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El Salvador x The Wizarding world. Part 2. Cihuehuet/Siguanaba.
[Note. Muggle historians account that at this time, the 1500s, great plagues of smallpox and measles decimated native americans. In truth, entire civilizations attested by several scouts disappeared overnight. While illness in the wake of european and american contact did exist, these numbers were grossly exaggerated in the wake of the International Statute of Secrecy in 1689. Complete cities and millions of wizardfolk were expunged from muggle records and maps, while testimonies of a pandemic were left to explain the sudden depopulation of the Americas.]
Back in the 1550s, in a native american village around Izalco, the famous metamorphmagus later known as La Cihuanaba was born. Her mother, Cihuacoatl, was a native american witch whose magic allowed to be the chief and shaman of her community. The tlazcalteca chieftain that guided Pedro de Alvarado knew about Cihuacoatl and her lineage. Huehueteotl, Cihuacoatl´s ancestor, was a powerful shaman famous breathing and summoning fire, an ability he used to roast several great warriors. Huehueteotl´s kin was not to be trifled with, so the tlazcaltecas avoided any town with a shaman of his bloodline.
Being free of spanish interference deep in the lush forest, Cihuacoatl´s tribe could continue their lifestyle. However, the voluptuous shaman was extremely curious about the new people around, and transforming herself into a snake (her animagus form) she slithered into the spanish settlements. Amazed of their strange looks, artfacts and fashion, she kept visiting the incipient town each full moon. While she did not find anyone with magical abilities, she took a liking to some men and from her adventures she eventually begat three daughters.
While the first two didn´t show any signs of magic, the third one was born on an ajmaq waxing moon, red as a tomato, and during her first hours she turned yellow, black and blue. Cihuacoatl was deeply troubled by this omen, but her midwife reminded her that her great aunt was able to turn black as obsidian, fair as the morning star and wrinkled as Huehueteotl himself. The girl was named Cihuehuet, and from the earliest infancy was trained by her mother in the practices of her people: how call and halt the rain, how speak in the tongue of the zontes and jilgueros, how distinguish between the herbs of the forest, how summon her nahual and most importantly, how turn herself into an animal. Cihuehuet´s animagus form was a tecolote (owl), and once she turned 16 years old her mother took her to scout the nearby villages.
The natives of the area had heard of an spanish crone in the town of Acajutla that could work miracles with a stick. A band of several natives, including Cihuacoatl and Cihuehuet made the one day journey to see her. When they arrived, after dusk, they found doña María Marmolejo gathering herbs under the moonlight with her wand set alight. After Cihuacoatl turned into a snake and back to human, and María turned some leaves into butterflies both parties aknowleded each other and went back to her cottage. The old woman was very kind, and even though she did not understand a whisp or nahuat, nor most of the natives understood spanish, they eventually manage to understand each other. Each fortnight the natives would come to María with beans, dried deer meat, herbs and a special brew of spirited mead, and María would give them bread, lard, sweets, dried beef and enchanted items. In these trades both parties learned each other´s language and magical practices. What intrigued the natives the most was Maria´s wand. Unfortunately the mysteries of wandlore were foreign to her, and she had to refuse several times the request to lend her wand. However, she promised she´d be attentive if any wandmaker emmigrated to the Americas, so her native friends could acquire their own wands.
María also introduced her friends to the new criollo culture and the news of the day. The budding spanish Colony was wreaking havoc to the muggle natives, that toiled under the yolk of spanish abuse. However, there were plenty of towns, even entire city-states that resisted the Conquistadores. They managed to stand up thanks to their fierce shaman-warriors. The spanish fire-pipes and narrow metal barrels could not catch fire in the intense storms they summoned. Their terrifying screams literally scared to death horsemen and their mounts. Food spoiled overnight, fresh water turned into blood and every night´s sleep was plagued with nightmares. The tlazcaltecas auxiliaries were too familiar with these tactics, so it was far easier to leave these magical foes be undisturbed, focusing their energy on the helpless communities with lesser shamans. Unfortunately for Cihuacoatl, the closest of these mighty cities was deep in the western forest. If her tribe was in trouble, no one would come to help them. Therefore it´d be wiser to keep to themselves and avoid the colonials altogether.
