As Eagna and Eolas continue to make their way to the cliffs, Naofa finds herself enmeshed in a new mystery. What has happened within the dream world of the Warrior? And what will it mean, if anything, for the future of their world? The once timid hand of darkness is stretching its fingers to touch the innocent…
Eolas questioned the safety of sending Naofa into the land of the cliffs alone. After hunting there many times with Laoch, he knew well the presence of the hungry, stalking cats that also shared these lands. There was abundant food for them now; but something in their eyes told Eolas that should their supply ever dwindle, his own flesh would suffice as a substitute.
Eagna quickly dismissed his concerns. “You must remember the great power our friend has at her disposal. She might just as easily walk as one of their own as to become their meal.”
It was true, thought Eolas, remembering their first encounter with the Sorceress, disguised as the white tiger so that she might accompany Eagna on her journey to the Garden. It had been quite some time since that miraculous night; and Naofa had not appeared before them in any form other than her human self since then. He had almost forgotten she possessed the gift.
(No one saw her as she bathed at night in the cool salty waters of the ocean, dipping and diving deep beneath the dark surface, gliding alongside the scaled and shiny creatures who made their home under the waves. It was her favorite transformation.)
“Well, I will be happy to get to the cliffs before the sky turns orange,” the Hunter insisted. “We don’t have that gift; and I am not fond of hunting in the dark.” They grabbed the last of their bundles, kicked a mound of dirt upon the glowing embers of the smoldering fire, and headed towards the home of their warrior friend.
“I don’t understand why I cannot be near As’me before she enters her new body. Have I not displayed enough remorse, exhibited enough prostration before the face of Eternal Light to grant me this one desire?” Ar’tine was maddeningly sincere and insolent, as always. It was this extreme duality which kept his deepest desires from him; and in between them was a great chasm of fear, lying open mouthed and hungry. He seemed to have found a thin wire within his consciousness upon which to balance this opposing energy. While he was illuminated by the Light he was both believable and convincing, perhaps because in those moments he believed ii himself. But the moment his requests were met with opposition, he retreated into the dark recesses of his delusions. It was a trait that defined the dark god in spite of Eternity’s combined effort to Love him, and a threat the Creators simply could not risk with As’me. Before she reentered physical life, this time on Domhan, she needed pure love, nurturing and support-none of which Ar’tine had ever shown a propensity for supplying.
As’me had accepted her eons of waiting and spent them helping with the preparations of newly created souls, those that would know a life in the physical for the first time. Having experienced great extremes during her own life, she worked with each new soul, teaching it to recognize the point of separation that lay deep within, to be cautious of that place where darkness originated. And so she was content to wait.
Mac heaved a sigh of impatience as he addressed his Son yet again. “You know this is not possible. As’me has her own work to do.” He dared not say more and hoped Ar’tine would not press him further for details of his daughter’s rebirth. For what it was worth, Mac was glad for the decrease in communication between themselves and their human children-at least for awhile. Much to his relief, Ar’tine skulked away to see what images he could conjure on the dark surface of his Lake.
Watching him go, Mac whispered fervent pleas to their creations on Domhan, “Please, children, remember to keep your silence.” He longed to discourage his son’s focus on Foirfeachta, for there were things going on in other parts of his Twin’s world that needed to remain hidden from Ar’tine’s view. Mac needn’t have worried, for the god was too enmeshed in his own workings to be aware of anything that might have existed outside of his longing for As’me.
Eagna and Eolas walked in silence but for his asking repeatedly if she wanted to rest. It would take awhile for her to convince him that even if she were already carrying their child within, it would not disable her; and she marveled at his instinct to protect her. Feeling wonderfully alive and energetic, Eagna actually felt that she could run all the way to the cliff dwelling of Laoch. She smiled to herself, thinking of how Eolas might react to this idea. She was thankful for his love which included this newly awakened protective, yet maddening, way of expressing it. If only he could be as certain as she was that all would be well.
