Mountain of Fire

Mountain of Fire Read Online Free PDF Page B

Book: Mountain of Fire Read Online Free PDF
Author: Radhika Puri
We need to get out of here. We don’t know whether the roof is stable. What if we get buried here?”
    Agus reluctantly looked at the knife and the gold coin on the floor. “Shall we show this to Ibu and Ayah?”
    Fitri hesitated. “No. Leave it, Agus, for now. We can come back later. Let’s go before Ibu, Ayah know we are missing. They will be worried.”
    Fitri dragged her brother up the steps. She had not told her brother the real reason for dragging him out of there. Something about the elephant head had seemed familiar.
    How could it be familiar? she thought. That’s so ridiculous.
    But she could not shake off the feeling that there was a memory somehow, buried deep in her head. If only she could remember what she was supposed to remember!
    There was magic at play, in a place far away from the Merapi, that helped Fitri with these answers.

    One week before the Tapak Bisu
    The houses of the Petuluk village were not scattered randomly but followed a linear path up a mountain road. The huts were simple structures, built on stilts, and made of bamboo and had attap roofs. Quite unlike the brick homes in Fitri’s village. There were no wires, no nails holding together the huts. Just bamboo and twine. There was no electricity in the village. The Petuluk lived in the most inaccessible and deepest part of the forest. There were about 50 huts in the village.
    It was early evening and a single file of people, dressed in white, were crossing over a bridge. The bridge too was built of bamboo sticks and twine, and looked like someone had thrown a bunch of sticks in the air and then tied them together in a haphazard, criss-cross fashion.
    These priests were the elite of the Petuluk tribe, the most important people in the tribe. Among them was a tiny, petite woman, with a colourful shawl thrown across her shoulder: Fitri and Agus’ grandmother, Nenek Aini or Priestess Aini as she was known in her tribe. They were on their way to the temple, the most sacred place of all in Petuluk land – the Sacred Grove. Only these priests were allowed into the grove.

    At the end of the bridge, there began a climb along a stone path. The stone felt cold and damp against their feet; many in the group were not wearing any slippers, including Priestess Aini. But she felt no discomfort. The soles of her feet were hard and weathered like tough leather and she walked steadily up the path.
    The group reached a clearing in the forest. This sacred place of the Petuluk was a grove of waringin trees, or banyan trees. The trees were standing close in some sort of circle and looked like their roots and hanging vines were entwined together. Branches hung to the ground and had taken roots and formed entirely new trunks.
    This place was the life force of the Petuluk. This grove told the Petuluk priests things about the future that only they could comprehend.
    The priests gathered around in the grove and started a soft chant. As the priests chanted, the leaves on the ground started to shift and move around like in a gentle wind. As the chanting picked up in rhythm and got louder, the leaves started to move rapidly, till the massive trunks of the banyan trees were covered entirely by a whirling mass of red, orange and green leaves.
    The man in the woods, who had been following the priests, could now hear the chanting. But he could not see anything. He grew impatient. “I need to know what’s going on. I know these priests know where the treasure is,” he muttered to himself.
    He crept towards the clearing, keeping low, trying to get closer to the circle of priests. In his insane greed, he forgot the cardinal rule of Petuluk people: only the priests were allowed into the grove. As he crept forward and crossed over into the grove, the leaves stopped twirling and fell to the ground.
    A huge cracking sound cut through the stillness of the forest. The man creeping along the
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