refused, though he did agree to a parley, which was allowed to enter by a postern gate. The main gate remain closed. The mayor's back had been stiffened by Commonwealth mages and the presence of six dozen Frost Giants, the naval infantry from the carrier.

The parley was held in the street just inside the postern gate. The delegation of the Communalists was headed by a fierce looking human of middle years and of middling height named Hadorn. He was accompanied by two elven aides and backed by a bodyguard of eight intentionally intimidating humans.

The town of Argyll was represented by the city fathers: Mayor Arielen, their militia commander Zanderel and two members of the town council, Gaspard Nottmeyer and Ulliel.

The mayor introduced the participants from the Commonwealth naming Commodore Dekker with the twins, Aodh, Drew Altair and Liam. Dahlderon represented the Ancient Order of the Druids of Haven.

"These wimpish youths are your bodyguards?" the Communalist envoy Hadorn, sneered, continuing with:

"Why they are nought but a clutch of effeminate youths and on the puny side as that. Now my men are proper bodyguards," he said pointing to the heavily armed soldiers behind him, all of them over six feet and muscular.

"Understand I am not here to negotiate, just to lay out our terms. This land is now our land. You will evacuate the town and abandon everything within it marching out unarmed carrying nothing away except food and drink. In the villages farmers will abandon their farms and turn them over in good condition for distribution to those among us assigned to work their former lands."

"Everything you once thought you owned now belongs to us. We leave you only your lives and the clothes on your backs. Leave and go away -- far away. We don't much care where you go, but don't hang around. Don't try to stay anywhere nearby or we shall simply slaughter you."

"Your town -- that is your former town -- will become our new capital. In time we shall extend our control to everything between the mountains and the sea."

"Oh, and as you leave we will be selecting the prettiest of your lasses and lads for our brothels."

The mayor shook his head.

"You cannot really expect us to accept those terms, to simply turn our town and farms and all that we own over to you, to leave here without a fight, to go into exile in the wilds where we would all eventually starve to death."

Hadorn shrugged. "Your lives are forfeit either way. You will just die sooner and more bloodily if we have to take the town by storm."

Mayor Arielen frowned.

"You are operating under the misconception that thanks to your numbers you hold the upper hand. These boys you sneered at are not my bodyguards. They are allies with powerful magic, and the commodore commands a professional naval flotilla which can destroy your entire force. Withdraw or die."

"Your empty threats are just pitiful Mister Mayor. You threaten me with a clutch of rent boys. And a friendly navy which comes calling just at your hour of need -- why that's just wishful thinking."

"As punishment for your effrontery I am changing the terms. You will immediately surrender that pack of pretty youths to be our sex slaves. The tiny pale one over there is as cute as a kitten. I'll take first dibs on him, then share him with my bodyguards and anyone else who fancies him, as doubtless many will. Resign yourself little one to a future of endless mountings. Now get rid of your clothes, crawl over here, and kneel at my feet."

"He will do no such thing," Dekker told him coldly. "You have violated the sanctity of this parley by contravening the immunity participants must enjoy during any parley and thereby forfeited your own. Moreover the terms you offered amount to a war crime. Your own terms thus condemn you, you and all their host."

Aodh turned to the Commodore and asked. "May I have the honor sir of killing them?"

"Go right ahead, Aodh."

Aodh took off his clothes and taunted Hadorn with his sexy little body.

"These are the sensual delights which you and yours will never sample. You have no idea who and what you are messing with. Why even I, little guy that I am, can kill all eleven of you, all by myself, and without breaking a sweat. Defend yourselves, if you can."

Aodh's form blurred into that of a black panther. Once fully formed the young wir cut loose with his stand-off weapon, an intolerable screech much like the sound of fingernails scraping on a slate only far worse. The sound could rupture eardrums and induce pain, temporary deafness, and dizziness, making it easy to close with and kill enemies as they staggered about with their hands over their ears. The screech was highly directional, strong in a conical zone in front but negligible to the sides or behind.

Aodh closed with the helpless raiders and raked them with his poison claws delivering fatal doses which set them to writhing in intolerable pain. Frost giants picked them up and tossed them out the postern gate to die as an object lesson for the rest.

