Chapter 13 – Devon
Devon awoke and pushed the blanket away as a chill sent a wave of goosebumps rippling down his torso. His head was fuzzy; he’d slept hard last night. As he shivered, he realized he was lost, where was he. Rubbing his eyes, the surroundings slowly came into focus, and the momentary confusion turned into a smirk and then a smile. That’s right they lived in a cave now. They’d been here over a week, and still, he awoke confused. He looked down and giggled; he couldn’t help it; his new trusted friend was back, “Good morning, woody.”
As had become a habit, Devon checked the cave for visitors. They’d awoken the second morning to find a vicious, fanged reptile about six feet long in the cave with them. It had eaten a pile of their rations and had the honor of being their first encounter. Neither knew how to use their skills yet, so Mat ended up beating it to death with a large rock. Those early days were a blur. They’d both underestimated how much adjustment there was going to be. The cave turned out to be beautiful. It was bright, much brighter than he’d initially expected. The rays of the morning sun lit the cave nicely and continue to provide light throughout the day — the brightest at noon when the sun was right overhead. The tan walls sparkled when the sun hit them, sending out little splashes of light, causing the room to almost glow, it was great. The waterfall stayed cool most of the day, perfect for drinking after returning from the hot outside. The floor was the same stone with dustings of sand in several places. Their new home had turned out to be surprisingly comfortable if not a little cold in the mornings. Again he shivered.
Devon wasn’t surprised to find Mat still asleep, as expected he’d taken to studying at night and sleeping late in the mornings. His friend looked like a demon at rest, those hooves, the horns and that ferocity waiting just below the surface. Again goosebumps. Devon had known his friend for a long time and knew full well both the dark and light sides of his personality. When provoked Mat was dangerous, but with those he cared about his loyalty was unflinching. He would, and had, protected Devon with his life. Devon knew he’d have to overlook a lot when that demon arose in his friend's eyes, but then he always had. He thought back to the night when he’d been beaten up coming home from a club. When Mat found out it was one of the few times his rage had sacred him. They’d seen the guys a couple of days later while out having dinner. Mat had left him sitting at the restaurant. He knew his friend had followed the guys; they weren’t huge but big enough to take Devon. He never found out for sure what happened, or even if Mat was responsible. All he’d heard after that was from those around the neighborhood talking about the two guys they’d found in an alley beaten to a pulp. The assailant had used a steel bar. He’d learn later one of the guys had died from the injuries. He mentioned it to Mat to only receive a “Karma’s a bitch” remark in response. That was the last anyone said about it.
Where Mat was a waiting storm, Devon was the calm afterward. It was those differences which made them perfectly matched for this adventure. He knew they’d quickly find their way in these new lives.
He headed towards the front of the cave. There were a couple of things he needed to tend to before his friend awoke. First, he needed to take a wicked piss. It was one of those small uncomfortable adjustments, not having a working toilet. They had found a place away from the entrance and set up the necessary facilities. At first, even that had been a bit of a failure, attracting animals and such. A couple of spells later and the problem was solved. The other, well, he needed to continue discovering his new body and therefore needed time to do the experimentation.
Just outside the cave he stood looking at the grasslands spread out before them. He studied the surrounding area, a pack of something had passed close during the night. He could see their footprints and the grass stalks they’d left broken behind them. He examined the ground more carefully; there’d been about a dozen. His skills as a druid were like a sleepy man waking up, each day stretching and expanding a bit.
Devon spent a great deal of time in these fields practicing his animal and tracking skills. A week ago he would know something had passed by their cave, but couldn’t identify it. Now he could quickly determine what types of animals or creatures were in the vicinity simply by what they left in their wake. It was when working with Mat that things got interesting. He thought about the first time he’d gotten to use one of his other duadic skills, that of healing. Mat had tried to create his first plasma ball. Shortly after he started, they had both realized there was a limit to the time the caster could hold the spell. As Devon raced into the cave to find his book, his friend filled the surrounding grassland with one of his classic strings of curses. When Devon returned, it had taken every bit of concentration to get the spell off since Mat was still wholly engulfed in stringing together, deities, body parts, and lewd acts to the horror of the fleeing wildlife. Once he’d finished, they both stared in silence as the black tendrils receeded and the oily pit where the spell had formed in his friend's palm closed, leaving no evidence of the accident behind.
