Monthly Archives: January 2014

Chapter 25.

Pierce and Maria.

Maria and Jake Pierce were walking along the trail and talking how futile this trip had been to the lake. And then they remembered.

“Hey, where are the others?” Maria asked.” Where’s Pedro and Jorge? They were behind us on the trail and now I don’t see them or hear them.”

Pierce stopped and listened. Nothing, just the noises of the jungle; the birds chirping and the monkeys shouting. “You’re right. I don’t see them and I can’t hear them. Something’s wrong.”

“Let’s go back and see if we can find them.” Pierce knew that something was amiss but he did not know what. Maria was anxious as well. Both pressed on quickly sensing that something must have happened. They retraced their steps and finally arrived at the lake, looked around and went further up but could not find them. They had vanished.

“Well, it seems clear that either they took off by themselves or someone took them by force.” Maria was looking around for clues but found nothing. She went up higher along the trail and still was flummoxed by the absence of evidence.

“Well, what are we to do about this?” asked Pierce. “Should we report this to the police or not. Was it a kidnapping?”

Maria did not know what to think. “The best thing would be to report this to the authorities, but since we came in illegally we will be charged with trespassing, won’t we?”

“I guess you’re right. We would be guilty of that. But can we leave them?”

“Well, they knew the risks and they took them, just like we did. Maybe we can just go out of the reserve, go to the entry points and say that our friends are missing and leave it at that.”

“Yeah, I think that’s the best thing to do. We protect them and ourselves as well just in case. Let’s find the entry points of the reserve and tell the story. And this was duly done, the report on the disappearance of the men was written. But the officers were asking many questions.

“Tell me Mr. Pierce, where did you enter the park?”

“Well it was one of the official entrances, you know.” Pierce was clearly embarrassed by the questions.

“And your friends were with you and then they suddenly disappeared, is that right?”

“Well yes, we turned around and they were not there anymore.” The officer was busy writing his report but eyed him suspiciously.

“Very well Mr. Pierce, sign here and here along with your friend. That will be all. We will go out and look for them and see if we can find them. I will make no promises to you that they can be found alive.”

“Of course I understand.” Pierce and Maria signed the documents and left as quick as they could, not wanting to answer more questions from the guards.

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Chapter 24.

Gwen’s anger.

Gwen was sitting in her hotel room bewildered by the turn of events. She had been surprised by the agility and quickness of Sara and never expected that she would bolt out of the room without being punished. What had happened was unprecedented; a sister of the Nine who refuses her just punishment, and then compounds her error by striking the head guardian and fleeing the premises. Action had to be taken and death had to be the result of Sara’s flight into rebellion.

Gwen quickly sprung into action, making calls to all of the remainder 8 of her group advising them that Sara was now considered a rebel and a danger to the group. Extreme measures should now be taken that included taking a life. After all, she could decide to talk about the secret or even sell the location of the sacred stream to the highest bidder.

She decided to take a walk around the premises of the hotel and looked in the alleys around, looking for a possible sighting of Sara. She walked along the avenue El Sol and then walked along the Tullomayo road. Then she began thinking that perhaps Sara might take the train out of the city. The fear of losing permanently Sara overwhelmed her and she quickly walked to the San Pedro station, hoping against all odds that Sara would be there but she was not. She wondered where she was hiding.

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Chapter 23.

Pierce and the gold.

It was clear that everyone in the expedition was disappointed. To go to all this trouble only to find a small sack of gold nuggets that was not worth much more than 1000 dollars was galling.. Anger and confusion was in the air as they looked around the lake, trying to understand what had happened. Usually in such situations the search for a culprit happens rather quickly. Someone must be the fall guy.

“I really can’t believe that we did all that for that,” said Jorge. “It seems to me that we didn’t read the map correctly.”

“No, the map is very clear,” Pedro said. “We are exactly where we should be; the lake is there, the tree is there and we did find gold, but not the quantities that we wanted.” Pedro looked around him, as if to imply that he had looked at all the clues and that indeed, there was nothing else to do but pack up and go home.

“Well, I find it bizarre that this lonely sack of gold was hidden so far away from Machu Pichu, the area that your uncle had explored. Isn’t it possible Jake that we missed something?” Maria said.

Pierce thought long and hard but could not offer any explanations to why his uncle had done what he did. This lonely sack of small gold did not make much sense to him as well. “Really, it is hard to understand, I agree. I suggest that we go back to Machu Pichu, to the area where we found the map that brought us here. Perhaps we missed something.”

“I think that Mr. Pierce is right, we should retrace our steps and see if maybe something was overlooked.” Maria was convinced that nothing had been forgotten but maybe it was the best thing to do. And so they returned to Machu Pichu, trekking back the same way but the heart was not in it . Grumblings began to be heard and Pedro was the target of it.