"What is well begun is halfway done." Dekker quoted. "It is time now for me to return to the fleet. If you will assist me Drew."

Drew let Dekker step into the stirrups attached to his cuirass and flew low and fast all the way to the North bay pausing long enough only to set the naval officer down on the bridge of his flagship before flying on to the sloop, his duty station for the coming naval battle. Drew was sure he had not been observed. The capabilities of the Commonwealth with flight would come as a nasty surprise to the raiders.

Meanwhile Dahl strode out onto the wall to face the enemy army. Magically amplifying his voice he told them that their delegation had been slain for violating the sanctity of the parley and for proposing terms that themselves were a war crime. That elicited curses, cries of "Treachery!", and promises of retribution. One huge warrior strode closer to the wall and drew his finger across his throat, a promise to personally slit Dahl's throat.

Shaking his head, Dahl calmly told the man. "I don't think so."

He then pointed at the man and told him to die, which is exactly what he did, slumping to the ground as his bones turned into powder, transforming the powerfully built man into a leaking bag of organs and bodily fluids. Dahl did so not out of anger or from cruelty but as a grisly form of psychological warfare.

Archers loosed arrows which the druid countered with contemptuous ease, turning their shafts into dandelion seeds. He then snapped their bowstrings for good measure, though they he knew that they would have replacement strings. Finally the druid flung an ironwood throwing knife into the skull of the commander of the archers, catching the bowmen by surprise. With his quadrupled strength, a throwing knife in the hand of a druid had nearly as much range as an arrow shot from a bow.

The town's defenders cheered.

Another raider strode forward and challenged the druid to come down off the wall and face him man to man.

"I don't see how that can be possible," Dahl explained with exaggerated reasonableness. "You're a grown man all right, but look at me, why I am just a half-grown elf-boy."

Snarling the man hurled a powerful levin bolt at the druid, but its trajectory swerved harmlessly into the ground thanks to Dahl's ensorcelled amulet which made him immune to hostile magic. Invoking druidical earth magic, Dahl opened a hole twelve foot deep beneath the man's feet. Once the man dropped in, Dahl slumped sand over the opening to close it. The lightning caster tried to blast his way out with levin bolts, but all he managed to do was to fuze the sand above him into dirty glass.

For his final contribution to the defense of Argyll Dahl needed something more than psychological tricks. Now when druids went on expeditions they always carried starter kits of seeds to help flash grow food and fodder crops or tanglefoot vines and briars to impede enemy movements. In war druids were force multipliers. They did not expect to defeat military formations all on their own.

Against the raiders, the druid had sown the seeds of poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak. As it happened it was the enemy reserves who stood upon the ground sown by the druid. From atop the wall he swept his quarterstaff in an arc directing his life magic at the seeds. Quickened into sprouting and flash grown, greenery sprang up suddenly all around the soldiers. Surprised but not shaken, they marched out of the chest high shrubbery in good order.

Soon though the raiders soon found themselves severely incommoded by the characteristic itches and rashes caused by the chemical the plants had secreted which was an irritant rather than an outright poison. At first it was mostly their limbs which were affected. However, with the poisons on their hands it was not long before the need to relieve themselves transferred the chemicals to their virile members with disconcerting results. The reserve force soon lost interest in the impending battle.

The commanding general of the enemy forces could only grind his teeth in frustration at seeing his tactical reserve of two thousand soldiers so easily neutralized and removed from his order of battle. He unleashed a dual assault by land and by sea. That forced the townsfolk to fight on two fronts: the harbor defenses and the South wall where sixteen hundred raiders carrying scaling ladders advanced to the base of the palisade.

They clambered into the dry moat which Jemsen had widened and deepened to compensate for the inadequate height of the palisade. The top of the wall rose thirty feet above the bottom of the moat. That was a big help to the locals who dropped rocks on the enemy while others with magical gifts lobbed small balls of fire or wielded horseshoes telekinetically or snapped electrum sparks.

