He is Apolaki, one of Bathala’s children. The sun god and the war god. No one and he means no one other than Bathalang Maykapal, the supreme father of the sky can stop him, not his mortal mother, not this tiny Filipina woman hugging him.
“Move woman,” he commanded looking at the man he's been chasing for days run out of the door.
“No, I’m not letting you chase him!” Her arms wrapped around his waist tightened.
One swing of his hand and her fragile body will break at the cement wall of her small house, but every muscle in his body tense at the contact, stopping him. His mind reeled. What kind of witchcraft she was using to make him conscious that only the thin cotton of her blouse was between their skin? The feel of her breast on his rib cage made him regret tossing his top off. Human clothing is uncomfortable, especially modern ones. The country is hot and the people wore too much fabric around them. He wants to wear bahag. But he would make a spectacle of himself if he goes around in loincloth in the city, it’s been a month since he comes from Kaluwalhatian and he has no idea when he will start to weaken, while his cousin, son of Aswang is getting stronger.
“Let go, woman,” he raised his hand but kept it in the air not knowing how to grab her. Despite his violent nature, there’s something inside him that refused to handle her roughly. She’s a witch! He concluded. “You witch. The man you’re protecting is the son of God of all evil.”
Her face contorted into anger. “That man is my brother, you lunatic!”
“Lunatic?” He heard her call him many names before but this is the first time he heard that. She had hindered him from the first time he attempted to dragged out Cobalto out of the man she called her brother.
“Lunatic means your crazy! Where on earth did you come not to know that?”
He straightened up proudly. “Kaluwalhatian. I’m one of the gods under my father Bathala.”
She let out a sigh. “You’re really a lunatic. First god of evil, now you’re the messenger of Bathala? The ancient god?”
“His son woman, his son! Now, let go before I hurt you.”
“My name is Chesa, and no I’m not letting you go. I’ll die holding on to you if it means not seeing my brother get hurt.”
“His soul belongs to the ruler of Impiyerno.”
“I don’t care what a lunatic like you say. He’s my brother and he's a kind boy.” Her arms around him shook as she looked up to him, her eyes pleading as the first day she threw herself on the body of her brother before he could take his soul. “You’re a bit crazy, but you can’t be all that bad for not hurting me. Please promise me you’ll let him go, please.”
Apolaki’s heart ached at the way Chesa begged for Cobalto. As much as it pains him, he needs to decide now. If he needs to sacrifice this mortal woman, he will. His instruction was clear, observe the human with Colbalto's soul and take him back for trial if he shows signs of evil. The day he went to drag the man back, he saw it. The man this woman claim as her kind brother beat three men.
“Do you worship Aswang?” he asked.
“I don’t worship an aswang. They aren’t real!”
He tilted his chin. “There no need. I’m Apolaki, every I said is true, because I said so.”
“You stubborn fool,” she muttered.
“You stubborn fool,” she repeated higher, much to his surprise. She actually dared repeat it.
“I am a god.”
“Fine, so please, don’t chase my brother anymore. He’s a mere mortal powerless against your lordship.”
“I don’t appreciate how you say that.”
What kind of sin had we done to encounter this lunatic? Chesa thought gripping the man as tight as she can. She’s aware of how little and fragile she is compared to him, she knows that if he wished he could snap her neck in two seconds, but she knows this crazy man, handsome and deliciously muscular is unable to lift a finger against her.
At nineteen she barely has any experience with men, and she was certain this type of man is not her type. Hot-tempered, and a muscle-brain but there was something about him that intrigued her. She doesn’t know much about him other than his claim of being Bathala’s son, and she would have laughed at him so many times already if he wasn’t serious. The way he said it wasn’t something anyone does, he was convinced that he is Bathala’s son and her fifteen-year-old brother, her only family, is the son of the evil god.
Her head pounded. She released him and he looked disappointed as her arms left him, but the look vanished as soon as their eyes meet. She took his hand, he stared at it. “Please,” she begged again, losing hope but then he spoke. Much calmer than all-time she heard him speak.
“I could make a promise and break it.”
