Friday, April 01, 2005

The Liberation of Souls.

Episode for Mar 15, 2005, Tuesday. Freedom that is hard-won is often taken for granted, and thus is easily lost. Life, the common property of all, is cheap. Death is every man’s lot. And the soul that is God’s gift to all is redeemed from evil at a high price. In days of darkness and oppression, we recall the saints and martyrs who had once paid for our deliverance with their own ruin. But in the summertime of our lives, when the pastures are a lush green, and the meadows are fragrant with blooming flowers, are we still mindful of them? Who then remembers the dried and powdered bones lying buried in a forgotten valley of death? Who then visits with his memory those unmarked grave sites of fallen heroes where the sun never shines and only a mourning darkness looms? By these sacrifices, some are moved, and inspired to change their ways. The rest only marvel for a time, and soon forget. But just as long as there are souls to save from the iron-grip of evil, there will always be heroes, saints and prophets… although there will never be many of them. Now Gabriel was filled with fear and foreboding, and his extra-sensory perception did not mislead him. Beneath the thick forest canopy he discerned the shape of a man lying on the ground. Even in the darkness, he could see clearly who it was. It was Terong, and his shirt was dyed crimson with his own blood. The Ravena prince alighted swiftly to his friend’s side and gathered him in his arms. “Who did this to you?” he cried. Terong struggled to raise his head and look up at him. “Ravena did this to me,” he replied with effort. Miles away, Ravenum was interrogating Savannah about the sudden disappearance of the Ravena women. “They wouldn’t tell me where they went,” he said. “They told me to ask you. What are you up to?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Suddenly his mental radar picked up a signal. It was coming from Gabriel, and he was in pain. Ravenum could feel his pain… and anger. “You have angered Gabriel!” he growled at Savannah. “What did you do?” Without waiting for an answer, the father sped away from there to the outskirts of Halimhim. His heart guided him straight to his son’s presence. Having arrived at the crime-scene, it dawned on him what had happened. Someone had hurt Gabriel’s friend. Looking over, Ravenum could see and smell death hastening on its way. “Terong, don’t leave me,” Gabriel pleaded. He had never thought that Terong could leave him; he had been at his side all his life. But now the very real possibility of losing him was here. He noticed Ravenum standing beside him. “Father, help him!” he said. “He is already on the brink of death, my son,” his sire observed. “The only way to save him now is to turn him into a Ravena.” “No!” Terong groaned. “I don’t want to become a Ravena, Gabriel! I’d rather die!” “But that’s the only way you can live,” the prince argued. Terong replied, “Live? You call that a life? Where all goodness and beauty is lost? I don’t want that kind of life, Gabriel. I’d rather die.” Gabriel held him close to his breast, not talking. His bird’s eyes were wide open, harsh and yellowish, with tiny black dots for pupils. A storm of grief and fury was raging quietly inside them. After a few moments, Terong spoke again. “It won’t be long now, and I’ll be gone…” “Don’t be afraid,” said the prince. “I’m here for you.” “You’re the one who should be afraid, Gabriel. I’m on my way home to God. But what about you? There’s still time. You can still change. You can still go back to being the Gabriel I know and love. The Gabriel I would follow to the ends of the earth.” And he breathed his last. Gabriel’s vision narrowed. “Father, are you responsible for this?” he asked angrily. “What nonsense are you talking about?” was the retort. “I’m here to help you, and you have the nerve to accuse me?” “Are you behind this? You’re the one who wanted to make him a Ravena. You were annoyed at having a lowlander around.” “What? Is he a good soldier?” Ravenum asked. “Is he intelligent? What special qualities does he have that I’d be in a hurry to convert him into a Ravena? “Stop this foolishness. Your friend chose his death; I did not choose it for him. This matter is closed! You still have a wedding to attend!” He stomped off angrily. Gabriel shouted after him, “Don’t rush me! I still have a friend to bury!” Avila was like the soul of man; it was the battleground in the war of good versus evil. Now for the first time Aguiluz was leading the renegade troops in a war of liberation to free their