Tenth Scene: Pangadaran, May 1st, 1525

Just as Banyak predicted a giant hawk-billed turtle indeed followed the caravel on its journey towards Borobudar. "That's where the spirit of Cahayani now resides", claimed Banyak solemnly. Indeed, it does seem very unusual at best as the turtle travels with the vessel some two hundred kilometres over five days and nights, past Genteng, Sindangbaran, Pameungpeuk and finally to the town of Pangadaran. As the Navegador Antigo approaches the town, Cahayani veers towards a spectacular waterfall that tumbles fifty metres from a cliff-edge to the ocean below. "Once you have settled in this town, follow the river
to the Green Canyon", she says in the mind of Banyak. "There you shall meet many friends that can advise you on your journey to Borobudor."

Pangadaran is a Hindu town, its own city-state, long since effectively independent from the Majapahit Empire, although it is nominally part of the Empire. The queen, Sorahisi, has adopted an isolationist approach as nearby towns and villages turn to Islam. She maintains a massive area of jungle surrounding her town and makes great care to keep the various animal and weather Gods onside. Pangadaran has a massive fish market which, on a per capita basis, even challenges that which Macario has seen in Lisboa.

Over the past several days, usually when berthed at the many ports on the way to Pangadaran, Macario has carefully studied more of the journal. From these studies he is able to discover that there the most likely place where the Portuguese crew faced their demise was on the far west coast of Flores, beyond Sumbawa. According to the rantings of the demised soldiers, the "Isle of Dragons" lies near this coast. That is probably where the vessel of tremendous wealth is.

Wen initially finds little in the town of interest. However, late in the afternoon he notices a large number of spectacular kites in use over the sea-cliffs. Further investigation shows that these are being flown by a number of enthusiasts, mainly male and some female youths who engage in a competition of chasing each others kites. The kites have ground glass glued to their string to sever the string of their opponents.

Robert initially seems resigned to the fact that the party is, once again, in an incurably dull fishing town with barely a bar in sight. Babas is in high spirits, making preparations for his upcoming wedding. However, in their travels they encounter a group of young men that seem to be practising a unarmed and lightly armed combat art. Fascinated by their actions - a style that seems to emphasise direct punches and kicks and with little emphasis on throws - he wanders in...

Topeng speaks with the Queen and pays his proper respects and requests, careful not to make this isolationist angry at outsides coming in, a place for
him and his party to stay with whatever other perks they can get.

When all that technical work is settled Topeng enjoys his rest and also stocks up on whatever potion regants he may need. He also works on getting information on Borobudor from the Queen and those around her and from the villagers themselves. Any information Topeng can get would be helpful. He also takes some time to try and mend his leg, and see if he can make his limp better in any way.

Queen Sorahisi receives you gratefully and explains that her isolationist approach and the natural wealth has allowed the town to remain independent. The wealth
keeps the lower castes happy, and there have been no Europeans seeking our lands and resources. She also says that the surrounding jungle has been most useful in protecting the town from military incursions. She is pleased that a representative of the Majaraphit has arrived and the court will aid you in any way possible.

Banyak asks around with little difficulty as she is conversant in Javanese and the locals seem to be familiar with Sundanese as well. The surrounding jungle, from all accounts, is teaming with wildlife of all sorts. Indeed the locals seem most proud of their menagerie. When Banyak inquiries about the Green Canyon, the locals mention that it is a sacred place for the animals. Humans should not go there.

Tikkus mentions that perhaps a journey to the said location in the evening might be advisable. And to go alone.


Banyak Goes To The Green Canyon

That evening Banyak sneaks out of her room and into the jungle with the faithful Tikkus guiding her to the Green Canyon. She feels strange, her always good sense of smell seems stronger than usual in the crisp night air, her hearing is clearer and she seems to be able to see further than usual under the light of the stars and moon.

The landscape is one of extraordinary, mythical beauty. Starting at the waterfall that crashes into the sea, Banyak travels inland, nimbly leaping across numerous streams, draped with moss and overhanging forest, past emerald rivers and deep blue pools.

After travelling for some hours, she arrives at a natural dam, formed by the feeding of numerous waterfalls. A blue-black panther is waiting there.

"So she's the one?", says the panther to Tikkus. "Not too much to look at. Only a little older than a girl! Not exactly much flesh on her either. I dare say I would be hungry by the end of the week..."

"Let her be you overgrown _kucing_, and find yourself a saucer of milk. This one has great Spirit, a wild Spirit at that, and doesn't seem to know fear", retorts Tikkus.

"I hope you're right, little friend", replies the panther. "For what we are about to face, if King Macan is correct, will mean the death of many of us. Come now."

With that the panther turns and travels at a pace through the jungle. You follow with little hesitation. As you travel, you become aware of numerous other animals around you, monkeys and lemurs swinging from the trees, deer and civets travelling alongside you, armadillo's scuttling by your feet, birds flying just above.

Finally, the menagerie stops at the entrance of a cave. It is flanked by two enormous flowers, over a metre and a half in diamter, and whose odour is extreme.

[In future times botanists will call these flowers Javanese Rafflesia]

You wait, surrounded by an extraordinary array of wildlife. And from the entrance comes King Macan, a huge old tiger, (perhaps close to 170 kilograms) whose eyes burn like fire. He lets out an ear-splitting roar which silences the chattering of the various species.

"Well, Maribaya. Who have you brought to help us? Not a great warrior, or a leader of tribes. Not a wily diplomat with a silver tongue. Nor a wizard, or scholar, wise and educated. No, it seems you have brought just a simple girl, from the edge of these lands, the daughter of fisherfolk."

"It is not my business to question your judgement. You are much closer to the humans than the rest of us. All I have it the power to forsee the future and the beckon the creatures of the jungle. You're the one with the spirit sense."

The tiger-king turns towards you:

"Well Banyak. It seems that you're on for quite a journey. For the sake of all of us, I hope you're up to it."

"Listen to me, and listen well. Troubles, great troubles, are about to befall this land. Humans are about to lay waste and destruction on their fellow human beings, for reasons that only members of your species seem to understand. The problem is, that invariably such destruction tends to cause quite a few deaths in the animal kingdom as well. This we are used to. We have seen it happen a hundred times before."

"This however is special. I forsee a whole new wave of human destruction that will rage all across Java. I forsee great bloody battles, and sticks that fire smoke and bury pellets of iron into flesh. I see towns burning, and forests carved down for the upcoming war."

"Somewhow I expect you to be able to stop this. Well, perhaps not just you. There may be other humans across the islands who have a special Spirit that connects with us animals and perhaps they too have received the call. But for western Java, you are the one."

"I don't know how you're supposed to help us Banyak. That is something you must work out. All I know is that we, all of us here, we will all die if you don't succeed."

A great tear rolls down the face of the Tiger King.

"Go now!", he bellows. "You know what confronts you!" And the Tiger King roars.

"I think we should listen to him", says Tikkus.

With that Banyak turns and runs back to Pangadaran, through the deep jungle, past the damn, over the deep blue pools and emerald streams, past the waterfall and back to the human settlement. The first signs of dawn are beginning to break. Exhausted, bloody and brusied, she collapses into bed as sunlight filters into her room.

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