The Forgotten Discovery of Ponce de Leon – Part 4

Ponce de Leon was left in a fine mess. He had no ships, no food, no water, only 45 men and Night was falling in a strange and uncharted Country. An eerie shudder stole over them. It wasn’t just the chill of the Wind. At least they had a few weapons. Indians, or demons, could be anywhere.

He ordered a fire to be built and for scouts to look for food and Water. The men arranged Night watch shifts.

Ponce’s first Night in Mundo Dentro del Cristal was deplorable. He hardly slept as he analyzed the surreal atmosphere. There was something about the way the Wind blew through the Trees, and the way the Ocean lapped upon the shore. The World somehow seemed older to him, like it had been around for eternity. There was a heart-clutching chill of energy in the air. Ponce didn’t know if the intense energy was the presence of Ghosts or of something else. Ponce knew that all the men were feeling it, too. They had no idea how to respond to it.

Ponce discovered in the morning that they were on an IsLand with no Water. As the Sun came up, some of his men spotted a greater body of Land that stretched across the horizon to the West.

With no supplies, Ponce had no choice but to order them all to swim toward it in hopes of discovering fresh Water.

So Ponce’s adventures in Cristal began. With his 45 men, he beached on a long, shell-strewn shore. Driven by thirst, they found a fresh Stream and promptly drank and bathed. Finding a Forest with mysterious Trees that grew a variety of strange, exotic Fruits on the same boughs, they ate.

It wasn’t long before Ponce and his men began to recover some of their losses. They made weapons and carved bowls out of the wood to keep their Water in. They found Rabbits, Squirrels, and Deer to hunt and eat. When Ponce was sure the men were rested and armed, he set off to have a look around Cristal.

The Seamen were astounded to find that the Rivers’ currents ran inLand. Ponce speculated they may have been close to another Ocean. Or were they? The Rivers had to end somewhere.

The second River they encountered was shallow enough to swim across. Something green glimmered up at them from the shallow depths, and Ponce dove down to find the bottom covered with chunks of Emeralds. His men followed and brought up handfuls of them. But, as strange as it was, the Emeralds crumpled into delta Sand as soon as they were drawn out of the Water.

“Magic!” his men whispered to each other.

Ponce filled a wooden bowl with the Water and placed the Emeralds in it. In that bowl alone was enough money to build him a new empire! He named the Jewels, “Esmeraldas Acuáticas.”

Day and Night, they pressed ever onward. Ponce was amazed at Cristal and wondered how he would ever be able to get back to Spain.

He and his men discovered Fauns, real Fauns like the ones in the stories of the Greeks. The Fauns were half-Human, half-Deer and spoke in barks and bleats. Seeking their salvation, Ponce, the priest and his men attempted to baptize them but they ran away in fright. One of the Fauns attacked when the priest tried to baptize him. Ponce determined then that they were evil, and like he had done with so many natives, he vanquished them.

After that Day, the Sky growled with a distant Thunder. Ponce could not explain how the Sun could shine and yet their ears could still hear the Thunder.

In the Forest with the twisted Fruit Trees, Ponce also encountered Unicorns and Fairies. The Fairies were much too nimble to be caught, but the men managed to capture one Unicorn and to bring it to Ponce as a gift. He broke it in and rode gallantly upon it, slinging the few belongings of his men across its flanks. Its eyes changed colors sometimes, adding to the wonder of its existence.

They crossed another River, this one deeper. There was nothing glittering at the bottom of this one. MerMaids squealed in fear as Ponce’s men chased after them for a fin scale or a lock of hair. One over-zealous explorer killed one. It took 4 of them to haul her body to the other side. They decided to carry the body with them until they could take it back to Hispaniola to prove that the myths of MerMaids were true.

Then Ponce encountered what he thought to be a Dragon. The carnivorous Lizard ran after them on two great hind legs with two dangling forearms. It killed 5 more of Ponce’s men and injured 3 more. After its hunger was satisfied by the sacrifice of men, it left the rest of them alone.

Vampires found them also, having smelled the blood of the injured ones. They took 5 more men, including all 3 of the injured men. One of the men had mistaken them to be devils and had attempted to perform an exorcism. But he was no priest. He was nothing more than supper for the blood thirsty Vampires.

Ponce de Leon was amazed that he had made it thus far unscathed by the untold horrors of this glorious new World.

Certainly this was the strangest new World Ponce had ever discovered! This would certainly trump anything the British claimed to have found! When he returned to Spain, Mountains of riches would await him. He would present the mythological Creatures to science, and take the glory of having discovered them. The whole World would be talking about him! Ponce de Leon, the discoverer of Mundo Dentro del Cristal. The Land of the Unicorns, the Fairies, the Dragons, the Vampires, and God only knew what else! Perhaps the Fountain of Youth? Ponce savored the idea of really finding it. If this strange place could give way to mythological Creatures, could it also give way to Ponce’s own dream? If he found that Fountain, it would solve all of Ponce’s problems.

But only if he could make it back.

~*~*~*~

Forever was appalled at the destruction that laid in the wake of Ponce de Leon. It watched on in horror as he murdered its Creatures, claimed and horded its riches, and ripped up its soil looking for Gold.

As much as Forever wanted to, it wouldn’t kill him. Not yet. It could snuff out his life as easily as a Child blowing out a candle. The prospect of ending his life was tempting, but Forever could not do it. Not yet.

But Ponce’s escapade gave Forever the answer it desired to know. Since men had become so inquisitive, Forever wanted to know if it was still safe to reside on Earth, out in the open. And the answer Ponce had provided was, “no.”

So Forever decided to return to its position as a Star. It would have to separate from the World of Earth, for the safety and preservation of itself. Forever was not partial to war, but it was no stranger to it, either.

But before Forever could uproot itself, it first needed to purge the offenders. It overheard Ponce telling his men about the Fountain of Youth. And Forever decided it was time for Ponce de Leon’s dream to come true.

Forever looked on with scorn as Ponce trampled through a Jungle and conquered a peaceful settlement of Pixies. They were Human-size with pointed ears and the wings of a Fairy. The residual from their wings, when sprinkled over the men’s heads, Magically provided the Spaniards with their own wings.

Ponce and his band of explorers ripped off the dead Pixies’ wings as booty. They soared over a River, following its current through a Breezy Mead.

It was then that Ponce de Leon discovered a Mountain range that cradles a giant, hollow Mountain. He marveled at how the Rivers all over Forever met to run up the side of this giant Mountain and then to fall into the hollow in a ring of Waterfalls.

Eager to see what Magical or mythological treasures this Mountain could hold, Ponce and his men flapped to the top of one of the smaller Mountains.

Forever sat on its haunches mentally, preparing for Ponce’s greatest discovery yet.

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