Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
by Cheryl Pennington
All rights reserved
When we left our friends in the Garden, the ceremony of sanctification for Dohman’s first born human child was well under way. Gifts have been given, blessings shared and prayers offered. As night descends upon their world, the power of Eternity moves to join the Light Ones in welcoming the hope of their world, arriving in surprising fashion…..
The story continues…..
(Bandia, Goddess of Dohman is the first to arrive, as of our last chapter)
“My Daughter, M’na, you have done well. Eternal Spirit celebrates the birth of this child along with you. Your son carries the hope of Light within his soul, for it was created through the culmination of all within the Realm.”
The sound of Bandia’s voice accompanied by the fluttering of mighty wings urged M’na to open her eyes, and the new mother was awed by the sight unfolding before them. A flurry of brown and white presented itself into the circle; and the wind it created fanned the fire in the pit, sending orange embers up into the night sky as the immense creature came to roost in the soft earth just in front of the Garden Family.
They all recognized the great, wide-eyed owl that hunted by night, had all heard its cry in the darkness as it called to its mate; but this was the most magnificent night bird they had ever seen. Spreading its wings completely as it landed, they could appreciate the full span of them from tip to tip. Fireann encircled his family with his body instinctively, his mouth hanging slightly open as if to speak. But he dared not; for the great winged bird began to speak, it’s eyes gleaming yellow; and M’na was comforted to know it was her own Mother Bandia who joined them on their special night. The bird’s eyes seemed too bright to look directly into; so everyone bowed their heads in reverence for the presence of the Goddess within their midst. The enormous bird ruffled its feathers slightly, shifted on its dark talons, and faced each in turn as she addressed them.
“Each of you within this Circle of Light has been created for a purpose; and in the name of that purpose, each has brought magnificence to this moment.”
Bandia’s soul delighted at the sight of Eolas’ headdress, and she gently dropped a golden brown feather near where he sat so that it might be added to his crowning accomplishment. “This will protect you,” she said solemnly. “It is a gift for all you have done and will continue to do for your friends and the Garden family.”
Eolas would collect it later. Numbly aware of her presence and the enormity of the gift, he could only gaze at a place slightly lower than the blinding brilliance of the great bird’s eyes and nod before returning his gaze to his lap as the Bird-Goddess continued, “Your Father is also well pleased with you. He comes now.”
The mighty owl gave a nod to Naofa who reached into her cloak pocket, retrieved a small bundle, and walked to the fire pit. What it was that she tossed into the flames was unknown; but instantly blue-gray vapors arose from the flames that now danced higher and higher, lighting the circle completely. Tendrils of smoke in colors of the rainbow soon wound their way upward. More rustling in the forest was heard, and there seemed a sudden heaviness in the air. They all felt a light dizzying in their heads that threatened to topple them from the stones on which they sat.
In the moments that followed the most magnificent thing any of them had seen yet in their time upon Dohman began to take form. First came the sound of a mighty wind, as great as those which thundered through the valleys of Laoch’s homeland. It started as a low moan, sounding hollow and deep.
Fireann was clinging more tightly to his family although he felt no threat in his soul. Eagna watched the colored tendrils swirl upward, intertwining as they thickened, growing brilliant and drifting upward as they gained form and density.
Eolas immediately felt the Essence of his Creator, Mac, and thus extended both arms in front of him, palms facing upward, just as he did whenever he communed with his Father each morning. The others mimicked his movement in a sign of welcome to this new male Essence which had not been part of their experience on Dohman before now.
Eolas recognized the creature taking form before them now, appreciated its fullness and beauty, and knew it as the same magnificent vision from his dream. Its plumed head nearly matched his own with a crown of iridescent-colored feathers sprouting up in all directions-so breathtaking!
