The flight to Tenochtitlan had taken only an hour. His preparations, much longer. The water in the pool was stained, reflecting black in the moonlight. Five robed men stood around him, along the edges of the pool. Their chanting drew mana from the earth, focusing it into the pool and drenching his skin. He felt vibrant, alive, and every part of him was taut and tingling with energy as he stepped from the pool and took a white towel from the maiden beside the cabana.
He daubed his face with the towel, and tossed it aside after he’d cleared his face of the gore. The maiden quickly stepped in to take the towel from the floor, and narrowly avoided stepping on the freshly-flayed body lying at the edge of the pool. From a lipless, tongueless mouth, the body let out a gurgling moan of agony. Its lidless eyes stared at the mounds of other bodies that lie at the edge of the pool, each of their life’s blood slowly draining to fill it
“Xiuhcoatl,” roared a voice in his ears, “We have heard your call for aid. Be blessed with the power of Huitzilopochtli.”
The five nahualli moved closer as he spread his arms wide and leaned his head back. They carefully placed fresh and untanned jaguar skins over his still-dripping, red-streaked limbs and torso. One secured a feathered headdress to his crown with a needle and thread. Then, his brother stepped forth from the shadows before him.
“Usted es el ceñidor de la guerra. Salir, matar a nuestros enemigos y traerla para mí, hermano,” his brother, clad in the silver of the stars, said softly to him while placing the macuahuitl into his hand.
He paused only for a moment, to gaze with understanding into his nahualli brother’s eyes, before leaping over the fifteen-foot wall and into the city beyond.
The hunt was on.