A Beginning/Forever Never

flowers and beasts april 2015 118.NEF

Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion

Cheryl Pennington

copyright all content 2015

The tribes of Jinetes and Espera prepare for their ceremony-prepare their hearts, minds and souls for the thing they have longed for as they move to fulfill the prophecy of Creation…….

continued…..

A slight smile played at the corners of Palabra’s mouth. ‘What could be amusing her at such a moment, through such bleak prospects?’, thought Ella.

But the smile disappeared as quickly as it had appeared as La Palabra continued solemnly. “And so, Ella, even if you feel mired in Darkness, if you have allowed it to consume your Essence, you are forever a child of Light. Mor never turns It’s face from you, so you should never seek to hide from Spirit, even in moments of anger or shame. It is foolish to think you can hide from the Light, for It shines within you even as you cower in shadow. There is nothing to do but to turn your face into the warmth of its embrace and healing. Do you understand these things Daughter?”

Ella nodded and tried to speak, but only a squeak managed to escape her quivering lips. “Y.y..yes…I do.”

Mother Palabra closed her eyes and quietly continued her meditation. Ella sat with her in silence, uncertain if she were being dismissed and acutely aware that her feet were tingling with the numbness of sitting too long. She was hesitant to interrupt but eventually broke the silence, her voice erupting like the volcano of emotion that had risen in her chest.

“Mother, why do you tell me these things on the very day of our greatest joy? I cannot imagine Darkness any closer to us during this celebration than at any other moment we have lived before now. How could it dare to intrude in the face of so much love here under the blood moon…”

Mother Palabra broke into a low cackle. This took Ella by surprise as she wondered what could be amusing about her most earnest question.  Palabra’s next words would be forever burned into Ella’s soul, for they would echo throughout her heart and mind as long as she lived.  Her voice dropped so low it was nearly inaudible, tinged by a coarseness not at all like herself; and in the moments that followed were etched into her memory forever.

The aura around her Mother, which was usually the color of field grass and wild morning flower, began to glow iridescent, resplendent with the colors of the rainbow-and beyond. There were colors she had never seen on Domhan and did not fully understand.  There was sound that made no sound, the blending of all sound everywhere at once, filling the space of the room, making it seem smaller and infinitesimal at once.. Suddenly the room and everything about it seemed strange-a mere reflection of what it was only moments before, and the curious female at La Palabra’s feet could scarcely breathe…then the vision spoke.

“Foolish and tender female. Do not mistake the aching in your loins for anything other than an expression of desire. It is a powerful expression, to be certain; but it is a human emotion, and one far removed from the state of Unconditional Love that defines our origins, our reason for existing. In this moment you think that Union is the answer to your emptiness, that together your lonely bodies will become complete, ending this loneliness.  I assure you that true unity lies within yourself; and unless you remember this you will be on an endless journey that leads only to pain, fear and deeper emptiness. The choice to share life’s path with another, as friend and comforter, to raise one another up and work together, living and creating in joy, is a gift of possibility-but this gift will become a burden if you consider yourself but half of a whole. Emptiness is a bitter cup that can never be filled by something outside of yourself. The Creators share all of your experience, both joy and pain, Light and Dark; and their desire is that you know only Love.  Creation through union is their gift to you. The road of pain is one you will call down upon yourself if you do not understand this gift of Love, and only you will be able to control your vision. Remember that you may call on the name of Love at any moment. It is always there for you; but you must keep an open portal for it to enter. We are never far from you and will never abandon you. All we ask is that you remember us. Go now and be blessed in your ceremony. Your happiness is felt throughout Eternity.”

Her head lolled back, with only the whites of her eyes showing, and La Palabra fell silent. Ella watched her Essence slowly return to normal as she closed her eyes and continued to meditate, as though the vision-the voice-had been but a dream that Ella alone experienced. Her words-or the words that were spoken through her-were etched into Ella’s soul; but her heart and mind would soon forget them as she dove eagerly into the great pool of emotion that defined a life, especially a life lived within the newly awakened arena of desire.  Palabra did not move, seemingly oblivious to the message delivered through her to her faithful servant; so Ella rubbed her numb feet, stood quietly, and slipped out, pulling the door closed behind her. It suddenly felt very heavy and she took a last glance over her shoulder, admiring again its beautifully carved images. The sun glinted across the face carved there, creating shadows in the deep cuts. The images danced on the wood, as though alive, and she touched them with new appreciation. She turned and jumped to the ground, kicking up small clouds of cool, soft dirt; and it was with a hopeful heart that she made her way to her dwelling.

