Chapter 121:

Tula's neighboring kingdoms

Elyon - Gods among us


In one of the countless streets of the city of Tula, where hundreds of pedestrians filled the various markets with products, from fruits to animals and exquisite pottery from the north of the continent; there stood a historic pulquería in the city. It was said that the owners of this place sent their pulque to the hands of the city's tlatoani and Tezcatlipoca. An unusual case, as pulque was considered the alcoholic drink of the poor.

The pulquería was a vast two-story structure, with the city's characteristic colors, namely white, red, and blue. The door had an upper decoration with a face resembling a rain god with its mouth open. Many nobilities went to this place to hang out, drink, or have fun. It was not open to just anyone, as the prices were quite high.

The neighborhood was equally posh. Many of the buildings, although commercial, were more than two stories high. It was common to see the nobility and the priest caste come to buy curious objects from other parts of the world in this area. The palace compound was only a few streets away, so people in this area wore elaborate headdresses, fine jewelry, and flashy dresses. In the distance, one could see the pyramid where the tlatoani dispensed justice.

It was a complicated time in Tula, as the city had just undergone a coup. However, this affected the country's wealthy class little, if at all, as they simply decided to comply with the new leaders' authority. This coup had been unusual, however, as it had not been provoked by human armies, but by a god from the north who defeated the troops in Tollan, the part of the great city where the gods resided. The tlatoani and his men, along with the nobles and priests, had bowed down to this new god, handing over power to him over the city of Tula without a single human casualty.

Nevertheless, this move was not well received by the Toltec empire's neighbors. There were nine essential kingdoms in this region, excluding the chichimeca kingdoms to the north.

To the west lay the Tzintzuntzan kingdom.

To the south were the Zapoteca and Mixteco kingdoms.

To the east were the Xicallanca and Totonaca kingdoms.

To the northeast was the Huasteco kingdom.

To the southwest was the Hñahñú kingdom, also known as the Otomí kingdom.

The Mayapán kingdoms were not part of the Toltec border. However, the empire had a vital embassy in Chichen Itzá, the current Mayapán capital. That city had been designed with both Maya and Toltec architects, and they always tried to solve economic and military problems peacefully there.

With the fall of the previous Tezcatlipoca, Yayauhqui, and the arrival of a northern king, territory considered barbaric, six of the nine kingdoms had grown concerned. This was especially true when they found out that their embassies in Tula had been taken. The diplomats from these embassies were handed over to the new Tezcatlipoca to be sacrificed in the main temple. It was essentially an act of war against all their neighbors. An air of nervousness permeated the great Toltec capital, signaling a possible long and brutal war.

Back at the pulquería, a beautiful woman sat drinking pulque at one of the tables. This woman, who was the same one Tul saw in his nightmare, was Ixchel, the Maya moon goddess. A curious white rabbit with red eyes peeked over her shoulder. The goddess looked grumpy, even while enjoying the exquisite Toltec drink.

A dark-skinned man then arrived at the pulquería's door. He was overweight and wore a headdress of blue and red feathers, along with a vast red cape with jaguar skin touches. He also wore a loincloth that covered his private parts, colored in red, white, and green. With the man came a retinue of beautiful women, who were always smiling. They wore red helmets and gold headdresses, along with a loincloth to cover their genitals and a red ribbon to cover their breasts.

—Tajín, you are two minutes and three seconds late— Ixchel said irritably, forcefully placing the small clay cup she was drinking pulque from on the table.

—My love, Ixchel— the man said. —Are you seriously going to get upset over just two minutes of delay?—

—Punctuality should be sacred, you foolish thunder god— the Maya goddess retorted.

Tajín then hugged his retinue of women.

—I must leave you for now, but please wait for me when I return— he told them.

—Your majesty Tajín, please don't be late. We don't know what we will do without you— one of the women said, and they all hugged him with much devotion.

Ixchel just rolled her eyes at the spectacle, especially when the man started kissing each of his women.

Finally, the women left. The man sat down next to the woman and ordered a jar of pulque —Well, despite your strict punctuality, I seem to be the second to arrive— the man remarked, feigning indifference.

—Lazy and womanizing— Ixchel grumbled. —Your reputation precedes your Totonac realm, Tajín—

—Well, my wives took the opportunity to go shopping— the Totonac god said with another indifferent shrug. —Besides, after you, I'm the second to arrive—

—The third— a voice from another seat corrected.

Suddenly, as if smoke emanated from the seat, an imposing god appeared with half his face painted black and the other half with red and white stripes, just like the rest of his body. The god wore a headdress with an image of a snake, which had white feathers. He also wore a beautiful obsidian necklace around his neck with various gold details and a white loincloth known as a maxtlatl.

—Mixcóatl from the Xicallanca realm arrived before you— Ixchel pointed out.

