My sleep was disturbed only by some unusual noises from close by, at first I did not know what they were, but soon, the snickers and giggles, followed by heavier grunts and a muffled yelp, caused me to open my eyes and look around the camp, when I saw the reason for the noise I realised that I had heard such sounds before but with all that was going on in my quest, I had not thought more deeply about it.

Not far from where I lay, I saw the dark outline of two bodies entwined, one large and underneath him a smaller one, as the cloak slipped from the dark form, I realised it was the back of Gregor and, underneath him was the smaller and slimmer form of Peitro, they were doing the dance of the animal with two backs, from the soft sounds emanating from both Gregor and Peitro, they seemed to enjoy this very much.

As my own sleepy body responded to the sounds and movements, I also realised that this was not the first night the two of them had shared each other, now that I was more aware, I also remembered other nights when some of the other boys would pair up and spend many nights in each others arms, for myself, only the thought of my own mate waiting far off in the south, gave me any solace, although it did little for my burgeoning desires.

When I finally awoke in the bright light of the new day, I looked around the camp and saw that many more boys were paired up than I had first thought, it was almost as though I was the only one alone, Peitro was just emerging from the folds of his and Gregor’s cloak, it was the first time that I was fully aware of his slender naked body, his hard boy hood was poking out front of his tight little belly but his eyes told of his night of hidden delights.

Slowly the camp came to life as other pairs broke apart for the day, after breaking our fast and seeing to the still tired horses, Gregor and Peitro set off for the far off citadel, the other boys went about their tasks with a much more relaxed attitude although the guards were well spaced out and alert, they would change places each two hours so that they could stay alert to any dangers.

I sat atop a sandy dune and watched as the two figures disappeared towards the citadel in the distance, where we had camped was well out of sight and, hopefully we would not be seen, it was then I decided to use the Elvin Far Sight to inspect the citadel close while the two small figures trudged towards it.

Sitting cross legged on top of the dune, I watched the skies for any sign of birds, the Elvin Far Sight need the Avians to help with this small magic, any Elf could do it as it was no real secret of the mages, finally I spied a gull flying leisurely back and forth along the shore line, using my inner Elvin magic, I entered the thoughts of the gull, not a hard task as all gulls thought about was food or procreation, this one was thinking about food.

With ease I began to direct the gull toward the citadel with the promise of large quantities of easily accessed food supplies, I let my eyes enter and watched below as we soared higher and higher until the shore line was far below, I could see the small figures of Gregor and Peitro walking along the flat sands, Gregor had one arm draped over the shoulder of Peitro as they strode side by side.

Directing the gull towards the citadel, it took little time before we were above it and I was seeing through the eyes of the gull, the sight below me was clear and precise, the gulls eyes were sharp and missed nothing that might speak of food, I made the gull hover high up and looked over what lay below.

The citadel was large, it was built on the very edge of the high cliff at the end of the long sandy shore, on the western side was a horse shoe shaped bay in which were anchored many large; and small boats, they were overlooked by the towering walls of the citadel, it was obvious that the fort had been built to protect the smaller bay, on the parapets were mounted large catapults, all were facing the entrance to the bay, facing the north was the main gate and a wide stone road led out into the land we had already traversed, although we were more west than the citadel.

The western and southern walls of the fort were blank stone that towered high up to the battlements, even to a boy such as I, it was obvious that they could not be attacked from these two sides, there were few sentries on these two walls, on the bay side were most of the catapults and extra strengthening was obvious as well as to the north, this was the only side that the citadel could be openly attacked from, they all seemed very secure in there stone fort.

I noticed, while I was floating on the air currents with the gull, that there did seem to be a lot of movement within the fort, it was as though they expected some form of attack to come their way, I truly hoped that we would be able to finalise our own plans before that happened, at last I spied the place where the citadel and the town below it, dumped its rubbish, I directed the gull there and then pulled myself from the bird after sending a warmth of happiness into its mind.