“I have to get ready for Laoch,” she whispered. Yes, she could now give her desire a name.

The setting sun cast its filtered light over the inhabitants of Jinetes and Espera as they bathed in the cool river water, whispering words of encouragement, prayers of hope, and dreams of their new shared lives. Their voices caught on the winds of Domhan and spiraled their way to the Eternal Creators.

Ar’tine bristled at all the damned Light. It was too hopeful, too bright, too..too...promising. And he knew there was no promise in it. Hope brought only disappointment. When would these infernal humans realize the glorious freedom of pure Power the way that he had? There were no expectations, no waiting for approval or permission. He was free from need, wanting and waiting.  His world and everything on it belonged to Him alone. He ignored the hollow echo of the word “alone” as it hit the dark, cold silence of his dying soul.  He still could not see the dismal atmosphere of his world, could not smell the dank, lifeless air that would suffocate any human that tried to live there. He saw only the lovely shadows where he could hide, dark corners where he could conceal himself from his Father, the unfaithful Goddess and all else in Eternity.

“Not concealed from All…” reminded Mor.

“Mac, am I doing what is best for my Children?”

“What do you mean, Sister?” came his reply.

“They have a deep longing to lie together and know Union, but with each new generation of life created our connection to them will weaken. Perhaps we should wait..”

“It is too late for that, Mother.” Bandia was solemn. “There would be no stopping them now, for it would be a bitter disappointment to their heart’s desire were they to be suddenly denied. You remember the state of impatience, do you not?” Bandia’s impertinent implication hurt Inion but she could not deny the truth in it.

There was a long moment of silence before all spoke at once. “All of us do.” It was tinged with bittersweet memory.

“You do realize that soon the destiny of your physical world will be heavily in the hands of your Creations, Sister?” Mac was genuinely concerned for Inion’s happiness.

“And so it must be,” replied Inion. “But I will never allow anything to destroy my Original Thought.  Shall we join them tonight in their celebration-all of us?”

“Of course, Sister. The Light Ones will help the others to make ceremony, teach them to make the call and open the portal for us.  Even now Eolas is creating a way to keep their speech, so that those who follow will know the way of opening the door to Eternity.”

Inion was encouraged.  “Is it true then, Brother? Perhaps this will be a glorious world after all. If we fill it with Light, if they remember to honor that from whence they came, if they never forget the face of Mor…”

“Only this moment is real, Mother Inion,” Bandia broke in. “Too much thought for the moments ahead will rob us all of our joy in the present.”

They reflected on this in silence as they awaited the call from Domhan-their cue to join the humans in their celebration of life.

Eolas spent the last moments of preparation going over his headdress, tightening loose feathers, strengthening knots, and finally rubbing animal fat into the leather band to keep it soft. It was a fine decoration and one of his most creative works. Inspired by the vision of his Father’s Essence, it held his soul within the intricate pattern. Guia  assured the Hunter that all ceremonial herbs and teas would be ready in Espera, as the prophecy called for. Eolas marveled at the nature of the prophecy, its completeness in detail yet with an ever evolving landscape. When would it finally cease to be written for the inhabitants of the world and begin to be written by them? He felt this night was a key to the future of such things. Somehow these awakenings within the humans on their world was leading to independence from the Gods and Goddesses they knew as their Creators; but Eolas was uncertain how he felt about this shift in power. The Creators had not interfered with them so far, and life on Domhan had been full and happy. But when darkness threatened they had stepped in to guard their children. With this new transition of control,  would it also translate to their ultimate responsibility for everything that happened on their world? These were the questions that had begun to plague his thoughts. All he could do was to focus on the task at hand. Many souls were looking to the Light Ones for guidance and assurance; and they would have to find the way to deliver both.

Eolas knelt below the window of his room and prayed to his Father, Mac, for the strength and wisdom to complete the task ahead, making the Creator very proud of his Son.  He rose to his feet and crossed the room to where Laoch was readying himself.  Eolas could only imagine the weight his friend must be feeling at that moment, having to be both facilitator and participant in the ceremony.  He shared his friend’s nervous excitement.
Oh, how he missed his beloved Eagna! To feel her fingers touching his face, hear her whisper his name in the morning light, and to feel her breath on his skin as she slept were what made his life complete. These were his treasures. And soon she would be bringing a new life into their world. He had not allowed himself to dwell on his feelings since they left for the journey; but instead of pushing these thoughts aside again, on this night he would carry them with him into the ceremony, carry her face in his mind, the thought of their child in his heart, for surely their own lives needed the blessing of Eternity as well as those just beginning a life together. It would be his way of having his female with him.

