"Are you sure we're going the right way?" Tulio asked suspiciously, leaning over the map. Altivo leaned over his shoulder to stare at the map as well.
"Sure I'm sure. At least, I'm pretty sure," Miguel replied, scrutinizing the map.
"Tulio, darling," Chel purred, twirling his pony-tail around her finger playfully, "relax. Everything will be fine." Miguel tried to focus more on the map, ignoring the two.
Tulio was becoming more and more immune to Chel, and she was nearly unable to con him with a provocative shake if her hips anymore. He reached over Miguel's shoulder and flipped the map upside-down.
"Oh, that makes more sense!" the blond chirped, beaming.
"Oh, great!" Tulio groaned.
"Oh, come now, Tulio, it's not so bad. It's an adventure!"
"It's been an adventure since we left!" the brunette cried, waving his hands in the air. The rest of the group turned to him with critical looks, to which he responded by rolling his eyes and shaking his head. "Fine, fine, I'll keep my grumblings to myself," he muttered.
As they continued their walk towards the next city, (which was ruled by Aztecs, whatever those were,) they started to hear footsteps. Hoof-beats, Miguel decided, ahead of them. There were a lot of horses. When it got to the point that they were very clear, Tulio suddenly looked straight ahead and stopped walking. Everyone turned to look at him.
"Miguel and Chel, I want you two to get on Altivo right now and run."
"What?" Chel asked, already clambering on the horse. "Why?"
"Just do it!" Tulio hissed. Miguel scrambled onto the horse, who looked Tulio right in the eye. "Start running. Stop when you can't go any further, and then camp out for the night. If I'm not here when you get back..." he trailed off, and then shook his head. "Don't worry."
"What about you?" Miguel asked.
"Harder to run with three people," Tulio replied, grabbing the lowest branch of a tree. He climbed it quickly. "Go now!" he growled. Altivo took off.
They'd hardly been running a minute before Miguel said quietly, "maybe we should go back."
"No," Chel whispered. "He said to keep going."
"But I'm worried. Why would he want us gone?" Miguel asked. Altivo snorted, and slowed to a walk. He was clearly not tired.
"Come on," Chel hissed, leaning into Miguel to try to look around him at the horse. "Get moving!" She looked between him and Miguel, before she relented, saying, "Fine, let's go back!"
Miguel smiled, proud of himself, and Altivo turned around, exuding victory. They trotted back gradually, Chel muttering about how Miguel was going to get them killed, that Tulio had his reasons and that he'd be fine. Miguel, no matter how attractive she was, felt like throwing her off the horse and telling her that if she had such a problem with it that she could go walk the other way and be safe.
Altivo paused just before the path, staying hidden in the trees. As the three looked onto the path, only two understood the graveness of what they saw and only one could sum it up in words.
"Cortez," Miguel murmured. Chel did a double take. They'd told her of Cortez's ruthlessness, and when she leaned around Miguel once more, she apparently understood. She began muttering something to Miguel that he barely understood, as she was speaking too quietly to be heard. That and he was much more focused on the armor-clad man himself. Or, more specifically, the smaller, skinny man that he held off the ground by his shirt-front.
"You're one of the unholy heathens that escaped my ship before you punishment was properly fulfilled," he said. Cortez's voice was difficult to describe, because he didn't hiss, or growl and he wasn't particularly loud, but it sounded like thunder, and the deep bass could be felt right in the chest when he spoke. If one wished to find a better verb for the act of speech for him, they might say "he rumbled".
Tulio feigned innocence, which earned him a good shaking. Deciding quickly that that wasn't going to work, he outright challenged the taller man, his voice drifting over to the three who remained hidden. "Yeah, and? What do you plan on doing about it?" Cortez smiled sadistically.
"What I plan to do will make you beg me to grant you your darkest nightmares as punishment instead."
"No!" Miguel cried, steering Altivo out of the trees. Chel hung on for dear life, while Tulio raised one of the hands that gripped Cortez's forearms to his face, in a tell-tale "you idiot" sign. Miguel glared defiantly at the rich Spaniard.
"Ah, the other one, and my horse, and a native girl," Cortez purred. Miguel shivered a little at the ominous amusement in the man's voice. "Men! Tie them all up and watch them! Their torture will be our entertainment on the way home!" Cheers rose from the soldiers, and the nearest ones roughly grabbed Chel and Miguel and bound their wrists. They were sat back onto Altivo with the other ends of their ropes tied to the saddle of one of the riders. Tulio was put on last, behind Chel, who started to defend herself.
"I didn't want to come back. They made me. I wasn't about to wander around the forest alone and-"
"Yes, yes, these two have a horrible habit of ruining my plans, I know I know, I didn't think for a moment that they'd listen anyways." He smiled around Chel at Miguel, who looked back just in time to see it. "I can always hope. But it doesn't get me too far. They worry too much." This shut the girl up successfully, a feat which Miguel had admittedly been trying to do since they'd begun their trek, and since they'd run into a native who had given them the map. Apart from the rope digging into his wrists painfully, and their obvious doom, he found a small happiness in her silence. Hooray for silver lining.
He was going to need it.