When I opened my eyes as I sat on top of the dune, I realised I had been with the bird for longer than I thought, the sun was nearing its zenith and the heat had built up considerably, below me were some of the boys, naked and laughing as they cavorted in the small waves that washed the shore, I did notice that some of their games were more consistent with grabbing various parts of anatomy that were usually kept covered but , none of the boys seemed to mind too much.

I rose and stretched my limbs as the hot sun reminded me of my thirst, after a good shake of my shoulders to get the last of the stiffness out, I walked back to the centre of our small camp where a goat skin held some fresh water from the stream, after drinking my fill, I shrugged out of my cloak and, using a stick from the small bushes nearby, I made a small tent, once complete I crawled inside and fell asleep, using Far Sight did take energy away when used for so long.

It was late in the day when I saw the tiny figures of Gregor and Peitro walking towards our camp, they were still some ten minutes away and looked as though they had had a long day, the usually spritely step was now more like a dragging as they walked homeward, some of the boys had set a small fire going and were in the process of cooking a thick stew from some dried meat and vegetables we had carried with us, the bread we had would last another day but after that we would have little else to eat.

The two boys finally arrived back at the camp, they looked tired but hopeful, after they had eaten and rested a little, Gregor began his report.

“I found a captain, but truthfully, I don’t trust him, one of his officers used to work with my father and he told me to be careful, the captain was only out for himself and would turn us over to the emperor if he could make enough coin from it.”

I nodded my head as he paused in his report.

“He said that this time of year was difficult to sail to the south as the winds were wrong but, he would try, for a price, he said it would cost us ten gold for each boy and another fifty silver for the food, I told him we would have his money ready by the end of tomorrow, what I have in mind is to sell all the horse, there is a big market day tomorrow and horse are very hard to get this far south of the capital, they should easily raise enough for this captain.”

“How will we get to the boat, if we all go into the city we will be easily noticed, if they have word from the emperor about what happened we will all be captured?”

“I thought of that, we will have him come with his boat and anchor offshore, he can then use his small boats to come in and get us, I’m sure he will agree, even if we have to offer a little more gold for him to do it.”

“Yes that sounds good, tell him that he has no need to worry about the wind, it will turn in our favour once he has picked us up, also don’t pay him until he is anchored here, we will give him half then and the rest when we set foot on the southern shore, hopefully, that will stop him from trying to deceive us and turn us into the emperors men.”

Gregor nodded and then turned to Peitro for his report, it seemed that they had split up once inside the port town that sat below the citadel, Gregor to look for a captain and a boat, Peitro had gone off to mix with the townsfolk, he had made himself known to the local urchins and had run with them for most of the day, all the time gathering snippets of information, he now related them too me.

“I found out that most of the captains here are what they call pirates, they work for the emperor and pay a certain amount of their cargo to him, in return they don’t get in trouble from his troops, the message about our fight arrived two days ago by courier, the soldiers are on the alert for a large group of armoured boys, they have been told to capture us and return us to the court of the emperor for punishment, most of the urchins also told me that there is a strange mage in the town, he is very old and makes small potions for people in need, that is all I have.”

Peitro suddenly sat down, I also noticed he was particularly close to Gregor, my observations of the previous nights had not been wrong, these two were very happy with each other, I stayed silent while I thought over all he had said, the one thing that stood out was the mention of an old mage, mages were very rare and in this part of the country to my best knowledge, almost unheard of, I also knew I could not take the chance to go into the town to seek him out, one mistake and I would be captured as well as all the boys that had made the decision to follow me.

The next morning, Gregor, Peitro and two other boys left with all the horses, when they got close to the town they would split up and enter from different directions as though they had no knowledge of each other, after selling the horses, Gregor would try to find someone to take all the saddlery from us as well, it seemed a shame to just leave it sitting out here in the wastes just to rot, even a few silvers would be enough, Gregor had said that a good horse could sell for as much as twenty five gold coins, if that were so then we would have plenty to pay the captain and some little left over.

