Into Madness/Forever Never


Free Friday fun 2015 154.NEF

Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion

by Cheryl Pennington

copyright 2016

If M’na thought that leaving her beloved behind in the grips of horror with Damanta was the most awful thing she could know, her thoughts were soon to be molested by new terror-and its innocent victims much closer to her heart….

Into Madness

The heat that hung over the Garden was quickly filling M’na’s lungs as she ran through the forest, her insides on fire with such pain that she never felt the jagged branches scratching her tender arms or the brambles that sliced into her ankles with every step. If she had glanced down at the path, she would have seen the steady trickle of blood racing down the inside of her leg.   Salty tears blurred her vision before spilling onto her smudged cheeks, so recently blushed with the glow of new motherhood.  With every gasp of air she drew in, the acrid stench in the air grew stronger, and she gagged on the smell of death and flame, choking back the agonized cries that fought to escape her lips. Her friends, their lovely world…what was to become of Domhan?

In those frantic moments she dared not think of Fireann, of how she left him straddling the face of darkness; for if she had allowed herself one second of such distraction, she could not have gone on. The love of her children was what kept her moving, the love of her Mother was most certainly what carried her forward. Trees rushed by her in flashes of green, brown and blazing orange as she struggled to bring the image of the Inner Garden to life in her mind. So engrossed in concentration, M’na never saw the arching trees rise up in front of her, the entrance to the heart of Domhan suddenly looming ahead, nor did she see the small figure that darted out from within the Garden until they collided, sending him tumbling backward onto the hot earth.

“Amhain!” M’na exclaimed with relief; but her ease was quickly consumed by terror. “Where is Dochais?”  She grabbed her stomach and gasped for air, reaching out to embrace her son; but Amhain shrank from his mother, crawling backward before he struggled to his feet to flee back through the arched vines and into the Sacred Garden. Her hands reached to comfort, but he left them empty as he retreated within to seek shelter once more. His feet thudded across the soft blanket of grass as he ran. M’na followed, instantly aware that within the confines of the garden the air was clear, there was no smoke, no fire and no terror, save that which was growing steadily within her soul.

“Amhain, wait!” She called out to the fleeing form. Where is Dochais? Amhain! Where is your brother?!” she called after him, panic edging its way into her voice, as she trailed behind, her breaths coming in short bursts as  her weakened state caught up with her. He was too young, too fast now.

Amhain darted behind a clump of bushes, frightened and unsure of the person who pursued him.  He clapped his hands against his ears to blot out the thundering din of destruction that raged outside the safety of their haven, desperate to clear his head and stop his racing heart. Who was this chasing after him now?  He didn’t realize how heavy and labored his breathing had become, nor did he hear the  whimpers coming from his throat, sounds like those of a wounded animal.

Mn’a knew her son’s voice and breath if she knew nothing else in her world gone mad. What had happened that incited such fear within him, a fear of his own mother? She ignored the searing pain both in her body and her heart as she shakily dropped to her knees beside the bushes where he had secreted himself.

“Ah’main, please talk to me. I am your Mother.”
There was no answer but she could hear his gentle weeping mingled with short gasps of breath.

“Amhain, where is your brother? Where is Dochais, my son; and why ever are you frightened of me?”  M’na choked back her own tears.  “I am so sorry that I could not stay here with you. Please forgive me..”

The silence continued,  but the sobbing ceased and her son’s breathing slowed. M’na stretched her trembling, blood streaked arm out to part the branches and peek within. “Come out now and look at me,” she whispered into the shadows.  “I need to see the Light in your eyes, Amhain.”

The simple declaration was all that Domhan’s first child needed to hear for peace to find him. “Mother, it is you!” he cried, grasping her hand as he crawled from behind the bushes to fling himself willingly against her warmth, comforted instantly as she embraced his quivering body. After a few seconds he pulled away, looking earnestly into the eyes of Love and cupped M’na’s face in his hands. He thought they were so dark and beautiful as he sobbed, crumpling onto her chest again. New terror gripped her soul even as relief flooded her, knowing Amhain was safe. She held him tightly, not knowing what to do or how to ask him again the question that must be answered. As if he knew her thoughts, the child pulled away and dropped to the ground next to her feet, words tumbling from his mouth like a waterfall, so fast that Mn’a could scarcely comprehend what he was saying.

“You were here already. Before! You came and said it was time to go. You said..you said..you..” He was gasping for air, clearly unable to breathe. M’na tilted his chin up, forcing him to stare into her eyes, and brushed the wild curls from his face with her free hand.

 

“My dear child, what are you trying to tell me? I have been defending our home with your father.”  She had to force calm into her voice so that he might finish before she went mad with fear.

 

“You said he was coming. I believed you. It. Him. You. Aarrggghhh!!!” The cry ripped from his throat like that of a wounded thing and he clawed at his face. “How could it have fooled me? I should have known! You-it-would not look at me!”  Amhain sought the love within his true Mother’s eyes again before he continued. “I tried to see your eyes but you kept saying over and over that we needed to take Dochais and run. I did what you told me to, Mother! I did what you asked!” He held out his empty arms and cried out again.

