Sunday, January 30, 2005

Lost Children.

Episode for Jan 28, 2005, Sunday. Some of them lost a mother or a father, or both. Some had them but did not want them. Some were running away from them. Some did know for sure who their parents were. If the Ravena triumvirate had expected their prince to make a show of his powers, they were disappointed. Gabriel leashed his wrath as best he could, and turned and walked away. Rasmus wished to follow him, but Ravenum held him back. “Let him be for now. But he cannot run away from the truth forever!” So the Ravena quitted that place and parted ways for the time being. Savannah decided to test her wings and skim the air alone. As she did, the fledgling Ravena proudly reflected on her own achievements. “Look at you!” she marveled. “Who would’ve thought that you’d have wings, Savannah? Looks like what the Balasik said to me is coming true. I can get anything I want. Hmm. I need to win Gabriel’s trust soon. If he’s the Prince of the Ravena, I’m the Princess! We ought to get married soon!” She snapped out her daydreaming when her bird’s eyes espied a flying kite. Following the kite, Savannah beheld a young boy playing alone in the forest. He drew the kite back toward himself and laid it upon the ground. Then, to the Ravena’s amazement, Niwalum transformed into a piece of wood that floated over the kite. Just as suddenly, he reverted back to his human form, picked up his toy, and ran off. Next day, Gabriel hurried aimlessly through the forest-paths. He was not thinking of where he was going, but of what he had seen the night before. “Do you believe what that Ravena said to you?” Terong asked. Gabriel replied, “I’ve met him before.” He disclosed to his friend the dreams had had of Ravenum, his meeting with the Mulawin near Avila, and the things they had discussed. “No wonder I felt such a warm liking for him,” the young man now said. “He’s my father. But that can’t be!” “But it’s possible. Why else do you have wings? Either one or both of your parents must be Ravena.” The two friends paused when they noticed a sign overhead> It read: WELCOME TO CARIG. Taking note of this, they walked on ahead. Then a weary Gabriel collapsed as Terong urged him to stand up again. “We can’t stop. They could be following us.” “I don’t know how long I can run away like this,” sighed Gabriel. “It’s not Ravenum who’s chasing me hardest. It’s myself.” For the first time, Gabriel showed signs of weakening resolve. And how could he go on? How far and for how long? He himself – his true identity – was his most ardent pursuer. Sure, he could flee from the other Ravena; he could even fight them. But how could he do battle with himself? How could he win? Since the triumph of the Sugo and the end of the war, Linang had been monitoring events less frequently. And when she did, the queen’s attention centered on her son and his father. She was very pleased to see the two growing close together. “Now, only one thing is missing in Mulagat’s family,” she reckoned. “Me.” Presently, the prince and his sire were practicing with quarterstaffs in the open grounds of Avila. Then, Mulagat asked, “Why do I have to practice with these weapons? I can always use my powers.” “But you’ve been hit before, son,” argued Habagat. “And I, of all people, was the one who…” He trailed off. “If you’re thinking about that again, then know that I forgave you a long time ago,” his son told him. “It’s easier to forgive others than oneself. That’s why I’m only too happy to give up my ugatpak for you.” Mulagat then lowered his voice. “Is that why you tire so quickly now? Because you don’t have your ugatpak anymore?” “No big deal,” Habagat said with a smile. “It’s a small price to pay for all my sins.” Aramis the hunter certainly did not appreciate Mulagat’s meddling between him and Aviona. He sincerely liked Aviona; he did not care for anyone or anything else in Avila. The night before, he had made up his mind to report the Encantado to Rasmus. Today, he met with the wicked Ravena in secret. “At last, you showed up,” said Rasmus. “If this is about Habagat, forget it. You’re too slow. Maybe I was wrong to put you here.” “Don’t insult me so much. I didn’t come here for that.” Then the hunter narrated the story about the Encantado and his interference. “Is this the son of Habagat?” inquired Rasmus. “If you mean Mulagat, then yes, I think it’s the same one.” “There’s only one thing you have to do. Kill him.” Aramis nodded. “I’ve been toying with the idea. But I’m hesitant to kill him because you may still need him.” “I have no more use for him. You may get rid of him.” This pleased the archer. He was about to leave when he remembered something. “By the way, you may be interested in this. There was a wedding here recently. Bagwis married a certain Veronica.” He was looking into Rasmus’ eyes, and noticed an immediate change in them. “Veronica got married?” Rasmus asked, startled. “Yes, and after the wedding, she became a Mulawin.” Rasmus looked like a man who had been hit by a massive earthquake from the inside. “She’s a Mulawin now?” he roared. “That can’t be!” Gabriel and Terong were not the only newcomers to Carig. Lourdes’ wandering led her to the same town. Pamela and Tonyang recognized her and ran to her as one would to a beloved mother. The three women cried in one another’s arms. Lourdes had been their wall of support during those most trying times in Tierra Fuego when the Ravena enslaved them. Now after Tata’s death, she was here again. The girls brought her to their new home and told Lourdes the circumstances of Tata’s murder. “But why assume that a bird-man killed her?” asked the witch-doctor. “It could have been just a man who put on claws. Maybe someone wants to cause trouble between men and Mulawin again.” “True,” they replied. “That’s why we’d like it if you would tell the people. Who are we that they should believe us? We’re thankful