It was a risk, for there certainly were rumors of those who had gone in the direction of the white mountains-had gone but not returned. The brave few who courageously dared enter the dense forest had eventually turned back, straggling home with awful stories of low crawling creatures in those woods, things that caused nightmares. Amhain laughed out loud to think of their nightmares. What did they know of true nightmares, after all? The Mother of all nightmares had visited itself upon his world what seemed so long ago that it was as in another lifetime. Such a twisted event had born the cloak of darkness which fathered his own Grand Nightmare, the one that repeated itself again and again, for so many nights that he had lost count. Continue reading The Dawn of the Dream
Ella glanced down, stroked the downy head of Eagna’s daughter, and looked back at Naofa, her eyes glistening with tears. “Love is greater than all of these things.” Continue reading Moving Toward Miracles/Forever Never
Fireann leaned in and wrapped her in his arms, his strength allowing her to be vulnerable for a moment, as both of them found comfort in something familiar and warm. He pulled her close to him and covered her hot head in soft kisses, digging his fingers into her thick, damp locks. Continue reading This Dark Madness/Forever Never
She couldn’t bear to feel the thing against her skin-so cold, so wet and pulsating, one side slipping between her legs as the other half flicked around her neck, tightening and closing off her airway. Naofa’s eyes bulged in terror, knowing it meant to squeeze the life out of her in one final crushing pulse. Continue reading A Formidable Team/Forever Never
Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
copyright all content 2015
As the tribes of Jinetes and Espera revel in their union and all of Domhan awakens to the gift of Creation, the Sorceress awakens to the truth of her own desire, her sense of failure and the need for a new direction. Heading to the home of her friend, hungers for peaceful respite….
Naofa sat up and grabbed at the wild strands of hair that fell willfully across her face and around her shoulders, gathering them on top of her head and twisting them into a knot there. She crossed her legs, resting her hands on her bare knees and closed her eyes, taking deep breaths-in, out, in, out-until she was floating in peaceful meditation. There was no need to burn herbs in the open meadow, for the smell of fresh jasmine and evergreen was all around her, hanging on the breeze that drifted from the woods. All of Domhan was buzzing, calling her to join their song of gratitude, which she did with a sincere heart.
How long she sat in meditation was uncertain. The Sorceress only knew that when she opened her eyes again, the world looked very different from the one she tried to shut out with bitter tears the night before. She slowly rose to her feet and gathered those few things that she called her own. Plans change, and her new plan was to journey to the home of Eagna and Eolas; and for the Sorceress, this was a most comforting thought. Being in her friend’s company would do her weary soul immeasurable good as well ease the concern she felt for Eagna’s well being during the absence of the Hunter. It would be good to talk freely again, although she knew there need not even be words to pass between them, so connected were they that thought alone seemed to pass for perfect communication very often.
Naofa closed her eyes, already basking in the warmth of the sun as it drifted through Eagna’s small window where they would sit drinking tea and nibbling dried fruits. A sigh akin to a sorrowful moan startled her and she wondered where it had come from, then laughed softly when she realized it was her own impatient voice, expressing its desire to be on the move again.
(She was yet unaware of the others that also made their way to the land of the Hunter and Eagna-a happy family that was experiencing their first journey outside of the safety of their garden. As with all events on Domhan, their progress and purpose was being etched upon the walls in the Cave of Knowledge and written on the scroll of the Word.)
It took the rest of daylight to reach her destination although she moved swiftly; and Naofa reached the edge of Eolas’ land as the sun fell behind the jagged mountains, their peaks like grinning teeth glinting against the twilight. Although still only a faint silhouette against the sunset sky, Eagna’s home in the distance was a comforting and familiar sight. A single light shone from the shadow building, blinking now and then as though winking at the Sorceress; and it felt as a soothing balm to her wounded Spirit. She could smell the fragrance of bubbling herbs, a small pot always simmering over her friend’s fire. The Sorceress could contain her joy no longer as a soft whistle flowed up from her throat and squeezed through her lips. With sheer abandon she sprinted across the field that was all which remained to separate her from solace and repose.\
Eagna looked up from her stitching expectantly, a feeling of excitement rising in her soul, something which stirred from deep within. Was that a voice? Cocking her head to the side, she sat perfectly still, straining to discover the source of the faint sound, but heard nothing save the buzz of night bugs and the call of the evening doves. After a moment she returned her attention to the tunic she was making for herself. The child was fast growing within her and she would soon outgrow the one she wore. She tugged at the leather, thinking that it was already becoming quite snug. She smiled to herself thinking how lovely this daugh..this child…would be. And oh how loved.