Laoch looked up as Eolas approached where he sat on the floor, making hos own final preparations.  He made certain his pipe had no cracks, his instrument was clean, then pulled his thick fingers through his matted hair.  After bathing in the river, his scalp was still wet with its dew.  The breeze through the window and and long shadows across the floor told them that the sun was descending rapidly.  Laoch verbalized his concerns.  “Everything needs to be perfect for the ceremony. There is much to be gained…or lost.”  Eolas stood quietly in front of him and the Warrior continued, looking nervously around.  “I just need to get my pouch..and instrument. Then we will join the others.”

Eolas admired his friend’s freshly painted face and thought how striking he looked in his Warrior’s tunic and decoration. “I have a gift for you, my friend,” he said, and Laoch looked up, plainly curious. Reaching into his own pouch, Eolas withdrew a simple band of leather strung with leather cords at each end. Attached to the side was a pair of bright feathers. Laoch recognized them as similar to the ones in Eolas’s headdress.

“I know the things you are feeling at this time, my friend, something greater than those mountains.” He pointed to the silhouette of now darkened peaks framed within the window of their room.  “I also know that your joy will increase once you have made promise with your companion. I tried to think of a gift that would reflect my deep respect for what you are beginning, that would show my-our, Eagna’s and mine-hope for happiness in your new life. So, well, this is what Spirit revealed to me.”

Eolas extended the gift to Laoch, and the latter rose to his feet. It was with true humble gratitude and surprise that he accepted it, turning it carefully over in his rugged hands, awed by the symbols burned into the leather, symbols of their life-the Sun, the Moon and the Rain. Beneath these central symbols, all around the bottom edge of the band were other strange symbols-some straight, some curved, connected-disconnected, grouped and singular. Laoch remembered that Eolas was devising a method of recording speech and asked, curious,  “Could this be your new word?” Eolas nodded, a hint of pride curving at the corners of his mouth. “What does it say then?” urged the Warrior.

Eolas touched each symbol as he slowly recited the newly formed words written across the gift. “In Light were you created. In Sunlight may you walk. Beneath the  Moonlight will you lie together. In Eternity’s Light  may your Spirit increase.”  Laoch turned the treasure over in his hand, feeling overwhelmed by the beauty of it.  He lightly touched the feathers, feeling the downy newness of them, a stark white plume and the other black as night.  He looked at Eolas with another question on his lips; but his friend answered before he spoke the words. “The feathers are as our souls, split into halves that are forever trying to become whole again. They are the Light and Dark that live inside of every living thing.  Both of you must be aware of the dark and light within yourselves before you can join together as a symbol of Unity for your children. These feathers should be worn proudly as a sign of your acceptance of the dual nature of your own Soul. I..hoped it would ease the burden of trying to feel perfect for your mate. You must know that you are already perfect in the Thought of Great Spirit.” Eolas nodded. Both were silent for a moment.

Laoch lifted the band to his head, tying the cords in back while the feathers rose high to the side.  He stood proudly before his friend, thankful for the gift and the blessing that came with it. He reached out to shake hands with the Hunter and Eolas gripped his broad hand tightly, reaching his free hand to slap his friend on the shoulder. “It looks to be a perfect fit.”  They finished their preparations in silence,  then moved to the doorway just as Guia approached.

“Hello, my friends. Are you ready to make the walk to Espera? The moon is just showing its face. The woods will be dark soon.” There was an eerie red glow creeping across the fading light blue sky already.  They both nodded at once and Eolas stepped outside. Laoch started to follow,  but stopped short and turned back. In his haste he almost forgot his pouch.  He grabbed it up, thankful he remembered;  for inside was his real treasure, that gift which had been given to him by Naofa-the powerful stones which had sustained him through his fearful moments. It was imperative that they be a part of the ceremony since the Sorceress could not be there with them. With all things precious in hand he rejoined his companions and they headed to the group of restless males gathering at the edge of the woods.

The tribe was led by Guia and Eolas, with Laoch behind, heading up the remainder of the tribe. All of them had their instruments in hand, fresh decorations painted on their skin, and various adornments on their bodies. It was an impressive array of feather, paint, leather and stone. From the edge of twilight, the tribe of Jinetes looked like a flock of birds heading into the dark mouth of the forest.

