Part 6

by J


Shayna walked up behind Alara as she was doing exercises using a dumbbell behind her back. "Just a minute, you've got something on that." Shayna said as she took the weight from Alara and replaced it with a lighter one. Alara continued exercising without noticing the difference. Her triceps expanded as she worked them, forming well-defined V's. These were deep enough that Shayna would have been able to fit her hands in up to her wrists. "I think I figured out how Morgan was able to get these heavy weights in here." Shayna said.

"How's that?" Alara asked, short of breath from her exertions.

"He's a magician. These were made using some kind of magic. They only weigh what you think they should. Take a look at the one you're using?" Shayna asked and smiled.

"Hey!" Alara answered. She curled the weight a few times. "You're right. It felt right just a minute ago, now it feels really light." Alara paused to think, and then continued. "That means I might not have been using as much weight as I thought I was." She wiped the sweat off her forehead. "I'm probably not as strong as I though I was."

"What do you mean? You've been pushing yourself harder and harder each day your here. I think you're stronger than you think." Shayna answered. "Here, I'll show you. Let's arm wrestle." She kneeled down on the other side of the solid metal bench from Alara."

"Now you're gonna lose to make me feel better." Alara said.

"I didn't plan on going that far. Didn't you notice that you've got muscles about as big as mine. They're just not shaped the same way."

Alara kneeled down opposite to Shayna and took her hand. They both grasped their other hands together. They counted off at the same time "One, two...three!" They both slowly increased the pressure they exerted on the other. Eventually, they both reached their limits. Each pushed to gain the advantage. It became obvious that neither of them would gain any advantage. After a while, Shayna let up. Alara flexed her bicep and said. "Nyah, nyah. I'm as strong as you are!" She stuck her tongue out.

"I guess that means you get to do the hard stuff too. It's you're turn to clean the house next. I guess I should make it *extra* dirty." Shayna answered.

"You don't have to do that kind of favor for me. I think I get enough exercise in here." Alara smirked and continued. "I've got some news, too. I think I found us an adventure to go on."

"What is it?" Shayna asked.

"Some sailors at the Azure Dragon Inn were talking about how there's a whole buncha zombies and stuff to the south and east. They said its really far, like over a thousand miles. We've gotta go. I've never been more than maybe a hundred miles from Samarind, and that was just when we go out running." Alara answered.

"Lets do it. This time, seeing you're *so* strong now," Shayna grinned "you get to carry half of the stuff."

The journey to the edge of the elven woods took Shayna and Alara a full day's run. The sights went by in a blur as they traveled faster than a horse's gallop."

"Y'know, traveling doesn't seem all that bad when we can go so fast. I bet we covered about two week's distance today." Alara said as they were getting ready to eat dinner.

"I don't know how the big people can stand to have to carry all that food with them." Shayna said as she finished preparing some plant greens and roots she pulled up. "It must be hard work having to learn what plants to eat and what ones not to."

"Yeah. I guess they just want to move around *really* badly to do all that work. It seems like it would be easier just to stay near where the farms are." Alara anwered.

"We should be able to go around where the orcs live. It'll only add a day to the trip." Shayna said, offering Alara a portion to eat.

"That sounds good. I don't want to have to fight any of them. They're really mean." Alara commented.

The next couple of days saw the scenery change from elven woods to plains, to dense tropical woods. "And people say that where we live has dense growth." Shayna said.

Some distance into the woods, they came across a road. "I guess the map I got has a few things right about it." Alara said.

They slowed down to a walk as they came across a man standing next to a very large wagon that was leaning towards where a wheel was bent in half. The wagon had a tarpaulin over its contents. The overly thick wheels had metal rims and hubs, and left deep ruts in the ground. It was hitched up to a team of huge animals that neither Shayna nor Alara had ever seen before. There was a crowbar and a sledge hammer by the broken wheel. The man was dressed in loose fitting knickers, boots, and vest. He had greying hair and a bit of a paunch.

"Wow. Those are huge. What are they called?" Shayna asked, using the language that sailors most often used. (It was the only Human language Shayna knew. Travelers used it as a way to have a common ground of communication.) She pointed at the oxen.

"Huh?" the man looked over and then down. "You're, you're an elf! I've heard of you in stories. No wonder you didn't know what an ox was. You've come an awful long ways to get here, haven't you?" he said in a long string.

"Yeah. We're elves." Alara smiled. "Those oxes aren't dangerous, are they?"