“Maybe you missed something, don’t you think?” Jorge was asking Pedro. He looked at him suspiciously. “Maybe you kept some information to yourself, something that would show more than what we’ve found.”

Pedro looked at Jorge in a cool way. “Not at all, I said what I found was there and the map did not lie, we did find gold, just not as much.” Both were walking side by side with Maria and Pierce up ahead.

“I think that you are hiding something from us. You want the treasure for yourself, that what I think. I am sure that you have another map on you, somewhere, where is it?” At these words Jorge tried to open Pedro’s bag that was on his back. Pedro reacted violently. A knife suddenly appeared in his right hand, flashing like thunder out of a blue sky.

“Watch it now, or I’ll cut you like the peasant that you are!” Pedro was now facing squarely his assailant. “One more step and I swear that I’ll bleed you and leave you on the ground to die.” Both men were face-to-face and staring at each other. Suddenly there was movement in the jungle that surrounded them and out of it came 15 to 20 men, all wearing camouflage clothes and armed with long spears. They shouted in Spanish to the others to follow them or die on the spot. They were gagged and their hands tied up. Down the trail they marched with them, away from Maria and Pierce who were ignorant of what was going on behind them.

“What is going on?” said Jorge. “Who are they?”

“They must be guardians.” replied in a low voice Pedro

“Guardians? Of what? I see nothing to guard, only the jungle.” replied Jorge.

“Quiet you two, not one word from now on, or I will leave you tied up and ready to be devoured by the animals.” said one of the guards. Onward they marched through the forest to an unknown destination.

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Chapter 22.

Sara’s punishment.

Gwen and Sara were slowly walking upstairs to the head guardian’s room. It was not the first time that one of the Nine women had to be disciplined but in the past it had been done in front of all the others to serve as a deterrent. Usually the punishment had been mild, a good whipping and that was all. But this time it was different and Sara sensed that. As they went up the stairs not a word was said and the silence was deafening. Suddenly they arrived at the room and Gwen opened the door followed in by Sara. One could see on the bed of the guardian a large bag. Gwen opened it and produced some implements that struck fear in the heart of Sara; a small whip, restraining cuffs, a ball gag to prevent the person from screaming and a pair of scissors. The head guardian knew how Sara was vain about her long brown hair and she decided not to miss the chance of shearing her and in the process diminishing her beauty.

She took one of the chairs that was in a corner and put it directly in the center of the room. Looking directly at Sara she said, “Take a seat please. Do you know why you have to be punished or do I have to remind you?

“No, I know and I am sorry that I didn’t consult with you before I acted. Please, accept my apology.” Sara looked at Gwen, her eyes imploring her pardon. But she only saw contempt in the head guardian’s eyes, contempt and fury at her actions. Gwen then smiled at her as she approached.

“Of course I accept your apology, but you still must be punished for your outrageous action. You acted as if you were the head guardian. You damaged my leadership in the eyes of the others and you did it on purpose. You knew what you were doing, undercutting me like that. Didn‘t you know?”

“No, I swear that it wasn’t my intention.” Sara was crying by then, sobbing gently. She had no other words to offer the head guardian and she knew it.

Gwen put her hand on Sara’s head and let her fingers run through Sara’s hair. She had decided to start by cutting her hair off. It would be dramatic and would stun Sara. She turned away from Sara and walked towards her bed, took the pair of scissors and returned to where Sara was seated. Sara looked at her wide-eyed and began crying louder as she saw the head guardian approach her with the scissors in hand.

“No, please, don’t do this, anything but this, please!’

Sara’s long brown hair went down to below her shoulders. She was very proud of them and Gwen knew this. She had often seen her preening herself in front of any mirrors that she could find. That would be a good start for her punishment. But Gwen made a mistake; she did not secure Sara solidly and she did not have the ball gag on her mouth preventing her from screaming. When Sara saw the scissors approach her head she got out of her chair quickly and gave a punch to the stomach of Gwen who was caught by surprise. She flew to the ground and remained there trying to catch her breath, the scissors still in her hand. Quickly Sara made for the door and hurried the stairs to escape Gwen’s clutches. Meanwhile Gwen was slowly recovering, sitting on the floor and trying to breathe normally again. This was incredible she thought, that a fellow sister was refusing her punishment. This could mean death for Sara.

Sara knew that she was in trouble. She would surely be excluded from the Nine, perhaps she would be tracked like an animal and taken down. There was no precedent for this. She ran wildly from street to street not knowing what to do. Go back and beg clemency? Run as far away as she could? Kill herself? She stopped near a church and decided to go in, hoping to find sanctuary and solace. She needed a safe place to think about her situation and figure out what her next move would be. She should have known that a woman who is dishevelled and runs madly here and there could not be missed. Someone had seen her. Gwen’s spies were everywhere.

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