Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
by Cheryl Pennington
copyright images and story
As Eolas and Eagna make their way to the cliffs, Naofa listens to Laoch reveal his world of nightmares…nightmares which could well become a reality for their own world…..
“Laoch,” her voice nudged his thoughts from reflection. “Something has happened in the Garden recently, something very unexpected.” Naofa paused for any reaction from the Warrior, yet he merely listened with keen interest, so she continued. “Something…several things, which will prove life changing for our world. We would have sent for you, but it was not possible to wait. When those within the Realm are involved, it is necessary to move with Spirit. But I assure you that you were, and are, in the thought of Creation and are very much a part of that which will come to pass. It is important to me that you know you were not willfully excluded from our communion with Spirit.”
Laoch nodded; for her words did not stir him, although he was very eager to hear what the news was and what effect it would have on his world. “I understand the way of Spirit. The scavengers have been circling the grasslands of late. They are patient hunters, waiting for what will come to sustain them. They reminded me it is a good practice.”
What a gentle soul he was. So gentle, thought the Sorceress, that she could not imagine him falling under the dark influence of his Father. Or could it be this very innocence that made him such a desirable target for the dark god? His open, trusting nature would certainly leave him very vulnerable. She must find a way to influence this side of their friend before it became a hazard to them all. While his response to his dream vision was undeniably bold, she must be sure he understood the need to continue to control this influence.
When Naofa shared the story of M’na’s longing for another child, her sense of emptiness that Amhain was growing up and away from her, the Warrior nodded understanding and smiled, “He is coming into his warrior’s heart. This will be encouraged by walking in step with Fireann.” He smiled when the Sorceress explained the desire of Eolas and Eagna to have their own child, to add to the life on Domhan and increase their own love. His eyes glistened as he whispered, almost incredulously, “The Hunter and Eagna with a child? Yes, it seems right for life to move in such ways. Do you think Eternity will answer their call with a blessing?”
Naofa, while pleased her friend was taking all these things to his heart with pleasure, felt sorry that now she must cover the Light of their world with the dark mists of deception. Still, it was one of the most important messages she had to give to the Warrior. It was important for her to be cautious with the presentation of Ar’tine’s act of deception. Already Laoch was feeling the long arm of darkness. He needed to be prepared with the weapons of unity and a sense of being whole, not with fists raised in anger. She sensed that such a state would surely be his undoing.
“M’na and Eagna are trusting souls, as well they should be..as well we all should be….but of course our trusting hearts and desires are heard by all in the eternal realm.” She hesitated before continuing, praying that her words would come from the heart of Eternity.
“The females shared an afternoon of excited thoughts and ideas for their hopes, making plans for ceremony. Their hope was to call the Mothers to the Garden for blessing; and with this hope they went to their beds peacefully for the night. Prayers of desire were whispered as they fell asleep. Prayers heard by all, but first heard by one…one who chose to act before any call was sent to the Light of the Realm; and on that very night the one who came…”
As carefully as she had tried to avoid even saying his name, Laoch’s newly stirred senses identified the watcher and already understood more than Naofa would have liked. His interest turned to anger as fear for his friends rose within his chest. “It was the Dark one, was it not? It was he who helped to create me! The one who calls himself ‘Father’?” The Warrior rose to his feet, his fists clenched at the end of his muscular arms, his jaws rigid but for its flinching. Naofa reached out to touch his shoulders, pressing her long fingers into his hot skin. She could feel his rapid pulse beneath her fingertips as she nodded toward the stone where he had been sitting.
“Be still, my friend. There is much to understand in all of this. Ar’tine’s impatience to see his daughter-his original creation-reborn, is what drove him to take advantage of M’na.” Although Naofa wanted to remain objective, her own disdain for the dark god spilled out. “Excuses have been made for that troublesome son of Mac by those in the Realm, for he is still a part of the All. Yet, the truth remains the same. It was in a state of complete selfishness and lack of conscience for the good of the very same All that he is a part of, that he disguised himself as our own Mother Inion. Taunting the Mother of Domhan, he hid himself and deceived M’na inside the perfect peace of the Inner Garden. Her longing for another child clouded her mind and left her vulnerable to his trickery.”
