This chapter is a very long one, thus the parts. Likely will be split into 3. Also, we are back to regular schedule (5/week) and I’ll finish up the regular before stepping into the owed ones.
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This is 1/5 regular and 13/20 owed chapters!
Wiro Sableng Book 3 Chapter 5 (1)
Warih Sinten cried incessantly for the whole night. Her eyes swollen and red from crying. Village Chief Kundrawana also could not sleep, walking back and forth in his restlessness. He was extremely anxious and agitated, thinking about his son who was kidnapped by Tapak Luwing’s gang. At the same time, he grew furious with seething rage in his heart!
For him, his wife and his own safety was of no importance when compared to his son’s, the only son they had. Added with that threat on the tax, it almost drove Village Chief Kundrawana insane thinking about it. He would never bring this matter to the Duke in Linggarjati or even the King only for the sake of his son’s life. The only solution was to obey Tapak Luwing’s crazy rules and demands. However, what about his people’s responses later? Not only was the tax charged beyond their capabilities, the villagers would label him as a leech for this extortion and it might even incite resentment among them!
If he had to collect tens times the amount of the current tax which must be handed over to Tapak Luwing, added that with those he must submitted to the Duke in Linggarjati the total amount would be evelen times of the current amount! If only he did not abide to the teachings of the Almighty God, Lurah Bojongnipah felt like he would just grab his kris and commit suicide! Alas, he knew this was not a proper solution.
In the morning, he knew he had no choice but to send his aide to send words to the villagers that from the next month onward the tax collection charged would be evelen times higher than the current amount. This was in compliance to the King’s policy in order to support the development of the country and the maintenance of the stronger army, which was merely excuses made up by Village Chief Kundrawana to conceal the real motives.
When the news reached all corners of Bojongnipah, unrest among the villagers began to appear. Most of them said that this was an oppression, a blatant extortion. For the sake of country development and a strong army, did the people have to be choked down with such outrageous taxation?!
Several village elders requested to meet Village Chief Kundrawana, however the Village Chief did not grant them the audience. The elders were definitely surprised to see that their chief of the village who used to be so kind, wise and friendly, now did not want to see their faces, let alone negotiating about the new tax regulation! In addition to that, when they gathered around Village Chief’s house, they could hear Warih Sinten, the Chief’s wife, cried ceaselessly. What happened to the woman anyway? There were many things the elders could not comprehend! And when the time came for the first tax collection with the new regulation, many villagers deliberately did not pay. Suppressing the heavy contradiction in his heart, Village Chief was forced to threaten the villagers. Anyone who did not want to pay taxes with the predetermined amount will be arrested and taken to the Capital! Facing such threat, the villagers had no choice but to pay.
During the second tax collection, there was disputes which Village Chief Kundrawana could barely handle. Prior to the third tax collection, Village Chief Kundrawana heard the issue that the villagers would incite a rebellion! The man could not blame the villagers for that. One night, secretly Village Chief Kundrawana went to Linggarjati to appeal to Duke Seta Boga. He reported everything to the Duke, astounding Seta Boga. When Village Chief Kundrawana excused his leave, Seta Boga promised he would send the Duchy’s army immediately. However, by the time of the eve of the third tax collection day, not a single soldier of the Duchy arrived!
Village Chief Kundrawana was truly running out of ideas, completely losing heads nor tails of the situation at hand. Meanwhile, signs of rebellion were imminent. In his bewilderment, within the narrow time Village Chief Kundrawana finally managed to see Tapak Luwing outside the village.
“To what do I owe you the pleasure of meeting you, Village Chief?” Tapak Luwing asked while gnawing on the meat roasted by his minions. That time, the Black Trio of Comel River camped at the edge of the woods.
“A problem, you said? Hmm… Do you know tomorrow is the tax collection day and the next day you must give the money to us at the crossroads leading to Linggajati?”
“I know, Tapak Luwing. This problem is exactly caused by your extortion!” Village Chief Kundrawana replied.
Tapak Luwing laughed and threw the bones of the meat he ate near the Village Chief Kundrawana’s feet.
“Have you tattled on this problem to Duke Seta Boga in Linggarjati?” asked Tapak Luwing while chuckling and standing up from his seat on a log.
Village Chief Kundrawana was shocked, revealing the changes in his face. In silence, he wondered if this bandit leader knew of his departure to Linggajati to meet Duke Seta Boga?
Tapak Luwing’s laughing voice grew louder. He looked more ferocious and suddenly, unexpected by Village Chief Kundrawana, the bandit leader slapped him on his cheek.
“Tapak Luwing, you…”
Tapak Luwing’s slap hit Kundrawana’s face again. “Dare you babble on this,” he threatened, “I will rip off your mouth!”
“But, Tapak Luwing…”
“I’ve told you not to tell anyone about our business! And you have met Duke Seta Boga to request his help! Do you forget what will happen to your son?!”
Village Chief Kundrawana’s face was as pale as a ghost!
“You… what have you done to my son, Tapak Luwing…?
“Now you are pissing your pants, huh? Damn you! Duke Boga Seta has sent five soldiers to Bojongnipah, but I intercepted them on their way and they now bite the dust, all because of your stupidity!”
“My son…what about my son…?” Village Chief Kundrawana pleaded pitifully, he was on the brink of tears!
“I am still generous enough to let go of what you did this time! Next time, don’t expect me to have mercy on you…”
Village Chief Kundrawana calmed down. If he would just think clearly and did not get too carried away by his anxiety, he would notice that something was amiss with Tapak Luwing’s statement today compared to his threat he shouted three weeks past. Previously, Tapak Luwing threatened to kill his son if he reported to the Duke or the King. He broke the news to Duke Seta Boga already and strangely Tapak Luwing gave him a second chance, despite the fact that the Duke had heard about his crime and the report would definitely be relayed to the Capital, especially about the slaughter of the five soldiers of the Duchy!
“Now explain to me the difficulties you were saying, Village Chief!” Tapak Luwing said.
“The villagers would rouse a rebellion tomorrow if I still charge that preposterous tax!” Village Chief Kundrawana replied.
“Is that so? You said you were not afraid of death! Now your life is in danger and you run with your tail between your legs seeking my aid..?!”
Village Chief Kundrawana clenched his jaws tightly.
“Go back to Bojongnipah, Village Chief. Tomorrow we will be there…” mocked Tapak Luwing.
“Don’t use any violence”
“It’s our business. Don’t you meddle with what we do,” retorted Tapak Luwing.
“Can I see my son, Tapak Luwing?” asked Village Chief Kundrawana.
“Not now,” answered the bandit leader. The head of Bojongnipah village was stunned for awhile. Then with staggered steps, he walked to his horse and mounted on the back of the beast.
Before leaving, Village Chief Kundrawana asked, “Tapak Luwing, until when you put this yoke of your depravity on me…?”
Tapak Luwing laughed. “Just shut up! You’d better think of your own life tomorrow. Maybe the villagers would have already butchered you before we arrive…!”