“What are you thinking that entertains you so, Eagna?” Eolas’s voice startled the female, interrupting her tender thoughts.
Returning to the the reality of him walking beside her, she smiled to herself and replied, “I was just thinking how fortunate our child will be to walk in the shadow of your love.” Tilting her head, the sunlight glinted off the long locks that framed her face; and she flashed him a brilliant smile. Embarrassed by the compliment, Eolas merely grunted, wondering if he truly deserved such praise. At the same moment, it filled his soul with joy to know Eagna held him in such regard, she had become his entire world, a world about to become fuller with a child of their own. Quietly he took her hand in his as they began to cross the grassy meadow that ended at the base of the cliffs. The sun now glared from a place directly overheads; and they quickened their pace, wanting to reach the cliffs before it began to sink behind them. Things walked the plains and cliffs at night that they would rather not meet alone beneath the moon.
Mystery and Revelation
Laoch and Noafa, after storing her bundles in a dark corner of the cave he called home, seated themselves in the shadow of its mouth, where they gazed across the grasslands below. The sun, high in the sky, cast a brilliant glow across the meadow. Tall grasses swaying in the breeze created dancing shadows that tiptoed across their green fingertips. It was a glorious sight. With so much on Domhan to absorb and enjoy, how could any human not find peace? Naofa wanted to preserve this for all of the children who might come. From the corner of her eye, something new caught the Sorceress’s attention. She didn’t notice Laoch lean forward at that very moment himself, trying to make out the distant movement. Squinting against the glare of high light, they struggled to comprehend, until both pointed and exclaimed, “There! Do you see that?”
At the precise same moment their eyes had seen the winding gray curls, slowly spiraling upward and disappearing into the bright glow of the sun. Smoke! They were facing the opposite direction of the Garden, so these spirals were happening in an area where no one lived. They looked at one another, Naofa’s expression asking the unspoken question. Laoch shrugged. At least there was no one that he knew of.
“Why is therefire in an empty land?” the Warrior wondered aloud. Rising to his feet, he moved closer to the edge of the overhang, shielding his eyes from the stark sunlight to better glimpse the rising smoke. He had never ventured that far before, nor did he think Eolas had either.
This sobering oddity brought Naofa back to the point of her visit. She was here to tell Laoch of what had gone on in the Garden and to share the news of new life on their world-new children to be welcomed to Domhan. She shifted uneasily where she sat. Why did the stone suddenly seem so uncomfortable? How would she explain the creation of new tribes on their world, an idea she was still getting used to herself? Would he understand it all? Did she? His Warrior’s mind would want to know the purpose of all that was taking place; and in truth, she was not completely sure of these things herself.
Naofa prayed silently. “Please help me, Mother Inion, to be truthful without revealing that which might endanger our hopes.” This was her plea to Spirit; and it was heard by her strongest support. Mor was ever present within existence; and the Mothers heard her whispers. She was certain of this in her heart; but as confirmation of her faith, the white feather slipped loose from where she had secured it. Slowly it wafted down to rest on her foot. She bent down to retrieve it and felt comforted, knowing she could speak freely to Laoch. Rising to her feet, Naofa moved closer to the edge of the overhang and took a few steps to where the Warrior stood. She placed her hand gently on his shoulder, pulling him away from the distant mystery.
“Let’s sit awhile longer and speak of things which have come to pass.” She gestured for him to return to his place in the shade. “Soon,” she told him, Eagna and Eolas will be with us,” His eyes lit up with pleasure at the prospect. “But first,” she added, “I want to hear about your dream.”
The shadows of the cave were growing longer; and as they fell across his rugged face, Laoch looked very solemn. Naofa waited patiently for his mind to retrace the steps to his vision. The Warrior closed his eyes, shutting out the visions of waking life and returning to the world of his dreams. Soon Naofa would be inside his world of sleeping mists, sharing his experience as though it had been her own, for he was a glorious story teller.
