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Chapter 23

Posted by PURPLEYHAN STORIES on Saturday, May 7, 2016

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"Reika!"

Nagising ako dahil narinig kong may tumawag sa pangalan ko pero pagdilat ng mga mata ko ay sumalubong sa akin ang malaking ahas sa harapan ko. Pinigilan ko ang pagsigaw ko dahil bigla kong naalala ang nangyari bago ako mawalan ng malay.


"Bring those girls, Boa. They might have the ancient seal because of their parents. Let's go back to Inferna. Ignus is waiting for us."

That was the last thing I heard before passing out. That name again. The Spirit Masters also mentioned him before and he's always brought up when the topic is about the ancient seal.

Agad kong tinignan ang paligid at kinagat ko ang labi ko para hindi ako mapasigaw dahil sa nakita ko. We're riding a dinosaur—a triceratops.

Muntik na akong malaglag dahil sa gulat pero buti na lang at rough ang surface ng balat niya kaya hindi ako masyadong gumalaw sa pwesto ko. Kinalma ko ang sarili ko dahil nasa harapan lang ng ahas si Serena at nakatingin sa dinadaanan namin. Buti na lang at nakatalikod siya sa amin kundi ay nahuli na niya akong meron nang malay. Gumaan naman ang loob ko nung nakita ko si Lexi sa tabi ko pero wala pa rin siyang malay.


I was about to move but then spirit particles began to gather around me and they acted like a rope, tightly binding me .


"
Preligae," biglang sabi ni Serena at lumingon siya sa akin. Lalo namang humigpit ang mga nakapaligid sa aking spirit particles at nakita kong nakangiti lang siya sa akin. "Don't even think about escaping, girl."

Hindi na ako nakagalaw. Tinignan ko lang siya nang masama kahit na nakatalikod na siya sa akin at pagkatapos nun ay nilibot ko ang paningin ko sa paligid. Pagtingin ko ay nakaramdam ako ng familiarity sa lugar at doon ko narealize na ito ang gubat na lagi naming pinupuntahan ni Lexi noong mga bata pa kami.

Wait...if I can use this place to our advantage...

Sakto namang nakita kong kumurap ang mga mata ni Lexi at pagdilat niya ay tinitigan ko siya. Without further ado, I mouthed '
Stay still. Charlie. Summon,' and I think she got what I meant. I scanned the surroundings and saw the familiar group of trees where Tito Leon usually drops us when he still got Charlie.

Sinubukan kong umupo at halos mapasigaw ako dahil lalong humigpit ang mala-lubid na grupo ng spirit particles pero tiniis ko 'yun at nagawa kong lumuhod. I tried to balance my weight because the triceratops is walking in an unstable manner.

"What are you doing, kid? Are you testing my patience?" Naging seryoso ang expression ni Serena nung nakita niya ang posisyon ko. Bigla niyang tinuro sa akin ang daliri niya sabay sabing, "
Volitar!" Bigla akong lumutang sa ere at natakot ako dahil hindi ko nakokontrol ang katawan ko.

I don't know if it's because of fear and sense of danger but an unfamiliar phrase formed inside my head. Somehow, I knew it would help me escape from her incantation.


"
Iyo renodes kai!" I chanted.
"How did you—!"

Suddenly, the spirit particles binding me started to glow and I felt a mix of scorching heat and comforting warmth from them. They slowly dispersed and after a few seconds, the binding incantation was gone and before I fall to the back of the triceratops, I called his name.


"Carlos, sal-ve
Lexi, now!"

Lexi swiftly jumped off the dinosaur's back and summoned Charlie. Agad naman siyang nasalo ni Charlie at lumipad palayo kay Serena at sa guardians niya, at ganun din ang ginawa namin ni Carlos.

Pakiramdam ko ay nag-aapoy ang kalamnan ko dahil sa ginawa namin. We managed to escape from his guardians but we still don't know if we can fight her. Naging seryoso naman ang expression niya at kinilabutan ako dahil parehong nagdisintegrate ang guardians niya.


Oh, great. Now we have to deal with an angry lady.

