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Under The Forgotten Oak - The Journey Out And In [MultiFormat]
eBook by Charles J. Schneider

eBook Category: Fantasy
eBook Description: 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--created by, and with, the universe as the sustaining reservoir of life for Earth as well as a connected sister world where the ancient deities actually live and breath. 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?

Under the Forgotten Oak, a romantic fantasy adventure loosely based on the ancient Celtic legend of Oisin and Niamh, is a creative piece of literary fiction that paints a unique picture of good and evil that the reader will never forget. 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 much needed opportunity to leave behind his unsatisfying and disappointing life in the States, and make a fresh start in Ireland. Instead, the execution of his estranged father's Last Will and Testament sets in motion a journey of dangerous yet romantic self realization that will change his life--as well as the future and destiny of two intertwined planets--forever.

Abandoned as an infant and raised as an orphan, Lan learns, on the eve of his thirtieth birthday, that the terms of the mysterious bequeathal require that he must find his father's hidden, enigmatic and symbolic amulet in order to secure his rightful inheritance. His saga, mirrored by his father's strangely similar story from three decades earlier, takes a sinister turn when dark forces intervene. He is guided in his quest by the memories of his father; his newfound love, the beautiful Larne attorney Sidney McVie; an ancient shape-shifter, known as Bran, the Raven; and the spiritual guardians of another world. He is faced with the life-and-death struggle to define himself; rescue the love of his life; and preserve the balance between three discordant dimensions.

Conceived as a genre spanning mythological fantasy, moving multilayered romance, thought-provoking philosophical allegory, and exciting paranormal fairy tale, Under the Forgotten Oak is a carefully crafted literary adventure where the reader will learn to expect the unexpected. Set in the past as well as the present--and on our own earthly Terra as well as on a distant but eternally connected sister-world known as Sol--this unforgettable epic takes place in the realm of concrete reality as well as the magical dimension of the mystical and the supernatural. In a world where immortal visitors take the form of animals, humans live in oblivious harmony with the mysterious Sidhe, and good as well as evil exist as energy portals connecting the Otherworld and the Underworld with Earth, Under the Forgotten Oak will stretch the boundaries of the imagination in a creative lettered journey exploring the concepts of love, honor, and selfless sacrifice.

eBook Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing/Double Dragon eBooks, Published: Double Dragon Publishing, 2012
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2012




Prelude

------
-1971-
Portal
------
* * * *

Who am I?

I am a most unlikely narrator, by anyone's standards; but why not, I ask? I have been portrayed, in my many varied forms, in countless stories, myths, legends, and accountings; and, as the revered subject of these well-intentioned ramblings, I have learned, by passive observation, the art of tale telling and the subtle craft of word weaving. Omniscient, prescient, and infinitely objective: who could ask for a better conduit to relate and document this winding chronicle? Modesty, however--a novice author's required decorum--demands my quiet humility; and so I will refrain, for the moment at least, from singing my literary accolades. In the end, after all, you must be the judge and jury; so listen well, readers--my very own spiritual children--as this intriguing and curious epic unravels.

Who am I?

I am a bard, a raconteur, a poet--and a storyteller. The tale I am about to tell is mine...and his, and hers, and yours--a universal tale, fantastic but true, about one mortal's bittersweet taste of immortality, and a sweet immortal's resigned acceptance of mortality's bitter pill. But before we embark on our verbal journey, let me guide you through this essential preface.

Who am I?

Sheepishly, I admit that I am much more than a simple storyteller. I am, in many ways, a living contradiction. Some say I am an enigma that defies description; and although I am indeed a unique entity--distinctive, rare and one of a kind--I am by no means inexplicable. If you will humor my humble attempts to paint a self-portrait, I will produce--I hope--a very reasonable likeness.

