Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Perena Takes Over.

Episode for Nov 29, 2004, Tuesday. “Are you still angry with me?” Tuka asked her son. “What, do you think I wanted it this way? I didn’t have a choice, Pagaspas. When your father left to join the rebels, I had to follow him. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me and stay with me.” But it seemed her tears were to no avail. Pagaspas sat there still as a rock. It was as if he had sewn up his lips; he would not even open his mouth. He looked up at his mother sorrowfully, and it hurt her to look into those remote eyes. Tuka held the boy close to her bosom. Gus did not shrink from her embrace, but he persisted in his silence all night and rewarded her with not a single word. “Why didn’t you say anything, Gus?” asked the very rational Lawiswis. “Don’t you love her still?” “Of course, I do,” he said sadly. “But she took sides with the Ravena. And why is she loyal to Vultra? She knows she’s evil.” “But she’s still your mother,” argued Wis. “I felt so sorry for her earlier.” Wis – a wise woman in a tiny girl’s body - had always been the thinker between the two. She knew that Gus was hurting, yet she felt (and perhaps rightly) that it was time for his anger to relent and give way to forgiveness. Rasmus and Vultra arrived early in Perena’s lair. Few ever ventured to go to that forbidding place, and even for the Ravena monarchs, being there was rather unnerving. They had to address this powerful Diwata most respectfully. As the invoked her name, a pillar of black smoke arose from a pit, and soon the warped form of Perena materialized. “What brings you here to disturb my peaceful rest?” asked the spirit. The Ravena looked at each other as if for reassurance. “We’ll get straight to the point, Perena,” said Rasmus. “We would like you to help us against Alwina.” “Surprising that Ravenum is not with you,” said the Diwata. “That is exactly what we do not want,” Vultra told her. “If possible, we would like to keep this matter from Ravenum.” “Very well,” said Perena. “I will help you. What is it that you want me to do for you?” So they disclosed their plan to her. After Perena gave her word to play the part asked of her, the Ravena took leave of her courteously and flew back to Tierra Fuego. “It’s a good thing we decided to go to Perena for help!” beamed Rasmus confidently. But Vultra kept quiet. She would not rejoice without seeing first what the Diwata could actually do. Yet, already, her king was boasting and putting on airs that rivaled the gale blowing around them! The wind always blew hard whenever Rasmus was around, anyway. Indeed, there was so much air in his head, it was a wonder he needed wings to float. As Yoli gathered corn in the fields for the Ravena soldiers, the inevitable took place: She ran into the daughter who had so shamelessly disowned her. “Mother!” cried Savannah. But Yoli rebuffed her. “I never thought you could do that, Savannah,” she said in disgust. “I raised you! I gave you life! I gave you everything! Where did I go wrong that you’ve treated me like this?” “I’m so sorry, Mother,” she said. “I hope you can understand my situation. I hate to see you being enslaved by them. Don’t worry, I’ll ask Vultra to set you free. I’m just waiting for the right time to ask.” The elder woman did not know if she credit that promise. Ere she could make reply, Takam the sentry broke in to report to Savannah. Seeing him, the girl faked an angry frown and dismissed Yoli. “Get away from me! I’m telling you, you’re not my mother!” “I’ve done as you asked, Your Majesty!” said Takam happily. “Now I’ve shut the witch’s mouth!” Yoli showed no reaction, but left quietly wondering to herself. Witch? That could only be Lourdes. What had Savannah done to her? As if to confirm her fear, Yoli overheard the girls in their quarters that night, talking in hushed whispers. Lourdes had gone missing, they said. Before her disappearance, she had told one of them that she needed to find Queen Vultra. “Sounds like she has found out Savannah’s secret,” said one girl. Next morning, Yoli approached them. She was greatly fearful for her daughter – she really was her daughter, after all – yet she could not resist sharing what she knew. Lourdes had never returned to them all the evils they had inflicted on her. Instead, she had always been their friend and helper in these most trying of times. “I heard Savannah talking to this soldier about a witch,” she told the girls. The girls looked at each other. Pamela was one of them. “We have to find the Queen and talk to her,” they said. Unknown to the women, a storm was building among the men. It was a storm of revolt that Lucio planned to raise against their oppressors. The Montenegro don had himself been their oppressor in earlier days. He was a man who did not like to be beaten, either in love or in business or any other matter. Not to be outdone, and not to be controlled, he had been used to calling the shots and always being boss. Why would he go down to his grave now without a fight against the Ravena? Those winged devils that had killed his father? And one of them a vamp he had fallen in love with! No, it must not end this way for him, or for his fellow human beings. And in times like this, people needed a leader. Perhaps they would rally around him who, in better days, had been lord of the land. So he talked