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Under The Forgotten Oak
Definitive Second Edition
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-017-3
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 162 Pages
Published: January 2015

From inside the flap

What if God is not at all what people envision? Imagine a powerful energy portal that stretches from one end of the galaxy to another, the sustaining reservoir of life for Earth as well as a connected sister world where the ancient deities actually live and breathe. What if Satan is actually a renegade thread of this interplanetary gateway; and the future of two worlds, and three dimensions, rests entirely on one single human being's actions?

When Lan MacCamhail unexpectedly inherits an estate and a multi-million dollar legacy overseas, he hopes this stroke of good fortune will give him the chance to make a fresh start in Ireland. The terms of the mysterious bequeathal, however, require that he must find an enigmatic amulet before he can claim his rightful inheritance. Loosely based loosely on the Celtic legend of Oisin and Niamh, Lan's saga, mirrored by his father's strangely similar story from three decades earlier, takes a sinister turn when dark forces intervene. Lan is guided in his quest by the memories of his father, the beautiful Larne attorney Sidney McVie, an ancient shape-shifter, and the spiritual guardians of another world.

Conceived as a genre spanning mythological fantasy, UNDER THE FORGOTTEN OAK’s poetically-sensual and pleasingly-literary story-line will stretch the boundaries of the imagination in a creative philosophical journey that explores the concepts of love, honor, and selfless sacrifice.

Reviews and Awards

(UNDER THE FORGOTTEN OAK is) an exquisite story weaved together with such care and imagination! I wanted the journey to go one forever! - Amazon

Under The Forgotten Oak (Excerpt)


The Legend of Oisin and Niamh*

Long ago in ancient Ireland there lived a warrior-hunter named Oisin. One day while wandering the moors he met a beautiful young woman with golden hair riding on a milk-white mare. "My name is Niamh," she said; and instantly, as their eyes met, Oisin fell hopelessly in love with her (and her with him).

"Come with me to Tir Na Nog, where we will spend eternity together in the Otherworld," Niamh suggested; and so, without thinking of the repercussions, Oisin joined her on the horse, and together they crossed the emerald sea, finally arriving in the Land of the Young.

In spite of the beauty of the land and the deep love Oisin felt for Niamh, he became homesick. "Allow me to return to Ireland, just for a day," Oisin pleaded, and Niamh couldn't hold him back.

"Take my mare and return to the mortal world," she agreed sadly, "but do not let your feet touch its ground or else you will be doomed to remain there forever."

Oisin rode the white horse back across the sea to the land of his birth; but when he arrived, he found that three-hundred years had come and gone during his absence. As such, all of his family and friends had long since passed away; and so, with a sad heart, he turned the mare back toward the sea to return to Tir Na Nog and his beloved Niamh.

With the emerald waves within sight, the mare stumbled on a stone, unintentionally throwing Oisin from her back. Within moments, Niamh's human lover aged 300 years, and never returned to the Land of the Young.

*adapted from various internet sources including horsesoftirnanog.org


*

The host is riding from Knocknarea

And over the grave of Clooth-na-bare;

Caolte tossing his burning hair

And Niamh callingAway, come away:

Empty your heart of its mortal dream.

The winds awaken, the leaves whirl round,

Our cheeks are pale, our hair is unbound,

Our breasts are heaving, our eyes are a-gleam,

Our arms are waving, our lips are apart;

And if any gaze on our rushing band,

We come between him and the deed of his hand,

We come between him and the hope of his heart.

The host is rushing 'twixt night and day,

And where is there hope or deed as fair?

Caolte tossing his burning hair,

And Niamh callingAway, come away.

William Butler Yeats

The Hosting of the Sidhe


As told by Aine (Dragonfly)

Balleyboley Forest, Ireland

May 1 (Beltane), 1971

As the sun burned low on the morning's horizon on that day many years ago at dawn on Beltane, the girl-barefoot, her lithe yet shapely form covered just barely in a white dress cut low in the front and extending to mid-thigh-stepped gingerly through the stillness of yellow grass in a field speckled with multicolored flowers, her skin Celtic-pale against the greening bristle of early springtime, and her hair matching the sultry, simmering fire of that May's first crimson sunrise.

She looked twenty-something, but physical appearance can't always be trusted when a seemingly ageless body secretly holds an ancient soul. She moved with graceful purpose, the grass bending firm yet yielding under her pink un-calloused soles, the supple reeds brushing gently against her smooth and tensing calves as she headed towards the moss-covered shadows of Balleyboley Forest. She seemed hauntingly ethereal: an embodied specter of the morning; a seeming reincarnation of yesterday-old in past memory yet totally new in the novelty of another wakening dawn. As she bent to pick a brilliant Irish lily, red and pink and alive, she simultaneously brushed a balmy cascade of cherry-rouge hair from her face and stood back up, holding the fragile stem and silk-like petals in the soft grip of her delicate palm. She would take that symbol of the living world with her as a keepsake into the dense and forbidding foliage that stretched ahead for many, many miles, well beyond the jagged inky border of meadow-becomes-woods that she had just now reached.

