Elf Boy's Friends - XI
The next morning the trio had a visitor who called:
"Hello the camp!"
"Advance and be recognized," Lobo called back.
To their very great surprise their visitor turned out to look remarkably like themselves, a nude youth with glabrous alabaster skin, shoulder-length ash-blond hair, and icy grey eyes. He differed though in stature and build, standing just over six and one half-feet tall and weighing just under three hundred pounds, so his was a much more robust build than theirs.
"Good morning to all three of you" the visitor said heartily. "My name is Derrionydd or Derry for short. I already know your names from mutual friends though of course I cannot tell you apart."
"Which mutual friends?" Lobo asked.
"Corwin Klarendes, Axel Wilde, and Aodh of Elysion. I've been there recently though now I am on walkabout hoping to run into fellow snow elves and get acquainted."
"I never heard of a snow elf with so powerful a build. Why are you so big and strong?"
"It's because I am not a full-blooded elf but a hybrid. My father is a sylvan elf, but I am half Frost Giant on my mother's side, which accounts for the size."
"That's pretty unusual, but aside from your physique you have all the hallmarks of a snow elf so you are welcome among us. I see you are carrying a pack. We usually don't do that when we go off on a hunt by ourselves, just relying on our natural or innate abilities."
"Well maybe we should start carrying a pack!" Lupo exclaimed. "For one thing we could bring our fishing gear. So what's in your pack, Derry? I'm not asking out of idle curiosity but for suggestions about what we ourselves should carry."
Derry shrugged. "Your idea about fishing gear is right on. I pack a drop line and some hooks and lures for just that purpose. Also an item of clothing: a boldly patterned green and white sarong. The colors reflect my dual heritage of sylvan elf and frost giant."
"Well a folding knife and a burning glass…" he started to add to the list but Volf interrupted:
"Save it for later. Right now I am burning with curiosity about your alternate form. Care to show us?"
Setting his pack down the visitor invoked his innate magic and transformed into his quadrupedal form looking like a small pony with a snow white coat and a horn more than a foot long slanting forward out of its forehead. The skull was different from the equine norm being much larger in back to accommodate a fully sapient brain."
"Whoa!" the triplets exclaimed in wonder. "A unicorn. Cool!"
"So Derry, how long have you been on walkabout?" Lobo asked.
"Since a year ago when I turned seventeen and left my folks and the vale of my birth. My family and friends are all good people but the life of a sylvan elf was not for me. I was made for roaming. I want to see what lies over the next hill, to see natural wonders like volcanoes, cataracts, canyons, and caverns. I hope to travel the world and visit different peoples and learn something of their ways of life.
"It strikes me that a name like Derrionydd is very much like that of our friend the druid and former unicorn Meirionnydd. Now your own shape shifting powers would not have manifested till your teens, so how did your parents know to give you such a distinctive and evocative name?"
"They didn't. The name they gave me is Wolfgang. Now that is a fine name for a frost giant. It suggests strength and fierceness. But for a magical being like a unicorn? No way! So I gave myself a name more fitting to my newly exalted station in life as a unicorn cum Snow Elf."
"Admittedly though I do feel more like Wolfgang than Derry whenever I have to fight or to hunt.>
<Yes I do. I can easily run down game like antelope or rabbit or such. One kick to the head and I have meat."
"But unicorns are vegetarians." Lupo objected. "And their teeth and digestion are all wrong for meat whether raw or cooked."
Unicorns, yes, but in my true form I am like you. I have hands and the teeth and the digestive system of an omnivore. So after the hunt I transform to dress the carcass and cook the meat and whatever tubers or greens I can rustle up locally or have in my pack.
"Do you usually cover ground on four legs or two?"
"For travel, I prefer my unicorn form. Four legs are better than two."
"Not necessarily, not for us anyway. We most often lope along on four legs but we can travel about equally well in either form. Our two legged form is also made for distance running. Most folks don't realize that a good distance runner, whether human or elven, can outrun a horse over very long distances."
"I knew that, but with my hooves and horn I am less vulnerable to surprise attack than as a elf."
"That makes sense. So you just trot along on all fours."
