Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Feather and the Arrow.

Episode for Mar 17, 2005, Thursday. The Mulawin chiefs had penetrated deep into enemy territory when the tide of battle began to turn against their favor. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the heroic chain was now quite weakened. Aguiluz was gone, Bagwis and Aviona had been taken hostage, Rasmus was dead, and others were injured. Seeing this, the Ravena army barred all exits from Halimhim and surrounded the Mulawin. They rounded up every single one of the chiefs there and brought them before Ravenum, who had a surprise for them. When the Ravena patriarch emerged from his house, he faced the crowd and proclaimed in a loud voice, “Meet the Sugo you boast of!” A young Ravena warrior was ushered into the scene in shining red armor. He was Aguiluz. Close behind him were Gabriel and Alwina. The red forces cheered noisily while the white grieved. “What did you do to him?” Dakila cried. Ravenum laughed. “You should have seen it when I turned him into a Ravena. He LOVED it. He kept saying, ‘Go on, Ravenum! Make me a Ravena! Make me powerful!’” “You bastard!” Bagwis cursed and charged at him, but a sentry him back into his place. Then the father ordered, “Round up the captives and put them behind bars!” Then everyone was ushered into different cells, about two or three in each unit, as if to give everybody a suitable companion in his or her misery. Nicely enough, father went with son, husband with wife, and lover with lover. Mulagat paced irately back and forth in one cell. Habagat was cooler and advised him to calm down. “Keep quiet in there,” Linang scolded them. Meanwhile in another cage, Bagwis knelt beside Veronica who was seated on a bench. “You’ve been seriously wounded,” he said worriedly. But Veronica had been unaware of it until he mentioned it. “That’s nothing compared to seeing our daughter like that,” she replied, adding in a plaintive tone, “Why does this have to happen to us just when our family has been reunited? I can’t imagine Alwina going through the same hell that I did!” She wept bitterly, and her husband did not know how to console her. To add insult to injury, Lourdes showed up and peered through the bars of their cage. “Why are you crying?” she asked. “Don’t worry. I’m bringing in more prisoners to keep you company!” Then Aramis and Aviona were thrown into the same cell. Veronica eyed the young man curiously. Now there was nothing for them to do but talk, or sit in numb silence. So Aviona spoke softly to her about Aramis. “Muyak, a Diwata, found him abandoned in the woods and adopted him,” she narrated. “He looked like his mother had left him there.” She further described the time and circumstances in which Aramis had been discovered. “Left in the woods by his mother?” Veronica repeated thoughtfully. Could it be possible? The notion danced evasively along the edges of her mind. It seemed too incredible to be true. Veronica, a sensible and highly intelligent woman, was slow to entertain such fantastic ideas. Yet still… “I want to talk to you about what happened earlier.” They were in Alwina’s chamber. Gabriel kept his distance from her, but he was closely scrutinizing her face as they talked. “I’m sorry,” she told him. “I was just distracted so I mentioned the wrong name. I shouldn’t have.” Gabriel answered skeptically, “I don’t know, but no matter how confused or distracted I got, I doubt I would ever forget the name of the one I’m going to marry. “Listen,” he continued. “It’s been a long day and I have been through a lot. Don’t add to what’s already on me by lying to me. Answer me truthfully: Do you still have any feelings for Aguiluz?” The princess regarded him silently, fearfully. She nodded very slightly. One could have easily missed it. But Gabriel did not, and it was enough answer for him. He withdrew to his own room without a word, and sat staring into the darkness. And in that darkness, he was enlightened. His father’s words had blinded him; he had been misled all along. Even the Balasik, the book of prophecy, had lied to him it seemed. She did not love him, period. I thought that if Alwina became a Ravena, she would love me, he said to himself. But that hasn’t happened yet. This place… this place is nothing but rubble, dead trees and old buildings. Ruins. Just like my hopes and dreams. Just like my life. The dead silence was broken by Savannah’s rude voice calling him. Gabriel looked up and saw her near him. “Who gave you permission to enter my room?” he barked. Savannah ignored this and dared to approach him. She hugged his knees and said, “Gabriel, I love you. Can’t you see where meant for each other?” The prince pushed her away from him with derision. “Savannah,” he said testily, “I’m starting to realize that Alwina will never love me. So I hope you can realize that I will never love you either! It disgusts me just thinking we are of the same feather!” Back in the dungeons, Lino cussed loudly in the company of Dakila and Pagaspas. “What am I doing here? Why did we have to get involved in this mess, anyway? My grandma and I should’ve gone back to the plains!” The Mulawin elder said to him, “Lino, you are here because sometimes, a man does not choose his fate. His fate chooses him.” “What do you mean?” asked Gus. “Well, like us Mulawin,” Dakila explained. “God graced us with wings. We can fly. We can do things that other beings can only dream of. We go farther, we can do more. At the same time, we see more, we perceive more than ordinary mortals can. That is why we get so angry when we see the wickedness in the world, the greed, the violence against nature and one’s fellow creatures. “With such gifts as we are given, comes responsibility,” he reminded the boy. “We must be strong and not let fear overtake us.” Just then a jail guard announced Ravenum was coming to visit. “Good evening, Dakila,” said his erstwhile friend on a mocking note. “How are you doing there?” Dakila answered in like manner, “Still