Art by jabberox
“...and then we were grabbed by a bunch of tentacles?”
“What’s the difference?”
“I think tentacles are specifically the body part of an animal.” David and I pause our discussion, and even Sona looks at Liss, who shrugs. “Nate talks about that kind of stuff a lot when we’re alone.”
“Regardless, yes, we were both grabbed,” I continue recounting last night’s nightmare. “Then we were lifted into the air—”
“And I was stabbed again,” David finishes for me.
“Yes,” I respond with a sigh. “You were stabbed again.”
It is late afternoon, Solisday (it is important to keep track of the days when out in the wilderness), and the four of us are hunting for dinner, or at least attempting to. After waking several people last night with my nightmare-induced scream, I managed to fall back asleep with some unease. Thinking on the nightmare only briefly after waking in the morning, my attention was immediately drawn to other matters, namely trying to find something for breakfast.
That hunt was not successful, leading to a breakfast of trail rations. We then had a fairly quiet and uneventful day of travel, especially when compared to yesterday. David somehow managed to not bring up my nightmare at all until right now, which for some reason he has decided is the best time to talk about it. It is not that I am trying to avoid it, but the timing is very inconvenient.
I have no problem talking about my nightmares, though I would like to point out that he still feels shy enough to want privacy when discussing his own. Since getting him to open up about them, he has gone out of his way to ensure neither of us is keeping anything bottled up. Which is honestly fantastic, and I will have no problem talking about it after we are finished hunting. Truthfully, I am not giving the bad dream that much weight to begin with. I am unclear as to where some of the imagery came from, but I am self-aware enough to know that the base cause is my mind reliving David’s violent death.
“So what do we do?” David asks as if there were a simple solution.
“Maybe talk about it when we’re not trying to sneak up on dinner?” It would seem Liss is having the same issue I am.
David huffs in response, but the point seems to be made and we finally have silence. As our group has grown in size, hunting has become less and less convenient. You cannot feed ten people on just a few rabbits. I have been considering hunting something larger, like a deer, but that comes with its own issues, the main one being storage. My spacious satchel can fit a lot, but even that has its limits. There is also the matter of waste—in my culture, it is considered disrespectful to not use every part of your kill. Beyond the meat to be butchered, inedible organs and ligaments can be used for fertilizer, fur and bones used for clothing or decoration—everything has a use.
It might work if we found a deer small enough, but there is no telling when or where we might run into one. In the interim, I expect us to lean more heavily on fishing to feed ourselves on the road. There’s not much in the way of game that falls into a size category between the two. Nothing except maybe feral livestock and a few large birds—
As if on cue, Sona growls, right before I hear a gobbling sound in the distance—the call of a lum’tik’bra, or as David and Liss call it, a turkey. I could easily make a meal for ten with a bird that size, two if I stretched it out with a stew, and the feathers could be sold to a fletcher or used as spell components. With a plea for continued silence and a signal to follow, Sona and I lead the others toward our target.
One successful hunt later, the four of us begin the walk back to camp with our dead fowl in tow. I stop with David and Sona in a small clearing along the way to butcher and clean the bird while Liss continues on, as this is not a three-person job. David has been somewhat squeamish in the past, but seeing as hunting will be an almost daily part of our lives for the time being, he has been trying to push past it.
We finish a short while later (there were so many damn feathers to deal with), and after washing up, return to the camp proper so I can get started on dinner. I will have to make sure to refill my water canteens as it takes most of what I have to fill the pot I place over the fire. I add the meat and other spices while David slices vegetables and other ingredients to add as the water comes to a boil. Sona lounges in the grass next to Riley, who happily pets through her fur, and while we work, I can hear some of the others discussing what sounds like magic.
“The spell functions very similarly to featherfall,” Michael explains to Tsula, the two looking through Michael’s spellbook.
“I see that.” Tsula nods her head. “It looks like you increased the weight-reduction portion of the spell exponentially.”
“Right,” Michael agrees. “I couldn’t make it completely weightless because—”
“Because then whatever you cast it on would just float away,” Tsula finishes for him.
“Exactly.” He gives her a bright smile. “But by making them near-weightless, and adding a little bit of force underneath—”
“—you can suspend the target in mid-air.” Tsula summarizes, sounding fascinated. “It would be forced to hover there, like an aerial snare.”
“I haven’t used it in a fight yet, but that’s the idea.” Michael is clearly pleased that the girl he is infatuated with is finishing his sentences. “So far, all I’ve really done with it is use it to move things from one dorm to another when I was given a new room at the institute.”