Her thoughts were disrupted again, her keen intuition awakened. The sound had returned, reaching her ears with certainty now. Oddly, it sounded like a morning bird, sending up its first call to daylight; but she knew well it wasn’t daybreak-and this was no morning bird. Part of her felt delight in the sound; but the grappling fingers of darkness reached into her heart, trying to awaken fear. Of course there was no need to fear and she turned away from it. Eagna arose from her stool and walked to the door, leaning against the cool wood and stared into the now darkened sky that spread like a blanket across the field. She heard no strange noises, saw no impending danger, and so stepped onto the porch and drank in the cool air, heavy with the scent of honeysuckle and lavender. Eagna’s face, turned to the heavens, admired the stars sprinkled across its face. The faint glow of fading sunlight lay across the field behind her home, casting eerie shadows that crept out from beneath the porch to slither across the grass.
Just as the beast was fully discernible and reached leaping distance of the porch, it stood up on its hind legs; and in that moment Eagna’s heart leapt for joy, knowing now with certainty she would no longer be alone.
Blessed Mother! It really was Naofa! Eagna’s heart wept as her soul sang. Oh the comfort in seeing a friend again. It had seemed so long since she heard another human voice. She watched in familiar amazement as the miracle of transformation was complete, the Sorceress becoming human in the blink of an eye, her clawed feet elongating into pink flesh, the white fur falling away from her tall, curved figure. Naofa reached the porch in long strides, leaping over the steps, tossing her bundles hastily aside and unabashedly embracing Eagna. They stood, hugging, feeling comforted in each other’s arms for a few moments. Naofa’s shoulders shook as she wept with relief and Eagna felt warm tears falling on her shoulder; but she, herself, was too happy to weep. Once they parted, Naofa wiped her face, grabbed her things, and followed her friend inside.
Eagna finally broke the spell of hypnotic comfort, compelling the Sorceress to return to herself. “Sister Naofa,” she whispered, “It is a wonder to me that you are able to do all that you do and remain so strong, so immovable and yet so…loving.” Naofa turned her head in amazement, taken a aback by her friend’s words. She had hoped for forgiveness for own her poor judgment, but she had not expected such a generous assessment of herself. Her quizzical expression was met by a tender smile from Eagna and more words of comfort. “Do you not see that it is always your unselfish love which drives you to near madness over those you care for? There is no fault in that.” Eagna brushed an unruly lock of hair from Naofa’s face, tucking it behind her ear as she continued, “Even in your haste-that urge which rises above your sense of reason-you harbor no thought for your own safety. Your fierce devotion drives you fearlessly into whatever danger may lie ahead. That is a true act of Love.”
Naofa’s heart longed to bask in the glow of forgiveness but her own dark place would not allow it. Burying her face in her knees, she clasped her hands over her head, overcome by doubt, pain and loneliness. The tears flowed quietly but freely as Eagna ran her fingers through her friend’s tangled hair. When there were no more tears to shed, Naofa softly whispered the words that had been crying out in her mind ever since her Mother left her in the woods. “It was my own selfish desire which lead me to nearly destroy the happiness of the very one I..I..” She looked at Eagna, her eyes glistening and red. “Do I really love him, Sister? What is this kind of love which can cause destruction and pain, and why has it been brought upon us? What have we done by awakening our desire to create life within our world?” She instantly felt remorse for her words in the face of Eagna’s precious condition. (the dark space grows deeper) She added quickly, “Of course, Eagna, I don’t mean to…”
Eagna placed a finger over her lips. “Stop hurting yourself. It does none in the Realm or on Domhan any good for you to suffer this way.” She paused, gathering her thoughts and searching for the words to ease her friend’s pain. “That which is but a thought can be changed. And once changed, the original thought must be forgiven. Then it no longer exists. Yet, know this, my friend. Whatever you do and whatever the choices you make while in this dream, you must remember that your Creators are always with you. They may not always be able to come to you as Mother Bandia did; for truly the veil grows heavier with the cycles that pass and new life increases upon our world. This is going to be our greatest challenge. We must remember our eternal home and teach those who are coming to join us. This is our quest, our gift and our curse. I do not claim to understand the physical state of love which flows between us as humans, so fresh and new; but I am certain in my understanding of the Unconditional Love of our Creators. You are always understood, always loved and never cast out. I am coming to understand that in this physical form, the best we can do is to love ourselves without judgment. We come from Spirit and are at one with the Essence of Eternity. It is in loving ourselves that we receive the perfect gift of love from Eternity.”