Unfortunately, María´s kindness backfired when the natives took a liking of her wares. Deer was tastier when fried in lard. Leaved bread could not compare to their tortillas, and no fruit in the world could stand to her sweets. Thus, they couldn't stay away for long. They shared their newly discovered tastes with their village, and in a few years the entire tribe was trading with the town of Izalco.
While the village was busy raising milpas, frijolares and herbs to trade, María, Cihuacoatl and Cihuehuet practiced their magic. María christened Cihuehuet with the name Cirila. While her mother wished to keep her name and culture, Cirila was eager to blend in, learn proper spanish and use a wand. To María´s surprise, the teenage girl could effortlessly impersonate any of her native male and female companions. This ability would be most useful, and with a little practice she learned how to turn her hair blonde, her skin fair and her honeyed eyes into emerald green. When given a proper dress, she could pass as a spanish settler, with the only detail that gave her away being the accent.
Tired of traveling all the way to Acajutla, Cirila chose to stay as María´s pupil while her mother returned to her village. She´d learn all she could about cousine, potionmaking and spellwork while her cousin Xochilt would groom herself as the next shaman. The following years were very formative. The more people she met, her repertoire of disguises grew. María´s reputation in town grew also, and she was sought to cure all kinds of troubles, from swollen bellies to broken hearts. It helped that the old woman was rumored to transform herself into an owl, communed with the animals of the forest, spoke with the natives in their maternal tongue and could turn herself young.
At that time, a wealthy peninsular established his estate around the villa de Nahuizalco. As no highways, cities of villas have been built yet, don Jeremías de Sicilia was appointed to mark, level and pave roads to make possible journeys of carriages and horsemen. To support his livelihood, he began constructing a large Hacienda worthy of a man of his stature and task. In a few years most locals were at his employment, either as domestics, fieldworkers or laborers. The Puente de los Esclavos in Guatemala was one of his best works, and he was to make several passes, avenues and bridges in Sonsonate also. This meant backbreaking toils for african slaves and native laborers. Some of them heard of the miracles made by an old woman of Acajutla. For a real (equivalent to the silver sickle, or payment for one day of labor) doña María claimed she could solve all kinds of trouble. And for the most part her potions and charms did the trick. But every month she treated worst and worst cases, so heinous that she could not heal. Severed hands, severed tongues, crushed legs and so on. After all, magic has its limits. María and Cirila concluded that the better use of their powers was to locate the source of these evils and weed it out. At night, when their patrons returned to their working camps, a suspicious owl follow them back, and for a fortnight they observed this peculiar tecolote peeking and staring from rooftops and the treeline.
While don Jeremías was not particularly cruel or brutal, his son and foreman don Enrique was famous for his savage "discipline" and disregard for his workers. Not only that, but he was a renowed fiend with women, siring a legion of children without taking the slighttest consideration about them. He left lashed men, defiled women and a whole lot of misery in his wake. However, the worst punishments were inflicted for the smallest mischief imaginable: telling scary tales. As it happened, don Enrique was utterly terrified of folk tales about natives in the dark waiting to slit the throats of white people, of the river dwelling heathen creatures like cuyancuas and aguizotes, of birds of bad omen and headless ghosts. If such topics were in his earshot, or if he got wind that someone was telling such stories, he´d make examples out of them, on "how not to waste time in idle talk and neglect on work at hand".
One evening he was to return on horseback from a work camp to his estate at dusk. Usually he´d have his friends or servants to escort him. However that day his friends stayed at a local brothel and he just had his manservant whipped, so he angrily took off by himself. He was busy thinking how strange everyone had behaved that day. Like his servants were different people. So full of himself, he failed to notice how actually late it was: there was little light left and he was not even halfway home. However, he thought, he had a sable, he was well known, he was on horse and the road was illuminated by the full moon. He had nothing to fear, and so he continued with confidence.
