Monday, January 10, 2005

Fallen Angel.

Episode for Jan 6, 2005, Thursday. Aguiluz stared in disbelief at the mutant. Huge as the latter was, Aguiluz recognized his features and knew without a doubt that this was Rosing’s grandson. There were ugly scars on the left side of his face, and his clothes were torn to shreds. The boy looked like a gigantic Frankenstein’s monster, if ever Aguiluz had heard of that story. “Lino, it’s me, Julian!” he shouted. “Who did this to you?” But no light of recognition sparkled in Lino’s monstrous eyes. He smote the ground with his terrible fist, missing the hero by only a few feet. Then Aguiluz drove his flute into the earth and produced his sword. With this magical weapon he hoped to disable Lino, not really wishing to kill him. The monster, although huge and frightening to behold, was very slow. Aguiluz stabbed him repeatedly on the leg, and soon, he had so upset the giant that Lino stumbled away and left him alone. Remembering his comrades, Aguiluz went in search of them and found Aviona in the hands of two Ravena. It took the Sugo only a few moments to dispose of these. Soon, they wren reunited with Alwina, Lourdes and the others. But even as the heroes greeted one another, Rasmus and Vultra had begun their aerial duel. The queen emitted balls of fire but narrowly missed her target. In anger, the king thrust a mighty blow that sent Vultra reeling back to the earth. Dazed, she looked about her and found she had landed in the presence of the Mulawin. As Aguiluz was about to strike, Alwina said to him, “Rasmus is the enemy, not Vultra.” He looked at her, puzzled. “But…” “I’ll explain later.” “Vultra is her real mother,” Lourdes told Aguiluz. “She’s my friend, Veronica.” Aguiluz was speechless. Now, Rasmus alighted beside his consort and surveyed them with a wrathful eye. “Give up, Rasmus!” Alwina said. “You’re all alone now!” “No,” he replied. “I will kill all of you!” He stole a glance at Vultra as if saying, And you too! But the arrival of a third personage distracted them. Descending from the sky was a yellow-feathered bird-man. But he was a complete stranger to the heroes; they had never seen him before. In his right hand, he carried an ornate staff adorned with a large pearl-like stone. They gazed wonderingly at him and exclaimed, “A Mulawin!” Rasmus turned around to see who it was. It was one he had not seen in that form in a very long time. “Father Ravenum,” he said. “Rasmus!” his father called out in a commanding tone. “Kill Vultra now!” The son looked from his father to his wife. Then he seized her from behind and put a dagger to her throat. “Let me go!” Vultra cried. “Don’t hurt her!” Alwina and the others gasped. Ravenum repeated his command: “Kill that woman now!” A few tense moments elapsed. Rasmus debated within himself over what to do. No one among the Mulawin dared make a move, while Ravenum waited for his son to do his bidding. “No!” Rasmus said defiantly. Casting a baleful glance at them all, he stretched out his wings and flew away, taking his hostage with him. Ravenum shouted after him, “Rasmus, get back here!” “Veronica!” Lourdes wept. “Where is he taking her?” While all this was taking place, final arrangements were being made in Lagaslaw for the siege of Avila. The two Ravena with them were passing the time cheerfully. They knew they might not be able to do this again in the near future… if ever. Now, Kuwak was humming a merry tune to himself. This was something new to his partner, who said, “Since when did you learn to like music, Kuwak?” He shrugged and replied, “I don’t know.” “And where did you get that scar?” Kuwak looked down on his right arm. Across his forearm was a long dark scar. “I don’t know either,” he told her. Maningning had been observing them from a distance. She had paid no special attention to them since their first encounter. But today, her inner voice was telling her something. The Taguba chieftain approached the two, startling them. “Excuse me,” she said to them. “Did you say you don’t remember how you got that scar, Kuwak?” Kuwak nodded. She scrutinized his features up close: a stocky, broad-shouldered male with large eyes and a huge beak hanging over his forehead. He was a Ravena, but unlike those Maningning had seen before, he looked harmless and innocent. “Do you remember anything about your childhood?” she asked him. “My childhood?” he repeated, as if the idea was quite new to him. “Honestly? I don’t remember anything about it. As far as I can recall, I’ve always been like this. Why?” Maningning’s normally strong countenance turned soft. Before she answered Kuwak’s question, the Taguba leader made a sign to the others in the camp to join them. She wanted them to hear her story. “When I was young, I saw creatures such as you,” she told Kuwak. “Ravena, you mean?” “Yes,” she said. “I was out in the fields that day with my father and my siblings. Then the bird-men came and kidnapped our men-folk. We never saw them again. You weren’t one of those Ravena. But you were there that day.” “I was?” “Yes, you were. You were just a boy. You are the brother that I lost. We were inseparable. You got that scar when we were playing. And we sang that same tune you sing now.” “This means that if he is a Ravena now, then so are the others who are missing,” reasoned Estrella. Laab was skeptical. “If this is true, how come only you can remember all this?” he asked. “Your companions here do not.” But Maningning replied, “I remember because I am the oldest. They were only small children when it happened.” And then, she declared, “If it is true that our lost relatives have become