Amazonas Peru ~ 15,000 square miles consisting of regions covered by rainforests and mountain ranges. The rainforest zone predominates (72.93%) and it extends to the north over its oriental slope, up to the border with Ecuador in the summits of the Cordillera del Cóndor.
The IUCN Red List features 58 animal species in Peru categorized as critically endangered in 2021 and 157 endangered. Another 209 animal species in the country were deemed vulnerable.
Our area of research: Condorcanqui Province, ~18,000 sq km (~7,000 sq mi). Primary rainforest with elevations ranging from 600 feet to mountain peaks of 4000 feet.
Our base of operations is the town of Santa María de Nieva: The capital of the province of Condorcanqui located on the banks of the Marañón River and the Nieva River with a tropical, warm and rainy climate.
lat/lon 4°36'0.04"S 77°51'57.04"W
In the rainforest of Amazonas spectacular species like the jaguar, spectacled bear and critically endangered species like the yellow-tailed woolly monkey are endemic to our area of study.
The mountain range zone is located in the southern provinces of the Amazonas Region and it only includes 27.07% of its whole territorial surface.
The majestic Marañón River valley constitutes one of the most important morphologic features of the region. The Marañón River flows from the central Andes carving out one of the world’s deepest river canyons, over twice the depth of the Colorado's Grand Canyon.
Scores of ruin sites hide in the rugged mountains including Revash, a funerary complex of multi-colored structures embedded in the mountain cliffs. And Laguna de los Condores (Lagoon of the Mummies) a site mostly destroyed by grave robbers. In 1997, a survey of the damage was taken by anthropologist Peter Lerche on the behalf of Peru's National Institute of Culture.
Chachapoyan Fortress located on mountain top overlooking the remote Utcubamba Valley in southern Amazonas. It was built by the Chachapoyas culture in the 6th century AD: 584 m long and 110 m in its widest part. The walls are 10 to 20 m high with masonry of limestone blocks finely worked (some blocks may weigh 3 tons).
The largest stone ruin site in the New World. Considered a minor site from 1843 until serious excavations in the 1980's lead in part by anthropologist Peter Lerche.
I’m a Legend Hunter, preferably for ones you won’t find on a wiki page. Like the lost Inca fortress of Enowapi guarded by an immortal creature, or "Did the Vikings sail up the Amazon River and start a colony somewhere in Amazonas"? And an indie documentarian.
Legends give me the opportunity to work with scientists and indigenous people who are dedicated to saving endangered wildlife of the Amazonas Peru.
This Legend of the Awajún Sacred Valley is an accumulation of years of research digging through Spanish chronicles of Hernando de Luque and Pedro Cieza de León (1520-1554).
As well, writers of noble Inca descent—Garcilaso de la Vega, called "El Inca", and Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala.
Along with studies of expeditions by Don Lope de Aguirre (And, of course, fictional work including Herzog's Aguirre The Wrath Of God).
Then personal visits to a number of ancient ruin sites of the Amazonas region. And for the final chapter interviews with Awajún elders in their remote jungle communities (ongoing as fast as humanly possible!).
With gratitude to anthropologist Peter Lerche for his undaunted support and willingness to share his expertise in the pre-European religious world of Amazonas' civilizations.
Awajún Field Guides and wildlife trackers:
Romero Anag, Head of the Native Community of Awananch.
Fermin, a community member of the Iwanch Ukagmamu Community.
Silas Shimpukat, Head of the Iwanch Ujagmamu Community and one who personally experience the sight of large white-haired animals that left footprints like those of an elephant.
Jose Bachuk, Head of the Ugkum Community.
Center: Demostenes Jima Chamiquit.
Special thanks to our Field Manager, Demostenes, and the Awajún Asociación de Mancomunidad Pamau Nain.
Legend of the Awajún Sacred Valley Part 1: 1500's
An immortal Beast, 3+ tons with elephant-like feet, believed by the Awajún to live in a nearly inaccessible, rugged valley guarding a sacred lake holding answers to the true El Dorado.
"What unknown lives in the vast expanse of the unexplored rainforest of Amazonas?"
At the end of this Journal you will have an answer.
EXT. ANDES MOUNTAINS PERU - DAY
HEE-EEEEE-AR! HAWK falls from clouds, wings loaf in wind, red tail feathers spread. Mountains tower as far as can be seen to left; lowland jungles stretch the same to right.
SUPER: “ANDES MOUNTAINS PERU – 1538”
HAWK (Voice Over)
For thousands of years Ancient civilizations arose and fell in this remote rugged land... Yet one -- an elusive nightmare to those who challenge the fate of death.
Hawk flies straight down, glides along narrow stone trail leading to the top of cloud covered mountain peak.
My home, El Dorado, ancient City of Gold --
Hawk screams toward massive fortress encircling the mountain summit: finely worked stone blocks sixty feet high stretch as far as can be seen to each side.
Wingtips/tail feathers twitch, ninety degree tactical turn inches from the wall.
Hawk glides aside the wall, strength from each calculated beat of wing builds speed to vertical climb -- barrel rolls down into the fortress open interior.
Flaps down, Hawk perches on rim of sentry tower.
but the gold is gone.
Deep within Hawk’s eyes:
ONE-ARM KING of the Ancients stands atop fortress tower.
One-Arm King widens his arm to the sky -- black and white vision forms in the blue.
KABOOM! Black musket smoke fills the air; soaked in blood robed Ancient falls to the dirt; steel armor blinding in sunlight ransack temples.
SCREAMS! Another barrage of musket shot; children lie lifeless in dust.
A plague of evil men, spewing hate besiege us -- our annihilation their goal.
One-Arm King looks to crowd of Ancients below. Waves his hand straight out.
ROBED ANCIENTS fill carts with anything gold pulled by strong men down the stone trail.
EXT. MOUNTAIN BASE
Last of the gold laden tumbrils disappear into the lowlands; their destination deep in jungle, a cave within the Awajún Sacred Valley.
One-Arm King tightens his raised fist.
