This story is intended for mature readers, and may not be suitable for all audiences. Although this story was not written as erotica, it does contain explicit depictions of sex and other adult themes that some readers may find distasteful or morally offensive.
The afternoon sun was hot and bright overhead as Dale made his way across the hayfield outside Dargon. In the distance he could hear the voices of the people practicing at the archery range, but he was too busy thinking about the events of the day to pay much attention.
Just this morning he’d been sitting, transcribing a history for his father, wishing something interesting would happen for a change. Now it seemed so far away!
He had decided to go visit his friend, Simon the stew merchant, but the old sailor had told him something that Dale was only beginning to understand. He’d said that you didn’t have to travel the world and rescue princesses in order to find adventure. Adventure was just doing something that you’d never done before, and the old seaman had insisted that there were plenty of interesting things to be experienced right in Dargon.
Dale had been skeptical, but Simon had convinced him to try doing something small but new, like visit a fortune teller. So Dale had gone to see Zavut the seer, and it actually had been kind of fun. Zavut had told him that the young man’s future included a new approach, new friends, overindulgence, and resolution. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it had been fun.
As he left Zavut’ booth, Dale spotted Erica, a girl he liked, listening to the music outside Jenzun’s shop. In his newfound spirit of adventure, he had decided to talk to her. She invited him to go swimming with a bunch of friends at a nearby quarry, and although the quarry was off limits to kids, Dale told her he’d go.
It had sounded like a grand adventure at the time, but now he wasn’t quite so sure. He’d heard of kids getting hurt out at the quarry — it really wasn’t a safe place. And although the quarry sounded like a fun place to swim, he wondered what the kids who went out there did. Would someone dare him to jump into the water from one of the ledges? And the kids who went out to the quarry always hung around in their own little group. They seemed a little strange to Dale, and with each step he became more and more uncomfortable with the whole idea. But somehow he kept walking, and the path he was following eventually came through a stand of aspen and up to a clearing overlooking the quarry.
“Dale!” Erica came bounding up to his side and hugged him. Dale didn’t quite know how to respond. He looked helplessly over Erica’s shoulder at the handful of other teens who were watching them with bemused expressions. Erica sure felt good in his arms, though! After several moments she broke the embrace and took him by the hand. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
Dale took in the area. The kids were sitting in a clearing, shaded by the aspens he had passed through. A little ways away was the lip of the quarry, and forty feet down, the lake that had filled it. Ledges from ten to seventy feet high surrounded the lake. A little further away Dale could see the current quarry that had been started when this one was abandoned. And between them stood an immense pile of broken granite blocks, some as big as a wagon!
Erica followed his gaze. “That’s the Chasm. It’s full of half-cut stone that wasn’t cut right.” She turned him around. “Come on, I have to introduce you to everyone.”
They walked down into the clearing and joined the others. Dale felt a little uncomfortable. “You don’t have to introduce me,” he whispered. “I know most of these kids.”
Erica smiled at him, as if he understood nothing. “Yeah, but you don’t know their *real* names! Everyone here has a secret name. When you’ve been here a few times, you’ll get to make up your real name, too. And remember, I’m not Erica. I’m Paws. Straight?”
Dale was even more confused. A dubious “Yeah…”
One young woman was standing apart from the others, practicing with a hand-and-a-half sword that flashed silver in the bright sunlight. She was very dark-skinned, with black hair and beautiful dark brown eyes. Erica approached her first. “Dale, this is Windsong. She’s an artist.” She smiled warmly and Dale returned her greeting.
The three of them walked over to where the others were sitting on the ground. A heavy-set boy that he knew was named Parker offered him a mug of liquid and a smile. “Hey, Dale. Drink up — you’ll be needing this later on!”
Erica — or, rather, Paws — nodded. “This is Bearcub. He’s harmless,” she added as she exchanged a meaningful glance with the boy. Unfortunately, Dale wasn’t privy to the message. He took a sip of the drink, which tasted like bitter apple cider.
Next, Paws introduced Seagull, a smiling young man with long, dirty blond hair. Dale knew that Seagull was really an innkeeper’s son, but no more than that. Next to him sat a boy that Dale knew from the classes his father, the scribe, had taught. Although Dale knew him as Baird, Paws introduced him as Webster.
Dale sat down and quietly listened to the group chatter. Paws sat with him. After a few moments, Windsong piped up. “Hey, let’s go down and crawl around the Chasm!”
