Fierce are the orange and black stripes. The yellow eyes haunt the long grass. The prowess of a tiger is unmatched and feared by all who dwell hither deep in the jungle.
The birds grow silent in its presence, the snakes slither back into their damp holes. And humans wave fire-lit torches in the hopes of turning away the sharp yellow eyes.
Deep in the green of the jungle there lived a tiger named Abaddon. His steps were silent, his breath light and his teeth cut like knives through warm butter. Abaddon slew all he desired to eat for dinner. And while Abaddon ate like a king, his belly was forever empty. No meal satisfied the great cat of the jungle. As the humid days rolled into the cold nights, Abaddon was never satisfied. He wished to no longer be hungry; he wished to be satisfied with a full belly like the rest of the animals. Our tale begins here…
On the outskirts of the jungle there was a village, and it was here a lady by the name of Adisa would change the course of history forever. The village people shared no love for the jungle, so they seldom ventured inside the trees’ domain. Fear grew on the edge of the jungle as Abbadon’s treachery had torn its way through the town and its people. Amare, the chief of the village, had sent many of his people into the forest to slay the great cat. They never returned home to see their families. None had felt that pain more than Adisa, who had lost two sons and a husband to the tiger’s insatiable appetite.
One day, Adisa ventured into the jungle in search of a flower, for she had learnt of a tea that, when brewed to perfection, summoned Njambi, the spirit of the great tree.
Adisa wished to summon the great tree spirit so she may know how to rid the jungle and its people of the malevolent Abaddon. Her steps were light, her breath was short, and her eyes flickered back and forth as she moved through trees. She knew not to venture into the jungle at night, for Abaddon moved through the dark, unseen by all.
Adisa rummaged through the plants and soil, but to no avail did she find the flower she desired. For hours she swept through the foliage, finding nothing, until she peered up above the trees to the sky where she noticed the sun impatiently falling from the sky. Night was upon her, and she dwelt too deep in the jungle to arrive back before dark.
A stifling chill ran down Adisa’s spine. She heard the slightest brush of the long grass, shortly followed by a snap of a branch in front of her. She knelt down, low to the ground. The wind had disappeared, almost as if it too was fleeing from danger. She could hear her breath, she could feel her heart pounding, and in the deep dark of the jungle she saw two yellow eyes gazing at her.
Panicked, she attempted to flee, running for the cleft she found moments before. Her steps were heavy, and her arms grew tired; she could not run like she used to. She could hear running footsteps behind her, gaining on her, but she refused to look behind, too afraid she may freeze out of fear. As she ran, she could hear her children laughing and her husband playing with them. Perhaps it was her heart’s way of letting her know she was about to suffer the same fate as her family.
She ran and ran and slid into the cleft, tumbling and falling down some rocks into a dark cave. Her assailant too, collapsed into the darkness behind her. Holding her breath, she peered up to see the same luminous eyes staring back at her.
In the dark, her assailant spoke, “fear not, Adisa, tribal woman who has lost much. For I am no great cat. I have chased you through the jungle and here at the foot of the cleft I have reached you.”
“And who are you, stranger with yellow eyes? How do I know you are not the beast who destroyed my family?” Adisa replied.
“You do not, yet here we are. In the dark. Should I have wished to eat you, you would already be in my belly. You must reach out with your hand and take the flower you seek, which is in my mouth.”
“Do you take me for a fool? I cannot see you, for darkness cloaks all but your yellow eyes, the very same eyes shared by the tiger Abbadon. And you wish for me to place my hand in your mouth?”
“Should you wish to reach the great spirit, you must brew the herbal tea. You cannot do this without the flower in my mouth,” the yellow-eyed stranger whispered in the dark.
Adisa thought in the silence of the shadowy cave, she felt the pain of her children, she missed her husband. And she felt a burning desire to rid the world of the evil tiger. Courage burned in her belly like a fire, and so she said, “I will reach into your mouth, stranger, and should you take my hand I will know you are the malicious cat who is never satisfied.”
Adisa reached her hand out and felt her way into the stranger’s mouth. She could feel rows of serrated teeth and a warm tongue. She could smell foul breath as her face drew closer. To her surprise she felt a flower petal. She gripped it fast, pulling it back to her chest.
“Well done, lady of the village,” the stranger spoke, “for one to obtain the flower of Njambi one must first face their ultimate fear. In your case, you faced the yellow eyes that have haunted you your whole life. Now that you have faced your fear, you may brew the tea and receive the answers you so dearly desire,” as the strange creature spoke the luminous yellow eyes faded from the cave and light streamed in from the cleft above . The last light of the day shone as Adisa began to brew the tea of the great spirit Njambi. She sipped from a small cup she had brought with her. And as she did her eyes opened like never before.
The great spirit emerged from the mouth of the cave and came down to her.
“Ask your one question, mortal. And be careful, for you may only receive one answer.”
“How can I kill the beast who has destroyed my family?”
“You may rid the jungle of the great tiger by feeding him.”
And just like that the great spirit vanished. Adisa was not pleased with the answer. Feed the beast? What does this mean? She questioned.
She left the cave and delved deeper into the jungle. Asking the same questions over and over again until she heard a noise. A trumpet-like call from afar echoed through the jungle. It was the great giants of the jungle, the elephant. It was here Adisa smiled and knew what she must do. She screamed out into the forest, over and over again. “Abaddon! Abaddon! Abaddon!” she yelled.
The tiger’s name echoed through the trees with no sign of the tiger.
“Abaddon! Abaddon! Abaddon!” she called out again.
And just like that, she caught the shimmering yellow eyes gazing at her through the wood.
“It is truly foolish to call my name, human. Seldom do creatures of the jungle not run in fear of my greatness. My teeth cut through flesh, my roar crushes courage and my mouth consumes all in the jungle.”
“You are great, Abaddon, lord of the jungle. Your enormity is truly magnificent,” Adisa spoke to the tiger.
“Flattery will not save you, human. What is your name?” the tiger growled, circling Adisa as he spoke.
“My name is Adisa, woman of the village. And while you are magnificent, there are those you cannot eat, the great giants of the jungle,” Adisa snapped at Abaddon.
“Who do you speak of, human? Who will satisfy my everlasting hunger? Tell me and I may spare your life.”
“The elephant. Should you wish for a full belly and to be crowned the king of the jungle, the elephant’s keep is your destiny.” And with the last of Adisa’s words Abaddon leapt away into the jungle and made for the sound of trumpets.
Adisa followed close behind and watched on as Abaddon thrashed and clawed at a young elephant, and as he did the other elephants rallied to the call of their young one. Abbadon, with all his ferocity, and all his prowess could not land a final blow. The once mighty and deadly tiger fast became the vulnerable and helpless cat. The elephants with their gigantic tusks pierced his flesh, just as his teeth once did to so many. Their enormous screams crushed his courage as his roar once did. And their gigantic bodies consumed him as his mouth had done so many times. His body lay on the dusty ground, motionless.
The great spirit Njambi appeared by Adisa’s side and proclaimed, “here you now understand the lesson. No matter what beast or creature, where there is no humility and no satisfaction, there is only failure. The great Abbadon, never satisfied, bit off more than he could chew. But the will to live was greater than the tiger’s confidence. And so, strength in numbers prevailed. Overconfidence ended in tragedy and the tiger that always wanted more suffered for his greed. And so, will be the story of Abbadon the fallen.”