A cool breeze from the southeast swept through him. It brought a familiar scent of the rice fields and of the lake and a hint of salty water from the ocean across their borders. His long hair danced along with the loose clothes girded onto him as he floated above his castle.
Streaks of light crept through the edges of a massive wall that encircled their whole land. Vibrant colors replaced what was once a dark sky, revealing a lively kingdom within a wall as high as the mountains. There was a festive vibe as people started to gather towards the castle grounds.
His golden hair shined bright as he soaked into the warmth of the sun's embrace. Reminiscing the time he had with his people, he relished every moment.
"It's time, Datu." An elder said as he knelt on the back of an eagle fluttering behind king along with two other elders.
The king felt his people gathered beneath him. "Ridiculous" he whispered. "This whole tradition is just ridiculous!"
When he was young, he was troubled as to how he could father a kingdom when he hasn't experienced the love of his own father growing up.
An heir to the kingdom of Eloi must live his youth in Naga, a castle hidden in the skies. In there he needed to master how to use the four elements as well as the ways of the Elois. He was being prepared to govern the people he has yet to know in a kingdom he has yet to see. By the time he is to descend, he must leave an heir to keep their bloodline. And by the time his reign would end, he will ascend back to Naga to give way to the next ruler.
Huridaw - his last day of reign.
"It has been a hundred years since there was a pact of peace between the three kingdoms. And since then, neither the Amuns nor the Balangs raised a sword against us. Don't you think it's time we raise the next heir inside our walls?" he asked.
This was the second time he asked this question. The first was when he took the throne but was immediately shut down by the elders. Having the heir inside the walls of the kingdom would only pose danger not only to their bloodline but to all Eloi itself. The two other kingdoms might join forces to obliterate them once and for all.
For that reason, he had strengthened the kingdom both in resources and power. And after many years of persistence, he was able to convince the elders to expand their territories outside the wall. But being like a hermit for too long, their kingdom was still generations behind to stand a chance to either of the two kingdoms who grew much more than what they could have imagined.
With a deep sigh, he answered his own question. "It's not yet the right time, right?"
The gust of wind swirling beneath him dispersed and the king fell before the elders could utter a word.
His sons were important to him but so were the people. After all, it was the first king's will that raised the giant wall to protect them from being invaded. But more than a duty, he loved his people dearly. To him, each one was his family.
A huge wave splashed as he plunged through the castle courts. The water rose and washed the crowd to their feet. When the water subsided, they found their king with them on the castle floors, laughing.
A festive vibe and joyful music filled the kingdom. There was singing and dancing. Roasted meat of fattened cattle and wild boars filled their bellies along with their finest crops and grains. Rice wine flowed like a river.
The kingdom rejoiced with their king, his last day with them.
"Any word from the Golden Dawn? It seems that Inari has given birth already, no?" the king asked the elders.
"Ah, about them," an old woman chewing nganga tapped a bluish-grey bat dangling from her clothes. It hovered by the king's ear before flying out of the castle.
"I see." he let out a sigh as the Order closest to him could not make it on his last day.
The night fell like a thief. In a blink of an eye, the long day came to an end. The once cheerful music turned to melancholic notes that slowly faded.
The people made their way as their Datu walked towards the center of the castle. Engraved on the floor is an Elo'ir's circle – a magic circle first used by their first king Elo'ir. It was a figure of the sun with eight wavy rays; four are embracing the symbols of earth, water, air, and fire.
Facing Elo'ir's statue above the throne, he knelt and muttered words that only he could hear - words of thanks and praise, and a prayer.
"My people!" he cried as he stood before them. "I came here with nothing. I grew up without a mother and a father. More than a friend, you became my father, and mother, siblings, and children. I am grateful to all of you for giving me the family I never knew. May you continue to flourish with your next Datu!"
The king joked that his eyes are performing water magic as he wiped the tears rolling on his cheeks.
"I hate leaving you as much as I hated the feeling when I left my boys for you. But just as the night's promise of the day to come - when the sun rises, you will have a new king, but I doubt that he would be better looking than me."
The people of his kingdom laughed but their eyes have hints of sadness. They too felt the pain of their tradition, having to watch their kings come and go.
"Children of the sun!" cried at the top of his lungs. The ring on his index finger turned into a sword that he raised up high. It was a sword made of gold with a wavy blade. They called it sinag, which literally means a ray of the sun. "From the claws of death, you shall not hide!"
"For in your darkness, I'll bring forth light!" the Elois replied with a roar.
It was the last words of their first Datu, Elo'ir. The words they live by and die by. The words that gave them hope, courage, and strength. The words that gave them light in times of darkness.
The circle from which the king stood burst with light as he plunged his sword at its center.
From the elemental symbols within the circle emerged a form of mages wearing hoods. They believe that they were the spirit of Elo'ir's sages. They were the powers behind the four towering statues by their gates and protect them whenever their enemies attack. The sages, along with Elo'ir's wall were the reason the kingdom of Eloi gained the reputation of being impenetrable.
The sages stretched their hand. Specks of gold and white light came out of the sage's palms that wrapped around the king. Before long, the king's body was completely covered with light until he became one with light himself. In a blink, the light burst and radiated all over the kingdom.
All that's left in front of them is the dull remains of Elo'ir's circle engraved on the castle floor.
The era for the new Datu is about to start, but they will have to wait till morn.
☀ ☀ ☀ ☀ ☀
The king stood on a familiar dome – the one from which he had descended a couple of decades ago. The moment he regained his sight, he knew something was not right. It is night in Naga – a thing that should not happen. The eternal sunshine was replaced by a moonlit sky.