Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
by Cheryl Pennington
copyright all content 2016
It comes…..and all of Domhan is holding its breath and bracing for the angry voice of darkness that is screaming down from its heartless Master….
Terror in the Skies
“Do be still, my dear,” admonished Ar’tine. “Watch and learn. This is your legacy, after all….” The heart of darkness struggled to ignore the desperate plea of As’me, for it shone as a harsh light over the god’s wasted soul in a brief moment of awareness; but his fragile old bitterness was replaced by the needy shadow of retribution. How could she-his own creation- betray him? He had been so devoted and patient for her return, but treachery had stolen his joy. Look where Love had gotten him! Ar’tine closed the door to the pain of it and opened a window to the cold bitterness of revenge that drove him on.
Still, he could not close his soul to the daughter he treasured, and so issued a final command to the beast winging its way toward Inion’s world.
“You are a worthy terror, but do not be so bold as to make yourself vulnerable. They are a cunning bunch and will protect the heart of Domhan fiercely. Although you are magnificent, I would not mourn your death; but now you carry my most prized possession within you.” The beast grunted and spat, spewing a river of fire across the black, starless sky, and wished the small voice crying in its head would stop.
Eolas and Ella covered every opening in his home and dragged the spare wood planks he had behind the house to quickly brace the walls. It wasn’t much, but it made him feel better to be doing something, his mind drowning out the rapid beat of his heart. Eagna remained oddly calm throughout the commotion, oblivious to anything but the new life she cradled at her bosom. When there was nothing left to be done, Eolas sank down on the edge of the bed, his head in his hands in a brief moment of helpless despair, as just beyond their walls the sound of approaching horror grew to a deafening roar. He gave a nod to Ella, releasing her to go to Laoch; and the Hunter rubbed a dirt covered hand across his smudged face, turning to gaze at the female who had brought purpose to his life. He reached to lift a strand of golden hair from Eagna’s face and tuck it carefully behind her ear; and he brushed her cheek, cupping her chin in his hand. He didn’t know whether to be impressed or alarmed by her seeming ignorance of the imminent danger they were suddenly facing. Had she gone mad from the terror? He knew better of course, for the wise female he lived with did not allow fear to reside in her heart. Instead, she looked up at him serenely, through the proud eyes of motherhood; and he knew this was the happiest his companion had ever been. It broke his heart and angered his Hunter’s soul to have her joy tainted this way.
“I am grieved that our perfect moment has been stolen by the threat of dark intent.” He fought back the sudden urge to weep or smash something. Or both.
Eagna gently moved his hand from her face and placed it on his daughter’s soft head. She looked serene in an unnatural way, drawing him into her soul as she gazed up into his eyes and answered. “This night I have looked death in the face and seen it surrender, returning our daughter to us. There is nothing I fear above this.” She smiled radiantly and broke his heart.
Eolas was humbled by his companion’s view of all things on their world; and in that moment he swore he would not, could not, fail her. He stroked his child’s cheek and leaned in to kiss Eagna’s forehead, then her lips, tenderly. He forced a smile and whispered with conviction, “I’ll be back for you, my treasures. When this is done and you are strong again, we should go live in your homeland for awhile.” Eagna hummed softly to her daughter. “You would like that, wouldn’t you?” Eolas buried his fingers in her silken hair, feeling an overwhelming urge to pull them both inside himself somehow, knowing that would be the only way he could ensure their safety.
Eagna smiled sweetly at him, and that was answer enough for Eolas. “I must ask, my love. What have you decided to call our miracle?”
Eagna brushed her thumb over his lips and gazed into his eyes. “Why, Saol, for she is Life itself to me.”
Suddenly her face melted before his eyes as the world he knew shook on its foundations. Eolas knew he had to get to the others quickly; and there was no way but to go quickly. He headed for the door, but as he passed through it into the black, he turned back to look at his life, wondering if perhaps he should have moved them to one of the other dwellings-or into the woods perhaps. It was too late for second thoughts, so he closed the door and dropped the heavy bolt into place. The wind whipped against his skin as he leapt from the porch, racing over the field where the Sorceress, the Warrior and the Huntress were preparing to face whatever it was that was coming.
When the Hunter reached the others, he could see they were struggling to stay on their feet as the ground rumbled beneath them, the world slanting wildly as the sky popped and creaked. Laoch pointed up, his eyes wide, his mouth gaping like a mad chasm, and they followed his finger. They stared up into the gaping crack that split the night, their eyes unbelieving, their hearts devastated by the vision-come-true, the most magnificently horrific thing any of them had ever seen-at least in their waking life.
In truth, its face had been seen before. In dreams, in visions and in Sacred writings. They had all feared its coming, had hoped and prayed it was but a possibility, a mere wisp of ether that could be erased with the rising sun and the end of a dream. But, no, here it was in the flesh and vastly more than the dreaded probability. It was now a very dreadful reality that was descending upon them with frightening acceleration. The span of its wings blotted the stars and fiery ribbons of anger flowed from its jaws as it grew closer and louder with each moment that passed. Laoch and Ella dragged the weapons from the store beneath the porch and each chose a piece that suited them. Laoch thought of the Horseman in Juntos and their beautiful females. He hoped the weapons they had forged together were worthy of this fight-and that they had enough of them to protect themselves as well. With stoic resolve and beating hearts they spread out across the meadow in front of Eolas’ home, preparing to protect its precious inhabitants, but not certain exactly how or if they would be able to. Innocent to the cunning way of darkness, the Light Ones never realized this very move would point the beast right to where its prey was hiding….
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Love and Light,