Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
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As the news of Dohman’s first born human child is delivered, the Light Ones are called to return to the garden, for there they will participate in the ceremony. All of Eternity is rejoicing in the hope of resolution that lies within the child. Join Hunter and Warrior as they answer this call…
Laoch had not expected to like the male in the Garden as much as he had, for he lived in that lush place, so full of all that was needed to survive, where Fireann and his female knew perfection in their surroundings. In his own land of cliffs, the air went from the blistering heat of sunlight to the chilly cold of dark as night fell upon his part of their world. The Warrior had assumed Fireann would be soft; for there was no need to hunt when all that they desired could be simply plucked from vine or bush and gathered near their home. What, then, would there have been to make him strong? Loach had to scale the mountains that surrounded him and stalk his prey over sometimes treacherous fields and into dense woodland; and he felt this is what made him a worthy human.
His foolish assumption had been that the keeper of Dohman would be small and weak. He wondered about these assumptions now that his mind knew the truth of what he found when he journeyed to Foirfeachta. That he had taken an instant liking to Fireann’s friendly face and warm, strong handshake. That as he spent time with the couple there, Laoch could see that Fireann cared for his companion well and the latter thoroughly adored him in return. It had been a curious thing for one such as he, alone in his world and content with his place. He now wondered that if this experiment worked-if the miracle unfolded as desired-would the Creators also bless him with such a companion? It didn’t occur to him to feel lonely until he saw them together, walking in the evening shadows and holding hands. He noticed the male gently stroke M’na’s belly with tenderness and observed the serenity that found its place in her countenance when he did so.
Laoch considered himself able and independent, never feeling a sense of lack or a need for company-before his visit. Now he felt a small catch, ever so tiny-a sort of emptiness. When he finally departed from the Garden he felt he was leaving good companions behind, and the Warrior was quite pleased with all they had accomplished. Fireann learned to make and use some crude tools for hunting, although he repeatedly insisted they did not eat the flesh of their fellow creatures. Laoch assured his new friend that it was the Creators who sent him with these lessons, therefore the gentle Keeper of the Garden continued without further resistance. Laoch also taught them to fish with a handmade spear and found much pleasure in watching the couple trying to master the process. (Laoch wondered if he had ever truly laughed before that.)
“We are not strangers to the flesh of the shiny ones,” proclaimed M’na as she triumphantly lifted her catch as high above her head as her girth would allow.
“But we have always caught them using simple webs we have fashioned from tree fibers,” finished her companion. He explained how the idea came after observing the work of the tree spiders. It amazed Fireann that their finely intricate worked seemed so delicate, yet how sturdy and effective it proved in capturing their meals. He also lamented that it was tricky if the manmade webs slipped loose from the rocks they were tied to, and often the fish was simply too large and snapped the woven fibers. He agreed that this spearing was much more effective; and after just a short time Fireann became an expert.
Learning that Eolas already taught them how to make a fire, Laoch showed M’na how best to cook the fish. Before now, they had only eaten them raw, and not often. He also showed her how to boil the remains down to a slippery oil which could be used for cooking the green leafy foods they ate.
Both M’na and Fireann were respectful and attentive to all that Laoch shared, but he knew they still preferred their own way. They showed him all of the various fruits, nuts and herbs they ate regularly. They even sent him on his way with an ample supply of these things for himself. Yes, they were more than he had expected, and he was very eager to see them again. As he was making preparations for his return, the Warrior was not at all surprised to look up and see the tall, colorful figure that emerged from beneath the stone outcropping leading to his home among the cliffs.
The Warrior was both awed and amused at the sight of Eolas approaching with his headdress bobbing back and forth and his painted skin glinting under the late cycle sun. Laoch thought how he looked like a giant bird approaching him now-one with tall legs and a hand held high in greeting, while a broad grin slid across its tanned, yet very human face.
“Hello, my friend. I am Eolas!” At any other time this sight might have confused Laoch, but not today. He had known his own vision in a dream the previous night.
XXXVI The Warrior Dreams
It had been a rather warm evening, so Laoch decided to make his bed upon the outcropping of the cliff that bordered his cave so that he could sleep under the stars. They were so brilliant and so many. He spent all day hunting as well as having spent many cycles preparing skins and small tools to take with him when he next visited the family in the Garden.
The exhausted male soon drifted off into a deep slumber, resting soundly for awhile, enjoying the sleep of the weary. Eventually he found himself in a strange state, in a place somewhere between awake and asleep, where he heard a great fluttering sound. It reminded him of the sound the of wind in the rushes that grew near the river.
