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Chapter 9.1: [Provisional] Substitute? (1) “Miggie!” The old man held his warm and still smoking cup as he looked up and stared at the old woman standing in front of the stoves that use woods or logs instead of gas or electricity. She’s in the middle of cooking. “What is it, Lisa?”
“Is your child still not home?” she said, annoyed. The man sipped his coffee before responding, “What’s with you? Didn’t she say that she’s only going to the beach? You know how she loves the sea.” “Well, it’s already dark. Yesterday, she returned home late, as well.” “Just let her be, it’s her vacation. Let her enjoy it. And she’s already of age, she knows what to do. What are you afraid of?” The wife no longer replied. What her husband said was true, but it couldn’t keep her from worrying. That’s right, Eda’s no longer a child. They raised her duly and with proper conduct. They always reminded her of what’s wrong and right. But that’s exactly her concern. Their young child has grown up and she now has her own mind, curiosities. What if she asked questions about her identity? What if she got curious and asked why was she an only child. What if she realized and asked how were they able to bore her when her mother’s already too old to carry her? Elizabeth didn’t know what she should answer her. And that’s exactly what she worried the most. What if… she shook her head in her mind. She couldn’t lose Roselda; she would surely be devastated. (TL: Lisa = Elizabeth, mother of Eda) A few taps were heard by their door. Moments later, their young girl entered. “Mang, Pang, I’m home,” she said as she approached them and did a mano1. Lisa noticed that she’s bare-footed and she seemed to be holding a kind of flower that she had only seen for the first time, but then, she didn’t see that dragonfly-like thing resting on her shoulder. “Where are your slippers?” she asked her daughter. “And what are you holding?” “Mang, I lost my slippers. The wave must have washed it off shore,” she replied. “And this one, I picked it from the beach while I was walking. Isn’t it beautiful?” Lisa knew that she was not telling the whole truth and that she’s hiding something, but she didn’t asked her anymore. “Eda, go child and get change. We’ll be eating shortly,” said the old man. “Yes, Pang.” This translation is posted only in Sharramycats. If you’re reading this on a different site then you’re only nurturing aggre-gators that already killed many translating sites. Managat found Sarikit sleeping on his bed when he arrived at the palace. Earlier, he quietly traveled the way to his own room as he avoided the guards that loitered around the kingdom. He had to circle the wild and overgrown area of the kingdom and pass through the secret underground entrance. He was fortunate enough to do that and enter the Palace without alerting any of the guards. Why did they suddenly tightened the watch, he asked himself. He’s exhausted. He had traveled long to go and return back from the rocky area just to think things through. He was soon accompanied by the mortal girl, Eda. He’s very grateful to her for clearing up his mind. There’s still hope, he reminded himself. He gently sat beside the little mermaid lying on a soft type of moss, which served as their resting area. He was very careful because he didn’t want to wake her up. He noticed that a lambanang-tubig was on Sarikit’s head and it looked like to be sleeping, too. He reminisced with himself. In just two days there had been so much that happened. He met the mortal girl, the Head Maayo’s fall into sickness, and now, the birth of the new generation of lambanang-tubig. One of them even imprinted to a mortal girl. It caused worry but also amazement to him for he had witnessed something like that for the first time; that something like that was actually possible to happen. After some time, he stretched his arms and let his tired body succumb to exhaustion. A moment later, he’s already asleep. ———- 1Mano – from Spanish term ‘mano’ (hand); a traditional gesture of respect to the elders in Filipino culture. The young ‘uns take the offered right hand of the elder then presses it to their forehead and say “Mano po”. Chapter 9.2: [Provisional] Substitute? (2) Roselda made sure that her Mamang and Papang have already slept. She firmly closed her door, as well as her windows. While she laid on her bed, the lambanang-tubig flew around, darting non-stop in her room. She smiled to herself. She didn’t imagine that she would have a familiar and a water fairy at that. The world is so mysterious; it has so many secrets that a simple person couldn’t understand everything. This is probably the reason why people fear the engkanto1. The latter lives in a world beyond human understanding. Beside her bed was a small table. On its surface perched the jar where the black pearl given to her by the merman was being kept. Next to it was the remains of the egg of her Lambanang-tubig, Saminsadi. She placed it on a broad and shallow pot made from clay and decorated it with white stones. At first glance, it simply looked like a unique kind of plant with no leaves. And in the middle of her table, there rest the only framed picture of their whole family which was taken when she’s still only ten years old. Maybe something like this? ‘Don’t let the egg’s remains dry up, Eda.’ She suddenly recalled the merman’s reminder when he passed the remains of the egg to her. ‘When it dries up, your fairy will weaken. It’s a part of itself. And it’s part of your job to keep the egg’s remains moistened and healthy because if you neglect it, something bad will happen. Always soak it on the water, you understand?’ She nodded to the merman right then. Before she left him, he thanked her for the bread that she shared earlier. I will take care of you, Sadi, she whispered to herself. I will treat you as a brother. The water fairy flew to her forehead and pretzeled itself there while making a pleasing hum. “Are you tired, Sadi?” She asked quietly. The fairy nodded and flew to its egg. There, it laid and hugged itself. Roselda moved her body towards the pot of the egg’s remains. She can’t help smiling as her little friend finally went to its rest. She can’t help a yawn. I’m feeling sleepy, too, she thought. Before she fell asleep, she thought about Managat. Just maybe… “How is the condition of the Head Maayo, Healer?” This translation is posted only in Sharramycats. If you’re reading this on a different site then you’re only nurturing aggre-gators that already killed many translating sites. The Counselor, Umala, was standing behind Maalam, the Healer, as the latter conducted an examination on their beloved Head. He has long served the Head Maayo so he also wanted to know her exact situation. But based on what he’s seeing at the moment, her condition still hasn’t improved. “There’s still no change, Counselor Umala.” Replied the healer as he shook his head. He was kneeling beside the huge shell and was holding one hand of the head mermaid. He might had his back to the Counselor but the latter still noticed his worry due to how tight he’s been gripping the hand of Head Maayo. Umala approached her tail area and gently stroke the already paled part of her scales. It now felt coarse to touch, a sign that this ancient illness was undoubtedly destroying her. “I don’t want to mention this, Healer Maalam, but I think it’s time to look for a new leader of the whole kingdom,” the Counselor suggested. Maalam didn’t reply. “I know that you understand, more than all of us, the legend of Dalit-Kamingawan,” he continued, “I don’t need to remind you that…” Umala intentionally cut whatever he’s to say. (TL: Dalit-Kamingawan – the sickness contracted by the Head Maayo) The healer turned to him. “I understand, Umala,” he snapped on him. He didn’t like his words but he knew that it’s the right thing for everyone. Umala scowled at Maalam’s reaction. Usually the healer would call him counselor. He knew that he got angry seeing how he had responded with a snap and frown. “My apologies,” Maalam immediately retracted to his previous position again. “Don’t you think that it’s still too early for that suggestion, Counselor?” “I understand that, Healer Maalam. But I’m just thinking of everyone’s well-being. We cannot neglect our kingdom nor left it with no successor or even just a substitute since there are works left to do,” said the Counselor. “Do you think that there’s still a cure or any better chance of treating this disease of Head Maayo?” Once again, Maalam shook his head. He knew it’s a lie to say otherwise. “What I mean is that we can also nominate a substitute for the time being, while you’re doing everything to treat this disaster.” Umala emphasized the phrase substitute. “Don’t think that I have no wish for the well-being of Head Maayo, Healer. Like you, I also want her to be healed. I consider her as my family, too. You know that.” Again, Maalam didn’t reply but instead, he held the hand of Head Maayo once again. Before Umala became the counselor, he was just a little orphan. He was adopted by a good mermaid when he was found in a thicket of overgrown mosses. He was loved and was raised properly by that mermaid. But sadly, even her died in unknown reasons. “Do not forget, Healer,” the Counselor continued, “you’re not the only one who lost a loved one. I will not allow myself to be an orphan again.” After saying that, Umala gave Healer Maalam a pat on the shoulder and then walked out of the room. You’re right, replied Maalam in his head. But who shall be the substitute? ———— 1Engkanto – from Spanish word ‘encanto’ (incantation or charm); a Philippine mythological creature synonymous to fairies, fays, nymphs, deities, gods or goddesses who are believed to be guarding the seas, rivers, forests, trees and mountains. They are also associated with dark beings that bring sickness and bad luck.