2.57 AM, 29th March, 1542,
In one of the stilted huts of the Mazonian tribe.
All he could see was that green glow of the structure. He could still see a crystal clear image, as if he was standing right in its face. Francisco was never more puzzled or bewildered than he was then.
“What could it possibly be? He said it had been there for generations now and it was a gift from gods who walked out of a bright circular window of light. Who are those ‘gods’ depicted in those cave paintings?”
Generations ago, there were visitors. They came in from far off worlds, out of a light, brighter that the sun, that no human could bear. Their flawless white outer coverings made them look superior, strongly emphasised by their length. They were really tall, as the paintings described. Francisco still wondered about how that gift had been saving people. He had seen people get instantly cured and reverted to their best health when touched by a chunk of crystal.
“Is this the real Holy Grail? Whatever it is, I want it. I will be rich with this.” Francisco planned to steal that chunk and escape from that place. He started setting up things for his departure from the place. The Mazonians provisioned him with a small raft and necessary items, which would be sufficient for him to survive through the journey back home. Orellana had other plans too. He decided to steal the crystal and leave the place.
Two hours after the stroke of midnight, Francis sneaked into the chamber for the crystal. He was supposed to sneak in and out in no time. But things weren’t as he would expect them to be. There was a creature protecting the chamber, the same creature Carl told him about. It was like nothing he had seen before and scarier than it could be described. He stealthily sneaked past the creature. Everything was perfect until he twitched a twig, waking up the creature. He had no option other than flee from the place. Jumping across the fallen trunks of the trees and in a hurry to escape from his death, he reached his raft and rowed away into the river. He was glad that he got the creature off his back.
“Maa, what happened to you? Talk to me, talk to me” cried Varun, trying to make his mom talk. She didn’t seem to be listening to anything, as if some sort of charm was cast on her. Tears didn’t stop flowing from Dhairya’s eyes looking at her mom in such a helpless state. The kid healed Varun’s bruises using the small crystal that his mother gave him, when she helped Dhairya and Stella escape. Varun couldn’t believe his eyes looking at his injuries mysteriously disappear. He looked as perfect as he was before the air crash. Wounds recovered and looked as if nothing ever happened to his body.
Meanwhile, they heard some fast-moving foot steps that sounded towards them. “Quick, we need to leave.” whispered Stella to Varun and Dhairya. The Mazonian kid started running and waved to them from a distance giving them signs to run in that direction. Varun lifted his mom on to his back and started running as fast as he could. They didn’t know where they were going, but they didn’t have a better option.
The kid guided them on to a path that seemed to be used very less. Varun could see a hill far away, may be at the end of the path. They got slower and slower, but couldn’t hear the footsteps anymore. Dhairya ran out of breath and collapsed next to a tree.
“Looks like we lost them. It is safe for us to stop here for a while.” whispered Varun. They resumed the walk after a brief halt. After walking till sunset, they heard a waterfall. It sounded pleasant after a day of unimaginable events. They paced up towards the waterfall. As soon as they reached the waterfall, the kid ran into the water and pushed himself through the curtain of water. It seemed as if there was a cave behind the waterfall. They followed him into the cave and marvelled at how different it looked. It looked serene white all around, with water flowing over the stalactites and stalagmites.
Varun put his mom on the floor and asked the kid to use the crystal. The kid refused to use stone as if he knew that it wouldn’t work. Varun didn’t understand why and he decided to take it forcibly from him. The moment he got up and started walking, the kid signed as if he were trying to tell him that it won’t work. He started walking away into the cave and Varun followed to catch hold of him. The kid suddenly stopped walking and pointed at something that resembled the Mazonian symbol. It had a reddish glow at the bottom diffusing into Aqua Green towards the top. Varun couldn’t believe what he was looking at. He was looking at the mother crystal, the lifeline of the Mazonians.
The kid went to the mother crystal and signalled him to get the water. Varun collected some water dripping from its side walls, in a bowl like structure formed naturally out of calcium. In an instant, he realised what to he was trying to tell him. He ran back to his mother and made her drink the water. His mother started coughing and started to regain her conscious. Whatever the crystal was, it brought her back to normal. He felt relieved after she started to recognise them.
“Maa!” Varun and Dhairya hugged her and couldn’t stop their tears.
“We need to get back to the crash site, the first thing in the morning even before the sun rise. We need to find some way to send a signal for help.” whispered Varun to Stella, who was sitting next to him.
“Look at me. I am perfect. Not even a single flaw in my body. It is a miracle how I got out alive after that waterfall crash incident.” said Francisco marvelling at the mystery crystal that was with the Mazonians to Carlton Rooseman.
He returned after 4 long days of rowing downstream on the Amazon. He started to tell everyone about the Mazonian secrets, only to get treated like a fool who lost his mind. He was determined to get the crystal and prove his story to those people who laughed at him. He gathered all the knowledge of that place and made it into a guide-book to that place, explaining all the paths he took and different symbols he remembered.
This time there were a few others, who joined him on his voyage. They joined him not because they believed in his story, but in order to get their hands on a mystical crystal, if it were real and use it for their own greed. They acted as if they totally believed him and wanted to help him in his adventure to prove his story.
Francisco was really sure of the paths and routes he took to reach the waterfall. He knew that they were watching them. He was just waiting for them to strike. But he was wrong. He didn’t know the Mazonians and they way they worked. They put their tribe above everything. They realised that Francis was up to something when he came all the way with a band of people. And after his failed attempt at stealing the crystal, they were pretty sure of why he came back.
The Mazonians were smart enough to divert them away from the original route. They created obstructions in the passages that wouldn’t let anyone pass and sometimes, they even made a way look disappear completely.
“This doesn’t feel right. There is supposed to be a way here. But how can it disappear all of a sudden? Are they doing it?” suspected Orellana after he realised that they deviated from the supposed route long ago. He ordered the boat to be turned back. The Mazonians started to attack them and Francis’ men opened fire killing a lot of them, even when Francis told them to not get any weapons with them. But soon, Francis and his men were outnumbered and were forced to fall back. After the furious attacks, Francisco was the only survivor.
After his return, he stayed low for a long while, before he came out with a totally different profile. Three years later, he met his friend Carlton and told him about what happened, but kept his meetings with him a secret. He also came to know that a lot more people went in and never came back. Those who returned, never found anything except for the dead bodies of the tribesmen. The tribe was nowhere to be found and it was considered to be extinct because of an epidemic. He had been living with a different name all those years, till someone spotted his true identity.
There are a lot of people who believed in his story and wanted to get their hands-on that treasure. They needed the guide-book from him. Carlton overheard a group of people plotting for Francis’ death.
“Francis, you need to leave the town, the first thing in the morning. It isn’t safe here anymore. They know who you are.” warned Carlton. Francis knew that he shouldn’t let anyone get their hands-on the Mazonian treasure.
“Carl, it is time. Here is the book. It holds all the turns and steps to be taken to reach the Mazonians. I wanted it for my own greed and now I am ashamed of it. But, we can’t let these men find them. They don’t want it for the greater good, but to fulfil their own greed. Keep it safe. May be someday, this world might need the Mazonian secret.” said Francisco handing over his book to Carlton and fled away.
To be continued….