How Prince Marcos had become associated with the tribe was a mystery not fully solved. From what Tiani and Chief Gabor could piece together with Nicholas and Levi, Prince Marcos must have travelled to Tikal sometime after the death of his first wife, Lyla, and met Akna at one of the village trading posts, fell in love and married. They had a son, Emir, and stayed married for the remainder of their lives.
But Akna refused to leave her tribe, and Marcos refused to leave the luxuries of the modern world and his commitment and duties as Crown Prince of Madain Saleh to live in the wilderness. He travelled to visit his wife frequently and left her with over a million dollars when he died, but none of the tribe could read or write so the will was meaningless to them. The fact that they still had the will was a miracle in itself.
Akna and Emir must have understood its importance and impressed upon Emir’s son, Eadrich the necessity of holding onto that envelope, and that importance was passed on to Gabor, who shared the envelope with Tiani.
The envelope came with a legend about a light-skinned people who would come with complicated gadgets so futuristic the people bringing them would seem like gods. In reality, most of what the team of scientists had was basic survival materials: satellite phones, computers, prepackaged food and water, high-end shelters. Other than the LiDAR technology, everything else was equipment the Americans, Mexicans, and Guatemalans took for granted as commonplace.
After a full day of trekking through the dense jungle, followed by hours of being marched at the point of a spear, followed by hours of trying to understand one another, none of them could keep their eyes opened. Thankfully the tents were already in place and people began retiring to their respective places of refuge.
There was an unspoken understanding that the following day would be a day of rest and regrouping, trying to figure out where to go from here. The tribe members still didn’t understand what the team of scientists were doing there and why they wanted to see the temple pyramid. Somehow the team needed to explain the modern technology, the importance of preserving the inscriptions, and to convince them to show the team the rest of the way to the temple now that they were completely off track.
Explaining the team’s desire to study the temple pyramid proved to be more of a challenge then they anticipated. Modern technology included concepts that exceeded the tribal members’ limited understanding. They were warriors, protectors, watchmen, but not scientists. The only experience they’d had with antiquities was that of looters, thieves, destroyers. And they only learned of those through trade with the local villagers.
As far as their trade partners were concerned, the tribe was a small group of nomads who lived in the jungle, subsisting on limited resources. By trading in a variety of locations on opposite sides of the jungle they were able to conceal their vast population.
For hundreds of years looters had yet to discover the existence of this most sacred ancient site. Generations of this tribe had fiercely guarded its location. Because of the spiral of mounds surrounding the central pyramid, anyone wishing to search the area gave up after experiencing a maze of hills and valleys, dense jungle without paths and no obvious ruins in this wilderness.
Looters were correct in that respect. There were no ruins in this part of the wilderness, save this one location in the center of a complex spiral of hidden trails.
The path they had travelled that evening had been newly created in response to the foresters’ invasion in recent weeks. The tribe seemed to inherently understand that the small clearings were intended to be used by someone for a temporary settlement, but they didn’t know who or for what reason. Upon discovering the clearings, the tribe had created their own temporary settlement and laid in wait for the looters, ready to ambush them.
Levi’s ability to communicate in their native tongue had confused them. Most local looters would have spoken Spanish and been far more savage in appearance and stature.
Nicholas thanked his twin for diligently studying his chosen field of linguistics and said goodnight. He collapsed into his bedroll, pulled Becky into his arms, and fell asleep almost immediately.