Prologue - The End
Apo Saysay flicks his bony fingers in the air as he creatively weaves his story - the story of how Maharlika came to be.
"Mass murders, wars, famine, pestilences - the known world was in chaos. Mankind has been violent ever since, and this time, the world surrendered." the old historian coughed before smiling at his audience of young kids, myself included.
I shifted my weight, leaning on my right thigh as I have been sitting for quite a while. At a tender age of twelve, this is my last day as a student. Tomorrow, I will start my training with my father.
"When the last hazy smoke has been cleared, the land is burned to the ground and everything is in ruins. That was the last year for the known world. It was 2137." Apo Saysay continued his litany just as I noticed a new face among the other children here.
She looks younger than me, probably just four or five years of age. She has long, wavy, jet black hair that cascades around the back of her knees. Her eyes are sparkly and playful, and her small mouth is curved in a coy smile as she listens to the musings of Apo. The little girl is the most beautiful being I have ever set my eyes on.
Oh how I wish I can play hide and seek with her. I want to know her name, I want to be her friend.
"MA TI KAS."
I wonder which tribe she came from? Is it the family of hunters, the Mangaso? Or is it the family of soldiers, the Sundalos?
A smelly shoe came flying through the air and directly landed on my head.
"Yes Apo!" I stood in a hurry just as I realize Apo Saysay is looking at me with fumes coming out of his huge nostrils.
"You weren't paying any attention. This is your last day and I want to know if you learned something."the old man said.
I silently fumbled with my carabao skin trousers. I can feel my cheeks burning in humiliation.
"I want you to tell everyone here what happened next in the story."
I scratched my forehead and closed my eyes, reciting the story in one go.
"The last citizens of the known world gathered together and built one, big nation with seven kingdoms divided per region. Those kingdoms are Yorupeo, Chekua, Negiru, Ramali, Isetle, Amoros and Maharlika." I pased and breathe before continuing. "That was 206 years ago, and everyone gets along well with each other. The civilization then grew rapidly and even though we are not as modernized as our ancestors from the known world, we are thriving and our armies and agriculture are stable and strong."
I then opened my eyes and peeked. Everyone is looking at me intently as if they heard something good.
"Very well, Matikas. I see you have learned something."
I breathe a sigh of relief and went back to my seat. I know my ears and cheeks are still flushed, but I ignored the smiles and whispers of the other children around me.
Mustering up all the courage I have, I turned my face sideways and looked for the pretty girl. She is gone.