ES: Origins

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ES: Origins

Postby Graybeard » July 11th, 2010, 9:55 pm

(Note: The following is exactly what was in the "Origins" thread until a few minutes ago, but Viking-Sensei's excellent suggestion to apply an ES tag in the title for Errant Story-derived fanfic (and EN for Exploitation Now, ER for Errant Road, DNPWWO for Does Not Play Well With Others, etc.), caused a move to a "new" topic. As before, constructive criticism appreciated.)

Chapter 1: Introductions

This camp, the slender, long-haired youth decided, was definitely the most exotic thing he had ever seen in his sixteen-plus years.

He was tall by human standards, at least six feet three. In the old days, before the elves came, he would have been considered a giant among men; very few of the graves outside his village held remains that had reached even six feet in life. Of course, he wouldn’t have reached such a height himself back then, in all likelihood. Malnutrition and hard living would have seen to that. For that matter, he probably would simply have died in infancy, like so many of the children in the First Times did, a victim either of predators or of a disease like the one that nearly had killed him at six months of age – from which the magic of the elves had somehow, impossibly, saved him.

His hair was blond, long, and scraggly, but he had done his best to keep it clean during his journey; it would be crucial, he’d been told, to ensure that the first impression he made when he reached the elven camp would be a positive one. That same concern had driven him to get a ritual cleansing from the headman before he set off, and to bathe himself religiously as he traveled. His magical skills weren’t nearly adequate – yet – for him to cast the rudimentary Hygiene spell the elves had taught the most adept members of the village, although he’d been pronounced a highly promising student who might well be able to pick such a wonder up as he matured. (That was part of why he was here, after all.) It didn’t really matter, though, because he worked so hard to cleanse himself that his skin glistened and shone, housing an adolescent body under his tunic that already had hard (if still slender) muscles and the beginnings of broad shoulders that would make for a powerful, muscular man in a few years. That, too, was part of what brought him here. So was the obvious intelligence that shone from his blue eyes. Yet he still felt unclean and small, almost freakish, as he approached the gate at the entrance to the camp.

One thing for certain: he had never seen so much magic before. The gate itself was magically secured, that was obvious to his embryonic magical senses. The walls that had been erected around the camp had their own magical aura, as if elven magic, he thought, had been invoked to raise them. (He guessed wrong: it was half-elven magic, but he would have no way to know that.) Most exciting of all, there was a flicker of green and blue magic beyond the walls, rising and falling in time with muffled shouts, grunts, and a clanging that could only be the clash of swords – magical swords.

He was so enthralled with the martial sounds that for a moment, he didn’t notice the immense form that had appeared in front of the gate as though by, well, magic.

The elf was huge, towering at least six inches above him, and twice his own breadth, although much of that might be his remarkable, lustrous armor. Little could be seen of his face through the visor. The sword in his hands didn’t have that magical glow, but wielded by a warrior such as this one, it wouldn’t need it.

“State your business,” the elf rumbled without preamble.

Now came the moment he’d been waiting for, ever since he was a tiny child – waiting for, and training for. He’d learned both of the elven languages as well as he could, and recognized what this huge figure was speaking as the one used by the elves of the mountains – “Sanguen,” he’d been told they were called. That was good; he felt slightly more fluent in that elven tongue than the other one. He mustered his courage and gave the answer he had prepared.

“Noble Sir, please accept my deepest reverence and respect. I come bearing the blessings of my people, to offer as a sacrifice my –“

The elf interrupted him; he had no way of knowing it, but he'd just passed the first test, simply by neither collapsing in awe nor running away. “Yes, yes, I know why you’re here, you can skip the mumbo jumbo, just say it. You’re here as a candidate to join our special forces.” He wouldn’t name that elite unit for someone who was still very much an outsider. “We were told you were coming, and we’ve heard good things about you. You might – might – even survive your training.”

If the elf had thrown that last part in as another test, he passed. “Noble Sir, I offer myself,” he said, “without hesitation, and secure in the belief that I shall succeed if the fates allow it.” Again, that was part of the prepared answer, and really, there wasn’t much more to say than that.

