Saturday, December 11, 2004

Ravenum's Secret. (Flashback III)

Episode for Dec 9, 2004, Thursday. While Rudy was busily making plans with Lucio, he forgot a most crucial thing: the sack of weapons. He had left it outside for whatever reason. Seeing it exposed, Gad-Gad leapt out of his hiding place, snatched it up, and spirited it away into the woods. Ravena sentries caught a glimpse of him and opened fire, but missed. Dakdak was infuriated by this bold act. “What if they saw you?” he said. But the other Perico seemed delighted with themselves! Lourdes relayed the news of the bird-man to the men. They welcomed this (the enemy of the enemy is a friend). Lourdes hoped to herself that if these were Mulawin, Bagwis was among them. “I’m sure they’re allies,” she said. “If that were a Ravena, he would’ve returned the weapons by now. I think they’re trying to help us.” In the Montenegro mansion, meanwhile… “You still haven’t answered my question,” said Vultra. “What was that about Lourdes and Balasik?” Rasmus and Savannah could only stare back at her in dumb silence. Fortunately for them, some soldiers entered the hall to report their encounter with the bird-man. “Was it a Mulawin?” asked their king. “We fired at him, but he was too fast. We can’t be sure if it was a Mulawin.” Vultra took Savannah by the wrist and said, “You’re the psychic. Come with us and tell us who that was.” Out in the wood, Vultra examined the area for any traces of the intruder. There were none and she became irate. “What the hell did you do here?” she asked. “You fired at that bird-man and everything, and there’s not even a feather here?” “Hold your temper,” said Rasmus. “We cannot blame our soldiers. We don’t know yet if it was a Mulawin.” Vultra turned to their prophet and demanded an answer. Savannah trembled while Rasmus looked away. She closed her eyes and pressed her fingers on her temples. “It was a Mulawin,” she declared. Vultra believed it. “I know only one Mulawin brave enough to do this,” she told herself. “Have you come to Tierra Fuego, Bagwis?” A wave of emotions surged through her at the thought. She ranted about their successive setbacks – Aviona’s failed mission, their inability to find the Mulawin tree, and now a Mulawin spying on them! Vultra spewed a huge jet of fire into the air as if to vent her anger. While the others stayed back frightened, Rasmus tried to calm her down. “That’s your problem, Rasmus!” she said angrily. ”What kind of a king are you? You don’t care about what goes on around you!” Rasmus felt anger heat his cheeks. This was too much insult now. “As a matter of fact, I’m the opposite of what you accuse me of!” he replied. “Do you really want to know what’s bothering me? Do you want to know what a big problem I’m facing now? I don’t know if my queen is upset because her plans failed? OR is she wondering if a Mulawin she can’t forget is coming back for her? A Mulawin named Bagwis?” Stunned to silence, Vultra had no answer. “I knew it!” He left her with a wrathful glance and flew off, whipping the air with angry flaps. The king withdrew to a solitary glade where he voiced out his complaints. “How long can I put up with these hurts you give me?” he asked aloud. “Why can’t you forget Bagwis?” They were in the training hall. Rasmus and Ravenum were watching Bagwis practice before Dakila. Father and son could not have been more different: Ravenum stoutly built, handsome, exuding coolness and confidence; Rasmus a pale and nervous stripling, looking on enviously at his friend. His father asked what the matter was. “Nothing,” said Rasmus. “It’s just that Bagwis seems to be Dakila’s favorite. He’s always the braver one, the better fighter, the one who always comes first.” “The problem with you is that you let envy get the better of you,” said Ravenum. “You let emotions control you when it should be the other way around. The mind must rule the heart. If not, you will never get anywhere.” It would seem that Rasmus had gone a long way since that time, for he was now king of the Ravena. Yet in his heart he remained the same, sensitive and insecure. He was like a twig floating on water, will-less against the flow of his emotions. How ashamed Ravenum would be now if he could see him! “Forgive me, Father,” he said sadly. “I may have become ruler of our people, yet still my feelings are enslaved. Enslaved by Vultra.” Rasmus’ military rival was also lamenting his fate. “This is hard,” he muttered to himself. “I have nobody to talk to. Now I remember those people who loved me – Dakila, Aviona, Aguiluz, Bagwis. Bagwis, my own brother. Why did I turn my back on them?” Habagat was both nervous and exited. He did not know whether to divulge his secret to his brother or not. But Bagwis knew something was in the air. “Why shouldn’t you tell me what that is?” he asked Habagat. “We’re all that’s left of our family.” So Habagat confessed to him his love for a Diwata, although he did not name her. Bagwis was sympathetic and non-judgmental, for he of all people could understand such a situation. “Yes, we have laws that we must obey,” he said. “But true love comes only once in a lifetime. I just hope my experience serves as a lesson for you.” Habagat brooded over these memories leaning on a tree. “I did as Bagwis told me. But Linang turned her back on me. Is it too late? I