At the Pavilion
“We saw your unlimited supply of spears from your goddess mom, that was just so cool with you hurling them towards the monster,” Chris said to Karl.
“And what about our wizard here, Samel with his magic white orbs pushing back those scary vines from that one seed, so awesome. I wished I could have helped but I am yet to discover my other powers aside from my angelic wings”, Roberto said.
“Ricka is the coolest of all, like a real sniper soldier with her gun. Whew, our first fight” Ave said.
“Yeah, but every time a bullet goes out of the rifle I feel like a part of my energy is being sucked, did you all fee it? Using your powers is draining, I feel like I can sleep for a week now. And by the way that lovely woman, she’s a goddess too right? Who is she? I seriously think that once this is all over, I will read more about Philippine myths”, Ricka answered.
“That’s your human blood bringing exhaustion”, it was Tala who seemed to have recovered. “For pure gods and goddesses they can fight for centuries but not humans, you have to recharge because it takes a toll on your human body. That goddess you just saw is Amihan, the goddess of the monsoon weather. She’s a pureblood goddess and yeah, she’s very powerful like the other pureblood gods. Chris, I think we should continue with you now, no time to lose”. She continued.
“At last. I would very much want to help but unlike Samel I was afraid to go berserk with my powers without knowing what it is.“Chris answered.
“Right, I wouldn’t have recommended it for you to step out of the blue bubble as anything could go wrong. Though, I am glad that Samel was able to just control his powers. Speaking of which, you all should know first why she and Elle had this blasts when Samel tried to pat Elle’s back. Not to intimidate anyone, Samel is Abba’s son, the opposite of Sitan. Abba or also known as Bathala is as the gods and goddesses’ supreme ruler who can control thunder, lightning, flood, fire, earthquake, and has a command over spirits and mortals. Of course, he’s half-blood and will just be on par with any of you when it comes to power. So don’t think that him having the supreme ruler as his father will be more powerful than you.” Tala said. “Samel as far as I can tell had inherited shockwave from our father’s earthquake power,” Tala said as everyone gasps. “And like darkness receding away from light, Sitan’s power recoils from Abba so it’s no wonder why both you and Elle were thrown away when one reached for the other. I’m afraid that when both of your powers are activated, each of you should not have contact which each other.” Tala continued.
Elle looked at Samel, it’s a pity they can’t be near each other in a battle as she’s starting to like the boy. Samel was also looking at her and when their eyes met, Elle immediately looked away. Get grip on yourself, Elle thought.
Samel just don’t know what to say, when he first met Elle at the airport, he has this unexplained feeling of protectiveness over her. He would watch her when she’s not looking, admiring her disinterested almond-shaped eyes.
“So Chris, come here. It’s time for us to learn about your powers,” everyone’s attention shifted to Tala as she guided Chris in the process of discovering her powers. As Chris closed her eyes and channel her attention to the center of her palm when she opened her eyes she saw a scythe with a meter wooden handle and gold curved blade at the tip. To her front, interesting enough is a mound of sweet potatoes.
“Good, a daughter of Dumangan, the god of harvest. You will never get hungry wherever you are.” Tala chuckled.” Now let’s see what that blade does. Swing it.” she said.
Chris swing her scythe to an invisible opponent and as she does so, a hologram-like replica of her blade appeared and propelled towards the trees to her left. Two trees were instantly sliced clean in half as the blade disappeared.
“A dangerous weapon. Now that you saw what it can do, be very careful when you wield that weapon”. Tala said as Chris nodded in agreement.
“Now that all of you had discovered your powers, it’s time for you to receive your marks for you to enter the divine space for your challenges”. With that being said, Tala rose mid-air and released bright golden lights which soon flew and rested at the backside of everyone’s hands. As the yellow light disappeared, the nicknames of each one of them have now etched the back of their left hand in glowing ancient Alibata letters.
“Also, listen, this is very important. As half-humans, you can switch off your awakened state so as not to burn your body with the surging god or goddess blood that you have. You need to find the balance as to when to activate your powers and the time to turn it off. Place your right hand on top of the back of your left hand. As soon as you do so, the glow in those ancient script representing your names will be gone and your god blood will sleep.” Tala said. As soon as everyone followed what she said, each one of the kids’ glow slowly disappeared until no one of them is showing their colors.