It was a long and anxious wait for the return of the four boys but, just as the sun was sinking, we saw the four small figures walking along accompanied by a small cart and an old man in the driver seat, it was another ten minutes before the small group arrived where we stood waiting, it appeared that Gregor had sold the saddlery to the old man and that he had come to collect it, I did a quick check to make sure all the boys were dressed in their normal clothes so that their armour was well hidden underneath, we did not want to lose our way now that transport was so close.

The old man said little as he looked over the pile of saddlery, after some thought he looked at Gregor and said.

“Not too bad, young man, I will offer you seven gold and thirty silver coins, if that is enough for you, they are a little worn but still serviceable, I think it is a fair deal.”

I gave a small nod to Gregor, we did not want to haggle at this late stage and the old man had offered a little more than I thought we would get, Gregor answered the man.

“I think that is a very fair deal, especially as you have come so far without seeing it all, we accept your kind offer, perhaps you will stay a while and eat with us, it is a long haul back to the town at this time of day.”

The old man looked at us with an open face; he seemed to be very genuine and was happy with this new deal.

“I thank you young man, I would be pleased to share bread with you, my old bones don’t take kindly to long travel these days and I could not trust my young apprentice with such an important trade, I will eat with you and, with you agreement, perhaps spend the night under the stars, it has been a long time since I have done that and I miss them so.”

Twice during the night I awoke and saw the old man sitting back looking up at the stars, I was sure I had seen a small tear roll from his eyes in the light of the moon, it must be a terrible burden to grow old like he was, it was something I would never suffer from unless I did not find my soul mate, if that happened I would age even more rapidly than a human if I had not found him by my eighteenth year.

In the first light of morning, we said our goodbyes to the old man and watched as he set of on his return to the town on the other side of the citadel, in preparation for the captain to arrive, we all checked our dress, the boys hid their armour under their clothes and their helms in their packs, only their weapons could not be successfully concealed.

As the morning drew near to midday, we saw the large boat being rowed by slaves coming towards us, it was some way off the shore and it towed two small boats behind attached with strong ropes.

It was another hour before the boat had anchored a little way off and two men got into each small boat and made their way towards where we stood, I felt Gregor’s hand on my shoulder and turned towards him.

“Do you feel something is not right or am I being silly?” asked Gregor.

“No, you’re right, something is not right, those little boats can only carry about four boys each, if we went on the boat in such small numbers, we could be easily captured and then given to the citadel, the captain could take everything from us as soon as we set foot on board, what can we do?”

“We boys are smaller than grown men, we make one of the sailors stay here, at sword point of needed, we then put you in one boat, can you use your magic out on the water?”

“Yes, it is no problem, I can draw power from the ocean it self.”

“Good, I will be in the other boat, with a sailor out we can get six more boys in each boat, you take only archers, in my boat will be the other swordsmen and Peitro, he is the most nimble if it comes to a fight, your archers can keep us covered from the boat unless you use magic on them but I want to keep that as a last resort, I’m sure if the captain see’s that we are ready for him he will prefer to accept and take us on board, although I’m sure he will try again or raise the price to make it worth his while.”

I nodded agreement and we all went down to meet the two small boats. The first boat slid gently onto the shallow water of the shore, in the front sat one man and another was at the oars, the first man looked to be very dangerous, he had a hard look about him and, as he saw the passengers for the first time, a look of lust filled his eyes.

As the boat touched the soft sand in the shallows, the first man jumped from the boat and held it while looking in our direction, hopefully, he would only see normal looking boys except for the weapons which we had done our best to disguise as much as we could, his leering look and greedy smile did not carry to his eyes.

I nodded to Gregor and our pre-arranged plan was put into effect, all the boys moved forward as one, all trying too look innocent as young boys could, the smile on the mans face broadened as we approached, the man at the oars was taking little notice of us as he tried to keep the boat stable in the shallow water.

Gregor, as planned, was the first to reach the waiting man, with a smoothness and speed of a striking adder, Gregor had his sword at the mans throat, one of the other boys quickly reached over and removed the broad sword from the mans belt as another placed his sword at the throat of the oarsman, it took less than a few seconds to take them both, using my magic, I looked into the first mans mind, what I saw there gave rise to a new fit of anger.