to his huntsman, Rudy. “Go and consult with the others,” he told him. “See if they will agree to my plan.” Rudy threw his full support behind the don, and promised to do as told. Outside Tierra Fuego, the Scouts and Perico had finally made it out of the woods. After many decades, Procopio and Bianca were back in human civilization. But they found the roads deserted, and nobody wanted to stop and talk to them. They met one man, who informed them that they were in Pugad Lawin. The Scouts asked for directions to Tierra Fuego. “That’s where the Ravena are,” he told them, and hurried on his way. Rumors had spread that the Ravena were going to attack Pugad Lawin next. The foursome took a pause, pondering what to do next, when they were alarmed by the beating of wings overhead. They ran for cover, thinking it was a Ravena. But it was not. A bird-man in bright, multi-colored feathers alighted before them. He staggered toward them, recognizing them, then fell into a dead faint. It was Dakdak. The day passed uneventfully for Aguiluz and Alwina. Only an incident of finding a river and some playful moments together were of note. The river was quite a happy discovery for them, of course, for at last, they could refresh themselves. The lady was first to bathe in its waters – she insisted on it. Aguiluz smiled at that, and forgot his manners. “Aren’t you afraid of water?” he asked. “Not anymore,” she said. “Someone taught me not to… Gabriel.” Aguiluz nodded politely, still looking at her. “Julian,” she said to get his attention, “how am I supposed to take a bath if you don’t turn around first?” “Oh, sorry,” he said, turning his back on her courteously while Alwina disrobed. A naughty bee found him an easy target at that moment. Aguiluz tried to swat it off with his flute, and the indignant bee stung him on the back of his neck. “Ouch!” he cried out, springing up to his feet instinctively. “I told you not to look at me!” said Alwina. “Sorry,” he said again, rubbing the painful bite with his hand. What was he supposed to do? Hmm, perhaps some payback would be nice. After the maiden had finished, it was Aguiluz’s turn. He relished in the fresh clean water, so soothing to his tired limbs and itchy skin. Then he noticed his worn-out shirt slipping off the rock where he had put it, and playfully asked Alwina to pick it up for him. “Nope,” she said, hiding her own smile. “I’m not going to do that.” “Why not?” he said. “Please, go get it!” Ha! Did he think she was that naïve? “No way! Who knows what I might see there!” She wasn’t going to play that game, but at the same time, she was rather glad for it.
That night, however, their somber mood returned. Aguiluz found himself thinking of another girl: Aviona. He did not know why; he could not explain it to himself. One of the last times they had seen each other had been when she offered him that makahiya. For some reason, that incident flashed back in his mind in full color: her gesture, her smile, her eyes… Something was wrong, he thought. Thanks to the friendly and cheerful Mayi, Kuskos was now learning to broaden her diet spectrum to include fruits like banana… and even creepy crawlers such as worms and maggots. It was quite natural for a bird like Mayi to munch on worms, of course; it had been less pleasant for Kuskos. Later that day, Dakila sent Mayi ahead of the group as he often did, to gather information on the path that lay ahead of them. Mayi returned in the form of a maya with disturbing news. She had seen many large paw-prints. Musang prints. There had to be a tribe of them nearby. Perena knew how to keep an appointment after all. Vultra and Rasmus found Aviona lying on the floor of her cell, weakened and barely conscious. Wishing to frustrate her captors’ efforts to make use of her, the Mulawin had gone on hunger-strike. But she had unknowingly made the work easier for them by doing so. Rasmus grabbed her roughly by her feathered head and threw her into a chair. No sooner had he done so, than a chill came over them, suggesting the presence of a spirit. Soot-colored clouds formed in the air and quickly filled the enclosed space. “Perena kept her promise!” Vultra exclaimed. “She’s here!” The dark clouds enwrapped Aviona in their swirling billows. Soon, the flames of Perena rose up all around her body and through her soul. Aviona seemed to shudder, then became quite still. Rasmus and Vultra watched in awe, and after a while, the latter inquired if the possession was now complete. “It is completed,” said Perena through her medium. “What do you plan to do now, my queen?” asked Rasmus. Vultra walked over to Aviona’s side. Bending over, she breathed once into the girl’s ear. Aviona threw up a swarm of insects. Vultra breathed a second time just as before, and fire blazed forth from the prisoner’s mouth. “Let’s not waste any more time,” said Rasmus. “Have her kill Alwina at once!” Vultra smiled coolly. “You’re not thinking again, my king,” she said. “There’s still one thing we need to know.” Rasmus paused, as if reading her thoughts. Ah, yes, how could he have missed it? How he so loved that brilliant mind! “The Mulawin tree,” he said. “Of course! After that, we can finish her off!” The light cast harsh shadows on their grinning faces. Evil had never looked so good, and the two ravens burst into a duet of devilish laughter.


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