TOMB HUNTER The Adventures of Larra Court Episode 2 Larra’s Mayan Adventure By L’Espion [email protected] Chapter 3 In Search of the Lost City Belize, British Honduras August 1934 Larra wiped the sweat from her face. She had been supervising the loading of her equipment into several well-worn British Leyland trucks. “Why do I always seem to arrive in these countries in the rainy season?” she thought. She knew the reason why, of course. Somewhere there was a German expedition bent on getting to the same place that she was headed. She could not afford to wait for the dry season. She had a bit of a head start and she intended to take advantage of it. The escape from Berlin had been relatively without incident. No one seemed to have alerted the German authorities as to their disappearance from Berlin. Perhaps it was because Schroeder was afraid to wake Himmler in the middle of the night, or perhaps it was because no one knew that they had not gone back to their hotel. In any case they reached the German border with Denmark without incident. There had been a minor fuss when several German customs officers attempted to stop the three adult women at the Danish border, but a flurry of kicks and punches from Larra had persuaded them to allow the three woman and the sleeping child they carried to cross the border. Danish customs officials were a little bemused, but a call to the British embassy soon straightened things out and within three days Larra and her companions were on a steamer headed for England. From London Larra had telegraphed her contact, Katie Reddel in New York. Larra’s previously planned expedition, which had been nearly ready to depart, was on its way within days. Katie, accompanying the expedition’s equipment on a tramp steamer, arrived in British Honduras within a few days of Larra and Amy, who had taken a much faster ship from Liverpool. Sara had remained behind in England with James. Larra hated to be separated from her son, but the climate of British Honduras was considered distinctly unhealthy for a small child. Twenty-six-year-old Katie Reddel strode toward Larra. The eyes of almost every man on the dockside followed her. Katie was one of the few women on earth who could rival Larra’s statuesque proportions. Katie’s golden hair shimmered in the bright sunlight of the tropical colony. Her thick blonde tresses hung down to her shoulder blades and bounced enticingly as she moved. But that was not the only part of her anatomy that bounced. Katie’s five foot eight inch frame was amazingly well developed. Her astounding breasts quivered erotically each time the 135-pound woman took a step, and seemed barely contained by her sturdy cotton brassiere. British Honduras’s humid climate had the same effect on her as it had on Larra, and her light blouse was soaked with perspiration. The effect was to hide very little of what was underneath. Her curvaceous figure was well set off by an extremely pretty face highlighted by a pair of incredibly blue eyes. Larra thought back to the beginning of her friendship with Amy and Katie. She had met Amy in Johannesburg, South Africa. Larra’s pregnancy had been a most difficult one and the colonial doctor in Kampala had recommended that she move to the larger South African city for the safety of both herself and her unborn child. A large part of the difficulty Larra had experienced with her pregnancy had been the uncertainly over the paternity of her child. She had been brutally raped while on her archeological expedition in Uganda and she had no way of knowing whether her child would be black or white. It turned out that her murdered lover, James Allenby had been the father, but the psychological trauma of the rape, the pregnancy, and James’ death had all resulted in a most trying time for Larra. As a result she had suffered a mild nervous breakdown. Much of her time in south Africa had been spent in hospital. There she had met a pretty nurse, Amy Price. Amy was a native South African, born on a farm in the South African veldt. She had chosen nursing as a way of breaking away from the traditions of farm life. Larra had recognized in her a kindred spirit and the two women had became fast friends. Amy had been especially devoted during the last stages of Larra’s pregnancy and had acted as her midwife during what turned out to be a difficult and painful birth. The end result was that a strong bond of friendship had been forged between the two women. After Larra’s recovery it had been a natural step for Amy to accept Larra’s invitation to accompany her on her archeological quests. Katie’s personality was quite different from Amy’s. Whereas Amy was rather quiet and shy, Katie was bold and brash. She had grown up in New York city and had a certain sophistication that Amy lacked. She had been well educated at Vassar, but had found the constrictions of 1930s American life too confining. Her parents had expected her to use her educational experience to find a husband and provide them with grandchildren, but Katie had ideas of her own. When she had read of Larra’s amazing African adventure, she had gathered up every cent in her bank account, packed a suitcase, and caught the first tramp steamer out of New York for South Africa. There she had presented herself to Larra and simply asked for a job. At first a bit taken aback at Katie’s boldness, Larra had been impressed by the vivacity of a young woman who would cast her fate to the winds and leave everything behind in a daring search for adventure. She had not regretted giving Katie a position. The young woman was a year older than Larra and possessed excellent organizational skills. It was she who had done most of the work in getting Larra’s present expedition underway. Larra smiled as Katie strode up to her. “Are we ready yet?” she smiled. “Damned near,” replied Katie. “I don’t think I want to spend any more time hanging around Belize than we have to.” Amy joined the two women. “We have a