Protagonist: Giovanni Borgia
Setting: Mexico
Time Period: 1520 CE

Introduction video of the chapter: "Preparing to synchronize. Note that we are experiencing a small system glitch that may cause a subtle ringing in your ears. It should pass as you enter the memory.
"The new world was plundered in the 15th Century. Explorers became conquerors. La Noche Triste, or the Night of Sorrows, was a bloody uprising between the Aztecs and the Spanish conquistadors. Hernán Cortés himself was driven from Tenochtitlan. Firsthand reports of the massacre present opposing perspectives. Find the truth."

First memory group – FARSIGHTED

My hunt continues. We must find these relics of a previous world. Study them. The Brotherhood has made connections, leveraged deals, and ensured my place aboard Hernán Cortés' ship, bound for the New World. To México.

The Spaniards know me as Botello, a soldier and a scholar. I have worked hard to perfect my accent and my garb. They remain convinced that I am one of them. I am to chronicle their adventures, though necessity demands I omit certain events.

I study my maps and charts, sometimes comparing them to the stars. I am convinced we are following the correct course!

I use tools the crew has never seen, lenses and measures suited to study subjects new to these men.

Rumor around the ship brands me an astrologer. A magician. They believe I will bring them luck in their journey, so I do not correct them.

With everything I know, what I have personally witnessed, I marvel at the endless sea beneath our ship. What secrets lie lost below? Relics? Cities? Answers?

I keep a journal about our voyage, careful to note directions and obstacles. I write in doublespeak. Even a scholar would find my journal mundane and obsessed with details. A Brother, however, would find much more hidden in those sentences.

We reach shore soon. How my heart races! I have studied these relics from our past, these Pieces of Eden, and I have even wielded them on rare occasion. I have spent my life theorizing and mapping, but never before have I had the opportunity to hunt one.

We have landed! When we approach the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, we will be vastly outnumbered. If they are hostile, we stand no chance. Fortunately, we have allies will help us negotiate.

Cortés has grown close to a Nahua slave named Malinalli. Though she does not speak Spanish, she does speak many of the tribal languages. She communicates on our behalf, though we can only assume what she is saying.

The natives speak of bearded men, a foreigners like us, living with the Maya in Chetumal. One of our first tasks is to find them.

Malinalli has gained us access to the Chetumal Mayans. We have found Spaniards among them! Gonzalo Guerrero and Gerónimo de Aguilar shipwrecked nearly a decade ago and have been living with the tribes.

Malinalli and Aguilar can communicate through the Mayan language, much to Cortés' delight. Tenochtitlan's people will speak Nahuatl, a language unknown to Aguilar. Malinalli will translate to Mayan. Aguilar will translate Mayan to Spanish. It will be slow and confusing, but it will work!

Our numbers are too small to enter Tenochtitlan without aid. We will seek aid from the Tlaxcalans, an indigenous people not yet conquered by the Aztecs.

Cortés, speaking through Aguilar and Malinalli, has made enormous promises to the Tlaxcalans. I suspect the Spaniards will use these people to conquer the Aztecs. I seek no involvement in their ambitions, but I must prevent Spain from finding the relic. It is too important.

Memory 3 – SUN GOD
The view of Tenochtitlan is breathtaking! I never suspected the sheer scale of this civilization. The capital city is massive, intersected by causeways filled with boats, and grand temples reach towards the heavens.

There must be at least 100,000 people in this city. No... more than double that. If they are hostile, we stand no chance. I study my Spanish hosts. Their weapons and armor begin to scare me. Surely the Aztecs will realize their intent?

The Aztecs send a party to meet us. Our Tlaxcalan escorts meet them. They argue. Their voices rise and I anticipate violence. I rest my hand on my sword!

Both parties have calmed. Malinalli translates for Aguilar. Aguilar tells us that we will meet the leader of Tenochtitaln, Moctezuma. A rare occasion – apparently Moctezuma does not show himself to his people.

As we wait, Guererro has an idea. Take off our helms. The men with the largest, fullest beards stand in front. We are gods. We must convince them that we are gods.

