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How long had he been in the air? He had no idea; he couldn't see, but his bladder was full and he needed to relieve himself. God, it was a nightmare. As soon as they tied his hands behind his back and pushed him into the van he knew he was going to die. The sack over his head was a further ploy used to reduce him to a blithering idiot. Why had he been taken? It was a foolish question. He had done everything he was ordered to do. He had removed the money from the safe and stuffed it into the suitcase and now he was being taken somewhere. The jarring of the plane as it turned sharply confirmed he was now in the air. Where was he going, taken God knows where, over the ocean or into the interior?
He should have done what his boss had done. He should not have gone into work today. He should have let some other person deal with these maniacs. So far they had not hurt him. Perhaps they thought that just by treating him like this, when they started to ask questions he'd be more than willing to tell them everything. Ever since the end of the Falklands War the rulers were making plans for their escape. He hadn't thought he was to be part of their clean-up of loose ends.
The sound of the aircraft's engines droned in his ears until his head rang with the tempo.
Suddenly the bag was removed from his head, and the brightness of the sun was blinding and painful to his eyes. There were four men in the twin-engine aircraft. He looked to his right and then to his left and saw that the plane was over huge mountains. These could only be the Andes and his journey from Montevideo had been west to the barren rocks where the Incas once ruled.
Was thiswhere the poor souls were taken for their final ride? He felt himself losing control of his bladder. They were going to kill him. Soon he'd be sacrificed as the ancients did those who were offered up to the gods. He'd never see Pauline, his wife, and their 18-year old daughter Jillian again. This was where the condors flew and he was going to die.
The man in the co-pilot's chair gave a signal and the guard unlatched the plane's door. Jesus the prisoner was so frightened that his filled bladder let go and the guard beside him cursed.
Well he was not going to be thrown out of the plane without a fight. He jumped up and threw himself forward onto the pilot. That action had an effect and screams and curses filled the cabin of the plane. The plane dipped down and started to turn onto its back as the pilot lost control.
"Get this bastard off me!" the pilot shrieked.
Hands reached for him, pulling, digging into his shoulders and into his face, but he held on. He held on with his feet braced against the seat, as he pinned the pilot's arms and made it impossible for him to control the joystick. The plane was headed straight down. In a few seconds they would all be dead. He had worked hard all his life, and to die because he knew about the military officers' bank accounts was unfair. The screaming intensified, as did the scream of the engines. He looked up and saw a strange rock formation beckoning to him like the Hand of God.
Tyik looked down from his secret flat rock perch on a stone cliff to where the King of the World and all living things had his palace. The young boy had always felt great passion and the glory when the soldiers, with their shields, spears, bows and arrows, came marching through the canyons to guard the King. They came by the thousands, wearing colorful feathered tassels. The soldiers denoted their ranks with the feathers of the many birds that thrived and bred in this part of the world. Orange oriole feathers distinguished the exalted rank of a division leader, and Huascar's personal bodyguards displayed tail feathers of the red tanager. The blue feathers of the bluebirds and brown feathers of the thrush signified the difference between the leader of a squad and a sergeant of a cohort. The scene with the flashes of color and the iridescence of the sun on the decorated bodies of these great, bronzed warriors filled his mind. He watched from his perch, enthralled by the sight. Every five or six year he came to this lookout to drink in the marvels, as the hordes crossed the mountain and spread out over the plain before passing through the town to the summer palace of the King. Down below they came like a swarm of fire ants when something disturbed their nest: ready to attack and destroy anything that interfered with them. Soon the town's square would be filled with this rainbow of human strength that put a sense of fear and respect into the hearts of the local people.
Tyik remembered the first time saw Huascar. He was barely six years old and had accompanied his parents on their weekly trek to the marketplace, when suddenly horns had sounded and the peasant class around him fell to their knees. He watched spellbound as the King, Huascar, the Ruler of the Universe was carried on a gold throne to his palace. His white and black cloak was so remarkable that the boy stared and pointed in amazement.
"Oh, father, look at his cloak! It's made from the feathers of the sacred condor!" the young Tyik had called out in his excitement. His father had silenced him angrily. No one spoke in the presence of the King without permission.