I command the earth to shake!
EXT. MOUNTAIN SIDE
The mountain side collapses; a rumbling landslide entombs the mountain stone trail.
Clouds of black silt overtake the sky. One-Arm King, his eyes flaming red, slowly ascends into the black.
From within the neither world I will wait -- vengeance will be mine -- my return will see the death of all life on Earth and my minions to flourish!
Hawk flies to the fortress wall.
El Dorado a legend? -- but to some a dream... and for one -- a destiny written by the Spirits.
Hawk flies to the sky.
EXT. SAILING SHIP ATLANTIC OCEAN – DAY - 16TH CENTURY
KERBLAMMO! Ragged sailing ship lists violently broadsided by
the force of a ramparted sea; gale force winds RIP! the
sails to tattered strips.
Torrential rain etches the wooden deck like GUNSHOTS! from a
barrage of muskets.
SCREAMS! MEN's blood flows free; wind snatches it up to a
CAPTAIN, surly, greedy man; soaked red, grabs the helm from
his FIRST MATE.
Grasp this moment my mates. We've
seen life -- now we see death!
Choose which path you take and hold
your last breath ‘till the Evil has
INT. BELOW DECK
RICHARD, an Englishman of fair wealth, kind and generous yet
shy of morals -- makes way toward a ladder.
A lantern hung from the ceiling swings to the pulse of the
ship’s turbulent pitch and yaw.
His back hunched over, GRUNTS with each step, zig zags
across the seesawing floor -- grabs the ladder rail.
He looks to the steep ladder. Mutters, crosses himself,
pulls his lucky medallion from his pocket.
Yanks a jacket hood up obscuring his face, YELLS
unintelligibly, takes to the ladder...
EXT. SHIP - DECK
... emerges from below deck -- BAM! into a blast of death's
Knocked from his feet falls backward down the open hatch.
His shiny medallion falls from his hand onto the deck.
Richard watches the sky fall away; his screams muted by the
Ship's wooden figurehead, naked woman with long flowing
hair, challenges the next wave, winched to the wave’s crest,
Black clouds materialize over the thrashed deck. Churning,
enfolding, the darkness molds itself to an unearthly
From within the shade the dissonant voice of One-Arm King bellows.
ONE-ARM KING (V.O.)
Silly men. On a quest for gold
destroying peace and tranquility...
I take your souls but leave your
KABOOM! Thunder slams the ship like the hand of an angry
White lightning strikes the top of the mainmast, snakes
down, spreads tentacles across the deck.
ONE-ARM KING (V.O.)
I command Hell’s wind and rain to
take your eyes and ears ‘till the
light opens once again.
SCREECHES! Men hold onto what is near. Crushing waves of
salt tear at their skin.
The helm devoured, abandoned; the ship disappears into the
ONE-ARM KING (V.O.)
You'll remember this day as only a
storm. Within your heart I will
Distant sunlight breaks through the black.
Richard stands at aft deck as the crippled ship drifts
toward the pastel twilight.
The ship in the far distance; the full moon rises, faint
images of buildings appear below the moon.
BEGIN FLASHBACK SEQUENCE
EXT. ROYAL COURT LONDON – NIGHT
The full moon rises above the tops of buildings.
SUPER: "THREE MONTHS EARLIER"
Richard, eyebrows clinch hard, face frowns, stomps from the
YELLING MAN shouts from behind.
And don’t show your face at Royal
Court again, you contemptuous
Richard hails a carriage.
EXT. STREET - RICHARD’S HOME
Richard steps down from the carriage, his shoe plops into
horse manure, shakes his foot. Looks to the horse, tries to
At least it’s clean shit.
A copper piece changes hands to the CARRIAGEMAN. Richard
strokes the neck of the horse, walks to the door.
INT. RICHARD'S HOME - FRONT ROOM
Richard kicks his shoes off to a corner, stares at the
floor, slowly retreats to his study.
Richard drops into a chair at a cluttered desk, picks up his
father’s snuffbox, his “family crest engraved on the lid”.
Well father, the society you once
cherished... now full of
A "Payment Due" on the desk.
Richard crumples it, throws it to the floor.
Baron Elot wants all we have, the
house of course. He's forced my
creditors to call the notes,
knowing it can’t be so.
Sets the snuff box on the desk.
But yet, my love for you was never
about money. Perhaps to my demise.
Richard retrieves a gold medallion from the
desk drawer: criptic symbols etched on one side, Richard's family crest on the flip.
I've never believed in luck, as you
do with this. Perhaps I should give
it a try.
Places it in his pocket.
KNIEL, Richard's houseman and confidant, bursts through the
Sir, pardon, but it's said to be
Kniel hands Richard an envelope, wax seal: "Elot Manor".
Good GOD. What does Elot want now?
Richard tears open the envelope.
INSERT - BARONESS' NOTE
"Richard, perhaps I can give solace
to the deeds of today. Be at the
door 10 o’clock sharp. All will be
gone save my handmaiden."
BACK TO SCENE
Richard turns to the window, the full moon.
Father, all is not lost. For
pleasure and passion outweigh the
drudgery of mingling with such
small minded nobles.
Richard slides his sketchbook into his leather satchel,
leaves with his head high.
EXT. BARON ELOT'S MANOR OUTSIDE LONDON
Soft light in one curtained room, a moated manor house with
a labyrinth of secret passageways.
Baroness’ loyal HANDMAIDEN meets Richard at the door.
INT. MANOR - ENTRANCE HALL
Sir, be vigilant for even in an
empty house there are eyes and
ears. Up the stairs, last on the
right, be quick.
Richard taps the door lightly.
The BARONESS (26), fascinatingly vivacious, domineering,
dressed in her finest gown of lace and ermine. Pearls and
jewels adorn every part of her body... opens the door.
She stares submissively from feet to eyes -- replaces her
smile with scrunched eyes.
She grabs his belt buckle, yanks Richard inside -- nose to
I’m having such a terrible time. My
handmaiden undresses me. But she is
not here, is she?