“That still sounds like an ingenious way to use a spell like that,” Tsula assures him.
“Thanks.” Michael smiles, suddenly bashful.
Overhearing some of the mages discussing their magical prowess has been a common occurrence over the past week and a half. It makes sense, seeing as the mages in our group outnumber the non-mages six to four. Seven if you count myself, though my abilities are nothing spectacular. We have only seen combat a handful of times since the majority of them joined, but they have been invaluable team members each time.
Michael, Tsula, Piper, and Nathaniel are arcane casters, all of them wizards (though Nathaniel and Tsula are untrained) with the exception of Piper, who is a sorcerer. That means their magical abilities fall under what most people would think of as “traditional” magic—creating lights, detecting magic, and conjuring bolts of arcane energy. Michael and Nathaniel both carry walking sticks as weapons, though I know at least Michael’s doubles as a spell focus. I have seen Piper wielding a wand on occasion, though she seems to prefer using her sorcerer magic to summon arcane weapons like a whip, and as previously mentioned, Tsula does not currently have one. Ideally, none of them will ever have to use their weapons in a fight, but you can never be too careful. Especially with our track record of bandits, giant snakes, and ghosts.
Corrine is a divine caster, while Riley is a natural caster, like myself. That makes the two of them the team’s healers, with Corrine edging out the redhead in raw healing power, as well as having some manner of power against the undead. As its name would suggest, Riley’s magic lends itself more to the natural world, things like animals, the weather, and the elements. My own magical talents are nowhere near as strong as his. Both of them wield wooden walking staves, though again when it comes to combat, they have mostly relied on their magic.
The rest of us are all wielding a sword of some sort (two, in David’s case) and have also had fairly extensive combat training. Given the dangers we have faced on the road so far, we have tried to impart some of our skills onto the others with the occasional sparring session, to middling results. Physical combat is not for everyone. The mages are known to engage in some training of their own, practicing spells and using trees or rocks as “target practice.”
“Would you like to try it out?” Michael asks, looking from Tsula to a small pile of rocks.
“Absolutely,” she agrees, standing and offering him a hand to do the same.
Still standing by the fire, I stir our dinner stew as I watch the two wizards approach the rocks. Each of them selects a larger rock, separating it from the others and taking several steps back. Nodding to Tsula, Michael goes first.
“Pendere!” Michael lifts his hand in front of him, palm face-up, and a moment later, the stone is hovering in the air.
“Very nice,” Tsula compliments. “Leriana!” After doing the same hand movement, her own target floats up just like Michael’s.
“There’s something I don’t get,” David starts, directing his incoming question to his brother as he dumps his chopped potatoes into the pot. “Why can two people say different things but still cast the same spell?”
“Because the words themselves aren’t what’s important,” Michael starts to explain. “It’s about the intent behind them.”
“Michael and I tend to use Elutian incantations,” Piper adds, having exited her tent just a few minutes ago. “But that is only because that’s the way they are taught to us at the institute. It’s a dead language that is the root of many others, so it’s easy to pick up while still sounding different enough from regular speech.”
“Aye, and I use Old Eirish, cause that’s what they taught at my druid circle,” Riley says from across the fire.
Explaining the inner workings of magic, particularly Michael to David, has also become a common occurrence. Though he has a tendency to brag, there is genuine interest on Michael’s part to impart this knowledge to his twin brother. David once told me that Michael used to help him with a lot of his schoolwork, and he would in turn sometimes allow his brother to “experiment” on him with new spells or potions.
“Now, there are some really high-level spells that require you to be precise with what you say, and how you say it,” Michael continues, lowering his stone back to the ground. “You have to watch for things like your rhythm or inflection or even the time of day or star position. But for most spells, what you say is more like a trigger word than anything else.”
“So the words don’t actually matter?” David oversimplifies.
“Not exactly.” Michael pauses to consider the next part of his explanation. “It’s hard to explain, but you can sort of...feel the energy around you. Casting spells is done by making that energy do what you want.”
“The first few times you cast a spell, it’s a bit like solving a math, physics, and chemistry equation in your head, all at once.” Piper takes a seat by the fire, waiting for dinner to be served. “You have to know the science behind whatever it is that you are trying to do, so that you can use your magic to make it happen. I can only really speak for arcane spellcasters, though.”
“It is similar for natural spellcasters as well,” I jump into the conversation to add my own information. “Perhaps not quite as scientific, but you must still know the basics behind how something works in the natural world for your spell to work.”
