Saturday, February 05, 2005

Doppelganger.

Episode for Feb 2, 2005, Wednesday Outwardly, he was a perfect replica of Aguiluz. Ravenum was very pleased. Swift as an eagle, the impersonator departed to fulfill his master’s bidding. When the Ravena demanded more clones from Niwalum, the boy spoke weakly and said he was tired. So Rasmus picked him up by the neck of his shirt and dumped him back into the cage. “Are you all right?” Gus inquired. And Niwalum said in a hushed tone, “I’m just pretending. Don’t tell on me.” “Imagine if we multiply Aguiluz,” Savannah told the others. “We’d have a thousand men with the power of a Sugo.” As usual, Rasmus had a poor estimate of things. “Why bother with cloning Aguiluz?” he asked. “Why don’t we just clone ourselves?” Ravenum answered, “Savannah has a point. Aguiluz has much power that even he may not know about. Power that is stronger than ours. So tie up Aguiluz to a tree for now.” Rasmus obeyed and father and son made their exit. Savannah was left in charge of the four captives. She would soon follow up her great idea with an equally great blunder. Back in Carig, Lourdes wiped tears from her eyes and said no more about her lost child. Instead, she changed the subject and asked Gabriel, “Why did you leave Avila?” And Gabriel replied, “I had heard of Aguiluz’s return. I left because I didn’t want to cause any trouble. What about you? Why did you leave?” “Like you, I didn’t want to cause trouble.” She did not elaborate, and instead made sleeping arrangements for her guests. Terong looked rather disturbed. He had spoken earlier with Pamela that evening, and had heard from her how Tata had always loved him. “She never forgot about you,” the girl had said. “Even when we were prisoners in Tierra Fuego, she thought of you.” “I never knew what she saw in me,” Terong told her. “Because even though you were a snub, she could see that you had a good heart.” Terong was still musing over this as he and Gabriel retired to bed. “You know, after what Pamela said, I feel guilty about what happened to Tata.” And his master told him, “If you feel bad about it, then it’s even worse for me.” “When are you going to talk to Aling Lourdes?” “Soon. I’m just waiting for the right time.” Then Terong said, “You know I’m your friend, and I will never leave you. But whatever you plan to do about your condition, you better do it soon.” While they rested for the night, Alwina revealed her thoughts to Aviona. By now, their old rivalry over love had been quite forgotten. They were friends; they could speak about Aguiluz and other matters without difficulty. “You know, Aviona, it feels like all of our efforts were in vain. Aguiluz has been disowned by his people, and now Rasmus and the others are back to being Ravena. It’s like nothing has changed. And, now Aguiluz is missing.” Aramis stood up. “I’ll leave you two alone so you can talk. I’ll go get some wood.” “I’ll go with you then,” said Tuka, and Aviona agreed since the hunter was still smarting from his wounds. Aramis resented the presence of this talkative bird-woman and the Sugo. He went with Gus’ mother and let her gather firewood unaided. She chatted merrily. “Are you in love with Aviona? It’s about time she finds somebody!” Having gathered enough wood for fire, she turned to her silent companion, but Aramis was nowhere in sight. He had gone from there to meet with Rasmus. “Do you still have that poison?” he asked. “I have none of that with me now,” said Rasmus. “We’re using it to keep that damned Aguiluz asleep. Why?” Then Aramis angrily reported the unexpected arrival of the two Mulawin. “I wanted to bring Aviona away,” he said, “but they ruined my plans.” Rasmus smirked. “Don’t tell me you’re falling for that little Mulawin!” (Look who was talking.) “I just want to start over again, Rasmus. Surely, after everything I’ve done for you, we’re even now?” “No!” the Ravena snarled. “You’re still useful to me and my father! I will say when we’re even!” “Alwina, we have to keep hoping that Aguiluz can take care of himself,” Aviona said. And a familiar low voice answered from behind them, “It is only right that you hope.” The ladies turned their heads and saw a perfect semblance of Aguiluz. Aviona ran toward him and they embraced. Alwina, for no apparent reason, stayed back and merely smiled. The Aguiluz clone smiled coldly back at her. He told them very little of his ordeal, saying only that he had been able to escape before the Ravena could kill him. “Did they take you to their new hideout?” asked Alwina. “We were thinking, maybe they had taken the children there.” “No,” he told them. “They did not take me there.” And he spoke no more of it, nor showed any interest in recovering their young friends. A few minutes later, Tuka and Aramis rejoined them. While the hunter concealed his surprise and dismay, Pagaspas’ mother reacted with unbridled joy. She threw her burly weight at the young warrior and hugged him. “Thank God you’re safe!” she cried. But Aguiluz pushed her away in cold disdain. “Don’t you touch me!” he said. “How can you people trust a stranger and a former