Elf Boy's Friends - Volume XIV

by George Gauthier

Chapter 7

Speed and Flight

In a kinetic display of youthful male concupiscence, six splendid youths ran cross-country along a trail in a leafy park in the capital city of the Commonwealth of the Long River. The boys were wholly in a state of nature, their tanned, toned, and taut bodies a visual delight for those who fancied pretty boys, of whom there were many among the citizens taking their leisure in the green oasis during the cool of the morning.

This run wasn't a race but rather in the way of regular exercise, part of a routine to keep in shape and maintain the stamina and cardiovascular endurance that would serve them well both in the bedroom or during heroic adventures like those which had made them famous. Still — routine or not — these boys did have a competitive streak in them and occasionally indulged themselves in friendly races, whether in sprints or over medium distances, say up to ten miles.

Now the laurels in the sprints usually went to the diminutive shape shifter with raven locks and alabaster white skin, the forest ranger Aodh of Llangollen and Elysion, spouse of Count Taitos Klarendes, Count of the Eastern March. Aodh owed his speed in the sprint to his magical nature as a wir or shape shifter. His alternate form of a black panther body was built for bursts of strength and speed rather than stamina. Felines were stalk and pounce predators with a fast twitch musculature, quite different from dogs and wolves whose slow twitch musculature let them run their prey to exhaustion. Besides his innate gift, the magic of the New Forest had later helped Aodh rebuild his body to produce tripled normal strength. All of which let him push off even more powerfully against the ground and accelerate in a way distance runners could never match.

For all his edge at short distances, Aodh knew he could never outpace the others over middle distances like the six miles they were running that day. His physique was simply not up to the task. It did not help that Aodh had the shortest pair of legs in the race, since he stood only five foot zero and weighed but a hundred pounds.

So he was content to let his friends set the pace and followed along gamely, mainly to build the stamina he might need in a knock down and drag 'em out fight. Aodh might not be able to run as far as his friends but he wasn't about to let the others down by pooping out on them during a fight or a forced march. If he had needed any lessons in the value of stamina he got it months earlier during his expedition across the Southern Ocean while defending the town wall at Argyll against seemingly endless numbers of raiders.

The other really little guy in the group was an impossibly cute twink with auburn hair, the journalist Drew Altair whose stature matched Aodh's with hardly a hairsbreadth of difference. Drew's strength had been doubled by druidical healing magic, so though he couldn't outrun his boyfriend in a sprint, at longer distances he could leave the shapeshifter behind. That day though he elected to keep pace with him, enjoying the company, knowing it would be the fleet footed twins who would get to the finish line first anyway

Identical twins, Jemsen and Karel were of medium height, blond, and slender and blessed with fine-boned features. Theirs was a true runner's build though with a surprisingly strong upper storey. With their sun bronzed bodies and hair the color of corn silk the twins were like a pair of palomino colts whose smooth glabrous bodies practically glowed with vitality and sex appeal.

Thanks to their parentage and to the druidical healing magic the twins still looked like teenage boys and would do so for at least half a millennium before they started to age. Their magically enhanced constitutions also conferred more than doubled strength, stamina, reflexes, and keener senses.

In the middle of the pack were war mage Axel Wilde and journalist Corwin Klarendes, the count's nephew. Both stood four inches over five feet so halfway between the little guys and the twins. They ran easily enjoying the kiss of the morning sun on their bare backs and bums, their legs scissoring metronomically as they paced along, arms pumping, drawing deep breaths into their lungs, euphoric with a runner's high.

"It's a great day to be alive." Axel enthused.

"Can't argue with that. Life has been very good to us, Axel," Corwin agreed. "so much so, that I sometimes wonder why is it we keep putting ourselves at risk as soldiers, war correspondents, and explorers in expeditions into the unknown. After all the close calls we've had, you'd think we would know better."

"You have a point, Corwin, but would you really have it any other way? There is a lot to be said for a life of adventure, traveling to unknown lands with stout companions, and seeing what the wide world has to offer. Besides, adventures may be dangerous, but they are seldom boring, and we have the satisfaction of doing good deeds, whether in war, exploration, or rescue work. And adventuring helps you and Drew gather material for your journalism. How many Writer's Prizes have you won now? Three?"

"Yes, but Drew's total is seven, counting the one he can expect for his chronicle of the naval expedition to the Southern Ocean. I read the draft. Like all the others it was a real page turner."