Everyone jumped up, and Paws helped Dale up. Just as they were about to leave, Paws scooped up Dale’s half-full mug of cider from the ground and gave it to him. “Hey, boy. Finish this up before we go.” Dale shrugged and drained it.
The walk down to the Chasm was pleasant and warm. Walking behind Windsong, he noticed that she was limping, and occasionally leaning on Seagull for support. When he asked Paws what was wrong, she told him, “Windsong’s stubborn as a cat. She was running home a fortnight ago and was run down by a man on horseback, and she refuses to see a healer.” Hearing this, Windsong turned around and grinned in reply.
After a short walk around the lake, they reached the Chasm. Huge granite blocks and boulders were piled forty feet high. Dale thought it looked like a great place for a rockslide; but Windsong, despite her injury, hobbled ahead of everyone else and leapt up onto the nearest block. “First one to the top gets the prize!” The others scrambled to follow.
Hanging behind, Dale looked skeptically at Paws. “Is it really safe to be climbing around up there?”
She smiled. “Yeah. We’ve never been able to move any of the rocks, and we’ve tried. They don’t shift at all. We’ve even named some of the rocks and the caves underneath. Come on, I’ll show you Fat Man’s Misery…”
Instead of climbing up the outside of the slag pile, as the others had done, Paws led Dale to a small crevasse between the stones and into the base of the pile itself. They crawled on hands and knees, and made their way slowly inward. Eventually, they came to a small open area, where they flopped against the wall and rested.
“This,” Paws said between deep breaths, “is the Cloak Room.” The laughter of the others could be heard, but it sounded very distant. Dale was pretty worked up, but he didn’t know whether he was scared or just excited. He tried not to think about the tons of rock balanced haphazardly just above his head. Despite his fatigue, he found Erica’s heavy breathing very erotic, and tried to gather the nerve to kiss her. He wished he knew how to tell when a girl wanted to be kissed. It just wasn’t fair that he had to make the first move! Even though he’d never told her, she somehow ought to know that he liked her!
Dale waited too long, and the moment passed. Paws got up and disappeared into a tall but very thin fissure in the opposite wall. “Coming?”
Dale sighed as he got up and wedged himself into the two foot wide opening. The crevasse was no more than twelve feet deep. Paws was waiting for him at the other end. “Well,” he asked, “now what?”
“Watch this!” Paws turned so that she was facing him and jumped straight up. At the top of her jump, she pushed her hands and feet outward against the walls, and stuck, suspended three feet above the floor. “Follow me.” With that, she started making her way straight up, alternately moving hands and feet, but always staying wedged against the walls of the crevasse. By the time Dale had gotten himself properly wedged, she was already fifteen feet above him. “This is why we call it Fat Man’s Misery!” he heard her call as he tried his best to keep up.
Twenty feet up, he paused and looked down. This was really a great place! The rock was cold against the warmth of his scuffed hands, and he could feel its weight all around him. His leather boots couldn’t get much purchase on the granite face, so he put most of his weight on his arms. Being a scribe’s son, his arms weren’t very strong, and they soon began to ache. His heart pounded in his chest in exhilaration.
Paws’ looked down at him. “It’s easier if you scurry up — if you stop, you won’t get started again!”
When she was about thirty feet above the floor, Dale saw someone’s hand pull her up and onto a ledge out of sight. Then he saw her head poke out again. “How are you doing?”
“I’m almost there.” He pushed and clambered upward one more time, catching the hairy arm that was waiting to pull him up. Paws and Bearcub were standing on the ledge, and Dale could see sunlight on the boulders behind them.
Dale got a bearhug. “Welcome to the Tower!” Dale just panted and grinned. He followed the others as they picked their way to the top of the slag heap. Everyone was sitting around, admiring the view of the two quarries: the old quarry that had filled in to form a small lake, and the new, active quarry on the other side.
“So who won the race to the top?” Paws asked.
“Bearcub did,” Seagull snorted. “He jumped a span that I couldn’t…”
Dale wasn’t surprised — Bearcub was the biggest of the bunch, and hadn’t had any trouble hauling him out of the crevasse moments earlier. He looked at Windsong expectantly. “So what’s the prize?”
No one answered for a second, and Dale got the feeling that he’d asked a bad question. Bearcub jumped in with, “It’s a surprise.”
