While the party sleep, a tremor shakes the city. Zia interprets it as Pachamama's anger. Sancho and Pedro are sceptical, and suffering from gold on the brain. The sailors go to look for a passage beneath the temple to see where the condor might have come from, while the kids wait. Tao believes the condor to be a Hiva artefact, wondering if the Hiva people were ancestors of the Incas? Kukapetl finds a quipu in the condor's beak. Esteban climbs up to get it, but has an attack of vertigo and Tao goes up after him. They find a cockpit with three seats and controls like those in Tao's ship, the Solaris. Tao goes to get the quipu, slips, and winds up dangling from the condor's beak. Esteban tries to rescue him but fails, Tao falling from the beak...into the arms of Mendoza, who returned just in time. Zia paraphrases the message of the quipu: "A great danger will threaten the city. All the people have run away to the land of the Maya. In the time of danger the condor is supposed to help them." Sancho and Pedro return, babbling about a passage under the temple. Everyone goes to look. The passage is hot, with a sulphurous smell. They discover that the city is built in a volcano, which is about to erupt. When the passage begins to cave in, they run back to the temple. Tao warns them that the explosion will be a particularly violent one. They run to the city entrance, but discover that the Urubu giants are coming to kill them. Mendoza grabs the medallions from the Pachamana statue, and the mountain walls begin to close around the city. The party get inside just in time, leaving the giants shut out. The earth tremors get more violent. The party, trapped in the city, seek shelter in the temple. Part of the roof collapses, sunlight shines on the gold emblem on the wall, and is reflected from there to the emblem on the ceiling, to the condor, which glows brilliantly and lowers its head. As the temple collapses they all climb into the cockpit. The volcano finally erupts, hurling the condor into the sky. It plummets to the ground. The controls fail to respond, until they discover that the gold emblem Esteban took from the temple can be slotted into the control panel. The condor, in reality a flying machine, goes into autopilot.moreless
The Condor is made of pure gold, yet remains undamaged when the volcanic erruption shoots it out. In contact with lava, gold should melt. Therefore, the outer layer of the Condor cannot be made of gold.
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