The elf nodded; actually, reports from the scouts had suggested that this might be a very good candidate indeed. Of course, he wasn’t going to tell the boy that. “Very well, then,” he rumbled. “You may enter our camp. And what shall we call you, candidate?”

“Elle, Noble Sir. Lorrin Elle.”
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Re: ES: Origins

Postby Imp-Chan » July 12th, 2010, 11:46 am

Eeehehehehe. I think I like where this is going.

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Re: ES: Origins

Postby Graybeard » July 12th, 2010, 9:40 pm

Chapter 2: Orientation

Lorrin Elle lowered himself into the surprisingly comfortable bed and mentally reviewed the events of the day, before sleep took him.

The beginning and the end had both held surprises, of a sort that had him rethinking some of what he knew (or thought he knew) about elves. Everything he’d heard about them, back in his small mountain town in what would later be called northern Veracia, suggested that they were all-knowing, all-powerful beings almost on a par with the Mother Spirit Herself. When an elf came to town, looking for candidates to be trained as warriors or merely servants or even concubines (of either sex), he or she would be treated with the deference due one of semi-divine nature.

From the very start of the day, however, Lorrin had seen another side of the elves. The huge elf at the gate had nodded gravely, projecting exactly the air of omniscient dignity that had inspired the awe and reverence on elven visits to the village … but then he hesitated. “Very well. Come with me, Lo – Lo – Lorrinelle.” He pronounced the name as a single word, stumbling over its length and stammering in a most un-elvish fashion. (Lorrin, of course, had no way of knowing that the concept of a first name and a family name was unknown among the elves; basically, they didn’t have families, after all. But he would learn.)

The next few hours were a blur in his memory. He remembered passing through rows of what must have been tents, but were arrayed in a finery to put the dwellings of his people to shame, and even to overawe the temple of the Mother Spirit, the finest building he’d ever seen at home. The elves were as magnificent as their dwellings. Most wore not the full armor of the guard who’d met him at the gate, but a lighter, more flexible armor that was almost the more impressive for its flexibility and, he imagined, comfort. The elves didn’t look like they wore the armor; rather, it seemed to become part of them. Will I ever be able to wear that? he asked himself mentally, then suppressed the thought – lack of self confidence was not one of Lorrin Elle’s personality traits. He passed through the tents into an open ground … and then the physical training began.

That was more like what I expected, he thought that night as he massaged the deep ache in a calf, unaware that what he’d experienced hadn’t been “training” at all, just another test, and not a very demanding one at that. He’d run, climbed, stretched, hefted and swung a severed tree trunk that few men of his village would even have been able to get off the ground, then done it all again and again and again. All the time, the elves watched in silence … although their inner, telepathic voices were comparing notes.

<”Yes, this one has promise.”> <“Strong and agile, but not yet in control of his body.”> <”That’s the polite term. He looks clumsy to me.”> The skeptical thought evoked a brief mental snicker from another watcher, who chided the elf woman gently. <”Just remember, Ramal, he’s about at the same stage of physical development that you were at a mere hundred years old. You can’t expect perfect coordination of him yet.”> And on and on, until the young man was near collapse from fatigue.

It was a very tired Lorrin Elle that fell into the bed – and in it, he got his second surprise. He’d been expecting at most a bare cot, the kind that a warrior of his people might use, or even less than that; hadn’t the initiations among his people started with the boys spending a night on the bare ground, “resting” above an anthill to boot? Instead, he found himself in a more luxurious bedstead than anything he’d ever slept in at home. Did the elves know nothing about how to toughen a child-man?

(Much later, he would come to understand why he was afforded this blessed relief. There was no need for a magic-using race ever to suffer the discomfort that humans took as normal, when the exertion of magical force could create a fine mattress out of the dust itself. Elves in the field slept well, not on the bare ground. They wouldn’t even think of such indignities, in fact, so why expose humans to them?)

None of this was known to Lorrin at the time, of course. He knew merely that he was the most tired he’d ever been in his life … but also that he’d seen approving smiles on elven faces at the end of his workout. And that made all the aches and pains and sweat worthwhile.

I belong here, he told himself with some satisfaction, as he headed off to sleep.
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Re: ES: Origins

Postby Graybeard » July 15th, 2010, 10:52 pm

Chapter 3: Vlado Ordiel

It wasn’t until morning that Lorrin realized he hadn’t been alone in the tent overnight.

