Not that long ago, maybe a year or so, a being unknown to all, came to land. No one knew where she came from, but they knew it was neither from above, nor below, as none of the other spirits on the island recognised her, and so the spirits told the people that she must be from somewhere in between.
“But where else could be in between, but here on earth?” the young boy asked the forest spirit, who’s form was that of a black haired beast.
The large beast had large bulging eyes, set into a colourful red face with a fierce, fanged smile. He was feared by the villagers even though he protected the island from any unknowns that may come ashore.
The beast had become the island’s protector a long time ago, after he had defeated many a bad spirit and was crowned king of the forest by the villagers. His name was Barong, and he liked to be left alone. He didn’t often speak to the villagers, and the villagers didn’t often speak to him, preferring to leave offerings in exchange for his protection. But Barong was also curious about the new spirit so he answered the young boy.
“There are many places in between, places that neither you nor I can go. But they are there, just as you are here, and this new spirit must be from there”.
"If she is from there, then why is she here?" the boy questioned.
“That I do not know.. No one from there has ever come here before. I think we should stay silent for as long as she is here..”
“Until she goes back there?” asked the boy.
The beast thought for a moment and then nodded at the boy.
“But what if she doesn’t leave? And what if she is bad?!” the boy pleaded.
“If she is bad then I must fight! So you must all stay quiet, I do not want to fight as I am tired…” Barong turned around and started to walk back into the forest. The boy called out to him once more,“If she is bad, then you MUST fight!”
Barong stopped in his tracks and turned around to face the boy. He ran towards him with great speed and stopped himself only inches away from the boy's face.
With a snap of his jaws, he told the boy to tell the other villagers to spend the rest of the day in silence. No lights were to be lit, no cooking smells were to fill the air and no sounds were to be made by anyone. Everyone was to stay in their homes and out of sight, so the mysterious spirit wouldn't know that they were there and may move on to another island or back to where she came from.
At first, the boy resisted and said that he wanted to go and play with his friends, but Barong assured him with a snarling deep growl that if they did not stay silent, he would not have any friends to play with. The boy looked into the beast’s bulging eyes and after another loud snap of his jaws, the boy span around on his toes and ran off back to the village to tell the others. The villagers did as they were told and went to their homes, remaining in silence until the next day.
Barong watched carefully as the new spirit continued to float above the island. He stalked her silently from the ground as she floated above, watching her intently as she drifted. After the night had passed, the new spirit was still observing the island from above. Barong’s curiosity got the better of him, and so he stepped into the forest clearing and called up her, “What do you want here?...”
The new spirit peered down at Barong with a satisfied smile and floated down to greet him.
“I knew you were here! I have observed your great land, and it must be a burden for you to guard so much for so long…”
Barong looked up at her and sighed deeply.
“I have guarded these lands for over a thousand years, but tell me, why did you come here if you do not wish to fight me?” he replied.
The spirit laughed softly, and told the beast that she was not here to fight, but here to help him.
“I DO NOT NEED HELP!” he roared defensively.
She laughed again, “But I would like to help you rest..” she replied.
Barong was lost for words, no one had ever tried to help him rest before, for no one had even noticed that he might need to rest after a thousand years. He looked up at the spirit with his wide eyes and simply asked “How?”
The spirit smiled at him and replied “All you have to do, is look deep into my eyes.. Look for the place you wish to rest and I shall take you there”.
The spirit then floated down until she was hovering just above the ground and turned herself so she was facing Barong. She raised her great arms to put out her hands, to reveal a large eye on each of her palms. Barong stepped backwards as he looked at the spirit, her appearance as shocking as his own. She stared at him in silence and smiled.
The beast looked deep into her many eyes, and saw a place beyond them that he longed to be.
As Barong stepped forward, entranced by what he saw, the villager boy looked on from the edge of the clearing. Against Barong’s orders, the boy had carefully followed him through the forest to find out more about the new spirit.
As he watched, the guardian of his island walked into the forest with the spirit close overhead. He called out to him, “Nooo! Pleeease! Who will protect us now?!”
But Barong had stopped listening to the forest, he just continued to walk ahead until he was completely out of sight, never to be seen again.
The boy ran back to the village to tell the others, and so the villagers remained in silence for another day to mourn their lost beast. After time had passed, the villagers noticed that the other spirits had started to disappear from the island, and no matter how many offerings they left for them, they never returned.
The only one left was the one that they feared the most, the one that had taken their beast and left them to fend for themselves.