up, Ravenum? Does the thought of all your sins make you sleepless tonight?” “I may be sleepless, but at least my bed is comfortable unlike yours. And I assure you, things will get even worse if you give me the wrong answer to my question.” “What’s that?” “I am giving you a choice,” Ravenum told him, “lest you think there is no pity left in my heart.” “And what goodness would come to us from the darkness of your heart?” Dakila asked. “You must choose: Become a Ravena… or die.” Dakila grinned proudly. “What an easy question!” he responded. “Of course… I will choose death!” Wrath smoldered in the Ravena’s breast. “You yourself have sentenced your people to death!” he told the old man. “You are all going to die!” Aguiluz was strolling outside in the cool of the evening. His brother soon joined him, and they started talking. Aguiluz was marveling at his brand-new powers as a Ravena. “I feel so powerful,” he said to Gabriel. “I never felt such power in my body before. Now I want to conquer the world for our father.” Indeed, he was so grateful to Ravenum that Aguiluz was ready to lay kingdoms at his feet. Gabriel could see himself in his sibling’s remote eyes. “I felt the same way at first,” he said. “But you know what I saw? I saw my own selfishness and blindness. I saw how base my life had become. “And in case you forget, I’ll remind you that all the power in the world is in vain if you have no love in your heart. And of all things he can do, that is what Father is incapable of. He cannot create love in a heart that doesn’t know how to love or refuses to.” When the sun rose next morning, guards herded the prisoners-of-war to the execution site. All the Mulawin chieftains were lined up before Ravenum and his family. “You shall all be beheaded!” he told them. “Dakila is first!” As a guard pulled him by the arm, Dakila growled at him, “Don’t touch me!” There was no need to drag him under the executioner’s axe. He came forward on his own, merely casting a final contemptuous glance at his enemies. Ravenum handed a silver axe to Aguiluz and said, “As the newest member of the Ravena clan, you are hereby ordered to carry out the execution.” Gus began to sob audibly. Aguiluz stared at the blade. “If that is your pleasure, Father,” he replied. He went over to Dakila, who was kneeling on the ground with his head bent over a block of wood. Gabriel cleared his throat. “Father, if you don’t mind,” he said, “I’d like to stand beside my brother when he performs the execution.” Ravenum smilingly gave his permission. Now was the moment. Aguiluz raised the axe; all eyes were on it. No one saw Gabriel draw out a golden ugatpak from his belt. He moved swiftly and stabbed his brother on the spine with it. Aguiluz bellowed out loud; the crowd gasped. A brilliant light permeated his whole being, and his white and yellow feathers returned. He was a Mulawin again. Ravenum was caught utterly by surprise. “Gabriel, how could you do this to me?” he asked. “I only did what I should have done sooner,” he replied. “Seize him!” Ravenum commanded. Then Gabriel discharged fire from his mouth to ward off the Ravena soldiers. By doing so, he covered for the prisoners as well as they made their escape. Alwina screamed in fury as the traitor retreated with them. Then Gabriel handed his brother the axe and said, “Go on now. Take this with you.” “What do I do with this?” “You know what that’s for. And you know where you should go.” So Aguiluz sailed through the air and headed straight for the Ravena tree. He hit it repeatedly with the axe, at first with no effect. But soon the earth began to quake, and the tree shuddered. Its light grew dim. Ravenum sensed from afar what the Sugo was up to and bade his men go stop him. But it was too late. The triumphant light of the Mulawin tree then spread over the land. The Ravena women – those who had been forcefully converted – fell before its power. The light healed them and restored their souls to them. Alwina, at last, was herself once more. She led the Mulawin and their allies against the remaining Ravena forces. In the chaos that ensued, Ravenum was able to seize a weary Gabriel and carry him off to an isolated area. He threw his son into a corner and pulled out his ugatpak. “You are a weakling just like Rasmus!” the father said. “Now you will know the punishment for those who defy me!” He hit Gabriel with his sword, but the blade met with the edge of Aguiluz’s weapon. “You will have to fight me first, Father,” he said. Then father and son engaged in a bloody swordfight. Their weapons made rapid, swishing sounds as they did. Aguiluz chased Ravenum everywhere, up and down the stairways, across the hallways and through the rooms. Sensing defeat, Ravenum turned his back on his adversary and flew away. Aguiluz pursued him. Back with the others, Lourdes was human again. The first thing she was Veronica crouching on the ground, bleeding copiously from her abdomen. She had been that way since yesterday, it was a wonder she was even alive still. Lourdes ran to her side. “Who did this to you?” she asked. “Was it me?” ‘That doesn’t matter now,” Veronica replied weakly. “What matters is you are again the friend I know and love.” Alwina saw them together. She hurried to them and embraced both women. “She’s terribly wounded,” Lourdes said of the Mulawin queen. Someone else had spotted them: Savannah. The Ravena were going to lose, she knew it. But she wasn’t going out just like that. If she had to go, she must leave them a souvenir they would never forget. The Ravena princess dipped an arrow in a cup of noxious green liquid. Then she aimed it with her bow. Lourdes saw her and pushed Alwina out of the way. Savannah let go; the arrow flew through the air like a bullet and hit Lourdes on her left arm. Alwina’s heart fell to pieces. “MOTHER!" she shrieked.


Blogger South Rock said...

One more! One more! :)

Big thanks to SS for preserving several important speeches!

4/03/2005 07:37:00 AM  

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