Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
copyright Cheryl KP
Will Naofa reach Jinetes in time to stop the union of Laoch and Ella? What is the real threat to the Warrior and their world if she is too late? Does she even know the truth of her mission? Others know, those that watch and try to to help. The veil between the worlds has grown too heavy for her to hear beyond the passion of her emotion. Will her Mother reach her in time to help? And what of Domhan’s Mother? Her troubled soul seeks a way to help her friends and be a part of the unfolding changes on her beloved world……
The moment Bandia told her Mother of the things which had happened on Ar’tine’s dark world, each of them sent love to their human daughter, hoping to reach the Sorceress and ease her fears, fears that were turning to anger. But the veil of human emotion hung heavily over her essence so that, when viewed through their eternal eyes, she appeared to be moving inside a swirling cocoon. Once she became the eagle, the cocoon was cast off along with her human form, making her connection to the Realm possible once more.
“It is of no consequence now. There is no way to apologize for that which acts of its own will and heeds no counsel from you. I cannot comprehend why Mor allows this to continue. What good is Ar’tine’s existence anyway? There is no appreciable Light in his soul and what is there is in certain danger of extinction.”
“She is alone now that Eolas and Laoch are busy in the distant lands. Who knows what they have found where the smoke drifts endlessly skyward-or when they might return home again? My sister is with child herself and may be lonely.” She looked at her companion expectantly, waiting for his response. But she had made her own decision, no matter what he said. This was merely a formality for M’na out of respect for her companion, who remained bent over his work, his hands scraping away wood slivers from the project he was trying to fill with love and tender perfection. Fireann’s dark curls fell in cruel curtains that hid his eyes as well as his expression, making his reaction inappreciable to an impatient M’na.
Just as M’na was feeling annoyed at her beloved’s slow response, he put down his tools, raised his head and rested his hand on the unfinished bed, pushing back his unruly locks with the other.
“Really, Fireann, how long can we keep Amhain hidden away like this, not knowing how beautiful all of Domhan is? He would love a journey; and there is so much to see and do on the way. Once we get to Eagna’s home she can teach him in the way of flowers and herbs. There are so many growing in her meadowland that we don’t have here in this secluded, perfect jungle of ours.” Fireann thought her voice held a hint of sarcasm, not a bit like his precious M’na under normal circumstances. But these were certainly not normal circumstances when compared to their lives before darkness began to spread its tendrils over the land. Her insistent voice ceased his brief moment of reverie.
Although exhaustion threatened to drop her from the sky she never faltered, her strength coming from the vision of Laoch she held clearly in her mind. This rallied her resolve to push against the gusts with relentless determination. The wind whistled around her head, growing louder and morphing into what sounded like whispering voices, too faint to understand. Soon the voices seemed to be as one, loudly shouting words she could not comprehend. Was she was going mad in her frenzy? Someone was calling her name. No! How could there be? Again the voice was coming, louder and more urgent. No, no she cried out in her mind. Not now! Her wild thoughts ran to Ar.tine, fearing he was working to torment her still; but she couldn’t be bothered with any games or visions from the mind of darkness, not when she so needed to get to Espera..she had to stop..had to see..she had to… Naofa’s soul was bombarded with new emotion, not the least being a tangled vine of jealousy that she had not begun to recognize.
“Look into the dark corners of your soul and fill them with light,” came the thought of Mor on the wind. “See all that you are and love even the most pitiable parts.” The Sorceress could not hear the voice of Spirit above that of her own fear crying out from the depths of her despair.
Bandia was losing patience with her Daughter. She could not reach her through thought or Spirit; and the goddess knew she had to get her attention in the only way she would understand. It would be too late if she waited for the emotions to pass and did not want to see Naofa humiliated by causing pain for those she loved. The goddess was determined by all in the name of Light that she would not see the Sorceress succumb to her empty place by the hand of the self-absorbed God that Bandia had grown to Love so blindly and so deeply herself. How he would gloat over her daughter’s feminine weakness and throw it in her face. No, he could not be allowed this victory.
