Friday, January 07, 2005

"Welcome to Avila."

Episode for Jan 5, 2005, Wednesday. High on mountain summit, against a backdrop of blue skies and clean white clouds, a dark figure was perched. He was in a squatting position with his wings folded behind his back and his arms resting on his knees. With his binocular vision, he could see three Mulawin emerge from an underground entrance to Avila. “The moment we have been waiting for has arrived,” Rasmus declared. The Ravena had captured Avila many months ago and made it their stronghold. And now that the enemy had come to reclaim it, the final battle was about to begin. He had long prepared for this hour, and so had all the other chieftains from both sides. It was the moment of truth when everything would be tested; the true mettle of a warrior would become known; and the faith of the pious would either stand unshaken or waver away completely. On events such as this, the glory of kings and the greatness of heroes are built. It is the stuff that bards and poets sing of, thus immortalizing them through myth and legend, song and story. It was the classic war of good versus evil, and the battleground was the mountain-paradise of Avila. As Vultra had observed, Rasmus had secrets locked away in parts of Avila she had never seen. The king now entered one of the hidden dungeons and closed the door behind him. In here was detained his secret weapon, which he had been saving until now. Looking down into the pit, he said, “It’s time for you to do your work, soldier. To kill Aguiluz!” Deep rumbling and growling was the response. Months ago in Tierra Fuego, Lino had attempted to escape with his grandmother. They were never seen again after that, and many believed that they had evaded recapture. But they had not; they soon fell within the clutches of the Ravena once again and encountered Rasmus himself. For once having some forethought, he saw in the lad a tool he could use. “I do not see why you should take an interest in that humble lowlander,” Ravenum told him skeptically. Rasmus replied, “I’m not asking you to take an interest in him, my dear father. Only, do as I ask you to.” Then Lino shouted from behind bars, “What are you going to do to me? You wicked Ravena! You’re the ones who destroyed our homes! Our town! Our peaceful lives!” The king glanced at him. “Peaceful?” he asked. “I see no peace in your eyes. Instead, I see anger and hatred. Now, use that hatred to annihilate the enemy!” Ravenum granted his son’s request. He blew a cloud of thick, black smoke upon the prisoner. Lino screamed as Rasmus watched the metamorphosis. Having come out of the underground tunnel, the heroes now surveyed the land for a way in. It was midday and everything was washed with sunlight. The trio hid under the shade of a rocky height as they watched sentries passing by. “There are guards everywhere,” Aguiluz told his companions. “I’ll handle those outside. You two go on inside.” Then, they rose to their feet. Aguiluz and Alwina hugged each other as Aviona looked on silently. “Be careful,” said Aguiluz to his lady. “I’m here for you. I will remain your defender to the end. Aviona, take care also, my beloved friend.” With these and similar words, the friends parted. Ravena soldiers caught sight of them and Aguiluz sent off Alwina and Aviona on their way. The Battle of Avila had begun. “Your usefulness to me is coming to an end,” Rasmus said as he opened the door of Lourdes’ cage. “When that time comes, say farewell to the world.” He forced the woman to her feet, then twisting her hands behind her back, tied them together. With this hostage he set out to face the Mulawin Emissary. But, perhaps, in his excitement, Rasmus had neglected to cover her mouth or wire it shut. This was an omission he would later come to bitterly regret. If it was only the beginning of the war for the others, for Savannah, it seemed her struggle had come to an end. She was crying helplessly in Vultra’s grip, begging for a reprieve. “Please let me explain, Mommy!” she cried. But the queen would hear no more of her lies and excuses. “Death for liars such as you!” she said and shoved the girl down the precipice. No sooner had she done so, than when a sentry appeared to report to her. “The Sugo is here,” he announced. Right on time. Now Aguiluz took on the first batch of soldiers who had espied them. In so doing, he was paving the way for the others to penetrate Avila. A splendid combat ensued that would have pleased the gods of war. The Mulawin were greatly outnumbered, but they were all in superb condition and many of the Ravena fell under their shadows that day. Aguiluz did not resort to his sword this time; he fought only with his flute and bare fists. Half a dozen Ravena fell upon him at one point, but in the next instant, he had sent them all reeling back. With skull-shaking hooks and revolving kicks he brought down every assailant that came his way. All day he fought for as long as he could see a red-feathered fiend within range. Aviona and Alwina showed no less valor and prowess as they fought side by side. Aviona literally kicked ass. Small and swift, she flung her limbs at her opponents and threw them off the ground several times. Then as she wielded a club, she said to Alwina, “Go on now and find the Mulawin tree! I’ll handle this!” “But I won’t leave you here, Aviona!” replied her comrade. But the warrior-maiden argued, “You have a more important mission. Go on now!” So Alwina fled the scene as Aviona covered for her. The