The enemy countered with archers who tried to make the townsfolk keep their heads down. The elven councillor Ulliel flung electrum sparks at the enemy. He teamed up with his colleague the human Nottmeyer, who could call light to englobe a foe's head and scramble his brains but was also armed with a brace of pistol crossbows, one in each hand. The pair acted as force multipliers, helping those fighting at their side with only conventional weapons.

At one point Ulliel hissed in pain and drew back an arm transfixed by an arrow. A lady Healer tsk-tsked when she examined his injury. With surprising strength she snapped the shaft in two and pulled the ends out of his flesh, letting it bleed freely for a very short while to flush the wound. When she invoked her healing magic her patient's arm was enveloped in an intangible nimbus which cycled from pearly white to green and back again twice before fading away.

Her ministrations fixed him up and in no time the plucky fellow went back to the wall as good as new. One incautious young human paused too long to watch the effect of the rocks he had dropped over the wall and took an arrow in the eye. It penetrated his brain pan, and he fell back dead.

Back in his human form Aodh lent his assistance, selectively focussing his sonic weapon on officers and teams of sappers who looked like they had their act together. Then a couple of enemy fetchers started Lifting pairs or trios of fighters and dropping them atop the wall. The defense faltered as those defending the wall found themselves threatened from both sides and front.

The jumble of fighters was too mixed up for his sonic weapon, so Aodh morphed into a black panther and waded in with his natural weapons. After using so much of his poison in dealing with the parley party, he but reserved what little he had left for contingencies. Even so Aodh's tripled strength let him overpower even the strongest of the human and elven attackers, tearing faces off with a swipe of a paw and biting foes below their armor, at the fork of their legs where they were most vulnerable. The psychological effect on Aodh's other foes can only be imagined.

Thanks to his enhanced speed and reflexes the shape shifter mostly evaded the blades of the enemy, taking only superficial wounds. The blood loss was minor, and indeed the blood spattered on his dark fur only made him look more fearsome. After all, to most men and elves, a black panther on the attack, was a nightmare come alive.

Aodh did take a serious wound toward the end when a cutlass slashed the muscles of his left foreleg. Deep into a killing frenzy, Aodh managed to stay focussed despite his pain and lashed out with the poison claws on his right paw to rake the man's thigh. He missed the femoral artery, but the poison did its job anyway, ending that threat. With no foes in his immediate vicinity, Aodh invoked his innate magic and transformed back into his human form. Painful though it was the transformation automatically healed his wounds. Wrung out, Aodh sat and set his back against the parapet to catch his breath and recoup his strength.

Moments later five new foes, three to his right and two to his left clambered from scaling ladders onto the wall. With no time to transform or to even snatch up a weapon, Aodh fought in human guise empty handed. The five raiders grinned as they spread out, sure that this tiny pale youth, unarmed and bare-ass naked as he was, would be cut down in an instant. They badly misjudged the situation.

True, the foe they faced seemed no threat at all. He looked more like a lover than a fighter, more specifically an upscale rent boy. For Aodh was so beautiful he took your breath away. Small, skinny, and smooth muscled, comely as an angel, with a skin like porcelain, and looking utterly fragile and vulnerable -- in short no one the three raiders should have had any reason to fear.

It was a perfectly natural but utterly wrong conclusion. For even unarmed Aodh could call on tripled strength, enhanced speed and reflexes, and years of training and experience in the martial arts. Moreover, Aodh was fighter endowed with the fierceness of the black panther he was under the skin.

As the two foes to his left raised their sword for a downward chop Aodh lunged toward the nearer one, closing with him faster than his foe had thought physically possible, stabbing into the man's armpit with the blade of his hand. The shock to the radial nerve made the man lose his grip on his sword. Aodh then jumped chest high and delivered a drop kick with both feet which shoved the man toward his ally whose sword inadvertently transfixed his comrade.

As the man looked in stunned surprise at his comrade fouling his blade Aodh landed lightly and spun on one foot, kicking the side of the man's knee which destroyed the joint. When the man sagged, Aodh picked him up by bodily and hurled him at the other three who went down in tangle.

Aodh was on them in an instant. He tore out one man's windpipe with his hooked fingers, then slammed the heel of that hand into the other's man's nose driving the nasal bone into his brain for an instant kill.