Naofa’s body relaxed into weary submission beneath her friend’s touch, the sound of her voice. Night had closed in around them as they sat together, and Eagna was feeling very tired. She took the empty cup from Naofa, stood and bid her friend goodnight, more than ready for peaceful sleep, the first night she would not be alone in many cycles. Both females were silent as Naofa purged the dark debris from her conscience and Eagna closed the door, washed her face, and lay down on her bed. She looked at the Sorceress, her lanky body now stretched prostrate on the floor in front of the flickering fire.
“Others are looking to us for guidance, my friend. If all we ever show them is perfection, how will they know how to accept their own imperfection? It will be how we deal with our own human nature that will be the telling of the story for them.” Eagna rolled over and looked through the window at the moon. It still glowed full and bright but was no longer red and hungry. She smiled to think of Eolas sharing this moment with her, wherever he was.
“Do I have time for a dip in the creek before we eat, Eagna?” Her friend turned from the cooking and smiled at her.
“You look rested. I would say yes but for when last you wandered off into the creek…” She laughed out loud remembering the look of her drenched, naked friend as she shivered before the little cave dwellers. Naofa flushed for a moment then tossed her head back and laughed too. It felt so wonderful to laugh. “Okay,” she said. “The swim can wait.”
Eagna nodded. “There, by the table, is a fresh bowl of water that you can wash up with. I heard your stomach begging for food even as you slept.”
Naofa was too hungry to be embarrassed by this and nodded eagerly as she began to clean up. When she finished, Eagna was just placing the food on the table. It had been so dark, and she was so distraught the night before, that Naofa scarcely looked at her friend fully. Now she was amazed to see how Eagna’s belly had increased in size. The early morning light complimented the lovely glow on her face as well. This brought Naofa a great deal of joy. They ate, sharing stories and insights, and deftly avoiding the previous night’s topic.
Eagna eventually spoke of Eolas, her eyes misting over with loneliness. They had proven a perfect match and connected on a very deep level. Naofa wondered if this sort of connection would ever be in her future. She quickly replaced this thought with another. A brilliant idea that could perhaps help to ease her friend’s loneliness.
New excitement shone in Eagna’s eyes at the thought. How she missed her waters, her lands, the mystical lake of her visions. Even in the arms of Eolas there was a sense of loneliness for the place of her birth. She hesitated only a moment before replying enthusiastically, “Oh, my yes! I hadn’t thought of it. I would never go alone. But with you, with company, it would truly be possible-wouldn’t it?” Naofa nodded emphatically as they made plans to leave the very next morning. This would be a cycle for preparation and resting.
Now, at this time, I am urged to pick up the pieces of my humble story and try to present it again. If it touches even one heart, it will have been worthy of the work.
Why are we here? Where is Eternity? What is the plan? Is there even a purpose to all that we know of as a life? How do we win the struggle between Good and Evil? These very legitimate questions have plagued humankind ever it came into existence, erasing the knowing of the All That Is and propelling into the perceived journey “home”. What I have come to understand for myself may seem astounding to some, familiar to others and perhaps crazy to many. I only know I have found comfort in realizing the duality of our nature through seeing the ultimate way that everything is connected within the All That Is, and accepting that there must be an inevitable end to the illusion we like to call “life“. Still, there remain many unanswered questions, and I submit to you that this quest, this journey, the unanswered questions are indeed our reason for continuing the journey.
What of God, that elusive being known by many names and yet understood by so few? And what about the Creator’s grand ‘Plan’? What if there were no plan at all? What if existence was nothing more than an experiment-a grand dream, a hope that was born of a simple desire? What if all that truly exists is Love-an immeasurable, unconditional love that wants only to perpetuate Its own existence? Life thus was born of Love’s ultimate need to know itself and be loved in the way in which It was capable of loving, Its legacy continuing on in the human race as the created bear children whom they love unconditionally while basking in the glow of such love returned to those who created them, on and on with each new generation of Creators.
What if Eternity is not somewhere “up” or “out” there? I submit that it exists around and within us, but we have lost our memory of how to connect with it as we once did, our former clear, crisp perception now dulled to a faint whisper, too often dulled by the voice of fear and deception that plagues our fractured souls. This fracture was but a tiny crack as it was born; but soon fed by conscious thought, it grew into a gaping chasm that threatened to envelope the reason and hope of its host.
Good and Evil? What if this ancient struggle is not one that takes place in our outer world? What if there are no “good” or “bad” beings? I have come to accept the duality of my own nature, that within my soul lie the seeds of darkness that are eager to cloud my perceptions, to feed my fear of being without love, and to use that hunger to control my actions and reactions.
