Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
by Cheryl Pennington
As the Sorceress and Eagna pack for their journey, a small band of travelers from the land of Cliff Dwellers fast approaches the land of the Jinetes, ready to fulfill the Prophecy and propel their world into its forward motion…..
Rustling leaves and branches came more loudly, but it then the sound began moving away from them quickly, and soon the air fell still and silent .
The Cave Dwellers began moving again; but with a look and a nod of understanding between them, Carraig and Rith kept their hands close to their knives and walked on, with Rith in the lead and Carraig falling behind the females.
“Something tells me we won’t be surprising this tribe with our arrival,” muttered Rith. Carraig nodded, for once completely forgetting his hunger. Neither was sure why or if they should be fearful; but they felt the instinct for survival even stronger since their awakening.
The Riders returned quickly to the village, eager to alert its inhabitants. Laoch and Eolas had just returned from the river when the scouts arrived, their horses agitated and breathing hard. They hurried to join the others closing in around the excited scouts. Not yet dismounting their animals, they were describing the travelers they saw approaching through the forest. The Riders waved their arms, words spilling from their mouths like the rushing river. Questions flew at them from the others too fast to process or answer. Laoch pushed through to the front of the crowd that parted for their new leader. He took the leads from the foremost Rider’s horse and stroked its frothy mouth. The Warrior looked at the Rider.
“Tell me, Acosador, what did they look like? Are they males or females, and do they carry weapons? How close are they now?” He shot these questions at the Rider in rapid succession, too quickly for a response. From over their heads rose the voice of Guia, commanding and insistent, pointing at the Rider as he entered the group. “How many?” Acosador held up a fist. Up popped the first finger, then the next, then another, and then another, while they waited for the final tally.
“Were they great or small?” came the voice of Eolas. The Riders were confused, but seeing the Hunter was completely serious, they answered his question. The Rider known as Fuego gestured, leaning down from his animal to convey a measure well below that of those standing near him. Mumbling broke out among the males. Eolas looked at Guia and they smiled, feeling a surge of excitement making its way up from their insides. “The Prophecy,” they declared in unison.
Eolas turned to a mildly confused Laoch, “These humans are from the land of the Caves. They bring long awaited gifts of knowledge and prosperity from their land to that of the Jinetes. This will mean progress and growth for Domhan.” He looked at Guia. “And increased safety.”
“Should we return to them in welcome and lead them into the village?” Acosador was already turning his horse around to return to the forest.
“No!,” shot Laoch. “Let them come in their own manner. They already seem to know the way and will feel less threatened if they approach us.”
If none other on their world understood male pride, the Warrior was very aware of its mighty force. He knew how he would feel, and wanted to be as fair to them as he would expect for himself. He walked away, but looked back briefly and asked, as an afterthought, “Were there no animals in their company? Nothing on four legs? No great cat?”
The riders looked confused but shook their heads. “No, only they are male and female together. They seem as companions, like we are now.” Eolas wondered about his friend’s question, curious about the direction his thoughts had taken him, realizing there was surely a fork on that shadowy path. For the moment Loach seemed satisfied with the answer that came and so, too, was Eolas.
Guia directed they all return to their work as the Riders ventured off for their hunt, and the happy clan from the land of Caves edged their way ever closer to the village of the Jinetes….