Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Fathers and Sons.

Episode for Dec 31, 2004, Friday. When Aviona came to at last, it was nightfall and a fire was burning to warm their camp. Seeing her awake, Aguiluz walked over and sat beside his old friend. He could tell that the malevolent spirit or elemental had left her. “That wicked elemental has left you,” Aguiluz told her. “The goodness in your heart prevailed over it.” Aviona smiled and said nothing. She was still tired. “We must look for Alwina’s ugatpak now,” said Aguiluz. She looked at him, puzzled. “Alwina’s ugatpak is missing?” she asked. Aguiluz and Alwina glanced at each other. “Yes,” Aguiluz replied. “You took off her ugatpak while you were being possessed.” But since it was already quite dark, they did not set out that night but waited for daybreak. Meantime, Aviona discussed with her friends what she could remember of her ordeals. “I can’t believe what I’ve done and all the things that happened,” she told them. “All I remember is being kidnapped by Rasmus and Vultra and being hypnotized by them.” “Rasmus and Vultra were the masterminds behind what happened to you?” Aguiluz said. “They are heartless!” Alwina fumed, not really knowing what she was talking about… or who. Meanwhile, a lopsided but fiercely contested battle had broken out between the Ravena and the Mulawin with their lowland allies. The enemy moved amazingly fast with their strange weapons, and Bagwis could see they were vastly outnumbered. In no time at all, a significant number of the human population had been slain. But as he had vowed only minutes earlier, Bagwis was going to fight for as long as there was life in him, and his brother Habagat was beside him. “You handle them over there,” the chief-warrior said. “I’ll be here!” Miraculously, he was never once wounded in the skirmish even as he took on several Ravena fighters at the time. Habagat, who fought with his bare hands and no armor, sustained more injuries, but they, too, were minor. Kuwak and Tuka took part in the battle as well, showing no remorse for raising arms against their former comrades. Now, Mulagat was keenly observing all these events by virtue of the magic well. His mother, Linang, was with him. “I think it is time for me leave Encantadia to help,” he said to her. “I want to see the one who took – and yet to whom I still owe – my life. This is the right time, Mother. They need me. Father needs me.” Linang knew that to refuse would not help matters. “I know you will never be at peace if I forbid you to go,” she replied. “Take care of yourself, son. Take care of your father too.” “I cannot promise you that I will fully accept him. I only wish to do what is right.” She nodded. “I understand,” she said. “But no matter what happens, take with you the good things I said of your father.” So Mulagat slipped into a portal and appeared in the thick of t he fighting. Habagat was struggling against two Ravena soldiers when the portal materialized. The father quickly recognized his son’s form. “Mulagat, my son!” he cried. Mulagat looked past him and shot two balls of fire to dismiss the Ravena. But it was not the end of the violence yet. There was so much commotion going on – people fleeing, Ravena shooting, all firing or being fired upon. Lucio seized a long firearm as he saw a girl about to be shot by a Ravena. The haciendero cocked the gun and pulled the trigger, but it had no more ammunition. In vain, he pulled the trigger once again; and then threw himself at the girl to take the bullet for her. The Ravena soldier laughed and fired away; the bullet hit Lucio square in his belly. He fell dying on his back as the carnage spread around him. “Sir Lucio!” the people cried as they gathered around him. “I’m sorry, my comrades,” he told them. “I can no longer continue in our struggle. When you see my son, Gabriel, ask him to forgive me.” “Don Lucio, don’t say that!” cried a girl. “You’re going to live! We need you!” Lucio Montenegro expired amid the roars of gunshots and battle-cries. His last thought was of his son, and then he was no more. Gabriel tossed in his slumbers. Tonight, a dream had recalled him to a time when Don Lucio was showing him all the land in their hacienda. “One day, all this and more will be yours,” he heard his father’s voice say. “You will become the most powerful man in the land.” “I don’t think I’m interested in what you want me to do, Papa,” Gabriel replied, turning to look at his father. But Lucio was not there; instead, there was that same bird-man whom he had met several times before in sleep’s domain. But this time, the bird-man was not a Ravena; instead of red and black plumes, he bore the light-colored feathers of a Mulawin. “All these will be yours one day,” Ravenum told him. “And everyone will hail you as the most powerful in the land.” When Gabriel awoke, the memory of his dream settled clearly in his mind as it always did. He never forgot his dreams about that mysterious bird-man, and he knew that it was the same one every time. “But this time, he is a Mulawin,” the young man said to himself. “And Papa. Why does he show up in my dream now?” Lucio was not the only one to fall that night before the superior weapons of the Ravena. Yolly, Savannah’s poor mother, also fell among