Naofa returned to her purpose; and clearly it was not to judge Ar’tine, nor to continue his dark legacy of fear and anger. Taking a deep breath she turned and looked Laoch in the eye. “It is the empty space, you see. It comes alive within each of us in different ways. We must know that when it happens we will be tempted to do those things which go against the greater good, against what Love has always taught us before.” She spoke the words with enough conviction to comfort herself as well as the Warrior.
Laoch’s agitation lingered, although he remained as still as the stone on which his massive body sat. His fists were still clenched, his muscles rippled, as he struggled to digest this information and find a way to reason with his anger, that inner voice now screaming to be recognized. The Sorceress sensed what was he was going through in that moment and well understood his frustration because she was dealing with her own conflicted emotions. She experienced the same sense of betrayal that rose like bitter weed within his throat even as he swallowed hard to keep it down. And so she waited, praying for his soul to find its way beyond the dark corridors of anger.
Laoch’s head fell, chin resting on his chest, looking defeated. Naofa took a deep breath and opened her mouth to soothe the Warrior; but he raised his head, tossing back his dark, braided locks and shouted to wind that had begun to whistle through the caves, “So much mercy for one so merciless!! Why does he not stalk his prey with honor and a true face?” Raising his fists over his head, Laoch shook them at the darkness spilling out of his cavernous home, howling as he released his anger into its hungry mouth. Naofa watched it fly from his mouth as he shouted shivering involuntarily. It seemed a dark mist of clicking and ticking insects were swarming from within the Warrior. She gasped and wondered why he didn’t choke. Surely he saw it too…but he just kept yelling at an invisible pain. Then came a fluttering answer from within the darkness, drawing her attention away from the the Warrior and into the depths of the cave. Laoch had stopped his shouting as suddenly as he began and stared into the darkness as well, not breathing or moving, a sense of anticipation hanging between them and the gaping mouth of his home. With a blast of acrid air and a flurry of black dust, a new swarm was leaving the cave now; but these creatures were well known to Naofa and Laoch. The bats swirled their way around the pair, up and over the ledge, making a hasty exit. Naofa felt a momentary urge to flee with them, to take to the air as evening approached, leaving behind this emotional darkness in favor of a silent, peaceful night. Instead she watched the colony as it faded into the dusky light, taking the Warrior’s pain with it.
Laoch drew in a deep, halting breath and lowered his head, as he stared after the flying creatures. The voice of sorrow now replaced that of anger. “All that he does is try to destroy those things which came from Eternity’s bosom-the very place of his own birth. Where is his love? Where is his compassion-his soul?” As quickly as the Warrior’s rage had arrived, it had been transformed. His tight fists unclenched, his shoulders slumped, and his head slowly fell again so that his chin was resting once more upon his colorful chest.
Naofa had only just noticed the intricate design that was drawn there, and that it was curiously beautiful. She knew she would have to ask about it, but not now. Her friend needed comforting; so she went to him, kneeling next to where he sat, and reached up to touch his chin. Gently she lifted his head until they were eye to eye. There was so much pain, sorrow and desperation within those dark windows. As the Warrior looked back at her, into those ocean gray depths, he asked her the one question for which she had no answer.
“Is my dark Father within me now? Is this what my dream means? He created me with Mother Bandia, so a part of me must come from his own soul. How are we supposed to love such a one as this? How could the Mothers even think of allowing him to be a part of Asme’s new life?”
Naofa held her tongue as carefully as her thoughts. She truly did not know if Ar’tine had indeed left some sort of mark, some vessel, within this man to use for his own agenda. She only understood the thinning of the cord of connection between themselves and their Creators as the veil grew thicker with every living being that was born into their world. In her wisdom, she allowed her heart to speak over her screaming mind, as she sought to comfort Laoch.
