Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Angel and the Abyss.

Episode for Feb 11, 2005, Friday. Members of Ravenum’s royal household appeared to have one thing in common: they were all failures in love or had never known the happiness it can bring; only the pain. Rasmus, Savannah, Lourdes and now Gabriel: all either had never known love or had seen only its negative aspect. Unrequited love was like fuel to the fire of hatred and vindictiveness that Ravenum stoked in their souls. Spurned in romance? What kind of a Ravena would you make? Alwina, too, was groaning at her seemingly endless run of misfortunes. “You know,” she told Gabriel, “I did everything right. I did all that I was told to do. I did what was best for the greater number of people. But what about me? What about my own good? Look at this. Someone is always missing! And if they are with me, then they are taken away from me! How long does this have to go on? Why are my loved ones being taken away from me? I am SO TIRED of this!” Surprised, Gabriel held her but said nothing. They later went to sleep in the living room that night, as if expecting Lourdes to come home at any time. Alwina’s slumber was not deep; she woke up and went over to Gabriel. She apologized for her earlier outburst. “I know how you feel,” he replied. “I know how it feels to have something inside you that you cannot say aloud.” And then, remembering Terong’s words, the man decided not to dally anymore and ask her a straightforward question. They were being given another chance, Gabriel said. “And I’m still in love with you after everything,” he told her. “My feelings haven’t changed. Do you love me too?” Alwina smiled uncomfortably, and their eyes met. “I love you, you know that,” she told him, “but only as a friend. If your feelings haven’t changed, then neither have mine. It’s still Aguiluz that I love.” Gabriel shrank away from her. He had been in denial for the last couple of days. It had been his very last effort… to take up once again with his first and only love. To bring back the love and joy that had been his before the dark clouds swept into their lives and took everything away. And he had actually believed it was possible. But now, Gabriel could see plainly that it was all a pipe-dream. He had dared to hope for love one more time, and it was for the very last time. His true nature began emerge; he felt his wings tearing through his flesh and stretching his backbones. His eyes reddened, but not because of tears. Gabriel broke away and ran out of the house before Alwina could witness his transformation. She followed but could not keep up with him. Meanwhile, the Mulawin youngsters saw their first day in action against the Ravena children. And it was a rout in favor of the heroes. The quintet were all airborne now, as were Gus and Wis. Niwalum was not to be outdone; he stepped onto his kite and it flew into the air like the magic carpet of Oriental lore. The others gazed in wonder at this. He was riding the air now like a surfer riding invisible waves. Then Lawiswis emptied her lungs and blew upon their opponents with all her strength. A powerful wind drove back the Ravena and sent them scattering. Victorious, the Mulawin trio threw high fives at one another, cheering. Then they reversed their ritual, “Powers divide!” and went back to normal. “We’ll handle this ourselves,” Rasmus told Savannah. “We mustn’t let him disturb Father and Lourdes.” Then they cast a net over Mulagat who struggled like a captured game. But Mulagat used his power to pierce the net so that he could pass through. Rasmus roared and chased him, hitting him with a right hook that knocked out the prince. “Stop!” Savannah cried. “Don’t kill him! Are you really that bloodthirsty, Rasmus?” And he snarled, “Father is not here. The next time you talk to me like that, you better make sure I’m not wearing my talons.” The claws gleamed in the dark. Savannah cringed. “I… I just think that, since he’s an Encantado, and they have the hiyas that Ravenum uses, maybe he’ll still be useful to us.” Daragit led a team of Mulawin soldiers to arrest Aguiluz and bring him to justice. Bagwis looked on, feeling like a lame duck. “Forgive me,” he asked of his friend and pupil mentally. “I understand how you feel,” Dakila said. “But Daragit and the others have a point. We no longer know this Aguiluz after everything he did.” The arresting officers found Aguiluz at the gate of the town of Carig. Aguiluz had spotted one of Alwina’s friends there, and knew she had to be there. But alas for him, it was not yet time for them to be reunited. The Mulawin soldiers encircled him. “Are you going to