Baroness whips around, her back to Richard, holds her hands
at her back neck, grapples the clasp of a pearl necklace.
Stupid thing -- please.
Richard carefully unlatches the necklace.
Put it in your satchel, silly man.
Richard strips all the jewels from the Baroness, places each
into a silk pouch on the dresser.
Your generosity, but --
-- You need to say little more this
night. If I wanted words I would
have summoned a poet.
Moans, giggles, a squeal fill the room, shakes the window; a
cup falls to the floor from the bedside dresser.
Candle flames dance from the thrash of bed sheets.
Silly Richard, now I understand why
the Ladies at Court whisper of your
talent. Come here silly, you
deserve one of mine.
The Baroness forcefully pulls Richard beneath the silken
sheet. The candles die to a final flicker. Darkness as the
Baroness replaces candles anew.
You said you would pose for me?
You are a quirky one. Would you
want me to lie naked unabashed on
the floor? Or perhaps shamelessly
poised in a stillness of dance?
I think partly covered by a silk
veil, lolled upon the settee.
Richard on the bed, wipes sweat from his brow with his
monogramed kerchief, places it beside.
Sketches wildly in his book, an image perfect to every
Baroness looks to the door.
M’Lord is back, take caution.
Richard jumps up, scrambles for clothes, races to the
window. Baroness giggles.
Silly Richard, take the passageway.
She slides a dresser to one side. Unseen she drops the silk
pouch into his satchel.
BARON ELOT, (60), a boisterous clown. Races up the stairs
laughing to himself.
Baron Elot, beams a wide grin, struts in.
Oh, my darling, what a hit I made
at the party! They were all
clamoring for my quip... top of my
He holds Baroness' shoulders.
Sorry you felt ill for you would've
most certainly enjoyed all that I
Oh, Silly, I’ve heard it all and
always a delight. So tell me more.
Oh, the bores, the bores. I can’t
stand them. Why do they have to
show up to ruin a good night... I
left knowing my muse was impatient
for my return.
BARON falls to the bed.
Undress me now for I need my sleep.
Baron Elot rolls, stares at the family crest of a
"monogramed kerchief in his hand". Calmly he stands.
Oh Silly, it’s just a kerchief. I
must have pick it up somewhere.
My God. RICHARD! The scoundrel I
found unworthy to be in Court. I’ll
make it right. The foul stench of
this rag will burn. And so will he!
My darling, what did you bring me?
EXT. FOREST – DAY
Richard on horseback rides beyond the trees -- he stands
tall in his saddle.
Imagine, a Baroness in my book!
INT. LONDON PUB - LATER
Richard fidgets at the table, twirls his medallion across his knuckles into the palm of his hand. Drops the coin to the table; lands symbols up. He frowns.
What luck for the evening.
Takes a sip of ale from his cup, shutters from the first burning
Three burly SAILORS enter loud and boisterous, sit near
Mates, those Spanish braggarts,
pile gold on their ships like bags
of grain, can hardly make way from
I’ve heard they smelt the gold as
ballast and fill their ship with
treasures to the mast.
Leans forward to his mates.
Now they are all off in the jungles
looking for some City of Gold...
All they find is death.
Richard picks up his medallion. Takes a big gulp of the ale,
tries to ignore the sailors’ chatter.
Aye, but that Spaniard, one who
returned, 'tis said he had a map to
the gold. One all bloodied from an
arrow in his captain’s heart... He
died from fever and the map lost.
Richard shakes his head, throws a coin on the table, leaves.
INT. RICHARD’S HOME - ENTRANCE HALL - NIGHT
Kniel, out of breath, bursts through the front door.
Sir, quick. Men are coming. Baron
Elot wants to hang you!
Richard at the top of the stairs.
Make to the docks... arrange
passage on the next ship.
Richard races down the stairs to his study.
Richard opens a wall panel, retrieves a sack of gold coin
and the Baroness' note.
DETERMINED MAN bangs on the front door.
DETERMINED MAN (O.S.)
By order of Magistrate, open now!
Richard grabs his satchel off the desk, knocks his father’s
snuffbox to the floor.
At the window, he turns, looks at the snuffbox.
The study door BURSTS open. Determined Man glares at
Richard slips out the window.
Determined Man lurches forward followed by SLOWER MAN.
Richard’s feet hammer on the brick path. Turns a corner,
stops. Back against the wall, holds his breath, listens for
Throws out his arm into the throat of Determined Man, knees
him in the groin. Determined Man squeals, doubles over.
Richard pushes the bent body to the ground. Runs.
Slower Man stoops over to his fallen comrade, stands, FWEET!
his police whistle.
Richard's streetlight shadow disappears into a jungle of
EXT. HARBOR LOADING DOCK
Clouded darkness. Waves slap against the wooden dock, the
soft PLUNK of oars; a small boat glides to the oil-lite
Kniel pulls in the oars as the boat hits the dock.
Richard, RICHARD. Hurry man, the
ship won’t wait.
Richard steps from the shadows, awkwardly boards the boat.
EXT. SAILING SHIP - AT ANCHOR
The squeal of the small boat’s fulcrums breaks the silence.
The oars in rhythmic strokes muscled by Kniel’s arms and
shoulders overcome the power of water.
Richard stands forward, the boat lurches toward a threemaster
Under a hung lantern the ship’s wooden figurehead, naked
woman with long flowing hair, glares at Richard; the boat
scrapes against the ship’s side.
Richard reaches for a rope ladder, throws a bag of gold
coins to Kniel.
You have been loyal to me. Make
your life free from my vice.
Captain briskly approaches Richard.
Sir, you’ve cost me time waiting
for a passenger. We’ll barely make
way with the tide.
What in coin do you need before
your men throw me from the rail?
Sir, only for what you think is
Richard holds out a gold coin. Captain’s eyes light-up, grin
beams across his face. Snatches the coin.
I’ll make sure you have a pleasant
Turns barking at CREWMEN to weigh anchor.
