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Summary: Tala’s friend is gravely ill. To save her friend’s life, trickster Tala matches wits with Death in a series of over-the-top hijinks which culminate in a final confrontation with a sexy twist. Find out what it takes to save her friend’s life!

Note: This story is sexually explicit with lengthy erotic content

Tala stands holding a sheet of parchment with blurry numbers on it. Across from her Death, depicted as older woman with white hair, sits on a bed with her scythe casually draped over her shoulder. In the background is a fireplace with a golden fire burning in it. Illustration by Majin Roses.

Tala stands holding a sheet of parchment with blurry numbers on it. Across from her Death, depicted as older woman with white hair, sits on a bed with her scythe casually draped over her shoulder. In the background is a fireplace with a golden fire burning in it. Illustration by Majin Roses.

Once upon a time there was a trans woman named Tala.

This story is not about what she was like as a child. Nor is it about what she did or didn’t do to alter her body. It isn’t even about discrimination she faced. In actuality, this story isn’t about her being trans at all. It is about the fact that Tala was a clever woman, so clever, in fact, that she was able to overcome Death.

Now, Tala had many friends, and at this time she had one particularly good friend named Yuna. Yuna was an emotional and expressive woman with boundless generosity and enthusiasm. She loved experiencing new things and was game to try anything once. That was why she got on with Tala so well, because Tala liked doing things that were strange, unusual, or surprising.

Well, one day Yuna fell ill. During her illness Tala visited her each day, bringing her fresh milk, soup, and fruit to eat. As time went by Yuna got sicker and sicker and her umber skin took on an unhealthy yellowish hue. When Yuna started having difficulty breathing, she began to fear that her death was near.

To comfort her, Tala told Yuna what to do if Death came for her. “As a dying wish, ask Death to come back for you tomorrow. Since you have lived a good life, Death will agree to this. When that happens, insist that the word ‘tomorrow’ be written on the wall as proof of this promise.”

“But that only delays my death one day,” Yuna said.

“That’s all any of us needs each and every day,” Tala replied. “If you trust me and do as I say everything will be fine.”

Well, sure enough, at midnight that night Death came for Yuna. Yuna did exactly as Tala had advised and Death said, “Because you have lived a life full of love, passion and generosity, I will grant you this delay.” Then he wrote “tomorrow” on the wall and left.

When Tala visited Yuna the next day, Yuna told Tala what had happened.

“The next part is easy,” Tala said. “When Death comes for you tonight, you simply point to the word ‘tomorrow’ on the wall and say ‘I’m afraid you have the day mistaken. You said that you would come back tomorrow and it is not yet tomorrow.’”

Although she was concerned about angering Death, Yuna agreed to do this.

So, when Death came for Yuna at midnight, Yuna followed Tala’s instructions. In response, Death laughed heartily and said, “You are clever indeed, friend, so I will grant you one more day.” Then Death erased the word “tomorrow” and replaced it with the next day’s date.

When Tala visited Yuna the next morning, Yuna told her what had happened and asked what to do next.

“Well,” Tala said, “Tonight is the crucial night. You must become so troublesome that Death will not want to bother with you anymore. The tricky part is that Death can be vengeful, so we must do this without making him angry at us.”

“And how do we do that?” Yuna asked, worried.

“When Death comes tonight, tell him that it is on his account that you were trying to delay your death, for it has been foretold that your journey from this life to the next will be fraught with bad luck and obstacles. Then go with Death willingly and each time an obstacle occurs say, ‘Ah, I knew it! My journey is cursed with ill luck! I shall not be able to rest in peace!’ I will take care of the rest.”

For the remainder of that day Tala made her preparations and late that evening Tala secretly returned Yuna’s house. There she hid in the large cedar chest where Yuna stored bedding and blankets.

Watching through the keyhole, Tala saw Death when he arrived at midnight. Death was a friendly-looking old man with a long silver braid and a neatly trimmed mustache. He looked vaguely like Yuna’s grandfather and he greeted Yuna warmly.

Once Death had his back to Tala, she seized her chance and crept silently out of the cedar chest. Quietly, she tiptoed over to the table in the middle of the room and laid the large bottle of oil down on its side so that the oil flowed over the table and down the leg to made a pool on the tile floor. Then, Tala slipped silently back into the chest.

Meanwhile, Yuna animatedly told Death about her bad luck. Death spoke comforting words to her and told her that once a person starts their journey onward they no longer have luck of any kind. Then Death said, “It is time to go.” Helping Yuna to her feet, Death took her hand and started leading her out of the house. However, when Death walked past the table with the spilt oil he skidded on the slick tiles and landed flat on his back in the middle of the greasy pool.