Devon had begun to feel the energy of magic coursing through his body. When magic was correctly done, it not only produced an effect but also revitalized its caster giving him strength and stamina. Casting wasn’t just about reciting spells; it was channeling the very energy of the planet and the living creatures around it. Devon’s magic was about working in cooperation with nature to produce an effect. Where Mat’s was just the opposite, his magic consumed, used, and destroyed the energies he drew in. Where Devon’s magic would leave the plants and animals more vital, Mat’s would absorb, sometimes killing the source from which he drew his dark powers.
Devon wandered the short distance to a little nook he’d found in the rock face. It wasn’t huge; he had to crawl on his hand and knees about a hundred feet to a small chamber no larger than six feet square and high. With the aid of a light spell, it became the perfect retreat, small, secluded, and safe. It was his private place, not because he was ashamed of anything he did, but here he could be alone with his body and his studies. He also knew Mat needed alone time, he was by nature an extreme introvert and to a lesser extent so was Devon. He’d discovered in his little nook why teenage boys spent so much time alone. The feeling of running your hand over your manhood and bringing himself, with a few controlled strokes, to climax was a pleasure he wasn’t sure he was going to grow tired of any time soon. What he did find himself grumbling about was how easy it was for a man to reach orgasm. As a female, the few times he’d allowed himself to have sex, it had been difficult. Now he just wanted to go back and slap a few people for not having warned him when he was young.
As he walked back, enjoying the morning air, Devon stopped at a tree a short distance from the clearing and did several pull-ups. He’d been given the gift of this body; he wasn’t going to squander it. Plus, he loved the strength hidden in the tightly packed muscles of his thin frame. As he finished the last one, he lifted himself onto the limb. Climbing higher, he found the three little birds he knew were nested there. He’d seen their mother once, but she, and he, it appeared had come to some agreement to allow him visitation rights. It was one of his first real spells. One afternoon he’d found a cat like creature trying to climb the tree and ran it off. He cast an ignore spell causing all the animals in the area to ignore the little nest. He’d not been sure it’d work, but so far it had. He stopped by each day to give the spell a little energy. The drain was almost imperceptible, but he could still sense it.
Back at the cave, Mat was up and in the pool bathing. It had become his morning ritual. He wasn’t sure what his friend was going to do when they started traveling. Devon had always been amazed at how someone as rough as Mat could be so picky about cleanliness. It appeared his hygiene was limited only to his body since his side of the cave was a mess. He had shit thrown everywhere.
“Well, good morning,” said Devon.
“And to you, have you been out doing your morning pulls,” he laughed. He didn’t know about the birds.
“Yes, I did, and do you have to bring it up every day?”
“Probably, but we’ll see,” Mat added as he stepped out of the water and began drying off. “When do you think we should blow this joint. I want to get to a town or someplace other than here. I mean this cave is nice but still.”
“I think we should spend a few more days, maybe even a week or two, neither of us have gotten the higher-level spells working yet. I don’t think the little ones will be enough if something happens. They did say there’d be tests before we got to town to gauge our preparedness. Don’t you agree?”
“I agree; I’m just checking. It’s nothing, I’m just a bit stir crazy, but we do need time before we introduce other stimuli.”
“Other stimuli? What are we a fucking science experiment? Sometimes you creep me out, old friend. But I do have an idea. What about a short trip, camp out for a night? It will give us a chance to see the surrounding area, enjoy the new world and well, to be honest, we can finally kill something and get a break from these rations.”
“I thought I’d be the one to bring it up. Don’t you tree hugging druids object to killing for food?”
“We give to nature, and it returns to us what we need to survive. I’ve never met any other druids, but as for this druid, I want a steak.”
“Good. You were the hunter’s assistant back home, so I’ll kill it and you’ll do the cleaning.”
Devon made a face already knowing he’d be stuck with that chore. His uncle had been a hunter, and he’d learned young how to kill, clean, and prepare meats. “As long as you handle the killing; I’ll take it from there.”
“That’s a relief; I was afraid you’d become a mulch eater.”
Mulch eaters are what Mat called vegetarians. He didn’t have a very high opinion of those who wouldn’t eat meat. What worried Devon was with Mat’s rogue abilities and his general outlook on life he was afraid the hunting and killing part might be a little too natural.
“No problem, I think I’ve figured out how to create a small spike. I should be able to put it right through the animals head. The kill will be fast, sparing the animal any pain and your druid sensibilities at the same time.”
“You decided against force bolts for hunting?” asked Devon with a smirk.
“If that bat was any indication, blowing them into small chunks of meat and guts isn’t the most appealing way to prepare food. I’m still picking bat bits out of my bedding.”
They both laughed.