She disappeared under the canopy of oak and elm and spruce, veering right by forty-five or fifty degrees rather than continuing straight-on, in order to avoid the ill-humors that emanated from the unmentionable one's tree, penetrating at least a mile in every direction and creating a circumferential radius of palpable terror. She shivered to think of the sinister timber: dead but inexplicably thriving, leaning with ominous brown and grey over the yawning abyss that gaped with an absent presence at its base, where a demon's lazy eye peered through the brittle roots, waiting patiently to be awakened so its prey could be sucked into the passage that led directly to Hell. Her journey would lead her, just a few miles ahead, to a very different tree, where hope and life seemed to always triumph over despair and death.

The air, humid with the breath of pine and poplar, lightened noticeably as she put some distance between her and the dark one's rancid sphere of influence, getting closer, pace by pace, to her destination: Daghda's energy-providing oak, the source of life for all of Earth, forgotten long ago by human-kind but known still to Aine and her enigmatic people. As she picked her way through the mulch of earthy groundcover, a raven crowed, sending a flock of nervous sparrows out of the limbs and leaves where they were hiding. She followed their aerial trajectory, the line of flight 'up above' coincidentally corresponding in direction to her walking-path 'down below', until she finally arrived at the massive trunk, where she dutifully placed the lily tenderly on the ground near an exposed root that was much wider than both of her legs combined-a gift, perhaps, or maybe more of an offering: her humble request for access. After a moment, she laid both palms on the bark, knowing precisely where to touch; and magically, her whispered plea was answered with solid-becomes-air, revealing winding stairs descending into darkness that would lead, she knew, into a cavern of light, at the very bottom. She had been here before, had said the same prayer, and had opened the same passage, many times before. Now she would enter-the standard routine.

She let her clothes fall to the ground so the life-force would see her as she actually was-the traditional protocol when she came here as one of the chosen few, required to leave all things 'human' behind when given access to the mysterious entity that pulsed and throbbed below, in perfect sync with the vitality of the very earth itself. She followed the hidden passageway downward, stepping carefully with naked feet on rhizome-covered steps into the bowels of the burrowing tubers of Daghda's oak tree, the purity of her intentions as exposed as the innocence of her stunning nudity, her eyelids closed over still-seeing emerald, descending deeper and deeper, her fingers a delicate caress on the twisting and diving cellulose cables. She slid like solid vapor along the buried and leafless ivy, her breath soft and calm as she inhaled the damp richness of the tree's earthy atmosphere, becoming one with Daghda's woody core. Finally, she reached the glowing cavern at the center of the tree's root-entwined innards with a heady sigh; and in response, the portal that called itself Daghda, taking up more than half of the grotto's floor and the entire far wall, quietly stirred and came to life.

She knew full well what came next, since she had been here before. A gentle wind wafted gently from the void, just as she expected, filling her 'being' with light, knowledge, and reassurance-intrusive in concept, but not at all threatening in reality. She was accustomed, as well, to the flash of 'definition' that materialized like a storybook of implanted images in her subconscious, superseding words and overriding the need for verbal explanation-the instantaneous, complete and thorough understanding of who, and what, the portal called Dagda really was. With trance-like acceptance, she stood naked in the portal's presence, allowing its memories (which extended backwards and forwards in a spontaneous directionless flow with no discernible point of reference, from here to eternity and back again) to enter her, making her one with the very moment of its self-awareness and the reality of its eventual demise. Time, for Daghda, was not a continuum. Today was inseparable from tomorrow, the past was equivalent to the future, and the present blended with all that had been and would be, moving backwards and forward from the day of the portal's birth eons and eons ago to that moment beyond comprehension when it would drift into the oblivion of permanent slumber with the final dying atom of the cosmos.

The portal was a 'living' thing, inanimate yet conscious, born during the gigantic nuclear conflagration during the first few moments of universal creation. That 'big bang' polarized the positive against the negative during a rather short-lived but dramatic separation of unstable energy, during which the portal's opposites, thrown outward but then pulled back together by violent magnetic coercion, reunited in a blazing implosion of matter and anti-matter, past and future, here and there, plus and minus, everything and nothing. The result of this electrical anomaly was an energy current that stretched for billions and billions of miles, from one end of the universe to the other; and when the cosmic dust settled, two planets were created at either end as a necessary and organic consequence of the portal's physical creation: Elysium, also called the 'Otherworld', on the far side; and Earth, or Terra, at the other.

