Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Dark Angel.

Episode for Jan 24, 2005, Monday. “The world is round,” goes a saying. The same sun rises and sets on everyone. Aviona was beginning to discover that for herself. Having gone through her fair share of hell and heartbreak, the young Mulawin was ready to move on. In fact, she had put her sad episode with Aguiluz behind her long ago. But only now was the happy Aviona of old starting to return. Since her solo homecoming to Avila a few days ago, she had been smiling as she had not done so in forever, it seemed. And she could see life smiling back at her in Aramis’ face. “Are you sure your friend wouldn’t mind about me?” the hunter asked as Aviona led him to where her friends were gathered. The cat-man, Hampas, somersaulted into their presence and hissed, “Who goes there? Who is that?” Dakila and Laab were with him, and the former asked, “Aviona, who is that man and where does he come from?” “He’s okay,” she told them. “His name is Aramis.” Dakila examined the stranger for himself. “Where are you from, young man?” So Aramis introduced himself like before. “Can’t he live with us, please?” Aviona pleaded with her foster-father. The old bird-man hesitated but, unable to resist her, finally nodded in approval. Who could resist such a sweet girl, after all? She was not the only one who had made a new friend. Pagaspas and Lawiswis were frolicking merrily with Niwalum, their newfound playmate. The three children chased the latter’s kite all day until it got caught in the branches of a tall tree. Gus and Wis waited while little Niwalum went out to fetch it. When he knew he was out of sight, the child stretched forth his hand toward the toy. A rainbow of colors issued from his open palm and wrapped the kite in its light. No sooner had he done this, than the kite came loose from the tree. He returned to his playmates who had no idea what had happened. Ravenum’s eyes flew open. He had seen in his mind’s eye that Gabriel intended to forfeit his life. Gabriel, indeed, wanted to die rather than harm others. But Ravenum was determined to save his son. “Wait for me,” he whispered. “I will come for you.” Then he called the other Ravena to his side and told them, “Before we go after Aguiluz, then is something else we need to do. We have to find my son.” Judging from the dim light that prevailed in Halconia, one could not tell if Rasmus’ face changed color. “Son?” he said. “But I’m your only child.” “Besides you, Rasmus, I have another child,” his father told him. “Who? By whom? When did this happen?” “I had a child by a lowlander. Do you remember that day when we invaded the lowland-villages?” “How can I forget that? That was when Bagwis deserted us… and when you were killed by the people.” Ravenum nodded, and said, “Yes. I was shot down by men who worked for the most powerful man in Tierra Fuego. Lucio Montenegro’s ancestors. Even though I became a spirit by virtue of the green binhi and the power of Perena, I still could not find peace until I’d had my revenge. So I took possession of Gisela’s old lover, Egilberto, and she conceived. “Lucio fully believed that the child she was carrying was his. But the moment the baby was born, he sensed that it was not. So he treated the boy with such cruelty. It eventually came to his knowledge who his wife’s lover was. But up until her death, Gisela never admitted that Lucio was not the child’s father.” Rasmus was silent; Savannah spoke up. “If Gabriel is your son, then he is also a Ravena?” “Yes,” Ravenum declared. “He is the first and only one to be a Ravena since birth. Because of that, he is more powerful and dangerous than the rest. Gabriel is the Prince of the Ravena. So we must find him.” Aguiluz was now wandering through the Avilan forests like a homeless vagabond. Deep inside, he was still holding on to his belief that he had forsaken the Mulawin tree for a just cause (at least, if weighed in his scales). Yet still, it pained him that he had let all those people down, most especially his old friends who had expected so much of him. He met Dakila in the wood and spoke to him with sadness in his voice. “I’m afraid to ask for your forgiveness. I’m afraid you won’t be able to forgive me, Dakila. I know how much the fruit of the tree means to you.” Then Dakila turned to him and answered, “As always, I am concerned with the welfare of all. It’s not just me that you have let down, Aguiluz. You have let down everyone and the whole world. If the fruit ends up in the wrong hands, you are right. I am sorry, but I won’t be able to forgive that.” So Aguiluz moved on, his eyes never leaving the forest-floor, it seemed. He soon passed by the Musang engaged in practice-fighting. How swift and agile they were, especially Laab’s lieutenant, Hampas. “Imagine, Lord Laab,” he marveled, “not long ago, we bled ourselves almost to death in endless fighting. Now, see how we lead such peaceful lives in Avila!” But Laab knew better. “Don’t be so sure,” he said. “Thanks to the negligence of one person, all this is only temporary. So watch out.” His gleaming cat-eyes then shot a look at Aguiluz, who was walking by with head down. But as the Musang began to reproach him, Alwina became aware of the commotion and rushed to stand between them and Aguiluz. “Aguiluz left his post because of me,” she told them. “If there’s anyone