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rossrichdale

Ross Richdale's Novels

I am a New Zealander and the author of over forty novels, contemporary, historical and science fiction. Latest news and pictures about my books will be brought to you here.

The third in our Ancient Ancestors series is set in 1530 AD Inca times. Meztli is rescued from a sacrificial site before she dies of exposure. This is the story about her life afterwards and how her friends and herself fight for justice from the conquistadors and evil priests of the times. 

 EXCERPT

After another exhausting day on the mountain trail, the three girls were packed into a small animal skin tent to spend the night. Though cold, their body heat and rugs kept them reasonably warm. They awoke and were offered a delicious smelling hot breakfast of corn porridge spiced with herbs. It was the best food offering ever but Meztli remembered Tupac's words.

 

She pretended to eat but lifted the edge of the tent a little, felt around to find snow outside and used her bone spoon to scoop it out. Finally she covered the food with snow and watched the other two girls gulp their breakfast down.

 

She would have been amused by the girls if the situation wasn't so serious, They became almost hyperactive as they chatted away, placed their overcoats on and seemingly oblivious to the freezing outside temperatures began running around in the snow in a playful snowball fight.  Etalpalli and the other priests stood in a line watching and she realised that if she did not react in a similar way they would know she had not eaten the breakfast. Though shivering with cold she joined in the snowball fight while watching how the other two acted. They appeared to stagger and their voices became slurred. She followed suit and when a few moments later the other pair slowed and sat on the snow, she repeated their actions.

 

"Get them moving, Etalpalli," the high priest said. "The gods will not like it if we are late."

 

They arrived at a bleak plateau many hours later, Meztli was freezing and embarrassed yet followed the instructions to remove her outer coat and change into a golden gown and headpiece while the priests watched. The gown was thin and not designed for the cold and she could not stop trembling. Would this give her away? The other two appeared immune to the cold as they lay on their backs in the snow surrounded by the seven priests.  It was Nahuatl who appeared to recover from her drugged state. She moaned and attempted to sit up only to he hit over the head by Etalpalli. It was a violent strike for blood poured from her head; she screamed and fell forward.

 

"That was unwise, Etalpalli," the head priest said. "She is damaged and could be rejected by the gods."

 

The man walked around and probed Meztli with a pole but she kept her eyes looking straight ahead as if she was in a trance and attempted to stop her body from trembling. It must have worked for he moved on and probed Cualli in a similar way, muttered something before the priests moved away. More chants were said before the girls' overcoats were packed in a bag slung over a llama's back and in single file, the priests departed.

 

Still freezing but too terrified to move, Meztli lay in the snow and stared at a distant peak towering in the distance. Her last thoughts before her eyes grew heavy were that if the gods were angry it should be at Etalpalli for being so cruel.

 

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