"Maybe it is time you guys let someone else win the prize."

"Nothing is stopping our competitors from going on adventures of their own. If they bring back a good story, I'll buy their books myself. As for our own next assignment, I hope our editor will let both his star reporters go off together on an adventure. He has journeymen reporters for the local stuff. Beside, not matter have far away we go, we can get our copy to him from almost anywhere. Usually one of our companions has Mind Speech, or can open portals, or can teleport drafts of our articles back to the capital."

"Let's save our breath for the run, I'd hate to see the little guys overtake us. We'd never hear the end of it."

At the finish line all the nude boys stopped by the outdoor showers to wash the sweat and salt off their bodies, not that they had to worry about developing body odor. None of them any longer had the apocrine sweat glands which exuded oils which might turn rancid, just eccrine glands which secreted only salt and water, leaving their bodies smelling perpetually heathy of clean boy.

Refreshed by the cool water, they lay down on the grass to rest, the water droplets beaded up on their skin glinting like tiny diamonds in the sunlight, their sexy bodies exhibited for the delight of passersby and other runners. Now the youths were perfectly aware of the longings they stirred in the hearts and loins of connoisseurs of boy flesh, but carried on largely unselfconsciously though Drew at least, social butterfly that he was, brazenly basked in the admiring looks he and the others drew as they chatted about their just completed run.

"No surprise that you guys got to the finish line first," Aodh conceded. "It's only my human side and regular exercise that give what stamina I do have to keep up as well as I do."

Karel shrugged. "The two of us are natural runners, Jemen and me. Still, for real speed you should watch us run with the wind at our backs."

"That is so true." his twin enthused. "Karel just whistles up a jet of wind which pushes us as we race along at a mile a minute or four times faster than the easy pace we ran today."

Karel had long ago realized his gift of air magic could help him run unnaturally fast. His technique took advantage of the fact that, when they ran fast, just as with horses in a gallop, human were actually airborne, if only very briefly, just after they pushed off with the rear foot and before their front foot touched the ground. It was this principle that let Karel almost literally fly along the road with six yard strides . Best of all Jemsen could match him stride for stride with Karel providing the push for both of them while their psychic link kept their strides coordinated.

Running before the wind was a lot like running downhill full tilt, where a runner's legs could hardly churn fast enough to keep up with the forward motion of the body and keep them under its center of gravity. It took real effort and the fast reflexes of a magically enhanced physique to keep coordinated and not let the air jet bowl him over.

"Which is why we call 'no powers' in these races." Drew noted. "Why if I were to invoke my own gift of telekinesis I could zip along the nap of the earth much faster than you guys can run even with the wind at your backs."

"Ah, but that takes equipment which you don't have with you Drew, bare-ass naked as you are. To fly you'd need to strap yourself into a flying yoke since your powers cannot move your own body directly."

"I don't necessarily need a yoke to fly." Drew countered. "I can grab just about anything then hold on as I propel it down range."

"Maybe, except that on a running track there isn't much of anything for you to grab. I mean it's pretty bare, isn't it: just the footpath and grassy margins."

Running trails were not simple dirt trails but an artificial footpath constructed much like the roads reserved for foot traffic, whether by man or unshod beasts like oxen, aurochs, and camels. In contrast to stone paved roads devoted to wheeled transport and shod horses, these were surfaced with a composite made of sawdust and bitumen, compressed and heated, then cut and laid in squares atop a substrate or sand and gravel.

"No problem; I'd just grab Aodh here and levitate him like so. See?"

Aodh squawked as the mischievous fetcher gripped his ankle and telekinetically lifted him off the grass though he did not fly down range with his improvised flying device but set him gently back down.

"Actually" Axel began "you're all slow pokes compared to those of us who can travel by teleportation or portals. A war wizard like Liam or a druid like Dahl can open a portal or rift as they are now calling them and travel hundreds of miles in a matter of seconds. My own gift lets me teleport even faster, not in seconds but in an instant. I like to say that I can travel at the speed of thought."

"Rifts and teleportation are actually slower than running or flying." Corwin challenged provocatively, chin raised.

"How so?" Axel asked skeptically.

