A thick fog shroud the morning fields. Cold breeze sway along the gentle stream. It was calm, very calm - a far cry from the tension and anticipation inside the room where a mage is about to give birth.
"It's a girl, my dear," an old babaylan said as she gave an infant to Inari. "And she's, special as the Datu said."
Ya'ul tripped beside the bed as he hurried towards his wife and newborn. His eyes were filled with tears. His hands trembled, hesitating to touch his child.
"You can hold her," Inari said.
"She's so beautiful."
"You sure about that?" Alon said while sitting by the window. He poked at Ya'ul's disability.
"You do not need eyes to see my friend."
"Can I also hold her?!" Baltog said in excitement. "By the way, what will you call her?"
The couple looked at each other before Inari replied. "Ayesah, her name is Ayesah."
"Oh! What a nice name! But uncle OG will call you Ayi. Ain't it cute little Ayi?" he then continued to talk to her like a baby would.
"As if she'll understand you," Alon said as he went near. "And give the child back to her mother. She still needs her warmth!"
"Looks like grumpy uncle Al wants to carry you as well! Don't make her cry uncle grumpy!"
Alon refused but after Inari and Gaul convinced him, he tried to hold the infant. Upon his first touch, he knew that the child was different. He looked at the couple and then at Baltog. "You knew?" he asked.
Alon walked out without saying another word.
"We should have told you sooner," Inari said.
"Don't worry about that crybaby. He'll be okay in a minute." Baltog said. He knew that the couple was still worried about their friend so he assured them to talk to him.
"Look at that! For a mage who doesn't eat fish, you sure catch a lot!" Baltog said as he jiggled a basketful of fish.
Across the stream stood an acacia tree where Alon sat by its branch. A blood-red swallow hovered above his palm. Irked by the thought of eating fish and having a bone stuck by his throat, he grabbed the bird and threw it by the water. It created an explosion that threw a mudfish flying.
Baltog fell on his back trying to catch the fish.
"Looks like my belly's gonna be full today!" Baltog said. He held took the huge fish that slithered on him by its gills.
"Your belly's always full, you glutton! It's for Inari." Alon said as he jumped towards his friend.
"They didn't tell me about the child. It's just, I kind of knew it the moment we got here. Maybe that is also the reason why they kept their pregnancy hidden from us. All the while, I thought that they are also sent outside by the king. But I hesitated to ask. How could I? Never could I imagine that such child would be born from a mage."
"I understand. It's just, its awful to be the last to know. And I can't fathom the trouble they have to deal with, especially Inari."
"It wasn't much!" Inari said. She's riding a wagon pulled by OG's diwa - a huge gray carabao.
"Hey, are you already strong enough to travel?"
"You want to test my strength?"
"Bring it on! You think I'm still a wimp?!"
"Come on Al, you know you'll never win against her," Baltog whispered.
Baltog then went towards the wagon and placed the basketful of fish at its side. With feet covered in ice, Alon followed but could not move.
Baltog and Inari laughed. Alon then dispersed into hundreds of red swallows.
"You okay, Al?" Ya'ul asked as the swallows settled at the roof of the wagon.
"Tsk!" he replied.
"You never learned my friend!" Baltog said. He then tapped his carabao and the Order of the Golden Dawn moved towards the castle at the center of the kingdom.
Halfway through their journey, a sparkle of golden white light flashed. Cutting through the darkness of the night, it brought tears to the mages.
"He has already ascended back to Naga." Inari said.
"It's alright. He understands your situation. After all, it's his decision to keep you hidden all this time, right?" Baltog said. But his tone became serious as he asked the second time. "Are you sure it's okay that we bring her to the castle? I mean."
"Don't worry about it OG." Ya'ul replied. "It's all taken care of. We trust our Datu."
The Order continued to travel through the night. Their pace was slow since Inari was still recovering from giving birth and they have an infant on board.
Ya'ul was beside her wife and child who were fast asleep when he rose all of a sudden. Climbing on the roof of the wagon, he ordered Baltog to stop his carabao.
"Hey, if you can't sleep, let others sleep!" Alon said as he rose.
"Can you hear that?" Ya'ul replied. Moving his head, he looked for the source of his unease.
"Like I would! Your hearing is a thousand times better than mine."
Baltog knelt and touched the ground with his palm. "Nothing unusual."
"It's from the sky!" Ya'ul cried.
A thunderous roar broke through the kingdom. A huge sphere lit up the sky. For a moment, the darkness disappeared. It was like noon throughout Eloi.
As if he knew what would happen, Ya'ul took his wife and daughter before the ground shook. Alon fell from the wagon while Baltog, being an earth mage seemed not to care at all.
"Our land does not shake, never have I seen a record of it. Not even once since the wall has risen." Baltog said.
"I don't care. It does now." Alon said. On fours, he threw up every bit of his last meal.
"Welp! There goes your dinner." Baltog said. Tapping his friend's back, he helped him but was threatened to be burned alive as the latter could not seem to get over it.
"The sages rose," Ya'ul said.
"You felt it, right?" Ya'ul asked as he placed his wife back to the wagon.
"Yeah, the sages have been awakened."
"Does that mean, our kingdom is in danger?" Inari asked.
Still throwing up, Alon pointed up.
From the fading sphere of light, fell a small golden orb. Four other orbs of light streaked over the walls of the kingdom towards the golden orb. Red, blue, green, and grey orbs - each from the colossal statues of the sages at their gates. The four orbs floated around the golden one.
Another orb of golden color flew from the castle itself. The last orb fused with the others and formed a magic circle - the circle of Elo'ir. It lit the sky for a few seconds before it dispersed into five orbs of light. The four orbs flew away from the kingdom while the last one flew towards the Golden dawn.
Fuming with smoke, pure gold covered the path the orb fell. Even the crater from which the golden orb fell was covered with gold.
"Is that a child?" Inari asked. She pointed at the center of the crater.
The golden cloth peeled off and revealed a newborn infant. At that moment, they felt that they were in a presence of a Datu that they could not help to bow.
The child cried. Little Ayesah started crying too. The children seemed to feel the danger that lurks ahead.
"Quick. The others are coming!" Baltog ordered.
After Ya'ul pulled the child from the crater, Baltog got a rock twice the size of a head and placed it in replacement.
"Hey Al, let's see that fireball of yours."
"Want me to set you on fire?" Alon replied in jest. He then breathed fire that burnt the path of the golden orb towards the crater.
Baltog then transformed the gold that covered the ground to make it look like a normal rock that fell from the sky.
The Golden Dawn then went their way, taking a different route to avoid the other Elois.
"They will sure to notice that poorly made meteorite," Alon said. He sat beside Baltog at the wagon's seat.
"You do not have faith in our magic, do you?"
"More like I do not have faith in your magic!"
"Hey, hey. May I remind you that I am the best smith in the kingdom!"
"Tsk!" Alon replied. He looked at Inari who held the two infants inside the wagon. "What about the child?"
"We'll raise him as our own, right Ayi?" Ya'ul said.
"You heard that Ayi? You have a twin!" Inari said.