Part 4

by J

The sun setting over the mountains gave a beautiful upper border to the scene in the lake, while trees framed in the sides. the distant peaks were reflected in the mirror-like surface. By the near shore, several elves were splashing about in the shallows. The late day sun reflected off their bodies as they played games, raced one another and wrestled. One of them, a slender male, staggered out of the water and onto the shore, exhausted.

"That's it. I've had enough. I'm exhausted." he said between breaths as as he pulled on his clothes, panting.

"Come on Talin. You can't be serious." Called a female elf, standing up to her chin in water. "We haven't been in here that long."

"Yes we have." said another female elf as she swam up behind Shayna. "I know you don't get tired, but we do." She then ducked under the water. Shayna suddenly gasped as she was flipped over backwards. Alara took the opportunity to swim rapidly towards the shore, chuckling to herself as her friend broke the surface.

Talin kept his thoughts to himself as he saw Shayna pause from brushing her hair back from her face and duck under the water. Just as Alara had stopped swimming and paused to stand up, she was rapidly lifted out of the water. The pair standing there presented a contrast as the dying rays of the sun glistened off them.. Alara had the slim and graceful lines classically attributed to elves. Shayna had elven features, but was built more solidly. Her large, firm breasts jiggled slightly as she stood up. Her limbs, while having just a little more definition than Alara's, were much thicker.

"One good dunking deserves another. Right, Talin?" Shayna said.

"It sure does." Talin replied.

"No, it doesn't!" Alara complained as she squirmed to get free.

"Outvoted two to one!" Shayna said as she shifted Alara's weight to one hand. Alara wrapped both her hands tightly around Shayna's arm, but Shayna flexed her bicep, expanding it beyond the reach of her grasp. Alara tried to dig her nails in for added grip when her fingers couldn't reach around. Shayna smiled and chuckled as she said "You know that won't help." Alara wasn't able to hold on to the wet, slippery skin as Shayna tossed her well over a dozen feet up and further out into the lake. Alara hit the water with a large splash and swam to shore as Shayna pulled on her skirt. Just as she was putting her vest on, Shayna was soaked by a splash of water from behind. She turned around just in time to see Alara grab her clothes and jog into the woods.

"Just because you're stronger doesn't mean your faster." Alara called out. Talin looked and laughed. Shayna knew Alara was right. She knew she could run just as fast, but not faster than her friend. Shayna feigned an angry look at being splashed that she couldn't keep up.

As the three approached the village, there was the smell of smoke in the air and sounds of shouting. Several elves were busy putting out fires while others just stood in shock at what had happened. The three ran over to someone who appeared to be between tasks.

"What happened?" Alara asked.

"Orcs! A few hours ago. They set fire to the village and kidnapped half our people." was the reply. "Who know what'll happen to them? They have to be rescued before they end up in some cook-pot!"

Shayna motioned for her friends to move to the side with her. "We've got to go after them. Everyone else is too busy putting things back in order." she said.

"Your right." Talin answered.

"We'll meet back here as soon as we get our stuff. Right?" Alara added.

A while later they gathered together. Each had on dry clothes (tights and vests) and travelling shoes. Alara and Talin carried bows and all or them had carrypacks. Shayna also had a hefty coil of rope over one shoulder.

"They left an easy enough trail to follow" Shayna said as she pointed into the woods.

"Right into the mountains." was the reply from Talin.

"Yeah. They like caves when they're not out on the plains." Shayna added.

The trip through the woods was tense, but eneventful. Orcs can travel fast when they want to (or at least a long distance per day, not stopping for breaks).

"They were here, all right." Shayna said.

"How could anyone not know that?" Talin answered, looking at an area of smelly brown piles on the ground. "I think its time to go upwind."

Eventually, the trail led to one of the Crags, a mountain range noone decent would be in. The set of peaks rose out of the surrounding forest. Only vines and scrub grew along the steep mountainsides. This was mainly because those creatures that lived there liked it that way.

"I hope thay're not too high up there." Alara said.

"Well. Seeing that they're orcs, they're probably up at the top." Shayna added

"On the bright side, we'll get a great view of the forest." said Talin.

