Angel of the Winds
by John Vieczorek
Part 1, Part 2|
appear in this issue.
|part 3 of 4|
Ambrosio laid the pipe on small stand that looked to be carved out of bone and continued his chronicle. “I’ve waited years for the chosen one to arrive, Brian... many long years. You are my benefactor. I know where the Angel is hidden, and though I am not allowed to recover her, nothing can stop the chosen one from giving her to me. Once I receive her from your hands, she will be mine to do with as I please.
“Then will come a day of reckoning, and I will seek vengeance on those that stood in my way for so long: those living in this realm and those living in other realms as well. Anyone who defies me will be destroyed.”
I looked Ambrosio in the face; his eyes now burned with an eerie red glow and reflected light like the eyes of a cat in moonlight. He fixed me with his demonic eyes. I felt petrified and broke my gaze from him. Whatever hid behind his eyes was not human.
He continued to stare at me for a moment, and I began to understand his power. Then he looked away, and said, “You need not fear me, Brian. I will not harm you now or after the Angel is in my possession. To me, you are merely a tool. You will be free to go once you have delivered her to me.”
I remembered the deal I made with Hess. I swallowed hard, and said, “What makes you think I will deliver her to you, Don Ambrosio? Sounds like without me, the Angel will remain forever a legend.”
Ambrosio’s forehead wrinkled, he stared at me a moment and then laughed. “That’s true, but without me, you will never find her. I could put you within ten feet of her and you would not be able to discover her. I know what you’re thinking: you want to know what’s in it for you. Come with me, Brian, I want to show you something.”
Ambrosio stood up and headed toward the back of the villa. He motioned for me to follow. We entered a narrow corridor; at the end of the hall was a trap door in the floor. He lifted open the door and grabbed an oil lamp hanging from the wall.
A wooden stairway led down into what appeared to be an old mineshaft. The walls were cut through solid rock. We followed the passage to where it opened up into a large hollow cavern. Ambrosio fished a match from his pocket and lit several torches on the wall.
On the stone floor of the cave sat two iron chests, each one about three cubic feet in volume. Ambrosio lifted the lid on one of them, and my jaw dropped open. The chest was filled with gold escudos and doubloons. Mixed among the coins were pre-Columbian gold figural artifacts and precious stones. When he opened the other chest, a thrill shot down my spine. Its contents were nearly identical.
“This treasure belongs to the chosen one.” Ambrosio said. “This means these chests are yours. The treasure is little more than a fetter to me. It’s a chain around my neck and has encumbered me for years. I’ll be glad to be rid of it. Nothing in these lockers can compare to the glory that will be mine when I command the Angel of the Winds. She is my only desire.”
I wondered for a moment if I was dreaming. I’d never seen a hoard like this. It was like a wish I might make to a genie, and it had come true.
“So you’re going to take me to the Angel, and all I have to do is recover her and give her to you, and all this is mine?” I asked.
“That’s all there is to it, Brian. As a gesture of good will tomorrow morning we’ll load the contents of the chests into your jeep. Once you obtain the Angel of the Winds, the exchange will be made, and you will be free to go. We will never meet again.
“Tomorrow we will travel to a vital area deep in the desert.” Ambrosio said. “After you deliver the Angel to me, you can leave me there. When I control her, I will possess indomitable power. I’ll be able to travel anywhere in time and space.”
I scarcely believed what Ambrosio was telling me. But I knew he was serious about his fantasy. In the long run, reality is only what we think it is. I made the choice to trust him.
“Come on, tomorrow is a big day and we’ve got a lot to do,” Ambrosio said. “You can rest on the couch near the fire. You need to put on a fresh shirt first, though. It’s not safe to sleep in the desert when you’re covered with blood; it attracts vampires.”
I slept soundly that night. I’ve never feared the darkness. If one must die anyway, to die in your sleep is ideal. I believed I’d finally hit the jackpot in this world of cheat and steal, and maybe — just maybe — I’d make it out of this alive.
* * *
We were up before the sun. I removed all my treasure hunting equipment from the lockers on the jeep, and we packed the gold and jewels inside them. The treasure fit perfectly, and both chests were filled to capacity.
Ambrosio hoisted several heavy gas tanks into the bed of the jeep. “You’re going to need extra fuel,” he said. “It’s a long haul to highway 4. You’ll need to circumnavigate El Mezcal to avoid Celestina and her friends.” The Rubicon was loaded to the hilt. But the Jeep had been well modified and could handle anything I dished out.
After a breakfast of beans and corn bread we got into the vehicle. Ambrosio reached into the pocket of his denim jacket and pulled out a tiny leather bag. “Hold out your hand, you’ll need these,” he said. I did what he asked. He dumped what looked like dried fruit into the palm of my hand.
“What are these?” I asked.
“Sacred mushrooms, the ‘little eyes’ of the desert. You need to eat them. After you do, you’ll be able to see nearly everything I can. We’re going to El Matienzo, a crater deep in the desert and formed long ago. The terrain is rough. It will be a five-hour journey. Soon you will awaken and see a deep violet light shining from the heavens. The Angel is located where the light beam touches the ground. I can see the marker without the power in the ‘little eyes’ but you will need the eyes of the desert to discover her.”
