Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
by Cheryl Pennington
copyright art, photos and written work
The band of friends part ways as the females head home and the Hunter and Warrior begin their journey to visit the new tribes of their world, somewhere in the land of the strange smoking spirals that float steadily skyward. What did it mean? Would they be friendly? So many questions and yet the most pressing thing on the tortured Warrior’s mind remains the same. What lies within his soul and who has ultimate control? Join them all on their separate paths which cannot but lead to the answers they seek. And yet, what obstacles loom on the horizon, where their golden days find end?
With the extra tools and supplies that Laoch worked so hard to prepare stashed atop a wooden sled, the males finally headed out. They were glad for the time to do those things which rallied their masculine spirit, hunting and fishing on the way so that there would be food to share with these new friends. Neither anticipated anything but a warm reception from the land of fire and smoke; and both felt it a proper gesture to share a meal in kinship.
Giving a final tender hug to Eagna, Eolas squeezed Naofa’s hand and smiled gratefully, ready to head towards the unknown. Laoch gently took Eagna’s hand as he said goodbye and kissed her lightly on one cheek. He turned to Naofa to bid her farewell, his heart suddenly skipping a beat; yet before he could feel awkward about how to say goodbye, she held out her hand to him. Dangling from her slender fingers was a small cloth bundle, bound by twine at the top. He opened his palm and she dropped the gift within it. The small bag was soft and curiously heavy. Laoch pinched the knotted twine, untying it easily as he cradled the gift in his palm. When the corners of the cloth fell away, he saw what remained of the stones the Sorceress used in their ceremony. His heart leapt at the sight, remembering their glow as the intense power of the gems awakened his subconscious mind to conquer the shadows of his dreams. Why was she giving him such a treasure? He looked to the Sorceress questioningly; but the moment he saw the way she smiled, the sun glinting in her gray eyes, his puzzlement melded into gratitude. He knew she would have nothing but his acceptance of this gift. He nodded silently, looking back at the wonder he held in his hand.
Naofa helped him to secure the twine once again and tuck the bundle inside his tunic pocket, safely beside his knife. “Stone weapons for the flesh and blood needed to sustain life,” she said as her fingers touched the sharp edge of it. Then she tapped the bundle and added, “Energy from the Earth for dealing with those things of the Spirit to sustain the soul.” When she withdrew her hand it was as though she pulled a hot coal across his heart.
In an impulsive instant, Laoch put his huge, dark arms around her slender shoulders, but withdrew them just as quickly, recalling how her touch stirred him lately. He smiled into her eyes and turned to join his friend, already a few steps ahead.
Noafa and Eagna watched until they faded into the distance, their hearts filled with admiration. As Eolas turned to look back for a last wave, he saw the tiny, distant body of Naofa and watched as it morphed into the muscular form of the White Tiger. He kept his eyes upon Eagna as she reached down to grip the beast’s fur in both hands and was comforted by its presence. So was his beloved…
With Ar’tine in the far reaches of the Realm, the Feminine Essence of Inion and the Gentle Masculinity of Mac were focused on the events that would soon occur on Domhan. It saddened Mor that their ability to be in constant communion with their creations was compromised by the increasing density of physical existence between them. Great Spirit was constantly within every particle of living energy and mourned this loss for Its Children. When the Twin Souls focused their combined energy they could more easily pass through the veil and be near the inhabitants of Domhan; and this was their mission now. Forever intent on uplifting Inion’s Creation, they sent signs to remind the humans of the presence of Eternity in all things. The original band of brothers and sisters on Domhan were strong in Spirit, but Inion and Mac wondered about the new tribes which had been created since those early days of innocence in the Garden. The new souls were prepared even as those of Amhain and As’me; but there were so many of them together in one place on Domhan, all blending their energies, their consciousness and their awakening perceptions.
Within each tribe an elder had been appointed to guide the others, one who would live outside of the daily routine, remaining in constant meditation and communion with the Realm in the hopes of keeping the portal open for all. They were told of the Garden Family, and the friends of the Keepers of Domhan; and they eagerly anticipated the moment when they would be visited by those Light Beings, the name they had given to the advisers and protectors of Foirfeachta’s treasures.
Yet unknown to Eolas and Laoch, the spirals of smoky mists rising from these lands were the effect of constant fires that were kept burning for the sole purpose of guiding the Light Beings on their journey-and into their midst. These smoking fires also were a part of the new knowledge which the Dark One had imparted to them-knowledge of progress and of possibility.
