The growing Aztec capital is unhappy under the stern rule of their Tepanec overlords.
Having tried every political trick, Acamapichtli, the wise and vigorous ruler of the Aztecs, is about to seek an unusual solution.
When the delegation of the Tepanec elite warriors arrives at his island-city in order to enlist Aztec warriors, he seizes his chance, unleashing a series of adventures for out Tepanec heroes.
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Pre-Columbian North America
'The Jaguar Warrior' is the third book in the Pre-Aztec Series.
This time the action shifts to Tenochtitlan, the growing Aztec capital, which is struggling to break free from their stern Tepanec overlords.
Our Tepanec elite warriors, the main characters of the series, think their mission is simple. They come to this insignificant island-city to recruit Aztec warriors, but it turned out Tenochtitlan offers them more adventures that they were ready for.
The main engineer stopped for a moment and wiped his forehead. He listened to the noise of the creaking beams as it rolled down, to be heard at great distances, and wondered if it carried to the Lake’s shores and over the brackish water, to reach the main land. Did it attract the attention of their numerous unfriendly neighbors? Or even worse, their stern overlords in distant Azcapotzalco?
Well, the mighty Tepanecs should not be bothered bending their ear to the noise of their despised subjects’ building activities. Whenever they liked, they would enter Tenochtitlan, crossing the newly built causeway connecting the island-city to the main land. Either tax collectors, or warriors’ leaders, or just curious tourists, they would strut around the plazas and the marketplace, looking down their long aristocratic noses as if displeased with the poorness of the place that actually did not welcome them eagerly.
The engineer shook his head and narrowed his eyes against the glow of the afternoon sun. People pulled at the enormous rectangular slab of stone, reaching the last of the beams that had been laid out upon the slippery surface.
“Do we stop here?” asked one of his assistants, glancing at the western sky.
He measured the slope. “No.” He shook his head, aware of the vast disappointment he caused the exhausted workers. “We have to pull it toward the end of the slope. There is no way we can secure this slab for the night.”
He hurried back toward the tail of the human column before his assistants had a chance to protest. He knew how exhausted the people were. He also knew some of them were no slaves. There were not enough slaves in Tenochtitlan. The spoils from the numerous wars were never enough. Their overlords, Tepanecs, had seen to that. They were the ones to initiate the raids, enlisting the Aztec warriors as simple underlings, hence, the miserable spoils and the shortage of slaves.
He gestured the men who had carried the beams they had long since passed.
“Lay them upon the track all the way up the slope,” he shouted, ignoring their furious glances.
He turned around and rushed back toward the head of the column, sweat rolling down his back.
A warrior blocked his way. “What’s all the rush?”
The engineer halted reluctantly. “Our cargo has to reach the end of the slope before the sunset.”
“You can’t be serious!” The warrior narrowed his eyes against the western sky. “It’s time we finish.”
“We can’t leave it where it is.” The engineer took a deep breath, curbing his impatience. Warriors were not men to be ordered about, although these particular ones had been assigned here to help him keep everything in order. “It will begin sliding the moment people stop pulling,” he added, knowing he didn’t dare to anger this man.
“Find a way to secure it, so it won’t slide,” said the warrior haughtily. “It’s a market day. People should be able to visit the market before they go home.”
Of course, thought the engineer bitterly. Try to convince me you think of the people and worry about their welfare. No warrior, let alone the leading one, would do that.
“We can’t secure it. I’m sorry.” He measured the sky, avoiding the warrior’s glaring gaze. “But if we hurry we’ll reach the end of the slope before the sun sets. Can you make them hurry? Please. It would be of a great help.”
The warrior grunted something inaudible and the engineer deemed it high time to rush away. He had to supervise the process of laying the beams. It needed to be done correctly. But he was aware of the cold sweat covering his back. The warriors were dangerous, when upset.
“Peyotl,” he called, as he passed by the young man bent under maguey ropes. “Come along. We need more ropes and possibly more people to pull.”
The young man’s broad face flashed with anger. “I’m not pulling this slab like a common slave.”
“Come,” the engineer said, unimpressed. “You’ll do what you are asked to do. It’s a market day and we want to finish before sunset.”