Moctezuma arrives with hundreds of his lords divided into two columns. They are barefoot and costumed. Moctezuma stands in the center with a chief to each side. Cortés asks me to describe this meeting in my notes.

Thanks to our skilled translators, the ruse works. Aguilar translates Moctezuma's words. "You have graciously arrived, you have known pain, you have known weariness, now come on earth, take your rest, enter into your palace, rest your limbs; may our lords come on earth."


Moctezuma has invited us to stay in his own chambers. Some of my fellow conspirators believe he seeks to catch us off guard, but I hear genuine fervor in his voice. If he does not believe us gods, he wants to. Today is the Festival of Toxcatl, a significant day of ceremony.

As I search for the relic, I observe the strange customs and rituals of the Aztec people. They are happy to provide me with religious drawings and to share their legends, despite the complexity of translation. I add them to my journal.

The Aztecs have dressed up a young man as their god. He plays the flute and distributes flowers. They treat him as their god, parading him around Tenochtitlan with a court of beautiful women. He is worshiped.

The man is the manifestation of their god Tezcatlipoca. He is adorned in shells and gold, as are many of the revelers. The noblest Aztecs arrive in their own priceless jewelry to celebrate. The Spaniards grow restless. Greedy.

Tezcatlipoca presents the Spaniards with his tobacco pipe. Encourages them to smoke. To sing. To dance. He does not realize their disgust.

Some of the women have dressed up as goddesses. They follow me, curious. I study them, curious as well. They laugh and blush.

Tezcatlipoca gestures to see my notebook. Finds that I am drawing a picture of him in his bizarre costume. We laugh together.

The procession continues up the stairs of the temple. Tezcatlipoca has a collection of flutes. He breaks one for each step he climbs. It is a day of great celebration and I wonder if the stories I have heard are untrue. I am not witnessing savages.

I have not lost sight of my goal. With all of the idols and carvings in Tenochtitlan, I begin to doubt my chances of locating the relic. I have only a location, no description, and no one to help me.

All eyes are on the ceremonies. It grants me a few moments to search. I doubt it would be a simple stone carving or a gem, but I check them anyway. The Aztec art is astounding, but not nearly complex enough to be what I seek.

Under pretense of admiring their costumes, I search the priests and nobles of Tenochtitlan. Could it be a necklace? A staff? A crown? I find nothing.

Through our translators, I ask the people if they have any objects that talk to them. That hum. They say the gods talk through everything, that I need only to listen.

The temples themselves are works of marvel. Carved with intricate plans that must have required significant manpower. Could it be buried beneath? If so, how does one access it?

I look for switches. Panels. Riddles. Nothing.

I am drawn to the altar. It is carved with their feathered serpent god, Quetzalcoatl. It is surrounded by skulls – some stone, most human. I spend a while looking through the charnel, but find nothing.

Memory 6 – GREED
Tezcatlipoca approaches the altar. The Spaniards grow violent as they realize what is happening. The priests reveal an obsidian dagger. Is it the relic? Another man, also dressed as Tezcatlipoca, is brought forward. This is to be a sacrifice!

The Spaniards voice their outrage. I silence the translators. No! The ritual will be gruesome, but it is theirs! It is sacred to them! Interference will get us killed!

They place the man on the altar. The dancers move more violently! They roll back their eyes and begin to chant. Celebration has become chaos!

The Spaniards ready their weapons! I try to convince them to stand down, but they will not.

The act is brutal! A priest slices open Tezcatlipoca's chest, pulling free his heart. His assistants flay the man's skin and hand it to the next Tezcatlipoca, who wears large strips of flesh as decoration.

They carve out the man's skull and place it in a hollow beneath their altar. The priest pulls out another skull, crystal, and holds it high. The relic! I hear its hum in my own skull. Faint, but familiar!

The Spaniards are ready to strike! Some appalled by what they have just witnessed, others ready to use it as an excuse to take the Aztec gold. Whatever the outcome, I must have the skull!

