Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
Cheryl Pennington copyright 2014
Eolas and Eagna arrive to the Cliffs, completing the circle of Light. Will the Keepers of Domhan find a way to understand the Warrior’s disturbing dreams and ease his suffering? Is there truly darkness within him which threatens their friendship and the future of Domhan? The Sorceress is determined to find out; and with the help of the others, her task will be much easier. First, they need to hear his tale to understand what they face…..
Knowledge and Wisdom/The Circle Complete
“Hello there!” Eolas’ commanding voice drifted up the side of the cliff, startling Naofa and Laoch from within the shadow of the Warrior’s dreams. The sound of his voice, so clear and strong, reminded them of the easy way of speech the Hunter had, that way which made every thing seem less burdensome-and all things possible. It rallied their spirit.
“This is perfect,” thought the Sorceress, for she now had the support needed to carry out the plan that was forming in her brain, a plan that would require their combined efforts as well as the complete trust of Loach if it were to unfold as she envisioned it. She met the couple halfway to lend a hand as Eagna and Eolas, burdened with their own bundles, made the climb. Laoch followed, helping the couple up to the ledge with their belongings.. These things were put inside the cave beside those of the Sorceress; however, she clung tightly to the small fur bag she had been holding. As soon as they were rested, she would reveal her plan. Naofa knew she had to ease the Warrior’s troubled heart. If all went well, this could be done while also placing a ring of protection around Foirfeachta, the heart of their world.
“Eolas, my friend. It is too long since we have hunted together.” Loach had genuinely missed his friend. “Eagna, you look well. Come, sit with Naofa and me. We have been holding counsel on many things. There has been much happening on our world since last we met, has there not?” Eolas and Eagna cast furtive glances at Naofa. She nodded enthusiastically, indicating that she did confide in the Warrior regarding recent events. Laoch seemed not to notice this exchange and continued with enthusiasm. “Have you eaten yet? We have dried meat….and I believe Naofa has some fruit..”.
“We are well fed, Laoch,” said Eagna with a smile. Laoch thought how vibrant she seemed this day-more alive, her face fairly glowing! Grateful to rest, Eagna sat on a low rock, legs outstretched and feet crossed. She tossed back her head and breathed in the cool air that came from within the darkness of the cave. Eolas was always fascinated by her graceful movement. How the sunlight danced over her skin, her hair….Laoch startled him with his hand thrust at the Hunter, ready for their ritual firm shake. Noafa offered them water which they gladly accepted, then sat beside Eagna and leaned towards her, asking if they made the remainder of the journey without trouble. “I am sorry for forging ahead; but I needed some time alone with him….to tell him about the dark events in Foirfeachta.” Eagna’s brow knitted but the Sorceress quickly added, “And most importantly to tell him of your good news.” The smaller female smiled. How Naofa tried to please everyone, she thought.
“Oh, I feel so full of energy and..life.” Eagna smiled, stroking her stomach. “I know there is new life forming within me now and this gift is such an hon..” she began; but Naofa quickly pressed a finger to her lips. Eagna nodded in understanding. So..she hadn’t told Laoch everything yet. Eagna said nothing more about the ceremony, their gift, or the identity of the child to come. Naofa relaxed and smiled, reaching her own slender fingers to touch Eagna’s stomach. It still awed the Sorceress to ponder what miracles lay within their own bodies.
“I know this child will be a gift to Domhan, just as you and Eolas shall be gifts to the miracle.” Naofa turned her attention to the males. “Laoch and I have just been talking about the new life on Domhan.” She needn’t have worried that the Warrior overheard Eagna’s near slip, for the two males were already deep into their wild storytelling; and although she hated to interrupt their reunion, things needed to be done-and without further delay.