I tossed the mushrooms in my mouth and chewed them; they were bitter as wormwood. Ambrosio handed me a canteen, and I washed them down. I fired up the jeep, and soon we were swallowed up by the desert.
* * *
In a while I began to feel euphoric and powerful, like my body was tenuous and made of pure energy. I felt like I could rip the steering wheel from the vehicle, and hurl it ten miles into the sky, or jump a hundred feet in the air. The colors of the desert came to life: each different earth tone was a portal to another universe. I existed as a spiritual being now, no longer imprisoned by the walls of matter and time. It was awesome beyond anything I’d ever known, I had never felt so dynamic or alive.
“I feel like I could slay an elephant with my bare hands,” I said.
Ambrosio laughed. “You understand now what I feel all the time. To become a true sorcerer, one must learn to control the power of the spirit while living in the material world. Most men are not capable of dealing with ineffable states like this and do not possess the sapience to master them. They end up mad or die while performing foolhardy feats.
“The power in the ‘little eyes’ is nothing compared to the glory of the Angel of the Winds. In a short time you’ll return to your conditioned mind, and all that will remain of what you are experiencing now will be a memory. Focus on the horizon and keep looking for the violet light.”
We continued our journey. Far off, where the mountains touch the sky I saw a purple cloud. As we drew nearer, the cloud became more condensed and its color took on an astonishing electrified hue. A hole opened in the sky and a dazzling beam of amethyst colored light shot down from the heavens, like a single bolt of lightning.
“Do you see it, Brian?”
“Yes, I see it, Ambrosio, it’s... beautiful!” I was awestruck by the pulsating beacon and could not contain my wonder.
We approached to the tower of light, and Ambrosio said, “Bear just to the left of the thunderbolt. There is an opening in the wall of the crater there.”
We drove through a narrow passage at the ridge of the ancient depression. It dropped off sharply and we followed the desolate path downward on the steep decline. In time we reached the center of a small stone valley, and I parked the vehicle.
The violet light shone like a laser from a cliff on the wall of the crater. It pulsated with such power I was afraid and didn’t want to approach it.
Ambrosio sensed my apprehension. “You needn’t be terrified by the beacon, Brian. It will not harm you. Without the ‘little eyes’ you wouldn’t even see it. It serves as a marker and nothing more.”
He reached into his shirt and removed a crystal shaped like a tapered cylinder from a silver chain he wore around his neck. The faceted quartz amulet glistened in the sun.
“This key will unlock the door to the Angel, he said. “Where the light emanates from the crevice is where you will find her. When you reach the end of the fissure, place this talisman in the hole beneath the image of the whirlwind, and a portal will open before you. The Angel sits on a throne of jade within the chamber. Now go: we haven’t got much time.”
His voice sounded tense, and he seemed anxious. I headed off along the rock-strewn floor toward the ridge on the other side of the depression. When I reached the ridge I looked up at the violet beacon shimmering high above me. The power of the ‘little eyes’ surged through me and I started to climb the immense boulders leading to the ledge.
The hand and footholds in the rock had been carved out long ago, and the dangerous accent seemed easy. I maneuvered on the rock face with confidence and an agility I had never known. When I reached the floor on the cliff, I was confronted by yet another flat rock wall. The next ledge rose about seven feet over my head.
I decided to take advantage of my newfound strength. I focused on the tiny shelf above and jumped into the air. I landed on top of the ledge with ease. I looked out across the crater, and waved to Ambrosio. He was pacing slowly back and forth in front of the Jeep and didn’t acknowledge me.
Although he didn’t speak, his voice exploded in my head, and I heard him say, This is no time for games, fool! You’re dealing with power. Go get the Angel of the Winds, and do it now!
Even from afar I feared him and realized he wanted to get this over with. When I turned I saw the purple light shining from a narrow opening in the rock wall. The crevice sloped downward. It would be impossible to see it from the floor of the crater. It would appear as little more than a shadow.
I inched my way through the narrow walls of the opening until I reached a dead end. Carved in the wall of stone was an image of a tornado. At the apex of the twister was a tiny opening. I slid the crystal into the hole, and for a moment all was still. Then as if by magic, a massive boulder rolled away. I looked inside, and a few feet away sat The Angel of the Winds, resplendent on her throne of solid jade.
I entered the chamber, and stopped for a moment to look at her. I could feel the power in her mysterious emerald eyes, and I grew dizzy and disoriented. Her eyes were horrible, and I broke my gaze from the headdress. I understood intuitively that she could destroy me if she wanted to.
After I regained my orientation, I removed her from the throne. I inched my way out of the chamber and stood once again at the tiny ledge on the cliff. I felt indomitable, and held the Angel over my head with both hands, and yelled, “Here she is Ambrosio. Behold, the Angel of the Winds!”
Ambrosio stopped pacing and faced me. I heard his voice echo in my mind. Bring her to me quickly.
* * *
Copyright © 2007 by John Vieczorek