We were already far away from Ignus but I can still see his dragons and Arsen’s hydra from here. Hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala sa nakikita ko. Alam kong sa status niya bilang Divine General ay kakaiba ang guardian niya, pero hindi ko akalain na ganito.
Along with the Spirit Masters, the Divine General confronted Ignus and his Ministers. I want to watch them fight but I have no time for that. I need to go to Hydra and find the Book of Prophecies. All the questions that have been bothering me will only be answered by that.
“Are you still okay?” tanong ni Ryleigh at tumango naman ako.
Hindi ko nga alam kung bakit pero parang medyo bumuti ang pakiramdam ko. Kanina ay parang mawawalan na ako ng malay sa sobrang pagod at hilo pero habang tumatagal ay parang bumabalik ang lakas ko.
Nang makalapit kami sa Hydra ay nakita ko ang ilang Divians na nakapaligid doon. I also saw some seals and around the place to protect it from the Exorcists. Luckily, we easily got through them and we landed on the roof of one of the towers. However, that didn’t secure our safety. A piercing sound stopped our movements and before we could find where it was coming from, we heard a whoosh of air and another swishing sound.
Nagulat ako nang bigla akong hatakin ni Ryleigh at napaupo kaming parehas. Doon ko lang nakita ang dalawang pana na halos muntik na kaming matamaan. Then I realized, the second arrow was shot to intervene the first one.
Sabay kaming napatingin ni Ryleigh sa baba at nakita namin sina Yano at Lexi. They are both on their hybrid forms and stationed themselves right before the entrance to Hydra.
“Go! We’ll cover you!” sigaw ni Yano at bigla naman akong hinila ni Ryleigh.
“Let’s go before the Exorcists see us.”
Naglakad kami papunta sa balcony ng isang kwarto at tinulungan niya akong makababa. Pagtapak ko sa railings ay nakaramdam ako ng kakaibang presensiya sa paligid at mukhang ganoon din si Ryleigh dahil bigla niya akong hinigit at pareho kaming nalaglag sa sahig. He groaned as his back hit the cemented floor while I didn’t feel the impact because I was on his top. I was about to move away and help him but he rolled and switched our position within a second. He stood up while bearing the pain and when I looked in front, there’s a guy standing on the railings.
“So you felt my presence, huh?” sabi niya at sinubukan niyang tumingin sa akin pero hinarang ni Ryleigh ang katawan niya.
“How did you get inside the barrier?” tanong ni Ryleigh at ngumiti lang ang lalaki.
“That’s none of your business, kid.”
“Go,” sabi ni Ryleigh at narealize kong ako ang kausap niya.
“But . . .”
“Don’t be a worrywart and just go.”
Wala naman akong nagawa kundi tumayo at gawin ang dapat kong gawin.
“Do you think I’ll let you go, kid?” biglang sabi ng lalaki at sumugod siya papunta sa akin. Pero bago pa siya makagalaw ay biglang lumitaw si Bob sa harapan niya. Ryleigh chanted an attack and the guy changed into a defensive position.
Ginamit ko ang kaunting oras na ‘yon para maglakad palayo pero napatigil ako at lumingon sa kanila.
“Please be safe. I’ll be back,” sabi ko at nakita kong tumango si Ryleigh.
Bago pa magbago ang isip ko ay tuluyan na akong tumakbo.
Napasandal ako sa pader sa sobrang pagod. Hindi ko alam kung nasaan na ako dahil hindi rito ang naging kwarto ko kundi sa right wing. There are eight towers in Hydra and I think I’m in the second from the left side. Pagkatapos kong makapagpahinga ng ilang segundo ay naglakad ulit ako.
Sa pagkakatanda ko ay nasa right wing ang kwarto ni Astrid kung nasaan ang Book of Prophecies kaya naman naglakad ako papunta roon. Napapahinto naman ako dahil sa spirit particles na nakakalat sa buong hallway. Doon ko lang narealize na sobrang taas ng concentration ng spirit particles ngayon sa Hydra at mukhang dahil doon kaya ako nakakagalaw ulit. These spirit particles compensate my low stamina and provide the work needed for my body to move.
