Chapter 14 - The Map Maker
I woke to the wonderful smell of starbark brewing somewhere. It took me several moments to realize that I was no longer on the rock but in my bed with the eiderdown over me -- only my nose wasn't covered.
Upon that realization I sat up and confirmed that I indeed was in my bed in my room in the village. I was still fully clothed sans my dirk. I don't remember removing it, but then I don't remember how I got here.
"Oh! You're awake, Gladimhere," said Zayne the father of Zeek, Zac and Zen, "Zahra has made a delicious breakfast please join us. You were very quiet when you arrived and you didn't even bother to say `hello'. Zahra was a little hurt by that. She thinks of you as a son as do I for that matter. I told her you must have been extremely tired to arrive and go straight to bed."
"I humbly apologize, sir. I must have been very tired because I don't even remember coming in the house or even getting into bed. I suppose Red must have flown me here. The others should arrive tomorrow or the next day," I apologized.
"Ah, well not to worry. Come let's breakfast," he said.
As we entered the rating room Zayne spoke to Zahra, "Wife, it was as I expected Gladimhere was exhausted. So much so he does not recall even arriving."
Zahra seem mollified and served me a delightful and delicious breakfast. I offered to help with the clean up but as usual she insisted but I was much too important to be doing simple household chores and shooed me out of the house.
I went to the point to think. I must have really been out of it because I don't remember walking there. It was like one minute I was standing outside the house on my own thinking about going to the point and the next minute I was here at the point.
I pulled out my mp4 player, walked to my usual rock and sat as the music started. I stared out to sea and thought about Zeek. I knew what the problem was. He was falling out of love with me. Zahra had warned me of this one evening. "Most elfin boys are not attracted to elfin girls until they are midway through puberty. Only one in a hundred remains un-attracted to female elfins. I know that he seems infatuated with you now but it may change. I don't want your heart broken if that happens. It's normal. He'll still love you much like Zac or Zayne do, but if he changes it's not as if he has a choice. Just like the one out of a hundred that doesn't change."
I was alone, empty and my heart was indeed breaking. This was not a good time for this to happen. With a new battle against the orcs approaching I was expected to be the leader. I had to keep positive and not sink into negativity and despair. I need my attitude back and it arrived back with vengeance.
I was mad and full of hate and anger. I had my mp4 player in my hand and about ready to throw it as far as I could but I didn't I screamed, "Why me? What did I do to deserve to be here? Is this punishment for being queer? Fucking answer me! I didn't ask for this! I'm not a hero or magical or even that smart!"
I thought about that for a split second, "Ignore that I am smart, but I am not a hero and for all I know I've messed things up even more!"
I felt someone behind me. I jumped up and off the rock and in a half spin I turned to face whoever was there. Somehow I misjudged my actions lost my balance and fell. I must have hit my head because things quickly faded to black.
Weirdly, I didn't seem to loose consciousness but everything was dark -- I mean pitch black. I was aware that my body seemed to be floating but not. I wasn't sure what was going on.
"What the fuck! What's going on?"
"Calm your self," said a voice.
"Calm myself! What the fuck, man!" I yelled.
I began to cry. "Why me? Why am I here? Am I insane or on my way?" I have no idea how long I cried but I finally ran out of tears and for a long time I seemed to be sort of null.
"Hello? Where am I?" I finally asked as calmly as I could.
"Nowhere is the best way I can explain it. Where you are right now can't be explained in physical terms -- there is no physical universe here," said the voice.
"Have I died?" I asked.
"No, your body and you are here."
"Am I in some mental hospital? Have I gone insane?" I asked. I didn't feel nuts but I just wanted to confirm my sanity.
Whoever it was that was talking to me gave a chuckle, "No, I assure you, you are very sane. You are very smart Josh."
"You know me!" I said excitedly.
"Of course, I know you. I chose you. You are one out of a billion others. You are special, Josh," replied the voice.
"I don't feel special," I muttered.
"Truly special people never do because being special is normal to them," it said.
"If you say so," I said but I still didn't see myself as anything special.
"Why?" I heard myself ask.
"Why? Because I needed you to bring balance to Landsphere," it said.
"Why me? Why did you choose me?"
"Because, you care about others and you're beliefs. Also, I liked your no nonsense attitude. You remember that kid, Taylor I think was his name. "
I remembered Taylor he was that kid who was about to get fucked up by Jonah Abbot, a notorious bully at our school. He, Taylor was sort of cute. I kicked Jonah's ass then I told Taylor when he started to thank me to grow some balls and stop being a fucking wuss.
"Yeah, I remember Taylor. So?"
"He took your advice. He grew some balls," laughed the voice, "I was right to choose you. You've proved it so far. In such a short time you've brought together some elfins and dragons and because of this more will follow. Oh, this war against evil has only barely begun but I trust you will continue to do what you do best."
"Yeah, and what's that?" I asked.
"Caring for others and getting them to do what's right."
