The Legend of Fayna
The fourteenth century passed. A storm made the ship of the Spanish Martín Ruiz de Avendaño run aground on the coast of Lanzarote. The sailor was lucky that Zonzamas, the great king, welcomed him. He stayed on the island for six months, enjoying Aboriginal hospitality. But there was also another reason for staying there so long. Fayna, the sublime wife of Zonzamas, had conquered his heart.
Later, Martín Ruiz de Avendaño went out to sea again. He was never heard from again, but within four months of his departure, Fayna gave birth to a girl. She was called Ico and it was soon seen that she was a blonde and white-skinned princess, which fueled rumors among the people of Lanzarote. Certainly, the romance between the stranger and Fayna had not gone unnoticed.
When Zonzamas died, his son Tinguafaya succeeded him. However, he did not exercise power for a long time, because shortly after being named king, some Spanish pirates kidnapped him, along with his wife and seventy other aborigines who were sold as slaves.
After the short reign of Tiguafaya, Guanareme, another son of Zonzamas, followed in power. The new king married his sister Ico. In those times, this custom was common among the aborigines of various daughters of the archipelago. However, this monarch did not expect a very long reign either. He lost his life fighting pirates who visited Lanzarote in search of slaves.
Guanareme had a son, Guadarfía, who now had to reign. But Atchen, a close relative, was also claiming the throne. He administered a vast region of Lanzarote and had as many important relationships as power among the warriors. In addition, Atchen maintained that Ico was not the daughter of Zonzamas, but the result of the queen’s relationship with that foreigner. Therefore, his son Guadarfía did not descend directly from Zonzamas and it was not for him to ascend the legitimate wooden throne.
The council or tagoror of elders met and, as wise men usually do to save their backs when they do not know what decision to make, they left the resolution of the problem in the hands of luck or their divinities. The council therefore decided that Ico should undergo a supernatural test, to verify her royal ancestry.
The day set for the test arrived. They took Ico and her three escort ladies to a cave. Hundreds of people from Lanzarote came to watch the macabre spectacle. When the queen was at the entrance of the grotto, she looked at the crowd and could make out some beloved faces, covered with tears, like that of her son Guadarfía. Only her old matron dared to violate her rules and reach out to hug her. An old man beckoned and a couple of men gently pushed the old woman aside for the act to continue. Seemingly strong and confident, Ico entered the cave, followed by her companions. In front of the grotto, green branches were piled up. The four women entered that hole and a warrior lit a fire on which the green branches were deposited. There was a great smoke. With palm fronds, two men fanned the smoke into the cave.
The women locked up began to feel their eyes and throats itch. Outside, the people awaited with expectation the result of the test: if Ico did not die asphyxiated, it would be the demonstration that the blood that flowed through her veins was real blood. After a short time, the cries of the women could be heard. Then a choked cough. In the end, the sounds coming from the cave faded and died away. However, the bonfire was still burning and the executioners continued to send smoke inside.
Much later the fire was put out and the council elders entered the grotto. In front of them, on the ground, were the lifeless bodies of Ico’s three companions. His posture was twisted and his eyes were still wide with terror and agony. Further inside, leaning against the wall of the cave, was Ico, blackened by smoke. Her eyes were two embers staring at the old men. Without saying a word, she took a few wobbly steps. She refused any help and slowly she came out of the cave with her head raised, blinking. It was dusk and the light of the setting sun bathed her blackened figure of hers. She approached her son Guadarfía, the new king of the Island, and hugged him. The crowd, gathered in front of the cave, was delirious with jubilation at the prodigy that had just been performed before her very eyes.
As is often the case in magical stories, only a few people found out how that miracle had been performed. The rest, never knew what was the real reason why one of the old healers had made her way to the princess, through the assistants to the test. This elderly woman had been a midwife for many years. Already when Ico was born she had lent her wise and skillful hands so that the girl could come to this world healthy. Later, she helped Ico to have her son Guadarfía and cured him of many injuries in his adventures as a child and as a teenager. For many Aborigines, the old woman was not only a matron but also an intelligent healer.
No one was surprised that the old woman hugged Ico, but what none of those present observed was how, surreptitiously, the matron handed him a sea sponge, dipped in water, and begged him to put it in his mouth to breathe through her when the smoke began to enter.
Thus, Ico was able to save her life and the throne of her son.