Richard backs up to the rail, follows it aft.
Grips the grimy rail, watches the lights of London recede.
His face tightens, teeth clench.
A JOLT as sails lift the ship forward.
In a loud spirited voice Richard cries out.
Elot, let all your children and
their children’s children forever
live with the blood that beats
within MY heart!
A blast of wind blows across the deck.
PRE-LAP - The ship’s bell CLANGS to a rhythmic beat.
END FLASHBACK SEQUENCE
INT. SHIP - BELOW DECK - DAY
Richard, blind and deaf, lies at the bottom of the ladder,
bloody, thrashed. Pulls, GROANS, slowly gains vision.
He takes one step at a time on the ladder to the deck.
EXT. SHIP - DECK
The sun lights a shiny object; he picks up his medallion
from the deck.
Richard stands at aft watching the receding storm.
The sun bleeds into the horizon.
EXT. OCEAN - DAY
The crippled ship drifts, masts draped over the railings.
EXT. SHIP - AFT
Richard and Captain watch the distant break of surf.
All my crew gone save three. No
sails, not even an anchor to drag.
The wind is pushing us to the
coast... I fear an end against the
The bit of gold coin I have will do
us nil. But I promise if we make it
alive I'll share equally... We must
work together without delay,
SIMON, THOMAS, JORGE, those left of the CREW, hear Richard's
Simon, a hefty short man with knives in his belt, pulls one
with a black pearl imbedded in the handle, cuts his palm,
offers his hand to Richard.
For blood is what makes a man, I
give you mine.
Thomas, tall scrappy man, dead black eyes.
We’ve been through Hell. Why not
Jorge, delicate features, always smiles.
I’d kiss you right now but let’s
Captain spies the coast.
Ahead. A mast -- a harbor! Make
haste my lads, we must beat the
tide... Lash what you can find,
whatever will float.
EXT. ROCKY COAST
The ship brakes the surf, the hull crushes, the stern rips
away. The wooden woman, naked, lies safe, wedged upon the
EXT. HARBOR DOCK - NIGHT
Simon sculls the makeshift raft to the dock. The craft PINGS
off the pier piling, SLAMS again with the surf’s ebb and
Teeter tottering Richard lassos a dock cleat in a wild horse
fight to steady the raft. Jorge joins in, pulls the rope
Thomas hugs the piling. Captain climbs Thomas’ shoulders
wrenches himself THUD to the dock, lays flat, spent.
A lanky man, WILLIAM (20), stands above, leans forward. A
simple wooden cross dangles from his neck.
Not a sight I see each day. Must be
your ship on the rocks?
Make good boy, lend a hand. We need
earth beneath our feet.
William holds out his hand.
My home, not far.
Leads the way to a small shoddy shack at the end of the
William lights a lantern. Offers bread and fresh water to
They left me here, my last
shipmates. Said I was too slow in
my mind. But look. I built this.
You are welcome here... There's a
pile of clothes... take what you
Exhausted, Richard and crew crash on the wooden floor.
EXT. STREET – DAY
William guides Richard and his men along a muddy road
through town lined with ramshackle buildings.
A DRUNK sits in an alleyway, sips a bottle.
The sin of this place stinks. When
a ship arrives the beggars,
thieves, women, come out like a
blight... beware, trust no one.
William presses his wooden cross to his chest.
But you can trust me.
INT. TAVERN - NIGHT
Richard approaches the PROPIETOR.
We ask food and ale, rooms for
five. Ney, six. And fetch the
barber, a shave and cut for me.
Seated at a table Richard with the Captain, crew and
William, reaches into his satchel.
As I promised, gold coins.
Seventeen coins drop to the table.
Make your way now as you please.
But tonight we relish LIFE.
Each of the four crew takes four.
William, guess you're the odd man
out, you only get one.
The night flows to drink and merriment.
Richard twirls his medallion across his knuckles into the palm of his hand. Drops the coin to the table; crest lands heads up.
Ah! The luck of the evening.
William slides into a seat at Richard's table, leans
Sir, maybe I am slow, but I'm
crafty. I've something for you, for
no other has shown me such
Boy, fear not. You were a bolt that
gave us shelter out of your
kindness. You owe me nothing.
Richard sips his ale, reaches to his medallion, secures it in his pocket.
There's a place, gold. They call it
El Dorado, a city of gold.
I've heard the tales. The
Spaniards on a folly into the
But Sir, I have the map.
Don't jest with me, boy. For you
yourself said beware of the
William stands, places his gold piece on the table.
On penance in Hell I tell the
truth... Here, the gold coin you
gave me. With it I could live like
a king in this place... I give it
back, for what we could find is far
beyond a king's riches.
Richard pushes the gold coin back toward William.
Boy, you are one for sure, more sly
than a serpent... Where is your
INT. TAVERN – DAY
Captain rolls coins in his hand, CLINKS. Simon with a rag on
his swollen face. Jorge wipes lipstick from his mouth.
Thomas spies Captain’s coins.
Men, be wake! William is not what
he seems, but is a clever boy. We
have a map, true as I can see, to a
place filled with treasure... El
Dorado, a city of gold.
What fantasy drove your mind crazy
with drink and women?
I speak true. Are you all not brave
from what we've gone through?...
Here, a new adventure.
Such an expedition is beyond the
few coins we have. A river ship,
food, supplies, arms to bare... Not
to mention companionship Ha!
On the ship I promised gold coins
to share... I didn’t say jewels.
Richard retrieves the silk pouch from his satchel, FLOP!
empties Baroness' jewels onto the table.
EXT. DOCK - DAY
Two-masted brigantine at dock. Captain at helm. Men load
Richard approaches the boat. A metal plaque "IRONWOOD" on
the side of the bow. With hands on hips....
Avast Captain. Permission to come
Aye, you scoundrel. I’ve waited all
morn for you. Meet me in my cabin.
INT. CAPTAIN’S CABIN
Richard comes through the doorway, ducks his head to a small
Holds Captain's shoulder.