day was growing older; the sun stood at its highest peak in the sky, watching the bloodbath with its blazing eye. Aviona did not have the superhuman strength of a Sugo, but still there was fight left in her spirit. Even the Ravena did not miss it. “This is a tough one!” one of them said as they seized her from behind. She had one more say as she pounded him with a thundering left hook. Meanwhile, Alwina had advanced a little further on toward her destination. Squaring off like a pugilist, she boxed with the Ravena with all the fury of a tornado, launching her foes into the air and brining them down hard. One foot-soldier attacked her with an axe, but she turned aside and averted the blow. As another trooper fell, she grabbed his axe and brandished it as her own. But it did not last long in her hand, and Alwina soon found herself bare-handed once more. So she unfolded her trusty old shawl – battered and tattered as it was by now. It glowed like a curtain of flame in its owner’s hands, and with this she defeated her common adversaries. Yet a mightier foe had now arrived. Vultra, the Queen of the Ravena, was now walking towards her with that huge dagger in hand. “Welcome to Avila, Sugo,” said the mother to her daughter. Final preparations for the liberation of Avila were now underway. The motley crew of Mulawin, Perico, Ravena, Taguba, Musang and lowlanders were now gathered around their chieftains who were seated in the middle. “Habagat, I am glad to have you with us now,” Dakila said to him. “And Maningning, forgive us for what happened earlier,” Bagwis said. Maningning smiled. “That’s understandable.” Laab sighed in relief. “Good!” he said. “Now there are more of us in this journey!” But while everyone else was leaping into the fray, Ravenum had weakly stumbled his way back to Avila. The hiyas was growing duller and duller by the moment; the shine was fading, and with it, his strength. “I’m getting weaker and weaker,” he said to himself even as the battle raged in his ancient homeland. Soon, he would be return into smoke. Rosing agonized over what to do. Lourdes was gone, and there was no help for those left. She remembered what the witch-doctor had told her: “We’ll never know what happened to Lino if we don’t try to escape!” The old woman had been too afraid to follow her that day. But now, perhaps inspired by her friend, Rosing summoned her last remaining courage. She must escape and find Lino. Now, Lourdes had already loosened the chains on the door of their cell before; it should not be too difficult to loosen them again. And Rosing was right; the guards had been very neglectful of their work indeed. In no time, Rosing was out of her cage. The blinding winds in the high mountains welcomed her as she did. Where do I go now to find Lino? she wondered to herself when she heard a child crying. Ah, the children! Rosing glanced about and noticed a small cage on the ground like a chicken’s cage. Poor Wis had been imprisoned there since Lourdes’ first escape-attempt. “Don’t worry, Lawiswis,” the old woman told her. “I’ll get you out of here.” She started beating the door of Wis’ cage with a club she had found. Soon, Wis emerged together with Gus the owl. Now Vultra and Alwina traded blows for the second time. But in this instance, the contest took place on Avila’s lofty peak. It was only fitting, for they were two nobles fighting for the highest prize: the kingdom of Avila and the world itself. One fought to preserve her sovereignty; the other fought to liberate her people and fulfill her mission. One was the Ravena queen; the other bore the mark of a Mulawin leader. They were the noblest of their tribes, and sworn enemies. Then their eyes met and the grappling came to a halt. Each combatant froze under the other’s gaze. For Vultra, it was that same feeling again, that same voice pleading with her to relent. Here it is again, she thought with dismay. Why can’t I kill her? But for Alwina, it was a new sensation. What’s that I just felt? she wondered. Now, Vultra recovered and struck her opponent down. “Tell me where the Mulawin tree is or you will die!” she declared. But Alwina shook her head. “You’ll never get any information from me!” she answered. “I’m ready to die!” “Are you ready to see your mother die?” a voice called out. It was Rasmus… and he had brought Lourdes with her. So Bagwis had failed to rescue her! Now the whole mood of the game changed. But friends were watching them from afar. Gus hooted to Wis who interpreted his words for Rusing thus: “He says we should go there and cause a diversion.” “Us?” said Rusing incredulously. “But how? Can’t you see, it’s the Ravena King and Queen themselves who are out there?” “But we have to help them,” Wis insisted, “and Alwina is there.” Rosing strained her eyes to look, surprised to hear of Alwina’s presence. There she was, indeed, with wings nonetheless. The Ravena brought Lourdes and Alwina near a pit of some kind of black liquid. Rasmus dragged his hostage quite near it while Alwina watched, trembling with fear for her adopted mother. “Leave my mother out of this!” she cried. “Tell us where the Mulawin tree is or she dies!” the Ravena shot back. But Lourdes told her, “No, Alwina! Don’t tell them!” “Quiet!” Rasmus snarled. “I want to hear what the Sugo wants to say.” He was optimistic that she would give in. “Go on, Rasmus, and teach this girl a lesson!” said Vultra, pointing her blade at Alwina. Alwina felt torn to pieces inside by these ravenous beasts. Not long ago, it