Fourth Scene: Bogor, Court of the Pajaran Empire, West Java. February 21st, 1525

By "winning" the debate against Muslim missionary Sunang, the Pu'un of the Badui decide not to convert to any of the new religions, but rather to maintain friendly relations with the neighbouring Pajaran Empire, to lift the curse on the Carita village, and to quest Banyak Tikkus to find the true remains of the seer-traveller Maribaya.

The Badui thank the party, and Topeng in particular, giving him three gourds of a bitter smelling thick liquid - "one for poison, one for disease, one for injuries".

[Nota bene: Historically, the Badui have resisted five hundred years of attempts at Islamic conversion. To this day, even under the requirement that everyone belongs to a monotheistic religion, the Badui are an exception refusing to give up their old ways. Their lands are considered "national parkland", which they manage. Access to the inner Badui is still impossible for non-Badiu at best - and yes, they still consider the volcano to be the center of the universe, that they are the sacred keepers and everything oustide of their lands is "the land of sin!"]

Macario curses the fact that the inner Badui are not prepared to trade the fine cloths that he has bought from Melakka, although at an outer Badui village, he does manage to trade a weight of some brightly coloured cloth for a blowpipe, 5 darts, a gourd of poison and provisions for the rest for the journey.

Rather than heading directly back to Carita village however, Topeng convinces the party to head north and east some distance, to the capital of the Pajaran Empire, the ancient city of Bogor. It is important to inform the court there of the results of the debate. Besides, he informs Macario, you may find the markets there with preferable goods.

The journey to Bogor however is hampered by seasonal downpours and spectacular storms - almost as if the environment itself has something to say about the metaphysical debate. What was thick mountain soil becomes thick mud, slowing the party's movement to a crawl. The beauty of the natural landscape is lost in the misery of having to put up with a weather that alternates between steaming humidity and extreme storms.

During the journey, Topeng questions Banyak a great deal about the vision she saw of Maribaya and the magnificant step temple and in particular the surrounding landscape. She describes a vast plain of jungle surrounded by many volcanoes and cliffs on all sides. In the distance a number of smaller temples can be seen. The temple itself seemed deserted and covered in vines, although it was also heavily decorated. Banyak also describes the existence of many statues which Topeng instantly recognises as Siddhartha Gautama, or Buddha.

As the party leaves the mountains and heads towards to Bogor they cannot help but notice an extraordinary number of shrines. "This is a very holy city", explains Topeng, "the favourite the earthly homes of Rudra, the God of Storms and the Dead". As if to accentuate the point an enormous flash of lightning and deafening thunderclap occurs. At one point, Topeng stops with a group of Hindu believers and prayers. Completing his prayers he points out the various rock carvings and paintings on the side of the road: "This is a most holy location for Rudra, the images are made by himself! Whilst this footprint", he indicates downward, "was made by the first Hindu king in Java, Purnavraman".

[Nota bene: Bogor apparently has more lightning storms than any other city on the planet!]

Bogor itself is a modest sized city, interspersed by several rivers and surrounded by lush deep green hills and plain. It's population has swelled with an influx of refugees from Banten. Apparently the new rules have affected many of the traders, particular the Chinese, who are now seeking the relative solace and safety. Although the Hindu Empire is clearly struggling, this is its capital and none can doubt that it is a magnificant place. There are many goods to be traded (and currently at bargain prices), fine foods and drinks to be consumed, and all sorts of rich and exotic tastes that can be satiated... and with Topeng's court connections, you can be sure that you receive the best accommodation.

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