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In The Spirit World - Chapter 1
The Mysterious Disappearance
Agawe sat on a flat rock in the stream he called the ‘Egul Stream’ in memory of his friend Egul. He threw pebbles into the shallow water, as was his wont. He liked the sound it made when the little stones hit water.
Agawe came to the stream to ease the heaviness in his heart. He felt alone. Changes were happening so fast. Ayong had his wife and son. Gayon had just gotten engaged to Addalin. The pamalaye went well but Agawe had to endure all the teasing.
“When are you going to get yourself a wife?”
“What are you waiting for?”
Last night, his Inna Lungkayan brought up the same subject, “Agawe… Ayong has now a little son and Gayon is getting married to Addalin… how about you?”
“Do you want me to get married now? Are you tired of me?”
Lungkayan made a face. “Heh! I am just thinking of you. It’s time you have someone with you… Madallay, tell your son!”
Madallay smiled. “I think Agawe had enough of this for today…”
“Thank you, Inna.”
A loud ‘splash’ jolted him out of his thoughts. He turned and sighed, “What are you two doing here?” he asked the grinning Ayong and Gayon.
Gayon who tossed the rock in the water laughed. “What are you thinking so deeply about?”
Agawe stood up and brushed himself off. “Aren’t you supposed to be planning your wedding?”
Gayon ignored his question. “Agawe… there is something plaguing our neighboring villages. The elders are asking for help.”
They walked to their horses while Gayon narrated the mysterious disappearances of young girls in their neighboring villages.
“What do you think, Agawe?” Gayon asked when he finished.
“You say not one in the village witnessed how the girls disappeared?”
“Not one. The elders think they were lured by sirings. You know these sirings… they shift forms… so a young girl thinks she is still following her mother or father or brother…”
“Why do you think these sirings lure the young girls away?” Ayong asked as he climbed on his horse. “And where are they taking them?”
“That we have to find out…” Agawe said as they galloped away.
Attacked By a Monster
They traveled some distance when their horses suddenly spooked and bolted, throwing them off to the ground.
Dazed but unhurt, Agawe felt the presence even before he saw the black creature behind the bushes.
With a growl, the creature sprang into the open. Gayon spun as it hit him just as the monstrous black creature leapt on Agawe and knocked him off.
Agawe realized in horror that the creature’s sharp claws were going for his neck. Suddenly, the air exploded with a loud report and the beast recoiled as the bullet from Ayong’s gun pierced his head.
Gayon jumped on the brute and stabbed him. It let out a horrifying scream as it faced Gayon.
Agawe feared the monster would attack Gayon but it charged at him, claws flashing through the air. The monster was fast but Agawe was faster. As the claws fastened on its target, Agawe thrust his sword and cut off the creature’s hand clutching at the necklace. Agawe struck the monster’s head off and it rolled to the ground. The creature’s headless body fell with a thud.
Agawe pried the gruesome fingers off his necklace and tossed the hand. One by one, the head, the body, and the hand were swallowed by the earth.
“It was after your purple stone…” the breathless Gayon noted.
The night had fallen when they reached the wooden house. The village elders were already there.
A village elder named Erran said, “A young girl, about fourteen years old walked home with her inna after doing laundry in the stream. According to the mother, her daughter was behind her but when she turned, the daughter was gone. She retraced her steps but she could not find her.”
“In my village,” another elder named Ose narrated, “Two young girls disappeared… they were walking past the balete tree with three other girls. After a short distance, the other girls realized two of them were missing. They called their names but they got no answers… they were scared and ran away.”
“We also lost a girl in the stream. She and her brother were filling their sag-ob with water. When they finished, the brother could not find his sister anywhere. Even her bamboo tube was gone.”
Agawe whispered to Gayon and Ayong, “Do you think they were taken by the creature that attacked us?”
“There is only one reason the sirings are here again… they have not bothered us for a long time…” Apo Abet spoke up.
Everyone turned to Gayon’s grandmother as she continued, “We are moving toward the time when the moon turns red… and according to legend, that is when the Buso King, the most evil spirit in the underground realm will use the moon’s energy for his evil purposes.”
“I am afraid of that Abet,” Erran said, “I suspect that is the reason the sirings are luring away our young girls.”
“To sacrifice to the moon?” Gayon asked.
“Yes…” Ose nodded, “Amma told me that the moon turns red every hundred years. The last time it happened, the Buso King took young girls to sacrifice to the moon… that is how he became a powerful evil spirit in the underground.”
“And it is happening again…” Agawe mused. “What can we do now to get back the girls and to protect the others?” he asked out loud.
“First of all, we need to be very vigilant… we should never leave young girls alone. They should stay away from the streams and the balete tree,” Gayon’s father declared.
“That is right, Ubo… and we will have to put our plan into action,” Erran added. “We make a loud noise at the balete tree.”
“Will that work?” Gayon asked.
“It is believed that the balete tree is the portal to their underground kingdom and if we make a lot of noise, it bothers them and they send the girls back,” Erran explained.
“It will also help the girls find their way back to our world by following the sound…” Ose added.
“Tomorrow morning, we will all meet at the huge balete tree at the village border. Bring as many villagers as you can. Bring agongs and things that make a lot of noise,” Ubo instructed the elders.
Agawe and Ayong decided to stay at Ubo’s wooden house that night.
Early the following morning, Agawe, Ayong, Gayon, and Ubo led the villagers who brought agongs, tin cans, pots and pans as they marched to the village border where the balete tree was. There, they made a lot of noise around the tree until mid-day. Nothing happened. They continued in the afternoon until the evening. Nothing happened. Everyone was forced to go home. They agreed to do it again the following day.
Agawe and Ayong slept in one of the rooms in the wooden house. Agawe drifted off to sleep with the day’s events on his mind.
“Agawe! Agawe!” the sound of his name penetrated his head. Then someone shook him up. He awoke confused, and before he could collect his wits, Ayong yelled, “Agawe… Addalin is gone! Addalin disappeared with a group of girls!”
Then he heard Ubo barking orders to his men, “Go and find Gayon! Ayong! Agawe! Let’s go!!!”
Agawe stumbled as he ran to catch up with the scampering men. “What happened?” he asked Ayong when he caught up with him.
“Gayon went berserk because Addalin disappeared. He’s frantic! He’s not himself. We have to find him!” Ayong explained as he pulled himself up his horse and galloped swiftly away.
Agawe jumped on his horse and rode at high speed to catch up with Ayong. They found the men searching for Addalin and the girls.
“Have you seen Gayon?” Agawe asked.
“He rode past us to that direction…” one of the men answered.
Agawe and Ayong hastily rode forward but before they even reached the border, a huge black smoke billowed in the air.
Agawe stopped his horse and fear gripped his heart.
“Agawe… you don’t think Gayon...?” Ayong asked.
“Let’s find out…” he said as he hurriedly spurred his horse to the direction of the black smoke.
Read Chapter 2
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