homeland. He had not been with them the first time. This time, they were far fewer in number, but the new Mulawin tree had endowed them with a divine spirit that multiplied their strength many times over. They reached Avila under cover of darkness. Habagat saw Dakdak, being harassed by Ravena soldiers. While the Perico king distracted them with his chatter, Habagat moved stealthily from behind and stabbed each soldier in turn. This same strategy they repeated many times throughout the night. On the way, they opened cages and set the prisoners free. Before the Ravena knew it, they were being attacked from within the territory instead of without. “We’re being attacked!” they shouted, and so the warning was sent throughout the land. When the people realized what was going on, a surge of hope swept through them. “Avilans, this is the liberation you have been waiting for!” Lino announced, seizing an axe and turning on his oppressors. Dakila went to open cage after cage, and soon came upon the cell holding Daragit and Lumbas. “You’ve come to free us!” Daragit exclaimed with glee. “You’re right,” he answered sullenly, unlocking the door and letting them out. Aguiluz caught sight of a few cowardly troops fleeing the battle-scene. He flew in and stood on their way. “You came here uninvited,” he told them. “Now you are leaving without permission?” Then the Sugo raised his hands and emitted a blast of energy at them. The two soldiers were thrown back, dead. Elsewhere, everyone was geared into action. Freed from prison, the Musang somersaulted into the scene with deadly finesse. Alongside them were the leaders of the liberation: Bagwis, Dakila, Rasmus and Mulagat. Their show of unparalleled valor inspired the normally lackadaisical majority. Poorly equipped though they were, they nevertheless overwhelmed the Ravena forces with an insane display of courage. It was as if a divine frenzy had come upon the heroes and the citizens. And the uninspired and outnumbered Ravena were soon signally defeated. Now the land was cleared of those banes. Amid the roaring chants of victory, Dakila openly declared, “Friends and comrades, for the second time, Avila is ours!” “And the dark clouds have gone!” Veronica announced. “All this thanks to Aguiluz, our Sugo,” Dakila reminded the crowd. “Daragit and Lumbas, you should ask forgiveness from him. You were wrong about him.” Then the traitors knelt before the Sugo. “Forgive us,” said Daragit. “We have sinned against you.” Laab, likewise, got down on his knees. So did Lino. And Dakila And Bagwis followed by Veronica. And Rasmus. Soon all of Avila was kneeling before its savior. Only Aramis, a few Perico and the Taguba men were left in Lagaslaw. It was a perfect setting for one Ravena woman who decided to go back there for a return-bout. She came into the scene wielding the sword with a curved blade, looking for Aramis. He was lying down on a wooden bench; the parrot-men were attending to him. “Ravena!” the timid Perico cried when they saw the intruder. Aviona sent them away with one wicked look, like a wolf scattering sheep. She turned to Aramis. “Looks like you’re going to have to face me alone! Get up!” Aramis stood up but kept his distance even as she was swinging her weapon at him. “I can’t hurt the woman I love,” he told her. Then Aviona thrust the sword forward and cut him on the right side of his neck. The stroke went deep enough to pierce a vein; Aramis fell on his knees. “What a worthless opponent you are!” she said. “I haven’t even broken a sweat yet! Fight me!” But help was on the way… for both of them. Muyak in her moth-like shape came buzzing nearby. Aviona turned and saw a little fairy with glowing wings that looked like a butterfly’s. “What the…! Get away from me!” she cried, waving her arms to shoo the annoying little creature. “You’re the one who should stay away from him!” Muyak piped in her tiny voice. Then she aimed both of her hands at the Ravena, releasing a powerful jade-colored light. Aviona screamed, and in a matter of moments, regained her true nature. She became a Mulawin again. Aviona looked around with a bewildered expression. “What happened?” she cried. “Aramis, what happened to you? Who hit you?” She couldn’t remember anything. She ran to his side to examine his wound. “Please help him!” she pleaded with Muyak. “Now I know what Linang went through to save a loved one,” Muyak remarked almost to herself. “He has been seriously injured. I would have to use up all my anima reserves to help him.” Aviona was not looking at her; her attention was trained on the gaping wound