Second Scene: Badui Lands, Pajaran Empire, West Java. January 9th, 1525

To the Mountains!

Despite some minor language difficulties, the Malay of Carita welcome the European traders. Macario and Robert are introduced in particular the strange young Malay woman Banyak Tikas with her rat Tikas (whom seems to hold serious conversations with), the scholar Topeng, the village chief Tuamangera and the village priest, Hare-Rata.

Macario and Robert discove much to their dismay, that the King of Banten has converted to the people of the Book, thus explaining the ambush at that port. This surely will put pressure on the neighbour Hindu port-city of Sunda Kelapa and the rest of the Hindu kingdom of Pajajaran. They also learn of the strange Badui who live in the mountains, their gold and spices, and their renowned and mysterious soothsayer.

As is the custom of the people when strangers arrive and gifts are presented, the village holds a great feast with much dancing and storytelling, including Robert's participation in the "jaipangon" dance. Robert also gets to meet Banyak's rat which seems friendly enough (especially with the presentation of some rice).

As the evening progresses, the village's blind old storyteller, or Solo, presents a disturbing puppet show which suggests that the arrival of the strangers will actually bring problems to the village. Moments after the storyteller finishes his show, there is a cry of despair from Banyak's parents - her little sister, who was less than a year old has died - just as the Badui soothsayer predicted!

The festival ends early, just before dawn, and a sombre mood fall upon the village. Late in the next day the village chief and the priest summon Macario, Robert, Banyak and her family to a meeting. Topeng is also present. In a very stern mood, the chief demands that the party travel to the Badui lands to lift the troubling curse that is so evidently on the village.

The following morning, the party readies equipment for the journey which is expected to take the better part of a week. Although the distance is short, the journey is up into the mountains and through jungle. The village provides a pony to Macario and Robert to carry their trade goods and the party supplies and hold their caravel as collateral.

The weather is terrible; very hot with heavy downpours of rain. Very few people are seen on the first two days' journey. Early on the third day the party reachs a small stream and is confronted by a black rhino - Macario considers opening fire on it, but Banyak stands in his way and then approaches the best. She appears to have a quiet conversation with the rhino and then informs the party that the rhino will allow them to cross the stream. The rhino makes no attempt to charge the party as they cross.

By the fifth day the journey is getting extremely difficult. The muddiness of the mountain slopes and the rain is slowing movement to a crawl. The evenings are miserable, as there is never an opportunity to find dry shelter or start a fire. Sleep deprived, weakened from lack of good food, and tired the party continues on. As far as they know, they have just entered Badui territory. Now they have to be on their constant guard as well.

Suddenly, in the early afternoon, the rain stops. A turn in the jungle path reveals through the trees a Badui house high on a ridge. There appears to be noone about. Indeed, the jungle seems to be unusually silent. What the party does now may be a matter of life and death...

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