by Karen

Cuzco, Peru 1533

The newly risen sun dominated the mountain skyline like the eye of a vengeful god. It hung above the heads of a group of farm laborers as they milled about reaping maize planted a season earlier. Gathering up the maize, squash, beans, they stuffed the vegetables into large floppy sacks they'd brought with them. Sometimes some of the women would make scoops of their skirts and make extra carriers. The overseer, Cinceros by name, a small, bony man, his brown skin wrinkled from exposure to the sun, smiled in genial good humor; his farm prospered. He went back into his hut for a cup of tea.



Along the bony spine of the mountainside, rising and falling in steep dips, centuries of erosion had carved out caves. In one these, a black-haired woman had made her home. It was spacious as caves went: cool in the summer and warm in the winter. She lined the floor with rugs and added wall hangings sectioning off the living space, that clinked when brushed against due to the bells and beads woven into them. A pallet in the corner with a pile of blankets served as her bed. Niches naturally embedded into the walls held her living necessities: a bronze plate for cooking her meals stored on a projecting shelf of rock, a pile of neatly folded clothes, and a wooden bucket for carrying water from the stream outside her cave.

Diamante had been a priestess of Malentha, goddess of the Moon, years ago, but she had broken her vows and no one knew why, or none could say for certain. Then she left the Order to live by herself. She had a reputation as a madwoman, but she was also known for true telling and dream-reading. In various niches around the chamber stood the shiny tools of the scryer's craft: Mirrors varying in size from a serving tray, to a thumbnail, to a full-length one, made of polished metal or costly glass, some round, some square, some oval as a cat's eye.


Sparkling with its iridescent glow, a sphere of fire appeared almost vertically even with the entrance to the scryer's cave. It expanded to about ten feet in diameter, burnt itself out, and disappeared. It left Brooklyn and Sata once more in an unfamiliar place.

"Now where are we?" Sata asked.

"I don't know, but judging from the position of the sun. I think maybe we'd better..." he trailed off.

Before they had a chance to get their questions answered, or to complete a thought, or use the sun amulet, they turned to stone.

Diamante emerged from her home to gather water for her morning cup of tea. She discovered two new statues outside. Not in the least taken aback, the dark-haired woman continued with her original errand, and with that task completed returned to her cave, stopping on the way to give the pair of statues a clam inspection. Drawing a set of carved, stone rings, one red and one green, she slipped them on the fingers of their left hands.

"There. Right on time," she remarked. "Now, I'll just have to keep myself occupied until sunset. Maybe I can find them new clothes to wear, or have a meal waiting," she laughed. "I shouldn't have given them the rings, it's a human custom. Now they're hand fasted a year and a day."


The sun sank below the horizon, tingeing the mountain peaks a pastel pink, shading towards the silvery gray of evening, and then to a deep black as the stars came out. The sun's rays touched the stone figures with prismatic lights, long cracks began widening into lines. Emerging from their stone shells, Brooklyn and Sata broke the silence with yawning roars. Stretching their wings they took stock of their situation.

Diamante emerged from her home. Cradled in her arms was a platter of food, "I am Diamante, I've been expecting you. Please come inside."

"What did you mean, you've been expecting us?" Sata asked.

"Please sit anywhere, make yourselves at home, I've prepared a little of everything since I didn't know what you might like. Please, help yourselves."

"Thank you. I do not mean to disrespect your hospitality, Diamante, but you don't even know who we are," Sata protested.

"You'd be surprised," Diamante said enigmatically.

"Oh Yeah?" Brooklyn asked.

"Well then, You're Brooklyn, and you're Sata. You are time-travelers and you're strangers far from home."

"Does everyone know that phrase?" Brooklyn grumbled.

"But how did you know when we'd arrive, or even who we were, Or that we'd come here?" Sata wondered.

Pulling out one of the mirrors from her shelves, Diamante held up a mirror whose frame was intricately carved with Spiraling dragon shapes.

"What is it? A mirror?"

"It's called a worm glass. I'm not entirely sure why, maybe it had something to do with what it was carved to resemble. One of the gods perhaps. No one ever told me exactly what, only that it was. Every scryer down through the generations has had one," Dimante explained.