They exited the clearing into the forest in pairs then spread across the path as many as the width would allow. Eolas noticed the contrasting shadows cast by the setting bronzed sun and the rising blood moon. They created a dance of light and dark figures on the forest floor while the breezes whispering through the trees caused them to sway back and forth-slowly, seductively. The travelers murmured in low, deep voices. Once they were farther along the wooded passage, Guia put his instrument to his mouth and began to blow soft, low notes into the night air. Each in turn, the others followed suit, softly playing his own melody, rising and falling until there was a chorus of sound rising into the wind. Not only did they look like a flock of confused birds, but now they began to sound like one as well. It was uniquely lovely to the eyes of Creation that blinked against the glare of the setting sun. They continued their slow march as they played their instruments, the sun slipping behind the crest of the mountains and the crimson moon seeking a place high in the darkened sky. Soon they would reach the clearing.

Others watched this unfolding as well, not from the Eternal Realm but from another corner of Domhan. Eagna longed for her beloved so desperately and wished she were back at her Lake of Visions, to call forth its power, enabling her to see her beloved and his companions. Still, she was at one with the world on which she lived, mind and body sharing its pulse. Instead of sinking beneath her loneliness, she stepped outside and stood beneath the glow of the magnificently bright blood moon. Focusing on the energy of her loved one, she called to the moon’s energy to illumine her eyes to its vision of her world, as it saw her companion, so that she might share a glimpse of him as well.  The night was filled with flickering light bugs that soon swarmed around Eagna, slowly circling her form and swirling upward into the night, then down again. The soft light illuminated her body as she stood there, arms outstretched to the night.  With eyes closed she saw Eolas marching next to Laoch and watched the strange procession as it moved as one body, and wondered what it meant.  Thrilled to see the face of her beloved even from so far away, Eagna dropped her cloak and embraced his Essence with her own. It was the closest thing to actually being with him that she could manage. She only hoped he could feel her with him as she sent loving thoughts to the land of smoke spirals, wherever it may be.

Continue reading “A Beginning/Forever Never”

Juntos/Forever Never/Excitement Grows

As they continued to work, they began to hum softly, soon affecting the entire group as every female joined in their gentle music, each adding her voice to the soft melody until soon it became a chorus-a lilting sound that rose above their heads and danced on the breeze blowing over the dense woods and into the village of Jinetes.

Continue reading Juntos/Forever Never/Excitement Grows

To Save a Warrior/Forever Never

“But be ever watchful for that which seeks to deceive and destroy you. It will not always present itself in the ways that are obvious to you now. The deadliest poison often lies in the sweetest bloom, while the ugliest branches can bring forth the nectar of life if harvested carefully. You know this to be true. Now you must reawaken this knowledge and nurture it as your roots to the Earth of Domhan.” Continue reading To Save a Warrior/Forever Never

To the Unknown/Forever Never

Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion by Cheryl Pennington copyright art, photos and written work The band of friends part ways as the females head home and the Hunter and Warrior begin their journey to visit the new tribes of their world, somewhere in the land of the strange smoking spirals that float steadily skyward.  What did it mean? Would they be friendly?  So many questions and yet the most pressing thing on the tortured Warrior’s mind remains the same.  What lies within his soul and who has ultimate control?  Join them all on their separate paths which cannot but lead … Continue reading To the Unknown/Forever Never

Tasting Truth/Forever Never

  Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion by Cheryl Pennington copyright 2014 When the Mothers of Creation left their children, feasting was about to begin-a celebration of life, truth and the acceptance of the gifts they were being offered-gifts they were still not fully aware of. All of that would change when the last morsels of meat and vine had been consumed; for it would be the fruit their mothers had left them which would be the last thing to pass through their lips.  And the promise of answered questions, increased understanding and true knowledge of their existence was at the … Continue reading Tasting Truth/Forever Never

The Shining Lie/Forever Never

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Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion

by Cheryl Pennington

copyright

 

As the Sorceress frantically works to warn her friend in the Garden of the vision she saw, the dark force continues its slow path to where M’na lies sleeping peacefully next to her companion, certain of the gift she will soon receive from her Mothers in Eternity. Little does she understand that gifts come in many packages, and not all are what they seem…….

 

 

The Lie that Shines

 

 

 

Backing slowly away from the doorway where the Daughter of Domhan lay peacefully asleep,  It stretched each glistening leg and admired It’s handiwork,  breathing in the night air and feeling victorious even at this early stage of the plan. Focusing once more on that tiny place withing Its soul, where the Light of Eternity was not smothered, It began to draw energy, like blowing on the last glowing ember of a cold, dead fire. It needed this energy to maintain the transformation; and Ar’tine marveled that the Light did feel glorious inside his being.
 