"Why did you bring me here?"
"As I said I brought you here to bring balance to Landsphere."
"I know that dufus. I mean here -- nowhere."
"Ah, well you needed it. I had tried to warn you about Zeek. Zeek is exceptional but he's not gay. He'll always love you but..."
"Not the way I want him to love me," I said sadly. In a way I always knew but I tried to think I could change him. How stupid is that?
"Don't worry, there is someone who loves you and will never leave you."
"Who?" I asked excitedly.
"I won't tell you. Just let it happen as a natural course of things. Don't worry, eventually you will know. You are not here for romance you are here to bring balance to Landsphere. There are dangers ahead and evil to quell -- you'll need you attention on the things you have to accomplish."
"But I know nothing about Landsphere and --".
"You have a dragon! Go look! Time to return you," said the voice and the next moment I was facing Arvin and Zen.
"Sorry, Gladimhere, I didn't mean to startle you, but we were worried. You weren't at the camp and your dirk was lying beside Zeek. How did you get back here? Magic?" asked Arvin.
"I don't know -- I fell asleep at the camp and woke up in the bed. Anyway, you, Zen, Zeek, Zac and the others don't need me baby sitting you. I have things I need to do."
"NO! You can't leave me -- US!" cried Zen as he somersaulted off his dragon's back on to the ground in front of me.
"I most certainly can and will. I have a responsibility to the whole of Landsphere -- to all those that live under this tyranny not just you! Not the people of Tail's End or the dragons but the whole of Landsphere!" I was a bit forceful in my voice.
"And you, Zen and Arvin have the responsibility to train your riders and dragons to be the best most spectacular teams in the whole of Landsphere because the war is barely started and it is a war that WE have to win! Now go back to the camp and send Red here. When we get back I fully expect to see two more riders and two more dragons in perfect shape."
"But..." said Zen.
"No buts! No exceptions! Go! You have your orders!" I yelled. I saw the hurt in Zen's eyes. I'd like to say it didn't affect me but it did. He loved me, but he was still a prepubescent elfin boy. He'd change like his brother and like `it' said I wasn't here for romance.
The little elfin saluted, held back his tears, mounted his dragon and finally spoke politely, "It will be done, sir. WINGS!"
Arvin unfurled his wings and then they were gone and so was my heart.
I stood and watched a single archer practice. He was not that good as none of his arrows had hit the bullseye. Most were scattered on the field behind the target and two didn't even make it to the target. I watched him for a good five minutes before going down on to the training field.
When he saw me he quickly gathered his arrows and started to leave the field.
"Elfin! Come here," I shouted and he obeyed.
"Yes sir," he said meekly.
"Why are you leaving?" I asked.
"I'm no good at this...I'm no good at anything," his voice tapered off.
"Yeah? I know how you feel I used to be a total fuck up -- ya'know, no good at anything. But now I'm pretty good at just about anything I set my mind to," I said but it didn't seem to help him any.
"Come, I need a bath let's go for a swim," I suggested.
"I-I can't swim that good either," he said sadly.
"All the better, if you drown it will give me a good excuse to save your life," I said cheerfully.
"It's not worth saving," I heard him mutter.
"I'll be the judge of that," I said softly. He nodded and followed me.
I stopped. "Before we go any further what is your name?" I asked.
"Leaf," he replied.
"Leif?" I asked.
"No, sir, Leaf," he replied.
I was amused by his name. I made him go first and he was right he was really bad at swimming, so I dove in and helped him to a shallow area in the pool.
"You see, I'm no good," he said.
"Don't say that. Don't say you're no good. You are good. I feel it. I know it. You have to believe in yourself," I said.
He looked away. "There's not much to believe in. I'm not like the other elfin boys. I'm different."
"So, maybe that makes you special. I don't want to hear any more negative comments coming out of you about yourself. Okay?"
"Now about swimming, you're problem is you are too tense. You need to relax. Here, lean back in the water. I'll hold you and you just relax."
Leaf did as I told him. At first he was way too tense but soon began to relax. He had his eyes closed. Looking at him he was different from Zeek and his brothers. His body was nicely tone and even relaxed you could see he had a nice set of abs. His legs looked strong and muscular. My eyes kept wandering back to his genitalia. He was definitely above average. I sprung a boner. He was so beautiful. I was so horny but I kept control. He was an elfin and definitely into puberty and that meant he was into elfin girls, not elfin boys or human boys. Still he's going to fill my sexual fantasies.
He was floating so I slowly remove my support. He continued to float on his own.
Leaf opened his eyes and smiled. Omigod, he was so beautiful. I raised my hands out of the water. For a few seconds he continued to smile warmly at me but then I think it sunk in because his face changed to near panic. He tensed up and sunk into the water. I immediately caught his sinking and flailing body and raised him to the surface.
"Relax!" I said. It took a few seconds before he did. "Good, now I am going to remove my arms and you stay relaxed. I'll be here. I won't let anything hurt you, ever. I promise."