was Aguiluz, now it was the only mother she had ever known. But Aguiluz was alive now and he was a warrior. As conflicting thoughts of love and duty raged through her mind, Rasmus quickly lost his temper. “I’m losing my patience with you!” he shouted. “Are you going to tell us where the tree is? Or will you see your mother die?” This was simply too much. She had sacrificed plenty already – even Aguiluz at one point – but not the woman to whom she owed so much. “All right,” Alwina told them. “I’ll tell you where the Mulawin tree is. It’s…” She raised her eyes and cried out in amazement, “Pagaspas?” Rasmus followed her gaze and saw the owl hovering over them. “You again!” he roared. Vultra was no less annoyed. “What happened?” she cried. “How did they get through?” In her wrath, the queen raised her arm to strike Alwina. But Lourdes shrieked, “No! Don’t hurt her! She’s your daughter!” It was as if a horse had kicked her in the chest. Vultra looked at her, stunned. Alwina’s mouth fell open. Gabriel arrived in Avila and found the area deserted. He stopped under an old arch. “Where do I go here to find Alwina?” he asked himself. As he spoke those words, two Ravena guards saw him. “Hey, a land-dweller!” they said to each other. “You gonna join in the fun, eh?” They fell upon him with their claws and axes. But Ravenum’s Sugo maneuvered between them with all the skill of a trained fighter. In this his first battle on Avilan soil, Gabriel displayed powers that hitherto had been dormant. He fought with unusual strength, and a strange energy lit up his fist and empowered his blows. Soon, both soldiers lay harmless on the ground. Gabriel removed one of their gloves and fitted it into his left hand. It fit well and he now had his own claws for a weapon. “She’s lying!” Rasmus told his wife frantically. “Shut up, Rasmus,” she said. “Lourdes, if that’s your way to keep me from harming Alwina, I’m telling you here and now, I do not believe you!” But Lourdes insisted, “You must believe me! You can’t deny what you feel inside! You know I’m telling the truth! Listen to your heart and you know it’s true! I know there’s still good left in you, Veronica! You must know I’m telling the truth! She’s your daughter, not Savannah! She’s the child you were carrying back then!” Was it real this time? There had been too many secrets and too many lies already. A wave of thoughts and memories crashed into Vultra’s mind like water breaking a dam: A memory of herself in prison, begging Rasmus to release her; her last encounter with the Sugo when she had refused to kill her; her coldness toward Savannah; Rasmus’ eagerness to be rid of Lourdes; the birthmark that Savannah had faked… It was so incredible on one hand, and yet on the other, it made sense and seemed to explain everything. Ah, the mark! Vultra turned Alwina roughly around. Alwina cried in pain but the queen ignored her. She looked about for a scar. Soon, she uncovered Alwina’s shoulder and beheld the mark. “The mark,” Vultra said aloud. It was the same mark she had seen on Bagwis’ arm. As he watched and listened, Rasmus felt the world as he knew it crumbling. He cursed Lourdes and was about to drive his talons into her stomach, but the queen stopped him, blocking his blow with her own arm. “I’m the one you should fight, Rasmus,” she said daringly. “You filled my head with your lies! This was why you didn’t want her to talk to me! You deceived me!” Rasmus’ heart sank below sea-level. It was kill or be killed for him at this point. Seeing their chance, Lourdes and Alwina fled the scene. Now, after a series of bloody encounters with Ravena sentinels, one more challenge for the hour was now coming for Aguiluz. As the Mulawin stood there triumphant over all his previous opponents, Rasmus’ secret sentinel came forth roaring from its hideout. He was still wearing the white shirt and blue pants he had worn when the Ravena captured him in the woods of Tierra Fuego. The monster was Lino, and Aguiluz recognized him.


Blogger South Rock said...

IMO, this is one of the best episodes of the series, if not the best. I hope there will be more like it.

I did not like what Lino did in the next episode though, he was so lame... literally. But that was funny about Ravenum. We thought it was so funny here at home... na low-bat si Ravenum!

1/07/2005 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Quill Driver said...

Kahit si Lawiswis, malapit nang ma-lowbatt!

1/07/2005 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger BJSG said...

siguro kaya na lo-bat dahil nung ipinakita yung eksena ni inang reyna, dakila & ravenum ... sabi sa kanila ni inang reyna na kumukupas din ang hiyas...(na-lo-lobat)
..kaya yun na yung time na na lo-bat... may explanation agad kung bakit na lo-bat.

1/08/2005 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger South Rock said...

Quill Driver,

Is there a way to moderate the Quick Comments shoutbox? I wish the admins could delete the really explicit and sexually offensive posts. Is there also a way to ban repeat offenders who have fixed IP's?

1/09/2005 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger Quill Driver said...

I think there are five IPs that have already been banned. And yes, there is a badword filter. Deletion of ugly posts requires admin status, but Shoutmix allows only one Admin :( . A number of comments have already been deleted.

If only people are more human. :(

1/09/2005 04:53:00 PM  

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