The Slave Prince Chapter 14
Apo Ugay is Gone
It was night when he reached the familiar stream – Egul’s and his stream. He could spend the night here so the horse could rest and drink. The dark sky dotted with stars looked down on him and he remembered Egul but this time Egul’s face belonged to Ayong.
“I haven’t forgotten you my friend,” he said out loud, “but I just found a family… and a brother. But you will always be my friend, Egul.”
Even before the first ray of the sun came up, Agawe was on his way. He first came to his Apô Ugay’s hut but found it empty. From the looks of it, no one has lived in it for months.
He took his horse and rode to his Innà’s hut. He saw smoke from the hut and he felt better. On the door, he hesitated before he called softly, “Innà…Innà…”
“Sadan yan?” Agawe heard his Innà’s voice asking who it was.
“Innà… Agawe ni..” he answered in a whisper.
The door opened slowly and Lungkayan peeked out. “Agawe?” she asked in disbelief.
“Innà…thanks to Manama. I was in Apô’s hut and she’s not there…”
Lungkayan came out and hugged him tight, sobbing.
Agawe found out his Apô Ugay got ill and passed away a few weeks after he left.
Agawe was devastated. He sat on the cot and could not control his tears.
“Agawe,” Lungkayan started, “She kept praying for you. She said if you ever came back… to tell you that she could no longer wait for you…”
Agawe wept as he ran to his Apô’s burial site. He knew where she was. She had said time and again that she wanted to be buried next to her husband under the big camansi tree up the hill.
“Apô, I think I found my innà and ammà…” was all he could say after catching his breath and falling on his knees.
He did not know how long he sat there, crying his heart out to his Apô Ugay.
“Agawe…” his Innà, who followed him, touched his shoulder.
“Innà….” he struggled to compose himself. “I wanted to tell Apô that I found my innà and ammà… but I am too late…”
“Agawe…” there was fear in Lungkayan’s voice. “Is – is that why you’re back? Are you in trouble?”
“No, Innà… I am in a good place … that is why I want Apô Ugay to know, too…”
Lungkayan settled next to her son, “Then tell me all that happened from the time you left here. Your Apô Ugay is listening…”
Agawe narrated to his innà his adventures since he left … being careful not to leave any detail no matter how unimportant. He told her how he was sure that Ubo and Maeng were his parents as they lost a son the same time he was born.
“That is why I came back to ask you, Apô, “ he looked at the stone tomb, “if you are the mabalian who took Maeng’s son…” Agawe asked when he finished his story.
Lungkayan shook her head, “Agawe,” her voice was still concerned, “I know that Innà never served Ubo and his family. But I seem to remember Innà talk about Abet…”
“She knows her? Then maybe she is the mabalian…” Agawe became excited.
“Agawe, listen… from what I heard, Abet is a powerful mabalian so I wonder why another one would help her son’s wife deliver a baby… why not her?”
“Innà…” Agawe became thoughtful, “It is Apô Abet who helped deliver the baby and when she saw that the baby was not perfect, she gave it to someone to save him…. that is Apô Ugay’s story but she just got the details mixed up, right?”
Lungkayan looked at her son, sighed and shook her head. “Agawe, your Apô Ugay’s story said it was the young mistress’ mother, not the husband’s mother…. and her mistress lived in another village…”
“Innà… you were not there when it happened. The night they picked you up to leave, did you really know exactly if they came from the village of Ubo or from another village?”
“I don’t know… They could come from any other village…. even from the village of Ubo… now I am confused...”
“Innà… now I am sure. Ubo and Maeng are my parents. I found them!”
“Agawe… even if you are right… what are you going to do? You think Ubo will not kill you? If it is true that Abet sent you away to save you? What do you think will happen to that family? What will Ubo do to his mother or to his wife?”
