Uchu trudged into the square outside the temple. He couldn’t bring himself to look up, to see the bare stones that had once gleamed with intricately crafted gold. His grandfather had made many of those panels. He had repaired and improved upon them, adding his own artistic flourish to an already impressive work. And now…
Now he wasn’t even receiving commissions from noblemen. What use was a goldsmith when any gold would be snatched away? Who needed art when the empire was falling into ruin?
The Spaniards had set up a table in front of the temple stood. A queue of local people trudged past. From what Uchu had heard, anybody who wasn’t a simple peasant was being summoned, so that the conquerors could decide what to do with them. At least he knew that they liked gold. Maybe he wouldn’t just be left to rot.
Ahead of him, a local official reached the front of the queue. As the Spaniards asked him questions, he began raising his voice, indignantly pointing out what a powerful and influential man he was, how smart he was, how helpful he could be if they would just-
The Spaniard’s fist knocked the man from his feet. Before the official could get up, the Spaniard leapt over the table and started kicking him. By the time the Spaniard grew bored and returned to his seat, the man’s face was a bloody ruin, his teeth decorating the flagstones.
Terror knotted Uchu’s insides. He wasn’t tough. He couldn’t take such a beating. What if they didn’t like what he had to say? What if they didn’t want anyone else touching gold? What if he just said something wrong by accident?
He forced himself to look up as he reached the table. Two Spaniards sat there, chests wrapped in gleaming metal. A youth stood beside them, acting as translator.
“They ask who you are,” the translator said.
“I am Uchu the goldsmith,” Uchu said.
He saw the disdain in the Spaniards’ eyes as the youth translated his words.
“Please,” Uchu said, sinking to his knees. “I can be useful. I can make ornaments for you, as I do for our lords and priests. Jewellery, statues, decorations like we had on the temple…”
He gestured toward the bare stones behind them.
One of the Spaniards rose to his feet and strode around the table. He was saying something. He grinned, but it was a fierce smile, not a warm one. There was a spot of blood on his cheek.
“He does not like our statues,” the translator said. “He says he should kill you for making images of false gods.”
The Spaniard drew his sword.
Uchu sank to his knees. A damp patch spread across the front of his tunic. The Spaniard laughed and raised his blade.
“Please,” Uchu said, hands clasped together. “I will make whatever you want. I could make a statue of your god.”
The Spaniard’s expression only worsened.
“Or of your wife,” Uchu said.
The Spaniard’s face creased deeper into bitterness.
“Or of you!” It was a wild idea, a ludicrous idea. Gold was sacred, it was a gift. What sort of man would want it turned into a statue of himself?
Uchu bowed his head, tears streaming from his eyes, and waited for the worst.
The Spaniard said something. His voice had changed.
“He says yes,” the translator said. “He will bring gold and you will do this. But if you take any of his gold-”
“Of course not!” Uchu exclaimed. “Whatever you want!”
Relief turned back to fear as he stared up at the Spaniard. All he had ever wanted was to honour the gods with his art, to capture what was noble in the world. But there was nothing noble here. Nothing divine or uplifting to portray. And if he failed, it could only mean a terrible end.
His breath became swift and shallow. He was sure that the Spaniard could see through his deceit. These men had strange powers. They could kill a man just by pointing a stick. They rode thunderstorms made flesh. They could destroy a man by thinking. Uchu shook as he had never shaken before.
And then he imagined capturing this feeling in gold. The awful sensation of doom that had settled over him and his city. The monstrous angularity of this man’s face. The horrors of defeat and of loss.
He would make something new. Something that reflected what they had been through. Something he could make in gold for the Spaniard but that he could also carve from wood for his people. A reminder of who they were. A remnant of divine art in the darkness.
As Uchu rose, the Spaniard laughed and pointed at the stain on his crotch. He didn’t care. A vision was unfolding in his mind. Shapes it had never occurred to him to make before. Designs out of nightmares, but that filled him with a passion he had thought lost.
Uchu bowed, then turned and walked away, his heart hammering with excitement.
The next man stepped up to the table.
* * *
Coming soon from Peachill Publishing…
Inca: The Golden Sun
A desperate Spaniard has escaped a life of miserable poverty and fled to the wild unknown. They called it The New World. It was hot, and it was hostile. After watching his countryman seize Mexico and Panama, however, Francisco Pizarro knew if he could just find another empire to conquer, it would mean riches, power, and fame. And it would all be his, so long as it didn’t kill him and his 200 men first.
* * *
The moment the Emperor expired, war erupted for the throne atop the Inca Empire. By killing his brother, the great warrior Atahualpa didn’t just claim the throne, he earned it. He was the God King, a direct descendant of the Sun God Inti. Nothing would stop him or his empire of 10 million souls from leaving their mark in this world, for themselves becoming the greatest the Gods have ever seen.
* * *
INCA: THE GOLDEN SUN is the riveting story of two men on a violent collision course. From the ancient cauldron of jealousy, greed, and fury erupted a war that changed the fate of mankind.
Welcome to The New World.
Take what’s yours before it takes you.