Nakaramdam ako ng patak ng tubig sa mukha ko kaya agad akong nagising. Halos mahilo ako sa mabilis kong pagbangon pero lalo akong naging disoriented nung hindi ko makilala ang paligid ko. Nilibot ko ang paningin ko at saka ko narealize kung nasaan ako.
I’m in a cabin. That means . . .
Agad akong tumayo pero napahinto ako nung makita ko sina Ryleigh at Lycus na nakahiga sa kama. Lumapit ako at tinignan ko ang sugat na nakuha nila mula kay Holt. Kitang-kita pa rin pero may signs naman na naghilom ang mga ‘yun. However, they’re still unconscious.
Bigla ko namang narinig ang pagtahol ni Jerry at muntik na akong mapasigaw dahil sa nakita ko. His fur was covered in blood. And then I remembered what happened before I passed out. Lumapit ako kay Jerry at niyakap ko siya.
“Did you bring us here?” tanong ko at tumahol siya sa akin. He jumped into me and we both fell on the floor. I think he’s the only guardian left because I lost my remaining stamina for Carlos’ and Phoebe’s physical manifestation. “You should rest, Jerry,” I said and I caressed his back. “Nes-sa.”
Jerry’s spirit particles dissolved into thin air and I hope the three of them, and also those guys’ guardians are fine.
Tumayo naman ako at lumabas ako ng kwarto. I knew it. We’re inside the Divine Camp.
"Gising ka na pala."
Napalingon naman ako at nakita ko si Lorgan habang nasa gilid niya naman ang guardians niya na sina Remus at Romulus. I was about to reply but the loud horn sound surprised me. Suddenly, dozens of Divians came out of their cabins, dressed in armors and fighting gears. They simultaneously summoned their guardians, occupying the huge field with different spiritual animals.
"W-what's happening?" tanong ko at nakita kong nagre-ready na rin si Lorgan.
"May mga umaatake na naman sa ilang baryo at malapit na sila sa Capital," sabi niya.
"Malapit na sila sa Capital?"
"Yes, according to your friend."
"You mean, Lexi? Where is she? Okay lang ba siya?" Bigla tuloy akong nag-alala tungkol sa kalagayan niya.
"Yes. She's with Yano so you don't need to worry. That lad may look gentle but he's an offensive fighter." Lumapit siya sa akin at ngumiti. "Like a true carnivore."
Agad siyang umalis at ni-lead niya ang Divians na nagform ng lines sa field. Nakaka-overwhelm tignan ang nagkalat na guardians at Divians pero nakakatuwa rin dahil alam kong gagawin nila ang lahat para lang mapigilan ang Exorcists.
Napalingon naman ako at nakita kong palabas ng cabin si Ryleigh. He’s clutching the right side of his abdomen, where he received a critical hit.
“Nasa Divine Camp tayo. The Exorcists might breach the Capital soon so Lorgan will lead the Divians to prevent that.”
“Damn that father of mine!” Nagulat naman ako nung lumabas din si Lycus habang mabilis siyang nagsusuot ng damit. “Leading the pack all by himself!”
Agad siyang tumakbo papunta sa grupo ng Divians at kinabahan ako dahil kagagaling lang ng sugat niya. Baka bigla na lang bumukas ‘yun dahil sa ginawa niya.
“Don’t worry. That guy won’t die easily,” sabi ni Ryleigh at pumasok siya ulit sa loob para mag-ayos.
Ako naman, naglibot muna ako sa Divine Camp dahil na-miss ko rin ang lugar na ‘to. We stayed here for a few days but somehow, it felt like a home to me.
Marami akong nakikitang Divians na naghahanda para sa paparating na laban at ang ilang naiwan dito ay lumilibot din para obserbahan ang paligid. Napunta ako sa lake at nakita ko ang aquainas. Umupo ako sa gilid at pinanood ko silang lumangoy. After a few minutes, I can already feel their abilities having an effect on me.
“Reika,” tawag ni Mama sa akin at lumapit ako sa kanya. “Sorry, anak, pero kailangan ulit naming pumunta ng Papa mo sa Capital.”
Nalungkot ako noong narinig ko ‘yun pero wala naman akong magagawa kaya tumango na lang ako.
“Pero iiwan ng Papa mo si Jerry para may kasama at kalaro ka. Okay ba ‘yun?” Tumango ulit ako at niyakap ako bigla ni Mama. “Sorry Reika. I know this may sound like an excuse but we’re doing this for you. So be patient and wait for us, okay?” Dahil sa malungkot at paiyak na tono ni Mama ay muntik na rin akong maiyak pero pinigilan ko ‘yun at tumango ulit ako.
