Saturday, December 25, 2004

The Lord of the Damned.

Episode for Dec 23, 2004, Thursday. Nothing but ashes remained of Aguiluz’s funeral pile. The Mulawin had long since deserted that place and moved on. But a lonely figure kept vigil, mourning for him still. Her shadow fell upon the debris as she spoke: “How could they do this to you, Aguiluz? Do not worry. I will take care of you.” When the Ravena arrived at the scene, only Rudy and the other workers were there. The soldiers rounded them up and all was quiet once again. The citizens did not retire, however, but instead sought out Lourdes to inform her of what had happened. One could imagine their surprise when they found Bagwis and a wounded Habagat beside their new leader. “Hey, it’s them!” the people shouted. Bagwis unfolded his wings as if to intimidate them. “I’m ready to defend my brother,” he declared. Lourdes attempted to mediate between the two parties. “Don’t hurt them,” she pleaded. “It’s not our way to hurt a defenseless man. If we do that, then we’ll be just like the Ravena. Besides, the Ravena are our enemies, not one another!” “Have you also been fooled by those bird-men?” asked a furious Rudy. The woman turned to him and said sharply, “You put me in charge here because you think I’m sane enough. Now I will tell you without hesitation, Bagwis has had much experience fighting the Ravena. And most of all, I know he has a good heart.” It was her first command as their leader, but it was one they could not obey. The crowd led by Rudy chanted death for the Mulawin and his brother. They went on until Lawiswis appeared from nowhere, and came running into Lourdes’ arms. They had not seen each other since Alwina was thrown off that cliff by the angry townspeople. The woman joyfully picked up the child in her arms and asked how she was. “What are you doing here? Where’s Gus?” she asked. Then she rebuked the others: “Now a child is with us. I hope she serves as a reminder of what we are really fighting for, and stop quarreling among ourselves.” In Encantadia, Muyak came home satisfied to report that her mission had been accomplished. It had been no small task, as she told her friends. “Since the Ravena have no diplomatic ties with us Encantado, there is no portal in Halconia for us,” she said. She then turned to Linang who was holding a sable plume. It was Habagat’s ugatpak which Muyak had removed while he slept in his cell in Halconia. “Thank you,” said the queen. “This will help a lot.” “My pleasure to do your bidding,” replied the fairy. But do you think it will work as you hope? That ugatpak was taken from Habagat when he was already a Ravena.” “This comes from within him,” Linang argued. “I still believe that deep within Habagat, there is still some goodness left.” Habagat was now safe with Bagwis. “Thank you for saving my life,” he said. “I only did what I had to do,” Bagwis replied, stroking his head. “You’re my brother.” Habagat then asked forgiveness, but the older brother would hear none of it. “Let’s not talk about that now. What matters is that you recover first.” Savannah was back to cut-throat mode. Yolly wanted to leave Tierra Fuego with her. But the girl made it plain she was staying in the fray. “This isn’t a casino where you can quit when you’re bankrupt,” she snapped. “We have to kill Alwina. She mustn’t take my place beside Vultra.” Elsewhere, in the basement of his own mansion where Lucio was captive, the mood had turned very also. “I’m not going to die here!” Lucio told the Perico. “I’ll find a way out of here, and when I do, I won’t take you with me! I won’t help you!” Now, Procopio and Bianca retreated back to the forest and met with Dakdak. “Oh, thank God, you’re safe!” he exclaimed. “I thought you guys got caught!” “Not us,” said Procopio. “Ngasngas and Gadgad were captured by the Ravena.” “Oh, great!” Dakdak whined. “I haven’t even kept my promise to Dakila yet that I’d rescue Aviona. Now I have to worry about those two also?” The king’s heart drummed within him. The Perico were a fun-loving and innocent race. From their brightly painted feathers to their very brains, there was nothing in them that was designed for use in combat. Dakdak was clueless as to how to proceed and he was panicking. “Oh, I know,” said Procopio as Dakdak fretted about. “We’ll just go there at night when the guards are sleeping. Surely, you bird-men sleep at night too?” “Oh, I know!” Dakdak mimicked. “We’ll just go there at night when the guards are sleeping. Surely, you bird-men sleep at night too?” Upon hearing of Kuwak and Tuka’s reappearance, their queen sent for them. When they came to the meeting place, she greeted them in her customary manner. “How nice of you to accept my invitation,” she told them. “You didn’t even notify me of your return.” The two made excuses. “Sorry, Your Majesty,” they said. “We’re just eager to get back to work, you know.” “You were with the Mulawin for several days,” she said. “What did you learn about their plans? Where are they going?” But they denied any knowledge, perhaps over hastily. “Sorry, ma’am,” they said in chorus, “we didn’t notice anything.” Vultra continued to interrogate them, but they heaped denials upon her and yielded nothing useful. “I suppose,” she sighed at last. “You can’t even do what I tell you. Much less follow somebody else’s plans.” Thus