He was up at the first light of dawn, just as he would have been at home. He’d slept well despite the alienness of his surroundings; fatigue did that to a person. If the man now staring at him had come in during the night, he hadn’t noticed. If the newcomer had already been in his own bed in the opposite corner of the tent when Lorrin retired, he hadn’t noticed that either. Either way, he was there now, standing by the other bed, looking Lorrin over with a flat, almost reptilian expression on his face.

Lorrin paused before speaking, to conduct a brief inspection of his own. The newcomer looked to be a bit older than he himself was, possibly nineteen or twenty. He was shorter than Lorrin, although still taller than average for a human, something around six feet. His round head appeared completely devoid of hair. (This puzzled Lorrin; among his own people, a manly mane of hair was to be admired, evoking images of the mighty cave lions of the north. His own scraggly locks would eventually thicken into something along those lines, or so he hoped. Why would anyone want to shave his head? Or had the man simply been born bald?) His eyes were an icy blue, even in the faint light of dawn. A curious, almost feminine snub nose was an incongruous feature in a face that otherwise had a hardness to it that the dim light couldn’t hide. He wore a sleeveless tunic, revealing arms that rippled with the kind of muscles that Lorrin hoped he’d develop himself, under the tutelage of the elves.

The two young men stood regarding each other for a long moment, before Lorrin decided to break the ice. “Good morning,” he said. “May the Mother Spirit bless you.” It was his people’s usual introduction when meeting someone for the first time whose social standing was uncertain, and it called for a ritual, formulaic response -- which, however, the other youth did not give. “I am Vlado Ordiel,” he said, in a voice as flat as his expression.

Lorrin couldn’t place the accent, but it clearly wasn’t of his own people. That would probably explain the almost discourteous omission of the expected reply – may the Spirit Mother bless you as well. Well, he’d been warned that the trainees might come from almost anywhere in the world south of the troll lands, so who could tell what unfamiliar rituals and practices might prevail where this man had been born? He decided to continue with the introduction as though he was doing it at home; describing one’s origins had to be a universal bridge builder that would work in any culture. Wouldn’t it?

“I am Lorrin Elle, of the Five Mountains tribe,” he intoned. “My father is Faron, of the Red Bear tribe, and my mother is Mariel. My totem is –“

Vlado Ordiel interrupted him, his face just as impassive as it had been. “Don’t tell me anything more,” he said. “It will only make it more difficult if I have to kill you later. Now let’s go get some breakfast.”

Now that was one hell of an icebreaker, a stunned Lorrin thought as Ordiel beckoned him to follow through the door of the tent.
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Re: ES: Origins

Postby Graybeard » July 17th, 2010, 10:23 am

Chapter 4: Generation Gap

Much later, Lorrin would come to understand Vlado Ordiel’s unexpected, stand-offish introduction. In fact, he would come to the realization that Ordiel had actually done him something of a favor. For now, however, he could only shake his head in puzzlement as the two walked over to the mess tent.

The camp was still waking up, despite the lateness of the hour (now a full thirty minutes after sunrise), he was somewhat surprised to notice. Humans and elves were wandering toward the mess tent from the row of lodging tents that he’d noticed on his arrival. There didn’t seem to be any urgency to their movements, and certainly no sense of military order and regimentation. That was strange. The elves were certainly the most powerful military force on the planet, so powerful that no human or troll army dare oppose them – not that the humans, at least, would ever have considered such a thing (yet). How could such a disorderly, lackadaisical race ever come to wield such power?

The answer, he realized as soon as he thought about it, was magic. (Actually, there was another answer too, one that wouldn’t fully sink in on him for years, and that was just as well.)

Unusually among his people, although not as unusually as twenty years earlier, he’d actually seen light globes before, and much more unusually, even used them himself. The elven party that had come to his village to exchange diplomatic courtesies (and search for warrior candidates, another thing he didn’t know at the time) had brought some along, astounding the older villagers with the instant banishing of darkness at the wave of a hand. (Well, he told himself, that was one of those generational things; what could you expect among the old men who’d become so fixed in their ways that they couldn’t accept light from anything more complicated than a campfire? Our generation is more modern than they’ll ever be, he thought.)

