One Four Challenge week 3

Here is my third edit for Robyn’s (Captivate Me) One Four Challenge
-and a short story for any who enjoy the Mayan mystery and myth

In this edit I cropped it even more and used a topaz glow with an ecru tone

portalsmallmono2

3 The Road to the Heavens

Smoke Jaguar sat alone in a chamber inside the palace while priests and augurs were at the solemn task of deciphering the mathematics of magic within the cogs of celestial destiny. He  had given them the message he had carried and now prepared to make a blood sacrifice as was the duty of the nobility. He drank a cup of sacred balche* which was mildly intoxicating before picking up a jagged sting ray barb and drawing it through his tongue. He caught the blood in a vessel full of bark paper to be burned as a gift and petition to the gods. The pain was excruciating. It pierced through the smoke of the offering bowl, opening a veil where time flowed between worlds like the blood that flowed in the most sacred of ceremonies.

For a moment he was back hunting in the Puuc* hills with his older brother. Losing his footing on a stone ledge he had fallen and bitten his tongue badly. He was bravely holding back his tears when his brother, Tortoise Shield, had taken Smoke Jaguar’s small hand in his and with the other, pointed toward the dark horizon.  “Do you see it?” he whispered reverently, “that place between the hills where Wakah Chan* reaches far into the sky.  The bridge is somewhere at the edge of the earth but only the bravest souls can find it.” He had smiled reassuringly at the little boy, “Our father’s feet have already walked it!  It is not a place of fear like the underworld, because the tree of life has risen from inside the earth and is entwined in the sky road.” His pain forgotten, Smoke Jaguar stood in silent awe and love of  both- the stars of the heavens, and his brother.

Some years later Tortoise Shield  died of a fever that no medicine or magic could quench. Many others continued to fall ill.  Smoke Jaguar hoped that the bridge between the earth and the starry road had not been broken by the displeasure of the gods. He hoped the great tree was nourished by the shedding of his own blood. He missed his brother.

Lady Ho Chuen appeared at the door. She was bowed in sorrow. She took his hands in hers and spoke softy ” More messengers have arrived Lord Smoke Jaguar. Your uncle, the king, is dead.  You are his closest living heir and will bear his title.” In sad resignation Smoke Jaguar wondered  what was left to rule. A way of life seemed to be collapsing and the terrible Ah Puch* walked the land. He thought of Ho Chuen’s dream and wondered how it could be possible to save the sun from the anger of Kukulkan.

chapter 4– The Appeasement

Background:

Interestingly, Mayan nobility often pierced body parts including genitalia as blood offerings to the gods. They also tattooed themselves. They flattened the heads of  babies into a loaf shape and in a type of ritual dentistry inlaid their front teeth with jade and turquoise. The more bodily adornments, the higher the status was of the individual.

Balche a type of mead made from the Balche tree

Puuc region in central Yucatan  Puuc means hills in Mayan

Wakah Chan– Milky way  ( chan also meant serpent)

Ah Puch – god of war, destruction and disease

52 Comments Add yours

  1. I am loving Smoke Jaguar. xxxx

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    1. happy!! that means a lot! many thanks Shehanne.

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  2. Like Andrea, I’m still cringing at the thought of Smoke Jaguar piercing his tongue with something so painful! But beautifully written as usual. You’ve left me wondering about babies’ heads being flattened to the shape of loaves. Did they die, or were they permanently disfigured/brain damaged? the Mayans were such a strange mix of savagery and creativity, often the two things overlapping.

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    1. it’s true – no they didn’t die they just had rather elongated heads!! Who knows if it affected their brains – they had a wild mythology or maybe that was from drinking balche or…? lol. They are a very strange and mysterious culture!! Thanks for your lovely comments always!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Extra terrestrials often have elongated heads in the movies. Perhaps Erich Von Daniken was right about the Mayans!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. he also had a crazy imagination lol! I thought of him too!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Nic says:

    I’m a bit behind checking out everyone’s One-Four images… I really like your original, week 2, and this week. I love that you experiment not only with changing the feel of an image but you aren’t afraid to crop it differently too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much Nic- It’s fun to challenge yourself and your image as you are doing as well. I’m so glad you think it changes the feel!! The place had such atmosphere to begin!! ( so pretty safe lol).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Peter Nena says:

