Chapter 122:

Queen Itzpapálotl

Elyon - Gods among us


—Unfortunately, no one can enter Tollan— said one of the guards protecting the sacred precinct of the Toltec gods.

Several Toltec soldiers guarded a massive red wall leading to the highest places in the city of Tula. Inside this area filled with pyramidal temples and sumptuous palaces was the entrance to Tollan, the part of the city where the Toltec gods resided. However, to enter this section, permission from Tezcatlipoca was required.

The soldiers, who wore a blue headdress with white feathers and a bronze eagle to cover their chest plates and red skirts, blocked the path to the gods with their large obsidian spears.

—Do you not know who I am?— asked the goddess Ixchel irritably in Nahuatl, the language of the people in Tula.

—We do, you are the moon queen from the kingdom of Mayapán— the soldier replied.

—And, even though we're supposedly allies, you deny entry to me and other neighboring kingdoms of your empire to visit your new Tezcatlipoca?— the lunar goddess asked angrily.

—As we've told you, entry is forbidden to all— the guard replied. —Orders from the tlacatecutli Itzpapálotl—

—Isn't Itzpapálotl a Chichimeca goddess?— asked Otontecutli, who stood next to goddess Ixchel and the other four gods from neighboring realms.

—Why is a Chichimeca goddess ruling this empire?— Tajín inquired in astonishment.

But the guard did not answer.

—Listen to me, you worthless guard— said Ixchel furiously. —Take us to that barbarian at once, or we will be forced to use force—

With that, the goddess showed the palm of her right hand and placed it in front of the soldier's face.

—Wait, Ixchel! If we attack them, we'll be making a clear declaration of war!— Otontecutli exclaimed nervously.

—I couldn't give a damn!— replied the Mayan lunar goddess. —They killed my people, and that was a declaration of war—

However, the guard remained unmoved and unflustered. All the other warriors remained impassive in the face of the gods.

—Do you not fear death?— Ixchel asked. —Do you know I can blow your head off in an instant?—

But the guard did not react to the Mayan goddess's threat. All the gods were nervous, except Mixcóatl, who showed no emotion.

—I think, Ixchel... you should think this through. If you kill him... how will we escape alive from here?— Cuerauáperi asked anxiously.

The Mayan goddess didn't respond. Her hand began to glow with white energy, while the soldier remained steadfast, showing no emotion.

—Ixchel, Ixchel, are you still as volatile as ever?— a sensual female voice echoed from the high walls of Tollan.

Ixchel extinguished the energy in her hand as all the gods looked up. There, lying on the walls, was a woman with a skull-shaped mask. She looked down at the gods, resting her head on her two hands.

—Itzpapálotl— Ixchel said irritably as the mysterious woman stood and leaped down to the gods.

The Chichimeca queen's move was so swift that before the Mayan lunar goddess realized, Itzpapálotl was in front of her, pushing aside the hand that had threatened the guard.

—These are not Toltec soldiers; they are loyal Caxcan warriors who do not fear death— said the current tlacatecutli of Tollan.

Though the woman's face was hidden, the gods could sense a devilish smile behind that gruesome mask.

The goddess had beautiful black hair streaked with red lines. She had brown skin painted with white and red lines. She wore a yellow headdress with black and white feathers and a black, red, blue, and white dress that covered her to just above the knees. Over her shoulders, she wore a circular cloak of the same colors, adorned with a golden mirror in the center. A peculiar feature of Itzpapálotl was her long nails on both hands and feet, resembling wild animal claws. Additionally, jaguar skins covered her forearms and calves.

—I can't imagine the torture you must put your own soldiers through to make them fearless of death— Ixchel replied defiantly, as the other five gods took a defensive stance.

At that moment, Itzpapálotl began to laugh.

—What's wrong with the six of you?— asked the Chichimeca goddess. —Don't you realize I've come to prevent a foolish act that could lead to war?—

—You set the terms for war when you dealt with the people from our embassies— Ixchel replied sharply.

—Yes, that's why we're here— Tajín added irritably.

—IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T NOTICED, ITZPAPÁLOTL, THERE ARE SIX OF US, AND YOU'RE ALONE!— Tlatlauhaqui shouted threateningly.

—We're not afraid of you— Cuerauáperi stated angrily.

