The battle ended. By will of the gods coupled with the great skill of his army overwhelmingly defeated his enemies.
A strange threat came from the North like a shadow that hides in the darkness of the night.
Some rumors, almost whispers, had alerted the Kingdom and his warriors by stopping the advance of this danger in the hot deserts of Xalyuhcatlan.
Now he was standing in front of the great pyramid of worship. Only he had rested two days after returning from that bloody battle but his desire forced him to stay in front of a long stairway that climbed in a steep slope toward the top. He straightened his back and slight pangs of pain toured his wide shoulders reminding him the taste of victory.
The Sun was hiding among the mountains and orange tones stroked his tanned face further accentuating the traces of the scorching sun on his skin. The elder who watched him silently lifted his arm and indicated the staircases. The Warrior nodded and without producing any word he advance climbing towards the top.
It covered his chest and back with his Ichcahuipilli, armor of quilted cotton of one or two fingers thick, resistant to shock, shots of stones and arrows leaving naked both arms. A cotton trouser fit in his crotch showing their bare legs and wore a pair of leather sandals. His Ehuatl or long tunic that only nobles could use it was waving gently through the delicate breeze and in each movement increased its scarlet hue. While climbing his mind were filled of memories going back to their distant childhood.
After the death of his parents by a strange disease, the child Ahuízotl was adopted as a servant by a famed general that directed thousand troops of three great kingdoms, and from an early age the influence of military themes made dent in it.
All his tasks were performed to perfection causing his request to join the Calmecác at an early age was granted by his master without any hesitation. There he received military training as well as astronomy, poetry and religion being one of the most outstanding students.
The war reached the borders of his small Kingdom and he actively participated as a Tameme transporting weapons and supplies to the different lines of combat.
As time passed he advanced between different hierarchies military to belong to one of the most elite, the Ocelopilli or jaguar warrior. Even its name had changed to receive that honor. It was not the simple Ahuízotl. Now aim to him as Ahuízotl-Ocelotl, Jaguar Knight.
However, when all the kingdoms merged to fight a common enemy: the terrible and powerful army of the Xibalbá, was witness to the Warrior class of the highest elite, the Cuachicqueh. The most prestigious warrior society of the empire. Their skinheads except by a ridge of hair to the Center, and a braid on the left ear were his hallmark among the rest of warriors. They painted their faces and bald a half blue and the other in red or yellow. One of his highest oaths was not to step back during the battle under penalty of death at the hands of his comrades.
It was the only time that he observed them in action. Never before they had been somewhere in another battle. Everything he heard about them were legends and stories of ancient warriors who mentioned that only when warranted, in case that the Kingdom would be threatened by a terrible danger, this mysterious society appeared from nowhere to fight with ferocity and bravery like no other.
At the time that he saw they swore that he will join them as part of those elite unique and indomitable. The problem was that he didn't know how to do it.
He asked his teachers, well-known and friends about them. All answered with the same words: no one knew how to be accepted in this society. Some mentioned that the god Huitzilopochtli, patron of the war, the fire and the sun, showed himself to those most qualified to test whether they were worthy of being accepted, and then he personally selected them to later appear in distant lands, in inhospitable places to end your workout and then defend the inhabitants of the Empire of the corn of mortal and immortal enemies. Others mentioned that only on the verge of death, dying from wounds of combat on the battlefield, an ancestral spirit Messenger of the gods showed himself to the dying offering the opportunity to live a little longer, with the condition that in each new battle offered his courageous life and savagely fighting standing at the front of the formation of warriors Cuachicqueh, their blood brothers.
Disconsolate, he couldn't find any real and tangible way to apply for membership to the society. Ahuízotl-Ocelotl fought giving his heart in the recent battle, including repeatedly risked his own life between the enemy lines. Shortly after the surrender of his adversaries and while wandering thoughtful among the mutilated bodies of companions and enemies, an old man with dirty and ragged look advanced towards him telling him that after returning to his citadel he will must climb to the esplanade of the great pyramid of the Sun to present pay their respects to the god Huitzilopochtli, perhaps in the hope of being accepted among the Cuachicqueh, being witness to his courage and skill during the last fight. At the beginning he hesitated due to the dirty and regrettable aspect of the elder; he resembled more a beggar than a messenger of the gods. But the floor stained red and the distinctive acrid smell of death agreed to at least try as requested by that man.
Now he step by step, went up into seemingly endless staircase. The Sun went into hiding and the stars shone on the firmament. His body reflected the pale light of the Moon due to the thin layer of sweat that covered his skin. Only twelve steps were missing for reach the top and he still could not distinguish what was on the esplanade. The air flowed more forcefully and finally the young warrior stopped on the shore when he reached the highest part of the great pyramid.