Ravena, then we the Taguba will no longer go with you to Avila.” Dakila had not expected this; neither did Bagwis. “We realize that this is hard for you to do,” the said, “but the Ravena are the reason why evil is overtaking the world. We need you to help us stop them.” “And it’s like they are no longer your relatives,” Kuwak told them. “They don’t remember anything. Even I don’t remember anything.” “Don’t you understand?” Estrella said. “We can’t do that to our own kinsmen.” Then the Taguba leader announced, “Our decision is final. We will not go with you.” Meanwhile, it was time for Balasik to return to his role as oracle of the Mulawin. He had rested long and well beside his beloved Haraya, but now it was time for him to take leave of her. This was a crucial time, and both these wise creatures knew it. “Farewell now, Haraya,” said Balasik. “I must go now that the Sugo are nearing the Mulawin tree. I am happy to be by your side, but I cannot stay.” “I understand, Balasik,” his consort replied. “I want to go with you, but I must stay here to keep watch over the Sugo’s first trial.” “I hope they can pass the first test.” “Love, Balasik. No song is sweeter than the hymn of love. Only true love can conquer my song.” Back in Avila, Ravenum’s fury smoldered inside him. But he retained his coolness, at least, on the exterior. “Sugo,” he called Alwina gently with a smile upon his lips. “At last, we meet, Alwina.” Aguiluz said to him, “Rasmus called you his father. But you’re a Mulawin. How come I don’t remember you?” “How could you?” answered Ravenum. “But there is no time for chit-chat. I must complete the work that Rasmus was unable to finish!” Then Ravenum raised his staff which ejected powerful blasts of energy at the Mulawin. Aguiluz blocked these rays with his own body to protect Alwina. The Ravena lord hit him several times, and Aviona as well when she stepped forward to challenge him. But the hiyas speedily wore off, and the force of his blows started waning. Aguiluz saw his chance and threw back Ravenum. Weakened by his own outburst, Ravenum had no option but to retreat. Now the Mulawin had the scene to themselves, Aguiluz could ask questions. “How did Vultra become her mother?” he asked. Lourdes explained, “Veronica didn’t know it. She doesn’t remember anything about the past.” Alwina looked away from them. “I can’t accept her as my mother,” she declared. “She’s a Ravena, the one who has always wanted to kill me. I feel nothing for her, no love, no longing. I feel only anger and hatred.” “But you mustn’t feel that way,” Lourdes argued. “She doesn’t remember anything. She didn’t know. I hope you can forgive her.” Then she saw a familiar white bird with a dense crest overhead. Balasik perched on a dead tree near the brink of the mountain. “Alwina! Aguiluz!” he said. “You are drawing near the Mulawin tree now! Do not delay, so that the wrongs may be righted, and order restored to the world!” Alwina turned to her companions and said coldly, “The Balasik is right. We shouldn’t let our mission be delayed just because of that woman.” She turned to depart, and Aguiluz and Aviona followed suit. The freedom-fighters resumed their march sans the Taguba. When the beacon of Avila became quite visible to them, they knew they had arrived within its boundaries. “Comrades, be prepared,” Bagwis advised them. “In a few moments, we will attack.” No answer. “This is a deafening silence,” Habagat remarked, bent on one knee as he waited for the signal. Dakila spoke up, “Comrades, take heart. We are doing this for the greater number of people. We are doing this for the future and for the world!” Bagwis turned to Laab and said, “I might not have the chance to say this later. Thank you for coming along with us.” And the Musang chief bowed to him respectfully in return. “Do not mention it,” he said. “Geez, Bagwis,” said Ngasngas. “Don’t talk like that. It makes us even more nervous.” “Ngasngas, there can be no guarantees in any war,” replied Bagwis. “We must all be ready to risk our lives.” As darkness settled upon the land, a third Sugo appeared to Alwina and Aguiluz. “Gabriel, you’re here at Avila too?” she said. But it was not the old, smiling-faced Gabriel who answered her. He had a stormy look in his eyes and there was no cheer in his greeting. “Stay away from him, Alwina,” he told her, looking at Aguiluz. “That’s not Aguiluz. He’s dead. That one is an impostor!” Aguiluz said, “I will not fight you, Gabriel.” Gabriel insisted, “Don’t believe him, Alwina! You and I are the Sugo! You and me!” “What!” cried Alwina. “What are you talking about?” “Are you losing your mind?” asked Aguiluz dryly. Gabriel raised his claws to his face. “Enough talk,” he said. “I will kill you, impostor.” He thrust his right hand forward; a ball of energy not unlike Ravenum’s shot forth. Aguiluz staggered back from the impact. Alwina screamed, “Stop it, you two!” Gabriel rebuked her, saying, “Stay out of this!” Then he attacked Aguiluz once again, throwing his weight at him, kicking him hard, and flinging his claws at him. But Aguiluz evaded the poisonous talons every time, and drove back Gabriel with superior physical strength. “Don’t make me hurt you!” Aguiluz warned. The battle dragged on as night deepened. Gabriel lost his footing a number of times. Then he angrily cast aside his backpack and made a final leap at Aguiluz, who was standing on the edge of the cliff. Aguiluz then retreated to the air by virtue of his wings, so Gabriel missed him. Driven on by his own momentum, Gabriel plummeted into the foggy depths below.
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