From that moment on, Tyik knew the stories he had heard about a special place that lay a hundred days journey north must be true. That place was the capital city, Cuzco, where it was rumored 100,000 people lived, and from where Huascar, the son of the Sun God Inti, the God's representative, ruled the earth. Thousands of soldiers surrounded the King, as they streamed over the hills in the annual migration to the summer palace, and the strange humming sound with the tramp of the many thousand feet still sent shivers through Tyik.
Here in Tyik's world of rocky cliffs and spare forest, the summers were cooler. Up in the pines within two days walk of his father's small farm was the graveyard, where millions of souls came from all parts of the earth to send messages to the Gods. They came disguised as condors. It was common knowledge that when you died you had a chance to begin again in another life form. A condor took you to where the Gods could grant you another life. For Huascar to wear a cloak made from the feathers of these condors showed that he really was the Sun God's representative on earth. No one else was allowed to wear anything made from the God's messenger. The penalty was always swift and certain. It was a death sentence to wear the souls of your ancestors and the ancients as garments. It was a terrible insult and might cause those that have died to wander aimlessly forever in the space between the different worlds. Everyone knew that. No one would ever harm the mighty condor that flew over the tallest mountain. To destroy a condor meant the chance of some man, woman or child to gain a new life would be lost. No one would harm a mighty flier because if the Death Stalker, the creature that crept into your soul when the mind becomes careless and plucks it from your body, came and took you, you still had a chance to live again unless someone killed your messenger. Condors were the missives of God. They were the only ones that could fly so close to the sun.
From the moment, as a small boy he had first seen Huascar in the market years ago when he was just a small boy, he knew what he wanted to do. Someday he could join the lofty ranks of Huascar's soldiers and carry his head high. He'd wear the sash of colors, the feathered tassels that denoted rank and position. He, too, would wear the uniform that shone with its copper woven chest guards, the brass wrist bracelets and the ornate shin covers that acted like a drum creating the strumming and humming sound that even from beyond the hills heralded the presence to all those in its path that the greatest army in the world, the protector of Huascar, was approaching. He looked at the clothes his mother had made him; they looked like rags in comparison to the uniforms of Huascar's guards. Yes, that's what he would do. He'd wait, and when he became older he'd ask his parents' permission to leave the farm to take up the shield and spears and become a protector of his ruler.
Huascar knew everything, even about a 13-year old boy named Tyik. Seven years after the boy's first exposure to the King of this world, a summons to appear before the King arrived. Tyik felt fear for the first time in his young life. Why had the soldier, and the king's messenger traveled miles into the mountains to find him? He didn't know what to do. Should he run away and hide? To fail to heed a royal command was impossible, but inwardly Tyik felt fear chill his heart.
Tyik's parents were frightened too. Had the Gods selected Tyik, their only son, for sacrifice? To be chosen as a sacrifice to the Gods was a tribute to their son's virtue. To be chosen to die as a sacrifice to the Gods was an honor. Everyone knew that the victim's family would receive gifts and higher social status. They knew about the ceremonies that took place on the top of the highest mountains. Each year a mountain had to be visited and an offering made to the almighty Sun. It was the only way the Inca kingdom could retain its power. You had to honor the Sun and it was only thus by selecting the pure for sacrifice, boys or girls, who had not been exposed to the vices of adulthood that the God would be satisfied. It didn't necessarily mean that this was what the summons meant.
"Tyik, have you broken any of the secret laws? Have you offended the Gods?" his father asked. "Tyik what have you done to make it necessary for you to come before our King? Have you displeased him?"
"Father, I have done nothing wrong. But something strange did happen to me last week. I was working near the cornfield and listening to the birds singing, when out of nowhere a condor came towards me. It wasn't like the ones we see flying high up in the mountains. It was white! It did not have a spot of black on it.
"Yes, I have heard of the white version of the sacred flier," his father said, and he looked deep in thought. "Son, no wonder the King demands your presence! That bird is called a White Messenger. It is said that it only comes when something monumental is about to happen. It might bring good news or it might be bad news. Those who are touched by it are destined to be great. Kings and nobles seek the advice of those so honored. You must go to the King. The priests will show you what to do. They have the wisdom to allow you to reveal the secret message that the White Messenger gave you when he came to you. My son I am very proud of you."
His mother and father embraced him and his mother was in tears. "Oh the Gods are good. I was worried that you were to be one of the chosen. We know that in the capital those chosen are destined to give up their souls when the priests cut out their hearts for a tribute, a sacrifice to the Gods."