"No. No. They're harmless." He answered. He thought "These elves are as cute as buttons."

"Do you want any help fixing that?" Shayna asked.

"Thanks for offering, but I don't think I can ask you to do a full day's work. The cart's full of iron ingots. It'll take me all day to unload them so I can put on the spare wheel." He thought a little before continuing. "You don't have any magic that could just get it fixed, do you? You know. Like that." He then did a few gestures at the broken wheel.

"We don't do magic like that." Shayna said.

"The only magic spell type stuff I can do is to talk to small animals." Alara added.

"Then its the hard way." The man said. He pulled the tarp back and picked up one of the stacked ingots. He grunted with effort as he carried it a few feet from the wagon and set it down.

"Where's the extra wheel kept?" Shayna asked.

"Its kept strapped to the wagon bottom to keep it out of the way." He answered. As Shayna bent to look, he continued. "I've already got it sitting on the other side of the wagon. You just didn't see it when you came up behind me."

"Is it ok if we help?" Alara asked. Her hands were clasped behind her back and she rocked back and forth on her heels as she talked.

"I'm not going to stop you." The trader said. He grunted as he moved a second iron ingot.

"We'll have it done real soon for you." Alara said. She walked over to where the broken wheel was. She grabbed the axle and quickly lifted the wagon up with one hand. She raised it until the other wheel on the same side was off the ground. As she lifted the wagon, what were loose fitting clothes suddenly stretched tightly around Alara's expanded muscles. Her tiny waist was now outlined in banded abdominal muscles that shifted as she took breaths. Alara's thighs grew as large around as her torso, the muscles quivering shen she shifted the weight from leg to leg. Her bicep looked even bigger. The fabric of her formerly baggy tights was stretched across deep cuts between the various muscles. "You're right." Alara said. "This *is* kinda heavy." She giggled as the merchant looked unbelievably at her. "Yeah. I'm kinda strong. *tee-hee*"

"What...What kind of magic is this?" he asked.

"Its not a magic spell. I'm just really strong. Here. Feel them." Alara said and flexed her other arm's bicep a little. She slowly expanded it beneath his grip until the striations were a large around as his fingers.

"Come on Alara, quit showing off." Shayna said as she rolled the wheel up next to them.

Alara sighed. "Sure, ruin all my fun." She smiled. Alara twisted out the pin holding the broken wheel in place. Shayna then yanked the wheel free and tossed it into the back of the wagon. It landed with a loud clang. She put the new wheel in place and hammered it tightly onto the axle with a few quick blows before replacing the pin.

When they were done, the man asked. "You really did that?"

"You'd think he never saw any kind of magic before." Alara said to Shayna, quietly, in Elvish.

"Um. We've got magic that makes us really strong. I don't think anyone else has it, though." Shayna said. She went over and tossed the iron ingots casually back onto the wagon. They landed with loud clangs."

"I get to show off, too." Shayna quickly said to Alara in elvish. She asked the merchant "How far is it to Blackwell? Its on this road, isn't it?"

"I should get there by nightfall. Why don't you two ride along?" he replied. "By the way, my name is Perrin."

Shayna and Alara climbed onto the seat in the front of the wagon. "I'm Shayna. This is Alara." Shayna answered. "Why are you travelling with all this metal all alone? We've heard there are zombies and robbers and stuff."

"The zombies only come out at night. I've got my holy amulet to keep me safe. I've never had to worry about bandits. Iron is valuable, but its also too bulky for their taste." Perrin stopped when he heard a loud *crunch* come from beside him. He turned to see the two elves each holding half of a coconut. Alara was giggling and pointing to Shayna, who's shirt was now soaked with coconut milk. He smiled and tried to look like he didn't see as Shayna got changed.

The trio arrived at Blackwell a little after nightfall. The town was surrounded by a makeshift pallisade. It's gate was slightly open where two guards in leather armor stood leaning on their spears. "Who goes there." one of the guards said.

"Just us zombies ." answered Shayna.

"Go on through." the guard answered.

When they were inside the gate, the group saw that the town had narrow streets that ran between thatch houses. A few buildings were made of stone. Perrin said that those were where the smiths worked. Perrin let Shayna and Alara off at the towns inn before going to deliver his goods. The two elves each gave him a kiss on the cheek before leaving. "Thanks for the ride."

