At that, my tongue went heavy in my throat. Before arriving at the Kingdom of Gerbang Agung, known as the High Gate, Old Loki had already warned us about the penchant they had there for executing prisoners. Their methods were varied and often far more unsavory than what we saw that day: some were sentenced to be locked inside the hollow of an iron bull that was then set over a flame; others, brought to a boil in a cauldron over low heat; others, dragged by four horses to rend their bodies to pieces; others, fed to dogs that had been deliberately starved for days prior; still others had their heads crushed by a rather complex method wherein turtles were dropped from great heights by eagles trained specifically for this purpose (such an end was usually met by jesters who failed to entertain the king and his court at the royal banquet) and then there were others still who were stripped naked and tied to a stake, where they were then bitten to death by at least three dwarf slaves, whose orders were always to start at the testicles. When it comes to this last one, I can’t decide whose luck is worse: the corpse-to-be, or his executioners.
Bloody and broken, Sabadu’s body was carried back up. With little delay, Sabadu was thrown once more, this time aimed at a large round stone below the right side of the ledge. At the sound of his neck breaking, it was clear that Sabadu would never cry again.
He circled the three of us before stopping in front of Old Loki. His hand reached for a boiled egg, still unpeeled, in Old Loki’s basket. They were the ones he’d bought at the market that morning, laid by the silver-crested geese native to Gerbang Agung. These eggs are special, believed to retain different properties depending on the season they are laid. As long as, of course, the egg is boiled—whether for salted, hard-boiled, or
plain boiled eggs—they mustn’t be scrambled into an omelet or fried. When boiled, an egg laid by a silver-crested goose during summer, like the one in the officer’s hand, is believed to bestow on those who eat it a feeling of pleasure and a competitive spirit.
An autumn egg is believed to bring out a sense of loss and a desire to compose sad songs. A winter egg is believed to kindle the desire for mating. A spring egg, however, is best avoided; though the yolk is guaranteed to be exquisitely crumbly when brined and unbearably delicious, it can ignite an urge for violence in its consumer and even awaken an appetite for murder — in particular, the murder of one’s own kin.
Original text in: Yusi Avianto Pareanom: Raden Mandasia Si Pencuri Daging. Banana Publishing, Jakarta, 2016, Chapter. 10, S. 336ff & 338;
© Yusi Avianto Pareanom