I thought I was going to die.
When Rage attacked us with a fiery ball, we tried to froze our it’s pathway but the fire ball exploded halfway and we were engulfed by the flame. The heat was so intense that the melting rate of my ice was faster than a while ago. I tried freezing the fire but it’s too strong and my ice keeps on melting and evaporating.
“Can’t freeze my fire, huh?” He smirked and I suddenly have the urge to freeze his filthy mouth.
“Don’t be reckless.” Hale said as he grabbed my arm and I glared at him in return.
“Kaya ko ang sarili ko. We may have the same enemy but I don’t need any help from you.”
I stood up pero napaupo agad ako dahil sa biglang taas na pressure. I felt the sudden rise of temperature and even if we’re not directly in contact with the fire, we’ve got some burn marks.
“You’re not strong enough to fight him alone.” I scowled at him but he ignored it. “So let’s do it together.” I was about to say something but my lips suddenly felt cold. “And I don’t want to hear any objections.”
I swear, one day, I’m going to kill this guy and send him straight to hell.
‘You can’t do that.’
‘Shut up. And don’t read my mind if you don’t want your heart frozen.’
Biglang uminit ulit sa paligid. I don’t know if this is Rage’s doing or something’s happening outside this ring of fire. Kanina si Gemma lang ang nasa ganitong sitwasyon, but now I’m also imprisoned inside this flame...with two annoying bastards.
But if the only way to get out of here is by defeating this fire rascal, then I have no choice but to team up with the ice scoundrel. I want to be with my sister. I want to fight beside her. All this time, I thought she’s dead, and yet she’s here...protecting and leading us.
Bigla kong naalala lahat ng nangyari thirteen years ago.
The civil war between divisions was at the peak and our parents are part of the government side. I don’t have any idea about their positions since I was just six years old but I’m sure Winter has some knowledge about that and some other things. For the past few months, nagtatago lang kami sa loob ng bahay dahil ‘yun ang utos nina Mom and Dad. Puro explosions ang naririnig namin sa paligid but we’re not allowed to go outside.
“Ate, do you think Mom and Dad are okay?”
“Of course,” then Winter smiled at me. “They are strong.”
“Pero bakit hindi pa sila umuuwi?”
“Because they are needed by the people.”
“Why? How about us?”
“Listen, Krystal. It’s their responsibility to serve and protect the people. For them, family is just the second priority. Maiintindihan mo rin lahat kapag tumanda ka na.”
“Don’t worry. If anything happens, I’ll protect you with all my life and I’ll always be at your side. Is that okay?” I nodded enthusiastically and she smiled in return.
Winter is five years older than me but she seems way older than most eleven-year old kids during that time. Parang naiintindihan niya na lahat ng nangyayari pero hindi niya lang sinasabi sa akin. But somehow, I’m glad we’re together. Simula kasi nung pinanganak ako, minsan ko lang makita sina Mom and Dad. I know that it’s because of their job but it felt like we’re not that important to them. Pero sabi ni Ate, it’s because I was born during the civil war. Hindi na nila ako naasikaso dahil marami silang kailangang gawin para sa government.
But after a few months, everything was taken away from me.
A series of explosion shook our house and Winter came to my room to get me. I was still half-asleep when she dragged me outside but I came to my senses when I saw what’s happening.
“Wag mo nang tignan. Just run, okay?” I nodded even if she can’t see me since she’s running in front of me. I held back my tears and held Winter’s hand tighter as we run.
Sira-sira na halos lahat ng bahay, even our house, at sobrang daming tao ang nakikipaglaban. I thought I was hallucinating when I saw some guys with flaming weapons, frozen guns, strong winds and tornado, and other peculiar sights.
‘Run! Run away from here!’
Napahinto ako pero hinatak agad ako ni Ate. Lumingon ako but I didn’t see anyone who’s looking at our direction. But I’m sure it’s...
“C’mon, Krystal. Don’t look back! We need to run!”
“But...I heard Mom’s voice.”
“And what did she tell us?”
“Kaya sundin natin siya.”
Natahimik na lang ako at sumunod sa sinabi nila. I ran away with Winter without looking at the surroundings. But suddenly, Winter stopped and I bumped into her back. My right hand which was held by Winter, felt cold and when I looked at it, I swear I saw some ice crystals.
“Dad...” Napatingin agad ako dahil sa sinabi niya and I saw Dad standing in front of us. He’s covered with blood and wounds but he’s not showing any expression of pain. Winter’s grip suddenly tightened.
“I’m glad you two are safe. You need to get away from this place. Winter, do you still remember that place?” Winter nodded and I can feel her whole body trembling.
“B-but what about you and Mom?”
“We still need to lead—”
“How about us?” Natahimik si Dad at mas lalong humigpit ang hawak ni Ate sa akin. Naalala ko bigla na ganun din ang tinanong ko sa kanya a few months ago and now she’s asking the same question to Dad.
“I told you, Winter. The day we lead this nation was the day we discarded our own lives. There’s no family to consider but only the nation and it’s people.”
“Of course. Hindi niyo naman kami tinuring na mga anak. We’re only one of those people you need to protect and to serve. Well then, thank you, Da—Mr. Ark.”
Hinatak ako ni Ate palayo kay Dad and I can see that my right hand is starting to freeze though I don’t know how or why. Nilingon ko si Dad pero likod niya lang ang nakikita ko at hindi siya gumagalaw sa pwesto niya. Alam ko rin na umiiyak si Ate pero hindi ko alam kung bakit.
‘I’m sorry, Winter, Krystal, but we need to do this. This is the only way to save this nation and to save my family.’
