Sunday, February 13, 2005

Child's Play.

Episode for Feb 10, 2005, Thursday. Child’s Play. Mulagat wandered through the ghost-town looking for any signs of life. He felt certain that this was unfriendly territory, but where exactly he was, he still could not tell. Danger dogged his footsteps without him even knowing it. Savannah was now stalking him, bent on making her first kill. “Stay back,” a voice warned beside her. It was Rasmus. Savannah looked at him. “Why? I’m the princess here. I have a right to attack an intruder!” “He is no ordinary being,” the son of Ravenum told her. “He is an Encantado. Don’t be hasty.” For once, Rasmus displayed some forethought. They hid themselves behind a wall, watching the white-clad stranger. Quite unaware of their presence, Mulagat willed his wings to appear and flew away. The Ravena stealthily pursued him. Meanwhile, Ravenum was engaged in a business familiar to Rasmus: brainwashing the new convert. Lourdes had began asking questions, and every answer her lord gave was calculated to inspire her with hatred and longing for revenge. “Are there people outside Halimhim?” she asked. “Yes, there are, and they are enemies. They are called Mulawin. They are ruled by Bagwis and Veronica.” The lady turned to him with puzzled eyes. “Bagwis?” “Yes,” he said again. “You need to know that what they did to you. They betrayed you. You loved Bagwis, but he chose Veronica.” “This Bagwis betrayed me?” “You loved him. You did everything for him. But they mercilessly violated you and hurt you. Go back and destroy them, Lourdes! Punish them!” Lourdes’ eyes blazed like fire. “This Bagwis betrayed me? I will punish them! I will utterly destroy them!” Lourdes’ mind until now had been blank. Like a soft piece of clay Ravenum could mold it to any shape he desired. With efficient programming, he planned to raise a monster to destroy the king and queen of the Mulawin. To destroy a powerful kingdom, one has to work from within and shake its very foundations. Lourdes and her subconscious resentment of Bagwis and Veronica would be the means to this end! But they were not alone; Mulagat spotted them from behind the bushes where he was hiding. “Isn’t that Ravenum?” he wondered. “And that’s Alwina’s foster-mother! Oh, I’m in the Ravena’s lair!” “Damn it!” Rasmus cursed. “He has seen Father and Lourdes!” Dakila introduced his guest to the members of his tribe. “This is Haraya,” he told them. “As far as I know, you do not usually appear in human form… unless something bad has happened. What happened, Haraya?” The songbird’s eyes brimmed with tears, but she controlled herself. “Balasik is dead!” she announced. “And I know who killed him: Aguiluz!” This was met by a chorus of gaps and dropping of jaws. “I cannot believe it,” Bagwis said, and Dakila seconded him. But the other elders such as Daragit were quick to believe. “I cannot be mistaken!” the grief-stricken widow roared. “It was no accident! He killed my beloved Balasik without pity!” Another elder, Lumbas, echoed Daragit’s sentiments. “There is only one thing to call Aguiluz now: a CRIMINAL! He deserves the penalty of death!” Bagwis objected, “Isn’t it enough that he has been banished?” “No! If you ask us, that punishment is too light for what he has done! He abandoned the tree, and now because of the darkness, its leaves have withered. And now the Balasik is gone!” “King Bagwis is right,” Dakila said. “And let us not forget all the sacrifice that Aguiluz made for us before.” But the smell of blood was already in the air for the majority. “Your Majesty,” they said to Bagwis, “as the new king, we expect you to decide on the matter soon!” All eyes fell on Bagwis. Back to the children. A dart now cut like a fine knife through the air. It found its mark on a tree trunk. Gus and Wis examined it and surmised that Dakila was playing a prank on them. “Hey, Dakila!” they called out. “Yoohoo! Come out of there!” But the darts kept on coming and several came within close range. Wis reconsidered. “This isn’t Dakila. He wouldn’t do this.” This warned of trouble! “Look!” cried Niwalum, pointing to five youngsters about their own size. They had wings like the Mulawin did, but their plumage was red. They looked like chubby, innocent winged devils if ever there were any. Gus remarked, “I had assumed that