Hi all. I am posting to my WP blog today because many of you that follow me have difficulty commenting or connecting with me over on Blogger. I am so grateful to all who have hung in there with me for over ten years since I started blogging on my tropicalaffair site.
Today’s post is presented as part of https://lindaghill.com/2022/10/21/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-oct-22-2022/ for Linda Hill and her #SoCS prompt. Today’s prompt is ‘bowl’.
Any of you who follow Dan Antion over at https://nofacilities.com/2022/10/22/reading-and-writing-socs/#comment-286663 may have read his post today where he was kind enough to mention the book I have been working on for the past 10+ yrs. Working, raising kids and living life makes book writing a real challenge. I did most of the work during our ‘first retirement’ attempt in 2012 in the beach jungle town of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. There was true inspiration there. Fast forward to retirement number 2 almost two years ago now to Panama and I am finally nearing completion. Dan has been a true friend in helping me with this story, from reading book chapters to now being a Beta reader. I can never thank him enough for his valuable honest input and encouragement.
So, today I want to share an excerpt from one of the chapters without giving away too much of the story. Anyone who has raised small children will appreciate the tension in this excerpt. If you like what you read please leave me a comment. I love hearing from you.
PS. If you can find the ‘bowl’ in the piece let me know in the comments. 🙂
ForeverNever/Dawn of the Dream
copyright 2022 Cheryl Pennington
“Saol, it’s time.” His hot breath tickled her ear and the agitation in his voice nudged her awake. Agean was kneeling beside her bed, his fingers squeezing the soft flesh of her forearm. “C’mon, now. Hurry so we don’t wake her.”Saol looked at her mother, still sleeping soundly and gasped softly. Agean pressed his hand across her mouth just in time to stifle a squeal. Her heart thumped madly when she looked into his eyes. They begged her to be silent, to be brave… and to get moving! He nodded over her shoulder towards the window. Saol turned and saw a faint glow filtering through the trees but the sky above them was black as soot. She pulled his hand from her mouth and sighed softly. Dreaming. She’d only dreamed her Father was calling to her. Saol shook her head to clear away the haunting apparitions and pushed back the covers. She could see Agean was already dressed and ready to leave, and his things lay in a shadowy lump by the door.“We have to hurry,” he mouthed. The boy leaned in so close that their noses bumped and they fought the urge to giggle, as children are wont to do. She nodded, swung her feet over the edge of the bed and leaned down for her leathers, but Agean had them in hand and began quietly slipping them onto her feet. He laced one and she worked with the other. He handed her the clothes from the end of the bed and stared at her expectantly but she scrunched up her nose, frowning. Agean shrugged and held up his hands, confused. The boy had seen his Na naked many times and this was no time to be shy. She stubbornly refused to remove her night shirt and motioned for him to turn around. He rolled his eyes and obliged, tiptoeing to the door where he kept his face to the wall and waited.After she dressed, Saol looked around her safe haven, soaking up its warmth and comfort. Something gleamed in the darkness and she tiptoed to the tiny table where her few treasures lay beside a cold oil lamp. Among these was a tiny cloth doll on a leather cord, a gift from her father at the last celebration of her life. But what it rested in was the most treasured thing Saol now owned, although she never dared tell Mama Ella. She didn’t want to hurt her feelings. After a brief moment of indecision, she slipped the doll necklace over her head and tucked it inside her dress. She slowly ran her fingers over the inside of the bowl, lovingly tracing every dip and rise of the clay. Saol had no memory of her mother but she loved her just the same. Eagna died the night she was born and that made her mysteriously perfect in Saol’s heart. Her father never spoke of this but her Mama Ella told her how close they all were when they worked together for the good of Domhan. She took the bowl from the table and nestled it between the folds of her clothes in the bag. Naofa cared so much for Eagna and Saol realized just how special her gift had been. With a last look around she was ready.She wanted to kiss Ella on the cheek but didn’t dare go near her bed. Instead she watched her sleep, wondering what her dreams might be. She softly whispered, “I love you and I promise to bring him back.” When the lump rose in her throat, the young girl turned and crept to the door where Agean waited. Hand in hand they slipped out into the chilly dawn of adventure. Saol shivered and put her arm around Agean’s shoulders protectively.“I’m ok, Saol,” he whispered adamantly, pulling away. He wouldn’t admit he felt the chill for she might think him weak. Yet her warmth was comforting and he doubted he would have had the courage to go alone. He grabbed her hand and they slipped behind the hut to gather their pilfered goods, being careful not to rattle the wood in the bin or bump into the house. After they filled their bags and hung them across their backs, the children were ready to leave the village, laden like work horses. The bow and quiver slung across Agean’s back was half the size of his body. Only one challenge remained and they took a deep breath as they headed toward the path leading to freedom.