The Manliest of Honorsbynotbreckenridge©
Author's Note: Happy new year. For those who've been waiting for new stuff of mine, I'm sorry to leave you hanging. Life and work are complicated. I've also been trying to finish some non literotica.com projects. I know that some were awaiting Captured by the Elves part 2. It's damn near done. I know: way too long a wait. I'm going to make another alteration before I put it up. I have something else here though. This takes place in the same fantasy world as both Captured by the Elves and The Girl You Can't Have. I thought that maybe the rather strange luck of the character from Captured could be a family trait. The people who go to war do leave family behind, and some of them also get lost in the world. I hope you enjoy. Please rate and comment. Keep it constructive though. If you look at the story tags and know what category you're looking for stories in, then the content should not offend. Else why would you be here? Yes, this includes magic and transformation fun. It's a fantasy. Everyone is over the age of 18 though. Thanks, as always.
My cousin had not returned from the war. Several members of our family were still holding out hope, but I could tell that it was waning. The battles were so far away to the east that for most they didn't exist at all. Trade slowed to a crawl, and many of the medicines that we came to depend on had disappeared. There was food still, but everyone knew that it would not last. My best friend Jonah asked me what we were going to do. I couldn't answer him.
It was going to be a slow and miserable end, so I joined with the other conscripts when Sir Alvin came to muster a new force. He was a large and formidable man—every bit of what the songs said that a knight was supposed to look like. Any young man would look on him as the sort to follow into battle. If anything, people wondered why he hadn't not gone to war already.
"You stand before me as boys," he said, "But before we're done you will be men. Not all of you will return from this expedition. Many of you had brothers or fathers go off with our last force. I believe there is hope for them still. War takes men away from their homes for a long time. We will go, and we will join up with them. Together we will win this war."
I stood with the others. So many of them were in their dirtiest rough-spun clothing like Jonah, who was standing next to me. Their days were normally spent looking for any kind of trouble to take their mind off the bleak situation. I shifted uncomfortably about amongst them. My doublet and trousers were modest compared to some other merchants, but cost more than their rags. Several of them also looked malnourished like Jonah, who was a slight young man with mousy features and stringy black hair. I didn't know how he could stand out there in the wet and gloomy day with us. He should've been huddled around a meager fire with whatever crust he could find to eat. I tried to give him food when I could, but my father forbade sharing what we had for fear that it would run out.
Sir Alvin spotted me, and then walked over. "Who are you?" he asked. "Some lord's son?"
"No, my lord."
"Not a lord. 'Sir Alvin'."
"No, Sir Alvin. My father is a merchant. His name is Tam."
Sir Alvin looked me over. Up close he was even more intimidating. His close-cropped hair was a burnt red, and his great mustache was even redder.
"Very well," he said. "You want to join us?"
"Yes, sir. My cousin, he joined the last group. He and his friend Brendan. It's not right for me not to follow them."
Sir Alvin nodded. "A fair point of view. Join us, my young friend. You will find the manliest of honors."
That was how it started. We set out the following day for a camp to the east. Jonah and I stayed close the entire time. I think he was afraid, but didn't want to say anything. I reminded him that there was no reason for him to come with me. I had my own reasons for going. There was still plenty of the world for him to escape to. He was my friend though. Just as my cousin was thick as thieves with Brendan. Friends were like that.
We trained for weeks at that camp. My cousin was much more the martial man than I was. Our leaders knew this, and so he and his comrades left home with new arms and real armor. At the camp, we learned that we were getting leather and weapons left over from the time of our grandfathers' fathers. This meant spears, clubs, and axes. Swords were in thin supply, and those we had were short and covered with a dark patina of rust. At least there was plenty of food though.
We fell into a routine, and pretended to not be afraid.
Jonah asked me: "Do you think we're going to die?"
"No," I said. "We'll be fine."
I was foolish to be so to be so confidant, but I didn't want to scare my friend. He thought that I was brave.