All this in just a month. And I see
you’ve given her a name.
She’s built from forest ironwood,
strong as steel, will last a
Captain retrieves the map, lays it on the desk.
As you said it reads true. All but
this, a hole with this... blood?
Covering our journey's end... We'd
need luck of the Gods to find the
Richard stares at the map. A visible
chill shakes his body.
Reaches into his pocket for his medallion, twirls it across his knuckles to the palm of his hand... drops it on the map.
It lands directly on the blood hole, symbols up.
More than Luck. My father's
medallion... See, a perfect fit,
the engraving tallies to the
We have our journey. We have our
men! We have a sign slipped from
the heavens by God.
Captain, we have her aboard!
Richard and Captain head to the deck.
EXT. IRONWOOD - DECK
Jorge, Simon, Thomas stand proud, steady the wooden
figurehead, naked woman with long flowing hair.
We made to the rocks at low tide.
She was waiting for us.
Captain strokes the woman's hair.
Now we have companionship, Hah!
EXT. RIVER - LATER
Ironwood heads downriver, trees and vines on shore bow over
the water, birds SING, monkeys CHATTER.
EXT. IRONWOOD - HELM
Richard sports a beard. Captain with a grin.
We'll make the Jesuit mission by
dark. One of the crates below I
brought for them. So we'll have a
Ah, time ashore. We’ll break out
some rum for the crew... I need
some solitude without their
EXT. JESUIT MISSION LANDING
William jumps to the dock, Richard throws a rope; William ties off Ironwood.
William, make haste up the path...
with curtesy announce our arrival
to the Priest.
Richard, Captain and crew walk up the path, top of the hill.
A graveyard to the left, nine graves and a tenth half dug.
Each crosses themselves as they pass.
INT. PRIEST HOUSE
William walks through an open door. A dining table upturned,
fresh food on the floor, chairs strewn about, pottery
He cautiously moves to the kitchen. Bodies on the floor,
limbs dismembered, torsos mutilated.
He vomits --
Staggers from front door.
Stops, hunches, William’s eyes roll to left -- right.
Slowly stands erect, turns, walks backward, stares at nearby
Turns, picks up pace on dirt path.
William rushes toward Richard.
Their heads are gone! Their heads
Calm down, what do you say?
Inside... four men beheaded... and
theirs heads are gone!
Make to the boat, ready the arms.
Post the boat at anchor far from
shore... Leave only the skiff at
Richard turns to Jorge.
Search the house. The dead will not
mind if we take what we need.
Richard looks to the graveyard.
Now there will be thirteen.
EXT. RIVER - NIGHT
Ironwood makes way downriver, rippled waves fan out to each
EXT. IRONWOOD - HELM
Captain steadies his hand on the helm, Richard leans on the
near rail. Simon walks sentry.
What manor of man takes heads as
Looks to the shore.
Why such silence from the forest?
To ARMS! TO ARMS!
Simon points aft.
Behind us in a canoe, their arrows
are flying. The savages are painted
black, barely to be seen in the
Extinguish all lanterns... To aft,
give them a volley of English lead.
Thomas at mid-deck. Arrows bounce off Ironwood's hull.
Sir, arrows now come from the
shore. They follow us into a trap.
The Captain rushes forward...
... stuffs the Bow Chase cannon with ship nails, aims to the
See your death!
KA-BOOM! The cannon jerks back, smoke billows from the
Sir, their canoes retreat.
Captain, startled, stares ahead. Clouds part. The moon
shines on white capped surf. Water rages, ROARS!
GOD, hold tight!
Sheer canyon walls close in, forces water into a churn
of whirlpools. Waves break, slam at Ironwood.
EXT. RIVER – DAY
Ironwood lies forced into a muddy shore.
EXT. RIVER BANK
Richard squats, leant against a tree.
William wrings out his shirt, plops down next to Richard.
Thomas and Jorge, muskets in hand, stare at the thick
Simon lights a fire.
Captain with map folded in hand.
Lads, our way now is through
jungle... collect only what you
need, be ready at dawn. I can smell
the gold. Gold! for us all.
I ask of you to stay with the boat.
Anchor far from shore, stay
vigilant, await our return.
Richard takes hold of William's shoulder.
There are stores aboard for a
month. I plea you wait but if you
must leave I'll carry no ill wish.
Sir, with my gold coin I'll live
like a King in this place.
EXT. IRONWOOD DECK – DAWN
KA-GLASH! Ironwood’s anchor falls from her bow.
Hands on Ironwood’s rail William watches the shore as Richard leads the crew toward the thick jungle.
He grins -- enthusiastically waves his arms goodbye.
INT. IRONWOOD CABIN
William plops down in Captain’s chair, spins about with feet in air, grins.
Looks to Captain’s closet, dresses in Captain’s steampunk jacket -- stands before small mirror, salutes himself.
Looks to the floor: Richard’s medallion shinning in the sunlight.
William races topside.
EXT. IRONWOOD DECK
Cups his hands – shouts.
Richard. Richard, your medallion.
His call echoes and drifts away.
EXT. JUNGLE TRAIL - DAY
Simon and Jorge at point cut through thick jungle with
Thomas, a large pack on his back, pushes forward.
Captain, Richard close behind, surveil the surroundings.
We’ve been in this jungle too
bloody long. Three nights sleeping
in trees. I wish for my bed... and
pray this map is true.
Captain comes to a halt, stiffens, listens, relaxes his
Raise yourself into that tree and
Captain, a clearing ahead and small
EXT. LAKE - LATER
Simon and Jorge, machetes at ready, cautiously track toward
a lake at the bottom of a sheer cliff that rises high into
Thomas adjusts his pack, follows forward. Captain and
Richard, muskets at ready, walk backward behind Thomas.
At the water’s edge, Thomas drops his pack. Jorge and Simon
stoop down, splash water in their faces.
Captain and Richard take one last look toward the jungle.
This is it my mates. As true on the
map; a cave on the far side of the lake. The last challenge to reach
Captain throws his musket to Jorge.
