Bits and Pieces #Forever Never

Well, here I am again. I know I have been less visible lately and I apologize that it is taking me longer to visit all your wonderful posts. I work continually to catch up..  Between work and trying to enjoy life a bit as well as my creative projects I have less time for blogging as often as I have in the past.

To that end, I have been working more diligently on the novel and, as in the past, I wanted to share a chapter with you here.  If you haven’t read past chapters, some of the characters won’t be familiar but the sequence can stand alone as a preview of what is to come.

I welcome your thoughts or comments and hope you find something in this story that intrigues you.  If you are interested in the history of the story or previous chapters I have post, just type in Forever Never under archived posts.

I hope you all have a terrific week!

 

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Forever Never/Dawn of the Dream

Copyright Cheryl K Pennington 2019

 

 

One by one they made their way

Into the hills of dark decay..

 

Othar climbed the jagged steps to reach the summit where she knew the view was unobstructed, the work made harder by her girth and the added weight of the small girl who insisted on going with her.  And why wouldn’t the child want to see where her father had gone?  Youth and age somehow found communion in their sorrow and hope. They both loved Rith in their own way and were relieved when others in the village decided to join him.  Of course, the proud and private Rith balked at first.  He had always been such a loner but for his friendship with Carraig and grew even more withdrawn in the days following Carraig’s decision to join Amhain in his search for the mother of of their world. He was always amiable with the villagers; but he kept himself busy with work in the mines and trying to give his daughter enough love to make up for the absence of her mother.  Rith was grateful she had only been a babe when the starry night bled fire and rained ash, his heart torn between gratitude and anguish. He was thankful his precious child would not be tormented by dreams of Damanta’s dead eyes as she descended into the valley of caves, burning over half the villagers alive as the rest watched in confusion and horror. No one above ground saw it coming, with such a simple life going on as usual.  They had their food, laughed and chatted while the children chased light bugs around the fire pit.  

Othar giggled out loud, then slapped her hand over her own mouth. 

“Dear Mother,” she whispered.  “What a damnable thought,” she cursed herself for that moment of thinking. Light bugs.  That was what Damanta looked like as she descended into their valley.  Her eyes glowed like a couple of giant light bugs.

Othar had seen them first, floating above the horizon silently, then growing larger and brighter as she shattered their world with rage and purpose.  By the time the others saw them and grasped the reality of danger, the beast was in the valley, spewing fire and cinder across their lives.  Damanta cared not what she destroyed in her fury.  Families screamed as they fled in futility,  their contorted faces melting before Othar’s eyes just before they burst into flames.  Her only thought in those moments was to grab her best friend’s infant daughter and run, scrambling for the safety of the caves. Her mind raced to Carraig and their friends, but she could only worry about keeping Agra out of danger.  The heat of Damanta’s breath singed the ground behind every labored step that she ran; but the terror in Othar’s heart refused to allow her to see anything but the lights above them, the glowing miracles of the caves.  As she fought her way to the steps, those lights soon began to flicker and fade, for the ones who were safely in them snuffed their fires in the hopes of being spared. The ground quaked beneath her feet as she climbed the rocks that led to hope, holding tightly to Joy’s daughter and counting the familiar steps that would bring them to safety.  Rocks began tumbling from overhead and she ducked to avoid them, shielding the child with her body.  Dust and grit flew into her eyes and she cried out, unable to wipe it away.  She squinted, reached for the ledge with a free hand and climbed up, hoping her beloved and friends were there,  waiting.  

“Carraig!” She screamed.  “Joy, Rith! I have her. Agra is safe!”  Othar stumbled towards the safety of the cave and ran smack into Carraig. “Oh! Dear love, you’re safe!” She sobbed into the darkness.

“What in the name of all that is holy is happening?” He shouted over the din of falling rock, shouting and other unidentifiable noises.  “Look at your face, Othar!” He pulled a soiled cloth from his pocket and tried to brush the dirt from her eyes the best he could. She winced when he rubbed the fresh cuts on her cheeks.  With her eyes working again, she examined the infant for damage, but Agra slept in her arms as peacefully as though the world was not crashing down around her. Othar and Carraig  were relieved to see Rith bound up the last few steps, panting, his eyes wild with terror. 

“Have you seen them..” he began, then nearly collapsed when he saw Othar clutching his child to her bosom.  “Blessed Mothers, thank you,”  Rith mumbled as he rushed to their side and took his daughter from Othar, giving his friend an appreciative kiss.  “Thank you, thank you..” he murmured between wet the kisses he planted on his daughter’s face.  Huge rocks crashed against the ledge before tumbling to the ground below, sending a new wave of screams into the night.  Rith looked around frantically.   

“Where is Joy?!” he shrieked, as his eyes searched the shadows of the cave for that beautiful face and listened for the musical sound of her voice.  But,  there was only silence within that darkness and the eerily dancing glow on the cave walls from the fire outside. The shadow and light seemed to mock him.  He turned back to his friends, his moment of gratitude shattered by new fear as he looked past them and shouted, “Joy! Joy!”

Rith glared at Othar accusingly, the gripping fear overriding any crumb of rationality he might have had in that moment, and it broke her heart.  “Where is she, Othar?” His eyes begged for the answer he wanted to hear but she had no words. She shrugged innocently while Carraig stood behind her defensively, his arms wrapped around her.  

“Rith, Othar just got here with Agra. She climbed up here alone.  We haven’t seen Joy…”

“Rith! Othar, Carraig, where is Agra?”

Joy’s stricken face appeared like a miracle as she clambered up over the ledge, tripping on the last step.  When she saw them all standing there-everyone she loved-safe and sound, her heart beat with relief and happiness.  Being Joy, she found a smile in her heart and it spread across her beautiful round face, glowing like a torch in the darkest of nights they would ever know.  She held out her arms and Rith hurried towards her, holding their infant daughter.  He was a mere step or two away from his life’s purpose when a blast of hot, rancid air struck his face, stealing his breath and blinding him.  Instinctively, the loving father turned away, shielding their daughter from the heat.  He heard the sharp, scraping of claw to rock and the muffled, shocked cry that escaped Joy’s mouth in that last moment they shared. 

By the time he turned around, by the time Othar and Carraig ran from inside the cave and by the time Joy knew what was happening, she was firmly in the clutches of the beast. Although she wriggled, kicked and punched, she could not free herself.  The last image Rith had of his Joy was her arms reaching out in futility for those who longed to save her; and the look of shock and terror etched on the faces of her friends would be the last thing she would remember.  

Joy watched those anguished faces grow smaller as Damanta retreated, climbing higher into the night of a million lights.  She struggled against the claw that held her tightly, wanting only to die in that moment. Why hadn’t the beast burned her along with the others?  Who would care for Agra and Rith now?  She wailed into the silent sky, still as death, as it whooshed past her tear streaked face. Her heart was broken and she cursed the Realm for abandoning them all. 

