4: Escape

“I can’t believe we had to steal these,” John sighed to himself, disgusted at the acts he was forced to do in order to safely return to the ship. It was deemed the most safest way to escape without any violence as proposed by Damien, stealing robes from a stall in order to hide their clothing and faces from the police who roamed the streets. The three all wore similar robes of a dirty cream colour, stretching down to their knees to effectively hide their bodies. They kept to the high density crowds of the city, another act of hiding from the police, seeming to be casual workers as they carried their wrapped up spears, John also carried his rifle over his shoulder. The gear was hesitantly destroyed and hidden before they left the hotel in order to lighten the load, it would be impossible to carry such a large amount of luggage between three people without the help of a horse and cart. The fact that all of the gear was lost had left Garth in a sulking state, walking slightly slower than the rest of the group as he hung his head low in sadness. So much money wasted.

“You’re going to have to deal with it, John, we can’t afford to be recognised right now.” Damien replied, using one hand to pull his hood further over his head as a couple armed policemen walked past, ignoring the three’s presence as they stopped a random citizen to enquire.

“Come on, Garth, we need to hurry up.” John stated, attempting to keep his voice quiet while also grabbing the archaeologists attention, snapping him out of his sulking trance to bring him to his regular walking speed once again. Hoping the necessary sacrifice of his gear will prove to be useful later on in the three’s adventure.

It was out of pure luck that the streets of Merida were packed with it’s citizens, it was the height of the day after all, inciting the populace to leave their workplaces for a lunch break. Or bringing the housewives out of their homes to browse the market stalls that lined the streets. The police had a harder time with their search because of this, they had to become more selective with the people they question in order to efficiently continue their search with better results. Two policemen slowly walked close to a building, talking amongst themselves about their failures in finding information, complaining about how impossible it is to find a few Englishmen in a large city. It was just like looking for a needle in a haystack.

That was when they turned at a corner, passing the three explorers as they hid their faces. A true suspicious sight to one of the policemen as they quickly turned and called out to the three, stopping them in their tracks. Damien and John’s faces fell to a panic as sweat slowly slid down their foreheads, it was the end. They’ll be found out instantly. The Spanish words the policemen spoke seemed rushed, somewhat angry. As if they were commanding the three to come with them. There was no way they could pretend to be natives, they were European after all.  Continue reading “4: Escape”

3: Rivalry

3 days earlier…

Screams echoed through the simplistic build of the underground temple, each distinctively unique sound of pain and panic resonated between the stone walls of the hallway before escaping into the surrounding forested area. Within the main altar of the temple stood the remaining explorers and their translator, Ikal, who silently leaned against one of the three walls, his arms crossed while his eyes stayed fixated on the two foreigners. One Portuguese, the other Spanish, dressed in their respective national equipment which showed off their presence to be a government-funded one. Around the room lay the victims of the spears themselves, each showing the fates that accompanied the attempted wielding of a spear: Charred bodies, Hands covering the ears, or a look of all life being sucked from the body.

“You…” The Spaniard growled in his native language, holding a spear which held what seemed to be a bowl underneath the blade, water dripping over the edges of the bowl with the man’s movement as he stomped towards Ikal. “Why can’t they hold the last three? What did you do to them?”

“I didn’t do anything,” The Mayan replied calmly, “They just had no potential and couldn’t handle the power of the spears.”

“Then how come we can?” The Portuguese explorer questioned, holding a simplistic yet fully metallic spear, “And what happened to the other four? Did some people get here before us?”

“I don’t know. I’m not the only native here you know.”

The Spaniard spat on the ground in frustration, seeing his whole group become brutalised by three strange objects had hit him hard. There was a sense of uselessness within his mind, he would’ve stopped them before it happened. He could’ve told them to leave the spears after the first death. But why did he decide to keep trying?

“I want you to tell us how to find people with potential, I want those last three spears. And you are going to help us whether you like it or not, Savage.” He ordered, speaking his words through gritted teeth as anger slowly fuelled his mindset. “But first, we need to give these bodies a burial, they deserve it.”

“I suggest we also cover our tracks.” The Portuguese man added, “We will meet you in Merida next week, Ikal. Understand?”

“Of course,” Ikal sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose in the process as he straightened himself from the wall. “Let me give you a hand with the bodies.” Continue reading “3: Rivalry”

2: Discovery

The city of Merida, capital of the Mexican state, Yucatan. Surrounded by farmlands and dense forests, mainly known for the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza located more inland of the state. Within the city, the Mexican inhabitants continued their day to day lives. Surrounded by the large stone buildings, the stone covered streets smooth with the wear of the people’s feet and vehicles. Among the citizens walked the four Englishmen: Garth, Damien, John and the captain of  the Expedite. Their destination was the same for all travellers and explorers, an inn. This time, a specific inn was being targeted as a meeting site for their fifth party member; a Mexican native.