After another pause, Paws looked over at Dale. “Whew. That was a lot of work, and this sun is really hot.” Then, addressing the group as a whole, “Anyone for a swim?”
Everyone thought that was a wonderful idea, especially Dale, and they picked their way carefully down to the quarry’s edge and back to where they had gathered before. As soon as they arrived at the campsite, everyone started removing their clothes. Dale hesitated, but followed suit, patently avoiding looking at anyone else. By the time he was done, everyone except he and Paws were lined up at the ledge overlooking the lake.
Walking over to him, she said, “You sure take a long time getting undressed.” He tried to keep from looking directly at her, but she caught him. “Why aren’t you looking at me? You really are too modest, Dale. Don’t you think I’m pretty?”
Dale had been brought up to be polite, and that included not staring at women. But Paws wanted him to look, and seemed amused by his behavior. He fought with himself and looked. Her long burgundy hair flowed over her shoulders and down her front, partially obscuring her breasts. Between her legs was a small triangle of matching fur. Her hips were cocked to the side in an suggestive pose, and a hand idly twirled one lock of hair. Dale wasn’t in much of a position to judge how pretty she was — he just wanted to touch her!
“Dost thou like what thou dost see?” she teased.
“Yes. You’re beautiful!”
“So are you.” Dale had forgotten his own nudity and blushed, subconsciously turning his shoulder toward her in modesty. Dale couldn’t possibly think of himself as “beautiful”, and it really embarrassed him. Paws giggled, then turned and bounded off toward the others. “Come on!”
Everyone but Bearcub and Windsong were in the water when they got to the ledge. Dale noticed that Bearcub had considerably more body hair than he did, which made him kind of self-conscious. But Dale’s eyes lingered on Windsong’s dark skin and muscular frame.
“I guess it’s my turn,” said Bearcub as he walked a few feet back from the ledge. Dale stood with the two women and watched as Bearcub ran up to the edge of the cliff and jumped off, landing in the water a second later with a big splash. Dale walked to the edge and looked down; the water was a good thirty-five feet below them. Apparently, being a quarry, it was deep enough to jump right in.
He’d heard stories about kids who had gotten hurt jumping into the quarry. That was why the adults didn’t let the kids go there. Even though most of the others had gone before him, Dale didn’t like the idea very much.
“Is this the only way to get in?” he asked.
Windsong turned, looked him up and down appraisingly and smiled, which made Dale feel really self-conscious again. “No. After Paws dives in, we’ll go down to the lowest ledge over the water. With my knee the way it is, the Evils,” nodding toward the others, “won’t let me jump in from anywhere else,” she pouted. She made it sound like they were punishing her, rather than thinking of her safety. But after seeing her aggressive disregard for her injury at the Chasm, Dale figured he sided with ‘the Evils’.
They watched as Paws got a running start and dove in head first. Then Windsong leaned on Dale and they climbed down to a lower ledge. Dale really enjoyed the feeling of having Windsong’s arm around him. And he was very aware of each time her naked breast brushed against him, although she didn’t seem to notice it at all. When they got there, Dale wished that the trip had been considerably longer. And that he still had his breeches on! Fortunately, Windsong apparently hadn’t noticed *that*, either.
“Now, all you have to do is jump in. And keep your hands at your side.”
Dale stood at the edge and peered over. It was about twelve feet above the water. “Is it cold?”
“It’s beautiful!” Paws shouted to him from below. “Jump in!”
Dale composed himself. He really wasn’t very comfortable with heights, but he knew that he was a very good swimmer. He’d even done some diving off the docks, but they were usually not this high above the water. At least here he was directly over the water and wouldn’t have to get a running start. He nervously took two steps and leapt out over the water.
For a moment it seemed like he was suspended in air, then he began to fall. Time seemed to have slowed down, because he had the time to look around him and see Paws and Bearcub treading water below, and notice the blueness of the sky and the rugged cliffs of the quarry. He even heard the call of a gull over the rush of air about his ears. Surely he’d been falling much longer than Bearcub had taken when he jumped from the higher ledge!
His feet slapped through the surface and his body drove deep into the water, tickled by a million little air bubbles as they rushed upward. As he kicked and struggled back to the surface, he thought he could hear Paws voice. He opened his eyes and looked up at the cliffs of the quarry and the woods around them from a completely new perspective.
“That was great! Let’s do it again!”
