Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
by Cheryl Pennington
copyright all content 2015
The Garden Family celebrates the new arrival to Foirfeachta, although Domhan’s Mother knows her first sense of disappointment. But she is not alone, for one who has been waiting with higher hopes is just learning that the child born to M’na is not what she hoped for-nor what he expected……
The Wrath of Darkness
“What have you done, you contrivers of torture?!”
Bandia arrived in the shadows of Domhan Eile to the echoes of Ar’tine’s tirade. She knew he would be furious and confused over events in Foirfeachta; but her mind quickly formulated a plan which would, for awhile at least, keep him satiated. The goddess knew that, cunning though he was, the dark god was so tangled within his own web of desire, he was not seeing all possibilities. Bandia kept silent, certain the moment must be perfect for her words to be most effective.
“Where is my As’me?!” He howled. “What is the meaning of this? The Mother of Domhan delivered another male child? At first I thought my daughter would be expected to exist within such a body; but through the eyes of my four legged servant, the truth was revealed-As’me’s essence is nowhere near Foirfeachta, nowhere near Domhan! This is an insult and an outrage! Deceit and trickery in the heart of your precious Mother’s world. Now there resides another inferior masculine energy in the seat of Perfection, while my As’me waits…while we wait….how can this be allowed to happen?”
With every word, every new thought, Ar’tine grew angrier and less consolable. “What matters of a promise to the lowly Dark Son of Mac? Of course I deserve no benevolence, no mercy, no offering of the love that flows ceaselessly for those which Inion has created, indeed for all others within Creation? And what of my creation?” Ar’tine shot an accusatory glare at the goddess. “What of your promise to her?!” Seeing his rage rising within the mists around him, Bandia feared she may have waited too long. She tried to rescue the runaway tantrum.
“Do you not realize that the world of Domhan is one of free will?” Feigning indignation at his oversight of the obvious nature of physical life, the goddess continued. “None can predict the gender of a new life on Domhan. It was hoped..of course..”
“WAS it?!” he sneered. Ar’tine turned slowly toward the menacing caverns of Domhan Eile and was silent much too long for Bandia’s comfort. When he spoke again his voice was strangely controlled-too cold and too anguished, as he turned to his beloved Goddess. “Was it? Really?” Seeds of doubt sprouted upon the dark landscape of his soul as he groped for truth yet Ar’tine couldn’t wrap his unreasonable thoughts around what lay in plain sight. Bandia grabbed the moment and spun her own cunning around Ar’tine’s unstable mind like a cocoon.
“Ar’tine, listen to me!” All of Eternity has worked for As’me to live again in the physical world-as the female she was created to be-and not as a male human. This is still her opportunity to be reborn.” She sensed his mind slip and grasped the moment to move him completely in the direction she desired.
“You must remember,” she whispered. “There are others…” In an instant she realized she should have let it go. He might have been content to wait, so many humans of Domhan would be giving birth in the coming cycles. Perhaps he would have grown weary of the game of ‘find the female infant’ before he finally realized where she was. But the words had slipped through her lips and filled his soul with new resolve. Any second thoughts were too late. The god knew all too well of the couple who awaited the birth of their first child and knew where they measured in the lineage of Inion’s world; and above all else, he knew they were not good enough for his daughter. As’me deserved more.
“The Hunter and the Medicine Woman? What do they understand of the perfection that is my daughter?” His mind quickly put the pieces together, revealing a map that led straight to the heart of their plan. Bandia had to try to repair things-somehow. Or she would be as much to blame as the black-hearted being who stood beside her judging, angry, waiting…
“Listen to me now, Ar’tine, Eolas and Eagna are original creations of Domhan; and as such their connection is strong to the perfection of Spirit.” Words, words, she needed the right words. “As Light Ones, they are part of the chosen on their world, and both have special gifts not possessed by other humans on Domhan.” Ar’tine was silent, his interest piqued. Bandia continued, hastily.
“Already the couple adores her; and they will provide a perfect environment for As’me to live in. She will thrive and know immense love with them.” Ar’tine was still and quiet, the mists receding. He was listening to Bandia. He was calm. She could have stopped then and there, perhaps the means being sufficient to a more desirable end. Or perhaps not. But she did not remain quiet. In her eagerness to emphasize the positive aspects in the change of plans, she forgot who she was dealing with. She forget Ar’tine’s loathing of all that seemed the antithesis to his own soul’s purpose. So Bandia, encouraged by even the slightest impression of Light in Ar’tine, began to babble on with more happy thoughts.
“You know the Light is strong in them. As’me will bask in the glow of such love for all of her life, learning all that they know, growing under their watchful eyes.” Still she could have stopped, but thought was nowhere close to the flow of pretty words that gurgled up from her hopeful, trusting heart. “She will be as they are, Ar’tine, your daughter will be filled with the Light of Eternity.”
And that was too much. Ar’tine never heard the positive declarations she uttered. He never considered how magnificent this situation would be for his creation, never put his daughter’s needs ahead of his own. He did not hear the voice that spoke of perfect love for the the only being he cared for besides himself. The dark chasm within only heard that he was not good enough to provide all of this for As’me. No mere rift in his soul now, the gaping shadow of his abysmal misery took complete command of all reason.
