Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
by Cheryl Pennington
copyright all content 2015
Although rest and rejuvenation is sweet, the Sorceress knows the birth of Mna’s child is imminent-and that means Eagna will also be bringing new life into their world very soon. They must return to Eagna and Eolas’ home. Naofa has chosen to remain with the couple for the arrival of their child instead of returning to the Garden. She reasons that Mna is in good hands with her companion and son……
“It wants to swim with the great ones of the sea,” continued Eagna. “I tell you, surely the child will have a water spirit for having spent the last cycles of its creation here in this place.”
Naofa was thoughtful for a moment. She stopped to place her hand above her eyes and survey the magnificent expanse of Inion’s handiwork. Then she turned to Eagna and very earnestly offered the only gift she felt she had to give to the mother and child. “As long as there is breath in me, Eagna, I will watch over you both. No harm will come to….toyour child….as long as I draw breath.”
Naofa meant these words with all that existed within her, and Eagna was comforted by the depth of the Sorceress’s loyalty. Yet she knew that the existence of free will within their world left many things out of their control and wanted no guilt to haunt her friend.
“That is a beautiful promise, Naofa, and one that Eolas and I appreciate and treasure. Most certainly it would fill me with bliss to see you and my child splashing happily in the surf, passing life’s moments with beauty. Of course you will know this little one better than any shall, I suppose.” Caressing her belly, she smiled down at her pudgy toes as she curled them in and out of the sand near the water’s edge where she sat. Suddenly somber, and with finality, she added, “I hold you to no pacts, Sister. There are powers that move beyond our control and without the Light of Love for guidance. You must never bear the burden of responsibility upon your shoulders alone.”
She looked up at the female looming over her, so much taller than usual it seemed, her silhouette stark against the hazy morning light. The wind lifted her hair away from her square shoulders and Eagna realized how stunning a figure she was. She hoped soon Naofa would find a companion to share her life with. Perhaps then she wouldn’t feel so overburdened with her role on Domhan. Seeing the creases furrowing her friend’s brow, Eagna quickly changed the subject.
“I dare say the child would prefer to loll about with you here near the ocean than learn about herbs and roots and help its mother with the work of living!” Eagna’s laughter echoed off the face of the rocky cliffs like a song. The creases faded as they both laughed and continued with the business of enjoying the morning light.
Later, as they sat over their morning stew, Naofa became sullen. Eagna thought it best to let her have her contemplation. After a few moments, the Sorceress put down her food and touched Eagna’s hand. “We must get you home. Mna has called to me from the Garden and will deliver their child soon. That means it also will be soon for you. Even now Eolas makes his way from Jinetes to be with you. We must not let him find an empty home now. Are you okay to make the journey?”
Eagna nodded. For a second she felt deep regret at having to leave this place of sunshine and salt breezes, but the feeling was soon replaced by sheer excitement for the coming events. Her child would be born and she would once again be in the arms of her beloved Eolas. How could she feel anything but ecstasy over these things? Quietly she rose from the table and cleared the remains of their meal. She hastily bundled all that she had brought with her. “Will you be going to Foirfeachta now?” she asked the Sorceress tentatively, somewhat saddened by the prospect of once again being without female companionship but not wanting to seem possessive of her.
Naofa pressed her fingers to her lips, stared into the fireplace and seemed deep in thought. When she finally spoke, her answer surprised Eagna. “No. Mna can handle this birth alone. She has both Fireann and Amhain with her. She will know what to do. I feel I must remain to see you through this, your first birthing.” She gazed out across the rocky terrain and into the distant waves. Behind her the lake surface glistened under the sun as it climbed into the sky. Had she seen something there that she wasn’t revealing to Eagna? Although Eagna wanted to ask she was secretly terrified to know if there had been new visions. Visions of pain, of prophecy, of darkness….
Instead she simply continued to pack her things. “I am almost finished, Naofa. We can leave as soon as you are ready.” While she packed her own things Naofa was recalling every dream and vision which had haunted her since her birth on Domhan; for surely all would lead to a pivotal moment-she was certain of it. But which visions could be trusted? Were any true or accurate; or were they merely the fears of her mind as it sought to torture her soul? How could she fully blame Artine for planting the visions there when she so eagerly accepted them as truth? And yet..she knew he had a dark agenda-if not to destroy, then certainly to consume all that was Light. She could not let her mind follow its wandering, knowing he might be watching. Instead, she vowed not to leave her friends as Eagna brought a new life into their physical world.
