|A picture of the beautiful and deadly Llanganatis.|
One of the most interesting tales was the secret of the Llanganti mountains, an incredibly hostile stretch of Ecuador that purports to hold the buried treasure of Rumiñawi, an Incan warrior who hid mounds of gold, platinum, and jewels from the Spanish conquistadors. It is also rumored that up to the 1960's, there had been reports of giant ground sloths living in the Llanganatis, living ancestors of the Megatheriums that went extinct 12,000 years ago, until they themselves joined their ancestors in extinction, hunted down by the native people. (By the bye, do follow the links above. They are fascinating.)
Many a treasure seeker has wandered the Llanganatis searching for the treasure and paid with their life or their sanity.
So, fascinated by the tales that I heard, I began to weave my own until responsibilities made me put the work aside. However, for your pleasure, please enjoy the following excerpt of the very rough draft that served as the work's prologue.
Chronicles of the Old Dogs: The Treasure of the Llanganati Mountains
by Alan Loewen
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The two men ran through the jungle underbrush, gasping for breath in the terror of their exertion. Ignoring the prick of thorns and the sharp-leaved vegetation that ripped at skin and clothing, they bolted through the bushes and around the trees in a mad dash for their lives.
Suddenly, by some unspoken mutual consent, they collapsed against the fallen trunk of a huge tree eaten partially away with thick moss and fungus. The air was heavy with humidity. Thin sunlight filtering through the canopy overhead gave everything a weird green tint.
"Do you hear them coming," one man gasped, almost in tears. His English was marked with a heavy German accent.
"No," the other man gasped out, "but we wouldn't hear them coming anyway. I can assure you we aren't safe yet." The second man would have been handsome except for the old scar that tracked across the entire left side of his face.
With a whimper, the German reached into his pockets and pulled out a small gold statue that he sat on the trunk of the tree.
"What are you doing?" the man with the scarred face asked.
"I'm hoping that those things chasing us will stop for this," the German said, his breath coming easier. "It's gold. It's heavy and it's weighing me down. It may give us the few seconds we need to get away."
Scarface shook his head in the negative. "That won't work, We need to give them something more attractive to make them stop."
The German looked at his companion quizzically. "What?" he asked.
Scarface did not reply, but suddenly swung his left fist in a broad uppercut directly to the German's jaw following it with a right to the solar plexus. With a barely audible groan, the German dropped to the ground, the wind completely knocked out of him.
Without another word, Scarface grabbed the statue, jumped over the log, and disappeared immediately into the thick brush.
The German lay stunned, his mind screaming at his body to get up, to run. Unable to move, he finally did the only action available to him. Ignoring what might be sharing the jungle floor with him, he attempted to force his way deeper into the forest mold under the trunk of the fallen tree.
Suddenly, two dark shapes burst through the brush and leapt over him and the tree under which he lay. The German froze in terror. Trying not to gasp for breath, trying not to scream, he lay still.
Moments later coming from some distance away, the German heard his traitorous companion begin to scream. He squeezed his body deeper under the trunk and waited until the screams abruptly stopped.
Several hours later, terror still kept him prisoner under the log, even ignoring the one snake that traveled along his side while he lay completely still. As the sun was setting, he finally began to entertain the thought that a miracle might allow him to escape the Llanganati Mountains alive.