Part 5: The Village
That wooden gate was blocking my path. It looked like there was some kind of a boat elevator leading up the cliff face - exactly the kind of engineering solution I would have expected from Valembois.
Alright, snake. If you'll kindly excuse me...
Woah, okay. Have it your way!
I decided to have a look around. Maybe I'd find a stick or a battleaxe to take care of this grouchy animal.
This part of the river really was beautiful.
Sure enough, I came across the entrance to a village nestled in the rocks. This must be Yekoumani's village!
I remembered something about wooden birds from Valembois' letter to me. The sculpture was still and quiet.
For that matter, so was the village.
Some kind of drawing in charcoal on a stretched animal skin. I could only guess at the significance of the first image, but the last two were pretty much just as Valembois had described the ritual to awaken the egg.
I guessed I'd have to replicate the ritual - it would be a wasted trip if I dragged a dormant egg all the way up the Amerzone with no clear plan.
The village was one continuous circular structure, with temporary partitions indicating separate dwellings. Interesting - Yekoumani's tribe must have been a communal society.
Some kind of mill for making flour, perhaps? It wasn't functioning.
The tribe must be long dead. Nobody was around to bury this poor soul.
Another machine. I couldn't begin to guess at its purpose.
There was another door leading out of the village. As I reached for the handle, I heard a woman's laughter behind me.
I spun around, but there was nothing there but the wind echoing through empty houses.
I did notice something interesting on the desk. These definitely didn't look like native artifacts - in fact I recognized the cigarettes as Valembois' brand.
Sure enough, disk #4 was tucked away in the drawer.
These were plans to harness the waterfall for power. To power the elevator, maybe?
I decided to take one last look around the village for the source of the laughter.
I wish I hadn't.
Sufficiently spooked by irrational thoughts of vengeful ghosts, I made a hasty retreat to the relative safety of the jungle.
Outside, it was a wall of noise. Birdcalls, howling monkeys, chittering insects all filled the air with vibrant life. I wondered how long it had been since a human had set foot in this area.
That coconut looked ripe enough, and I always think better when I'm snacking.
I am man! Watch me feed myself!
Oh look, another one of those knockout bugs. I tucked it into the old cup from the prison and tied some paper over the top. Into the backpack with you!
Further up the trail I found the mouth of a cave.
It was also pretty spooky. No laughter though.
There was a ladder leading upwards. I wasn't quite ready to return to the village just yet.
This looked familiar. Turning the wheel opened a floodgate further up and set the water wheel spinning.
Some neat flowers. I took them with me. Not sure why - maybe to lend this trip some scientific legitimacy? I could see it now.
"Hey, Greg!" I would say, proudly holding the bunch of wilted wildflowers in my fist.
My friend Greg, a botanist at the University, would look up from his papers. "Hey Buddy, what have you got there?"
"I found these in the jungle!"
"Those are really nice, yeah," Greg would say.
"Well, I mean, are they an undiscovered species?"
"You mean those dead-common buttercups?"
One of these days, Greg...
Sure enough the birds were lazily circling the pole. Must be powered by Valembois' clever mechanism.
Nothing more to do here, I decided. Maybe that snake got bored and slithered off.
My heart stopped for a second when I saw the girl across the village.
I slowly walked over, holding my hands up to (hopefully) show I meant no harm.
She smiled sweetly. "Alo"
Her voice sounded so familiar, and she was the spitting image of Yekoumani - or at least from what I could tell from Valembois' slides back at the lighthouse.
"My name is Michael," I said pointing at my chest. "What is your name?"
"Meykell, me kudu se fanteho. Mey Koryouko."
"Koryouku?" I inquired, pointing at her.
"Se! Mey Koryouku!" Her smile brightened as she held a hand to her chest.
"Can you help me?" I ventured.
"Ne?" she said, cocking her head to the side to show she didn't understand.
"Pourriez-vous m'aider?" I tried again in French - if Valembois had been here, maybe he taught them some words?
"Aide, aide, se aide mey!"
"Help you? You want me to help you?" I asked, pointing at myself and then her. This felt stupid.
"Ovo?" she said, patting the ground.
"You want... egg?" I asked, forming a vague egg-shape in the air with my hands.
"Se! Se! Ovo!"
I laughed out loud, relieved that we'd finally made some common ground. I'll be honest - I was scared and lonely this far from civilization, and judging by the state of the Hydrafloat it was becoming less and less likely I'd ever eat a cheeseburger again.
"Wait one minute!" I said, holding up one finger. I dashed off to the boat.
Gingerly, I lifted the egg out of its housing. It gave off pulses of warmth like a heartbeat. It was also really heavy - I'd have to be careful.
I slowly backed up the ladder and made my way to the village.
I gently laid the egg in the depression Koryouko had scooped out.
"Ovo." She nodded purposefully and held up a small clay bowl. "Manuka, Locoulo, Chico." It sounded like a command.
I frowned. "What are those things? What is Manuka?"
She pointed at the bowl more insistently. "Manuka, Locoulo, Chico."
"I don't know what those are. Please, explain?" The language barrier reared its ugly head.
