Be advised: This post contains sexual content.
Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
by Cheryl Pennington
copyright all content
Deep desires fuel hidden fires…..the heart’s secrets hold great power…….
Naofa had been lying with her cheek against the soft earth but rolled onto her back to gaze at the brilliant light spectacle that glimmered above her. She marveled at the dancing stars. The scene was mesmerizing and more than a little hypnotic, enhanced by the bit of herb tea Eagna brewed for her. The elixir had slowly calmed her nerves, the effect now at a peak, her body and mind gone limp as she gave in to the intoxication, relaxing for the first time since the awful visions began. An inner knowing tried to rouse her, to give warn her about this feeling, pointing to its dark familiarity. But the music of the stars was deafening, the power of the abyss too strong; and in her moment of euphoria, she was all too ready to plunge into the depths of deception. She closed heavy eyelids to the starry night and let herself float with the night breeze.
The Sorceress never questioned why she found herself standing in a vast meadow, surrounded by the rhythmic movement of brilliant wildflowers, the cool breeze kissing their faces-and hers. She didn’t question how she got there, what she was seeking, nor why she stood naked beneath a round, bright moon.
‘What need to reason,’ she thought, ‘for it is, after all, just a dream.’
Dreams were ephemeral, filmy bits of the mind’s speculation and eternity’s mixing bowl of possibility; and this was the most delightful one she had ever known. A speckled rabbit darted across the field in front of her, chasing a butterfly dotted with colors she had never seen before. Naofa was suddenly overcome by a desire to run through the field with that rabbit, over the grassy meadow stretching endless before her; and she thought she could run to its farthest ends. Naofa tossed her head back and laughed freely, without reserve. With wild abandon she moved in circles, dancing expressively, her hair caressing her bare shoulders and her arms raised to the black night.
There was no judging how long or far she ran, but suddenly Naofa found herself standing near a dark pool of water, its surface perfectly smooth, without a ripple or blemish. Tiptoeing to the edge of the pool the Sorceress leaned over, peering into the face of the water, and gasped in amazement by the reflection she saw; for it was not the Sorceress in human skin who had lain down to sleep beneath the stars. She was gone. The reflection gazing back at her with large, gray eyes, its fearsome jaw dropped in amazement, was that of the White Tiger. It panted at her, large pink tongue lolling from their mouth, expressing the thought that they were thirsty. The Sorceress Tiger leaned over to take a few greedy gulps of the fresh, sweet water, her insides singing as the liquid slid down her throat and into her stomach as she relished another rare and peaceful moment.
A sudden movement in the water interrupted her reverie, a movement that was not their own. She blinked in disbelief; but there was no mistaking something was there and it was standing right next to her in the dark surface. The reflection was that of another human-a decidedly male human; but this was not just any male. The cut of his jaw, the heavy shock of black hair covering his head, the squared silhouette of the shoulders….no mistaking the question in his eyes; but how could it be and what did it mean?
Suddenly dizzy, Naofa realized she had stopped breathing and gasped for air. body Yet how could she breathe when the object of her deepest desire, unrecognized desires stood mere inches from her body? Her body? Surely not. She bore the body of a beast, but her new companion seemed unaffected by that fact. Naofa had no voice, but neither did the Warrior speak. Why did he just stand there, staring? Momentary panic gripped her mind. How could this be? She turned from the image in the water and sprinted away, seeking to escape the object of all torment. She had to flee that moment, that place.
“Wait! Why do you leave?” he called after her. His voice was more delicious to her ears than the cool drink from the pool to her thirst, and it vibrated throughout her very being, setting every nerve on edge. Still she ran from it, and ran after her. She heard his footsteps falling on the ground behind her, the sound of his laughter floating over her head. What was he doing? What was this game? She stopped suddenly in her very large tracks and turned slowly to face her pursuer. The Warrior stopped only a few paces away, his arms open wide, that broad grin on his face. A game, yes…a game of catch. But how…and why? He shrugged and nodded as if to say, “Why have we stopped?!”
‘Only a dream…a precious dream…’ came the answer from somewhere distant. ‘A gift for you for your loyalty and devotion.’
“Catch me if you can!!” the Tiger laughed. And she ran on, with the Warrior in pursuit. On and on they ran across endless meadows and hills until she could hardly breathe; yet the game was so exhilarating, so uninhibited, it was hard to stop.
When she could run no more, the tiger collapsed onto the ground beneath the expansive night, and he, falling just a short distance away. The grass was soft and comforting beneath her damp fur; and she rolled over in the green blanket, cooling her skin and trying to calm her racing heart. ‘Is this bliss?’, she wondered.