There was more to it than that. A fourteen-year-old Lorrin Elle had been so intrigued by the extraordinary magical devices that he’d taken the unimaginably audacious step of asking one of the elves if he could work one himself. The towering man had fixed him with a penetrating stare, and Lorrin could almost feel an intrusion into his mind, as the elf conducted a silent assessment – and liked what he saw. He’s awed by us, but not terrified. Just the right amount of curiosity, too; he’ll be trainable, thirsting to do things better, get better at fighting, without getting into things he’s not meant to know. And I think there’s a little magical aptitude there…

The mental examination ended. “Certainly, my child,” the elf said, with a most un-elvish hint of a smile on his face. “Place your hand here, just over the globe, not quite touching it. That’s good. Now think at the globe. Will it to turn on. You’ll have to pour much of your energy into the willing, but you’ll do it. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt you, it’s not like fire…” Wide-eyed, Lorrin did as he was told, grunting at the surprising effort of focusing his will – and bless the Mother Spirit, the globe began to glow! Lorrin’s eyes widened even further at what he’d achieved, as the elf’s smile broadened. “Very good!” the elf encouraged. “Now think at it again, willing it back to darkness …”

No old-timer of the tribe could ever have done that, Lorrin thought pridefully as he walked through the passageway toward the mess tent, now illuminated with a whole array of the globes, their light dimming as the sun rose above the mountains and reached the camp. Of course, no old-timer of the tribe could have passed the other tests the visitors set for candidates, either … in many cases, simply because the old ones had the good sense not to try.

Returning to the here and now, it dawned on Lorrin that the elven mastery of magic was not only the reason for their dominance of the world, but also, a good reason why they needn't go through the rising rituals of his own people. If they could will the darkness away, why worry about prayers to the Mother Spirit (if the elves even recognized Her), the almost ceremonial handling of the fire, the discipline of the whole thing? Surely that casual mastery would carry over to other things in the elven society. (In this, he was right and wrong ... although he wouldn't understand exactly how wrong for years.) And wonder of wonders, the elves had selected him to join with them as they exerted their darkness-banishing will!

What a wondrous time I live in, Lorrin’s thoughts continued, as he entered the tent to see humans and elves sitting together over breakfast.
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Re: ES: Origins

Postby Graybeard » July 18th, 2010, 11:11 am

Chapter 5: Faces in the Crowd

If Lorrin had been expecting the breakfast fare to be as exotic as the elves themselves, he would have been disappointed. (In fact, he hadn’t been thinking about it.) The meal was much as he would have had at home, at least on a good day: a hot porridge, seasoned with an aromatic spice to offset its basic blandness, accompanied by a piece of meat – ham, probably – and a cup of tea. More exotic, however, was the woman who served it to him on a tray. She was taller than most human women, yet not as tall as the few elf women he’d seen; slender, yet less so than an elf. Her features were unremarkable, save for a dusky skin color that he’d seen only a few times, among visitors to his village from far away … and her ears. They were pointed, like elf ears, but smaller, barely larger than his own, and not protruding from her head the way the elves’ ears did.

She must be a half elf, Lorrin decided. He’d heard of them, but never seen one. A brief, involuntary surge of resentment rose in him, then rapidly subsided. According to the lore of his tribe, there’d been a time, before he was born but not that long ago, when the elves had been so fascinated with humans that they’d taken his ancestors in to live with them, learn with them, and do … other things with them. That had all changed when the half elves started to proliferate. He wasn’t sure exactly what had happened, but it sounded like some renegade humans had discovered that they could – have – make – sleep – f-- well, do it with the elves, and baby half elves were the result. Anyway, the outcome was what amounted to a race of their own, and one that the elves seemed to prefer as members of their own society. The result of that, in turn, was that most humans were once again on the outside looking in.

On the other hand, there weren’t any half elves among the trainees, as far as he had heard before he traveled, or could see at the table he was joining.