Othar couldn’t breathe.  Carraig stood frozen on the ledge, the images of burned bodies, piles of rock and ash singed onto his his heart and soul.  The valley wreaked of death, the lingering cries of pain and despair hanging on the hot air like a fog that numbed his senses.  He looked at Rith, standing too near the edge of the ledge with his daughter lying precariously in his arms.  As if in a dream, Carraig saw Rith’s legs jerk, jarring him back into stark realization.  Carraig jumped, grabbing his friend by the shoulders.  In that same moment Othar realized what was about to happen and lunged toward the distraught male, grabbing Agra from his limp arms.  Othar clutched the infant tightly to her bosom,  fresh horror invading her heart.  

Rith tried to jump, he longed to jump over that ledge.   Somewhere inside his momentarily deranged mind, he thought he could fly after them, that the wings of his love would take him to where they were so that he could save his beloved, his life, his Joy.  He was only vaguely aware of the strong arms around his shoulders and that his daughter was ripped from his arms as the evil interloper held him back, keeping him on that dreadful, empty, painful ledge.  With fresh rage he fought against the intrusion, kicking and spitting. 

When Carraig finally wrestled his friend to the ground, they rolled away from the ledge, landing in an exhausted heap against the dwindling fire.  Orange embers scattered over their heads, igniting the anger in Rith’s heart, and he jumped on top of his friend, pinning him to the ground. With one hand around Carraig’s neck and the other raised over his head, fist clenched, Rith leaned in so close that Carraig could smell his dinner on the words he spat out. 

“Why. Did. You. Stop. Me?” He growled into Carraig’s face. “I could have saved her.”  Carraig choked and shook beneath him. Rith was angered by the look of fear and disbelief on his friend’s face-his stupid, fat friend that only cared about food and sleeping.  What did he know about saving anyone?  Rith’s long suppressed grudges boiled up from the dark corners of his soul, demanding their due.  In that moment he wanted to pummel Carraig’s face, for all the times he had been stupid, lazy and undeserving.  He shook with anger and was ready to put his fist right where it belonged,  but a firm hand wrapped itself around his weapon, its fingernails digging into his tough skin, the fresh pain stopping him.  The strange mix of painful strength and soft skin against his own confused Rith, drawing his attention from the moment of regrettable sweet vengeance. 

Othar’s voice trembled with disbelief for the sense of betrayal she felt towards their friend in that moment, for the sense of betrayal she felt towards the gods and goddesses who had allowed this to happen to them, and for the pain that threatened to drive her into an abyss of despair as well. 

“Get off of my Carraig,” she warned.  “Or I will push you over that ledge myself!”  She squeezed his fist as hard as she could, digging her nails in so deeply that droplets of red blood trickled down his forearm.    The glaring truth of Othar’s intent punched Rith squarely in the chest, taking his breath away as Carraig watched from beneath him in stunned silence. 

Rith could feel his anger deflating but he clung to it desperately, for it was the only thing that made him feel alive in that moment.  He trembled as reason won the battle and he lowered his arm, his fist falling open in defeat.  Still seething over his friends’ interference, he aimed his accusations at Othar.

“Why do you defend him?  He lets you cook for him and clean up after him, and what does he do for you?!”  he shouted.  “Does he ever take care of you?  Does he carry the wood, or even chop the wood for that matter? No, he does not!” Rith heaved a sigh and looked his friend in the eye piteously.  “Do you want to know what he does down in the mines all day, Joy..” 

“You are angry Rith, but not about Carraig,” She cut him off. No one knew Carraig as well as she did, warts and all; but he was hers and she loved him.  “Get off of him, Rith. Now. No one can do any good if we fight among ourselves this way.  It only helps the darkness to defeat us.” Othar cocked her head and whispered.  “Listen, Rith.  Do you hear those awful screams and moaning?  Those are our friends down there.  They need us now more than ever. How will we help them if we can’t help each other?” 

Rith hadn’t heard anything above the pounding of his heart and the roaring in his head until that moment of truth.  One by one the voices carved a place into his awareness. Every anguished cry, every lapping flame and tumbling rock hammered his heart with new pain.  He clapped his hands over his ears and shook his head as if he could empty it, the moan coming up from his gut in baleful recognition of their plight.   

As if in protest, a fresh new cry pierced the air with its innocent insistence.  The familiar sound stopped Rith’s writhing, stilled his anguish and spoke to every cell of his being.  In Othar’s arms, the blood of his blood, the flesh of their flesh and the light of Joy’s life, cried out in bitter protest. Rith gasped, snapped back to his senses by the voice of his Joy, somewhere from deep within his heart.

“You are stronger than this.  These are our friends. Our daughter needs your strength now, all of you.  I will always be with you as was our promise.” 

  Yet she was not there.  There was only dust and fire and ash.  And there was death.  There was so much death.  

“She is still alive, Rith,” came the voice of his long time friend,.  Rith looked into the eyes of allegiance from where Carraig had remained silently pinned down. “And I promise we will find her.”  

Defeated and suddenly exhausted, Rith got to his feet, wiped his bloodied hand on his pants and leaned over to touch Agra’s screaming face.  He kissed her forehead comfortingly and whispered, “Your Mama and Papa love you.  Always know it.”  He held his hand out to help Carraig up from the ground.  Rith put his hands on his friend’s shoulders and kissed his forehead roughly.  They embraced and no more words passed between them. None were needed.  

Tears streamed down Othar’s face.  Tears of pain and joy. Joy. She feared for her friend’s life but dared not speak of it in the days that followed. Those days had been for burying the dead and rebuilding their lives.  

Now Othar stood on the edge of the cliff overlooking the valley that lay between the Valley of Caves and the vast plains that would take Rith into the Black Mountains.  

A chubby pink hand tugged at her skirt.  “Can you see him, Mama Othar? Can you see my Papa?” 

Othar shielded her eyes against the glare of the rising sun and imagined she could see the small band of travelers inching their way towards their destiny.  She put her arm around Agra’s tiny shoulders and pulled her close.

“No, child, because they are getting close to the mountains now.  Soon your Papa will find your mother and…” she choked back the tears. “and my dear Carraig. Then they will all return home.” The cheerfulness in her voice did not betray her sense of foreboding. Othar knelt to face the child and brushed the hair from her eyes.  “Now won’t that be wonderful?” She smiled away the fear yet again for the sake of innocence and hope.  

Agra nodded and pointed at the jagged black horizon.  “Is that where my Mama is?” She asked.

“I hope so,” answered the only mother she had truly known.  “I hope so..”  

to be continued….

I hope you all have a beautiful week.  Like this…

 

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Oh Bother..