“I was just saying to Eagna that you and I talked about the recent events in The Garden and of the new life that is arriving on Domhan. Our world will be made richer with life born into the physical through Eagna and M’na.” She stood and walked to where the males were perched, on the edge of the outcropping and pointed toward the spiraling wisps of smoke, still billowing skyward against the horizon. “We have also spoken of the new tribes Mother Bandia said were coming.” Laoch nodded, his eyes intent upon the place the Sorceress indicated. All heads were now turned toward the mysterious curling question in the distance.
The Warrior spirit for adventure was always ready; and Loach’s first thought was to journey. “Do you think we should go to the home of this new tribe? It could be that they will need knowledge of hunting or making tools, maybe they wonder about others on their world. At least they will know they are not alone here.” His dark eyes sought affirmation within those of the Hunter.
Eolas was deep in thought, mildly concerned by the sight of so much smoke. As he watched its continuous rise to the sky, he was doubtful that it was used solely for cooking or smoking meats. He said nothing of his concerns to Laoch. Instead, he patted his friend on the back and heartily agreed. “Yes, tomorrow we should head out in the direction of those hills. We have never traveled that far and it will be an adventure. Of course we will need to gather supplies..”
“Ah! Look!” interrupted Laoch. Before Eolas could finish, Laoch sprinted to the far side of the ledge. There stood a tall mound covered in animal skin. He pulled off the skin to reveal a more than ample supply of tools, spear tips and hand axes, all newly made and appearing never to have been used. Eolas walked over for closer inspection, fully impressed by the workmanship in the tools; and yet he was very curious. What had prompted this desire to make these implements-and so many?
Naofa saw the knitting of Eolas’ brow and added, “There has been some excitement in Laoch’s world as well, Eolas. Mystery seems to have found a home on Dohman and left its mark. Let’s sit awhile and see if we can understand its message. It would seem we are all a significant part of the events which are changing our world, whether or not we care to be.” She reached out and grasped Laoch’s hand, gesturing for them all to sit.
“Loach will now tell you the same tale her told me earlier.” She nodded in the Warrior’s direction. He looked a bit shy, not like his normal boastful self; and she knew this fear of exposure came from the dark place, the place where judgment ruled. “Go on, we are all friends here,” she encouraged.
Laoch took a deep breath and began, once again, to tell the story of his dreams and the invasion of his body by the dark form he could only imagine to be that of his Father/Creator. His voice grew stronger as he shared his reactions to the invader and confessed his fears among friends. Eagna and Eolas sat in silence, absorbing the details of their friend’s dream, trying to suppress the fear that everyone had known since the time of Laoch’s creation.
When the tale was told, the Warrior looked down at his chest, studying the form there, and touched the tear. Eolas was curious about the new marks on his friend’s chest but hesitated to ask. In the uncomfortable silence that followed the story, Laoch looked to Naofa with a question in his eyes. “Should I tell them about the other dream?” She shook her head-no-and reached out to touch his hand, drawing it away from the tattoo. “That will be for another time,” her eyes whispered. She smiled and looked up, wondering if the others had noticed this exchange; but her fears were relieved when she saw their heads together, murmuring about the Warrior’s dream. Neither seemed to have noticed Laoch’s movement nor had they appeared curious about the expression on his chest.
Some things had to wait; and she had not yet shared details of her own nightmare with anyone. How could she begin to unravel the tangled messages and make sense of these connections? All she could do was to take things one step at a time; but it was becoming ever more difficult with so much mystery arriving at once. It seemed as though things were speeding up somehow. What had happened to their languid eternal cycles?Deepening shadows across the ledge alerted the Sorceress that the sun would soon drop behind the hills. They needed to help their Warrior friend before another night settled on his soul. Motioning for them to draw closer, Naofa withdrew her pouch and emptied its contents onto the stone floor at the center of their circle. A stone rainbow tumbled onto the soft dirt, the culmination of the Sorceress’s most precious natural gifts.
