Chapter 131:

The great pyramid of Cholollan

Elyon - Gods among us

After flying for several hours to the west, Rodrigo arrived at the ruins Ehécatl had pointed out to him.

According to what Ehécatl had told Rodrigo, Cholollan had been the most important city of a now-extinct kingdom named 'Ñuu Cohyo'. Its empire stretched south and southeast, inhabited by a group of people called ñuu savi. Cholollan was the second most significant city in the region and had been a significant trading partner with the city of Puh, thanks to its pottery and luxury goods used by the nobility. The invasion of the Chichimeca tribes in the area marked the end of the city, which had been abandoned for about a century. And indeed, all that remained was a ghost town with houses destroyed, consumed by the region's vast vegetation. The great pyramid of Cholollan had its base covered in vines, grass, and trees, as mother nature claimed the structure like one of her mountains.

Behind the colossal pyramid, a stunning vast volcano loomed, proving that man can never build anything as grand and magnificent as a mountain. Or perhaps, people built the pyramid in front of that great mountain as a scaled representation of it. According to Ehécatl, this volcano was called Popocatépetl. Macaws flew over the wooded ruins of the great city. Deer, raccoons, and snakes ruled these lands as if they were kings, roaming freely. The air felt fresh and clean, coupled with a clear blue sky with very few clouds.

In this lost city, Rodrigo landed at the foot of the great mountain. Though he tried to get closer to the top of the grand pyramid, a strange and mysterious force prevented him, forcing the young man to approach on foot.

Seated on one of the structures covered in bushes and leaves was a very sensual woman with crossed legs. This woman had a headdress of vibrant green feathers. On her forehead, she wore a cotton diadem with two small spindles on its sides, giving her an animal-eared appearance. She also wore a necklace that covered the nipples of her large breasts and a tiny skirt, leaving little to the imagination. Moreover, her face was painted red. Rodrigo noticed that she had a beautiful face with pink eyes and long, silky black hair that fluttered in the wind.

—So you did make it, darling— said the woman with a seductive voice, looking at Rodrigo playfully.

—Excuse me, I'd like to climb the pyramid— said Rodrigo, unsure of her identity.

—I assume you tried flying, but something repelled you, right?— the woman inquired.

Rodrigo was surprised. He didn't think the woman knew he could fly. And since she spoke in the divine tongue, he deduced she was a goddess.

—Excuse me, ma'am...— Rodrigo began, but the woman interrupted him.

—Miss!— she corrected. —The name's Tlazolteotl, but I prefer you call me Teem—

Teem then rose and approached Rodrigo sensually, leaving him nervous in the face of such beauty.

—You look just like Quetzalcóatl, but you lack the guts he had— she laughed, getting closer to inspect him better.

—Miss Teem... could you... tell me... how to climb the pyramid?— Rodrigo asked nervously, especially when Teem took hold of his face.

—Even though I said I was waiting for you, you want to leave me already?— she asked lustfully, getting so close Rodrigo pushed her away gently.

—I'm sorry, Miss Teem, but I cannot entertain your advances— Rodrigo said after distancing her from his gaze.

Teem laughed heartily and sat back down. —Just as I was told, you're a shy boy, but hard to persuade— she remarked.

The goddess leaned her head on her hands, staring intently at Rodrigo. —Could I at least know your name?— she asked with a smile.

—My... name is Rodrigo— replied the young Tannin.

—Rodrigo? Such a strange name— she said. —Even though you look just like Quetzalcóatl, you truly come from the other side of this world—

—Yes, indeed— Rodrigo replied. —But if you won't tell me how to climb the pyramid, I'll try from here— he added.

—Wait, darling— the goddess interrupted. —Before you go up, I want to tell you why I was waiting for you—

Rodrigo stopped and looked at the goddess. She then turned to look at the pyramid.

—Do you know the city we're currently in, darling?— Teem asked.

—I was told it's called Cholollan and that it was a very important city in ancient times— Rodrigo replied.

—That's right, darling— the goddess responded. —And this pyramid is a temple that the ñuu savi people built for the god Quetzalcóatl when he still lived in Puh—

—Yes, I was told that I need to meet this Quetzalcóatl— Rodrigo replied.

—Before that, do you know why the Feathered Serpent is such an important concept in these lands?— the goddess asked.

Rodrigo was left speechless.

—Quetzalcóatl was the Feathered Serpent of this region— Teem commented, —but there are other Feathered Serpents throughout this land—

The goddess moved away from Rodrigo and looked to the east.

—For example, in the territories of the descendants of this extinct people, it's called Coo Dzahui; or in the territories south of Mayapán, the Feathered Serpent is called Guqumatz— she explained.

—So, there are multiple Feathered Serpents?— Rodrigo asked.

—Indeed, darling— the goddess replied.—All of them, along with Quetzalcóatl, were disciples of the Second Feathered Serpent, the lord of Puh. The ancient Bok'ya—

—Do I need to know the names of the Feathered Serpents of this land to enter?— Rodrigo asked, but the goddess simply ignored the young man's question and continued her story.

—Bok'ya, the master of Puh, and Kukulkán, the master of Mayapán, were both disciples of the First Feathered Serpent: Tsajpootyp— the goddess explained.

—I don't think I can remember those names if I'm asked— Rodrigo replied embarrassedly.

The goddess began to laugh. —I'm not telling you to remember them, darling, but to understand how important the feathered serpent gods have been in these civilizations— she commented and then stood up.

—Yes, I understand that— Rodrigo said.

—The first great civilization in these lands was created by Tsajpootyp, but he wasn't alone; he had a jaguar god with him— the goddess continued.