come along willingly?” they asked. “Or would you like us carry out your sentence sooner?” Aguiluz, Tuka and Aviona exchanged confused glances. “What the hell is going on?” Within a few minutes the Sugo was bound in chains like a criminal. Aviona pleaded with the authorities not to harm him. She brought him food (“Even a criminal has a right to eat” she scolded his guards) and offered to be a witness for him during his trial. “But they we’ve been friends since childhood,” he argued. “They wouldn’t believe you. They’d think you’ve conspired with Tuka to cover up for me. If you really care about me, then please do me a favor. Find that impostor so we can prove I am innocent of their charge.” Aviona was wearing a sullen look. She did not want to leave him. “All right,” she said at last. “For you I will do this.” Aguiluz expressed his thanks, and his friend departed. “I want to avenge myself on those who betrayed me,” Lourdes announced to Ravenum. “What is it that you said I could use for that?” Ravenum smiled. She was right where he needed her to be. He showed her a shining red seed and said, “Here. Take this when you reach Avila. Then your wings will disappear. Now go unleash terror at them. Destroy them!” And like one under a spell, Lourdes obeyed her mate. She spread her wings and soared toward Avila. Now Bagwis had withdrawn from the Council and returned home. He sat outside the hut looking blankly at empty space. Veronica guessed that Aguiluz was still on his mind. “I think of Aguiluz, and Alwina and the children,” he told her. “I can’t find peace just sitting here and doing nothing. I have to go look for them.” “No, you can’t leave,” she answered. “As king, you must stay here with your people. I myself will go find Alwina and the children. Now come and get some sleep.” Her new husband nodded. “Go on ahead. I just want to be alone.” Bagwis’ eyes wandered again as soon as he was alone. He noticed a shadowy figure in the distance coming toward the house. Someone at this time of night? Who could it be? The visitor appeared to have no wings… a lowlander. The Mulawin king rose from his seat and called out. “Lourdes? You’re back!” Aramis the hunter sat brooding near a fire he had made. Being with Aviona even for only a short while had taught him many things. For the first time, somebody had made him aware of everything he had missed. Everything his keepers had deprived him of and never taught him. “I never learned anything from them but hatred. I loved once, but that was taken away from me. Now I have no more reason to live!” Someone was willing to help him in that direction. “You’re right, Aramis,” the voice of Aguiluz said. “You have no reason to live anymore.” It was the clone grinning wickedly at him. “How did you find me?” asked the startled archer. “If you didn’t want to be found, you should’ve frozen in the cold and not built a fire!” He then attacked the unprepared Aramis, hurling him to the ground with the power of a Sugo. But Aramis’ superhuman strength made the battle an even one. Each was determined to leave the other for the scavengers of nature. “How easy it was to persuade you, Lourdes,” Ravenum thought smilingly to himself. “I didn’t even have a hard time with you!” He was busy congratulating himself when an urgent call whispered in his heart. It struck the Ravena father like a mild heart attack, as if his own life was in danger. But it was Gabriel; he was in great pain. Ravenum felt it as if the hurt were his own. My son needs me, he thought. Ravenum found Gabriel alone and prostrated on the earth. The father kept aloft beside him, and called out in a gentle tone, “Gabriel, what’s the matter? Why do you run away?” Gabriel knew the voice; he glanced over his shoulder. Ravenum read despair and utter defeat in those eyes. “I did everything,” said the son tearfully. “I tried to be a good son, and to be a faithful friend. I fought for what was right and good. I faced every danger. I was willing to risk even my life. But after all that, after everything I have been through, here I am. I’m still the one who suffers. I’m so tired.” Then Ravenum knew that the moment had arrived. He held out his hands and said, “You can put an end to all that, Gabriel. You can begin a new life in which you will be the winner. Come with me, my son.” And this time, there was no more resistance. It was an invitation this poor soul could no longer refuse. He felt something from his father, a tender acceptance and caring that no one else had given. Gabriel took Ravenum’s hand. “Take me with you, Father,” he said. The angel had fallen into the abyss.


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