Gabriela Viseur


That night, the whole village of Cao was enjoying a banquet to celebrate the harvest time. The servants were busy carying dishes full of fish, crab, guinea pig, corn and potatoes.

The places of honour were occupied by the Queen Hutan-Taiec and her husband Kayllampas. She wore a plain white cotton dress tied at the waist with a colourful waistband, but the golden necklace and bracelets, the crown shining on her forehead and the splendid jaguar skin that covered her shoulders and back showed clearly her rank and power.

The Prince Consort wore a robe with geometric patterns in black, red and yellow, and, of course, he highlighted his rank with his high cylindrical crown.

Little Princess Madariwa was sitting next to her mother, watching her with eyes full of admiration. "You look so beautiful, Mom!" Then she caressed the jaguar skin and said, "It´s so nice! I want to have a jaguar skin like this, too!"

"Only a Jaguar Warrior can wear it, my dear!" the Queen explained.

The girl said, "Well, I want to be one of them! I´d like so much to be like you, Mom!"

Hutan-Taiec caressed he daughter´s hair. "It´s not so easy. You must first grow to be strong and brave. You have to show outstanding courage..."

The little Princess asked, "So how did you get to be a Jaguar Warrior? Please, Mom, tell me the story!"

Hutan-Taiec nodded and smiled, "Alright then!" She paused to recall her memories: "At that time, when I was still a Princess...."
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That morning, the sun was shining brightly. The clear, blue sky was reflected in the calm sea. Birds of different species looked for food and fished their own way: cormorants swam, sea terns plunged into the water like winged daggers and seagulls just stole what the other birds had fished.

The fishers from Cao village were also there: they knew the activity of the birds was a sign of abundance of fish, so they sailed to the place on their rafts to catch anchovies.
There was also activity on the beach: the Village's warriors (including the Princess) were having their combat practice, observed closely by the King.

With a swift and skilfull move, the Princess threw her opponent to the floor. She raised her eyes to meet her father´s look of approval and proud smile. She reached her hand to the fallen warrior and helped him stand up. They got ready to go on with their practice, but at that moment the King clapped his hands and ended that day´s exercise.

Hutan-Taiec looked at the sea, and thought how nice it would be to have a swim in the cold water. However, the attention of the warriors was suddenly caught by a group of villagers coming towards them. They realized the villagers brought bad news, because they were carrying a stretcher bearing the body of a dead man.

The King spoke to the newcomers, "May the Gods comfort you in this moment of sorrow. In the name of these warriors and my own, let me express our condolences."

The oldest of the villagers answered, "Greetings, Milord! Thank you for your noble words."

Then the King asked, "But please, tell us! What happened? How did this misforturne hit you and all of us?"

The old villager explained, "This man, Netupay, was watching over the llama herd last night. A jaguar attacked; he tried to protect his herd and the beast killed him. We found him dead this morning."

Then Hutan-Taiec stepped forward and spoke to her fellow warriors: "You´ve heard it, my friends! The footprints must still be clear, and the jaguar now is sleeping for sure so it´ll be easy to find! What´s better, the one who kills it will obtain the honour of being a Jaguar
Warrior. So, what are we waiting for? Let´s go hunt the jaguar and avenge the unfortunate Netupay!"

The warriors reacted enthusiastically, "Yes! Let´s go!" They all shook their spears threateningly, shouting in a confusion of battlecries.

But the King interrupted them, "Halt! HALT!... Wait a moment, everyone!" When they all were silent, he added, "I share your fury and I like your will and courage, but now, our first duty is to offer Netupay a proper funeral!"

His daughter replied, "Oh, yes! And then, the jaguar will still be lurking around, and we´ll have yet another funeral!"

The King looked at her severely and explained harshly, "We can bring the llamas to the pirca and keep them near the village until we can find the jaguar. There´s no need for the herders to be at risk."

Hutan-Taiec looked down and admitted reluctantly, "All right, Father!"
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That night, the Princess lay awake on her bed, eyes wide open, looking into the dark, and thinking of a plan. She knew the jaguar would come after the llamas, so she would be ready for it. She listened carefully to make sure everyone was asleep and got up silently, carrying two spears and obsidian knives with her.

Once she was outside, she walked to the "pirca", the stone-walled yard, guided by the light of the moon.

Hutan-Taiec hid behind a bush, looking at the pirca. "Ah", she thought, "If Goddess Moon helps me with her light, I´ll see the jaguar coming and I´ll finish off that threat to my people and our herds."

Patiently, she stayed hidden in her place, still and quiet. Suddenly, she noticed a silent shadow approaching and the llamas stirring nervously. Then under the moonlight she could see the majestic silhouette of the feline.

Hutan-Taiec held a spear and got ready. All of her muscles were tense and her heart was beating at a fast pace, but she trusted her aim and the strength of her arm.

Then the jaguar stopped, looking at the pirca and sniffing the air. It was a perfect target, and the warrior didn't waste the opportunity. She threw her spear, reaching the jaguar's flank.

The wounded feline growled and snarled. Another spear flew right into its neck.

The predator turned slowly towards its invisible enemy. It was moving with dificulty but still roared when it saw Hutan-Taiec facing it, a knife in her hand.

The jaguar crouched against the ground beating its tail from side to side. Then it jumped, and the Princess let herself fall to one side. But it was unnecessary: the creature, already weak from is wounds, fell to the ground, and died some moments later.

Some people came from the houses nearby, aroused by the roars and the noise of the fight. A man with a torch saw the dead jaguar. “Oh! What' s this? What happened here?"

Hutan-Taiec appeared and answered, smiling proudly and happily: "Oh, friends, I've done it! I've killed the jaguar!

Another man shouted, "Honour to the Princess! She´s killed the jaguar!”

They all cheered and greeted her with cries of "Hail! Long live the Princess!"
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"And then? What happened next?" Madariwa asked.

Hutna-Taiec answered, "Well, that morning we had a ceremony. The priests made their prayers, I received these tattoos, and so I was admitted as a Jaguar Warrior."

The little Princess replied, "Then when I grow up I will go and hunt a jaguar, so I can become a Jaguar Warrior, too!"

Her mother caressed her hair and kissed her forehead, declaring, "I have no doubt you will!"


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