—What is a jaguar?— Rodrigo asked.

—They are large carnivorous felines from this region— the goddess explained and made one that roamed the ruins approach them. Rodrigo finally recognized the creature from his dreams. It was undoubtedly a similar or the same animal.

The jaguar, sensing it was in the presence of deities, timidly lay down on the ground and lowered its head.

—From your expression, I can tell this isn't your first time seeing a jaguar— the goddess remarked.

—I've seen it in my dreams— Rodrigo replied. —Where one of these animals battles a feathered serpent dragon—

—Indeed, both the first and second Feathered Serpents worked alongside their brother, the jaguar, to bring this civilization together— the goddess explained. —But Quetzalcóatl and Yayauhqui broke that sacred union. That's what your dream is telling you— she added.

—So, I dream of it because it's a conflict that shouldn't exist?— Rodrigo asked.

—Exactly— Teem replied. —The foreign gods introduced temptation to Yayauhqui and condemned this nation to lose the sacred union it has had since its creation—

—Are you suggesting that I should make amends with this King of Tula, Yayauhqui, or whatever his name is, even though he attacked us in the past?— Rodrigo asked angrily.

—I'm not telling you that for that reason— the goddess commented and looked toward the great pyramid.

—That man is waiting for you up there. He was able to enter despite the powerful barrier protecting this temple— she said.

—The King of Tula is here?— Rodrigo asked, still annoyed.

—This pyramid has a protective barrier that prevents anyone from entering. That's why the last inhabitants of this city couldn't renew it— Teem continued to explain.

—The only person who can enter is the heir of Quetzalcóatl, the fourth Feathered Serpent... that is, you— the goddess concluded as she touched the young man's chest with her index finger.

—But if that's true, how could he enter while I was rejected when I tried to fly?— Rodrigo asked, puzzled.

—It's necessary for you to climb the pyramid from the bottom, darling— the goddess replied.

—Regarding Yayauhqui, he simply possesses immense power and was able to enter it— she explained.

—I'll climb, but I can't guarantee that I'll make amends with that man— Rodrigo commented, still annoyed.

—My mission was only to tell you this story, darling— the goddess responded. —The decisions you make, as the heir of the Feathered Serpent, are solely your own—

At that moment, the goddess looked at Rodrigo disappointingly.

—Furthermore, I'm sure all these cultures mean nothing to you as a foreigner— she said, turning her back.

—I don't know why Quetzalcóatl named you his successor, someone who feels nothing for these civilizations— she added sadly.

Rodrigo didn't say anything and hung his head, watching the sensual goddess disappear into the jungle ruins of the region.

—Why would Quetzalcóatl have named me his successor? It doesn't make sense— Rodrigo thought to himself, feeling bad for not being able to meet the possible expectations that the god had of him.

Rodrigo snapped out of it and tried to push those thoughts from his mind. —No, I must see Quetzalcóatl first— he told himself and ran toward the pyramid.

The small stairs at the base of the Temple of Quetzalcóatl were completely covered in roots and vines, making it difficult to climb. Rodrigo realized that flying was impossible on the pyramid, so he decided to run up the staircase as best he could.

The top of the pyramid had completely lost the reddish color that most structures in that continent had. It now appeared as just a massive stone structure. Rodrigo could see dragon heads scattered along the structure, although several of them were broken and destroyed.

When he finally reached the top, he found Yayauhqui sitting in front of a large chamber built on top of the enormous pyramid. Rodrigo understood that this chamber was the Temple of Quetzalcóatl, the place where Ehécatl wanted him to arrive. But with the former King of Tula blocking the way, he could only pass by defeating him.

—I knew you would come, Rodrigo. I was waiting for you— Yayauhqui commented, without raising his gaze to see him or moving a single muscle.

—Did you come all the way here to defeat me?— Rodrigo asked, surprised and annoyed.

—I've come to find my brother's teotonli and assimilate with it to defeat that foreign god who took over Tollan— Yayauhqui explained, this time raising his head to look at Rodrigo.

—So, Quetzalcóatl's totema is inside there?— Rodrigo asked.

—Indeed, and I knew Ehécatl would bring you here for it— the Toltec god said as he stood up again.

—I suppose you won't let me take it so easily, then— Rodrigo replied, annoyed.

—Exactly, Rodrigo— Yayauhqui replied. —You're just a foreign boy who wants to use my brother's teotonli for your selfish reasons—

—But it's the will of the totema to assimilate with one— Rodrigo replied. —How do you know your brother will want to assimilate with you?— he asked.

—I don't care if it's a forced assimilation and it costs me my life— the ancient Toltec king replied.

Yayauhqui then stood up and pointed his curved sword at Rodrigo.

—Now go and bring me my brother's teotonli, or I will force you to do it right here— the angry Toltec god said.

—I won't follow your orders, so if you stand in my way, I'll remove you— Rodrigo replied angrily.

—Do you really think you're worthy of my brother's power just because of Ehécatl's whims?— Yayauhqui asked.

—Maybe he recognized you as the heir of my brother, but I didn't. When I asked for your help against the foreign threat, you flatly refused, showing how little you cared about these lands. You're just another selfish foreigner, like that Anath bitch!— he shouted furiously.

—You must make amends with the jaguar— Rodrigo remembered Teem's words.

—That will be impossible— the young man replied to himself while continuing to gaze defiantly at the ancient Toltec king.

The sky then began to darken over the ruins of Cholollan. Thunder and lightning filled the sky. The battle between the Feathered Serpent and the Jaguar had begun.