little bit of a hitch. I’m having problems getting permission from the Guatemalan authorities to enter their country. I suspect that a little bit of German interference may have been laid in our way.” “I think we have waited long enough,” said Larra. “Let’s head for the border and see if a few British pounds can get us past the border guards.” “That’s fine by me,” responded Katie, “but I suggest that a few American dollars might work better.” “We have both,” interjected Amy. “I’m ready to leave if you are.” “Then it’s settled,” Larra said with finality. “We leave early tomorrow. Let’s make sure we get plenty of rest tonight.” “Don’t worry,” said Katie. “There is nothing in this town that attracts me enough to keep me away from my bed.” “Same here,” echoed Amy. Larra smiled at both of them. She realized that both women were as keyed up as she was. After weeks of preparation they just wanted to get the expedition underway. “Tomorrow it is then,” she said. “I’ll see you back at the hotel.” The road from British Honduras to Guatemala was all but nonexistent. The rainy season had turned it into a quagmire. Much of the time on the so-called road was spent in pushing the trucks from one mudhole to the next. Progress was very slow and it took the little convoy an entire week to drive the short distance to the border. By the time it arrived all of the women were rather ill tempered. Now that they had finally arrived at the border the next trick was to get past the Guatemalan border guard, such as it was. The border crossing consisted of a run-down whitewashed adobe hut with a thatched roof woven in the traditional Mayan style. The expedition’s arrival coincided with a break in the daily downpour. Larra let herself down from the truck and approached the guard post. Amy and Katie followed in her wake. By this time a number of ragged-uniformed members of the Guatemalan army had made their way to the front. The eyes of the soldiers bugged out of their sockets when they sighted the bevy of beautiful females. Anyone actually passing by their border post was an unusual event, but a visit from three incredibly beautiful women left them staring in amazement. Larra looked for someone in authority. An immensely fat soldier in a slightly less dirty uniform emerged from the doorway of the hut. His fat face sported a huge poorly trimmed mustache, but he had an air of authority about him that suggested that he was probably the officer in charge. “Buenos dias, senoras,” he gasped. And then attempting to give himself some sense of command he added: “Welcome to Guatemala.” “Buenos dias senor,” Larra replied in perfect Spanish. “I am Larra Court and these are my colleagues Senorita Price and Senorita Reddel. We are on a scientific expedition into your country and would like to cross the border.” “Scientific expedition?” queried the fat officer. “No one has informed me of your coming. I will require appropriate documents to let you pass.” Larra smiled graciously. “I think I can provide you with the proper documentation. May we step inside your headquarters?” Inside the filthy hut it was dark and grimy. The fat officer sat himself down in a broken chair in front of a rather battered table. The three women, and a few of the border guards anxious for a look, crowded in with them. Larra leaned across the table giving the sweating officer a good look at her cleavage. The officer made no attempt to disguise the direction of his gaze. “The papers I am about to produce are from the highest authorities in Guatemala. They are for the eyes of the most senior officer only.” With this Larra gave a knowing glance at the unkempt soldiers who had crowded into the hut. The swarthy officer hesitated for a few seconds and then rose to his feet. “Everyone out!” he shouted. “Out! Out!” Within a minute the hut was empty except for the officer and the three women. Larra took out a sheaf of papers from a large leather wallet she had brought with her and placed them in front of the attentive official. Amy and Katie crowded toward the table screening the papers from the eyes of the soldiers who were watching from outside. With hands that were far from clean the officer picked up the papers and began to sort through them. “Dios!” he exclaimed. His hands were sorting through large denomination American bank notes. He had never held so much money before in his life. “I trust the papers I have provided come from a high enough authority,” Larra stated. “Si, si,” the officer stammered, hastily stuffing the bills into his shirt. He tried to peek past the three women to see if any of his men had seen what had transpired. Rising to his feet he escorted the three women outside. “Senoras you may proceed. Is there anything else I can do to help you?” Larra smiled most engagingly once more. “No thank you Senor, you have done enough. Please be kind enough to direct us to a village where we can purchase some mules.” “Ah senora!” the greasy man exclaimed. “It happens that I have a brother who deals in mules in the next village. I will write you an introduction.” “Thank you, senor. We would find that most obliging,” she replied. “I think you paid a bit much for those mules,” scolded Katie. “You should have let me bargain with him. I’m sure I could have gotten them for half the price.” “I wasn’t looking for a bargain,” replied Larra. I hope that by paying more I might be able to buy a little security. There is no telling who might be coming along after us and I would rather have the friendship of these people than their enmity.” “I still think you got taken, but it is your money,” the blonde responded. “What I am concerned about is that we might be remembered a little too well by anyone who comes making inquiries.” “That could be,” said Larra. “It is difficult to know what to do.” The battered trucks were slowly grinding their way up an increasingly steep grade. It was evident that they could not go much farther by truck. The mules would soon