Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesday's Writings: Tenochtitlan

Today is a travel day for me. I leave at 11:45 for the airport and then I'll be off for the next twelve-ish hours. The writing sample for today is a story I wrote Junior year for my Writing class. Let me know what you think!


Captain Alejandro Rodriguez stood at the helm of his ship. Despite the rising and falling of the deck, he stood firm. Pride swelled his chest. He and his crew of Spanish soldiers and sailors, had been chosen for a special mission. King Philip of Spain had commissioned them to bring back a treasured and expensive necklace worn by the Aztec god, Tenochtitlan, and also to bring back much precious gold, silver, and gems. The necklace was made of a shiny, smooth, silver metal, set with turquoise stones. Alejandro had eagerly and swiftly accepted the mission, because it would give him honor and glory in the King's court. He gathered his crew and almost immediately set sail aboard the Isabella, his warship. Finally, after several weeks, the Isabella was nearing her destination. Not only was the Captain excited, but also the crew. Thinking he might motivate them, the King had offered them a share of the gold and silver and gems, which they would plunder and relieve the Aztecs of along with the necklace. Although this commission promised to be a hefty chore, Alejandro was confident in his abilities as Captain, and therefore was confident that they could do the job.
Anchoring the ship at the port of Tenochtitlan, named after the native's god, Captain Rodriguez and twelve of his men set out for the temple. Rumor had it that the necklace was around the neck of the head god, and Alejandro guessed it would be in the temple. As they marched through the town, Captain Alejandro caught a glimpse of him and his men in the reflection off a tin plate. Neither the English nor the Americans could rival them in their splendor. They looked splendid. The sun shone off their metal helmets and glinted off their swords. Upon reaching the temple, the Captain entered swiftly. He spotted the necklace around the neck of a pompous, fat, ugly, gold statue. While he swooped forward to grab the treasure, he could already see himself presenting the jewelry before the King, who would grant him whatever he wanted. He smiled because of the anticipation. Hurriedly, he grabbed the necklace, and stuffed it into a small velvet bag he had brought for the purpose. When he looked around and saw no one, he signaled to his men to begin looting the place. The twelve soldiers stuffed and piled the gold and silver and gems and other items into large canvas bags. Suddenly, they all froze. A chanting, eerie song was beginning to reach their ears. The priests! Alejandro immediately gave the signal for retreat and the men ran. They ran swiftly and silently. They ran straight into the priests.
The priests, dressed in the ceremonial white robes, blinked. Startled, they grabbed the men and looked at them. Alejandro tried to talk his way out of it. He almost succeeded. But then, one of the men dropped his bag. When the priests saw the large canvas bag full of loot, they screamed and shrieked in horror and anger and terror. Angrily, they carried Alejandro and his twelve men back to the temple. Marching them past the statue of Tenochtitlan, the priests howled as they realized the necklace was missing. The priests led them through a back hallway, hidden from view by the throne of the statue. Along the long hallway they walked. Neither the Captain nor the men knew what was about to happen. They would have tried to run, swiftly and silently if they knew. Suddenly they drew up short before a short, ornate doorway. The door opened. The head priest stepped out. Alejandro and his men gasped in horror and terror, because of the sight before them. The head priest grunted, looked them over, spoke to the priests, glared, then spoke to Alejandro.
“I am Tichlanto, the head priest. You are trespassers and thieves. You will die.”
Alejandro and his crew of soldiers had always thought themselves brave...until now. The head priest, who was a giant monster of a man, seemed to look through them with his piercing gaze.
Alejandro choked back the words of fright on his lips, and stepped forward to speak to the huge, bronze, muscular, imposing priest. Immediately he was yanked back into place by one of the white robed priests, who began yell not only at the Captain, but also at the crew. Tichlanto towered over Captain Rodriguez and his dozen crew. Narrowing his eyes, the black garbed figure pointed at two of the men, designating them to first suffer the horror that awaited them all. Nearby two priests jerked the bags of loot from the two frightened men, and another began to go through the bags, and still others replaced the stolen items. While the rest of the men looked on, the two chosen ones were led back into the temple. There, in front of the statue of Tenochtitlan, sat a white marble altar. Upon realizing what was going to happen, they struggled and yelled, but to no avail. Captain Alejandro and the other ten men were forced to sit idly and silently by, while they watched in horror as their shipmates were sacrificed to the god, Tenochtitlan. Alejandro knew it was only a matter of time before they all suffered the same fate. The crew had been relieved of their bags of loot, and the priests were going through them, obviously looking for the necklace. The Captain smiled inwardly, because he had the turquoise and silver treasure in a secret pocket. They would never find it. The priests searched and looked and peered and scoured the temple looking for the jewelry unsuccessfully.