“Aye, at the druid circle I had to study things like weather patterns and how water is formed, or what happens when the temperature changes rapidly,” Riley lists some examples for me. “Even my shapeshiftin’ has stipulations. I can only change into animals I’ve actually spent some time with. All their muscles, bones, organs—the more different they are from a human, the more difficult it can be.”
“Divine spellcasting is basically the same as well,” Corrine, as the only divine caster in our group, adds. “Especially when it comes to healing. The more you know about how the body works, the better you can direct your healing energy to the parts that need it most.”
“Aren’t you also kind of asking someone else for help when you cast a spell?” Liss asks from her seat next to Piper.
“There is a ‘prayer’ aspect to my spells, yes.” Corrine nods confidently. “Some people say that gives you some wiggle room when you cast because even if you don’t know all the specifics, God does. But I don’t really like to assume things will just work out like that before I start casting.”
“Did they teach you about biology at your church school?” I ask Corrine, curious about her schooling as she does not speak on it much.
“Some, but I had to seek out a lot on my own, too,” she admits, and I am not surprised. Corrine is a follower of the God of the Albionian Church, also known as Yahweh or the God of Abram, and from what I have learned and witnessed myself, they do not consider science and the divine to mix well.
“So what if it’s a spell you’ve cast a bunch of times?” David continues with his inquiry. “What changes?”
“It’s like muscle memory,” Piper answers. “Once you know how to do something, it’s just a matter of repeating it. Like Michael said, the ‘incantation’ is really more of a trigger—a way to help your mind quickly recall all of those specifics.”
“Really powerful casters don’t need to use them at all; they can cast everything silently,” Michael adds. “But even when you do use them, the actual specifics of the word being said are kind of irrelevant. I can literally just say ‘fire’ and cast a fire spell.” As he says this, he holds a hand in the air, a flame bursting from his palm when he says the word “fire.”
“I think I get it,” David says while biting lip, likely fibbing at least a little.
“Don’t worry. I’ll explain it again later,” Michael knowingly tells his brother.
Finishing up dinner, I think more about my own magic. It is not something I make use of very often, typically only in emergencies or when it is something that only I can do, and with Riley here, that is very unlikely. The most I have used it lately is with Sona, first when using it to calm her so we could free her from the bear trap she was caught in, and then again when I realized the two of us had formed a magical bond, which was out of either of our hands. Now we “talk” with magic every day.
Once the cooking is finished, David helps me pass out the bowls. I pour the remaining stew into a large soup canteen my father Rurig gifted me, and thanks to the way my satchel works, it should be just as hot when I retrieve in a day or two for leftovers. After everyone has finished their meal, we settle in for the evening, some people reading books by the fire while others tend to their weapons or armor.
I might pull out a book a little later myself, but there are other things I think I would rather do first. Like David. I glance over at him, pleased when he returns my knowing look with a sly smile, before glancing off into the forest. We wait about fifteen minutes for our food to settle before David stands, exiting camp as nonchalantly as possible. I give it another minute before I follow, as aware as ever that we are likely fooling no one.
I walk until the fire is just a small light in the distance when something leaps at me from behind a tree. Something with black hair, green eyes, and a hungry mouth. David smashes our lips together in a kiss, pushing me back against the tree’s trunk. I allow myself to be manhandled, bringing my hands to his waist and pulling us together.
As silly as it is to me that we have to sneak off for this sort of thing at all, I keep that opinion to myself. David was already nervous about having sex in camp before his brother teleported halfway around the world and joined us. His feelings on the topic can vary from day to day (namely based on how horny he is versus whether or not he is willing to put on clothes and leave our tent), so it is something I am gently getting him to grow more comfortable with.
And, if I am being honest, I do not exactly mind having sex in the middle of the forest. It is a little thrilling.
I deepen our kiss as I lean back against the tree, my hands wandering from his sides to his rear. I growl into his mouth when he bites at my lips, squeezing his ass roughly and grinding our crotches together. I press my face tightly against his, the threat of sharpness from my tusks making him whine.
David’s own hands roam over my chest and down my stomach, coming to a stop on my crotch, where he squeezes me through the fabric of my pants. After gently stroking a few times along my length, his fingers move up to untie my belt. Then he unbuttons my pants, sinking to his knees on the grass.
Once my cock has been freed from its confines, he leans forward, nuzzling and placing wet, open-mouthed kisses against my skin. He slides his lips along my shaft until he reaches the top, using his hand to pull back my foreskin and lick over the head. I groan softly at the warm tongue swiping over the sensitive skin.