The Warrior crept over to lay by her side, and she could hear his labored breathing, feel his warm breath on her face. The tiger’s body quivered beneath the hand that gently stroked her fur, moving slowly down the length of her body, his fingers defining every curve and line of its form. He swept his fingers around its whiskered chin and grabbed the white tufts on its cheeks. Undaunted, Naofa reveled in the dream and thought how freeing it was to finally let go completely, to give in to her secret urges.
‘This is bliss,’ she whispered. Her blood boiled, and her heart thumped when he laid a wide palm across it, feeling the rhythm of its beating as she dissolved into his touch.
The tiger felt strange, the world became a watery blur, and her body quivered violently. His hand came to life, moving slowly down her body, and suddenly he was on top of her, strong, fearsome, urgent. Gripped by fearful ecstasy, Naofa opened her eyes and gazed into those of the Warrior. His dark face was close to hers, his lips pressed against her cheek, but he said nothing. Her white skin glowed against his dark shadow, their bodies etched like a crescent moon onto the darkness. Her mind groped for comprehension. How could he want her like this-as a beast?
“H..how,” she tried to speak, but a hoarse whisper was all that she could manage. How could he want a beast, how could he… his hands slid down her body, invoking new tremors; and when she dared to look at them, where once they grasped thick white fur, his hand cupped a full, round breast. The body beneath the dream was fully human, but when had she changed? How? She needed to push him off and flee the place, that netherworld. But the voice came again, from far away, like a soothing balm with its cooing voice, its calming, tempting, comforting, maddening promise of redemption. Near the edge of the woods came the low growling of something else hungry, something also satisfied. If Naofa had turned to look, she would have seen the red glow from deep within its eyes…..
“A dream, a dream….’tis but a dream. Your gift is a sweet river of love. Close your eyes and swim in its waters.”
Naofa tried to protest; but as her lips parted to speak, the Warrior’s mouth was on hers, his lips enticingly warm, salty and unrelenting. She was so hungry. Her imaginings had never come near to the thrill of feeling his hands tracing the paths of her body with no inhibition -searching, stalking like the Warrior he was. She returned his touch, the feel of his rough skin tingling her fingertips, feeding her hunger yet leaving her hungry; and the night began swimming as solid form gave way to motion and sound. The wind was roaring through her brain, his voice whispering and nothing and everything in her ear. Animal sounds filled the blackness. Was it them? She wasn’t sure if anything was real. Of course it wasn’t. Nothing was real. It was the dream. ‘Finally a good one’, she laughed to herself.
A flash of dark, delicate skin and silken black hair flashed through her mind, accusing black eyes filled with pain. Guilt crept into Naofa’s conscience but was quickly dissolved by waves of ecstasy. They moved in a dance of desire, moved just as the lovers in the woods had in her vision of pain. How she had longed to be that female.
Naofa lost control, grabbing at the Warrior’s flesh, wishing to pull him from his body and into hers. Why did he cry out? Fearing she might not be able to live through the dream, Naofa closed her eyes and succumbed to its power, pleading with eternity for forgiveness as she gave everything to unreal, to the dream Warrior. It seemed endless moments passed with them loving under the stars before he fell away, both of them spent. And anguished.
‘Is this how it is supposed to be?’ her mind cried and she closed her eyes to the sight of it.
After a few moments of quiet, The Warrior turned and touched her face gently, so tenderly. His touch was overwhelmingly painful, and she lost consciousness as the darkness filled her head. No more visions. No more stars. No Light.
Too much Light. When the Sorceress awoke, the sun was hot on her face and the sound of distant laughter pricked at her ears. Eolas and Eagna. She sat up slowly and looked around. She was alone with no sign that anyone had come in the night or been with her in endless passionate embrace. It seemed just another glorious sunrise. Slowly the dream washed over her and she basked in the comforting satisfaction that filled her. Why should she waste her time feeling remorse? It was only a dream, not even a conscious thought, she reasoned. And now it was done. The dream was gone and so, too, would be the hunger.
Stretching, she got to her feet and turned in the direction of the creek. She needed cool water on her face. Her shaky legs threatened to fail her and trembled under her weight. How tiring the dream had been. Near the water’s edge, Naofa lifted her tunic over her head and stepped into the cleansing flow of water. Something tickled her thigh, drawing her attention to a tiny rivulet of fresh blood slipping down her leg. She bit her lip in irritation. Cursed bleeding! Why had they ever begun this flow of Creation on an already perfect world? She wondered. And the fact that she suffered these cycles of blood with dim hope of ever finding a companion, let alone becoming a mother, added insult to injury for the Sorceress.
Tossing the tunic aside, she slipped into the creek where the cold water erased all memory of the dream…..