“Welcome Father,” whispered Eolas, reverently. The creature was now fully physical in form, as large as the owl that came before, although its feathers were not at all as plain as the owl’s. This creature had layered plumes in an array of every color imaginable. Shifting on the dirt, fluffing His feathers and flexing, Mac was adjusting to his physical form. He had never manifested in the physical before and it felt heavy to his Essence, although not altogether unpleasant. He was truly filled with gratitude to be a part of the celebration on his Twin’s world of Dohman. He suddenly felt as though a great weight had been unburdened from his soul; for even though his original error was so long ago, it was as a blink of an eye in Eternity and had remained as a mark upon his tender soul.
Hearing Eolas speak, Mac turned to his son; and the words issuing from his mouth were uplifting. The thought that, even after all the cycles that had passed since his birth on Dohman, this Hunter remembered his Creator, filled Mac with Love. Eolas was so unlike his first Creation. Thinking of Mac an Mor made Him uneasy, and he shifted on the new talons, digging them deeply into the ground. His round black eyes shone out of a crimson face, gazing directly at Eolas as he spoke.
“You are my son, and I am pleased to join you here in this place for such a glorious celebration.” Mac looked around at all who were present and drank in the essence of Inion’s world. Seeing his Twin’s creation from the Eternal Realm certainly did not do it justice. To be here, breathing the air of Dohman, feeling the cool night, with physical lungs was so invigorating!
For an instant Mac felt compassion for his darker Son, he understood the god’s desire to walk as a physical being and to know his own Creation within the realm of her existence. But that was as far as the comparison went; for he also knew that Ar’tine had a darker agenda than wanting to share As’me’s experience on her world. Power was what he always sought. This twisted seed of Darkness had been Mac’s own legacy to his first Son. Remorse had long since found its place in the dark corner of Mac’s soul, but he sought desperately to deprive it of the nourishment it needed to survive. He would not give up on this Existence, this being, even with all of its challenges. Knowing Bandia had included Ar’tine in this celebration was both encouraging and threatening at once, and he felt the old Fear trying to arise within himself once more. No, he thought, nothing on Dohman or in the Eternal Realm could taint this miracle. Mor would never allow it.
Mac turned to address the Garden Family. “In the Light of Eternity you were brought into being and in the Dawn of Dohman did you bring forth your own Creation. All essence comes from this Light. Does not all dark night fade before the face of new Light? The burning sun blots out the emptiness of night and makes all visible. Do not fear Darkness, dear Leanai. It is a part of all that came into being from Original Thought. It is not the darkness which can destroy life but the fear of it which threatens to consume. You must be vigilant in your nurturing of all that was inspired in your Son before his birth into the physical. It was through communion with those in the Eternal Realm that his soul was prepared for this journey; yet none can guarantee that the empty space does not exist still within him. It is not a matter of teaching him who he is, but more the task of never letting him forget all that he once was and can become, here in this life. As you encourage your son, so shall you be encouraged.”
When he finished speaking, Mac turned toward the path; and soon they all sensed there was another presence approaching. There fell an oppressive silence before a slight swishing sound could be heard, as though from a great distance, then drawing ever nearer. The swishing grew to a deep rustling in the forest just beyond the circle; and as it grew closer and louder it seemed as though something enormous was crashing through the deep woods and bearing down upon them with the force of a surging river. The participants lifted their hands to their faces as if to ward off something imminently disastrous.
Suddenly the crashing stopped. All was silent once more. Then the soft swishing returned, only it was close-very close; and it was now accompanied by a rapid breathing, as though whatever was coming had run a very long race and was attempting to refill its lungs with deep breaths. These sounds subsided as a dark form began to take shape beneath the tunnel of branches which arched the path to the circle. Fuzzy at first, in only seconds it became more distinct, and Laoch recognized it at once as the dark form from his dream. Instinctively his arm shot up and he pointed an accusing finger at the new arrival. His eyes were wide as his mouth flew open as if to shout. But no sound would emerge as he was frozen by fear.