I growl, fisting one hand in his hair as he starts to take more of me into his mouth. Looking down, I watch David’s hand start to wander to the growing pouch of his crotch, stopping before it reaches its target. Good boy. I close my eyes, leaning my head back as the warm heat envelops me, David letting out a muffled moan around me.
“I swear that’s hot every time I see it.” Adam’s voice surprises me enough to almost slam my head back against the tree.
“Dude.” David sounds exasperated, sitting back on his heels after almost choking himself on my cock. “You cannot sneak up on us like that!”
“Sorry, I didn’t want to interrupt,” Adam sheepishly apologizes.
“Gotta put a fuckin’ bell on your or something...” David grumbles before turning back to my prick.
“Yeah, you seem really upset,” Adam jokes at his friend’s eagerness.
“You wanna get your dick sucked or not?” David challenges after pulling off a second time. “We’ve got a time limit.”
I laugh softly into the air, shaking my head at their antics. “If you both are quite done.” I replace my hand on David’s head, guiding his mouth back to my shaft.
If I do not seem more put off by Adam’s sudden appearance, it is because this is not the first time this has happened. That was almost two weeks ago during the Summer Solstice celebrations on our final night in Pákannon. After a night of dancing, I surprised David by inviting Adam back to our room, where the three of us enjoyed quite the nice evening together. Since then, we have gotten together a few more times, mostly quick dalliances in the woods like this one.
I realized David’s attraction to his friend not long after I joined them. It was actually rather adorable, almost like a schoolyard crush, and it was something he did not even seem to be fully aware of. He thought at first that I might be jealous or upset by this information, but he really did not need to worry. I mean, I find the man plenty attractive myself but feel no reason to be threatened by him. Especially as, once the two of them moved past the awkward beginning stages, their friendly camaraderie started coming through during sex. Adam is obviously interested, but I can still sense some hesitation when he seeks us out. Whether that is because of a lack of experience or because he is hesitant to “use” his best friend like both of them actually want, I am not sure. Either way, I am in for a good show.
Following my minor admonishment, Adam comes to stand next to me, unbuttoning his fly and pulling out his cock. David’s eyes wander to the peach-colored prick as it comes into view, twitching lightly in the air. He reaches up to wrap a hand around it, stroking lightly but keeping his focus on me in his mouth.
After a few more moments of sucking, he pulls off of me and switches over to Adam, swallowing most of his length down in one stroke. My still-wet appendage hangs in the air only centimeters away, and I cannot help myself and lightly slap it against David’s cheek. He looks up at me with playful eyes before he starts stroking me as well.
We switch David back and forth like this, something he has done a few times before. He keeps his hand on whomever is not currently occupying his mouth, though his attention is still firmly on who is. I feel my cock give an involuntary lurch at the sight of David’s nose buried in the golden forest of hair surrounding Adam’s base, eager to have him buried in my own.
“Sir,” David starts, catching his breath after pulling off of my cock for a moment. “Can I touch myself?”
“Yes, you may. Good boy.” I smile at the request, glad that he remembered before groping himself without permission.
David lets out a happy groan of approval as I re-enter his mouth, taking his hand off of Adam to undo the front of his own pants. He quickly pulls the pouch of his underwear to the side, his cock springing into the air, already fully hard. It has been several days since he was last allowed to masturbate. It is not a new rule, but one that has become more prominent since starting our journey.
I am not particularly upset by the thought of David pleasuring himself. It is just one of the ways I like to exert my control over him—and one of the few still available to me while we are in mixed company. David enjoys it just as much as I do, which is why we make such a good pair. The terms for a relationship like ours where I come from are avakesh, which is the submissive and owned partner, and kavan, which is the dominant and owner.
That is why David calls me Sir and defers to me, while also being paranoid about the others (namely Michael) finding out. I have already explained that our relationship did not begin on the best terms, but that does not mean I do not still treasure his submission each time he offers it to me. I also do not mind telling you that the boy looks damn good in a collar, cuffs, and little else.
Now happily working his own cock, David continues to bob up and down on both of ours. With his attention divided, his technique does start to get a little sloppy, though that is not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to oral sex. Each time he switches between us, he also switches hands, trying to stroke both himself and the person not in his mouth at the same time. It is rather amusing watching him attempt to keep up with three different rhythms, and eventually he just gives up and leaves us to take ourselves in hand.