"Travel via rifts or portals may happen in the shortest possible interval, but actual movement is only at a very slow speed: a walking pace. Think about it. You pass through a rift at a walk or a run at best, which is slow by anyone's figuring. It is quite wrong to think that teleportation takes place at the speed of thought, whatever that might be. When you teleport you are not moving at all, not at the speed of thought or any other speed. You do it while standing still, at a dead stop, and not moving at all — speed zero!"

"Technically you have a point," Axel grumbled, conceding with ill grace.

"Which makes us fetchers the fastest guys of all," Drew crowed. "And thank you for pointing that out, Corwin," adding:

"Whether it is by flying yoke or autogyro I can move four times faster than when the twins run with the wind at their backs and much faster than Karel can fly with those clumsy batwing extensions which Army flyers occasionally use to lift heavy payloads of bombs and caltrops"

"That is only too true," Karel conceded ruefully.

"I have pretty much given up on flying by pushing myself with a jet of air that has to push against those batwings. You have the right of it, Drew. Batwings are a clumsy way to fly mostly because the air jet has to do triple duty — provide lift, propulsion, and steering, all three. I'd love to fly as easily as you fetchers do. How "great it would be, and even better if I could take Jemsen along as when we lift off together with gravitational repulsion."

"Hmm, maybe you can Karel." Axel said thoughtfully. "That is if you and Jemsen team up as you do Levitating against gravity."

"What do you mean?"

"What you said just now was what gave me the idea. When you piggy back on Jemsen he lifts you both by gravitational repulsion, right? Keep doing that only once you get clear of the ground use your air magic to call up a jet of air which will to push you forward vary fast indeed. Steering is simple; just angle the air jet left or right as needed."

"That's brilliant, Axel!" the twins chorused. "Of course, now that you've laid it out, it strikes us as so obvious that we should have thought of it ourselves."

Axel shrugged.

"You guys were simply too close to the problem," Axel assured him.

"Let's try it out right now," the twins enthused. "Now it should work, but Drew, you'd better stand by to catch us if something goes wrong."

"I'm sure you won't fall unless you lose your concentration, but I'll be ready just in case."

The twins' first flight using conjoined powers was modest enough. After Karel hopped on his back Jemsen levitated by gravitational repulsion but only to fifty feet. Karel then called a gentle jet of wind which pushed them along twice normal running pace, not even as fast as they could run with the wind at their backs. Still that flight proved that Axel's idea was sound. Onlookers applauded, delighted to watch two beautiful bare-assed blond boys take to the skies.

"OK for the next flight lets see how it goes when we fly pretty fast -- not at maximum speed by any means but at a good clip. First though we'd better suit up in the gear we use when running with the wind: close-fitted shirt and trews, lace up moccasins, safety helmet, and goggles."

Axel teleported himself and the twins to their hotel. Once they suited up he jumped them back. The next flight went up to four hundred feet, and the boys sped along at a hundred miles an hour. Their precautions were well taken. Their passage through the air at that speed generated an unpleasant wind chill and would have made their eyes water but for the goggles.

"They fly through the air with the greatest of ease…" Karel sang, somewhat off key. Jemsen grinned:

"We can be proud of what we did today brother, acting on Axel's inspired insight. So once again all three of us are Pioneers of Flight. Drew you gotta write this up for your journal 'Magic'. Oh and we ought to tell the druids too. They'll be thrilled to finally be able to fly under their own power. Druids control both earth magic for levitation and weather magic to call a wind."

"And speaking of wind," Axel began, "an earth wizard might fly all by himself if he rises to an altitude where the wind is blowing in the direction he wants to go. Now he might have bob up and down a bit to find the right wind or might have to tack back and forth, but he would get there."

"I'm heading over to Institute right away to tell Sir Willet and the other war wizards and their aides. Afterwards I'll teleport to the Klarendes manor in Elysion to tell the druids the good news."

"Good idea, Axel," Corwin agreed, adding:

"I'll get myself over to the offices of the Capital Intelligencer to write an article on this latest advance in the field of flight. And once again we'll scoop everyone else. Let the competition eat their hearts out."

"Drew, you'd better stay here and keep spotting for the twins until they feel they really have the hang of it. Aodh, you look like you have something to add."

"Just that we should all get together this evening in Twinkle Town and celebrate at the Sign of the Whale. I'll make the dinner reservations and also invite Taitos and Eborn to join us and the rest of our circle of friends, those who are in town at the moment."


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