Two's Company...Three's...Fun?

BY : Dagian
Category: +G through L > Lineage 2
Dragon prints: 130
Disclaimer: I do not own Lineage2 nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Two’s Company...Three’s...Fun?

Starr and Seren pushed their horses ever faster across the barren landscape of the Wastelands. The pounding of hooves startled the local creatures and sent them scattering for what very little cover was available. Seren glanced behind her quickly. Starr was still several lengths behind, however Seren knew she wouldn’t stay there long. The other archer had a habit of keeping her horse tightly reined in until the last mile or so, only then would she let the animal’s true speed emerge.

Starr altered her horse’s course slightly, trying to stay out of the cloud of dust Seren’s horse was kicking up. As she did so, it put her horse directly in line with a large gully. The horse launched itself over the obstacle with relative ease, hardly breaking stride. Leaning into the horse’s neck, Starr grinned. She’d stolen this horse from a dark elf, and she was glad that she had.

Dark elves were brutes, but they often had the best horses adena could buy. Rarely could one ever find a dark elf willing to part with their horse. Dwarves had offered hefty sums of adena, just for a chance at purchasing lower quality animals and had never been successful. Dark elves would rather die than part with the creatures and she’d gone and managed to snag one for herself. She just hoped it’s true owner never found her. She didn’t think she would, the dark elves were embroiled in a war with the orcs to the north, but that didn’t mean she wouldn’t come looking for her prized horse.

Seren hefted her bow and fired at the pre-arranged target and cursed. Slightly off center. She watched in consternation as Starr’s arrow hit dead center of the target. The horses flew past the target, continuing their breakneck pace. They soon came to a point where they had to make a choice, go under a ledge, or go around it. Starr knew her horse was too tall to go under and chose to go around it instead. The horse’s hooves scrabbled for purchase on the loose soil as it struggled to clamber quickly up the embankment.

Seren however chose to go under the ledge. Or at least send her horse under it. As she approached the ledge, she stood in the saddle and as the horse passed underneath, she hopped on top of the ledge, ran overtop of it, and dropped back down into the saddle as her horse reappeared on the opposite side.

“Cheater!” Starr snapped as she and her horse lurched down the steep embankment.

“You never stated that I had to be on the horse at all times!” Seren retorted playfully.

With a low growl, Starr loosened the reins of her horse and gave it a solid nudge in the ribs. The horse responded immediately, showing exactly why its previous owner had prized it so much. With little effort at all, it surged past Seren’s horse and quickly put an enormous amount of distance between them. Seren cursed loudly as she was suddenly confronted with clouds of dust in her face, forcing her to close her eyes.

Meanwhile, high on a ledge above them, Shin watched the two riders. Ordinarily the dark assassin would be on the front lines, assisting his kind in their war with the orcs. However, he’d been tasked with tracking down a horse thief. A lowly task for one as skilled as himself. But it was the price he was to pay for speaking out of turn and angering one of the generals. He scoffed in irritation. That same general’s daughter had stupidly gotten drunk and had her horse stolen from her. His punishment for speaking out of turn was to retrieve the animal that she’d so foolishly left unattended.

His fenrir sniffed the wind and licked its lips as a low rumble filled the air as it growled softly. Standing up, Shin patted it’s side as he hopped into the saddle. Carefully he started maneuvering down from the ledge. He’d been following the pair for several days now. They were alone, deep in the wastelands with very little in the way of supplies. And they had to have used up the majority of their arrows on their target practice. Now would be the best time to approach them, before they either made it back to town or stumbled upon friends, or at least allies, who would help them.

As he followed the hoofprints, he reflected on the past few days. It was clear the two elves were competing against each other. For what purpose he didn’t know, or care. However, they seemed to be friendly enough to one another. Idly he wondered if this was something the two of them did regularly, or if this was part of light elven training and they had to compete against someone different each time.

Slowly day turned to night, and he kept his huge wolf at a sedate walk. Between his superior night vision and the wolf’s ability to literally sniff out the horses, there was no need to rush. Once he felt he was close enough, he dismounted the wolf and commanded it to stay. The animal laid down quietly, resting its giant head on its forepaws. With stealth borne of years of practice, he approached their makeshift campsite, taking in all possible ways that they could defend themselves in a single, calculating glance. As he circled the camp, looking for the best position to attack from, he couldn’t help but overhear their conversation.

“Honestly. How did you manage to get your hands on that beast of a horse?” Seren asked with a tinge of jealousy in her voice as she pulled the saddle off of her own horse.

Starr grinned widely as she patted her horse’s neck proudly. “Stole him.” She turned her gaze to Seren and laughed at the shocked look upon her face. Shrugging, she continued. “Stupid dark elf was drunk off her ass and passed out about twenty paces away from him.” She frowned lightly as she ran her fingers through the dark mane. “I do wish he was a different color though.”

Seren snorted softly as she spread out her bedroll. “You know they only ever breed black horses. They’re harder to see at night.” She gazed at her own horse, a soft brown mare. “I still think mine’s prettier.”

“Pretty doesn’t cut it when you’re in a ride for your life.” Starr quipped back at her as she sat down on her own bedroll.

The two sat in silence for a minute before Seren broke it again. “Have you ever thought of breeding him?”

Starr laughed, the sound nervous. “For that I’d have to advertise that I even have him in the first place.”