He started to invoke the Mother Spirit greeting and blessing, then remembered how Vlado Ordiel had reacted to it, and simply gave his name. Several of the young men looked at him as if he’d just committed some social indiscretion; others busied themselves with their porridge and pretended not to notice. One, however, looked up at him with the barest hint of a smile, a powerfully built young man with red hair and a prominent scar on his cheek. “Welcome,” he said, in a forceful yet cordial voice; the youth had a certain charisma, a command presence, Lorrin decided. “I’m Pontus Cardiel. Please join us.”

The ice broken, most of the other trainees decided that it must be all right to acknowledge the newcomer in their midst. “Drasko Commis.” Another bald (or shaven), round-headed boy who looked like a younger version of Vlado. “Noboo Hazegawa.” A short, blond teenager with acne who spoke with an accent Lorrin didn’t recognize. “Lars Kankaniel.” Another blond, but this one was tall, angular and impossibly skinny; Lorrin thought of him as a talking toothpick. “Carlo Emmial.” He was built along lines similar to Lorrin’s own, and Lorrin thought he might dimly recall him as a slightly older product of a nearby village. Good; that might make him someone for Lorrin to relate to. (Of course, it could also make him an enemy.) “Luis Monterio.” A stocky man of medium height, with an unusual caramel-colored skin tone and piercing brown eyes.

The introductions were almost complete, but one young man at the far end of the table rose and left before giving his name. Caught by the departure from the routine, Lorrin studied him as he left the mess tent. His appearance was quite different from the others at the table, almost all of whom had short (or no) hair and were clean-shaven – Luis had a tentative, adolescent hint of a mustache, and that was about all. The boy who’d left had long, dark hair and a full, bushy beard, almost an anachronism on a face that couldn’t have been more than eighteen years old. He also didn’t have quite the chiseled musculature of the others at the table. Oh, he was plenty well muscled, no doubt about that; his torso bulged under the tunic, and there was power in his arms. However, there was also a certain, well, softness to him that there wasn’t in the others. Lorrin suspected that his appearance would make him attractive to girls, not immediately realizing how ironically right he was.

Pontus Cardiel followed the young man’s departure, noticed Lorrin staring after him, produced a chuckle. “Don’t mind Luca,” he said to Lorrin, a lewd smile on his face (at least everyone but Lorrin would have recognized it as such). “He’s our squad gigolo. Probably one of the elves was feeling horny when she got up this morning and wants to get serviced before she starts the day.” That broke the ice more fully and finally, and the trainees had a good if brief laugh before returning to their porridge. All but Lorrin, anyway; he dug into the porridge too, but one question remained unspoken in his mind:

What’s a gigolo?
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Re: ES: Origins

Postby Graybeard » July 23rd, 2010, 9:19 am

Chapter 6: Trainers

Breakfast broke up, and the humans went their separate ways, but Pontus Cardiel stayed behind for a word with Lorrin. “The elves aren’t great about organizing,” he said, “so I sort of take it on myself to help get new humans settled in and bring some order to the chaos. I’m due at the Slow Fall tower shortly for some practice, but during my down time, you can find me in my tent if you need me. Far right row, third tent from the end as you come into the compound.” He set off, leaving Lorrin with two thoughts in his mind: I like this man. Nice of him to help me get oriented; my guess that he’s a natural leader seems right, and what’s a Slow Fall tower? However, he didn’t have time to act on the second thought, because the enormous elf who’d admitted him to the training camp, or at least one who looked like him, was approaching the table.

“Come with me, Lorrinelle,” the elf rumbled, still having trouble with the notion of a surname. Lorrin obediently rose and followed him through the maze of tents into a large open-air area, sort of a natural arena, where half a dozen elves were waiting. Most were the same kinds of mountains of flesh as the one who had led him here, but Lorrin noticed that among them was the first elf he’d ever seen who was shorter than he himself was, a woman with orange-red hair – and a very un-elven figure. A momentary, adolescent, prurient thought crossed his mind, then his natural self-discipline reasserted itself and he returned to the matter at hand.

The large elf, who had never given his own name, started to make introductions. “Ramal. She will be your fitness instructor.” A tall, cadaverous-looking woman tipped her head very slightly as Lorrin did so rather more deeply, but not without a moment of silent indignation. A woman? Teaching me fitness? I am insulted. (Later, of course, he would come to understand that among the elves, women and men did the same duties interchangeably, but that understanding was still months away.) “Balan. He will teach you weaponless combat.” A man with incongruous pink hair and a predatory look in his eye. “Sarine. She is our weapons master. She’ll teach you how to use your sword.”

