The Talisman of Odan
By Vic James
Copyright 2013 by Vic James
All Rights Reserved
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Tig held Erin. For some reason, their danger—Erin's danger—made him want children. He wondered why. Was it because if Erin should die, a part of him—their child—would remain with Tig, and vice-versa? Or was there another reason?
"What are you thinking about so seriously?" Erin asked.
"How can any thoughts about what happened not be serious?"
Erin laughed. "If you are going to get upset every time something horrible happens to me, you will always be upset!"
Tig chuckled and then laughed.
"I shouldn't let these little things get to me."
"No," Erin said.
He stroked the side of Tig's head.
"I like your new look. It looks enough like you to not make me feel like—well—guilty. I hope our kids are as attractive."
A huge grin appeared on Tig's face. Erin was planning to have kids. He didn't say, `If we have kids.'
"I was just thinking about our children when you asked me what I was thinking."
"Do you want them?" Erin asked him.
"Yes. Do you?"
"Yes. I wonder if we should wait. I can't think of a reason to wait, or a reason to hurry."
"Well, if we are going to have a normal goblin family of sixty or seventy kids—"
Erin gasped and Tig laughed.
"I was joking."
Tig grinned. "The world would be overrun by goblins."
"Do you want to get me pregnant? Now?"
"Either that or practice getting you pregnant."
Erin laughed. "I love practicing that!"
"But seriously, if you are ready, I am too. I'm a lot older than you, though, so I will understand if you want to wait until you are older."
"I wonder if I can take our child the next time I get sucked into the Afterlife."
They both laughed for a long time.
"Hey, I want to go, too!"
"We will all go. I will explain that to Nado."
"Nado?" Erin called.
"What do I do to get pregnant? Just wish it, or is there more?"
"Just tell me. I will cast the necessary spells."
"How will I feed an infant?"
"You will produce milk."
Odan was surprised.
"Good. I want him to do some of the work."
"It will be our surprise," Odan suggested.
"Perfect! I'm ready. The next time we have sex, which should be very, very soon, please get me pregnant."
"Very well. How many and what sexes?"
"If we can both feed them, how about a boy and a girl."
"That sounds very nice, Erin."
"Thank you, Nado."
"It's a shame you and Galen can't."
"Actually, we can. I have been thinking about that. I have also been trying to convince Galen to come back to life."
"You can do that? Wait—I forgot about necromancers."
"We wouldn't do that. Do you remember what Nebus was like when he came back? I asked you to find out where clay for making pots could be found. The reason was, I was going to create a golem out of the clay. A golem is an artificial man, and have Galen inhabit it."
"But you don't have a body."
"I can create a second golem for myself."
"Can a man made of clay carry a baby?"
"I hope I get to find out. If I do it right, the body starts out as clay, but becomes a body of flesh once a spirit enters it. I have never created a golem, but I watched someone do it once."
"Would you want a baby?"
"I am starting to think about it. Galen loves the Afterlife. He might be willing to come back to raise a child."
"Would he carry it?"
"No. I would."
"Have you wanted kids?"
"No. Never! You are influencing me more than anyone ever has. I don't know if it is because I am in your body, or if there is another reason. It's difficult to explain. I have been thinking about it, ever since I realized I loved and wanted Galen. Our paths have converged—yours and mine. Perhaps I have no path, since I have no body and I am taking your path. I plan to continue thinking about it, but fortunately, I like your path."
Erin was glad of that. Despite what had happened to him, he was in the arms of his wonderful husband and felt completely loved and cherished. He was glad Nado had Galen to love him.
Odan appeared in front of Galen. Galen smiled and took him in his arms.
"Just the man I hoped to see. And fuck."
"Did you ever want children?"
Galen tilted his head.
"What a strange question. I assume Erin is going to have kids."
"And now you want kids."
"No. It is merely an unlikely coincidence."
Galen laughed. "Very unlikely. You are the least paternal or maternal person I ever met. Do you want a child now?"
"I'm thinking about it. Of course, some handsome wizard would have to help."