“Oh, right. Probably something you shouldn’t do.” Seren replied, her tone somewhat sheepish. However, she still gazed speculatively at the black horse. “I could pay you when my mare comes into season...”

“No.” Starr snapped firmly. “If your horse gives birth to a foal that bears any resemblance to this horse it will cause immeasurable chaos.” She paused for a moment before continuing. “This horse is my little secret for the time being. It’s the only way I’ll ever be able to catch and kill that bastard...” Her voice drifted off as memories overtook her.

Seren simply watched her for a moment before reaching out and lightly shaking her shoulder. “Hey. You’ll get him. And when you do, you’ll get your clan back.”

Out of sight, Shin listened carefully. Ordinarily he would have attacked them and retaken the horse already. However, he could see many well-placed traps, any one of which would activate the minute he crossed a certain threshold and that would not be good. The two elves were smart and kept their horses well within the ring of traps, out of his reach. He was in for at least another day of following them around. But at least he now knew that they were friends, not randomly thrown together in some strange training situation. From the course of their continued conversation and playful banter it was clear that their race was a friendly challenge between them, leftover from childhood.

The next day he trailed behind them as the horses swiftly ate up the land. As he studied the tracks, he could easily determine which set belonged to the stolen horse. Those tracks showed no sign of faltering. The brown mare’s tracks however showed clear signs of faltering, bordering on lameness, before the tracks shifted to show that they had slowed to a walk, with one set of boot prints next to the near lame hoof prints.

Starr gazed critically at Seren’s horse. “She needs to rest for the next day or two. Let’s stop at the waterhole that’s close by.”

Seren nodded as she straightened up from checking the mare’s leg. “Bet I can still swim faster than you.” She stuck her tongue out, mildly irritated that her horse was coming up lame. With rest and the healing ointment she’d put on the leg, the horse would be fine.

They continued to the waterhole and once more laid the traps, ensuring the horses were well protected. Again, Shin watched them silently, making use of a ridgeline to get a slightly overhead view. He was glad that the elven horse was oblivious to his wolf’s scent, and the stolen warhorse was so used to it that it didn’t respond in the slightest to the scent of the nearby would-be predator.

The two elves settled down and sleep overtook them quickly. After about an hour of waiting, just to be sure that neither of them woke-up, Shin quietly made his way to the small campsite. Again, he circled the camp that they’d set up, hoping that they’d mistakenly left a gap in their traps that he could use to gain entry and retrieve the horse. He wanted to avoid an unnecessary fight if at all possible. His orders had been to retrieve the horse, not cause a potential incident with the light elves, who were currently aligned with the humans who would no doubt be eager to get into a conflict with his kind seeing as the war with the orcs had weakened their position considerably. He cursed his luck as he discovered that just as the night before, the traps had been laid successfully.

Crouching down, he studied one. One of the two of them knew a fair bit of spell-work, the magic emanating from the trap was impressive. However, not so impressive that he would’ve been worried about it if there hadn’t been quite so many of them. Clearly the caster was aware of her limitations and made up for the traps lack of magical strength with sheer numbers. Also, he recognized that the traps were of the variety that if one were triggered, the rest would also trigger, whether he’d touched them or not. The effects would be cumulative, and it wouldn’t end nicely for him. Standing up, he gazed at the two sleeping elves with a bit more respect. Clever.

Turning away, he made his way back to his fenrir to get some sleep himself. Approaching them directly was looking more and more like his only option.

The next morning the two elves checked over the mare and decided that another day’s rest was in order. Seren looked at the supply of arrows and frowned. “I thought we’d packed more than this?”

Starr glanced at the small stack and grimaced. “We did. But we must’ve used too many when we helped that small hunting party fend off that band of thieves. Plus, we gave them some as well.” It was just as well, with her injuries the healers had suggested that she put her focus on spellcasting, indicating that she might have to make the move permanent as they weren’t sure she’d ever become proficient with the bow again. “You take the rest of them. I’ll practice my spell work some more.”

Seren looked to her friend, the pain in her voice was evident. She viciously cursed the orc that had hurt her. The perfect shot the day before was good, but at what cost? The two continued taking stock of their supplies, making plans to visit their secret stash to replenish what they were low on the following day.

As the sun rose to the highest point in the sky, Seren stripped down and plunged into the waterhole, swimming all the way to the bottom before surfacing again. Starr meanwhile simply sat on a rock and dipped her feet in the water. “Come on, Starr.” Seren said softly. “No one’s here. No one will see.”

Starr shook her head. “No.”

Seren stared at Starr and Starr at Seren before Seren spoke again. “If the scars bother you that much, leave your shirt on.” She grinned playfully, hoping it would lighten the mood. “It will slow you down though.” She missed her friend’s playfulness.

Before long Starr sighed and caved to Seren’s goading. Standing up, she removed her armor and weapons and dove into the water swiftly. The two spent the next few hours racing each other around the desert oasis pond. At first it was the best out of three laps, then the best out of five. This continued until they were exhausted and finally had to take a break in the shallows.

The two leaned back on their elbows and basked in the sunlight as they caught their breath. Finally, Seren spoke, keeping her voice hushed. “I know the scars bother you, but you’re still beautiful.”

