Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: South America (02/05/09)
By Valarie Sullivan
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As she sat on the hilltop, overlooking the city of Cuzco, Chaska’s mind was in turmoil. The last few days had been eventful, to say the least.
First, an earthquake rocked the people of Cuzco out of their beds.
Then, the villagers said that the sun god had to be appeased and they picked out little Tanta to be the sacrifice. For once, Chaska was glad of the mole on her cheek. That disqualified her from being ‘perfect and unblemished’ and therefore unfit for a sacrifice. She had watched as they feasted and celebrated and gave Tanta presents and lots of Chicha to drink. Chaska did not care for the corn liquor. It burned her throat. Then they had led little Tanta to the cave and buried her alive.
She looked around at the shining river and green terraces, and wondered how a god could demand such sacrifices. A god that created such beauty and majesty as these tall hills had to be powerful. Powerful enough to be everywhere and know everything.
A soft wind blew in her face. It brought the smell of flowers to her nose and rustled her headdress.
A real god would not need children to eat, she decided. A real god would…. And there, she stopped. She did not know what a real god would do. She just knew that the ones her family worshipped were not real.
Chaska blinked. For a moment, it looked like Cuzco was on fire and in ruins! But it was back to normal, now. What happened? It was so real! Was it a vision? Her mother had those. Maybe she had the gift, too.
Her hilltop perch gave her a good view of the city, with its gleaming temple and many rooftops. There was no sign of the devastation in her vision.
She wished her betrothed were here. Tupac would know what it was, but he was at the Temple potato field. They were of the peasant class in this society and had to take care of not only their own farms, but also that of widows, the temple, and the king. It took her beloved away from her more than she liked.
She blinked again. There he was! No vision this time, he was real and in a full tilt run. The gold discs in his ears flapped with each frantic step.
“Chaska! Chaska!” Tupac grabbed her arms. The tupus that pinned her shawl together fell out.
“Tupac!” Chaska scolded. “You made me become undressed!”
He bent down, scooped up the metal pin, and carelessly pinned her shawl back together.
“Chaska, we have to leave!” He panted.
Tupac pointed toward her village that lay to the east of Cuzco. Thick smoke boiled up into the sky.
“Who is it?” She had heard of enemies that raided villages before. But there had been peace for many seasons.
“I don’t know who they are.” Tupac pulled her by her striped shawl. “They are very strange. They wear metal on their heads and chests and carry sticks that make loud noises and makes people bleed from their sound.”
Chaska stumbled after him, but demanded to know more. “What do they want?”
“I was in the temple field when I saw some of them drag the nobles into the street. They made their stick noise and the nobles fell to the ground. Then the strange men took the gold off their bodies. They left the bodies where they lay and looked for more. I barely slipped past them.”
Terror filled her. She turned back and tried to go down the hill. “Mother!”
“No, Chaska!” Tupac said sternly. “Your family is no longer there.”
“No.” Tupac continued to lead her to the other side of the hill and deep into the forest.
“But, Tupac, where will we go?”
“But that is in ruins!” Why would he take her there?
“Yes, and no one would think any one was at home, would they?” Tupac was determined. He dragged her through the dense forest for many miles.
Chaska made up her mind during that trek. If the sun god were real, then he would have protected them. Especially after a recent sacrifice.
“Real God,” She prayed under her breath. “Please protect us.”
A jaguar growled some ways behind them and flowers filled her nose again. Chaska felt at peace.
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