Saturday, December 11, 2004

A Dream. (Flashback II)

Episode for Dec 8, 2004, Wednesday. Gabriel’s consciousness was easily restored to him. Neither looking nor feeling sleepy, he only felt disoriented. He darted his eyes about and could not recognize his surroundings. A strange young woman stood there looking at him. “What happened?” he asked. “Where am I? Who are you?” So she told him her name, Estrella. “Gabriel, you’re alive again!” she exclaimed. “You know my name?” “Yes. You were turned to stone in that place where humans become stone.” Like an object stolen and given back, the memory of that incident returned to him as she mentioned it. He recalled the bird with the eerie tune, the bluish vapor, his effort to swallow the binhi after Terong had been petrified. “Yes, I remember,” he said. Wait… Terong.” Gabriel saw his friend’s cemented body lying there on a wooden table. “You’ll need an egg to bring him back,” said Estrella. “I’m sorry, but I was able to get only one egg.” She touched his fair cheeks, unabashed. “Gabriel, you’re alive! You’re real now!” He gently pushed her hand away. “I’m sorry, Estrella, but I can’t stay here. I’m looking for someone.” Estrella looked crestfallen. “So soon? I’ll help you find whoever that is then.” Maningning’s voice called out to her from elsewhere in the camp. The look of alarm on her face implied great danger. She exhorted Gabriel to leave. “You must escape. They want that binhi from you. Go. I’ll be here if you need me.” Hearing the approach of the other women, Gabriel wasted no time and ran off into the woods. How like a dream he was, Estrella, thought, coming and going so swiftly. Maningning arrived and realized what the maiden had done. “You have betrayed our tribe!” she fumed. “Why did you bring that statue back to life?” “Is it a betrayal to save the life of a man?” came the retort. “You’re the one who’s being unjust, Maningning. It’s wrong to take the life of someone just for a seed!” The Taguba chieftain shouted to the others: “Find that man! Turn the forest upside-down if you have to!” Then she said to Estrella, “We’ll talk about your treachery later on.” The lowlander could not outpace the trained sprint of the warriors. One Taguba caught up with Gabriel and called out to the others as she held him at spear-point. Estrella had been following them; she rushed to the man’s side and entreated him to surrender. “Gabriel, I beg you, don’t fight them,” she said. Maninging demanded the shining seed from the captive. Calm and unafraid, Gabriel answered, “I can’t let you have the binhi. Not even if you torture me. It’s too important to me.” But Maningning knew better. A good man may be wiling to die for his ideals, but he would not suffer others to perish for him. “Who says we’re going to torture you?” she asked, aiming her axe at Terong’s head. “Are you going to give me that binhi? Or will you carry the guilt of having this statue broken?” Pagaspas had arrived at a crossroads in his life. Through his mother's wish to "convert" him had come the supreme test of his friendship with Lawiswis. He was left with only two choices: death for Wis, or a life worse than death for himself. To become a Ravena would be tantamount to being damned, a lost soul condemned to a perpetual hell of evil-doing at the service of Ravenum. But to allow his best friend to die? It really would be better to lose his soul all right, in the literal sense of it.. By the time he and Wis were reminiscing about their childhood that day, Gus had already made a decision. It was in the days before the revolt. No Ravena existed; only one united race of bird-men called Mulawin. Pagaspas and Lawiswis were two inseparable playmates, scampering happily about in the highlands of Avila. It was the early springtime of their lives, when a child’s hair was only slightly overlain with the first growth of feathers on its head. Up on a height, Pagaspas had been proudly brandishing a staff, handling it as he had seen Mulawin warriors do in practice-fighting. He noticed Lawiswis watching and paused. “Hmm! You’re impressed, right?” he said confidently. “Impressed!” she said. “If I know you well, I’ll bet you stole that staff from Dakila!” The boy resumed his demonstration, unaffected. He waved the rod but it was too heavy for him. It slipped easily from his clutch and fell down the precipice. The two children looked at each other; this spelled trouble! Just then, Dakila entered the scene. “Where is my staff?” he demanded. Lawiswis had taken up the blame for her friend then. Luckily for her the rod could change into a maya bird, Mayi. But that was not the only time she had done Gus such and similar favors. She was always the one who showed the greater courage, and the greater sense. And then, civil war broke out; the bird-men were split into two tribes; and Lawiswis’ parents took her to Halconia. Even then, she came back for Pagaspas, and Dakila punished them with his curse. “Your best friend is a coward,” Gus admitted humbly. “You’ve always been the one saving my neck. So this time, I will be the one to save you.” Wis asked him what he meant, so he told her what his decision was. None of her protests could dissuade him. “For Lawiswis, I will do this,” he