C1 ACT 01: CHOSEN VESSEL (Part 1)
AS LIGHTNING struck followed by the loud roaring of thunder, it brought a man to his knees as blood gushed out from his back after being stabbed with an *itak which caused him instant death. The culprit was also a man who secretly snuck behind him when he was not looking. To their left, several men were also fighting to their death. The color of crimson was everywhere.
Pained screaming of innocent civilians caught in between the war echoed. The rain finally poured, washing away the blood of all the wasted lives, but not the sorrow of those who lost their loved ones.
“We’re all going to die,” one wounded man who lost both of his lower limbs said to himself while crying in despair. Hope was no longer present in his eyes. He was done for. Keeping himself alive would only burden the people who would tend to him. So, with a pained expression, he slowly picked up his itak drenched in blood and pointed it towards himself. He trembled while doing so. “Please, forgive me. This is the only way,” he uttered as tears came running down his cheeks. He was full of regret. The poor man was about to end his miserable life when a voice suddenly echoed from a distance.
“Look what you’ve done, you poor beings,” said the mysterious voice. It belonged to a man’s. All the men who miraculously survived the war tried to figure out where the voice was coming from.
“Did you hear that?” A guy asked to another lad who was badly wounded just like he was.
“Fear not. I am here to end your suffering,” the voice spoke again. “War is not the answer to end your conflict. It will only create another. If humans continue to strive through violence, you will never taste peace.”
“Who are you?! Show yourself!” The guy who lost his lower limbs shouted on impulse. He began to fear the voice instead of taking his own life.
A flash of light blinded all the men for a split second. And before them appeared a figure. The thunderstorm was put to a stop. Flooding waters became clear and still. The figure slowly moved forward, more like floating towards the injured men, but his distance from them was far enough for them to not see his full features. His face was not shown to the men, but they were certain that the figure wore clothes like that of the gods that they believed existed in this world and lived secretly in the form a human being, bringing good luck to those who had encountered them and some witnesses even said that these gods offered divine powers to humans who deserved to rule like a god.
“Are you a god?” Another curious man asked in awe. The dazzling appearance of the figure before him reflected in his eyes.
“I am the Deity of this land. For thousands of years, this land has been the paradise of living creatures happily co-existing with each other until you, humans, brought disturbance,” the figure replied. A hint of disappointment in his tone was obvious.
“Are you going to punish us? Will all of us perish?” A man asked.
“Are you that willing to stop breathing, human?” The figure retaliated. The man gasped at the sudden question.
He wasn’t ready to die. Neither of them were. They had no other choice. Death was the only escape to end their suffering. But the appearance of the figure made them realize how scary it was to see nothing but the darkness of the afterlife.
The man, who no longer had legs to walk, cried in agony. The man punched the soil with his hands. He had slaughtered another man’s life — a lot of them that he already lost count. He knew he had no redemption. But still, he cried as if begging for the figure to spare his petty life as he tried to reach out his hands into the air. “Please, I beg you! Let me live! I want to see my family again! Please!”
His desperation moved all the remaining wounded men into tears. Their cries resonated throughout the whole place. The figure listened to their yearnings.
“I want to live, too!” shouted a wounded soldier who lost most of his limbs.
“I want to see my wife! I want to apologize for not listening to her!” cried a man who had a gaping hole near his stomach.
“I want to see my children!” begged a man who had already both of his eyes.
“Please, give us a second chance!” They all begged.
“Humans…” the figure spoke gently before raising his right hand. He flicked his fingers in the air and within a few seconds, flashes of lights started to form around his hand. The lights gathered closer until they took the shape of an elongated card. The men, with their mouths wide open, watched as the light slowly faded and before them, a golden card floated in midair. “This is the symbol of my power,” the figure said. “I am entrusting you this card. Protect it with your lives and you must never expose the truth about this power to outsiders. Human hearts are fragile. You easily succumb to evil when your lives are at risk. I will give you this land. Build a kingdom where war doesn’t exist. Cherish every maiden that you have. They will carry your future leaders. And a kingdom won’t prosper without the guidance of noble people. I will choose five men among you who will be bestowed with divine powers. You will pass down the knowledge from generation to generation from now on,
“But remember, someday you will be overwhelmed by my powers and will use it against your people. My duty as deity is only to watch you grow from afar. I cannot involve myself with the human world. But if you lose the will to respect my existence and betray me, I shall put judgement upon you when the right time comes.”
“Mighty Deity, please tell us your name!” one of the men begged.
“I am Kasarinlan,” the figure replied with pride and elegance. He then flicked his fingers once more and the card floated away from him and came forth to the man with no legs. “From this day on, you will be one of the Elders and Founders of this land and kingdom. You will be allowed to talk to me on a given time. You and four more men will guide this land and turn this forsaken place into a paradise. Engrave the history in a book and place the card somewhere you will only know. Break this agreement and I will take everything back from you.”