"I don't know any. I've been dead a long time, Odan."
"I meant you."
"I'm afraid I can't help you there. We can't have children in the Afterlife."
"You could come back."
"This isn't about aura, is it? About trying to make it to sphere four, just for the challenge?"
"No. Erin and I are closely connected, so much so that we share desires. Or at least I am sharing his. I think the surge in aura switched us only because we are so closely connected. He is influencing my mind. I would be bothered by it, if I wasn't happier than I've ever been. You seem happy, too, so how can I complain about it?"
Galen nodded. Then he smiled.
"You do seem happy. Every time I see you, you are smiling Odan. The only thing that made you smile while we both lived was increasing your magical knowledge."
"What do you think, Galen?"
"About the change?"
"I think you discovered joy, Odan. I've seen your expression. It is novel to you. I don't know if it is Erin's influence, or whether finally getting away from Elgath shifted your way of thinking, but the Odan I knew would never have sat next to me by a lake for a whole afternoon. You would have thought it a complete waste of time. Until Erin." Odan nodded. "I love you more than ever. If you want a child or children, and you want me as a parent, I want to give them to you."
Galen laughed at the expression of joy on Odan's face. His point was proven.
"And after all, it will be a story to tell for millennia after I return. And you better come with me, the next time I die! Make the golems."
"I'll make three."
"A baby golem?"
"No. For Concenta."
"Has she changed her mind about dying?"
"No, but I think she will when Erin and Tig's babies arrive. I think they will reawaken her will to live."
Galen nodded. "I think you are probably right. There is clay in Claymore."
"I should have guessed that!"
Galen thought about asking where they would live, but he was pretty sure he knew the answer. Near Erin. Not that he minded. If not for Erin, he wouldn't have Odan. Erin was a bit simple, but that was because he was very young and uneducated. Galen smiled. Perhaps Odan could be convinced to teach Erin to read and do simple arithmetic. Then he remembered that he would be going back. He could teach him. Between Odan, Triesse, and himself, they could keep demons from preventing him from learning to read.
Odan returned to Erin.
"Galen has agreed to get me pregnant. I can't believe I just said that!" Erin chuckled. "So I would like to start on the golems right away, if you and Tig are willing to help. We will need to go to Claymore for the clay I will use to shape them."
"We are willing. How long will it take?"
"A day or less."
"That's fine. Shaping clay—it sounds peaceful."
"It is. We just shape the mud in the form of men, giving them the appearance we wish them to have."
"That sounds like fun!"
"I have been wondering whether Concenta might want to move into one. I know she is fond of you and Tig. She may want to live long enough to see your babies."
"That would be nice. Have you asked her?"
"No. I will now. Will you pick her up?"
Erin got out of bed and picked her up.
"Touch Tig so he can listen."
Erin held Tig's forearm.
"Concenta, have you changed you mind about dying?"
"Erin and Tig are going to have twins. I am going to move into a golem body and have a child as well."
"That is fascinating! You are powerful!"
"I could make a golem body for you—a human body, if you think you would like to live a while longer."
"What is a golem?"
"It is a body made of clay that can become animated. Once a spirit moves into it, the body becomes flesh."
Concenta thought about it. The fact was, she was interested. She liked Erin and Tig, and was grateful to Odan.
"How long would I live?"
"A normal human lifespan, unless you asked me to help you live longer."
"I have to admit that life as a mouse is rather limited. I can't exactly go explore the world as a mouse."
"Are you ready to die, Concenta? I think that is the question," Odan said.
"When are you going to do it?"
"If Tig and Erin are agreeable, I thought tomorrow. We will go to Claymore."
"Would I be welcome with you, Erin and Tig?"
"Yes," Tig said. "You saved Erin. I owe you much."
"I like you. If you would be happy, you are welcome to be our friend," Erin told her.
"Let me think about it for a while," Concenta said.
"Very well," Odan said.
"Would you be a nice goblin and give me two babies?" Erin asked.
Tig laughed. "Any nice goblin would."
They made love and they both knew it was the most important event in their lives. When Tig found his release, Erin looked into his eyes.