Everyone laughed, and Paws showed him where to climb up the granite face to get to the ledge where she and the others had jumped from. Standing at the edge of the cliff, Dale could see that he’d have to get a running start in order to clear another ledge that jutted further out. He walked a few paces back from the edge and stood, ready to jump. His heart raced with excitement and a little fear. What if he slipped just as he jumped? What if he hit the water wrong? He couldn’t even see where he was going to land!
He willed himself to take the first step, and suddenly it was decided. He couldn’t turn back now, lest he seriously hurt himself trying to stop. He took three more strides before he saw the lake suddenly open up beneath him. His bare foot felt every grain of gravel on rock as he leapt out and over the water. Again, he hung momentarily suspended above the lake. Then he plunged downward with his arms outstretched behind him like the wings of a gliding eagle before pulling them to his sides as he impacted the water. It took a long time before his body stopped sinking, and he had to swim quite a ways back to the surface.
Dale continued jumping and diving from several different ledges. He had never had such a wonderful time!
But everyone eventually tired of swimming, and they headed back up to the encampment. Following Paws, Dale carefully picked his way up the granite face. His skin tingled as the water evaporated from his nude body in the warm summer sun, and his eyes followed Paws’ ample form just in front of him. Her hips swayed and he would occasionally see her naked breast bobbing as she climbed, her nipples very prominent after the cool swim. He felt compelled to touch her, to grab her and make love to her, but he tried to keep his desires hidden. Unfortunately, that wasn’t so easy to do without breeches!
Soon they reached the clearing where everyone had stripped before going down to swim. Before he could get to his clothes, Paws turned to face him, her deep brown eyes shining.
“How did you like *that*?”
Dale smiled, momentarily fancying that she was referring to the climb up. “That was really great. Especially the cliff jumping — I’d never done anything like that before… Thanks for inviting me to come along.” Dale had certainly had a wonderful adventure, and had lots to tell Simon the stew merchant next time he saw his old friend.
Paws returned his smile and took his hand. “I’ve got another surprise for you, too. Come on!” She pulled him off towards the copse of aspen that stood nearby.
“Um… Can I grab my clothes first?”
“Dale! Don’t be so modest. Isn’t it better to feel the sun and wind on your skin?” She pirouetted in celebration, and Dale wondered at her. He envied her sensuality — he might feel the same joy as she felt, but if he showed it like that, people would laugh at him.
Dale let himself be led down a worn path that led around the top of the quarry and toward a small pile of cut stone he’d seen earlier. Paws led him past it, into another clearing that contained a mass of undergrowth.
“Look for a plant with a big, orangey-red fruit. We want one of them — don’t take any more, straight?”
They rummaged around the undergrowth for several minutes before they found a plant that had two reddish fruit. Paws sat down and offered him one, waiting for him to bite into it.
The rind was soft, and the pulp red and juicy. As he bit into it, the red juice ran down his chin from both corners of his mouth. Paws laughed. “That’s just the way you have to eat it. It’s rather messy, but that’s okay…” She bit into it, and Dale watched as the juice ran sensuously down her chin and dripped onto her naked chest. She slowly ran her tongue across her lips, and once again he found himself suppressing the desire to kiss her.
Dale took another bite and savored the taste. It was sweet, yet had a certain bite to it. The juice was warm, and he could feel its heat spreading through his body as he swallowed. “It’s warm!” he giggled.
Paws laughed and nodded. He could see that it had the same effect on her; her face and chest were flushed a rosy pink.
Dale took another lusty bite and juice squirted all over his hands and in his lap. “Ummm… So what *is* this, anyways?”
Paws smiled and fell into his arms. “Nightfruit…”
Dale’s eyes opened wide. Nightfruit? Nightfruit was very rare, and was usually only given to newlyweds on their wedding night! Everyone knew that it was supposed to enhance desire. Dale could feel its warm surge building irresistibly. She’d tricked him! But, in a way, it had been in the back of his mind ever since he’d approached her earlier that afternoon at Jenzun’s booth. And even though he was torn between joy and fear of what might happen, she felt so good in his arms…
Erica watched quietly as these thoughts rushed through Dale’s head. Then she reached up and kissed him; her soft, moist lips met his tenderly but irresistibly. They fell back into the undergrowth in each others’ arms and began to make love.