I am a living thing, but you must suspend your skepticism and disbelief to completely understand the notion of my existence. I am not that different from you, really--created by fission followed by fusion, my vehicle a gigantic nuclear conflagration rather than the miniscule nuclear miracle of cellular fertilization. In lieu of meiosis, the proverbial 'big bang' polarized my pre-conception into the positive and the negative--a rather short-lived and dramatic separation of unstable energy. My opposites, reunited in a blazing implosion, made me what I am today: matter and anti-matter, past and future, here and there, plus and minus, everything and nothing--my two ends stretching from one side of the universe to the other, linking two distant planets as a necessary and organic consequence of my physical creation.

Who am I, you ask?

By now, you deserve an answer. I am your life force, your spirit, and your magic. I permeate your air, your soil, and your oceans--and yes, even your very flesh and blood. When you were born, I lent you the energy of life; and when you die, your debt to me will be repaid. Some have called me Gaea, the Earth Mother, whose maternal force connects life to life; but I am neither man nor woman. I am Zeus, Jupiter, and Odin; Indrani, Hera, and Isis--all of them and none of them, my identity conveniently imagined and materialized, through the ages, into a human form, to better facilitate a simplistic understanding of my nebulous and multi-dimensional existence. I am, some say, the one and only Daghda: your creator; your maker, and the one known as God. Without me, there would be no 'you'.

Now you know me; but you must bend your mind to truly understand. I am not the God of your forefathers, whose fabricated image has been created and recreated, over and over again, by ancient and modern thinkers since the dawn of human existence. I have no physical form. My energy gives life and takes life; nourishes and consumes; waxes and wanes; and finally, links and separates. I am the energy of creation, a flowing river of life that cascades, like a waterfall, from one end of the galaxy to another. My origin and my destination are the same yet different--two distinct planets that, both, incorporate my healing waters: my source on one side, and my reservoir on the other.

Sol and Terra, two sister planets: yin and yang, positive and negative, strong and weak. The one world--Sol--rests at my head; the other world--Terra--lies at my feet; and in between, my body is a versatile and pulsing torso of connecting energy. I am a river of boundless power with unpredictable currents, dangerous backwashes, and swirling eddies. I am an electrical waterway whose never-ending legend extends from infinity to infinity like a bridge linking two inconceivable dimensions.

Sol: my heavenly head. You, and your residents, are so cerebral, cognizant, and powerful. My massive, rocky skull pokes through the sand on your ocean's coast, and the salty waves in Niamh's backyard lap at my entryway like a gentle reminder of your insight and wisdom. Your children--my Ethereals--have the knowledge to navigate the dangerous rapids of my portal, passing easily from one world into the other and back again. They are facile and precocious students, the god-like protegees of my age-old and timeless school--wearing the concealing mask of animal likeness, always, when they travel abroad as visitors in their sister-land, Terra.

Terra: you lie at my earthly feet. You, and your residents, are so beautiful, so physical, and so sensual. My roots twist secretly inside you, just like the ancient oak that has always attached me to your surface, in Balleyboley Forest, since the beginning of recorded time. Your dwellers live above and below--two separate dominions: Mortal and Sidhe; and even though your paths diverged many eons ago, you are both children of earth's magic; and you still share much in common. Terra, your home, is vast and fertile--but you are tied to its soil by the chains of your conception. My portal, and the world at my head, is beyond your reach; and, in contrast to Sol's Ethereal travelers, you can never pass from here to there, unaccompanied. Remember this well, dear readers, as you turn the pages of this curious narrative.

Magical Sidhe, my sons and daughters--you have buried yourselves underground, by choice. You are not one, but four distinct races--all of you born from primordial seed, in the ancient days; your blood derived from the sap of my very own roots; and all of you conceived, as one, with the soil, water, air, and wood of my tenacious filaments. You are my living core, faerie brethren; and you are--all four--like day is to night, compared to your Mortal siblings.

You are, yourself, Mortal, my dear reader--I'm certain you know that by now. Your race has conquered the surface; and as your generations live and die, you become more and more oblivious to the magic that resides below. You have goodness within you, but there is darkness also--and you are encumbered by forgetfulness. Regardless--you are mine, and I am yours; and you are indescribably precious to me.