We spend so much of our lives running from our darkness, denying its existence and begging to be rescued by the Light, when all we need to do is to allow our inner Light to illuminate the dark recesses of our own souls, accept that we are not perfect within our human bodies, and know that in the eyes of The Creator we are perfect-now and always. Always, always, we are perfectly loved.
Will this knowledge repair humanity’s collectively diseased soul? Likely not. But would not the Unconditional Love of the Universe rejoice in the healing of even one soul? It takes but one flicker to light the darkness?
My work is not intended to refute, undermine or replace any religious doctrine. It is merely my own perception of Creation, my personal vision, as I weave my way along this path of illusion called life.
This chapter is the beginning of my book, but by no means the beginning of the story, for within infinity there is no beginning or end. This is but one legend as told from the perspective of its characters. I hope you find some bit of truth in the telling.
“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” From A Course In Miracles.
The names of characters and places are derived mostly of Latin or Irish origination but all races came from one thought.
Forever Never/The Dawn of the Dream
by Cheryl Pennington
copyright words and images 2017
Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
The morning sun peeked relentlessly over the horizon as dawn approached and the world of Dohman blinked the night shadows from its heavy eyelids. A soft breeze skipped over the hillside with airy fingers that stirred the sea of grass and vine, beckoning all of life to join the illusion once more.Although light was still a shadowy thought away, the dark magic was already casting its spell over the waking life of the world, responding to the murmurs of that voice which had cast the cruel oblivion over it. Whispering, it seemed to call from within the morning mists; and in response to the powerful command from the ether, two of its most beloved stirred.
Their awakening was always the same. As her eyes fluttered open, the first breath of morning crossed her face, cool and fresh, and her confused mine groped for conscious thought. Lifting her face to the hint of sunrise, she blinked; and in that twinkling, she could recall everything. She understood all that had gone before and felt a flood of relief in the knowing. In that blinding moment of perception, the memory was so vivid, yet so mercurial. She let out a quiet gasp of comprehension as hope found her heart and anguish permeated her being, drawing the veil of darkness over her thoughts once more, obliterating her beautiful glimpse of truth. The gasp became a yawn as she opened her eyes to a new dawning of The Forgotten, denying the lucid moment the chance to become a memory in the dark recesses of her mind.
At the very same moment another was stirred by morning’s approach; and the callous hand of sorcery repeated its wicked performance. The smell of lavender on the early breezes nudged the sleeping male’s senses awake, urging him to feel her presence and embrace the moment.. With every sunrise and the brief union his soul was filled with peace, comfort and the kind of love only she could give him. As the earliest slivers of light struck the moldy ground beneath him, the weary Traveler summoned the familiar vision to his mind, thus weaving his own magic. How faintly the outline seemed this morning, even though he had traced it there with every rising sun since she disappeared from his world. Loveliness defined her as she moved through the recesses of his memory, a shadowy reminder of the innocent he used to be, of the trust he once knew, and the hope that now drove him onward. Yes…through the mists he could see long, dark curls of hair that seemed to have a life of their own when she moved. Her hand was delicate and soft as she touched his cheek and looked into his eyes with dark and tunnels of pure adoration.
The young male’s loving memory drew images of fragrant blossoms and joyful laughter. Their laughter. But now there was only he-alone with what was left of the perfect place he had known as home. Their most beloved Foirfeachta. Floating like a cloud in his mind drifted the faded image of a garden, hung low with vines and lush green foliage, where he had once known contentment; and completing this memory was her- the perfect form of femininity-and he trailing behind her, appreciating every thing about her-the color of her tunic, her head as she turned from him to wave at another! His eyes moved to the object of her gesture; and this was where his deepest pain began. He could only bear this part of the conjuring for an instant before dimming his mind to the memory. The pain cut like a dagger into his soul, threatening to tear him apart; but her presence found him again, hanging like damp air around his drowsy senses, calming him, urging him to keep hope alive.
“Hurry!” she whispered. “I wait..” She must be near! How could she not be when he could feel her and hear her very thoughts?
The young traveler struggled to create her face within his mind again as he fought the fog pulled her into the shadows. She looked so radiant as her lips parted to speak, to share a thought and a word of comfort. He could see her mouth form his name and waited hopefully to hear the music flow from within those red lips, his young heart beating wildly. But, as always, the fog faded to black nothingness that enveloped her face completely and smothering the sound that would have strengthened his lonely heart. In silence it cried. Then, creeping through the dark veil came the light, the harsh light that signaled a new morning. It was always the same. He marveled that he had never become accustomed to it nor been able to stop the painful, euphoric, devastating moment at the start of all his mornings, although he willed it so again and again.