Bandia shifted on her talons, her feathers ruffling and stirring the dirt. The air was heavy and still as a gray mist swirled into the circle, while the dark form within it slowly transformed into first a paw-huge, black, and furry, with sharp claws that glistened in the firelight as they moved forward. Then another paw emerged from the mist. Taking a step forward, the chest of a great, black beast now became visible. It heaved in and out slowly as its owner took in great gulps of the damp, night air.
M’na clutched her infant to her chest as Fireann lifted both arms, preparing to shield them, but from what he was uncertain.
Mac knew his Son and understood his need for theatrics. He was darkly beautiful as he emerged from the deep forest, taking the form of the night predator. Soon he was well within the circle where they all could appreciate his tremendous girth. The creature’s ears were long and stood straight above his gray black eyebrows, eyebrows that shadowed the things which must be eyes within his head. Black as coal they gleamed until the beast’s eyes began to burn red, as red as the heart of the fire that blazed up when He stepped towards it. (A warning?) The creature stepped back, lowering its weight down upon its haunches.
If an animal were able to smile, this one surely did, producing a toothy, wide grin before it lowered itself to the earth, front legs extended in a deep bow, head down. Tensions around the circle eased at this obvious gesture of submissiveness. Mac’s apprehension was calmed, Bandia relaxed her talons, and M’na felt her heart slow its mad pounding. Still, she clung tightly to her son, fierce in her will to protect him-but from what?
After a few long moments, it was Laoch, full of gratitude and hope in his Warrior’s heart, that arose from his place and approached the great beast with outstretched hand. Approaching the dark creature, he confidently touched the top of its head, then ran his hand down the length of its back, his fingers stroking its silky fur.
“Welcome Father Ar’tine,” he said. The others were humbled by this gesture; and Ar’tine would remember it as the bravest (or most foolish) thing he had seen a human do in their time on Dohman. And he had been watching.. Deep within his own hidden garden, the one where Light sprang eternal and hoped to be recognized, there was jubilation.
“Thank you, my Son,” answered the wolf. It is wonderful to be included on this miraculous occasion.” Ar’tine felt truly heartened and encouraged by Laoch’s display, but his temporary sense of comfort was overshadowed by the sense of apprehension he felt from the others. Bandia was silent and distant, Mac was holding His eternal breath, and the Garden Family looked as though they might rip him apart with their bare hands with little provocation. His son’s gesture was touching, he thought, but not the glorious reception he had hoped for when he decided on this magnificent physical form. In truth, this realization wounded him, but as with all sensations he perceived as weaknesses, he transformed it into a new perception-as that of an insult. How could they not see his greatness? He would have to show them, of course, but how and when remained his own secret. For now he would not resort to any aggressive move or reveal his internal vulnerability. Instead, Ar’tine merely lifted his head and walked a few steps forward while staying well behind the fire pit, observing that Naofa had placed herself between himself and the little family.
“Ahhh..Sorceress, how good it is to see you. And how magnificent you are. Your talents are obvious,” he continued charmingly as he turned his head to survey the clearing, taking in all that had been done and all who were in attendance. “Just as my Father has shared of his own experience, this, too, is my first venture into the physical…here on Dohman, that is.” (Arrogance is foolish)
Quickly realizing his error in reminding those present of his tragic downfall on the dark world of Dohman Eile, the dark beast spoke to Fireann. “Congratulations, new Father, on the arrival of a son! May he grow as the specimen of virility and strength that you certainly appear to be.” There somehow seemed a twinge of sarcasm in Ar’tine’s tone, although it was nearly imperceptible, except to the keen senses of the Sorceress.
Fireann nodded his appreciation. The beast lowered his body further to the ground and stretched, assuming a complete supine position, in an act of total subjugation. He turned his attention to the Mother of Dohman and began to speak to her, and not without true sincerity…in that particular moment.
“Mother of Humankind. It is with great honor and….humility (he knew his words) that I join the others in the Eternal Realm in bringing blessing to welcome your son. May all of our efforts at Unification of the Soul be rewarded by the manifestation of wholeness within him.”He gestured with a giant paw as he slid it across the ground before M’na.
