The members of the Cory party were the first to die. Treasure hunters, they'd set up camp in the dense jungle. They were the first outsiders to breach the hidden, ancient city’s perimeter in several centuries. It'd been a worthwhile venture. They'd found the burial chamber and its massive treasure -- heaps of it.
The downside was, they didn't live to enjoy it. The attack on their campsite was vicious and swift. Their attacker(s), unknown and untraceable.
Chico, the treasure hunting party's native, rent-a-scout-and-jungle-guide, had found their demolished auxilliary camp less than half a mile from the base camp early the next morning. The entire site was torn and trashed. The big tent’s center tent pole was shattered. Furniture was broken and tossed all over the place. Tools, food and hiking gear were scattered and pages of the team’s notes littered the ground along with their clothing. Much of the site was heavily splashed or liberally soaked with blood.
Locked and loaded, moving quietly and cautiously into the camp, Chico was drawn to a small, golden statue. So beautiful -- he was compelled to touch it. As soon as his fingers came into contact with it's golden skin, he experienced an unexpected sensation. A horrible burning stunned his skin and quickly spread quickly to the rest of his body.
He was the next to die.
Bringing in the big guns
Dr. Jacob Cooper has come from a promptly organized and quickly adjourned hush-hush meeting with a representative of the Langley Memorial Art Museum in New York City. The museum’s agent informed him of the death of the Cory party and Dr. Cooper's agreed to take their place, continuing their investigation of the ancient city of Toco-Rey.
Dr. Cooper knew Ben Cory. Although he disliked Ben's methods and motives, he was saddened to hear of his death. He hopes the expertise of his own team, consisting of himself and his two children, Jay and Lila Cooper, can sift through the wreckage and decipher the extent of the Cory party’s discoveries. He also hopes to discover who, or what, killed them.
Upon arriving at their destination, they're relieved to find the base camp to be somewhat comfy with three large travel trailers and a few tents. Their host, Dr. Armond Basehart, a biologist, is handsome, well scrubbed and accommodating. After a bit of rest from their travels, the Cooper party is eager to visit the Cory team’s campsite before sun sets over the jungle.
For as much as they base camp is neat and organized, the bush camp is everything but. They approach cautiously, feeling threatened well before they reach the clearing. Once in, they see the camp in every bit of the disarray they’d been warned of. Three graves have been filled not many paces away. Other than the removed treasure items, things appear to be left as they landed following the attack.
Although they’re disheartened at the task of going through the belongings of the dead adventurers, they’re hopeful they’ll be rewarded with information of what they accomplished before they were killed regarding the ancient city, rumored to be rich with hidden treasure.
The Coopers aren’t treasure hunters in the same sense as the Cory party. They’re business is to find, study, and preserve. Unknown to them, their integrity and their faith will soon be harshly challenged.
According to ancient lore, the city of Toco-Rey is cursed. Those who venture too near the city, or come into contact with its treasures are doomed to die in a terrifying and painful fashion. From the looks of the devastated campsite ... it’s an easy connection to the centuries-old legend.
The founder of the city, Kachi-Tochetin was a brutal and vicious warrior, sweeping over villages and cities throughout Mexico and Central to South America. He moved through like a hurricane, murdering thousands and stealing everything of value from those he dominated. Of the ones he permitted to live, he often brought them back to his own city to live out their lives as slaves or to be offered as a blood sacrifice to the thirsty gods he served.
Once upon a time, Toco-Rey was a thriving and (for some) terror-riddled city built on greed, sorcery and sacrifice. It had long since been swallowed up by the jungle. Even when the first explorer who’d documented his own discovery of the ruins, the city had been uninhabited and for more than six hundred years. There were no records as to what had become of the citizens. Had they been killed or captured by another people? In 1576 the only explorer to have found the hidden city, José de Carlon, had peppered his journal with mentions of traps, curses and fear.
His journal was the only surviving evidence that the city remained. It was his map the Cory party had used to find it’s location, and subsequently (possibly) activated its curse.
Welcome to Toco-Rey!
Within a single day the Cooper family has made enough progress to find their way through treacherous swamps, decorated with grinning, moss covered skulls of the long-dead, and breached the walls of the city. What they discover guarding the city, be they intentional or not, are animals, deadly ones, of a species still undiscovered by the outside world. There are thousands of them and a single bit of tiny contact with their venomous fluid is lethal. What’s worse, they’re meat eaters and they can fly...
Their discovery, as fascinating as it may be, is the catalyst of a series of unfortunate events that will leave the reader glued in anxious fascination to find out what wicked danger waits in the shadows of the next tunnel.
What will happen if a war party from the deadly and superstitious local tribe crosses paths with them? And, what is it making those loud, wretched howls and screams from the jungle, causing their guides to quake in fear?
Lace up your hikers, sharpen your machete and pack plenty of bug spray. You’ll need them to get through this ripping-gripping, twisted adventure with the Cooper family as they learn the truth and try to defeat The Deadly Curse of Toco-Rey!
That's it for this one! I hope I've enticed you to join me on another of my favorite stories, this one being Number Six in the Cooper Kids Adventure Series.
Like all of Peretti's work, this is a kid-safe story and free of adult language and situations. It'll make a great book for your own reading collection and an excellent gift as well.
God bless you, thanks for the read and please don't forget to thank a veteran at your next opportunity!
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