Don’t miss the magic, the treasure, the wisdom, the heartbeat that is Pooh.

“Christopher Robin, what day is it?”

”Why, it’s Today, Pooh.”

”Oh, my very favorite day.”

A bit of Pooh will soothe the soul.

The best kind of gift is the one you give away,

and the best kind of doors are always open!

 

More Than This!/ Forever Never

I wanted t share just a bit from the novel. For those of you who have followed my tale since its inception in 2012, this will not be unfamiliar. For those who have read recent excerpts, this will hopefully make sense. Anyone who is reading for the first time can get some background by visiting past posts under the Forever Never category.

In this segment, others are awakened to the call for returning the rightful keeper of Domhan to her place in their world. From every corner, they will rise and make the journey to the Black Mountains, a journey into the heart and mind of darkness, for every one has been touched in some way by its selfish hand…

 

More Than This!
From the Land of Caves
Against the sky he shook his fist.
“By Eternity’s Light, we are more than this!”

He was stout, though leaner than most in his village, and his triangular face was etched with lines too advanced for his time on Domhan. Life had heaped mighty heartache on him in life too soon, making him feel weighed down and clumsy. His steps were slower, his eyes dull, and rarely a smile found his lips. He who once kept the village alive with laughter had grown morose and introverted, leaving his friends to avoid him most of the time. What they didn’t know was that the heart of his exuberance had always been his companion-she was his life, his comfort, his Joy. Since that dark night of nights when ashes flew and flames streaked the skies, his reason for living vanished in the clutches of the fire breather while he gaped, horrified, as they disappeared over the mountains and into oblivion. He was left alone to care for their newborn treasure, and he a simple rock cutter.

Now he looked up from the mess on his bed where all that he owned lay in a disorganized heap. He needed a moment to steal a glance at the tiny girl standing in the entrance to his cave, her face a mixture of loving adoration and knowing sorrow. A gentle smile moved across his lips in spite of himself. The child was so beautiful, and the look in her eyes-the Joy of her-brought him both comfort and agony at once.

She clung tightly to the rotund female beside her, her pink fists tugging on the skirt she hid behind as she sucked a chubby thumb. He frowned and she pulled it from her mouth, remembering how it made him angry when she reverted to that infant comfort. None but he would dare chastise her or steal such a small comfort. The rest of the village pitied the poor girl, losing her mother so tragically. Of course she knew no difference, having been raised by his best friend’s dear Othar, a gift herself sent straight from heart of the Realm, to be certain. Not only did she care for his motherless child since she was but a suckling, but she was loving and kind to his most unruly, unkempt, haphazard, well-intentioned best friend Carraig. Carraig, who never got enough to eat, Carraig whose bodily noises rivaled a thunderstorm, Carraig who would die for the world he was born to serve. And he might well have already done that by going off with the heartbroken son of M’na. At first Rith was furious with Amhain for accepting Carraig’s offer, but he didn’t have the heart to deny the young male. Rith’s allegiance to the Light Ones of Domhan was still intact, although he had conflicting emotions towards the Gods and Goddesses who seemed to have deserted them so long ago.

“Do you really have to do this?” Othar’s soft voice squeaked, but the vastness of the cave carried her simple question circling round its corridors in a chorus. She held her breath, knowing full well it was a futile question. Of course he was going. Rith never did anything frivolously or without careful planning. It just seemed to be so sudden, his decision to head toward those cursed black mountains.

Rith put his hands on the bed and lowered his head, searching for the right words, but there were none that would ease the pain of truth.

“My Joy was ripped from my arms by that..” he began, but stopped when he saw the terrified but inquisitive look in his child’s eyes. Othar pried Agra’s hands loose from her skirt and shooed her down the steps.

“Go, play with the others now. We’ll be down in a little while.” The child obeyed, but not without several furtive glances back toward the dark figure shadowed by the firelight flickering from the cave entrance. She felt confused and unsettled in a way that she had only a vague memory of, like a long ago dream. Something felt wrong and her stomach rolled over.

“Hi Agra! We’re playing hoop ball. Want to play too?” One of the children in the village urged her from her discomforting thoughts, and Agra left her sorrows in the dirt as the tiny doll she had been clutching slipped through her fingers onto the ground. She was told that her first mother-the one who was taken away-made it for her on the day she was born. It was nothing you could play with really, but she liked the color of its skin, made from soft vine cloth; and it was comforting to keep it in her skirt pocket. Agra had no true memory of that mother but thought she must have been very special if her father could not forget about their life together. Still, it broke her heart that he could not find enough joy in just being with Agra, playing with her and seeing her. What she didn’t know was that he truly did see her and that the very Joy in her face was what kept him from allowing himself to be comforted by her presence. The girl hastily bent to pick up the tiny treasure and stuff it back into her pocket, where it belonged. It was the least she could do for her father. With one last look up at the cave she ran to join the other children.

“How can I explain what I sense, Othar? I never wanted Carraig to go with that sorrow crazed son of M’na. I thought the boy just needed to accept what Eternity had taken from him, although anyone could understand his bitterness. In one night he was completely abandoned but for a brother who was very likely eaten by a talking wolf.” Rith shook his head, still unable to grasp the story as it had been told. “Now, though, I am seeing through new eyes. I look at Agra and think Amhain’s parents must be so proud of him for being brave and for not giving up as I did. I always thought Carraig to be lazy of mind and weak of body, his thoughts always on food and sleep.” Rith looked sorrowfully at Carraig’s most beloved. “I’m sorry, Othar, I shouldn’t..”

She shook her head and waved her hand at Rith, unable to speak for the lump of sorrow stuck in her throat. Rith was right, of course. Carraig was lazy, though he always went into the mines with the others, always stayed from sunrise to sunset, and always returned to her for a hearty meal which he gratefully devoured. He was unruly, unkempt and sometimes unclean, but he loved her. And she loved him. He also loved his best friend Rith, almost as much as her she guessed. It was that love which sent him off with the first son of Domhan on a wild quest to find his mother. The boy was certain the mother of Domhan was still alive, for how could she not be? She was created as an immmortal, the Keeper of Inion’s world, and yet where had she gone? On the night of the Devastation, she disappeared without a trace and no word had been heard since. The boy insisted he could feel her and often heard her voice as he drifted out of morning’s slumber, but he had not seen her in all these years.

“I should have gone with them, Othar. He is doing this for me, you know.” He began stuffing things into a leather bag and Othar moved silently beside him, gently taking the things out and folding his clothes.

“They will fit better if you do it this way,” she urged. Rith stopped, looked at Carraig’s companion and felt a twinge of affection for her himself. She wasn’t his Joy, but she was a good companion and had been more than a mother to his daughter. It seemed tragic that she and Carraig had not had a child of their own since Creation was awakened for them all. A tuft of wiry hair sprung from her bun and he reached up to tuck it back in. She recoiled a bit, then smiled nervously, fixing it herself before returning to the packing.

