There once was a mischievous young man named Arvaaluk, from the small but fearsome tribe of Takitoa, who stole some food from the chief. The gods cast a horrible beast, a fiery red monster whose job it was to punish the dishonest that walked the earth, to burn down his house.
Arvaaluk, threw himself on the ground and desperately pleaded, “Oh no, please don’t burn down my house!”
The Beast said, “Fine, but don’t steal again.” He returned back to the land of the gods on the other side of the mountain.
The next day, that scoundrel Arvaaluk stole again. The monster came down the mountain and Arvaaluk pleaded, “Oh no, please don’t burn down my house!”
The monster said, “Fine, but don’t steal again…or else!” And with that, he went back to the land of the gods.
The next day, Arvaaluk, that scheming, no-good thief, did it again. The beast trudged back down the mountain and said, “I can’t believe you stole again! Where are my matches?”
But Arvaaluk pleaded, “Oh no! Please, please, please don’t burn down my house!”
The monster grunted, “Fine!” He tried to leave but he no longer had enough magic return to the land of the gods. The beast said, “Curse you, Arvaaluk. You’ve used up all my power! I must burn down your house. Now move out of the way so I can set my blazing fire.” The beast shoved him aside and started a fire all over the town.
Everyone screamed and ran away from the fire, except the kind warrior, Katauliak. She stayed to help the elderly escape. Once the town’s people escaped, they made a small camp and eventually fell asleep.
The next morning, Katauliak went back with a bucket of water and doused the flames. She saw a peculiar shape in the ashes. When she wiped the soot away, she uncovered a dazzling green mask. It had green and brown feathers sprouting from the sides and slashes of colors on the cheeks that looked liked war paint. Fascinated, she put it on to see if it fit. It did!
Excited to show her discovery to her tribe, she turned to run back to the camp only to come face to face with the fire monster who was blocking her path. Her only defence was the bow and arrow that she always wore on her back. Katauliak shot an arrow right into the beast’s left eye and he stopped running, holding his face in pain while she made her escape.
When she got back to the camp she showed the brilliant feathered mask to her tribe. One of the wise old women dropped her bone carving tools and grabbed the mask. She held it with reverence, and explained, “That is the mystical hunting mask, lost in our village a many moons ago. It is said that with a bow and arrow, you never miss and always kill what you’re after, however, it only works for those with honest intentions. It was a gift from the gods to our tribe during the time of Great Famine, but it mysteriously disappeared when abundance was restored.”
After a couple of days, the tribe finally decided to pick someone to put on the mystical mask and destroy the beast. Arvaaluk immediately stepped up thinking it would clear his name for stealing. The tribe agreed and said he should go the very next day.
Arvaaluk went off, put the mask on, met the fire monster and said, “I will defeat you and clear my name of stealing and be chief of my tribe!”
Arvaaluk aimed his arrow for the beast’s heart, pulled back on his bow, sure that his shot would kill, but the arrow fell at the monster’s feet. “Why did I miss?”
The monster roared, “Because you stole and aren’t honest.”
So Arvaaluk ran back to the tribe and said, “I hit him in the foot so he can’t follow me.”
The next day Arvaaluk volunteered to try again. Like the day before, he missed, but boasted to his tribe with more lies. He said he hit the monster’s belly. Desperate and determined, he went back again but this time, he snuck up on the monster and hit him in the finger. The fire monster, turned in anger and chased after Arvaaluk, roaring, “Hey, you gave me a sliver you sneaky fiend!”
Arvaaluk dropped the heavy mask so he could run faster, but the monster caught him, grabbed him and gobbled him up.
Days later, the wise old tribal woman was out for a stroll and found the mask. The elder theorized, “Arvaaluk must not have been honest because the mask did not work and the monster defeated him.”
Katauliak grabbed the mask and declared, “I will defeat this monster!” She put on the mask, picked up her bow and arrows and hiked out to the smoky village.
She called, “Come out monster!” But he did not come out, so she went back to the camp for the night.
The next day she tried again. She put on the mask, got the bow and arrows, and hiked to the ash covered village. She shouted, “Come out Mr. Monster!” But nobody came out so she trudged back to the encampment and pondered why the monster never came out. She thought, what if it’s because he couldn’t beat me with the mystical hunting mask on so he just hid until I left?
To test her theory, she went the next day without wearing the hunting mask, instead, hiding it in her animal hide cloak.
As soon as she got to the burnt village, the monster jumped out and tried to gobble her up but she dodged and ran into one of the few remaining unburned lodgings. She ran up the stairs and looked out the window. She saw a small hole in the beast’s fiery armour, right in the centre of his back. She shot an arrow but the monster turned around and threw a fireball at the house. She put on the mystical hunting mask and evasively jumped out the window. She ran through his legs and shot one of his knees to slow him down. She climbed up the tallest tree she could find and shot an arrow at the monsters arms. Now he could not throw fireballs. To her surprise, the monster breathed fire, too! The tree burned in a flash of hot flames and fell over.
Instinctively, Katauliak ran straight around the beast and shot at the weak spot in the armour and the beast magically turned into water dousing all of the flames.
When Katauliak victoriously returned to the encampment, the tribe was so happy that she defeated the beast, they made her chief of the tribe as a reward. They had a huge ceremony and celebration feast. When it was over, the gods from the other side of the mountain granted her permanent powers so her aim always remained straight and true and Katauliak was cherished by the Takitoan people forever.
The Fire Monster by Jet