Thursday, November 25, 2004

The Slayer of His Son.

Episode for Nov 23, 2004, Tuesday. “It was love that ruined me, and love will ruin you also.” With these words, uttered only a few months ago, Habagat had accurately predicted Rasmus’s fall from grace. Not long after that, Ravenum dismissed his son from his post as army chief, and replaced him with the Mulawin traitor. That had been a great blow to the Ravena king, and a triumph for Habagat. But little did the latter know then that a far greater, more personal tragedy awaited him. One that he could never have foreseen. So the young Encantado was out of the way. Habagat raised the gun-barrel to Alwina’s face and took aim. “Your end has come,” he told her. He was a millisecond away from pulling the fatal trigger when someone cried out from behind him. “Habagat!” It was a voice that he had thought he would never hear again. Habagat turned around and saw Linang standing there in tears. To him she was all too familiar, but to the others there it was a complete stranger. An ethereal white lady, her whole figure suffused with a divine light, appearing as if from nowhere. What was she doing here? “My son!’ cried the fairy-queen, running past Habagat to where the Encantado lay. “My son! Mulagat!” She fell on her knees and held her dying son to her breast, venting her grief through such wailing and sobbing that made cowards of them all. “He is your son?” mumbled the Ravena general as he stood there, bewildered, his mission forgotten. Linang had a son? By whom? Was she married? Scarcely had he absorbed this first shock, when a second one hit him that he would never forget. “How could you do this, Habagat?” said his former lover, turning to him with tear-filled eyes. “How could you kill your own son?” Habagat dropped his weapon without knowing it. “Tell me you’re lying,” he said. “Tell me you’re lying!”
“He was the fruit of our love,” she told him, “the only good that came out of it!”
As Mulagat’s senses withdrew, he spoke a few parting words, to his friends Gus and Wis, to Alwina whom he so admired, and to his mother, whom he loved so dearly. It was too late for him to realize his father was there. Habagat glanced from mother to son, the one he had failed to recognize as his own. Could he not have known? Had he not seen the boy fly with wings like a Mulawin? Had he not wondered at that? On hindsight, it was painfully obvious. But Habagat would not come near and try to touch the son he had killed. A mad grief swept him away and he fled, roaring like a wild man. Where Gabriel went, Terong was sure to follow. It did not take very long for the two to find each other again. Terong was rambling about aimlessly when his master surprised him and introduced the winged carabao as his new traveling companion. They were on their way to Avila. Gabriel guessed correctly that Aviona had rejected his friend’s suit. “Or else, you wouldn’t be out here,” he said smilingly. Wishing to change the topic, Terong showed off the stone he had chanced upon in the river. “See? It looks better than a gem!” Gabriel knew at once that this was the same magical binhi that Alwina had given him as a boy. He took it from poor Terong and refused to give it back. The latter could do nothing – Gabriel was still the master, after all. All day, the young Motenegro stared at the green object, as if hypnotized. Terong feared the binhi would melt under that steady gaze. There was a strange look in Gabriel’s eyes. Perhaps, it was just the emerald glow of the stone shining in his face that gave them that odd sparkle. Or was it that the binhi enthralled him for a special reason? By the time the Mulawin fellowship had regrouped, both Linang and Habagat were gone. Only Alwina, Aguiluz and the two children had witnessed their confrontation. As they laid noble Mulagat on a raft upon the water, Alwina recounted part of the incident to the others. “She was a fairy then,” explained Dakila. “The Encantada are forbidden to appear among men. She came here only because her son was dying. Even Mulagat’s presence among us was against their law.” Then a spirit-portal opened in the air, hovering just above the water. The funeral bed wafted gently towards it, and soon was out of sight. Encantadia had reclaimed its fallen prince. “Now, you are home,” said his mother, “and no one can hurt you anymore." Grief weighed heavily on everyone’s heart, but most especially on Alwina’s. Not only grief was hers to bear, but command responsibility as well. Had all this not been for her, because of her? It was too much. “If more of you will die because of me,” she told Aguiluz, “if you, too, will die because