It was indeed a sincere blessing, but not one Ar’tine himself held out much hope for. He had gone too far to be among the innocent hopefuls. He was more like a sideline better, but rooting for the “good guys”. Of course. (Of course).
He waited expectantly for a response from M’na for this outpouring before raising his head; and although it seemed that moment would slip into oblivion along with his hopes for the return of his daughter, she finally found her voice.
“Dear God of Dohman Eile who has suffered the pain of darkness and loss, I know nothing of what you have endure; but in the name of Eternity, I accept your blessing and extend only Unconditional Love to you on behalf of myself, my son and my companion.”
Ar’tine heard the words, felt the sincerity within them, and the physical beast’s heart he now experienced skipped several beats. Not since As’me left his side had he felt such tenderness. And from a female! Perhaps he could become more. The chorus of Light within his soul rejoiced!
If only M’na had stopped there things may have resolved within Ar’tine’s decaying soul-or perhaps not. He lifted his eyes to meet her gaze; and although his heart was soft at that very moment, the red glow from his eyes stirred something within her new Mother’s soul, a sense of protective fury that she could not control. She quickly spoke again, unaware she would be sealing the fate of all who bore witness.
“Hear me now Ar’tine. I speak to the dark beast that exists within your soul, the one you chose to represent your essence tonight. Never will any harm come to this child. I will die before you or anything else that is dark touches him or threatens to dim his Light.”
A threat! Coming from this small female human? And in the face of his subjugation and blessing? What a betrayal to his moment of vulnerability. How dare she!
A low growl rumbled in his throat as he slowly began to rise upon his paws, his razor sharp nails digging into the earth, his jowls pulling back to reveal glistening fangs. M’na jumped to her feet and stood eye to eye with the dark shadow of eternity. Fireann leapt from behind his family, his bow and arrows only an arm’s length away.
Bandia, who only seconds before felt tremendous joy and hope in this joining of all in Eternity, now stretched her wings and flexed her talons. Eolas rose upon the stone with his legs spread, ready to leap to where his own weapons were stashed.
Laoch, although quickly at the ready, felt confused. This was one of his Creators and yet, if need be, he would have to defend the seat of humanity from his own Father, in the form of this beast.
Noafa and Eagna readied themselves for whatever might be about to happen to them.
But before Ar’tine could fully gain fury or think of a rebuttal, the pathway to the forest became ablaze with Light. Its glow rose high above the trees and moved into the circle with blinding force. Then, just as quickly, the light receded to reveal a shining form that loomed high above their heads. It’s brilliance was instantly recognizable to the females present. It was Inion, in the same form that she had visited them in their dreams.
There, within their circle of celebration, loomed a towering, iridescent spider; but this Spider’s face bore no resemblance to the serene countenance they had witnessed before the child’s birth. It bore the countenance of the enraged. The She-creature moved with purposeful agility toward the great black beast who, frozen in surprise, was trying to comprehend what was unfolding.
The She-arachnid began to sling long, silky threads from behind which caught the beast around its furry neck; then with more from her rear she bound his legs with the silken cords.
Ar’tine was taken completely unaware; and he struggled to speak even as he tore at the bindings to free himself from the ever tightening grip of Inion’s web.
By the time M’na realized what was happening, the colorful bird that was now Mac lunged forward and with its golden beak tried to cut the cords that bound its son.
“What are you doing, Mac!?” cried Inion. “Don’t you see he is not changed, but only disguising his dark agenda? Will you let him wreak havoc on my world yet again?”
Truly Ar’tine was in a state of angry confusion. In that moment he had no agenda. That would come later, for the wheels of destiny had begun their creaking roll forward. M’na scrambled forward, crying out, “No, wait! Mother, the beast has done nothing to harm us. Please release him-now!”
to be continued…..
As always, I welcome feedback. This story is my baby, my heart; but I really would like to know what you think. Thank you for reading my words. May you be touched the Light of real Love in your lives today and always..