Looking down at him, Yuna said, “Ah, I knew it! My journey is cursed with ill luck! I shall not be able to rest in peace!”

“That is not possible,” Death said firmly as he picked himself up off the floor.

Then Death led Yuna out of the house and down the little side street on which she lived. Tala followed stealthily behind, ready to take whatever steps were necessary to ensure maximum chaos. Next, Death and Yuna turned the corner onto Main Street and they were immediately engulfed in a crowd of strangely dressed people. Suddenly, loud music started up and everyone began dancing and shouting.

“Celebrate tubers and fresh squeezed juice!” one woman yelled.

“And dance like a donkey!” a young boy called out.

A third person loudly expounded upon the value of dried plums for digestion.

Tala couldn’t resist ducking behind a tall man and shouting, “Let’s see those spunky old broads in lingerie milk cows while playing the guitar!”

Death tried to take Yuna around Tala’s bizarre party, but all the side streets were overflowing with dancing, jostling people. So, in the end, they simply had to push their way through the middle of it all.

Each time the crowd pressed in on them, Yuna cried out, “Ah, I knew it! My journey is cursed with ill luck! I shall not be able to rest in peace!”

“That is not possible,” Death said irritably as he squeezed and pressed his way through the crowd.

Once they finally left the party behind, they entered a quiet stretch of road. In fact, everything was too quiet.

Suddenly, thirty burly guards wearing black rushed out of the shadows and tackled Death, knocking him to the ground. Only after a great deal shouting and confusion was it determined to be an unfortunate case of mistaken identity. You see, the guards were the bodyguards of a visiting dignitary and they had been tipped off that just after midnight an assassin after their employer would be coming down this road disguised as an old man. They had mistaken Death for that assassin.

Raising her hands sky, Yuna wailed, “Ah, I knew it! My journey is cursed with ill luck! I shall not be able to rest in peace!”

For a moment Death was inclined to believe her, but then he became suspicious, for Death himself is sometimes a trickster and he knows a trickster’s ways. Death decided that he would find the person behind all of these tricks. Since he knew that the weak and bed-ridden Yuna could not have coordinated everything on her own, Death took Yuna back to her house. Then he doggedly searched and questioned the entire town until he had conclusively determined that it was Tala who was behind everything.

Now, Death likes a clever trick now and again, but he doesn’t like anyone interfering with his duties, and he was more than a little irritated by the time he caught up with Tala.

“You are the one behind all this!” Death growled. “Since you are so determined to save your friend’s life, I will take you instead!” And, because Death looks different for each person, at that statement Death changed from a silver-haired old man to a statuesque older woman with bronze skin and a crown of snow white hair piled high upon her head. She was wearing an elegant blue v-necked dress that accentuated her curving figure.

“Nice!” Tala said admiring Death’s new appearance.

“This is what you find most comforting?” Death asked incredulously, caught between amazement and amusement.

“Apparently,” Tala said with a mischievous grin, “And, I think I have lived my life well enough to earn a dying request.”

“What?”

“I wish to challenge you to a competition for my life.”

“Many have done so, but few have won,” Death said confidently. “Name your contest!”

“Sex.”

“Sex?”

“The winner is the one who can give the other the most orgasms in one night.”

At this, Death was truly surprised. Never before, in all her years, had anyone challenged Death to sex. This was new, and new things don’t happen to Death very often.

Tala smiled winsomely at Death and said, “Well, you don’t expect me to rest quietly in your embrace with out a good fucking first, do you?”

Death laughed at this and, with that, she agreed to the contest.

After that they talked until they came up with a comprehensive system for their competition. They would each take turns pleasuring the other, switching off at regular intervals. Since the quality of the orgasms mattered just as much as the number, it was decided that each orgasm would be rated on a scale from one to ten and at the end those ratings would be added up to produce a final score which would determine the winner.

The first turn fell to Death. Death started by sensually undressing Tala. She kissed, caressed, and licked each area one by one as she carefully tested to see what made Tala respond the most. By the time Death started fingering Tala’s clit, Tala was aching with anticipation. Smiling, Death skillfully worked her fingers, coaxing Tala to the brink of climax, before pausing and bringing her close again. When Death finally let Tala slip over the edge into the sweet rush of bliss she shouted her joy to the skies, coming twice in rapid succession.

“A seven and an eight,” Tala said, as she sat up, ready for her turn.

Death smiled and wrote the numbers down.