He continued to stay relaxed and to float for a few minutes before lowering his feet and standing. I had been stroking myself watching him lying on his back with his magnificent package which I imagine was beginning to grow. I was so close to cumming. I stopped. I didn't want to be caught and rejected.
"See, you did it," I said cheerfully.
"Thank you," he said.
I nodded and smiled.
We move to a shallower area where we could sit. We sat in silence for a long time.
I broke the silence. "Leaf, what skills do you have?"
It took him a few moments to reply, "I like to draw. I'm pretty good at it people say. I'm good at not being seen. Great skills when it comes to fighting a war," he said sarcastically.
"Not being seen?" I asked.
"Yes. Have you ever seen me before today?" Leaf asked.
"No," I admitted.
"Well, I've seen you a lot and watched you for hours -- I've drawn at least fifty pictures of you," he said and then blushed. "I want to fight, Gladimhere! I really do. The orcs killed my parents! I hate them! But I'm not good at archery or anything!" He turned away from me as his tears began to fall.
I took him in my arms and he wailed with so much pain. Tears of sympathy flowed from my own eyes.
As I held Leaf I began thinking. I had never seen him and yet he'd been able to conceal himself long enough to draw a picture of me and not just once but fifty times!
After he calmed down I asked, "Can I seen your drawings?"
He nodded and we exited the pool, got dressed, and returned to the village.
As we approach Zayne's home I thought Leaf was beside me but when I asked him a question and got no answer I discover he was not there. Zahra had made me a delicious fruit lunch with some fresh bread.
I decided to eat outside, but before I left I asked Zahra, "Do you know an elfin called Leaf?"
She smiled and nodded, "So, he let you see him?"
"Yes, well he was practicing archery. What do you know of him?"
"Very little really, his parents were killed by the orcs. He keeps to himself most of the time and rarely socializes. He's very good at drawing -- amazingly good. He gets tease because he's not much good at anything other than drawing. I've never met him."
I moved outside with my food and sat at one of the tables near the town square. As I began to eat a small pebble hit me in the back. I turned to see who threw it at me, but there was no one there. When I turned back to continue eating and saw there was a small stack of drawings. I looked around but did not see Leaf. Damn! He was good. I started looking at the drawings. They were all of me. They weren't good. They were awesome!
"Leaf, where are you?" I asked out loud.
"Here," Leaf answered his voice coming from a near by tree. I looked at the tree but I couldn't see him. "Which of my drawings do you like the best?"
I turned back to the drawings and pulled out the one I liked and turned back to the tree holding up the drawing I said, "This one."
I was complete startled when from my left side Leaf said, "Yeah, I like that one too." He was standing less than a foot from me. I hadn't seen or heard him until he spoke.
"Were you in the tree?" I asked.
He smiled and nodded.
"First I was standing here and I threw the pebble. As soon as you started to turn, I moved here, and when you turned back I did this." He moved with lithely steps then up into the tree. He jumped from the tree and lithely moved back to my left.
I stared at him for a few moments. He was so totally awesome! No wonder his body was so well defined.
"You're awesome. I mean incredible" I said softly to him. He beamed.
A moment later Red arrived. Leaf started to move away but I grabbed his hand, "Stay, don't leave, promise me."
"Red, I want you to meet Leaf. He is the most awesome artist and more - much more."
"Please to meet you Leaf. It's an honor."
"The honor is mine, sir," said Leaf as he politely bowed.
"What took you so long?" I asked Red.
"I have to handle a minor situation between brothers. Not to worry everything is fine. We will have two more flying dragons by the time we return," said Red.
I noticed the look on Leaf's face -- it changed back to sadness.
"So, where are we going?" Red asked.
"Not sure, but the war will not be here it only starts here. I need to scope out the whole of Landsphere and," I grabbed Leaf's hand raising it up so all could see, "Leaf will be going with us to draw maps and pictures." I released Leaf's hand.
His face had changed to one of surprise and happiness. It made me smile.
"That is if you are willing to fly on the back of a dragon, undergo great hardships and dangers. You wanted to be a part of this war. Well, this is your chance to use you skills to contribute like no one else can. What say you?" I asked Leaf.
I thought his face might split because his smile was so big. "When do we leave and what do I need to pack?" he asked enthusiastically.
"Very soon and all you need to pack are all your drawing supplies and dress warmly," I replied.
I couldn't help watch him move away to get his things. He was beauty in motion. My attention was pulled to Red when he cleared his throat.
"It's good to see you happy, again," he said.
"Yeah, well what a stroke of luck. Look at these drawings. And he can move so stealthfully. He's amazing," I said.
"And he's cute too, huh?" teased Red.
"This is not romance and besides he's elfin so when he gets through puberty if he's not there already he'll only be interested in girl elfins. This IS strictly business. I'm not here for romance. I am here to bring balance to Landsphere. We need maps."
I don't think Red completely believed me. I don't know if I believed me.