The count had reached one forty steps by the time the newfound realised what was happening. Below him, the rising air from the plateau smelled, newly, of summer grasses and deeply-perfumed flowers.
The sun, near vertical overhead, beat down with a ferocity that touched skin which seemed naked; and yet fed, unburnt, from the sky-borne radiance. It was summer’s height and yet, at the same time, it was midday. Disbelieving eyes blinked, as the import of the snarling lines of light bore into what had been his brain.
Eighty steps, and the ground below seemed to be falling away. Three hundred and it was a distant memory, yet still there. His legs were walking in the air, in large circular steps, as the Jaguar sought and weeded out the pale image of a calendar on his study wall, replacing it with a movement that involved his whole body in ecstatic, radial motion.
The fevered brain was halted in its numeric ascent at ninety one. A brief glimpse of a cube of stone, within which was a vast granite cup; then, his erect body was spun around another whole face of the cube to face the sun, vanishing into the earth in the north. The descent was called, each step counted again as the ground rose to meet his now-weightless form, blazing with the midsummer’s energies. The ground offered no resistance to the Jaguar’s physics, nor its bright passenger’s.
But, the limestone and darkness had a mass that slowed the exploded descenders, consuming their energy until the dark earth seemed to be so dense that all life must end… but it did not. In the moment of his charge’s death the Jaguar breathed its own stored measure of the Sun’s now-liquid gold into the mouth of the newfound.