Starr tensed for a minute before relaxing again. “Thank you.” After a moment she sat up, giving Seren a rare view of the scars that crisscrossed her back.

Seren’s face twisted into a scowl as she was confronted with the evidence of the abuse the monster had inflicted on her friend. The bastard had beaten her nearly to death with a studded whip. When the rescue party had finally found Starr, she’d barely been alive.

She pushed those memories aside and stood up, reaching down to pull Starr up as well. “Come on, let’s use some of your traps to catch some fish.” Both elves stood and went to retrieve a few of the traps that they’d spread the night before. Starr reached for one of the towels and made to cover her back with it, but Seren was having none of it. Part of the reason she’d dragged Starr out here was to help her come to grips with the fact that she now had scars. “Nope! You can only have the towel back after you catch more fish than me!” She laughed as she snatched the towel out of Starr’s grasp.

Starr scowled at Seren while lowly muttering under her breath. “Bitch...” Her tone held no true animosity however, merely annoyance. She made no other comments as she knew her friend was only trying to help. However, as she was gathering up some of the traps, she muttered under her breath. “You never were good at fishing, Seren.” If Seren heard her, she didn’t respond and Starr sighed lightly, letting the comment go.

Atop the ridge, Shin was grateful that there was so much distance between himself and the two elves. And that his former masters had been so successful at drilling self control into him. His younger self might’ve made a costly mistake and approached the two nude elves. He was a great deal surprised by how comfortable the two felt at shedding their clothes in full daylight. However, they were far out in the wastelands, where few people ever went in the first place as there was nothing out here. So perhaps they simply knew that the odds of running into anyone were low. Either way, he’d gotten a good show and that alone had made the trip to this barren landscape enjoyable. He would have to ensure that he thanked the idiot General that had sent him out here to chase after a ‘mere’ horse thief.

However, he’d noticed something about the two. The one named Seren seemed to watch her friend a little more closely than was strictly necessary. Could it be that she was a bit attracted to her friend? It was common enough in dark elven society for some females to prefer other females, and sometimes males preferred other males, but he rather suspected that it would be considered taboo in light elven society. If she did find her friend attractive, did Starr know about it?

His gaze switched from Seren to the one named Starr. The scars on her back spoke of a brutal past. She clearly didn’t want them to be seen. Even from this distance, he could see that she was fighting the urge to cover them up. Curiously, he found himself wanting to know what happened.

As he contemplated the elves below him, he took careful note of which traps they were removing. And, critically, he noticed that they weren’t replacing them with new ones. They merely shifted the remaining traps into a new arrangement. One that he noticed right away had a gap that he could manage to get through without setting them off. Getting the horse through it without mishap might be a problem though. As night began to fall, he crept down from the ridge and made his way closer to their camp.

“I can’t believe I only caught three fish.” Seren groused as she watched the aforementioned fish cook over the flames.

“Small ones at that.” Starr replied with a playful grin as she pushed at her fifth fish with the tip of an arrow, turning it a bit to ensure it would cook evenly.

Seren stuck her tongue out and grumbled. “I should go release the rest of what you caught...”

“Then you wouldn’t have anything to eat in the morning.” Starr laughed as she speared another fish with the arrow and deftly turned it over.

Shin slowly picked his way around the traps, eyes locked on his targets, as he quietly crept closer.

Starr adjusted her cotton tunic, shivering a bit in the cool of the night. While her front was warm from facing the fire, her back was beginning to be uncomfortably cool. Her gaze shot to Seren, who was hogging the nearest blanket. “You know, you could toss me the spare blanket. You know, the one that I brought specifically for my own use...”

Seren smirked playfully as she grabbed the blanket. “Say ‘please’...” She taunted.

The two elves were shocked when the air between them shimmered briefly as Shin’s concealment spell dropped, revealing him to their stunned gazes. “Please...” He quipped back at them, his tone somewhat mocking, and his weapons held at the ready.

Dead silence filled the air for several tense moments as they all took one another in. Starr and Seren knew they were in deep trouble. Their weapons, while close, weren’t close enough, and neither were wearing proper armor, just common cotton tunics. He however was fully prepared for a fight.

“Please, don’t get up on my account.” He drawled sardonically.

“What the hell do you want?” Seren hissed angrily.

Shin leveled his gaze at her. “I’ve come for something that was recently stolen.” His head turned toward Starr. “You have something that doesn’t belong to you. I’ve been sent to retrieve it.”

Glaring at him, Starr snarled out from between clenched teeth. “You can’t have him!” Staring the dark elf down, she swiftly formed a plan to distract him long enough for Seren to reach her bow. She wasn’t giving the horse up without a fight! “His original owner should’ve been more careful and minded how many drinks she had!” As she spoke, magic gathered around the dark elf, invisibly coiling itself around him. Just a little more and she could encase him in ice for a few seconds, long enough for Seren to grab her weapon.

A quick flick of his wrist and one of his swords slashed through the air, dissipating the magic that he’d sensed spiraling around him. “So, which of you is learning magic?” He questioned calmly, looking between the two of them. “The traps are quite impressive, however you still need to work on both speed and stealth when attempting to cast during potential combat. Although I do commend you for being able to cast as efficiently as you just did without any outward sign of it. That is something that I don’t think I’ve seen many casters able to achieve...”