The journey soon proved farther than either Eolas or Laoch anticipated and they decided to make camp for the night. It felt good to be traveling together again. Eolas was so taken with his life as companion to Eagna that he scarcely ventured far from their home; and although his love for her ran deep, this journey with a friend was good for his soul. Only now did he realize how he missed lying beneath the open sky, breathing the damp night air and seeing the hand of Mor in all about him while sharing stories with Laoch. How could there be any doubt about the nature of this true Warrior; for the Hunter had seen no darkness within his nature. As he counted stars in the silence, Eolas’ thoughts found their way to the females. Had they made it safely into his homeland yet? It made more sense for the females to go there since it was much closer than the ocean cliffs where Naofa lived. Curiously, no soul among them had ever been invited to the home of the Sorceress in all the time they had known her, but neither had any of them ventured that far on their own. It made sense traveling to their lands first, so the females could visit while Eagna would be seen home safely. Eolas closed his eyes and thanked Spirit for his world, fully aware of the energy on Domhan that pulsed beneath his body, and understood in that moment all that was his purpose in life. Why was it so difficult to carry this understanding into every breathing moment of his walk? He wondered. The question would remain unanswered; for Laoch had questions of his own.
“My friend, do you think the Sorceress’s magic and these stones will be enough to keep the darkness from invading my soul?” He sounded sincere and thoughtful lying there under the dark cloak of night; and the innocence of his queries reminded Eolas of Amhain when the young male wanted answers. As much as the Hunter wanted to ease the pain of his companion, he did not know the absolute answer to many of the questions that had been coming up recently. Still, he sought to answer Laoch as honestly as any true friend would.
Turning over onto his side and raising up on one elbow, the Hunter looked at the massive male lying on his back on the other side of their crackling fire. There he was, staring into the face of darkness, clutching the soft bundle of the Sorceress’s stones which he had tied around his neck-clutching it as though it were all that kept him tethered to life. Although it was dark, Eolas could see the whites of his friend’s eyes as he stared into the starlit sky, seeking assurance and praying for protection. Before Eolas could respond to his question, Laoch spoke again. “I do not fear for myself, you know. My soul belongs to Great Spirit and what comes from Spirit can never belong to anything else unless it is given away.” He paused. He rolled over and propped himself up to look at the fire. He kicked the dust into it with one foot which sent crackling red fireflies up into the black. He let go a deep sigh.
“My fear is that in a weak place something that is stronger than me-this Creator who moves in the shadows-will use me to do harm for Its own purpose. Then he will toss me away as the monkey tosses the skin of its fruit once it has had its fill.” He shifted uneasily on his blanket, fondling the bag in a nervous way.
Laoch was visibly relieved and lay back upon the blanket, staring at the moon as he absorbed all that Eolas spoke of. “Do you love your darkness, Eolas?” he asked his friend after awhile. The Hunter took moments to consider the question before he spoke.
“I have not yet come face to face with it, my friend. So, in many ways you are more advanced on the Path than the rest of. We are helping you so that when we meet this challenge ourselves we will be able to create a mighty force for the Light in the World. And perhaps,” he continued cautiously and deliberately, “perhaps you could find a way to bring the Light out in Him even as he tries to ignite the darkness within you…”
A faint smile curled at the corners of Laoch’s mouth as he became comforted by this thought. ‘I am a mighty hunter, stalker; and I would fight anything that threatened the safety of our world,’ he reasoned to himself. This new idea of using something other than his stone axe and bow with arrows for the task was indeed intriguing. The Dark One thought he was making Laoch powerful so that he could use him, but he would not be expecting that power to be turned back upon his own face. With thoughts of wrestling winged beasts and lighting fires within the darkness, Laoch fell asleep with a plan forming in his mind. If only he would have thought to share it with Eolas, the new twists in his own Path might have taken a different turn.
“What are you smiling about?” Bandia asked Ar’tine as they worked together on a new creation, one that was far removed from the world Domhan. Looking innocently at his beloved Goddess, he answered, “Oh, nothing to do with you. I just thought I heard something in the distance.”
Exasperated with his secretive nature, the goddess quipped, “Well, what was it then?”
Cocking his head for a moment, as if to listen more closely, he finally dismissed her. “Oh, I must have been mistaken. It was nothing, nothing at all.” But in the darkness of his soul he knew it was certainly something. Ar’tine most assuredly heard a click-the unlocking of a door-one that he had been waiting patiently to open.