Then Tala leapt into action, pouncing on Death and kissing her passionately as she stripped off each piece of her clothing. As each bit of naked flesh was revealed, Tala stroked and licked it with enthusiastic abandon, finally settling herself between Death’s legs to lick her clit and devour her cunt with all of the energy and wild creativity that Tala possessed.

Tala quickly brought Death to her first spiraling peak (which was a seven). She then pressed on with a fierce determination to do even better, launching herself into a round of ferocious licking and gentle sucking that pulled a deep, shuddering orgasm out from the core of Death’s body.

Next came Death’s turn. She used strong caresses and teasing licks to get Tala excited. Once Tala was groaning with pleasure, Death slipped her fingers into Tala’s cunt, producing gasps and moans that quickly accelerated to shouts when Death pressed her tongue against Tala’s clit. Then Tala lay there, writhing with pleasure and moaning, “Don’t stop! Don’t stop!” as one orgasm after another rolled through her body.

Tala’s next turn was just as exquisite and by the time dawn’s light peaked over the horizon they both had lost all track of the score.

“There is nothing else to be done,” Tala said with a sly smile. “We’ll just have to it again.”

“Absolutely,” Death replied, her eyes twinkling with mischief.

A zoom in on the score sheet that clearly shows numbers crossed out, added, moved, question marks, and a smiley face. Illustration by Majin Roses.

A zoom in on the score sheet that clearly shows numbers crossed out, added, moved, question marks, and a smiley face. Illustration by Majin Roses.


 

Discussion

“Tala and Death’s Embrace” is the second fairy tale that I’ve written. It was originally composed in 2012 for submission to The Mammoth Book of Erotic Quickies. At the time, I was using calls for submission to erotica anthologies to inspire and motivate myself. This story was a little different than the fantasy genre stories that I was writing during that time period in that it was not a story that I already had in my head. This story, like all of my fairy tales, only came into being when I sat down to write it. One of the reasons that I choose to write this story was that I wanted to challenge myself to write something shorter than what I had been writing. I succeeded and it remains my shortest story.

The process of writing for submission to anthologies was very useful in my development as a writer. Unfortunately, the ideas I have tend to branch off tangentially from what was intended in the original call for submissions (and they have an awful lot of plot for erotica stories), therefore I have not yet had any of my stories published within anthologies. Of course, the up side of all this is that I have developed as a writer and I have created wonderful stories, like this one, that I can share with you, my dear readers.

Although “Tala and Death’s Embrace” was written before the composition of my Writer Manifesto (Part 1 and Part 2), it is based on a lot of the frustrations and impulses that crystallized in my Writer Manifesto and which currently guide my work. This is particularly clear in the first two paragraphs of this story, which are a refutation of the way in which mainstream stories depict trans people. In a lot of stories trans people are defined by their trans status, and, if they are the main character, then the story revolves around them being trans. This is a dynamic that also happens to other groups (women, people of color, queers) in a sadly large number of books, movies, games, and TV shows. In these mainstream stories the characterization of people with marginalized identities revolves around those marginalized identities as if they define all of who the person is. Meanwhile, cisgender straight white male characters get to have characterization that is about who they are and what they do. Cisgender straight white men get to be romantic bookworms, idiosyncratic inventors, suave rouges, disillusioned businessmen, and tortured heroes. In my work I aim to be conscious of this dynamic and make sure all characters are more than just their oppressed identities, which can be challenging in fairy tales, which typically have very two-dimensional characters.

One challenge that I’ve faced in characterization is making sure my minor characters have a wide range of personalities and traits. Yuna is actually one of my first attempts to expand my range of character personalities through the use of dice. I am currently working on an article about this (once published I will link here). The short version is that I found myself endlessly repeating the same character personalities and archetypes in my minor characters. To change this I collected a large list of personality traits and then started using dice to pick a group of traits off the list for a character. This allowed me to remove a lot of my unconscious biases and create characters that were much more vivid and dynamic, particularly the ones that end up with seemingly contradictory traits. From there I have added techniques and expanded my use of dice to help me in a wide range of writing tasks.

In the early stages of writing this story I did a lot of research on the personification Death and tales about tricking Death. Unfortunately, this was three years ago and I did not effectively document my sources at the time. I can, however, say that in my research I found the characterization of Death to vary widely. In addition, in stories where Death was tricked, Death’s traits and nature were crucial to those tricks working. There were several stories that depended on Death agreeing to a final wish which ultimately led to the person being allowed to keep living. I found a story of an old woman convincing Death to let her live through her delicious cooking. Then there were stories that hinged on the idea that Death could be physically harmed or subdued, while others hinged on the idea that Death was supernaturally powerful and unavoidable. In some stories Death falls for pretty obvious tricks, while in others Death plays tricks.