“Jerry,” sabi ni Papa at lumabas agad si Jerry sa tabi niya. Nung makita niya ako ay tumalon siya papunta sa akin at pareho kaming natumba sa sahig. Kasinlaki ko lang si Jerry kaya naman halos natakpan niya ang buong katawan ko.
“Ramon, tara na.”
And then both of them walked away from me.
Dumilat ako at hinabol ko ang hininga ko dahil sa naalala ko. I heard the aquainas in front of me snickering and before they can trigger more memories, I decided to leave.
Napunta ako sa gubat at nakita ko ang ilang silvanias na mabilis na nagtatago sa kani-kanilang puno. Mukhang ramdam din nila ang panganib na paparating dahil naramdaman ko ang pagyanig ng lupa kaya napahawak agad ako sa isang puno. Dahil mukhang hindi ako makakapaglakad sa ganitong sitwasyon ay isa lang ang naisip kong paraan. I need to travel by air.
“Phoebe, sal-ve!” I chanted.
Phoebe immediately appeared in front of me and I positioned myself on her back. She let out an ear-piercing cry and she ascended afterwards.
Phoebe soared upwards and I can see the landscape of the Capital from here. The destruction of some of the neighboring villages can also be viewed and I feel sorry for all the innocent people who died because of the Exorcists’ attacks. Natigil ang paningin ko sa isang village na malapit sa Capital dahil may kakaiba akong naramdaman doon. I know that it’s dangerous and not the right move but I chose to observe the village.
Nang makarating kami roon ni Phoebe ay tahimik at maingat akong nagmanman sa paligid. Phoebe returned in the spirit dimension while I explore the forest. I ended up on the top of a cliff and I suddenly felt a strong and concentrated amount of spirit particles around me. That’s when I hear something below me.
“We’re finally here.”
Dali-dali akong nagtago sa likod ng isang malaking bato nang narinig ko ‘yun. Bigla akong kinabahan dahil pamilyar ang boses niya.
“Tell Garan and Han to get ready,” sabi ng isa pa at kinilabutan ako sa boses niya. There’s something menacing and eerie with the way he talks. Is he the lord they are calling earlier?
“Yes, my lord. I, Serena, your humble minister, will tell them the plan.”
I knew it. Her voice was familiar because I’ve already heard it. Serena, huh. Wait, that means . . .
“Odin,” sabi ng nakakatakot na boses.
“My lord.” Another voice, huh? Tatlo sila roon sa baba. O baka naman may iba pa?
“Kill that rat.”
“Yes, my lord.”
Bigla nalang naging tahimik ang paligid. Balak ko na sanang sumilip pero nagulat ako nung biglang tumaas ang tensyon sa paligid. Then all of a sudden, a blade was pointed on my neck.
“Found the rat,” he said and I felt like my soul left my body.
They detected me right away and I can’t believe I let my guard down. Panic started to overwhelm me. I can’t even think straight and all I know is that I’m going to die right now.
Bigla namang natuon ang atensyon ko sa boses na ‘yun. That voice again. I really wonder who she is and what connection do we have.
“Don’t let your fear conquer you. You’re strong. Use your power.”
Huminga ako nang malalim para kalmahin ko ang sarili ko. I don’t stand a chance against this guy but I need to get out of here. And there’s only one way.
“Phoebe, sal-ve!” I chanted as I roll away from him. He swung the spear and the rock where I was hiding was cut clean into two.
“Damn rat. You got some moves, huh?”
Pagtingin ko sa kanya ay napahinto ako. He has no left eye. If I remember correctly, the guy below called him Odin and I think Lark also mentioned that name before. So he’s an Exorcist, and on top of it, a Minister.
As if on cue, we both chanted the incantation for our half-animal forms and before he could finish it, my wings were already fluttering. When I looked at him, his body was covered with rough scales, like those of crocodile, and he glared at me with disgust.
I was about to leave but I sensed something dangerous behind me. When I turned around, I saw the guy below the cliff staring at me. He made my skin crawl and when he smiled at me, it felt like he has seen through my soul. I never felt fear like this before. It was really terrifying.
Before I could even react, the whole forest was suddenly engulfed by fire. Even though I was above, I can still feel the blistering heat of the flames and its rage. I can feel that it is alive. The fire is alive.
I immediately flew away from the forest but my lungs were filled with smoke. I can’t breathe properly and the terror I felt was not helping. So that was him. The man who wanted to have the immortality seal and the ruler of the Exorcist.
Ignus. I finally met him.