”Handyong, promise me! No matter what, you have to save her. ” Lakan Lawin was panting, as he shoved a little bundle wrapped in grey cloth to his arms.
”No, Lakan I cannot leave you now. We can still defeat them. ” Handyongs words were drowned by the screams, as chilly as the night breeze that filled the air.
”There is no time. Take this. ” The king took his necklace and handed it to Handyong together with his dagger.
Lakan Lawin peeked at the sleeping baby and gave her a quick peck on the forehead.
”Im sorry my little princess. I cannot watch you grow physically. Grow up bravely and take revenge for us. My spirit will guide you. ” He croaked.
With his strong hands, he pushed the unmoving Handyong to a small bamboo raft before cutting the hemp rope that attached it to the boat. He threw a bamboo pole to Handyong which he caught instinctively with his free hand.
”I count on you Handyong. Protect her with your life and help her take back what is hers. ” He watched as the raft and the slouched figure of his most loyal warrior was swallowed by the darkness of the night.
He hurried back to the cabin where his wife was. He found her looking at the door and under the flickering light of the torch he could see the smile was still on her face. That was the same smile she had when she sent him off with their child earlier.
She shielded him from the spear of a warrior who sneakily entered their cabin to kill him. That was Dagang one of the brave warriors he selected to serve and protect his family but he betrayed him in the end. Despite her wounded body, she was able to pierce Dagangs chest with a sword giving Lawin time to flee with their daughter Tala.
”Go. Save her first. ” Her breath was labored. She could feel her life force living her body.
”I love you. I will wait for you to save me. ” Lakambini Diwang Diwang gave him her sweetest smile despite the excruciating pain in her body.
When Lakan was gone she whispered to the air. ”Sorry my love. I can keep my promise. I cannot hold on anymore. ” She closed her eyes and her clenched fists went limp.
Lakan Lawin kneeled beside her and gently held her in his arms. He swept away the bloody hair that covered her face. He pressed his lips on her cold ones before letting out a beastly scream that pierced through the stillness of the early morning. His agonizing screams startled the birds resting on the trees that were lining the river bank and they flurried away in panic. The warriors fighting outside paused for some time as fear gripped their hearts.
He picked up the spear that took his wifes life and with the sword on his right hand, he left the cabin in big strides.
It was now the crack of dawn. The east was splashed with warm yellow and pink hues as the sun like a shy lady hiding behind a fan did not want to show its full face but let its rays peeked teasingly from the horizon. What a beautiful scene, a scenery that every artist dreamt of capturing on a canvas with his brush.
Lakan Lawin surveyed his surroundings. The six smaller boats that escorted them where all devoid of its occupants and dead bodies were sprawled around. The few remaining warriors were fighting hard to keep their enemies from getting into the kings boat. Lakan Lawin moved forward and killed a few rebel warriors with his sword and spear. He killed a few more but there were too many of them and his strength was ebbing away each time he swung his sword.
All his remaining guards were subdued and he himself has no more strength left. He dropped the spear on the floor but held on to his sword and he used it to prop himself up.
”O my, O my…you killed many of your brave warriors today Lakan. ” A man, a head taller than the rest wearing regal clothing similar to his stepped out from behind the row of warriors.
”Look at the river Lakan. The water glistens like ruby in the morning light. Thats the blood spilled from your proud and stupid warriors who did not take my side! ”
Lakan Lawin gasped. ”You.. ”
He stepped back and clutched his chest. He let go of his sword and it fell to the ground. The pain he was feeling from his wounds was nothing compared to the pain of knowing the identity of the perpetrator who betrayed him.
Facing him with mockery written all over his face was his second in command, the chief of his warriors, the mighty Danao.
”You traitor. This is treason. ”
”Ha ha ha ha! Indeed you are right and you lost! Today I will be the new Lakan and the Kingdom of Namayan is mine. ” He said laughing maniacally.
Danao took a few steps forward until he was a swords length from the king who was already badly injured.
”You are now strip of your crown. As your new king kneel before me and I might have mercy on you and spare your life! ” Danao draw his sword and pointed it to Lakan Lawins neck.
Lakan Lawin answered him with a taunting smile. ”Over my dead body. ”
With lightning speed, he pulled his two daggers from his thighs and slashed Danaos face in a cris cross pattern.
Gasps were heard from the warriors standing behind Danao. Before Lakan Lawin can plunge the daggers to his chest, a shower of arrows hit his body. He fell on his back.
”Aaaaahhhh ” Danaos screams were agonizing.
”Kill him. Kill him. ” He ordered as he staggered backward holding his bleeding face with both hands.
”Lakan Danao I think he is already dead. So many arrows pierced his body. ” One of his warrior said a tremor can be sensed from his voice.
Lakan Lawin knew he was dying. So much blood was gushing out from the many wounds on his body.
With his last ounce of strength, he cried out in a booming voice. ”All of you traitors who betrayed Namayan today, you will regret it. Your end will come upon you, ten times worse than what you have accorded us today! And you Danao, whatever is not yours will never be yours! I placed a mark on your face and when the time comes, that mark will haunt you. Bathala, I implore you to bear witness to this day! ”
He shifted his gaze to follow where the river flows towards the sea.
”My little Princess Tala… ” his voice was so soft nobody heard it. With much difficulty, he cried in his loudest voice ever. ”Remember this day and avenge us! Avenge Namayan and take it back! ” He closed his eyes and breathed his last.
An eerie silence followed.
The rebel warriors who heard the lakans last words shuddered as their hearts were gripped in fear while the faithful guards of the king clenched their hands into fists as they silently lamented the passing of their ruler.
Danao froze. A chill ran down his spine.
Who was he talking to? Realization hit him.
”The little princess. Go find her and bring her to me! ”
Down river, Handyong who was sitting on a bamboo raft dozed off but was awakened by the sudden heart wrenching cries of the baby in his arms. Without him knowing it, tears started to fall from his brown orbs that turned dark. He knew that at that moment his Lakan has died.
Lakan is the title of the king or the paramount ruler in the kingdom of Namayan and Tondo during the pre colonial Philippine era.
Lakambini is the title for Lakans wife (Queen)
Bathala means God