The portal was a life force that permeated air, soil, oceans, and even flesh and blood, in both worlds. It had many names. Some called it Gaea, the Earth Mother, whose maternal force connects life to life; but it was neither man nor woman. Others called it Zeus, Jupiter, Odin, Indrani, Hera, or Isis, its identity conveniently imagined and materialized, through the ages, into a human form, to better facilitate a simplistic understanding of its nebulous and multi-dimensional properties. It was the one and only Daghda: the creator, the maker, the revered one known as Yahweh, Allah, or God. But it had no physical form, of course, because it was just energy.

The portal, formed from the molecules of creation itself, gave life and took it away; nourished and consumed; waxed and waned; and 'joined' more than it divided, much like a river flowing from its 'source' on Elysium to its 'terminus' on Terra, but without directionality. The portal was a 'waterway' of pulsing energy with its head in the Otherworld, its feet in this world, and its body extending like a bridge from infinity to infinity. Although she had never been there, Aine saw, in her mind's green-eyed gaze, the image of Daghda's massive and rocky 'skull', poking through the sand on Elysium's ocean-side coast, the salty waves lapping at the portal's entryway in the land of the Ethereals: god-like protegees with the knowledge to navigate the portal's dangerous rapids and travel at will between worlds, disguised in animal form. And here Aine stood, at the portal's 'feet' in the bowels of Daghda's ancient oak tree, a willing 'receptacle' of immediate insight and a seeker of questions as well as answers on this peaceful spring morning in 1971.

The balance of the universe is in jeopardy, the entity called Daghda whispered deep inside her. The rules of the universe prevent my direct intervention, so I have called you to be my agent in this world, at this time and place; while in the other, the Black Raven awaits but will be summoned later, to finish what you will begin. You must halt the unthinkable, Aine, and prepare for the Elysian bird in the way that I instruct. This is why you are here; but first, feel my pain and understand me fully.

Suddenly, she doubled over in agony, dropping onto her hands and knees as she felt the portal's body being stretched to its very limits, over the eons, by the unsympathetic force of centrifugal expansion, to the point that Daghda's electrically charged highway could only be safely navigated by the Ethereals when both planets, and the stars of all the adjacent galaxies, were aligned just so: once every six decades, for six hours only, beginning at the stroke of midnight in autumn's Samhain, through the oak doorway deep in Terra's supernatural Balleyboley Forest; and once every six days, at 12 noon precisely and for only six minutes, at its rocky fortress on Elysium's distant shore. Time ran quite differently now at Daghda's head and feet, where six months in the forest constituted only sixty minutes at the seaside; one decade under the Forgotten Oak in Balleyboley Forest represented just a single day on the distant yet connected stone monolith on the beach; and the passage of sixty long years on Terra took only six short days to come and go on Elysium.

But there was more. Daghda's tensely stretched frame, like a body on some ancient torture rack, could no longer completely congeal the dissonant forces in its electrical essence, so it was weakened, conflicted, and vulnerable. One renegade magnetic discharge that called itself Arawn, dissatisfied with its subservience to the spark and flow of Daghda's white and fiery goodness, took its timely advantage and splintered away from the creator's magnetic current-long, long ago, it seemed... or was it just yesterday? This 'fallen angel', known to most on Terra as Satan, now had its very own malignant energy field that slithered like a dark serpent in snake-like parallel to Daghda's, through the boundaries of time and space, maintaining a tenuous, thread-like connection to Daghda's own river of life-much to Arawn's dismay. Satan's 'tributary' originated from a nebulous 'atmosphere' surrounding Elysium: a dimensionless 'planet' where time ran backwards and forwards and side-to-side, made not of rock and soil but of magnetically adhered gas and coalesced electrodes instead; a nebulous stereo-isomer of Elysium; an Underworld that swirled not only below, but also above and around the home of the Ethereals, and constituting an undefinable territory encompassing no true geographical borders but whose existence was tangible and all-too quantifiable, nonetheless. Arawn's energy stream flowed from the other side of the universe directly to Earth, ending in a beckoning and yawning black abyss on the Terran side, constantly kept open by some freakish distortion of planetary physics. Satan's very own 'portal' leading to his Underworld could be found in the center of Balleyboley Forest, existing as a gaping hole in the roots of a corrupt and leafless olive tree and often-times guarded by a satanic Denizen called Maeve: the Red Bat.