Dale’s eyes closed as he focused on each moist kiss. However, he was troubled by the nagging sense of responsibility that his father had instilled in him. Was this the right thing to do? Weren’t you supposed to wait until you were married? But he also had friends who bragged about having made love. But good boys didn’t do these things. And he also knew girls who had children at his age… He suddenly broke off and sat up. “What’s wrong?” Erica asked him.
“Well, it’s not right… I don’t want to take the chance of becoming a father.”
Erica caressed his back and smiled. “Remember that drink I told you to finish? That wasn’t just cider, dear. You won’t be making anyone pregnant for two whole days…” She smiled conspiratorially.
Dale still didn’t feel quite right about going forward. He was still a little scared, even though he didn’t know why. As he tried to sort through his indecision, Erica put her arms around him and began lightly caressing the nape of his neck. She brought her lips close to his ear. As she whispered to him, he could feel her warm breath on his neck. “Lover…”
No one had ever used that name for him, and it sent a shiver of excitement down his spine. His resistance crumbled like a sand castle before the tide as Erica pushed him down, onto his back, and began raining kisses on his neck and chest. Her leg slid between his and began grinding against his crotch. He tried to match her motions with his hips as he stared unfocusedly up into the branches of the aspens above, lost in sensation. He caressed Erica’s back, then her buttocks as she subtly guided his hands lower. His hands explored the soft warmth of her flesh as her lips and tongue traced the muscles of his chest. Her kisses made their way up his neck to his chin, then suddenly her lips found his, swarming over them urgently.
With their lips locked, she sat up a little, supporting him as he followed. She rolled onto her back and Dale was free to take the active role. He began exploring her neck and shoulders with his lips.
“Nibble…” she suggested, and he complied. Her hands pressed his lips into her neck, silently encouraging him to bite harder. As her excitement became more vocal, Dale found her reactions feeding his enthusiasm. She guided his lips to the base of her neck and lower. Dale could taste the sticky Nightfruit where it had dripped onto her chest. He stopped for a moment to admire her breasts before he began to kiss them. Her reaction was a breathless “Yesssss…”
As he continued, he began to grind his leg against her crotch, as she had done earlier. Again, she responded enthusiastically, her breath coming in short gasps. Then she brought his hand to her crotch. He began massaging her maidenhair, and registered surprise at how bony her pubic mound was.
Then she guided his hand lower. “Inside me…” she pleaded. Dale wasn’t very comfortable with his knowledge of what he was supposed to do, but he managed to find his way around. He slid his middle finger inside her nether lips, as her hips bucked to meet him. Inside, it was warm and satiny-soft and very wet, and he felt her tugging at his finger. He closed his eyes and imagined what it would feel like to be inside her. Her hand found his manhood and began stroking it with long, forceful thrusts. He was completely lost in the sensations.
Her closed eyes opened and he could see the desire in them. “Do you want me?”
“Oh, yes!” was all he managed to get out. She pushed him back onto his back, and straddled him. Then she took his achingly erect manhood and guided it to her. She hovered over him an excruciating moment before impaling herself upon him. The sudden wet, satiny heat surrounding his manhood felt so incredibly good! Erica kept him all the way inside her just for a moment, then began to move back and forth. Dale had never felt so close to anyone before. His wide eyes locked with Erica’s, communicating intense love. Dale kneaded her buttocks as they slapped against his thighs. Her womanhood grasped his member on each thrust, milking him. Suddenly, Dale knew that he was about to come, and a half second later his back arched in ecstasy as he exploded inside this beautiful woman.
Their motions slowly subsided, and Erica slowly backed off Dale’s spent manhood. It slipped out of her and fell limply onto his stomach with a very wet splat that Dale found horribly embarrassing. The two of them shared a smile over it, and Erica took Dale into her arms. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the feeling, occasionally shivering with the intense memory of how delicious it felt to be inside a woman for the first time.
He woke with his face nestled in the warmth of Erica’s chest. He turned and looked up into her deep brown eyes as she greeted him. “Hello, lover. Have a nice nap?”
Dale could hardly contain his emotion. “You’re beautiful. Marry me?”
She smiled in a bemused sort of way, then pinched his nipple so hard that he flinched. “You’re so cute!” She drew his face back into her chest. “Here, have a tit.”
Apparently that was a ‘No’. He buried his nose against her soft breast for a while more, then asked, “What about the others? Did they go back to town?”
“They’re still around. Come on, let’s track them down!”