In this half-aware state, Laoch sat up and looked around, curious that it was suddenly so bright. There were no longer stars above, only the glow of twilight. He heard a loud scratching sound and turned his head just in time to see the talons of a great winged creature grappling its way up over the rocks and onto the outcropping where the surprised Warrior now sat, staring in amazement. He had never seen anything so huge. Or so colorful. In all of Dohman, even within the Garden, he had not seen such a beautiful creature. The only way his mind could perceive of it was as an enormous, miraculous culmination of all birds he had ever seen, rolled into this magnificence.
The wonder bird came so close to where he rested that he could nearly touch its black, sharp talons that glinted under the golden-pink sky. He sensed the power within the creature, knowing in his warrior’s heart that the bird could rip his throat open with one easy stroke; and yet he was not afraid. He instinctively felt it must have come from the Eternal Realm; and he would soon realize the entire truth of his assumption.
The bird-beast began to speak, causing the cliffs to quake and the ground to tremble where he sat. “Laoch, Warrior of the Cliff Dwelling, I am Mac, son of Spiorad Mor. The time is now for our miracle to be delivered on Dohman. The child that promises to return oneness to Creation through its birth is arriving this night. You have done well in all that has been asked. I come to you in this form tonight so that you will recognize the one who will join you on your journey. Do not fear his strange appearance. He will be a true friend and guide; and together you will continue on to Foirfeachta. There are already others there awaiting your arrival so that all may participate in the Sanctification of Dohman’s firstborn child.”
Laoch was overwhelmed with reverence at the sight of an Eternal being, standing on his ledge in such a miraculous form. He opened his mouth to answer but stopped short before the words found his lips. A slight movement behind the great bird caught his keen eye, but being uncertain he blinked to clear his dream vision. No… Yes! This time he saw it move distinctly, appearing as a dark shadow that drifted out and around the form of the bird-beast.
Being a warrior and hunter, Laoch instinctively reached for his spear, but to his surprise soon realized it was not near where he had lain. Slowly the shadow moved in front of the magnificent bird; and as it moved, the dark mists began to take on form-that of a black, four-legged animal, covered in fur from head to tail. It resembled the beasts that howled in the woods under the black of night; but this beast was many times the size of those that roamed his land! And then there were its eyes. Its eyes glowed red like the embers of his fire! As Laoch stared at those red eyes, he knew he saw them flicker, just as the flames of his fire would lick roasting flesh. The shadow beast then took a few quick steps toward the Warrior, but sensing Laoch’s apprehension, it froze in its tracks, lowering its head menacingly. Or was it sorrow? It produced a low growl, putting an end to any doubt that arose within the Warrior’s mind.
(Ar’tine was wounded by the fear emanating from his own creation-the vines grow hairy)
The dark beast cocked its huge head slightly to one side as Laoch heard its voice inside his head even before its jaws parted.
“You don’t even recognize your own Creator, Laoch,” it groused, “I am Ar’tine, ruler of Dohman Eile. I breathed life into your Warrior’s lungs, and yet you sit there-shivering-as though I am something to be reviled.” A low growl rumbled up from its throat, and it bared its teeth as though to support the truth of its statement.
The Spirit-bird shifted on its perch then and, turning its head in Ar’tine’s direction, opened wide the eyes that had been merely slits before. Long splinters of light fell from within them and struck the beast’s skin, singeing and searing its hide. With a yelp and another low growl, it began licking the wounds as it grudgingly stepped back behind the winged creature, who seemed to control its now.
The feathered wonder turned to Laoch as it sought to assure him, “It is true that Ar’tine, along with Mother Bandia, brought you to life here on Dohman, Laoch. It was her own essence that gave you Spirit.” It glanced down at the shadow beast which hid behind it once more, and the bird spoke again. “You owe no allegiance to any God or Goddess. Your loyalty is to the others who share existence with you here on Dohman. Your purpose is to Love. If you are faithful in this, your devotion to the Eternal Realm will be understood. All in the Realm are steadfast in the hope of salvation for Soul’s restoration through the birth of this child. Protect it and remain true to your spirit. Remember that your Creators are always with you and will help when you call; for whenever you are in meditation and communion with all in existence, you will also be in communion with us. You are never alone.”
A low growling came from the shadow beast as it paced behind Spirit-Bird, but a flick of the latter creature’s wing silenced it once more.
The immense bird then curled its feathers around its head and turned to the sun, now barely visible upon the face of Dohman. Spreading its wings and giving a final backward glance at Laoch, the creature lifted its enormous body from the ledge. As it began to flap its way across the dusky sky, drawing the shadow with it, they shrank into a mere black dot before the twilight. Laoch suddenly heard a buzzing in his ears and felt his very breath being pulled from his lungs as the dot faded into pink and gold. As he gasped for air, his chest felt crushed; and he opened his mouth to cry out, but no sound came. He began clutching his chest as he tried to breathe and the world went black.
Suddenly he awoke to the harsh light of the morning that had crept upon him while he was dreaming. He rose up immediately, feeling thankful that it had been only a vision and being certain the message from his Creators.