The largest of these treasures was immediately recognizable. Its deep purple hue and mufti-faceted face glistened in the waning sunlight. Protrusions like tiny spears all across the surface identified it as the call to meditation, and Naofa always had it at the center of their ceremonial circles. Every piece was equally mesmerizing, each uniquely perfect. She would explain the purpose of the stones in the process she wanted to complete, laying them out a circle before them. She picked up an oval stone, tinged the color of honey, and lifted it into the fading light. Its smooth surface seemed to radiate a warmth as she held it up. Turning to Eagna first, she held the stone out and placed it within her hand.
“Our bodies came from the heart of this earth. We survive because of its love. All mysteries, all power and knowledge live within its body. As you hold each gift of Domhan within your hands, feel its power mingle with your own, creating a movement of union so that we are one with our first body.” The Sorceress needed each of them to touch, feel and extend their energy to the stone. As it was passed from hand to hand, they followed her lead, until at last Laoch cupped it tenderly, like a delicate bird’s egg in his rugged hands, feeling its energy.”Each of these stones,” she explained, “holds a portion Domhan’s energy within it, a gift it has possessed since the time of Original Creation. I was born to understand the power that our natural world holds and to keep it in balance. As everything in our existence has an energy, so can its energy be used to heal, to shield, to comfort, to call forth Spirit, and…” she hesitated, “we now know some energy may be used for dark purposes when in the hands of one who heeds the call of emptiness. Until now, no living being has had such an agenda or desired such a power.” She glanced at Laoch for any reaction; but his face was serene, his eyes intent upon the stone that glistened in the light of dusk. He did not notice her silent implication, and for this she was thankful.
“Tonight we form a circle of Love for our friend Laoch. Within our circle we call forth the power of such love to heal his troubled Spirit and cast a larger circle of protection for him. His mind and body are brave and strong, and so should his spirit be. With this protection he will walk in peace through his days and lie safely when he rests.”
As Naofa tilted the stone in the rays of last light they could see that it was nearly transparent. “This stone, much like the sweet nectar from the bees, holds the same power that our stinging friends have as they transform nature’s dust into life sustaining food. There is transformation within its energy. When called upon, the sweet nectar stone will serve to purify and strengthen the soul and balance the body. For Laoch we are going to focus its energy to draw out the negative seeds which were planted within his conscious mind while he slept. If you close your eyes and listen, you can hear the bees sing, their call to eternity is one of harmonious meditation.”
Eagna was sure of her friend’s gifts, for she had seen the Sorceress work before, while Eolas wanted only for them to be free from the grip of darkness. Laoch held his breath, hanging on every word, believing in the power of Light within the Sorceress. She replaced the stone on the dirt floor and took up the next one. With no portal for light, this stone was black, dark as the night with no stars and so smooth that the reflection of Naofa’s fingers could be seen in its surface. Once more she passed the stone around their little circle; and as each cradled it in hand, she told of its virtue and power.
“This stone, in spite of its color, will bring protection against dark emotions and angry energy. You can use its power, Laoch, while in your dreams-to become invisible. If you transform your essence to that of the stone, the veil of darkness will see you as a part of itself and forget its purpose. It fears only the Light, that which it desires to control or destroy. It will not recognize you if you become a stalker beside it; but you must protect your will always, for it will try to befriend you if it does not succeed in controlling you. Remember the darkness speaks only lies; and because it comes from within, it knows all of your secret fears and desires. Your new mantra must be ‘There is no fear within perfect love
‘, for nothing can harm you in its bosom. Your soul is forever in the presence of Light as long as you desire it.”(Mor was pleased with this Sorceress. It was pleased with Existence in this moment.)
