FOREVER NEVER/THE DAWN OF ILLUSION
by Cheryl Pennington
copyright photos and words
The brave Horsemen of Jinetes have been waiting for the arrival of the Warrior and Hunter. Now their guide will initiate Eolas into the mystical realm of their history. As they descend to the dark cavern where The Word lies waiting, Eolas wonders what he will find and if any answers truly exist or are there simply more questions looming ahead?
Advisory: This is a long chapter. I could have chopped it in half but it would have left any readers truly hanging and I wouldn’t do that to you, Peter. 😉 I hope any who reads will enjoy this piece and leave me a message with your thoughts, ideas or inspirations. Love and Light, Cheryl
Guia led Eolas through the village to the far end, stopping in front of a large building. It bore a low, flat roof and had not a single window in the whole of it. ‘This place is more than a home,’ thought the Hunter. Indeed it was more than simply a place to sleep. Standing lower to the ground than the others with no steps leading to the large singular door which obviously was designed for it, there was a sense of strange energy around the structure. The wood of the door was very smooth, but the designs painted on it had been made using a gritty-looking substance. As Eolas reached a tentative hand to touch it, Guia began the story of his tribe’s birth into the world.
“We awoke from eternal sleep lying on beds of grass and mud and remembered nothing of how we came to be. We could recall knowing Light brighter than that which warmed our skins and we knew there was purpose in our birth; but none among us could recall the face of our Creator. As we stood upon our newly formed legs and adjusted our damp eyes to the new light above us, we saw a glorious creature sitting on that large rock..” He pointed in the direction of the low hills that came right up to the back of the building. Beyond them lay the boundaries of the village where a craggy outcropping of rock jutted out across the rolling hills. “The creature was enormous and was not like us. It was the largest bird any of us has ever known to this moment.” He shrugged and smiled a little. “It was a terror in that moment for we knew no animals yet, only one another by sight, you understand. Now we know so many creatures, large and small. So many flying things, crawlers and those that watch in the night…” Guia’s voice trailed for a moment, but quickly snapped back to his tale. “We watched this mighty bird with its featherless head and sloping beak, spreading its wings and watching us rising to brush the dust from our skin. We knew in that moment it must certainly be the form of our Creator. So, we fell to our knees before the creature, our faces to the blinding light, and watched as it spread its wings to the skies and moved in slow circles,ever clinging to that rock.” Guia spread his arms and began to turn slowly, bringing the image to life. “The turning of its body caused the winds to blow, chasing the clouds of confusion from our minds. Then it spoke to us, calling each soul by name, but each of us heard only that name which was his own.” He stood still once more and continued. “The Spirit bird told us Its name was Mor and whispered that we had been created to help this World, to join others in their quest to continue life brought forth in Light. We were told that the passing cycles would bring the first Walkers of this world to share with us the gifts of fertility and companionship, so that we might increase our tribe. The Spirit Bird said that soon our strength may be needed to save the Mother of Domhan. Is she very beautiful?” Guia looked expectantly to the Hunter. Eolas said nothing, but nodded quietly. The Horseman went on as Eolas leaned against the door, completely captivated by Guia’s words.
“This was a lot to take in to our understanding so soon after our birth, but we drank in the Creator’s words. We felt the call from within to eat and began the search for that which grew to sustain us. We found our voices and talked among ourselves about how we would keep Mor’s word safe so that none would ever forget.”
“But what about the Bird? Where did it go?” The Hunter was curious.
Guia reached up and placed his hand on the door with the image of the Great Vulture staring down at them. He, too, ran his fingers across the bumpy surface. “It was swallowed by the blinding Light of Endlessness. This was the first dwelling we made. It is bosom to the Sacred Word so that all may find comfort in it. All who need reminding of their purpose come here to be with the Word.”
Eolas was amazed at the likeness of the Vulture, the detail that had been accomplished with the materials that must be used for such a thing.
“We used the clay of the ground near the hills and mixed it with the juice of the fruits and leaves. This door was the first thing we made. It was our sole purpose for so long. First, we had to make tools to work with, and until its completion we kept watch over the Word, every soul taking his turn.”
Eolas was as amazed with this story as he had been with the tale told by the females in Espera; and the similarity of their history did not escape his notice. But what was this new pattern that seemed to be unfolding? Had humankind become so deaf and blind to Spirit Essence that the Creators had to resort to communication only through detached workings? Would this now affect his own ability to communicate with his Creators? Before he could verbalize any of these questions, Guia pushed the heavy door open. The wooden hinges halted in quiet protest at first, but gentle pressure won out and they passed through the narrow opening that was made as the door stood half-open against the arrogant light of afternoon. Inside was black as night even while the sun shone brightly beyond the walls. When his eyes adjusted, Eolas could see a few slivers of that same sun slicing through neglected cracks in the supporting poles where the mud filling had either been overlooked or crumbled away. The filtered light hit the floor, giving a dull illumination that helped them see where they were going. Eolas was adjusting to the dingy light when Guia moved across the large, empty room. There was a labored grunt from his throat followed by a heavy thud. Then a ribbon of brilliant light flashed across the center of the room, revealing a narrow opening at its source. There was a window after all!
