Anahuatlacanco: The Land Between the Waters, Land of the Nahuatlaca
An Alternate History Timeline
By Luis Felipe Salcedo
[The Spanish Conquest]
Book I of Cortesia: The Series
Chapter VII: Aguilar Found, His Account
Diego de Ordás had returned from the mainland of Yokatlān without tidings of the Spaniards who were held captive. Though he was disappointed with the news, Cortés did not choose to postpone his departure from Kùutsmil, not wanting to risk the chance of his soldiers to destroy the relationship they had built with the local Mayans. The fleet of ships had been restocked with fresh provisions by the islanders and embarking his soldiers, Cortés, in the beginning of March, took leave of the island's hospitable shores. The squadron did not proceed very far before a leak in one of the vessels compelled them to return to the same port that they disembarked from.
Soon after returning to Kùutsmil, a canoe with several Indians was seen making its way from the neighboring shores of the mainland. On reaching the island, a soldier approached Cortés and his company of officers, deep in the middle of a conversation regarding Alvarado's punishment and demotion from officer.
His golden eyes closed for a mere second as he lowered his head to acknowledge the Superiors agreement to the infiltration of the Society. The nobody assigned to the task was Number VII, otherwise known as Xenjin.Saix turned his eyes toward toward the relatively new addition to their Order, appraising her. As long as Riku was a normal hot-blooded male, she should get the job done well enough. Another one of the newer members, known as Jeaxed, opened her mouth and said something. Saix wasn't particularly paying attention but he was sure it was something to add to the already discordant atmosphere.
These newer nobodies had been doing nothing but arguing since the meeting began, they had a thing or two to learn about respecting their elders. Jeaxed opened her mouth again, and presumed to tell Marluxia where she thought she should be sent, adding as an afterthought that it was up to him, the Superior. The girl was lucky that Marluxia had a relatively calm temperament, and he sighed something similar to a growl. This one was too cocky for her own good, and Marluxia's demeanor suggested he was growing impatient as well. Saix stifled a grim smile as Marluxia finally repremanded the unruly members and the room fell silent. Marluxia issued his orders.
The thought process was interrupted by Naryx's voice complaining about not recieving a mission. He didn't pay it any mind though until Marluxia's words sliced through the air.
"But I guess you would rather spent some company with Saix in his mission to collect some hearts in the Radiant Garden. It is your choice."
Saix stiffined, his hands clenching into fists as he turned to look at the Superior, emotions barely in check. He turned back around when he heard the boy approaching him.
Spanish soldiers conversing amongst themselves. He asked, in broken Spanish, "Am I among fellow Christians?"It had been a long time since he had a conversation with one of his fellow countrymen. He had been so long with the Indians that he had almost forgotten to speak Spanish but he carried with him the bits and pieces of a book of prayers, tied in a ragged bundle at his waist, and kept on repeating, fearful that he might forget the few Spanish words he remembered, "Dios, Santa Maria, and Sevilla." He soon recovered his lost language, and, as he also spoke the language of the Maya, an asset that the Spaniards would learn to utilize for their benefit.
One of the Spanish soldiers, Sandoval, gave him a suspicious look and said with a hint of hesitation in his voice, "Yes. You are among Christians."
The man, having his question answered, looked joyous. He threw himself down on his knees and muttered, "Thank you Holy Father for my delivery."
Cortés, once he recognized the naked, brown man as one of the captives, embraced him fervently and whispered in his ear, "No need to worry. You're among fellow Christians." He then looked at his officers. "What are you doing standing there? Go and find the man some clothes to wear and food to eat! He looks to have been through a lot."
Once the strange man had been fed and given a set of clothes to wear, Cortés sought to find out who he was. The man revealed himself to be Geronimo de Aguilar, from Ecija, a town back in Spain, where he had been educated to serve in the Church. He had been established with the Spanish colony at Darién, and on a voyage from that place, eight years ago, was wrecked near the coast of the mainland. Geronimo stated that he escaped with several of his companions on a small boat, where some ended up dying from hunger and exposure to the elements. Others were sacrificed, on their reaching land, by the natives of the peninsula.
He was saved from suffering the same fate by escaping into the interior, where he ultimately fell into the hands of a powerful chief, who though he spared his life, treated him at first with great rigor. Aguilar recollected to the men hearing his story on how he maintained his patience and humility; on how the chieftain was impressed with his resilience to join in to their customs. impressing the chieftain, who tried to persuade him to take a wife among
The patience of the captive, however, and his singular humility, touched the better feelings of the chief tain, who would have persuaded Aguilar to take a wife among his people, but the ecclesiastic steadily refused, in obedience to his vows. This admirable constancy excited the distrust of the cacique, who put his virtue to a severe test by various temptations, and much of the same sort as those with which the Devil is said to have assailed St. Anthony. 7 From all these fiery trials, however, like his ghostly predecessor, he came out un- scorched. Continence is too rare and difficult a virtue with barbarians, not to challenge their veneration, and the practice of it has made the reputation of more than one saint in the Old as well as the New World. Agui lar was now intrusted with the care of his master s household and his numerous wives. He was a man of discretion, as well as virtue ; and his counsels were found so salutary that he was consulted on all im portant matters. In short, Aguilar became a great man among the Indians. It was with much regret, therefore, that his master received the proposals for his return to his country men, to which nothing but the rich treasure of glass beads, hawk-bells, and other jewels of like value, sent for his ransom, would have induced him to consent.
On appearing before Cortes, the poor man saluted him in the Indian style, by touching the earth with his hand and carrying it to his head. The commander, raising him up, affectionately embraced him, covering him at the same time with his own cloak, as Aguilar was simply clad in the habiliments of the country, somewhat too scanty for a European eye. It was long, indeed, before the tastes which he had acquired in the freedom of the forest could be reconciled to the con straints either of dress or manners imposed by the arti ficial forms of civilization. Aguilar s long residence in the country had familiarized him with the Mayan dialects of Yucatan, and, as he gradually revived his Castilian, he became of essential importance as an interpreter. Cortes saw the advantage of this from the first, but he could not fully estimate all the con sequences that were to flow from it.
The repairs of the vessels being at length completed, the Spanish commander once more took leave of the friendly natives of Cozumel, and set sail on the 4th of March. Keeping as near as possible to the coast of Yucatan, he doubled Cape Catoche, and with flowing sheets swept down the broad bay of Campeachy, fringed with the rich dye-woods which have since furnished so important an article of commerce to Europe.