    Another dose of a fine tale. I love the way you bring out Smoke Jaguar’s emotions: especially his memories of his brother and his resignation at there being nothing left to rule.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you Peter- the last of it will be next week then on to finish Niamhs Journey. I have been procrastinating on that one!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Tracey says:

    Another great edit. And I loved the story you wrote to accompany it…..which now has me wondering if my daughters weren’t Mayan in former lives 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh and thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tracey says:

        I love your stories, especially combined with the photo’s of ‘where it’s all happening’. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. what a wonderful comment Tracey- thank you so much!! Enjoy the weekend!!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Tracey says:

        You are welcome! Thank you, and you too 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. afairymind says:

    A beautiful edit, Cybele. 🙂 The prominence of the dark tree, with the glow of the ruins behind, sets a slightly ominous tone that ties perfectly with the story. Well done. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do appreciate your comment as one storyteller to another! Thanks so much Louise!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Don’t know how I missed this one! Your photo edits are perfect for your story. I can tell you’ve read and studied lots about the Mayans. Those body piercings and the gems in the teeth–ouch. Can’t say I’m for that today even though a lot of people do it! Glad you enjoyed the link.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, I was thinking of today’s body adornments lol!! Ouch is right!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Robyn G says:

    Good morning from me 😃 i love that you are taking us in closer and closer with each edit.
    I must admit though, the sense of foreboding is rather terrifying.
    So well written combined with another beautiful edition!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much Robyn for the comment and the challenge!! Yes the Mayans were a bit terrifying!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Robyn G says:

        Its a real pleasure.. and they were terrifying 😜

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  9. Maria F. says:

    How interesting Cybele, how you can write fiction based on Mayan culture and myths! And different myths for that matter!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you for your lovely comment!! Of course I don’t know how close to truth my story is but I have a read a lot about it as well as explored those old ruins – so my imagination was on fire!!

      Like

  10. I love that top image! It looks so beautiful there, and the glow is marvelous.

    Can you imagine how painful dental work must have been then? Or, maybe not. Perhaps they had some good pot to smoke or strong drink to get them through it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes I’m sure they had their mind alterations lol!! Thanks so much Deborah. It’s interesting isn’t it considering that today body adornment and piercing is so popular!!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. and thank you Deborah!

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  11. Suzanne says:

    What wonderful photo processing Cybele. The temple really looks like it belongs in the mythic land of your story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks Suzanne!!

      Like

  12. sedge808 says:

    I so love the blue one, but they are all good.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. svtakeiteasy says:

    Very informative post about the Mayans myths and great edit again with a foreboding look.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Chris!! I like forboding!! lol

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Ann says:

    Great atmosphere – the story and photo! It’s interesting to see the original and your first three edits together – they are all so different!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks hugely Ann!!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Laura Bloomsbury says:

    love week 2 as well – am rather glad not to be mayan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh I know lol!! A very strange world- but strangely beautiful- and terrifying!! Thanks so much Laura!

      Like

  16. poppytump says:

    *ouch my lips are sealed 😉
    Looks like a moonlit night … and anything could happen through this portal …
    Nice work Hannah !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for that great comment Poppy!! and yes though we pierce lips today too!!

      Like

  17. DG Hardy says:

    Somehow I just pressed ,”Send”, & so you will have an empty reply before this! Again, I am so impressed by your imagination, depth of understanding & envisioning with your camera-eye…Thank you! xo DG

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many delighted thank yous DG!!

      Like

  18. sixpixx says:

    Wow, Cybele, love them all. And please, be sure the sun is saved 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks Six!!! you might have to make a blood sacrifice!! 😀

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  19. I’m still cringing at the pierced tongue (!) but wonderfully atmospheric picture and story Cybele.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh I know!! they did body piercings! arggh but for ritual reason as opposed to aesthetics. Thanks so much my magical friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Sue says:

    I love this edit – very Cybele! And your prose chimes in well with it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. most grateful for your comment Sue!! Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

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