Codex of Cortes' - Backstory
Fact vs Fiction
Codex of Cortes’
1546 AD | Orphaned Mestizos
Altun Ha, Guatemala
I entered into this miserable, wretched life under the given Spanish name of Pedro Montego Cortes’ de Alvarado, conceived by rape and born the Mestizos bastard of conquistador Captain Diego de Alvarado and his Nahau servant girl, my mother Llana. My father Diego was the lazy, drunken, illiterate and illegitimate half-brother of Conquistador General Pedro de Alvarado y Contreras’, who left a savage legacy across Guatemala, Honduras and Yucatan.
During the many, long raids of conquest where Diego would abandon us without provision or safe keeping, I remember clinging closely to my mother Llana. It was during those quiet, early years that she taught me the Polpul Vuh, and the ancient ways of my people in secret, fearing the wrath of the Franciscans who forbade the old rituals and teachings. Still, we lived in quiet peace until Diego would return, and with him came the unrelenting drunkenness, sadistic cruelty, backhands to my face, and boots to my knee, or straps to my back that seared deep into my skin, and my spirit.
I rejoiced with Llana and my village on the day I learned of Diego’s death in Peru, until that dark afternoon when a Franciscan Fray Juan Pizzaro arrived to rip me from of the arms, and frantic wails of mother Llana. Tied together with other Mestizos boys, we were marched for weeks until we reached the Monastery for Mestizos boys at Mani, hundreds of miles away. With a shattered heart, terrified and alone, I was told that my destiny would be to serve the friars, their holy pope, and the Christ of the bloody cross. Like Diego, the monks demanded an unyielding discipline. Taught to read and write to be more useful to the monks, in truth, we were little more than slaves. A cursed destiny, born of the privilege of being half Spanish, yet rejected by all people, and by god.
1562 AD | Spark of Intolerance
Mani, Yucatan Mexico
During the fall of 1562, I stumbled with a friend into a remote cave in the hills outside Mani. We found dozens of forbidden idols, shell scripts, and deer skin codex. In a wild race against my friend back to the monastery, I won the honor of reporting the hidden cache of forbidden items to the Fray Pedro de Ciudad Rodrigo, in hopes of gaining favor or extra rations. Within days, I helped to load several mules with the taboo icons back to the monastery. Within weeks, the Bishop of the Yucatan, Diego de Landa traveled from Merida to investigate the discovery. A lean man with a cold dark eyes, the cleric immediately stuck fear into my heart. I must confess, that I never imagined that my act of obedience to the friars would ignite such a wild fire of suffering for so many. Yet within months, Bishop de Landa had destroyed hundreds of the treasured idols, and began to torture locals to confess where other idols were hidden. Many of the tortured blamed my betrayal for their suffering, and cursed my name for the loss of their sacred icons. Fray Pizarro absolved me of my sin.
Over the next few years, as my body grew strong, my spirit grew dark and fierce. Soon Fray Pizarro conscripted me to execute the brutal interrogations, and tortures of their inquisition, the masked face of terror. In the name of the Catholic god of mercy, under the direct orders of holy men of god, I committed unspeakable inhuman acts against my own people to satisfy the unquenchable zeal of the Franciscans. On direct orders of Bishop de Landa, my own hand lit the bon fire that destroyed tens of thousands of ancient codex and scripts. Writings of math, agriculture, astronomy, architecture and mythology, some of them thousands of years old, and yet all of them deemed by de Landa to be the work of the devil. I silently wept over the ashes, until I was ordered to force feed those same ashes to the children of a shaman to coerce confessions of more hidden idols.
So saturated in unholy malevolence, and scorched by the flames of intolerance, that my very soul seared black, as black as a Franciscan robe.
1565 AD | Cursed Spittle
My judgment from God came late in the summer of 1565, when Bishop de Landa sent me to accompany Fray Luis de Villalpando to find the lost library of the prophet Chilam Balam. Widely respected among the people, the prophet had foreseen the coming of the Spanish.