that you’re here again for us.” It seemed fate had willed her to be everyone’s mother to the very end. Lourdes smiled at their appreciation and hugged them both. Dark clouds of sorrow and bitterness now covered Rasmus like a shroud. With heart as heavy as lead, he went back to his father. Ravenum read his son’s eyes like an open book and guessed what was up. “You’re still grieving over Veronica,” he said. And the unabashed reply was, “I still love her.” “Wretched love!” Ravenum cursed. “Stop that foolishness! Forget about Vultra!” Bury your dead, Rasmus! Bury your dead! At that moment, Savannah crash-landed into their midst. Brushing the dust off her feathers, she told them, “You won’t believe what I saw earlier. I saw a boy. He looked like an ordinary kid, but he had unusual powers. I saw him change into a piece of wood, and then back to a child again!” Ravenum sensed at once a possible advantage. “Go back and get that child!” he ordered. “He could be useful to us.” Savannah did not like taking orders; what kind of a princess was she then? But even as she grumbled to herself over this injustice, three small children came into view: two Mulawin and that boy she had seen earlier. Savannah flew over to them and snatched Niwalum away. Gus and Wis then grabbed hold of each of her legs, thus adding to her burden. They struggled one against three, until Savannah’s limbs grew tired and she was forced to land. Then a laughing Rasmus seized him from behind. “You promised us one child,” Ravenum scolded the girl. “What are you doing with three?” They put away their little captives in a small cage like chicken waiting to be slaughtered. Ravenum stood and waited for the boy to perform his miracles, but in vain. “Where are the unusual powers you spoke of?” he asked Savannah and left. Later, Gus asked Niwalum, “Is that true what she’s saying? You have powers?” “She’s just nuts,” Niwalum claimed. Aguiluz had earlier been watching the children at play. “What do you know about Niwalum’s past?” he then asked Alwina. But she could tell him nothing, and he explained the reason for his curiosity: “I’ve seen him before. When I was on the other side before my resurrection, I saw him in a vision. He told me he could be born only if I made the right choice. I chose to return to the world.” Curious, Alwina turned to look back at the children. But they were gone. Alarmed, the two warriors went outside and sought them everywhere, calling after their names. They asked their neighbors if they had seen the threesome, but even Tuka had not seen them all day. Soon, they passed by Dakila’s house where Bagwis overheard them. “Why are you calling for the children?” he inquired. “Has something happened to them?” The Sugo admitted that the youngsters had vanished under their care. Bagwis asked to speak alone with his daughter. “I am sorry for hitting you earlier,” he told her. No problem. “Any man would be angry if his wife was insulted.” “Alwina,” he said earnestly, “I married Veronica to show you how much I love her. I want you to accept her because that’s what would make me happy.” But Alwina merely restated her past arguments, and insisted that she could not accept her real mother. Then she rejoined Aguiluz and continued their search. Perhaps, they had just slipped into some hole, as mischievous as they were. “I remember when Aviona and I were young,” Aguiluz said with a smile. “We’d be running here and there! Dakila scolded us often!” “I envy you,” Alwina told him. “You were free to run and play, without fear of being mocked or shunned because you were different. I wish I’d grown up with you guys.” Aguiluz glanced at her. He had politely kept his distance earlier and had said nothing. But now he said, “It wasn’t so important that we could run and play freely. What mattered was that we had our loved ones at our side. Just as you do now. You were able to spend time with Mother Lourdes. And there’s your father. Alwina, don’t waste the short time God has given you to spend with your loved ones.” Night had fallen. Mulagat seated himself comfortably under the shelter Aramis had built. “I was hurt by the things you said to my father,” he told Aviona. “You shouldn’t have said that. He’s trying so hard to change and make up for what he did. He even gave up his ugatpak so that I could live. And because of that, he has become so weak.” But she answered, “It’s touching that a father would go so far for his son. But what about the others? If he had not betrayed us in the first place, there would never have been a war. The lives of so many would have been spared.” Aramis grinned to himself. One point deduction for that pest! The hunter stole away from sight to gather some leaves. He knew the plants and shrubs as well as he knew his own body. Some herbs could heal… others could kill or greatly weaken a man. Aramis took out several arrows from his quiver and rubbed some leaves on them. The tips of the arrows then burned with a faint green glow. Your meddling is coming to an end, Mulagat, he thought confidently. I know you Mulawin live long because you age slowly. What would happen if it were speeded up? Under the shade of the towering Mulawin tree, two Musang were play-fighting. Laab, their chief, was the audience. One of the contestants was Hampas the great warrior. As usual, he dominated the sparring match. “I’m hurt,” said the other cat-man. “Say, rather, that you’re just a sloppy fighter!” Hampas teased. Then a soft touch like a feather’s alighted on his head. A falling leaf like in autumn. Then another, and another… and another. The Musang looked about and realized that the falling leaves were coming from the Mulawin tree. “The leaves of the tree are falling!” they exclaimed in horror. Brown leaves lay thick upon the earth. Dense clouds hid the sun from view, and darkness descended upon the land.


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