Koryouko shrugged sadly and sat back. Maybe Valembois' journal would have something to say.
17 February 1933,
We set up camp in one of the many inlets that stretch along the river.
18 February 1933
My guide deserted me during the night.
19 February 1933
I have reached the falls of the Amerzone.
22 Feburary 1933
I glimpsed a native village in the distance. I hesitate to establish contact with these Indians. I think that it is their approaching presence that made my guide run away.
23 February 1933
A strong fever has been wracking me since the middle of the night. I am too weak to get up... My senses are progressively deteriorating...
28 March 1933
The positive development of my illness now permits me to resume the course of this logbook. The inhabitants of a strange village who are apaprently devoted to a form of worship that still escapes me... have taken me in.
They are peaceful Indians who survive on hunting, gathering and on honey, which they consume in great quantities that they eat a lot.
Valembois' grip on language was obviously suffering here. There was still nothing that would help me decipher Koryouko's language though.
15 April 1933
I must admit that I am quite proud to have brought these Indians a few rudiments of civilization.
I have made them understand that waterfalls can be a great source of energy and that the laws of mechanics and physics can tremendously improve their lives. With their help, I have developed various pieces of machinery that will free them from their daily constraints.
I frowned. Sure, this was the '30s, but... honestly all this "White Man's Burden" talk made me uncomfortable.
Must be some diagrams. Valembois must have planned to travel up the river himself.
1st June 1933
This morning, I attended a strange ceremony that reassured me that the legendary white burds really do exist.
The Egg, brought from the mountain by a young Indian boy and strangely manipulated by teh village sorcerer, is gigantic and, to my knowledge, does not belong to any known animal species...
According to my Indian friends, it is the egg of white birds. It would appear that their priest practices a sort of therapy on the embryo in order to cure it from a severe physiological alteration caused by the noxious fumes emanating from the volcanoes to which these birds are bound...
Without this human intervention, these mythical birds would probably have ceased to exist a long time ago.[/i]
A ha! There it is - so this green coconut is a Manka, and the flower I picked up is Chico.
"Koryouko! I found Chico!" I said excitedly, holding out the plant.
She smiled and shook her head. "Ranta Chico, ranta Manuka." Seeing the look of dull incomprehension on my face, she ground her fist into one hand.
"Oh I need to mash it up?"
She nodded and pointed across the village.
Time to solve another puzzle!
The machines were all running smoothly. I slipped the spring of Chico into one of the hooks and waited for Valembois to work his magic.
Sure enough, the machine spat out some green paste in a bowl. I brought it back to the girl.
"Chico?" I asked, holding out the bowl of plant paste.
The girl nodded gravely. "Chico."
There was a hopper next to the hammer machine. I tossed the coconut in and hoped for the best.
The hammer squeezed a small amount of a sweet-smelling milk out of the coconut. Cool!
So this was Manuka. What the hell was Locoulo?
Okay so the thing I picked up in the jungle was a Coriscou - not the thing I needed.
A Locoulo was slightly smaller, bright red, with black spots. How the hell was I going to find one bug in the whole damn jungle?
With a muttered apology, I untied the paper from the old mug and set the Coriscou free. It wiggled its antennae in rebuke and skittered off.
Luckily, I found a Locoulo at the mouth of the cave leading to the top of the waterfall.
Time to bring my spoils back to Koryouko.
The girl smiled as I handed her the bowl and the bug. "Manuka. Locoulo."
She mixed the three ingredients together in a larger bowl.
Whispering words I couldn't quite make out, she cut a small hole in the top of the egg and inserted a long metal funnel, into which she poured the contents of the bowl.
Almost instantly, the egg belched out a huge plume of sulfurous black smoke.
The egg bucked wildly on the ground, and then grew still.
The smoke turned a pure white, and the sour smell was replaced by a clear, fresh odour. I felt my vision start to swim.
You must go, up the river. He waits for you.
"Who? Why can I understand you?"
Bring them home. You must bring them home.
"Who are you? What's going on!?"
Unable to stand it any longer, I dashed from the hut and gulped the muggy jungle air.
When I returned, Koryouko was gone and the egg sat alone.
I picked it up and nearly dropped it - the egg was almost too hot to hold, and it kicked gently in my hand.
Carefully, I returned to the hydrafloat and placed the egg back in its cradle.
Okay, time to deal with you, Mr. Snake.
Suddenly, I heard the plaintive tones of a flute from the direction of the village.
Click to hear some good ol' tunes
Honestly, I felt kind of stupid thinking that Koryouko had just disappeared. I wondered what she'd do now - if her tribe was still alive.
No time for that. I had a baby on board!
You're not missing much if you don't click this video
I slotted disk#4 and set the Hydrafloat to boat mode - hopefully she had enough juice to make it to the elevator.
With a loud bump, the Hydrafloat settled into the elevator. I pulled a lever, and we were off!
Click to watch this cutscene, though - it's pretty cool.
I struggled through the soupy green swamp water and took a deep, gasping breath.
Well, I'd survived. That was something at least. I hoped there were no leeches...
Then, it hit me. The egg!
Where was the egg?
Next time: The Swamp!