When the stone made the circle and reached Laoch’s hands he rolled it between his fingers and pressed it to his chest, where he felt his heart beating against the cold stone. Closing his eyes, he prayed for the energy within the shiny wonder to find its way to the seat of his soul and rest there. After a few moments, he opened his eyes and handed the stone to Naofa. She placed it back on the ground. The next one was also dark, but not black. Naofa often thought the color was as the ocean depths. Even though it appeared dark, closer inspection revealed red veins running throughout its surface. The blend gave the appearance of blood in flesh. It rested in the palm of her hand as she explained her reason for using it. “This stone has many gifts, some I am only still learning. Its greatest gift for Laoch will be to enhance the natural power that courses through his body.” Addressing the Warrior directly, she went on. “We all know you are physically stronger than any other within this circle; but as you witnessed for yourself, that sense of power can seem removed while you are in dreams. The energy within the sea stone can help you carry a greater power into your sleeping world and remind you of your strength of Spirit which is far greater than any physical strength you can possess.”
Loach looked into Noafa’s gray eyes with new awareness as her words began to sink in. Of course he must have understood this from the moment of his birth; but after living in the physical body for so long he had grown to identify himself merely by his brute physical strength. Now he would have to carry this same strength into his dreaming world. He nodded and took the stone from her hands. Closing his fingers over its smooth surface, he closed his eyes and slowly rubbed it back and forth between them, picturing the red lines of blood within its dark surface seeping out from within the stone and into his flesh. He opened his eyes and placed the stone first on one wrist, then the other, at that point where he felt the pulsing of his own blood most strongly. He smiled and handed the stone to Eagna, who was impressed by his gesture.
She looked at Noafa who smiled and nodded in affirmation. Her heart whispered to her dear friend, “Go ahead. This gift of power will serve us all in the moments to come.” Eagna mimicked Laoch’s movements and prayed for the power for herself and her companion in delivering and protecting the child to come.
(She was careful not to identify its soul. It was so difficult to remember her blessing but forget its true identity. It is only for a short while, she consoled herself).
Eagna opened her eyes and passed the stone to Eolas, who repeated their movements before returning it to Naofa. She gently placed it beside the other stones. She dropped several others from her pouch so that there was a small stone circle on the ground. She would not use them all in this ceremony, but their presence was crucial for the power to be complete.
The last stone she presented was the smallest, its hue a dull white; and it seemed pale compared to the more brilliant stones that were lying on the ground. “This stone,” declared Naofa, “is the greatest one within the circle for Laoch-for all of us. This simple white stone represents all that is Light for us. It offers the power of protection from your night visitors, my friend, and will connect you to your Spiritual home. With the help of those in the realm, you may better understand the purpose and direction of your dreaming world.” She tried to wrap her long fingers around Laoch’s massive upper arm, but they wouldn’t even encircle it. “These strong arms did not serve you well in your dream did they?” she asked.
He emphatically shook his head. “I was as a boar bound over a fire to roast.”
Eagna couldn’t control herself as she giggled, the image of the brave warrior roasting as a meal. They all enjoyed a moment of laughter until solemn reality fell upon them again. Laoch continued in somber tones. “No, these arms, these legs, my powers to hunt and stalk, all seemed to fail me in the presence of the dark one.”
Twirling the white stone through her fingertips absently, Naofa whispered, almost incredulously, “You will come to realize that it is often the tiniest gift that holds the greatest power. This small stone has the energy to transform your nightmares, to cut the invisible cords that bind you before your tormentor, and to carry your pleas to the Eternal Realm.” Clutching the white orb in her hand, she looked the Warrior in the eye seriously, her hand gesturing over the stones that lay on the ground. “This, my friend, forms our circle of protection. Each stone represents all that is within us; but at the center of it all is Light. She raised the stone, so that it caught the orange glint of light which was all that remained of the day. “This is Spirit in form and is what calls us to Being in the first place.” Lowering it once more she reached for Laoch’s hand. Spreading his fingers open, she placed the small, white oval in the center of his palm and carefully closed his fingers over it, pressing her hand over his. Did she mean for him to keep it? He wondered but clung tightly to the orb.