“They were to take us out on the water and then strip everything from us, we were then to be thrown to the sharks, take these two to the dunes and hold them.”

Four boys quickly grasped the arms of the two men who had been at the front of each boat and walked them up to the base of the dunes, as arranged, I stepped into the first boat with some of the archers and Gregor got into the second with his swordsmen and Peitro, the rest of the boys still on the shore helped to push the boats back into deeper water, with a sword at his throat, the oarsmen were told to make for the larger ship, we could see men lining the rails as we made our slow way towards them.

It was not hard to spy the captain, he stood alone at the rear of the ship, the rest of his men lined the rail and watched us, all were armed, and behind them were two tall masts with lanteen sails furled tightly, along the sides of the ship were small portals in two ranks for the oars of the slaves, they were used when the wind was not favourable, it looked as though there were some fifteen crew along with the captain.

As we drew closer, there came a hush over the watching crew, they had seen that two of their number were now missing from the small boats and that our numbers were higher than they thought, as we neared the ship, the archers in my boat drew their bows and aimed at the men lining the rails, Gregor’s swordsmen unsheathed their swords and readied themselves of needed as Gregor called to the captain.

“Captain, we made a deal, is this how you honour it, tell your crew to drop their weapons and step back from the rails or we will take action.”

The fury on the captains face could be easily seen, he had been outwitted by a mere boy, he could see that he was at a disadvantage as his men held only knives and short swords while we had the use of bows, with an angry shout he told his men to lower their weapons and move back to the centre of the ship.

Gregor and Peitro were the first to climb the rope ladder as the archers kept their bows and arrows at the ready, when Gregor’s boat was empty, he sent it back for more of the boys and then told me to come along side and get onboard with the archers, by this time the sailors and the captain had been disarmed, the deep rumble of fury could be heard under the breath of every man, a group of young boys had captured their ship with the ease of grown professionals, it would be hard for them to live this down on the docks.

Once we were all on the deck of the ship, the last boat was sent back to gather the last of the boys, the two bowmen were to be left on shore, within thirty minutes, all the boys were on board and the crew were told to get into the boats, the captain was retained on deck but chained to the first mast by his hands and heavy shackles from the slave decks were placed on his legs.

Gregor went down to the slave galleys and had all of them released from their chains, he then told them that, if they helped in taking us to the southern lands, they would be freed and could take the ship wherever they pleased, it took no time for a deal to be struck, the slaves were allowed up on the deck to clean themselves with salt water and to eat what they liked, they all looked half starved and emaciated, the smell of the holds grew less as the salt water did its work.

Once the last of our boys was on board, Gregor had the large wooden anchor raised and lashed into place, with the aid of the freed slaves, the sails were lifted and I began the chant for the help of Ranganui and asked for a favourable wind top take us to the south lands, our Guardian must have been pleased with us as it took no time at all before the first puffs of a northern breeze began to rise and fill the two lanteen sails, the slave quickly went about trimming the sails and the ship began to move at a faster pace, Gregor held the large tiller in his hands, he was after all, the son of a sailor and knew about such things.

The captain was subjected to ribald remarks and the occasional spitting from the freed slaves as they worked around him, his once arrogant and scheming appearance was now that of a very scared man, I was not worried by this display, it was what he deserved, we Elvin folk had never been in favour of the human trait of slavery, when we left the ship in the southern lands, the slave could do as they will and the captain somehow knew it.

By the going down of the sun, we were well out to sea, the descending darkness hid the outline of the south lands from our view but Gregor promised us that we would get our first glimpse sometime during the following day, he had estimated that it would take possibly two days and two nights to make the south lands, we would then have to find a place top land without problems.

There was talk among the slaves but Gregor put their fears too rest, it was not normal for ship to sail during the dark hours, nor was it normal to go out of the sight of land but, with Gregor’s assurance that the gods were with us, the freemen settled down to watch Gregor at work, they had no real understanding of sailing and so Gregor asked three of them to stand with him as he explained what they would need to know, it was after all, to be their ship once we were on shore again.

