Monday, September 12, 2011
Itzcoatl, the Obsidian Serpent, soared steadily northward across the world that would soon be his. The sun glimmered on his ebony feathers, striking sparks of rainbow colors that sparkled like flashes of glass. At one point he executed an elaborate loop-the-loop, the coils of his body twisting upon themselves until they threatened to knot his wings. A plunge from this height would not kill him, of course. Nothing in this world could kill a god. It would, however, prove most annoying.
Why not display his joy? Awake again after millennia of slumber, the son of Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, stood ready to claim this land and his worshippers once again. Granted, the planet had changed radically from the jungle empires he remembered. The little mud-monkeys appeared to have abandoned their stone pyramids in favor of great soaring towers of glass and steel. Itzcoatl approved of this change. These cities sparkled, bright and sharp as fine-honed knives, and quested toward Heaven itself. His worshippers had become mighty warriors in the centuries he’d been asleep.
And the number of them! This new world teemed with sacrifices. One congested city alone would feed him full for decades. No more waiting around for the priests to haul his meals up to the altar one at a time. Itzcoatl hissed in glee. So many little monkeys, all his for the taking.
Now all he needed was a mate.
Where had all the feathered serpents gone? Where all gods go when they sense their end approaching: into the genes of their followers. More than one of his kind had taken on human form to enjoy earthly pleasures with their worshippers. Somewhere among the endless multitudes of upright monkeys walked descendants of Quetzalcoatl.
He suspected it was her scent that that roused him from his slumber, and driven him out of his den in the bowels of the ancient temple. She was already gone by the time he emerged. He sent his forked tongue questing in the air, tasting its myriad currents. Godhood left a unique tingle on the taste buds. The mate he sought had definitely come this way.
The feathered serpent hissed. She’d certainly come a long way. He’d left the Venezuelan jungles behind some hours ago. Mexico’s scorched, spare landscape was already an unpleasant memory. Where in the name of the sun was the female headed? He hissed again. After this extended chase, she had better be female. He ceased his gambols and settled in for what looked to be a prolonged flight.
He knew he worried needlessly. Of course she would be female. He would dazzle her with his beauty and his prowess in the air, and she would instantly accept his proposal. He was a son of the Feathered Serpent. What woman could resist a god?
# # #
Itzcoatl came to earth beside a marsh and assumed his human form. He didn’t like this place. The trees had odd little leaves like tiny green needles instead of proper fronds, and the chilly air lacked the soupy humidity his kind had always favored. He’d heard about the frigid lands of the north but had never bothered to visit. If his mate sought privacy, she couldn’t have picked a better hiding place. Still, the sooner he claimed her and got her back to the jungle, the better.
He stepped barefoot to the edge of the water and raised his arms. “Brothers and sisters,” he announced, “your lord has arrived.”
His declaration was received by silence, broken eventually by a single gulp from a bullfrog. Itzcoatl hissed. He had no use for amphibians. For half their lives they looked like fish, and he had less use for fish. On the other hand, many frogs meant many snakes. So where were his brethren? Perhaps his magnificence blinded them?
A turtle poked its head out of the scummy water, blinked its sets of eyelids at him, and submerged again. No further comments issued from the bullfrog.
Itzcoatl frowned. This world wasn’t turning out quite the way he’d imaged.
Finally. One of his distant northern cousins shushed through the short grass by his feet. Itzcoatl extended a welcoming hand. The timber rattler shied away. Irritated, he snatched it up. The snake’s tail gave off a warning buzz.
“Brother,” Itzcoatl addressed it, “I am new to your land. I seek my true mate. Have you seen her?”
The rattler snapped at his arm. Its voice, in the language of the scaly folk, said Buzz off!
With a deft twist Itzcoatl snapped the rattler’s neck. He then swallowed it whole, tail first. It had, after all, been a long and strenuous flight. He smacked his lips. “Boring conversation anyway,” he decided.
# # #
With no help forthcoming from his rude northern relatives, Itzcoatl tasted the air again. There certainly were a lot of odd smells up here. His sensitive tongue picked out the bloodlines of many different gods. Mammalian mostly, with Lobo and Coyote predominant. Many spirits resided here. Which god predominated? Unless, of course, they were awaiting the arrival of the one true spirit lord.
His mate had done well to choose this place after all. This was a land of ancient power. It and its inhabitants would serve him well.
His tongue found her scent, stronger than ever. This close, he was able to determine his quarry was indeed a female, and bursting to the brim with the blood of the sky god. Splendid! With his tongue to guide him, the Obsidian Serpent marched naked up the road toward Talbot’s Peak, and his most glorious destiny.