4.42 AM, 19th March, 1542,
Somewhere on the Amazon river.
It was darker than a usual morning in the countryside he was used to. But, it wasn’t new to an explorer like him.
“May be that’s because of the thick canopies and tall foliage obstructing the light”
Everything was perfect with the water steadily moving downstream and nothing to worry about. He was lazily lying in his pilot cabin and lost in his own thoughts, remembering each and every event during his course through the middle of that unknown territory.
Those few months of his voyage from Spain to the Amazon basin were his most exciting days ever. Francisco De Orellana, like every other explorer, was discouraged by the native Americans when they heard of his plans to explore the unknown and mysterious marsh lands. He was warned by his new friends in every way possible. None of the adventurers who went in, ever returned. He heard many dinner-time tales about a mysterious creature living on those lands that kills any intruder that enters into its territory. He heard of a curse that was spelled on the place and would bring bad luck to anyone who tries to go in there.
The most interesting rumour of all that kindled his spirit to go in was when his new friend, Carlton Rooseman, said “They say that the creature guards a treasure that when touched blesses you with immortality.”
“Francis, please listen to me. Don’t venture into that land. You’ll never come back alive.” said Carlton trying to stop his new Spanish friend.
“Carlton, thank you for all the advice. But, I ought to do this. This is probably the purpose of my life as an explorer. I should break this mystery, whatever that giant river withholds. Trust me, I will come back.” assured Francis with a fake smile in an attempt to hide his fear.
Francis snapped out of his long thoughts and shouted “Who is it?”, but in vain.
He couldn’t see anyone. He walked on to the front deck and all he found was a broken branch. He dismissed it, assuming it to be natural in a forest of that size. But, there was something he missed because of the low light conditions. He failed to observe the edge of the branch, which was intentionally cut.
Suddenly, he observed that his boat was gaining speed and got back to the deck. He could hear a rumble but couldn’t figure out what it was.
“No, no, no, no.” He mumbled and started running up and down the boat the moment he realised that it’s a waterfall. He got back to the cockpit for an attempt to steer away from the waterfall. But it was too late for that. His boat was already speeding beyond control. He reached the abyss and all he could see were clouds of mist curtained in front of him.
He gave up hope when he knew that nothing could be done to save himself. He closed his eyes and prayed for one last time. The boat slipped from the edge of the waterfall and was in air for 4 long seconds before it reached the ground and shattered into pieces, scattering the debris all around.
Varun just couldn’t believe what he saw there. He was shocked and started running into the forest. He limped as fast as he could until his legs gave up. He thought he was running away from danger, but didn’t realise that he was running into the lap of danger. He collapsed under a tree and couldn’t forget what he saw on the bodies of those creatures.
He was still in shock after he looked at the symbol on the bodies of those humanly looking dark creatures. They were dark, tall and human like featured.
“How could they be still alive? They were supposed to be extinct. How can this be possible?”
Thousands of thoughts and theories running on his, already tired, mind trying to find a reasonable explanation to what was happening around.
“Is it possible? Are they immortal or were we lied about their existence?”
He walked back to the place to confirm once again, but could find no bodies there. He wasn’t surprised but was scared after realising that he was being followed.
“If it were only these two that followed me, they would have still been lying here.”
Suddenly, he heard the laugh of a kid and another voice trying to stop to kid from drawing any attention. He walked carefully towards the voices, so as to not make them aware of his presence.
He could see the ruins of an ancient structure, of which only an L-shaped wall, around 20 feet high in the middle of this dense forest. Varun grabbed a stick from the ground and walked towards the wall and heard the laughter again. This time it sounded familiar. He got closer and peeped from behind the wall.
He was shocked, once again, but couldn’t control himself and ran towards them.
“Dhairya!” His eyes started to shed tears in happiness and hugged her. “Oh, Dhairya. I am glad that you are alright.” He couldn’t be happier.
“Varun!” Dhairya hugged him back, with sheer happiness.
Varun realised that there are two more people next to her, he picked his stick up and pulled Dhairya behind him while got into a defensive position.
“Varun, no. They are harmless. She is Stella, one of our co-passengers and that kid saved me.” shouted Dhairya. Varun still couldn’t believe her, until the woman spoke out.
“We are not them. We are just like you, still unsure of what is happening and please don’t make any noise. They will find us.” said Stella, in a voice little above a whisper. He relaxed and dropped the stick.
“What is he doing here? And what is happening at all? How come your wounds look almost healed?” Varun asked her in a confused tone.
“He’s a tribal kid. He saved me and helped us escape from them. Do you know him?” asked Dhairya, looking at horrified expression on his face.
“They are the Mazonians. See the mark on his chest? It is the symbol of their god. But, I don’t know how they are still alive. Their civilisation was believed to be extinct centuries ago.” said Varun.
He walked towards the pool of water next to the wall. He sat down on the stones of the structure after washing his face and drinking some. He took a closer look at the walls of the structure and they are perfectly machine cut at the joints and marvelled at the symmetry and perfect geometry of the remains.
“These stones are so precisely cut, like the Pyramids in Egypt. How could these people construct with such precision?” Varun whispered to himself.
“Varun, is everything fine?” asked Dhairya with a little worry on her face.
Suddenly, there was a sharp snap of a twig and everyone got alert. Varun was on his feet in no time and grabbed the stick, moving forward in short steps towards the edge of the wall. After a while, he took careful steps towards the edge of the wall and suddenly jumped across to attack the follower. He was taken aback with horror and surprise looking at the follower.
“Maa!” shouted Varun, looking at his mother in half conscious stage, unaware of what was happening. She looked as if she was under possession. Dhairya came running towards him and screamed at the sight of her mom, who was trying to catch hold of Varun.
Water was gushing into the cabin and choking him. His eyes got blurry underwater and he couldn’t push his way out of the locked cabin. The door was obstructed by a rock in the water. He slowly slipped out of consciousness after his failed attempts to get out of the drowning boat.
He suddenly snapped out of that recollection of those terrifying events and sat on his nursing bed, after a few weeks. Everything just felt like a dream, but his surroundings and the bandages on his body with medicinal pastes told him otherwise. He felt the presence of a humongous body standing next to him and watching him.
It was the Mazonian tribe that saved and nursed him back to life. When he got his energy back in his body, he looked at his bruises. Surprisingly, he couldn’t find any scars and marks on his skin. He was surprised and wondered at the possibility, but couldn’t find any plausible explanation.
He questioned the person attending his needs, but couldn’t convey anything meaningful. Though he fully recovered, he wasn’t driven out of the tribe, but was allowed to live there. He slowly learnt their language during his long stay with the people and was treated one of their own, owing to his helpful and kind nature.
One fine day, he was taking a stroll with the head of the tribe and he asked him in their native language.
“I always wondered how you saved me from the door fronts of death. May I know how?” Orellana curiously questioned a tall, well built man. He got a smile for the answer and took him to a secret and sacred place. They walked past a waterfall and climbed down into a cave, formed due to the water slipping through the breaks in the pure white calcium stone walls of the cave over centuries, with hundreds of active flow-stones, fully grown stalagmites and numerous stalactites. It was a place like he had never seen before, a place so pure that it felt like heaven. May be a reason why it felt so sacred to them.
The tribesman then tapped on his shoulder and pointed at a glowing structure with a reddish glow at the bottom and diffusing into an Aqua Green towards the top.
“There is the secret for your life. That is our god, our life and our strength.” said the tribesman in a voice filled with excitement and pride.
“It looks amazing. And how did it save my life? What is it? What is it?”
To be continued…