"I'm glad I brought this along now." Shayna said as she pulled the coil of rope off her shoulder. "I'll go up first. I've had to be up in mountains before." she continued.

They tied the rope around their waists and started up. It was late afternoon when they stopped on a ledge. "Were only halfway up. What are they, mountain goats?" Alara asked.

"At least they aren't trolls." Shayna said. The thought of facing one of those again sent shivers down her spine.

The next morning, they started up again. The group agreed to head further away from the trail the orcs had left. They had been climbing up a little to the west of the trail the day before. That way they'd be less likely to be seen by the orcs.

"Wait. I can hear them now." Shayna said. They paused to listen. The orcs only talked in their own language, so they were unintelligible. "It sounds like a whole lot of them." Shayna said quietly.

"We'd better go around." Talin suggested.

They started going further to the east as they climbed. eventually getting to the same level as the orcs. "These mountains are full of tunnels. At least thats what the stories say. We'll find a way in and catch the orcs from behind. Maybe there won't be so many of them in the tunnels."

"Yeah. It doesn't make sense to face them in the open. We could shoot farther than they can throw spears. But, what'll they do to the people they caught in a fight." Alara said.

"All these tunnels have to meet up inside." Shayna said, peering into a cave opening. "The orcs are just a few miles that way. But I just -know- we're going to have to do a lot of climbing in there."

"Time for me to lead. I'm the only one who thought of bringing one of those lamps. I always thought it would come in useful if I ever went on an adventure." Talin said.

The inside of the cave was damp, cold, and very dark. Elvish night vision only works if there is a little light around. They don't see heat like orcs do. The cave narrowed into a passage that led down, but in the right general direction. The floor was bare rock. Stalagmites were plentiful.

"These remind me a little of tree stumps." Alara said.

They bypassed any branches in the caves that seemed to go further down. They eventually came to a wide stream that flowed past very raplildly to a waterfall.

After looking over their situation for a little while, Alara spoke up (over the waterfall). "I've got a way we can all get across. you can go first and pull each of us over one at a time with the rope." she told Shayna.

"That sounds good, but what's keeping me from being swept over the waterfall." Shayna asked.

"You swim really fast. I don't think that'll happen." Talin anwered.

"Not that fast." Shayna said back.

"We'll tie a rope from you to one of those tree-stump things. That way we can pull you back up, or you could climb back up on it." Alara said. She felt pretty good about herself.

"Then lets get all out stuff across first." Shayna said. She tossed the backpacks to the other side of the stream, one at a time. She then tied one end of the rope around her waist. The other was around the base of a stalagtite. She took a running start and lept as far across the stream (ok, underground river) as she could without hitting her head on the cave ceiling. Her leg muscles quivered to be much larger than they usually were as she used as much strength as she dared to make the leap. "I'm not splatting myself on the roof to get across." she thought. She swam with all her might to reach the other shore before being dragged over the falls. "Just let me get a good place to brace myself before either of you tries!" Shayna yelled to be heard. Talin went first, followed by Alara. Shayna pulled in the rope as fast as she dared. She didn't want her friends to drown, but she also didn't want to leave them badly hurt from having the rope pulled too hard againt either of them. They eventually made it across, gasping for breath or chocking on water. They decided to camp about half an hour from the falls. They were tired and couldn't go any further.

Late that night, there was a low rumbling sound that grew in intesity as the entire mountain shook. From Talin's perspective (being the only one awake), it was terrifying. Being underground where night-vision doesn't work was bad. Not being able to hear any birds sing, see any trees, or see the open sky was worse. Having rocks fall from the passage's ceiling was unbearable. The movement and noise woke the others.

"What's happening!" shouted Alara as she got up. "The lantern's gone out too!"

"I don't know! The roof started falling in!" replied Talin, as the shaking suddenly stopped. They were in silence for only a moment, coughing on the dust that was kicked up. Talin got the lantern re-lit.

"The passageway is blocked behind us. Its filled with rubble." Shayna said, pointing in its direction. "I guess we have no choice but to go forward."