The tension continued. Ixchel pulled her arm away from Itzpapálotl's gruesome grasp, disdain evident in her gesture. The claws of the Chichimeca goddess left marks on her forearm, but the ichor of the Mayan goddess healed the wound swiftly.

—Could everyone... calm down?— Otontecutli nervously suggested.

But both Ixchel and Itzpapálotl ignored him, continuing their intense standoff. Eventually, the Chichimeca goddess shifted to a more relaxed stance.

—Alright, you win— conceded the tlacatecutli of Tollan. —Enter Tollan and let's discuss what you want to talk about—

—I DON'T THINK WE'RE FOOLISH ENOUGH TO WALK INTO AN OBVIOUS AMBUSH!— Tlatlauhaqui retorted sarcastically.

—Come on! If I wanted to kill you, I would've done it before you even realized— the Chichimeca goddess scoffed, turning her back and instructing the soldiers to let the gods pass.

—After all, this is why we came— said Mixcóatl, taking the first step to follow Itzpapálotl. The others realized they had no choice and reluctantly agreed.

Tollan was magnificent, surrounded by massive red and white pyramidal temples, held up by columns adorned with lifelike figures of soldiers in their distinct Toltec armor. A scent of maguey mixed with honey perfumed the sacred streets of the divine precinct. The streets were deserted, void of any people.

A group of soldiers carried a sedan chair, awaiting Itzpapálotl. They bowed for her to sit on this portable throne.

—To Tezcatlipoca's palace— the goddess instructed. The men rose, lifting the lavish chair lined with jaguar skin and red feathers, and moved ceremonially towards the grandest temple. The other gods followed, bemused by the display.

—As if walking or flying would tire you out—Ixchel thought to herself.

The gods continued their slow procession until they reached the grand palace where Tezcatlipoca had received the goddess Anath months prior.

The men struggled to climb the small steps, trying to ensure the goddess didn't fall. Still, one stumbled, causing the sedan chair to tilt precariously.

Reaching the top of the grand pyramid, the men bowed again for the goddess to disembark. However, she leaped from the chair, landing on the man who'd stumbled, crushing his head with her foot. The palace floor was splattered with blood and brain matter. She then demanded her servants clean up the 'accident'.

The men departed, displaying neither fear nor anxiety. The Chichimeca queen then seated herself on the same Chacmol throne where the previous Tezcatlipoca had sat. She sat with crossed legs and a challenging demeanor, snapping her fingers to order her servants to bring food to the guest table.

The gods observed the exquisite murals of the great temple, vastly different from those of the previous Tezcatlipoca. The main mural behind the goddess's throne depicted a monstrous woman with claws and a skull-like face, wings of a butterfly surrounding her, amid countless bodies and corpses. The grotesque being was centered in the mural within a walled city, with the rulers of the six realms bowing to her. The mural's dominant colors, red and blue, seemed to allude to blood. The gods felt uneasy observing such imagery.

The other murals similarly showcased war, death, and violence. Deformed monsters and demonic beings attacked soldiers, leaving a sea of blood and fire in their wake.

—What do you think of the changes we made compared to the previous regime?— the Chichimeca goddess asked, noting the gods' bewildered expressions.

—Undoubtedly in poor taste— Ixchel retorted.

—You know, the Toltecs were also Chichimeca before they settled in this valley. But those bastard gods from the city of Puh took over them— Itzpapálotl remarked, waving her right hand.

—Basically, we, the Chichimeca gods, are just reclaiming what rightfully belonged to us before— she added.

—We care little or nothing for those details— Ixchel commented. —We have come for other matters—

—But Ixchel, how can you say such things when you know that we have the father of the late Tezcatlipoca of this city right here?— the Chichimeca goddess said at the same time she stared intently at Mixcóatl.

—Whatever happened between my late son and his half-brother is not my concern— Mixcóatl added.

—My father was one of the pioneering gods who civilized these lands, and I have inherited his will for my Xicallanca people. That is my only duty and responsibility, my own—

—Oh, of course, how can we forget that ancient civilization he forged over a thousand years ago, with its giant heads— Itzpapálotl commented.

—I was proud that the Great Serpent had chosen my son to become the next Feathered Serpent. But beyond that, the life he took was his decision— Mixcóatl concluded as he took his seat again.

—So, you are not interested in revenge, if I interpret your words correctly?— the Chichimeca queen asked.

—My only interest is the same as everyone present here— Mixcóatl responded.

