Saturday, November 13, 2004

Playing a Game.

Episode for Nov 11, 2004, Thursday. Habagat was very pleased with the way things were going. He did not plan to attack the Mulawin fellowship head-on, as the brawler Rasmus would. Rather, as he told the Hunyango beside him, “We’ll let the elements of the desert do some damage first,” and then they could move in for the kill. The changeling slithered away. Habagat looked over his shoulder and noticed Rasmus standing there, his face scowling. He asked what was going on, and the former Mulawin made some demurral. But Rasmus was not fooled. “If I catch you making plans without telling me first,” he said, “you’ll get worse than what the lowlanders have on them now.” But Habagat replied coolly: “Oh? As far as I know, I’m the Commander-in-Chief of the Army. If anything, you’re the one who should report to me first.” He was no longer afraid to bypass Rasmus. Not only must the heroes cope with the harsh conditions in the desert; they now had to contend with one another as well. Living up to his name, Dakdak was still harping on Aguiluz’s and Alwina’s earlier blunder. “We’re all going to suffer in this hell-hole just because of an illusion seen by two!” he grumbled. Aguiluz would not grovel. “We didn’t ask to end up here any more than you did!” he countered. Then the others wanted the Perico king to apologize. But Alwina was patient and tolerant as always. “Let him talk. If that’s how he really feels, he has a right to express himself,” she told them. Without another word, she moved ahead of Dakdak to lead them on. Suddenly ashamed of himself, the parrot-man hurried after her to take back what he had said. Savannah was only now starting to realize the gravity of the situation she had maneuvered herself into. Ravenum had just sucked the life out of the human prisoner, it seemed, and with his evil breath returned him to life as a Ravena soldier. What now? she asked herself. Do I ‘fess up now and admit I’m not Vultra’s daughter? But no, they would surely kill her. There was no going back now. “Well, Savannah?” asked the ghost. “Have you decided yet?” But she could not answer. “Perhaps your daughter needs more time, Vultra,” he said and gently dismissed them. But Ravenum laughed wickedly to himself. You lying lowlander! he thought with amused contempt. Very well. I will play along with your silly game. Outside, Vultra tried her best to explain to Savannah what she had just witnessed. Suddenly while they talked, memories of her own ordeal flashed in her mind. She saw herself in Ravenum’s chamber, and then at the edge of a cliff with Rasmus right behind her. Apparently hypnotized, she had thrown herself down there. “You mustn’t stay here,” she said to Savannah now with a worried look. “It’s not safe. I won’t let you go through what I did. It was horrible. You’re not ready for that.” Then she had the girl escorted back to Tierra Fuego. In the forest, not far from Aliwalas, Gabriel and Terong were still debating about Paloma. “You’re forgetting that Alwina is the one we’re looking for,” said the wealthy heredero. “She’s the reason why we’re here! And we didn’t send Paloma away. She went off on her own.” But Terong argued in Paloma’s favor. “She went away, but women like being wooed and pursued. Have you forgotten everything that she has done for you? She was the one who helped you escape from your father. And then she risked her own life to get you that green binhi.” To that Gabriel had no rebuttal. Next day, he woke up his friend and finally agreed to search for Paloma. Rasmus came to his father very distraught. He began to narrate the story of the impostor child when the dark lord interrupted him. Ravenum smilingly told his son that he was aware of Savannah’s absurd pretense, and that he would play along with it. He advised Rasmus to do the same so as to please his wife. “The more you oppose her, the more she comes to despise you,” he told him. “Do you want that?” No. “And not only that,” answered Rasmus. “She will waste her time on someone who isn’t related to her. And the one she wants to kill is her real daughter.” It now seemed like a truly brilliant – and truly wicked – idea to him. Vultra called upon the father again, and the Ravena lord hid his son where she could not see him. She apologized to Ravenum for her daughter’s funk, but he would hear none of it. He told her that she was free to spend time with her newly-found child, and the queen was very grateful. In the shadows stood Rasmus, watching, listening. Midday, the heroes paused for a break. Bagwis gave strict orders to conserve food and water. This time, they had to share two bananas. Dakdak’s complaints were to no avail. Aguiluz forfeited his share. “I’m not hungry yet,” he said. “Give my share to the children.” Kuskos definitely was hungry and eyed Mayi. (The occasional lizard on the sand did not suffice.) Alwina’s soft heart got the better of her again and she gave extra food to Gus and Wis. Night fell and a bitter cold enveloped the desert. As the rest huddled together, Kuskos stayed awake. When she thought they were asleep, she crept over to the food supplies. Her quiet paws did not betray her. But alas, as she reached for the bananas, she bumped a leather-bag which then opened and spilled the only water they had! The dry sand soaked up the liquid in seconds. Wis heard the noise and jolted upright. “What’s that?” she cried. It did not take a lot of guesswork for them to understand what happened. The accusations flew, but the point was, they had no more water. In Halconia, word of Savannah’s royal charade spread like wildfire. It would seem that Vultra was the only one who had yet to catch it. Tuka and Kuwak laughed about it together. Even the soldier who escorted Savannah back to Tierra Fuego would not respect her. But most of all, the women-prisoners gossiped about it in their cell. “What a bitch! She’ll disown her own mother to save her own skin!” they said. “I was the midwife when she was born!” said Rusing. “They said she came out of an egg” “Jesus, I know she’s a bitch, but not like that!” Poor Yoli, the mother of Savannah, wept bitterly at her betrayal. If Savannah missed her true mother, she did not show it. She chatted with Balasik again, telling him how dark and dirty Halconia seemed and all. “So, anyway, I don’t have any more problems now, do I?” she asked. “Oh, yes, you do!” said the bird. “Huh? What then? Who?” “Vultra’s true daughter,” replied Balasik. “Alwina.”


Blogger djbrix said...

Sotuh Rock,

I've just sent you an email sa add mo sa hotmail, yung white swan something. Ok ? Peace out! :-)

11/14/2004 06:41:00 PM  

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