The short, busty (by elven standards) woman tipped her head slightly, but he could see a distinct flash of hot anger rise in her face as the other elves laughed at the double entendre. What was that all about? Lorrin wondered. There was an obvious undercurrent that he couldn’t come close to understanding. This “Sarine” didn’t seem popular among the elves. Might the innuendo suggest that they considered her loose? (A corner of his mind hoped so; he pushed that corner out of his consciousness.) Had she done something to offend the others? Maybe they just looked down on combat with weapons. That might make sense; a magic-using race might well consider killing with a blade, or a crushing blow, barbarous.

In which case they’d get a barbarian to do it for them, of course.

Lorrin became aware that he’d missed at least one introduction while he was puzzling over the reaction to this curiously human-sized elf, something about a magic master to teach him the rudiments of combat magic. He lowered his head reflexively as the introductions continued: a specialist in healing magic (he’d need some of that when the combat training started, let alone when he actually started to fight), another fitness instructor, and surprisingly, an austere, hatchet-faced man who was introduced as the “protocol instructor.” Why would “protocol” be part of the basic instruction of a warrior? Then Lorrin understood: a fighting man in the service of the elves would spend most of his time on ceremonial duties, honor guards and so on, rather than fighting. He wasn’t sure whether to be disappointed by that realization or not.

Introductions over, the elves dispersed without a sound and without deigning to notice him, although he could have sworn that the puzzling, scorned Sarine might have flashed him a look of silent resentment as she left. (Resentment? Of whom? Or was it something else? Time would tell, and for a 16-year-old, Lorrin was patient.) The only elf who remained with him was gaunt Ramal, the fitness instructor.

“Come, Lorrin Elle,” she said; he noticed that she got the concept of “surname” better than the large camp guard had. “We will enter the arena, and there we will race.” Lorrin fell in behind her.
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Re: ES: Origins

Postby Graybeard » July 25th, 2010, 11:46 pm

Chapter 7: Races, in more ways than one

“Race, my lady?” Lorrin said as they walked. “Why would you want to race a mere human?”

“Skip the my-lady crap,” Ramal snapped. “We don’t use titles around here. It’s better that way when the fighting starts.” Lorrin wasn’t sure what she meant by that, but he let it pass, as she continued, “As for racing, it’s the simplest way for me to see how much of a job I’m going to have getting you into shape.”

Lorrin wasn’t sure about that, either, and he wasn’t sure he liked it. Something in the tone of her voice suggested both distaste for the shaping-up process, and – he would almost have thought there was a little edge on it, a little anticipation, as though she was looking forward to the inevitable inflicting of pain that it would entail. Well, he hadn’t expected the physical training to be painless, after all.

He held his tongue until they reached the center of the open area. It was larger than it looked, he realized, a good quarter of a mile across, maybe more. Off to one side, he could see what appeared to be two humans – one of them might have been Luis, from the breakfast table – sparring with what appeared to be spears, as an elf looked on. On the other side stood a squared-off tower perhaps thirty feet tall, with several humans and an elf at its top, another elf at the bottom. As he watched, one of the humans fell, or was thrown, over the side, toward the elf at ground level. What had happened? Was this some manner of harsh discipline? He cringed with the anticipation of what must be a dangerous, perhaps fatal fall – but then magic flared, and the man’s descent slowed suddenly, and he floated to the ground like a feather. The Slow Fall tower, thought Lorrin, and I am supposed to learn that wondrous magic too! He watched entranced as the man reached the ground, unhurt, exchanged words with the elf, and climbed a set of stairs along the wall as another human went over the side.