of me, I won’t be able to handle it.” And it was the truth. Dakila took her aside later that day for a very important reason. Only a few days before, he never would have dreamed that Mulagat and Paloma would die. But they did. And as hard as it was to do so, they must now brace themselves for the very real possibility that more of them could be lost. He, too, could be next – there was no telling. “So now,” he said, “I will reveal to you a secret that nobody else knows but me. I will tell you how to find the Mulawin tree, so that, should I die, you won’t become lost.” This was just the information that Alwina needed. Dakila never guessed what she was planning. “That’s the nature of war,” Ravenum said to his commander. “There are casualties, and things one must sacrifice.” “But he was my own son,” replied Habagat. “Not only did I fail to recognize him, I killed him.” “That is all part of your former life as a Mulawin,” came the retort. “Leave that behind and be strong, Habagat. Do you want to become like Rasmus, blinded by too much love?” Habagat lowered his eyes, perhaps recalling his own words to Ramsus not long ago: Love ruined me, and love will ruin you too. He said that during Vultra’s absence. Believing her dead, the king had given himself up to despair and mourning. Had not Habagat prided himself then in being stronger and smarter than his rival? Immune to love and the pain it brings to those who feel it? Had it not been that very coldness that made Ravenum prefer him over his own son? If only he had thrown his heart out for good after Linang broke it. If the human slaves were intimidated by the Ravena, Aviona was not. Amid Rasmus’s cruel threats, and Vultra’s regal fits of fury, the young Mulawin remained impassive. She grieved at being captured; her thoughts went out to Aliwalas, the helpless friends she had left there, and of course, to Aguiluz and Alwina’s band. But outwardly, she showed no fear, no sign of being broken. In fact, she did not seem interested in what was going on around her at all. She had already told them that she did not know where to find the Molave tree - what else was their business with her? Vultra could rage on for all she cared. The Ravena offered her some food, wishing to keep her alive. But Aviona was silent, like a meek lamb among wolves. “If you don’t want to eat, then don’t!” yelled the queen, throwing aside the food with a crash. She had been shouting so much that Aviona no longer heard her. “You could lose your voice if you don’t stop,” Rasmus said calmly. “You’ve been yelling all day.” “She’s no use to us weak and starved,” Vultra told him. “Then the guards will take her to the woods where there are trees,” he answered. “There she will regain strength whether she likes it or not.” A soldier entered the detention cell with news. Habagat failed yet again to subdue the Mulawin. “Thank God,” said Aviona at last. “Aguiluz is safe!” “I knew it!” said Rasmus angrily. “Habagat is a failure!” As if he was any better. “What about Tuka and Kuwak?” asked Vultra. “They went with the army. Where are they?” Where indeed? At first, they had bumped into Dakdak in the forest, bragging to him that Aliwalas had been raided by the Ravena. Then, they hid themselves and waited until evening to see Pagaspas and Lawiswis. The two children remnised about the lost Mulagat, not knowing they were being spied on. Tuka recognized her offspring, of course, and so did Kuwak. But there was no change at all, no years added to the child’s life since they had last seen each other. How was that possible? Quite nearby, Dakdak relayed the news of Aviona’s capture to the other Mulawin. He must return to Aliwalas as king of the Perico, he told them. Bagwis and Dakila offered to go with him, but he argued that Alwina needed them in her mission. Alwina had other ideas. That same night, she made her decision. She put it down in writing; she did not wish to enter into a debate with her comrades. There was nothing to debate over as far as she was concerned. She knew, too, that they would try to stop her. Indeed, they would have lain down their lives for her. But that was just what she did not want. “I hate to do this,” she wrote, “but it must be done. It is my duty to find the Mulawin tree. This is my burden. I alone must bear it and tread on the path laid out before me.” Alwina closed the letter with a farewell to each of them, and laid it aside where she knew it would be easily found. Then, firm with resolve, she arose to depart under cover of darkness. The angel spread her lofty wings, and alone soared into the night-sky.
 

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