Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Dark Cloud.

Episode for Feb 28, 2005, Monday. The swirling black haze traveled through the air, an evil spirit sent to seduce the womanhood of Carig. The cloud grew in size and spread far and wide. It descended onto the lowland, entering girls and women through their mouths. They never knew what touched them; in a matter of minutes, the entire female populace had turned into Ravena. Everywhere the smoke went, horrified screams coming from the men followed in its wake. Pamela’s friend whom she had left behind became a Ravena too. Pamela herself and Tuka were infected. Tuka was back to her old self and humorously tapped Terong on the shoulder. “Surprise!” she said. “What, you two are Ravena now?” Terong cried. “How did that happen?” “Ask that to your God when you’re dead!” Pamela snarled. “But let’s not waste time on him. Our prince is calling us home!” All these female converts then sped their way toward Halimhim, as if guided by an unknown inner compass. When they arrived there, Gabriel did what he had to do with the women one after the other. In time, eggs were laid, and with Niwalum’s help, Gabriel rushed the hatching process and multiplied the young. The Ravena were back, thought the male lowlanders. Only the Mulawin could help them now. So the men stormed into Avila and reported to the bird-men what had happened. The Perico gave corroborating testimony, having seen Ravena women on the way outside Avila. But worse was to come. Like a prophetess of doom, Lourdes announced, “Darkness is coming! The Ravena are coming!” Sure enough, it was. “All the women of Carig are here now,” said Gabriel. “It is Avila’s turn.” He repeated the same procedure as before, but this time willed the dark cloud to sweep across Avila. “Come, women of Avila,” he called out mentally to them. “Come to your prince!” Habagat and Linang were awake in their hut that night when shouting from outside alerted them. “What’s happening?” they asked each other. Then black smoke seeped through the door and went to Linang as if she were a magnet. She shivered, and her eyes reddened. Habagat realized what was happening. “Fight it!” he cried. “Do it for our son!” But it was no use. Red flames leapt up from under her feet and engulfed her. When the fire vanished, a Ravena warrior stood there. Outside, Dakila and the elders were gathered in the midst of a commotion. People were running and screaming everywhere. Dakila himself saw the black smoke billowing all around them, transforming Aviona, Rosing, Mayi and all the other females he could see. “The Ravena are using some new power of evil to do this,” he concluded. “They are doing this to quickly increase the size of their tribe!” Lino walked up to his grandmother and tried to take her with him. “Grandma, let’s go now!” he said. Aviona shoved him down to the ground with a push. “We will deal with you at another time,” she told the Mulawin. “Our prince is calling for us.” They left the men dumbfounded and speechless. Linang also joined their ranks and headed for their new home. Habagat followed her, not wanting to lose her a second time. Meanwhile, Haraya was sleeping peacefully in her quarters when a familiar voice whispered to her, “Haraya, wake up! Go to Encantadia now! The Queen Mother sends for you!” Haraya threw off the covers and sat up. “The Queen Mother is sending for me? What might this be about?” Then she took on the shape of the magical songbird, her true form. The cloud just missed her and soon enveloped the whole room. Haraya flew a long way before she could open a portal to Encantadia. There Florona, the lady of the earth element, welcomed her. Of all things, Haraya found the corpse of Balasik there, lying on the meadow. “You were sent here for an important task,” Florona told her. The metamorphosis was now spreading everywhere. Even Lawiswis became a Ravena once again. She no longer recognized her playmate, stretching out her arm to strangle him. Pagaspas fought her but she threw him down. The echoes of Gabriel’s bird-call reached her then. Wis wrinkled her face at Gus and flew away to join her sisters. “If she’s a Ravena now,” thought Gus, “she must be headed back for Halimhim! Great, just when we finally got home!” He decided to follow her. Kuwak or Makisig witnessed the transformation of the Taguba women too. Luckily for him, they were not interested in hurting him. They, too, were heading for Halimhim. As they did, Aramis noticed the flock of Ravena flying overhead. “Ravena!” he said to himself. “Coming from Avila? But what about Aviona?” “I feel that something terrible is happening in Avila,” Aguiluz told his fellow Sugo. He could sense it in his heart. Then he noticed Alwina shaking and shivering. It was the dead of night, and he did not see right away the smoke engulfing her. Even when he saw it, he still did not know what it meant, for Aguiluz had never seen a human or Mulawin being changed into a Ravena. “Go away!” Alwina growled, her eyes turning a bloody red. “I want to hurt you!” “I know you won’t hurt me!” he shouted as he held her. “You love me! Alwina, fight whatever is inside you!” She was clearly being possessed, by what he did not know. But it was evil. Instinctively, Alwina closed her hand over the necklace she wore. It was Aguiluz’s necklace. Like a holy object it seemed to ward off the wicked spirit trying to take control of her. After several minutes of internal struggle, the spirit gave up and left Alwina. Her eyes cleared, and she was free again. The two heroes hugged each other, but she felt certain that it was not the last of it. “It felt as though my soul was being sucked out of me,” Alwina explained. “Then something told me to hold the necklace. But I can still feel it around us, waiting for a chance to steal our souls from us.” “I wonder what the Ravena have now that let’s them do this,” Aguiluz wondered. A pillar of black clouds descended beside Bagwis’ cage, seeking Veronica. It was a familiar feeling to the latter, and it brought back terrifying memories of her former ordeal. She screamed and writhed in pain, as if wrestling with an unseen opponent. “What’s going on?” cried Bagwis. Lourdes laughed. “Now your wife’s true nature is coming out! Why? You think she’s so sweet and innocent? Now you will see her for what she really is!” “That’s not true!” he answered. “Veronica, fight it! Do it for our daughter’s sake!” As with Alwina, the necklace she wore was what saved Veronica. She held on to it and to the love the ornament symbolized, and soon the spirit departed. It was powerless. Vultra did not make a comeback. “It’s gone!” Veronica exclaimed. “I passed the test!” “No!” Lourdes screamed in bitter disappointment. “No!” Why was Veronica able to resist it, when she had been unable to? Gabriel had been with his father for only a short while. But the Sugo intuitively knew a lot of things, or else he learned quickly what kind sort of character Ravenum was. He had asked on one occasion if Alwina could be brought to him; his father’s only response to that was a blank look on his face. Gabriel found out then what Rasmus had always known: that there was no room for love when Ravenum was around. Rasmus’ personal attachments had always been a problem for Ravenum. Gabriel never witnessed that, but he did not need anyone to tell him that he would end up in the same troublesome situation if he was not careful. Unlike his predecessor, however, Gabriel was shrewd and cunning in his own right. Or thought he was. By converting the women of Carig and Avila into Ravena, he intended to populate Halimhim with an army of Ravena that would be sired by him. But this was only a front; the real motive underlying this strategy was his desire to draw Alwina to him. Now a huge female crowd gathered before him, Ravena converts who had flown from Carig and Avila in answer to their prince’s call. They were mindless, soulless machines ready to serve him. “You are now where you belong,” he told them. “Good!” He scanned their ranks searchingly for the one woman who mattered to him. When he could not find her, Gabriel shouted angrily, “Why isn’t Alwina here? Where is she?” His father urged him to calm down, but the Sugo flew into a rage and blew fire. “Why isn’t Alwina here?” In kingly fashion, Gabriel blew a thick jet of fire into the air. Ravenum looked on in silence. He knew what it meant; there was a weak spot in his son’s armor.


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