“Mor would never allow anything to enter you or your mind without your consent. You fought him in your dream, did you not? You vowed to destroy his work and you chased the dark mist to the bottom of the cliffs. There is nothing within you that wishes to serve him, Laoch. You must be vigilant in your rejection of his darkness and confident in your intent. I cannot promise that those things which happen within the dark place of dreams may not be attempted in the light of waking.”
She placed a slender arm around his shoulder, or at least that part of it that she could embrace. Truly he was a large man; and feeling his strength beneath her own, Naofa knew it would be no easy task to overcome his power. And if that power were driven by anger….yet, would it stand against a dark force from the other Realm?
After a few moments Laoch felt himself again. The Sorceress’s touch was soothing; and her presence somehow made him feel stronger, his mind clearer.
“How was this deception come to light?” he asked Naofa. “And what has been done within the Eternal Realm? Are our friends in the garden well?” His hands, now spread open on his knees, were questioning just as his words were, words implying that surely something had been done to keep them safe from this new threat of deceit. Naofa considered her answer carefully. She did not want to be a part of new deception with her friend; yet she knew that above all else, her duty was to protect every soul on their world. It was unfortunate and seemed contradictory to the pledge of unity that this deception of their own would protect him as well as the others. So she pushed this truth into the farthest corner of her mind before she answered the warrior.
“It was actually I who alerted the Mothers. I had a terrifying vision; but by the time I understood the true nature of its purpose, it was too late to prevent the deception. M’na wanted her gift of creation too desperately. She is saddened by her inability to recognize the imposter as he truly was and understands if she had not been so overcome by her own loneliness she would surely have seen the signs. She, Fireann and Amhain are fine indeed. There is no need to worry about them. We continued with the ceremony they planned and the Mothers came to us, blessing them with the desires of their hearts-the desire to create new life! Both will deliver a child on Domhan when the time is come. The Mothers returned to the Realm to deal with Ar’tine.”
Naofa quickly went on, not leaving an opening for Laoch to ask questions she might find discomfort in answering. “The original thought of Spirit is for As’me to be born in the Garden. In this way the hope is that she grow as Amhain has, in complete love and guidance from both of her parents.”
This was not a lie in its parts; and Naofa would make certain every syllable came to pass just as it had been spoken, never mind the careful placing of its truths. Laoch seemed pleased with the news and managed a smile, “So Eagna and Eolas are to become parents as well. Do we know..” Naofa cut him off quickly, before he had time to form the thought or finish the sentence. She refused to hear it so that in this way she would not have to lie. She stood, brushing her tunic and rattling on about Eolas and Eagna’s plans.
“They are very excited about the birth of a child. I feel they will be the most loving parents. What a perfect pair they have become!” He didn’t hear the breath of longing that slipped out with her statement, nor did she acknowledge it within her own heart. “Oh! There is more news, Laoch! The Mothers have blessed Domhan with a perfect gift.” She hurried inside the cave, first scouting for stray bats. They were among her least favorite of Domhan’s blessings. Once inside she retrieved a small sack from her things. Untying the vine that held it secure, she let the cloth drop away and brought it back to Laoch. “And I have brought some of it to share with you.” As she gently lifted the bright, luscious fruit for Laoch to see, the evening sun glinted off its skin. Seeing the sweet flesh of which she had partaken so recently, the Sorceress remembered its blessing as well the heavy burden of truth it bore.
“When we have done with our meal, you will have some. It is very sweet and carries the vision of Eternity within its flesh. There is much to understand,-or rather to remember of our understanding, you see. The gift of creation no longer lies solely in the hands of those in the Realm. They have granted us the power to create life within our own world. And..,” she pointed to the smoky trails wafting upward in the distance, “they have created new tribes to help increase our numbers here on Domhan. It is their gift to us. Since Amhain’s birth, many souls have been prepared for their life in the physical.”