So Tyik's life changed. He was too surprised to question the orders of the King. He couldn't have refused them, even if he wanted to. How did the King know about the White Messenger? He had told no one about that. Had he received a secret message from this sacred bird? He didn't know. When he fell asleep that night he had a terrible nightmare about strange creatures with two heads, one head of a man with hairy face and the other head with an elongated face, and the creatures, snorting and crying, walked on four legs had filled his dreams. He had awakened in a cold sweat. In that nightmare he had seen the strangest form of a canoe. It was so large that it stole fluffy white clouds from the sky and forced the clouds to pull the large canoe over the water. That strange object held men who wore strange peaked hats made from a gray metal. It gleamed at him; its color reminded him of the cold look of a shark's eye a fisherman once told him about, compared to the gold and brass shields of his King's soldiers. Why he dreamed of these apparitions was beyond him. When he woke in the early morning he didn't want to go back to sleep. The nightmare had frightened him. What could it all mean? Did that dream bring good news or bad? But the effects of his nightmare lingered as Tyik traveled with the King's messenger to the capital city of Cuzco. Those strange creatures and the men who looked like none he had ever seen before froze his heart. The dream worried him. It could only be an omen of evil. He had never seen anything bigger than his village; a city was totally different. Coming down from his poor home and arriving at the city of the King filled his mind with wonder. The buildings were grand and carefully made from both stone and adobe bricks. Even the colors were mottled in red, green, yellow and orange. Everything he saw confirmed the magnificence of this city. The mass of people confused him, but the surrounding city that had grown up around the King's palace was insignificant compared to the mass structures that sheltered the King and his household.
Tyik was welcomed into the King's household. The priests protected the king and interpreted the messages from near and far. They wore robes of pure white like the color of the White Messenger, but edged in black. The material was not made of thick homespun wool like he and his neighbors wore. It had a smooth texture and the weave was so small that light failed to penetrate it. The gloss of the cloth made it shimmer and sparkle and the sun made it glow. Trailing after them were tails of cloth, which reminded Tyik of a guinea cock, and the longer the tail of the robe indicated the greater the wisdom of the priest. Each priest had a servant to look after the tail. The higher the rank of the priest, the more servants he required to arrange the tail. Priests wearing robes with the shorter tails interviewed him and told him what the White Messenger meant. They provided him with examples of earlier visitations. They didn't try to force him to reveal his inner thoughts. He learned the ways of the court. He began to learn to use all those useful things that scholars, builders and scientists learned. Once a month he was given a special potion. When Tyik tasted the potion that was served to him in a strange curled shell of a sea creature he didn't know what to expect. Surely a bewitching enchantment would taste vile and disgusting. But never had he tasted anything like it. It was sweet and rich. It filled his mouth and his taste buds savored the viscous creamy brown liquid. It made him feel blessed. His heart beat excitedly, then, as it became quiet a strange feeling of tiredness came over him and he fell asleep. When Tyik went into a deep sleep a priest sat patiently and recorded his words as the potion slowly worked its magic to reveal the secret message of the White Messenger.
One day, after one of these sessions, the head priest with a robe so long it took eight servants to hold it up to keep it from dragging on the ground came and bade him to come with him to visit the King. Tyik felt his knees begin to shake. What had he told the priests during his strange and unquiet sleep?
He crawled along the floor like he had been taught. The colors of rainbows seemed to dance on the walls. The King sat on a throne of gold and precious stones which sparkled and dazzled, sending the rainbows of colors across the room. The sight of the throne room and the mighty ruler Huascar made Tyik feel so small and unimportant.
"Tyik!" the Supreme Ruler said, "Come sit in front of my throne.
"Tyik, the priests have told me you are a clever lad and have worked hard in learning the administrative duties of a clerk. That is good to hear and it shows that the White Messenger was wise in selecting you for his message."
The chief priest came forward in a bowing position. "Your Majesty, we now know the entire message that the White Messenger entrusted to the subconscious mind of Tyik. We have studied this message and must tell you, My Lord, that it is an omen of evil. Some creatures that are so strange will come into your land. Soon these creatures that come in canoes bigger than a house will come to you and demand presents of gold and precious stones. These creatures can separate themselves from four-footed creatures that carry them like alpacas but are like nothing we have ever seen before. These men are evil. They are not to be trusted. Those who fall within their control are destined to die or be forced into slavery. No one is safe! We have tried to understand and advise Your Lordship of the best way to handle these invaders. You must attack them; send your entire army down to the seacoast and destroy them as they try to come inland. If they survive, then your Empire may not survive. You may be forced into a position where you, too, will be treated like a slave. The message from the White Messenger is a warning of great evil, My Lord."