Seren made a swift lunge for her bow as he was talking. Her hand wrapped around it, and she pulled it taut as she called forth the energy stored within the bow. An arrow of magic formed, and she launched it at him. The bolt landed squarely on his armor-plated chest, and he grunted slightly at the force before he again swung a sword. The flat of the blade connected with the bow and knocked it out of her hands. Thinking quickly, he used the sword to scoop the bow up and flung it away from them, out of the camp. “I’d really rather avoid a fight...” He stated softly, though no less dangerously.

Starr and Seren exchanged glances. Caught by surprise, they had no real chance here. If they chose to fight against him, they’d be killed.

Shin admired their spirit. Even though it was clear they hadn’t a chance against him in the situation, they’d still made an effort. He hadn’t been given a time limit as to when to get the horse back to the General and his daughter. And he still found himself curious as to the scars on the one elf’s back. His superiors had always called his curiosity a failing, and maybe they were right, but it had never let him down. Instead, it usually benefitted him as he found out things that most others wouldn’t have dreamed of.

“How about this?” He began calmly. “We play for the horse. You win, you keep him. I win, he goes back with me. Sound fair? I’ll even play against the both of you, if either of you win, the horse remains with you. Doubling your odds of keeping him.”

Starr groaned internally. Seren was a habitual gambler. It had gotten her into trouble more times than she could count. The dark elf had practically waved fresh red meat in front of a starving dragon. Before she could say anything, Seren answered with confidence. “Deal!”

“Wait, wait, wait! We don’t even know what game he wants to play! Or the rules! You even let him set all the terms of the bet!” Starr cried out, angered by Seren’s foolishness.

Shin meanwhile slid his swords back into their scabbards and produced a set of cards. Looking to Starr, he handed them to her. “You can choose the game. We’ll play by the rules commonly used by the humans.”

Seren laughed before she could catch herself. Looking to Starr, she apologized quickly before explaining. “She doesn’t play cards. Any card game actually.”

Shin stared at Seren for a moment before turning his astonished gaze on Starr. “Never? You don’t know even one card game?”

Somewhat embarrassed, Starr turned her gaze toward the ground and snarled out in light elvish to Seren. “Did you really have to tell him that?”  

Shin sighed internally, this complicated matters. He thought back to what they had been doing for the past week. The challenges... “I have another idea.” His gaze focused on Starr. “The two of you have been competing for the past week. I know because I’ve been following the two of you for that long.” He waited patiently for the expected indignant protestations to die away before continuing. “I propose a challenge of my own. Same basic rules. The victor gets to claim the horse. The two of you against me. No weapons, no magic, no fighting at all.”

“Well, if there’s no weapons, magic, or fighting...what exactly is it that we’ll be doing?” Seren asked in confusion.

“Racing.” He answered and then explained his idea. They would race, on foot, a set distance and rough course around the small oasis that they were currently at. Whoever got back first, won the race, and thus the horse.

Starr gazed at him suspiciously. Why was he doing this? Why not just take the horse? He clearly could and they all knew it. However, if she wanted even a chance of keeping the horse, then she would have to accept his offer. She pondered the idea a bit more. Generally speaking, her kind were a bit faster than his kind. It was one of the reasons why humankind relied on her kind for scouting missions when dealing with dark elves. They had a higher success rate of evading capture.

Between her and Seren, the odds of keeping the horse were relatively good. They both knew the layout of the area quite well considering how often they came out here. Chances were high that they knew it better than he did, and their secret stash of supplies was along the route he’d suggested as part of the racecourse. A quick detour and they’d actually have a fighting chance against him. “Fine.” She finally retorted. It was quickly decided that the race would begin the next day.

Shin grinned widely and sat down opposite the two of them at the campfire. “Mind sparing one of those fish?” He asked, knowing full well that the question would be hated and that any fish they might give him would not be given with anything that even remotely resembled welcoming.

The next morning dawned bright, and Shin stretched while stifling a yawn. He’d slept great despite the fact that he’d been sleeping leaned against one of the larger rocks in the area. But since the rock absorbed the ambient heat from the fire, it had helped to regulate his body temperature and had kept him comfortably warm all night. His gaze drifted over the two light elves, huddled in their blankets, a frown crossed his features. He could see that they were still lightly shivering, despite the blankets. As he watched, Starr’s eyes opened, and she stared right at him. Her gaze was far to clear to have just woken up. “Been up all night?” He questioned quietly, so as not to disturb Seren if she happened to be sleeping.

“Sleep? With you in camp? I think not.” Starr groused at him while sitting up, wrapping the blanket more firmly around herself.

He grinned at her. If the two of them had been any other elves, or he had been any other of his kind, her wariness would have been well founded. It wouldn’t have helped them, but it would’ve been warranted. “I assure you, I have no intention of going back on my word.”

He stood up. “I’ll be right back.” Picking up his weapons, he shot her a look of warning. “Don’t think of trying to leave. I won’t be far, and I can pick up your trail far easier than you’d think.” With that, he vanished, the air shimmering briefly as his own magic took over and hid him from sight. Moving swiftly, he returned to his fenrir and used its nose to quickly locate a warren of desert rabbits. He swiftly killed several and returned to the campsite.

