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Chapter 24

Posted by PURPLEYHAN STORIES on Monday, May 30, 2016

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I don't know where I got the confidence to fight against her. All I just know is that I will protect Lexi at all cost.

Seeing her hybrid forms might've scared me if I were facing her with my normal self but right now, her appearance didn't even faze me. Somehow, I felt stronger and determined to take her down. Maybe merging with Phoebe made me untroubled by the situation.

"What a bold thing to say, impudent kid." Serena regained her composure and looked at me with distaste. "Do you think you'll win with only using your half-animal form?" she asked.

I looked at her hybrid form and her guardians became her weapons. The snake morphed into a reptilian whip in her left hand and in her right was a trident but instead of metallic spears on the end, the horns of her triceratops guardian were mounted. Her clothes also changed into a long dress with slits up to her hips on both sides.

Bigla naman akong nakaramdam ng pagkahina at parang unti-unting nauubos ang lakas ko. Hindi rin ako makahinga nang maayos.

Damn it. Naiinis ako dahil sa kahinaan ko. Kahit nagtetraining ako ay hindi ko pa rin magawang ma-kontrol nang maayos si Phoebe. Hindi pa rin kaya ng katawan ko ang lakas niya. Am I even improving?

A menacing smile formed in Serena's lips and I shivered at her expression. The next thing I knew, she was already on her attack mode.

"Seems like your time is up, kid," she whispered to me and my instincts took over.

Nagulat na lang ako nung bigla siyang sumigaw at may naramdaman naman akong sakit sa kanang braso ko. Pagtingin ko, lumayo siya sa akin pero nagawa niyang ipulupot ang whip niya sa kaliwang kamay ko at nakita ko ang pag-agos ng dugo sa kanan ko dahil sa trident niya. But suddenly, I heard Phoebe's cry inside my head and gradually, the pain subsided. Before I can even see my wound, she tugged me using her whip and I was surprised by her brute strength. It felt like she's pulling me without any effort.

I was about to fly away from her but that'll put Lexi in danger. I need to stay in this position to defend her.
Once again, she smiled mockingly.

"I told you, protecting someone won't make you stronger and you're just delaying your deaths. I'm quite amazed that you have a mythical guardian that can heal your wounds," she said while looking at my arm. "but it's disappointing because its Divian isn't strong enough and worth it. And by the way, I'm an Exorcist and my job is to exterminate your guardians. Let's see if you can protect them both."

Pagkatapos niyang sabihin 'yun ay lalo niyang nilakasan ang paghatak sa akin at kahit anong gawin kong pagpigil ay napupunta pa rin ako sa kanya. My arm is turning into green and I know that poison might've entered my body because of this whip. In addition, my energy is already drained due to this half-animal form with Phoebe. I'm not even sure how I managed to stay in this form for this long. Even so, I'll do anything to keep her away from Lexi and Phoebe.

And there's only one way to do that.

She pointed her trident at me while pulling me closer. Pinikit ko ang mga mata ko nung ilang metro na lang ang layo ko sa kanya. Bigla akong napangiti at naalala ko sina Mama at Papa. Siguro ganito ang naramdaman nila nung niligtas nila ang Capital mula sa Exorcists seven years ago.

Protecting someone might not make us stronger, but it makes you do things that you didn't or can't usually do. It takes courage to protect someone and in that sense, it makes you strong.

"Now, face your punishment!" she shouted but I remained calm.

"Phoebe, your first priority is Lexi. Heal and protect her,"
 I said inside my mind and I heard Phoebe's screech. I can feel that she's complaining and I hate using my guardians as tools but this time, I need to. "Phoebe, this is an order."

I opened my eyes.

"Phoebe, 
cies kai!" I chanted. Her spirit particles scattered and at the same time, Serena's trident came face to face with me. Phoebe's flame enveloped Lexi and seeing that made this move worth it.

I was about to embrace my death but then a loud, thunderous growl stopped Serena's action. Then suddenly, we were surrounded by blazing fire. Pagkakita ko nun ay isa lang ang naisip ko.

Si Papa.

Napatingin ako sa paligid para hanapin siya at ang guardian niyang si Flarion. They are the only ones I know that can produce this intense heat. I desperately scanned the surroundings, hoping that I could see them, but there was nobody aside from us.

Nagulat na lang ako sa malakas na pagsigaw ni Serena at nung tinignan ko ulit siya ay nababalot na siya ng apoy.

"S-stop it!" she shrieked as she tried to extinguish the fire. "Damn you!"
"A chimera's fire is eternal. It can never be stopped."

Nung narinig ko ang boses na 'yun ay parang lumubog ang puso ko. Agad kong tinignan ang pinanggalingan ng boses at nung nakita ko siya ay hindi ko na napigilan ang emosyon ko. Tuluy-tuloy na tumulo ang luha ko.

"T-tito..." Nagcollapse ang binti ko at napaupo ako sa lupa.