Huascar stared at his chief priest with a look of horror. "How can this be? Our armies are invincible. Where do these invaders come from? Could they be gods as the legends predict? Maybe they come in peace? If they are not gods, then maybe they come to give me homage like the other border tribes do! It can not be as bad as what you are saying."
Huascar turned to Tyik. "You have done me great service. I now appoint you 'the Keeper of the Condors'. You and your family now and in the future must look after them. Let nothing harm them. For when harm comes to the condors, so harm comes to the living, the dead and those that live in between the worlds. I give you a gift. It is the brightest of my jewels and the crest of my office. Some might think it is beyond value. Take it with you. Never let it go from your control or the control of your family. When you marry take it to your wife that she can hold it to her breasts, she will be given healthy children after its touch, as will your children's children.
This message that the White Messenger has given you foreshadows evil and the ruination of my Empire. I command you to go from my capital and find peace in the hills with the Messengers of the Gods. Never come back here. If these invaders have power to destroy my kingdom and me, never let them find you with my jeweled crest of office. Tyik go now. If the White Messenger has given us a chance and we are successful in destroying these strange invaders, I will send a message to you. Until such time it is your duty to look after the sacred fliers. I will give you gold, so that you can feed them freshly killed alpacas on the beginning of each month. It will show them that Huascar honors them as they have honored me."
The high priest escorted Tyik to the city limits. "Tyik, I fear that you will never come here again. Something is dreadfully wrong. Our King has suddenly become an indecisive man. No longer does he make decisions that are wise and show his might. Maybe your news from the White Messenger has affected his mind. I just don't know. But these foreigners will soon be here. Huascar has already given his permission for them to come without fear of attack. He is wrong! They are not gods. Yet there is something else that is as serious. The Pretender is now gathering his own army and Atahualpa, the half brother to our King, is filled with greed. He is no Huascar who plans roads and buildings for the entire kingdom. He might catch the King and imprison him or have him killed before he awakens to the danger. Your information from the White Messenger about these strange creatures only adds to the indecision of Huascar. If Atahualpa strikes now, the King will fall and the kingdom of the Inca will be in a civil war. We have heard that these strange creatures have already come to the land of the Aztecs in the land so far north. They are not interested in peace tokens. They are filled with greed. Gods don't do those things. In time all will know. I know now. The White Messenger told us through you. Our kingdom is at risk and Huascar does nothing. He sits like a feeble old man who has lost his powers of reason. But you are not responsible for that. Here take this blanket. It tells the history of our nation and has taken years to weave. I think it will keep you warm up in the high mountain plateau where you live. Perhaps it can be used to help those whose memories will have faded to rediscover the history of the Inca. Go with the protection of a trooper. You are a fine young man. Look after your new charges. They may need your help in time."
The Inca Empire was only founded in the early 14th century. Yet soon it controlled the western seaboard of South America and had 12 million people giving homage to the Sun God's children.
Francisco Pizarro, a Spanish pig farmer, had heard of Cortez and his achievements and the treasure of the Aztecs. He also heard of a kingdom far to the south that was even greater than that of the Aztecs and their King Montezuma. It was his good luck that he arrived in 1531, after receiving permission from the King to Spain to explore the lands to the south. He discovered that this land of mountains was in a civil war and his arrival with 62 horsemen and 106 foot-soldiers was at a propitious time. He decided to take control as quickly as he could. A disaster helped. A terrible disease had swept through the kingdom and it was believed to be smallpox that arrived with the Spanish in the Mexican campaign. Everything was ideal for Pizarro to win a kingdom. All it took was cruelty and a total disregard for life. Pizarro lived up to those requirements and butchered 2,000 of Atahualpa's men when the leader came peacefully to welcome the Spaniards. Atahualpa's half brother was already dead. Huascar was murdered under the orders of his half brother, and once the Spanish controlled Atahualpa, there was no one who could effectively draw the armies and fighters of the Inca Empire together to fight against the Spanish Conquistadors.
Copyright © 2003 by George W. J. Laidlaw