Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Visitors.

Episode for Jan 18, 2005, Tuesday. She had shed her dark plumage, and her memory as a human being had returned. That was the miracle of the Mulawin tree for Veronica, to have her soul and true identity restored to her. But the darkness had not left her yet. Shadows of the past loomed like misshapen giants over her, visiting even her sleep and haunting the scarred terrains of her dream-world. Even being awakened from her nightmares offered her no comfort. Veronica had, indeed, regained her self, but what was there left of it that Rasmus and Ravenum had not destroyed? She was in Avila, a strange place where almost nobody knew her. She had Lourdes, and Bagwis, but what use was any of it if her own daughter would not receive her? Try as she might to forget her past, how could she? Vultra was gone, but in Alwina’s eyes, the Ravena queen still existed. Veronica roused herself and went out by herself that night. She stopped at the brink of a crag. The first time I jumped, the nightmares began, she thought. Now, when I jump a second time, they will end. No more bad dreams. It all ends here. What are you waiting for, Veronica? Kill yourself now. Veronica knew that voice. She turned and saw Ravenum standing beside her. He was in his Mulawin form, as he had been on that day when he ordered Rasmus to kill her. You’re not real, she told him. You don’t exist! You are right, Veronica. I am not real. I am only a figment of your imagination. But I dwell inside you. I am the darkness that exists in the depths of your heart. You’re a liar, just like your son! Ha! he laughed contemptuously. Speaking of my son, what about your daughter? You almost lost your life trying to save hers. Yet still, she will not accept you. There is no more hope left for you. Throw yourself down now! No! That is a sin against God! This was perhaps the first instance in ages that she invoked the Deity. But tonight, it was not enough to drive away her demons. “Do you really have to go back to Encantadia?” Habagat asked his son wistfully. “I have to,” answered the lad. “I grow weak when I stay away from home for too long.” “I’ll have nobody to talk to once you’re gone. The other Mulawin still avoid me.” Mulagat told him, “Prove to them that you can be trusted. If you have to, ask for their forgiveness.” Habagat smiled at his son’s mature advise. “Say, could you bring a message to your mother for me?” he asked. “What is it?” “Tell her I love her very much.” Mulagat returned his smile and embraced his father. He collapsed from exhaustion and Habagat held him up, fighting back his tears. Alwina threw her arms around the young man before her, and exclaimed, “Gabriel, you’re alive! I saw you fall off the cliff after you fought with Aguiluz!” Gabriel smiled, but he looked uneasy. “I remember nothing after my duel with Aguiluz,” he told her. “I fell and… and I got caught in the branches of a tree… at the bottom of the mountain. And… and when I woke up, I just knew I had to come back here.” “Say, why did you do that? Why did you attack Aguiluz?” “All this was my fault. Forgive me, Alwina. The things I can do and all led me to believe that I’m the other Sugo.” “How did you know that there are two?” Gabriel’s eyes darted here and there, as if looking for an answer himself. “Oh,” he said, “well, when you left me and Dakila with the others, I heard them talking about how there could possibly be two Sugo. So maybe that got into my head and I believed it was me.” If Alwina found this story doubtful, she did not show it for the moment. “But you told me earlier that you had to come back here to Avila,” she said. “Why? Tell me, Gabriel. I need answers.” She was wearing a stern expression on her face that was new to him. It would have reminded him of the situation with Ka Doroy. “I had to come back here to ask forgiveness,” Gabriel explained, “and to…” “And to what?” How do I tell her I need help? As Gabriel’s eyes scanned the air for an excuse, Terong made his entrance. Alwina greeted him happily, when Gabriel shouted, “Look! Somebody’s falling!” Alwina turned around swiftly and espied a woman plunging off a cliff. She took off into the air at once to catch her but was distracted in her flight by the thick mists. While Terong ran to help her, Gabriel willed his wings to sprout, and he himself went to carry out the rescue. He swept the woman into his arms in mid-air and gently wafted her to safety. Lourdes was cooking a meal late that night when Bagwis came calling. “So it’s you!” she said. “Why not have some food?” “No, thanks,” he replied. “I just came here to talk to Veronica.” As usual. “Oh, she just left,” Lourdes said, “but she’ll be back. Why don’t you go inside and have a soup?” “All right.” Lourdes watched him enter the house, and then went back to her cooking. Bagwis noticed a letter folded on the table and said, “Did you see this letter?” It was from Veronica. Lourdes had failed to notice it, busy as she was. She went over to