Starr heard a soft panting sound and looked up from folding her blanket. The dark elf had returned riding a fenrir and had brought several rabbits with him. Standing up, she barely looked at the rabbits. The creatures were a bit bigger than the fish and would make for a nice breakfast, but the fenrir however held her attention. It wasn’t as fast as the horses, but it didn’t have to be. Its advantage was its nose. Not to mention, if well trained it could double as a fighting companion, defending its owner, a perfectly terrifying prospect considering the size of its mouth. A command from Shin in dark elvish and the animal laid down and drifted to sleep.

Turning back to the dark elf, she watched as he placed the rabbits on the spit and stoked the fire to cook them. Once done, he turned and watched her watch him for a moment, silently assessing her. “Between the two of you, I’d wager you’re a bit smarter than your friend over there.” He remarked, nodding slightly at the still sleeping Seren. “You’re certainly more cautious. Makes me wonder, why’d you do something as foolish as to steal one of our horses? Why risk doing something you had to know would surely get you hunted down?”

Starr’s eyes narrowed into dangerous slits. “My reasons for stealing the horse are not your concern.” She snapped coldly.

“But they are.” He countered as he slowly stood up. “They were made my concern when I was ordered to retrieve the horse for its rightful owner. I was ordered to kill the thief if necessary.” He paused momentarily before continuing. “You understand what that means? It means that I should’ve killed the both of you days ago, retrieved the horse, and left your bodies for the carrion birds.” As he spoke, he very slowly edged closer to her, one calculated step at a time. “Do you think I want to do that, min kacha?” He asked as he came to a stop less than a foot away from her.

The abrupt change back into dark elvish broke Starr from her near trancelike state and she rapidly backed away from him. “Then why didn’t you do so? I thought dark elves followed all orders given to them by their superiors?” How the hell did he manage to get so close to her?

“Most do, you’ll find that I’m a bit different. I don’t blindly follow orders. That’s part of the reason I’ve been sent to retrieve the horse. His owner is a spoiled little hellion whose father happens to be the General of the battalion I’m assigned to. I openly objected to a proposed battle plan that would’ve sent scores of our younger recruits to their deaths. The plan was ultimately rejected by the higher brass, and the General received a punishment of his own for the blatant disregard for the safety of the troops under his command. He was not stripped of his command, however, and as punishment for getting him punished, I was sent away to do the lowly work of catching and killing a horse thief. The General thought it would be a demeaning punishment considering my rank. I however consider it a welcome respite from the gore of war.” His eyes hardened. “And I will never stay silent when it comes to using young recruits as mere bait to be slaughtered so that one’s military career can be advanced.”

Seren looked between the two of them. She’d woken up some time ago and had been watching them. He was once again slowly closing the distance between himself and Starr without her even noticing it. Dangerous. With a faked yawn, she spoke. “How long have you two been up?” She sniffed the air, pretending that this was the first time she’d smelled the rabbits cooking. “What’s that smell?” She stood up and made a show of wobbling ‘sleepily’ to the fire to inspect the rabbits.

Shin swore softly under his breath. Whether it was because he was irritated at Seren for interrupting the conversation, or because he’d started the conversation, he couldn’t say. His gaze was drawn to Starr as she swiftly snatched a rabbit from the spit and sat as far from him as possible. Seren had also gotten herself one of the rabbits and was eating quietly. With a sigh, he grabbed the last one and sat down to eat. “The name is Shin, by the way. Since neither of you asked last night.”

“We were a bit busy, trying to avoid being skewered by your sword.” Starr grumbled without looking at him.

Seren watched him closely and mentally cursed. Starr’s words had unintentionally triggered both a memory and a bit of wishful thinking. She’d once caught sight of a dark elf bathing in a river. She’d lost a dagger in a bet with a dwarf, who’d then sold her dagger to that specific dark elf. She’d followed after him, thinking to perhaps buy it back. However, seeing him in the river, she completely forgot about the weapon. The show she’d gotten more than made up for the loss of the dagger. He’d clearly either not been with his partner in quite a while, or perhaps was between partners, and had taken matters into his own hands. Literally. At the time, she’d decided that she would’ve quite liked to be skewered by that particular sword.

Her gaze trailed back to Shin speculatively. He’d already stated that he’d been on the battle front. Presumably he’d been there for quite some time as their war with the orcs was a lengthy one. Perhaps he’d gone without a lover for a while as well? She’d have to see after their little race.

Once they had all finished eating, they went over the rules one more time. To ensure that everything was not only fair but understood by all involved. The race was entirely on foot. There would be no combat of any sort. They were allowed their weapons to defend themselves against any outside threats to the race. The race began, and ended, at the waterhole.

The three lined up and waited for a small flame to burn through a length of twine, which would drop a stone on a piece of scrap metal. At the sound of the stone hitting the metal, they took off.

Seren sprinted forward quickly, leaving the other two behind. This was a strategy she and Starr had often used when they were younger. She sprinted ahead and took the lead for a while, when she tired, Starr would sprint ahead and lead. Taking turns who had the lead, they typically won team racing events. Seren didn’t see why this would be any different.

Shin meanwhile stayed back, not rushing. After watching them for several days, he had a fair idea of how the two of them raced. He’d purposely chosen the course path the way he had to tire the both of them out. Gambling that each one would become more and more tired with every change in who was sprinting in the lead. Meanwhile, he would simply take his time and when they were both tired, he’d outpace them in the last mile or so.