"Now you've done it," sabi ni Serena at natakot ako nung nabalot siya ng spirit particles. "
Comvien han!"

And just like that, we are now facing her half-animal form. Her arms were covered with reptilian scales and her vertical slit eyes looked at me with displeasure.


Hinintay ko ang atake niya at binantayan kong mabuti ang kilos niya pero halos hindi ako nakahinga nung biglang sa isang iglap lang ay nasa harapan ko na siya. She smiled at me menacingly and I was disoriented because of her sudden appearance. The next thing I knew, her scaly hand was already on my neck.

"You successfully pissed me off, girl," she hissed and that's when I noticed her forked tongue. "And when I'm pissed, I kill."


Sa loob ng isang segundo ay sobrang daming tumakbo sa isip ko at halos kainin na ako ng takot dahil nasa bingit na ako ng kamatayan. Pero nagulat ako nung narinig ko na naman ang boses na 'yun at parang tumigil ang lahat.

"Don't suppress your powers. You can defeat her, Reika."

Hindi ko alam kung anong nangyari pero nung bumalik ang lahat sa kasalukuyan ay may incantations na umiikot sa utak ko at ang hindi ko maintindihan ay kung paano ko nalaman kung para saan ang bawat isa sa kanila.

"
Reichiae!
" I shouted and a burst of spirit particles pushed her away from me. She flew backwards and hit the trunk of the tree while I stumbled after chanting that.

"Reika!" sigaw ni Lexi at lumapit sila ni Charlie sa amin ni Carlos. "Are you okay?" tanong niya.

"Y-yes."
"What was that? Anong incantation 'yun?"
"Hindi ko rin alam."
"Ha? Anong ibig mong sabihin—"

Napatigil naman kami dahil biglang nag-iba ang atmosphere at lalong tumaas ang tension sa paligid. Pagtingin namin kay Serena ay sobrang galit na ng expression niya at nakatingin siya nang masama sa amin.

"That's it. I'm going to kill the both of you—!"

Hindi pa man din niya natatapos ang sinasabi niya ay bigla na lang siyang nawala, at gaya kanina ay nag-appear siya sa harapan namin. Pero nag-iba ang itsura niya within that second. Her snake-like appearance disappeared and a scaly whip was already on her hands. She did the hybrid form of her snake guardian and this time, we didn't get away from her swift attack.

Biglang pumulupot sa amin ni Lexi ang reptilian whip niya at pareho kaming napasigaw dahil sobrang hapdi kapag dumikit sa balat ang hawak niyang whip. Hinatak niya 'yun at pareho kaming nalaglag ni Lexi mula kina Charlie at Carlos.

"Come to me, little girls," she said with an evil grin while pulling the whip to her direction. Lexi and I fell down when she tugged the whip and I cursed as the ground continuously grazed my body. Bigla naman kaming nagkatinginan ni Lexi at alam kong pareho kami ng iniisip.

We need them.
I gathered my remaining strength and I felt a tugging force in my gut.

"Lio, 
sal-ve!"
"Phoebe, sal-ve!"

A loud roar and piercing screech silenced the whole forest, as well as Serena. When I saw the spirit particles around us and their physical form came into existence, I felt relieved. Lio roared to Serena and she yelled while covering her ears. During that distraction, Phoebe's flame freed us from the whip.

Napasandal ako kay Phoebe at pinilit kong umakyat sa kanya kahit na tumutulo na ang dugo sa mga braso at binti ko. Ganun din ang ginawa ni Lexi at sumakay siya kay Lio. Doon ko lang narealize na nandito pa rin pala sa dimension na 'to si Carlos at Charlie.

I didn't faint...

Pero bago ko pa maisip kung bakit ay bigla na lang akong nakaramdam ng kahirapan sa paghinga. Pagtingin ko, nakapulupot na sa leeg ko ang whip ni Serene kahit na nasa baba siya at nasa ere kami. Hinila niya iyon pababa kaya naman nalaglag ako kay Phoebe at narinig ko pa ang pagsigaw ni Lexi ng pangalan ko. Pero dahil sa lason na lumalabas mula sa whip ay lalo akong nahirapang huminga at unti-unti akong nanghihina.

