Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
by Cheryl Pennington
copyright all content
Even as Eolas and Eagna reunite, another couple prepares to journey back to the Garden of Foirfeachta, bringing gifts of new creation, some not so welcome by the Mother of Domhan and yet others, miraculous, even if they remain secreted. Laoch and Ella make their way to the Garden as the Cave Dwellers set out to bring supplies to Domhan’s new tribes and villages….
The trek would be much easier with horses to carry the travelers and pull the heavily laden carts of supplies. Laoch and Ella would be taking his horse; and its girth was ample enough to carry them both as well as pull their own loaded cart. Ella was more excited than her calm demeanor showed; and it was this excitement that kept her heart from feeling sorrow for leaving her home, her sisters and her dear Mother Palabra. As she looked around, the sight of everyone laughing, making homes and loving so openly, she could not feel sadness. Her devotion to the Warrior was consuming, her desire to follow him to the end of existence greater than any sense of loss she might have known. Secretly, she was thankful for the chance to witness the birth of Mna’s infant, such a miraculous event for any of them living on the world of its first Mother. She had another motive as well; for she knew for certain that within her body she was carrying the seed of her union with Laoch. The distracted male hadn’t noticed the subtle thickening around her middle, hadn’t seen her retching after having her breakfast; and now she had begun to feel the flutters of new life within her belly. The sensation made her giggle the first moment she experienced it, thinking it akin to a fish tugging on her line in the river. How absurd, she admonished herself, to imagine her child as a fish. Mother Palabra knew of her condition before Ella went to the wise female for counsel, and urged Ella to share news of their gift with the Warrior. Ella refused, apprehensive of what he might feel, that he might not want her to ride with him to the Garden, and knowing she would not sleep a single night that he would be away from her. The thought of it made her unable to breathe. So she kept her secret, feeling that once they reached the Garden, once they witnessed the miracle of birth firsthand, then she would be ready to share the precious news with him. Her gentle soul hoped that perhaps he would somehow intuit it. For now she kept it as her own secret, a hidden treasure within her heart. Even as they lay beneath their last moonlit night in Jinetes, she wound her fingers protectively around the jewel.
Laoch had something on his mind and Ella sensed it, for he was tense, even after they loved one another. Sleep did not find him as it normally did, with her lying awake until his breathing slowed, his large body going limp. Instead, he lay on his back, his arms propped under his head, staring up into the darkness of the night, deep in thought. Ella listened to the rhythm of his breathing until weariness overcame her body and she drifted off to sleep, never stirring until the sun kissed her cheek, nudging her eyes open to the soft pink morning sky. Laoch was already gathering their things and snuffing out the remaining embers of the small fire they had made. A quick glance over his shoulder with a warm smile for her confirmed for Ella that he was quite himself. She got up, stretched her arms and legs, and helped him to finish the preparations before they continued their journey to Foirfeachta. It would be nearly dark again when they finally neared the last stretch that stood between them and the Garden of Creation.
Ella had long stretches to think about her new life, for they rode mostly in silence except for those moments when Laoch pointed our animals and trees that he felt would be strange to her. She was glad for the silence, giving her the chance to consider all that was about to happen. She was awestruck by the thought of it all, her heartbeat echoing in her ears, the anticipation almost more than she could stand. It was finally sinking in that she would be meeting the Mother of Domhan, she would be eating, sleeping and walking with the first family of their world! What would Ella say to her, how could she serve them, and what would they think of her simple ways? In Espera she was a proud Huntress; but outside of the village she began to feel the enormity of Domhan and how very small she was within it. Ella was thankful to have the strong Warrior at her side since her own strength seemed elusive to her in that faraway place. She didn’t comprehend how truly humble her companion was, how much doubt lay hidden within his own mind, and that her own insecurities were surpassed by those of his often uncertain heart.