“What are these holes for, my friend?” Eolas asked. Without speaking, Guia strode over to a far corner of the room, where Eolas could see dark shapes lying in its shadows. The Horseman stooped to pick something up and returned to the table carrying a pair of wooden clubs with blackened ends. He handed one to Eolas, then took the other, placing the narrowest end inside one of the holes, and pushed it down, securing it in place. He took the other from the Hunter and secured it in the remaining hole. Guia explained, “We set these afire when we need to commune and be with the Word. Let me take you to the Sacred Word.” Eolas was taken aback momentarily, for it had not occurred to him or his companions to use fire inside of any dwelling; and he wondered how they managed to keep the clubs lit. There would be no asking in that moment as Guia touched his arm and motioned for Eolas to follow him.
Eolas calculated within his mind that they must have walked as far as the edge of the hills underground and this cavern must lie just beneath those hills. Not only could they stand to full height in the cavern, but a quick glance told Eolas that this was the largest cave he had ever seen. There were caves in his homeland, but he had not ventured far inside of the mountain because all he ever needed was to be found outward, beyond the cave and in the Light. The room they were in was larger than the whole of the village of Jinetes. It stretched high above their heads, and the light from more burning clubs revealed pointed rock structures that appeared to be hanging from the space above them. As the light danced over the surface of these structures they seemed to collect it, causing them to glow with many colors.
Guia saw the wonder ion his new friend’s face and smiled.”Yes, it is truly a miracle in the earth.”
Eolas realized he had been standing there with his mouth agape and his hands spread out in awe. Guia reached up and took one of the burning clubs from its notch and held it up to shed more light on the gray walls of the cave.
All around and before the Hunter was a thick mist. Using his hands to spread the vapors, he strained to gain a clearer view and stepped forward cautiously. ‘Where is Guia?’ The vapors slowly receded, allowing him to see more clearly; but there was no Guia there. Eolas gasped! Now standing before him were the same figures that were just before hanging on the wall, seeming as living beings close enough for him to reach out and touch! It was as if he were beside them, yet he felt far removed at the same time. From somewhere deep inside, the voice of his Father spoke to him.
“Eolas, this gift is shared so that you might fully understand our efforts in Creation and help the Jinetes to accept and fulfill their purpose within life on Domhan.”
There was silence. The Hunter’s pulse raced alongside his rapidly beating heart.
Eolas nodded silently, realizing the last question had come from the brilliant winged creature now standing physically before him, that glorious representation of his father, Mac. It gleamed against the stone walls, its colorful plumed crest fluttering in an invisible breeze. Next to Mac stood the snow white dove he had come to know as Mother Inion. Bandia, the great Horned Owl was on the other side of Inion. A guttural snarl alerted him to the presence of Ar’tine and he stepped forward instinctively with his fists clenched in a Warrior’s stance. He thought he heard a soft laugh, but Mac began to speak and it took all of his focus to understand his Father’s words. The Hunter realized with great reverence that he was now seeing the actual birth of the tribe of Jinetes. Mac continued speaking, although it was no longer the Hunter to whom he directed his thoughts.
Mac continued speaking to the newly awakening Jinetes. “You are called from the Light to help protect the First Family, they who live within the heart of Domhan-in the land known as Foirfeachta. You may be called to rise to their protection in a turn of darkness.” As it spoke, the colorful plumed form of Mac looked down at the four legged incarnation of Ar’tine. The dark beast appeared to be uninterested in the proceedings as it groomed its matted fur with one paw.
Eolas could hear his Father’s thoughts in that moment as well as his words. ‘It is well, my pitiful Mac Eile . Self-absorption suites you this day.‘ His voice was tinged with pain and bitterness, but quickly he turned his attention once more to the newly awakened humans of his Twin’s world. “We leave you with the Word. If you keep this Word, you will know how to make tools for survival, as well as instruments for the hunt.”
(Wisely, Mac avoided the use of the word weapon, again a trick that did not pass Eolas’s attention. Surely it was due to the presence of Ar’tine. Such a prospect would draw him from his state of distractedness)
“These things are but a beginning to start you in your life within this world. You will find your own discoveries as the cycles change and suns rise and set on your life. There will be others who will join you soon.”
Mac looked down at the sea of newly created faces, blinking innocence before the Light of Eternity that shone from the eyes of their Creators. His Essence was complete in that moment; but he knew that they would soon forget his face, even in such a magnificent form. “We leave with you the vision of how you came to be so that you will understand your birth and remember your Creators. We are always with you, even when you cannot see us. Look to the skies for these forms you see before you now. We shall always be among you and will always answer when you come to us for help. Love is Eternal and has no beginning or end. What came from the earth shall return to the earth at the end of your physical life; but that which came from Spirit knows no end.”
