Thursday, November 25, 2004

The Gate of Stones.

Episode for Nov 24, 2004, Wednesday. “Gotcha!” Tuka beamed at a frightened Lawiswis. Like thieves in the night, she and Kuwak seized the two youngsters and carried them off into the darkened skies. The other Mulawin, alerted by Gus and Wis’s screams, sprang into action in search of them. But they were too late. All they found was a dark red feather where the children had been. It was unmistakably a Ravena’s. The Ravena partners brought their cargo to Halconia and there locked them up in a cage. They discovered along the way that Gus and Wis changed into owls whenever kept apart. (Although freed from the curse, they still changed form if taken against their will.) Tuka cursed Dakila thinking he had doomed her offspring to perpetual childhood. This kidnapping surprised the other Mulawin. But Dakila reminded them that Wis was herself of the enemy race. “And only one Raven has reason to do this,” he said. “Tuka.” In the midst of this commotion entered Kuskos bringing Alwina’s goodbye-letter. No Ravena had taken her; she had left them. Dakila decided that they must go to Halconia to rescue the children, but Aguiluz objected. “Please don’t be offended. I love the children. But isn’t Alwina the reason why we’re here? To protect her?” “The children need us more than she does,” said Dakila. “And I showed her the way to the Mulawin tree, so she won’t get lost.” “Then no wonder she left!” Aguiluz said angrily. “You gave her a reason to think she could go it alone!” “But don’t you see?” replied the elder. “She could actually be right. We had to join her in the beginning of her quest. But in the end, she must do it alone for she is the savior.” This felt so wrong to Aguiluz. As her avowed guardian, he could never desert Alwina. Yet, he found himself in the wretched position of having to choose which friends to help and which to turn his back on. Gus and Wis were more than friends to him; they were the brother and sister he never had. But Alwina meant everything to him. Early next morning, before the group was set to leave for Halconia, Aguiluz made up his mind. Bagwis knew where the he was going. “You love Alwina,” he told him, “and love always comes first.” He told Aguiluz that he would not try to stop him, nor compel him, nor plead with him, to obey Dakila’s orders. Long ago, he too, had rebelled against authority for the sake of love. “So you understand why I have to go?” said Aguiluz. “I understand you,” answered Bagwis, seeing himself in the young bird-man. “Go and do what you must. Take my prayers with you.” “And take my prayers with you, Bagwis, so that God may guide us all.” And the two Mulawin went their separate ways. When Dakila heard of this, he seemed resigned. His worst fear had come true: their fellowship had now been disbanded. “May God help us all,” he said. Savannah was used to amusing herself at the expense of other creatures. Today, she decided to play with the Mulawin captive. But Aviona made it plain that she was to be nobody’s toy. After all, she had shown Terong that he could not just borrow her heart from Aguiluz as if it were a plaything. Why would she put up with the crass stupidity of her captors now? So the impostor made fun of Aviona, plucking a feather from her fair head and shoving it under her nose. She made a face and turned away. “Why, you don’t like how you smell, do you?” taunted Savannah. “And you, lowlander?” Aviona replied in an equally mocking tone. She looked up and down at the girl, and saw all that she had ever detested about the plain-dwellers. “You pass yourself off as the daughter of a Ravena. You’re not just telling lies. You degrade yourself by pretending to be among the basest creatures on earth!” “Some nerve you have for somebody who’s in jail!” “You talk to me about smell? What about you? Can you smell yourself? Still alive and your soul is already rotting inside you!” “Why you..!” It have turned more violent if Vultra had not entered, wondering what the shouting was all about. Savannah made some excuse while Aviona resumed her usual silence. “Doesn’t it make you wonder?” asked the queen with a cool smile.“It seems that the fates have conspired against you. Here you are in prison, while your loved one enjoys himself beside your rival!” What friendly bird had told her that? Habagat was beside himself. He had stained his hands with the blood of his own son. But as he brooded over the matter, the first shock that had turned to grief now became anger and bitterness. A burning hell of torment scorched his heart, and there was one person to thank for it. Why did you hide him from me? he asked over and over. Why? The warrior betook himself to a lakeside and called out for Linang. As queen of the water element, she could appear there if she wished. And on Muyak’s advice, she did so, seated on her enchanted raft. “Why did you hide our son from me?’ Habagat demanded. “So that I could raise him well in Encantadia away from you,” she answered. “It was the best place for him. You would have used him against me to make me do what you wanted.” “If you hadn’t kept him from me, this wouldn’t have happened!” Linang then loosened words that betrayed her true feelings. “You blame your wickedness on me? Then do so! If that’s the only way you can forgive yourself, then so be it! Because I tell you, Habagat: I will never forgive you! Never!” She faded into the mist, leaving Habagat trembling with fury. Rumors spread in Tierra Fuego swift as the wind. Lourdes soon heard about Savannah’s mystery house-guest whom she would feed with sacks of corn bits. Concerned that this might have something to do with Alwina and what that girl knew about her, Lourdes determined to find out who it could be. She contrived to gain entrance into Savannah’s house by bringing a sack of corn. Their princess had ordered for it, she told the guards, and she herself must deliver it. Once inside, she entered the room where Savannah had stowed away the Balasik. She looked around her and saw no one there. Then, she noticed a draped blanket and uncovered it. Lourdes beheld the cage with the bird inside it. The bird had snow-white feathers, a prominent gray beak, and a majestic crest above its head. “What a beautiful bird you are!” the woman said. “Don’t tell me you’re the one Savannah talks to here? I don’t see anyone else.” Balasik nodded his crest at her. “Yes, it’s me!” Lourdes was startled. “What kind of a bird are you?” “One that sees the truth behind people’s eyes,” the bird replied. “You’re the one Dakila told me about! You’re called Balasik!” Balasik affirmed it. Lourdes then asked if it was from him Savannah had obtained information about Alwina, and the bird confirmed this also. He repeated what he had disclosed to Savannah: that Alwina was the savior of the Mulawin, and of mankind. When questioned further, the bird explained that Savannah was not pretending to be the savior. Rather, she was afraid to lose favor with the Ravena once the truth came out. “And what truth is that?” “That Alwina is Vultra’s real daughter.” Lourdes felt as if a bomb had been dropped on her. Alwina was the daughter of Bagwis and Veronica! That seemed to make sense of things… but there was no time for more questions. She collected herself. “You’d make a deadly weapon in the wrong hands,” she said to the bird. “I better take you away from them.” So she picked up the cage and went outside. Gabriel and Terong had been walking all day when they arrived at a strange place. It was a place that the former seemed to know. “This is it!” he said. “This is the way to Avila!” How he knew he could not explain; he just knew. Before them was a rude arch like a gate, carved from ancient rocks. Hidalgo spoke his mind to Gabriel, and he understood that this was indeed an entrance. But it opened to a dangerous place, said the beast, and few were ever given the privilege to enter. Terong, of course, was quick to back out. But Gabriel pushed on and his loyal servant followed. Hidalgo prudently stayed behind. Beyond the gate, the two men found themselves surrounded by statues. They portrayed human beings in various positions: standing, sitting, lying down, their mouths open as if in surprise. It was as if something had hit them suddenly and they became frozen in time. “Wait a minute,” said Terong. “Those aren’t statues! They’re people! Turned to stone!” Now before them towered a great tree. On one of its higher branches was perched a strange-looking bird. It was not easy to see at first, as most of its feathers were a bright green like the leaves on the tree itself. But there it was, staring back at Gabriel and Terong. Then, with an eerie twitter it began to sing to them. As it did, the guardian of the realm breathed forth a bluish vapor. It made whoever inhaled it very drowsy. Terong soon fell unconscious on the ground. But that was not the only effect of the gas: in a matter of seconds, he was turned into stone. The same fate was waiting for Gabriel. He remembered the green binhi and reached for it in his pocket. He was about to put it in his mouth, but so swiftly did the petrification spread throughout his limbs.


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