“I..I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be bold. Othar, I want to thank you..” Rith began, but she turned quickly to face him and put a finger to her lips. She looked him straight in the eyes, her face soft and glowing in the firelight.

“I know the affection you feel for me as Carraig’s best friend, and as the mother to your Agra since Joy left us.” Her voiced choked and she lowered her head for a moment. She wiped an escaped tear and looked at Carraig’s friend again. “Joy was my best friend. No one knows the loss I feel every day in her being gone. But having Agra to care for has eased the loss I felt. Carraig has been like another father to her as well. She loves you both. I miss him every moment of every sunrise to sunset.” Othar smoothed her skirt and tucked the tunic in where it was puffing out over the edges. “I am not a pretty one, like some of the others, even Joy. My gifts are in what I can do for others. Having Carraig to love me for my stews and my ability to love him in spite of his imperfect ways has been a gift from the Realm.”

Rith touched her arm and she did not pull away. “Everyone can see your beauty, Othar. Your devotion to Carraig is as plain as daylight, and someone who will care for her best friend’s child as her own on top of that has more beauty than the brightest bloom in Foirfeachta.

“Oooh, have you been to Foirfeachta, Rith?” He shook his head and they both laughed.

“No, but to hear the Sorceress and Warrior describe it, I feel I have been there. You can see it in young Amhain’s eyes too..” His voice trailed off.

“Well, you best be getting on with it if you are to make the next valley by sunset,” the words spilled from Othar’s mouth as a directive. “Agra will be fine here. You just go and find Carraig.” She stopped, bowed her head and closed her eyes, fresh tears spilling over her cheeks. Othar reached over and grabbed Rith’s hand. “Who knows? Perhaps you will find Joy also.” She squeezed his hand then released it again.

Rith turned away abruptly and walked to the cave entrance. The wind slapped his face and he crossed his arms, rubbing them to warm his skin. In the pink and orange glow of a new sunrise he watched his daughter playing with the other children of his village, so carefree. Something in him stirred, fueling a resentment that had lain dormant for too long. Agra deserved her mother, her true mother. Othar deserved to have her happiness back. And Domhan needed its Mother more than anything else. If M’na returned to the Garden-or what might remain there-she could stop the cruel hand of darkness that stretched its gray fingers over their world.

Rith turned back to look at Othar who watched him intently. He nodded and faced the horizon once more. As the sun peered magnificently over the edge of the unknown, its glow illuminated his hardened face. He raised his hand to the new dawn, the dirt stains from hard work glaring at him in the morning light. He made a fist and thrust it towards the face of opportunity.

“I am Rith of the Caves! And I am more than this!”

to be continued…

Words and images copyright Cheryl KP 2019

 

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A Flake/#SoCs

Okay, I’m saying it for you. That’s what many of you will say when you read my post, but I don’t even care. If being a flake means I have faith in something outside of myself that keeps me going in a world gone mad around me then I’d rather be a flake doing life. (Wait, that sounds kind of like a favorite song….) maybe later.

Anyway, according to my favorite customer at the bar and doorscursion expert Dan , the Friday prompt for Linda Hill’s  #SoCS event is to open any book and, with eyes closed, point to a section on the page and write about the word, sentence or paragraph. It so happens that the book sitting beside my bed is one I have been working at reading for weeks now. I say “working at” because these days reading books seems nearly impossible. Between real time work, trying to write my own book, do some creative projects, spend time with hubby and get out to see the natural world and be rejuvenated, I hardly have enough moments to sit and read more than a few pages. I am slowly working my way through Inkheart as well. I love the movie so I suppose knowing the end keeps me from plodding forward more quickly.

Back to the point. I am not a particularly religious person in my later years although I am deeply spiritual in that I am confident that there is a guiding force in my life and there are things that we do not fully understand nor even often consider as real possibilities because our practical brains cannot pick them apart, categorize and file them away as proven facts. Those are the things that intrigue me most. If I had my life to do over again I would have gone into Science just to study Quantum Physics. Or become a photo journalist. 😏

What is the point?, you are saying. I ask for guidance in all things that I do-for Spirit, God, The Universe, to manifest itself for me in ways that give me tangible evidence that we do not walk alone here. This evidence is not for me, but for sharing. In the words of Fox Mulder, “I want to believe!” And,  more than he, I really do.

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This is a good book, by the way. And so true. Many of us feel we are doing a great job in life, just letting things roll, going with the flow, saying “it is what it is” (I hate that one) when we are really just stuffing things into a big old suitcase with aging rusty latches that someday will give out from the enormity of what is inside,  swelling until it must be recognized. Many things should be shared, gotten off of one’s chest and ironed out, even though it might be uncomfortable or even painful. I was raised in a home where conflict was taboo, so learning to have a civil disagreement was challenging. An all out argument used to cripple me. Now I understand that true change and growth never occurs without some discomfort. Sometimes a lot of it.

Again, the point. As I opened the book, I closed my eyes, asking for guidance to find just the right phrase or thought to include in this post. As I scrolled the page my finger dragged a bit and I passed the spot, but scrolled back up where it dragged again.

When I opened my eyes, this was the paragraph. I ain’t lyin’..

So how do I get to this point,” you may ask, “willing to BE, first?” Processing negative feelings throught the Script is the perfect place to start. As you process your feelings you are BE-ing. It will be of great benefit for you to work throught the hostilities and frustrations you may have so you can finally arrive at the place of ‘live and let live’…of BE-ing, enjoying the peace of now.

This is my goal, even before this book or this passage. To live in the now moment, for it is the only one which truly exists. The past is but a blip in our brains and the future is   a mere possibility.

Here is another of my recent moments of requesting presence to be made known. When we took our day trip to Sawnee Mountain Preserve, there is a statue of the purported Sawnee himself at the entrance to the park. The plackard board states that no true image of the indigenous man known as Sawnee exists, so they did an imagined rendition. I took several photos of the statue, my heart and soul asking if the true spirit of the man known as Sawnee or anyone else wanted to be recognized while I was there, to please feel free. This was my photo. I love orbs! I get them a lot. Sometimes they even show up in photos later, after I have already edited and saved them .

 

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Okay, go ahead and call me a flake. But I am a happy flake, a contended and loving flake. I wish the rest of the world would join me in the hope of flakiness.

PS. I never got a green orb before. Green is a healing color. I love this one.

Okay, so now that the song is stuck in my head I am sharing it with you. Please feel free to keep it playing in your heads all day too. Happy Free 48! More to come on that later!

And. Speaking of “points”, have any of you ever seen the production The Point? It is a marvelous work about acceptance and the importance of being different. Check it out! I saw it as a play in high school but they made a movie of it too.