It was two months later that we were deep on our way towards the border. Sir Alvin was wary of the primeval forest that presented itself before us, even though he said that my cousin and his comrades had gone that way. He chose to avoid it, and instead we went north into the foothills of the black mountains. He said it would not be bad, but the cold bit into us. Some died of exposure. Jonah would have, but I lied atop of him in our tent to keep him warm. Three weeks into the freezing temperatures and we were desperate.
Sir Alvin finally called a stop to our march, and we took refuge in a cave we found. It was more than a cage. There was an entire warren beneath those hills. We operated on the "mate" system. No one went anywhere alone. We lived like that for several days. Starving, but at least out of the cold. Waking up became more difficult each day. I thought we might all just fall asleep forever, but then it happened. They set on us like lightning. Arrows and spears were loosed with abandon. Their best fighters jumped into us—twin scimitars spinning and drawing blood.
Sir Alvin tried to rally us, but it was hopeless. So many died or were scattered. Jonah was at my side at one moment, and then he was gone. I resigned myself to dying, but I kept moving. My muscles burned, and I screamed. Something hit me, and the world grew dark. I was stuck there.
I woke up to horror. They were everywhere. Dark of skin and with hair that was nearly stark white. Their clothing was a mix of black dyed leather and armor that shined like metal, but somehow was not. I'd only ever heard stories about dark elves, but all the details seemed to match up. They were slightly smaller than average men, but they had no problem beating down and putting the survivors of our group into bondage. What had been our weapons and armor was loaded onto a wagon. Some of my comrades were yoked to the front, and forced to lead it away into the darkness. In short order, those of us that survived were being led away. Our dead and those that were too wounded to move were left on the floor of the cavern never to see the light of the surface again. I looked around for Jonah, but he was not to be seen.
There was no escape from the dark elves. My hands were locked in what looked like irons, but it was made of something dark and resin like. I imagined it coming from the body of some horrible animal that lived in the darkness. A leather cord connected the manacles to a leash held by a female dark elf. She was beautiful to look upon, but all that beauty was laced with something sinister.
"Don't misbehave," she said. "You don't want to know what happens to those who don't give in. You will call me 'Mistress Harleah'."
She whispered a spell, and a ball of light hovered near us. "I don't need you stumbling over rocks and slowing us down. Move and it will follow."
I began to plead. "I can get you money. My father is a merchant. Goods, supplies, and gold. All of those are possible if you were to let me go."
She chuckled, and brushed a strand of her thick white hair from her face.
"That would really go over well with my superiors. I really ought to do that. You don't have those things, human. Your material possessions mean little here. Flesh and blood are the currency in the dark."
"You're taking slaves then."
She gave me a sidelong glance. "In a way that's true." She tugged me along.
Despite my fear, I couldn't help but to admire what I could make out of her figure. She was armored, but not everywhere. Her ass was large, but firm with muscle. It strained against the black cloth covering it.
Even as she spoke, my eyes were drawn to that plump behind.
"My people have lived on the fringe of the entire world for generations. Forced to live in hiding because every other race wants to kill us. That is no way for a society to bloom and strengthen."
"But your cousins— "
"—the creatures you call 'elves'?" Harleah spat on the dark of the cavern floor. "They are the very worst of our enemies. Their false gods have convinced them to murder us on sight. They are no kin to us. And you humans...well; you're fools enough to take their lies as ancient wisdom."
"Then why didn't you kill all of us?"
"Because you humans can be useful. Some of those 'elves' take your people away to never be seen again. Human blood is receptive and those elf abominations are sad creatures desperately longing for companionship. You will find us not nearly as tragic as they."
We proceeded farther into her realm of ever darkness. The floating light stayed close, so I could barely make out things in the distance. Only the occasional sputtering torch or the dull, green glow from strange mushrooms on the walls shed any light on the greater area around us. That dim illumination did offer me vague glances at what I thought to be structures carved into the rock by intelligent hands. Some of the walls bore massive deeply-carved reliefs depicting scenes of battles, the exploits of the dark elves, and the cruel majesty of their gods that seemed to be associated heavily with large spiders. Scattered about the places were stone benches not far from altars that looked to have been grown from the very rock.
