Canto 16 – Tkriashav
At Tara’s house Ged made the attempt to regain his former self. He’d never completely transformed before into such an inhuman creature, at least not so completely at the cellular level, and he wasn’t entirely sure how to turn back into his old self. It was a struggle to keep a human mind distinct from the saurian mind he now possessed. Holding onto his real self for dear life, he found an empty room in the synthetic rock house and lay down in the middle of the floor. He began to quake and shiver. Scaly skin peeled away and piles of flesh sloughed off. He reshaped bone and muscle. When he was finished, the flesh he had shed was all around him, a pile of slowly evaporating green ooze. He himself couldn’t do anything but lay on the floor, an emaciated sculpture of his former self. He had no energy or willpower left.
Tara and Ham found him there after an hour.
“Ged!” cried Ham. “Are you all right?”
“He’s dying,” said Tara, fingers to Ged’s forehead and eyes closed. “He has to have food to replace the body mass he’s lost in transforming. His mind is also a mess.”
“What food do we have for him?” Ham had brought no supplies with him on this masquerade, after all, he didn’t have pockets, and Ged could see him panicking again like he always did as a child.
“Don’t worry. I have a pigosaurus in a pen out back. Go tell my father, Bam-Bam, to butcher it, and then you bring all the edible parts up here. I’ll have his mind straightened out by then.”
Ham was pale. He nodded and then took off like an arrow shot out of a bow.
“Psions have to work together,” Tara said soothingly to Ged. “I’m going to enter your mind. I have the power to help you with the kind of thinking a shape-changer has to do. I can restore the human thought patterns you lost your hold on. Don’t worry, I’ve done this before.”
Ged couldn’t speak, but he knew this girl could read minds. He tried thinking hard at her. <“Have you met my kind before?”>
“Yes,” she said, answering the thought. “Xavier has asked me to orient one other shape-changer. He was a lot younger than you, though, and not so traumatized by the change. I’m going to have to use a risky method on you. While I’m inside your head, we need to be making love. Body to body contact with a release of endorphins are both needed.”
<“I can’t do that! You’re just a young girl. It’s immoral, and I’m a moral man!”>
“You could die, and I’m not giving you any choice. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt a bit.”
Her leopard-skins dropped to the floor and for the next half hour Ged was in a dreamy sort of paradise. Tara was in his head while he was inside… well, you know. His exhausted state changed into a feeling of pure euphoria.
When Ham got back with the meat, Ged was sitting up, ready to wolf the food down ravenously. He finished a meal large enough for five men, his normal shape returning with a few raptor muscles left over in his legs and chest. Tara had to eat heartily also.
“Ged, you had me worried!” Ham said. “But now you look better than ever.”
“I feel better than ever.” Ged turned to Tara. “What we did, uh… I apologize. I will never forgive myself.”
“Why?” said Tara innocently. “It was only done to help you.”
“It was just wrong,” said Ged woefully.
“I was surprised to find that you are still so pure after all these years. I think it’s sweet to be so shy and dedicated to your moral beliefs.”
“You mean,” said Ged, blushing, “you weren’t the same as me, innocent in that way?”
“Not in the way you think of it. But don’t despair, love. Your spirit is still as bright and pure as it was before. You just have a small part of me in your head now. We will always be a part of each other from now on, and marriage and family have nothing to do with it. It is more of a spiritual connection. In times of great stress, you can probably call out to me mentally, and I will hear.”
“I don’t understand.”
Suddenly a cloud of sulphurous smoke filled the room. With a strange popping sound, a man appeared. He looked like Mephistopheles in a turban. He had slanted eyes and a devilish Van Dyke goatee. He bowed to the three of them regally.
“Ah, I am honored to make the acquaintance of Ged Aero, the White Spider reborn. I am Xavier Tkriashav, the Master of the Secret Society of Psions.”
“What? Who…?” sputtered Ged.
“Where? How?” sputtered Ham.
“Welcome, Master,” said Tara, still not dressed. She got up off the floor and gave the man a hug and kiss. Ged couldn’t help but think he knew a darned sight more about this situation and this man than he wanted to. The strange fellow was already inside his head like an unwelcome flea, sucking at the marrow of his mind.