on Aramis’ neck. Then a heavenly light passed over it, and the cut faded; the blood disappeared without a trace. “What happened?” Aramis asked. “The Diwata helped you,” Aviona replied. But when they turned to look at their benefactor, the fairy was gone. They saw only a young woman clad in white, with a sable belt wound around her simple garment. She had a Mona Lisa smile on her face as she gazed back at them. “Thank you for helping us,” the grateful lovers said. “Are you a Diwata?” “I was,” she answered truthfully. “I was also the Diwata who brought you to Encantadia and raised you, Aramis.” Aramis’ eyes widened, then he drew near this lady and hugged her. Muyak embraced him in return, but very lightly, like one not used to physical contact. “Are you behind what happened to Gabriel’s friend?” Ravenum asked Savannah. “How should I know anything about that?” she replied, feigning ignorance. Ravenum became very angry now. “Don’t lie to the liar,” he warned her. “So what if I had him killed? He was just confusing Gabriel all the time!” “But don’t you see? Now after what you’ve done, he’s more confused than before!” Their argument was broken by the report of a sentry. “You won’t believe what happened,” he told Ravenum. “The Mulawin have regained Avila. I saw Aguiluz there. He has wings again! Not only that. I saw a new Mulawin tree!” “Impossible!” he roared. “It’s true,” insisted the soldier. “I saw it for myself. I almost got my wings burned by it when I passed by.” So Ravenum consulted the book of prophecies. The book explained to him, You must counter its power with a tree of your own. “The last tree we had lies buried in the ruins of Halconia,” Ravenum answered with sarcasm. Then Balasik advised him to plant a new tree. Plant it with a red binhi. And mix it with the blood of a Sugo. Since Gabriel was not home yet, it was obvious from whom they must procure the precious blood. Ravenum went to a certain spot outside their headquarters, and bade Savannah plant a red seed there. Savannah obeyed. Now Ravenum dragged Alwina to the site and stretched out her arm. He cut a slit through her skin, and her blood trickled down to the earth and covered the binhi. Gabriel heard Alwina screaming. “What are you doing?” he shouted. “Wasn’t it enough that you killed my friend? Now you will violate the woman I love too?” Ravenum glared at him. “Don’t be so quick to judge! Look at what is about to happen and see why we’ve committed the violation you speak of!” Then a giant epiphyte tree sprang up from the earth fully grown. It was just like the Mulawin tree, only its light had a reddish glow. “Behold the new Ravena tree!” Ravenum said to them. Aviona was welcomed warmly by her old friends. “Now my happiness is almost complete,” Aguiluz told her, “since you are here. If only Alwina were here too.” “Speaking of Alwina,” said the Perico. “We heard some bad news about her.” “Whatever that is, tell me at once,” Aguiluz said. They told him, “We heard that she and Gabriel are getting married soon.” The Sugo made no comment on this, but instead prepared the Avilans for battle. He delivered a speech before them: “Friends and comrades, we are now heading into battle for the second time. But friends, this time we are not going into Avila. We are taking the war to Halimhim! “It is not in the Mulawin’s nature to bring war into another place or tribe. But neither is it in the Mulawin’s nature, nor in yours who are our allies, to let evil and corruption prevail in the world! “We Sugo had thought that when we reached the Mulawin tree, the struggle ended there. We have learned from that mistake at a great price. And the price for that mistake was the blood of our loved ones. May we never let their sacrifice be in vain. And let us not forget that while goodness slumbers, evil rises!” He threw his sword into the air, as if reaching for God’s grace, and caught it again with his hand. He pointed his sword towards the direction of Halimhim and cried, “We are now going to Halimhim to make sure that evil can never rise again! Let us head for Halimhim, friends and comrades, guided by the Almighty God! Let us march forward into battle!”


Blogger South Rock said...

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4/02/2005 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger South Rock said...

Just to let you folks know:

There is now an Unofficial Darna Web Log, an Unofficial Darna Blog Network and an Official Darna Web Site!

Be sure to support Darna: The Return Flight!

4/02/2005 09:29:00 AM  

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