Alejandro thought and thought and thought to no avail of a way out. The white robed priests patrolled the temple night and day watching them, not only because they had to guard crew and himself, but also they had to prevent other attacks. Like clockwork, almost every hour, one or two of the silent villagers would enter and prostrate himself before the statue of the god. The head priest stood silently and sullenly before the statue, perusing the gifts the villagers brought. Suddenly, an idea came to Alejandro Rodriguez. One of the villagers had brought a spear, which had a shining new spearhead upon the top, as a gift. Tichlanto merely glanced at it, then kicked it aside. He towered over the shaking villager and bodily picked up the little man. He looked straight into the frightened man's eyes and spoke two words. The man fell into a crumpled heap, and Tichlanto gestured to a priest to take the body away. All this while Alejandro had been working with his feet to bring the spear closer to him. He almost had it. As he worked at it, night fell over the temple compound. Tichlanto and the rest of the priests left the main room of the temple, where the frightened, Spanish crew were imprisoned, and gathered in a small back room for some ceremony. Before leaving, Tichlanto glanced at them, grunted, glared. Now was the time. Alejandro heaved himself forward and grasped the spear. Explaining his plan, he stood and motioned for the crew to follow him. Just then, Tichlanto returned. He started at the sight of the standing prisoners and growled deep in his throat.
Fearlessly, Captain Alejandro Rodriguez crouched, holding the spear. Tichlanto suddenly lunged forward. Alejandro thrust up quickly. The spear, which had remained hidden under his cloak, pierced the huge priest's chest. Choking, Tichlanto fell back and slumped to the ground. The liberated Spaniards grabbed up their swords. While a few of the men grabbed their bags and began stuffing the loot back into them, the others followed Alejandro as he marched up to the room where the priests were. Alejandro gave the signal. The men silently charged into the room. When they came out, their arms were full of white robes. Captain Rodriguez nodded in satisfaction. Swiftly and quietly the men all dressed themselves in the cursed white robes. With the bags of loot in their hands, they began to march out of the temple. The villagers parted, made way for the honored priests, bowed. The Spanish soldiers came to the beach unmolested. The crew and the Captain threw off their disguises and boarded the warship. They headed home. After they returned, they presented the gold and silver and gems to the King, who graciously gave them all a share of it. Then Captain Alejandro Rodriguez brought out the little velvet bag hidden in his secret pocket. He drew out the shining, silver necklace set with turquoise stones. King Philip leaned near and smiled. From then on, Captain Alejandro Rodriguez was known as one of the bravest, most honorable, and most feared men in Spain. Neither the crew nor the public knew of the request he had made of the King. Their private conversation was never known to anyone but the King and Alejandro.
“Alejandro, my brave Captain, you have brought back the greatest treasure, and suffered much in the process. What can I do for you? Anything you wish, it will be done, because you have fulfilled my command,” the King had patronized the Captain.
“My lord, I have but one request,” Alejandro humbly replied.
“Only name it.” was the reply.
“My lord, my one wish is to never have to return to the Aztec kingdom. I saw things there that I never wish to see again. My lord, I beg you never to ask me to retrieve anything for you from that accursed place. That is my one request, sire,” Captain Rodriguez stood tall as he formed his words.
The King was visibly startled. Then he recovered himself. “As you wish, Alejandro. I solemnly promise never again to send you to the Aztec kingdom.”
“Thank you, my lord,” Alejandro bowed low, and left the King to wonder about him.
The public never knew about this request. They all thought he was the bravest man in the world. Only Alejandro, King Philip and God knew of this one secret fear of Alejandro's.

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