Friday, January 14, 2005


Episode for Jan 12, 2005, Wednesday. Halconia was not exempted from the restoration. Rasmus had returned to Vultra’s side and was in the process of unbinding her chains when the rainbow appeared. He never saw it, but as soon as its light fell upon his body, a searing pain shot through his bones. The king dropped the chains and staggered back. “What’s going on?” he cried. When the glow disappeared, he discovered to his horror that his feathers had turned white, and he was wearing an old armor he had never wanted to be in again. Oh, no, this had to be a dream! A terrible nightmare! But it was not. “I don’t want to be a Mulawin!” he wailed in utter dismay. “This can’t be happening!” Only a few meters away across the room, Vultra had shed her plumage, and her memory as Veronica returned to her. She opened her eyes as if from a long, deep sleep. The first thing she saw was the arch of colors stretched over the cloudy sky. The rainbow, Bagwis had told her once, was the symbol of his everlasting love for her. It signified hope and love, and now, deliverance. “Where am I?” she asked. “Where’s Bagwis?” Rasmus, who until now had been lost in his own confusion, looked at her. His surprise at seeing the human Veronica equaled the disappointment of becoming a Mulawin again; perhaps, even surpassed it. “You can’t go back to Bagwis, Vultra,” he told her at last. “Why do you call me Vultra?” she responded. “My name is Veronica! Now, where’s Bagwis? And where’s that friend of mine, Lourdes? I want to see them!” “Yes, I am your mother, Salimbay,” the guardian said. Aguiluz almost fell on his knees, but his mother held him. “Mother, how is this possible?” he asked. “I saw you die at the hands of Rasmus!” “After I died, it became my duty to watch over the Mulawin tree.” “Now that we’re here, does this mean that we will be together from now on?” Salimbay seemed thoughtful, and then replied, “Now that the Sugo have arrived, I may now leave my office as guardian of the tree.” Alwina smiled in admiration. “Your mother is so beautiful, Aguiluz. It’s a pleasure to meet you!” “It is also my pleasure to meet you, Alwina,” Salimbay replied. “But to answer your question earlier…” She strolled passed them and went over to the tree. Salimbay raised her hand upward. A shining object covered with light issued forth hanging on the tree. “What happened?” the two Sugo asked. And the guardian said, “That is the fruit of the Mulawin tree. The tree bears fruit once every one hundred years. Its fruit is cherished by those who understand, and it ought to be cherished by all beings. “Those who changed form have now returned to their true natures. Those who slumbered for a long time have now awakened. But when it is said that balance is restored in the world, it does not mean that evil no longer exists. It only means that things can now be restored to their proper state or where they should be. Those who are destined to do wicked deeds cannot escape their fate. “This also means that, since the gates have now been opened, anyone can now enter and reach the Mulawin tree.” Alwina said, “Do you mean to say that the evil ones can come and steal the fruit of the tree?” “Exactly,” Aguiluz’s mother answered. “Two Sugo were needed because one would have to return to the world to save mankind. The other would have to stay behind and guard the way to the Mulawin tree. If not, the fruit could end up in the hands of the wicked. No words could describe what could take place if that happened.” Not again! NOT AGAIN! “You mean, we must separate?” the Sugo asked. Salimbay’s heart went out to them; she could feel their pain. “If only there was something I could do,” she told them. “But someone has to take my place as guardian of the tree.” By now, Aguiluz had grown accustomed to all these choices and decisions that he and Alwina had had to make. It had become a matter of routine, it seemed. Grief weighed heavily in his heart, but he was resigned to it. “Go back to the world, Alwina,” he said to her. “I will stay here and watch over the Mulawin tree. There’s nothing we can do about it. It seems fate just won’t let us stay together.” The lovers embraced each other. “Will we see each other again?” Alwina asked tearfully. Aguiluz whispered softly, “I love you. You know that. You’re the one. You’re the one I look for. You’re the one I dream of. You’re the one who changed my life. You’re the one I love, Alwina. Only you.” Salimbay disdained to interrupt them, but it was necessary. “Aguiluz, it is time,” she said. The mother took hold of her son’s hand. Alwina wept as the two guardians vanished from sight. And Salimbay was not the only one concerned. Linang, too, sensed that, if a battle had ended, it did not mean the end of the war. Not yet. All over the land, the resurrection of former life continued. The human statues created by Haraya’s song were now restored to flesh and blood. Terong woke up and found himself lying on a bench in the Taguba camp. The young man eyed his surroundings and could have no idea as to his whereabouts. “Where am I?” he wondered. “Where’s Gabriel?” Lino had shrunk back to his normal size and lost his wings. Rosing and the others found him lying on the ground, too weak to stand up, or even turn his head to look at them. No transformation took place with Savannah. She was still the same self-centered and vindictive young woman she had always been. And yes, she was alive. Caught in the branches of a tree, Savannah finally mustered enough courage to let go and fall to the earth. Thoughts of plotting vengeance against Vultra helped. Taguba women mourned for the lost Estrella, the youngest of their group