Dale followed as Paws led him back toward the path. “There’s Webster and Seagull,” she pointed the couple out. Beneath a beech tree, the two men were locked in an embrace. Although he knew that it wasn’t that uncommon, he’d never seen two men together. He didn’t know quite how to react to it, but he felt a twinge in his loins as he watched.
They walked on toward the campsite in silence. Dale was trying to figure out how he felt about what he’d seen. He knew how his father felt about men who loved one another, but if they were both happy, was any harm being done? Was it something he could see himself doing? That wasn’t a very comfortable question! As if Simon’s definition of adventure and making love to Erica hadn’t given him enough to think about already! They walked on, hand in hand.
He and Paws entered the clearing to find Bearcub giving Windsong a back rub. Dale noticed the discarded Nightfruit on the blanket beside the two, and noted the blush on their cheeks and chests. Paws held Dale’s hand as they quietly approached.
Dale again found himself admiring Windsong’s nude body. She was very dark, with long, straight black hair and deep brown eyes. Her breasts were smaller than Paws’, and shaped differently.
Paws knelt down directly in front of Windsong, so that they were both kneeling, facing one another, nude. Their eyes locked, and Dale could see the feelings they shared — these two women were in love with one another! As he stared in amazement, Paws moved forward and kissed Windsong on the lips, as gentle and loving a kiss as Dale had ever imagined.
Dale was completely mesmerized by the scene before him. He stared as the two kissed each other deeply and passionately, their breasts touching as lightly as their lips. On one level, it really excited him, but on a deeper level he acknowledged that it was by far the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. His eyes remained riveted on Paws’ full lips as they traced their way down Windsong’s throat, to her cleavage, and fastened onto her succulent breast. Dale gaped, awestruck at the beauty of the scene. As he watched his lover working on Windsong’s nipple, Dale whispered to no one in general, “That’s so beautiful!” The artist’s deep brown eyes flitted half-open and met Dale’s wide-eyed stare. She smiled and squeezed his hand, then closed her eyes in concentration.
Dale saw Bearcub come up behind Paws and begin massaging her breasts. Then the two kissed deeply before Bearcub joined Paws in nibbling and aggressively sucking Windsong’s breasts. Dale would never have been so rough himself, but apparently it was okay, for Windsong thrashed her head quickly from side to side in ecstasy.
Paws moved downward and traced Windsong’s legs with her tongue, slowly settling on her womanhood. Dale watched as she licked around Windsong’s blossom, and the dark woman writhed and moaned as if each loving caress were a lashing. Dale stared in wordless appreciation of the love and excitement that was being shared with him. Finally, grasping the hair of each of her lovers, Windsong exploded in a furious orgasm that left everyone spent and panting. And smiling.
Paws stretched, kissed Bearcub, and then Dale. Her tongue darted inside his mouth, and he could smell and taste Windsong’s womanhood on her. It was sweet and musky and heady, and struck a chord deep inside him. It was something Dale knew he’d never forget.
Then Windsong leaned up and kissed Bearcub and Paws and then Dale. Before he knew it, Dale even got a kiss from Bearcub! It was both very similar to kissing a woman, and very different. He felt small next to the big man, which was a very different feeling.
Their energy spent, the lovers all lay in a pile on the blanket. Dale didn’t know why, but even the powerful scent of the women around him somehow left him feeling very safe and secure and loved. He’d never felt such a wonderful unity before.
Dale had sat and reflected for a few minutes when Seagull and Webster arrived at the campsite. The newcomers all gathered around, and suddenly everyone was exchanging hugs and kisses of greeting with everyone else.
“Thank goodness that’s over with!” said Webster, giving Paws a hug. “I hate having to be on best behavior when guests are around!” Everyone laughed and sat down to talk. Windsong grabbed Dale and pulled him down next to her. With her arms around his neck, she commented, “I’m keeping this one!” in an authoritative tone. Although Dale couldn’t make up his mind whether he felt embarrassed or proud, he certainly felt good.
Dale posed his question to the group as a whole. “I don’t understand. Do you act like this all the time?”
Bearcub, sitting on the other side of Windsong, replied. “It’s like this. We’re kind of a family, like we’re all married. We all care about each other, and we like making love to each other.”
“But isn’t this kind of strange? How come you’re not jealous of each other?”