The inn was lit by lanterns kept well below the roof. The few tables were along the walls, leaving the center of the room open. The patrons were mostly smiths, dirty from their days' work. Some drank pints of the local brew and busied themselves with stories about whats *really* behind the zombies. The younger men, and some of the inebriated older ones, arm wrestled. Most activity stopped when Shayna and Alara walked in. There were various comments made as they walked up to what seemed to be the serving area. "Take a look at that." "I'd give a month's pay for a few minutes with that one." and "They aren't from around here." were a few of the comments they heard. Shayna and Alara smiled as they got themselves each a glass of something alcoholic. It didn't take long before they were both feeling very relaxed. They stood by as rumors were exchanged and people bet on who the winners would be at the arm wrestling table (actually a large anvil).

Eventually, Shayna said to Alara "I think we should have a turn. How about two out of three?"

"If you think you're up to it." Alara answered with a wry smile.

They climbed onto the seats on either side of the makeshift table and neeled to get enough height. Before they grasped hands, people were making bets. "I'm betting on the one in the skirt. She's got twice as much muscles as her friend. There's no way she could lose." was one of the comments. Some people watched them compete, while others had their eyes glued to the two elves' bottoms.

What the onlookers didn't expect was three rounds of thumb wrestling. "I guess you're still quicker than me." Alara said after losing the third match.

Shayna saw that some of the onlookers were amused, while others were angry. "If anyone wants to, I'll take them on." Shayna eventually got a challenger (a young man who's friends egged him on). When he took the seat across from him, she smiled and locked her hands together behind her back to stretch out. She placed her elbow on the table, leaning low enough to give him an excellent view down her cleavage. Shayna's large nipples strained against the fabric of her shirt. "Come on. Lets get started." she said. His hand closed around hers and he started to exert some force against her hand. Shayna's hand slowly moved backwards until her opponent was straining against her with all his strength. When Shayna's hand was most of the way back towards the table, it stopped moving. She flexed her bicep until it expanded to one and a half times its former size. She then slowly moved his hand back until she pinned it. "I'm stronger than I look." Shayna said.

At this point, someone outside shouted "Its them! They're back!" People turned towards the front door. As Shayna did so, she inadvertantly lifted her opponent up onto the table.

"Oh. Sorry about that." she said as she lowered him back into his seat.

Shayna and Alara ran outside to see what the fuss was about. People were looking at the palisade, which was shaking in places. Moans filtered into the town. All the other usual nighttime noises were absent.

Alara asked someone "Why don't you just go and get rid of the zombies?"

She was answered "Its not that easy. They're as slow as molasses, but unnaturally strong. They aren't stopped by horrible injuries. They can also chill you with their touch." The person shivered when he said the last part.

From the other side of town there came the sound of wood creaking followed by a crash. There were shouts for a call to arms. As people started running either towards or away from the problem, Shayna and Alara went back into the inn so they could talk without having to shout. Alara got her metal staff from beside the door as they agreed to do what they could to help. They pushed their way through the crowd until they saw the zombies. A bunch of them were pursuing whoever happened to be closest. The zombies were in various stages of decay. A couple had broken weapon ends in them. People were trying to hold them off with weapons , shields, torches, etc.

"You kids! Stay back!" someone shouted. A zombie lurched onto a spear and continued towards its holder, pushing the spear through its body. Another continued to fight, even though its ragged clothing was on fire.

"Do all big people think we look like children?" Alara asked Shayna in elvish.

"Yeah. It took a while to get used to." Shayna answered.

Alara ran over to one of the zombies and spun her staff around, catching it on top of the head. The weapon continued through the creature's body, slamming into the ground. "Eew, gross!" she said.

Shayna moved to get between Alara and a couple of other zombies that started moving toward her. "Watch out! There's a lot more of them." She kicked one in the stomach, splashing its innards out its back. As Shayna got ready to punch another zombie, one of them slashed at her from behind with its clawed hand. The force of the impact shattered the zombie's fingers as they impacted on the elf's partially flexed bicep. Alara finished it off with a blow to its side, sending it sprawling to the ground. Shayna hit the one in front of her with a blow that put her hand through its skull. She mada a yucky face as she pulled her arm out.

When they finished, Shayna and Alara found that they were surrounded by a crowd of onlookers. "How did you do that?" someone asked.

"It wasn't really that hard. The zombies are kinda slow." Alara answered.

"What about the one that clawed at your arm. Aren't you hurt?" Shayna was asked.

