Sunday, December 19, 2004

Father and Daughter.

Episode for Dec 17, 2004, Friday. Alwina continued to ignore Gabriel; so full were her thoughts of Aguiluz. It seemed to Gabriel that he had no place beside her now. “I’m here if you need somebody to talk to,” he would tell her. She would answer him by leaving. Meanwhile, Bagwis advised the band to rest that night. “We should take a break and rest ourselves,” he said. “We’ve been traveling all day.” He turned to Alwina and told her the story of Pagaspas’ transformation. She was amazed to learn that Gus was the son of Ravena. But Bagwis’ account did not convince her of their new allies’ sincerity. “This wouldn’t have happened to Gus if not for Tuka!” Turning to the Ravena she said, “What kind of a mother are you? You deserve to be punished!” Alwina brandished her shawl and was about to strike the frightened Tuka when Gus spoke up. “She didn’t mean it, Alwina,” he told her. “I have forgiven her. I hope you can forgive her too.” So Alwina relented, folding back the cloth with an impatient gesture. The group retired for the night while she stayed awake. In her solitude, Alwina vowed to fulfill her mission for the sake of the lost Aguiluz. She must not be weak; she must be strong, if only for him. Her sorrow now became a fuel of energy driving her on forward. Alwina felt the urge to make haste, perhaps eager to dedicate her victory to Aguiluz. Or fearing that more lives would be lost if they did not hurry. The Ravena Army were in sore need of a leader. Rasmus had failed them before. Now it seemed Habagat was no better, and perhaps far worse. Rasmus, at least, was their king, and he still owned a loyal following in their armed forces. Habagat was only a recent convert, and he had changed. Hasik, one of the lower-ranked soldiers under Habagat, went to report directly to Ravenum in Avila. “You must find Kuwak and Tuka,” ordered the spirit. “They are with Bagwis’ group. Now, what is it you came to tell me, Hasik?” “Pardon me, Lord Ravenum,” answered he. “I’m not used to being in your presence. I don’t want to disturb you.” “Tell me what you came here to say.” “Lord, I don’t want to ruin Habagat’s reputation. But he is no longer dependable. We can’t look to him anymore for leadership. He has changed ever since his son died.” “I know what you mean to tell me,” said Ravenum. “Habagat has become useless. Bring him to me!” Meanwhile, Dakila had not forgotten about Gabriel, whom he met some time ago in Lourdes’ house. He had kept silence for Alwina’s sake and because of Aguiluz’s death. The sage remembered his first meeting with this young man. “Don’t think you can fool me,” he had told Gabriel. “I can see the blood running in your veins. You’re the last person I would tell what I know to.” What was this young fellow doing in their company? Lawiswis came to him and asked why Dakila was still up. Dakila answered in a rather harsh tone – he could not help it – “Right. I will do that. Wait a moment, Lawiswis. That youngster… is he a friend of Alwina’s?” “Yes, they are childhood friends. Why?” “Nothing. Go on and sleep.” In the midst of a softly snoring company, Alwina raised her voice, “Wake up, people! Time to get up! Come on!” She clapped her hands and was shoving everyone to get off the ground. The others looked at her through heavy eyelids. Hardly had they begun their trek into dreamland and now here she was, urging them on to resume their journey. “Look, you got to sleep, anyway,” she told them. “Do you still want to wait for sunrise?” “Um… yes, just as you say,” said Mayi as she fought back a yawn. “Look, we have no time to lose!” said Alwina. “The sooner we get there, the better. The less chances that someone else will die.” “Don’t push yourself,” said Bagwis. “Who says I’m forcing myself to do this?” she snapped. But she was; she had sworn to herself that she would complete this mission for Aguiluz, who had given his life for it. “There’s no more time for mourning. We’ll resume our journey after eating,” she told them conclusively. The matter was closed. As Gabriel was stoking a fire, Dakila approached him and spoke frankly. “Good evening, sir,” said Gabriel in a pleasant tone. Dakila then reminded him that they had met before, and he acknowledged it. “Yes, I remember…” “It is good that you do,” said Dakila. “So I do not have to explain. My companions are important to me. I will not compromise their safety by having you with us. I want this over and done with now. I am asking you to leave. Do not make it harder than it is. Go while Alwina is not here.” First Aguiluz, now this one? “You’re telling me to leave?” said Gabriel incredulously. “I cannot bring myself to trust you, young man,” said Dakila. “I don’t see why I should try to win your trust,” Gabriel answered. “Yes, Alwina respects you. But I won’t submit myself to your authority. I won’t leave just because you tell me to. I’ve come a long way, sir. It’s not a joke what I went through just for Alwina. If there’s anyone here who can tell me to go away, it’s her.” Alwina stumbled into the scene and noticed Gabriel and Dakila eyeing each other. “What’s going on?” she asked. “Your friend and I are just getting to know each other,” Dakila told her kindly. But he felt sure that he already knew what he needed to know about Gabriel. Bagwis went over to Alwina. The Mulawin chief had always liked this brave and noble young lady, and the way she was coping with her grief disturbed him. Bagwis, of course, was no stranger to loss. He had lost his parents and everyone else in his family, including his brother Habagat. He had lost the woman he loved and