his side and he read it to her: “’Don’t try to look for me,’ it says. ‘I will end all this now.” It was a suicide note. Gus and Wis dangled on each of Aramis’ arms as he lifted them up. They marveled at his strength as Aviona looked on with a smile. “I live alone,” he told them, “but word spreads fast. I heard that a new government is here in the mountain. I went here thinking, if I can’t get along with other people, maybe I will with bird-men like you.” Aviona welcomed the newcomer and helped him with sleeping arrangements that night. When he thought she was asleep, however, Aramis got up and went to look for his target. “How goes it, Aramis?” Rasmus called out from afar. Gabriel laid his burden on the ground and sat beside her. The woman’s long hair had been tossed over her face. She pushed it back and looked at him. An awkward silence fell as each realized who the other was. “Gabriel? Is that you?” “Yes, Violeta, it’s me.” “What are you doing here in Avila?” “I could ask you the same thing,” he said with a slight frown. “When you left my father, you just disappeared… as if the earth had swallowed you up. Why did you leave, Violeta?” “That’s not my name. My real name is Veronica. I was Vultra, the queen of the Ravena.” Gabriel was not amused. “Don’t try to fool with me, Violeta!” he said angrily. “I’m not!” she insisted. “I’m telling you the truth, and I told you, my name is Veronica. Now, please, don’t tell Alwina that I tried to kill myself tonight.” “Why did you do that?” She hesitated, and said, “We’ll talk about that later.” Company came running in, Alwina and Terong. “Veronica,” she said. “Was that you who fell?” “Um, yes, but…” She exchanged glances with Gabriel. “But she found something to land on and didn’t hurt herself,” he concluded. And Alwina asked, “Gabriel, how did you get here so fast?” “Um… I ran,” he replied. “I ran so fast because I wanted to save Violeta.” Violeta? Alwina raised her brows. “Oh, yeah, I forgot,” she said. “You two know each other. Aren’t you Gabriel’s stepmother? He knows you as Violeta. You have so many names… Veronica, Vultra, Violeta… I don’t know what to call you. “You folks shouldn’t stay out at night. You might trip and fall over in the dark. Or maybe get lost in thick of lies you’ve made.” Veronica listened in embarrassed silence. “Say, aren’t you…?” Terong began. “Already discussed, Terong,” Gabriel said curtly. Most of the Avilan population was happy and content now, not the least of which were Tuka and Dakdak. The former would have perfect joy if her son could have his Mulawin wings back again. And this was about to happen. Dakila sent for Gus and Wis and assured them he did not intend to curse them anew. Instead, he told them: “You have proven your friendship to each other so many times and stood against everything that tried to keep you apart. Now, I ask you, Pagaspas and Lawiswis, would you like to fly again?” The two friends beamed at the idea and showed their approval. So Dakila lifted off his spell on them and, in an instant, their Mulawin wings and feathers returned to them. With unparalleled excitement, they welcomed this. “Let’s fly!” they told each other and set out for the open night-sky like two angels going up to heaven. Bagwis and Lourdes rushed out to the woods to search for Veronica before she could do mischief to herself. They met with Alwina’s company and found Veronica sitting alone. Bagwis ran to her side and helped her up. “I was just here for some fresh air,” she told them. Lourdes cried out, “Gabriel, you’re alive! We all thought you were dead!” So Gabriel repeated the same story he had woven for Alwina, not a word of which was true. Then she invited them to stay over in her house for the night and have a meal. Everyone followed. Aguiluz’s mind was filled with foreboding. A recurring vision of a man with Ravena wings kept on appearing in his spirit-eye. He saw himself in a duel with this fiend, both of them armed with swords. But what disturbed Aguiluz the most was how the dream or vision always ended. The dark man would kill Alwina and Aguiluz could only watch in horror. Aguiluz felt like a tree spirit trapped in his own element now. If precognition was one of his hitherto latent gifts, then this was a pre-sentiment of future events. How could he prevent them if he was stuck here? Having reassured himself that Veronica was now safe, and thankful for Gabriel’s help, Bagwis went to visit Dakila. “I don’t show it to Alwina,” the old man said, “but I, too, miss Aguiluz. When he left us, it was as if I had lost a child.” Bagwis nodded, saying, “We have all been separated from our children. It seems that Alwina just threw away her chance to be reunited with her mother. I worry for Veronica. She tried to commit suicide tonight because her daughter cannot accept her. It was a good thing that Gabriel was there to save her.” Dakila’s eyes glowered like hot coals. “Gabriel?” he said. “He is here? He has returned to Avila?”


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