I heard Dad’s voice inside my head just like what happened earlier with Mom’s. Lumingon ulit ako sa direction ni Dad bago kami lumiko sa isang eskinita and I stumbled because of what I have just seen. A wall of ice emerged in front of him and the surrounding areas were frozen. Even those people who tried to attack him became ice statues and I can feel the chill even if we’re far from him.
‘I’ll protect you from afar. I’ll protect you even if it costs my life.’
Hindi ko na ulit nakita si Dad at tumakbo lang kami nang tumakbo hanggang sa makarating kami sa isang lumang bahay. Pumasok agad kami doon and Winter dragged me into the attic. Kitang-kita ang buong place mula rito and I can even see Dad. He’s dominating that area even though he’s alone.
“Damn it.” I looked at her and she’s wiping her tears. I sat beside her and held her arm.
“Bakit, Ate?” She suddenly hugged me and I know she’s crying again. This is the first time I saw her cry. Winter is like Mom and Dad—tough, matured and somewhat cold, but right now, she’s like a normal kid like me.
“We’re going to lose everything.”
Hindi ko alam kung anong ibig sabihin nun but she continued crying. I felt her sadness and grief to the point that I’m also crying though I didn’t know why.
I don’t know how many hours have passed but I can still hear the explosions and battle cries outside. I peeked through the attic’s small window and I saw Mom and Dad together with their backs on each other while freezing the enemies around them.
“I know.” Nagulat ako nung nasa likuran ko na pala siya. I thought she’s still resting.
Biglang may fire column na nag-erupt and those who were near that were reduced into ashes. I saw a guy with flaming hands walking towards Mom and Dad. The people around them can’t move and some of them suddenly collapsed.
“This is the end of your regime, Ark. It’s time for the people to have a new leader.”
“Now I can see the future of this place if a good-for-nothing scumbag like you, Pierre, became the leader,” said Mom while glaring at that guy called Pierre.
They lunged at each other and I can’t follow their movements. They are too fast and my eyes can’t catch up with their speed. But I suddenly heard Mom’s shriek and I saw a large wound on her leg. Upon seeing that, Dad bellowed and a large iced blade appeared in his hands. He threw that to the fire guy with a lightning speed and it plunged on his chest.
“Don’t you dare hurt my wife.” Kinilabutan ako sa sinabi ni Dad. I can feel the pressure of his words even from here.
They continued fighting but the pressure was higher and their fight was suffocating. I can’t breathe properly and it’s like my lungs were blocked by something. Winter pulled me away from the window and faced me.
“Don’t look at them anymore, Krystal.”
“Please. Your mind and body can’t take it.”
I slowly nodded and he hugged me. I can’t see anything outside since my back is facing the window. She held me close to her and covered my ears by her hands. I don’t know how many minutes or hours have passed but I heard something. I pulled her hands away from my ears and listened to that sound.
‘I-I’m sorry, Glace. Go away a-and find our daughters. P-protect them.’
That’s Dad’s voice.
“No, Krystal, don’t—” It’s too late. I already saw what happened. Dad was lying on the floor and his whole body was covered with burn marks and blood. Mom and Dad were separated with a thick ice wall and on Dad’s side, the fire guy was holding a flaming sword and he’s aiming at Dad.
“Goodbye, Ark. Your death means success.”
No...Dad...Dad is going to be killed...
“Don’t shout.” Winter covered my mouth with such force but I ignored the pain.
The guy lifted his sword and I closed my eyes while crying silently. But I heard a crashing sound and when I looked outside the window, Mom was on top of Dad and the sword was thrusted on her back. My knees gave up but Winter caught me before falling down.
‘W-why d-did you...’
‘I’m sorry, Ark. I won’t let you die alone...’
‘B-but how about...our...children...’
‘D-don’t worry. T-they’re going to be safe. R-right? Winter? Krystal?’
‘In the end...I...I still chose my family...over everything else. I hope...they can forgive us. I...I love them so m-mu...ch...’
‘Ark...Ark...’ Narinig ko ang pag-iyak ni Mom pero hindi ko na marinig ang boses ni Dad. She kissed Dad on the lips and I saw her looked at this direction.
‘We love you both. S-sorry, Winter, Krystal...’ and then after that, the window suddenly became frozen...and I lose consciousness.
Nagising ako dahil sa ingay sa baba. Pero pagtingin ko, wala na si Ate sa tabi ko.
“Ate? W-winter?” Then I saw her jacket beside the trapdoor covered with blood. I stood up slowly to approach the trapdoor but I heard a banging sound below...and I instinctively knew that that’s not Winter.
Narinig ko ang footsteps nila paakyat ng hagdan kaya sumandal ako sa pader. There’s no hiding area in here. But where is Winter? Don’t tell me they...
The trapdoor suddenly opened.
“Hello there, young lady.”
“Is this one a humdrum?”
“W-where’s my sister?” I asked them and they looked at each other.
“She’s dead. Lumaban siya sa amin. Ngayon kung ayaw mong mamatay, bata, bumaba ka at sumunod ka sa amin.”
Winter is dead? No...no...way.
“Let’s go, kid.” The two guys held me and I sensed danger.
“Don’t touch me!” I pushed them even though I knew it’s not going to work. But I was shocked when I heard them screaming and the next thing I knew, they were frozen.
I immediately left the attic and searched for Winter on the second and first floor but I can’t see her anywhere. Where are you, Winter? I don’t want to lose you, too.
“Hey, are you listening to me?”
“What?” I silently cursed myself because I didn’t realize that I’m reminiscing my past.
“I have a plan.”
“Are you sure it’s going to work?”
“Not really but might as well try it.”
“I guess that means okay.”
He told me his plan using our minds and I can’t believe he thought all of that in just a few minutes.
“If this doesn’t work, I’m going to freeze you to death.”
“And if it does?”
“I’ll still freeze you to death. Let’s go!”