The young Traveler lifted himself onto one elbow, gazing at his horse, now stirring in the morning light and thought, “Only Eternity knows what dreams such creatures have.” As he shielded his eyes from the glare of dawn he wondered how long it would be before the sun simply forgot to rise over their world, leaving them in darkness forever.
Snorting sounds as only a wild boar might make brought an end to the Traveler’s musing as, startled, he remembered his still sleeping companion. A few feet away lay the bulky form of the grumbling Cave Dweller who had now become his friend in these long days of searching. Disturbed by his own snoring, the stout one tossed on the bedroll where he lay and thrust his chubby fists into the air, swatting at the newly awakened gnats busily combing his bristly chin for abandoned crumbs.
The Traveler stifled a chuckle and reached for a nearby stone which he lightly tossed at his friend. It hit the restless male squarely on the chest before thudding to the ground where it rolled into a thicket of dry brush. The small giant jumped and yelped as he began swinging wildly at an unknown attacker, frightening away the gnats in a frenzied flurry. Now the Traveler was laughing heartily, finding relief from his sorrow, even if it had been at the expense of his riding companion.
“What, in the name of Mor, is so funny?” growled the Cave Dweller, rubbing his eyes and scratching at infinitesimal bites. His chubby hands were stained and his nails blackened from so long digging in the recesses of the caves. “Was that your idea of a ‘Good morning’? Rude…this is not how I am normally awakened. Now, my beloved Oth..”
The Traveler laughed harder now as he interrupted. “Ahhh…so it’s tenderness you prefer. I’m sorry my fat friend, but I have no desire to stir you with a morning kiss, such as your chosen one might. I can barely stand to sleep on the same hillside with you since you see fit to bathe only with the rise of a full moon.”
A loud grunt of indignation escaped the throat of the stout one, but he had no sharp retort for his tall friend while still in such a clouded state.
The Traveler had been exaggerating about the bathing but couldn’t resist the urge to goad his touchy friend. In truth, he was hoping to ease a bit of the other one’s loneliness with his teasing. It had been for the sake of his own best friend back in the land of the caves that this one had agreed to be a part of the search. The two Cave Dwellers had been inseparable from the beginning; and the one who remained back in their homeland-well-it was pitiable what had become of his mind since the Devastation. His beloved companion had disappeared over a bleak horizon, leaving her grieving partner with a new infant to care for, armed only with a broken heart and a handful of charred rock.
The Cave Dweller didn’t find the Traveler’s morning humor entertaining and shot the him a glance of warning, advising his friend that his own foul mood would remain until he had been properly fed.
‘Fine, then’, thought the Traveler as he gathered his tools, leaving the other to do his morning business. There were certainly fish to be caught; so he grabbed his line and clicked his tongue at the white mare now standing patiently near the edge of the trees, waiting to be led down to the river. She approached her master gently, nudging his hand with her warm, wet nose, and gladly accepted the piece of fruit he held out to her.
Precious treasure, he thought, as he surrendered the sweet treat to his loyal four-legged friend. If his traveling companion had seen this, he would have lost his head-and his temper. Giving food to a beast when he was ‘starving’! The Traveler rolled his eyes to think of it. It was of no consequence anyway, for he fully intended to bring back a nice string of fish to hang over the fire. This would at least ease the hunger pains of his friend. Sadly, there was nothing he could do for the male’s aching soul. Not until they found her, he told himself. If only…
Suddenly, she stopped and turned, determined to face her tormentor. ‘Of course’, she thought bitterly. Naofa felt a manic laugh rising in her chest but terror squelched it before it escaped her lips. There in the shadow of a gnarled, lifeless tree, stood the wolf, its red eyes glaring back at Naofa like burning embers-cruel embers that threatened to sear her soul this night. The visage bared its yellowed teeth and continued to laugh. Continue reading Naofa’s Lament/Forever Never
FOREVER NEVER/THE DAWN OF ILLUSION by Cheryl Pennington copyright photos and words 2015 The brave Horsemen of Jinetes have been waiting for the arrival of the Warrior and Hunter. Now their guide will initiate Eolas into the mystical realm of … Continue reading Answers From Below/Forever Never
Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion by Cheryl Pennington copyright images and words 2015 As Naofa, Rith, Carraig and a fearsome friend make their way to the homeland of the strange humans who stumbled upon the Sorceress during a moment of … Continue reading Waiting/A Warrior’s Home/Forever Never
Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion by Cheryl Pennington copyright 2015 Into Jinetes A Warrior’s Welcome As Naofa, Rith and Carraig prepared to leave Eagna to make their way into the rocky land of caves, so Eolas and Laoch were readying … Continue reading The Land of Jinetes/Forever Never