with nameless others. Bagwis was as devastated as those poor lowlanders now bereaved of so many loved ones. Perhaps, his burden was greater than theirs for it was he who had brought them along. But there was no time to lose; no time even to mourn for too long. “My companions, I know this is very painful for you,” he said to them. “But we cannot stay here. The Ravena may come back for us. We have to move on.” Then, finally, he noticed Mulagat standing there among them. Mulagat smiled at him and nodded at his joyous greeting. “I want to go with you on your journey,” said the youth. “Comrades, we have a new ally!” Bagwis told the others happily. “This is Mulagat, a good being from the realm of the Encantado! I’m sure this will be good news for…” Habagat nodded shyly. “Mother told me everything,” Mulagat said coldly. “She also told me that you are my father.” Dakila had called everyone to assembly. On a wooden table he laid out a map for them. “This is Avila,” he said pointing with his wrinkled finger. “There are many paths we can choose from, but they are dangerous.” Then Maningning suggested, “Why don’t we split up?” Laab spoke up. “Before, we went with you to Halconia because of an agreement,” he told Dakila. “But this time, we will go with you anywhere.” “We come from different tribes,” Dakila said, “with different fighting tactics. It might be better if we share our combat skills with one another and learn.” The Taguba agreed. “You’re right, Dakila,” said their leader. “We will be first to share what we know.” Meanwhile, in another part of this vast forest, a gray column of cloud descended. As it touched the ground, the form of a Mulawin who had long ago left the earth re-emerged. But this was not a true resurrection like that of a Sugo. It was only a temporary phenomenon by virtue of the magical gem that he had with him. It was Ravenum, the deified father of the Ravena, in his old form as a Mulawin elder. The necklace his daughter-in-law had given him was dangling from his hand like a rosary. The hiyas shimmered like a tiny sun. At last, after such a long stretch, Ravenum could once again feel himself in a body. He felt alive, physically alive. But there was no time to lose. The dark lord knew he could no longer rely on his foundering proxies to do the work; he had come to take action on his own. The time had arrived to fetch his ultimate weapon. Stealthily, he followed Gabriel through the dense foliage and discerned that the youth was losing his way. “I seem to be going in circles,” his target said aloud. “I’ve been going ‘round and ‘round, but I can’t seem to find the place of stones.” Gabriel was so pre-occupied with his search that his ears failed to warn him of movement in the thicket. His stalker moved swiftly, anticipating danger. Gabriel then set foot on what he thought was still solid ground. At once he plunged into an empty void. His screams bounced and echoed ‘round the walls of the pit. But just when he thought the end had come, Gabriel felt a strong arm clasp around his waist. The rushing air gave way to Ravenum as he carried off his Sugo to safety. In a few moments, Gabriel was back on land. He turned to his benefactor and wondered if he was dreaming again. It was that bird-man again: middle-aged but beardless, and dignified-looking. He looked younger than Dakila. Gold and white feathers were draped over his head like a mane, with black streaks over his forehead that gave him a rather stern appearance. There were traces of a yellow beard on his chin and cheeks. “You,” said Gabriel in recognition. “You saved me. Thank you.” “Don’t mention it, Gabriel,” Ravenum answered. Aguiluz had seen a white feather float into the mouth of a cave the previous day. When they arrived at the scene, he showed it out to his companions. Its rather narrow opening pointed to a deep and winding passageway which hid from view what was inside. “We don’t know what could be in there,” he said. “I’ll go alone.” “No, I can still do it,” Alwina said even as she held on to him. Aviona seconded her. “Me too,” she told them. “You can’t go without me. I’m the reason why Alwina’s ugatpak got lost in the first place.” So without further delay, the three winged warriors ventured inside the forbidding cavern, Alwina leaning on Aguiluz for support. Inside, the sound of running water from a stream fell upon their ears. So did the noisy singing of frogs hopping upon the watery floor. The ladies jumped around Aguiluz, startled by the nasty amphibians. “Frogs!” they cried. “Be careful!” he said to them. “Their skins could be poisonous!” He was starting to regret taking them with him. But if they thought the slimy little creatures were bad enough, far worse was to come. Now gigantic footsteps shook the whole cave. The vibration threatened to drop stalactites from the cave’s ceiling. The two bird-women huddled on either side of Aguiluz as the rumbling grew louder and closer. Before, it was a giant scorpion, and then the living monolith. Now, Aguiluz wondered what it could be. The sentinel’s shadow loomed over them; Aguiluz’s jaw dropped and his friends gasped. A live green frog of monstrous proportions towered over them, as if its little brothers had warned it of the intruders.


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