Why, oh why couldn’t He just succumb to Eternity’s call, he mused for a mere moment before remembering, once again, the pride which consumed him.  What, he reminded himself, was grand in being like everything else in existence-plain and with nothing to call his own?  He/It knew he could be morehave more-and this was the only way to greatness in the eyes of The Creator.  The lie was deeply engrained within his soul now. Still, his detached appreciation for the Light would benefit him now as he clung to its brilliance long enough to call his prey from her bed of hopes and dreams.
 
Ar’tine had been with Bandia long enough to be able to emulate her voice, especially to one who was enveloped by the mists of deep sleep; and He would make certain she remained under the influence of dreams’ shadows.

Trying his new voice, he called to the innocent. “M’na?”  Too coarse. Soften it, he thought.  Then again, this time with near perfection, he produced an impressive imitation of his beloved Bandia’s voice as he beckoned his prey to attention. 

“Daughter M’na, come to me now in the Inner Garden. I am here as you desired it. I have heard your whispers.”

 
M’na stirred next to Fireann. The hand she had resting on his muscular arm fell to her chest. He did not move. Had  she heard a voice? She opened her eyes briefly,  but soon succumbed to the seduction of sleep again.  Her lids felt heavy and she began to slowly close them; but the voice came again, this time more urgently-and she was certain that it was speaking to her.

“M’na! Awaken Daughter!”  Was it a female voice?  She thought it seemed so, but it seemed to come from so very far away.  Rubbing her eyes, she thought it must be a dream. Forcing her clouded mind awake, she pushed herself up onto her elbows and tried to listen intently, at first only hearing the soft, rapid beat of her own heart.  How she wanted to return to blissful sleep.  Then it came!  Only this time the voice spoke with more urgency, more command.

“My Daughter, you must rise from your sleep and come to me in the Inner Garden at once.”  M’na’s heart fluttered frantically in her chest now; for in her mind there was no mistaking that it was the call of her Mother Bandia! What could be she want?  Was she answering M’na’s prayers even before they made ceremony?  The Daughter of Domhan pushed the hair back from her face as she tried to find reason in this strange moment.  Perhaps the will to create was so strong in both females that the goddess could sense their desire without any ceremony.

 
She looked at her companion, sleeping so soundly and without a troubled thought.  Should she rouse Fireann?  No. She saw no reason to disturb him now, for surely he would be alarmed and wake their child.

Instead, she quickly and quietly climbed out of their bed and tiptoed to the doorway. Peering through the opening into the dark night she saw nothing but the soft glow of moonlight as it cast shadowy illumination across the clearing. In that moment the voice found her again, even more insistent than before. .

“Hurry, Daughter!  I don’t know how long I can remain in this physical form.  The veil grows heavier as I wait…”  The voice echoed as it floated on the night breeze.

 Somewhere deep within the core of M’na was a small voice that cried out for her to listen more carefully, to note that the voice was indeed very different from that of the Goddess she had come to know so well.  But that other voice, the lonely one that lived in the dark crescent of her beautiful soul was more audible, drowning out the voice of reason.  It was time to ask the Mother for another child! She wouldn’t have to wait another moment.

Becoming so excited about this prospect, she ceased wondering and leapt out into the night, nearly losing her footing as she landed on the soft earth. “Achh!”  A tiny exclamation escaped her lips; but she froze and cupped her hand over her mouth. No need to wake Fireann. He and Amhain had spent a full day together, foraging and exploring. Amhain never seemed to get enough of the wild things on his world. She peered over her shoulder into the dwelling where her beloved lay.  Fireann shifted and rolled over but did not awaken.

 
With one last look at the dark images of her family asleep in their home, M’na hurried away from the clearing and ventured into the damp, dark forest, following her heart’s remembrance to guide her to the Inner Garden. She held the vision of it clearly in her mind with great longing, focusing so intently on her desire that she scarcely noticed the brambles that reached out in the darkness, the thin fingers of Domhan’s heart that tried to hold her back, thorns that scratched her smooth skin as she struggled to keep her arms and legs free. She never heard the manic cries of the crawling creatures as they called to her senses; and she merely swatted at the night flies, their lights flashing wildly as they buzzed her face, begging her to listen.  Even the sorrowful howl of the night hunter did not slow her steps.