“He’s sleeping,” Agean whispered into her ear. His breath stirred the silken strands of hair around her face, tickling her cheek. She dared not move for fear of waking Fiel, the hunter who was the flame keeper. Each night a different Jinetes kept the flame alive, and so kept Juntos alive. The fire that blazed in the center of the village had been burning long before the Joining, ever since the females of Espera were created. Before the Jinetes became keepers the women of Espera tended the flame, sharing the sacred charge among themselves. The fire of life had been one of the Realm’s first gifts to them and they revered it. Fiel’s senses were sharp, making their exit more difficult.The children waited anxiously in the shadows until Agean got an idea. He crouched on the ground, soundlessly searching until he spotted the perfect stone. He picked it up and and waited. The Jinetes taught him that patience always gave the warrior an advantage. He counted to ten before raising his arm and flinging the stone as hard as he could. It was a perfect toss, landing beside the fence where the horses were tied for the night. He was relieved he hadn’t hit one in the head for he only wanted to wake them, giving Fiel a reason to leave his place too near the path.The stone hit with a thud and one of the horses whinnied and reared, stirring the others. Soon they were all excited, fearing a predator. Fiel jumped but didn’t panic. This happened all the time. Serpents and night stalkers were a horse’s worst enemy, causing panic in the group as they all tried to escape. He pulled out his knife and sprinted to the animals, never looking across the clearing to where the children hunkered in the dusty light of an imminent daybreak.The hunter checked every horse, patting them and searching the area for unwanted guests. He was so preoccupied with his work that he didn’t see the children scurry past the fire pit. Their silhouettes fell on the soft earth before the flame that pointed its orange finger at them accusingly. He might never have looked in their direction if Saol hadn’t stepped in a rut, twisting her foot. She slapped her hand to her mouth to stifle the cry of pain and Agean yanked her from the path into the trees. Once safely hidden, she rubbed her ankle and was relieved she could still move it. Agean looked at her anxiously, but when she stood on her foot there was no pain. Their eyes shone in the dark with questions they dared not ask aloud.‘Do you think he heard?’‘Is he coming?’‘Is this the end of our journey before it even began?’The woods were silent but for the sound of their hearts drumming in their ears. They waited until the biting bugs began making a morning meal of their skin before nodding, both ready to bolt. It was now or never and they were ready to run. Saol took one step forward but Agean grabbed her arm, pulling her back. He’d seen a moving shadow on the path and his senses told him to stay put. In the next moment they spotted Fiel walking toward the gate.The Keeper was annoyed that he had to go all this way for nothing. Birds often screeched when they were flushed out by the night hunters. Still, the cry sounded strange and it was his task to keep the village safe while the others slept. As he walked past their hiding place he lifted his bow and nocked an arrow, practicing his aim. Suddenly he turned to face the woods, pointing the arrow directly at the terrified runaways.Had he seen them? Saol squeezed Agean’s hand and they held their breath, not moving a muscle. His young heart sank at the thought of being discovered, of being denied his chance to help his mother and father… or worse yet, being shot a second time! Saol’s heart was heavy, imagining the moment she would stand before Mama Ella and have to explain her deception without having found her father.Fiel saw nothing in the dark woods but shadows and heard nothing more than the wind in the trees and the occasional call of the night owl. He lowered his bow and continued on to the gates where he made sure they were latched and nothing was out of order. The horizon glowed pink and orange and the hunter knew it wouldn’t be long before the noisy women would be crowding his space to begin their work. He ran all the way back to his bed and, with a last look at the quiet horses, pulled the blanket over his head. The morning air was chilly, an unpleasant condition that was getting worse with every rising sun.Saol tugged Agean along, more determined than ever to get away from the village. When they reached the gates of Juntos they felt terribly small beneath the towering posts. They looked longingly to the other side where the mysterious world loomed before them, silently speaking its truth.‘You two will be on your own out here,’ it warned. ‘Are you sure you don’t want to climb back in your beds and wait for the warm breakfast you could have with your friends and family when the sun smiles?”Agean tightened the strap on his shoulder and grabbed Saol’s hand. “Let’s go before anyone else wakes up.”The devoted girl had no choice but to follow the son of the Light Ones to the end and what lay between. Her hand was warm in his as they squeezed between the gate’s wooden slats. As if to applaud their decision, Grandfather Sun blinked over the horizon, splintering golden light over the damp grass. They looked at each other and smiled, all fear fading in the light of hope they shared.
Thanks for reading!
#ThursdayDoors and an excerpt
If you follow the link you can read an excerpt from my novel ForeverNever/Dawn of the Dream and see some nice doors from our world here. If you can’t comment on Blogger please leave me a note here. I love hearing your thoughts. 🙂
The Unseen Key #SoCs
Hi everyone. I have a new post up on Blogger. I hope everyone is having a beautiful Saturday and if you can, take a moment to visit me over there!
Knuckleheads the Dreamer’s Alliance #BookTour
Hi folks. Happy Monday.
Please join me over on Blogger where https://nofacilities.com/author/dantion/ book tour stops today. Visit us there for details about Dan’s new book series Knuckleheads the Dreamer’s Alliance series. Comments are working so please feel free to ask him about his blog or books.
Forever Never/Dream to Nightmares
I am finally ready to draw this tale to an end and so have begun its final walk. Here is an excerpt in my new space. You can read my words Here.
PS. I hope you have a fantastic #free48!
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!
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…
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
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.
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 .
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
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
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…..photographias
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