The night passed peacefully as the ship was pushed by the wind sent by the Guardian of the skies, the sea remained calm and the tides turned in our favour to speed us along, Gregor never left his place as he steered us a true coarse and helped the freedmen to understand what he knew of the sea and ships, it was fortunate that the three selected were quick learners, by the sinking sun on the second day, and with the dark outline of land approaching ahead of us, the freedmen were now doing most of the work on the ship and teaching others what would be needed.

It was in the early hours of the morning on the third day that we came close to the south lands, in a small empty bay, Gregor set the anchor, we would wait for day light to find a port to disembark, the newly freed men could then take over and go where they will, our time on the ship was at an end and the Thread was pulling harder as we closed on the new lands.

The anchor was raised as the first rays of the sun showed themselves over the horizon, Gregor had now left the tiller to one of the freedmen, it was there chance to show that they could run their own ship, as if he knew our needs, the Guardian changed the wind to the north west and we were sent along the coast towards a far off headland from which stood a large stone fort on the edge of the high cliffs, it was almost an opposite of the one we had left behind.

By the middle of the afternoon, we were entering the port, it was in a large curving bay, the docks were busy and we could see many people moving about, there were well armed and armoured troops all along the sea walls, they were dressed differently from the ones we had left behind, it appeared that the emperors hand had not reached this far south, for this small mercy we were grateful.

The style of dress here was like nothing I nor the others had seen before, most men were wearing nothing more than a type of short skirt around their loins, only the soldiers with their armour and tall pointed helms and weapons looked different but they also wore a type of skirt although much more fancy and on their feet, unlike the ordinary citizen, they wore thick strong sandals.

Gregor told the new owners of the ship, to anchor in mid stream; we would make our way ashore in the two small boats rowed by one of the freemen, it was close to sundown by the time we had all been once again transferred back on solid ground, a relief to most of us, it was only with the help of the Guardian that I had enjoyed the trip, I was not a person who liked to have nothing but water under his feet, even if the boat was sound.
We said our good byes to the one time slaves as we saw a phalanx of soldiers approaching us, they did not look threatening and I assumed it was a part of their duties to check out any newcomers, it was to be expected in a new land, all the boys still wore their normal human clothes over their armour but, as the soldiers got closer, Gregor gave the order for them to shed the clothes and show their armour, their helms were soon out of their packs and placed on top of their heads, the bright Mythral armour shone brightly in the dying sun as they formed up in two ranks around myself and Peitro.

I watched as the approaching soldiers seemed to suddenly straighten and form smart lines, their steps became one as the neared, the boys stood calmly, they were once again the “Princes” guard, their weapons were all sheathed and showed no sign of threat to the approaching soldiers.

I now noticed that a shroud of silence had come over the crowd on the docks, at first I had not taken any notice of it as I assumed it was the sight of the boys armour, but now, there was not even the sound of a rope being pulled or a bundle being dropped.

The double row of soldiers stopped just short of where Gregor Stood, at a command from the leader of the troop, the soldiers divided and went to each side of the road to form a passage and too keep the growing crowd back, the heat of the bright hot sun began to build as we stood and waited for something or someone.

After a few minutes, we heard the sound of a horn being blown and, further down the flat road I saw what looked like a chair on four struts with long handles at the front and rear, on each side holding the handles were two very black young men, also the same at the rear, the young men looked to be in the mid teen years and were all similar in appearance, the dark skin shone with the sweat of the labour as the walked at a brisk pace towards where we waited.

The contraption was made of fine woods and covered with even finer clothe that floated on the faint breeze like clouds in the sky, at each side ran two young boys, both were the blackest of blacks I had ever seen, they looked to be less than Peitro’s years, sitting in all his pomp inside the strange chair, was a man of large girth, his fleshy face was running with streams of sweat as though he was the one labouring under all his weight in the heat of the sun.