 

 

 

 

Flipping Pages/Sneak Peek

Hey guys,

I have been in and out with my regular posting due to work, other projects and continuing to work on my novel. It can be maddening to not have enough time for writing and editing except in snippets of time. Still I persist with this story I feel must be told. It is fiction and yet it is everyone’s story in many ways.

While I am not sharing it all here on the blog, I have shared a chapter before and would like to share another with you now. If you are so inclined and would take time to read and let me know what you think, I appreciate you!

 

I hope you are all having a beautiful weekend. Hugs!

This scene takes place after a happy event among the main characters who must soon begin a journey into the dark and unknown lands of Domhan in search of something precious and very necessary for its survival.

 

From Forever Never/Dreams and Nightmares

The Interloper

There was so much laughter and singing among them, the lovers too wrapped up in each other to see It there, inching Its way between the rocks to get a closer look, to get close enough to have Its way.

Someone turned to look! It froze where it stood, half hidden, half exposed. Its body was so gnarled and hunched it resembled a rock in the pale light of the moon. Hueco sensed something was with them that shouldn’t be, but he ignored it. He had too much on his mind as he sat apart from the others, wanting no part of the reveling and wishing they had been on their way to the dark mountains days ago. His best friend went missing up there and he wanted to know what became of him. He shivered as the wind whipped across his face and braced himself against it, wondering how much colder it would be in that terrible place that ate up Hunters or spat them back out like gnawed bones so that they couldn’t remember themselves. The angry Horseman paid no mind to the scratchy shuffling behind him as It darted across to stand behind the stack of branches and debris set aside for keeping the fire alive. He didn’t care about the shadow that fell across the glittering sand that he drew angry circles in with a stick as It ran past him toward the children splashing in the quiet surf. He didn’t hear Its labored breathing over the crashing waves and the angry voice in his head. He didn’t notice the bitter stench as it scurried by him like a giant bug toward those laughing jewels. It was in the heartbeat it took for the loathsome beast to reach them that Hueco saw its hideous face, the moon lighting up every oily wrinkle and bristly hair on Its cracked hide. It looked back at him for the briefest moment to grin, showing teeth like sharpened knives, as foamy saliva spilled over the gray, cracked lips that curled back onto its face. Soulless eyes glared at Hueco, but the glee in them glinted like the edge of a sword as It reached out and grabbed Agean, jerking him out of the water. The boy was so shocked he opened his mouth to scream but nothing came out when he looked into those dead eyes. If not for the greed in the beast’s soul, that night could have replaced Domhan’s worst night for the newly paired lovers, stained with fresh anguish and loss.

One weakness in Darkness and Fear is the need for more. More love, more power, more attention. In that moment, the beast had to have both children, although the dark God only commanded It take the son of the Witch. It thought the Master would be so pleased if It brought back another of the Light Ones’ offspring and hoped that a pair of prizes would give It a warm place inside the caves instead of sleeping out with the Howlers at night, always with one eye open and Its knife in hand. Maybe the Master would really let him kill them, something It had wanted to do every moment it had to live with a child around. (Such happy sounds, such opportunity, even when kept a prisoner in a cave.)

It was when It’s gnarled hand reached out to grab Saol that Hueco found his voice, that his legs moved and he ran towards them, shouting, “The children!! Laoch! Eolas! It’s taking the children! Maravilla, Ella, stop It!”

Saol just escaped the clawed hand reaching for her shoulder, its long nails scraping across her delicate skin with precision. “No!!” She screamed and stepped back, falling into the shallow waves. Tiny bright red droplets dotted her soft skin. “Ouch!” She cried as the salt water washed over it. Her heart was screaming at the sight of Agean dangling precariously from Its other hand, those nails so close to his beautiful face. His face…Saol was amazed at Agean’s face. There was no fear there. He looked defiant and began wriggling to free himself as he kicked wildly at the beast, much to its surprise and delight. It always appreciated a fighter.

Standing near the fire, Naofa looked up when she heard Hueco; and although she didn’t hear a word he said, she knew there was something terribly wrong. Her eyes sought the Warrior who had already reached his bow and quiver and looked for her. Without another thought she stepped to the blazing fire, reached into the flames with her bare hands and mumbled a few words before scooping out a spinning ball of yellow and orange. Her hands spun the ball as she made eye contact with Laoch who already had his arrow in place. He pointed it directly at the Sorceress as she blew across the fiery ball and flung it with automatic precision at the Warrior. A quick tilt of the bow and it was caught, the end of his arrow was lit and he turned toward the beast, too absorbed in Its brief victory to notice; but it was more difficult not to notice the fiery ball flying with lightening speed towards Its head. With no time to make a good decision It tried to run for freedom.. but It wasn’t leaving without its prize. With the extra weight of Agean and Its feet too large, its heart too heavy, its body too hunched, the clumsy beast stood no chance. Before it took a step out of the muck and sand, the arrow struck its right temple.

For a moment, it thought things would be okay. It pulled one flat foot from the sand and looked up towards the rocks where it had descended. Maybe It could get there after all. That was when its head caught fire and the world split in two. The wriggling child found his voice and wailed for his Mother as the beast lost control of Its body altogether and losing its grip, dropping Agean into the waves. It turned back for a moment to see a blur of moving bodies rushing towards it, waving and shouting, pointing. Not that It could hear anything but the sound of certain fiery death roaring in its head. It turned from the madness and tried to run, making it only a few weak steps before the fire raced down the hair on its back and enveloped Its body. It tried to scream. They all saw it, but its mouth seemed empty somehow. Nothing came out but a raspy gurgling sound. It turned for one last look at its Master’s enemies. Now they stood still, staring at the pitiful creature. Some looked at It with hatred. The softer ones had something else in their eyes. What was that look? It thudded to the sand and watched the stars fade into nothing as the fire above it licked the wind.

To be continued…..

Emerald Waves and Crystal Caves/Forever Never

Okay, for those of you who know me, you know I have been working on a book for awhile now.  I am in the process of reworking it and this is a recent chapter.  The entire original book can be found in chapters on my other blog Tropicalaffair.me.  Just type in Forever Never in the search bar for the posts if you are interested.

Meanwhile, if you have time, I would appreciate a quick read of this chapter, which is actually the second in the reworking.  Let me know what you think.  The first chapter is also on Tropical Affair and is called The Traveler.

I hope you all have a wonderful Father’s Day.

 

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Emerald Waves and Crystal Caves

“We’re getting close.  The wind carries strange smells,” Guia observed, the matter-of-factness in his voice disguising the questions in his mind. The Guide for this tribe of horsemen known as the Jinetes never allowed fear to invade his thoughts. He thought it neither practical nor wise, although in recent days it was becoming more difficult to stave it off.