Bearcub responded, “What’s strange to me is the idea that if I’m in love with Seagull, I can’t be in love with Paws, too. Loving her doesn’t reduce my love for him.” That kind of made sense. Bearcub continued, “I’m not jealous of you, either, because Paws’ affection for you isn’t any threat to her relationship with me. In fact, I’m glad, because it’s made you both happier, and I can share in that happiness.” He glanced slyly at Paws. “You can’t imagine how long she’s been going on about you!”
Dale looked at his lover, and she was blushing. Apparently it was true!
Bearcub continued. “And we all had to encourage her to bring you out here. We did that because we knew it would make her happy, and we care about her.”
Dale struggled to keep up with the conversation and think about his own feelings. “But this isn’t right — you can’t seriously live this way?”
Seagull picked up the argument. “But if we lived like everyone else, we would all have to choose one husband or wife and reject the others, and no one would be happy. We really do love each other, and it’s much easier this way.” With a wry smile: “Although having several lovers can be just as much of a problem, too.”
“I never knew any of this existed. You don’t act this way in the city…”
“The only time we’re free to show each other how we feel is when we’re out here,” added Webster. “So we come out here pretty often. Someday maybe we’ll live in our own house or a farm outside Dargon.”
As the conversation continued, Dale’s mind worked to keep up with the concepts and their implications. It sounded like they were very happy thinking of themselves as one big family. Dale thought to himself about whether or not he could live in such a group. Loving more than one person might not be so difficult, but could he give his lovers the same freedom? Would he ever be able to support and nurture a lover’s love the way Bearcub had encouraged Paws?
He sure had lots to think about! Although he certainly couldn’t say that he loved all these people, he liked them and felt comfortable with them. But did he really care about these people? The idea was very appealing. But was that just because he was looking for excitement and adventure? Did *they* genuinely love one another, or were *they* just looking for excitement and adventure?
To look at them, Dale thought it was the former. But the idea was so strange! He’d never thought there was any other road but for a man to marry a woman and have a family. In Dargon, men didn’t love men, and there was no such thing as a group marriage. His father called such people “freaks”. But Dale knew these kids; they weren’t “freaks”. Baird was one of the smartest kids he knew, and one of the students his father liked best! Surely his father didn’t know this about Baird!
Already today his father had been proven wrong about fortune tellers and the quarry. Could his father, a knowledgeable scribe to the Duke of Dargon, also have been wrong about this? And if so, what did that mean for all the other rules and principles his father had instilled in him? Although his father had undoubtedly meant well, did he now have to question everything his father had taught him?
One thing was certain: Simon’s simple statement about adventure had led Dale very far afield.
Eventually, Paws took Dale aside and walked with him down the path. “You should head back to the city now. We have some things we need to talk about as a group.”
“Is one of them me?” Dale inquired.
“Of course!” She gave him a quick but passionate kiss. “And I’m sure you’ve got plenty to think about, too!”
“That’s for sure.” Dale sighed heavily. “I just wish I never had to leave.”
After a pause, Dale spoke again. “You know, this morning a friend told me that all I had to do to find adventure was do something I’ve never done before. After all the things that I’ve done today, I’m beginning to think he’s right.”
They walked on for a moment before Paws responded. “My biggest adventure today was bringing you here. When we met at Jenzun’s booth this morning, I knew that I wanted to bring you out here, but I almost missed it because I was afraid to take the chance. If you hadn’t approached me, it never would have happened.”
Dale thought about that as she continued. “I believe that you should never deny yourself anything if you think you will regret that decision later. So many people go through life thinking that they’ll be happy just as soon as winter is over, or their children are grown, or whatever, that they never enjoy today. They go through their whole lives waiting for tomorrows. Then, when they’re old, they look back and realize that they’ve never spent a single day happy or content. I don’t want to be like that. You only get one chance to enjoy today. I’m glad I took this chance.”
Paws stopped as they reached the end of the path, where the woods met the hayfields. In the distance, Dale looked upon the distant town from a very new perspective.
“So, what do you think of our little family?” she asked, approaching him from behind and wrapping her arms about him.
Dale smiled, but had no idea what to say. “It’s hard to believe. It’s so different. It really seems like a family. You’re all so happy together, you know?”