She wrapped her arms around his waist more tightly and kissed his neck as they pressed onward. He stroked her thigh and pressed Thunder on faster. The horse never tired on their journey, and Laoch was convinced that he was indeed the finest of the animals in Jinetes. He slowed their pace once they neared the final stretch into Foirfeachta and it seemed that they quickly reached the edge of the woods where the entrance to Domhan’s paradise was well marked by lush foliage and vines of fragrant flowers. The Garden always took the Warrior’s breath away; and looking at it now, he felt it had been too long since last he witnessed its magnificence.
A pink flash caught his eye; and he squinted to make out its definition, but there were only trees. Then he saw it again, only now he knew for certain there was someone standing against the dark shadows of the Garden’s entrance. A decidedly small someone, but…could that be the once so small Amhain?
“He has grown so tall now!” mumbled Laoch, so pleased to see the young male. The Warrior raised his arm and waved. Amhain suddenly disappeared only to return a moment later, his body emerging from the shadows, with someone else beside him. This someone was taller than Amhain, and as they approached the figures Ella got her first glimpse of the Father of Humankind. She would always remember Fireann as the handsomest male she had ever seen. Of course she loved Laoch, her strong Warrior. But this male was different, with his fair skin and long legs, his dark hair curling around his face like the leaves on a tall tree. His countenance was proud and confident, and his smile spread across his face like sunlight. Muscular and lean, it was obvious he worked very hard. He hurried out to meet them in mid field; and as he neared, with Amhain running behind, he extended his hand in warm, welcome greeting. He was close enough then for Ella to see his eyes-so brilliant! They were not coal black like Laoch or even brown like some of the other Horsemen. Fireann’s eyes were like pools of spring water, like the cloudless sky. She looked from Fireann to Amhain, comparing Father and Son. Although they did share a similar countenance, the son was even fairer of skin and more lean. He seemed sturdy enough, just not as muscular as his father.
“Hello, my friend,” said Fireann. “It has been too long since you visited us.” He looked approvingly at Ella, causing her to blush again. Fireann flashed another grin at Laoch and continued, “Mn’a has been so lonely for her friends, so I know she will find much comfort in the counsel of your compan…..”
Amhain, too excited to be stilled, exclaimed, “Father, look at this magnificent animal! Laoch, what is it? Can I ride it as you do? Are there others? Where oh where did you get this one?” He was circling round the the couple as they sat on the horse, causing it to shift nervously.
Laoch slid off of Thunder’s back and grabbed Amhain by the shoulder as he passed once again, finally halting the flood of questions. Laoch’s firm hand upon the young one’s shoulder slowed him, but only for a moment, and he wriggled free of the Warrior’s grip to continue his careful scrutiny of their horse. Laoch turned his attention to Ella, helping her down from Thunder, which caught the child’s attention and elicited a new onslaught of questions.
“So, is this your companion?” He nodded at Ella. “Hello, I am Amhain. Did you both ride all this way on the animal? How fast does he run? Please tell me there are others, for I really must have my own.” He stepped forward slowly, reaching out a tentative hand to touch the horse’s nose, his thoughts turning from Ella in his excitement. Thunder snorted and reared his head slightly, wary of the young one’s touch. Amhain withdrew his hand, unaffected, and continued to question the couple, but leaving no space for any questions to be answered adequately.
“Does he have a name? Can you teach me to ride? What are you pulling-there behind the animal?” He was nearly breathless, trying to get every word out before anyone could stop him.
Laoch, always being the sensitive diplomat, held out his hand to Amhain, “Hello son of Domhan. How good it is to see you again.” His face bore a friendly grin which widened as soon as Amhain returned the grip, squeezing to show the Warrior how strong he had become. The child had seen this exchange between the males of his world on many occasions, and he was thrilled to now be a part of the ritual. Laoch feigned a wince.
“Ohhhh…Fireann, your son may well have a stronger grip than his father!. What have you been doing to gain such strength, my young friend?” Laoch ran a broad hand across the top of his head and the young male grinned proudly.