"I love you with all my heart."
Tig leaned down and kissed his husband.
"Am I pregnant, Nado?"
"You are, Erin."
Tig grinned. He pulled slowly out of him, fell onto the bed, and pulled Erin close. He could hardly believe how lucky he was. When he fell in love with Erin, he had no idea his life would be half as wonderful as it was. They slept.
While they slept, Concenta wondered what she should do. They would be making bodies out of clay! She had never imagined anything so incredible. Erin—a man—was pregnant! What other amazing things would she witness, if she remained? She wondered if she would have her magical powers back when she had a body again. She had been able to cast simple spells while she lived as a human, but not as a tree or mouse. She decided that part of the reason she longed for death, was her boredom as a tree. Life would not be boring this time—far from it. She decided that she was not ready for death. She would go from being a woman, to being a tree, a mouse, and then a woman again. Or even... Did she dare? She could live her next life as a man! Become a man! She smiled. Had anyone's life ever been so marvelous? She looked at her two paws and squeaked in laughter and joy.
The next morning, Odan produced a table of food for them. After they ate, they dressed and left for Claymore.
Claymore was a small town between two rivers. Erin wondered why anyone would want to live in an area so likely to flood, but it wasn't really his business. The first person they met told them where clay could be found. It was just outside town, next to one of the rivers. They walked to it.
They found the area, easily. There were a variety of potters' shops around it. Several people were already pushing wheelbarrows partially full of clay out of the area.
"Where will we shape the bodies, Nado?" Tig asked.
"I've been thinking about that. I don't want to be observed doing it. I would spend the entire day explaining to the curious what I am doing."
They walked around while Odan tested the clay for suitability. He found a secluded spot where the clay had the necessary texture. No one was looking, and he took the opportunity to build a wooden fence around where they would be working. He created three tables.
"Tig, will you keep watch and make sure we are undisturbed?" Odan asked.
"Oh. I was hoping to watch."
Concenta was on top of Erin's head.
"I will watch," she said. "Will you put me on the fence, Erin?"
Odan used magic to lift three masses of clay onto the three tables. He decided to shape Galen's body first.
"Erin, will you shape the clay into the rough form of a man? A body—two legs, two arms, a head."
Erin did. It was fun, if messy.
"Will you ask Tig to make one?"
"Tig, will you form the second one?"
"Should I make him a penis?" Erin asked.
"Yes, an extremely large one."
Odan and Erin chuckled.
"Just a general shape of a penis. I will use magic to perfect the appearance.
Erin did. He decided to put feet at the bottom of his legs. Then he started to make hands.
"You don't need to do that, Erin. Just put a lump at the end of each arm."
Erin finished his man.
"Will you make the body for Concenta, now?" Odan asked him.
"Sure! This is fun."
He was working on Concenta's body when Tig finished. They both shaped Concenta's new form.
"That's fine," Odan said.
He magically cleaned their hands.
"Now this is the part that will take a while. There is a ritual and a series of spells. Tig, you can sit and watch, or you can wander around," Odan said.
"I will stay."
Odan produced a chair for Tig, who sat.
Tig watched Nado—in Erin's body—produce various objects out of the air and place them next to the clay figures. After that, Erin/Nado walked around each with his eyes closed, mumbling to himself. Tig fell asleep after a couple of hours. The chair was very comfortable.
"Erin, we are ready. Will you ask Concenta if she is ready to move into her body? Do you think Tig wants to watch?"
Erin shook his husband.
"The transfer is going to start."
Tig nodded and stood.
Erin walked over to Concenta and held out his hand. She jumped onto it.
"Your body is done. Do you want to enter it?"
"I have decided I want to be a man."
Odan was surprised, but realized he shouldn't be. It would be a new experience for her and she enjoyed those.
"Very well. Once you are in the body, I will make it look however you like."
"Erin, place her next to the body."
Odan entered his castle and went into the Ritual Chamber. He drew patterns on the floor and in the air. He sat on the floor and began uttering the final spells.