Eolas listened as the Creators explained the gifts each would possess to add to the abundance of their lives. They foretold of the Great Joining when the Light Ones would arrive to initiate their union with the tribe of Espera. All tribes across Domhan would be moving toward a moment that called for kinship Eolas strained his mind to attention, lest he miss or forget any part of the miracle unfolding before him in that cavern of mystery.
He heard the voice again. Was it Mor come back? No, it was only the voice of Guia asking the trembling Hunter if he was alright. “My friend…you stumble, you do not look so well.”
Eolas opened his mouth to speak, but quickly realized that this had been his vision alone. It was seen in an instant, even while his guide continued to relate the story of Jinetes as it was written on the walls of the cave. Regaining his composure, Eolas cleared his throat and nodded. Yes, just fine, he smiled and gestured to Guia to continue the tale. Thusly they walked the full circle of that great room with all of its stories, plans and instruction. Eolas smiled wistfully when he saw the likenesses of their little band of Eternal hope. There was his colorful headdress, Naofa’s long flowing hair and her transformation into the beautiful white Tiger. The First Family walked in the Garden-the images of M’na, her loving Fireann and precious Amhain, bathed in Light, smiles on each face. As Eolas inspected the images more closely, he could see M’na’s obviously round belly as she bent over a fire. He looked questioningly at Guia.
There, in his meadow below the hills stood their home; and beside it stood the familiarly lovely figure of Eagna. His Eagna, with her long hair and woven basket for gathering wild grasses. She had a hand resting on her own rounded belly. A tremendous sense of peace washed over him. Then he noticed while her left hand lay protectively over their unborn child, the other pointed upward, towards the night sky, fully dotted with stars. He followed the path of her finger and could see, faintly in the distance, something very large facing their homeland. Something with wings. Something with fire pouring forth from its gaping jaws; and directly below this terrible form he could make out the image of a deep forest. A lush forest. The Garden. There the images ended. In the name of the realm, what does it mean? The Hunter’s heart threatened to burst from his chest as his soul sank into fear.
Guia’s voice roused him. “We come every day to look for changes. This is how we knew you were nearing the village.” He pointed to the winged creature and stared at the newest addution to the mural of their unfolding life. “Is this our future? Is this why we have come to be here?”
Eolas honestly didn’t know the answer to Guia’s question, nor to any of the dozens that filled his own mind. What he did know was that all of Creation was a gift. Remembering the promise of his Creators, he reached for that comfort and stated his truth as he understood it in the moment. “You were brought here to enjoy existence and add to the life of Domhan. What your role will be in the cycles ahead remains to be known.” He looked Guia in the eye in all seriousness. “By any of us.”
Eolas fell silent again as he sought to remember all he had seen and heard. As they turned to leave the dark cavern, the Hunter’s foot slipped and he slid into an unknown pool of wetness, his own torch flying from his hand to slide against the stone wall. Guia held his torch out so that his new friend could see the entirety of the great room they were standing in. What he saw then was that while they had been concentrating on the messages speaking from the walls, Eolas missed entirely the huge pool of water that covered the floor of the cave, nearly to the walls.
Eolas pulled himself to his knees and checked his leg for cuts. Guia explained. “When we come for rejuvenation of our souls, we often bathe in the water. When we make drink for ceremony, we dip from this place. It is holy.”
Eolas was embarrassed that he slipped his dirty foot into such holy water, but Guia was quick to assure him. “Do not worry. Now you have a Holy foot. He-he.” His eyes twinkled in the glow of the torch. They both laughed as the intensity of the vision and unanswered questions faded. Carefully they made their way down the narrow corridor and back to the opening where they climbed the vine up into the Sacred room. Together they eased the stone covering back over the blackness and replaced the mat. Suddenly Eolas felt very tired. And hungry. Guia must have been feeling the same for he suggested they rejoin the others for food and drink before preparing for the ceremony.
As they walked to the door, Eolas looked around the room again, trying to save the images he saw in the dusty light that was its only illumination. Now that his eyes were adjusted to the light, he saw something standing in the shadows of a far corner of the room. He walked to where the dark form stood to get a closer look. There, leaning against the wall, was a round clay container, similar to the one La Palabra kept hidden under her floor. Guia was instantly beside him, reaching down and dragging the container carefully forward. After removing the top, he reached inside and pulled out a rolled scroll, again similar to the one he had already seen. They took the roll of soft cloth to the table and gently laid it there where Guia began to unroll it. This scroll was not so long as that of La Palabra’s but was certainly made for much work. Eolas was mentally prepared to see similar images as he had experienced on La Palabra’s scroll, or at least something similar to what he saw in the cavern below their feet. How shocked he was at what he saw instead. The scroll was blank! There was not a mark yet on its delicate surface. He turned to Guia with understandable confusion but the Huntsman returned his gaze with patient wisdom.
“We were told to prepare a scroll for the Timekeeper and to store it safely until the moment when it would know its purpose. We hoped you would be able to tell us what to do with it.”