Ravena? Leave me alone. I’m tired.” He stomped off in anger; Alwina stared at him dumbfounded. The real Aguiluz was sleeping; he had retreated far into the depths of his own subconscious. Aramis’ poison had not killed him, but had cast his body into a deep coma. Within the caverns of his soul, the Sugo regained his self-awareness and wondered where he was. Suddenly, he felt his mother’s presence nearby. She was holding his hand. Aguiluz sank to his knees and said, “Forgive me. I failed you. I failed all of you.” Salimbay answered, “All wrongs can be righted, my son. But before you can do that, you must wake up!” “But I’m so tired, Mother! It seems I can’t do anything right anymore!” “Don’t lose hope, Aguiluz,” she urged. “If you do, you won’t be able to wake up.” Aguiluz sighed. “I want to give up… I want to get away from the world!” Eternal sleep was beckoning to him with its allure, its promise of everlasting peace and quiet. He felt a sweet drowsiness sweeping over him. It was so enticing, so inviting. He did not even have to do anything; he simply had to yield. Meanwhile, the children noticed Aguiluz stirring within his bounds. They shouted to him repeatedly to wake him up. Savannah overheard them and scolded them. Then she poured some more of that noxious green liquid into the warrior’s mouth to push him back to slumber. Then Niwalum said to the other two, “If Aguiluz cannot save himself, he must help him.” The threesome discussed their plans in hushed tones, and within a few moments, Savannah heard them cheering, “Go, Niwalum! Run!” Savannah ran back toward the cage. “Hey! What’s going on here?” Only Gus and Wis were left in the cage; the wonder-boy was nowhere to be found. So the Ravena princess opened the cage and went inside to inspect it. “This impossible!” she said. “I’ll bet he turned himself into a piece of wood, right?” She turned around, and as she did, one of the children – she never saw who – whacked her on the head with something heavy. Savannah fell unconscious to the ground. Gus and Wis then escaped with the transformed Niwalum and locked Savannah in the cage. They would have freed Aguiluz too, had Ravenum not returned to the site and they were forced to escape. At a safe distance, the children paused to rest and ponder their next strategy. “How come you can do what you do?” the two friends asked Niwalum. He hesitated. “Well, it may shock you. I’m an Encantado.” “Oh? Can Encantado do what you do?” “How would you know that they can’t? How many have you known?” The boy refused to entertain any further questions, and insisted there was still work to be done. Niwalum paced back and forth with his hands on his waist, apparently brainstorming and holding council with himself. And then, he declared, “I need to find out what’s inside of you. What your strongest trait is – whether good or bad – I will take that out, and make it stronger. I will imitate it, bring it out from within you, and make it your own powers.” “HU-WAT?” the others chorused. “Don’t mind Aguiluz,” Aviona said. “I talked to him before he got kidnapped. He may be just confused with everything that’s been going on.” Alwina nodded, but was unconvinced. She ventured alone into the woods that night to look for Aguiluz, wondering why he was acting out-of-character. Looming in the dark behind her like a phantom was the Aguiluz double. The evil doppelganger recalled Ravenum’s command. But as he raised his sword to deliver a fatal blow, Alwina sensed his presence and turned around. “Aguiluz?” she said, wide-eyed. “What are you going to do?” Silence as “Aguiluz” only stared back at her with those soul-less eyes. It was like looking into an empty room. Just then, Aviona appeared. “So there you two are! I was just looking for Alwina.” The double slowly brought down his arm. “I didn’t recognize you,” he explained coldly. “Now look what happened to your plan, Savannah!” Ravenum fumed. “The children are gone!” Rasmus then said, “That means this has become useless to us.” He gestured toward the sleeping Aguiluz. The father of the Ravena made no reply. In silence he placed the Sugo’s sword in his son’s hands. Rasmus ran his hand along the shiny blade and said, “Farewell, Aguiluz!” He gathered strength in his arms, swung the sword back over his head, and then delivered a mighty blow. But this only met with a loud clanging bang as if Rasmus had hit an invisible force-field. Stunned, he repeated the attempt and met with the same miraculous result. Ravenum closed his eyes in frustration. Some divine intervention must be at work, or perhaps, this was one more of the Sugo’s hitherto unknown powers. In truth, it was Salimbay who was shielding her son. Even from another plane, she could effect wonders on the material world. But this was only temporary, she told Aguiluz. “I am your mother, and I will defend you. But I cannot always protect you. Son, you have to wake up now!” Aguiluz listened dumbly like a man in stupor. Outside in the physical realm, the enemy strove in vain to pierce the shield surrounding him.
 

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