The wind had become so strong against her body that Noafa could scarcely keep her eyes open. Her feathers were beaten and she was rapidly losing strength. She dipped lower, seeking a gentler current to glide on, even for a moment; but all seemed against her progress.
From out of nowhere something struck her in the side. It knocked the wind from her body, she cried out, stunned for a moment but recovered, the blow only slightly slowing her progress. Although confused, she couldn’t afford to look for the culprit and stayed on course, trying to recover her speed. The whistling was around her again. Was it really whistling? No, Naofa was certain now that it was a voice. Was it in the wind or simply inside her head? Of course it was irrelevant; for she had no time for voices, in or out of her head. Still it grew louder and louder until-it screamed. It screeched, at once commanding all of her attention.
Not allowing her daughter to question or argue, the owl broke away, spiraling down to land in a clearing, perching herself on a large flat rock beside a slow moving creek. The eagle followed reluctantly, slamming the ground near the owl and tearing up the green grass with her impatient talons. She wanted to claw at something else, to rip apart the unseen threat that seemed ever out of her reach; but shame over rode her anger in the presence of her Mother for having such emotion. Naofa returned to her natural physical form of the Sorceress out of respect for the goddess, but that was as far as the transformation went. Her tongue would not be stilled or her frustration transformed as she expressed all she thought even as the eagle feathers fell like leaves to the dark ground.
Bandia fluffed her feathers, cocked her head to one side and began speaking to the Sorceress as only a loving mother could. “Oh, is it my turn now? Are your ears open and your heart ready to receive what you seek to know?”
As her Mother’s words piercedher heart, Naofa stopped pacing and let her arms fall limply to her sides. Her shoulders slumped and so did her spirit. Even in such a distraught state her loveliness shone through; and the goddess felt nothing but compassion and empathy for her creation. How well Bandia understood a love that interfered with reason. Regretfully she thought it had perhaps been her own expression of such an interfering love that had catapulted Domhan into this state of uncertainty. Now they all had to deal with it.
It was then that Inion whispered, “No, Bandia. Guilt does no service here. Help your Daughter to rise above her own pain and fear.”
“No, foolish one,” Bandia reassured, “your nakedness is lovely to me.” Naofa slipped the cloth over her head anyway before she slumped to the ground in complete submission, lowering her head face down on her knees, her shoulders rising and falling rhythmically as she tried to calm her nerves.
In their world it never occurred to Naofa to think this an odd event, sitting in the presence of an owl most beloved.. for she felt instant relief at the sight of her Mother. Forgetting her mission, Naofa allowed her heart to stop pounding as she felt the comfort of her Mother’s presence. Bandia was quiet as her daughter worked to recover her dignity and calm. When she spoke again, the goddess’s words fell on ears more ready for the message.
“Do you really imagine that any one of us in Eternity could-or would-ever abandon our beloved children? Do not forget that it was I who intervened when you were pulled into Ar’tine’s web of deception yet again.” Naofa raised her head woefully and sat up straighter at the mention of her grave error.. “Yes, I know of the visions he placed in your dreams. I have been using all of my resources to comfort you, to help you to understand the nature of these visions; but you have been so wound in your human emotion that you created a web of energy that cut you off from all of our efforts. We have tried to counsel all of you that as life on this world increases, your abilities to easily hear those of us within the Realm will be compromised. It wasn’t planned that way…nothing was planned. Your world was a gift, a thought, a thing of beauty that is evolving with every thing that is created by it. We are seeing that this dense energy is going to be the way of physical life. But you must be diligent in coming to us through your power and meditation. You are so faithful in your effort to help those around you, lifting them up, showing them the way of Light. But when it comes to your own darkness, your own self doubts and fears, you seem to forget that this wisdom is also meant for yourself. You must never be deluded into thinking that because you have power, because you are my Daughter, that you are not vulnerable to the same human pitfalls that all others are susceptible to in this life. If nothing else, you are perhaps more vulnerable because you expend so much of your energy in your attempts to heal others, leaving your own essence compromised.” Naofa lowered her head onto her knees again. She felt ashamed and helpless.
“These emotions do not serve you well, my daughter; but I know you must let them pass through your heart before you can release them. And release them you must if you are to continue to be a Light on my world.”