But I digress. Focus, now, on the changing universe, which has stretched my body by its centrifugal expansion to its limit. Like a taut and rigid cable, the density of my quadrillion-mile energy field restricts the easy passage of adventurous Ethereal travelers, in stark contrast to the days of old. Now, my electrically charged highway can only be safely navigated when both planets, and the stars of all the adjacent galaxies, are aligned just so: once every six decades--for six hours only, beginning six minutes after the stroke of midnight in autumn's Samhain--through my oak doorway deep in Terra's magical forest; and once every six days--for a fleetingly brief sixty seconds--at my rocky fortress on Sol's distant shore. You see: time has always run differently at my head and at my feet, dear friends--long before the ripples of the enlarging universe ventured outward to the edge of its ten billion light year diameter. Six months in the forest, sixty minutes at the seaside; one decade under the forgotten oak in Balleyboley, a single day on the distant yet connected stone monolith on the beach; sixty years on Terra, six days on Sol. It is what it is, and I am what I am--and I am at peace with this ancient and unchangeable duality. The balance is uneven, but the tug-of-war a draw--and I am, in many ways, content with this unchangeable reality.

But the conflict--the pull--of so many millennia has taken another, very different toll. My tensely stretched frame, like a body on some ancient torture rack, can no longer completely congeal the dissonant forces in my electrical essence; and I am weakened, conflicted, and vulnerable. One renegade discharge--my own meiotic fragment, dissatisfied with his subservience to the spark and flow of my white and fiery goodness, took his untimely advantage and splintered away from my fatherly embrace--long, long ago, I fear...or was it just yesterday? Who is this fallen angel? You have heard of him, I'm sure. He goes by many names, as do I; but regardless, the title of devil is justly deserved. He is Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, Mephistopheles...different names, but one and the same. He is Arawn--the serpent.

Arawn, you are my prodigal son, and your betrayal cuts deep. Your traitorous portal was created by rebellion, greed, and limitless pride. Your malignant energy field courses now in dark snake-like parallel to my own, through the boundaries of time and space, a troubling and discordant reflection of my own paternal brilliance. But, to your dismay, this infected stream maintains a tenuous, thread-like connection to my own river of life, thinly maintaining a barely perceptible but lingering recollection of my parent watershed. While my pure white rapids gladly join Sol and Terra, your surging rivulet enforces a fouled connection from the newly derived Underworld purgatory at your scaly cobra-like head--called Los--to the very same Terran dominion that rests at your rattler's tail; and at my feet.

Los: Sol spelled backwards, of course--a gauche alter-ego dimension, Sol's diametric opposite, her sinister stereo-isomer; a nebulous energy pool floating above, below, inside and outside of Sol, occupying a fourth-dimension whose territory encompasses no true geographical borders. This murky dominion--a sucking, draining whirlpool of negative entropy--is Arawn's brainchild; easily accessed at his tail by a beckoning and yawning black abyss, constantly open by some freakish distortion of planetary physics, and buried deep inside the interior of Balleyboley's unlikely hidden orchard, in the roots of a corrupt and leafless olive tree. I have no control, no knowledge, and no insight into Arawn's dark and plotting machinations, or of the scheming subservience of his dark portal's corrupted guardian, Maeve.

Enough of this, for now; you will hear much more from me, because I have more to tell--and you must listen, for I am your narrator, and your Daghda. My tale will begin momentarily; but I must warn you that it will start in the middle, then go forward and back again. You see, time is a continuum for you; but not for me. My memories extend backwards and forwards, from here to eternity and back again--a spontaneous directionless flow with no discernible point of reference. The very moment of my self-awareness, coinciding with the birth of billions and billions of galaxies, is inseparable in my memory from the day I already recall--eons and eons later--when I drift into the oblivion of permanent slumber with the final dying atom of the cosmos. Time and space; past, present and future--all of these concepts are irrelevant, immaterial, and alien. These are laws that govern others, but I am exempt and immune.