Laoch’s face was somber, tiny bursts of sunlight glancing off his pronounced nose and creating deep shadows beneath his dark eyes. His words were deliberate, as though he were recreating the event for himself as he watched through a hole in the space before him. Taking a deep, measured breath, he began his story.
“When I was born, I stood naked, both in body and spirit, before my Creators. Mother Bandia touched my soul, revealing to me the knowledge of my strength and cunning as a Warrior, advising that I would be Protector to the family in Foirfeachta. This filled me with a sense of purpose and peace; for I knew what an important task they were giving to me. The goddess was more beautiful than anything I could imagine and unlike anything I have seen since my life began. When she at last stopped speaking, there rose behind her a dark mist that grew and circled round her head. She seemed not to notice as long, gray fingers from within it struck out toward me. This mist filled me with much fear and loathing; but the Mother saw it at once and raised her white wings, calling back the unwelcome dark form to retreat behind her brilliant Light, where it faded into the shadows there. I could sense its disappointment; but I was no longer afraid as she left me to my days, feeling complete and strong as I began my life on Domhan.
Much distance passed from that moment; and one night as I lay upon my bed of grass, tired from a long hunt, I fell asleep beneath a sky full of stars. The bright moon lit the side of the mountain. I do not know how long I was asleep; but I awoke suddenly, feeling something near my body-something with a heavy breath and a smell that was unlike anything I have known. It began moving…slowly…quietly to where I lay. My Hunter’s soul recognized this stalker even though I could not see its face; and although fear gripped my soul, I could not move my arms or legs. I was as a felled tree upon the ground. A dark cloud drifted over my body and lingered above my face. It was close, cold, and I felt its heartbeat The smell then filled my nose, my mouth and struck my stomach. But I could not wretch. I still could not move. This smoke was thick but had no form; and I could see within its faceless face two glowing red embers-so bright! These eyes of fire seemed to capture my soul and bind my tongue. I was unable to speak, to strike or to even close my eyes against the vision. Heaviness overcame me as though hands were holding me there-hands I could not see or touch. My foggy mind filled with fear as gray hands emerged from within the mist, stretching thin, black fingers towards my face. I thought it meant to pluck out my eyes so that I could not see its purpose; but they slid down to my chest where they began to swirl, then twist and turn, winding their way into my flesh. I wanted to scream but no sound came from my mouth. There was no pain, only terror and loathing in my heart. Then, even as my mind wondered if it meant to kill me, it began to speak to me from within. I heard no voice with my ears, for it had no mouth. It spoke here…” the Warrior’s voice dropped to a whisper as he tapped his forehead.. “inside my head.”
Naofa opened her mouth to speak but the question was answered before her tongue began to move.
“Its voice was slow and thick; and it seemed wounded by my thoughts. ‘You are my beloved Son,’ it said quietly. ‘I am not here to destroy you, but merely to enrich your existence. You will have more power than you understand; but it will serve us both in the eventual. Be still and accept this gift I share with you now.’
I wanted to rise to my feet and destroy this dark thing that held me; but I was powerless. Remembering my own cunning as a stalker, I decided that I would accept its gift of power so that I might use it to destroy the beast as soon as I was free.” Laoch’s eyes widened and his mouth fell open-limp for a moment. Naofa jumped as the Warrior turned to her excitedly and shouted.
“It saw my mind! It knew my thoughts and turned its black faceless form upon me with rage!.” Laoch’s voice calmed but was tinged with agitation. “The mists began to change, spreading out before my eyes as a wide, fearsome mouth-a mouth that laughed at me. Then it spoke to me again.
‘So..the creation would use its great gift against its own Creator?!” it shouted. The mouth was all of it now. ‘ HA! That day may well come, my son, but first you will serve your Master; and if you survive we will then see what you can do with your power for your own sake.’