The pain subsided and Aine shuddered, acknowledging the evolving danger through her earthy connection with her maker, sending him a panic-laden signal of sober understanding through the leaves, roots and bark of Terra's inter-connected arbor-life. She knew now that the crisis involved more than just her own people; and since her life now uniquely 'straddled' both Sidhe and Mortal dominions, it was only logical that Daghda had 'chosen' her to intervene in events that threatened the survival of both races, both sister planets, and maybe even the existence of the portal itself.

The Sidhe and their Mortal cousins were both children of Earth, diverging long ago into two discreet 'peoples': the one able to harness the world's magic, the other painfully ignorant of the mystical milieu surrounding them. The two related but dissimilar species tenuously shared their mutual planet in virtual isolation, tied to its soil by the chains of conception, neither of them able to traverse the portal to the other side without perishing, unless accompanied in the journey by an Ethereal. Sidhe and Mortals rarely intermixed, with only a handful of such 'pairings' taking place since the dawn of time. Aine and her human consort were the only living examples of this anomalous coupling.

Listen, chosen one, and I will tell you some simple riddles and you must find the answers. First, the White Steed's amulet is here, but it belongs in Elysium, instead. It must be returned to its rightful owner: the Steed's alter-ego in the Land of the Young called Niamh.

Did Daghda expect her to make a 'delivery' across his portal, taking this 'amulet' for him from Terra into Elysium? "You know I cannot go to the Otherworld, Father, unless I am chaperoned by an Ethereal."

You are not the intended carrier, dear one. It should be delivered by the man or the boy, when my portal's connection from here to there opens next, beginning at the stroke of midnight on Samhain in the year 2010. Remember, though, that as the sun rises on that day, my corridor leading from Terra to Elysium will close for another sixty years, just six hours after it opens. The amulet must be returned in 2010, or all will be lost.

'The man, or the boy', Daghda had just said. Who were they? She would need their names, at least, in order to find them. With her head bowed and her fingers crossed, she let Daghda's essence hear her unspoken question.

The man is called Oisin, he responded, and the boy is Lan, whose name means 'sword'. The boy will carry his father's likeness, and his burden. They are our only hope, Aine; because given the opportunity, Lan's 'blade' has the power to sever Arawn's ties to me, to Elysium, and to Terra, once and for all-if used correctly.

"How will I find them?"

They are here, at this very moment, living with a demon in disguise. They can be found in a cottage, located at the edge of Balleyboley Forest; and try as they might, they are too weak to resist the Red Bat.

"Who has the amulet?"

They do: the father, and the boy.

"What should I do?"

You must find them today, before evening falls and the gem is lost by their own misguided volition; and when you do, you must send Oisin away, and protect the boy. Hide the amulet; and keep it safe from Arawn's Denizen, until the time comes for the talisman's return, thirty-nine years hence. This act will be your legacy, and will pave the way for Raven.His words burned into her, and she instantly knew that in the process of doing what he asked of her she would pay the ultimate price.

"Tell me how to accomplish this, Daghda." Aine's fate was already determined, and she would willingly accept it; but if she was meant to die, she would do everything in her power to give her ending purpose.

Use the power of the amulet to alter time, and space. You will know, my sweet child of nature.

"And if I fail?" She closed her eyes, bracing herself for the answer that she seemed to already know.

The power of the stone was derived from my most potent headwater. If it is not returned to its rightful owner: the White Steed called Niamh, she will die; my magnetic river will lose its charge, weakening and then dissolving entirely; and the life-sustaining link between Terra and Elysium will be forever broken, never to be regained.

Aine felt the panic surge inside her like a devastating tidal wave. Without the portal, her people (whose magical existence depended on Daghda for their spiritual sustenance) would die. This would all come to pass if the amulet wasn't returned to Niamh on Elysium, and that was bad enough; but what if it ended up in Arawn's hands, instead of remaining hidden somewhere on Terra?

Daghda, still inside her, heard her silent question. Arawn must not possess the talisman. If he has it, my river's energy will fill his stream instead, and the connections between the Underworld, Elysium and Terra will be permanently solidified. This world of yours and my distant one, I fear, would then have a new and sinister affiliation. If this comes to pass, Elysium and Terra will both be plunged irretrievably into a state of eternal darkness.

"I must not fail," she whispered.

You must not. Remember, Aine; everything hinges on the man, and the boy. You must succeed tonight.

She got up onto her feet with stoic resolve. "I will not disappoint you, Father."

Time runs short; so go now-quickly.

The breeze from the portal grew weak, filling her no longer, so she turned towards the stairs; and with a blink and a sudden flash of brightness, her human form dissipated, as emerald-green looked inward, spreading over her insect-skin to color her new dragonfly exterior. Time and space seemed to blur with the oscillation of her paper-thin wings, and she was gone.