Scout for signs of savages.
Tend a fire and prepare a best
meal, and a bit of rum.
LAKE – NIGHT
The chatter of nocturnal monkeys stops. Air deathly still.
Startled, Jorge, Thomas, Simon reach for their muskets.
Captain and Richard stare at the Lake.
One-Arm King appears in bodily form suspended above the lake -- savage red eyes glare --
Within your hearts I have beat. I see the darkness you each hold...
Your fate before you yet to continue you must show your true
Captain, Jorge, Thomas, and Simon, paralyzed, levitate --
pulled before One-Arm King’s outstretched hand.
Your Captain, his hollowness to fill with Greed.
One-Arm King grabs Captain by his throat -- AHHGG! Captain morphs into a huge hideous creature that runs on four legs.
Jorge, his will a hunger to covet flesh -- Lust.
One-Arm King RIPS! off Jorge's arms -- his body explodes into a huge
Thomas, conniving malevolence -- Evil.
One-Arm King’s fist SLAMS the side of his head –- every bone in
Thomas' body CRACKS, expands to a beast with raging red eyes.
Simon, his blood he values yet eager to flow that of a fellow man
Simon SCREAMS! – One-Arm King's hand holds Simon’s beating heart over
his head, SQUEEZES -- blood thickens to a fourth beast. Long white hair and feet of an elephant.
One-Arm King reaches out his hand as far as the edge of the lake.
(to Richard, softly)
Give me the medallion and I will let you live… give it to me, my release into your world…. I will give you power -- more power than any mortal understands.
Richard reaches to pants. His hand pushes through a torn pocket… he looks to his hand.
I…I’ve lost it.
AHHGGG!... puny human!
Richard levitates, twisting in the air SCREAMS, arms and legs flay.
A swipe of One-Arm King’s hand -- Richard spins into the cave.
You will lie with demons in a place neither hell nor heaven.
They will guard this place as they grow stronger.
Then your fate will be tested.
Legend of the Awajún Sacred Valley Part 2: 1900's
So here we are now. Somewhere along the way a legendary One-Arm King morphed humans into 4-legged creatures with long blond hair and elephant-like feet cursed to spend eternity guarding a sacred lake that holds answers to the true El Dorado.
Or ↣ is this a story of such creatures merely because, as we very much understand; No one knows what unknown lives in the vast unexplored jungles of Amazonas.
El Dorado – The Golden. A legend born nearly 500-years ago by Basque conquistadors at first perhaps the "Gilded Man": Spiritual leader of an ancient civilization, his body covered in gold dust upon a gold laden raft to give offerings to the Goddess of a sacred lake.
And then becoming a mountain fortress high in the Andes, and finally deep within the formidable jungles of Amazonas, the sacred lake.
In 1560, Basque conquistadors Pedro de Ursúa and Lope de Aguirre journeyed down the Marañón River (Amazonas) in search of El Dorado, with 300 Spaniards and hundreds of natives. The actual goal of Ursúa was to send the now useless veterans of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire to their oblivion, using El Dorado myth as a lure.
Chachapoyas town; at 7661 ft. elevation situated in the mountains far from the Peruvian coast, Chachapoyas remains fairly isolated from other regions of Peru. Founded in 1538 by the Spanish conquistador Alonso de Alvarado and now capital of the Department of Amazonas.
EXT. ANDES MOUNTAINS PERU - DAY
Wingtips/red tail feathers twitch – each calculated beat of wing builds speed to vertical climb – Hawk barrel rolls down over a narrow stone trail to meadowed field lined with Native huts.
Talons grip roof of palm-thatched hut – pupils dilate – watches:
Bare-breasted, khaki shorts, rope belt tied tight to her side; DRAE, (21), wily, perceptive, delicate as rose blossom's thorn -- stands on ritual stone alter in center of Native village.
Torsos painted black, faces colored red, Natives in frenzied chant dance about the stone to rhythmic beat of slit drums.
Crowd parts, SHAMAN DIEZ, four black tattoo dots over each eyebrow, dressed in fine ceremonial robe with feathered headdress, steps one at a time toward Drae, places his hand on a birthmark on Drae's left shoulder.
Holds wooden bowl to Drae's lips, pushes bottom up; slurp streams from Drae's mouth down her bosom.
FORECFUL NATIVE pulls Drae's hands behind her back, whip of rope ties her wrists. Forceful Native draws Drae down – back THUDS on ground.
Grabs Drae's head in a vice-grip hold.
Shaman Diez leans over Drae's face, long knife dagger-handed, dips the point in a black goo; a surgeon's skill pricks two dots above Drae's left eyebrow.
Lays yellow leaf across her forehead.
SHAMAN DIEZ "Now you will see your destiny".
Crowd of Natives chant louder.
Forceful Native lifts Drae to her feet, takes knife from Shaman Diez. His thumb strokes across Drae's neck. Lowers the knife, cuts hand-bound rope.
Drae, in hallucinating stupor, raises her arms straight up, palms stretched to sky, YELLS.
CLINCK! of knife hits metal, Drae wakes.
Shaman Diez over fire stirs pot with knife.
Throws in mushroom, stalk of vine, leaves, bark – stirs.
Drips knife point into his hand – licks – smiles.
Spits into pot.
Drae squats cross-legged by the fire. Looks at pot bubble, sniffs, cringes her nose.
Shaman Diez laughs, dips metal cup into pot, places his hand over cup – soft chant. Blows on cup.
Hands forward to Drae.
Drae sticks her nose to cup, takes a sip.
Shaman Diez reaches to cup's bottom, pushes to Drae's lips – Drae slurps; drool runs from corners of her mouth – GAG, BURP!
Shaman Diez settles back, arms folded.
EXT. FOREST - NIGHT
Shaman Diez stares at Drae – her face flinches.
Drae's eyes dilate, rapid blinks. Stands... raises her head and arms high to night sky – falls backward on her butt – stone faced.
