Monday, November 29, 2004

Children of the Ravena.

Episode for Nov 26, 2004, Friday. Alwina sped through the air to rescue her beloved. As swiftly as she went, her heart seemed to outpace her and go out to him. Hovering above the river, she scanned its raging waves with her sharp eyes for signs of Aguiluz. Now and then she would catch a glimpse of him struggling in the water. Summoning all her speed, she made one long swoop toward the river, caught him in both arms, and carried him off to safety. She laid the young man unconscious on the ground. Without hesitation, she breathed into him mouth-to-mouth to revive him. Aguiluz coughed up some water as she turned him on his side. Now awake, he looked up at her with those dark eyes. “You followed me,” she said with wonder. “Why did you try to cross the river? Why didn’t you call me?” “I tried to, but you couldn’t hear me.” “But you could have drowned!” “You still don’t get it, do you?” he said with a faint smile. “I’d take any risk to be with you.” Perhaps Alwina did not know whether to feel happy or sad at what Aguiluz had done. True, she had decided to make the journey to the Molave tree alone. Yet, how could she not be thankful that someone was willing to share her unenviable burden? In truth, she was grateful that Aguiluz was here now. In her agony of doubt, fear and loneliness, here was one faithful friend who refused to leave her side. “I didn’t expect this,” she said, “but I’m glad you’re here now.” They rested awhile before taking up the journey together. Alwina was still plagued with self-doubt. But Aguiluz held fast to his faith in God and encouraged her to do the same. They also had to trust in the others who had gone to rescue Gus and Wis. Painful though it was not to help the children, they could not abandon the quest for the Mulawin tree. As Alwina said, “I can’t avoid it. If I don’t do it, no one else will.” She also recalled what her foster-mother used to tell her: “No matter what you do, be it great or small, if you offer it up to God, you do it well.” So those two brave souls set out armed with Dakila’s map, and their own united courage. The Mulawin were omnivorous creatures; however, they still preferred a meatless diet on the whole. It was far otherwise with the Musang. Mayi would tease Kuskos about this, and the latter was not that amused. By now, Dakila’s messenger had become quite comfortable with the carnivore, who once almost hunted her down to extinction. Mayi: “Hmm, you look like you’re in a bad mood today!” Kuskos: “I’m starving!” “I knew it. As usual, you’re grumbling about your stomach.” “Easy for you to say, birdie. You have a tiny gut so don’t know how I feel.” Mayi pouted her lips. “Well, get used to it. If you don’t, you’re going to die. Why don’t you be more like Bagwis and Dakila? They’re grown bird-men but they don’t have a big appetite.” “That’s because you are birds. You know? You guys eat like a bird!” Kuskos bared her teeth in emphasis. “It’s different with us Musang. I want meat! I want meat! I WANT MEAT!” Savannah would have made a good Ravena. But she was just an ordinary girl after all. Beneath all the cruelty and spite was fear. She feared that her lies would now be exposed, and that would mean certain punishment at the hands of the most terrifying beings she had ever known. And for this she blamed Lourdes, never herself. She strode within the walls of the Montenegro mansion, thinking of how to punish her offender. And as luck would have it, she came upon a Ravena guard feasting on some food that was not his - that should have been for the king and queen. Savannah confronted him, but promised not to report him on one condition. The guard was only too happy to cooperate. Meanwhile, Lourdes searched for Vultra out in the fields, but the Ravena was nowhere in sight. So she left her work to her usual companions and went to the Montenegro mansion. She brought a basket of fruits with her for the queen and the guard let her go inside. Lourdes found her old friend in one of the rooms with the door open, her back turned. She hesitated then. Vultra had a commanding presence that never failed to inspire her with some fear. “You’ll be surprised at what I’m going to tell you, Veronica,” she whispered. “And it will be the end of Savannah.” But her delay cost her. The guard clapped her mouth with his hand and seized her from behind. The basket of fruits dropped to the floor unnoticed. He brought her to Savannah. Lourdes was not surprised. “So it’s you,” said she. “What do you want from me, Savannah?” “I told you, you’d pay for what you did, witch,” replied the girl. “Oh? You’re losing sleep now that the bird is gone? Or are you scared that the truth will come out?” “Why? What did the bird tell you?” Lourdes smiled triumphantly. “It told me about the future. I know now what will happen to you.” “Will she die?” she had asked the Balasik. “No,” it said. “A fate worse than death awaits her. Dark, terrible, horrifying.” Savannah felt anger heat her cheeks. “And what’s that? Did the birth tell you how powerful I will become?” “Set me free, then I will tell you.” “What! You think I’m stupid?” “If you don’t let me go, I won’t tell you.” “I’ll have you killed!” “Kill me and you will never know what the bird told me.” Oh, you bitch! I can’t let her go, thought Savannah. But I can’t kill her either. What do I do now? “Stay here, witch,” she said. “I’ll come back when I know what to do with you.” Habagat was not spared by the other Ravena. Now, he learned there was no room to grieve here in Halconia. Even his fellow officers had no sympathy to give. If anything, they seemed to mock him. Why did I end up like this? he asked himself over and over. Why? “So it’s true that you’re mourning over your son,” said one officer. “So you have one, huh?” He shook his head. “Not anymore. I’ve killed him.” “You’re not going after Alwina’s band now? Too bad. This seems like a good time to do that.” “Alwina’s group has broken up,” said Habagat dully. “She’s all alone now. Ravenum told me. He saw it in Perena’s magic fire. Nothing escapes the fire of Perena.” His words did not escape Rasmus either. The Ravena queen was at a loss. What on earth was she going to do with this Mulawin girl? She would not talk or eat. She could not be persuaded by hypnotism, nor intimidated by threats and beatings. How could she be made use of? Rasmus was growing impatient as well. He found his consort in the detention room where they were holding Aviona, and conveyed the news: the Mulawin fellowship had disbanded, and Alwina was on her own now with no one to defend her. Such was a splendid opportunity to finally seize her and win this race. “I have a plan,” Rasmus went on. “Why don’t we talk to Perena and ask for her help?” “Perena?” Vultra looked doubtful. “If we go to her, Ravenum will know about it. I thought we agreed not to let anyone else know of our plans?” “Why don’t we try anyway?” he answered. “My lady, I am so tired of chasing Alwina. It’s time for this to end.” It was a risk, of course, to bypass Ravenum and plot their own offensive. But their honor and position in the Ravena hierarchy were at stake. They had already lost much prestige. Not to act now could cost them everything else. Pagaspas and Lawiswis did their best to be good prisoners: they tried to escape. However, Kuwak and a prison guard caught them before they could even take flight as owls, and one of them was brought to Tuka so that she could speak to it alone. She seated herself before the bird. Here they were together at last. “I’m sorry that I had to take you by force,” she said. “This was the only way I knew how. Are you still mad at me? Don’t you want to be with me? You won’t even talk to your mother?” But the owl stood still and gave no response. Some time elapsed and Kuwak came calling. “Are you two done with your bonding?” He brought the other owl with him and as the two neared each other, a bright reddish light enveloped the one Kuwak held. The bird before Tuka, on the other hand, was wrapped up in a bluish glow. The lights withdrew. A handsome, chubby little boy sat in front of Tuka. A little girl was in Kuwak’s arms. “Pagaspas,” said Tuka. “Son, have you forgiven me?" Habagat had killed his son without knowing it. Tuka found hers alive but she did not know if he wanted to be with her. Vultra had a daughter, but she did not know who it was and where to find her… yet. Such were the Ravena and their children.
 

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