 

The numbing fingers of cruel truth were already digging into M’na’s brain as awareness wrapped itself around her heart and the world went misty gray, threatening to disappear altogether. She fell backward onto the ground in stunned shock, Amhain’s voice tunneling toward her through the dense vacuum of eternal space between them.

 

“Mother please don’t leave me again!” Amhain’s small hands clutched at the air in front of her and she managed to grasp them, pulling herself back to hateful awareness.  How could she forget?  The place where she had sought perfect refuge for her children was the only place on her world that the dark god could still enter.  In manifest physical form, it was a direct pathway to the Realm. But he had been forbidden. M’na never thought Ar’tine would dare come to Domhan again. As her weary mind struggled to find sanity in the madness for unanswered questions,  a small hand tugging her arm nearly nudged her to the edge of the abyss.

 

“IT took Dochais.” Mn’a looked blankly at her son, the dull din of her world falling echoing behind the awful, simple declaration.

 

“Mother, I gave my brother to you, then I went to gather our things from the tree hollow. When I returned to follow you, you were gone. I called out but you didn’t answer me.  I heard a rustling through the bushes and dropped everything to follow you out of the garden. When I reached the entrance I realized it was a lie, a dream, a vision. And then I saw it on the path, changed into the night hunter.  It was bold, cold and glaring at me, daring me to follow.  It just stood there, snarling at me as it held my..my brother in its awful mouth.  Dochais was crying as he hung there in the animal skin, so close to the beast’s teeth. Mother, I never saw such sharp teeth on any beast before!  Somehow it knew my thoughts, for no sooner than I decided to make a grab for Dochais and run, it snarled at me and sank its yellow teeth deeper into the fur, so close then to his skin. It said that if I came any closer, it would devour him right there and then. What could I do? Oh, Mother, what should I have done?  I was not brave enough.  Father would be ashamed of me!”

 

M’na’s legs were numb, her brain felt as though it would burst, and the pain in her heart spoke louder than any other in her weary body. She touched her child’s hair, always so unruly, and worse now than ever. She pulled him to her bosom tightly and allowed him to sob, but not solely for his own comfort.  She had to think.  Her perfect son’s tiny heart had been touched by darkness as much as she labored to shield him from it. What would this do to her precious gift to Domhan? She knew he could not be allowed to blame himself. Nor would she blame herself. Most importantly, she wouldn’t give up. Things had grown as large as the monstrous beast sent by the heart of darkness.  The beast.   She could not allow herself to think of Fireann in those moments as she realized the thunderous sounds had ceased beyond the Garden; but there had been no sign of her beloved. Surely he would have come to find them. She pushed the fear-and his face-from her mind.  That pain could wait. She had to decide what to do.

“Ah’main. I must go now. I have to try to find Dochais. It is me that Ar’tine is angry with. He has done these things to punish me. I am so sorry for your pain, my dear one. I would have given the life that is mine to keep pain from you. But you must not allow this to change your heart. You must keep the Light alive within you-and upon my World. Do you promise? You must promise your Mother.”

Reluctantly he nodded as she implored him to hold fast to the truth of Eternal Love. “I will never leave you, my Son. Great Spirit has not abandoned us, even at this dark moment. You must remember my words even if we are not together.”

 

Amhain grasped her arms tightly. How could she leave him again? M’na heard a cry in the distance-it was her son’s cry! She had to go quickly or it would be too late. What new cruelty was this dilemma that made her choose between her greatest treasures, not to mention the piece of her soul that she abandoned back at their home?

 

“Amhain, I need you to go back now.” She pulled him from her and put her hands on his small shoulders; and as she spoke the words she knew she was sending him further into heartbreak, but it was the only course of action she had for him in that moment. “Son, I need you to go and find your Father.” M’na took in a deep breath for courage.  “But be careful. I no longer hear the sounds of the great beast that fell from the sky, but it may linger in the forest. Take up a weapon as soon as you reach the clearing and be the stalker Laoch and Eolas taught you to be. Your Father needs you now. I need you to do this for me. For Domhan. Now you can make him very proud.”

It was all she had to offer. And with the greatest hope within her weary heart she pushed him away so that he might go and find Fireann, find him merely hurt but alive-so very alive.  She watched his slender form as it trotted across the Garden, thinking how tall he suddenly seemed. She hadn’t noticed before that moment. True to his nature, he turned back just before he passed through the arch and raised his hand, but not for his usual carefree wave. He brought his hand to his lips and kissed it, then extended it to her. She nodded and smiled as she rose to her feet and walked to where the Tree of Creation stood, so gnarled and lifeless….

to be continued……
Summer days 2015 073.NEF
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6 thoughts on “Into Madness/Forever Never

  1. Very intense. Is Ar’tine going to feed the kid to the Damned creature?
    I’ve been thinking about the people from Espera, Junto and the Caves. Once Ar’tine is done with Domhan, what will he do to them?
    He is one godawful god!!!

    Like

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