Face flushes; within her eyes swirls of color expand, envelopes her body – her form dissolves to SPIRIT DRAE – rises from ground.
Suspended Spirit Drae reaches for Shaman Diez – her hand flows through his face with trail of blue colors.
Shaman Diez beams wide smile.
Spirit Drae rises to sky above tree tops: full moon haloed in soft white clouds.
Thick black cloud barrel rolls from horizon – churns, unfolds; the darkness molds itself to unearthly menacing form.
From within the shade dissonant female voice of SIREN, manic creature, softly whispers.
SIREN (V.O.) "I could take you to the depths of Hell – or to the steps of Heaven... but for you – the form you have chosen from within your heart."
Siren appears in bodily form – savagely beautiful – reaches her hand to Spirit Drae's forehead.
Spirit Drae trembles; legs buckle; crouches on all fours – morphs to black JAGUAR DRAE, white teeth bare.
Jaguar Drae leaps to tree top, looks to jungle below; heat signatures from every living creature shine bright.
Sounds of forest SING in loud chorus from tiny cricket to CHATTER of nocturnal creatures.
In choreograph perfection, Jaguar Drae bounds from tree limb to tree limb – THUMPS to soft rainforest floor.
Her eyes spy small Dog-like animal contently digging for its prey.
Silent steps; Jaguar Drae stealthily moves forward.
Two puppies run from brush to Dog-like.
Dog-like pulls its head from dirt hole – eye-to-eye with Jaguar Drae – Dog-like snarls viciously.
Jaguar Drae lays to ground, stares.
Hawk drops from tree tops – snags one of the puppies on the fly, soars to sky.
Dog-like grabs remaining puppy by the nap – runs for thorny brush.
Jaguar Drae watches Hawk fly in distance.
EXT. JUNGLE – DAY
Jaguar Drae pokes through brush, looks to lake at bottom of sheer cliff that rises high into clouds.
Siren appears over lake, beckons Jaguar Drae forward.
SIREN "You are everything around you. Everything around you is you... Live your life through the eyes of those hunted – and through the hearts of those loved."
Siren holds Jaguar Drae’s head.
SIREN "They followed greed, not what was given to them."
Siren holds up Richard's lucky gold medallion.
SIREN "This... soon yours… it guides and protects – I command you and all your unborn be its guardian – for your destiny is beyond your life."
Drae's rickety '64 VW Bug pulls away onto a single lane dirt road – a sporadic BLAST of the horn to warn those ahead at switchback curves up the side of a mountain high into the clouds.
Drae looks out the window, a sheer drop-off just inches from the front tire.
For a split second Drae clenches her eyes.
The road bends sharp; dark thick rain blocks the roadway.
A BLAST of lightning strikes the cliff.
ka-CRASH! boulders fall onto the road behind the Bug.
Small rocks hit the top, large rocks smash into the pavement ahead – Drae punches the accelerator, weaves through a maze of stone.
Rear wheel ricochets off a boulder, bounces the Bug into the cliffside.
Drae slams into low gear, tires spin in the rain water, grab to a lurch forward.
Solid wall of fallen rock ahead – brakes SQUEAL, Bug slides sideways.
A twist of doorknob metal CRACKS the silence...
INT. DRAE'S BEDROOM CHACHAPOYAS – NIGHT
CREAK, door opens to a dark bedroom; hallway light streams a long shadow across the wooden floor.
CLICK! bedside light illuminates a large sparse room: yellow nightstand, canopy bed with six pillows, wooden dresser.
Fashionable black boot shoves the door to close. NIX, black cat, makes a last second dash into the room.
Calendar on the door hung by a snag fishhook: "August 1974".
Drae reaches out.
Glossy red fingernails snatch black marker swung from the hook by black ribbon: whips an "X" on the last day, scribbles "1,824".
DRAE "Since you have been gone..."
Pulls open the drapes across balcony glass door, steps out, reaches for railing, pulls herself forward, head just over the rail, looks down two floors.
Clenches her eyes shut, an uncontrollable shake of her shoulders, pushes herself back, a heavy sigh.
She stands before the dresser mirror.
Carefully sets her compass on the polished wood, opens the flip top. Cursive etch inside the silver lid "Drae, your way will be shown. Love, Father."
DRAE "I love you too..."
With her thumb and index finger Drae plucks a large metal sowing needle from a pincushion, stirs it above the compass like a witch's brew.
The pointer spins erratically.
DRAE "Round and round... where art thou?"
Removes her clothes, throws them to a pile on the floor.
Looks to the mirror, teeth clench, exhales. Tight to the mirror squints at her eyes.
DRAE "I’d jump into Hell naked..."
Buttons a slinky white top that falls to her knees.
Pulls up a pin on a mechanical alarm clock, sets the clock on the bed stand. Turns on a nightlight. Turns off the bedside lamp.
Plops onto the bed. Throws a pillow to the corner wall. Nix jumps on, kneads.
Drae slips under the covers, pulls the silk sheet to her chin, rolls on her side.
Her eyelids flicker... close.
Morning sunlight breaks over the red tiled roofs of Chachapoyas – ancient stone walls intermix with steep walkways leading into alley ways from the Plaza de Armas.
The heels of Drae's shoes click in cadence up the stone alley, at one point a purposeful tap that echoes from the stone walls. She stops at an old weathered door. Sign "National Institute of Culture" hangs on the side wall.
Keys jangle; she walks in. A single table, wooden chair to the back of the room. Shelves, a menagerie of pottery, carve statuettes, odd shapes of stone stacked shelf after shelf.
Drae leans over the table to a red linin cloth: knife with black pearl imbedded in the handle, iron colored rock.
Drae’s ASSISTANT fumbles through the open door.
"Good God... you’ve been gone for days and here you are staring at your father's rock – you’ve had me worried – in the jungle by yourself."
DRAE "And you’d think yourself to be my protector from wild beasts?"
ASSISTANT "I’d let them eat me first... such indigestion would surly save you."
