Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
by Cheryl KP
copyright all content 2015
As Eagna and Naofa race to see who comes to visit, their hearts are already racing with the certain knowledge of the identities of those who are arriving. Domhan’s First Family has ventured beyond their borders…..
“Better get more food prepared, Sister,” she advised Eagna, who looked back over her shoulder, squinting at the Sorceress. “It looks like Domhan’s first family has ventured beyond the confines of Foirfeachta.” Eagna turned back for another futile attempt at seeing what Naofa could, without much success. Instead of being disappointed, she clapped her hands together in delight before she rushed back up the steps and inside where she bustled about her little home, working to ready it for their approaching guests. Naofa sprang to the ground and walked toward the vast meadow, stopping in a shadowy nook near the edge of the woods. Finally able to see more clearly in the shade, she watched the small, indistinct figures approaching. There was no mistaking they were a trio; and as they drew closer, her declaration was confirmed; for if she knew nothing else, she recognized Mna’s long, wavy hair, the wind enticing a dance with the long strands before letting them flounce back around her body with every step she took. More company! Naofa’s complete happiness at the thought of seeing Domhan’s Keepers morphed into an intense curiosity about the nature of this impetuous visit-a curiosity that soon gave rise to apprehension within the core of Naofa’s being.
“I wonder what brings the heart of Domhan to venture out beyond eternity’s womb.” She absentmindedly tugged at her own locks of hair, untangling the strands, as she watched the family approaching, fervently praying there was nothing wrong.
“Mother, why can’t I go on ahead? I can make it long before you and Father catch up. You’re going so slooow now. Why?” Amhain had yet to learn the subtleties of good manners. Mna recalled how she had so often felt tired in the early days of carrying Amhain in the Garden and could rest whenever she felt the need; but she had no such luxury with the new child growing inside of her. Caring for both her companion and son kept her busy from early light to the last flickers of firelight and often into the darkness. Frequently the early light was her only time to reflect and meditate, for as soon as the males awoke, her world became full of busyness. But oh, how she loved them. She slipped her hand in Fireann’s as they walked, thinking how much she appreciated him for surprising them with this journey. As soon as they were out of sight of their Garden home, the males had come alive, Amhain going on about every new creature they saw, pointing out each tree and plant, all so strand to him, and asking his Mother their names and would they ever see them back home. M’na tried to give him a few lessons about the herbs that she used most often and perhaps he listened to the soft spoken female that he loved; but it was Fireann who captured his young Hunter’s heart. When he spoke of the creatures they saw, what he knew of their ways and how they lived, Amhain was entranced. They were a beautiful duo and much beloved by Mna.
“Mn’a, I know you want to protect Amhain; but you must know that the path of eternity will lead him to seek his own life..and away from our watchful eye.” Mna knew he was right, knew she needed to see this truth; but she cast it back in the shadows of a Mother’s love as she took his hand and placed it on her stomach.
“Herein lies salvation from a Mother’s loneliness, my Love.” She laughed softly and added, “Amhain will not go far from those he loves.”
Fireann didn’t have the heart to dissolve the bright smile that shone on her face as she recited her mantra. Instead he leaned down to place a kiss on her tender, slightly damp cheek. Perhaps she was right about that. It was a good thought to cling to.
Amhain was more than correct about his own agility. Even as Eagna fetched more smoked fish from her stores and started the roots to boil on the fire, the young male was nearing the stand of trees where Naofa waited in the shadows. She made a clicking sound with her mouth to let the young runner know she saw him racing across the meadow like a wild fox. ‘How he does run,’ she thought. ‘A pity he does not possess his mother’s shape shifting abilities as well…’
The young male stopped short at the sound, still quite a distance from his destination, and remembered his manners. His mother would not like it if he just ran headlong into Eagna’s home. As he stood in the tall grass, panting and looking around, Naofa thought how like his Father he seemed.
“By my life and breath, is that Fireann I see standing in my meadow?!” she called out, teasing. Even from the still significant distance between them, Naofa could see the grin that spread across his face, revealing the delight he felt in being compared to his Father. Feigning surprise, Noafa gasped and began walking to meet the child. “But what have you done with your Mother and Father, young traveler?”
Amhain turned around, looking back over his shoulder, feeling a momentary sense of loss, realizing he had totally forgotten them in his excitement. What a new and horrifying feeling, thought the adventurer. Horrifying and yet exhilarating. The horror faded quickly into the recesses of his memory as he saw the figures of his Father and Mother following behind him, now just close enough to recognize their faces. He pointed back at them and turned to beam at the Sorceress who motioned for him to follow her to the porch where Eagna now stood, waiting eagerly for the guests. Amhain’s nostrils welcomed the smell of something wonderful coming from inside that home; and, after their long walk, his stomach was crying to be fed. He turned and waved wildly for his parents to hurry, then raced on through the meadow, the tall grasses slapping at his bare legs, though he scarcely noticed the stinging as he made the last few bounds to the porch, leaping over the steps and into the welcome embrace of a very surprised Eagna. “Oh my! You have grown like the wildflowers Amhain!” She was not yet a mother and already felt the pang of loss that Mna must be having now that her son was moving up and out of her reach. No wonder she was eager for the new child to come. Eagna ran her fingers affectionately through his curls, so like his father’s unruly hair. He smelled like the white flowers of Foirfeachta. It was a glorious smell….
