Book 1: The Fall of the Mountain God

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New Beginning : The Morning After

The morning soon came after. With some of them waking up later than expected, they started the hike at the nearby hill at around four in the morning. Primo happily served as the guide and beacon of light as they hike to the peak of the slope. They then find a good spot to wait for the sunrise that will unravel the beauty of the mountain. Tala was no longer with them and only Pulag remained to watch the rising sun with them.

The first sign of morning light revealed a vast sea of clouds extending to the horizon. Then as the sun rose, sensational colors of pink, orange, and red, painted the sky, bringing warmth and a swell of joy to the group.

“This is where I say my goodbye,” Pulag said. “It’s been so long since I’ve walked these lands and I am happy that I was given the chance to meet all of you.”

“Have a good sleep Pulag. Thank you for helping us and trusting us with your mark”, Elle said.

The giant smiled and from his human size, he slowly transformed into a giant. He walked to the sea of clouds, his brown skin reflecting the rays of the sun and his hair moving softly against the wind. He turned around and gave the group one last look before he vanished at the oceanic sea of clouds.

The group waved goodbye as the giant disappeared feeling a little sad.

"He's a good giant. It's a pity they all had to sleep for humanity's sake. The least humans could do then is protect the slopes around this mountain to honor the giant who gave his freedom for us to roam freely," Karl said.

"Yeah, the giant keeps this place humming with pleasantness. The refreshing feeling you get after hiking and this intoxicating view that just fills us with immense happiness for being alive." Jen answered.

"You all ready for the next mountain?" Chris asked with apparent excitement in her voice.

"I am excited. This mountain taught us a lot of things, opened our eyes to all the creatures that live amongst us, enhanced our powers." Ave answered.

"Made us realize too, that if we all work together, we can survive difficult challenges. In the end, it was all about helping one another to save the mountain giant whose life is connected to all the living creatures here," Samel added.

"I can't wait to tell my Ma about this place", Elle said as she basked in the lovely glow of sceneries around her.

"Roberto is noticeably silent", Basti commented as their attention shift towards Roberto who looked teary-eyed.

"Oh c'mon, I'm having a moment here. I feel like if I talk more, I would soon cry enough. This place, seeing Pulag disappear, all the hurdles we had along the way, reminiscing what we went through is making me emotional." Roberto sniffed.

The rest of the group were silent for a moment, each of them felt a sense of loss at the thought of leaving the mountain.

"We can go back here. If we survive all of the peaks, let's all go back here. Do a normal hike. "Ricka added. "It will be fun for sure."

"Let's all survive the upcoming hikes that we have. I don't want to lose any of you", Jen said. "You're all like a family to me now." She added.

"Okay time for me to snap out of my emo phase and guys c'mon pictures," Roberto loudly bantered dousing the melancholic atmosphere each of them felt when they realized they have to leave.

They all took a lot of photos to their heart's content. Each of them is excited to share the images with their loved ones who for sure, are waiting for their updates.

They all arrived at Ambangeg, the exit place of their hike, at around eight in the morning where a white van awaits. Apolaki was there too, greeting each one of them with a hug and telling them over and over again how proud he was of them, hearing stories of their ordeal from Tala. They all were happy to see god’s face too. And just like that, they’re all back seated on the white van with fresh but drowsy faces.

"So how does all this work? Can we use our powers outside the divine space?" Karl said.

"Yes, you can. You can use it in the human realm if you want to. But be careful, you would not want to attract attention. Use it but just be very discreet. You can use it when your safety is threatened but not just to use it for your personal gain or else Sitan would be very happy as you taint your souls with evil." Apolaki answered. "And guys here”, Apolaki handed each of them their plane tickets.

“Bacolod Airport?” Ricka asked. Bacolod is located in the Visayan region.

"That place is just next to the Panay island where we came from," Chris said. "I am excited. Our next hike would be in Negros then."

“Yes, you’ll be the trails of Mt. Talinis. Three days hike like Mt. Pulag with a higher difficulty level." Apolaki answered. "I can't be with you by then but you'll meet Visayan gods for your organizers so you should be excited." He added.

Each of them was just staring at the tickets on their hands. Without speaking, each of them felt the excitement and fear on their next journey.

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