Concenta sat on the table and wondered if she was making the right decision. Then she remembered to look up for aerial predators. A hawk would enjoy an easy meal, which she was out in the open. She realized if she was worried about being eaten, she wasn't ready to die. She nodded her head. This was the right decision.
Suddenly, she couldn't see. She tried to get up, but couldn't move. She felt very cold. She tried hard, and barely lifted an arm. She must be in the clay body! She tried to lift the other arm, and it too was heavy. She still could not see a thing. She tried to open her eyes but nothing happened. Then she began to warm. She felt herself getting warmer and warmer. She lay there and wondered if she should do anything. She decided Nado would have told her, if she did. She gasped, and realized she had begun breathing. She tried to inhale, but it was difficult. After a few breaths, it grew easier. She tried lifting an arm again, and it was much easier. Suddenly, she could see. She looked up into the shocked face of Erin. She tried to speak, but nothing happened. She tried again, and a croak escaped from her mouth. She looked at Tig and saw he was staring at her with his mouth open. Then she wondered if she looked like an animated lump of clay.
Erin touched her hand.
"Have you decided on a face?" Odan asked.
She pictured a man's face in her mind.
"I've got it."
Tig shut his mouth.
Erin and Tig watched as Concenta, the mouse fell over. Then it got up and jumped off the table. They watched it disappear into a pile of rocks. Immediately, the clay body began to quiver. They watched as one arm reached up and the glob of clay on the end that was supposed to be the hand, fell off. Erin didn't think that was supposed to happen. The arm lay flat again, and Erin pushed the glob back onto the end of the arm. Starting at the feet, the clay began changing color. Slowly, the clay changed from dark gray to a flesh tone. After about a minute, it was complete. The body still looked like the clay form they molded—not like a human—but it was the color of skin. Then the mouth and eyes opened. There was simply more flesh colored clay inside the mouth. The eyes were solid flesh-clay, as well. They watched as the eyelids blinked. When they opened, there were normal eyes. The mouth closed. When it opened again, there was a mouth with a tongue inside. The skin started to have the texture, as well as the color of normal skin. The hands and feet still looked like globs, though.
"Well, I am never going to forget this!" Tig said.
"Me, either. I hope the hand doesn't fall off again!"
Suddenly, the flesh-colored, lumpy body changed to be a fully human male, with normal hands, feet, and a penis.
"You look better," Tig said.
Concenta laughed. It didn't sound much like a laugh, but she knew she was still learning to control her body. It was nothing compared to learning how to walk as a tree! That took a decade!
She tried to sit up, and did it, easily.
She looked down and saw she was naked. And she had a penis. She realized that she was still interested in men, so she supposed she would be considered a man lover, like Erin and Tig. That was fine. Her people had always thought that was normal for some.
She climbed off the table.
Odan appeared in front of Galen.
"Concenta is in her new body. Are you still willing to return?"
"As your husband? Your legal husband?"
Odan smiled. "Absolutely."
"Yes. I am ready."
Odan took his lover's—his husband's hand. He wasn't exactly sure how to bring him back, so he decided to try the simplest way first. He held tightly to Galen's hand and returned to the diamond. Galen looked around.
"It certainly looks familiar."
Suddenly, a third person, or being joined them in the Ritual Chamber. At least Odan supposed it was a person. It was actually an outline of something. Its shape wavered, but it generally had the appearance of a person with possibly two legs and two arms. It was difficult to actually look at it. His eyes kept moving away from it, and he had to force them back. He started to develop a headache, which was remarkable for a man with no head.
Odan was shocked. Galen looked merely surprised.
"Who are you?"
"My name is Agmathanist. I am an Overseer and caretaker of the thirty-six worlds—the realm you just left."
Odan and Galen were stunned.
"Of course. Did you think the rules that governed the realm were random? Hardly. They were carefully thought out and are actively enforced. What you have done is a violation of rule four."
Agmathanist turned to Odan. "You have violated rules four, eight, and eleven."
"I thought that was too easy," Galen said.
"We did not know the rules," Odan said. "It was not deliberate."
