One Four Challenge for May- week 4

The Sacrifice of Smoke Jaguar

(Chapter Four)

Thank you Robyn Gosby at Captivate Me for the fun challenge of editing an image four different ways!

I went a bit wacko with this last edit. I feel the best one was week 2! But as I had written the story I tried to fit the image to the final mood. I cropped it again and used a layer of stars and a radial blur. I also played with colour filters before settling on this one called starlight.


The Appeasement

Smoke Jaguar wore the spotted cloak of his namesake and an elaborate headdress of  brilliant Quetzal feathers and precious seashells. He was carried on a litter by his entourage along the broad causeway that led to the great pyramid.  They passed by the empty ball courts.  He remembered the hero twins who had played ball with the lords of the underworld and won.  The two boys had been destroyed but were regenerated to ultimately defeat the gods of Xibalba.  As a Mayan and a king, Smoke Jaguar knew that all life was sacrifice and all death was renewal.

People had begun to gather by the road and he saw Lady Ho Chuen in the crowd.  Her eyes were red with weeping and though  his heart ached to comfort her he could only nod from the confines of the regal procession. The day was ominous according to the calculations and predictions of the astronomer priests -and of Ho Chuen’s dream. Everyone was looking up in fear as the sky darkened and the sun began to disappear bite by bite.

In silence Smoke Jaguar’s feet slowly climbed the steep steps of the pyramid temple. The high priest solemnly awaited his arrival at the top with arms outstretched in supplication.  He bowed as the young king laid the scepter of office on the altar and removed his royal cloak. It was then that everything shifted and Smoke Jaguar stepped through the portal and into that sacred space of stillness between the moments of time.

He didn’t know if the gods would accept his gift. He did not see Kukulkan spit the sun back out into the heavens. He did not hear the  great  mournful cry of the people rising up from the earth. He did not see the sound ripple like a wind through the great serpent’s  feathers as it flew majestically over the city toward the edge of the world. He did not hear the thundering and jubilant voice of Chac who would open the cisterns of the sky to nourish the dying crops and save the people.

He did not feel the blow or see the dripping offering bowl that temporarily appeased the anger of the gods.  Smoke Jaguar was already far from the city and running once again through the Puuc hills with his beloved brother.

and I can’t ask for a more wonderful endorsement of my unpublished tales than that of Peter Nena whose stories have been published in African Anthologies. Many thanks Peter

“There is a traditional wholeheartedness in the way you tell stories. Your characters have a strong moral significance, and the spirituality, the essence, is affecting and deep. You know those kind of stories you read and something tells you that there is more to them than just the wonderfully woven words, something deeper, sometimes subtle, but certainly magnetic and powerful. That’s how it is with your stories–Niamh’s Journey and the rest, even the Arabian one. I love the quality–simple, captivating, profound.”


Although the Mayans  practiced human sacrifice it was not done in deliberate cruelty, but more to appease their terrible pantheon of gods which of course were representations of the natural world and it’s frightening phenomenon.  Ball players were sacrificed as an honour and as a retelling of the story of the hero twins . The gates of Xibalba were similar to the gates of Heaven but much darker. If someone of royal blood was sacrificed it was usually by beheading and not the gruesome opening of the chest method. Those to be executed were given a narcotic type drug beforehand.  Interestingly, even today the Mayans consider intoxication of any kind to be a divine state.

The steps of the pyramid numbered the days of the Mayan calendar

Chac: The rain god.

bonus: A Mayan dressed in ancient traditional costume like Smoke Jaguar


38 Comments Add yours

  1. afairymind says:

    I really like this final edit (it fits the wonderful ending of your story perfectly) but I have to agree that week 2 is my favourite. 🙂 Great job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks Louise!! Yes that week 2 was the fave I think!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Robyn G says:

    I’m so glad you’re having fun Cybele and you make it fun by being a part of it. I love this week’s edition – it is a fun one 🙂
    I do like week 2, but I find it hard to say I have a favourite as I think they are all wonderful.
    Such a moving story!!!
    PS Apologies for my late comment – have been having troubles commenting on some blogs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much Robyn- no worries !! I may be a bit late with this next challenge. Had some family problems and have hardly blogged or got out to photograph. Love the challenge though!! So glad you liked the story and yes week 2 should have been the final piece de resistance!! lol.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Robyn G says:

        Hey Cybele, join in if you are able. Family must come first xx
        I trust all will be well.


      2. Many thanks Robyn- I will try to catch up!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Bastet says:

    Oh wow Cybele .. this is magnificent! I’ve been all tied up this month and couldn’t participate in the challenge and decided to pass by to see what you’ve been doing over the past month (or so) … This is really so great … I haven’t read the story yet, but I can imagine that it will be great. Wonderful work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks Bastet!!! What a lovely comment to wake up to today!!


      1. Bastet says:

        I sometimes don’t have as much time as I’d like to visit other bloggers … but I realize how much I miss out when I drop by your blog .. your work really inspires me so much!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. humble thanks again Bast!! I know I’m inspired by all you whom I follow too!


  4. Nic says:

    I love the blues of week 2, so I voted for that one. This week is really cool too, though. I can sense the ethereal mood you were going for. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks Nic!! Sometimes I get a bit carried away lol!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a dramatic ending to the story! I’ve been fascinated more than once by Mayan Dancers and their costumes. Both the men and women are gorgeous and there’s always one that’s a little frightening. 🙂

    I took hundreds of images at the last one I went to and have never developed them! I should go find those.

    My favorite is number two as well. I love that deep sapphire blue sky, Milky Way, and star light bathing the building.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks Deborah!! yes #2 has the voted I think! Yes their costumes are wonderful and try to find them- I’d love to see them! Thank you so much for reading and commenting on the story too.


  6. Tracey says:

    A great end to the story, Cybele, and the editing you did was perfect. 🙂
    I love each image, but week two is still my favorite. There was something about that one that was just ‘wow’. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Tracey!!- and for reading the story too!! Yes, it seems #2 is the fave!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Amy says:

    Beautifully done! Each has its character, I like the original one too. 🙂 You are so talented, Cybele!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you for your generous comment Amy!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve enjoyed seeing each image as it evolves Cybele and being taken backwards in time to hear Smoke Jaguar’s story.


    1. Thank you Andrea!! I always love to get your feedback!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Breathtaking photography !


    1. Many thanks Cougar!


  10. Lynne Ayers says:

    A great story and I think your image suits it beautifully. You chose a great subject this month. Looking at each and not thinking of the story attached, but just looking at it as an image, I like week one best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so pleased that you enjoyed the story along with the edits Lynne. Thank you for your great comment!


  11. katieprior says:

    Beautiful effects Cybele! Love your interpretations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks dear Katie!!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. svtakeiteasy says:

    Hi Cybele, if you have received this in triplicate, delete… I have had problems with responses!
    Interesting effect this week. I like your work with edits and writing. My fav is your week 2 interpretation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did get two lol!!


    2. PS: Double thanks! or triple!!


  13. kazg10 says:

    Lovely interpretations all of them but I voted week two, I love that effect with the blue haze 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Maria F. says:

    Your writing is so fascinating. Is this part of a short story, or book? Or what they call “flash fiction?” As you know I’m fascinated by gates and portals. You’re so talented!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so pleased you like it Maria – and not sure if that is what it is!! ( flash fiction). A story sometimes just presents itself from the image and I too love gates portals – and paths leading to who knows where. I have one image coming up for Niamh’s story I think you will like !

      Liked by 1 person

  15. svtakeiteasy says:

    Very interesting effects this week, Cybele. I love what you do with editing and writing! My favourite is your week 2 interpretation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much Chris!


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