Chapter 1 excerpt

Mira, after she had carried her daughter into her bed,
undressed her, put her pajamas on then tucked her
in, sat at the edge of her bed and watched her for a few seconds
longer, thinking, My darling, you have proven yourself
today. You are as strong as I thought you would be. I’m so proud
of you. Well done.

Matica had fallen asleep sitting on the table telling her
and her brother Aikon everything she had seen and experienced
walking with her dad to the big city of Cajamarca
and back. On the way home, after they had visited the Inca
dwelling, a nasty, huge, black and hairy spider with long
legs and a large, round body – as big as a dinner plate – had
bitten her dad on his ankle twice, as they had found out
later. Seeing the bite, they treated it with the leaves the condors
had given her dad. He suffered a near-death experience
while having a bad reaction to the bite and the poison. She
also told them how tormented she had been, that she didn’t
know what to do until the birds had found them through a
raven, as she believed it was.

Aikon came to the door, shook his head, interrupting his
mother’s thoughts. ‘That must have been really something
that she fell asleep now. It’s not even lunchtime.’
Mira stood up and guided him out of the room. ‘No wonder,
I would say, Aik, with what she had to go through.’
Aikon sat at the table, staring into the nothingness. His
eyes clouded over when he nodded and whispered, admitting,
‘Well, I couldn’t have done that at all.’
Mira pulled out a chair from under the table and sat opposite
him. Smiling at her son, she said, ‘Give me your hand,

Aikon, frowning and not looking at his mother, rather
looking at the table top, reached his hand across the table.
Mira took it and patted it, looking for long seconds at his
brown and wavy hair.

Finally she stated, ‘Don’t say that. You could do it as well,
if you had to, as Matica had to, because she was pushed into
it.’ As his eyes filled with tears, thinking about what his sister
had told him how it was after their dad was bitten, he
shook his head and tried to blink the tears away to clear his
vision. Since it didn’t work, he wiped his eyes with the back
of his other hand. Then he looked up into his mother’s eyes
when she continued. ‘You would have done the same as your
sister did. The ability kicks in when you are in danger, in
trouble and in jeopardy. I believe that very strongly.’
He looked with disbelief into his mother’s eyes and shook
his head slowly and probed, ‘You think so?’
Mira nodded and squeezed his hand. ‘Yes, I believe that
very strongly.’
‘You have lots of faith in me.’
Mira nodded.
‘But,’ he pointed out, ‘I’m only five and three-quarter years
old. Mat is much older. She’s ten. Do you think I still could
have done it? I think her age kicked in and she knew better
what to do in that situation. Don’t you think?’ He pursed his
lips. ‘You only like to cheer me up.’
‘You’re a wise and clever boy. Hmm, maybe,’ Mira mused.
‘I hope you never need to go through something like that.
It’s terrible as it is at all ages. It would have been to me as
well. At least she had the condors. They helped her. Without
them?’ She shook her head. ‘I don’t know what would have
Aikon nodded, not even saying anything about his
mother’s remark of being a wise and clever boy as he would
normally do. He just acknowledged, ‘Yes, that’s the answer
Mat could cope with. The condors.’

Mira put his hand down on the table, stood up and went
into her bedroom to undress her husband, since Pajaro,
when they brought him home, had laid him fully dressed
on his bed. First she pulled off his shoes then started to pull
down his trousers when she heard her daughter’s throaty
voice. She looked up, frowned, then went back to her bedroom.
Aikon stood in the door, watching his sister. Mira had
to look over the top of his brown, curly locks.
Matica was propped up on her elbow in her bed, straining
to keep her eyes open as she looked at Aikon. Next her eyes
wandered up to her mother. ‘Talon,’ she muttered.
Aikon looked up at his mother, stating, ‘Mum.’ He looked
back at his sister. ‘I guess she really wants to hear the story
about Talon. She can’t let it go for today.’
‘It looks that way. But I don’t think she has the strength to
hear it now. Maybe she’s listening when I begin, but not to
the end, she needs sleep.’ Mira pushed past her son and sat
on Matica’s bed again, stroking her cheek gently with the
back of her hand.

