Friday, November 19, 2004

A Brief Reunion.

Episode for Nov 17, 2004, Wednesday. Habagat had some bad news for his master. Against all odds, the Mulawin fellowship had managed to cross the desert and reach the forest on the other side. Ravenum was startled by this. So much for all the hype around Perena. It seemed that they would have to do it the old-fashioned way after all. “Pick the best from among our troops,” he ordered, “and lead them yourself in an attack.” “You can rely on me,” said Habagat. This would be no easy task, but he relished in it. Everyday, he continued to grow in stature before the lord at the expense of his rivals. The father and daughter stared at each other. Dakila could hardly believe his eyes. Paloma turned to go, but he touched her shoulder to stop her. “Please don’t go,” he said. “I waited so long to see you again.” “You wanted to see me?” she replied. “I was a hostage in Halconia. I waited for you your help. If you cared for me at all, you would’ve come for me.” Her voice was deceptively soft; here was a stubborn and very angry young woman. “I’m so sorry,” her father said. “I did what was best for the majority.” “What majority?” She looked around her. “Your companions here? You traded your own daughter for these?” Bagwis took up for the old man. “There are many things that you don’t understand, Paloma. But if you stay awhile and let us explain, you will know what really happened.” He convinced her to stay with them for the night. The others eyed her curiously and whispered among themselves. Aguiluz, of course, saw her last in Hayuhay. They asked about the Halconia incident. Dakila did his best to explain. “It was hard for me to join Alwina in her quest while you were there,” he said. “But I had to make that decision. Rasmus wanted to know where he could find the Mulawin tree. You know what that means.” Paloma did know. If that were to happen, the cause of the good would forever be lost. Meanwhile, Gabriel was growing restless. He was becoming more and more a mystery to himself everyday; he wanted answers. But more than that, he wanted to see Alwina again. The things he had heard from Aviona rekindled this desire. This did not go unnoticed. “You’re thinking of Alwina, aren’t you?” she said. “You’re just like Aguiluz. Even when you don’t say anything, one can see in your eyes that you miss her. Alwina is so lucky.” Very lucky indeed. Gabriel consulted with Terong as usual. But the latter was not keen on wandering again. He wanted to stay in Aliwalas. “Go then,” he said. “But this time, I’m not going with you anymore. All my life, we’ve been together. Everywhere you go, I follow you. But not this time.” The haciendero’s son was taken aback. “Is this because of Aviona? I thought you were my friend!” “I am your friend. But I also have a mind of my own. I make my own decisions. Most of all, I too fall in love.” This was new to Gabriel. Of course, they were friends. But still, wasn’t he the master and Terong his loyal servant? He had thought that Terong would always be there behind him, following his every step. Yet the look in the man’s eyes told him this was no longer the case. So the two said their goodbyes. Armed with only a map made for him by Aviona, Gabriel struck out into the woods. For the first time in his life, he was on his own. Rasmus and Vultra had taken no part in the siege of Tierra Fuego. Yet the leaders who had arrived last in the battlefield were the first to enjoy the spoils. The Montenegro mansion was now theirs and they made themselves quite at home in it. Savannah could come and go there as she pleased, of course. But she had some problems. Not only the soldiers who mocked her, and the prisoners who whispered behind her back. Even Vultra seemed to be distancing herself from the girl now. Savannah had asked complained to her about the treatment she was getting, but the queen ignored her. “I have a lot of things in mind,” she said. “I will deal with that at the right time.” Bitch Almighty, thought Savannah. But she wasn’t about to give up. She had to make herself important to the Ravena if she wanted to keep her post as royal princess. The talking parrot was her key. She ran straight home to glean more information from Balasik. Alwina brought some food for the new arrival next morning. Paloma watched her closely: a tall, handsome young woman with long black hair and a nice tan. So this is the reason why Gabriel would not love me, she thought. Alwina had no idea what the guest was thinking of. Her thoughts were on the girl’s father. If anyone could understand him, it was her. “I hope you can forgive Dakila,” she said. “He’s a good father. He just tries to do what’s best for the greater number of people. I may not be in a position to say this, but I can understand him. When I first learned about my mission, I felt the weight of responsibility on my shoulders. I’ve had to put others before myself. I’ve had to sacrifice love for duty. So I understand.” Paloma listened, but did not argue. She talked instead about Aviona, her friend. “She was jealous of you back then,” she said. “If only she were here. I know that she too, would tell me to forgive.” Suddenly, an arrow wheezed through the air from behind Alwina. It hit the ground near Paloma. As the arrows sped through the air in rapid succession, the Mulawin realized that they were being attacked. The Ravena rushed at them from behind the trees. Aguiluz flashed his fighting sticks and struck down a Ravena. Alwina threw one soldier off his feet with a kick, then elbowed another. While this was going on, Habagat swooped down from above and stood facing Dakila and Bagwis. It did not take long for his brother to recognize him. But the traitor’s first words were for Dakila. “In all my days as a Mulawin, you never gave me any credit,” he said. “The only one who was any good to you was Bagwis!” It was Bagwis who answered him. “Because of jealousy and ambition, you do this? Have you forgotten that we are brothers? We shouldn’t be fighting! Look at us now!” Habagat only looked at him. There was still a glimmer of conscience there and Bagwis did not miss it. “Search yourself,” he pleaded. “You can’t judge a soul by the colors of one’s feathers.” “Stop it,” his brother said at last. “You’re not going to change anything with what you say.” Perhaps, he felt it was too late. He lunged forward with his battleaxe, and the brothers took to the sky and clashed weapons. “Go, Dakila!” cried Bagwis. “Save Paloma!” But neither of the brothers would get seriously hurt in this encounter. Not them. Paloma was surrounded by Ravena soldiers when Dakila came to her rescue. He smote them with his magic-staff and knocked them down. Thinking they were dead, he looked about him for more. But one of them was still alive. Weakly, the soldier aimed his crossbow at Dakila. “No!” cried Paloma. She pushed her father out of the way; the arrow whistled through the air and found its mark on her chest. It was too late when Dakila realized what had happened. Dark blood trickled from her mouth as his daughter collapsed in his arms. Unexpectedly, Habagat suddenly retreated. “We’re not yet through,” he told Bagwis, and withdrew out of sight. The skirmish was over. When the heroes regrouped, they found Paloma dying in her father’s arms.
 

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