Thursday, December 09, 2004

An Apparition. (Flashback I)

Episode for Dec 7, 2004, Tuesday. Aviona’s agonized cries rang throughout the forest. Fearing for their lives, Aguiluz and Alwina kept afloat in the air as the inferno raged on below. The atmosphere quickly grew hot and suffocating, and the hungry flames rapidly ate up the tree that had become Aviona’s execution stake. “We can’t just let her die!” Aguiluz cried. “It’s too dangerous,” shouted Alwina above the roar of fire. “We could get caught in the flames too!” Thick black clouds mushroomed into the air and hid Aviona from view, but one could still hear the heart-rending cries. As Aguiluz watched in horror, a dream-like memory from another place and time flashed in his mind. He saw two children – Aviona and himself – gaily wafting through the sky, like a pair of cherubim, in the paradise that had been Avila. In that instant, he came to realize how dear to him what he was now losing. When the blaze had subsided, Aguiluz alighted upon the ground and approached the smoldering debris. There was no sign of his friend’s ashes, or if there were was, he failed to see it. Something had caught his eye: the charred remains of her Mulawin weapon. Aviona had offered it to him in Hayuhay. Such a gesture among fighters is no trivial matter, for a warrior’s best friend is his or her weapon. Some even say that the souls of warriors are in their arsenal. “As I trust you with it, so I trust you with my life,” she had told Aguiluz. He had refused to accept it, in the same way that he later refused her love. Aguiluz sank on his knees and held the object in his hand. Alwina was beside him, but he did not look at her. “Aguiluz, it hurts to lose Aviona,” she said, “but we mustn’t forget our mission.” Mission. That had been the farthest thing from his mind. “I’m sorry, Alwina,” he replied with eyes downcast. “I can’t go with you anymore on this mission.” Alwina asked for his forgiveness, but getting no response, she realized that she had to move on without him. “If asking for forgiveness isn’t enough, then maybe I should go now,” she said. “I will miss you, Aguiluz.” She left Aguiluz where he was, mourning amidst the ashes. As Muyak and Linang watched, the latter warned that worse trials awaited the Sugo. It seemed to Habagat that the rest of his days would be pretty much alike. The scene of his son’s death played back over and over in his head, as well as Linang’s bitter taunts. They were as fresh and unfading as the hatred he felt for himself. The army chief sensed the presence of a Hunyango, and bade it make itself visible. The creature obeyed, and reported to him what it had seen. “What? Dakila’s band is on the way to Halconia?” Habagat was surprised, but unworried. “I don’t care about the Sugo or any of them. Do what you want to do about it.” The Hunyango slithered away. Unable to find peace, Habagat also quitted the place and went his own way. Rasmus had a more pressing concern at the moment than either Alwina or the Molave tree. It involved his queen. He was very anxious to find Lourdes, and with good reason. All it would take now was for Lourdes to meet with his consort, and the truth would come out; his connivance with Savannah and the rest of his lies would be exposed; and Vultra in her implacable anger would turn into his worst enemy. It had become a very messy affair indeed. Still, like a soldier who had earned his reward from among the spoils of war, Rasmus was determined to hold on to his booty. He had fought hard for Vultra and really thought he deserved her. True, he had obtained her using sordid tactics, and had striven to keep her at his side under a veil of lies that would insult any woman’s intelligence. To others, this made Rasmus a cad, a sneaking pirate worthy of contempt. But in his view, he had simply done what a good Ravena king would have. He was a good king in his own sight, and Vultra his ideal mate. Well, she was no picnic to be around, for sure, yet still… Months had gone by and Veronica was still captive in Halconia. They had learned that she was with child, and the time for her delivery was at hand. She clasped the bars of her cage and looked at Rasmus with pleading eyes. “Let me go back to Bagwis,” she begged. “I have to tell him that he’s going to be a father. We have so many dreams and none of them will come true if you keep me here!” But Rasmus was unmoved by her pleas. “Veronica, you were meant for me,” he said simply. It was not a matter open for debate. Bagwis’ child was born that day in the same cage. Rasmus looked on, a cold and indifferent observer, and then turned away. Veronica lay unconscious from her labors. Disdaining to touch the Mulawin egg, the king ordered Kuwak and Tuka to dispose of it in the river, but reconsidered. “I don’t trust either of you,” he said. “Give it to me and I will do it myself.” Later that day, he had borne away the egg pursued by Aguilar. Rasmus tossed the egg at the Mulawin to distract him, then hurled a throwing blade at him. The Ravena king followed through with a stab at close-range and killed Aguiluz’s father. But the egg had fallen safely out of his sight. I can’t afford to lose my queen, he thought grimly as he recalled those events. I’ve worked so hard for her. No iron grip ever fastened so tightly as his; Rasmus had to keep his prize. Rasmus strolled into the Montenegro mansion where Savannah was. She had just heard voices in a room – talking about weapons. He asked her what