"And this is how you knew we'd be coming?" Brooklyn asked.

"Yes. It's used for scrying, to see other times and places, both near and far."

"How? Do you just tell it what you want to see?" Sata asked.

"No. I can't tell the mirror what to do. Sometimes it acts on its own, like when I saw you two. At other times, it's nothing more than an ordinary glass that men use to shave with. Sometimes it shows nothing but my own reflection, staring back at me."

"What did you see about us?" Sata asked curiously.

"I think I'll save that one until later. Don't worry, it's nothing bad. In fact, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised," Diamante laughed. "See, not all of my predictions are going to end in disaster."

"Disaster?" Is that why the worm-glass summoned us here?" Brooklyn questioned.

"The mirror showed you something about us?" Sata added.

"The images that I see aren't always exact, and the ones I do see clearly only last a few seconds before shifting into another scene altogether. They're more representations of people, places, and events. Sort of what ifs. Symbols. It's up to scryers to interpret those symbols," Diamante explained. "Can you see the future?" Brooklyn asked.

"No. It's just hinted at, like walking through a forest where you can see everything for miles around, then this giant bank of fog rolls in; and you can't see even your hand in front of your face. Even though, you've walked through that forest hundreds of times before," Diamante sighed.

"How do you manage?" Sata said, concerned.

"Well enough. I saw you coming in one of my mirrors. I also saw the reason why you're here. The days of the Inca people are numbered. Strangers have come like none we've ever seen before from a far country. Here I'll show you.

Holding up one of her mirrors, Diamante leaned it up against one wall, making minute adjustments in its placement. She exhaled and inhaled softly for a while, before wiping its surface with a cloth, and breathing on it.

Nothing happened, then a sea scape appeared, misty at first, then coming clear at last. Ships appeared, drawing closer: In the mirror's shiny surface she glimpsed men on horseback, all clad in shiny plate armor like crabs, even their horses wore armor. They disembarked from the ships. The image shimmered then vanished.

"They talk to each other in a language that I can't make out." Diamante said, "But from what I can make out, they are prepared for a war, or at least a battle. And from all the signs they are coming here."

"Does anyone else know about this, I mean besides you?" Brooklyn asked.

"No. Yes. They will not believe me. And those that do think I am drunk," she sighed.

"We have to tell someone, and they will not listen, we shall find a way to make them listen," Sata declared.

"We should tell King Autahalpa about this, even if he refuses to listen to me alone, perhaps he will relent this once and listen to all three of us,..."

"We shall accompany you," Sata answered.

"When do we leave?" Brooklyn asked.

"As soon as possible. Please finish the meal. I'll have suitable clothes ready for you both," Diamante said, as she bustled about the cave.


The throne room, Palace of the Sun

"The Scryer, Diamante and party!" the door steward announced.

The day Diamante entered the palace throne room, Autahalpa Held conference with his Majordomo doing his accounts.

Reduced to the status of wandering, but completely lucid angel, Diamante was in full possession of her indomitable spiritual energy. Authalpa had not seen her ever since she broke her vows and was sent into self-imposed exile, but he recognized her, the raven black hair was banded with a streak of white at her temples, but she still sounded the same.

"What does she want?" muttered Xandu, the majordomo. "It has been almost ten years since that woman has darkened the doorway to the palace," he finished.

"Diamante, I told you, I did not want to be disturbed with your foolish maundering," he said. Autahalpa felt uneasy in her presence, and she had interrupted him with her otherwordly rantings.

"I've come a long way to bring you some bad news."

"I've had enough of that kind of news! Your taste in companions hasn't improved any, Diamante," he yelled.

"I've heard that in some tribes, they kill the bearer of bad news, my lady," Xandu snickered. He made no secret of how he felt about the woman, especially since that before her exile his king had avidly listened to her advice.

"If you will not listen to me, then perhaps you will listen to them," she calmly said. "They are strangers far from home. If they are able to find our distant, secluded empire, what chance do you think others will have?"

"Do these strangers have names?" Or are they deaf and dumb?"