It took him a moment, but he became aware that Ramal was staring at him, with a look on her face that was definitely not approval. “If you are quite ready, we will race back to the entry point, where you came in,” the elf said. “Ready … go!” Without any warning, she was off. Between Lorrin’s unreadiness and the head start his opponent had gained, there was only one way this race could turn out, and it did. She’d been waiting for him for several seconds when he arrived puffing at the entrance to the arena. “A pitiful performance,” she almost spat. “I can see that I have my work cut out for me …”

She looked like she was going to say something else, but the arrival of another elf cut her off. This one was only about his own height, a woman with silvery hair and a round face that made quite a contrast to his instructor’s almost aquiline profile. Her complexion looked a great deal healthier than the other elf’s pallor, too. But the look on her face … Lorrin had seen that look once before, when the village headman’s wife had fussed delightedly over a prize-winning bull that had been raised by a village farmer – a bull that was going to be destined first for stud, then for the headman’s banquet table.

“Oooh, Ramal,” the newcomer gushed. “You got such a pretty one this time! Here, let me look at him.” She approached, stroked Lorrin’s cheek in a way that suggested other intentions than just turning him into a fighter. “I could have so much fun training this one…”

Ramal scowled, an expression that seemed to come naturally to her. “I just bet you could, Varani, just like you Rinkai do with all the humans you 'train.' It’s disgusting, if you ask me.”

Varani, if that was her name, snorted. “You Cimmerii could have just as much fun with the trainees, if you didn’t have such a stick up your racial ass. Here, let me have him for a while.” The expression on her face intensified.

It was Ramal’s turn to snort. “Up to you. Lorrin Elle, you have a new physical trainer. Good luck.” She walked away without another word.

The newcomer finally chose to address the human. “Oh, I’ll be happy to train you, and believe me, it’ll be for the better. Elves as uptight as she is –“ she indicated the retreating Ramal – “aren’t really suitable for this kind of thing.” To Lorrin’s astonishment, she started to disrobe. “Here. Race me around the arena, I won’t even cheat by teleporting the way she did when you went up against her in the sprint. And after that, we’ll have sex.”

”What??”
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Re: ES: Origins

Postby Graybeard » July 28th, 2010, 7:28 pm

[Strange; I could have sworn I posted this earlier today. Apparently not. Anyway:]

Chapter 8: Learning from the Masters

Varani turned toward Lorrin, giving him a full frontal view. She wore a puzzled expression on her face. She wore nothing else.

“After we race, we’ll have sex,” she repeated. “Did I not say that right? I know you humans have other terms for it: intercourse, doing it, getting it on, boinking, making –“ She paused to think. “I don’t think there’s a word in our language that corresponds to yours. Anyway, is there a problem? Or are you one of those human men who are – different?”

Lorrin Elle was not a complete stranger to the joys of the flesh. Like most boys of the tribe, he’d been “initiated” at age fifteen during the annual fertility rite, and there had been a certain dalliance with the comely daughter of the village wainwright that had never come to the public eye, to their mutual relief. However, he was still sixteen years old. As he fumbled for an answer, he became aware that some of his blood was moving toward regions of his body not fully compatible with running a race.

“No – I – I’m not – it’s all right,” he finally managed to get out. “You just surprised me, is all. Whatever you think is best. I’m ready.” As he became aware of his unintended double entendre, the non-racing blood movement intensified.

Varani’s puzzlement turned to a smile. “Good. There’s no reason our training program can’t be enjoyable, and besides, it’s good for practicing fine muscle control. Now catch me if you can!” And she was off.

The elf had a good ten-yard lead by the time Lorrin was able to get going, but his was a born runner’s physique. He made up the gap quickly, while still managing to pace himself. I actually have a chance of winning this race, he thought. They were about a quarter of the way around the arena, and running dead even, when the elf picked up the pace; again, he caught up, even pulled a little ahead … noticing as he passed her that she had the energy and presence to be smiling.

They were still neck-and-neck as they came around the last turn, and Lorrin called on his reserves to kick into a full-blown sprint. The elf smiled again as he started to pull away … and then suddenly, she simply wasn’t there any more. A magical whsshh echoed in the arena, and as he approached the finish line, he became aware that she was standing there already, puffing slightly, and wearing a smile and nothing more.

“I lied,” she said cheerfully, and rather unnecessarily, as he arrived. “I didn’t expect you to be so fast, so I did cheat after all, just a little teensy bit of teleportation at the very end. That’s part of your lesson, though. When you start to fight, you’ll be going up against others who don’t play by the rules, and if you’re not ready for it, they’ll kill you. That would be … unfortunate.”