Laoch exclaimed, “They have found a way to repair the empty space! No more darkness..” Naofa touched his hand.
“No, dear friend, that is impossible. There will always be the place of separation within every soul; but with careful preparation, communion with Spirit, and moving in unconditional love for all things, the space can be healed so that it remains but a memory. It is up to each of us to know our hearts and souls, to be able to see the moments when what we want is coming from that place of perceived emptiness.” Naofa squeezed his fingers. “So, you see my friend, even if there be darkness within you, so it is also within everyone. You must embrace the darkness and illuminate it with the light of love instead of trying to destroy it or to outrun it. To fear the Darkness is to give it Power; and that is the very thing which it feeds upon. This is Ar’tine’s agony. He is seduced by the power he sees within his darkness and runs from that which comes from the Light.”
For the second time, Laoch felt empathy for the Father/Creator he longed to forget. The Sorceress’s words comforted his fears; but yet his mind wondered. ‘How can I be certain for the safety of my friends with me? If Ar’tine can control me in my dreams, who is to say He cannot have this power over me in my waking world?’
Naofa knew his thoughts, his fears revealed to her; for they were strong, as was his connection to the Realm-and so to the Sorceress. She was certain that the combined efforts of God and Goddess must have imbued him with unusual power from the moment of his creation, powers that even he was not yet aware of-and certainly not prepared for. Naofa knew that for now she must be content to ease his fears. Perhaps in the coming cycles she could help him to harness this gift, using it for the good of the all.
She went inside the cave again to where her bundles lay, looking for a particular leather pouch. After fumbling with her belongings for a few moments she found the very thing she sought. The Sorceress held it in her hand, admiring the soft, brown rabbit’s fur. As she rolled it over, she felt its contents shift within. Every time she touched this pouch, she felt the spirit of rabbit, appreciated its life force and thanked it for the gifts of life it shared with her. Smiling to herself, she turned from cave and returned to Laoch excitedly. She knew this would not be the moment to to reveal its gifts as the sound of voices drifted upward on the air. They peered over the ledge and shielded their eyes against the sinking sun. A pair of figures now appeared to glide across the grasslands; and one wore a long, flowing tunic. Naofa recognized Eagna at once, her long hair flowing in the same direction as her garment. The golden strands glistened in the sun like light itself. The couple was waving and calling out, although at the still significant distance between, neither of the two perched atop the ledge were able to make sense of the words. Laoch looked at Naofa and shrugged, questioningly. She smiled, shook her head, and turned back to wave to their friends. Laoch considered them all true gifts in his world.
With a sudden sense of urgency, Naofa turned to the Warrior. “Before Eolas and Eagna arrive, I want to tell you something, Laoch.” She had to try to ease his fears before the others arrived. “Even though there is no way to change the way of creation, there is always a reason for the way of Spirit. Perhaps your vision was a warning from the Light in your soul, a vision of things which may come to pass.” Fear anew rose within him and showed in his dark eyes; but the Sorceress took his hand and held it tightly.
“Look at me, my friend. I was born into the way of the natural world, as you were. I am keen with herbs, have learned Domhan’s gifts within its rock and stone. I was born connected with the Essence of Domhan for the good of all life here on its face. This makes me certain that we can-together-find a way to protect your mind, to guard your conscious thought from Darkness, and perhaps still allow you to use the special gifts you were born with.”
This was overwhelming for the Warrior. Gifts? His awful dreams? At this moment they felt like a curse to his soul. How could he, a male of the land, be of any use to anyone in the way of Spirit? His work was to make tools, to hunt, to share his knowledge of the animals and the things of the ground below. He could protect with his hands and his mind; but matters of the soul were left to ones such as Naofa. Could it be so, that he had a gift of power that could be used to help his friends that he had not known about? He smiled at Naofa. She returned his smile; but her eyes fell to his chest, and for the first time she took in the enormity of the markings there.
