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In Search of the Magic Lake


"I know," said the other, panting with exhaustion. "This is hopeless."

"What should we do?"

"Look, the harvest is coming and our parents need us back at the farm. Let's take some water from this mountain lake back to the prince. Who knows? We're far from Cuzco. Maybe the water will help cure him."

They had their doubts, but scooped the jar full of the mountain lake water, sealed it, and presented it to the Sun King at the castle.

But when the court magician poured their water into his flask, it sizzled and evaporated in a flash. The court magician frowned.

"My magic flask holds only water from the Magic Lake," said he. "This water is fake. The men are imposters!"

"How dare you try to trick the royal family!" bellowed the Sun King. "Throw them in prison!"

News of the young men's fate spread throughout the land. Though her brothers languished in jail, Ampata held out hope since at least they were still alive.

"Absolutely not!" said Ampata's parents, when she pleaded with them to allow her to go in search of the Magic Lake, too. "We'll have no children left at home," they said.

But Ampata implored them, saying it was the only way to win her brother's release from prison. Besides, the Sun King's poor son was worse than ever and had slipped into a coma. His situation was desperate.

At last her mother gave her a bag of toasted corn and nuts, and a llama to keep her company. Sighing, her parents bid their youngest child farewell.

On Ampata's first night, she snuggled into the warmth of her llama. But on the second night her sleep was shattered by the cry of a panther. She couldn't endanger her llama, and so she pointed the way back home for her pet and urged her to go, and quickly. That night, Ampata climbed the trees to spend the night safely out of harm's way.

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