Matica said accusingly, but with closed eyes, still propped
up on her elbow, ‘Hey, don’t talk about me in the third person.
Talk to me. I can hear, I am here. But, you see,’ she
continued, as her voice started to slur, ‘it’s not fair. I was telling
you all about our stories from the trip to Cajamarca. And
now I can’t hear the story about Talon, the most important
one for me. It’s not fair.’ Her voice wound down even more,
like a toy that was running out of batteries.
Matica’s head slammed on her mother’s shoulder. ‘Ouch,’
she whispered.

Mira kissed her daughter’s cheek and pushed some hair
out of her face and behind her ear, then she pressed her
shoulders gently down so Matica lay in her bed once more.
Her heavy eyelids slowly closed over her big eyes. Leaning
over her, Mira assured her, ‘The story about Talon is not running
away, Mat. It’s branded in my brain, believe me. I’ll tell
it tomorrow when Dad is awake as well. He should hear it
too, you know. Now, get to sleep.’ Mira tucked her in again
but, like a roly-poly, she was sitting up again. ‘Dad?’
‘What about Dad?’ Mira asked her.
Aikon, who sat on his bed opposite his sister’s and watching
her, bent over to her and looked into her face. Her eyes
were closed. He moved his hand in front of her face now,
then declared as no movement came from her, ‘Mum, look. I
think she’s asleep, sitting up.’ Next he bent close to Matica’s
face so that he nearly touched her nose with his nose. After
that he waved his hand before her closed eyes, creating a
gentle breeze. No reaction came from her, no movement,
nothing, only her regular breathing. Then he whispered
to her, ‘How can you sit up so nicely and sleep and not lay
down, even talk and say “Dad” in your sleep?’ He looked,
puzzled, at his mother. ‘Mum? She should lie down.’
‘Let her. She will fall down sooner or later, I hope.’ Mira
stood up and went back to her husband, finishing his
undressing. Aikon followed her and sat on the bed, next to
his dad.

Shortly after they heard shuffling noises. Surprised, they
looked at each other’s eyes and went to the living room.
They found Matica sitting at the table again.
‘Mum, what are we going to do with her?’ Aikon asked.
‘She’s determined.

Aikon sat opposite her at the table, putting his elbows on
the table, his chin into his cupped hands and watched his
sister as she seemed to sleep, sitting up at the table. Mira sat
beside him. Both watched Matica, not really knowing what
to do with her.

Mira just decided to start telling her all about Talon until
she would really fall asleep, when Matica’s head slammed
forward onto the table.

Lying with her cheek on the table, her arms hanging
down underneath it, her eyes opened. ‘What’s going on?’
Stirring, and with her strong will and determination and
eager to hear the story about Talon, she pushed herself
up against the table with her hands. Once more sitting
up straight, she shook her head as if she wanted to shake
the sleepiness out of her system. Her eyes were wide open
now. But when she spoke again, her voice was like a gentle
breeze. ‘I really want to know how …’ Her heavy eyelids
slowly closed over her eyes, her mouth open and again she
slammed forward. Lying once more with her cheek on the
table, she murmured, ‘Talon, Talon, how …’ This time Matica
drifted off into dreamland.

Mira stood up, picked up her daughter and carried her to
bed. Aikon just looked after her, shaking his head, declaring,
‘How can she be so sleepy and still be so strong?’
Mira looked over her shoulder back at him. ‘She’s strongwilled.
That’s it.’ But then she said to her daughter in her
arms, ‘Come on, Mat. It’s bedtime for you. The story is not
walking away. I know you’re eager to hear it, but I don’t
think you could pay enough attention to hear it through to
the end and that would be a shame. You should hear it all,
you know. It’s a wonderful story.’
‘Yes,’ Aikon said and stood up, walking behind his mother.
‘Mum will tell it when you’re fully awake again to hear it.
Then Dad can hear it as well.’
Mira assured her again as she laid her into bed, tucking
her in once more. ‘Yes, I will, believe me. We’d better wait
for tomorrow.’

Aikon stood beside her and grinned. And there, as he
looked down at his sister, there crept something awful into
his mind. He nearly fainted.


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