At one point he had to cross a shallow river ford. He noticed that in the opposite side of the brook there was a small pile of clothes. And just some meters away, in the rippling dark water there was someone bathing. Enrique halted his horse in order to hear a faint woman´s voice, singing. Intrigued, he deviated from the road in the direction of the bathing woman. As he got closer, he saw the moonlight reflected in the most lustrous black hair he´d ever seen. The water dripped from her voluptuous figure, and she flinched when she saw the horseman staring at her. Her round face, full lips, delicate button nose and doe eyes were a sight to behold. But most interesting to Enrique was her olive skin and raven flowing, waistline long hair. She was a native, or at least had enough native blood for him to make his way with her without much consequence. Still far from her, he asked in a kind voice what she´d be doing this late, this far from home. The woman responded in the most candid voice that at the break of dawn she´d begin her first employment as a maid in don Pelayo Ibarra´s manor and she had to be presentable for his . Enrique knew Pelayo, obviously: he was a business partner of his, a wretch of an old man way into his sixties but behaving as a twenty-year-old, flirting with every married woman and bedding most of the unmarried ones. This budding rose of a maid would land in Pelayo´s bedroom the first day. It was not fair that such a pervert would have the first slice of cake, Enrique thought. In the kindest voice he offered her a ride home, for she should have a good night´s sleep in order to be productive and leave a good impression to his new employers. Doubtful but after some convincing, the girl agreed.
Enrique´s plan was to reach a deserted cabin he knew and make sure she´d not be able to walk straight the day after. In his excitement he rushed the horse to full gallop, and in doing so he felt the delicate and soft hands of the girl holding him fast at his waist. Emboldened, he took one of her hands and placed into his manhood, which caused the maid´s laughter as she began stoking it. Beyond happy, the man thought what a lucky catch that was as he felt her lips on the back of his neck. However, his heat turned to panic when he felt a sharp pain in his waist. Lowering his sight, he saw that instead of a delicate hand, a milky white hand with bird-like talons was stabbing his waist. His first instinct was to put the other set of claws away of his manhood, which he managed just to feel the stabbing on his other hip. Screaming, he turned his head to find a messy tangle of gray hair, and beneath it a pale naked crone with a toothless, wicked grin starring at him with a set of yellow eyes. Enrique´s screams bewildered the horse, which franticly tried to yank its riders. In a few seconds Enrique found himself into the ground, bruised and soiled from sheer terror, his horse gone and no sight of the creature. He was found the later morning, curled up, sobbing and half crazed. Once at home he was mortified, as he barely ate, hardly slept and would remain impotent for the rest of his life. Unable to serve as foreman, a strict yet reasonable man took his position.
Soon enough Enrique´s tale spread mouth to mouth. And to the dismay of many, there were quite more sightings. Taskmasters, overseers, common fiends and even a Royal Delegate, all found a pretty girl bathing in a river or creek at dusk or before dawn. All of them picked her up in their horse or carriage, lowering their gard in the sight of such a beautiful maid, just to find moments after a horrendous pale hag with wild gray hair, taloned hands and a toothless smile, to which most of them soiled themselves and lost control of their rides, and after the landing no evidence of such being was left as proof. However, the driver of the Royal Delegate´s carriage testified that a few minutes after picking the bathing girl, he heard his master´s howls of terror and when turned his head to check what was going on, he managed to see an owl flying over the carriage window. Within a fortnight after the first incident, the whole area was on guard against the demoness.
In truth, this creature was Cirila, who used her metamorphmagus and animagus abilities to appear as an innocent virgin to attract specially harmful male members of the community. As their lust made them gullible, her transfiguration had a more potent effect. Once her victims were in shock, she assumed her tecolote form and flew away. These characters found themselves too scared to keep their abussing ways, thus neutralizing them without actually maiming or killing them. And as the tale grew as a folk legend, no victim of hers would forget the encounter. As a known healer, some of her victims turned to her to ward off the monster. She came up with the name Siguanaba, a spirit of the rivers formally known as Cihuehuet (thus identifying herself to those who knew her true name) who hunted lone men at night, and warned her former bullying clients that as long as they behaved as good christians they had nothing to fear from this spirit.
Cirila continued her hits, sometimes to scold womanizers, sometimes as revenge, sometimes just for fun. She perfected the encounters and cemented the legend of the beautiful Cihuehuet and the horrid Siguanaba. Fifteen years after her debut as the Siguanaba, doña María Marmolejo passed away at the ripe old age of 213 years old. She left a small coven of wizards and witches, some native and some spanish. As the oldest and the most acomplished witch, Cirila took her leadership and became María Cirila. Hers would be a most interesting story, and would inspire several myths known to the muggles of the region. And around the time of her ascention as the matron of her coven, she found her inseparable familiar, the house-elf Cipit, which inspired the tale of the Cipitío. But this is a different story.
-To be continued-
submitted by klauszen