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In The Spirit World - Chapter 14
Into the Forest
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay?” The man who introduced himself as head of the King’s council tried to persuade Agawe to stay.
“We need to find the girls as soon as possible…” Gayon politely refused the offer to stay longer.
“Then let me send some men with you to help in your quest. I’m sure Laidan and the King would want that…”
They left the EncantorKingdom with half a dozen Encantor warriors and enough provisions for their journey. They were given a magnificent white horse each but Nibor refused one because he did not know how to ride a horse. They were riding through a thick part of a hill when one of the Encantors raised his hand. They stopped and remained quiet. Three of the men dismounted and dashed to the trees. They came back with a woman squirming to get away from their grasp.
“Agawe…!” the woman cried when she saw him.
Agawe recognized her immediately as one of Atina’s warrior.
After they gave her water, she related what happened to them. “We found young women wondering in the forest. They told us they escaped from the siring lair and that there were others still inside,” she clenched her teeth, “little did we know that it was a trap…”
“They’re not the girls…?” Ayong asked.
“They are the girls… and all the girls were in there…”
“Did you talk to the girls? Did they tell you their names?” Gayon was beside himself.
“No… we did not talk to them because the witch was there!”
“The witch…” Agawe muttered.
“Yes… she sent the girls out to trick us!”
“How did you escape?” Gayon asked. “How do we know you are not siring?”
One of the Encantor men spoke up, “A siring cannot deceive an Encantor. It will shift to its original form in our presence.”
The warrior explained, “In Gimokodan, we pick up some tricks that we always use. When we walk as a group, some of us lag behind. In case of an attack we won’t all be cornered in. So three of us lagged behind when we entered the dark cave…” she lifted her chin, “just now… there are two others looking out for me...”
Nibor swooped in and dropped two warriors from his claws, before he transformed into human form.
The two warriors brushed themselves off and glared at Nibor.
“Good tactic… but not good enough!” Gayon teased.
Agawe sighed, “Let us go find the girls…”
The three warriors led them to the deep forest but they could not find the lair. It was doubly difficult because of the setting sun.
“We are going in circles… are you sure this is the place?” Gayon asked the warriors.
“We never get lost even in the thickest forest…” one of them assured Gayon.
“This is the work of the witch…” Agawe gazed over the woods.
The Witch and Encanta
Suddenly, a ferocious wind swept the forest blowing the leaves off the tall trees and bending the young trunks to the ground. The horses pricked their ears and cantered nervously.
They retreated to a rock shelter they found earlier to protect themselves from the battering wind.
“Agawe… look!” Ayong exclaimed.
Agawe followed Ayong’s gaze and his heart sank when he saw Encanta riding in the wind. Then out of the darkening sky, a hooded figure standing on a flying lemur came into view as the forest slowly changed into a depressing dry land. Agawe watched as the trees dried up and shriveled, the grassy ground became rocky and huge rocks rose from it. Dead balete trees sprouted to complete the hideous landscape.
From up in the air, Agawe heard Encanta scream, “Where are they?” Thunder roared with her voice.
“Show me the stone!” the witch snapped.
“Release them or you can’t have this…” Encanta waved the pouch.
“Give me the stone!” the witch ordered.
Ayong’s voice startled Agawe, “Encanta took your stone!”
“Is Encanta under a spell?” Gayon asked.
“No… she is giving the purple stone to the witch in exchange for the release of her parents!” Agawe sighed.
“Can’t you do something?” Ayong asked the Encantors.
“No…! Let’s wait until Encanta is safely out of there…” Agawe told the Encantors.
“Where are my parents?” Encanta roared again and lightning cracked in the sky.
“There they are…” the witch pointed down to Encanta’s parents held by two huge buso-animals.
“Release them! Tell the monsters to leave them….!” Encanta cried.
“Those are hungry beasts, child… if you continue to strain my patience, I will make them gobble up your tiny parents!”
Encanta hesitated as she looked down.
“Give me that!” the witch grabbed the pouch from Encanta’s hand and as the lemur glided up, she ordered the monsters, “Kill them!”
“Noooo….!!” Encanta screamed as her hair stood on end.
Agawe yelled to the Encantors, “Save the parents!”
He ran up and watched in frustration as the witch escaped on the flying lemur. Then he saw Nibor ram the unsuspecting colugo and the witch came falling down. Black daggers shot out of Nibor’s wings and the lemur fell lifeless.
