Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
by Cheryl Pennington
The ceremony done, the awakening begun, all within Foirfeachta know the joy of creation. All but one who lies alone, savoring the night with but a tinge of envy. Soon she sleeps, but what peace can she find within the mists of her dreams?
When the red nightmare struck the Garden, everything became lit with fire, ablaze with orange and red fury. The Sorceress was helpless where she stood, stricken with horror as smoke tendrils curled up against the glare of red and yellow light that now defined the sky where the heart of Domhan beat in terror. Although too distant to see what was taking place, she heard the cries of her friends as if they were right there with her. She listened to the Mother of humankind pleading for mercy, she heard the hoarse cries of the one who lived to love his family, and felt the fear choking the breath of all that lived within the heart of Domhan. Rising above these sounds rang the sharp clanging of instruments she could not recognize. She saw them clearly, glistening devices of death she had never known before.
How she longed to turn from the place of her vision; but now she saw bodies sprawled upon ashes beneath the heat of something massive and dark that loomed above the dying Foirfeachta. Trying to make out detail within the shadows of her dreaming mists, she squinted into the darkness. From what unspeakable corner of Eternity had this cruel beast arisen? Noafa’s heart shattered at the thought of those she loved, those she had sworn to protect, now helpless against this creature of darkness. Where were M’na and Amhain? She had not felt or seen them. Forcing her eyes away from the scene of death, she looked wildly for some sign of salvation, her eyes falling on the dense mist creeping up the hill, wrapping itself around her ankles. Her heart pounded as she felt the damp air swirling around her body and struggled to see beyond the gray blanket.
There, almost within her arm’s reach, another scene began to play out as the echoes of her nightmare faded behind. Through the vapors she saw a young male, tall and handsome, riding a brilliant white animal. His eyes were flashing with anger, his muscles taut as he sat atop the magnificent creature, his long legs prodding it onward. Naofa could feel pain, anger, and desire rising within him. No stopping, he thought, for he knew he had to reach her , had to free her, before it was too late.
But who she was the, Sorceress did not know. Beyond his pain, loneliness and fierce determination, Naofa felt something else; and yet it eluded her. The mists parted and the willowy, long-legged beast turned its head slightly to glance back at Noafa, its long white mane blowing across its face. In that moment she caught a glimmer of something in its eye. The look was desperate and yet…something more. It was the look of determination, of defiance!
The travelers rode quickly over the rise of the hill and out of sight; and the horror of her nightmare returned as she focused on the devastation in Foirfeachta. What had been a blazing inferno mere moments before was now a charred speck on the horizon, an abysmal hole of death. All was black, save a misty smoke that hung above the burnt branches that once were mighty trees, their living limbs reaching upward to their Creators.
She could hear weeping, moaning and pleading to the Eternal Realm for help. She tried to call out along with the others; but her voice seemed trapped in her throat. Trying to move, she found herself paralyzed. The desperate Sorceress struggled wildly to free her feet; and looking down, she realized that they had become as gnarled vines, now deeply rooted in the hillside. “You waited too long!” her mind accused. Deep within her soul, somehow, she felt this was her fault. Raising her face to the cloudless black she shook her fists in anger and began to wail before crumpling to the ground and tearing at the feet that seemed now a part of the cruel land that imprisoned her.
Landing with a thud as she fell to the hard wood, the Sorceress, half awake, continued to flail about, clawing at her ankles as she struggled to free them from the earthen shackles of her dream. As consciousness made its way into her foggy brain she gasped for air and looked around wildly to see that she was still safely in the Garden, only now sprawled beside her own bed, soaked with perspiration. Her skin was glistening in the filtered moonlight, her hair dripping with sweat. Shivering, she climbed out of bed, quickly pulled her tunic on, and quietly crept to each and every bed of those she championed. Tiptoeing around their beds, she felt their breaths and searched for any sign of intrusion. She fully expected to find the hand of death, some shred of dark interference; but there was nothing.
She could not go back to sleep; so she sat on the steps outside her dwelling, trying to shake the veil of gloom that wanted to cover her heart. And waiting, waiting, for the hand of darkness to pound its angry fist upon their peaceful world. As soon as she saw the first shards of dawn cutting through the blanket of dark forest, she greeted the new day with gratitude. This had been merely a vision after all. But she knew visions must have meaning; and she had to decide what it meant for her and for the others on Domhan.