My captor and I passed small alcoves that contained living spaces. They were Spartan and looked only semi-permanent.
"There are places like this beneath your human settlements," she said. "Nothing too large, but we are never really far from you. Your weak, receptive blood is covering the world. It's sad that the elves fear you. To us you are only every going to be material or vermin."
"Do you hate us that much?"
She pulled me close to her brutally, and we collided. The floating light came to a stop over us. Then she mashed her lush lips against mine. I expected her to bite me, but she didn't. The embrace was controlled by her, and for some reason—some tiny recess of my brain made me just begin to kiss back as she pulled away. My lips were hot with her spit.
Then I saw her most wicked smile.
"You see?" she said. "You give in. That may be the doom of your race. It won't matter for you though. Today there are two paths for your destiny: death or being taken by us. You will learn to accept one or the other."
I wished that I had died in the cave with the others. It was odd to think of such a thing. It was defeat. What fresh-faced, young soldier could even think of the idea? Harleah led me deeper into the dark. It grew much warmer, and as we continued I began to hear voices and the activity of other beings.
"We're near home now," she said. "You will get to know this place well. It's the last home you will ever have."
I thought about Jonah. I never saw him die. Was he alive? Or was he filled with arrows and bled out on the floor of the cave? I envied him that fate. Who knew if it was true, but the possibility was worth it.
"Are you sure you don't want to kill me?"
"That's not the plan."
Her hand rested on the hilt of her ebony scimitar. "Let me take you to your fate, human. I want you to know what is coming."
There were dim lights ahead. We entered a massive structure within the earth. The floating ball of light sputtered out. It wasn't needed anymore. Several other dark elves moved about, and I saw some of my fellow conscripts from home bound as I was. They were formed up into lines outside of a central plaza. It was then that I saw Jonah. He was bruised, and his filthy clothes were encrusted with dried blood. Yet he could still walk as they pulled him along.
I cried out to him. My last plea to a friend, I thought.
He turned quickly, and I saw a sudden glint on those mousy features. It evaporated right off his face as he saw that I too was a bound prisoner, and was not there to rescue him. At least we ended up in the same place, I thought. Fate had been doing that to us our whole lives.
Harleah tightened the slack on my bonds. "Yell again," she said, "And it will be your tongue on the rope."
Jonah and I were separated again as Harleah led me down a corridor into another section. This was comprised of several cells branching off from the main structure. Each cell was sealed by a wet-black door made from the same material as my bindings. It looked hard as steel, but was organic in every way.
Harleah uttered a word in her harsh language, and the door opened like a seed pod.
"Enter," she said. "Don't worry. We won't be in here long for long."
I entered because there was little choice offered me. I wondered how many of the others ended up in these cells. Was Jonah in the next one?
It was dark inside, but as we rounded a corner I walked through a dark-colored film hanging from the ceiling. It passed over my face, leaving a slick trail over my skin. When I was through it, the room was bathed in the dull green glow of the same mushrooms I had seen before. They looked like clams with tendrils binding them to the walls as if they were prisoners too.
I heard heavy breathing, and followed it to the source. After nearly stumbling around I found the place. The room had become oppressively hot and the moisture was so thick in the air that I found myself swallowing it. I was sweating profusely in no time.
"Why am I here?" I asked.
"The merchant's son," said a voice. "Is that you?"
The light in the room opened up into a brighter level of green. I turned to see that Harleah had broken one of the mushrooms apart, and sent its glowing juices all over the floor. I returned my gaze to the direction of the voice, and there on the wall with his hands bound was Sir Alvin. He had been stripped naked, but remained an intimidating sight.
"It's me," I told him. "I can't believe you survived, sir."
The knight spat at Harleah. "These dark elves believe that they can frighten us. Don't give in. We are soldiers, and that won't change. Be brave, lad."
"Hardly good advice," said Harleah. She looked at me. "Bear witness to what is about to happen. You fools made a horrible mistake by leaving home, and now there is no going back."
Harleah sang an odd spell into the air. Neither my ears nor my heart could decide on the nature of it.