"They are quite capable of speaking for themselves, Majordomo."

"Allow me to introduce myself, I am Sata." she said, giving those assembled on the dais an elegant bow.

"And my name is Brooklyn. Like Diamante said, we've come a long way to warn you about this," he said.

"Curse you, woman. Speak plainly!" the king yelled.

She then started to tell him about what she had discovered through divination and the scryer's art. She had to explain the scientific method she had used in order to overcome the emperor's pragmatic resistance. She told him she had spent the past ten months studying the astrological charts, reading images in the mirror, and the signs in the sky. "When I compared them, they showed a terrible sequence of events, bringing blood, pain, and death," she finished.

Sata could no longer restrain herself.

"Why will you not listen? She is trying to warn you! She is trying to save as many lives as possible, including yours, Your Majesty! If you care nothing for your own life, what of those of your subjects! She is a true-teller! She has seen the enemy in her worm-glass! They are legion and they are coming here, they have weapons and armor like none you have ever seen before!"

"I do not know where you come from, Sata, is it? But you are new here and do not know our ways. We know Diamante, and you may not know her as well as we do. Pay her no heed. Have a gold bracelet," the king said, tossing a bracelet to Sata, "You are obviously getting agitated over nothing. Women always like pretty jewelry, perhaps this will soothe you," he finished.

"Come on! You can't expect us to just go away! Okay, we were heard, Now go away? Yeah right?," Brooklyn yelled. "Haven't you listened to a word we've said? Disaster is coming in the form of soldiers, hundreds of them!"

"Soldiers, bah. This disaster of hers probably just another raid from the neighboring tribes, or maybe its my rebellious brother. You know, Majordomo, he's always wanted to wrest the throne and the crown from me," Autahalpa said.

"Yes, Your Majesty, Huscar has coveted your title and your throne for many years."

"I came to tell you to be careful, oh Majesty. Death is at your heels. The spirits of the otherworld are doing all they can to preserve the empire, but I foresee that our time is short. The end of all that has been, all that is, and all that might yet be, is near. Our spiritual protectors are powerless when it comes to major cataclysms. Foreigners are coming like none we have ever seen before, sweeping fire and death before them."

"Bah, we have had war before, it's nothing new. Have a gold bracelet, you liked them before," the king muttered.

"Hah! If your companions are these foreigners you claim are so threatening to the empire, then we have little to fear from them," Xandu laughed. "Even if there were more than two of them, the empire will be safe."

"And what is your final word on the matter, oh Majesty," Diamante asked formally, ignoring the glittering, golden object lying at her feet. "Do not think to buy me off like one of your court girls. I will not be gotten rid off so easily."

"Stubborn as a mule, Diamante, dear." My final word on the matter, it's closed. I have been duly warned of this disaster you say is coming. I need know nothing more. You have fulfilled your obligations as court scryer. You and your companions may go," he dismissed them.

"By the way, where did you dig those two up? In some effort to get back into the good graces of the priestesses you left after you broke your vows?" Xandu asked.

"Hardly. I came to fulfil an obligation to the empire," she said, then turned and left the palace with Brooklyn and Sata following her.


Diamante, in a determined fury stalked around her neat room, she tore down the wall hangings, while Sata, in some alarm that she might hurt herself, took them from her, leaving the jade green gargoyle with an armful of the woven stuff.

"That fool! That stubborn fool! Can't see a thing unless its right under his nose!"

"Diamante, please. Calm down. You are doing no one and yourself no good like this," Sata said soothingly.

"Who's this Huscar fellow they were all hot and bothered about?" Brooklyn asked.

"The king's younger brother. He is scheming for the throne. The death of their father, Huyana Cupac a few years back, after he failed to declare a successor, divided the empire. Two sons, both mighty princes, Huscar and Autahalpa, each desired the throne' thus leading to a bitter struggle between them has seriously weakened the empire."

"So, that means that these invaders will choose this moment to come," Sata said grimly.