I looked down at my chest where its smoky fingers remained within and feared it meant to tear out my heart-or my soul. But the black tendrils slowly withdrew and were sucked inside the mouth. They held nothing in them-no heart as I feared; and where they had been there was now a dark hole in my chest. My mind looked into the empty space and watched in disbelief as it began to glow red. It was a cave on fire!. I could not claw it away, for my hands were still bound. I looked up again, and my tormentor waved its misty hand across my body, sealing the gaping entrance to the cave-and the fire within it.
Slowly, like ants across my skin, I could feel my fingers and legs coming back to life. As the black formless vapor slid over the rocky slopes I got to my feet. I meant to follow it, to kill it with my bare hands. But my legs were not steady; and once my footing returned, the beast was already reaching the forest’s edge. I scrambled down the rocks, crying out in anger and protest; but it was disappearing over the grasslands, its dark mists becoming one with the night. All that remained was the low moan of the wind through the trees. It was as if the dark forest were laughing at me. Angrily I shook my fists at the laughter, at the disappearing mist, and yelled after it, ‘I will never be your slave!’
I awoke with my arms over my head, lashing out at the empty night. Gasping for air, I clawed at my chest, searching for the scar it must have left; but all I saw was freshly scratched skin, my body weeping small rivers of terror. I lay down once more, fearing to sleep. Then I remembered my Mother’s voice, whispering her promise to always be near if I would call. I found comfort knowing that Great Spirit is always with us and within us; so I slept once more.
A new vision found me then, one in which I was greeting the morning sun upon this very ledge.” The Warrior dropped to his knees and stretched his legs out before him, dangling them over the edge. “I looked to the horizon as the sun climbed into the sky; and against its rose colored face I saw three figures approaching. As they drew closer, my soul recognized them as companions and friends, although my eyes did not see faces. The first was tall, strong, and covered in silver light, while the other pair seemed to walk as one that carried a beloved treasure in its arms. I could not see who they were, nor what the treasure was; but I know they were my friends.”
Laoch looked back at Naofa who was entranced by his tale, her head cocked to one side. The sight of her there, the sunlight kissing her lips, sent a small chill down his back. He rubbed his thighs with broad hands as he turned back to face the meadow-hands that caught the Sorceress’s eye for a moment-so strong.
“And then you came. I was expecting more to come, you see…are you okay Sorceress?” Naofa had gone pale, holding one hand to her forehead while the other lay across the place where her heart threatened to beat its way through her chest.
“What?,” she asked, dropping both hands to her lap as she worked to regain her composure. Her mind raced with questions. “Laoch, how do you feel today? Is there any thing within your body or your thoughts that seems different? Does your mind seem clear?” she asked.
The Warrior was not offended by her questions and answered in his humble, honest way. “It was my first thought to check for wounds, for blood, or for sickness to come over me; but in truth my body feels strong and fit. My mind is suffering though..” He looked at his dangling legs and seemed for an instant to be searching for the words he wanted. When he spoke again it was with conviction. “I want never to serve anything as dark as what came to me in my dream. I would rather die,” he said. There was no doubting his sincerity or conviction; and this comforted the Sorceress.
Naofa tried to ease his troubled mind even as she, herself, wondered what lay in store for this male. “Oh, I’m certain it won’t come to anything like that. We still need to understand what this vision means for you and find a way to deal with its message. I have no doubt what the dark energy in your dream was and is. You must always remember that you are carried in the love of Eternity. If you keep this in the forefront of your thoughts, you have nothing to fear-for yourself or any of us. Eagna and Eolas will be along soon and we will work this out together. Laoch smiled at her gratefully and nodded confidently, although his heart had many questions still. As he gazed at the Sorceress, he saw a soft, silver glow about her body-or perhaps it was just the glare from the sunlight reflecting off the stone wall behind. Still, it calmed his soul a bit.
I know this is a long piece but I just couldn’t find a way to chop it up. As always I thank any of you who are reading and welcome any comments or feedback you would like to share. May your week be filled with miracles as you move toward your own self discovery on the path to understanding. Do not be engulfed by the Illusion. Create your own magic of love and miracles.