She answered "No. It didn't hit me all that hard. I don't think it even left a scratch. My muscles are really hard when I tighten them up, so its hard to hurt me then." She held her arm out for the person to take a look at it. She flexed her bicep for the person as she was turned to Alara. "Lets get cleaned up. We'll track where they came from tomorrow morning." Shayna heard a smack followed by a thump just off to her side. She turned to see the person on the ground. "What happened?"

"You just hit him in the side of the head with your muscle. Don't worry, you didn't catch him fully." Alara answered.

Shayna knelt down to help the person up. As she did so she said "I'm really, really sorry. I only meant to make it a little bigger. Are you ok?"

"Yeah. Just give me a minute."

Shayna said to Alara "You know, I can't feel anything on my arm where the zombie hit me." as she grabbed her upper arm.

The person Shayna had whalloped answered "It takes a long time for any feeling to return. One had touched me before. If enought get you, it makes it easier for them to kill you. You don't feel where you've been hurt." He let Shayna lift him to his feet.

After they got washed up, Shayna and Alara helped rebuild the palisade. The zombies had clawed at the logs until they fell over. The two elves lifted the fallen logs into position while other people tied them into place. Lifting the weight was easy enough. It was just tricky balancing the logs. They had centers of gravity well into the air. Shayna and Alara stood on opposite sides of each log to hold it upright.

"Y'know. Its kinda fun having everyone paying attention to us." Alara said to Shayna in elvish.

The next morning, Shayna noticed that the extent of the numbness had shrunk by a little. She sneaked over to where Alara was still sleeping and hit her with a pillow. "Come on. Don't sleep all day."

Alara stretched out and yawned. She pulled on her clothes and said "Come on. We did a lot yesterday."

As the pair did their morning exercises (using the smallest size weights), they went over plans for dealing with the zombies. Those people who decided to watch them didn't have many ideas on where the zombies could be coming from. It seemed that the few people who went out in the past were either never seen again, or came back as zombies. After using the dumbbells, Shayna practiced acrobatics while Alara practiced using her staff.

Tracking the zombies was easier then Shayna had expected. They took no care in hiding their steps, or even in taking the easy way around obstacles. The pair was able to proceed at a jogging rate. They stopped for their mid-day meal by the edge of a stream running down a steep hillside.

Alara heard some quick splashes followed by a shout. She looked up from preparing lunch to see Shayna grasped by the waist in the claw of an immense crab. She was trying to pull the claw open, but without much luck. She was in a awkward position to do so. The claw covered her body from hip to armpit. "Come on! Its got me so its hard to breathe. It came out of the brush and got me by surprise. It moves real fast."

Alara grabbed her staff and moved in front of the crab. She batted its other claw to the side when it tried to grab her. After a few smacks at the crab's claw, Alara decided that this wasn't getting her anywhere. She'd chipped and cracked the claw a little, but Shayna would suffocate before she broke the claw. The next time the crab tried for her, Alara knocked its claw to the side and took a quick step and leapt at the claw holding Shayna. She grabbed it on the side away from the crab's other claw. She gripped the base of the claw in her hands and planted her feet on the crab's main body. "Are you ok?" She asked.

"Yeah. Just hurry." Shayna answered. She was able to get her arms extened in front of her. Shayna had her elbows pressed against the two sides of the crab's claw and had managed to open it a little. "It'll snap shut faster than I could fall out of its grip. I can't keep this up much longer. Using all my strength gets me *umph* tired."

"I'll pull its claw out. The crab'll grow a new one." Alara answered. She pulled upwards on the claw, feeling the pleasurable warmth flow into her muscles as she increased her exertions. The claw didn't budge. "It's not coming loose."

"Probably because its as big around as a tree trunk. Just push yourself. Come on!" Shayna answered.

Alara shifted her grip and pulled upwards for all she was worth. Her hands slipped along the crab's arm and her fingers dug into it a little. She slid her hands back to where they were before and tried again. She clenched her teeth and grunted with the exertion. Alara's mucles burned from the exertion. She felt her muscles begin to tingle but didn't let up on her efforts as she felt the load lessen. Alara was too absorbed in what she was doing to notice the cracking and crunching sounds coming from the crab's arm. The tingling continued as Alara continued to pull with all her might.

The next thing Alara knew was that she was laying on the ground holding onto the crab's broken claw. The crab had run back into the forest. Shayna was getting up from the ground. Alara's felt her muscles throbbing. "Thanks." Shayna said. "It had me pinched really good. I was afraid that if I let myself drop, its claw would have snapped shut on my head." She lifted the claw off of Alara and put it aside.