Agawe buried his face on his hands. “I will bring them bad luck…”
“Agawe, you promised your Apô Ugay not to do anything if you find your parents… she trusted you to keep your promise… she does not want any harm to befall you…”
Agawe stayed with his Innà for a few more days before he decided to go back. He persuaded his innà to come with him. They can live in his hut as free people.
“Agawe… you were given your freedom… not me. And I want to stay here. I want to die here and be buried with Innà and Ammà, and Uon… there under the camansi tree.”
“Innà… you are alone here… who will take care of you…”
“I can manage… I have friends here. They will bury me… now I will die happy because you are in good hands… but promise me, Agawe…. don’t do anything foolish…”
He was about to leave when his Innà said, “Agawe, I forgot to tell you… the purple stone which saved your life many times… it’s from your mother. She gave that to Innà to use for your protection and it gave Innà some unnatural powers. As far as I know, your real grandmother was a very powerful mabalian. She can heal but she can also harm anyone who offends her. Maybe your innà took the purple stone from her own mother – your real apô.”
“That’s Apô Abet… she is my grandmother,” Agawe happily declared.
“Agawe, I do not know the names of your real family and I do not know where they are. Your Apô Ugay was very careful not to tell me names because I was a young girl that time. I might start talking. When I grew up I was just too scared to want to know more… I don’t think Innà would mention Abet to me if she was your real grandmother. ”
Agawe and Gayon
Agawe left more confused than ever and with a heavy heart, he started back home. In the forest, he stopped by the little brook to give his horse a drink. As he bent down to drink from the stream himself, his horse suddenly brayed and sped off. Agawe chased his horse but two men came out of the trees and blocked his way.
“Who are you?” Agawe asked as he stepped backed.
“Agawe…” one of the men said.
“How do you know me?”
“Because I told them,” Gayon came out of another tree.
Agawe sighed. “What do you want, Gayon?”
“What do I want?” he screamed. “My sister is dead! Your Apô killed her! I will make one of you pay….”
Agawe backed away as Gayon came dangerously near. “Your sister killed herself…” he reasoned.
“Because you shamed her…” Gayon interrupted angrily as he unsheathed his sword.
Agawe realized he was at a disadvantage when he saw the other two pull out their swords. He turned and ran to the opposite direction. He could lose them in the forest. He needed to take them one by one to get out of the forest alive.
Agawe knew he could outrun them. He had been chasing deers for food even when he was a boy. His life as an al-lang gave him an advantage over his pursuers, especially Gayon who lived in comfort all his life. He found a tree that could hide him and he climbed up.
When one of the al-langs walked under the tree, Agawe stealthily jumped down and hit the man’s head with his sheathed sword. He fell with a thud. Then Agawe’s ear caught the sound of footsteps. He quickly hid behind the tree. When the man ran to his companion, Agawe circled the tree and hit him from behind. Both men were unconscious when Gayon turned up.
Agawe saw Gayon’s apprehension when he realized his slaves were out cold. The two young men sized each other up. Gayon gripped his sword while Agawe’s hand was ready to unsheathe his.
When Gayon charged, Agawe quickly pulled his sword and the sound of blades filled the air as they fought for their lives. Agawe proved to be the stronger one and he was able to force the sword out of Gayon’s hand who was stunned but stood his ground.
“My father taught me to fight with honor,” he said in a trembling voice. Agawe sensed Gayon was trying to hide his fear.
Agawe stared at him, took a deep breath, “I know you are not going to do this for me but…” Agawe sheathed his sword. “I have no intention of killing you.” Agawe walked away.
“I am the son of a magani and I fight to death…” Gayon called out, “you will not understand that because you are a slave.” He paused and continued, “Yes, I know you are al-lang…” he taunted, “no matter how many times you are freed -- you were born a slave and forever you are a slave…”
Agawe stopped in his tracks, he turned and walked back to Gayon. “I am not a slave!!!” he roared as he delivered a blow to Gayon’s jaw. Agawe watched in rage as Gayon fell backwards. Then he turned and ran.
Read Chapter 15
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