Napahinto ulit ako nang bigla akong makaramdam ng matinding sakit sa likod ko. The throbbing pain didn’t subside so I have no choice but to bear it. I continued walking until I saw a familiar place—the Divine Hall. Ibig sabihin ay malapit na ako sa kwartong ‘yon kaya naman agad akong naglakad habang nakahawak pa rin sa likod ko. But then something happened. Muli akong napatigil dahil sa harapan ko ay may nakaabang na guardian.
I collapsed right away when I saw the guardian slithering on the floor.
“D-Don’t come near me,” sabi ko pero patuloy pa rin ito sa paggapang papunta sa akin.
Naalala ko bigla ang nangyari kay Arsen dati. He said that Hydra is heavily protected against Exorcists but some of them sacrificed their own guardians just to hunt their targets. I felt sorry for the Ainu dog that died last time, but I don’t think I will feel the same right now.
The giant Amazonian centipede crawled its way to me and I backed away until I hit the wall. Nanginginig na ako sa takot dahil bumilis ang paggapang nito hanggang sa halos isang metro na lang ang pagitan namin. I was shivering from pain and fear as the centipede closed our distance to one meter. It towered itself in front of me by raising half of its body and I was paralyzed when I saw its venom seeping out of its legs. Without wasting this chance, the centipede attacked me.
My mind was blank for a few microseconds and fear took over me.
“Go away!” I shouted at the top of my lungs as the centipede lunged at me. I closed my eyes, waiting for the monster’s attack but it didn’t come. Unti-unti akong dumilat at napanganga ako sa nakita ko.
The centipede was writhing in agony as blue flames started to consume it. Slowly, its appendages disintegrated but no spirit particles appeared from it. The guardian isn’t coming back in the spirit dimension . . . it’s disappering without a trace.
The sight horrified me more than the centipede’s attack so I immediately stood up and ran away from it.
Habang naglalakad ako ay napaisip ako sa nangyari. The blue flame made the guardian to dissolve into nothingness. Did I do that? Did I really make the guardian disappear? Sa akin ba galing ang apoy na ‘yon?
Lalo lang gumulo ang isip ko pero agad din akong napatigil noong nakita ko ang lugar na hinahanap ko. Napatakbo ako sa kwarto ni Astrid at pagkabukas ko ng pinto ay nakita ko kaagad ang Book of Prophecies. Dahan-dahan akong lumapit at napahawak ako sa dibdib ko dahil sobrang lakas ng pagkabog nito. Tumayo ako sa harapan ng libro at hinanda ko ang sarili ko sa maaari kong mabasa at malaman.
I opened the book.
Marahan kong inilipat ang bawat pahina dahil sa kalumaan ng libro at napatigil ako sa isang pahina kung saan may nakita akong pamilyar na mga salita. This was the prophecy I read when I went here last time but I wasn’t able to finish it because Ryleigh suddenly appeared.
“Immortality prophecy . . .” bulong ko no’ng nabasa ko ang nasa itaas at lalo akong kinabahan.
“Unlimited power will be hers,
Accompanied by its curse;
Death can’t claim her spirit,
But few will be after it.
Fire will claim its flame,
And seal the owner and her name;
Until the second finds its way to her,
The world will fall as hell takes over.”
No’ng natapos ko ‘yong basahin ay nangilabot at naguluhan ako. As fas as I can remember, the immortality is in the form of a seal, but here, it is associated with a person—a girl. The word second made me confused, too. Naaalala kong tinawag ako ng ilang Exorcist na second pero hindi ko alam kung bakit. Ignus, on the other hand, called me Princess. Then I remember that dream.
The girl protecting me from Ignus . . . her voice . . . the immortality seal . . . Princess . . . Second . . . vessel . . .
Nanginginig ang mga kamay ko at nabitawan ko ang pahina dahil sa mg naiisip ko. No way. That doesn’t seem right. How can I . . .
Umiling ako para tanggalin ang mga naiisip ko. Huminga ako nang malalim at muling nilipat ang pahina ng libro hanggang sa makakita ako ng isa pang prophecy.
