Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
by Cheryl Pennington
As the Sorceress works to regain her composure, the new arrivals carry on in their usual bickering fashion. Who are these strange males, where did they come from, and-more importantly-what is their intent as they wander across Domhan?
Pleased to Meet You
“Well..,” began the calmer one, “We have, indeed, heard of that Hunter-Eolas-as well as yourself..” Then the hungry one took over, addressing the females excitedly, “And you must be Eagna, she of Wisdom,” he said, pointing a stubby finger in Eagna’s direction.
The females looked at each other, raising their eyebrows and thinking, ‘Well, they obviously know our names, but where did they come from?’ Quickly summing up who seemed to be the most reasonable of the pair, Naofa turned to the less portly fellow; for he seemed of much better temperament. Beginning again, the Sorceress knew she must elaborate if she wanted to make progress here.
“There are males are on their way to visit the tribes living where those smoke spirals rise-a Warrior and a Huntsman. Did you meet them? Have they sent you back for us?” No response. “Do you have some kind of message from them?” When they still didn’t respond, the usually composed Sorceress stamped her foot, jolting the pair from their silence. Their eyes widened but their mouths clamped shut in stunned silence.
“Have? You? Seen. Them?”
“Well,” began the young one-but the hungrier, grumpier companion cut him off again, his words tumbling out like water over the rocks in the river.
“We were told to seek the Light Ones and offer our service in the name of the Eternal Realm. But we didn’t come from any land of smoke spirals.” He pointed to the billows that continued wafting upward toward the skies. “We were wondering about them too, and thought maybe that’s where we were to go. The Watcher sent us in the direction of the Garden by word of the Prophecy…but then we saw the smoke. We wondered if this was a new sign, yet how could we know? So, we thought what better way to figure things out than with a bit of meat?” He shrugged his wide shoulders and nodded toward the meat hanging so tantalizingly close, while the other flapped his arms at his sides in frustrated impatience, rolling his eyes at the chubby story-teller.
“Oh this is getting us nowhere,’ thought Noafa. She took a deep breath and ran her hand down the front of her tunic, smoothing it out in an attempt to regain her dignity before these two very strange humans. First things first, she thought. “Do you have names then?”
The fat one huffed disgustedly, thrusting his hands on his indistinguishable hips and snapped, “Well of course we have names! Do we look like animals to you? I don’t care who you are..” The reasonable one dropped the line of goodies ton the ground, shuffling to put himself between his companion and the females. He shoved a hand over the contorted face of his friend, his pudgy fingers unable to cover it completely, but the breadth of it covering his noisy mouth.
“I apologize for my friend here,” he grunted, trying to keep his friend quiet and craning his neck to look Naofa in the eye. “He hasn’t eaten since our morning meal; and so he’s getting a little grumpy.” He looked over his shoulder, shooting a menacing look at his friend, who was trying to push his hand away; but reasonable male could not be moved, keeping his hand firmly in place and daring the other to speak again.
Noafa was ashamed for thinking them an oddly ridiculous pair; but until they cleared things up, she could not imagine them as being on any serious quest.
“Well,” she retorted, looking squarely at the struggling but silent interloper. “I happen to be well acquainted with some decidedly lovely animals that actually don’t have names. But that’s of no concern here. You were going to tell us your names,” she urged. Reasonable male flushed a bit, feeling embarrassed by the impression they had given these blessed creatures of Eternity . He gave his friend another look of warning and removed his hand, dropping it to his side before he turned to the Sorceress.
“If we can.um..start over. Your goodness. um…your Sorceress… I..am Ag rith, or Rith for short. That means ‘running‘, you see. Ever since I came to walk on our world, I have been the one to chase the rabbit and fox…..whatever needs to be brought down for food. I am the hunter in our tribe.”
“Do get up, Rith, for it is not necessary to address me in this way. I am on Domhan to preserve and share the Light, just as we all are.” Rith got to his feet, but couldn’t erase the solemn look of adoration from his stubbly face. Naofa quickly went on, eager to shift the focus to another.
Eagna was about to extend her own hand in greeting but quickly thought better of it, wanting to avoid what happened to Naofa. Instead, she gave a nod of her head and kept both hands securely clasped behind her back. ‘No bowing to me, thank you,’ she thought. Rith thrust his hand forward eagerly; but when she didn’t return her own he raised it to feebly wave it at her instead.
An agitated cough from behind gave him a start; and he realized his companion was grunting his disapproval at being ignored for so long. Rith rolled his eyes and smiled, turning to urge his chubby friend forward to be properly introduced. Suddenly timid, the fat one shuffled forward and Rith placed his arm around his companion’s shoulders.
“This is my friend and traveling companion, Carraig, like that of the mountains. He is called thusly because…well….you can obviously see why.” Rith chuckled as the females looked on silently. Seeing the fallen look which crossed his friend’s face, Rith punched Carraig in the arm and added, “Of course, it is because of his strong shoulders and solid form. Yes…that’s it.” He laughed nervously, hoping he had eased the strain of the moment.
Rith looked back at Naofa and rolled his eyes up in his head with exaggerated drama. Both had to stifle giggles; but neither wished to hurt the strange humans they had only just met and who were turning out to be quite interesting, and obviously harmless.
“Well, Rith and Carraig, it is our great pleasure to meet you. We’re very eager to know more about where you live, why you have come, and most importantly-where you are going-and why.” She looked over her shoulder at Eagna and her friend nodded understanding as they led the way for the males to follow. Rith picked up his string of meat as they left the bank of the river behind. The long-legged females had to pace their steps for the short fellows to keep up.
Noafa was amused to think of Rith being called “runner” at this point and was honestly amazed that the whole tribe wouldn’t be called such, especially if all in it had to trot like this to keep pace with her the way that Rith did now. This thought brought a smile to the Sorceress’s lips and, again, she thought of Laoch and what he would think of such a thing. This was becoming a habit.
Eagna stopped along the way for fresh herbs to accompany whatever meats they would be cooking. She was certain the hefty one needed feeding,; for as quickly as she made a choice, he came along and snagged more of the sweet grasses behind her, nibbling them as they walked…..