“You won’t.” She looked him in the eyes. Those deep eyes seemed to hold the power of the universe and make her want to believe him to be a kind of god. Somehow she knows if she can get him to promise he will do it. He opened his mouth but she pulled him toward the kitchen, “come with me, please, let’s talk.”
He glances at the door, no doubt, still wanting to chase her brother.
“I’ll tell my brother to come home after we talk,” she added. He looked at his hand she still holds and nodded.
“Do you want a drink? Any snacks?” Chesa asked. She was a lot more nervous than she expected a lot more compared to when she lunged at him after seeing him storm through the door. Her brother who had been terrified of him since the day he was pinned to the ground with a bolo knife to his throat by this man, was more than happy to run when she told him to.
She stiffened when she heard the kitchen chair moved. She turned and saw him few inches away from her, he put his hands on the kitchen counter, jailing her in front of him. Her heart leaps to her throat. It was careless of her to invite him in, common knowledge had flown off from her only because he didn’t harm her when he could easily have. She should have invited for a coffee outside, anything.
“What kind of witch are you,” he asked genuine curiosity in his voice.
“I’m not! I’m a normal human being. I never practiced witchcraft.”
“Then why is it that I feel draw in by your presence?”
“I don’t know. Now, please let me prepare something to drink while we talk.”
He stepped away from her. “There’s no need, call Cobalto here so I can bring him with me.”
“You promise not to harm him.”
“I promised you nothing.”
“Fine, but at least listen first before I call him back.”
She watched him walked back to the chair and sat with an arrogant tilt of his head. “I promise.”
She smiled at him and felt heat rise to her cheek at the way his half-closed eyes focused on her lips before traveling back to meet hers. She swallowed, turn around and grab a glass. She took out a jug of cold water and set it on the table.
He studied the glass. “Don’t worry, there’s no potion in it.”
“A mortal potion won’t have any effect on me,” he said.
Chesa opened her mouth to thwart his word but her voice was drawn at the screams coming from outside followed by the loud boom as if someone had dropped a ton of bricks on top of her house. She looked up and saw that her yero roof was sagging and before another word come out of her mouth, she saw giant claws seconds before the iron sheets fall toward them. She closed her eyes surrendering to the fate of dying from being slice by her roof, but a muscular arm wrapped around her and she floated.
She opened her eyes and gasped at the sight that welcomed her. It wasn't a shock because she was stuck under Apolaki’s arm like a rag doll as they float mid-air above her ruined kitchen or that there’s a giant creature carve straight from her nightmare facing them, or that Apolaki’s body was filled with intricate tattoos or that his eyes glow bright like the sun, she can barely speak because she just realized she made fun of a god.
Apolaki seemed to have read her mind because he grinned at her while levitating toward what’s left of her roof. “Believe me now?” he asked.
She frowned. Jerk, she thought, but hang on to his arm when he sets her down to balance on the wood where the yeros meet.
“Now then little soldier of Aswang, what brings you here?” Apolaki asked.
Chesa looked at the creature, mixed between a serpent and a tiger with eagle claws, no, it was anything but little. She looked away as its reptile eyes meet hers. It was slight but she felt Apolaki shield her. She was thankful for a second, until she saw, Andre, her brother running toward the house.
“No,” she whispered. If it’s true that Apolaki was a god, it would mean that her brother was his uncle’s son, the evil god, “No,” she said again and inwardly pray that her brother would run again. She glanced at Apolaki now speaking in a strange language and swinging his bolo. She wanted to warn Andre, but Apolaki will notice and god knows what the creature in front of them will do.
“Let my sister go!” Andre said signaling one of the boys with him. The boy who seemed lost gave Andre a bow and arrow. “Let her go. I know I’m the one you want to come to get me.”
“Shut up Andre!” Chesa said, “This is not a game. Go and hide.”
“My prince!” the creature said in a voice accompanied with so much crackling it reminds her of broken speakers. The creature rush toward Andre. Andre shot the arrow with a scream.
“Run, all of you!” Chesa shouted. She wanted to jump down so much and run with her brother, but she knows the only thing that will happen is her breaking multiple bones. Instead of helping, she will hinder him instead.
