Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Two Brothers and the Ogres (Taiwan; Amis)--Part One

In an Amis community, two brothers were working out in the field. Around noontime they noticed a water deer creeping to the edge of the field from the safety of the thick forest. Then, when the two brothers went to the spring to draw some water, they again spotted the deer, this time not far behind them and apparently also headed to the spring.

Hmm . . . now isn't this interesting? they both thought.

The brothers slowly turned around and gingerly headed back to their home for their hunting rifles. Returning to the spring with their rifles, the two brothers saw the deer was still in the same spot. The older brother took aim and fired a shot at the deer but missed the creature, which then fled into the woods.

The next day, the brothers, taking a lunch break from working in the field, headed to the spring to eat. Once again, not far from them, stood the deer. And once again, very carefully and as quietly as possible, the two went back for their rifles. The deer was still there when they returned. The older brother took extra careful aim this time and fired. This time he hit the deer, which bounded away, leaving behind a thick, dark trail of blood. The brothers followed the trail the best they could until the blood became fainter and fainter and the trail dried up.

And so the deer had gotten away.

The two brothers weren't about to give up so easily, especially for a deer that had practically begged to be caught. The deer had been wounded, maybe mortally, they reasoned. It had to be around somewhere in the forest or on a mountain slope. They decided to keep looking for it before some scavenging beast got to it first.

Soon it would be nightfall. They decided to make camp in the woods and spend the night there.

The next morning at the break of day, the hunt continued.

The brothers thought they had again picked up the deer's tracks and followed them to a stream, where the tracks disappeared. Up the stream a bit was a fordable area, so the brothers crossed the stream and walked along a path until they came to a hut. They knocked on the door and an old woman appeared in the doorway.

"Auntie," asked the older brother, "have you seen a deer pass this way?"

"What's this about a deer?" she asked.

"Did a water deer come this way?" asked the younger brother.

"Friend, there's been no deer--water or otherwise--in this area. Forget about the deer!" The old woman then suddenly straightened her back, looked very serious, and whispered, "Stay out of this place. Go back to where you came from. If you tarry here, you shall both die."

"Why?" asked the older brother. "What's wrong with this place?"

The old woman frowned.

"Look inside my hut," she asked. The brothers then did so. They saw a huge mound of dough on her table, enough to make many cakes. "See the dough? I have to make big cakes out of all that dough and then bake them for the Kaluciluzai, or else it will eat me! It'll eat you both too if you don't get out of here now!"

The brothers said nothing, but shivers ran down their spines.

"Not long ago," the old woman continued, "a Kaluciluzai ate my son. Then, yesterday, it ate my husband. Now I'm the only one left."

The two brothers were now more angry than afraid.

"Auntie, go ahead and bake your biggest cake yet," said the older brother. "Make it nice and big and round!"

"Well, yes, I have to . . . Otherwise, they'll eat me . . ."

"No, you misunderstood. I have an idea how to help you. Just go ahead and start baking, please. We'll be right here with you."

The old woman then baked her grandest, roundest cake yet. The two brothers lugged it outside, just in front of the door. They looked at the cake; it was nice and moist and juicy. The two then munched on the baked cake, making sure to leave telltale teeth marks.

Just then they heard a noise coming from the forest.

"Now we're all in for it!" cried the old woman from inside. "I had told you two to get out of here while you had the chance!"

Quickly entering the old woman's hut with the younger brother, the older brother said, "Auntie, no matter what happens, just stay behind us. We'll take care of this."

The three crouched inside the dark hut as the floor and the ground beneath it rocked with the thunderous noise sha, sha, sha!

"It's the monster! It's the Kaluciluzai! It's here!" The old woman began to whimper.

From outside the hut just beyond the door roared a voice: "Who's .  .  . taken . . . a . . . bite . . . from
my . . . cake? When no answer came in reply, the voice roared, "All right, then, Old Woman! I shall eat you and then finish my cake!"

"Come on in, my love! I'm right here, sweetie, waiting for you!" shouted the younger brother, trying to imitate the old woman's voice.

"What?! You . . . dare . . . "

The enraged ogre didn't wait to break down the door but instead thrust his arm right through the bamboo wall of the hut to grab the old woman. The younger brother dodged the incoming arm, then jumped onto it and, using every ounce of his strength, broke the arm bones of the Kaluciluzai.

"Aiyo, aiyo, aiyo!" screamed the Kaluciluzai in pain. "That miserable old woman broke my arm at the shoulder! Ai, ai, ai! How could she be that powerful?"

Unknown to those in the hut, there was a group of these monsters not far away.

"Brothers! Sisters!" the injured monster cried. "That old woman is stronger than she looks! Look what she's done to my arm! Run, run for your lives!"

The monsters turned and fled. The Kaluciluzai with the broken arm struggled to run away as fast as he could. It was difficult for the creature, but he was still extremely strong and could still run swiftly and jump incredibly far. He could also still put his good arm to some use as well, such as by pulling himself up tree branches. The monster did precisely this--pull himself up a tree--when it caught sight of the two brothers in pursuit not far behind.

from
Lin Daosheng, ed. 原住民神話故事全集. [Complete collection of the stories and myths of the Taiwanese aboriginal peoples], Vol. 2. Taipei: Hann Colour, 2002.

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