Day 2: At the Summit
“Giant? How did you know this?” Samel asked Primo as they continued walking. They’re now unto full assault towards the peak. The fog was getting thicker making it almost impossible for them to see the trail but the lights from the trail marks serve as their guide.
“It’s kind of a supernatural thing. It’s just within me. I know things and sometimes I don’t. But yeah, long before in this archipelago, giants roamed the land. And when one giant meets another giant, an endless battle ensues. Some hills and mountains are created by mounds of land thrown by giants unto each other until Abba decided that it’s time for them all big giants to sleep as it was almost the dawn of humans. Almost all major mountains are sleeping giants, lulled into sleep by the power of the gods and goddesses.” Primo answered.
“Well, I wish that the giant in here should not wake up at all. I mean a giant, who wants to fight that unless you have super superpowers. We can fight the smaller ones but the big ones, I don’t think so,” Roberto answered.
“Don’t worry, they’re meant to stay asleep for eternity as long as they remain undisturbed but guess what, one cannot be too careful. I say one day, when the mountain gets too fed up with all the trees getting chopped, its sides bombed to pave the way to roads for development, and excavation of minerals. Maybe one day the giant will just wake up on its own to seek revenge”, Primo said.
“Alright, alright Primo enough of the stories now. I’m going to be deactivating my power now to prepare for what can happen at the peak. See you,” Samel said.
“See you, boys. And Elle, you take care”, Primo said then he was gone.
“You all good Elle,” Samel asked.
“I am, you know just feeling the creak in my knees and the ache in my back says we’re getting nearer towards the peak,” Elle answered.
The sun was hidden behind the clouds but thankfully, there was no sign of the rain. On the last slope, they are to climb, it was just all grasses and fog. With their continuous walking, the chill has not gotten to their bones yet but the moment they stop for a rest, their bones start to go numb so they all decided that it’s better if they just traverse nonstop all the way to the peak. Each of them was silent too, they all share the common feeling of not wanting to break the silence and just purely be in the moment, feel the fresh air and the quiet of the mountain far too different than the usual hustle and noise in the cities.
Then they all saw a figure at the peak who seemed to be looking down to check if someone’s coming. The pink jacket indicated that it was Ricka, their group had reached the pinnacle of the mountain first. Then they heard her distressed call.
“Anyone who can hear me? Please help!,” Any creature or god or goddess my friends need help”! It was Ricka’s voice, full of panic.
Upon hearing Ricka’s call, the trio immediately hurried up towards the summit. And then as soon as they arrived, the first thing they saw was the wooden signage saying Welcome to Mt. Pulag Summit 2922 MASL in mint green paint. The signage was about a meter tall and was spiked against the hard, sandy open space. There were clusters of grasses growing sporadically all over the peak and there are open spaces in between the growths. The fog provided hazy visibility to what lies ahead and also the view down below. Soon, they saw Ricka running towards them.
“Sam, Roberto, and Elle. Thank God you’re all here at last. Hurry, come follow me, Karl and Jen, they’re hurt and unconscious.” There were tears in the corner of Ricka’s eyes as she talked. They all followed her and saw Jen and Karl with their head laid on their backpacks on sandy soil. Karl was wearing a brown jacket with a huge tear at the front and black hiking pants while Jen was on her violet jacket smeared with what looks like dried blood paired with her brown hiking pants.
“What happened to them?” Elle asked.
“There was this huge head, huge eyes, and ginormous body parts. I might be losing my mind but it was a giant. A real giant. The fog at first concealed it and then out of nowhere when we reached the peak, it attacked us hitting Karl and Jen who were the first two to arrived and when it was about to attack me, I was then able to activate my power and fired my rifle towards it. I’m not sure if I hit if but I’m pretty sure I saw its eyes closed while it kind of plunge back to where it came from.” Ricka said as she started to cry. “We were all tired from running. Along the way we fought the black plant, we were able to defend ourselves and just decided to run as fast as we can. The black plant followed us until the base of this slope but then continued no more. We were glad we escape it but then this,” She sobbed.
“Their heads have no sign of bleeding. Hopefully, no concussion. The grasses thankfully might have cushioned their fall.” Roberto said as he examined the unconscious Karl and Jen. “But I thought you will receive something here once you arrive first, markings that we will all get but with just varying powers depending on our ranking as to who arrived when.”