Circling his nipples were wide, red ovals. Between these ovals ran lines that flowed downward and met, continuing in a single straight line downward, thickening towards his abdomen and ending at his navel. There, a pair of curved lines went up and out, in opposite directions from it, like half circles. From within these half circles flowed more lines, like snake patterns in sand, flowing out beyond the circles’ edges. Mixed colors of black and red made a curious pattern. Naofa backed up a few steps and focused on the image again. A small gasp escaped her throat and she clapped a hand to her mouth. This was the creature from her own vision! A crude likeness to be sure, but most certainly the beast that descended from the dark skies of her nightmare to destroy the Garden and plunge Domhan into ruin. The Sorceress regained her composure, took her hand from her mouth, and asked in an awed whisper.
“May I?,” she asked her friend as she reached toward his chest. The Warrior nodded. Slowly and deliberately she traced the markings on his dark skin. Her fingers moved from the base of the semicircles and made their way up the center line to the eyes of the image. His smooth skin produced small bumps as her fingers moved over it. Naofa’s mind was busily attempting to connect the pieces into a clearer picture as she reached the red ovals. Laoch’s nipples were rigid, increasing the effect of eyes upon his chest. As she examined them more closely, Naofa realized one “eye” was different. Why did she not see it before?. The eyes had one small, but significant difference. Within the one nearest his heart, there was a small, black dot. Wait. No, not a dot at all . This looked more like a raindrop…Naofa cocked her head to one side, wondering…yes! A teardrop, she thought. But what did the image mean? She had to know more.
“Laoch, these markings were not here when last we met. What was the inspiration for it? Is there a hunting story behind your work?” The Sorceress searched his face for a clue to his feelings. The Warrior looked down at his chest as though he were just remembering the image even being there. He placed a broad hand over the center line and ran his finger along it upwards to the eye, the one with the teardrop. “Oh, no,” he stated simply as he looked up at Naofa, wrinkling his brow. “This was another dream. I hope to never see this beast in our waking world.”
“Then why did you place its face upon your chest?” inquired the Sorceress, wanting desperately to know the details of his dream yet trying to remain patient.
Laoch spoke deliberately; and with great resolve, declared. “I placed the beast’s face upon my chest so that I would never forget it.”
Somehow afraid to ask but more afraid not to, Naofa let the question escape her lips, “But if it was a bad dream, why would you want to remember it?”
Laoch moved quickly for his spear, its sharpened stone glistened in the fading sunlight. “Because when I meet it again, I mean to destroy it! I must not forget its face. The beast must be killed, for it means to destroy our world! I will stop it, whether in my dream or with my flesh and blood here in this waking life..” He raised the spear and shook it towards the sky. The misty sunlight danced across the thing on his chest, causing the tear to glisten.
“But why the tear, Laoch, on such a fearsome beast? That is a tear, is it not?” He lowered his spear and lay it against the rock. Suddenly weary, Laoch sat down and answered the Sorceress in earnest.
“I do not know, Naofa. Even as the beast flooded the world we know in awful fires of destruction, I saw something in its eyes…in this one..” he touched his chest where the teardrop hung. “I saw within this terrible eye a great tear. It filled the eye and spilled over as it looked at me, the anger gone, the tear rolling down its dark and scaled face. It looked at me and I felt its pain.” Laoch had felt its pain then and was feeling it even now. He looked up at Naofa, his voice trembling. Was it anger or sorrow? She could not be certain. “The loathsome beast asked me to kill it. It begged me to do so! Something was desperate within it at that moment. I promised it that I would.” The painful look in the Warrior’s eyes turned to that of questioning. “What does this mean, Sorceress?”
Certainly Naofa had no more answer for her friend than she had for her own nightmares and visions. But she knew these things must somehow be connected. Their world of dreams was somehow settling itself into the realm of possibility for their physical world; and they must find a way to understand it before it was too late.
to be continued…..
Thank you for reading, if you are one who has. I welcome any feedback, questions, ideas or thoughts. Talk to me! Until next time, Love and Light in your world.