I am happy to take over some of the work for him. The next time he moves from Adam to me, I grip him lightly by the hair. Holding him in place, I start to snap my hips forward, fucking my cock into his mouth with short, shallow thrusts while he remains stationary on his knees. David’s cock gives a lurch as soon as I grab his hair, and his hand speeds up once I start to thrust.
Taking a cue from me, Adam does the same when David is passed back over, holding his head firmly in place while Adam fucks his cock in and out of his mouth. David’s lips are swollen and red, and a small amount of drool escapes from the corners of his mouth. I can hear little else over the cut off moans and gurgles each time Adam’s cock pushes all the way in his throat. Fuck, I think I am almost ready to cum.
“I am getting close,” I announce, rapidly fisting my own cock.
At my warning, Adam releases David, who turns back towards me. I quickly grab the back of his head, plunging my cock back into his oral depths, humping into David’s face fast and hard. It takes less than a half-a-dozen strokes to push me over the edge, pulling David all the way down on my cock and cumming with a cut off growl.
David does his best to swallow, trying to keep up with the load I am pumping directly into his throat. It has been a few days, so I know it is a large one, and I am unsurprised when I hear a choking noise from below as it becomes too much. When I am done and finally pull back, a trickle of white rolls down his spit-slick chin, whatever remains of my load that he was unable to swallow.
I lean back against the tree to catch my breath as David does the same on his knees. His beard may be a mess, but the hand on his cock has not slowed down once. He does not even need to be told what to do next, turning to Adam, who is also working his own prick. David kneels up and opens his mouth, ready for whatever the blonde may need it for.
“Work my nuts,” Adam orders, pulling David toward his crotch.
Adam continues to swiftly fist his cock while David worships the man’s testicles as requested. My pup drags his tongue over the fuzzy peach-colored orbs, sucking each one into his mouth. Adam keeps a tight grip on the back of his head, holding him against the base, David’s nose pressed against the man’s skin. All the while, both men continue to pump their cocks, each chasing their own orgasm.
“Gonna cum.” Adam is the first to cross the finish line.
He pulls David away from his balls, holding him in place only inches from his prick and still-moving hand. Adam’s eyes are closed, his face screwed up in concentration as David kneels with his mouth open. Then his hand slows down and I see his cock pulse, just before shoving the head into David’s mouth. He continues working his hand up and down the shaft as he unloads.
David manages to swallow everything, though he still has my seed drying on his chin. His eyes are shut as he kneels on the forest floor, hand still moving in a blur over his cock. Knowing he is so very close to the edge himself, I reach a hand out and stroke it through his hair—before grabbing a fistful and tugging sharply. The sudden pain makes David gasp, and a second later, he unleashes his own cum all over the forest floor.
I pet through his hair gently as he comes down from his orgasmic high, leaning against me with a worn-out smile. Once he is no longer floating, I help him to stand, watching as he brushes the grass and dirt from his knees. He grimaces as he stretches his legs, sore from having spent so long in one position. Still, when he opens his eyes, they are filled with the sleepy warmth that only comes after good sex.
“Fuck,” Adam breathes out as he tucks himself away. “Thanks. I needed that.”
“I think we all did,” I agree with the sentiment, rebuttoning my pants.
“Yeah, that was good,” David adds a little goofily.
“Uh...” Adam grimaces slightly as he takes in David’s face. “You’re gonna want to clean up before we get back to camp.”
“You think?” David rolls his eyes, lifting the front of his shirt up and cleaning his face as best he can with the back of it. It leaves a small wet spot on his stomach, but other than that and his red eyes, there is no other immediate evidence of our activities. He should be okay to make it back into camp without anyone noticing. As long as they do not look too closely. Cleaned up as best we can, we start to walk in the direction of camp.
“Uh-uh.” David stops, pointing at Adam. “You gotta wait back here for a few minutes. It’ll look weird if we all come back into camp together.”
“Seriously?” Adam is nonplussed by the demand.
“Yes, seriously.” David crosses his arms in front of him. “In fact, walk that way some. I don’t even want it to look like we came from the same direction.”
“Fine.” Adam rolls his eyes, turning to the right to put some distance between us.
“Do you really think your brother might notice a detail like that?” I question my pup, wondering if he is not being a little overly careful.
“I don’t know, and I don’t really care. I can deal with my brother pretending to not know that I’m going out into the forest to fuck you.” David points at me while calling out the ridiculous motions we are all going through for some reason. “But I can’t also deal with him pretending to not think that I’m fucking Adam, too.”