This large figure was dressed in the finest of clothe, it, like the drapes on the chair, were light and airy, they were of bright colours and flowed around him like mist, the robes were long and covered most of his large body, his fingers were adorned with so many rings of gold I did not have time to count them all, in one hand he held a whisk of some animals hair that he kept using to brush off real or imaginary flies, I could now even smell the sweet scents he used to disguise his odour.

Finally the chair stopped a short distance away from Gregor, the sweating teens lowered the chair to the paved road and knelt with their heads touching the cold stone, it was then I saw that the metal collar they wore, was attached to a thin chain that ran to the handle there was enough space so that the chain would be stretched tight when the boys were holding the chair handle, if they dropped the handle, they would choke themselves, it was only something a human would think of.

The large man rose and the two boys knelt down on the pavement with their heads on the stone, I was almost disgusted to see the large man use the backs of the boys as steps to make it too the ground, it was time for a read of this man, even his small pig like eyes did not inspire confidence, I waited until he was concentrating on Gregor be fore I went softly into his head.

As I looked into the man, I listened to their conversation, reading the mind of a human is not difficult as they have no barriers to block us with, they are after all, still a very primitive race as far as the knowledge of Creator goes, why he allowed them to continue to exist will always be a puzzle to me.

The large man began the introductions with Gregor.

“Greetings, visitors, I am the Vizier of this the Port of Said, the major port of the Pharaoh, I would ask you what your business is here?”

“Greetings Vizier, I am Gregor, captain of the guard of Prince Alexi of the Northlands, we come to ask safe passage to the south, it is the Princes quest.”

“A quest you say, hmm, and safe passage to the south, that is not a safe place to go young captain, there are hordes of barbarous desert dwellers out that way, even the Pharaoh hesitates to step into the southern most lands, perhaps your Prince would rather stay here in the Port of Said or even, if it was the Pharaohs wish, he could travel to Alexandra, a real jewel of this land.”

“I am sure the Prince is thankful for your kind offer but, the quest is most urgent and he would like to continue to the south, at your pleasure.”

“Yes, well, let me take you all to my humble house, it is far to hot and too late to discuss such matter of importance out here among the riff raff of the streets, I will also have to send a message to the Pharaoh of your arrival and let him decide if he will gift a safe passage to your Prince.”

The Vizier turned back to his strange chair and, stepping on the backs of the young boys, plopped his considerable weight back into the soft cushions, with a mighty straining of their young muscles, the eight teens lifted the chair and turned around to take him back the way he had come, as this happened, the two ranks of soldiers took up position on either side of our own ranks and we began to follow the back of the receding chair, from the reading of the Vizier’s mind I knew we were not to trust this fat man or the words he spoke with such a hollow voice.

The sound of the three trumpeters cleared the way ahead of us as we made our way through the wide paved streets, I did notice that there were many smaller alleys leading of the main thoroughfare but, as they were very narrow and in dark shade, it was difficult too see into them for any depth but I got the impression of many eyes watching our progress.

We walked with our escort for more than ten minutes before coming to a set of large wooden gates, the were tall enough to allow a man on horse back to enter with plenty of space to spare, it took two men on each gate to pen them wide for our entry, inside was a very large house, the court yard was also paved and had trees and flowers planted in large stone pots, at the centre was a long pond of stone with a metal fountain at its centre.

The house was surrounded by a colonnade of white stone columns among which scurried a lot of servants with brooms of sticks to sweep away the sand blown in by the gentle breeze, the tinkle of the fountain gave the court yard a sense of peace and privacy but, I knew there was much more afoot than the Vizier would have us believe.

The same performance was undertaken for the dismounting of the Vizier as had taken place at the docks, with a flip of his whisk he indicated we should follow him into the shade and better comfort of his house.

The room he lead us into was beyond opulent, everywhere there were pots full of flowers and small fruit trees veering fruits of many kinds, there were many long couches set out in a square around a central stone table which was piled high with strange and exotic foods, servants and slaves stood around the walls in silence, it was not difficult to tell the difference between them, the servants stood with their heads up, the slaves knelt on the floor with the heads on the stone, there were far more slaves than servants.