Naofa got to her knees and sat back on her heels, motioning for the others to do the same. She took Eagna’s hand and each clasped the hand of the one who sat beside them, all hands clasped but the one that Loach clutched the small white stone in. Eolas placed an arm on his friend’s shoulder. Naofa began to hum lowly, her voice vibrating in her throat, as her head fell back, her long hair trailing down her back. Each one in turn added their voice to the chant, the haunting sound floating down the canyon and back again, a cascade of hopeful voice. On and on they chanted, heralding in the cover of night.The Sorceress opened her eyes to see the last hint of sunlight fading behind the distant mountains and the first glimmer of stars sprinkled across the curtain of darkness. The others continued their chant, and she realized the stones had begun to glow brightly where they lay upon the dirt altar. Naofa reached for Laoch’s hand, still clinging tightly to his gift, and gently pried it from his fingers, and placed it in the center of the circle. Instantly it began to pulse with light and life. Again she raised her voice to the heavens as they offered up prayer for the safety and guidance of their friend, for the protection of his soul and all that they held dear on their world. Their song, the plan, all seemed to be coming together and joy filled her soul; yet all too soon the peace that washed over her was ended.
A rush of wind whistled around the circle, blowing debris across the ledge, as a deep chill permeated the darkness. All within the circle heard the sound at once-breaking the spell of comfort and alerting them to danger. Although it was distant at first, they froze, their song caught in their throats. Every ear was sharp, listening…it came again! There was no mistaking that it was a growl-menacing, calculated and very close.
Laoch’s eyes flew open for he knew that sound! The Warrior felt his heart dip into his gut. How could he have forgotten?! The fire on the ledge had grown cold, leaving only glowing ember. The growling was getting closer and quickly turned to snarling, a hungry warning that they were all in danger.
Eolas tried to go for his bow; but Naofa reached over to grab his arm and shook her head, a warning that he should stay his place. Confused, The Hunter looked anxiously at his companion, fearing most of all for the safety of Eagna and their child. How could he sit here and allow this to happen? Why didn’t the Warrior rise? Then his eyes dropped to the glowing stones in the center of their circle. The dark one with the red veins was pulsing! Ignoring her wildly beating heart, Naofa shook her head at him again, insistent that he continue his role within the circle. Reluctantly he looked at Eagna who continued to chant, showing such serenity before danger.
Laoch wanted to sprint for his own spear, but another voice within him spoke more loudly than his own call to fight. “There is no Fear within Perfect Love”, the voice reminded him. He was frozen to the spot. Breathless, he waited for the next moment; for now he could hear the beast as it breathed, approaching ever nearer to the place where they knelt, singing in the face of certain death. Were they insane to be sitting calmly when they should be readying themselves for a fight? Again, the voice called him to rest and he felt a stirring in the center of his chest. Looking down, the Warrior now saw the black stone vibrating, edging closer to his knees. Although his heart drummed wildly in his chest, Laoch closed his eyes again and focused his energy on the dark piece of stone that promised to give him power. Over and over the mantra called from his soul until at last the Warrior let go of his Fear. In that moment of letting go, he resolved that if his body must return to Spirit, he would rather go this way-in the company of his friends-than alone with only his handmade weapons to help him.
The night stalker was lumbering near the mouth of his cave. He knew it, for the air was heavy with the stench of its hide and the rot of its breath. Already it had feasted on flesh and yet it hungered. The rock crackled beneath its sharp claws, the grit of earth crying out with every step that brought it nearer to what the beast thought would be a fine meal. As if this was not maddening enough, suddenly the snarling was multiplied, the growling had an echo! With the certain knowledge of his Warrior’s heart Laoch realized there was not just one beast in their midst. It had brought company this night! How could they sit there and not fight?
The Warrior’s soul cried out in agony, “You know what I am, Mor! A simple warrior walking the path. Help me to be the Light that consumes the beast within!” Still his mind urged him to rise, take up his spear and slay the beasts to save his friends.
