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The Slave Prince Chapter 17
Agawe Fights for Apo Abet and his Life
Siawan and the other mabalians came into the room as Madallay groaned in anguish. “What is happening?” Siawan hollered.
“Siawan… leave us alone!” Apô Abet ordered.
“No! I’m not leaving until I know what is happening here…!” Siawan barked. “Is Madallay alright…?” He knelt beside his wife, “Madallay, why are you crying?”
Madallay did not answer. Her body shook from crying.
Siawan was enraged. He charged at the unsuspecting Agawe. The first blow hit Agawe dead on the face and he staggered but managed to stay on his feet. He sidestepped the next blow and at the same time struck his fist on Siawan’s lower chest which took the old man’s breath and fell down.
Agawe did not take his eyes off Siawan who struggled to stand up. The old man pulled off his coat and unsheathed his sword. Agawe remembered Gayon saying his father was a magani, a warrior who’s skilled in battle. A chill ran down his spine but he knew that if Siawan killed him, he would also kill Apô Abet and he could not allow that. With determination and courage he did not know he possessed, he removed his coat to face the old warrior.
Pulling his sword from its sheath, he fought the raging man in the midst of women’s screams and cries. It was clear that the old man was a better fighter but Agawe’s agility and youth was his advantage. The two fighters leaped out of the room and fought fiercely.
At one point, Siawan’s sharp sword sliced through Agawe’s shirt and grazed his chest.
“I will kill you!” Siawan yelled as he kept charging. They were out in the yard when Agawe realized he was bleeding. Siawan wounded him with ease but Agawe was determined to win. He was fighting not only for himself but for Apo Abet.
The Black Mark
In the end, Siawan’s insane anger drove him to lose the fight. He laid on the grass bleeding. “Why don’t you kill me?”
Agawe backed away from the bleeding man and fell kneeling on the ground. He stuck his blood-stained sword on the ground and pulled off his blood-soaked shirt. He pressed it on his chest to stop the bleeding.
Then he heard the scream of anguish. It was Madallay helped up by Apô Abet and another woman. “My son!” Madallay cried as she collapsed next to Siawan.
“What are you saying, Madallay?” Siawan asked laboriously.
Agawe could barely hear the whispered reply. Then Siawan hissed, “It’s not true! No… Madallay, tell me this is not true…! Gayon is our son…!”
Apô Abet was distressed as realization came to her. “Manama! Gayon is Ubo’s son! Ayag stole the baby to replace your son so that,” she turned to Siawan, “you will not know that your boy is flawed and was sent away… Agawe is your son!”
“That is a lie!” Siawan looked at Madallay pleading, “Tell me that is not true!”
Madallay said weakly, “The black mark on his back…” and she wailed again. “Forgive me, Siawan… forgive me.” Then she looked at Agawe and whispered, “My son…”
Agawe realized that he had exposed his black mark. He forgot his Apô Ugay’s admonition to always cover his back… it’s all he could think of at the moment… his black mark and that Siawan would kill him.
“It was Innà’s idea … all I want is to save my boy…I was willing to face Siawan then… but Innà… I did not know she stole the baby at first…” Madallay continued to cry.
Siawan labored with his breathing, “How could you do this, Madallay?” He reached out and grabbed her arm, “I will take you with me…” But he released his grip as he coughed out blood. Then he turned to Agawe and said haltingly, “Why … don’t you … kill me? Are you afraid… to kill your own father?” he taunted Agawe. “You brought bad luck to me and my family…”
Agawe just sat there trying to understand what’s happening but he could not. He did not know how long he knelt there until Apô Abet covered his back with a cloth and whispered, “Agawe, we have to leave…”
Agawe Finds His Real Parents
They traveled back home in silence as Apô Abet treated his wounds. “This one is deep,” Apô Abet said as she looked at his chest wound. The others are not…”
“Apô… what is going to happen now?”
“From the looks of his wounds, Siawan will only survive if he is given immediate help.”
“She is going to be alright… I was able to lift the hex … she is not a bad person but her mother was…”
“What about Gayon?”
Apô Abet did not answer and was quiet all the way.
All hell broke lose when Gayon heard the truth about him.
No! That is not true! I am Siawan’s son! I am Madallay’s son!” Then he turned to Agawe, “You! You brought this upon us!” he screamed as he tackled him. Agawe was stunned and both men fell on the mud floor. Agawe felt the force of the fall opened his chest wound and he writhed in pain. Gayon got the upper hand and delivered a blow to his face. Agawe mustered all his remaining strength and struck Gayon’s jaw and the young man lurched away. He staggered but instead of charging back at Agawe, he dashed for his sword on the table.
“Don’t even think of it,” Ayong said menacingly as he pointed his uncle’s gun at Gayon’s chest. “I will not hesitate to shoot you…”
Gayon stood frozen, breathing heavily. He stared at Ayong who stared back. Agawe struggled to his feet and watched as the two waited for each other to make the first move.
Gayon turned and ran out of the house, took his horse and rode away. Ubo sat frozen on the bench while Maeng wept.
Apô Abet told Gayon’s men to follow him and make sure he gets home safely. Then she ran to Agawe who was bleeding profusely. Agawe saw the blurry image of Apô Abet and Ayong before he lost consciousness.
Agawe Falls into a Deep Sleep
Agawe knew that he was dreaming because he felt so light. He saw Egul and himself on their stream. In his dream, they were children splashing on the shallow water and leaping from rock to rock. They were chasing deers and climbing trees. Then he saw the camansi tree where his Apô Ugay stood watching him. Then he saw Siawan and he heard him say, “You bring bad luck… you have brought bad luck to me and my family…!”
“No! No! Noooo!!!” he screamed as he felt the burden once more. Then he heard a soothing voice, “Agawe… just go to sleep… here, smell this…” The air was suddenly filled with a fragrance that gave him peace and lulled him to sleep… to a deep sleep that he did not want to wake up from.
When he opened his eyes, he saw Ayong sitting next to him. “Agawe, you’re awake..!”
“Did I sleep?”
“Five days… I was scared that you will not wake up anymore… but Apô Abet said you will be alright…”
“Five days? Why? What happened?”
“Your wound… you bled too much…”
Agawe remembered. “Ayong, thank you so much for what you did for me….”
“Ahh… I know you will do that for me, too. We are brothers… I cannot let him use his sword when you’re wounded like that…”
“Are you really going to shoot him?”
“If he made a move for his sword, I will…”
“He is your cousin…”
Ayong sighed and scratched his head in confusion. “Agawe, is this true? Are you really Madallay’s son? Does that mean you are leaving us?” Ayong bombarded him with questions.
“I really don’t know what’s going to happen next, Ayong…”
“I don’t like Gayon. If he comes to live here … I will go with you, Agawe…”
“Gayon is your cousin…” Agawe repeated.
“But you are my brother, remember?”
“Ayong, whatever happens… you will always be my brother…” he promised the young boy.
Agawe learned that Ayong stayed in his hut for the five days that he was unconscious and Apô Abet was there everyday to treat his wounds.
Apô Abet told him, “The purple stone helped you a lot, Agawe. Without it in your possession, you could have died. There is a power in the stone that protected you.”
Agawe also learned that Siawan killed himself. As a magani, he was dishonored. It would have been more honorable to die in a fight than to lose and live.
Agawe was not surprised that Siawan was dead because he showed up in his dream with Egul and Apô Ugay, but it grieved him that he had dishonored his father. Was it better to have killed his father than to dishonor him?
Agawe felt the heaviness in his heart. For the first time in his life, he wanted to be alone – to escape to a place where he did not have to think of anything else.
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