She never heard Naofa’s pleas for her to stop and listen as she watched-helpless-the innocent and trusting M’na make her way deeper into the forest. Noafa grasped at the vaporous mists, feeling if only she could touch her friend she could hold M’na back.  It was all in vain as she flung her arms into the thin air before her.  As her mind raced wildly,  Noafa decided it was time to call upon Mother Bandia herself.  She could do nothing to stop whatever might be happening in the Garden right now, but the Goddess may be able to. Perhaps she could move to save her Daughter from whatever fate this dark God had in mind. Who could know, even with his supposed transformation, what agenda he carried within his own soul.

 

Naofa quieted her mind and pushed her terrifying thoughts of the physical from her consciousness. It took so much effort to connect to Spirit when she was distracted. Breathing, chanting, she called upon the Feminine powers in the Eternal Realm.  “Mothers, Bandia and Inion, in the name of all that is Light  I summon you now.  I need counsel, for the Keeper of our world is in true danger. I fear for her safety and for that of her family”…..again and again she chanted her request so that soon her words were as a song upon the night wind, wafting out of her doorway and up to the heavens. “In the name of Light, in the name of Mor…hear me…please.”

The Creators, deep within the Eternal Realm where they worked to prepare As’me for her incarnation, eventually heard the desperate cries for help; but that would come too late to intervene in this drama of deception. For even as Bandia made her way to Domhan, destiny was playing its role in the Garden.

(Mor did not intervene for he knew Ar’tine would not harm M’na-not now. Its Son and Daughters would need to learn to care for their Leanai more carefully, more attentively, for their children were becoming more independent and their Creators less observant.)

 
Fearing that she had forgotten the way to the Inner Garden, M’na was beginning to panic. Just as she decided she must turn back and return to their home, the voice came again.. (not when she is this close, It thought.)
 
“This way..daughter.  You’re nearly here,” the soothing voice came to guide her.  The tone of her Mother’s voice seemed strange to her memory, for underneath the obvious feminine quality, she sensed something else… but she couldn’t discern it. Her mind was still feeling so muddled; and it would be alright, of course,  because the loving voice was guiding her to the Garden after all..

Turning in the direction it was coming from M’na was recognizing the path now and-yes- there it was! The arching vines that concealed the entrance so well were already slightly parted, as though someone had prepared the way for her. Of course. It must have been her Mother.

 
M’na stumbled in, thankful to be out of the dampness of the forest.  It was always perfectly temperate in the garden of peace and comfort. The fragrance from its flowers instantly filled her senses, as did another, strange scent.  Not being able to properly place it, M’na was hesitant for a moment; but the vapors calmed her fears as she felt a heady numbness invade her mind. It was not altogether unpleasant and helped to quell her momentary doubt. 

She began to look around for Mother Bandia and opened her mouth to call out to the Goddess; but she heard a rustling behind her and turned to greet the goddess.  Frozen now, her arms hung limply at her sides and her mouth dropped open in awe as she stared at the vision before her.  What she now saw standing in the Garden was not the goddess Bandia at all.  What was calling to her, what wanted her so urgently, she now recognized as the great, glistening, eight legged form of Inion.

The creature that was waiting impatiently for the confused female was the same brilliant spider that Inion became as her physical self during their celebration; but now she seemed cloaked in a grey mist. M’na blinked, for her eyes were so hazy and heavy with drowsiness.  She tried to rub them clear but to no avail.  Inion(It) shifted on Her legs, smiling down at her daughter. Was She smiling?  That grin seemed more a gaping hole to some small, alarmed place within M’na’s being. 

 
Where was the sense of comfort that was usual with her Mother’s presence?  If M’na hadn’t felt so numb she might have become frightened. She should have become frightened. But she stood glued to the spot-unable, or unwilling, to move. The thing on eight legs, shining under the moon, looked lovingly down at M’na. It was indeed love, but not that of Mother Inion. It was the lust of one who has just seen its Salvation delivered in a lovely package.
 
“Come closer, Daughter,” It whispered through the fog in her head.  M’na saw that behind Inion was the Tree of Living Nectar, that very one from which Mother Bandia drew the sweet drops that produced the miracle of Amhain’s birth. She stepped nearer to the tree, not paying much attention to the thing calling itself Daughter of Mor. Curious, she reached out to touch the scarred place where the first cuts had been made. Although the skin of the tree was smooth, the place where the scar remained had grown over roughly, with little bubbles of clear hard knots, as did blood after one has been wounded. She tried to pry some off with her fingernail but found it immovable.  The apparition spoke again, stirring M’na from her serious scrutiny of the tree.