The three of them went through their usual morning routines and set off. Alara did her stretching, Shayna did her exercises, and Talin checked over all of the equipment. He would have practiced with his bow, but the passageway turned too much to get more than a thirty foot shot. After about half an hour they came to where another rockfall had blocked the passage heading forward. They spent a little while clearing debris away when they uncovered a large boulder blocking the way.

"Why are you both looking at me like that?" Shayna asked. When her friends just smiled and looked back and forth between her and the rock, she continued "You can't expect me to move that? Do you?"

"Why not. You've been using some really big hunks of rock to exercise with every morning." Alara answered.

"I know that. But that's huge. I'm pushing my limits with what I've been using. That has to be several times as big." Shayna said.

"What choice do we have? The way back is blocked for a couple of dozen feet thick. I saw it raining rocks all the ways down the straght portion of the tunnel in back of us." Talin added.

"You've got a point. If I can't move this, we'll never get through to where the orcs are. We don't have enough food or water for how long it'll take to dig our way back the way we came." Shayna replied. Shayna surveyed the boulder with the others. They cleared away all the surrounding debris they could. The rock was oblong, but was sitting on the fat end. "If it was round, we could roll it out of the way. At least its shaped so I'll be able to get under it to hold it up and hopefully move it to the side." Shayna squatted down and grasped the rock as far around it as she could. She composed herself and slowly tried to lift it. "If I could just shift my hands under it, It'll be easier to move to the side" she thought. She slowly increased her efforts until she felt she was at her limits. Shayna's companions saw her muscles expand in waves as she struggled. Her back muscles expanded and took on increased difinition. This was followed by increases in size and definition in her arm and leg muscles in a fluid-like progression. Her muscles finally reached a point as large as her friends had ever seen them. She still was trying to lift the boulder off the ground, her muscles glistening with sweat, when she said "Its not working. I can't do it.".

"You've got to. You -know- I can't get us out of here." Talin said.

"My magic only lets me talk to small animals." Alara added.

"OK. If I don't get it moved, we'll never get out." Shayna answered. She steeled her concentration and pushed herself until she felt like she was going to hurt herself. Her arms and legs felt like they were on fire, her back ached, and her stomach was so tight she could hardly breathe. Shayna stopped to catch her breath. She rubbed her sore muscles as she re-evaluated her situation.

"At least you've got some hand holds now" said Talin as he pointed to where her fingers had dug into the the rock.

"I guess that's a start" Shayna said with a smirk. She walked over to their equipment and carefully took a drink from her water-skin, being careful not to rip it apart. She was thinking "Careful. You don't want to ruin your stuff while your muscles are still all big and really strong, do you?" Her muscles rippled as she moved.

Alara grabbed Shayna's arm as she was drinking and asked "Mind if I have some?". She thought "Its neat how wiggly her muscles look and how hard they are when she's like this." She squeezed as hard as she could, not managing to make a dent. "Come on! You're going to finish it all!" She said.

"Ok, OK. I'm done. Here it is" Shayna said and handed the skin over. She walked over to the boulder and took her handholds again.

"We're right behind you!" Talin shouted with a grin.

"Thanks" Shayna answered. She resumed her efforts and pushed her body to its limits. Her muscles quivered with the effort. She would have had to stop from exhaustion when she felt the rock move. She slowly rose to a standing position. "Its moving." Shayna said, grunting with exertion. She felt like she was starting to lose her grip, though. The boulder seemed to be sliding forward out of Shayna's hands. She took a tentative step back, teetering under the boulder's ponderous weight. She could hear the pebbles crunching under her feet. "It's slipping!" she shouted.

"Come on! You've almost got it!" Alara answered.

"Just a few feet more!" Talin added.