“As to the problem of Laoch and his companion. There is one thing Ar’tine did not lie about. There is no way to know how a path will turn. Although there is the truth of possibility and probability, there is also one certainty that I can leave you with. It is that there is no fear in Perfect Love. And Perfect Love is what we are trying to achieve with every moment of awareness that exists. As surely as the darkness may rise in a child of Laoch and Ella, so might it arise in a child or yours-or Eagna’s, or even in M’na and Fireann’s children. What must be certain is your desire as you act on such ideas. Do you truly desire to prevent a possible dark outcome from their union; or is it more accurate that you feel alone and suddenly realize that perhaps you care more for the Warrior than you want to admit, even to yourself? If your answer is the former, then I urge you to get up, put on your wings and continue your journey to destroy the union, assuring him you are saving him from a dark fate. But if it is the latter, I ask you to reconsider what is the best decision to be made in the name of Unconditional Love. Will being in his arms in union diminish the pain he will feel from abandoning the one he has now chosen? Will this desire of yours be enough to sustain both of you? Laoch is a proud warrior and you, a proud Sorceress. Perhaps that might be too much pride to exist in a single life together.” Bandia was quiet, giving her daughter time to absorb her words.
The Owl’s amber eyes glistened and Naofa whispered, “Thank you Mother. I have missed you. I promise to be more diligent in my meditation. Domhan has become so much more..more…noisy, somehow. I don’t willfully forget to the things you ask; but somehow they seem to fade into the shadows of all that is unfolding. I understand the things you have shared with me. I guess I didn’t really know what I would do once I arrived in the land of Espera, only that I desperately needed to get there and to stop Ar’tine’s dark plan. Why do I allow him to use me so, to play with my mind?” she implored. The Owl ruffled her feathers angrily at the thought of the god’s cruelty.
Naofa could sense her Mother’s deep emotional affection for the God, but she had to ask a question. “But, Mother, does this then mean that we do not do anything but simply allow him to play his games at whatever cost to our own lives? How do we know when enough is too much? What is our purpose if not to survive, to love and support each other, and to fight for Love and Light in the face of Darkness?”
Bandia gazed lovingly at the beautiful soul in the form of her Sorceress. It was difficult to explain that none knew the answers to these questions completely, for the story was being written even as they spoke. She tried to draw upon the words and thought of Mor the best that she could. “Daughter, the first thing to remember is to shield yourself from the whispers of darkness in all of your waking moments. Remember your meditations, to align yourself with Light in all that you do. There is nothing that can affect you that you do not invite or allow to happen. What I mean is that when you walk in fear, doubt and loneliness, you leave the door open for him to fill an empty space. He likes to play at trouble and so will consider it an invitation. Even when you are alone in the physical, you must know that you are never alone in Spirit. This must sustain you always. I cannot promise you will never be touched by pain or the hand of dark works because each of you responds to Darkness and Light in your own way. You have to remember that even though your physical body be harmed or destroyed, nothing can harm your Spirit. Remember As’me? Remember As’me; for she lives as proof of spirit’s healing.
“Mother, how will they believe me if they cannot see you as I do now?”
The Owl flexed her talons and lifted her face to the bright sky. “Do you not believe in Mor’s presence even though you have not seen Its Essence fully?” She did not wait for the answer that formed on the Sorceress’ lips. “Of course you do. You know that all that exists here is the manifestation of Its Love and Thought. Nothing would be possible without the existence of Great Spirit. It is understood. And now you have come to know Its expressed presence in the form of the Scavenger bird that takes its sustenance from the remains of all that it once created, returning it to Spirit after death. You know me in my true Essence, so you must share this knowledge with all you serve in order to increase their awareness, to prepare them for the great physical separation between us that now appears imminent. It saddens us all in the Realm to know that although we are always ready to comfort, aid and love our Creations, this veil grows heavier with each cycle of physical creation. I tell you now, Daughter, that we will never abandon you. If you feel alone, it is simply because you are not accepting the Love that is freely given. As difficult as it will be at times, you must remember these truths.”
Naofa felt ecstasy to be in her Mother’s presence, humble and safe, but most of all very loved. She had a sense of perfection when they were together that seemed so elusive when she tried to carry on alone.