“Second prophecy,” I said in a daze and my heart thumped loudly against my chest.
“Born on the night of silence,
The world shall know her existence;
The second shall awaken
The power that was taken;
Inheriting the name of the first
Free her from the curse;
Keep the world from the raging fire,
And soar across the sky.”
Tuluyan kong nabitawan ang libro at napasandal ako sa shelf sa likuran ko. My mind can’t take in all these information. I was just about to sit but she suddenly appeared on my mind.
“Reika . . .”
It’s her. This voice really belongs to her.
“W-who are you?”
“I think you already know.”
Natahimik kami pareho at hindi na ako makahinga nang maayos dahil sa sitwasyon namin.
“Reika, now is the right time. Come and see me.” Right after she said that, her voice disappeared.
Naglakad ako palabas ng kwarto at hindi ko alam kung ano pa ba ang dapat kong isipin at gawin. Bigla na lang tumulo ang luha ko sa hindi ko malamang dahilan. There are no aquainas in the vicinity but my most painful memories keep on resurfacing.
“Mama, Papa, anong gagawin ko?” bulong ko sa sarili ko dahil gulung-gulo na ang isip ko.
Naalala ko bigla ang laging kinukwento sa akin ni Mama noong bata pa ako. Sabi niya, noong pinanganak niya ako ay tanging ang iyak lang naming dalawa ang narinig sa buong baryo. Pero pagkatapos no’n ay minsan ko na lang sila makita. Sina Tita Aina ang madalas na nag-aalaga sa akin kapag wala sina Mama at Papa. Dati ay nagtatampo pa ako sa kanila hanggang sa pagkamatay nila dahil hindi na nila ako binalikan. Pero nang malaman kong Spirit Masters sila ay agad ding nawala ‘yon. Nagtampo rin ako no’ng sinabi ni Master na hindi niya alam na meron silang anak. I don’t know why they hid my existence but after reading those prophecies, I finally understand their decisions.
I tried to deny it but I already know inside my heart that the Second prophecy was pertaining to me. They sacrificed their lives to protect me from the Exorcists and from Ignus. They hid me from the world because they know that they will be after me. I felt horrible because I hated them for not coming back.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Patuloy lang ang pag-agos ng luha ko pero napahinto ako sa pag-iyak noong makarating ako sa hinahanap kong lugar. She didn’t say any place but I know that she’s inside.
Pinunasan ko ang pisngi ko at kinalma ko ang sarili ko. This is not the right time to cry for what had happened in the past. I need to be strong and face the present.
I am facing a dead-end and only walls covered the whole area but I know that I’m in the right place because it is heavily concentrated with spirit particles, to the point that it’s already suffocating.
“Exsto,” I chanted and a door appeared on the wall. Huminga ako nang malalim bago lumapit doon pero nanginginig pa rin ang kamay ko habang nakahawak sa knob.
Huminga ulit ako nang malalim at hinanda ang sarili ko sa mga mangyayari. From now on, I will only look forward and do what I have to do.
I opened the door.
A larger concentration of spirit particles welcomed me and almost pushed me out but I resisted and made my way inside. However, these spirit particles felt familiar. Then I realized, they weren’t pushing me out. Somehow, it felt like they were excited to see and feel me.
“You’re finally here.”
Pagkarinig ko no’n ay agad akong napatingin sa gitna ng room at napatigil ako sa nakita ko. I even stopped breathing for a few seconds. The girl turned around and faced me.
My heart thumped so loudly that my chest hurts. I can’t breathe properly, as if someone is covering my nose and mouth. I stood frozen while looking at the girl in front of me.
“I have been waiting for you, Reika,” she said with a smile.
With her white dress and innocent smile, she looks so young. But what caught my attention was her eyes and hair. Her eyes were as clear as the sky and her blue hair twinkled with the spirit particles around her. Even though I met her for the first time, I immediately knew who she is, though I don’t know how or why.
“Phoebe . . .” I blurted out and she smiled.
I don’t understand what’s happening but it’s really her. She’s the immortal princess the prophecy was talking about.
And her name is Phoebe.