Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Fall of the Mulawin Tree.

Episode for Feb 21, 2005, Monday. The tree of the Mulawin was a towering wonder of nature that reached almost to the sky. Its massive trunk, huge dangling aerial roots, and canopy of green leaves were awesome to behold. The Ravena Sugo alone would not have been able to cut it down. He had brought his five youthful siblings with him on this mission. On they charged with battle-axes in hand, the children of Ravenum. With wicked laughter rising from the depths of him, Gabriel struck the tree with terrible force. Huge sparks ignited the wood after the initial blows; the invisible shield was being shattered by the Adversary’s power. Again and again they battered the tree. Then in a few minutes, that enormous tree crashed down to the ground with earth-shaking impact. The Mulawin’s symbol of hope, and the very fountain-source of their life, had fallen. The Ravena prince cackled with triumphant glee. Powerful tremors were felt everywhere in Avila. In Ubod Pawin, the ground swayed to and fro, throwing back Aguiluz’s executioner and sending the crowd into panic. The earthquake persisted for several minutes, and it took some time for Aguiluz to come to himself and realize what was going on. Even as people were screaming and running for their lives, Daragit and Lumbas retained their focus on the hated convict and made sure he could not escape. Meanwhile, the king bade Dakdak and the Perico to look for the queen. He found her alone by herself in the forest, dazed but unhurt. They were flying on the way to Ubod Pawin to rejoin Bagwis when Veronica espied other bird-men in the distance. “Ravena,” she declared. “Let’s hide from them.” Descending to a lower altitude, Veronica kept her eyes on the enemy. Her far-seeing eyes seemed to deceive her. “Impossible,” she said aloud. “But I can’t be mistaken. It’s Gabriel!” Dakdak and Sutsot wondered at that, for they knew the man as Alwina’s human friend. But a greater shock soon hit them. Down on the ground they saw the fallen tree. Only its bleeding stump was left where the tree had once stood proudly. Veronica roared in anger, “This can’t be! Who did this?” The earthquake was not felt in Halimhim. Not that Ravenum was unaware of what had happened; he was. But Gus and Niwalum were not. Seizing an opportunity when no one was guarding the prisoners, they went to Wis’ cage to free her. They succeeded, but the impersonator of Aguiluz arrived before they could untie Mulagat. Then Niwalum transformed into a buzzing dragonfly and charged the other youngsters, “Run! I’ll handle this!” He also blessed them with more power before sending them away. As the amused Wis was watching Niwalum’s tricks, Gus’ arm stretched like a rubber band, and he dragged her off with him. Niwalum then changed into the Balasik. “I’m back, you impostor!” he chirped tauntingly. “You can’t even kill me!” The clone growled like a furious ogre, “Why, I already killed you!” A brief chase followed. Niwalum sought to release Mulagat in vain. Then the impostor pounced on the boy like a cat on a rat. “Come here, tiny mouse,” he said. “Ravenum wants you!” The earthquake had stopped. Alwina had felt it, kneeling on the earth and clasping Aguiluz’s necklace which he had given her as a reminder of him. But the Perico came and told her the news: “The execution has been postponed; Aguiluz is still alive!” Alwina jumped to her feet and rushed to Ubod Pawin. There the lovers saw each other again. Stubbornly, Daragit announced, “The earthquake is over! Continue with the execution!” Rosing objected, “Maybe the quake was a sign to stop it.” The king seemed to agree with her, and bade the executioner stay his hand. Aguiluz was replaced in his cage as Veronica entered with her train. “The queen has something to say,” Dakdak announced, but when he nudged her, Veronica could not speak. Concerned glances were exchanged. “What is it?” the elders asked. Dakdak swallowed. “The Mulawin tree has been cut down!” he told them. Silence… then whispers. Dakila heard none of it. My worst fear has come true. What else now? A dizziness had come upon him which he had blamed on the tremors. But now he knew better. “The Mulawin tree is where we draw strength from,” he reminded them. “The hour I have always feared has arrived. I fear that the end may be near.” “I never thought I’d see you again,” Alwina spoke to the other Sugo. “Perhaps it is God’s will,” he replied. “Is it also God’s will that the tree be struck down?” Aguiluz then said to her, “Go on with them to the Mulawin tree. And if you can, if it’s possible, talk to my mother and find out how she is.” He reached for her hand through the bars of his cage, and kissed it. Alwina slowly walked away, then hurried to the Mulawin tree with her parents and everyone else. But Veronica – who had been dead silent all along – stopped on the way. “Before we go any further, I think you need to know something,” she said. They waited, and then she told them, “I saw something earlier. A group of Ravena coming from the direction of the tree.” “Ravena!” the people shouted. “They cut the tree down?” Alwina asked, “Who was leading them? Was it Rasmus?” “No,” the queen answered. “It wasn’t Rasmus.” “Who then?” Veronica could not speak his name; she hinted at it. “Your close friend.” A prolonged silence. Alwina thought this over. All her life, she had had only one close friend. “Gabriel? Gabriel is a Ravena now? That’s impossible what you’re saying!” It seemed to Dakila that all his fears had now materialized, plain and solid as a mountain before him. He knew the queen had to be telling the truth. “Do you remember when I told you that we couldn’t trust Gabriel?” he asked Alwina. “It was because I had always seen the Ravena blood in him. I had hoped that it could be prevented. But now I see he has embraced his Ravena side. “Further, the oracle had said that only the counter-Sugo would have the power to cut down the Mulawin tree. Therefore, Gabriel is the Ravena Sugo. And now, remember that the fall of the Mulawin tree is will cause us to become weaker and weaker. But since this is the first time it has happened, I do not know what else can happen.” That night, Bagwis came to his predecessor with a plan. “I know how strictly you adhere to the law,” he began. “So I wouldn’t be surprised if you disagreed with my plan. But now that Ravenum has his Sugo, we need ours too. I want to set Aguiluz free. Now, more than ever, we need a Sugo.” Dakila warned him, “Be careful, Your Majesty. Daragit and the others will say you do not know how to stand by your word. A king must not take his word back.” But Bagwis replied, “Better for them to hate me now than for more people to be hurt later on. It was enough to listen to the voice of the people once. Now I must listen only to the voice of my conscience.” And the elder Mulawin said, “I understand you, and I admire the nobility of spirit you show now. I approve of your plan.” In chorus with the thunderclaps that perpetually boomed overhead in Halimhim, Ravenum was laughing. He had never experienced such glory in victory before, but now with Gabriel’s success, he could do so vicariously. “Has he reached thee Mulawin tree?” Rasmus asked, hoping the answer would be negative. But Ravenum answered, “Not only that, but my great son has felled it! The Mulawin tree is gone!” While waiting for the prince’s return, Rasmus asked questions about his brother. Gabriel knew many things intuitively; no one had to tell him, and no one could teach him. The father explained, “Those are his latent powers that manifesting now that he is a full-fledged Ravena. Even I do not know what other powers he has.” Savannah then foolishly proposed her own marriage to their Sugo, but Ravenum ignored her. “Gabriel is here!” he announced. There he was indeed, beaming with self-satisfaction. “The tree is lost!” he gladly reported, and his father heaped praises on him. Rasmus stood by with eyes downcast. The storm of emotions in his heart was growing stronger. He did not try to stop it; he dwelt on it and fed it. You took away my father’s attention which should have bee mine. You took everything away.


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