there were no more Ravena…” “A lot of people have died from making the wrong assumptions,” Wis quipped. The friends bolted, but Niwalum pulled them back. “No, we’re not going to retreat!” he declared. “We’re going to fight!” He thrust his fist at their opponents. “Attack!” “Attack!” went their battle-cry. The Ravena children showed no reaction, but waited for the Mulawin to advance. Gus made the first move. He ran around the quintet with blinding speed until he literally knocked the wind out of them. When he stopped, all five of their adversaries lay unconscious on the ground. Gus went back to his corner victorious and pleased with himself. But Niwalum and Wis had not yet finished their round of applause for him when the Ravena children got back on their feet, as if nothing had happened. So Wis blew upon them with her windy breath, forcing the Ravena back across the sky. This bought the heroes enough time to flee. But the villains had used their tiny wings to shield against the artificial gale. Armed with pipes, they blew their sharp darts at the Mulawin. “Step on my kite,” Niwalum directed to his friends. So they fitted themselves on the square platform as best they could. “Put your hands together and call out your names!” he cried. They put forth their right hands, and shouted their names. “Powers unite!” Niwalum prayed. Aguiluz had little time to explain himself to his companions; not that he expected to be understood. Aviona went along with him even though she did not understand. “We’re friends and you know we’re with you,” she said. “But would you mind telling us why you think Gabriel would want to hurt Alwina?” “I heard Habagat and Dakila talking about it,” he answered. “I was never able to know the whole story. But I saw in a vision that he plans to kill her.” “You shouldn’t worry too much,” Gabriel told Alwina. She sighed. “Don’t you miss the old days?” she asked. “The times when it was just you and me and Mother, and life was so simple…” “Why not?” he said with a smile. “We can try to bring those good times back.” He took down a bilao hanging on the wall and placed it in her hands. “Hey, Alwina, can I buy some of that suman?” Alwina could not help but smile. “You still have forgotten that Mother and I used to sell suman!” She happily played along with his make-believe game, and later that day, they went to play hide-and-seek like they used to do. It was hard to believe; it almost felt as if nothing bad ever happened, and nothing had ever come between them. Gabriel was transported back to those bygone days that seemed so long ago. And when the fantasy ended, all the more did he feel the bitterness of the present time; and all the more did he wish he could turn back time and return things to how they used to be. If only the Mulawin tree could do that! He did not hide his nostalgia from Terong. “It’s like fate has given us a second chance to start all over again,” he said. “Why?” asked Terong. “Are you wooing her again?” But Alwina’s mind would not allow itself to dwell long in pleasant daydreams about the past. She saw a woman pass by their house that day, and Alwina ran after her thinking it was Lourdes. The woman only looked at her, not even surprised to see a Mulawin. “Sorry, I thought you were someone else,” Alwina apologized. Daragit and Lumbas murmured among themselves as they awaited Bagwis’ decision. “Look at him,” one said, “he can’t make up his mind.” “He uses his heart, not his mind. He lacks experience.” “Not only that. Our queen is the former Ravena queen!” “If he doesn’t make up his mind soon, I’m afraid it will cause division among the people.” Soon they returned to the Council to hear what their king had to say. Dakila said to Bagwis, “Whatever you decide, I will support you.” Veronica and Habagat likewise voiced their support for the king. But the rest were less kind. “What is your decision, Your Majesty?” It was more of a demand than an inquiry. Bagwis spoke with a heavy heart, and trembling voice. “I admit that this is hard for me,” he told the elders. “And I admit that Aguiluz is very dear to me. Therefore, I am leaving this matter in the hands of the majority.” The elders looked at one another. “We do not need to deliberate further,” they told him. “Death for Aguiluz!”
 

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