‘Approaches our master, Itza. Your brother is coming now. Receive your bearded guests from the east, bearers of the standard of God.’ Chilam Balam
The Maya spoke legends of Chilam Balam. After his vision of seeing the Spanish coming, the aging prophet hid his private library of ancient scripts, idols and codex, reportedly somewhere near Tulum. At the temple compound of Tulum on the shores of the Caribbean, the local shaman, a respected man with four wives, and twenty-two children received us as honored guests, but strongly denied the legend was true. Callous and distrustful, Fray de Villalpando challenged our host. The foolish Maya would rather suffer torture than give up their cherished idols and codex. When the holy man refused to cooperate, one by one I mutilated the healer’s naked and bound wives with lacerations over every part of their body, including intimate areas. With each slice he was given a chance to repent, and with each refusal, I sliced his wives. Both holy men ignored the screams and cries until the women were so bloody, they were unrecognizable. Bawling in tears, the shaman refused to give up the sacred temple location.
Undaunted, the friar ordered me to force the shaman, and his children to witness ravenous alligators fight over the half dead women, tossing them until they were submerged under the water to tenderize. Heaving sorrowful wails, the shaman still refused to repent. My own heart wailed at his stubbornness. By order of the friar, I tossed all twenty-two children alive into a pit of wild, hungry dogs. Holding the shaman by his hair, I forced him to watch the mongrels rip the screaming innocent lives to pieces until their cries ceased. The shaman begged for death, cried for mercy, and pleaded to replace his children. Yet he would not divulge the temple location.
Throughout the day long, dreadful ordeal, the pious Fray de Villalpando stood solemn, refusing each and every cry for mercy. I confess to God that the barbarism of that day shredded the last fragment of my soul, slipping me over an edge of evil from which there is no forgiveness. Enraged by the shaman’s willfulness, I held the man’s feet to a fire until they were blackened and bloody stumps. Near death, in unbearable pain, the holy man finally relinquished his battle, and agreed to lead us to the lost temple, located on the island of Cozumel.
By midnight, I had the brutalized holy man dragged on a cot, and loaded onto our ship. Reaching Cozumel by the next morning, we journeyed past the Temple of Ixchel deeper into the jungle, ending at a wooden ladder that descended into a semi-dry cenote. Within the dark tunnels, I discovered a semi-submerged and archaic stone sarcophagus surrounded by thousands upon thousands of idols, scripts, and other offerings of clay, gems, jade and gold. The sarcophagus and offerings far too old to be the prophet. Yet, stored in nearby pottery vases, I found thousands upon thousands of tortoiseshell scripts, tree bark, or rotted deerskin codex. The secret library of Chilam Balam.
Instead of celebration, the putrid stench of a rotting corpse penetrated the cenote, and drew me deeper. To my horror, I found her half-naked body draped over an ancient altar. Left to rot, her bare chest still ripped open to remove her heart. Despite my years of vicious butchery, I quavered at the sight, never imagining I would witness the lifeless, murky eyes of my mother, Llana. She once claimed to prefer the sanctity of sacrifice over the slavery to the Spanish.
An uncontrollable fury erupted within me. Grabbing the nearby ceremonial dagger, I slammed the shamans head onto the cold stone to face the lifeless eyes of my mother. Still defiant in his spirit, the battered shaman spit curses into my face. The vile, bloody spittle sent a spike of icy terror through my black soul as if el diablo had reached into my chest, and crushed my still pulsing heart. With a powerful shriek, I slashed the throat of the shaman with the sacred blade on the altar of a heathen god.
Horrified by such a sacrilegious murder in such a profane place, the fray unleashed a vehement reproach upon me. Consumed by fury, I ignored the hypocrite to lead other Mestizos on a rampage to plunder the temple. When the local villagers resisted, I led the slaughter of every man, woman, and child. By nightfall, a dozen mules of contraband were loaded into the cargo hold of Isabella Del Oro. I stood on the bow as we pulled anchor, and set sail to Campeche Bay.
Saturated with shame, I wallowed in self-hatred. Cursed as a child, curse by my own savage hand, and now cursed by the bloody spittle of the tortured holy man, I am the face of evil.
1565 AD | Fury Unleashed
Isabella Del Oro, Western Caribbean
By morning, an unexpected storm descended upon our ship, and for another thirteen days I witnessed no sign of sun, moon or land. We were lashed by the seas until all souls onboard fell into despair. Near midnight on the fourteenth day the explosive crack of heavy timber splintering violently shook the ship, tossing every man hard to port. We had run aground. Across the listing cabin, beyond the lifeless body of the captain, Fray Villalpando lie smashed against the bulkhead, his neck twisted unnaturally. A glowing light disrupted my shock to notice candles had caught fire to charts and spilled wine, spreading flames quickly.