The Spaniards have begun to slaughter the unarmed nobles of Tenochtitlan! I move towards the priest, who gapes at the attack, confused. He still holds the skull aloft. The Spaniards have not seen it yet. My time to act dwindles!

The Aztecs hesitate. They must wonder ... why are their gods attacking them? Today they are celebrating in our honor! Have we come to reclaim the debt owed?

The Spaniards pluck jewelry from their victims, causing outrage in the Aztecs. The illusion falters! Some of them find their courage and attack, only to die at the ends of Spanish swords!

I approach the priest from behind. I cannot risk the Spaniards seeing the skull. I unsheathe a hidden blade and pierce the man's spine. I catch the skull before it hits the temple floor and quickly tuck it into my cloak.

I urge the Spaniards to retreat. There are too many Aztecs! Everyone in Tenochtitlan is here for the Festival of Toxcatl. They outnumber us by thousands!

Several of our Tlaxcalan allies fall to Aztec spears! The Spaniards order them to block our escape.

Though I have my prize, I do not see how we will survive this mistake. The Spaniards grab Moctezuma, force him to follow us. A captive in his own chambers. Yet, still he apologizes to us for the actions of his people. I feel ashamed.

Third memory group – THE NIGHT OF SORROW

We hold out in Moctezuma's palace as the angry masses shout at us from outside. For now, they avoid entering the palace, likely due to its religious significance or perhaps because we hold their leader. Either way we will not survive if we stay here.

Cortes has decided to force Moctezuma to speak with his people. The Aztec will lie to them, gain us time to flee to the safety of Tlaxcala. Moctezuma no longer sides with us. His heart is filled with sorrow. He believes he has brought this upon his people.

Moctezuma walks onto a balcony atop his palace. The roars of his people cease.

He speaks with passion. I hear the pain in his voice. Our translators relay what he says, but without emotion.

He continues to refer to us as gods, though I know he does not believe it. He says the violence at the festival was a test of faith. They jeer at him!

He asks them to return to their homes. That he will speak again in several days, to pass along the will of the gods. The crowd has turned violent again!

Several stones sail through the air, one striking Moctezuma's head. He collapses, twitching as his blood spills onto the balcony tile! The Tlaxcala quickly pull him back inside.

Days have passed. Moctezuma is dead. The men are devastated as many considered the Aztec leader their friend. Cortes is especially affected by his death. I attempt to motivate them, if only to get them moving before it is too late.

The people of Tenochtitlan have removed the bridges from the causeways. They do not press us; they wait us out. They know we cannot escape, yet we must try. The Spaniards prepare for one final push out of the city.

I see many of the soldiers stuffing their clothing with the gold they have stolen from the Aztecs. Senseless. They will move slowly and they will die. I take nothing but the skull.

My thoughts keep returning to the artifact. It must have some power. Some way to help me escape. I cannot make it work. I wonder if I have taken the wrong artifact, but no – it feels right!

Cortes scolds his men for their greed. Tells them they may have killed us all. They can be redeemed, he tells them, but first they must survive. Some of them weep.

The Spaniards have been building a small bridge they can carry to navigate the causeways. It will not support all of us, but we have little choice.

We sneak out into the night. Tenochtitlan is silent.

The smiles on their faces disgust me! They believe we will get away with this. This slaughter. This theft. They actually believe we have outsmarted the Aztecs until the first arrow strikes a captain through his eye!

Fourth (hidden) memory group – BOMBASTIC

Few in the Brotherhood are as knowledgeable about the artifacts as I, but Bombastus spends his days studying them while I am out seeking more. He is an unpleasant man, loud and arrogant. He has few friends, but many colleagues. Perhaps he can help me solve my mystery.

(Hidden) Memory 10 – SHELL OF A MAN
I've traveled to Basel to meet with Bombastus. He holds a new position in the city, an important one. I doubt he will hold it long. I enter his laboratory and find a deranged man scratching at the floor. He does not look up, but he shouts madness as I pass.