frustrated, she terminated the interview and dismissed them. The duo congratulated themselves for what they deemed was a decent performance. But the queen knew better, and bade a soldier keep an eye on them. The Mulawin were traveling that night with Alwina and Dakila in the lead. They were nearing Avila now and looking forward to it, when Alwina stopped dead in her tracks. “I think we’re being followed,” she said. At this Gabriel likewise paused. His senses were as keen as hers, and his eyes discerned motion in the foliage. “I see somebody!” he exclaimed. “But they’re too fast!” Before the group could prepare in defense, Taguba warriors sprang from the thickets and surrounded them. They held the stunned Mulawin at bay with their spears until they recognized Gabriel. Estrella cried out his name and threw herself into his arms, much to Alwina’s bemusement. Maningning also recognized him. “Have you found answers for us about the disappearance of our men-folk?” she asked. “Better,” said Gabriel. “I’ve found the woman who can help you. This is Alwina. She gave me the green binhi.” Anger clouded Dakila’s eyes. “Did you bring us here to peddle Alwina?” he fumed. “Dakila, remember it was all an accident,” Gabriel retorted. “You and Alwina were in the lead. It just happened that we ran into the Taguba.” “Don’t worry, Dakila,” Alwina said. “This isn’t a diversion. I don’t mind if I can be of service to the Taguba.” Rasmus had just returned from Avila. He sought his wife and found her in one of the rooms of their mansion. She was quiet as usual. “My queen seems to be deep in thought,” he remarked. “Are you done sucking up to your father?” she asked. “What kind of a greeting is that?” “It just seems to me that some kind of trouble is waiting to happen here in Tierra Fuego. And what did you do about it? You left me here alone to go kiss the feet of your father.” Rasmus crossed his arms over his chest. It seemed that she really had the talent to insult him at the slightest opportunity. “Shall we have an exchange of words then?” he said. “All right. I will play along with you. Who was it who passed up the chance to kill the Sugo?” Reading the guilty look in her eyes, Rasmus smirked and left. He went outside where a Hunyango made its presence felt. “Speak if you wish to say something,” said the king. “My time is not to be wasted.” Hearing its report, he sent for Vultra and told her, “You were right. There are traitors in the ranks stationed here. Hunyango saw them fighting… on the side of Bagwis.” Vultra’s round eyes lit up. “You mean Kuwak and Tuka?” Maningning and the Taguba listened intently to the Mulawin’s story. “What will happen once Alwina reaches the tree?” she asked. “No one knows,” Dakila told her. “In the last century, it bore the green binhi.” “Then you cannot be sure of any of this. How can you promise that you can help us?” Gabriel spoke thus: “Certainty must have its limits. When I searched for Alwina, I was sure I would find her. But I don’t know what happens now. Where there can be no certainty, faith must prevail.” Estrella listened, admiring both him and Alwina, whom she had been curious about. “It’s an honor to meet you,” she told Alwina later when she offered her some food. “Now I’ve met the woman Gabriel admires. What am I compared to you, after all.” Alwina smiled kindly at her. “Are you in love with him?” There was no need for a verbal response. “Yes, you are,” concluded the Mulawin with a smile. “Well, I want Gabriel to find a girl who will give him what is his due. And if you’re the right girl for him, I won’t stand in your way.” “You cannot escape from here!” said the demon to Aguiluz in an unearthly tone. Then it lashed out its tail which had a flaming tip at him. Aguiluz fought with his bare hands, but seeing that further attempts at overcoming this being would be futile, he turned to run amidst the pillars and stalagmites. Believing that he had overtaken the enemy by a wide margin, he congratulated himself. “I think I’ve escaped,” he muttered. But the temperature had plunged drastically. A biting cold replaced the prickly heat. Soon, Aguiluz was shivering; his teeth and nose hurt, and his skin roughened with goose bumps. Snowflakes rained, and the environment was suffused with an icy blue color. He had reached a place where Hell had frozen over. There was nowhere to turn now but whence he had come; he could withstand the heat, but not the freezing chill. So defeated, Aguiluz retraced his steps to where the demon was waiting for him, expecting his return. “I give up,” Aguiluz told him. “I will go with you now. Take me to the hell waiting for me.” Thus the youthful hero followed his evil guide. The demon led him to his master, who, as Aguiluz now saw, was more fearsome in appearance than his servant. He had a face like a beast’s, and thick horns that curved tightly like a goat’s or a ram’s. “Pay homage,” said the guide, gesturing toward that entity. Aguiluz said to the master, “Who are you? Why am I here?” The demon conjured a ball in his right hand, in which Aguiluz beheld the lady he loved, and in his left hand another ball with a vision of the world. “I am Belzebuth,” the being replied. “I am the supreme demon of this realm. You were brought here to choose. Choose between Alwina and world-peace.”


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