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Smoke Around the Moon

Amber Quill Press -- April 2006

Writing as T.K. Sheils

ISBN: 1-59279-505-6 (Electronic)
ISBN: 1-59279-740-7 (Paperback)

SMOKE AROUND THE MOON is a tale of the Spanish Conquest of Peru and its Sapa-Inca, Atahuallpa, as viewed by the simple Felipillo, an Incan peasant who was coopted by the Spanish to be their interpreter. In Felipillo's simple view, the coming of the Spaniards destroyed more than the Empire of the Inca - it destroyed a whole culture. Witness our narrator's first meeting with one of these Gods from Across the Sea:

"During his final feast of the Sun, the chasquis had told us, Huayna Capac, our last Sapa-Inca, had seen an eagle being chased by buzzards and then falling out of the sky. There followed earthquakes and such unusual natural violence that great rocks were shattered into pieces and mountains slid into the sea. The sea itself became angry, invading the land, while great lights streaked through the heavens and, on a bright night, the new moon appeared with a halo of three rings: the first the color of blood, the second a greenish black and the third made of smoke.

"The wise men who advised Huayna Capac claimed that the red ring foretold war between his descendants, that the black ring threatened our religion, and that he and all he had done would vanish into the smoke of the third ring. The chasquis said that, not long after, as Huayna Capac lay dying, he made a speech to his captains and curacas in which he said, approximately, 'Our father, the Sun, foretold long ago that we would be but twelve Sapa-Incas. After that, an unknown people would arrive - tall, strong, white-skinned, god-people. And they would defeat our armies and own our lands. I am the twelfth Inca and, therefore, the last, and I believe that the people who came recently by sea are the predicted ones. I order you to obey and serve them to preserve at least the memory of the Incas' glory. Dwell with them in peace, as you have with me. My father, the Sun, calls me. I shall go now to rest at his side.'.

"All this went through my mind in the few moments between the time I first saw the Silver Man and the time that he spoke to me. 'I am Hernando de Soto,' he said. And I remember thinking, I do not know what a Hernando de Soto is, but I do know that it is not human."