"No. I never trot."
"Isn't the trot the usual distance gait for equines of all sorts?"
Yes, it is, but I prefer to amble."
"Why? What's the difference between the gaits?"
"The trot is a two-beat gait with a lot of up and down motion. There is actually a moment between beats when all four feet are off the ground. By contrast the amble is a four-beat gait where only one foot at a time is off the ground. This make it smooth and easy for a rider, though that counts for little with me. I am no one's mount save only Corwin Klarendes. No, the amble saves the energy I would expend or rather waste in trotting with all that pointless up and down."
"Shows how much we know about equestrianism. The fact is none of us has ever been up on a horse or felt any need to. We have four legs ourselves."
"That's a very practical way of looking at it."
"I should add that for us wolves one advantage with travel on two legs is a better view of our surroundings. As elves our eyes are twice as far above ground level as when traveling as wolves on all fours."
"Speaking of travel. I understand that you guys are on walkabout yourself, so I am hoping that we could join forces. It could be a lot of fun."
"That works for us." Lobo assured him.
"I guess you'd better stay in your elven form so we can talk along the way." Lobo observed.
<That's not really necessary.> Derry sent to him via Mind Speech.
<Of course.> Lobo sent back over the link Derry had created. <I should have realized that Mind Speech was one of your gifts, just as with our protectors, the White Kodiaks who are the ursine equivalent of unicorns.>
With that the boys broke camp and set out through the forest, chatting all the time to get better acquainted and to learn about each other's strengths and powers. If they ran into trouble, they could fight more effectively as allies if they knew what to expect from each other. Lobo was candid about their physical prowess, their tricks with their claws, and their gift of Calling Light. For the most part the triplets used sonic speech while Derry communicated with Mind Speech.
"Do you have a standoff weapon of your own Derry?"
<I have all the powers of a shape shifter plus those of a unicorn. So yes, I do have a standoff weapon, my so-called killer neigh. It is really an intolerable screech which does not kill but startles, pains, and distracts my foes and either drives them off or makes them vulnerable to a unicorn's natural weapons: horn, hoofs, and teeth.>
<It is a simple enough power but surprisingly effective in battle for both defense and offense. Armed foes cannot not handle their own weapons effectively. They put their hands to their ears, making them easy to dispose of or to run away from. I once confronted two slash bears and chased one away from his fresh kill.>
"What about the other one."
<I got him with my horn. Impaled his heart for an instant kill>
<I should also mention that I am nearly four times stronger than I look so though I weigh only three hundred pounds I am as strong as a draft horse and stronger than a Frost Giant.>
"Now when we travel we keep at it for hours unless we stop to hunt. What about you. Do you stop frequently to graze?"
Derry explained that he had to get his nutrition from the omnivorous diet of his human form. It wasn't just that Derry had little patience with the tedium of grazing. There wasn't really that much nutrition in grass, so you had to take in a whole lot of it. That took hours, the internal processing took energy, and then their was the quantity of bodily wastes.
The real problem was that a shifter could transform his own body but not the contents of his gut. Taking on human form after grazing would leave Derry with a large mass of mostly indigestible fodder in him which his digestive system could not handle very well. If Derry had to eat in his equine form he munched on grains such as oats which offered nutrition for less bulk.
No, it was much better to rely on the omnivore diet of his bipedal form. Besides the wide range of foods which cooking made available offered meat and vegetables, fruits, nuts, sweets, and cold beer. Such foods were best taken at the evening meal giving Derry all night to digest them. In the evening Derry always stayed in his bipedal form whether to socialize or for sleep or for sex.
"For sex, eh. A promise of things to come, I hope." Lupo chirped.
<We shall see, Lupo. We shall see.>
And so they did. That evening Derry switched among all three of the triplets in a constantly changing kaleidoscope of partners and positions. The natural enthusiasm of the teenage triplets met their match in the indefatigable virility of their new lover. And though Derry did not have a proverbial horse cock, he certainly was not lacking in that department. He was twice the size and four or five times the strength of any of his lupine partners so it was Derry who topped and the triplets who bottomed and bottomed and bottomed.
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