Encanta howled and the unforgiving winds came rushing, roaring like an ocean wave. She raised the rocks up and dropped them like bombs. The ground shook and opened.
Agawe Meets Induwa Again
A wide gap separated Agawe from the others. Nibor tried to fly over the chasm but a fiery lava rose from the abyss which threw the bird off.
The earth shook again and broke off the ground he was standing on, leaving Agawe on a piece of rock drifting over boiling lava.
He heard the now familiar ear piercing laughter.
The first thing Agawe saw were her eyes glowering in the dark. Hiding inside her black robe and hood, she created a chilling effect as she floated in the air. She pulled her hood down, “Remember me, Agawe?” She laughed.
“I remember you… witch!”
The witch snarled, “It wouldn’t be long and you will call me Master Induwa! But I will give you another chance, Agawe… tell me how this works and we will use it together,” the purple stone necklace dangled from her hand, “we can defeat the Buso King and become the most powerful in this world!”
“The Buso King would be proud of your loyalty… witch!”
“Don’t challenge me, human!” she hissed. She swept her hand and the rock Agawe was standing on heaved violently throwing him down. As he slid off, Agawe yanked his sword from its sheath and stuck it to the rock.
The witch laughed triumphantly as Agawe gripped his sword to stop him from sliding down to the fiery lava which was even more menacing in the dark. Not again, he thought, I don’t think my body can take it again.
“You will die without the purple stone!” the witch hissed. “Either way, Agawe… I still win. If I give this to the Buso King… he will reward me!” She laughed as she palmed the stone necklace.
Agawe closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Then something happened to Agawe. His mind was flooded with bright light revealing a power that shook the very foundation of his humanity. He felt lighter and he floated up. He opened his eyes expecting to see his body still hanging on but only his glowing sword was in the rock.
The witch shrieked. “This is not happening! I have the purple stone! You are powerless without it!” she screeched.
“Do you really have the purple stone… witch?” Agawe asked calmly as he floated next to her.
The witch opened her hand and screamed as the stone turned to ashes in her hand. Agawe grabbed her neck and pulled her up. She gasped for air.
“Where are the girls?” he hissed.
“They are in the Buso King lair…” her eyes were defiant and held a challenge. “They are to be sacrificed to the moon…”
“Where is the Buso King lair?”
“It’s in the highest mountain…” She dropped to the ground and gasped for air when Agawe released her.
“You cannot reach them in time. The eclipse will happen soon and you are too far from that mountain…” She laughed as she stood up.
Agawe floated down to face her, pulled his hands up his chest and with open palms pushed the air in front of her. She was too stunned to scream as she catapulted away and disappeared into the dark night.
The Buso King's Lair
Agawe plucked his sword from the rock and sheathed it. From his sword belt, he took out a black cord and stared at the purple stone hanging from it. He tied it on his neck and took a deep breath before he soared up. He spread his arms and accelerated as he flew in circles looking down.
“Where are they?” he muttered. He looked up and stared at the moon. Then he soared higher and faster.
It was exhilarating to know what he could do but it was confusing not to know why. He wondered where the power was coming from. Was it from the purple stone or from the Encantor seal on his back?
But he put all his questions aside. He needed to fly high and fast. He had to be at the highest mountain peak, the Apo Mountain.
Of course, Buso King’s lair would be the Apo Mountain, he thought. Why didn’t I think of it sooner?
Agawe approached the Apo Mountain silhouetted against the rising full moon. He shuddered at the thought of what would happen when the moon turned red. As he neared, he saw the battle raging against the birdmen and the colugos.
They are here, he thought with relief.
He heard the clash of steel as he landed on a bald spot in the mountain. He slid further down and found Atina’s warrior valiantly fighting against the buso-animals.
He turned to see Laidan and the Encantor men. “Laidan! Thank Manama you are well! Where are the others?”
“Gayon, Ayong, and Atina are inside the mountain,” he pointed up ahead, “the Encantor men saved the girls except one…”
As Agawe rushed up, Laidan stopped him, “Agawe… I cannot be with you inside. You know we cannot exist long in a place of pure evil… you will have to do this on your own…”
“I understand…” Agawe nodded.
He crept to the small opening up ahead. It was pitch black inside. As his jeweled scabbard glowed in the dark, he realized that it was a jungle inside the mammoth cave.
His heart sank at the thought that he might not have time to stop the Buso King.
He pulled his sword and it burst into purple flame. A tongue of fire jumped out and floated in front of him.
He sighed with relief as he followed the flame into the enormous cavern.
Read Chapter 15
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