Something large moved across the walls outside of the cell. My first reaction was to look towards the door, but of course Harleah had already sealed it. Sir Alvin continued to be brave, but there was something else on that strong face. It was uncertainty. We had all thought of dying on the battlefield: being cut down by sword and spear. None of us had seen this happening. The wall on the far side of us bent in. Such a strong and unyielding dark resin gave way, and peeled open for the giant black spider that burrowed inside.
I screamed, and Harleah laughed. Sir Alvin did his best to remain resolute in facing down this new invader.
"Is that all you have?" he asked. "Some bloody spider? Why don't you free my bonds, and see how your filthy pet faces off against a sworn knight, you dark elf slut?"
Harleah offered no reaction. The spider itself was a nightmare. So many legs were about. I now had more of an idea as to where the dark resin came from. This beast made it as if duplicating the hard shell of its own body. It was larger than a horse, and could barely fit inside the room. Simply being near it was too much for me.
Sir Alvin remained brave to the last.
"Remember what you see," he said to me. "We may die on this day, but our people will triumph, and in time we will purge the entire world of all such evil. This will come to pass."
Harleah scratched her boot upon the floor. "I've heard so many speeches from your people. Believe me: reality has no mercy for you."
The spider approached Sir Alvin. I kept waiting for the older knight to break free, and fight. I would be emboldened then, and together we would free the others, and escape to our homeland just like in the stories.
That didnt happen.
Sir Alvin gritted his teeth. He was as ready to die as I had ever seen a brave man. The spider was nearly on him at that point. It touched him with one of its long chitinous limbs. The touch of the spider was almost gentle if I didn't know better. Then the beast reared up. Its fangs leaking venom, and it pierced the belly of the man that had been my commander.
Sir Alvin grunted at the assault. He cursed the spider and the dark elves, but he did not wail. No amount of pain was going to destroy this knight that I admired. However, I could tell from the way the knight was shaking that the venom was overwhelming. He gritted his teeth, he spat, and he fought with every ounce of the warrior that he was.
"Is that all you have?" he yelled. "Some..." His eyes fluttered. I knew it was hopeless, but he continued.
"I will not be so easily killed by your abominations. I am a knight."
"Not for long," said Harleah. She sang again, and the spider withdrew its fangs from Sir Alvin, and left the room as quickly as it had come in.
"No one can resist the bite of this widow," she said. "She brings you to a place where you will feel her pain and urges. You are doomed, Sir Knight."
Sir Alvin strained. I thought that he would hold out until he died in silence, but he did finally wail. The knight didn't die though. Rather, I watched in peculiar horror as the bulky man of muscles shrank before me. Bones shifted beneath his skin, and that skin shed all its hair and became softer and finer looking.
Alvin's hips flared out into a feminine shape that I noticed right away. Some of his former mass settled around his rear end—making it deliciously plump. Also, two suspicious lumps began growing from his chest. He was being changed completely. I watched it dawn on Alvin as to what was happening to him.
"No," he cried. "Not this! I demand that you kill me."
His words choked off as his face changed, and reformed into that of a young woman, who looked to be a little younger than myself. Delicate, beautiful, and without the great mustache.
When it was done, Alvin could speak again, but it was not the bold, gruff voiced man that I remembered. It belonged to the young woman shackled to the wall in front of me.
"Help me, gods," she cried, as what had been Alvin's male parts receded into her body and the hairless sex of a young woman was left in their place.
The new Alvin was left breathing heavily on the wall of the cell. Sweat covered her body, and I could help myself but to become aroused by...her.
"Sir Alvin..." I started.
"Don't look at me," she said. "Please, don't look at me."
Eventually she looked up at with the same green eyes as Sir Alvin. Her hair was still rust red, but it had grown just a little longer into a woman's bob cut.
"Recruit," she said. "I order you to choke this body to death. This is my last order to you."
I stood there hopelessly wondering what I was capable of doing.
"I can't," I managed to say. "You're..."
Harleah stepped in. "He means to say that he can't kill a pretty girl, and you're not going to die any time soon. You've actually reclaimed quite a bit of your misspent youth, and being with us means that you'll live loner anyway."