The Vizier beckoned us to the couches as he went to the largest of them and sat his bulk on the soft cushions, his two small black boys kneeling at his feet, it almost looked as though the two boys were a pair, their small slim bodies were on full display as the wore only the skimpiest of white clothes around their waists, their plump buttocks showing just below the edge of the clothe.

We accepted the Vizier’s offer and took seats, it was Gregor that arranged where each of our boys sat, had the Vizier deigned to notice, he would have seen that Gregor had set the boys to surround me in a defensive cordon without seeming to do it intentionally, for the next hour, food was offered and a sweet tea made with green leaves tasting of mint, as each was offered to me I would use my Elvin sight and test for drugs or poisons, none of the boys would take food or drink until I gave Gregor a small imperceptible nod that it was safe.

The mainstay of the conversation was led by the Vizier and seemed to centre on how important he was to the Pharaoh, too which we nodded and smiled as though we agreed with everything he said, all the while I was reading more of the mans thoughts and, too my surprise, his desire to get me into his bed, not a likely even at the best of times and certainly not with this man.

As the shadows lengthened, the hall was lit with hundreds of torches; one of the small boys was now buried under the long flowing robes of the Vizier as he watched with his small eyes our reaction to his personal habits, we of course ignored the bad taste in his habits, even as he was shaking slightly from the boys ministrations, we had more important things to keep on our mind.

After many hours of food and some terrible dancing by some young women, the Vizier suggested we adjourn to a set of rooms he had put aside for our use, in the morning we would discuss the safe passage as his messenger should have returned from the Palace of the Pharaoh by mid morning.

We all rose and thanked the Vizier for his hospitality and, led by the other small boy went down corridors that turned left and right seemingly at will until we came to a large set of wooden doors, standing in front of the doors were two of the Viziers soldiers, one leant forward and opened the doors for us to enter.

The room beyond was huge, in the centre was a round pool of stone filled with steaming water, surrounding the pool were hundreds of soft looking pillows that seemed to cover the whole of the white stone floor, the fresh smell of flower scent filled the room, after we entered, the soldiers outside closed the door with a solid click, it was then that I noticed that the small black boy had stayed with us, he was now kneeling on the side of the pool as though waiting for us to enter and begin to wash away the soil of our travels.

Gregor suggested I take a bath first so he could stay on watch, the others would take rotation and he would be last so there were no surprises while we bathed, without thinking, I stripped off my cloak and clothes until I was naked as the day I was born, I caught a look of surprise from the small boy as my hair, once hidden by my cloak, flowed down my back in a long black veil, the look of surprise on the boys face, followed by a small hidden smile, was good too see.

I walked to the edge of the pool as the boy stood and dropped his small thin cloth to the floor, it appeared he had the intention of bathing me, beside him was a large tray of small urns and bottles along with a soft leather bag of herbs, when his miniscule garment was on the floor I noticed something was not right with the boy, where his boy eggs should have been there was nothing, although his boyhood stood hard and long, below there was nothing, I looked up at his cherubic face and a tear almost fell from my eyes as he realised what I had seen, or in his case, not seen.

He tried to make some sound from his throat but it was just a garbled and strangled sound, with a look of shock I saw that at the base of his throat was a small scar and, as he opened his mouth to try to speak to me, I saw that most of his tongue was also missing, my fury rose as I looked at the small innocent boy, someone had done terrible things to this innocent.

As I looked at the boy, tears began to form in his eyes; I reached out and laid a hand on his slim shoulder.

“Who did this too you?” I asked in common language.

The boy shook his head as though he did not understand, I tried the common trading language, used throughout the known world, to this he smiled and made gestures that the Vizier had done it to both him and his brother when they had been bought at the slave auction some two years ago, immediately my instincts of care took over, we Elves have our ways to repair things that others would never know.

“Gregor, can you send two boys over, I need their strength.”