"I'm gonna bring your head with me!" Serena shouted while my body reached the ground with a loud thud. I almost blacked out due to the impact and cursed because of the sudden and nauseating pain.

"Don't touch her, bitch!" rinig kong sigaw ni Lexi at pinilit kong ibukas ang mga mata ko. The next thing I saw was Lexi, surrounded by spirit particles. After a few seconds, a girl riding a golden lion with a quiver and bow appeared before me.

Lexi just did the hybrid form of Charlie.

"I'm warning you, Exorcist. One move and this arrow will pierce your skull," she said with confidence and I teared up because of her strength and words.

"So you are capable of that, huh? Then there's a high probability that the seal is with you," sabi ni Serena at bigla niyang hinatak ang whip kaya humigpit ito sa leeg ko. I started to choke as I fight for breath.

But suddenly, an ear-splitting sound silenced the surroundings and before I knew it, Serena broke the silence with her shriek as the arrow grazed her shoulder.

Tinignan ko si Lexi para ngitian siya pero napanganga ako nung nakita kong may lumalabas ng dugo sa ilong at bibig niya. Charlie's hybrid form must be taking a toll on her body. Seeing her bloody face scared me more than dying in Serena's hands.

"Lexi...stop..." I tried talking but my small voice didn't reach her. "Stop...please..."

"Kinuha n'yo na ang mga magulang niya sa kanya. Hindi ako papayag na pati ang buhay niya, kukunin n'yo rin," sabi niya at biglang lumabas ang luha ko.

"Lexi..."

Serena eyed her with rage while clutching her wounded shoulder. Lalo akong nainis sa sarili ko nung nakita kong namumula na rin ang mga mata ni Lexi at nawawalan na siya ng lakas.

"Then, are you willing to die for her sake?" sabi niya at naramdaman ko ang pagluwag ng whip sa leeg ko.

"Of course. And for my friend's sake, I can kill anybody," Lexi said while aiming her arrow to Serena.

"Then die trying!"

Parang tumigil ang mundo ko nung sumugod si Serena papunta sa kanya. Sa kalagayan ni Lexi ngayon, kahit ayaw kong maniwala, alam kong wala siyang pag-asa dahil nagamit na niya ang buong lakas niya. Seeing her in the brink of death triggered something inside me. Something that I should have done when my parents fought for me and my future.

"STOP IT!" I yelled and the next thing I knew, they both halted and looked at me with confused expressions. And just then, I realized something felt different—I was surrounded with blue flames, flamed wings materialized from my back and my wounds started to disappear. I felt a gush of energy and for a second, I thought I was dreaming.

But Phoebe's screech made me realize what's happening. I just merged with her. This is our half-animal form.

I hastily flew towards their direction and stood between them.

"R-Rei..." Lexi's shaky voice as she called my name strengthened my resolve. Naramdaman kong nawalan na siya ng malay sa likod ni Lio kaya hindi ako umalis sa harapan niya.

"Protecting each other? How sweet. But that won't make you stronger. You're just delaying your deaths," sabi naman ni Serena at muling nagliwanag ang paligid niya. "And I'm going to prove it."

She summoned her triceratops and after some time, two horns emerged from her head and an armor with a thick layer and rough texture just like the dinosaur's skin enveloped her body.

"Don't suppress your powers. You can defeat her, Reika."

Naalala ko ang narinig ko sa isip ko kanina at naalala ko rin si Mama. Kung siya ang nasa kalagayan ko ngayon, alam kong ito rin ang gagawin niya.

"Phoebe, help me. Lend me your powers," 
I said inside my head and I heard her shriek.

I stood firmly and watched Serena as she completed the hybrid forms of her guardians. She smirked at me but I remained stern.

"This time, I'll be the one saying it," I said as I spread my wings to cover Lexi's area. "I'm going to protect her until death and I'll be the one bringing your horned-head to the Spirit Masters." Naalala ko ang sinabi niya kanina kaya naman ginamit ko rin 'yun laban sa kanya. "Prepare yourself, Exorcist. You successfully pissed me off and when I'm pissed, my enemies turn into ashes," I said as I launched my attack.


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