Fiery sparks sprayed over the black rock as a silvery, hot mist rose from every crack in the hard ground around Ar’tine, enveloping him in a blanket of cold resolve as anger took control of every molecule of his being. Control was at his command, however, for deceptive cunning was his finest role. Coal black eyes glared into Bandia’s, glimmers of red flicking in and out to disarm her short lived sense of accomplishment. Ar’tine spoke slowly, emphasizing every word. “And. You think. This point. Inspires a thrill of confidence and acceptance in me, do you? I ask you this, my dear Bandia. What care I for this eternal light? It has never served me save to cast me out and name me an abomination! Creation’s Love is but a tease. It is a cruel taunt that, once one’s feet are planted confidently upon it, can be pulled right from under them, leaving them to fall- alone and without.” He raised a gnarled finger, pointing it at Bandia. “I am tired of being without. I am tired of being alone. I want my Creation as you promised.” The heat was growing beneath Bandia, vines creeping over the barren ground from every direction.
‘He’s trying to frighten me,’ she thought. Or did he have any control over his emotions at all?
Ar’tine harnessed his anger and pushed it down, falling completely silent. ‘Just a little longer’, he thought. ‘I will try to finish this game, for the prize is beyond measure for me now.’ But what really drove him onward was the question. Whether it was the prize or the game itself which fueled his fire, none but Mor could know-that divine Essence which watched in silent sorrow.
Ar’tine deferred to Bandia. “Well, it is done then. Of course I wish the perfect family of Foirfeachta eternal bliss in their little world, so filled with masculine energy.” He smiled in a strangely wistful way, melting Bandia’s heart for a moment. “I daresay the mother was a bit disappointed, then?” Ar’tine never missed a chance to twist the knife in the wound, especially a fresh one. To his delight, Bandia’s expression showed genuine lack of comprehension. “Ahhh…but you didn’t know she longed for a daughter? A female child who would stay by her side and not toddle after the great Fireman-hanging on his words and mimicking his actions. Tsk, tsk, my dear. When was the last time you spoke with the mother of your world?” Bandia was stricken.
Seeing the effect his revelation had on the Goddess, Ar’tine went on. “Well, I suppose a life of Light and Love and all that eternal bliss will only reinforce As’me’s desire to become closer to her own Creator.” Ar’tine waited for a response and got nothing, so continued his farce. “And I will be grateful for the chance to know her in whatever way Mor will allow.”
Bandia, crestfallen, heard his empty words and felt the insincerity in his voice ; but having no idea what she could do about it ignored her instincts and allowed him to believe she trusted him. She took him for his word, a word that she was certain was worthless. Oh, there may have been a shred of truth in it; but in Ar’tine’s world, the truth was relative to the situation. And it was as ever changing as the dark landscape he called home.
Bandia was overwhelmed by guilt and needed to be near her daughter. She must know if M’na was disappointed that she had given birth to another son as the dark god implied; and if so, how did the goddess not know of this sorrow within her own child? Although distracted by these questions, Bandia left Ar’tine with a final word. “Now we wait. If Eagna delivers a daughter you will understand the word of Eternity is true.” She never let her own doubts show as she left him in the shadows of his world.
When Ar’tine was certain she was gone, he went to the hollows of sorrow on Domhan Eile, into its black cavernous heart where his horrible secret was hidden. It lay empty and silent on the shiny, black rock, still but for the breath that caused its gloriously distorted body to rise slowly up. And down. Up. Down. Ar’tine stroked its ridged, gray neck, leaned into its sulfurous stench and whispered, “You may see life after all, dear one. I fear there is deceit among those who declare ownership of the Light. It may be necessary to remove my Creation from their care once As’me lives again.” His fingers slipped lovingly across the sharp, glistening layers. “And if the deceit turns to rebellion, well…then shall come your moment to shine.” He tossed his head back and laughed. “No, you shall blaze! There is a reason your heart was created from only darkness. There can be no moment of question when your mission begins. Placement of a soul is all that stands between sleep and life for you. And I have the perfect soul for you…”
Ar’tine turned to the murky waters of his lake where a thick, ominous vapor hovered aimlessly over the surface. It pulsed with static agitation, impatient and energized. It was hungry, seething, drawn from all of that which was pain within the dark god. If Mor’s minions could break their promises to him, then so could he break vows. The vapor flicked, sending sparks skipping over the still lake as if in response to Ar’tine’s thoughts. “Not yet, impatient one; but I suspect it will not be long before I call you to life.”
Mor’s love struck the sharp edges of Ar’tine’s essence before falling to the black rock in shattered splinters of light. The Dark God never even noticed them. The infinitesimal light that resided in the bottomless abyss of his soul continued to flicker-desperate, dying…but still there. It could not be destroyed. Ar’tine never realized it was only this fine, perfect strand of Essence which connected him to his precious As’me.
to be continued…..