Shayna tightened her grip as tight as she can, squeeqing the huge rock with every ounce of strength she had as she struggled to keep it off the ground. Bits of stone crumbled off where the boulder pressed against her. She still felt it sliding forwards, even though it felt like it was pressed against her arms. Her fingers dug troughs into the bottom of the stone as she took steps backwards. "Is it getting lighter" Shayna said to herself. The boulder got steadily easier to hold up as she stepped to the side. The boulder finally slid forward past her fingers and dropped to the bround with a loud, echoing, "THOOM!" Shayna then jumped up and down, shouting "I did it! I did it! We won't be stuck here!" Her legs propelled her higher than usual as she did this. She stopped and flexed her biceps, saying "Yeah!" Shayna was startled when she suddenly felt her biceps with the fingers on the same arm. "Huh." she said. She then saw that her friends were staring at her oddly. "What's happened to me?" Shayna asked as she flexed all her muscles and look at herself. Her skirt was stretched almost to the breaking point around her thighs. Her vest was pushed to the sides as her breasts were pushed further forwards and upwards than before. She saw that her muscles were expanded to huge size. Even her breasts and nipples were much larger. "This is -too- big." Shayna said.

"That's for sure." Alara answered.

"What do you think happened?" Talin asked.

"I guess my muscles got as big as needed to lift that." Shayna said, pointing to the boulder. Her muscles, when relaxed, were now much larger than they had been in the past. They rippled with the slightest movement, showing incredible definition. Shayna said "I hope they don't stay like this." as she squeezed her resting bicep. It felt a bit harder than it had in the past. She had trouble denting it. "If they stay this big, that means they're stronger, and I'll have to learn to be even more careful withother people."

"Whats the problem with that? How could it be bad being really strong?" Talin asked. "I'd like it."

"I don't think it'd be fun if you could really hurt people just by grabbing them. Thats why I want my muscles to relax down to how they were before."

"We might as well stay here to rest before going on, anyway." Alara said. "You want to rest yourself, and I need to get some sleep. We've been climbing and working for a long time."

During a meal of dried fruits, nuts, and water, Shayna had trouble not crushing her food. She found that she pulverized the nuts instead of just cracking them between her fingers. "Its going to take some time to get used to this." she said.

"I guess that for once, I've got to open those for you." Alara said, smiling. She strained against the nut-cracker.

As Shayna was getting ready for bed, Talin said "Alara and I'll watch tonight so you can rest."

Shayna answered "That sounds good. I'm pretty tired." She clenched her fists behind her head and pressed them up as she yawned. She stopped when she heard Alara giggling above her. She looked up to see Alara lifted up, balancing by her hands on one of Shayna's hands. "You'd better be careful now. How far do you think I can throw you into the lake -now-?" Shayna said, smiling.

Alara got down and answered "You'd better not. Its not fair when I can't get you back."

"Come on. You two dunk me all the time." Shayna continued. "Anyway, you were sometimes able to wriggle free or make me drop you, especially knowing that I'm ticklish. I've got to try it out. I bet even the city blacksmith's vice couldn't hold onto this now." Shayna flexed her bicep until it was bigger around than Alara's torso.

In the morning (as far as they could tell, being underground). they all gathered for breakfast. All three had on their tights.

"Won't those rip if you push yourself?" Talin asked.

"No. I've already tested them out, see." Shayna answered. She flexed her muscles. The fabric stretched to its limits, hugging every detail of her body, but did not give way. "I had them made of special stuff so they could really stretch a lot."

When Shayna relaxed, Alara said "I see you've gone back almost to how you were before. You're muscles aren't too much bigger when they're relaxed. Anyway, I think you look better with them like this."

Talin kept his thoughts to himself when he noticed that Shayna's breasts and nipples also stayed bigger, and still looked incredibly firm.

During her morning exercises, Shayna practiced using different levels of strength. She didn't want her muscles to grow any bigger. Afterwards, she practiced fighting with Talin and Alara. Shayna had her hands and feet wrapped in blankets. "Don't hold back this time." Shayna said. "You know you're not gonna hurt me." Her friends were armed with staves. Shayna found that keeping her footing was still just as difficult to do, even if she could use more strength. Talin And Alara eventually were swinging with all their might. Shayna pulled her punches and kicks so the pads would just lightly hit her friends.

"They're really hard to get a hit on." Shayna thought to herself as another of her quick punches missed Alara.

"Ow!" said Talin.

"Oof!" said Alara. as Shayna kicked him into her, knocking them both to the ground.