The Warrior riding beside him reined his horse and cocked his head, listening.  “Do you hear that?  The sound like thunder…it is just as Eolas described it to me. The voice of the sea.” Loach took a deep breath, filling his lungs, the smell of salt heavy on the chilly morning breeze. He nodded. “Yes, we are nearly there now.  Let’s just hope we were led to the right place.  The great sea borders much of Domhan and we have little time to spare. This needs to be Athas  Anam.”

Loach looked nervously over his shoulder, knowing the rest of the tribe had become restless as they passed through the desolate lands that lay between their home and the promise of salvation for it. He had listened to their grumbling and whispers for days.

“There should be a valley just over that rise,” he continued. “We will make camp there and tend to the horses before beginning any search.” He nodded his head and clicked his horse onward, summoning the others to follow. “Good news, my friends!” He called back over his shoulder. “We have nearly finished our journey!”  Then he murmured to himself. “Now the quest begins.”

***

“You must finish your work first,” Naofa admonished.  The absolute authority in her voice did not betray the tenderness in her heart; but a keen eye would easily see the gleam of adoration she felt for the child who wriggled on his stool by the table. Her love for him was immeasurable and generous, although she had no intention of allowing him to escape the task of sorting and bundling herbs.  They were necessary for her teas and ceremony. This had become his primary morning chore, one that he routinely performed without complaint. Naofa was ready to guide her son in accepting the gifts that were his birthright, those powers she herself had been blessed with.  So much had been revealed to her about this power since she retreated to the caves of her homeland, forced into seclusion in the wake of upheaval on their world. They had all been thrust into forward motion since the Devastation, and she had borne her journey alone, devoting every spare moment to understanding the strange and frightening truths her soul had been secreting. 

“Not so tightly, son, you want to lay them close together but not twist or bind them.  They won’t crack if you take your time to do it right.” Naofa raised an eyebrow and tilted her chin up in the way she always did when he was trying her resolve.  The impatient child saw an angry ocean swell in her gray eyes whenever she was agitated, and thus he never liked to agitate her. Naofa had to control what she revealed to her son, with so much for his young mind to grasp.  Uncertainty and doubt often invaded her thoughts; and time was robbing him of the carefree life she would have envisioned for them both. There was no way to know when he would begin to ask questions, meet other humans-families-but not like them, and certainly not like the first family of their world, once so perfect and happy… Agean knew nothing of Forfeichta; and the Sorceress thought him spared to not know such loss as they had suffered.

 

It had been she who presided over the Circle of Light that helped to ease the pain of the first Mother of Domhan when she bore a son, not once, but on two occasions.  How sharp the contrast had been as she found herself suddenly carrying and delivering her own miracle child but born into such a different and desolate world. She carried her secret utterly alone, retreating into the sea caves to bear the burden without aid or comfort from the same friends she had so recently stood beside in battle.  How could she have called upon them, how could she have faced them without answers, without explanation, without…honor?  Here now was her own precious treasure, who from the moment he slipped from within her body, clung tightly to her and suckled at her breast with such vigor that all pain and loneliness melted into a mother’s love.  How quickly he had grown and learned to imitate her manner, so eager to be her student; however,  in recent times the young child seemed ever eager to be out of her sight. Naofa well understood his desire to explore the beaches, the hills and caves that surrounded them, running free from her watchful gaze.  He had come by his independence honestly; and how quickly she learned that the hardest part of being his mother was denying him the things which he desired the most.  She could not deny his cleverness.  In just six revolutions of the star legend across the sky he had learned to count, to make drawings of the plants and animals that he saw, and to brew simple teas just the way his mother instructed.  Naofa thought how proud Eagna would have been of him and how happy for her friend’s blessing. She wondered about Saol and her father and how they were faring without…

“Please, Na, I want to collect seaweed for the meal before the sun bakes it into the sand!”  Jostled from her bittersweet reverie, Naofa turned her attention back to the clever child who plotted an early release from his task.  

Gazing through the open window as he worked quickly,  Agean imagined himself expertly scaling the steep, grassy hillside to the crest where he would stand victorious over a rich green valley filled with magical treasures.  Or maybe he would venture into the dense woods that lined the hilltop as far as the eye could see in the other direction.  Both tempting adventures were strictly forbidden; but the child felt his will was strong enough to convince his mother to relent on this day.  It would be the very day he showed Na how brave, how strong, how smart he was.  If he had truly been as wise as he imagined, he would have realized the Sorceress would never be influenced by a deception, albeit she was duly amused by his cunning. Sadly, that trait would serve him well in certain situations that she would not allow herself to acknowledge yet. 

“The sooner you finish binding those herbs, the sooner you will be out in the fresh air with the sand beneath your impatient feet.”  Naofa saw the longing in his eyes and smiled, giving him a quick wink in spite of the noncommital answer she gave.  That meant she wasn’t agitated.  His heart beat happily and his fingers worked faster than ever-but carefully.

***

With their camp nearly made, the horses grazed contentedly on the green hillside of a lush, beautiful valley, Laoch allowed himself to draw in deep, long breaths of fresh, salt air.  The damp breezes brushed over his parched skin, stinging it in places where there were fresh cuts.  They had come so far, trudging through many barren, charred and rocky lands as they made their way to the promise of miracles, of aid and what he hoped would be salvation for his Warrior’s soul. 

“We are ready to begin the search when you give the word.”  Guia handed Laoch a strip of dried meat, precious last bits of their store; but the latter pushed his friend’s hand back, shaking his head. He nodded in the direction of the Huntsmen who were busily putting up poles and stretching skins across them, making fires in a circle around their camp, and gathering any edibles they could find growing along the hillside. 

“Give them my measure.  They will need it. We should take a well deserved rest.  At sunrise we will pair off and begin the search.” Laoch held his breath, waiting for the inevitable question, the one Guia hadn’t asked yet and for which he was not even sure he had an answer.  Their eyes locked and in them Guia saw the Warrior’s unspoken request-

‘Not now.  I am too weary.’ The Guide for the tribe of Jinetes touched his friend’s shoulder and forced the dried sustenance into his hand.  

“What good will you be to any of us if you lose your strength? Eat.”  Guia’s word was final as he held his hands up, turned and went back to work with the others.  

The smokey meat was chewy but tasted good to the Warrior. He savored it as he sat on the hillside watching a line of ants trudging over the terrain with loads of debris on their backs.  His eyes followed the tiny line to a small mound with a hole on top and absentmindedly observed them filing down into it. He felt a sudden burning and looked down to find small bodies covering his legs, where bright red whelps began to rise.  He swiped the attackers, brushing them from his burning skin.  A sudden rage filled his chest and he jumped to his feet.   He strode quickly to the mound, raised his leg and brought the heavy foot of destiny down upon it and kicked until their work was but dust, watching the ants scatter in confusion.  