Up ahead, Starr cursed under her breath. Something wasn’t right, she knew it. This was too easy. As Seren slowed down and gradually came alongside her, Starr spoke to her in light elvish. “This isn’t right. Why’s he doing this?”

Seren shrugged. “Who knows?” She glanced back at him. “He’s nice to look at though.”

Starr stumbled, barely managing to catch herself from falling down completely. “Seren?!” She hissed.

“What?” Seren asked innocently. “Well, he is. Come on, you got to admit at least that much.” She risked another look back at the trailing dark elf. “Wonder if he’d notice if I dropped behind him for a bit...” She mused to herself.

Starr reached out and slapped Seren on her arm. “Stop it with those thoughts!”

Shin continued watching them. For a while they did exactly as he’d predicted, one sprinting ahead while the other lagged behind and rested. Although, Seren lagged behind him twice.

Towards the end of the course however, it was becoming apparent that whatever had happened to Starr in the past was still affecting her. Still, she managed to put on a respectable burst of speed, as did Seren, in their attempt to make it to waterhole ahead of him. However, they’d both miscalculated how much sprinting they’d already done, and they had underestimated him. With effort, he pushed ahead of both of them and reached the waterhole first.

Starr groaned in frustration. But her back felt as if it were on fire and she stepped straight into the cool water, in too much pain to stop and remove her armor, and dipped underneath, relaxing her tired muscles. Breaking the surface, she snarled out at him. “A deal’s a deal. He’s yours.”

Shin watched her closely for a moment before deciding to hell with the General and his daughter. The horse was staying with this elf. The General’s daughter was in sore need of a lesson in taking care of her belongings anyway and that lesson might as well start with the loss of her horse. When Starr surfaced again, he called out to her. “No, I’ll let you keep him. He can buy his daughter another horse if he wishes.”

That took Starr by surprise. Feeling a bit awkward, she cautiously replied. “Th... Thank you.”

Seren was also taken aback by his generosity, but she also had other things on her mind. Not bothered in the least by his presence, she started peeling her armor off. “Want to cool down a bit?” She asked him, not bothering to hide her true meaning.

Shin hesitated ever so slightly, he was more interested in Starr, but he also wasn’t above taking what was being so freely offered to him. “As long as it won’t bother your friend...” He answered, cautiously looking in Starr’s direction, noting that she was watching them.

Seren shrugged. “It’s not as if she hasn’t done the same thing to me.” Her eyes clouded over a moment in thought. “In fact, during one of our training missions, there was this red-headed human knight that she took a liking to, and we only had the one tent, and well, he didn’t want to wait for a second tent and neither did she.” She looked up at Shin and pouted prettily. “And they didn’t invite me.”

Starr groaned again before yelling. “I told you Seren, nothing happened!” Well, at least nothing had happened that night, the next night...

“Wait. Exactly...” Shin started to ask, but Seren cut him off by diving into the water. Within seconds she had crossed to the center of the pond and was looking back at him.

“Coming in?” She asked him provocatively, her meaning clear. She turned her head to Starr, switching back into light elvish. “Bet I can make him cum faster than you made your knight cum...”

Starr snorted softly in reply. “Are you sure you want him to cum that fast? I mean, if you’re going to play with this particular fire, better make it last while you can...”

Seren giggled gleefully. “I knew it! You’ve looked at him too! Admit it! I’ve seen you look at others of their kind! Don’t pretend you’re not enjoying seeing him!”

As Shin listened to them, he wondered exactly how far their little competitions went. Clearly the two discussed their sexual escapades with one another and compared them. Still feigning ignorance of the light elven language, he commented. “What exactly is so funny?” Now fully aware that they were both watching, he took his time removing his armor.

“Nothing really.” Seren answered, swimming slowly in his direction as he waded into the water.

The cool water was very refreshing, and he wasted no time diving below the surface. Opening his eyes, he found that the water was quite clear and had no trouble seeing the two elves with him. Already knowing that Seren was willing, he swam over to her and playfully swam between her legs, his hands grazing against her calves as he did so.

Seren shivered at the touch and turned in the water, trying to track his movements. Again, she felt his hands graze over her, a little higher this time, just above the back of her knees.

Finally surfacing, Shin faced her. His gaze turned to Starr who seemed a bit disinterested. “You’re sure she won’t mind?” He questioned, not exactly liking the fact that Starr didn’t seem to be paying them any attention. For some reason the lack of attention from her was rather irritating.

Seren huffed out. “If you’re still unsure, you can ask her yourself.”

Shin felt Seren’s hands lightly grazing over his arms and chest. Seren looked up at him and noted that his gaze was still focused on Starr. She pursed her lips together. There was one sure way to get him over the ridiculous notion that Starr minded, but that required getting Starr to do something that she’d never shown any interest in doing. At least not with another female. “Starr, get over here.” Seren muttered, aggravated. She wanted to fuck the dark elf in front of her and damned if Starr’s reticence of sharing with another female was going to get in the way. “I don’t care if you only pretend to be into this and then just sit back and watch, or simply ignore us, but get over here and help me.”

Starr was a little taken aback but recovered quickly. “I didn’t think it’d ever be necessary for you to require help to get someone to fuck you. Just dip below the water, hold your breath, and create a tight seal. Oh, and don’t choke on him. Or maybe do just that. You know how to do this, you definitely don’t need my help.”