The god from Xicallanca greeted the Totonac god emotionlessly.

—Ugh, you think you're so great just because your realm is the direct heir of this valley's first civilization— the Totonac god sarcastically remarked.

But Mixcóatl said nothing in response. Predictably, Tajín began trying to provoke Mixcóatl, who remained unresponsive.

Just then, another god appeared at the pulquería's entrance. The man was entirely painted in an orange hue. He wore a conical helmet shaped like a hat adorned with precious stones. He also had an orange skirt with white and red stripes. Curiously, the god emitted small clouds around his body.

—You're finally here, Tlatlauhaqui— Ixchel said with a hint of irritation.

—BUT I'M HERE! THAT'S WHAT'S IMPORTANT!— the god shouted with enthusiasm, rushing to take one of the vacant seats at the table where the gods were gathering.

—What's the matter, Tlatlauhaqui? Were you daydreaming?— Tajín asked sarcastically.

—ALWAYS THE JOKESTER, TAJÍN!— the Zapotec god replied loudly and annoyed.

The patrons began to ask them to lower their voices, but Tlatlauhaqui seemed incapable of controlling his volume.

—SO, IXCHEL, DID YOU BRING US HERE TO FIGHT THE NEW TEZCATLIPOCA OF THIS EMPIRE?— Tlatlauhaqui shouted, causing everyone to look at them nervously.

—He came drunk— Tajín explained to the patrons in Nahuatl, ensuring they wouldn't be alarmed. Although they didn't speak the divine language, some of them understood it, especially those from high society.

—You're an idiot— Ixchel snapped at the Zapotec god, who kept apologizing.

At that moment, a handsome man with a white ribbon tied around his forehead, his face painted with red stripes, and wearing a long green robe with black and red adornments, appeared at the door.

—Otontecutli from the otomí kingdom, how can you be so late?— Ixchel chided. —You're nine minutes and twenty-three seconds behind schedule—

—Ixchel, Tajín, Mixcóatl, and Tlatlauhaqui, we have a problem— the newly arrived god announced.

A chill ran down the spines of the four gods, who feared that soldiers of the new Tezcatlipoca were coming to arrest them.

—What happened?— Tajín asked with concern.

—It's about Cuerauáperi; she's in grave danger— the newcomer shared, his voice laden with worry.

—DID THEY CAPTURE AND ARE TORTURING HER RIGHT NOW?!— Tlatlauhaqui shouted, once again drawing suspicious glances from the patrons.

—Shut the hell up, Tlatlauhaqui— Ixchel fumed.

—I'M SORRY, I DIDN'T MEAN TO SHOUT!— the Zapotec god replied, still loudly.

Otontecutli approached the table where the gods were sitting. Ixchel fixed her gaze on him and inquired: —Explain, what happened to Cuerauáperi?—

—Well, as I was coming here - and I definitely wasn't lost, of course not - I suddenly realized that Cuerauáperi was...— Otontecutli began, tears forming in his eyes.

—Captured?— Tajín ventured, alarmed.

—Did the soldiers abduct her?— Ixchel asked.

—DISMEMBERED, WITH HER HEAD DISPLAYED ON THE MAIN ALTAR OF THE TEMPLE OF TULA, WHILE THE PRIESTS FEAST ON HER STILL BEATING HEART?— the Zapotec god shouted again.

The other gods shot him annoyed glares.

—No... she... she got confused and ended up drinking at another pulquería— Otontecutli confessed, tears in his eyes.

The gods were far from pleased with that response.

—Are all you Otomí gods as exaggerated as you, Otontecutli?— Tajín asked, irritated and puzzled.

—But it's a very serious problem— the Otomí god insisted.

—Fine, tell me where that fool is— the Mayan goddess imperatively demanded.

Meanwhile, in another pulquería across the street, the goddess Cuerauáperi was drinking and dancing with the patrons.

—I *hic* tell you, I prefer drinking with humans than with gods *hic* because humans know how to have fun *hic*— the somewhat intoxicated goddess proclaimed.

At that moment, Ixchel entered the pulquería, grabbed Cuerauáperi by the ear, and dragged her out.

—What's wrong with you? Don't you know that being drunk here is a death sentence?— the furious Mayan goddess scolded Cuerauáperi, who was still inebriated.

Cuerauáperi, wearing a headdress with yellowish feathers and a tunic known as a tilmatli, which covered her from her shoulders to her groin, leaving her beautiful and shapely legs exposed, was on the ground still trying to grasp what was happening.

—Ixchel, I thought you were in that pulquería, and, well, I got carried away by my new friends— Cuerauáperi apologized, embarrassed.

The other gods exited the pulquería and gathered around Cuerauáperi.

—Well, the important thing is that all six of us are here now— Ixchel said, glancing toward the grand temple of Tula. —It's time to enter Tollan and speak with the new Tezcatlipoca—