Tito Leon appeared while riding Largus, a chimera and his main guardian. Binuhat niya ako papunta sa pwesto ni Lexi. Nakita ko ang pag-aalala, lungkot at galit sa mga mata niya nung nakita niya ang kalagayan ni Lexi. Bumigat tuloy ang pakiramdam ko dahil nangyari kay Lexi 'yun sa kagustuhan niyang iligtas ako.

"Largus, bantayan mo sila," sabi ni Tito at hinarangan naman kami ni Largus, at ganun din ang ginawa ni Phoebe.

Lumakad siya papunta kay Serena na nagawang pigilan ang pagkasunog ng buong katawan niya pero mukhang nagamit niya ang halos lahat ng lakas niya dahil doon. Nang makita niya si Tito Leon ay biglang nagbago ang expression niya. She looks horrified.

"Y-you're..." Napaatras siya kahit ilang metro pa ang layo nila sa isa't isa. "You're Beast."
"Right now, I am not Beast or a Spirit Master. I'm a father."

An ear-piercing shriek silenced the forest. Napatakip ako sa bibig ko nung nakita ko ang nangyari at napahawak ako kay Lexi nung biglang yumanig ang lupa.

Tito Leon made a hole in Serena's body by just a single punch. Her body remained motionless and his punch made the ground tremble.

"That's for hurting my daughters," sabi niya at naghalu-halo na ang emosyong nararamdaman ko. 
My daughters. "A man's fist should always be used against a man, but when I see you hurting my family, you deserve to be hit, even if you're a woman."

Naglakad siya papunta sa amin at nagsimula nang manlabo ang paningin ko. Maybe because of exhaustion or shock, or maybe both. But as my body collapses, I still managed to smile because of what I've heard. My parents may not be with me anymore, but I still have my other family.

***

"Reika. Reika, wake up."

Nagising ako dahil sa boses na namang iyon pero bigla akong nadisorient nung nakita ko ang puting kisame at dingding. Napapikit ulit ako para alalahanin ang nangyari bago ako...

Si Lexi!

"You're not allowed to leave this bed." Hindi ako tuluyang nakabangon dahil may daliri na nagtulak sa noo ko kaya naman napahiga ulit ako. "Yun ang sabi ng doktor."

"Ryleigh?" Bigla naman siyang napabuntong-hininga. Nilibot ko ulit ang paningin ko at doon ko lang narealize na nasa loob na ako ng kwarto ko sa Hydra.

Medyo magulo pa ang isip ko pero ang huli kong natatandaan ay si Lexi. I need to see her. Babangon na sana ulit ako pero tinulak na naman niya ako gamit ang daliri niya kaya sinamaan ko siya ng tingin.

"No," mariin niyang sabi.

"Pero si Lex—"

"She's fine. Nagpapahinga na rin siya sa kwarto niya. Huwag kang mag-alala, nandoon si Yano para bantayan siya."

Nakahinga naman ako nang maluwag nung marinig ko 'yun. Unti-unti ko namang naalala ang mga nangyari bago ako mawalan ng malay at hindi ko alam kung totoo ba ang iba o hallucinations ko lang. Napatigil naman ako sa pag-iisip nung nakita kong nakatitig sa akin si Ryleigh habang nakakunot ang noo.

"B-bakit?" Wow. This tension is uncomfortable.

"Sa tuwing makikita kita, lagi ka na lang nawawalan ng malay. I wonder why?"

Hindi ko alam kung inosente ba ang pagtatanong niya o hindi pero sa pandinig ko, it's the latter. Iniimply niya ba na mahina ako? This guy.

Biglaan akong bumangon at siya naman ang napaatras. Magkalevel na ang mga mata namin ngayon kaya naman kaya ko na siyang tignan nang diretso. Tiniklop ko ang mga braso ko at tinignan ko siya nang masama.

"So sinasabi mo bang mahina ako kaya hindi ko kayang i-maintain ang stamina ko?" Pagkasabi ko nun ay binigyan niya ako ng isang confused look.

"What? Wala naman akong sinabing—"

"You're implying it, Mister."

"Look, I'm just—"

"Fine. Ikaw na ang malakas. Ikaw na ang kayang kontrolin ang lahat ng guardians niya. Ikaw na ang hindi nahihimatay—oh my god!"

Nagulat ako nung bigla niyang hinawakan ang magkabilang balikat ko at tinulak pahiga sa kama. Natahimik ako dahil sa intensity ng tingin niya. Agad ko namang narealize ang ginawa ko kaya ilang beses kong sinampal ang sarili ko sa utak ko.

"Listen," pagsisimula niya at nakahawak pa rin siya sa balikat ko kaya naman nasa harapan ko lang ang mukha niya. "I'm not saying you're weak. You are not. What I'm trying to say is that your losing consciousness too frequent, and that's odd."

Bigla na naman akong nakaramdam ng lungkot at inggit. Sa tuwing magtetraining kaming apat, napapansin kong nag-iimprove sila at kaya na nilang patagalin ang guardians nila rito, samantalang ako, parang walang nagbabago at walang improvement sa stamina ko. I feel bad being jealous to them but I can't help it.

