40 – Mahadiwa Kalakatri Duumanun was tending to her garden, where the stems were veins of blood and the flowers were the heads of men.

Then a warrior soul approached her, a servant who died without posessions, but killed a Datu during their life. Uray Uray, o Batarahara, tell the panganitohan’s servant why there is death and murder upon the world!”

Mahadiwa Kalakatri Duumanun turned from pouring milk upon her man-flowers and scowled. “Why do you come to ask me? Violence is not my purview. That is the purview of mortals.”

“Yet the great goddess is the mother of murders!”

“And the sword is the great dealer of deaths. Yet it is not the sword that murders and violences, nay. It is the sword that cuts, it is the hand that wields it that commits atrocities.”

“So you say the sword is innocent? It is not evil?”

“To create a house you cut a tree down,” responded Mahadiwa Kalakatri Duumanun. “Evil is the creation of your ancestors and descendants. Rejoice in the glory of combat.

The 55 Lessons of Mahadiwa Kalakatri Duumanun

As the barge cut through dark waters, Masuna stepped up to the prow. Bangahom balanced lightly upon the prowhead, which was not carved or fashioned in any kind of mythical creature, nor was it given a plume from a thunderbird. “I can’t believe this. Put’wan?” said Bangahom, as they chewed on a pork cut that had rotted. “I’ve been dreaming to go there my entire life!”

Kiyam’s cat ears twitched at that. “Do yawa dream?”

“They do! They do. Trust me.”

Masuna, at this point, just nodded. “Just trust them.” He looked up at Bangahom. “Also didn’t I tell you not to show off your sorcery?”

Bangahom rolled his fire-droplet eyes. “And what? Get the Bayi killed? I serve her first, your words last.”

“Good thing I know how to improvise,” said Masuna, leaning against the prow. His sword and shield lay beside the palanquin.

“Yeah? Well you need to get better at it. Your improvisation was cutting a bloody swathe! Like some harvester demon!”

“As the sword, it is all I’m good for.”

“What a pitiful existence!” said Bangahom, and they chewed on more pork fat. “Lighten up, warrior. Embrace your humanity.”

“My soul has been sharpened into a blade,” replied Masuna. “How am I supposed to do that? If I open my heart, it will cut.”

“Then dull it with kindness, fool.”

“That’s enough,” said Kiyam. He nodded to the distance. “Witness. Put’wan.”

Masuna and Bangahom did witness. Masuna was used to the sight, of course, but Bangahom was not. Lining the streets of the grand city was rows upon rows of palm leaf torches, which consequently illuminated the entire city, for the city was made of gold. Nuggets of gold and gold threaded together like weaves wrapped the entire city, as if a god had knitted a blanket and laid it over them. Gold glinted from the houses of the lowliest of fishermen and hunters, to the grand ten-roofed longhouse of the Datu, which stood at the center of the entire city.

The Datu’s Longhouse seemed to be aflame with that same smokeless, colorless flame that Bangahom so often conjured. It illuminated the darkness about it.

Here and there, they could see guardsmen and warriors and others going about their nightly chores before they were set to sleep. The trade had not come to them, yet. Masuna knew it was coming on the next moon.

“Oh, how grand,” said Bangahom. “All the songs I’ve heard about Put’wan were true, then!”

“In times long long ago, even before the great Empire of Sang “It used to be grander,” replied Masuna. “In times long long ago, there used to be three primary ancient states in these islands. The Mandala of Put’wan, and the Mandala of Tundun, where Ananara now sits. Put’wan was much more powerful before, but now their power has waned like the moon. Ba-e lives to this day, but from what I have ascertained being born there, it is but a shadow of its former glory.”

Kiyam nodded. “Most of the ancient Put’wanon made their way northeast, to the island of Siga. There they established the Karajaan of Jamiyun, for there trade with the rest of the rich islands of Naksuwarga was facilitated. That Karajaan eventually became the Sultanate of Akai.”

“A history lesson I never knew I needed!” bellowed out Bangahom. “I see large buildings seemingly having no other purpose but for a specific thing. Like those men and women coming in and out of that longhouse with drinks and food.”

“Some longhouses were converted into places for small feasts sponsored by nobles and such, mostly for the reason of expanding their influence,” said Masuna. “It’s been in fashion for quite some time now, especially with the rising violence–and consequently rising trade–of the islands.”

“Ah, you mortals and your games,” said Bangahom, and they finished their pork cut. “But I too would like some pangasi.”

“Do you even get drunk?” asked Kiyam, with a scoff. He dragged on his opium pipe and walked over to where a few jarlets were, filled with rice wine. He grabbed it and gave it to Bangahom.