“I… I will, my Deity!” the man agreed almost instantly.
Though the figure’s face wasn’t revealed, it seemed like he smiled. A bright light blinded the men again. By the time they opened their eyes, the Deity who addressed himself as Kasarinlan was nowhere to be seen.
From then on, the five chosen men fulfilled the Deity’s command, and they successfully transformed a once dead land into an oasis that became the embodiment of peace and prosperity.
“Centuries ago, there was a land that was filled with nothing but chaos. Rebels inhabited it that always sought war against neighboring lands in order to conquer their own kingdom. When that land almost met their demise, a mysterious deity who called himself Kasarinlan appeared before them and saved them from completely falling to the pits,
“The deity offered them divine powers and told them to transform the land into a kingdom of peace and prosperity. In exchange, they must vow eternal loyalty to the deity and offer a proper maiden that will be born in every generation and she is destined to carry Kasarinlan’s child. And so, the Kabinihan kingdom came forth.”
An old man was reciting the history of their Kingdom. Across from him were several children between the ages of five to ten, sitting quietly as they listened to the man’s story. Their mouths gaped open, purely amazed by what they just heard.
The old man took a deep breath before continuing, “And since then—” it halted him when a young man suddenly came out of nowhere, looking so panicked.
“The Queen has given birth! The Queen has given birth!” the young man announced.
As soon as the word was out, the people of this certain kingdom that was hidden in the thickets of the woods far beyond the mountains, gathered to the royal dome with mixed anticipation and joy. Their current Queen had just given birth, and they were all curious about their leader’s offspring.
“Come now, children. Let us welcome our new future leader,” the old man told the kids, and they all raced to the dome to join the crowd.
“Will it be a new King? Or will it be a Queen again?” A random middle-aged guy wondered, rubbing the beard on his chin with his hand.
“May it be a woman or a man? Anything is fine. But I wonder if a new vessel will be born,” a woman said, and everyone around her all turned their heads at each other in unison.
Somewhere in a secluded area, muffled screams echoed in the small corners of the room. It lasted for minutes and the painful screaming was replaced with a shriek of a tiny voice.
“My Queen, it is a boy,” the *Komadrona, in her late forties, declared.
A beautiful young woman lying beside the Komadrona, whose clothes were disheveled, weakly smiled. Despite losing all of her strength from the exhaustion of delivering her child, she still looked dazzling and gorgeous. “My child… Is he a beautiful child?” she asked in a weakened voice.
The Komadrona’s face enveloped in worry and hesitated to respond. Even so, she didn’t want to make the Queen go through stress right after giving birth. “He is a very healthy boy, my Queen.” The woman tried to hide the tension in her voice by encouraging the Queen. But the Queen had a strong feeling that there was more to the Komadrona’s comforting words.
“*Aleng Komadrona, is something wrong with my baby?” The Queen asked nervously. She attempted to get up but her body hasn’t recovered yet.
The Komadrona knew that there was no point in hiding it because it was something that fate had decided — something that she or even the Queen cannot change — a phenomenon that only happens once in every generation.
“He has the *Mark of Kasarinlan.”
With that said, the Queen shed tears of despair. She opened her mouth as if she was about to scream her sorrows out, but no sound came out. Only her whimpering voice was heard by the Komadrona. The woman who tended to her felt her hurt and decided to carefully put the newly born child in the Queen’s arms so she could hug her own son, hoping that feeling the child’s warmth would help the Queen ease her overflowing emotions.
It filled the room was filled with a deafening silent crying from the Queen. The Komadrona felt powerless and just watched her quietly as time seemed to pass by slowly.
“This is absurd! How can he have the Mark of Kasarinlan?!” A man whose face it hid under the hood of his black cloak spoke in a deep and disapproving tone.
“Immediate action must be done. What will the people think if they found out about this?” Another man in a black cloak intervened.
“Are you really sure that the Queen had a male offspring?” A woman asked with so much disbelief. She was also wearing a black cloak and her face was also hidden, like the others.
“Yes, it is true. The Komadrona who tended to the Queen confirmed it. There was no mistaking it. The mark was vividly etched on the newborn’s lower abdomen,” another man wearing the same cloak clarified.
“Then we must get rid of that child!” The man who spoke first among them quickly exclaimed. “He may be the Chosen Vessel, but he is a man! That child is a disgrace to Kabinihan!” he further added.
“But he bears the Mark of Kasarinlan,” a man with a gentle voice retorted. “And the people has the right to know the truth. Ignorance of the truth will give them no benefit. And that child is still part of our kingdom — our future King.”