“Oh, Father and I have been building new storage bins for the weap..” He clapped a small hand over his mouth, his head shrinking into his shoulders, and looked around guiltily.
His mother did not approve of these instruments of pain and destruction, feeling it awful enough that the animals of Domhan died by their hand for food. How could any of them ever take a human life, even if necessary; and why would it ever be so? Mna hadn’t convinced herself that her son’s lessons with Fireann and Eolas deep in the woods had been wise. Fireann gave his son a knowing look, smiled, and gave a nod-his assurance that it was okay to go on.
Yet Amhain made no further mention of the taboo subject, instead moving on to other things. As much as he loved his father, he adored his mother and would be heartbroken if she were upset. “We built a new dwelling for guests. Wait until you see the room we have for you!”
Amhain suddenly remembered Ella who was standing shyly behind the Warrior; and he leaned over to peek around Laoch’s broad shoulders. “It is for you and…ummm…” he bit his lip, embarrassed that he had been ignoring her.
“Oh! Forgive me, please,” began Laoch. “My mind is full, and I am so happy to be here with you again.” He took Ella’s hand and stroked it gently. “Fireann, Father of Amhain and companion to Domhan’s mother…this is Ella.”
Ella stepped around Laoch, pushing her hair away from her face and, comforted by the touch of her Warrior, felt her confidence returning. She smiled warmly at Fireann first, then turned to smile at the young one by his side. Amhain was entranced by Ella’s exotic beauty, her skin dark, her hair without a single curl, and her eyes dark as the night. When she smiled, it seemed the sun rose in her face. He scarcely heard what Laoch was saying in those first few moments of meeting the beauty from Espera.
“Ella was born into the tribe of Espera, the best hunter of her village. That was before our tribe of Jinetes joined with them to become the new village of Juntos. She is my gift of Eternity.” Laoch smiled lovingly at Ella, placing his arm around her shoulders, and she leaned into him slightly.
Fireann was more than pleased to see his friend paired with someone so lovely and made a mental note of Laoch’s use of the possessive “our” when mentioning the tribe of Jinetes. How marvelous that his friend found a place he felt a part of. He noted something more significant as well. It appeared they were already being blessed with Creation, for he could see the telltale thickening around the willowy female’s waist, saw the way her hand went to her belly now and then in that way of protectiveness that Mothers-to-be had. He had grown to know the signs well. There was a certain glow that enveloped a female when new life was growing within her body. It had been so with Mna and he saw it in Eagna as well. Fireann was about to congratulate them when a gentle voice called to the group from the forest’s edge. And there she was.
Ella’s knees body to shake involuntarily and her heart skipped several beats. Laoch felt her quiver and moved his arm to her waist, giving her a gentle squeeze. She never realized how overwhelming this moment would be. There were many stories in the Prophecy about the Garden Family, about Domhan’s perfect mother. The females of her tribe had almost come to believe the Prophecy was merely a story told to give them hope. Now to find it was all true, and the Mother of Domhan was walking towards them, her belly large and round with new life. If Ella harbored doubts in her mind about her worthiness to be in Mna’s presence, they were soon to be dispelled.
Mna went straight to Ella, embracing her warmly, and kissed her gently on the cheek. When their bodies touched, the life within Ella leapt as if in greeting to the child Mna carried. A tiny gasp of understanding escaped Mna’s lips as she withdrew and looked into the eyes of their friend’s new companion. Within the dark depths of Ella’s gaze she recognized hesitation and realized this was still the mother’s secret. She smiled at Ella, but a furrow of question creased her soft brow. She turned to Laoch and reached up to give him a squeeze, always stunned by how broad his shoulders were, how strong his arms felt as he hugged her gently in return.
“Let’s not stand out in the field all morning,” she urged. “Have you eaten?” She seemed to direct the question to Ella who nodded eagerly, her stomach answering for her with a low growl.