On the main deck, the fierce howl of the gale, and sharp sting of the rain made it difficult to see. Tangled bundles of broken rigging lie haphazardly across the slanting deck. Surge waves crashed over the starboard rails, flooding the ship even faster. A snapped mizzen had fallen over the main companionway hatch, condemning dozens of screaming men trapped below.
I spotted our only shore boat dangling over the leeward side of the ship, suspended by halyard lines. Two sailors wrestled to drag the boat closer to the ship, but they fought against the fierce wind driving the dinghy away. A vain, useless struggle. In an act of desperation, I ran toward the railing, jumped onto a downed spar, and then leaped into the swinging shore boat. The powerful winds grabbed my body, slamming me hard into the wooden frame, injuring my hip and leg, forcing a howl of pain from my lips, lost if the deafening screech of the wind.
Other sailors on the deck joined in the useless effort to drag the shore boat back to the ship as flames spread quickly below deck, and across the rigging. Deaf to the cries of the crew, I swung down my cutlass hard to chop the halyard line, dropping the shore boat into the churning ocean. Shouts of obscenities and curses fell down from the deck. As fire spread on the ship, the powerful winds drove the heavy hull onto the ragged reef. Those same fierce winds drove the shallow shore boat over the reef, and back out to sea.
As judgment for my black soul, my triumph turned instantly into panic when I realized the shore boat had no oars. Back on the ship, now burning with greater intensity, the silhouette of men holding up the oars, their curses swallowed by the storm, confirmed my dreadful fate.
With dead eyes, I watched Isabella Del Oro sink beneath the swell. The flame engulfed top mast my last sight of the ship. Then I saw nothing but darkness, and the crest of waves crashing into my little boat.
1566 AD | Castaway
Isabella Del Oro, Western Caribbean
Adrift for months, I no longer expected to survive, nor did I deserve the mercy. I had absorbed and become the evil I loathed. Dehydrated, near starvation, I sank into a fitful, tormented sleep. In my delirium, I stood over a motionless Llana, dead on the heathen altar, the cursed blade dripping blood in my hand. Then suddenly, I stood alone on judgement day, my soul condemned. As I pounded on the heavy iron gates of hades pleading for leniency, I hear the wailings of those I had tormented to death behind me, surrounding me. With each slam of my fist on the gates, my body shudders with an excruciating jolt of pain. Harsh screams, and demonic howls grow to a deafening moan.
The repetitive slamming jarred me, and shook me slowly back into consciousness to witness the lightning flashes, and the deafening thunder. Unsure if days, or weeks had passed, I awakened to the dreadful site of a nearly flooded boat. Not a sea, I had somehow wedged within a narrow sea cave. With each ebb of the tidal surge the wooden shore boat slammed against the back of the rocky grotto. Each slam rattling my sore, dehydrated, and starving body to the bone.
Outside the cave, another hurricane howled across a narrow lagoon. From rock crevices above me, penetrating deep into a cavern, I heard an even more terrifying shriek of human anguish. Voices calling to me. A sound more dreadful than the hurricane. Wet and shivering, I listened to the hurricane-scream outside the cave, and the inhuman shriek from within. Isolated between the worlds of the living and the dead. Wanted by neither, I am cursed by both.
Year Unknown | Bloody Oath
Caverns of Cortes’
I can no longer remember the lifetimes I’ve spent lost within this dark labyrinth. All I know is that every scream, and each dying breath has etched deeply into my dreams. A just atonement for my hideous inhumanity in the name of a false holiness. My once powerful body lie broken, dying. No longer able to protect the secrets in life, I must carry on my penance into death. I have cut my wrist again, with the same dagger I used to sacrifice the shaman, and the same dagger that took the heart of Llana. This time will be my last. These will be my final words.
Before the blood had even dried, I unleashed an eternity of fury until my hand trembled too weak to write.
I, Cortes’ commit my spirit to these unholy caverns haunted with the deaths of countless souls. I vow to defend the secrets of creation and death. Yielding my wicked soul to an eternal penance in this pagan purgatory, what Llana would describe as Xibalba.
Bleeding out, all goes black. An intimately familiar, malevolent darkness.