Warned by the shadow of his final foe, Aodh dropped into a forward roll which let the man's sword cut through the space Aodh had just vacated. Snatching up a discarded buckler, Aodh hurled it edge on at the man's shins. The impact knocked his legs out from under him. That gave Aodh the time to grab a discarded long knife and thrust it into the back of the man's neck. Aodh then stationed himself at the crenellations, ready to lop off the next head or heads which topped the wall.

For the sake of freedom of movement Dahlderon had set his camouflage cloak aside to fight in tunic and sandals. Limited in what he could do with magic in a melee, he lent his quadrupled strength to that fight, crushing skulls with the metal caps at the ends of his quarterstaff, breaking limbs and ribs.

Unlike the wir, Dahl kept his anger reined in, his mind cool and collected and always focussed on what he had to do and how he was to do it. A wir panther might give in to a killing frenzy but never a druid.

The only time the fight looked like a contest was when the short and slightly built elf-boy squared off against a whole squad which had forced its way up a pair of ladders. Eight of them came straight at him while the other two edged along the top of the wall trying to flank him.

"Resistance is futile, little one," their leader told him. "The odds are ten to one, and we are properly armed, while you bear only that stick. You fate is upon you, you are going to die!"

Speaking conversationally Dahl agreed. "Yes, I am going to die, someday, but not today!"

Red faced with anger the man ordered a charge. Dahl's right arm was a horizontal blur as he hurled an ironwood throwing knife under the man's chin. It pierced his throat and cleaved his spine dropping him like a puppet with its strings cut. Now a druid could blind an enemy with a thought, which is what he did to the pair of would-be flankers. Then he waded into the rest, relying on his strength and speed and reflexes and skill with a stave, which gave him greater reach than any sword. Telepathic eavesdropping on his foes let him anticipate their moves, all of which more than balanced their numbers.

Dahl relished physical combat, which he found so much more satisfying than wielding magic. Fighting at close-quarters allowed him to bring his strength fully to bear as he blocked sword cuts with his staff then whirled it to crush a skull or thrusting it forward to smash in their faces. As those who have experienced combat know, when you succeed in killing those who had been intent on killing you, it leaves you with a profound feeling of righteous satisfaction.

The squad of raiders never stood a chance and never even nicked the nimble druid. The way they went down was like wheat falling to the scythe of an angry demigod. After the druid recovered his ironwood blade, the townsfolk killed the two blinded ones and pitched them over the wall, sweeping away several raiders who were trying to clamber up a scaling ladder and reinforce their comrades.

Even so by sheer weight of numbers the enemy pressed heavily on the defenders who had to hold both the South wall and the harbor. Just as the enemy surge threatened to carry that wall Jemsen invoked earth magic to open a ditch to connect the ocean and the dry moat which was soon dry no more as tens of thousands of tons of sea water rushed in to fill it, drowning the entire assault force at the South wall except the handful still fighting atop the wall who were speedily dispatched and thrown over the side into the roiling waters below.

The enemy general maneuvered his remaining force to a position opposite the East wall which was built atop rocky ground, out of reach of any flood waters. Besides the general knew that while it was easy for an earth wizard to reshape terrain in sand or soil which could be made to flow, solid rock could only break slowly and laboriously, and an earthquake would bring down the wall and much of the town. He was tempted to use fire arrows and fire pots to set the town ablaze, but he had orders to take it intact.

Then, as the enemy general was making his dispositions for an assault, the Frost Giants rose up from behind the crenelations of the wall and started lobbing fire globes with their slings. Fire globes turned anyone into a minor firecaster but were particularly effective in the hands of frost giants who were so strong they could sling them nearly as far as a bow could send an arrow.

Invented years earlier by than none other than the shape shifter Aodh fire globes were about the size of a fist and made of glass to shatter easily. They were filled with an inflammable liquid which would cling to the foe's armor, clothing, and skin. A rain of hot coals set the oil aflame.

With the flames burning fiercely, the Frost Giant took aim with their oversized air guns. Their officer gave the command:

"Volley...Fire."

