Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Prince of Darkness.

Episode for Feb 17, 2005, Thursday. As the Aguiluz clone had hoped, Pagaspas and Niwalum followed him all the way to Halimlim. Gus ran on foot with the other boy riding on his back. Soon they reached that Ravena lair where columns of smoke perennially shot up from the ground. They saw Lawiswis locked up in a cage with Mulagat tied to a tree only a few meters away. She was calling out to him, urging him to fight on. “Use your power to get free of those ropes!” she told him. And when Mulagat replied that his strength was waning, having been away from Encantadia for so long, the girl replied, “Weren’t you the one who broke the hiyas in two? That stone came from you there.” Rasmus pricked his ears. “What did you say?” he asked, and then thought the matter over. If the hiyas came originally from the Encantado’s realm, and it drew power from there, what would happen if a fragment was put on him? So the Ravena king took a fragment of that gem and attached it to a necklace. He hung it around Mulagat’s head and immediately saw a desirable result. The fragment grew brighter and bigger. It was drawing power from the Encantado. “This Encantado is a blessing to us!” he told Savannah. “And like all blessings, it fell from heaven!” Rasmus hurriedly went to tell his father about it. Wis asked what was happening, and Mulagat explained, “The hiyas gives strength to you. But to us Encantado the effect is the opposite. The hiyas draws power from the anima. So it draws anima from me when it is not in Encantadia. It did not do that before because I was stronger then.” Meanwhile, Rasmus visited his father who was still waiting anxiously for his favorite son to awaken. “Come with me, Father,” invited Rasmus. “No, I must be here when Gabriel wakes up,” answered Ravenum without looking up at him. He did not see the pained look in his firstborn’s eyes. “You can’t leave him even for a few moments… not even to regain your strength.” Then Ravenum knew this must be worth his attention; he rose from the ground and followed Rasmus. After the others explained to him what they had done, Ravenum grasped the hiyas and willed its power to transfer to him. Mulagat groaned in pain as he did so. When he was satisfied, Ravenum roared in an unearthly voice, “My power has returned to me!” Mulagat could only take so much of this psychic vampirism. He was losing consciousness, running out of the precious anima like a man losing oxygen. Savannah called over the Ravena children and bade them touch the hiyas on the prisoner’s neck. They did so, and instantly grew up. The five Ravena began practice-fighting with Aguiluz’s clone. Rasmus and Savannah looked on with pleasure. “Look at them, stronger and better, natural-born Ravena!” Savannah marveled. “Do you know what that means, Rasmus?” “What?” he asked. She grinned. “It means we need more women!” Aviona arrived at court only in time to hear Aguiluz’s sentence being handed down by Bagwis himself. She tried to fight her way through the crowd, but in vain. The deafening roars of the people there drowned out her cries as well. She could not approach the judge’s bench, and the king for some reason never once noticed her. “The usual punishment for capital crimes,” said Bagwis, “is to have one thrown off Ubod Pawin. But this is a special case so the Council has decided on an unusual penalty. You, Aguiluz, are now sentenced to be decapitated!” Aguiluz bowed his head in silence. The sentries ushered him out of the courtroom. Alwina called out to him, “Forgive me!” but Lourdes only smiled beside her. Later, Alwina assured Aguiluz that she would go and ask her father for clemency on his behalf. Aviona, for her part, met with Dakila and the other members of the High Council. She presented to them her version of the story, but was met with skepticism. “Do you have any witnesses to support your claims?” they asked. Aviona gestured toward Aramis. “Him. He even fought twice against the impostor.” Dakila replied, “You expect us to take the word of a stranger who just popped out of nowhere? You couldn’t even bring any other evidence?” Her plea to be allowed to testify was ignored. Such arrogant old men they were, she observed. Aramis apologized, “I’m sorry that I wasn’t even able to help you.” (He could have told the truth.) Aramis did not know it, but someone in Avila had recognized him: Linang. Bagwis spoke slowly and heavily to his wife. He had just imposed the death sentence on dear Aguiluz. He had done so most unwillingly, but was not the evidence against the accused so overwhelming? Now he was beginning to feel some of Dakila’s age; not physical years, of course, but the experience of conflict between love and duty, and heart and mind that makes a man older than his actual years. “It was not easy for me to pronounce the verdict on him,” he told Veronica. “I looked around me for an ally. But when I looked in your eyes, I could see that you were not with me.” The queen answered, “In the