"Everything is everything! There is no nothing!" he shouts.

"I am metal and you are metal, but we should not meddle with such metals!" I shudder. His scattered thoughts remind me of my own when I was young.

"I can tell you how it ends! All of it! Just ask. Please? Just ask! Coward!"

"Consus?" he asks. I demand that he repeat himself. He refuses. I upright him and stare into his unfocused eyes. I shake him and demand again!

"Consent," he finally answers. "I gave it no consent to this! My mind is a small, small cup. Overfilled! Bursting! Cracked!" He turns his head and points to several tiny wounds. Has Bombastus been experimenting on this poor wretch?

I find Bombastus in a back room, mulling over some formula that is half scrawled letter and half symbol. I demand an explanation for the condition of the man in his laboratory! He tells me the man simply read something he should not have read. The wounds are from his own fingernails.

(Hidden) Memory 11 – PHRENOLOGY
I remove the Skull from my pack and Bombastus' eyes set ablaze! He reaches out for it and I see no harm, so I hand it to him. He begins to take measurements and make sketches, all the while chattering to himself.

"What does it do? No! Of course ... that's why you are here," he says. "Surely I have the answer. I have all the answers! Yet ... you are the one who talks to these things." I try to correct him but he raises a finger.

He shakes the skull violently. Taps on its surface. Holds a candle to it. Submerges it in water. He is as unimpressed as I am. He lifts an eyebrow.

"Are you sure this is it?" I nod. " It seems to be dead. Perhaps it was a full crystal head before, yes? Crystal eyes. Crystal nose?" We both laugh.

"We should soak it in chemicals. Force a reaction! Why are you shaking your head?"

Each time Bombastus moves the skull, I feel a dull ache in my own.

"Perhaps it is locked," he says. "Fear not! I may have the key." He pulls a tome from a locked chest on his bookshelf. The book is well kept, but unadorned. "Unless you want your silver set off-balance like poor Johan, I suggest you look away."

(Hidden) Memory 12 - THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE
Bombastus holds his hands to the sides of his face as he studies the book. Blinders. "You must not take in too much at once," he explains.

Despite my warning, I glance at the page. It is blank. Both pages are blank. Suddenly, symbols fill my mind!

I try to remember what I see, but I cannot! It is there for a moment, with absolute clarity, then it is gone. I ask Bombastus for writing tools.

"You fool! You cannot read it like that!" Again, I insist. He brings me ink and a scroll. I begin to write notes.

I am on the floor. My nose is bleeding. My head thrums. Bombastus is smiling as he pulls me to my feet. I glance again at the book, but this time I see nothing but the empty tan pages.

"Do you know what you have written? These are formulas unlike any I have ever seen! I had guessed, but I never believed... I must get to work!" I ask him if they tell him anything about the skull. He says the skull is insignificant next to what we have just learned.

I rest while Bombastus tinkers with his scales and mixes heated chemicals. He places a nugget of silver into the mixture and drops it onto the counter. We both gasp as the color clearly shifts to gold! Can it be?

Fifth (hidden) memory group – 1542 - Italy

I have lived a full life. I survived the disgrace of my family and their corruption of the church. I have seen, and survived, the dangers of the New World and much more. Yet the skull haunts me. The one question left unanswered.

(Hidden) Memory 13 – VISION
Since my return from Tenochtitlan years ago, the Brothers have doubted my abilities. Though they admire the relic I recovered, they do not believe it is anything more than an ornate treasure. I remain persistent.

Maria protests how much time I spend with the skull. At least an hour each day. Gazing into it, listening.

The hum has grown louder over the years. It feels as if something is coming. A purpose found.

The skull flickers with a faint light today! I shake it and it rewards me with luminescent swirls. What is it doing?

I hear talking, but I cannot understand the words!

I see a face within its cloudy core. No ... in my mind. It has appeared in my mind!

The image of a man appears to me. His features and garb mark him as Chinese. Though he speaks in a language I cannot understand, the intent of his words are clear in my mind. I must alert the Brotherhood!