This led me to a long list of questions that I had to answer for myself before I could finalize my plot: Can Death be physically hindered, harmed, or subdued? Can Death be bribed? Does Death want to kill as many people as possible or is Death indifferent? Does Death get mad when someone escapes? Are there consequences to escaping Death? Does Death grant final wishes? If so, to whom? How clever is Death? What is Death’s Personality? Does Death forgive? Does Death like a good joke? What is Death’s gender? What does Death look like?

I thought about it and realized that the stories about Death that I liked the most involved seeing Death as a large and powerful force connected to winter, renewal, and rebirth. So I choose to make the idea of Death as a powerful force my central idea and went from there. Choosing this, thought not obvious in this story, leads to a personified death that is more powerful. At the same time, I couldn’t make my personified death too powerful, or there would be no story. So personified death in my world is an entity that contains this powerful spiritual/symbolic force, and, at the same time, personified death has a personality and the potential to make mistakes. Death may be in many places at once, but Death is also a person you can touch. Death cannot be physically harmed, but, as a person with a body, Death can be tripped or temporarily hindered. Death can also become annoyed and does like a good joke. And, because so many of the best stories depend on a final wish, if you’ve lived a good life, you get a final wish.

The idea of a contest with Death is something that comes up in stories and film from time to time, but I haven’t yet found the mythological or folklore source for it. Even so, it fits well with the idea of getting a last request and has so much story potential that I decided to include it. (If you know the roots of this, please let me know!)

Next I came to the question of Death’s appearance and gender. I decided that if Death was in essence a powerful force, Death wouldn’t have a simple binary gender. Also, Death would need to change appearance based on culture. In addition, I have always been fascinated by stories of Death as a shapeshifter, so I decided that Death is a shapeshifter that looks like whatever the person finds most comforting.

Only once I had a core idea of who Death was, how Death operated, and could describe what Death looked like, could I start writing. I think it is important to note that for this story I never actually answered all of my questions about Death. I decided to let some of them sit until such time as they became relevant to a story. For example, it wasn’t until “Tala and Godmother Death” that I decided that there were consequences to avoiding Death if it was done in a certain way.

The research that I did on Death also informed Tala’s tricks, but, as I could only find a few really good tricks that fit well together, I decided that I needed to go beyond them. This process involved brainstorming and more research. I pulled a lot of bits of inspiration together and focused on the idea of delaying Death. Of these, the strange street party was actually a mash-up of more obscure USA holidays and observances. The line Tala yells in the crowd was probably inspired by Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day (February 18th). I strongly suspect that the process for making an official holiday/observance in the USA is quite easy because there are a lot of interesting (and delightfully frivolous) ones. For example, did you know that June 20th is Vanilla Milkshake Day, International Surfing Day, and National Hollerin’ Contest Day. Also, July 27th is National Creme Brulee Day, National Walk on Stilts Day, and Take Your Houseplant For a Walk Day. And don’t forget that August is National Sandwich Month, Get Acquainted with Kiwi Fruit Month, Mushroom Month, National Brownies at Brunch Month, American Artists Appreciation Month, National Catfish Month, and Celery, Fennel and Cactus Month.

Tala’s final trick, the sex contest for her life, was actually inspired by a webcomic done in honor of Gary Gygax, one of the co-creators of Dungeons and Dragons. To me it inspired the idea of defeating Death, not by winning a contest, but choosing a contest that could last forever, regardless of the winner. From there is was a short mental jump to a contest that would have no clear winner. (I am convinced that somewhere, in some world, Death has a regular Dungeon and Dragons group that is on a never ending adventure.)

So, at this point I had a plot and I was able to write my story. However, when I polished my first draft up I found that there was something missing. The final ingredient came when I discovered Tala’s playful narrative tone. Suddenly the story came alive. Once I discovered this tone, it was so exciting and transformative that I immediately applied it to my first fairy tale story, “The Tower,” which has now expanded into the novel that I am currently working on. In fact, “Tala and Death’s Embrace,” “Tala and Godmother Death,” the soon to be released “Tala and Prince Hart,” and my fourth in-progress story, “Tala, Prince Hart, and the Wishing Dildo,” all have places within the larger story of this novel. In a very real way, “Tala and Death’s Embrace” has been a turning point in my development as a fairy tale writer and has made a lasting impact on all of my fairy tale writings.

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