None dared open their eyes; for surely they would have fainted at the sight of the wolves sauntering across the ledge, teeth bared, hungry saliva dripping from the edges of their curled lips onto to the soft dirt below. Laoch’s sharply honed senses could hear the foamy spit hitting the ground, “flump, flump.” The circle of friends braced themselves for death should it be their moment of end, while their souls called to Eternity’s Light for salvation. The stench of death was overpowering, pouring from the mouth of the whose masculinity was hanging, excited, as it opened its jaws and began to howl. Calling more beasts! Echoes of distant howling returned as the call was heard and answered. The Keepers of Domhan prepared themselves for what might be their moment of return to the Realm.
Yet none of them was prepared for what was unfolding on the fringe of their Spirit circle. Rising above the howling of the hungry wolves, there came a wild shuffling sound; and every moment it grew more thunderous. Each soul would describe it differently in cycles to come; but in the Warrior’s mind it seemed as though all the winds of the land had come together on that ledge. No storm he saw had ever made such a sound before; and it tore at their skin and hair, dust clouding their nostrils. Then came the hoarse, hacking sound, so familiar, and yet they could not place it-so loud it seemed. The ledge was alive with scraping and clawing, the sound made their flesh crawl. What followed was sheer chaos-wolves snarling, howling and yelping as the sound of ripping flesh filled the cave entrance and yet they remained untouched. It seemed impossible to remain still.
Unable to stand it any longer, all of them opened their eyes, turning to the creature responsible for the carnage. Silhouetted against the light of the moon, the embodiment of Mor in the physical-the one who devours death-the great vulture hung on the edge of the outcropping, shaking the enraged male wolf with its beak, while the beast’s female hung, writhing, impaled upon the talons of the bird’s foot. The confused wolves continued to thrash in fury and pain for a moment or two longer as life blood drained from dark, gaping wounds in their flesh, before they fell silent and lifeless. The vengeful bird unceremoniously dropped each one over the edge of the cliff and calmly ruffled its feathers, pecking at the remains tangled in its wings. Turning to the circle, the vulture gazed at them with a gentle golden eye. In a blink, the blinding light struck the scene, bathing the circle in warmth and brilliance. The magnificent bird nodded to the faithful before lifting itself from the ledge and winging its way across the night sky.
None of them could move for a time, so transfixed were they by the vision they had just witnessed and numbed by miracle of their salvation. Slowly, all eyes turned to Naofa. Getting to his feet, Laoch walked over to inspect the spot where the wolves had fallen. He saw no sign of blood, fur, or even a scratch left in the dusty rock. Dropping to his knees he ran his hands frantically over the hard ground, clutching handfuls of dirt and letting it slip between his fingers to the ground. Had he lost his mind? Had they all? Was this part of some new and frightening dream? Getting up, the Warrior looked down at his knees where he had been scrambling over the rocky surface. A trickle of blood ran down one leg. He walked back over to the others with his arms outstretched in a gesture of awe and supplication. He dropped to his knees once more and, allowing the weight of his head fall to his chest, he wept a flood of Warrior’s tears.
The others embraced their friend, looking at each other with many questions in their own eyes. It was only Naofa who understood the power of the magic that had occurred. Breaking free from the group she moved to the fire, to stir the embers and fortify it with wood. A glowing fire would keep the animals away. No need for a repeat performance in the flesh, she thought. None of them could not contain their exuberant relief and enthusiasm.
The sound of her friends’ excited chatter was both comforting and encouraging to the Sorceress’ soul. While this was not the first time she had called upon the powers her Mother had given her, it was the most intense experience she had yet known; for she had become more than the facilitator-she was becoming the Sorceress they all looked to, the magic alive within her soul. Looking into the yellow flames of the fire she heard her Mother’s voice, “With your power comes an overwhelming responsibility. You must only use it in the name of Unconditional Love.” She was only now beginning to understand the depth of this truth. Having now revealed some of her own power, she must be careful to protect it as diligently as she was protecting life on Domhan.
to be continued….
I humbly thank you for reading. Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions or thoughts. Pura Vida.