Monday, February 07, 2005

Prophet of Truth.

Episode for Feb 3, 2005, Thursday. Habagat showed no signs of improvement even under the tender care of his friends and family. With so many years added to his age, life was steadily ebbing away in him. Few visitors came; apart from Daragit, Dakila, and Bagwis and his wife, no one else showed compassion for the former traitor. Veronica used her knowledge of herbal medicine to alleviate the patient’s suffering. She pitied Habagat, and at the same time, envied him. “He’s still better off than me,” she told his son. “Habagat has proven that he has changed. Me? Even my own daughter refuses to believe me.” At least in Mulagat’s eyes she was different, a sincere friend in a time of need. But even the queen could only do so much, and Mulagat was growing desperate. “I wish I could go to Encantadia,” he confided in her. “But I’m afraid that my father might die while I’m away.” “I’m sorry that I cannot do more for your father,” said Veronica. He looked at her with sad eyes. “You were the first person who ever showed any kindness to him since he came to Avila. You have cared for him like a mother. And for that, I thank you.” And this was perhaps the first time that anyone had shown Veronica some appreciation. “You are such a good son, Mulagat,” she replied. “Anyone would be happy to have you as their child.” She paused and then asked, “May I give you a hug?” The prince smiled faintly, and obliged. Veronica put her arms gently around him, feeling warmth that Alwina had been totally devoid of around her. Meanwhile, another queen, Linang, was frantic. “My son can’t hear me, Muyak!” she complained. “He has been so absorbed in grief that he doesn’t notice me!” “You may be right. That’s why he can’t hear you.” “But my son needs me! Habagat needs me!” An idea crossed her mind and she declared, “I must go see the Queen Mother. My loved ones need me.” And Muyak warned her, “All right. But keep in mind what you stand to lose if you do so, Linang.” Terong was not his usual patient self toward Gabriel. He did not like the way the matter was dragging on, and his mater’s procrastination only made him tenser. “When are you going to tell Lourdes about it?” he asked as the two men were working. “Don’t worry. I’ll do it soon.” “You better hurry. The more you vacillate, the more afraid you will be to tell her.” Gabriel read the wisdom in his friend’s advice. Better swallow the bitter pill now and be done with it; the sooner, the better. Surely, Aling Lourdes of all people would understand. He sought out the woman and found her just as she was about to leave the house. It was her turn to watch over the fields that day, and Gabriel asked to come along, and she gladly acquiesced. “I have something to tell you about me,” he said to her. “I will tell you when we get there.” Having arrived at their destination, Lourdes turned to him and asked what the mater was. “What is it about you that you want to talk about?” Gabriel felt an instant of paralyzing cowardice. But it was too late to back out. He met her gaze with all the courage he could afford, and began to speak. “Aling Lourdes… I’m the one you all fear in this town.” Lourdes could not understand him. “What are you talking about?” “I’m… I’m a Ravena.” What?! “Gabriel, will you stop that nonsense!” “No, listen to me, please…” He took hold of her arm and looked deeply into her eyes to show how serious he was. “I’m… I’m the one who killed Tata. But believe me, I didn’t mean it!” Tata… she had been slain by a bird-man, they said. There were marks of a bird’s claws across her belly…. Lourdes’ eyes almost popped out of their sockets like golf balls. “Stay away from me!” she gasped. “Don’t you touch me! Stay away!” She turned to flee and Gabriel went after her, begging her to listen to him. Lourdes tripped over some rocks and fell on the ground. She shrank away from him as Gabriel drew near. Then his eyes went ablaze with anger; dark Ravena wings sprouted from his back and flapped loudly. “I thought you would understand!” he growled. “I thought you’d pity me! But you’re just like everyone else!” Lourdes reached for her jungle knife and pointed it at this devil. “Go away! Don’t hurt me!” she cried. “Look, it’s me, Lourdes! Gabriel, it’s me!” He was like a man possessed by a demon, and her words worked like an exorcism. The demon left Gabriel; the fire in his eyes subsided, and his wings folded and disappeared. “Kill me now,” he said. “Kill me now and end this. I’m so tired.” “How did this happen? How did you become a Ravena?” So he told her, and pity overcame fear. She came near the poor man, stroked his hair and assured him. “That’s enough,” she said. “It was none of your fault. Don’t worry. We’ll find a cure for you. I know you have a good heart inside your Ravena body.” They held each other as Gabriel wept in silence, perhaps wondering if a pure heart would suffice. “I must go warn Alwina about the impostor who is with her,” Balasik disclosed to his mate. Haraya replied, “I sense that this will be a dangerous undertaking for you. Don’t go.” This was not unbeknownst to the prophet, but he would not be deterred. “We all have a destiny waiting for us,” he explained, “which we must all face with head high and full