Laoch was already deeply in conversation with Fireann, who had many questions about the land of smoke and what new humans were now roaming their world. Mna took Ella’s hand in her own and hung back from the males who began walking ahead. Amhain had to take long strides to keep up with his father and took no notice of the females’ lingering. Mna held Ella’s hand as they walked slowly over the field of soft grass.
“Why do you keep this miracle to yourself, Ella?” Mna asked their guest. Ella felt briefly shamed in keeping such a secret, but a gentle squeeze of her hand by the other allowed her to speak without fear.
“My companion is strong, brave, committed…and yet fiercely loyal. In the uncertainty of what lies ahead, he may have to leave me to do what Eternity dictates. I want no guilt to burden a heart which is already laden with so much that I do not yet understand. I can just-feel-those things which are left unspoken.” The dark skinned beauty touched her stomach gently. “Make no mistake, I am thankful to Creation for this gift. You can be certain of it, dear Mother Mna. I am planning the best life for our child, full of all that is beautiful. There is much that is so new to me,” she began.
How well the mother of Domhan understood. She touched her own body, feeling the new life squirming within it, ready to enter its world, her own hunger to see its face and stoke its soft, new skin burning like a fire in her heart. She would keep her new friend’s secret for now, although she felt it was not wise. M’na was as honest as she was strong.
“Well, I will be silent for you and will advise my very observant family to do the same. But you must promise to tell Laoch soon. He needs to share in your joy. This gift may offer him healing that you perhaps do not understand. I often think I should conceal my own thoughts about many things,” Mna continued, “but I want to share with you so that you can understand all that we know of this physical life. Have you been told anything about the Creation of our friends-the first to walk my world after me?”
Ella nodded, “You are speaking of the Light Ones? Yes, we have our Sacred Word from the Creators; but it is not clear in many ways for our minds. All we have known is our own way of living. It is simple but has been filled with happiness.” She looked lovingly Laoch, now disappearing behind the trees that marked the Garden. “I never thought there could be more joy for me-and yet, there he is.” Just as she thought him too engrossed to remember her trailing behind,Laoch looked back to find her. Seeing Ella safely in the company of Mna, he waved and turned back just before entering the place of perfect peace. Mna continued, feeling so much needed to be said in so short a moment.
“Laoch has a seed of doubt within his soul, his own vein of darkness which is no different from the rest of us, save for the fact that his Creator was Artine-the dark one…well, with the help of Mother Bandia, of course.” A look of mild confusion crossed Ella’s face, so M’na broadened her explanation. “Ar’tine would be known in the physical as the dark wolf. Bandia would be known to you as the night owl. Does this help?” Ella nodded emphatically, so Mna continued. “Even though none among us is less beloved in the thought of Mor, the Great Spirit, Artine has chosen to smother the light of Unconditional Love within himself and live among the shadows of bitter loneliness. Laoch fears his Creator’s influence will somehow manifest within himself. He does not yet realize the power he has over his own Essence. I believe that seeing himself in the beauty and perfection of his own child will help to ease these fears.”
Ella was overcome with fresh understanding and compassion for her Warrior, yet shadowed by a new apprehension. “Laoch has never shown a hint of darkness since we met, but will I be able to love him enough to drive this fear from his troubled soul?” She stopped and looked earnestly into Mna’s eyes.
( the shadowy tendril wound tightly round Ella’s heart.)
Mna squeezed her hand. “It is not for any one of us to be enough for another. The truth is that all you ever need resides here..” Mna touched Ella’s chest with her palm. “…within you. This is your gift from Great Spirit. You are never alone. Laoch knows this. I am not saying you will always agree about things or that you will not have to help each other to remember your origins. But there is no hollow within any of us other than the cleft left by this forgotten truth.”
to be continued…….
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to leave me your thoughts, ideas. I welcome them!
Love and Light,