Shin remained perfectly quiet, listening to, and understanding, every word spoken.

“Strip out of your wet armor, get over here, and help me damnit. He’s not going to do anything as long as he’s concerned it’s going to somehow ‘bother’ you!” Seren practically growled.

Starr rolled her eyes and ducked beneath the water. Even though she was still undecided about Seren’s pleas, she decided to at least take her advice and strip her armor off. She’d planned on doing that while the two of them were fucking and thereby wouldn’t notice her, but that plan had been thoroughly destroyed. Resurfacing, she chucked her armor carelessly onto shore, wincing slightly as her back protested the movement.

She glared back in their direction, noting uncomfortably that Shin’s gaze was locked on her. Seren was busy trying to gain his attention, but to no avail. Staring him straight in the eye, she tried one last time to get out of the situation. “Go ahead and fuck her. I don’t care.”

“The two of you compete over everything. Am I correct in assuming that this is no different?” Shin asked. He knew he was risking angering them both and possibly losing the one guaranteed fuck he already had. Throwing caution to the wind, he threw down the gauntlet. “Who’s better? You? Or her?”

Both elves stared at him, stunned at the audacity. Seren found her voice first. “So, what do you want to do? Do we entertain this nonsense, or send him on his way?”

Starr glared at him. It was quite tempting to slap the hell out of him and send him away. But, like Seren, she recognized the unique opportunity they had. “Fuck her now, and I’ll fuck you later, and then you can make up your own mind.” She countered.

“No. Both of you. Now. If not, I leave immediately.” He wasn’t sure why he was being stubborn about this, but he wasn’t interested in examining his feelings or motivations right that moment. Either he got both of them together, or neither of them. “I’ve already made enough concessions with the horse today.”

Starr glanced at Seren and then dove under the water and swam up to them. As she surfaced, the water turned absolutely frigid for a moment all around Shin. “So, you are the one learning magic.” He quipped, noticing the small ice particles that had formed around her hands. Briefly he wondered if her learning magic had anything to do with the injuries to her back.

“Yes, I’m learning magic.” She growled at him, not wanting to discuss it. Using her magic, she created dull icy tips on her fingers and trailed them over his thighs, noticing his slight inhalation of startlement.

Seren smirked lightly and leaned up, placing a kiss on his lips. “I’m the better fuck, you’ll see...” She whispered against his mouth as she pulled away.

“Then talk less.” He retorted, kissing her back fiercely. Truly she never shut up, it was irritating. His hands reached up and cupped her tits, squeezing them firmly, rubbing his thumbs over the hardened peaks.

Starr moved away slightly for a better angle and was surprised when she found her wrist ensnared in his. “Where are you going?” He rasped. He didn’t put it past her to try to sneak away.

“She wasn’t going anywhere.” Seren answered when it became clear Starr either wouldn’t, or perhaps couldn’t answer. Since they told each other everything, Seren knew that he’d just inadvertently stoked Starr’s own arousal, if it hadn’t already been stoked before. Reaching out, she took Starr’s hand from his and guided it down to his cock. Together, they stroked him. Once she was sure that Starr wasn’t going to stop, she removed her hand and trailed it up his body. “I think we should move this to shore, don’t you?”

Without a word, he captured Starr’s wrist once more and nodded his head in the direction of the shore. The three made their way to shore, Seren skipping ahead to grab the bedrolls and blankets. She’d barely laid them down properly before Shin and Starr reached her. Shin knelt down and then laid on his back. He trusted Seren not to run off, so he decided to let her do as she pleased. Starr however, she needed more ‘convincing’. Gripping her hips, he pulled her to him.

Starr only had a second to comprehend what he was about to do before she felt his tongue dive deep into her pussy as he positioned her above his face. Her thighs trembled as she gasped deeply.

Seren watched for a minute before she knelt down and began to suck on his cock. She took him as far as she could, but she’d never quite managed to completely stifle her gag reflex. Leaning up, she straddled him and impaled herself on his cock. With an appreciative moan, she leaned back slightly, bracing her hands on his thighs and began bouncing up and down. She would’ve preferred to lean forward, placing her hands on his chest, but Starr’s current placement hindered that.

Lifting one hand, Seren began to pinch and pull at her own tit. Her eyes hazed with lust, she stared forward at Starr’s back. She could literally hear Shin slurping away her friend’s pussy and it was driving her absolutely insane. Leaning forward, she wrapped her arms around Starr and tentatively cupped her tits. Seren herself was no stranger to having sex with other women since she didn’t actually prefer men over women or women over men, but she knew Starr definitely had her preferences, and they were set firmly on men over women.

However, for whatever reason, Starr was going along with the whole thing for now and Seren really didn’t want to do anything to cause her to stop. Not only because it would most definitely aggravate the dark elf she was so happily fucking, but because this was actually a long-held fantasy of hers. The two of them had shared everything with each other, except, well, each other. She could feel Starr tense, but when she made no move to stop her, Seren began lightly teasing her.

Unknown to Seren, the reason Starr hadn’t made a move to stop her was because Shin had actually clamped down on her thighs and had sucked firmly on her clit, clearly indicating that he didn’t want her to stop Seren. Now that he was certain that Starr wasn’t going to stop the other elf or himself, he reached up and knocked one of Seren’s hands away and gripped Starr’s tit himself, roughly palming it and pinching the hardened nipple.