This man was known throughout the community of central american explorers, his ability to speak a variety of different languages paired with his knowledge of his native lands and customs made him a person of importance. Hired by countless explorers during his life while charging a hefty sum for his services. This man’s contact was given to Garth by his tutor back in Cambridge, a small advantage for the new archaeologist. With the help of the locals and a small pocket map, the group had quickly located their destination with ease.

Upon entry of the inn, the group were hailed by the lone bartender. Already informed of the Englishmen’s arrival, he had informed the group that their translator was waiting in a small meeting room upstairs. Pointing them in the right direction before asking if they would like a waitress to serve them, of course they would accept. The floorboards carefully squeaked under the feet of the explorers, each silence breaking sound reminding the group of the age of this inn. Even the slightly rotten wooden door screamed it’s need for replacement during the entry into the small meeting room, revealing the long wooden table, wall hung candles lined the cracked stone walls as the rays of the setting sun struggled to pass through the small singular window. At the far end of the temple sat the Mexican native. Wearing western clothes of the Mexican populace along with a simple Mayan headdress of feathers and bronze. His wrinkled face and greyed hair suggested this expedition to be the man’s last before retirement.

“So which one of you is Garth McLoughton?” The man spoke out, fluent in the English language while exhibiting an unrecognisable mixed accent. His arms crossed over his chest with some sort of professional aura emitted from his presence.

“I am, it’s nice to meet you, Ikal.” Garth answered, stepping forward with his hand outstretched in order to initiate a handshake. The native kindly dismissed the handshake with a small wave of his hand before pressing it forward as an invitation to the others to sit.

“I am aware of the gist of Garth’s expedition from the letter he had sent me,” Ikal began speaking, sitting back and raising his feet to rest on the table in the process, “Although, time had finally caught up with me. So I may need you to remind me on the plan, once that is done. I suggest you all head to your rooms and rest up, we will leave in the morning.”

With that, the group quickly jumped into their explanations. Introducing Ikal to their professions and goals of the expedition. The general area of Garth’s theorised temple had been outlined, confirming with Ikal the presence of a ‘hidden temple’. Continue reading “2: Discovery”

1: Exploration

A single steam train travelled its eighty mile journey from London to Southampton, dragging it’s two passenger carts behind in the process. The steam bellowed from the train, spreading outwards into the atmosphere as a white and grey cloud, a cruel reminder of industrialisation to the nature that filled the surrounding area. The puffing of the engine and the clanging of the wheels on the tracks was all that could be heard as it continuously chugged towards its destination.

Within the front passenger carriage sat two men, facing each other from across the barrier of a table. One man, dressed in the conventional equatorial explorer outfit of a cream coat and trousers, brown leather long boots and cream hard helmet. His face was closely shaven while his bright green eyes stared into the small handbook which acted as an exploration diary, well drawn maps of the Yucatan area of Mexico with several points circled nearby the city of Merida and the nearby coastline followed by short hand notes outlining the presence of Mayan temples and settlements, an effort to figure out a pattern.

The other man, dressed in the same attire, silently read through the most recent newspaper. This individual exhibited a much more refined posture and etiquette when compared to his companion, licking his thumb before turning a page only to find a story of slight relevance.

“Ah, Garth, there’s an article here about Captain Phage.” The man stated, surprised at what he had begun to read,

The other man, Garth, slapped his handbook shut before leaning forward against the table, a highly inquisitive look plagued across his face as he attempted to read the paper upside down. “What does it say?” He questioned, impatient at the failure of upside down reading,

“It’s just outlining his point of view during his captivity  by the Zulu barbarians.” The man replied, struggling to read and talk at the same time, “Apparently it wasn’t really something that could be defined as a ‘capture’. He said they treated him well and taught him something about the body.”

“Yeah, what did they say?”

“Just some bollocks about life energy -magic basically-, they told him that he’s some special man who can influence the calamity of the world.”

“He is a captain,”

“It’s a load of bull. Who would believe this?”

Garth leaned back against his chair, his gaze directed towards the static natural scene of bright green as the train charged through it. “Perhaps it’s just their pagan religion, Damien. Some, like me, would believe it to be that.” He replied, his mind working hard while trying to put things together. It wasn’t like this information would be helpful to the two’s expedition, after all, they weren’t travelling to Africa.