“My Daughter, we have heard your heart’s cry for another child. All in the Eternal Realm have seen that your young son has been a blessing to Domhan; and the moment has arrived to add to this world’s life force. It is with love that I brought you here tonight.”(emphasis on the love) ‘Too much?’ wondered the dark God.

 
 
M’na’s hazy brain was trying to untangle the knots of confusion. ‘Looks like Inion, sort of sounds like Mother Bandia, wants to grant me my heart’s greatest desire’…These were the mangled echoes of reasoning going on inside her drugged head. Ar’tine made sure there were enough noxious vapors to cloud her thoughts so that she could never surmount the peak of numbness and confusion.  M’na waited for Inion to follow the ritual as Bandia had done before, to break a giant leaf from the tree, to use a pointed stick and puncture its smooth skin, gathering the syrupy amber fluid that would drip from the wound. She wondered in her stupor why Inion hadn’t moved to do anything yet.
 
   
Ar’tine was forbidden to physically touch anything on Domhan; and doing so would reveal his true Essence to this innocent.  But of course M’na didn’t know this any more than she knew this was not her beloved Mother of Light. Sensing her hesitation, the god realized what she was waiting for, and quickly worked to dispel any question that was arising within her thoughts.

“This time you must collect the nectar,” offered the white, shining liar. “You have proven yourself worthy of this gift in the eyes of your Mothers; and it will now be your own gift to Fireann as you present him with the liquor of life on this very night. Then you will know again the ecstasy of Creation. You would like that,,(grinning again)…wouldn’t you?”

(And I would like it as well, thought the dark one, eager to share that particular sensation as it rippled throughout all of existence)

M’na would have sworn she saw Its mouth sneering rather than smiling, but then again…things were so fuzzy.. 

Ar’tine was struggling to keep his patience with M’na, beautiful though she was.  He was now aware of Naofa’s discovery and knew that soon all of Eternity’s children would converge upon him to chastise his actions and spoil his plan.  But no matter.  The seed would be planted before they could arrive; and they would still have to give As’me the life that was promised.  The life he waited for.  And what greater life could his daughter have than to be here in the Garden? She deserved it. None would deny that.  Once they realized that it had been his overpowering love for his Creation that drove him to these impetuous actions, all would be forgiven and he could share in her life. Ar’tine’s tree of delusions had many branches.

 
M’na, in her drugged and weakened state, struggled as she tried to free a sharp twig from a nearby tree.  Impatiently Inion-in-Guise nudged the branch, helping her to break it loose.  Stumbling back to the Tree of Creation, aiming for a point just next to the first wound, and thrust the sharp wood into the soft, smooth bark. Did she hear a soft scream somewhere?  Immediately it began to ooze  thick, amber sweetness, the effects of which she was recalling with new vigor.  Inion/It pointed to a low branch that hung heavy with large, fuzzy leaves. Again it confused M’na that Inion hadn’t simply given her what she needed.  She missed her Mother’s touch of tenderness. And she noticed something else about the creature. 

The spider’s gaze only moments before had seemed full of the Light of Eternity, shining brilliantly across the Garden..Then It blinked. M’na blinked. Was that the red glow of firelight in Inion’s eyes?  She blinked again. No. Only white glimmer, but with a small fleck of slate in the center. So interesting…her mind trailed after this morsel.

“Careful, my dear, you don’t want to waste it, now.” Looking back at the place where she wounded the tree,  M’na placed the leaf where it bled honey colored liquid from its life giving vein. Once she had collected more than a few drops, she pushed away from the trunk to steady herself. She felt so dizzy…

“But, Mother, we planned to commune with you tomorrow night..” she began.  She was going to reveal the plan of both women to request the gift of creation within themselves; but Inion-It was interrupted her.

“Your Mothers know your heart’s desires before you even ask. We have seen the miracle in your son and hope perhaps now..a daughter will be as fortuitous a gift to humankind. And of course the kinship for you as a female will be great.”  It smiled again. Again she wasn’t sure if it was a smile or a sneer. What was it about the way the shining apparition spoke that made her uneasy? 

“Go quickly now and wake your companion.  Why wait any longer when you hold so much Love (and power) right there in your hand? The night is still upon you and there is time. But hurry. This is Eternity’s desire.”