By the time Mna and Fireann reached the others on the porch, the trio were deep in lively conversation, sharing news, Amhain telling his hosts of their exciting journey from Foirfeachta out into the vastness of Domhan. He expressed how he had longed to go beyond the borders of their Garden ever since he was little (it made them smile) ; and to actually be so far from home and sitting there with them was thrilling to his adventurous spirit. Mna was a most welcome sight, looking as lovely as ever, although a bit tired around her dark eyes, Eagna decided. She rose from her stool to embrace Domhan’s Mother and they held onto one another for a few shared moments of unspoken understanding. Naofa accepted Fireann’s gentle kiss on her cheek before it was her turn to welcome Mna, wrapping her arms around those gently strong shoulders and asking how she was feeling after their long journey and nudged her toward the now unoccupied stool which the female, suddenly exhausted, gratefully took.
“Oh, the walk was beautiful, really,” Mna assured her friends, stretching her arms up and back and taking in a deep breath of fragrant air. She touched Fireann’s arm and added, “Of course these fellows would not allow me to do anything for myself.” She laughed when Amhain dramatically rose from his stool and dragged it to place beneath her feet, giving his Mother a hug as only a devoted son can. She tried to grasp his hand in thanks but he was too swift, too eager to get inside to that tantalizing smell.
“Could we walk-I mean-take a walk..” Fireann glanced furtively at the open door where his loved ones were preoccupied and continued, “…so we are not overheard?” He whispered the last part of his statement for emphasis. Naofa gestured for him to lead the way and followed him as he rose and went down the steps. They strolled down the hill until they were walking beside the creek-the same creek where she made her transformation debut before the Cave Dwellers, that same cool creek she now longed to rinse her tired body in. Her weary heart sighed quietly. “All shall come to pass,” she consoled herself.
“Please do not trouble Mna or Eagna with these things. They both need to be happy in these cycles. The infants they carry need to feel peace and love, free from the dark touch of fear. Promise me you will not speak of my dream to either of them, or to Amhain. I vow to be vigilant in watching for signs of such a threat as we have seen in our visions. Eolas and Loach will soon return for the birthing and we will be a united force once again.”
Naofa was not happy with this plan, for it seemed lacking in urgency; but she longed to heed her Mother’s words, keeping her own impulsive tendencies in check. “I promise, my friend. Unless you tell me otherwise, I know nothing of your night terrors. But do you truly think it wise to conceal these possibilities from the others?”
Her heart leapt. What questions he asked! The first was difficult enough, but the second was not even fathomable to Naofa at that point. “Fireann, when I know more, I promise to come to you. Right now, our dreams are but wisps of probability, if even that. Our Goddess Mother says that visions, dreams and the prophecies of those other humans who have joined us are both possibility and probability. Even she could not say which was stronger, or that anything could be done to sway the outcome of any thing.”
(If only she had nudged him for greater detail, perhaps even sharing her own. If they had put their dreams and visions together, devised some sort of plan, making preparations in the event such a horror would come to pass in their waking world, perhaps the unfolding may have taken a different turn…but they both held their tongues, hoping it would fade as the dreams had.)
Amhain would later recount that journey as one of the finest times of his young life-there with his Mother, Father, and their good Counselors. Naofa shared tales of the Cave Dwellers and the grand Room of Knowledge, omitting the disturbing parts. She took heed not worry the innocent. Fireann was more than eager to meet these interesting humans new to their world as well as whomever it was the Hunter and Warrior had come to find in the land of mysterious rising smoke. It was long after the sun fell into the hills before they tired and blanketed down to sleep. The next sunrise brought more fellowship, laughter and plans to meet again soon after their infants were born; and it was with a heavy, yet fulfilled heart that Mna said goodbye to the females. Naofa watched them walking until they faded across the meadow and passed into the woods, smiling as Amhain turned back for a final wave. How he had grown. And still there was no sign of the empty space within his Essence. She marveled at the miracle, yet he was still young…
Eagna disturbed her reverie, “Shall we make ready to leave on the new morrow? I am so excited to be going home.” Eagna blushed, hoping Noafa understood her use of the word in regard to her birthplace rather than the home she now shared with the Hunter. She looked sheepishly at her friend; but the Sorceress touched her hand.
“One’s place of birth is always home.” She raised her eyebrows and smiled. “And there is no need for sorrow to rise in the heart of one who has been blessed with more than one!” The Sorceress began collecting her things, readying herself for travel again so soon. After she tied the last bundle, she helped Eagna gather supplies for their journey. The afternoon beetles clicked and the creatures of Domhan rejoiced while they worked, as the dark cloud that had shadowed her soul began to recede….