Sancho and Pedro meet Mendoza at the condor. He has figured out where the Cities of Gold are - on the island in the middle of the lake. The Maya have wiped out the Olmec army and now control the land. Menator, meanwhile, has also figured out the location of the Cities of Gold. Esteban and Zia, washed up on the island, are found, and wake up in comfortable beds where they meet the High Priest of the Cities of Gold. He explains his duty to guard the gates of the Cities from attack. Gomez and Gaspard see the Olmec machine circling the island and, concluding that the Cities of Gold must be there, swim to it. As night falls, the Olmecs are still unable to find the gates to the Cities. The three sailors swim out to the island while Wynacocha goes to fetch reinforcements. The High Priest, beneath the mountainous terrain of the island, shows Esteban and Zia two things: a library which apparently holds a copy of every document ever written, and the gates to the Cities of Gold. The Olmecs, meanwhile, find the entrance to the underground chamber. These doors open, and the High Priest and his servants emerge. Menator emerges from the Olmec machine and demands that the High Priest open the gates to the Cities of Gold. When the High Priest refuses, the Olmecs dangle Tao from their machine by a rope and bash him against the mountainside. The High Priest tells Esteban and Zia that the decision is theirs alone, and at their behest he agrees to open the gates. Kalmec leads a small group to the underground chamber containing the gates, and the outer doors are closed. The High Priest explains all to the children: Long ago existed two mighty and prosperous empires; Hiva to the west, in the Pacific, and Atlantis to the east. Both knew the secret of harnessing the power of the sun. Finally a terrible war broke out between them, and the weapons of the sun which they used destroyed both their islands, sinking them in catastrophic earthquakes. But the Emperor of Hiva had foreseen this catastrophe, and had ordered the construction of seven Cities of Gold around the world, each containing a power source. Over the centuries, the two lost empires were forgotten. Finally the two medallions which open the Cities both reappeared, one passed down through Zia's family, the other found by Esteban's father. Thus both medallions came into the possession of children, as was the Emperor's wish - that the fate of the Cities of Gold and the awesome power they contain should be in the hands of innocent children. With Tao's life in the hands of the Kalmec, Esteban and Zia agree to open the gates with their medallions, and a magnificent, underground City of Gold is revealed.moreless
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