Two of the boys came over quickly, with my left hand, that being the one of healing, the right being the one of destruction, I laid the palm on the head of the small boy and, as he sank to the floor in a faint, I indicated for the other tow boys to lay their hands on my shoulders, I laid my left hand on the boys throat and mouth, calling for the help of Creator, I drew some of the power from the two boys and projected it into the boy as he lay asleep, the healing warmth filed my palm as the boys gave more power to me, once I was happy with what had been done, I turned to the boys crotch and laid my hand on his scrotum, this would take more power and the two boys would soon collapse and sleep until morning when it was done, I also would feel the pull of the power and it would tire me as well.

It was ten minutes and a lot of power lost before I saw the small eggs reappear in the boy’s scrotum, I had done all I could for now, the two boys who had assisted me were now laid out on some soft pillows exhausted, they would need all their sleep to recover, I was feeling the effects but not as badly, after waking the boy, I slipped into the pool to soak as the small boy gave a soft whimper and then groaned as he awoke, the surprised look on his face as he spoke his first words was a joy too see.

“What happened?” his voice was soft and childlike with a little squeak as he realised he had spoken, his hand was down rubbing his scrotum as the tingling sensation of the healing was still there, it was another look of surprise as he looked down and saw his eggs returned to him, tears of joy began to fill his eyes as he leapt up and jumped into the pool to grasp me like a long lost relative, the tears streaming down his face as he hugged tightly.

Finally he understood what had been done, his soft open face was still tear streaked but he now had other things to do, quickly he grasped the bag of herbs, taking a handful of what looked like dried moss from the bag, he rubbed it vigorously in his hands until the thick foamy suds were formed, he then began to wash my body all over, his next surprise was when he got to my long flowing hair, as he rubbed the suds into my hair, he pushed the long locks back and revealed my ears, with a small gasp, he began to run his finger over the outline of my pointed ears all the time smiling widely.

Finally, after what seemed most of the night, I was allowed out of the pool and then directed to a small table covered with white cloths, the boy pointed to the table and very quietly said.

“Lay, I fix body, you like.”

His small smile and I am sure I would have seen a blush had it not been for his very dark skin, was enough to convince me to do as he asked, his talking skills were not of the best but then again he had been made silent for some years and it was very obvious that even the common trading language was not his normal one.

I must have drifted off to sleep under his gentle ministrations, the next thing I remember was the sound of boys playing in the pool and the boy looking at me in awe as he dried the last of the oil from my skin, I felt revitalized as though I had slept for a year, Gregor was standing by the door with a smile on his young face as he watched over the room.

The boy gestured for me to follow him into a far corner, he kept one finger over his mouth as he showed me where to go, once in the corner, he knelt close to my ear and spoke as softly as he could.

“You are all in danger, the Vizier has sent for more troops from the Pharaoh, they will be here in two days, he plans to capture you and sell you at the slave market, you must leave as soon as you can.”

“Thank you, but we can’t leave without a safe passage pass.”

“I will arrange all, can you help my brother the same way you did for me?”

“Yes, Of course I can, but how?”

“Tomorrow you will see, the Vizier thinks he can tell us apart but we have fooled him many times, in the morning my brother will come, I will talk to him tonight, in the hottest part of the afternoon all will be ready.”

“What is your name; I can’t call you ‘boy’ like the Vizier.”

“I am Shemba of the Mandingo, my brother is called Simba, we will one day be mighty warriors and come back to kill this Vizier and his Pharaoh for what they have done to us, you are now our Prince, we would call you, Mighty Elephant, a symbol of greatness to the Mandingo, I must go now and speak with my brother, the Vizier does not last long with young boys like us.”

I watched as Shemba went to the door and knocked loudly, quickly the doors were opened by the Viziers soldiers and Shemba left without a backward glance, I looked up and saw Gregor watching me carefully, I lifted a finger to my lips in the action for silence and then went to find some soft pillows to sleep on, it had been long and exciting day, even the boys romping in the pool were now tiring, Gregor set a minimal guard as we now knew that nothing would be done until two days time when the Pharaoh sent his extra troops.




                          Back       Main         Next