"Yes, and I fear not so much for the army, or that the life of my Emperor will be endangered, as I fear for my people. They will take entirely the wrong impression of these strangers. They have never seen anything like these strangers nor the creatures they ride. They will believe that these are messengers sent by our gods," Diamante exclaimed.

"Which means they won't fight them?" Sata asked. "I can't understand that. Why won't they oppose them?"

"Because they will have never seen anyone with white skin or a four- legged animal that carries an armored man on its back."

"But that doesn't make any sense! Brooklyn argued. "What will they take these people to be? Just because they're different from you, or have something you don't?"

"I'm afraid the people will believe that these 'Spaniards" are returning Incan demi-gods who have come back to us during our time our need and will aid us."

"Won't they be able to see that these people are just humans, mortals?"

"This is one time I wish I wasn't able to see the future," Diamante cried softly, "And no one will believe me."

"Hey, Diamante, relax. Were I come from, I heard about this story where a seer, her name was Cassandra, you see, she also had this gift of foresight. She saw that her city was about to be invaded, so she tried to tell this King, Priam, that the Greeks were coming," Brooklyn tried to explain.

"Did it work? DId the king listen to her?" Diamante asked, distracted.

"Yes, he listened to her in the small, day-to-day stuff, but when it came to the big things, like an invasion, no one would believe her, even if they wanted to," Brooklyn said.

"What is this story called? What do you mean? They wanted to believe her but they couldn't?" Sata asked.

"It's called the Iliad. It was written by this really old guy named Homer, a long, long, time ago. You see, one of the gods had fallen in love with her, except he sided with the Greek army, the enemy, and since she supported her city; the god cursed her with true-telling but no one believed her. Brooklyn sighed, "Okay, so maybe that wasn't such an inspirational story. I'm sorry, Diamante, but for what it's worth, we believe you," Brooklyn shrugged.

"Yes, but what else can we do?" Sata asked.

"Nothing until the Spaniards arrive. The only thing we can do now is wait."


That same day, a gathering is declared in the city of Cuzco to celebrate the feast of the Sun. The ceremony is stopped short part- way through; an eagle, symbol of the Sun God, plummeted out of the sky, and fell next to the people's feet. It had been pecked to death. It was a terrible omen. Women screamed, people fainted, or just fell the ground sobbing with tears, and shaking with fear.

"It's just an unlucky accident," Xandu announced, "Be thankful that old woman is not here. She would no doubt make much of it!" he reassured the people. "The King orders that the ceremony and the festival continue!" he shouted. The celebrations continued but with a notable lack of enthusiasm than there had been before.


A solid wall of armored and mounted men made a slow crawl up the steep mountain roads; emerging out the narrow neck of the pass they stopped upon reaching a campsite, and settled down to wait the day. The Spaniards arrival was swift and sudden.

Under the command of an adventurer by the name of Francisco Pizzaro, they began conquering small villages on the outskirts of the empire. Killing the messengers that traveled back and forth on the imperial roads, before they reached their destinations, which preventing them from telling anyone of the army's whereabouts.

Pizzaro got lucky that day, they army stumbled into a meeting with Authalpa. On the day they captured him, Pizzaro drew his sword and rode his horse over the tops of his crowds of followers, killing them. Riding in triumph into the city of Cuzco, the Spaniards exhibited the Incan king in chains.

Riding into the city, Pizzaro and his small band of about 180 men and firearms, encountered surprisingly little resistance from the Incas. Believing the fair skinned strangers were returning Incan demi- gods, Pizzaro and his tiny band gained control of the vast, highly centralized Incan state simply by making Autahalpa, its head, a prisoner in his own house just as Diamante had predicted.

Meanwhile, Authalpa, fearful that Pizzaro would depose him in favor of his brother, ordered his former rival executed. Next he offered the conquerors a roomful of gold as the price of his ransom. Even as the huge treasure was being gathered, Pizzaro still ordered him killed.

From the fringes of the festival grounds, Diamante and the two gargoyles watch the omens mount, while those around them ignored them. A comet flashes across the night sky, the moon appeared fringed by three concentric rings; one red, the second greenish black, the third ring resembled smoke, and meant the most fearful predication.