and the sweetest. She had been their darling, headstrong though she had been. As Maningning mourned over her remains, her father came running toward her. “Maningning!” he shouted. Maningning hugged him tightly and wept, “Father, you recognize me now!” “Yes, my child, I do!” he cried. Kuwak soon joined them, whom he acknowledged as his son, “Makisig!” Meanwhile, in Haraya’s domain, color flushed back into Aviona’s cheeks; her eyelashes fluttered; she blinked and wiped her eyes. Where was she, and where were her companions? She noticed men all around her – lowlanders, hunters, travelers – walking about everywhere. These were those men who had been turned to stone like her, but Aviona did not realize it. Now an armed lowlander aimed his bow at her, as startled as she was. But the bird-woman spoke to him in a friendly tone, “I’m not an enemy. You can put that down. Sorry if I surprised you.” The young man nodded and said nothing. “By the way, I’m Aviona,” the Mulawin said. “I’m Aramis,” he replied. “I’m a hunter. I’ve been alone all my life and I fend for myself.” “Well, nice meeting you. I have to go home now.” “Where do you live?” “Up there in that mountain,” Aviona said, pointing to Avila. “God be with you in your journey,” Aramis told her. “And may we see each other again.” Having made a new acquaintance, Aviona happily set out for home. Veronica paced back and forth impatiently, and turned back to him, asking where she was and demanding repeatedly to be returned to her loved ones. And then she paused. “Wait a minute,” she said thoughtfully. “You’re a Mulawin? Rasmus?” Rasmus was silent; he was too appalled by this sudden turn of events to speak. She would not stop nagging him, however, and in his anger and bewilderment, he almost hit her. “Go ahead and do that!” she yelled. “I’d hate you all the more for it!” But the former Ravena king stayed his hand. Instead, he put her on the rock and tied her down once more. Veronica’s mind was fixed upon events that took place long, long ago. She could not remember being Vultra for now. “You still haven’t accepted it, have you?” she said. “I don’t love you! I love Bagwis! No matter what you do, I will never love you!” How did all this happen? Rasmus wondered to himself. In a few blinding seconds, everything had changed. He turned to look at her who only a few minutes before had been his wife of nearly twenty years. Now, she was back to being the stranger he had abducted so long ago. Quietly, Rasmus walked toward the woman and picked up a sable plume off the floor. He looked at it closely, unbelievingly. It seemed this was all that remained of his beloved queen. Back in Avila, the triumphant heroes were in ecstasy. Dakila felt like thumbing his nose at Ravenum if he could only see him now. “Comrades, Avila is ours again!” he shouted. “Avila is ours! The enemies are gone! The Ravena are gone!” This was met by deafening roar of cheers from warriors nearly mad with victory. “If only Kuskos were here to witness this,” Mayi said regretfully. “Kuskos and all the others we’ve lost.” Laab walked over and touched her on the shoulder. “I know we lost many troops,” he said. “But considering the strength of the Ravena forces, it is awesome to think of what we went through.” He gestured toward the plains where earlier death had reaped a bountiful harvest. Ah, how he looked forward to a good, long cat-nap! In the middle of their rejoicing, a portal suddenly materialized, not unlike the one used by the Diwata. Alwina came forth, with a crown of feathers on her head. Laab bowed to the Sugo, and the others paid homage as well to their savior. “Welcome back, Alwina!” said Dakila, whom she embraced, and then Lourdes. “Where’s Aguiluz, the other Sugo?” asked Habagat. “That’s right,” said Dakila. “Where is he, Alwina?” Aguiluz could see them from where he was, at the foot of the tree he was guarding. He saw Alwina break down sobbing in Dakila’s arms after he had asked that question. Salimbay saw her son sulking and said to him, “Son, do not make it harder on yourself. Now that you are a being of higher rank than ordinary men, you can no longer interact with them.” Aguiluz sighed heavily. “Mother, my heart suffers because I know Alwina suffers too.” Dakila listened to what Alwina’s story and accepted it. While the celebration continued – more sober, of course – Lourdes nudged Alwina to get her attention. “What about Veronica?” she asked. “Why?” asked Bagwis, who, until now, had forgotten entirely about the matter. “What happened to Veronica?” “Rasmus took her away,” said Lourdes. “I’ll try to save her,” Alwina assured her. “But I can’t promise that I will accept her.” Balasik alighted upon a branch nearby. All eyes fell upon the oracle-bird. “Greetings, Alwina!” he said, and aware of their conversation, informed them, “Veronica’s memory has returned. Go to her now before Rasmus kills her!” Fear seized Bagwis’ heart, but he hid it well. “I will go with you, Alwina,” he said. Without further ado, father and daughter headed for Halconia. Dark clouds hovered over the waters. Here the rainbow could not be seen. The blackness of night prevailed here where there was no light, and no sign of life. Only the quiet rising and falling of waves could be heard, if there was anyone to listen. Suddenly, the surface of the sea was broken. The form of a man with large dark wings parted he waves. Gabriel rose from the watery deep like angel of death escaping the abyss. His clothes had been torn during his fall; his eyes sparkled with an eerie glow. The wings of a Ravena had sprouted behind his back, and now conveyed him into the air.


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