be in service. The expedition had now traveled over 100 miles from the Guatemala-British Honduras border. It had rained nearly every day and the rain had increased in intensity the closer the weary travelers got to the Sierra de Las Minas. “According to my calculations,” said Larra, “we should be within a few days march of our objective. Of course, it could be weeks if the terrain is difficult and the trails are poor. We will just have to wait and see.” Himmler had been both right and wrong when he had let Larra look at his documentation back at his headquarters in Berlin. The five minutes he had given her to study the documents had been long enough for her to determine that the Nazi high command was on to something. What he had been wrong about was that Larra would not learn enough in her brief study of the documents to proceed on her own. He had not reckoned with the fact that Larra had an almost perfect memory for archeological detail. Once she read something it was permanently in her memory. She had read enough in those five minutes to determine where the mysterious crystal skull was supposed to be located. But what had excited her even more was the fact that many of the documents referred to a mysterious lost city. Although she had not had time to study the pertinent detail Larra had learned of a Mayan city that the German archeologists who had written up the documents for Himmler referred to as Wacah Chan or the city of the elevated sky. Supposedly this city lay in a mysterious valley somewhere in the rugged Sierra de Las Minas. She had read enough to determine that the city was thought to lie somewhere to the south of a tiny Mayan village called San Marcos. Larra and her expedition had passed through the village two days ago and headed into the mountains along the only promising road that led in the direction she sought. The driver of the lead truck, in which Larra was riding, brought it to a grinding halt. Ahead of them the dirt track, along which they had been driving, disappeared completely. They were faced by a tangled wall of vegetation. “It looks like the easy part of the trip is over,” said Larra, dismounting from the vehicle. Amy and Katie soon joined her. “We’re not going any farther by truck, said Larra. “We will have to unload here and transfer the supplies to the mules. I guess we will camp here tonight. Meanwhile, I am going to investigate a little. I want to determine if we are on the right track.” Larra walked up to the green wall of the rainforest. She was met by a dense tangle of vegetation. Was there an easy way through or would they have to cut their way through the jungle? “Looks like a complete dead end,” said Katie, joining her. “I’m not so sure,” replied Larra. She knelt on the ground and began to scrape away the dirt. “Look here!” she exclaimed. “What have you found?” Katie ran over to where Larra was carrying out her digging. “Get me a shovel,” commanded Larra and she began to pull out some of the small plants with her hands. Katie returned in about five minutes. With her were Amy and three of the Indians they had hired to help them. “Clear away this vegetation,” Larra ordered. Within a few minutes an area of jungle about twelve feet across and three feet deep had been cut back. “Just as I had hoped!” thrilled Larra; “It’s a Mayan causeway. One of the network of roads the Mayans built to join link their cities together. During the height of the Mayan civilization it formed one of the most complete road systems in human history. It means that we may be on the right track.” Larra burrowed a few feet into the rainforest, slashing away with a machete at the vegetation. Katie and several of the Indians moved to help her. Clang!! Larra’s machete struck stone. She continued to attack the area where she had made contact with the stone. In a few minutes a tall stone stele stood revealed. It was covered in Maya glyphs. Larra stood back triumphant, her curvaceous body drenched in sweat. Slowly she approached the stone column and ran her hands over the glyphs. “Can you read them?” inquired Amy. “No one can read all of them, but I can probably make a rough determination of what they say,” Larra replied. “I’m hoping that this is a guide post. Sort of like a Mayan road sign. If it is then we are going in the right direction.” Larra went back to the truck she had been riding in and came back with a leather-bound case. She unzipped the case and removed a small book. Kate and Amy looked over her shoulders. “This may take a little time,” mused Larra, as she leafed through the book. Amy and Katie saw that it was an archeological text defining the meaning of some of the Mayan glyphs. Larra took out a pencil and began to sketch the glyphs on the stele. She turned to the two women. “You two supervise the unloading of the gear and the setting up of the camp. I will work on this.” “Right boss,” said Katie. Amy said nothing, but set off in the direction of the trucks. By suppertime Larra had worked out most of the glyphs. “It is as I hoped,” she reported between mouthfuls of canned stew. The stele is a sort of signpost. There may be more of them as we proceed along the causeway. From the looks of the amount of vegetation that has overgrown the causeway, it will be pretty slow going. I only hope that we can move fast enough to keep ahead of Himmler’s boys.” “And if we can’t?” asked Katie. “Then we will have to deal with them,” Larra said grimly, “but I’m not looking forward to encountering any Nazis here. They are not likely to be friendly.” Amy nodded. She thought of their rough reception in Berlin. That had been a near thing. It would be far better if they did not encounter the Germans at all. Larra finished her stew. “I’m turning in early. I think we made need all the rest we can get. Good night ladies.” Katie and Amy grinned. “Night, boss,” they chimed. They followed Larra from the mess tent. They would all need their rest. Tomorrow promised to be a tough day.