“Well, none of that happen, except that we were attacked by this giant. Something’s wrong, terribly wrong, something that Tala and Apolaki didn’t tell us.” Ricka said.
Soon they heard voices coming from the entrance to the peak. Elle ran to meet the last trio to arrive, Chris, Ave, and Basti. Except for a few cuts and tears on their clothes, they all looked okay. As soon as the last trio to arrive enter the summit plateau, the ground trembled, and soon the path that led them all to the summit is gone, replaced by a ravine. The place is now a wide, flat mountain top without entrance or exit, trapping them there.
“Look at that. That means we’re at the final stage, with no way to escape from up here except for Roberto who has wings.” Elle said as she scanned the edge of the mountain top. Anything below can’t be seen because of the fog. She then turned towards the trio. “You’re here, we’re all safe, not totally safe but at least we’re complete”, Elle sighed.
“So we’re last?” Chris asked. “Oh well, at least we’re all here and no one’s been taken to the dark side and you said not totally safe?” Chris asked.
“C’mon y’all, let’s go to the waiting others. Karl and Jen were attacked and are unconscious”,
“What?” Ave and Basti said in chorus as they followed Elle. With the arrival of the three, the group was pretty much complete and are all huddled together watching Karl and Jen.
“Let me help. I found out that with me, being able to talk to plants, I can somewhat heal. Let me try if I can heal them.” Basti said as he activated his power. Soon, grasses began to grow on top of the dusty ground, beneath Jen and Karl. Then, both of them opened their eyes. “Glad it’s minor. I can heal but just the minor things and sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t.” Basti continued.
“Hey cut yourself some slack, you just discovered that capability while we were with those saplings inside the tree nursery,” Chris said.
The group gathered towards the now conscious Jen and Karl who looked confused.
“Oh, you’re all here,” Karl said. “What happened?” He started to ask then he remembered. “What happened to that giant Ricka? The last thing I remembered was this huge hand swatting me and Jen but I do feel okay, by the looks of it, Basti you have this healing power?“, He asked.
“Yes Basti healed both of you.” It was Ricka who answered, relieved. “I was so scared for both of you. It was just gone after it hit you both. I don’t know where it went or what happened to it. I did shoot it but I’m not even sure I hit it. ” Ricka said.
“I don’t mean to interrupt but uh guys look “, Jen said as she pointed above them.
A looming figure, at first it was unclear but soon they all saw it as the clouds and fog dissipated. It was around 2:30 PM, as soon as the sun’s rays hit the summit, the breathtaking view below started to unravel, smaller peaks started to show up and the winding paths they had traversed on before reaching the peak was visible. But all of their eyes were transfixed not to the sublime sceneries below but towards the huge figure staring at them.
The face and body were that of a man. With its bronze color skin, dark eyes, and long curly hair, they were reminded of Apolaki. The skin was filled with tattoos, ancient markings glowing red. On its forehead is a gold cloth circling his head. It was bare-chested, wearing just a red loincloth with tribal patterns and colorful beads around its neck. Only half of its body can be seen from the peak of the mountain.
" I am Pulag and you will all fight me. I’ll only give the mark only if, I am defeated in a battle. Only those who will get the mark can leave my summit. You're the ones destined to replace Dumakulem, waiting to receive your marks. The gods and goddesses fooled you didn’t they. Your faces say that you didn’t expect me. But here I am, all your presence woke me up. The first three to arrive wasn’t too lucky. I tested them but I was still groggy, just woke up after the first arrival which loosened my binds. I wasn’t fully awake then and now I understand why. All of you have to here for me to awaken fully. Us mountain giants had pledged our loyalty to the mountain god Dumakulem and now it’s time that we do the same thing to you all of you until one is finally chosen.” The giant said. “The strength of the mark given to each of you is dependent on how much damage you can make against me. It’s been centuries since my last fight but I hope all of you will do your best because if you hold back, it could be your death,” The giant continued.
And with that, the giant who called himself Pulag jumped and landed with its full might at the space on the top of the mountain. The giant then formed a fist that glowed with blue aura, ready to attack them.