“Us yawa? No! But we enjoy the drink nonetheless. Why else do you offer it to us? It is like drinking honey mead.”

“But getting drunk is half the fun,” rasped Kiyam. “I’d like to see a drunk spirit.”

“Oh trust me you don’t,” replied Bangahom. A beat, and then, “Wait do you mean… a spirit that is drunk… or a spirit of drunkenness?”

“Both exist?” asked Kiyam. Masuna nodded. “All right well, either one, I guess.”

“Maybe we’ll see! When we enter Put’wan.”

Kiyam knocked on the hardwood of the barge as they came closer. The number of ships docked here did not rival that of the larger metropoles, however Masuna knew that it wasn’t trading season for them yet. “All right, kawal,” said Kiyam. “What’s the order of business here?”

“Take some of the porcelain jars and use them to buy yourself lodgings for the night,” replied Masuna. “Some food as well. Give you and yours a well needed rest.”

“I appreciate it, royal kawal. How about the binukot?”

“We have a friend to visit,” replied Masuna, and he began to make his way back to Bakong’s palanquin.

The merchant barge eventually arrived. Masuna paid the anchorage fee in weapons they had collected from fending off that ship raid from Dibuynas. 

This time, he walked with Bangahom to his side and Bakong in front. Bakong had dressed again in long silken garments. A lambong that reached her chest, and then a long shawl that fell down all the way to her knees, making her look like a penitent sage. She wrapped it about her so that her hair would be hidden. She additionally wore a silk jacket that gave her those same flaring sleeves. She sewed up one of the sleeves so that it covered her demon arm.

“Just keep walking ahead, bayi,” noted Masuna, as they walked into the streets of Put’wan. The soil here was fresher, and the people a bit livelier. In one side, however, Bakong could notice the drunkard whose arm had been chopped off, and a bunch of servant children working to finish a silk pillow for a noble. “If the bayi seeks a mentor, then the bayi shall get one.”

“Wow, it’s much colder here,” Bangahom pointed out.

“It is not the middle of the day for one,” said Masuna. 

As they walked, a stray young monkey bumped into Bakong. Masuna stepped forward immediately, catching Bakong. “Is the bayi okay?” He turned and shot a look at the monkey–which was taller than a usual monkey, no doubt an unggoytawo, or monkeyfolk–and saw that it rushed across the roofs of the balay, making its way over to the longhouse where a noble was holding a small feast. There, people drinking and eating spilled out of the longhouse and into the streets and districts and even other houses.

“I’m okay,” said Bakong, leaning into Masuna’s hand. She rose to her feet, and then immediately grasped at her neck. “Wait, my necklace.”


“My necklace! It’s gone.”

Masuna sighed. Of course, a thief comes crashing through them. “Bangahom, watch the bayi,” said Masuna, and he climbed atop a roof with surprising dexterity, despite wearing full body armor, and ran across it, following in the steps of the unggoytawo.

The thief looked behind him and immediately croaked. He started running even quicker, leaping across entire streets and across random ropes that were made to hold up gold and palm leaf art. Masuna followed quickly after, with an adroitness that did not match the monkey’s but was just enough to not lose sight of him.

The unggoytawo eventually leapt down onto the street and into the window of the longhouse where the festivities were. There, the sound of raucous singing spilled into the night air.

Masuna walked in as well. People clung to him, asking him to drink, laughing and smiling as they saw him walk in. Masuna shook his head, respectfully declining as kindly as he could. Giving back their smiles and all.

Eventually he found the tawongunggoy. The red-furred thief was leaning against a feast table, whereupon food of all manner, from forest to sea, was laid out (and half-eaten). On the other side of the table was a woman, eating and drinking without a care for the world. The tawongunggoy was offering the necklace to the woman, who wore a collared silk jacket in the fashion of Virbanwan pirates. 

Masuna could almost see the hearts flying out of the eyes of the unggoytawo. But other than that, he could not help but almost laugh at the person he was making heart eyes at. The kawal lunged forward and grabbed the unggoytawo by the neck. “Hey, sibling, that necklace belongs to us.”

The unggoytawo was snapped out of his lovey-dovey reverie, and almost leapt to the air. Masuna was quick, however, and snatched the gold necklace away from the monkey quicksome.

As he did, however, the woman rose to her full height. She was tall, almost two heads taller than Masuna. Tattoos lined her entire body, her bahag and sarong that covered her mighty thundering legs. Around her chest was an abaca wrap, to keep her breasts out of the way of fighting.

She grinned, showing off sharpened fangs, and pointed at Masuna. “Royal Kawal! You have arrived!”

Masuna looked away and tried to hide his face. Before he could turn around and return to Bakong, however, her voice reverberated across the longhouse. 

“Sister! Binayaan! You’re here!”

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