He observed his surroundings while the palpitations of his chest slowly recovered to its natural rhythm. Four laboriously carved pillars rose in every corner, with two lighted torches which lit completely the esplanade. In the middle a circular stone of three to four meters in circumference, with the form of a giant coin was stand up over his edge and beside it the old man was standing staring at Ahuízotl-Ocelotl.
—Young Warrior! It has offered to you the opportunity to join the Cuachicqueh by the great courage that you've shown in the battle —mentioned with a smile where few teeth remaining on his gum, and he asked to him to get closer to the circular stone. This is the stone Ollin Tonatiuh. It was created by the most powerful Gods —at the center of the stone he saw the face of a man carved to perfection that gave him the impression that was placidly asleep with his eyes closed—. He is Tonatiuh, the God Sun and Warrior of the heavens.
He erased his smile and looked hard to him.
—Are you sure that you want to belong to this warrior society? —he asked—. The gods will test once again your bravery in combat but it won't be easy and you could lose your life.
Ahuízotl-Ocelotl hardened his look as if his eyes belch out puffs of fire.
—I'm sure old man. I have not feared to nobody or nothing. —he answered
The old man returned to smile while pointed out a small square that was shining on one side of the face of the God.
—This is your ordeal. This is the land of Xibalbá —inside of the small square the warrior observed a dark and gloomy landscape—, there is a beautiful black flower. Bring it here and you will be accepted.
The warrior smiled for the first time.
—That's it? I don't need my weapon to take a flower.
Suddenly, the eyes of the face in the stone were opened and shone with intensity overflowing with a light green and cold. The warrior heard distant the elder voice.
—Weapon? You will need to find one to defend yourself. Remember that you must bring the flower. Good trip.
Ahuízotl-Ocelotl sought his macuahuitl, a wooden sword with sharp obsidian blades embedded in the sides and magnificently created. He was surprised to notice that it not carried with him. Vertigo seized from his stomach and a huge force pulls him to the front. The light flooded him completely and ceased to feel the ground beneath their feet. The pressure of the force that dragged him stopped in an instant. The light ceased to shine and the warrior stepped on firm ground, doubled their knees and bent on himself to avoid falling on his face.
He straightened slowly and noted the landscape. The sky was covered by thick clouds with grey and black hues. On both sides, huge walls of dark rock traced the only path to follow. The grass that covered sporadically the black earth was reddish and behind him a similar rock wall so high that it seems to touch the clouds, without showing any way to escape from that bizarre spot.
Several black and strange trees that seemed dry and dead wave their branches with their own free will rather than the rhythm of the wind. Among the trees, horrible creatures that exceeded two meters in height devoured pieces of fresh meat and the warrior remained immobile hoping that they will not notice his presence. Powerful and wide arms sprang from their bodies covered in black short and rough hair. Eyes small and white looked with anxiety while their food were crushed with their sharp tusks that sprouting from his wide muzzle becoming big bones into tiny pieces. Other very different to the previous, sad and lean beings walked pitifully from tiny cracks that tearing the lower parts of the walls, dragging with laziness large and juicy pieces of meat which they throw to the beasts larger and which tirelessly eat.
Ahuízotl-Ocelotl listened to his own slow, rhythmic breathing. He had never experienced the feeling of fear so overwhelming that froze the movement of his arms and legs. When the stiffness tried to wrap every fiber of his body a glow caught his attention and alerted his senses, one hundred steps forward something was shining with intensity. The warrior turned his gaze and distinguished a macuahuitl nailed in black soil and at its side a small and beautiful black flower waving as if it dancing to the rhythm of the wind.
The warrior understood it. When he reaches the flower he will gain a weapon to defend him from these creatures. The important thing was to arrive before they attacked. Without more thoughts, far from meditating a plan, the Jaguar warrior ran with all his strength to the flower. On both sides heard groans of rabies and knew that their presence had been noticed. He continued to run without stopping to look at and when he passed near the trees they waving their branches covered with thin and long spines to catch him but he nimbly jumped, ducked until he fell on the ground to prevent their deadly embrace.
Those creatures that almost catch him with its powerful claws were trapped by the black trees, which raised their victims to dropping them partially wrecked on its huge mouth to ending crushed. Thanks to this protection came to the flower, he took it delicately and introduced it between leather tapes that held his sandals, and then he lifted the macuahuitl. A warm current toured his arm and climbed all over his body filled with energy and strength.
The creatures that escaped to the voracity of the trees surrounded him and with its huge arms attempted to hold him. Ahuízotl waved his weapon cutting the air and it roared as a jaguar in combat, and with fast movements severed arms, heads and legs of their enemies. A black shadow fell from the dark clouds to stop in front of the warrior. White bony feet touched the ground and the black shadow fell backwards like a layer of a great Lord showing his ugly and deformed face: the skull of a dead man with some pieces of putrid flesh covering part of the cheeks and forehead. The eyeballs moved on their stark, and yellow teeth hidden a green tongue with black nuances.