"Ulp. Sorry. I guess I need to work on control some more." Shayna said. She extended her hand to lift both of them up, and was surprised as she was flipped to the ground.

"Just because your opponent is down, doesn't mean he's not still dangerous." Talin said. "Anyway, I need to work on my regular fighting, too."

"I've had enough anyway." Shayna said as she got up. "It seems that using a lot of strength can get me tired really fast. I've got to learn to fight using only a little more than my regular strength."

"Thats only how many times as strong as me?" Talin added, smiling.

Shayna answered "Stop teasing. You know I've never been good with weapons. I've got to hit that hard if I'm fighting orcs and stuff." She crossed her arms and walked back to their stuff, where she started geting ready to go on for the day. "We should get to the orcs' cave soon. We've been climbing a long ways."

After having a little to eat and drink, the three set off again. They eventually felt a breeze heading towards them. The air in the passage got drier. There was less slimy mold to be found, too. After a bend in the tunnel, they heard some voices.

"Good. We're near the end of the caves. How do Dwarves live in them?" Shayna asked, quietly.

Talin put out his lantern. That was a good thing, as he didn't have much oil left anyway. The voices got clearer as the distance closed.

"If we weren't getting paid for you, half of you'd be in the stew by now." an orcish voice said in heavily accented elvish.

"If I knew which one of you did this to me, you would really be sorry!" another orcish voice said. "Just remember who's been gettin' you your food. And its time to get it again."

There was the sound of feet walking out, followed by the hushed murmurings of some elves. The three decided on a plan of action.

"We could sneak up from behind and shoot the orcs in the backmost cavern. Then we could get any others who try to come after us. The orcs have to run out before we run out of arrows." Talin suggested.

"I can't think of anything better. Could you?" Alara asked.

"No." Shayna answered.

They decided to sneak up. Alara and Talin strung their bows and got arrows ready. Shayna was to sneak up with Talin. They would stay ahead of Alara. They got to where they could barely see into the occupied cavern when trouble struck. Shayna heard Alara gasp and run back. When Talin and Shayna got to her, Alara was holding a huge rat off with a staff. It stood about waist high and seemed to be toying with her. Her bow had been dropped off to the side. Talin went back toward the cavern to keep a watch out. Shayna started moving to Alara when she saw an even bigger problem. An orc had moved in back of Alara during the commotion. It was half again as tall of any of the three elves. The orc was armed with an axe that it was quietly, slowly readying to strike with. It was obvious that the rat was the orc's pet. Shayna felt all her muscles tense up. She did this instinctively whenever she was scared, as she now was for her friend's life. She tensed her muscles before a fight because that makes them hard enough to stop most weapon blows (or at least keep them from being too serious). Shayna knew that if she called out, the orc could swing before Alara can react to it. Shayna decided that if she sneaked up to it from behind, she could grasp her arms around the orc and pin its arms down. That would keep it from swinging its axe. After that, she hoped that she'd be able to help in the fight against two deadly opponents. Alara had never fought any orcs before, even though she had lots of practice. Shayna carefully moved into position and quickly reached up to get her arms around the orc. She had to move quickly if her plan was to work. She was relieved (and surprised) when she saw her hands go around the orcs arms. This was followed by a muffled crunching sound.

Alara heard a crunch followed by a sick gushing sound come from behind. She quickly peeked in back of her just in time to be splashed by blood as an orc's upper torso fell to her side. In her panic to save her friend, Shayna had forgotten what happened the last time she had fully tensed up her muscles. She now saw that her fully flexed biceps were pressing tight against one another while her hands were clenched together in front of her. They both suppressed an urge to throw up when the rat attacked. It lept up onto Shayna, catching her by surprise and nearly knocking her over. She put her arms up to guard her face from its furious attack while Alara swung at it with her staff. Her swing glanced off Shayna's head. Her next swing cought the rat solidly at the base of its skull. It fell to the ground in a daze. This gave Shayna time to recover from her fright.

"Hey, that stung." Shayna said.