‘But what is ‘alone’,’ she thought, ‘except my own failure to accept the gift of Unconditional Love that exists whether I accept it or not?’ It all seemed so clear in that moment, under that bright azure sky, in the shadow of such personal Love. Naofa looked at her Goddess Mother through misty tears, a wisp of a smile touching her lips. She brushed the tangle of hair from her face and let out a long sigh, releasing the burdens she had been carrying along with it. She could not speak but nodded her understanding and, as a child, extended her arm toward the figure of the bird before her. It ruffled its feathers and lifted a sharp talon in her direction, but the sharp edges of its form grew fuzzy. Naofa blinked, trying to clear her focus. Too many tears, she thought. But the fuzziness turned to wavy lines of white against a blue background as the form of the Owl seemed to fade into thin air.
‘Oh no! Not yet’, she cried out in her soul. Her hand remained suspended in the empty space between herself and a fading image the Owl. Her heart was breaking in despair, feeling new loneliness as the owl disappeared, but there remained a blur where she had been standing. Naofa could see the meadow and grasses through this blur but nothing was clear, like the visions she saw in the lake. Then the blur seemed to melt in mid air, part of it flowing towards her hand. Naofa leaned forward and stretched her slender fingers furtively, barely touching the edge of the watery vision. A jolt of energy slipped through her fingers and into her body; and she trembled involuntarily as waves of ecstasy poured over her. She couldn’t speak, could scarcely think, except that if she were bound to leave life she wanted it to be in that moment, feeling that way.
“My energy grows faint, Daughter, and I will soon be unseen by you; but I want to leave you with something to cling to, to remember when the world seems dark and you fear you are alone. You may continue your journey to Espera, but no longer do you have a sad mission of dissolution. This time you will arrive to bring Blessing and Wisdom, for I feel there will soon be a great need for both.”
Bandia was silent but her perfect head nodded slowly. For an instant Naofa forgot all that she had just experienced and felt betrayed. “But why didn’t you tell me this before? I could have been in the land of the Jinetes long before now and….” The form before her flashed brightly and it caused Naofa to fall back, only narrowly maintaining her balance before hitting the ground. The Sorceress’ self indulgence must be overcome, and when Bandia next spoke it was with great Love and certain finality.
“For that very reason, my beautiful but headstrong Daughter. You would have gone straight to Espera and interfered with events which you do not fully understand, for reasons that are not based in fact but in the whims and fancies of a Dark child who has found you to be a desirable plaything. Perhaps….even now you are not ready for this kind of understanding of your power.”
Naofa was instantly regretful of her outburst. Of course she understood, of course her Mother was right, of course she was foolish and selfish and jealous and….
Once more the hand of Mother Bandia reached out to her daughter. It would be the last time Naofa experienced her in this way. Bandia touched the top of her Daughter’s head, now turned towards the ground in shame and gifted her with the power of her Essence for a final moment of pure energy. Naofa did not think or question it in that moment. She did not wonder or revel or try to understand it. She opened herself completely to its Truth and drank in the sweetness of Eternity, wave upon wave of the Unconditional Love of Spirit.
The Sorceress never had a chance to say goodbye to the goddess after that moment; for much later she awoke from a deep sleep as she lay in the cool damp grasses with the late sun kissing the edge of the mountain. Bandia, not wanting her daughter to experience the pain of separation, had left her overcome with sleep as she left.
In truth, she had never left at all and watched her as she slept, sending Love to all of her Creations; but it would be the last time Naofa saw her Mother with such clarity. When she awoke, Bandia watched as her daughter wiped her tear-streaked face and secured her bundle. She marveled at the graceful way Naofa moved, no matter what circumstance she found herself in. The Goddess walked alongside her as she made her way across the meadow to a protected stand of trees where she spent the night, and marveled at her daughter’s ability to care for herself wisely.
Bandia sensed a new peace about Naofa, a resolve that made the Goddess very proud to be her Mother. She knew she would have to return to the realm, but in those moments she wanted to watch over her child.
Eternity reverberated with the gift of Love that night.