Finally pulling himself away from her, he guided her off to the side and then ordered Seren to move. Once she had, he challenged Starr. “Let’s see if you ride better than her.”

Starr hesitated briefly, this hadn’t been the plan, at least in her mind. A sharp slap to her ass broke her from her thoughts. His hands were still on her forearms, where he’d placed them earlier when he’d guided her off of his face. Her head snapped back to stare at Seren, who was grinning widely, her hand raised, poised to land another strike. “He said ride, girl!”

“Enough!” Shin gritted out through clenched teeth. He was really beginning to dislike Seren. Although, she wasn’t wrong in this particular instance. Moving his hands to Starr’s hips, he lifted her and then thrust into her. However, he knew that he was going to take a much more assertive role in directing their little tryst. Seren was getting on his nerves. She was too loud, too brash. Starr was quiet, but he knew she was certainly paying attention.

Starr’s mouth fell open as her head tilted back. For a few seconds she was unable to think as he continued to thrust into her before suddenly slowing to a crawl, and then finally stopping altogether. Leaning forward, she braced her hands on his chest and began to ride him. Behind her, Seren knelt down and sucked his balls into her mouth. For several long minutes they continued in this fashion before he decided to change positions.

Standing up, he placed Starr in front of him. “Don’t interfere...” He told Seren without looking at her.

Starr didn’t need to be told what he wanted. She firmly pushed the knowledge that Seren had been riding the cock in front of her just minutes ago out of her mind. Slowly, she licked him, getting used to the taste before finally taking him fully into her mouth. Hollowing her cheeks, she bobbed up and down firmly while wrapping her hand around what currently wasn’t in her mouth.

Before long she felt his hands on the back of her head. She sucked in a deep breath and as soon as Shin heard it, he pushed her head down on him and didn’t stop until her nose was touching him. He groaned loudly at the feel of her throat around him. Slowly he thrust into her throat several times before pulling out and allowing her to take another breath of air.

Seren watched, her fingers working in and out of her pussy as her thumb circled and teased her clit. She was jealous that she couldn’t do that herself. Damn gag reflex always got in her way.

Shin glanced over at Seren, making a quick decision. “On your knees, head down.” As Seren complied, he spoke to Starr. “I’m going to fuck her until she cums. You will watch. Do not touch yourself. Not even once. Don’t look away either.” He intended for this to firstly, take care of Seren so she wouldn’t bother him anymore, and secondly, to rile Starr up. So far, she’d been very composed, and he wanted to break that composure. What would she be like if she simply came apart? Underneath him, around him?

With a growl, he gripped Seren’s hips and thrust in quickly. Gripping Seren’s hair, he pulled her head back and thrust hard and fast into her. He kept his eyes trained on Starr. After a minute he changed pace, going for a slower pace, and letting go of Seren’s hair.

Starr struggled to not turn away and not to finger her own slit. This was torture, as he’d most certainly known it would be. He slowly pulled nearly all the way out of Seren before slamming back into her forcefully. Starr clenched her thighs together at the sight and sound.

Shin struggled to maintain his control as he watched Starr squirm as he fucked Seren. Pulling Seren upright on her knees, he positioned them lewdly so that Starr had a clear view of his cock gliding in and out of Seren as he snaked a hand around her and pressed his finger on her clit, rubbing it quickly. Seren tensed and screamed her release while Starr’s legs rubbed together.

Seren relaxed, but she knew that right now he wanted her gone. She pulled herself off of him and watched as he grabbed Starr and flipped them so that she was once again riding him. His hands on her hips, he guided her while she rode him.

Seren had one last fantasy she wanted to fulfill and then she would leave them alone. The dark elf had clearly chosen her friend over her, and she was fine with that. But she wanted this one last memory. Coming up behind Starr, she reached down and found her friend’s clit. She waited until she saw Shin look at her and then look back at her fingers. Slowly, she began circling and rubbing her best friend’s clit. Once she was absolutely sure Shin wasn’t going to push her away, her fingers sped up and increased the pressure.

Starr wanted to protest, but she was too far gone. She didn’t want to stop now. She wasn’t even sure if she could. With a small squeak, Starr felt herself cumming hard. Her eyes closed as her vision whited out.

Shin was mesmerized by the sight of one elf riding him and the other fingering her friend. Suddenly he felt Starr’s muscles tense and the delicious feeling of her pussy squeezing and contracting around him left him unable to think as he roared his completion, thrusting upwards into her once more and holding.

Seren hastily retreated, swearing that if Starr never wanted to be friends again after this, she would honor that sentiment. She’d be sad, but she’d honor it. This had been the chance of a lifetime and she didn’t regret it.

Later that night, Shin softly brushed his hand over the many scars and welts on Starr’s back. He’d avoided touching her back or putting her on it during their activities with Seren, who’d thankfully disappeared without a trace, taking her horse with her. But now he wanted answers. “What happened here?”

Starr’s back stiffened as she looked away. “It would take too long to explain, and you should probably be getting back to your General soon.”

“He’s the one who sent me out here with no time limits in the first place, so I’ve got time. And I can spend forever looking for a horse I don’t want to find...”

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