Friday, December 31, 2004

Phoenix Rising.

Episode for Dec 28, 2004, Tuesday. Seeing Aguiluz had firmly decided, the Devil acquiesced. He gestured toward the hero and bade him a scorching farewell. A searing pain tore through his soul, but when the hurt had left him, Aguiluz was in a beautiful garden like nothing else on earth. Everything was a lush green, the air was vibrant with the glow of anima, and colorful sparkles of light floated like stars. He then saw a familiar face waiting there for him. An aura of light surrounded her as before. “Congratulations, Aguiluz,” Linang said with a pleasant smile. “You have passed the test, and now you can be returned to life. What you endured was only a illusion.” Aguiluz looked at her, puzzled. “You’re saying all that I saw there… Angang, Sakmal…” “Do not fear for them. I assure you, your friends are doing well. They are now with Bathala.” The Mulawin sighed in relief and gave thanks. “But I’m still confused by what I’m going through,” he said. “Let the Queen Mother explain it all to you,” Linang replied. And it was then that Aguiluz became aware of another ethereal lady’s presence. Her look and bearing told him she was a semi-divine being of even higher distinction than Linang. But what startled him was the sight of a handsome young man in white next to her. It was Mulagat. “Is this real?” Aguiluz asked, running up to Mulagat. So the two queens explained the situation to him. By divine decree, Linang’s son had been returned for the special purpose of inspiring Habagat to mend his ways. With the father’s ugatpak, they revived the son. “Mysterious are the ways of God,” said Linang. “Everything happens according to His will although we may not always understand the reasons for them. So before Mulagat’s soul could leave forever, God sent him back to help bring about the change in his father. Now all Habagat needs to know is that his son is alive.” As Aguiluz marveled at these revelations, the Queen Mother said to him, “Greetings. You are the second Mulawin who was destined to visit Encantadia.” “Second? Who was the first?” “Alwina. She died and came back to life. But before she did, she stayed here with us. We can restore you to life as well, but there is a serious problem. Your friends cremated your body.” Aguiluz remembered Bagwis had explained the custom to him, and understood. All was not lost, however. Linang sent for Banayad, the Lady of the winds. “I asked her to guard your ashes well,” she said. “They are still intact.” Aguiluz could scarcely keep up with the successive apparitions of these divine maidens. But it was not the last of them. Soon, they were joined by a strange-looking female who was covered with vegetation from head to foot. The Queen Mother introduced her as “Florona, the Lady of the Diwatas of the earth. From them all beings borrow their earthly bodies when they are born into this world. And to them these are returned at the time of their deaths.” Florona regarded Aguiluz with wonder. “So this is the one you told me about, Queen Mother!” she exclaimed. “The one who is supposed to return from the dead!” Since the Mulawin and Taguba shared a common enemy, Maningning pledged her support to Dakila. “Our fighting tactics may differ from yours,” she said, “but when the time comes to fight the Ravena, you can rely on us.” Gabriel, meanwhile, made up his mind to follow Alwina. But Estrella argued with him. “Are you always going to follow Alwina?” she asked. “Hasn’t it occurred to you that she doesn’t want to be followed? Hasn’t it occurred to you that there are people here who need you more?” “Estrella, you know how I feel.” “I’m not talking about me,” she said indignantly. “What about Terong?” Gabriel stared at his friend’s petrified remains. “You never told me how you brought me back,” he said to her. “For my friend’s sake, tell me.” “But it won’t be easy for you.” “I’ve come a long way. Nothing could be too hard for me now.” So Estrella told him about the wondrous egg born from the love of Balasik and Haraya. “But those birds choose whom they will help,” she concluded. “And it was because of Haraya that you turned to stone. I don’t know how you can get around that. It’s in the place where people turn to stone.” The young man nodded. “I can’t waste any more time,” he told her. “I have to save Terong, and then follow Alwina.” “But what about me?” she asked. Gabriel touched her gently and said, “I’m sorry, but I’m not the right man for you. I wish you can accept that. You’re a friend to me and that’s as far as it goes.” Then he said goodbye to all of them, even to Dakila whom Gabriel implied was suspicious of him. “I have my own plans,” he said, “but remember that no matter what happens, I’m on your side even if you see me as an enemy.” Dakila scoffed at this when he was alone with Mayi. “I think I was right about him after all,” he said. “Go follow him and tell me what you see.” Although willing to believe Gabriel, Mayi obeyed. “You’re trying to steal him, aren’t you?” Aviona accused, brandishing her spear. Alwina looked on, dazed and confused. “Aviona, you’re alive!” said she. “What do you mean steal him? What are you talking about?” She quickly regained her footing even as confused thoughts flooded her mind. Now both armed with spears, the two warriors entered into a fierce duel. Aviona fought with astonishing strength, forcing her opponent back with her thrusts as well as swinging kicks. But Alwina was not to be subdued. She drove back Aviona once, and the latter with renewed fury hurled herself forward again. Alwina crossed her arms to shield