said. His mother received this news joyfully and briefed Gus about the ordeal of his conversion. “It’s not him who needs to be converted but YOU people!” Wis cried out. But help was at hand. Mayi reported back to Dakila that they were nearing Halconia. After pausing that night, they arrived at their destination the next day. In its fire-lit passageways, he and Bagwis encountered Ravena guards and were cornered. The soldiers taunted him: “Hey, old man!” they said. “Surely, you remember these blades dipped in poison? Did you come back for more? Hahaha!” Lourdes stayed awake that night – or thought she did – thinking of Alwina and the things Balasik had revealed to her. She must act now. She went outside the women’s quarters to meet the Ravena queen. “What are you doing out here?” asked the latter. “You’re trying to escape, aren’t you? Go back inside!” “No, Veronica,” Lourdes replied. “I came out here just for you. There are things you need to know.” “Such as?” She recounted her discovery of the talking bird, and what it had told her. “That’s where Savannah knew that you have a daughter. She’s not really your child.” “Who is it then?” Lourdes paused a moment. This was it. “Alwina, Alwina is your daughter.” Vultra’s reply came quickly. “Liar! My daughter can’t be my worst enemy! You’re saying that to confuse me!” But Lourdes had expected this. “No, I’m not,” she said earnestly. “If you want, you can come with me to my old house. Maybe I can find proof of what I’m saying.” They went back to her house, and Lourdes dug up the pieces of the egg-shell. Vultra believed her then and carefully took the pieces in her hands. She spoke to herself in undertones and regretted the wrongs she had done to her daughter. “Alwina suffered so much because she was different,” Lourdes narrated. “I loved her, I loved her like she was my real daughter. But I hope you can love her even more because you are her real mother. Most of all, I wish you would protect her and not hurt her. But you wouldn’t do that, would you? You would never hurt your own child.” The queen’s reddened eyes suggested she was guilty of it. “It’s not too late,” Lourdes told her. “It’s not,” Vultra said. “I know where she is.” The next thing Lourdes knew, they were standing before Alwina. As expected, she refused to believe what the two women had come to tell her. “What! What are you saying?” she cried. “She’s a Ravena! How can she be my mother?” “I am your mother,” Vultra said quietly. “And I’m ready to leave this kind of life for you. We will go far away from here, far away to a place where no one will hurt you. And if someone tries to, I’m ready to protect you. We will be happy…” “And now that you know the truth,” said Rasmus emerging from the shadows, “it would be better that I lose you for good than see you with another. Ravenum’s poison will kill you!” He touched his wife’s face gently, and then stabbed her with the spikes on his other hand. Vultra’s mouth fell open in a silent scream. Lourdes woke up with a gasp. “It was all a dream,” she said to herself. “But what could it mean? Is Veronica going to die?” The dreamed had felt so real. Could it have been a premonition of future events? She peered out the window to see if Vultra was there. She was, but her mate was with her also. Lourdes would have to wait and hope for another opportunity. Meanwhile, Rasmus questioned Savannah about the missing woman. “I wouldn’t stop looking for Lourdes if I were you,” he said. “Of course I won’t,” Savannah replied. “She knows my future, you know.” “What do you think Lourdes is? A Balasik?” A voice down the hallway spoke out: “What’s that I hear about Lourdes and Balasik?” It was Vultra. Rasmus grinned at his own careless stupidity, but he didn’t know it. Although she no longer had the map, Alwina seemed certain about the path she had taken to Avila. Other worries and hurts dogged her footsteps instead. This quest had become a virtual death-march for the Mulawin fellowship. She was leaving behind her a trail of lost lives and broken ties, sacrificed for the sake of this mission. And the loss of Aviona was one of the greatest losses, for with her it seemed Alwina had also lost Aguiluz. She could not blame him for his grief, but Alwina was minded to continue her quest. She had gone too far, and too much had been scarified, for this mission to be halted now. “Nothing will happen if I show weakness,” she told herself. “Be strong, Alwina.” So she walked along, daydreaming about her first encounter with Aguiluz when he had hidden himself behind a tree. Suddenly, she beheld him amidst the trees, walking fast to meet her in the glade. “I followed you,” he told her. “I guess I can’t leave you just like that.” They hugged each other tightly in a moment of silence. Then a massive jolt from afar shook the ground… and again… and again. It might have reminded them of the giant scorpion in the desert. But this was no such thing; this thing was a gigantic humanoid built from huge rocks. And this stone-man rolled along the plain toward the intruders.


Blogger South Rock said...

Okay, this episode is done. Better late than never. :) Sorry for the delays lately.

12/11/2004 11:01:00 AM  

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