—We want an answer to the attack and the murder of our people, or we will be forced to declare war on Tula— warned Ixchel.

The other gods nodded, while they could only see the mocking look of the goddess Itzpapálotl.

—Besides, isn't it hypocritical of you to say that you are only taking back what belonged to the Chichimecas when you now serve that man from the north?— Tajín asked sarcastically.

The new Tlacatecutli of Tollan remained silent for a moment. Then, servants arrived with plates of food and placed them on the table where the gods were seated. It was venison accompanied by prickly pear and yucca. In addition, each of them received a small bowl of pulque.

—Please, enjoy our cuisine first— the queen said, indicating the sumptuous food.

—I think we want an answer to the matter of our people first— Ixchel said angrily as she got up from the table and looked defiantly at the goddess.

—Unfortunately, I have no authority to discuss those matters. But tomorrow, in this very palace, the new Tezcatlipoca will be present, and you can discuss that issue with him— the Chichimeca goddess replied. —For now, please be my guests—

—ARE YOU DELIBERATELY AVOIDING THE TOPIC?!— Tlatlauhaqui shouted furiously.

—I am not avoiding it; it's just that, as it is a matter that involves the security of my people and yours, it is necessary for the true king of this land to present himself— Itzpapálotl commented.

—Isn't he supposed to be here, sitting on that throne where you are sitting?—Cuerauáperi asked.

—He only enjoys war and battles. Political matters like ruling mean nothing to him. That's why I take care of the bureaucratic aspect— the Chichimeca queen responded.

—And do you think we will believe you, seeing those ridiculous murals of yours where our peoples are shown bowing before you?— Cuerauáperi continued to ask.

—You should take it as a suggestion— Itzpapálotl responded maliciously.

—Do you think you can bring us here, ignore our demands, and expect us to bow to you?— Ixchel joined the argument furiously.

However, at that moment, Otontecutli stepped between the two goddesses, claiming that violence would not solve anything.

—Let's wait until tomorrow to see the new Tezcatlipoca; perhaps he will be more flexible— the Otomi king commented.

—We are six against one— Cuerauáperi commented, defying the Otomi god and standing up.

The other four gods did the same, preparing their techniques against the Chichimeca goddess, who continued to watch them with a mocking grin.

Without warning, Cuerauáperi's head detached from her shoulders, her lifeless body falling to the ground. It all happened so quickly that no one could see what had happened.

—I also wanted to warn you that our new Tezcatlipoca can bring beasts and monsters from the underworld, which had been killed before— the Chichimeca goddess commented as the room darkened completely, as if it were night. White eyes appeared in the darkness, and a large mouth with enormous fangs formed.

—Is that... a Camazotz, perhaps?— Ixchel asked.

—Do you know these creatures?— the Chichimeca goddess asked the Maya goddess.

—We call them Ttzinacan, and he is a messenger of the night to assassinate you— she added.

While the gods stared at the grotesque face forming in the darkness, Tajín leaned in to listen to Cuerauáperi's heartbeat.

—It still beats, but very faintly— commented the Totonac god. —But if we don't get her to a clinic, she will die—

—The choice is yours, decide to stay as our guests, or the queen of that shitty kingdom will die— said Itzpapálotl.

—Your plan was always to kidnap us, right?— Ixchel asked angrily, turning to the monstrous creature.

—However— the lunar goddess added, —if you think a beast like that can defeat us, you're mistaken—

Then, Ixchel positioned her hand like a sword to attack the terrible creature; but at that moment, the monster's eyes disappeared, and its presence faded.

—I forgot to tell you that all these beasts have lost their consciousness after being dead for so long; and now they are only driven by their bloodlust— the Chichimeca goddess continued explaining while still seated on her throne.

At that moment, the Chichimec goddess's servants began to drop dead with their heads decapitated. Many of them wanted to flee, but they couldn't.

—Enough!— Ixchel shouted furiously at the sight of such a massacre. Itzpapálotl began to laugh.

—Did you see the murals in this palace?— she asked cynically. —You will understand that more of these beasts might be coming to your cities and destroying them in moments—

—Please, Lady Itzpapálotl— Otontecutli said as he knelt before the goddess. —Stop this senseless slaughter and let us treat our companion—he pleaded.