“Whatever, I’ll have to question this man about it.” Damien dismissed the archaeologist’s words, returning to his newspaper as the train sounded it’s whistle, stating it’s near arrival to the final destination.

Continue reading “1: Exploration”

0: Prologue

“He who wields the power of song shall bring the end of the world. He who wields the flames of hell itself shall lead their people to prosperity…”


The summer sun beamed down on the lands of Mexico, not a cloud to be seen or a breeze to be felt. These conditions brought the native people from their stone and straw huts into their farms surrounding the island city of Tenochtitlan, slaving away in the intense sun in order to feed the populace for yet another year. Further beyond these farms stood the large forests, a natural defensive barrier while also a source of forage and game. The beams of light struggled to penetrate the large canopies to the dirt ground of the forest floor while nature itself continued it’s endless cycle without hesitation; birds sang to find a mate, plants harvested the energy of the sun in order to grow and reproduce, mammals and reptiles scurried through the trees or floor in the search for food. Everything lived in harmony.

That is, until the hastened stomps of bare human feet pushed against the floor, sprinting through the maze of nature in the search for the clearing of the nearby city. A long spear held in one hand, the end ignited as some eternal flame which danced with the movements of the wielder. A thin, brightly coloured poncho covered the body while a large metallic helmet, designed, coloured and decorated to give the form of a bird’s head was donned on the head of this individual. Muddy brown eyes fixed forward, watching through the wall of bark to figure out the next move to make while traversing such a natural terrain.

The sound of feet thudding against the floor was accompanied by another unnatural sound; the sound of tree branches experiencing more weight they were used to, leaves fluttered and rustled as the protruding branches slightly bent towards the ground, resisting the extra load of weight and the forces of gravity that accompanied it. This sound followed closely behind the person, moving closer and closer with every step before finally reaching above them. It was just moments before this predator struck down at it’s prey, using their knowledge of the forest as an advantage. Finally, the predator made it’s appearance, using it’s own spear as means to catch on to the thin trunk of a young tree, the six protrusions which formed a double triangle beneath the sharp edge of the main spear hooked around the the trunk. Wind chimes hung from each protrusion, giving off their own tune with each minuscule movement. For now, with fast and efficient hunting movements, the only sound these chimes made was the sound of danger. Mixing together as a myriad of conflicting notes, eventually leading to the formation of white noise as the sources came closer and closer to the prey. Finally, there was only one strategy left to survive this attack;

The hunted man pivoted on his heel, swinging his own spear and holding it with both hands above his head in order to catch the swing of the hunter’s spear, the white noise of the dangerous tunes quickly extinguished into silence while the eyes of both individuals locked. Brown versus green. The beak of the bird helmet slowly clanged against the helmet of the hunter, resembling that of a dragon head while the rest of the hunter’s attire seemed similar to the hunted, save the difference in some colours and patterns.

 

A few hours had passed since the skirmish had begun, the city of Tenochtitlan was left in high alert as strange white skinned people were noticed marching towards the city, accompanied by the people of enemy nations, this could only lead to one thing. War.

However, the concerns of Montezuma II was quickly grabbed as the dragon helmet man entered the city, his spear held over his shoulder as a certain head bearing the bird helmet hung from the end. The fires of the spear was extinguished as it was thrown to the ground, followed by the beheaded body of the bird helmet man. This grotesque, barbaric sight brought one thing, and one thing only, into the minds of the Aztec people. This one thought was quickly made audible through the mouth of Montezuma II himself;

“We’re doomed.”


 

“…So now that you have taken a year out, you’re trying to return back to the military?” The inquisitive voice of a reporter confirmed, sitting within the kitchen of an ex-soldier, a small notebook at hand with unintelligible scribbles littered across most of the pages as questions were asked and answered. “Now that is true devotion to the Empire.”

“I’m flattered,” the soldier replied after a small awkward laugh, his large hand rubbing against the back of his head nervously, “I’d probably be a bit rusty, so I’m going to start off with menial tasks, such as escorting. I do hope to return to the front lines as before.”

“Are you able to tell us what your first task will be?”

“I’ll be escorting some young graduates on an expedition, I can’t say where. But I hear it’s something big. I’ll be leaving next week.”

“Alright, thank you for allowing us to interview you, Captain Phage.” The reporter slammed his small notebook closed as he raised from the wooden chair situated at a small wooden table placed perfectly in the middle of the room, quickly finishing the slightly cold tea which was placed before him before preparing his coat to leave. “I hope you enjoy my article.”

The Captain followed, in the man’s movements, raising from his chair in the opposite position of the table, leading the reporter to the front door as a way to politely see him out. “I’m sure it’d be a great story, sir. Hopefully the best of 1880.”