Her smile broadened as she took Lorrin by the hand, leading him toward a small side clearing at the edge of the arena. He recognized a browse bed there, and the circulatory cross-currents started up again as Varani spoke. “I wasn’t lying about the other part, though …”

And she wasn’t.
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Re: ES: Origins

Postby Graybeard » July 30th, 2010, 11:19 pm

Chapter 9: Pub(l)ic Opinion

That evening, when the trainees reassembled for dinner (nothing notable, Lorrin thought), there appeared to have been a subtle change in the group dynamic.

Lorrin couldn’t be completely sure, but it seemed as if many of the other young men were avoiding him just the slightest bit more overtly than at breakfast. Of course, most of them hadn’t been all that friendly earlier in the day, either, but the conversation seemed to become muted when he brought his tray over to the table, and he thought he detected some furtive glances in his direction before the faces turned back to their plates. He definitely heard one muttered grumble, from bald, round-headed Drasko Commis; he couldn’t recognize the language, but the disapproval needed no translation, merely the very evident frown that accompanied it before Commis turned away.

How do they know? Do they smell her on me? he wondered. Somehow, it seemed unlikely. His coupling with the elf Varani had been a tidy affair, almost antiseptic, if antiseptic sex could even be imagined. She’d started by mumbling a quiet spell even as she helped him remove his tunic; a contraceptive, she explained later. Her complete lack of body hair had made the coition itself much less sweaty than what he’d experienced back at home, made more emphatic by the fact that Varani hadn’t seemed to break a sweat from the run around the arena either. (Do elves sweat at all? he wondered.) And afterward, her quick Hygiene spell had removed what physical evidence of the coupling remained on their bodies … and they got back to work.

Well, maybe word got around quickly, although he couldn’t yet puzzle out exactly how. And maybe there was some unspoken social taboo that he’d unwittingly violated. Whatever the explanation, Lorrin remained seated at the table after most of the boys had risen to take their dishes away. He noticed, however, that three of his peers were still at the table, and two of them definitely edged closer to him, to the point of stopping him from getting up to follow the others.

The first to bend a head in Lorrin’s direction was spindly Lars Kankaniel. His close approach allowed Lorrin a better look at him than he’d had in the morning, and he realized that Kankaniel was very young, certainly younger than he himself was, probably the youngest trainee at the table. The skinny blond looked around almost furtively, then whispered in his ear. “Is it true? You really screwed an elf? Damn … I’d’a never imagined it … So what was it like?”

Lorrin wasn’t quite sure how to answer this astonishingly direct question, but in the event, he didn’t have to. He was still fumbling for an answer when Pontus Cardiel, who’d also stayed behind, cleared his throat, rather more conspicuously than might have been necessary. “Later, Lars,” he rumbled, and the tall boy got up and walked away, just like that.

“You’ll have to excuse him,” Pontus said. “He’s new here too, and he hasn’t figured out the social ins and outs of being with the elves. Neither have the others, really. They just don’t get a race that treats fu— sex like it’s a regular part of physical training, or scratching an itch.” He chuckled and rolled his eyes. “Sounds like you may have drawn a Rinkai Erufu as a trainer. The Sanguen and Keiren would at least wait until the third or fourth day of ‘training’ before jumping your bones, and most of the Cimmerii wouldn’t touch you at all. I’m not sure whether that’s a good or a bad thing … Anyway, don’t worry about it, they’ll all sort it out eventually.”

Lorrin stammered his flustered yet sincere thanks as the apparent leader of the trainees got up … and hirsute Luca, who’d been silent throughout, edged closer to him. He made a point of looking around to make sure they weren’t being observed, then spoke in a curiously throaty voice. “Mate, nobody else will say it, but I will: thanks for taking your turn at the stud service. You can’t imagine how old it gets having the elves after your glands all the time. I don’t know whether their own men can’t do it themselves, or what, but damn, you get worn out, and the novelty doesn’t last very long. I’ll tell you right now, I appreciate it; maybe I’ll finally get some goddess-damned sleep tonight.”

Luca rose without waiting for a response, leaving Lorrin Elle alone with his thoughts.
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