In accordance with their training the giants pulled their triggers in unison, not on the preparatory command but on the command to execute.

"Again, Volley ... Fire," and lastly:

"Independent Fire ... Fire at Will,"

After which the giants kept up a continuous fire on the enemy supported by the more numerous crossbows of the townsfolk and the twins and Aodh with their air guns. Not even a well trained army could withstand that kind of punishment, standing in the open the way they were, shields useless to stop the bullets from the air guns. The enemy broke and ran back till they were out of range where they formed up again as their general considered his options.

Alas, they might have been out of range of crossbows or airguns but the enemy's shift of position had brought them to the sector of the wall defended by Liam and put them in range of his white fire, which was not any kind of flame but a stream of subatomic plasma, the stuff the stars were made of. White fire did not merely incinerate, it disintegrated anything and everything.

Liam lashed out half a dozen times at their tight formations. He succeeded in turning nearly three thousand raiders into clouds of elementary particles which quickly dissipated into the air.

His toll might have been higher, but after the first few attacks the raiders panicked and fled for their ships. The headlong rout spread the raiders over the terrain, depriving Liam of worthwhile targets. Besides, he had pretty much shot his bolt as far as white fire was concerned, so he went over to the twins and said:

"It's your turn, Karel"

Up till then the young air wizard's effort had been low key. He had used hardened air to shielded the defenders of his own section of the wall from enemy arrows. Karel had also wielded a small air blade in defense of his person, decapitating any raiders who stuck their heads above the battlements he stood behind. Now it was time to take the offensive.

Gesturing as he invoked his air magic, Karel created a trio of sun mirrors, which were mirages in the sky made of hardened air. Guided by Karel's gift of Unerring Direction, two flat mirrors reflected the sun's rays into a parabolic mirror focussed not on the fleeing raiders but initially on the fleet of transports drawn up on the beach or floating just offshore plus the soldiers in the reserve who had rushed to the shore to bathe and scrape their skins with sand trying to remove the plant irritants.

Neither ordinary combustion nor the subatomic plasma of white fire but simply the reflected heat energy of the sun, Karel's beam was nowhere nearly so hot as white fire but it was at least ten times hotter than the flames and fireballs of a firecaster. It swept over the ships setting them alight. Most of the soldiers in the reserve flashed into ash; those who ducked beneath the surface were scalded or boiled to death.

Karel next turned his wrath on the remainder of the retreating invasion force, sweeping his beam across the rocky area and the foreshore. Visible more as a shimmer in the air than as a beam of light, it scorched the ground and incinerated the hostiles. In that intense heat bodies and clothing did not simply catch fire and burn; they flash-charred into ashen simulacra of human beings and elves, which, lacking cohesion, soon slumped into formless piles of cinders.

Karel shook his head at the sheer waste of life -- not just the deaths of the Communalists but also at the way they had lived. Most of all he hated them for forcing him once again to kill on a grand scale, killing not soulless creatures like trolls or centaurs but human beings and elves -- real people just like them, however reprehensible their politics and tactics. Jemsen and Karel were both heartily sick of war and halfway ashamed that they were so terribly good at it.

Turning to his twin Karel remarked:

"So much for the non-lethal weapons and tactics we had hoped to use. Itching powders, pepper spray, and emetics were not going to stop those fanatics."

Thus ended the battle of annihilation on land. It now was time for the battle at sea. That was Liam's cue to fly out to the sloop and rejoin Drew and take part in the Sandpiper's attack with torpedoes and guns.

Author's Note

The isolated island where the Dragon's Blood Tree grew was based on the Island of Socotra in the Arabian Sea. The geography of the Benign Coast was suggested by Chile in South America.

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This story is entirely fictional, with no resemblance intended to any person living or dead. It is one of an occasional series about the further adventures of the characters introduced in the fantasy novel 'Elf-Boy and Friends' and published by Nifty Archive. The chief protagonist of the novel, Dahlderon, elf-boy and druid, usually appears in these stories in a supporting rather than starring role. Each story in the sequence focuses on several of the large cast of characters in the ongoing saga which now exceeds Tolstoy's War and Peace in word count, if in no other measure.

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