"Uh. You're welcome." Alara said. She stretched out (grabbing the bottoms of her feet and extending her legs, etc.). "That took a bit out of me."

"Lets rest a bit after lunch." Shayna said. She had gold marks on her sides where the claw had snapped shut on her. After eating, Shayna asked "It took you a while to get the crab's arm free? Are you feeling ok? It didn't hurt you, did it?"

"No, it didn't hurt me. I just had that tingly feeling when trying to get the arm free." Alara answered.

It was nearing sundown when the pair came upon a cave with lotws of sets of footprints coming in and out of it. All the surrounding vegetation had been broken up and trampled flat.

"How are we gonna fight them if we can't let them touch us?" Alara asked.

"I'm not too sure." Shayna replied. "I guess we're gonna have to use things as weapons."

When they looked inside the cave, they saw the zombies stacked along one of the cave walls. There was a large winged reptile sleeping near them. It wasn't a dragon. Dragons are much bigger. This one had a long tail with a spine on the end of it, clawed bat-like wings, and no separate set of forelimbs. Alara moved up to near its head as quietly as she could. As she was about to swing her staff at it, the creature opened its eyes and lifted its head quickly. It took in a deep breath and Alara ran outside, shouting "Aah!"

Alara ran past Shayna, who had grabbed a heavy log to use against the zombies. She was chased by the wyvern. It stopped and took in its situation, deciding to go after the closer target. It lashed its tail at Shayna, barely missing her with its point. The spike dug into the ground. As it was pulled back, the wyvern shook the dirt off it and let a few drops of poison ooze free. It reared up on its hind legs and switched the direction of its attack at the last second, catching Alara by surprise. The wyvern snatched the staff from her hands and flung it out into the forest.

"I don't like the look of this." Alara said.

"Yeah. I don't want to be stung by that. D'you think that's how it makes the zombies?" Shayna continued.

"I don't want to find out." Alara answered.

As the creature swung its tail at Alara, Shayna hit it end on with the log. This sent the tip of the tail nearly through the wood. The wyvern bellowed as it tried to shake the log free.

"Lets get it while we have a chance." Shayna said. She ran up and tried to kick it, byt the craeature managed to side-step the blow (It moved awful fast). Her kick glanced off its scales.

The wyvern snapped at Alara, catching her arm in its jaws. Its teeth weren't able to pierce her mucles, but they were able to open painful cuts. As it drew its head back to strike again, Shayna leapt onto it. She wrapped her arms around the wyvern's snout and grasped her hands together. The creature slowly shook its head from side to side to try to free itself. It tried to use one of its clawed feet to scrape Shayna off. When it did this, Alara grabbed its foot with her good hand and yanked really hard. She heard the leg's tendons snap as she did so. Meanwhile, Shayna had managed to crush the wyver's snout between her biceps with a loud crunch. As Shayna dropped to the ground, Alara launched a kick that caught the creature squarely in the chest. Her leg muscles rippled and expanded, stretching her tights nearly to the breaking point as she did so. Her foot smashed through the thick scales and sank into the wyvern's chest up to knee. She pulled it out, covered in black ichor.

Alara stood panting as Shayna checked her arm. She winced as Shayna wiped the golden blood away. "My magic could make this heal faster, but not right away." Shayna said.

As they got cleaned up in the nearby stream, Alara said "Going adventuring can really get you hurt, can't it?"

"Yeah, but you get to really do some good stuff. I don't think the people inthe town would've gotten rid of that before it killed all of them." Shayna answered, gesturing towards the dead wyvern. "How about we just knock the entrance of the cave closed? That way we don't have to fight the zombies. Maybe the bugs and worms will get rid of them if they stay buried long enough."

Several days later, Alara was in the inn curling the large anvil/table very slowly with one hand. People were conting off "94... 95... 96". Her body glistened from sweat. Alara felt her muscles burning from fatigue and exertion.

As she paused, one of the onlookers said "Come on, just four more and he has to buy drinks for all of us."

"Ok. Just let me catch my breath. This is a lot heavier than I thought." Alara said.

"Probably because its made of lead" she was answered.

Alara continued. Her bicep quivered as it expanded in waves. It grew fairly wide. The peak rose above where her extended fingertips would reach. The count continued "97...98". She felt the burning subside as the peak of her muscle rose about an inch. She slowed down as the crowd chanted "98...99...100!" She used both hands to set the anvil back in place. When it was set onto the floor "boom", the ground in the area shook.

"Told you I could do it." Alara said, smiling.