Thirteenth Scene : Banyak's Trial, Borobudur. Central Java, June 2, 1525

Banyak takes deep breaths as the tropical rain gently falls upon her. Through half-closed eyes she sees in the distance, that Merapi snorts. Smoke and steam billow forth.

"Hmmph", says the Mountain. "So this is the new one is it? Small, wide-eyed, and hardly older than a girl? What sort of challenge is this? I bet you're even scared of your mother!"

As if summoned, Banyak's mother appears before her. "Leaving home, off on wild adventures! That's not proper behaviour for a young woman! Why don't you come back to the village and marry Bapauoro? He has a fine house and many servants and I've seen he has an eye for you... Instead you run off with that old priest! The shame you bring upon our family! I carried you in my belly for nine months, I fed you from my breast, I taught you have to be responsible and this is how you treat me! I grow
grey with worry and shame! I will die unless you return to the village! Explain yourself young lady! Why won't you come back to the village?

.....

"So .... you'll let your own mother die of shame and worry? That's some sort of spirit I suppose", mocks Merapi. "But what about the task before you? To save the animals from the ravages of war? Failure is worthy of fear itself, but what if you fail and the blood of the animal kin flows like a river through the human wars? What is you fail utterly, and cannot even save the life ...." and the mountain seems to smile "... of even a little rat?"

With that the mountain Merapi seems to transform into a great white rat with red eyes, bloody fangs and claws. "We've met before, little one", says Merapi. "Don't you remember? This time I am here to put an end to your dreams and to your friend!". And with that the mighty white rat Merapi leaps at little old Tikkus, who leaps away as quickly as he can. A claw catches him on the side, leaving a bloodly wound.

Tikkus lands on Banyak's shoulder and stares at Merapi, who has smoke drifting from his nose. "It's no good Maribaya. You may as well give up now. I defeated you once before and left your corpse to rot on this pathetic hill and I'll defeat you again in this form!"

Tikkus turns to Banyak and smiles and then turns back to Merapi. "You forget strong one, that I am a seer. I knew how that battle would end, just as I know how this one will. Yes, you will defeat me. But I don't think you're going to win."

Merapi shifts uncomfortably and with a roar, leaps at Banyak and Tikkus. Tikkus leaps at Merapi and the two tustle tearing at each other with tooth and claw. Thrice the bloody teeth of Merapi sought to behead the old rat, and thrice he leapt aside, just as lightning darts from under a storm cloud. But eventually Tikkus was caught by Merapi's great claw which bore down upon him, slowly squeezing him and crushing the life out of him. Tikkus starts to twitch wildly, squeaking in pain and fear.

"NO!", cries Banyak, stepping forward. "Take me instead. Let Tikkus go."

"What?!", bellows Merapi. "You'd give up your own young life, with years to go, to save the the misearble few minutes that this old rat has?".

.....

"You still don't know what you're confronting do you?", screams Merapi. "I AM the power of nature itself. I AM the nail of Java! I decide what lives and what dies here! Look at the desolated lands of Prambanan. Do you know why they are desolate? Because they insulted me with the little candi [temples] popping up everywhere and the worshipping of their human-gods. I am much greater than those pathetic temples! So I destroyed them and the people ran away. I did that!"

"Look at the mighty Borobudur, supposedly the greatest building of the Buddha people. All that detail, all that work. And all I had to do was to vomit up the ash and sulphur and fire that is deep within me, to show my displeasure and the place was covered within hours. All gone! Now hundreds of years later, where are those scholars and their tablets and their robes! Gone, gone and gone! And yet I, mighty Merapi, remain."

"I can destroy everything on Java! I can destroy every person, every animal, every leaf! If I was raised to enough anger, I could shake and shake and Java itself would fall into the see. Of all the Gods on Java I am the greatest of all the Gods!"

"Let me tell you Buddha has *nothing* over me! Do you not fear me?"

- - -

Banyak shouted at the mountain: "What sort of god are you Merapi? That wreaks only death and destruction? You ask about my ability to save the animals, when all you do is destroy everything that does not meet with your viewpoint. You even take the life of a small rat!

And yes, I would give my life in order to save Tikkus, and any of the other animals. They have done nothing to this world, so yes, I would give my life.

As for Buddha having nothing over you, well, Buddha didn't want anything, just enlightenment. And by having nothing he reached that goal.

You have yet to reach your goal, even if it destroys everything of beauty. You will never have anything on Buddha.

You are just a bully of a god that listens to nothing and no one!"

Merapi smiled in response ... "What sort of God am I?".

"I am a nature god, a mountain god, and the most powerful in all Java."

"I am utterly capricious, one who can act without rhyme or reason."

"I am one who is here to test you."

"Because if you do not seen fear the most powerful nature, the destruction I can bring, then perhaps you may yet be suitable to this task."

"You may go little Banyak. You have passed this test. Your spirit is indeed great enough"

"But be warned, there is one more... One more test to the north, one which which you test everything within you..."

"And yes, you may be right about Buddha. Time will tell whether I outlast him, or he outlasts me."

And then Merapi faded into the distance, transforming back into a mountain, and Banyak slowly awakened.

- - -
Banyak looks around to seek Tikkus lying on the ground, without moving. There is a large wound on his left side.

Tears come to her eyes.

"Oh Tikkus", she sobs, "Why did you bring me here? You were my best friend!"

A voice from nowhere, the voice of Tikkus Maribaya, breaks through her tears.

"Cut off the tail".

"What?"

"Cut off the tail and take it with you. That way, myself and others like me, will always be available for you."

The sad Banyak takes the tail off Tikkus and gives him one last scritch...

"And don't forget the bones"

"I won't."

Banyak starts the descent from Borubudur to her companions and the pony tethered at the base of the hill. She begins to notice that the world around her is more vibrant, more alive. She can hear the birds talking to one another. She feels the breathing of the trees and banyan vines. She feels the eye of Merapi upon her.

On her descent, Banyak encounters a solemn-looking Topeng, rubbing his foot.....

Banyak asks Topeng about what he has experienced and tells of her own adventure. After this she falls into an exhausted sleep and dreams....

She dreams of Tikkus and of their journeys together, and of course his nasty death and his final words to her about "summon rat".

She wakes crying and reaches to Tikkus' pouch as she usually does upon waking. Before reaching her hand in she remembers that Tikkus is dead. She clutches the bag to her and feels something moving in pouch.

Looking inside she sees that during the night a tiny young rattling has made itself at home in the pouch.