“Welcome to my world, red demons,” he hissed.  In his usual way, he felt instant remorse for his temper and surveyed the tiny devastation he caused.  Oddly enough the ants quickly recovered and had already started rebuilding that mound, grain by grain.  Some carried the dead while others worked on.  All things seemed perpetual. Was this the way Artine felt about his own actions? 

“No!” he grunted angrily.  Artine felt nothing, cared for nothing and deserved nothing.  Laoch had convinced himself long ago that the dark God was at the heart of all things gone wrong on Domhan and vowed he would not rest until Artine was made sorry for it.  He tramped down the hillside, his legs on fire, and ignored the small voice of doubt that questioned whether such a thing were even possible. 

***

“Here, Na, all finished!”  Naofa turned and nearly knocked Agean over, not realizing he had come upon her so closely.  Beaming, he held up the finished bundles of herbs.  The pungent scent of lavender wafted into her nostrils, filling her heart with an aching joy that nearly took her breath away.  It was always unexpected and always had the same effect. Composing herself, the Sorceress took the bowl from her son’s small hands, her fingers brushing across the rough surface and caressing the imprints of she who crafted it.  How small the finger marks were, how like their creator.  The same lump was making its way from her gut to her throat in that familiar way, but reprieve came in the form of an impatient child. 

“Can I go out now?  Please, Na, I’m going to miss the great white fish and the seagulls; and the best shells are just being washed up. Na…..”

Naofa put the bowl of herbs aside and placed a hand gently over Agean’s mouth as she ran her free hand through his dark curls.  “If you will be silent for a moment little one, we will get you ready to go out.” Her thoughts retraced the short story of his life as she pulled him to her.

Hopeful that her being with child was a miracle from Eternity, she ignored her fears of mystical meddling; and the Sorceress would have been more certain of such a miracle had it not been for the dream…..if not for her visions and the cruel hand of Artine in their lives.   She could have found solace and comfort in that bright hope.  But from the moment Agean arrived, his tiny head was covered in thick, black curls and his skin turned dark as soon as he spent time in the sun.  Naofa’s worst fears simmered beneath the surface of her consciousness but the possibility was too big, too unbelievable to accept; so she pushed it down again and again with her fading hope. It was only the gray blue eyes looking back at her every day that marked him as her own.  Time would reveal what other parts of her were born with him.  

Agean pulled away from her grasp and began gathering things for his adventure-a leather pouch for collecting treasures, his favorite stick for digging and poking, the small leather shoes that he had helped his mother to make.  In mere moments he was standing in the doorway, the midday sun gleaming across the smooth stones that led to their little home. The filtered light created a halo of color around his head and the vision seemed a premonition. The room suddenly swelled and shrank at the same time and Naofa felt she was falling into an abyss. Once again, it was the child who pulled her back to herself.

“Now I’m ready, Na! I promise to be safe and come back before the sun falls into the sea.” The child ran over to give his mother a quick hug, but she grabbed him by the shoulder before he could dash away. She took a meager selection of fruits from the window and lay them on a piece of cloth, adding a handful of nuts from a bowl on the table.  She wrapped them gently and tied the bundle with vine.  Naofa grabbed a flask from the wall and filled it from the bucket of fresh water, plugging the opening with a perfectly carved bit of driftwood.  She slung the pouch over his shoulder and secured it in place, then handed him the snack.  

“Now you are ready.” He grinned up at the towering form of Love above him and squeezed her legs. In the next instant he was beyond the door and out of sight. 

“Before the sun falls…,” she called after the shadow child. 

Agean was content for a time to run along the shore where he collected prime seaweed for his mother’s fish stew and then on to his favorite pastime… searching for treasures-those things he alone coveted.  The tiny curled shells that he strung on vines and gave to Na hung in every corner of their tiny home.  The sand crawlers with their shell homes on their backs delighted the child; and he giggled as he scrambled along behind them, kicking up the sand as he went and squealing with delight when they narrowly escaped his clutches, disappearing into their hidey holes. Now and then he came across the grand treasure, that spiny pink wonder, almost as large as his head; and when he held it close to his face, Agean could hear the ocean waves rolling from within its smooth interior.  He had often asked Na what miracle this was that a shell could hold the whole of the sea within.  She always put her hand on his head, smiled and stared into the distance before giving her answer, and it was always the same. 

“The shell does not hold the sea in its walls, my son.  It holds her within its heart.  For all of its life it has listened to her song, felt her caress and known her beauty.  What you hear is the shell’s sweet memory, and she shares it with you so that you can understand the wonders of her Mistress.  Close your eyes as you listen and you will understand her enormity.”

Despite his best efforts and highest hopes, the child found no such treasure on this day. He stopped, stuffed a few grainy shells inside his pouch and looked at the sun above, now nearly straight over his head.  Feeling the pull of its limits on his adventure he turned his eyes to the rocky Cliffs that led to a different adventure.  Emerald colored grass began where they ended, like a cooling beacon they called to his soul.  Higher up he tried to count the trees that dotted the horizon but there were too many.  How he longed to wander those mysterious woods, but his Mother’s warnings always kept him firmly attached to the shore.

“If you stay near the ocean and in the light of day, no harm will find you. There is no telling what lurks in the shadows of those woods now that our world has been touched by a darkness that refuses to share existence with the Light of Eternity.” Agean was not sure what she meant exactly, but her reverence and serious tone had kept him from disobeying…until now.

***

Silently he slipped up beside their home and dropped his collection of seaweed into the wooden bucket next to the door, then Agean tiptoed beyond range of the window that faced the shoreline, his heart racing with fear and excitement. As soon as he rounded the bend that obscured his mother’s view, the small child began his climb.  

Scaling the shore rocks was easy. He had done it many times, imagining that when he reached the soft, green grasses he would continue upward. This time there was no pretense. He was going to the top; but he didn’t anticipate the slippery slope of his choice, both physically and mentally, until his small hands and feet groped for a solid hold on the green rock that kept him from the beginning of his victory run. Every time he reached for a solid grip, the green moss betrayed him, causing him to slip and suffer scratches to his arms and legs.  Again and again he tried, even once falling back to the rocky crop below him, new terror threatening his resolve.  Still, he took a few deep breaths, wiggled his fingers and toes and looked up into the bright light that now stared back at him from its prime position.  He would not be stopped when he was so close.  With new determination he found cracks in the rocky slope that somehow seemed to have opened up while he rested; and with a strength beyond his young age he advanced upward with lightening speed until his hands grasped the cool, gloriously strange feeling tufts of grass he had coveted from below. With a final grunt and push with his feet, Agean flung himself up and over the edge of the cliff and rolled in the blanket of green happiness. He pressed his cheeks into the prickly comfort of freedom to stifle his giggles, still uncertain how far from his mother’s keen ears he might be.