"All that you have done, all and that your ancestors have done will vanish as though it had never been, as though in smoke."

The people cried: "Why weren't we warned! The seer, this is her fault!"

"Come on, I want to get a good look at these invaders," Diamante said, bringing Brooklyn and Sata along with her, to where the city opened up onto the mountain pass.

"But what can we do to help?" Sata shouted to be heard.

"I'll know when we get there," Diamante replied.

The three of them rushed off, following the scryer's lead.


Meanwhile, Mano Tupac went to the Spaniards occupation camp, while his mean camped out in the streets. Pizzaro laid claim to the Sun Palace, whose walls had glittered golden, but soon were reduced to bare stucco as he stripped it of all its valuables.

Having taken a position just outside the throne room, Brooklyn, Sata, and Diamnte wear leaning up against the adding room wall, peering through some spy holes. They saw Pizzaro, with his long white hair and beard, perched on the golden throne with its stylized sun with one arm wrapped around a local girl, and the other holding a cup of wine.

Mano Tupac went to Pizzaro to lay claim to the throne, with their support. He'd had previously been a fugitive hiding from Authalpa's campaign of murdering potential rivals. Since neither could understand the other's language, they had a Jesuit priest interpret.

"Aren't you at all upset with the fact that I killed your king?" Pizzaro asked.

"Not at all. In fact, I am delighted you got rid of the murdering bastard." Not that his brother would have been much better either before or after his death, he thought."

"You are a man of political aspirations, no doubt. What are you called?" Pizzaro asked.

"I am Mano Tupac. Bow that my chief rival has been eliminated, I am able to come forth and claim the empire myself, with your help, of course."

"Ah, but what can you offer us?"

"My support, troops, supplies, knowledge of the terrain, gold, more gold than you have ever seen."

"All right, my silver-tongued, friend, you have yourself a deal," Pizzaro said, having the Jesuit priest come forward and sign a contract agreement on a piece of paper, then sealing it with a wax mold and his gold signet ring. Mano Tupac signed his name with an ink blotter and the priest with a quill pen. The two men shook hands to finalize the deal they had just made.

"Aren't you all concerned that this guy is selling your people out!" Brooklyn exclaimed.

"Yes, traitors would get short shrift where I come from," Sata added.

"Manco will eventually become disillusioned with the outsider's greed and brutality. His alliance with the Spaniards will not last; and eventually lead to his death. But his aims are ones that will cause the invaders much grief before his death," Diamante intoned.

"You're seeing the future again?" Sata asked.

"Yes, now you know why I broke my vows and left the order. I just couldn't take it any more." Diamante sighed.


"I think it's time we left," Sata said.

"I'll never forget either of you. And I supposed you've figured out that good news I've been saving up from when we first met," she said, smiling.

"We could use some," Sata said.

"I think I'll tell you one at a time."

Pulling the jade green gargoyle closer to her, Diamante whispered into her ear. "Two of them. Twins. Boy and Girl, name them Graeme and Ariana," she whispered.

Sata pulled back and looked askance at the scryer.

"Are you certain?" Sata whispered.

"Yes. All right, mister, your turn."

Giving Brooklyn the same treatment as she had Sata a second before, the scyrer whispered the same information.

"Oh Boy!" he whispered, looking at Diamante.

"Well, it's time for farewells, I can not let you go on without souvenirs. It's as good a map to wherever you go on your next journey."

"We could not take one of your mirrors." Sata protested.

"Sata's right, we couldn't take your mirror."

"Use it or not. Save it when you get home."

"Won't the magic of the glass cancel out that of the Gate?"

"I can't be sure, since I'm not familiar with it but I just have one these feelings that you might need where you're going," Diamante replied.

"Thank you, Diamnte, we would be honored."

"Thank you, Diamante."

"You're quite welcome," she smiled. "Good luck," she added.

"Good luck to you, too." Brooklyn and Sata said together.

"We'll always remember you," they added.

"Oh, you're just saying that." I'll remember you, too."

The familiar sphere of fire and light that heralded the appearance of the Phoenix Gate, sweeping up up Brooklyn and Sata and they vanished.


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