—You will not escape warrior of the Kingdom of the corn! You will have the honor of dying by a Hunhan, Prince of the second ring of the Xibalbá. You will be a trophy for us and your head will be at the top of the main entrance of my domain.
Ahuízotl-Ocelotl smiled and pointed his sword to the chest of his new opponent.
—I am a man of few words because what comes out of my mouth does not return to it without previously having compliment, and I tell you that you will be food for worms. —he answered without fear in their words.
The Hunhan exceeded in size to the warrior and he attacked with superhuman speed using a large mallet made of compacted bone. The Jaguar warrior dodged the attack by a whisker and he replied with his macuahuitl moving it with agility. Two, four, six lunges struck and shattering the long black coat that covered his strange body, leaving the discovered bone with muscle, putrid bodies that only kept in place through the bone structure. Surprised at the fact that he faced against a dead and therefore that he not might beat him, even if his sharp weapon went straight to the chest of this abomination. He lost a second of concentration which was exploited by his enemy and he hit a side with his sledgehammer, ripping the skin and flesh of the young warrior.
As the Hunhan walked proudly boasting of his imminent victory, pale creatures approached surrounding them to enjoy the feast that his Prince promised to offer them.
But neither in the land of the dead, the God of war abandonment Ahuízotl-Ocelotl. He showed courage despite the abysmal difference in strength of their enemy and for that reason the young warrior was bathed by the blessing of the god Huitzilopochtli, feeling at first as a warm hug followed by an armor of blue glass that boasted two snakes carved to perfection which climbed each through the legs of the warrior surrounding his body to the chest where their two heads showed their sharp fangs as defended the warrior's strong heart that sparkled with shades of blue in its every beat. Soft and light transparent feathers fell from the highest part of his back backwards and a carved helmet with the form of a snake head where the eyes of the warrior could clearly see through the mouth while at the same time were protected by the upper tusks while the small lower protected his jaw and cheeks.
He took his enemy by surprise while the Hunhan watched his formidable armor, attacking with his macuahuitl with double in length.
—Now it's my turn. —said the warrior while he attacked and broke the ribs of his rival.
The Prince of the second ring raised his huge mallet and he stroke with force trying to crush the tiny head of the insignificant men of corn. Apparently the broken bones and damaged organs due to the attack of the warrior will not cause any damaged at all.
Between fast movements, the young warrior noted activity between the bones and viscosities of the dead prince, a purple heart that wearily beat in the center of the chest, just below a heavy bone which served as protection.
He turned skillfully avoiding the mallet which impacted on the floor making it vibrate. He made two feints to later introduce the leaf of his weapon breaking the protection and crossing the old heart. The Prince cried baffled falling on his knees in front of the Jaguar Warrior as if it begging clemency and instantly became a dense layer of black powder that the wind dragged.
The bewilderment of the creatures to see their destroyed Prince, became in horror when the warrior ran back to the entry that the gods created, cutting everything in his path. Heads of those who stood on his way fell on the ground, and thick branches with thorny dangerous also fell without any resistance with the edge of his splendid weapon. He jumped into the bright hole which had entered and closed his eyes because of the blinding flash that surrounded
He was breathing with agitation and his heart was struggling to get out of his chest. He was on the esplanade of the ancient pyramid where it all began. The old man so noted triumphant and Ahuízotl-Ocelotl bent, unleashed the small flower to deliver it to those who had challenged him.
—I did it!
The old man bowed his head as a gesture of acceptance. Wind waved as if a storm approached, it was with such force that lifted into the air to the old man. His face changed the form as if the wind erased their factions and rejuvenates it, and the same happened to his body. Suddenly everything calmed, and a young warrior floated over the head of the Jaguar Warrior instead of the old man. His armor was as formidable as that which had protected Ahuízotl in the realm of the dead.
—Well done, Jaguar warrior! Your name has changed. Now your enemies and friends will know you as Ahuízotlcuiqueh.
The warrior leaned before him knowing that he was the god Huitzilopochtli.
—You have won a place with the formidable warriors of the gods, and therefore expect terrible battles with fearsome opponents. —the powerful God mentioned.
The young warrior Ahuízotl swelled his chest of pride.
—I am willing to confront anybody to fight with honor on behalf of the gods. —he answered.
Another hole was opened before him and the God told him to follow, and both disappeared into nothingness without knowing what awaited him. He only kept in his heart the desire to prove to all that he was worth, and he will proudly carry the name of Ahuízotlcuiqueh until the end of his days.