The raucous clamor of the thousands below was the only thing she could hear over the thrumming in her chest. It seemed the entire Moche civilization had congregated at the base of the pyramid to see her dear brother put to final rest in the sunken tomb before her feet. She kicked at a patch of sand and small pebbles and they fell to their inescapable doom.
She spotted his ornate coffin within the pit and leaned over the edge to pay her final respects. The lord had been beloved by all, especially her, yet their love could not save him. Struck down by some terrible and unforeseen ailment, he had suffered his last breaths at her bosom, bargaining with the gods for redemption and a second life to make all well again. His offer did little to gratify the gods’ demands and was not met with acceptance. Instead he would live in the afterlife.
A bedraggled man walked up to the hole next to her and wiped his brow with a dirt-filled bit of cloth. He gave the body the briefest of glances and rested there shirtless and stinking in the hot desert sun. In his right hand, he held the reins of two llamas, beasts the Moche respected and loved for their life-giving capacities. He passed the reins to a priest who swiftly brought a rock shard across the animals’ throats, sending warm blood onto the sands and down into the pit. The lord’s sister took a step back in horror. The crowd prayed solemnly as their former lord would now have companions in the afterlife.
Next to be placed in the tomb were the two bodies of the lord’s deceased brides. Their earlier deaths had each had their toll on her brother; she recalled when he came to seek her solace. She welcomed him in her embrace and gave him much needed reassurances.
The commoners down below the pyramid grew silent in anticipation of the next ceremonial rite. Two burly warriors lumbered onto the top of the pyramid’s platform. Heroes among all men, they stood before the great audience with the posture of the gods, willing their fate to come. The priest nodded showing the accorded respect. The warriors were given small shafts of sharpened bone, which they jabbed into their stomachs. They uttered no screams or faithless wails at their time of death. The priest then cut off their left feet, assuring that in the afterlife, they would not leave their lord’s side. The bodies were then carried down into the tomb.
The lord’s sister stood at the top of the enclosed pit, her fate now sealed, her duty yet to be upheld. She looked down at the body, the gilded copper platelets, the gold and silver pectoral shield, the feathered ornaments, the elaborate headdress, the ear spools inlaid with turquoise. He was beautiful even in death.
The priest came up beside her and gently placed a hand on her shoulder. He stretched out the other and on his palm rested two more bone shafts. She grasped one while the priest took the other. He shoved the shaft into his abdomen, his hand slid down her back as he fell to the earthen platform.
She loved her brother. Her hands wrapped around the shaft and she plunged it deep into her stomach. This time it would be her brother’s embrace that welcomed her.