Drae laughs silently, picks up the rock "It’s weird, it weighs more than any other rock this size. Look at this, how it shines in sunlight." Hands the rock to Assistant. His uncooperative fingers miss the mark.
Drae snags it as it taps the wooden floor. The rock disintegrates; blinding light blows out the room.
Drae sits on the floor; gold medallion in her hand, cryptic symbols on one side, family crest engraved on the flip.
The Chachapoyan mountain rain can happen in the September springtime.
But you get used to it. Drae takes a turn up a stone alley, sign over a rolled-up door:
"Erick’s Magic Bus
VW Repair Emporium"
Pool of rainwater around her feet, Drae shakes her umbrella, props it on the side wall of the garage. Her VW, rolled onto a tarp on the dirt floor. Tools shattered about; man’s legs stick out from under the front of the car.
There is always magic. Here Erick is under a VW pulling on a broken tie rod; "Is it bad?" Drae asks.
The reply (grumpily): "Look Lady, next time you wanna crash into a mountain let me know ahead of time so I can get the parts."
Scooting out from under the car Erick looks up - Drae’s patch-worked denim skirt.
ERICK (cordially) "Wanna have lunch?"
This is when things can get confusing when you live in two worlds. Sometimes they converge and all heck breaks out.
Some would put it off on plants and mushrooms; others know better.
Reflections of the world are everywhere – when the mirror is gone it is not surprising...
Anyway, while Erick became consumed with photography, Drae found an emotional attachment to plants.
Both of them share an obsession of myths and lore; always a force that drives forward.
With frequent visits to archaeological sites throughout Peru – some rarely if ever visited by a tourist – and personal adventures into the lowland jungles – it was home.
Eventually it was time to leave home for bright wonders elsewhere: China, Pakistan, Panama, Spain... With no idea how to pay for anything beyond the kindness of fellow Travelers and opportunities as bartending story-teller and diplomatic waitress. Survival not thought about, only adventure of the next day.
A focal point of importance came and RaeL was born.
But maybe one more foray of early Chachapoyan days...
EXT. MOUNTAIN TRAIL - DAY
Drae on a 16-hand steed down a steep trail, Erick on mule, pack mule in tow.
Hooves SPLASH into the river’s edge.
Heads up the rocky shore, stops whenever a small clearing appears in the jungle. Monkeys chatter, macaws fly overhead. Close to sundown.
DRAE "... someone’s calling..."
Drae runs into the thick underbrush, pushes vines away, peeks through to a small clearing.
A ship's wooden mast towers from the underbrush.
Drae rips into the brush – Ironwood's figurehead: woman with long flowing hair.
Drae creeps through the vine to a wooden door. Slowly, CREAKS! open. She inches forward into the dark shack.
Erick holds a lantern over his head, illuminates Drae.
The room is ornately decorated in metal; a ship's bell hangs in the corner, a canon at the back pointed at the door.
Upon the bed, wearing what was fine clothes, arms crossed, a skeleton rests.
ERICK "This isn't a place to sleep. I’ll tend the horses and set up the tent."
Drae looks at the MAN, a gold coin in his hand.
Above Man a metal hook on the wall, the wooden cross hangs. As she holds it in her hand...
SIREN (V.O.) "Your fate is not yet safe. For now, live your life – take the cross and coin."
DRAE (sarcastically) "Thanks for your permission... there is more to this than you tell... this Man rests here in a darkness you designed but to what? – play a role in your riddles?"
Siren forms within a luminescent mist.
SIREN "Don’t mock me! I temper myself to your ego only out of desperation – there is no grand scheme... only destiny."
DRAE "Show me! What fate awaits through the trials you demand? – I have no fear of death."
SIREN "Oh, you will not die... but you may wish you had – unless..."
Flows up to Drae.
SIREN "… eliminate who you are not. For you hold the future, not only of your Earth, but that of the Spirit world."
Drae backs up slowly, leaves.
Campfire's blaze CRACKLES. Drae settles on ground next to Erick.
DRAE "Inside, a Man. Somehow I think of him as a friend, kind and loyal."
ERICK "I know, his Spirit is here now."
DRAE "What do you mean?"
ERICK "When you said someone's calling, it wasn't a call I heard. I saw your friend in front of his new home, proud, built from the wood of a ship... he was very happy."
Erick throws more wood on the fire.
DRAE "Do you believe in destiny?"
ERICK "Nothing is written in the stars... only within your spirit -- this... around us... a stage..."
Turns to Drae.
ERICK "We are actors of what our spirit writes."
DRAE "So, my spirit pens you into my story?"
ERICK "It’s good to have a copilot."
Drae grabs small stick from fire, SMACKS Erick on shoulder -- sparks fly.
Erick jumps up. Brushes away tinder.
DRAE "I don’t need a copilot... I'm quite capable of flying my own life -- tell my Spirit to rewrite who you are!"
Erick poses Pasa Doble strut: arms above his head, pulls in his chin.
ERICK "I could be a dancer, prance about wildly."
Stands like Superman.
ERICK "Or better yet, a Wildman of the Mountains carrying a love potion."
DRAE "Use it on yourself... I’m immune."
ERICK "The fair damsel protest too much – but yet I see a sparkle in your eyes --"
DRAE "-- that’ll burn right through you."
ERICK "Better to burn than rust away."
DRAE "When that moment comes it'll be a fire you'll never forget."
ERICK "There’s always a special moment... one that's waiting for you.”
Wind whistles through trees; stars trace across sky.
In late 1990 I met with Drae and Erick in Chachapoyas. We traveled together for several weeks into the Vilaya Valley visiting archaeological ruins. As I left Chachapoyas they were getting ready for an extended trip into the Amazonas rainforest, saying they had new information about the "cryptic symbols" of the gold medallion – perhaps some kind of map.
They declined my request to see the medallion.
Now, more than 20-years since that meeting – no word about Drae and Erick... until... did I say Shaman Diez?
Now it’s time for the Here and Now... and yes, what of the Beast? To Be Continued... Part 3, the Present Day, coming soon
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