They moved to get on either side of the rat. Alara got in another hit that kept the rat from moving so Shayna could concentrate on getting in a strong blow. The force of her kick pushed Shayna's foot nearly through the rat's body. The creature was sent skidding across the floor to impact on the opposite wall.

"That was gross!" Alara said,perhaps a bit too loud.

"You're telling me? I've got orc guts all over me now. And rat guts on my leg." Shayna said. She tried shaking some of the debris off of herself. "Eew. Why do orcs and stuff have to splash out so much gross stuff when I hit them?" Shayna tried wiping herself off with her hand, but only succeded in ripping one of her sleeves off. "At least that took some of the orc blood with it. I'd might as well even it up." Shayna then tore the other sleeve off her tights.

They headed back to where Talin was. Shayna had relaxed so her muscles weren't as bulgy.

"What happened? Are you ok?" Talin asked when he saw the others arrive.

"We had a gross fight with an orc and a rat. We really beat them good. I guess those orcs aren't as tough as everyone says." Alara answered.

"I guess I'd better use what magic I know to keep you two from giving us away. That stuff stinks." Talin said. Alara and Shayna were surrounded by a shower of silvery glitter as any dirt that had been on them faded and vanished. A few seconds later, the ragged stubs of the shirt sleeves stitched themselves so they no longer looked ripped.

"Ooh. Nice." Shayna said. "Thank you." She kissed Talin on the cheek. Shayna bumped Talin a little hard as she did so, knocking his head to the side. "Umh, sorry" she said, smiling a little. "I forgot that I'm using a lot more strength now. I'm not used to it yet."

"Neither am I." Talin said, rubbing his cheek.

The three of them continued on the same way thay had before. They sneaked quietly up to the cavern and peeked inside. They saw that a few orcs were in the next chamber. One of them drew giggles from the elves who were tied up. It had rainbow-like swirls of color covering its hair and body. They had on ragged, poorly tanned animal skins and were armed with bronze weapons. One had a heavy spear, while the others had war clubs with spikes in them.

"Good. There's only a few of them." Shayna whispered.

"I see the people from the village are making the orcs pay." Alara said, motioning to the rainbow colored orc.

"Shouldn't Snotblast have made it back by now?" an orc said in orcish.

"Maybe his pet finally ate him." another replied, also in orcish.

"I hope so." the first orc continued "Then we'll only have to splits the magician's coins, um, less ways."

"You two shoot the one by the other exit, I'll get the one closest to here." Shayna said.

"One, two, three." they all said. The orc by the exit was caught by surprise, taking two arrows in the chest. The orc Shayna attacked wasn't surprised, though. It swung its club to catch her in the stomach with an up-swing. Shayna was relieved when she did't have the expected shooting pain from being stabbed with a spike. She was knocked back and fell over, trying to make the orc think she was killed.

"Oh no, Look!" Talin shouted as both he and Alara readied their next shots. They took hurried shots at one of the orcs (hitting its legs) as the one that slammed Shayna jogged toward them. When at got past her, Shayna quickly got up. She took two steps and lept into a kick at it from behind. The other orcs shouted something and it spun around, whirling its club in the way. Shayna's foot hit the club midway up its length, snapping it in two. The orcs arm recoiled from the force of the blow, obviously broken. The freed end of the club whizzed over the group of elves, lodging in the cave wall. Shayna's friends were surprised to see that although Shayna had some cuts on her stomach oozing gold blood, she wasn't really hurt. Three orcs rushed Shayna as Alara went over to the captives to start untying them. Talin (who was the better shot) continued firing, confident that he wouldn't hit Shayna by mistake.

The orcs surrouned Shayna, taking time to shout to each other. "How dumb could anyone be to use a rotten weapon." one said in orcish.

"He must have been a puny runt growing up, to get hurt like that by a little elf!" another one added.

At that point, an ogre entered the cavern and went over to the captive elves. "Give up or they die!" the ogre shouted in elvish. He was holding a huge club over his head. "And don't any of you kill any of them! They aren't worth anything unless we deliver them alive." He then shouted in orcish.

"But they killed..." one of the orcs started to say when it was interrupted.

"So we'll cook the dead. It'll be the first good meal I've had in weeks." the ogre said.

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