She took both his hands in hers. “Yeah. We try to give each other as much of ourselves as we can. We *are* a family. We all love one another very much.” Then she frowned. “But the adults don’t understand. When we first got together, it was Seagull and Bearcub and I: two men and a woman. When we told our parents, they laughed at us and told us to grow up. When we persisted, they just got angry. Seagull’s parents eventually threw him out of the family. They can’t see that there can be any other way other than one boy and one girl. We have to be kind of careful who knows about us.”
“That’s why you use nicknames?”
“Sort of. When we’re in town, we act like Erica and Parker and Baird. Erica acts like everyone in Dargon expects Erica to act. Out here, I’m not Erica — I’m Paws, and Paws is kind of a different person: the person I really want to be. Someday they won’t be separate people.”
“I know what I want to be called, if I can be part of the group.” Paws cocked her head in inquiry. “Sluice.”
She smiled. “Straight! But I should get back to the others.” Then, with a very mischievous twinkle in her eye: “See you next time?”
Dale sighed and smiled. “I love you.”
“And we love you.”
Dale turned and walked silently back toward Dargon, contemplating the day’s events and the meaning of Paws’ last statement.
Dale made sure that he caught up with Simon Salamagundi the next morning.
“Hey, Dale! So wassa fortune teller a good adventure?”
Dale had forgotten all about the fortune teller! Simon had sent him there to prove to him that adventure could be found even in Dargon, if you were open to it and knew how to look. What was it the seer had told him he’d encounter? A new approach, new friends and new relationships, indulgence, and a favorable resolution.
“Well, I guess you’re right, Simon. There certainly does seem to be some adventure to be had in boring old Dargon, after all!”
The old sailor gave him a gentle poke. “Good. No more talk about running off to faraway places?”
“Nope,” said Dale with a grin. “I think there’s plenty to keep me occupied right here in Dargon.” Simon would think that the trip to the fortune teller he’d suggested had done the trick. In a way it had, although there was much more to the story than that. And much more yet to tell. But this time it was Dale’s turn to keep a secret.
Love an Adventure
by David/Orny Liscomb
“Love an Adventure” is a story about growth. The protagonist, Dale, has several mind-expanding experiences and comes out a very different person on the other side. But as much as Dale grows, the story’s unstated goals are the growth of DargonZine and you, its readers.
“Love an Adventure” pushes the informal self-imposed boundaries that the Dargon Project authors have lived under since the project’s inception in 1985. It is the first Dargon story to contain on-screen sex, which we have historically avoided. Probably more controversially, the story arguably contains positive depictions of drug use, dangerous behavior, bisexuality, polyamory, teen sex, group sex, casual sex, and raises serious questions about consentuality. It also does not portray the practice of “safe sex”, which has become a necessity of modern life. It is far afield from what we’ve been comfortable writing to date. Like Dale, we are growing and trying new things.
It was just a matter of time before sex and these other issues made their way into the “Dargoniverse” as the authors call it. It is my hope that this story will show that there is a legitimate place for sex in Dargon, or any form of literature, when it is dealt with maturely and in the pursuit of a valid literary goal.
In “Love an Adventure”, my literary goal is that the story will also help the reader grow. Even with its positive depiction of alternative lifestyles, the real purpose of the story is what Dale learns from Simon in the first half of the narrative. Adventures are for everyone, and happen every time you do something that you’ve never done before. You don’t need to do anything special to find adventure, because it exists everywhere you go; you just need to be open to new experiences. Your results may not be as exotic as the adventures Dale has had, but then again they might, and I guarantee that you will grow as a person.
I hope that it is obvious that “Love an Adventure” is something other than a pornographic heterosexual male fantasy masquerading as literature. It is intended to be a very personal statement about life, and a study of the protagonist’s emotions as he comes to understand this philosophy and follow the fascinating places that it takes him. Future stories about this group are planned.
Comments are very strongly encouraged, whether they be in agreement or disagreement, and whether they deal with adventure, the role of sex in DargonZine, polyamory, or whatever. You may contact the author directly at <firstname.lastname@example.org> or you may send mail directly to the DargonZine writers’ group at <email@example.com>, where it will be echoed to all Dargon Project writers.
I’d also like to thank the people who have (sometimes completely unknowingly) helped this story, and the bits of my own that show through, be written: Ailsa di Mipp, Ace, Dafydd, Lothie, Nodrog Cur-chaser, Recki, Max, Sonja, Amq, Lory, Claudia, Lauren, Ayse, Curwen, and the other Dargon Project writers. I hope both stories bring you as much pleasure as I experienced by participating in their writing.