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Ch. 1 Legend

Author: johnmedler Total hits: 3669 User hits: 11 Date: 03-03-2014

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Chapter 1. Legend

May 1499. Veragua (modern day Belize, Central America).

Elder Kinich Kakmo, the strikingly tall wise man of the tribe, sat on a log by the fire, making pictures in the sand with his sharpened wooden stick. The orange flecks of fire danced upward silently from the beach fire pit, twirling and disappearing into the night air. Once a year, he gathered the children of the tribe together to tell them the story of the Popul Vuh, the Mayan Creation story, and of the cleverness and guile of the Mayan Hero Twins. It was an important job, for these children had to understand their connection to the tribe’s ancestors. Kakmo had a long, narrow, unkept gray beard, which only dangled from his chin, and not from his cheeks. He was over 110 years old, according to his count. Fifty Mayan children, dressed in loincloths, sat around the fire on large flat stones and logs, looking up at the tribal elder with their innocent brown eyes, anxious to learn of the ancient ways. The wise man spoke to the children in K’iche’, the Mayan dialect of the tribe. Elder Kinich Kakmo’s deep voice, set against the crackling of the fire and the rhythmic rushing of the nearby waves, mesmerized the small children.

“This is the story of the Popul Vuh,” he began. “Back before time, the gods created three realms—the Upper World where the gods live, the Middle World where we live, and the Underworld, where the demons live. Just below the surface of the Earth, in the Underworld, there is a horrible City of Death called Xibalba. Xibalba was ruled by the twelve demons of the Underworld called the Lords of Xibalba. The terrible Twelve Lords wished nothing but the destruction of mankind and the capture of their souls. The demons were led by the High Evil Lords Hun-Came, also called One-Death, and his brother Vucub-Came, also known as Seven-Death. These demons ruled over the lesser Lords of Xibalba, who worked in pairs. They included Xiquiripat, which means Flying Scab, and Cuchumaquic, which means Blood Gatherer, who both poison the blood….” The wise man drew pictures of the demons in the sand. The children looked terrified.

“Another pair was Ahalpuh and Ahalgana, the demons of pus and skin yellowing, who make people sick; Chamiabac and Chamiaholom, the skull and bone demons, who make people thin and take the meat off their bones, turning them into skeletons….” The wise man pointed his wooden stick at a small child sitting next to him, and touched the child’s neck with the stick. Then he drew a picture in the sand of a skeleton. “Ahalmez and Ahaltocob were the demons who hide in the unswept corners of people’s filthy huts, and then jump out and stab them until they die. Finally, Xic and Palan, the nemesis of travelers, cause people walking on the road to cough up blood and die.”

The children shivered at the sound of these horrible demons, and several made mental notes to make sure to clean up any dirt in their huts.

“Now, these twelve demons did not like to be disturbed. One day, a young man named Hun Hunahpu was playing racquet sports with his brother Vucub Hunahpu and woke the Lords of Xibalba. The Lords invited them to their ball court in the Underworld for a friendly game. But the Lords of Xibalba tricked the boys. The balls in the game had hidden razor blades, and the heads of the two boys were sliced off. Unbeknown to the Lords of Xibalba, however, Hun Hunahpu had a clever wife named Xquic. Xquic spoke to the decapitated head of her husband Hun Hunahpu.” The wise man lifted up a coconut, showing it to the children, and spat on it. The old man continued, “The skull spat on Xquic’s head, and as a result, two twin boys were conceived in her womb. Those boys were our ancestors, the Mayan Hero Twins, Hunahpu, which means ‘One-Blowgunner,’ and Xbalanque, which means ‘Jaguar Sun.’ They are the greatest two men to have ever lived, and they are the reason we are all here today. Ultimately, the boys would grow up to avenge their father’s and uncle’s deaths and conquer the Lords of Xibalba, thereby saving humanity.”

“Where is Xibalba?” asked one child.

Elder Kinich Kakmo extended his stick out into the Atlantic Ocean. “It is not far from here,” said the wise man. “Perhaps one or two days’ journey by boat, on an island we call Boyuca, the Evil Place, and others call Ananeo. It is an evil island, guarded by evil people. On the island is a cave, and that is the entrance to Xibalba. You must never go there, for to go there means death. For in the many thousands of moons that have followed, the Lords of Xibalba have managed to return. They continue to wreak their havoc and destruction on the Middle World. Until Hunahpu and Xbalanque return, we will always suffer at the hands of the Lords of Xibalba.”

“When will Hunahpu and Xbalanque return?” asked one child.

“No one knows,” said Kinich Kakmo somberly, stroking his beard. “But the legend says that their faces will be white, and that their beards will be long and white, for they will have entered Xibalba and faced Vucub-Came, whose icy hand of death will have partially touched their souls. It is also prophesized that the monkeys in the trees will howl, for the Hero Twins also made enemies of their wicked step-brothers by tricking them into climbing tall trees and then turning them into howler monkeys.” The children looked over at the trees in the jungle with concern. Were the howler monkeys there now?

Elder Kinich Kakmo continued on with the legend of the Mayan Hero Twins for another hour until all the children were fast asleep by the fire. Then he summoned their parents, who thanked the wise man, and carried their children to bed.

Later that night, the wise man had a vivid dream that Hunahpu and Xbalanque had entered their village on a huge, winged, ocean chariot. He dreamed that the villagers, frightened by the heroes, attacked them with bows and arrows. The Hero Twins, in anger, burned their entire village to the ground. The wise man woke up with a feeling of dread. He slowly got up and opened the door to his hut. The wind was whipping fiercely. Just then he heard the howling-- the howling of the monkeys.

He ran outside into the dark night. His face was hit with the blowing spray of rain. Despite the downpour, he ignored the rain and ran down to the beach. Off in the distance he could see the masts of a great vessel, the biggest ship he had ever seen. It was bigger than a hundred canoes! The ship was being dashed by the large waves, but appeared to be heading toward their shores. The howling of the monkeys came again. “By the gods…” he thought. “It is Hunahpu and Xbalanque! We haven’t a moment to spare!” He sprinted back to the village to find the tribal chief.
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