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Monarca: Latina Gothic/Upmarket Fiction with elements of Magical Realism-beginning of Prologue

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Prologue (first 500 or so words)

Dark clouds shifted in unnatural slowness as the sun disappeared behind the moon. Only a crescent of light seeped through and even that completely vanished in minutes. Seven young women gathered like songbirds in the dense forest, depositing their blood into a stone chalice held by a figure in white, at the base of the majestic fir tree that stood well over 100 feet tall. Itzel lifted her white headdress, revealing the aristocratic features of an Aztec princess. She took the contents in the cup and poured it into the gnarled roots of the sacred tree. All of the women, save her, who had no blood to offer, chanted together the Nahuatl poem of the butterflies as they surrounded the tree in the surreal midday twilight. It was neither day nor night as darkness descended upon them, everything falling into a hushed silence. An eerie stillness hovered in the atmosphere; the green leaves on the thousands of trees suddenly were static. The whistling wind quieted like a scolded child. Time and space moved in and out of one another, the past and future nonexistent.

Mocel leaned in close to Itzel, who stood tall, her aquiline nose lifted up toward the sky. Placing a gentle hand over the hint of her sister’s curved belly, she could sense it was a girl. Would she be born with the striking looks of both the Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés and her sister Itzel? She had watched Itzel become one of his favored concubines, with her divinely haunting eyes, dark as obsidian. He had not yet realized his seed had taken root. The sisters had been offered to him, along with several other women. Lavish treasures, gold and gemstones, had also been bestowed upon Cortés, welcoming him into the center of Tenochtitlan, as had been foretold.
Only days before in Tenochtitlan, it became strikingly clear that Itzel’s concerns were no longer just her own. There was the life of her unborn child’s future to consider, in the midst of the quickly shifting powers transforming their day to day lives. She had devised a plan of escape to coincide with the coming lunar eclipse with the help of Coatlicue, the Great Mother, for the threats were mounting.
Among the foreigners there was a slender priest who towered over the Spanish soldiers. Riding a sleek black stallion, he could be seen in a gray hooded cloak that lent a sense of apprehension to his overall presence. He was called Father Espinoza and he was especially ruthless to the women, whom he seemed to deeply resent. He had caught the sisters praying to Coatlicue, despite his rabid insistence that they worship a woman he called Mary, with skin so light, it could have been made of lime. Upon this discovery, he violently pushed the two of them to their knees and whispered in Itzel’s ear in the new language that her child would be seized and raised by the church. Under thick lashes, she dared lift her gaze to regard his stern black-bearded face and was unsettled by his exacting blue eyes, the shade of an infinitely clear sky. Never in her life had she seen eyes this color. She peered into them longer than she should have. A bony hand met her soft cheek with a hard slap.
“Insubordinate woman! Keep your heathen eyes off of me! God punishes filth like you.”

Itzel averted her eyes and kept them glued to a spot on the soft earth, wishing the Great Mother would devour Father Espinoza right then and there.


“Alea, you don’t mean that, you’ll feel differently tomorrow,” he replied, trying his best disarming look on her.

She crossed her arms. “Yes, I do mean it. Go.”


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