Forever Never/t Dawn of the Dream
by Cheryl Pennington
copyright all content 2016
As the Sorceress heads to the land of the Cave Dwellers, an unexpected guest arrives in Eolas’ lands, carried in on the back of a magnificent white horse, the likes of which none of them has ever seen. Relief, joy, fear and expectation arrive with them….
The Meek Shall Lead
It took the efforts of both Hunter and Warrior to secure the lively horse. Although her hooves showed signs of extreme wear, her legs cracked and blackened to her knees, the animal was strong. She became extremely agitated when Amhain slipped beyond her care and bucked against the leather cords they were using to tie her to a nearby tree. Eolas wondered if the singed young trunk would be enough to hold her in place. He whispered gently, but firmly, as he stroked her forehead and patted her side, while Laoch carefully boxed her in from behind.
“Easy, dear one. Your young rider is in good hands now. You have done well. But wherever did you come from?” As his hands stroked her skin, the Hunter could feel the muscles taut and rippling beneath his fingers. Finally she calmed enough to nuzzle his hand and look at Eolas. In an instant he saw such tenderness in those dark eyes, but within he saw a flash of terror. If only she could talk…
Laoch left for awhile and returned with sweet grasses he managed to scrape up near the lake, along with some fresh water. In recent cycles the ash had receded to the fringes of Eagna’s lake so that if they carefully waded toward its heart, fresh water could be dipped and carried back for cooking, drinking and washing.
When he returned, the Warrior marveled at what a fine horse this was; yet he was still certain it did not come from Jinetes. This magnificent animal must have come from beyond Foirfeachta, run out of seclusion by Damanta’s attack. Already she seemed quite attached to Amhain and settled down once she realized he was sleeping soundly nearby-and within her reach. Even as she hungrily chomped her grasses, she kept a keen eye on the spot where the child lay covered in new animal skins to keep out the increasing chilly breezes that were with them constantly. Both males considered this a blessing, knowing more than anything that their young friend needed all the protection possible. Exhausted, they sat in silence as the flames blazed against the deep blue evening sky. They held their hands over the fire and turned their backs to the chill closing in around them as they waited for the first son of Domhan to awaken and share his story.
As the sun turned to crimson over the hill, the evening dove began its lonely song from a tree top still green enough for life-the same song that had gone on every evening since the Devastation. And again it was left unanswered, for the lost ones never answer. Eolas sighed and drank his broth. Their last hunt was lean but they would make the bounty go as far as they could. A sharp cry from the foothills let them know the great owl was winging its way home.
Laoch glared gloomily into the flickering light, angered that they still needed fire; for what once was a gift now seemed an enemy that he cursed under his breath. The Warrior tossed a bone at its mocking orange grin, then looked down at the tattoo on his chest, and cursed again, in fury. “Damn the darkness!” He smeared a dirty hand over the red eyes and clawed his skin for bearing the mark of their hateful tormentor.
“I will hunt and destroy it, you know; for it has taken all that was your world.” Laoch thought of Ella and looked at the soft candlelight filtering through the window. He imagined her softly cooing to Eagna’s daughter as she nursed and he added, “And the god of death has left an ugly footprint upon my own life. Who knows what horror lies within the mind of that sleeping child?” He nodded towards Amhain.
Eolas was thoughtful for a moment. “Do you still fear the darkness will rise within your own soul, my friend?”
Laoch nodded solemnly, but kept his eyes glued to the dance macabre of the fire. “Now more than ever.”
Eolas tossed his own remains onto the pit, sending tiny fireflies of orange light swirling upward. “Then you are certain to fail. For there can be no fear in perfect Love, and that perfect love is all defines our world. What you seek to destroy will not rid you of your own darkness. Killing the beast will only tease the appetite of its Creator now. And if I fear anything, it is that the dark god is insatiable.”
A small voice echoed from out of the shadows of sleep.
“But the beast has killed my father, devoured my brother and taken my Mother. If it must be destroyed, then so be it.”
Eolas turned to see Amhain sitting up on one elbow, his dark head blending into the night so that only his shining white skin glowed in the firelight. His face was too solemn for a child so young as he spoke to the male who remained unmoved, but stoked the fire with a long stick in agitation.
“Laoch, are you my Father’s faithful defender?”
The Warrior started, a wounded look crossing his face until his eyes met those of the brave child of Fireann. He sat up straight, dropped the stick into the flames, and met the child’s question with certainty.
“Until I leave no breath upon the air.” came the solemn oath. “Surely you know this, Amhain.” Indeed his breath-and his words-hung as a mist on the chilled air between them.
Eolas answered the unspoken question. “And I am ever your Father’s true friend, sworn to guide your family. You know these things to be true.”
Amhain crawled out from under the furs and knelt on all fours like the beast who gave up its skin to keep him warm, lifting his chin in defiance. “Then we will find this beast and make things right. There must be balance in my Mother’s world. I cannot disappoint her love for it.” He looked down in momentary grief, shaking his head as if to shake off what might consume him. “I cannot betray her faith in me. If I must kill it for this to happen, then I will.” Amhain crawled to the edge of the furs and took a seat beside Laoch near the fire. He shivered but held his hands out as they were doing, warming them over the flames. The face that shone in the golden light seemed too worn for one so short upon his world and he spoke with the wisdom of his parents.
“We cannot be driven by hatred in our journey. We must keep the faces of those that we love always in our minds and never, EVER forget the face of Love.” His small voice broke as the faces that defined Love for him rose up in his mind. The white horse was instantly beside him, nuzzling his dark, curly head. Amhain reached up to rub her nose. “Yes, you will go too, my new friend.”
“Then it is decided,” proclaimed Laoch, getting to his feet. “We finish this. In the name of Love.” He slammed his fist against the beast on his chest then raised it in defiance at the stars dancing over their heads as though nothing had changed on Domhan. Something white flashed across the flickering firelight, and the air around them smelled of lavender as the white dove flew up over their heads and disappeared into the night. A warmth greater than the fire filled them, the warmth of a love they had forgotten since their nightmare began. Eagna would have wept to see Eolas smiling again…
to be continued…..
I have always loved this piece by Enya. Such a fitting tribute to this physical life.