"Engkanto" Book One

Monday, December 20, 2004

Adventures of Traydon the Sirenito: Story One

(*Note: The following is the first of a triumvirate of short stories, which I'm currently writing, that will accompany Book One of Engkanto. These interconnected stories will feature selected adventures of a sirenito named Traydon. I intend them to animate the profile I wrote of the Bantay-Katubigan beings.)

Traydon Gets Lost in a Cavern
He was six.

Firstborn of the late Keydan the Seabard and Karalota the Weedweaver, Traydon grew up having a great fascination for animals. He adored them especially for their playfulness and affinity with nature. This fondness he acquired from his father, who, aside from owning a vast collection of scrolls about the diverse fauna and flora of the water world, had tended several dugongs and sea turtles in their family’s ancestral home, in one of the deepest parts of the sea where they live.

Traydon’s frequent visits to his father’s study when he was still a sireling, usually to ask him to narrate any fable, largely contributed to his interest in lore and faunology. Both father and son delighted in those reading-and-listening sessions—memories that Traydon treasures and cherishes to this day.

At exactly six years of age, Traydon received his first pet. It came as a birthday surprise from his loving father. He highly regarded the gift—a plump little dugong calf. Whose bantay-katubigan child wouldn’t appreciate such a wondrous gift? A dugong is probably what every sirena’o child would wish to have as a pet. Even the renowned sirena’o poet and faunologist Kebalon the Versetamer, in his book A Bestiary of the Waterworld’s Fauna and Flora, described dugongs as “among the most adorable and loyal animals of the sea.”

Traydon named his dugong Bag-at, which became his perennial companion. Whenever he had an errand to do, like gathering mussels or picking sea anemones, or every time he went for a swim into the coral reefs or to the shore, Bag-at always gave him company.

Inevitably Bag-at became Traydon’s only friend, especially that his little sister, Loriyan, was much younger than he—too young to go far off their cave and promenade with him. Besides, being by himself has always been Traydon’s nature. In fact, he never had any friend until he was nine; and the first friend he ever had was not even a sirena’o like him, but instead, a human girl.

Both Traydon and Bag-at delighted in their mutual regard for each other—a special friendship the pet had proven to its master many times.

One particularly memorable event for Traydon in which the dugong was able to show its loyalty happened on a turbid, wavy day. Traydon and Bag-at were on their way home from a stroll down the coral reefs when he chanced upon a cavern. His curiosity caused him to swim into the deep hole without minding its tricky twists and turns. It made him forget what his mother kept on reminding him every time he and his pet ventured far away from home: “Be wary of tunnels and abysses, Traydon. No one knows what fierce creatures lie hidden in such unpeopled holes of the sea.” To which his usual reply was a casual: “Worry not, Mother, we will.”

Too late it was when Traydon remembered his mother’s perpetual bidding—he was already deep inside the narrow hole, lost in the dark, and the dugong was no longer behind him. Traydon’s scales began to glisten in fear, and the hand which held his travel-staff began to tremble.

Mustering every bit of remaining courage to regain his composure, Traydon spread his tail and slowed his pace, desperately trying to hear any vibration or to remember where he came from; but still, he could not retrace the path through which he passed. His heart pounded immensely he thought he heard it reverberate against the walls of the eerie place he was stuck in. Then, a luminous gray elongated mass gradually loomed from a distant corner and slowly illuminated the area where he was.

Traydon couldn’t believe what he was seeing—Bag-at, his ever loyal pet, glowing brilliantly in the dark. The dugong had followed its master after all. Finally Traydon was able to sigh in relief. He swam towards the dugong and hugged it. “Salamat, Bag-at, salamat,” Traydon uttered repeatedly as he caressed his pet adorably.

Guided by the light exuded by the dugong’s luminous skin, Traydon and Bag-at made their way out of the abyss.


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