“Nice try,” Apolaki said, slicing the arrow from Andre and sends the creature back his bolo. “That boy is my prey and you’re not going to get it before me.”
Chesa stomped on Apolaki’s foot and nearly fell, but he pulled her back. “He is not anyone’s—
“I’m sending you down,” he said. “I will take you to your brother. Stay close to him, I will stop this ugly deformed reptile first.”
Apolaki didn’t give a warning when he holds her tight and jumped. He put her gently down beside her brother. “Protect her, until I come back.”
Her brother lowered his bow and nodded. Apolaki jumped back up.
“Wow, how did he do that?” said the boy who gave Andre the bow and arrow. The other three boys with them nodded. One of them faced Chesa. “You appeared out of nowhere with him and he just vanished after jumping up.”
Chesa and Andre looked at each other and understood why everyone behaved like normal, no one can see the bloody fight above their house, or hear as the creature swing its tail, slamming Apolaki down to her kitchen.
“Apolaki!” she called out and rushed into the kitchen without thinking. Andre sent his friends back and followed after her. Apolaki was knocked to the ground, bleeding and his bolo was on the creature’s claw. Chesa grabbed the closest thing which rolled toward her. A glass lid of a casserole. She took it and sent it flying like a frisbee toward the creature, stopping it from stabbing the unconscious sun god.
The creature turned its head toward her and she froze, only realizing then what she just did. “Run,” she said, “Andre we need to run.”
The creature stomped toward them and in flash, she heard herself scream. The most agonizing scream as the creature grabbed her by the hair and toss her aside. Her leg was caught between the sharp iron sheet.
“Ate!” Andre called out running toward her but the creature blocked him.
“My prince, let’s go,” said the creature.
“It’s okay, I got you,” Apolaki said laying a glowing hand on her leg. Chesa’s wound healed as soon as she felt the comfortable heat of his hand. She stood up with him.
“Apolaki, my brother. Help him.”
There was a painful shriek and they both turn to see the creature falling at Andre’s feet. Andre’s finger had turned into claws. His shirt was torn and behind his back were large bat wings.
“Andre,” Chesa called him and he turns toward them. Apolaki took her hand and Andre’s menacing dark eyes turn to Apolaki.
Andre smashed the organ he ripped from the dead creature. “Let go of ate, my older sister has nothing to do with your problem with me.”
“Andre, I’m fine,” Chesa said in a shaky voice. She stepped forward but Apolaki didn’t let her. “Let me go.”
Apolaki studied her face and let go.
She reached out for Andre’s face forced him to look at her, “Hey, I’m okay.”
“Yes, it’s me.”
Andre’s dark eyes revert back to their original honey brown, his claw vanished as he hugged her. Then his wings fade away as he sagged on her shoulder. The weight nearly made her tumbled back but Apolaki caught them.
“You can’t stay here,” Apolaki said as the murmuring crowd outside the house got closer. Without warning, Apolaki lifted her and Andre and levitate out of there.
The moment Apolaki set Chesa and her brother down inside the grassy lawn, she asked. “Whose house is this?”
Apolaki liked the mortal woman, despite being so breakable, she rushed to help, the creature wouldn’t have been able to kill him, but it could have hurt him bad since he was not able to fight it to the fullest while protecting the humans around, most especially Chesa.
His eyes went to Cobalto, or now known as Andre. Chesa noticed and protectively hugged her brother, shielding him with her small frame.“Why did you bring us here?”
He chuckled. “I like him too.”
“I like your brother, so stay here and feel at home.”
Chesa furrowed her brows. “I thought you want to kill him?”
“Yes, but that was before he saved you.” He leaned down and tried to straighten her wrinkled brows. “I’ll return to Kaluwalhatian for now, but I’ll return for you.”He then bends lower and kissed her lips. He let go when she didn’t respond but still feel quite satisfied at the little strength it has given him. He straightened up. “See you.”
He was a few meters above the ground when she shouts at him. “You jerk! How dare you steal my first kiss. Get back here!”
Apolaki licked his lips. Pleased that it was her first kiss as he slipped back into his realm.