Agean finally stopped rolling and lay on his back, watching the fluff of white clouds floating overhead.  He loved to do this on the beach too.  His Na taught him to find the images of things in his world there.  He saw fishes, shells, seaweed and all manner of creature.  As he watched the clouds, they rolled, forming into a creature he had never before. It had four legs and big ears and seemed to sprint across the blue background so easily.  Suddenly, a flash of lightening cracked across the blue, its light piercing the image as those its eyes were on fire!  Agean gasped and sat up, rubbing his eyes.  When he dared to look up again, the creature was dissolving onto the gray landscape of the sky. Rain was coming.  Agean jumped up and began to climb the hill, fearful that his dream would be drowned by an afternoon shower. But he kept the vision of the creature in his mind for it seemed so quick and strong. Na spoke of such a creature although she was not eager to have Agean be near one.  To the child it had become just another of her tales of dread to keep him out of the woods, for that is where they lived-and their hunger was strong.

The climb seemed short with such enthusiasm racing through his veins; and Agean quickly found himself standing on the summit of his once small world.  For a moment he looked out across the vast sea, its arms reaching out to him, whispering his name.  The salty air whipped through his dark hair and stung the new scratches on his skin. He winced, then knelt to pull some aromatic wildflowers from the ground to lay across the wounds, confident that Na would help him to clean them when he returned home. 

He turned to look down into the valley before venturing into his cherished woods.  The sight that met his eyes caused him to drop to his knees in awe-there were other humans there! He quickly counted at least fifteen before giving up. They moved around too much.  Agean let his hand fall from his mouth where he had unconsciously slapped it to stifle a cry.  All these humans were males like himself.  There was none who looked like Na.  Was this why she kept them from him?  Did she know they were here?  They all had dark hair just like him and yet they were different.  Their skin was so dark and their clothing seemed strange. What did they have smeared on their faces? It was so hard to see and he just needed to get closer.  

Stealthily, the child took a few tentative steps down the hillside that was farthest from the Warriors of Jinetes, being careful not to slip, all the while scanning faces and trying to absorb what he was seeing.  There were glorious four legged animals with them-so tall and beautiful! As he watched, several of the males climbed onto the backs of the animals and rode them into the woods on the other side of the valley. Rode them! Agean didn’t know what he would say to these humans once he reached them. He only knew he had to be there with them.  Then his eyes became focused on one particular male in the group.  He was more muscular than the others, his hair dark and the set of his jaw rigid.  His broad shoulders seemed like boulders and he wore a cord around his neck.  Even from such a distance Agean saw there were two stones hanging from the cord, one white and one dark.  He knew who this male was!  His mother spoke to him of the Light Ones that had been her companions so long ago, who stood beside her during the Devastation and that she hoped were well in the dark days that followed.  She spoke so lovingly of them all, especially of those who had made the great journey.  When she spoke of the Warrior, her eyes glazed over and her voice was hushed, reverent.  This must be him-Laoch!! Agean had to meet him, had to touch him, had to bring him home to his Na. Perhaps then her melancholy would disappear forever.  

The child began making his way down the slope, his heart pounding faster, his mind envisioning the speed of the creature in the sky; and he broke into a trot.  He gained speed as he descended, feeling the power surge within him like a fire, felt the earth and grass being thrown up beneath his feet. He wanted to wave but his arms felt frozen.  He opened his mouth to shout out in greeting but his voice froze in his throat. Instead he heard a howling, as though it were right in his head. The Warrior and his companions looked up to see him running down the hillside and into their camp. They pointed toward Agean excitedly, but the terror in their faces was the last thing he expected to see.

***

Laoch heard it first.  The howl of the young wolf as it bounded down the hillside was fierce, crazed and unbridled, although still immature.  He quickly scanned the horizon of the cliff for its family.  The Warrior knew no young one would be left alone to hunt during the day like this.  

“Wolf cub! The elders will be behind it soon!” shouted one of the others, as they drew their arrows and swiftly loaded their bows. Laoch saw something flapping out behind the wolf cub as it approached and he sensed this was no ordinary cub.  His heart skipped several beats in anticipation as everything around him seemed to slow down. He heard the muffled words of the others as though from far away. His mind retraced the steps of a white tiger with willowy legs and gray eyes…..

“Draw on it before it reaches us! We can deal with the elders after the sun sets.”  He saw them take aim; but even as his heart spoke to him of truth, even as his lips tried to form the words ‘Stop!’,  and even as he raised his arms in protest, Laoch saw several arrows fly over the meadow toward the charging cub.  He watched in amazed horror as a single arrow pierced its side. The animal was now close enough for the Warrior to see into its eyes-its very blue eyes, eyes filled with fear and disappointment.  The cub rolled the rest of the way into the valley near one of the fires and writhed in pain, its fierce howl fading to a whimper.  Half a dozen warriors, including Laoch, ran to its side.

“Don’t touch it!  Who let loose that arrow?! Did you not see it is a mere cub?” 

“Where there is a cub there will be a family,” stated Guaia, matter-of-factly. “We need to eat, not be eaten.”  

“By Mor, what is happening?!” exclaimed the warrior standing nearest the cub. 

Laoch hurried to where he stood beside the limp form in the grass.  Amazed tinged terror gripped him to see there was no wolf cub there at all, but merely a small child. He was bleeding profusely from his side where a well aimed arrow was deeply embedded. Laoch rushed to the child and knelt beside him, fear of the worst consuming his thoughts. With a lump in his throat, the Warrior gently lifted the child’s head and leaned over his face.  He seemed so small in  Laoch’s arms, his breaths coming in short gasps and whimpers. Agean looked up at the Warrior with admiration and whispered, “Na told me….” before passing out completely.

The Warrior pulled his tie from the tunic he wore and quickly bound the wound around the arrow before lifting the child gently and began the climb uphill, calling back over his shoulder, “Do not follow me now. I know where this child belongs and we may be closer to our destination than we knew.  But this does nothing to help our quest!”  As he climbed, Laoch noticed the fragments of plant fiber clinging to the child’s skin over his fresh cuts.  This only served to confirm his suspicions.  So many questions raced through his mind as he climbed the formidable hill to the answers.  He began praying as he climbed, to a force he feared had abandoned them all. Agean blinked when the salty wet tears hit his eyelids, but he was too weak to open his eyes or to hear the prayer of the Warrior as they climbed together.  

“Mor, do not forsake this child or the female who bore him.  For in her lies our truest hope of finding your daughter, the Mother of Domhan.  He is surely most precious to her….and to me.” Laoch had so many questions, but in those moments his mind knew only that the child must be saved. 

 

to be continued……

copyright words and images

Cheryl K P. 2018