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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