"Reika! Ryleigh! Come with—oh."

Nagulat naman kami nung biglang bumukas ang pinto ng kwarto ko at pumasok sina Master at Gavin. Nagkatinginan kami ni Ryleigh at agad niyang tinanggal ang kamay niya sa braso ko at umupo kaming pareho sa kama. Nung nakita ko ang expression ni Master at Gavin ay nilinaw ko kaagad ang naabutan nila.

"I-it's not like what you think!"
"It's not like what you think."

Nagkatinginan ulit kami dahil sabay kaming nagsalita at narinig namin ang pagtawa ni Master.

"We aren't thinking about anything, though. Right?" sabi niya sabay siko kay Gavin at tumango lang siya. Ugh, these two! Kung pwede lang samaan ng tingin ang Spirit Masters nang walang mangyayaring masama sa akin ay kanina ko pa ginawa.

"Anyway, you two, come with us," sabi naman ni Gavin at agad silang lumabas ni Master. Bago pa namin maintindihan ang nangyayari ay sumunod kaagad kami ni Ryleigh sa kanila.

Tahimik lang kaming sumunod at pinapakinggan ang pag-uusap nila tungkol sa nangyayari sa Capital at sa villages na nakapalibot doon hanggang sa makarating kami sa tapat ng isang pinto. Sumunod kami nung pumasok sila at namangha ako dahil sa loob ng kwarto ay sobrang daming libro ang nakalagay sa shelves. Nagkalat din ang 
domusaes sa iba't ibang bahagi ng kwarto pero nung nakita nila kami ay agad silang nagtago.

"You're finally here."

Napunta naman ang atensyon ko sa pinanggalingan ng boses at pagtingin ko sa gitna ay nakaupo sa desk si Astrid. Her violet hair and eyes highlighted her presence more.

Tumayo siya at nagsimulang maglakad papunta sa akin. Gumilid naman silang tatlo at naiwan akong nakatayo sa harapan niya.

Among the female Spirit Masters, she's the one who gives off strict and disciplinarian vibes. During the Spirit Masters' meeting, she's the only one who kept Adrielle and Master under control, despite the fact that those two are dauntless and aggressive.

Bigla naman niyang hinatak pababa ang damit ko sa bandang balikat at magrereklamo na sana ako pero nung hinawakan niya ang parte sa pagitan ng batok at kaliwang balikat ko ay may kakaiba akong naramdaman.

"
Notas kai," she chanted and I felt a tingling sensation at the back of my left shoulder.

Master, Gavin and Ryleigh shared the same surprised and fascinated expressions. I was about to ask them but Astrid pulled me towards a full-length mirror. Hinarap niya ang likod ko sa salamin at may nakita akong symbols and letters na nakamarka roon.

"A-ano 'to?" tanong ko at naguluhan ako dahil wala naman akong ganun dati. Anong ginawa niya?

"I knew it," sabi niya at hindi niya sinagot ang tanong ko. Tumingin siya kina Master at Gavin at parang nagkaintindihan silang tatlo.

"Reika, napansin naming hindi nag-iimprove ang lakas mo kahit na nagtetraining tayo," biglang sabi ni Master. "No. You have improved but it's too gradual. You also seem to lose your consciousness once you reach your stamina limit and sometimes, you are forced to use your life force. Being the daughter of two Spirit Masters, your strength is quite below your supposed level. I thought it's just because of the psychological effect of losing your parents but Gavin said it might be another problem."

"That's why we asked Astrid for advice," dagdag ni Gavin. "We told her your situation and she said you might be affected by some seal or incantation."

After that ay tumingin ulit kaming lahat kay Astrid. Kahit na gulung-gulo na ang isip ko ay pinilit kong kumalma dahil gusto kong malaman kung ano ang nangyayari sa akin.

"These symbols are from a powerful seal," sabi naman ni Astrid habang nakatingin sa likod ko. "If your situation is caused by an incantation, I would refer you to Adrielle since that is her expertise. But since this is a seal type, I might be able to help you."

Nilipat niya ang tingin niya sa mga libro at may isang domusae na lumapit sa kanya na may dalang libro. Binuksan ng domusae iyon at hinarap niya sa amin ang isang pahina kung saan makikita ang isang seal na may nakasulat na kapareho ng nasa likod ko.

"This is a Limiter Seal. They said previous Spirit Masters use this seal to control their overwhelming power. It limits their strength, stamina and power. I'm sure that your parents are the ones who activated this seal but I don't know why."

Hinawakan niya ulit ang marka sa likod ko at bumilis ang tibok ng puso ko.

"Since it affects your abilities as a Divian, I'm going to deactivate this seal."

Pagkasabi niya nun ay biglang may nag-gather na spirit particles sa kamay niya. Lalong bumilis ang tibok ng puso ko. Natatakot ako sa pwedeng mangyari.

"Now, let's unleash your true potential," she said and she started chanting.


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