courts of the lowlands, witnesses do not suffice to convict the accused. There must be a clear motive.” “What do you mean by that? Are you saying the Council’s decision was wrong?” “No, I am not,” she said. “I’m just saying, maybe you could postpone the execution… if only for your daughter’s sake.” Bagwis reflected on the matter further, and informed Dakila of Veronica’s counsel. The old Mulawin warned him, “Be careful. You know the people’s sentiment. They are not happy that you have chosen her as your queen.” The king nodded. “I know what their sentiments are. But if I am to be a good king, I must listen to what my heart tells me as well. I must listen to and obey my conscience. I have decided to postpone the execution.” He called the elders to assembly that afternoon, just when Linang paid a visit to Veronica in their dwelling. The Mulawin queen asked the former Diwata, “Don’t you have any regrets about leaving your old life behind?” Linang smiled. “Why do you ask?” “Because when I came here, all I wanted was to be with the man I loved, and our daughter. But now I’m here and I’m the queen, I’m not sure if I can take on all the responsibilities that go with it.” Habagat’s mate replied cheerfully. “We’re opposites, come to think of it. I gave up things; you gained them. I admit that I miss Encantadia. It seems that nothing can hurt you when you’re there. But a great price comes with it: you can’t intervene in the lives of the people you see. You can’t laugh with them; you can’t cry with them. So I chose to leave all that for my loved ones. Whether you lose or gain something, it’s the same. Without love, it’s all pointless.” Their deepening conversation was interrupted by Alwina’s arrival. She looked nervous and fearful. “I need to talk to Father,” she said. So Veronica accompanied her to the High Council where Bagwis was seated, surrounded by his elders and advisers. Alwina burst into the room unannounced. “The others and I are having a meeting,” he told his child. “We’ll talk later.” “Later?” she asked. “But time is running out for Aguiluz while you sit there!” Bagwis slammed his fist on the arm-rest of his chair. “Don’t raise your voice at me! I’m the king! Show me some respect!” “I did not come here for the king!” she cried. “I came here as your daughter! Please save Aguiluz!” Then Bagwis told her, “Even a king must bow before the law, Alwina. I cannot do that.” “Then it’s not only him that you have killed,” she wept, “but my hear as well!” She fled in tears, and her mother followed. Gabriel stared at his mother in disbelief. “Stop this,” he told her. “Come with me, Mama!” She pushed him away laughingly. “Say, I want to introduce you to someone. This is Edilberto! He’s the one who got me pregnant!” Gabriel looked from her to the young man beside his mother, a dark fellow possessed of unremarkable features. “You’re saying he’s my father?” “Ha!” Gisela threw her head back scornfully. “Have you forgotten? Ravenum is your true father! This sweaty workman in Lucio’s hacienda was only the man who planted the seed inside me!” Scenes shifted. Even as he wondered in distress at his last dream – he knew he was dreaming – Gabriel found himself in the next one. He saw Alwina before him. Even with her back turned he knew it was her. She noticed him and smiled. “Hey, Gabriel!” she said. “What’s going on?” he asked her. “I’m back in Tierra Fuego. Papa did not forgive me, and Mama is acting like a slut. It’s as if my whole life here in this town has been a lie!” Alwina cocked an eyebrow, and then the smile faded from her lips. “That’s because it is,” she told him. “Your whole life has been a lie. It was ALL a lie!” At that moment Gabriel noticed a cold cruelty her eyes that he had never seen before. But now he wondered why he had missed it all this time. “You’re saying… everything that happened between us was a lie? Our friendship was a lie?” “Come on now,” she replied. “Who wouldn’t want to be courted by the son of a powerful haciendero like Lucio Montenegro? But you’re not really his son. You’re not a rich man’s heir.” Mulawin wings sprouted from her back. She spread them out proudly and flew into the air. “But me?” she went on. “I’m the Mulawin Sugo!” “Come back here!” he called out furiously. “Liar! Bitch! Come back here!” He woke up with a mighty jolt; in an instant Gabriel was up on his two feet like a man wide-awake. Ravenum maneuvered behind him, knowing the moment had come at last. Gabriel never saw him; he only felt as sharp, stabbing pain as his father drove back his ugatpak into his spine. Then the raging inferno of evil burst forth from within him, fueled by the anger and bitterness that Ravenum had put there. Wings tore through the skin of his back, and the colorful plumage of a Ravena grew on his head. When the fire died down, Gabriel wore a dark, heavy armor on his body; and the wrathful face of evil and vengeance on his face. “Arise, Gabriel,” his father beckoned, “Prince of the Ravena!”


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