M’na was the first to rise that morning, stretching and feeling refreshed after her deep sleep. As she stepped into the morning light and glanced across the clearing, she saw the exhausted, disheveled Sorceress sitting on the steps outside her doorway. Her head lay across her upraised knees; and so deep in thought was the weary female that she didn’t notice M’na approaching her. Naofa flinched as the other female touched her shoulder lightly. Jerking her head up, the Sorceress looked fearfully at her friend. Seeing Naofa’s pale face, her tangled locks and the shadows beneath her gray eyes was alarming to M’na.
The Sorceress was confused as she gazed into those questioning dark eyes. How long had she been sitting here this way, waiting for the light of day? In all the moments that had passed, she felt no more certain of her nightmarish vision than she had just after she awoke, terror-stricken and alone. She looked up at M’na, shielding her eyes from the bright morning light that was just breaking behind her head. It gave a lovely glow about M’na’s face, like when the Mothers used to appear…The effect cast a momentary spell over Naofa, until M’na spoke.
“Sister, what is wrong? Are you ill? Did you sleep out here all the night’s passing?” M’na was deeply concerned for her friend. Naofa, above all others, was always composed, stoic and had become the spine of their collective body. M’na tried not to imagine what could have disarmed her so that she was not even aware of her surroundings. Sensing the urgency of her friend’s tone seemed to sober the Sorceress.
“Remember your place,” whispered her heart. She knew what her role was for this family; and she must compose herself even while she continued to ponder the vision that was now possessing her every thought. Reaching to touch M’na’s hand where it rested on her shoulder, she sat upright and smiled. She took the Mother’s hand and held it between both of her own.
“I am fine M’na. I simply arose early to ponder the words our Mothers left us with. We must be strong in our resolve to remember their words, their gifts…and their cautions.”
Not yet ready to reveal her dream, not even certain she had understood it fully, Naofa quickly deferred to the advisory their Mothers had given regarding their faithful understanding of the Truth. “Well…you heard them say that with every birth of human life on Domhan the veil grows heavier between this physical world and that of the Eternal Realm. We must be faithful in our meditation so that we never forget their words, never forget their promise, their gifts…their presence!” He fingers dug into the tender flesh of M’na’s hand more deeply and she looked into the forest, fearful lest her friend see the truth within her eyes.
Thoughtfully M’na added, “I have been pondering this effect of life, the dimming of our vision of Eternal Light on Domhan. We should set aside a portion of our days for meditation, for contemplation and counsel. In this way, we will remain close to our Mothers in Essence, bringing Creation together. It’s a good idea, don’t you think?” She looked eagerly at Naofa for a response.
It was a good idea, but would it be enough? Naofa wondered. As she walked ahead she added over her shoulder, “And the children. You must be certain to impress upon the young ones the importance of meditation and communication with the world of Spirit. They will have no memory of the physical manifestation of Spirit as we do now.”
Naofa stopped and turned back to see that M’na heard and understood this last declaration. M’na, still unaware of what caused the Sorceress’s anxiety, answered definitively, “Yes, Naofa, it will be the first thing they learn as the words begin to form on their lips. Amhain is most certainly more faithful in meditation than his Father and Mother are.”
The Sorceress forced a smile. “It is well that he should be. Perhaps you should look to your son and follow his lead. He is the one most recently come from the company of those dwelling in the world of Light. You must encourage him to keep his own Light alive within his soul. I have a feeling it will be his greatest weapon…”
M’na’s heart sank. “What do you mean? Why would he need a weapo..” but Naofa cut her off. “Not now M’na. I have much to do. We must be about the business of life on Domhan. There will be new tribes and new visitors. You must be prepared to greet them. And I think I must check in on Laoch soon.” Naofa knew he must be told of the recent events in Foirfeachta.
As she walked away, M’na could see Naofa’s composure return and was confident she would resolve whatever troubled her. The beautiful mother reveled in the bright morning and wanted only to feel complete bliss over the new life she was carrying. As she touched her stomach she immediately thought of Eagna and was eager to see her after their night of awakenings…..