Sunday, February 14, 2010


The Lair of King Crow
(Part two of a seven part series)
By Hunter Liguore

The weather was mild and damp for a January morning in the Atlantic, the year 2011. The freighter, Phoenix, was on a steady course southwest. I sat starboard on a wet, wooden bench, noting how the thrill of adventure has kept my seasickness at bay. I was just shy of my fifty-fifth birthday, and feel as if I haven’t truly lived my hearts desire since I was a young minded teenager set on seeing the world. I forsook adventure, a family, travel, all for engaging the minds of the young in a classroom, to publishing papers and books on the ancient world, and while I occasioned a trip here and there, for research, I always had a rescue rope attached to my waist allowing me to return to safety. But this time was different. I have no net, no back door with which to return to my former life. I will essentially be on my own.

Some will say I have made the trip harder for myself. I could’ve easily taken a commercial plane to the Yucatan, or even a family cruise ship, popular upon the waters these days, and then simply taken a tourist bus, or hired a guide to take me to the lair. I decided, when upon the idea came to me to finally explore the lair, that I would only undergo it in the same manner as Rockwell. These times provide the highest in technology and could make all of my transportation quicker and easier, but I declined this as an option, and chose the harder, more burdensome route. The freighter’s path was the closest I could find to Rockwell’s water excursion, and when I arrive in the Yucatan, I have waiting for me a dozen locals, to escort and transport supplies to the lair, partially on foot, and in the more treacherous areas, by truck. I have plans, weather permitting, to visit some of the remaining sites Rockwell made during his last trek. Some ruins have been turned into shopping centers, while others are completely spoiled and covered in vegetation, long forgotten, and could take weeks or months to sufficiently find. Being that my directive is Black Crow’s lair, a sampling of sites will lend to the flavor of the expedition, giving me insight into Rockwell’s thought processes prior to his last stop at the lair.

The second week into my journey, I found myself in an unfortunate position. Just outside of the Sayil ruins, nine of the ten locals abandoned me completely, taking the truck with them as well. Camped in the underbrush and jungle 100 kilometers from the lair, far away from tourist roads and attractions, I was surrounded by equipment and supplies. One loyal fellow, who I’ve since taken to calling Cook, for his skill with a pot and pan, has stood by me. I awoke to an empty camp, a small fire with a pot of coffee brewing, and no way to bring my supplies to Crow’s lair.

Cook went to the nearest center to see if he could hirer any hands willing to go to the lair. Having only read about the lair’s superstitions from books, and in making my own learned assumptions, I have been very surprised to witness first hand the fear and terror evoked by the very name of King Crow, whenever we spoke with locals.

After several hours, Cook returned with a young boy, no more than ten, too young, I thought to be knowledgeable about the superstitions associated with the lair. But Cook tells me that the boy believes his grandmother’s stories that his mother went missing near the lair. Cook believed she ran off with another man, but the boy persisted it wasn’t true. The boy’s name was Ferdinand, and strong for his age. He could manage two good-sized packs on his shoulders. It was then that I decide to economize in order to continue.

It was mid afternoon, when we began south toward the direction of the lair. No sooner did traverse the tough vines and prickly grasses on foot, when two jeeps cut off our path. A woman with red hair, wearing khaki attire, shouted to her workers in their native language to see to our belongings. She approached me in a confident, friendly manner. “Dr. Theodore Wainwright?” Her accent was distinctly American. She must’ve been in her early thirties, and very bright eyed and ambitious. We shook hands and she introduced herself as Dr. Amelia Donovan, an anthropologist working for the Archaeologist Association for Mayan Studies in Cambridge Massachusetts, a place I’ve lectured, and was quite fond of.

My luggage was packed up into her jeeps. Amelia explained to me that she’d been excavating an Mayan well at Chichén Itzá, when rumors circulated of an Englishman venturing to the ruins of King Crow’s lair. With further prodding from the locals, she ascertained the prominent Mayan scholar was the culprit, and learned my whereabouts, presuming that I would have trouble making it the entire way. She was only surprised that I didn’t get dumped sooner.

I kindly accepted her offer to escort me the final leg of the journey. She talked with enthusiasm for my work, having heard me lecture in Cambridge. Her excitement softened my sour mood, and soon, she had me talking about my expedition. I nearly lost track of my surroundings when the soccer stadium, the one I’ve seen hundreds of times in photos, came into view through the green landscape. I instructed the driver to pull to the opposite side, away from the road, near, what I believe to be, the entrance.

I was eager to get out of the jeep, and onto the soft grasses, knowing Rockwell had been here some 170 years ago. The air was clean and filled with the scent of dirt and rain. The workers were quick to unpack my belongings. However, I witnessed a glint of fear in each of their eyes, though Amelia was diligent to remind them that superstitions cannot hurt them. They laughed, and made light of what they’ve been taught since childhood, asserting their manhood, not wanting to feel like little boys. But I watched and notice that none would turn their backs on the cave opening a short distance away.

A fire was started, and Cook worked on making soup. I invited Amelia to stay, but she admitted to promising her crew that she wouldn’t stay longer than forty-five minutes. “They believe,” she spoke, quietly, “that the King’s curse will stay with them, if we stay longer, and since I need them in their best form to continue my work, I shall respect their wishes.” Before she departed, she gave me a token of good luck, a hand-woven bracelet stitched with three white flowers, thought to ward off evil near the lair. I accepted with a smile, allowing her to tie it on my wrist. We bid each other luck and goodbye. Amelia said she’d check back on me in a few days.

I left Cook and Ferdinand with the chore of setting up camp, and conducted a survey of the outside perimeter. Drawn into the coliseum, I noticed the worn, weathered look of the place, the overgrown green grass in the center, and a flock of birds making homes in the bleachers. How long had the stadium gone unused? Later over dinner, Cook would tell me a frightening tale of the only game ever played at the stadium, one that ended in havoc, leaving several players from both teams injured, and many of the spectators dead. From that point on, no team was willing to play here, but rather accepted a forfeit instead.

At night, through the canvas tent I saw purple and green-whitish light radiate from the lair’s entrance. Soon strange voices and screams pervaded the area, and caused Ferdinand to shake and cry.

By morning he will have disappeared, and I’ll not know if he left of his own accord, or taken by some wild denizen, or worse—stolen by the demons lurking around the lair. Being rationale and not prone to fanciful thoughts, I’ll not give in to the continuation of new rumors and superstitions, and demand the record show, the boy left merely in fear, as the others have. Though some sickened feeling at the core of me will believe otherwise, but I’ll not put words to paper, to given my irrational thoughts any merit or credence.

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Hunter Liguore holds a BA in History and is finishing her MFA in Creative Writing. She enjoys writing in different genres, and even more so mixing genres, rather than limiting herself to one. Her work has appeared in diverse publications, including, "Katie Ireland," in Miranda Literary Magazine, "Piece," in Terra Incognito, and "The Wizard of Peillon," forthcoming in Mirror Dance. If you would like to follow Hunter Liguore on her journey around the world in thirty stories and thirty genres, visit:


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