from the blow and shoved her off. After further grappling, she grabbed Aviona and drove her knee into the latter’s stomach. Aviona crumpled to the ground unconscious. Alwina was stunned almost beyond belief at this sudden appearance, but she had to stay on top of the situation. She knelt beside Aviona and touched her cautiously. “She’s still being possessed,” Alwina reasoned. “What do I do with her now?” When Aviona came to, she was bound to a tree and unable to extricate herself. Writhing within her bounds, she shouted imprecations even as Alwina apologized to her for the inconvenience. “I’m sorry, but this is the only way to keep you from harming me as well as yourself,” Alwina explained. “I don’t understand, we thought you were dead!” Aviona blazed her red eyes at her and said in Perena’s voice, “No, I did not die. I followed you secretly while recovering from my wounds. Why did you burn Aguiluz? Why did you desecrate his body?” Alwina strove to keep her patience as she tightened the ropes. “If you’re no longer being possessed,” she argued, “you would know that the Mulawin cremate their soldiers when they die. We did not desecrate his body. We only gave him the honors he deserved.” “You’re trying to take him away from me!” Aviona repeated over and over. “But you will never take Aguiluz away from me!” “What are you talking about? And what’s that?” said Alwina. She noticed a small sack fastened to Aviona’s right side, and wrested it from her despite her protests. As Aviona struggled, the bag was torn, revealing its contents: ashes. Alwina’s face darkened as it dawned on her whose remains they were. “These are Aguiluz’s ashes!” she declared. “Is this what you meant that I wanted to steal from you? You stole Aguiluz’s ashes? How could you desecrate his body like this?” “I never dishonored him. You and your friends did!” High up on Avila’s towering peak, Lourdes stood between the Ravena monarchs. On Vultra’s neck was a necklace that would have looked familiar to Gus and Wis. But Lourdes did not notice it. She glanced from one Ravena to the other and denounced them: “You’re both so cruel! What are you going to do with Alwina?” “We’ve tried chasing her through the forest, the desert and even to the ends of the earth,” said Rasmus. “Enough! The chase stops here in Avila!” “And we want you to be here so you can watch her die,” Vultra said. Lourdes turned to Veronica with pleading eyes. “You mustn’t hurt Alwina!” she said. “Alwina is—” Rasmus clamped his hand over her blabbing mouth. “That’s enough!” he told her. “I’m sick of all your noise! I better take you to Ugod Pawin where no one will hear you!” But once more, Vultra used her reasoning ability to spare a life. “You cannot take her to Ugod Pawin,” she said. “Why not, my beloved queen? Are you getting soft again when it comes to the Emissary’s mother?” “She’s our best weapon against the Sugo. We can lure her easily if we keep that woman with us.” As so often was the case, Rasmus paid heed to her counsel. “You’re right,” he answered. “I’d better lock her up with the other prisoners.” The king hauled off their captive, and Vultra was left on her own. She looked up as flying white clouds sped across the blue sky. Suddenly a dark plume of smoke puffed and made a blot in the air above her. The black smoke grew denser and swirled around Ravenum’s bright eyes. Vultra hid her awe. “It is good that you are here, Lord Ravenum,” she said. “The Mulawin Emissary is on her way to Avila. Unfortunately, the fire Perena gave me has snuffed out. If not, we would be able to watch their every move.” Ravenum spoke thus: “There is still a way to monitor them. Accept the smoke of Ravenum.” And he gave her a stick of incense. Savannah, meanwhile, was not the least pleased at being whisked away to this unknown realm. “Bring me back to the plains after you’ve talked to my mom!” she shouted to a guard. “What for?” he asked mockingly. “So you can talk to that woman you call mother? Tell me: are you really Queen Vultra’s daughter?” “None of your business! Take me back there!” “Go ask Queen Vultra for wings so you can fly anytime you want!” Yolly was still alive and back with a few survivors of the inferno in Tierra Fuego. Lucio, to his dismay, woke up to find himself surrounded by specimens from different races of bird-men: Ravena, Mulawin and Perico. Bagwis discouraged him from going back to his mansion. “The Ravena have burnedseverything,” he told him, “your house, your hacienda, the whole town.” “If you are ready,” said the Queen Mother to Aguiluz, “let us begin our ritual.” Then the four queens of the four quarters gathered around him, hand in hand, forming a protective circle of power around Aguiluz. The Diwatas led by their Queen Mother began to chant: “By the union of water, air and earth, life is created. And by uniting my power as Queen Mother with these elements, your body shall rise again with greater strength and power than before! By the combined forces of north, east, south and west, come back to life, Aguiluz!" In the forest a strong wind arose. It blew open the sack where Aguiluz’s remains were stored. Aviona screamed for her beloved. Blinded by the force of the gale, Alwina could not close the bag. Soon, all the ashes were traveling through the air and came within the borders of Encantadia. Like iron drawn to a magnet, the dust was swept into Aguiluz’s form. The fire of life blazed forth, and a new Aguiluz rose from the flames like the Phoenix of legend, with gleaming armor and glorious feathers now crowning his head.


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