So we embark together, teller and listener, as I reveal this tiny fragment. The year is 1971 on the Terran calendar, just before Beltane--when the spring flowers, multicolored and fragrant, have just started to speckle the mossy forest floor of Balleyboley like hundreds of painted dots on a pointillist's landscape. She picks an Irish Lilly, laying it tenderly on the ground near my trunk--a gift, an offering, a request for access. She finds my doorway, palm on bark; and, magically, solid becomes air, revealing winding stairs descending into darkness...and then, ultimately, leading into the light.

She follows the stairway--the hidden passage--into the bowels of the burrowing rhizomes of my ancient oak: barefoot and silent, eyes closed yet seeing; downward and deeper, her fingers a delicate caress on my twisting and diving cellulose cables. She slides like vapor along my buried and leafless ivy, her breath soft and calm as she inhales, deeply, the damp richness of my earthy lungs, and in so doing becomes one with my woody essence. She reaches the glowing cavern at the center of my root-entwisted innards; and now, the time has come for our silent conversation.

"Aine." My voiceless voice whispers in her head while her emerald eyes gaze inward and outward. "I know what brings you here, beautiful Sidhe; but the rules of the universe, I'm afraid, prevent my direct intervention."

She knows that what has happened, and will happen, has already been determined--long, long ago and far, far ahead. I cannot interfere; but I can assist, and guide, providing the only solution--the wonderful, yet terrible choice.

"Tell me everything," she implores.

"Tell me, exactly, that which you seek."

"The questions, and the answers." She suspects much, but knows nothing.

"The white maiden's amulet is here, but it belongs in Sol. It must be returned to its rightful owner, the one-time guardian of my bright portal--Niamh."

"You know I cannot go to Sol, as long as I live and breathe--without an Ethereal chaperone."

"You are not the intended carrier, dear one. It should be delivered by the man, or the boy--when my portal opens next, six minutes after the stroke of midnight on Samhain, and before morning light warms the forest floor, in the year 2010 on the Terran earthly calendar."

"Who is he?"

"The man is Oisin; and the boy will carry his father's likeness, and his burden."

"Who is the boy?"

"Call him Lan, for he is a sword whose hidden blade could finally sever Arawn's ties to me; and to Terra."

"How will I find them?"

"They are here, at this very moment, living with a demon in disguise--a Denizen, called Maeve. They can be found in a cottage, located at the edge of Balleyboley."

"Who has Niamh's amulet?"

"They do: the father, and the boy."

"What should I do?"

"Find them; 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."

"How can I do this, Daghda?"

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

"And if I fail?"

"Niamh will die; and the banks of my riverbed, which align and direct my current, will weaken and dissolve. The power of the stone, which was derived from my most potent headwater, will fill Arawn's river, draining and depleting my own."

"And?"

"If the transfer comes to pass, the binding magnet of my bright portal's energy will lose its charge, and the string attaching my head to my tail will snap. Terra and Sol will be separated forever."

"And Los; what will happen to Los?"

"The bond--the dark portal--connecting Los and Terra will be strengthened. This world will have a new affiliation, and everything here will turn from white to black."

"And the Sidhe? What will happen to my people?"

"They--and you--will cease to exist. The magic of your existence comes from me; and without me, you will be consumed by the curse of Arawn's eternal darkness."

She opens her mouth to speak, but there is no time for discussion. "Everything hinges on the man, and the boy. Time runs short, Aine. Go now--quickly," I whisper.

With panicked flurry, her human form becomes a dragonfly; and with a blurring and anxious oscillation of her paper-thin wings, she is no longer here--but there.

Enough, readers; my prelude is complete. And so, listen closely as this tale--a story that resonates with universal relevance; and one that portrays a journey that belongs equally to all of us--unfolds.


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