“So just remember, to awaken your powers, focus to the center of your palm and to switch it off, tap the glowing letters at the back of your left hand. The switch was specially made for half gods in ancient times to prevent god’s blood from eating the rest of the human blood. I know all of you are feeling the exhaustion of using your powers. Remember that as humans, your powers have limits. Your body will not take a 24-hour awakened state so be very careful. Conserve your energy and use it when needed.“Tala said.
That ended the discovery for the awakened ones. With Tala’s command, all of them left the clearing and headed to the pavilion where the rest of the details of the climb would be. Everyone settled in on the wooden benches at the front area at the stage of the pavilion. As everyone switched off their awakened state, each of them instantly felt drowsiness creeping in that even the hard surface of the benches looked enticing for a quick stretch.
Soon enough, Tala was at the stage ready to tell them as to what will happen. She seemed distracted.
“I just received a change in plan from Abba, the original plan was for each of you to journey until you reach the summit but it seems that Sitan had planted black seeds along the way. It's too late for the divine space to be scoured for the presence of the black plants. So, instead of you facing challenges alone, you will be in a group of three. With you three in a group, you have a higher chance to win against the black vines.” Tala said her voice quivering.
“So the Gods expect all of us to fight the monster when all of us together with you had trouble subduing. Do we even have a choice to back out of being one of the choices to replace a fallen god?” It was Samel and everyone murmured in agreement with his question.
“I’m afraid you don’t have a choice, you have to answer to Abba, the supreme ruler’s call as the other gods have no choice with the duties given to them. It is not just you who will bear the consequences if you decide not to proceed. All of whom you considered as a family will be affected. How? I am not sure but the supreme ruler is unforgiving. I know this sounds like blackmail but to be honest since the very beginning of time when the supreme ruler chooses you, it's a done deal. You have no choice but to answer." Tala explained.
"It is blackmail. We never wanted to be sons and daughters of gods and goddesses. We didn't matter to them before and suddenly this. It's just too much." Ricka answered.
"I understand your turmoil Ricka and all of you. No one expected the mountain god to disappear just like that, the consequences of a godless space is portentous, the underworld is quick to occupy spaces with chaos, and pretty much right now, the chaos in Dumakulem's realm is being held back by Abba but not for long. A god is needed or else the human world will be affected." Tala replied."And there are others like you, mingling with the humans, dying, and never discovering the true power that sleeps on their blood. But amongst all, you were all chosen and worthy to protect the balance on the divine realm," Tala continued.
"But our lives could be in danger, right? The black plants appeared to be an unanticipated move from the underworld, what happens to us if we get corrupted?" Chris asked.
"The monster that we faced earlier, feed off from Sitan’s power directly that’s why it’s too strong but along the way on the trail made by the gods for you, the seeds should be weaker, that’s what the gods and goddesses thought but to be honest, we’re not a hundred percent sure. And, as to what happens to you when you get corrupted, no god or goddess can help you inside the divine space where your challenges lie," Tala answered with a heavy heart.
Everyone was silent, feeling the weight of what lies ahead.
“I know you have less time to prepare but the challenges ahead will hone each of your powers. You are all powerful remember that. Each of you will receive Dumakulem’s ma at the summit of the mountain depending on how well you survive the last challenge. And as you have known, you will be hiking, not just this mountain. There will be five mountains in total. The one with the most powerful markings of Dumakulem will replace the god. In a rare circumstance where both of you have equal markings, both will fight it off." Tala said
“That's crazy,” Roberto said. “Can one forfeit to give it off to the other?”
“No, I’m afraid not. You can’t also hold back when using your powers or the consequences will be dire. If the gods and goddesses sense that you’re dilly-dallying to avoid being chosen you could return as a handicap to the human world. You wouldn't want to know how you will become if you don't give it your all. Let's just say that centuries ago when one of the half-bloods decided not to answer Abba's call, a series of bad luck befell his whole clan and to this day, his lineage is still suffering” Tala explained to the group who are keenly listening. Each of them appeared to have understood what it means to answer the call of the supreme ruler.
“So the path to each of the group will be separated from the actual human trail. You will be entering a divine space but a replica of the actual trail. Inside the divine space, you will face challenges, and time, of course, is your enemy. As a motivation, the last group will have increased weight on their packs on the next mountain and I know no one wants that. Remember, you cannot use your god blood all the time, you have to conserve your energy and just use it when necessary.“Tala continued.
“What kind of challenges await us?” It was from Karl.
“And what about food?” Basti asked.
“Before that, we’ll decide the groupings”. Tala answered.