Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
by Cheryl Pennington
copyright words and images 2016
As the humans on Domhan fight for their very existence, the Creators look on, helpless to aid without stealing the free will of their beloved children. And in the Garden of Foirfeachta, the real battle begins as M’na seeks that very darkness which threatens her world-the creature who has stolen her joy…..
“What can we do, Mac? We watch, helpless, as my world goes up in flame and pain. How can I save it without destroying its free will?” Mac was not as emotional as his Twin but felt her loss and sorrow nonetheless. His nature was more pragmatic and critical than Inion’s, however; and in that vein of practical compassion he thought of a way to ease the burden of loss for her and halt the consuming devastation of her world and the life suffering there.
“We can stop the destruction, Sister. It will cause a devastating shift to your original creation but will surely quench the fires that threaten its survival and that of the inhabitants there.”
Inion was willing to do anything to save what was left of her world, to ease the suffering there; for in the blink of eternity Artine’s angry creation had left the Garden and visited every tribe on Domhan, raining its flame of destruction remorselessly down on their heads. The raging fires blazed mercilessly out of control across the lands. Inion would agree to whatever Mac had within his power to do so long as her children would be spared.
It was together that they worked, transforming the energy surrounding Domhan. They drew up every vapor that lay across Inion’s world, calling into its heavens the oceans and seas and forcing them back down as torrential rain. These tears of Eternity wept over every land, mountain, forest and valley in an effort to extinguish the angry flames that raged across Domhan.
M’na fought the panic filling her heart, ignoring the anger that longed to be recognized. “Where are you, Ar’tine?! I know you would not miss a chance to gloat, to wound me with news of my children.” Mn’a desperately hoped to lure the dark god into the open with her taunting, her only hope to discover what had become of her infant son; yet nothing came back to her save the deathly silence that lay over the garden like a blanket. She was growing impatient, her Mother’s heart bracing itself for a fight.
“What have you done with my SON?!” M’na yelled into the shadows. “Return him to me now! He is no use to you or your purpose, nor is he a threat to you. He is but an infant.” The desperate mother nearly choked on the words, her hand pressing against her mouth as she stifled a horrified gasp. Hot tears fell from her eyes but she wiped them quickly from her cheeks, determination overshadowing the pain of loss that threatened her sanity. She couldn’t let Ar’tine see her cry, couldn’t allow herself the luxury of regret-not yet. Then there came a faint sound, something she couldn’t quite identify, neither could she tell where it was coming from. M’na looked around, turning slowly in every direction, her eyes keen for the slightest movement, then stood perfectly still and waited. Her heart pounded like a drum in her ears until the sound came again-a soft rustling from somewhere above her head. M’na craned her neck to see into the darkness of the tree canopy as the soft scraping sound morphed into a different sound altogether and small chunks of the dying tree’s skin tumbled onto her upturned face. Instinctively she threw up her arm and shielded her eyes. The light was dim but she could see a dark form moving overhead among the branches. It slid down the tree slowly, fluidly; and when it passed into the light, the sun glinted off the snake’s skin in silvery ribbons. The Mother of Domhan took a few steps back in horrified retreat, for no ordinary snake was this thing before her. The creature was so dark, so huge, so lucid as it stared into her unblinking , unbelieving eyes that when it spoke she felt the breath leave her lungs.
“What? No kisses to smother my face, Mother? Is your love given only to those who have slithered forth from within your womb?” The awfully beautiful head of the snake curled around the lowest branch of the tree and rested in the crook near the trunk of Creation’s seat, its crimson eyes shining out at her like glowing embers. She was so mesmerized by them that she almost jumped when it spoke again, its tongue flicking the words in her direction. Was it really speaking to her or was this just another vision-a horrid game?
“I..(click)…have decided that I rather (click) like the reptiles of your world..(click, click).” M’na cocked her head to one side in confusion and honest awe of the creature that spoke to her, and waited for it to speak again. Instead, the entire Garden resounded with the echoes of Ar’tine’s voice, shaking Mn’a to the core, her legs suddenly failing her as fresh rivulets of blood flowed down her legs from her wounds, both internal and external. The childbirth, the fight, her loss-all had been too much for her. She fell to her knees, struggling to regain control of her legs-and her mind.
“Would you care (click) for a piece of fruit?” The serpent hissed and swatted at a withered seed with the tip of its body. The long dead fruit at the end of the dead branch tumbled to the ground with a dull thud and rolled across the moss covered ground until it hit Mn’a’s foot. “What a pity. It would appear that all the good fruit has been consumed. Sadly, the lustful desire of humans seems to have drained the very life from Creation’s host.” The serpent tapped the trunk with the tip of its tail.
The hollow sound that rose from within was like a cry of pain that cut into M’na’s heart. The thin thread by which she now clung to sanity was threatening to give way to the rage inside her weakened body. “What have you done with Dochais? I told you I would never hate you, and no matter what you do to me, I will never be as you are.”
“But..you already are, my dear. You sought to kill my beloved As’me, even as you pretended to offer her new life.”
Mn’a was confused, the pain surging up from her insides muddying her ability to reason. What did he mean? Ar’tine read her thoughts instantly.
“Oh, my dear, you didn’t know? Your loving Creators convinced her to sacrifice herself to save your friends. Yes, yes…(click). Even as the shaman female suffered to give my daughter life as her own child, my As’me succumbed to Inion’s demands to deprive both of us of the reunion we had been promised. She was innocent.(click..click) She longs to please those in the Realm. And she betrayed me along with them. Now we both suffer; and still I do not have the love of my creation-my own daughter.”
Mn’a sensed Ar’tine’s energy change, losing its edge as the snake spoke of its own pain. “If only you had remained as you did the day you shielded me from her. If only you had kept your promise. If only Love were truly for me as it is for all the others……”