Pyrywa looked at the strange men. They were said to be Palanakili, sea spirits, but he didn’t really believe that. They were just men with pale skin. He moved his eyes up the river. He saw some bubbles in the water.
Ỳkapurinka! He didn’t know how to say bubbles in the strange language of the men. He shouted, pointing. The men didn’t understand.
Danger! Danger! The men looked at the water, at the bubbles. They looked a Pyrywa. They laughed.
Stupid wild man, said Adriaan, the leader of the expedition. Afraid of some bubbles!
A huge hand came up on the side of the boat, pulled it down. The men fell out. Pyrywa knew what it was. Tocouyaha. The river monster.
He swam. Behind him he could hear men screaming as the Tocouyaha devoured them one by one. He got up on the bank and into safety. Two of the white men had survived as well, Adriaan and Kees. The rest of them were dead.
That was close! Said Adriaan. Kees was lying on the ground beside him, catching his breath. We seem to be the only ones alive. That’s a pity.
Kees got on his feet. Pyrywa saw sadness in his eyes The other didn’t really seem to care much.
They managed to get some things from the river shore. Some food, a bag. Then they started walking.
They walked through dense bushes and thicket, cutting their way with the strange metal knives of the Palankili.
Adriaan cut a mark on a tree every once in a while.
They walked up on the top of a hill. On the other side a marvellous sight emerged. Manoa. The golden city.
Adriaan could not believe what he saw. The after noon sun made the walls shine in a glow he had never seen before.
I am rich… He said silently, with tears in his eyes. We’re rich Kees! We’re rich!
They jumped up and down, dancing around. They ran down and into the city. There was gold everywhere. Whatever civilization had been living here they had been the wealthiest people on earth. Now it was all abounded.
Pyrywa looked at the white men. The glow in their eyes. The gold seemed to make them crazy. They were filling their bags with things they found on their way. Gold. Diamonds. Jewellery.
Pyrywa didn’t like it. You not take, he said to Adriaan. Bad take.
The men laughed. Stupid wild man, they said, and kept filling their bags.
They slept in the city that night. Pyrywa thought he saw something move in the darkness. He didn’t like this. He didn’t like it at all.
They left at sunrise. The men wanted Pyrywa to carry a bag of gold. He refused. They threatened him, they hit him. He still refused. They gave up.
We should have brought a negroe, said Adriaan. These savages are impossible to tame.
He’s our guide, though. Not our slave.
Adriaan didn’t answer.
They started walking back. Adriaan was looking at the marks on the trees, following their tracks.
Haven’t we been here before?
Kees was looking at the rock formations, the trees. It all looked familiar. They had been going in circle.
That’s strange, Adrian said. We’ve been following my marks all the way.
Pyrywa was gazing into the woods. A tree moved. A tree with four trunks ran down the slope. Dai Dai. The tree spirit. The protector of the treasures in the jungle. It was leading them off track.
Dai Dai fool us, he said. He make walk circle.
The men didn’t even listen.
Well, it’s getting late. We’ll have to sleep here tonight. Tomorrow we’ll figure out where we went wrong.
Night fell. They slept under some branches in the dark jungle.
Pyrywa didn’t sleep. Something was wrong, he knew it. They shouldn’t have taken the treasure from Manoa. It was a holy place. There were worse spirits in the forest than Dai Dai.
He heard a sound. He woke the white men up.
What… Adriaan was pulling himself out of his sleep.
Something in trees. Pyrywa was pointing. We need go! Aky! Danger!
What are you talking about? Adriaan said. We need to sleep.
No! No sleep. Danger!
I need to take a piss… Kees got up and went over to the bushes. The sound of urine hitting the ground was all they could hear.
He disappeared into the bushes.
What the fuck?
They got up on their feet.
Adriaan was holding his gun.
Kanaima… Pyrywa whispered it, so low it could hardly be heard. His voice was shaking. He is here!
Kanaima who? What are you talking about, beast? Adriaan looked scared. Who’s here?
Revenge Spirit… You steal from forest. Now no mercy.
A sound behind them. They spun around. A jaguar was standing there. Adriaan fired a shot. The sound echoed through the forest. They heard birds fly from the trees, animals running through the bushes.
Kanaima got up on two feet. A smile spread on his face.
Pyrywa ran, disappeared into the darkness. Adriaan fired another shot. The spirit was laughing. Adrian turned around to follow Pyrywa. The jaguar creature was there, again in front of him.
He tried to shoot again, but his gun was empty. The creature came walking towards him, slowly. He fell to his knees.
Please… He threw the bag of jewellery in front of the Kanaima. Take it… Please!
He could see it’s eyes now. He knew it was too late for that. All the monster wanted was to hurt him.
It pushed him to the ground. Held him down. Adrian tried to fight but it was too strong. It’s monstrous animal face stared into his eyes. He could feel his intestines move. Making knots. He screamed in pain as life slowly left his body.
Pyrywa ran. He ran all night and all day. He knew if Kanaima wanted him, there would be no escape. Still he ran. He ran through the forest, his body cut up by branches and thorns. Late in the evening he found the river. He threw in a log, clung to it as the river took him down streams. He didn’t care about drowning, he didn’t even care about Tocouyaha.
He reached his village the next day. The rest of his life he kept telling his story to his tribe mates, especially to the young and the children . The only thing he never mentioned was the city of gold.
This blog post inspired this story: https://shomawrites.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/scary-folklore-f rom-the-caribbean-guyana-part-2/
Here’s some of the pages I used for the research: http://demonhunterscompendium.blogspot.com.es/2014/12/the-kanaima_6.html?zx=f7a421c0c27b3c74