Balasik had told her last before his escape. Savannah replied jestingly that she would become powerful and that Rasmus would serve her. The king cackled wickedly at that. Surely, a woodpecker had drilled a hole in her brain! Annoyed, Savannah left without mentioning the conversation she had heard. Dakdak used to be merry and carefree. Being king of the Perico perhaps had meant only that he talked the most and gossiped the most, or perhaps the news flashes and latest chikka had always been delivered to him first. But coming into contact, first with the Mulawin, and now the lowlanders of Tierra Fuego, changed all that. The happy ignorance was gone, and he did not regret it. Of course, Dakdak had mourned the death of Ang-Ang, and the destruction of Hayuhay. Yet instead of cursing fate or Bagwis for dragging his peaceful parrot-men into the war with evil, Dakdak was thankful. Now he could see the harsh realities of life outside bird-talks and picnics, and as anyone with a noble heart would, the king wanted to take action. He noticed Rudy carrying a heavy sack on his back. “What could that be?” he asked his fellow Perico. “Let’s see if we can help them,” said Dakdak. The sack was loaded with smuggled arms. But Rudy never told the women about it, not even his daughter. In the women’s quarters, meanwhile, the Scouts admitted that they had come to Tierra Fuego looking for a friend. “But we’ve seen no strangers here,” they were told. Dakila was troubled. The Musang episode had diverted the band from its original path, and the one they had now chosen was less familiar to him. Precious time was running away. He dispatched Mayi on ahead of them to see if they were nearing Halconia. “Our food supply has run out,” his lieutenant Bagwis reported. “I’ll go find us something to eat. Can’t go far on an empty stomach.” A pair of Hunyango laid in wait for him among the thickets. As Bagwis walked along, they leaped on either side of him to catch him. But the warrior grabbed each by the wrist and threw them off him. Again, they vaulted upon him and once again he repulsed them. It did not take much effort on his part and soon he sent the attackers scurrying away. Aguiluz could not leave Alwina alone for too long, after all. He followed her quietly that day but hid himself from view. That night, he came upon her seated on a rock, her head bowed to her knees in grief and exhaustion. As he stood there silently observing, a voice called gently to him. “Aguiluz,” it said. The young hero turned around to see who it was. Suddenly, a blinding white light rent the darkness. In the dazzling glow he could just make out a human shape standing there. “Who are you?” he asked. “Turn down that light so I can see you!” “Aguiluz,” spoke the voice, “I am your mother. I have always known that you are someone special. I am here to tell you that you are on the right path.” Mother? This was his mother? “Mother!” he cried. “Mother, show yourself to me!” “That will happen at the appointed time,” she assured him. “I love you, my son. I love you very much.” Then the light vanished, as if it had never been there. Aguiluz remained there for a few moments, wonderstruck. He turned to Alwina to see if she had awakened. She was fast asleep. “We’re the same, Alwina,” he told her softly. “We’re both looking for our parents.” “We’re here!” exclaimed Estrella to Balasik when they arrived at the place of stones. Haraya was there, and the lovebirds wasted no time. Balasik alighted beside her and spoke. “Haraya, I’ve been looking for you for a long time. I love you.” Haraya parroted the same words to him. Estrella smiled at their professions of love, and encouraged them to mate and lay an egg. But the birds sought privacy and whisked themselves away from sight. Thinking Balasik would not keep his promise, Estrella returned home sorrowfully. Maningning was there and tried to explain to her why she wanted the binhi. “It’s the only way I can defend us,” she said. “We need to be strong since we never known when enemies will come.” But this was no justification to Estrella. She fled once more to the woods, not wishing to see her beloved Adonis broken apart or deprived of his hand. But something made her raise her eyes, and she saw before her Balasik and Haraya, perched on a tree branch side by side. It seemed they had been waiting for her, and she was just on time. For the green bird dropped a shining orb – her egg! Estrella rushed forward to catch it. “Break that egg over Gabriel’s head,” Balasik told her. Grateful and joyous, Estrella hurried back to the Taguba camp. She broke the mysterious egg over the figure’s head. As its fluid content trickled down Gabriel’s profile, the particles of stone faded like dust from his skin. Breath and the vibrant color of living flesh returned to Gabriel; the statue was a man again!


Blogger Avria said...

pde ba mg request ung tgalog bersyon sna ng mga isunusulat mo

12/09/2004 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger Avria said...

pde ba mg request ung tgalog bersyon sna ng mga isunusulat mo

12/09/2004 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger South Rock said...

I wish I could, tisha. Pero kulang na ako sa oras para gumuwa ng Tagalog version, at saka mas sanay ako magsulat so English (no offense sa ating sariling wika). Maybe someone else would like to translate or make their own Pilipino version. Peace! :)

12/10/2004 07:02:00 AM  

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