must talk to Bagwis. I’ve killed my son. And Ravenum has no more use for me. What do I do? Can I leave all of this behind?” Muyak felt very sorry for Habagat as she and Linang watched. “Don’t you feel sorry for him, Linang? Don’t you want to do anything to ease his pain?” Linang showed signs of softening down as well, but she was still firm. “Even if I want to, I cannot do it for him,” she answered. “Only Habagat can do that for himself by making the right decisions. Only then will his burden lighten.” As Maningning gave the order to shatter Terong’s statue, another Taguba objected. Gabriel argued for his case, saying, “My life has been tied to that green binhi since I was young. A woman gave it to me, and I must return it to her. She too must fight those bird-men who are your enemies.” After further discussion, Maningning agreed to let him go on the promise that he would solve the mystery of their men-folk’s disappearance for them. Gabriel promised to return. “While my friend is here, you can be sure I will come back,” he told them. Estrella wanted to join him. “Let me go with you,” she said. “I can help you. I know the forests well.” “I cannot add you to my responsibilities, Estrella,” he said. “But I won’t be a burden or responsibility to you.” “I would feel better if I went alone. Say, I’ve never been able to thank you for bringing me back. How did you do it?” “Love,” she said meaningfully. “It was true love that brought you back, Gabriel.” And as she watched him depart from Lagaslaw, she thought, And hopefully, true love will also bring you back here. The martial Musang came to Dakila and Bagwis’ rescue. Unfamiliar with their swift fighting tactics, the Ravena soldiers were quickly overcome. But reinforcements were on the way, so the Mulawin duo hurried on in search of the owl-children. The Musang covered the path for them. Meanwhile, as Tuka explained to her son, the process of conversion was a painful one. In anticipation of this, she offered him a drink – a painkiller – to numb his senses. Not wishing to make his sacrifice greater than it already was, Gus drank the potion at once. But something went wrong. Gus’ skin burned brightly like red neon, and he started hollering, then transformed into an owl. “What’s happening?” asked Wis in alarm. “Kuwak, what the hell did you give him?” asked the mother. “The third bottle from the left, like you said!” Tuka’s jaw dropped at that. “You big idiot!” she yelled at him. “I said, the third bottle from the right” She then said to Pagaspas, “It’s a potion for changing one’s shape. If nothing is done, you’ll stay that way forever.” “What!” cried Wis. “What can we do then?” “Only Queen Vultra has the power to reverse its effects,” said Tuka. As they stood there not knowing what to do, Bagwis and Dakila appeared. Pagaspas flew at once to Bagwis’ arm. “What happened to you?” asked the soldier. Tuka refused to fight them. “I will not let my son be harmed,” she said. “Let Lawiswis go, Kuwak.” Grudgingly, Kuwak released the girl and she ran to the other side. The Musang chieftain arrived. “I’m sorry,” he said. “More Ravena are coming. We weren’t able to stop them.” Tuka made a sign at Bagwis. “Take me hostage!” When the Ravena soldiers burst into the chamber, Bagwis was pointing his lance at Tuka’s face. “Let us out of here or these two will die!” The sentinels relented; the Mulawin retreated with their hostages in tow. Alarmed of the intrusion, the Ravena tightened security at the main exit and entry points. Bagwis was pessimistic. “You’ve escaped here twice,” he said to his elder. “I don’t dream of a third.” However, Tuka knew of a backdoor and she led out the group safely. It was not a steep climb downward and they had no trouble. Alwina and Aguiluz struck the monolithic monster in vain with their weapons. They did what seemed the sensible thing: retreat. Alwina bore Aguiluz away and only landed after covering a great distance. Then she put her arms around him and said, “Thank you for coming back for me.” Later, she explained that Dakila had warned her about the guardian-monsters of Avila. Some were guardians, others trials. What she did not know, and what Linang the fairy-queen knew, was their origin. Ravenum was a quiet bird-man who hid his thoughts well, even from close friends. Still, Dakila wanted to know what was going on. He had seen him conversing with the Diwatas, and inquired about it. “Since I am in charge of Avila’s security,” said Ravenum, “I thought of asking them for more forces to guard our home.” “What are those?” asked Dakila. Ravenum smiled at him enigmatically, saying, “You are the only one who knows where the seed of the Mulawin tree was planted. Let me keep this matter secret then.” As the two senior elders of their council, Ravenum and Dakila each had their responsibilities and powers. Dakila missed it, but even then, there was a jealous and ambitious streak in Ravenum. It was the first seed of evil that blossomed - and found its fullest expression - in the demon he would later become. “Did Dakila tell you what else is waiting for us?” asked Aguiluz who was walking a little bit ahead. But Alwina did not answer, so he turned around to look at her. The giant stone-sentinel towered above him; it had seized Alwina in its mighty grip….
 

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