M’na had no strength left to argue. She looked at the glistening, dewy nectar in the leaf she was holding, then back at the wound she had created in the tree. The low-hanging fruits seemed darker and more luxurious than they had before. Curious, she thought.  When Mother Bandia gathered the nectar, the spot from where she had drawn the fluid immediately closed over, sealed with a few crystalline drops. Now the sap continued to ooze from the opening, dripping profusely down the bark of the tree.  M’na thought for an instant that it looked like it was weeping…

 
“Go, now!” Spider-It snapped, knowing the others would be coming.  Startled at the abruptness in her Mother’s voice,  M’na was nearly stunned into full consciousness.  She thought she saw dark edges beginning to form around her Mother Inion. There was a wispiness to her form and M’na smelled something foul.  Was it charred wood? Or was it something rotting?
 
“My daughter,” it soothed, “Aren’t you eager to begin this new creation?”  The sound of Its voice dripping with a nectar of its own along with the heavy vapors soothed her once more.  She peered into the liquid that was pooled in the leaf, and awakened again was the flush of passion that was born between she and Fireann the night they created Amhain. Even without the liquid to warm her insides, she began to feel her legs weaken as her body came alive.
 
“Thank you Mother Inion, we are so grateful for this blessing,” she began.  But Ar’tine sensed her passion rising; and he was not without his own selfish desires, and so bade her to linger no more.

“Yes, I understand. Go quickly, before the night passes.  I am with you, Daughter,”  It said, trying to restore some semblance of Motherly tenderness to its voice. (We are ALL with you, It thought.)  M’na hurried back to the clearing, and this time the brambles didn’t bother to hinder her progress. What use would it have been to try to delay her now?  The Daughter of Domhan was on the path to Create and they were but a mere part of her Creation, after all. 

The hungry female never looked back as she left the Inner Garden.  She never saw the enormous shining creature take Its last lusty breaths of Domhan’s sweet air as It drew in upon Its own glistening white bod;  and she never heard the squishing sound as it pulled its eight legs towards its center before curling itself completely into a white strand that slid across the grasses of her sanctuary.

 Once through the arches the strand spread, growing grayer as it retraced M’na’s steps down the dirt path; and by the time it re-entered the clearing, it had once more become the dark form of chaos that first entered the atmosphere of their peaceful world-a chaos lit by the faint glow of red light.

M’na quietly slipped back inside the dwelling, fearful that the pounding of her heart was so loud it would surely awaken her young son, sleeping soundly in his bed.  She tiptoed to his doorway and watched him there for a moment, his chest rising and falling rhythmically.  She lowered the cloth over his doorway so that his view to her own bed would be blocked.  Walking to where Fireann lay, she gently  sat down beside him, her senses fully restored and completely certain that what she had seen was no less than a divine vision. All questions that tried to invade her thoughts  before had vanished.  She convinced herself that what she now held in her hand was truly a gift from the Eternal Realm. Forgotten were the inconsistencies she had sensed, gone was the apprehension that gnawed at her conscience. She touched his shoulder.
 

 
Fireann arose sleepily, his weight supported by one elbow as she recounted the events in the Inner Garden.  She repeated the words of Mother Inion, and showed him the gift she had received.  Forgotten was her fear, apprehension and hesitation.  She vowed they would still hold the ceremony for Eagna and Eolas; but for now, they had received their own gift of Creation from the blessed Mothers. As she offered up the precious liquid within the leaf, she ignored the questioning look in his eyes, looked beyond the honest trust he held for her as the Keeper of this world and felt she was doing what Spirit wanted.  He obediently took the nectar, leaving her a share.
 
When it was her turn, M’na hungrily emptied the leaf;  and before the syrup found its way into her belly, her mouth was on Fireann’s, feeling the heat rising within and tasting the liquid that their tongues shared. Faintly, she sensed that it didn’t seem as sweet. There was an underlying bitterness she hadn’t noticed the first time.
 
This thought became quickly overshadowed by the vision of his face above hers, their hands touching one another, and their bodies entwined; only this time their passion was shared upon the bed that stood above the floor. How far they had come since that first union in the grasses under the stars, yet how akin this felt to that other time in spite of the changes.  They had to stifle their cries of ecstasy for they did not want Amhain to awaken and observe their ritual. Someday he would know the joy of creation; but tonight he would not know of its perfection.
 
Still,  there was a Watcher. Outside the open doorway, in the shadows not lit by the moon, there swirled a dark mist. It pulsated with a faint red glow of excitement as it felt their passion and knew Its own ecstasy.  Ar’tine would be gone long before the family awoke to the morning light streaming in through the windows; but his interference was already being scrutinized within the Realm.

M’na awoke to the light of dawn filled with new hope and satisfaction…and a deep aching in her head, although she couldn’t understand why.

 
to be continued……
 
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