"We are aware of this. Because of—innocent—disastrous—planned—inevitable—organized—repeated—necessary—dreaded—events—which are transpiring, the Overseers are considering allowing—" A series of sounds came out of the being. Odan's headache grew much worse and Galen clutched his imaginary head.
"I can see I am not allowed to tell you what we are considering allowing—" The being was silent. Letters began forming in the air, but they didn't form words. Odan and Galen were mystified.
"We cannot read that."
The being stood there, silently. Odan gave up trying to look at it or the letters in the air. He closed his eyes and felt better. He heard a sound and opened his eyes again. The chamber was full of the beings. They started to appear more solid to them. They were definitely not humans. Their faces seemed fairly human, except for their mostly nonexistent noses, but they had four arms. Odan glanced at Galen who seemed fascinated.
"Waiver of rule four contingent on assistance," Odan and Galen heard clearly. It was spoken by several voices. "Waivers of rules eight and eleven also contingent on assistance."
"How do we assist?" Odan asked.
"Who do we assist?" Galen asked.
A face appeared in the chamber.
"Who is that?" Galen asked.
"I know who it is," Odan said.
"Do you accept the terms of the waivers?" they heard.
"Yes. I swear it," Odan said, without hesitation.
The beings all disappeared.
Odan turned to Galen.
"Do you know what you need to do?" Galen asked him.
"I have no idea. Hopefully, I will find out more when we return. I wonder why they are just now telling me I was not allowed to come and go from the Afterlife. I've done it for so long!"
Galen shook his head.
"Ready?" Odan asked.
Galen put his arm around his lover.
"Let's have sex in your castle! I always wanted to do that!" Galen said.
"I want to wait until you have a large, fleshy penis."
"Emphasize the largeness, will you?"
They both laughed.
"I will transfer you first, Galen. I need to know whether you can perform magic in your golem body before I move into one."
Odan began the ceremony again, and Galen disappeared. Odan travelled back and watched through Erin's eyes as Galen was reanimated. He cast the spell to give him his normal appearance.
Galen sat up. He looked at his body. He smiled at Erin and Tig.
"It's nice to see you again," Erin said.
Galen gathered up dead grass and put it in a pile. He cast a simple spell to cause it to ignite. Odan saw it burst into flame and was relieved. If he lost his magical powers when he entered the golem body, he would not be able to change his own shape. He could ask Triesse to do it, but he wasn't sure how he felt about asking her for a favor.
He looked around his castle. He didn't think he would ever see it again. When he died, he would move to the Afterlife. It was a sad thought, but his future was with Galen, and to a lesser extent, Erin and Tig. He wouldn't be able to protect Erin as well when he left his diamond. He planned to keep an eye on him, though. He knew Tig would be perfectly happy, if not delighted, to be responsible for Erin's protection. He began the ceremony a third time.
He opened his eyes to look into Galen's, Erin's, and Tig's. He changed his appearance to match his original body. Then he sat up and got down off the table. He smiled at them all.
"It's good to have a body, again."
He looked over to Concenta.
"Do you like your body?"
"Yes. It is wonderful! Thank you, Nado."
"You are quite welcome."
He make the wooden fence disappear.
"Tig, I would like to speak to you alone for a moment."
The two of them walked away.
"Now that I am no longer in the `rock', there will be less protection for you husband."
"I will protect him."
"I knew you would feel that way. Unfortunately, he will not live as long, either. The di— `rock' will increase his lifespan some. It may double it, but more likely, it will extend it less than that."
"How can I complain? Any extension is a wonderful thing. Plus, now I know I will see him again."
"That is very true.
"I would like to keep an eye on Erin, and the rock, but I do not know how you feel about that."
"It is fine. It will be good to have friends."
Odan smiled and nodded.
"Yes, it will be."
They rejoined the others.
"Are you as ready as I am for this honeymoon to be over? I'm ready for dull farm life with my exciting husband," Erin said.
He kissed his husband.
"Take us home, will you, Nado? And please join us."
They all disappeared.