Both females worked quickly gathering their necessities before heading out onto the path homeward for Eagna. Her own happy heart could not be burdened with sad thoughts of what might be, but was only filled with bright visions of possibility. These thoughts were enough to sustain her throughout their journey. They stopped only to camp for a night along the way, against Eagna’s wishes-home was so close; but it was too near dark, and the Sorceress insisted. It would not be wise to get this close and then to stumble into disaster in the darkness. She counted stars until they fell asleep, knowing Eolas must be gazing at the same sky.
The sun had barely begun to dry the dew when Eagna nudged Naofa awake. The Sorceress could hardly blame her friend, having been away from Eolas for so long. Only in the realization of their reunion did she begin to feel a bit awkward at having come along. Surely they would want to be alone for awhile, and she vowed to give them their space. Returning to the path again, Naofa could scarcely keep up with her friend, so great with child and yet more energetic than she had been before conceiving. Not without a bit of sarcasm, Naofa asked Eagna if she would like a faster way to travel.
“Perhaps I could give you a glimpse of the creature that exists in Jinetes. A magnificent creature, it can run great distances from sunrise to sunset.” She was sincere in her offer, although once it left her lips she realized the absurdity of it since there would be no way for Eagna to climb up on the beast’s back even if she were to become a horse. Eagna would simply have to be patient as they continued on foot.
Eolas arrived at the little home the evening before, just as the sun was setting; and so, too, did his heart sink into the distant hills when he realized Eagna was still away. He only hoped she and the Sorceress were well. He tried to focus on his own homecoming. It was so comforting to be in his lands, to feel the wind in his face as he looked across the meadow. All of Eagna’s drying herbs were ready to be put away and he did this for his beloved. He brushed the dust and debris from the sills and floors, opened the windows to air the place, started a small fire, and went on a sunset hunt, so that when the females did return, they would have something to eat. He prepared a rabbit stew over the open fire, it’s flames reaching up to the endless sky. He had become accustomed to cooking and eating meals under the stars while in Juntos and would have to adjust to indoor life again. Walls were protective yet suffocating to his spirit. He brought the food inside to eat at their table, so aware of the empty stool next to his. He thought sleep would be elusive while awaiting the return of his companion; but lying on their bed, with the smell of Eagna still lingering there, it was as if he were drugged that night.
The only thing to disturb his rest were low whispers, calling out through the mists of slumber, “It is a lie..it is a lie…he will know it is a lie and will come for you. Then will you know true terror and emptiness.”
Eolas tossed and turned throughout the night, until daybreak when he bolted upright, with no memory of the voices, sheer excitement filling his heart. He went down to the creek where he washed the night from his eyes and the darkness from his mind. The water was refreshing, and he was renewed as he walked around the side of the dwelling to gather the tunic he left drying over the porch railing. As he reached for it, his eyes caught a hint of movement in the distance. Startled at first, he glanced to where he left his weapons, his Hunter’s senses sharpened.
“Eolas! Eolas, my love!” it cried out.
‘Don’t run, dear one,” he thought. ‘I will come to you.’ Quickly shoving his his head and arms into his tunic, he began to sprint across the meadow, the sharp grass slicing his calves, the wind tearing at his free blowing hair. He hadn’t had time to braid it yet. He didn’t care about his hair. He saw her stop in the distance and lean over, clutching her side. He stopped, his heart lurching. Was she alright? The child? Oh no! He headed for her at a full run, fear clutching his insides; but as soon as he neared, he could see that his treasure was fine and she was merely out of breath. She looked up and smiled radiantly, and held her arms open wide, the beautiful sight of which he felt could never be matched. The Sorceress was following behind her, but at a distance; and he was glad of it, so that they could be alone in those first moments.
As they reached one another, panting like wild animals, Eolas gathered Eagna into his arms just as she imagined it, enveloping her in sweaty warmth, the smell of his freshly washed skin filling her nostrils, his heavy breath in her ear-so comforting, so consoling. His lips found hers and they drank hungrily of love’s sweet draft. Neither knew whether to laugh or cry and there seemed to be a mixture of both as they embraced, feeling one another as if it were the first moment they had touched. Eolas finally pulled away to look into Eagna’s eyes, pleading and earnest.
“My beloved. So long have I been away. Do you forgive me?” He whispered hoarsely. “Does our child even remember who its father is?” He touched her face, looked into her eyes, brimming with fresh tears, then placed his hands gently on her taut belly and knelt in front of her to kiss his unborn child. He stroked her stomach, planting kiss after kiss there; and she held his head in her hands as he knelt before her, his body shaking as he wept. By the time Naofa caught up to them Eolas had gotten to his feet and put an arm around his mate, taking her things for the remainder of the walk home. He smiled at the Sorceress and winked. He was extremely happy to see her there with Eagna, for he certainly knew nothing about helping to bring their infant into the world……
Thank you for reading. I do love comments, so if you have any thoughts, I would love to hear them….