watched her die. And he had lost his home, Avila. But unlike Habagat (and Rasmus too), his private tragedies had not made Bagwis bitter and cruel. If anything, they had served to make him wiser, more tolerant, and more patient with others who suffered as he once had. “Alwina, do not be offended,” he started to say. “I know you still blame yourself for Aguiluz’s death. You think that, maybe if you’d only told Rasmus where to find the Mulawin tree…” She cut him off. “Stop it. Why do we have to go over this again and again? Aguiluz wouldn’t want us to stop if we could see us. He never liked seeing me losing hope. He wouldn’t want me to be a weakling.” “But don’t push yourself if you’re not ready to move on,” said Bagwis. “I know you loved Aguiluz. We all loved him. It is only right that we mourn for him.” “Then how long should we mourn for our loved ones?” “For as long as you are not ready to move on. There’s nothing wrong with mourning, and most certainly, there’s nothing wrong with crying.” Alwina shook her head in denial. “I have nothing to cry about,” she told him. “I don’t want to cry.” “It’s not wrong to cry,” he told her. The maiden listened with mounting anger. She could not understand why Bagwis would insist on mourning when he should be focused on their mission. “I don’t want to cry,” Alwina said over and over. “I don’t want to cry anymore!” She did not want to cry, or feel, or think about it anymore because what was the point? But Bagwis was older and wiser. He knew better than to deny sorrow its place. “There’s nothing wrong with crying,” he said to her again. He did not mind annoying her; he did want her to cry so that she could unburden her heart openly to him. “I don’t want to cry!” Alwina insisted. But even as she spoke her voice broke down; her eyes reddened; and the first teardrops drew wet streaks down her face. Soon, she was sobbing audibly as her father held her in his arms. Yolly had just enough time to betray the rebels’ latest plan to Savannah. “They’re planning to blow up the water-tank tonight,” she told her daughter. Just then, approaching footsteps warned them of company, and Savannah hid her mother. Vultra greeted Savannah dryly and the latter disclosed to her this latest “premonition.” “All right,” said the queen. “I will send for troops to investigate the matter.” Outside near the water-tank, Lucio retrieved the bag of dynamites from Rudy. “Go and hide yourself now,” said the master. “This is dangerous. Put out that torch too.” Rudy obeyed; he then took cover in the bushes with Lourdes. As Lucio was preparing the explosives, Ravena soldiers leapt forth from their hiding place and arrested him. Rudy wanted to help, but Lourdes dissuaded him. The sentries dragged Lucio to the mansion and threw him at the feet of their king and queen. Vultra grabbed him by the hair. “Punish him!” she said. “Beat him and don’t stop until he tells you who his cohorts are and where they are,” ordered Rasmus. Laab was the Musang chieftain. Like others of his species, he always welcomed a good fight. “I hear that you are a good fighter,” he said to Alwina. “Perhaps you would like to spar a little before we move on?” “Sure, why not,” she said with a smile. The two combatants squared off. Laab was swift and acrobatic; in other times, he might have intimidated the less experienced Alwina. But her many trials has hardened the warrior-maiden. She grappled fiercely with the cat-man until his sharp claws tore at her armor. Alwina’s shoulder-pad came off. Laab apologized profusely. “I’ll put it back on,” said Bagwis. As he replaced the pad, he noticed Alwina’s birthmark on her skin. Huh? A birthmark like mine! he thought. What could this mean? “What’s wrong?” asked Alwina. “Is it a deep wound?” Bagwis was too stunned to speak for a moment. “No,” he then said. “It’s okay.” Laab and Alwina resumed practice, but more gently this time. Alwina fought with renewed intensity and Laab soon conceded defeat. He was a gracious loser and readily acknowledged the superiority of the Mulawin. Among other virtues, Bagwis had the ability to think fast and come to the right conclusion, though not always. “That could mean only one thing,” he said to Dakila later that day. “She is my relative, or she could even be my daughter. I never guessed I had a child. No wonder I’ve always liked her. I want to hug and kiss her, Dakila.” “She’s half-human. Who could her mother be?” “Veronica. She was the only one I loved. That means she was already pregnant when Rasmus carried her off to Halconia. But she’s dead now.” Dakila looked at him; his eyes suggested there was something he wanted to say. “What is it?” asked the younger Mulawin. “I think it is time for you to know the truth about what happened to Veronica,” said Dakila. “She did not die like you thought.” Bagwis was stunned. “Impossible! I saw how Rasmus pushed her down the ravine.” “Yes, she fell,” replied the sage. “But she rose up again, and when she did, she had grown wings. The soul and memory of Veronica died, but she came back. She is now a Ravena. “Yes, Veronica and Vultra are one and the same.”


Blogger South Rock said...

Some personal emergency is going on so you may not see updates here for a while.

Take care and Merry Christmas!

12/20/2004 07:16:00 AM  
Blogger streetstopper said...

south rock,

hoping that everything will work out well whatever you are going through.

season's greatings to every all!

12/20/2004 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger BJSG said...

Merry Christmas Kapusong South Rock!!!

12/21/2004 07:44:00 PM  

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