Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Answered Prayer.

Episode for Feb 24, 2005, Thursday. The Council had spoken. Bagwis was forced to resign his throne. Sentries bound the former king by the wrists and escorted him to prison. A sizeable crowd was waiting outside the High Council’s meeting hall to see the disgraced monarch. Some threw debris at him; others spat at him; still others objected to this harsh treatment. Stripped of his crown and honor, Bagwis remained calm and composed as he was ushered in to a cage. He had not seen his wife and daughter earlier. Where were they? “Lord God, I submit to Your will if this is what You want for me,” he whispered. “I only ask that You protect my family. Guide them, and do not let me pass away from the world before I have seen my daughter accept her mother.” His prayer would soon be answered. “What happens now?” the people began asking. “We need a king to rule over us!” Lumbas was quick to reply. “According to the law, Daragit is next in line to Bagwis in the High Council. Now that Bagwis is gone, Daragit must be made king!” Never one to deny the law, Dakila conceded that he was correct. “Lumbas is right,” he told everyone. “Daragit is next in line.” So the Council proclaimed Daragit king. He and Lumbas finally obtained what they had so long desired: the kingship of Avila. The crowd rejoiced, not so much because they liked Daragit, but because they were relieved to have a leader again. Unknown to them, Daragit would very soon trade the crown and the people’s trust in order to save his own skin. Daragit might have appeared principled, but in reality, he was a sellout and a cad worse than many a Ravena. Wandering here and there, the other Sugo, Aguiluz arrived at the town of Lagaslaw. As soon as his feet touched the territory of the Taguba, the warrior-women bolted from their hideout and held him at spear-point. “Go no farther, impostor!” cried Maningning. “You can’t fool us! Thank goodness we were warned of your coming!” Aguiluz stared dumbly at them. “What are you talking about?” But he should have known. Soon the swashbuckling figure of his evil “twin” cut through the ranks of the Taguba. “Impostor!” he accused the Sugo. “Now let’s see if you can fight and hurt all these people!” Then Aguiluz stepped back, remembering Dakila’s warning to him not to be diverted from his purpose. He must find the fruit of the tree. After debating within himself, Aguiluz resolved to obey his elder and retreated without a fight. Maningning and Kuwak exchanged glances. If this was the impostor, why didn’t he want to hurt anyone? Scarcely had the shock registered in Alwina’s brain when the mother of the Ravena whirled ‘round in the air and blew a jet of fire at her. The Sugo whipped out her shawl on instinct and blocked off her blows. Then Veronica maneuvered herself behind Lourdes, grabbing her and dragging her down to earth. There mother and daughter held the shrieking Ravena. “Let me go!” she screamed at them. “What’s happening to you?” Alwina asked angrily. “Who did this to you?” They brought the captive to prison where they found Bagwis detained. After locking up the hysterical Lourdes in a neighboring cage, the Sugo and the former queen approached Bagwis’ cell. “This is the price I pay for setting Aguiluz free,” he told them. “But don’t worry, Alwina. Aguiluz is free now!” “Forgive me, Father,” she wept. “This wouldn’t have happened to you if I hadn’t insisted.” Bagwis shook his head and absolved her all blame. He did not want an apology; he wanted something else. “I have something to ask of you,” he began. “What is it?” “I want you to accept your mother.” Wis and Gus were beginning to feel the ill effects of the Mulawin tree’s fall. The girl could not walk anymore, so Pagaspas volunteered to carry her with him on the way to Avila. Like them, Tuka was also weakening. She was shedding feathers heavily. Gus’ mother also ran out of breath quickly. “It’s not that I’m holding it against you,” Terong said, “but we’re slowing down because of you. You get tired so quickly.” Tuka sighed. “Could it be that I’m just overweight? Or is this a sign of old age?” It was not. Alwina stepped towards Lourdes’ cage with caution. Like a wild beast enraged at her capture, the Ravena spewed tongues of flame at her. She seemed not to recognize the girl she had raised has her own daughter. The Sugo watched her thoughtfully. In her mind, she saw Vultra there: mean, violent, soulless, but most of all, ignorant of her true identity. She was enslaved by a spirit of evil that had taken over her body. She literally did not know what she was doing. Veronica went through the same thing, Alwina thought to herself. She’s innocent of it all, just as the woman before me now is innocent. Alwina rejoined her mother some distance from the prison cells. She discovered that her ill feelings towards this woman had gone like a bubble. The resentment simply was not there anymore, and her mind whispered to her what a fool she had been. She told these things to her mother and said, “I’d like to ask your forgiveness now.” Veronica, no less gracious and forgiving than her husband, replied, “You don’t need to ask for that.” The two ladies embraced each other, as Lourdes looked on. Bagwis smiled and thanked God in his heart. When his wife and daughter returned beside him, he said to Alwina, “You must go now. You need to find Aguiluz and together look for the fruit.” “Just when we’re getting along, you need to leave,” Veronica lamented. Alwina was kneeling outside her father’s cell. She took off her necklace – the one Aguiluz had given her on her last birthday – and said, “Don’t worry. When I return to you, my mission will have been completed. We will then live happily together as a family. All of us.” Then she told her mother, “Take this necklace as a sign that I have accepted you.” Veronica took it from her hand and wore it on her white neck, joyful beyond imagination. She would have been even happier had she known what a boon the necklace really was. Alwina still had Aguiluz’s necklace and that, too, would later prove important. Alwina took leave of her parents then, bringing a couple of Perico with her to help in the search for Aguiluz. “Even before you got back here,” Ravenum said to Gabriel, “Savannah was planning to go return to the lowlands to get more women so they can bear more Ravena.” But Gabriel took hold of Niwalum’s hand and answered with confidence, “There is no need for that. This boy alone will accomplish that and more. I feel that he has more power than the hiyas, the binhi, and even Father Ravenum himself.” Elsewhere in that abandoned building, Savannah espied Rasmus strolling alone. “So what’s up with you?” she asked tauntingly. “Gabriel is the favorite now, isn’t he? But you, what are you now? Nothing! What are you going to do now?” Rasmus snarled, “Shut up! I don’t to talk to anyone.” He noticed Gabriel standing in a corner, wearing a sneer on his face, and said, “You! What are you staring at?” “What’s wrong with staring?” asked Gabriel. “Savannah asked a question; I am waiting to see what your answer will be.” “I know what you both mean,” Rasmus told them. “You’re all implying I’m useless to Father now. And all because of you!” He swung a right hook at Gabriel but missed. Gabriel pulled off his brother’s glove and struck him down. Rasmus bounced back and hit him, missing again. On the third attempt, the claws on his other hand ripped through the feathers on Gabriel’s head. Savannah ran to Gabriel’s side. The Perico who joined Alwina asked their fellow parrot-men in the forest if they had seen Aguiluz anywhere. It did not take long for them to find one; they did point Alwina to a someone who looked like Aguiluz. Alwina saw this Aguiluz coming out to meet her and never doubted it. He strode along with giant steps towards her, smiling broadly with a twinkle in his eyes. Alwina embraced him warmly and failed to notice a sign that should have given his identity away. This Aguiluz was wearing a necklace too.


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