confidence. I must go.” But Balasik who could see the truth, failed to see the Aguiluz double behind him where he alighted near Alwina’s camp. The clone was thirsting for a kill – I HAVE to kill someone! he thought – when he caught sight of the bird and seized it. “What are you doing here, little birdie?” he snarled. “Let me go! I came to warn Alwina about you!” said a choking Balasik. The impersonator held up his catch, examining it. “I suppose… while I’m waiting for a chance to kill her, I can take it all out on you.” Then he gave Balasik’s neck a violent twist, choking its cries. He felt its bones pop and break, and when he was sure it was dead, the clone cast it aside like a piece of garbage. Haraya had followed her mate in secret, but arrived too late. As she mourned the loss of Balasik, Alwina stood from afar in profound disbelief at what she had seen. Why did Aguiluz kill the prophet? Niwalum was a resourceful fellow and never at a loss. He had plenty of wonders up his sleeve and it was now time to reveal some of them. He touched Pagaspas on the crown of his head, as if anointing him, and said, “I see that you have a wandering soul, and you are swift-footed. You will now have the power to run at great speed…. Now, go and run!” Gus did so, and bolted as fast as a gunshot. He galloped so quickly that his feet barely touched the ground. The boy returned evidently proud of his new gift. But there was more. Niwalum turned to Lawiswis and declared, “You are a lover of nature because you grew up around nature. From now on, you will have the power to control the elements!” Niwalum had just granted Wis control over wind and rain and other aspects of the natural environment. Wis eagerly tested her new abilities, even blowing a gale at the skeptical Gus. “Wait a minute!” he whined. “I can only run fast, but Wis has control over nature? It’s not fair!” No matter how bleak the situation really was, it always looked and felt better to Aviona whenever she was with her new friend. “Maybe it’s not right,” she told Aramis. “But when I’m here alone with you, I feel happy and all the problems seem so far away.” “And are you ready for that?” he asked. “Leave them all behind and come with me.” Aviona snapped out of her pleasant dallying. “What are you talking about?” “Come with me and forget all this. There’s no reason for you to stay.” She frowned. “Yes, there is, Aramis. Aguiluz. He needs me.” Aramis paused. “Oh, yes, of course. There’s Aguiluz.” He must have remembered what Tuka had told him previously about the two. Evidently, Aviona had a deep affection for that Mulawin. The hunter had identified his next target. Meanwhile, a brainstorm occurred to Savannah. After pouring more of the green liquid into Aguiluz’s mouth to keep him unconscious, she asked for a private audience with Ravenum and left. Then the children saw their chance to free Aguiluz. As Pagaspas and Lawiswis sought to unfetter his bounds, Niwalum fainted. “Excuse me,” said Gus, “but if you’re faking it again, this isn’t a good time for it.” “I feel Alwina,” Niwalum replied. “There’s been a change in the way she sees Aguiluz. She loves him less now; she’s growing distant from him.” “Why?” asked Wis, running to his side. “What are you picking up from her?” Then Gus rebuked her, “Can we save the gossiping for later? I’ll hide Niwalum.” Just then Rasmus entered the scene to ensure that the captive was still there. To drive him away, Lawiswis invoked the power of rain. Right in the middle of that sunny day, a heavy rain fell in the area. “My wings will get wet if I stay,” Rasmus said to himself and ran for shelter. “We don’t need any more like Aguiluz,” Savannah told her lord. “What we need is more Gabriel. More Ravena who are not converts, but Ravena since birth. And for that, we won’t need any more Ravena males, but females.” Ravenum was listening very closely. “And aside from you, who do you have in mind?” “Someone strong,” she replied. “Someone with integrity and confidence. Someone whom the rest will look up to and respect. I know such a woman, and I know where to find her.”
The father of the Ravena smiled beneath his dreadful mask. Now there was an idea! Alwina rushed frantically back to camp. “Where’s Tuka?” she asked Aviona in an urgent tone. “I have to talk to all of you.” Then Aguiluz arrived wearing a hypocrite’s smile on his face. “Hi, Alwina,” he greeted. “What’s up?” “You!” she cried and turned a wild eye toward the others. “He killed Balasik! I saw it! Why did you do that, Aguiluz? You have no right to kill!” Alwina was near hysterical; Aguiluz remained calm and smiling. “I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about.” Aviona defended her friend cautiously. “I haven’t seen the Balasik in a long time, Alwina. Maybe you were mistaken.” “Take us to the place where you saw it happen,” Aramis suggested. “Show us proof.” Seeing the skeptical looks in everyone’s eyes, Alwina raised her head high and replied, “All right. If that’s what it takes for you to believe me, I will show you.” They all followed her, with Aguiluz smiling confidently to himself. Aramis walked behind him, certain that this was the real Aguiluz whom he wanted to eliminate.
 

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