—IDIOT!— shouted Tlatlauhaqui. —DON'T YOU REALIZE THAT THEY'LL KEEP US HERE AS PRISONERS, WITH OUR KINGDOMS AS HOSTAGES?!—

—The choice is yours— Itzpapálotl replied. —As I mentioned, those drawings were just suggestions—

—It's good advice— Tajín remarked.

—However— added Mixcóatl.

—We've decided not to listen— concluded Ixchel.

—WE'RE GOING TO DESTROY THAT BEAST OF YOURS!— Tlatlauhaqui shouted.

—Interesting— said Itzpapálotl, as she continued watching the gods trying to locate the monstrous being's presence.

—Hey, Otontecutli!— shouted the Mayan goddess to the Otomi god.

—What's the matter, Ixchel?— the deity asked nervously.

—Take Cuerauáperi and escape from Tula— Ixchel added. —I could treat her, but this beast surely won't let me—

—Oh, so you're trying to escape?— the Chichimeca queen asked with a smile.

At that moment, claws appeared behind Otontecutli's neck, but right then, explosions struck the monstrous being's body. The creature screeched deafeningly and disappeared back into the darkness. Tlatlauhaqui had his hands raised.

—WITHOUT CONSCIOUSNESS, IT'S EASY TO PREDICT ITS ATTACKS!— shouted the Zapotec god.

The Otomi god grabbed Cuerauáperi's body, but the beast tried to attack him again. This time, a lightning bolt in the form of a beam of light shot through what seemed to be the monster's wing, causing it to disappear back into the darkness. Tajín stood with his hand raised, forming a cone of thunder as if it were a cannon.

—Because of these bastards, I won't see my wives soon— said the Totonac thunder god.

—Interesting, an advanced level of thunder. The combination of light and electricity— the Chichimeca goddess commented with intrigue.

The monster again tried to attack Otontecutli, but this time, a smoke serpent bit into the creature's lower body, tearing it off. Mixcóatl had invoked this phenomenon with his smoke power. Immediately, Ixchel pointed it with her bare palm.

—Creature of the night, disappear— the goddess said as a moon appeared behind her. The moon then disintegrated as the goddess fired a powerful white beam of light that pulverized the beast, causing the darkness to wane. When everything cleared up, the roof of the enormous palace had completely disappeared.

Otontecutli managed to run from the palace carrying Cuerauáperi's body, while the other four gods turned to see Itzpapálotl seated on her throne. Although they had demonstrated their immense power, the goddess showed no sign of concern.

—It's no wonder all of you are legendary gods in these lands— the goddess said.

—The combination of fire with gas, the advanced element of lightning combining light and electricity, the combination of gas with darkness to create gaseous monsters, and the union of the water element with the sacred element— she commented.

At that moment, from the ground, decomposing undead began to emerge. The beings looked like zombies, with their tattered clothes. Only their skulls remained on their faces, but their teeth and nails had turned into fangs, dripping with blood. The gods recognized the corpses and their clothing; they were the same men who had worked in their embassies. The Chichimeca queen had turned them into undead beings.

The frustration in the four gods' expressions was evident as Itzpapálotl laughed cynically.

—You wanted to see your people? It seems they have become tzitzimitl— the Chichimeca goddess mocked. —Their spirits and consciousness were erased upon death; hence, their spirits are controlled by my will, and in their consciousness, there exists only the need to feed on human or divine blood—

Meanwhile, in the main square of Tollan, Otontecutli looked horrified at the undead that had appeared in front of him. Then, the god remembered the rumors he had heard in Tula about people who were found dead and drained of blood in the night.

—My people, my own people, were killed and turned into these abominations— the god said angrily, feeling ashamed of seeking a diplomatic solution with Itzpapálotl.

The tzitzimitl lunged at the god to attack him, but he avoided them without much trouble.

—Zi dada, Great Old Father, allow these people to find eternal rest at your altars— the god said with a determined look.

Otontecutli then struck the ground in Tollan, causing a massive earthquake. The ground immediately cracked, producing a deafening sound.

T'öhö tsibi ntho— The furious Otomi god shouted, and from the fissure he had created with his attack, a powerful volcanic eruption emanated. It incinerated the undead while others fell into the sea of magma that appeared beneath the large crack.

When the mighty volcano had dealt with all the enemies, the fissure closed, and everything returned as if nothing had happened.

—I swear I will return for all of you— Otontecutli commented as he continued running out of Tollan, as the city was protected by a dimensional shield, and it was impossible to escape by flying from there.