you should blame, it’s me.” Having dismissed them, she turned to leave. “Are you still angry with me?” asked the other Sugo. “I still don’t know what the fruit is all about, but I can understand how Dakila feels.” “And nobody can understand me,” Aguiluz lamented. Behind some trees, two pairs of eyes were spying on them. “She’s still with Aguiluz?” asked Terong. It was a stupid question for Gabriel. Of course, Alwina was with Aguiluz. Gabriel retreated from the scene like a witness horrified by the sight of a gruesome murder. If there was a crime there, he felt like the victim. He never heard anything else that Terong said. The bare and brutal truth suddenly became so plain to him. And like Lourdes, Gabriel now wished he could run away from this painful reality. The young Ravena flung away from his companion and duly transformed into his true shape. Then Gabriel fled to the sky as if he would find solace in the open heavens. I did everything for you! his soul cried. But it’s still Aguiluz in your heart! Alwina returned for home to see Lourdes. Earlier, Bagwis had, as usual, tried to persuade her to open up to Veronica. Veronica loved gardening, which Alwina was also familiar with. But the young woman was not interested in having anything to do with her. Instead, she confided her thoughts to Lourdes. God forgive me, Alwina thought, I’d still pick her as my mother. “I’m worried about Gabriel,” she told her adopted mother. “He hasn’t shown up since Aguiluz came back. Now, Terong is also missing.” Lourdes was observing Veronica and Bagwis outside the window, but Alwina never noticed. “I don’t blame Gabriel if he’s hurt by what’s going on,” she told Alwina. “I know how it feels to love someone who feels nothing for you. A heart in love will endure pain while it can. But a time will come when he will want to run away from the truth.” “You mean, you think Gabriel may never show himself to me again?” Lourdes turned her eyes to the young warrior. “You worry about him because he’s your friend,” she said. “But let me ask you, whom would you rather be with? The one you love, or the one you love only as a friend?” “But I love Gabriel too… though only as a friend.” Exactly the point, Lourdes must have thought. Ravenum knew that the revelation about another son would have an effect on Rasmus, whether he admitted it or not. He knew his boy too well. “You seem to be deep in thought, Rasmus,” he observed. He was not mistaken. “I still can’t believe what you told me, Father,” Rasmus admitted, “that I have a brother. Gabriel. I saw him a number of times in Tierra Fuego, but I never thought that there was a connection between us.” “I understand how you feel. Forgive me for keeping this secret from you. I thought it might not help our plans if you found out about it too soon.” Rasmus nodded. “I understand, Father.” “Are you ready to meet your brother now?” The older brother never answered this question, but they set out for Avila nevertheless. Ravenum led the way while Rasmus took a reluctant Savannah by the arm and brought her along. Bitter resentment, anger, self-pity, jealousy, a sense of betrayal, loneliness, helplessness - these emotions whirled inside Gabriel creating a violent storm beyond his control. It was a hell-born disturbance; its clouds were red, and its burden was blood. Pamela and Tata, the two erstwhile friends of Savannah who were among the survivors of Tierra Fuego, were now looking for a new home. They came to an abandoned village in the plains just below Mount Avila and decided to make a home there along with a few others. They found old clothes there and were now doing the laundry, one of many ordinary chores they had not done in a long time. Now, while Pamela went out to fetch more clothes, Tata washed by herself. Suddenly, her ears caught the flapping of bird-man’s wings. She was familiar with it by now. It had to be either a Mulawin or Perico or… “No Ravena,” she thought. “They’re gone now.” Then Tata lifted up her eyes and almost fainted at what she saw. Was she dreaming? A young man was looking down at her. He had the handsome features of an angel, but his wings were unmistakably a Ravena’s. Tata knew who this was; if she had not been so startled, she would have remembered his name. “Go away!” Gabriel shouted, holding back his left hand to keep himself from stabbing her. “Go away before I hurt you!” Tata hesitated, and then did as she was told. But it was too late; her fate had been sealed the moment he had lain eyes on her. “She’s a human being,” he said to himself. “She’s an enemy!” The girl had scarcely gone far when he changed his mind and pursued her. Gabriel was the biological son of mere mortals, but spiritually, he was the prince and heir of a greater power, an evil power. This evil had always resided in him in seed-form. The blows of fate and circumstance had made it grow in secret, like the mysterious mushroom that waits beneath the earth for the thunderstorm to bring it forth. Suddenly, at the strike of lightning and at the roar of thunder, it is there. So it was with Gabriel, the Dark Angel of the Ravena. “Please don’t kill me,” the hapless girl begged in a stammering voice. Gabriel answered by slashing his talons across her abdomen. Tata crumpled to the ground, the first victim to fall under his deadly blades.


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