Posts Tagged: historical novel

Historical fiction and the trouble in the Aztec Capital

19 December 2012 Comments (0)

I am happy to announce the release of another new book

Currents of War

the fourth book of The Rise of the Aztecs series.

It wasn’t until 1426, after living for more than a hundred years and ruling for almost half of this time, that Tezozomoc, the old Tepanec emperor died, leaving many sons to rule many provinces.

His death did not plunge the Tepanec Empire into a chaos, as the conquered or oppressed nations expected. Tezozomoc’s eldest son and his appointed successor, Tayatzin, seemed to be a reasonable man and a good ruler.

Yet, not everyone was satisfied with this arrangement. Maxtla, one of the other numerous royal offspring, appointed to rule Coyoacan, apparently thought that the marble throne of Azcapotzalco would suit his talents better than the petty province of Coyoacan.

Too busy to pay attention to the discontent offspring of the royal Tepanec house, Tenochtitlan faced its own problems. The water supplies. Though the first aqueduct was built successfully, carrying fresh water into Tenochtitlan all the way from the mainland and over the lake’s waters, it also brought along much trouble. Built of clay and other inadequate materials, the water construction broke down alarmingly often, leaving the island with no fresh drinking water again and again.

The Aztec engineers worked hard, fixing the problems, maintaining the important construction, yet the lack of appropriate building materials thwarted their efforts; this and the necessity to ask for the Tepanecs permission to do the repairs each time the need arose.

The relationship between the Aztecs and the Tepanecs began to deteriorate once again, with Aztecs being much stronger this time, backed by many of the neighboring nations.

Seven years later, the Aztecs are ready to revolt against the mighty Tepanec Empire. However, while the young Emperor is trying to solve the problems peacefully, his warlords and advisers believe he is making too many mistakes along the way. A much stronger leader is needed, but is there a way to change Emperors with no bloodshed?

Kuini, now a promising leader, but still considered a pushy foreigner by some, is about to find out that meddling in the Aztec politics could cost him more than he is prepared to pay.

An excerpt from “Currents of War

The Highlander’s smile was wide, back to his light, unconcerned, cheeky self.

“I like that vision of yours, Chief Warlord. I’ll join you in this undertaking, too.” His grin widened. “That is, if you still want me among your forces.”

“You? You will take Azcapotzalco single-handedly. Of course, I will bring you along.”

“Back in that dung-filled Palace, you promised this would be the last time you would trust me.”

Tlacaelel frowned, the thought of Tlacopan’s Palace spoiling his mood. “Back in that stinking, manure-infested place, I was angry with you for going into the city without permission. I thought you were after a flask of octli.”

The Highlander’s eyes sparkled. “I did get this thing. More than a pitiful flask, too. Their octli is nice, more delicate tasting than Tenochtitlan’s brews.” He pitted his face against the wind, smiling happily. “People always talk more readily when you buy them a round of drinks. I found this out some time ago, when I finally began to get those cocoa beans in reasonable amounts.”

“You are a hopeless drunkard. What else did you hear?”

“I told you everything already. Plenty of changes our dear friend Maxtla is planning, plenty of changes.”

“Maxtla is stupid. He is nothing but a dirty son of the cheapest whore from the filthiest corner of the marketplace!” Tlacaelel clenched his teeth. “And what he doesn’t understand – but why should he, when all he knows is how to poison people or try to trap them otherwise? – is that with Itzcoatl for an Emperor he’ll have a more difficult time. He hates Chimalpopoca, because Chimal was rude to him, and because Chimal supported his brother too openly. Stupidly too, if you ask me, but they did not bother to ask me, or to listen to my advice.” He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself, watching the hills sweeping by. “But what ruler, what leader, would allow his personal passion of revenge to cloud his judgment? Only a stupid manure-eater like him.”

“So Itzcoatl is the sure thing? No chance of you taking Chimal’s place?”

“No. I don’t want any of this. Even if Itzcoatl drops dead the moment he gets rid of Chimal, I won’t take the throne.”

“Does he plan to get rid of Chimal?”

Tlacaelel glanced at the suddenly guarded face of his friend. “Who knows?”

“You, for sure.” The Highlander wiped his brow, then waved away an insistent fly. “Well, it’s too much politics for one evening. There is only a certain amount of the Lowlander’s devious activity that I can take in one day.”

“One good turn deserves another.” Making sure no one was within hearing range, Tlacaelel touched his friend’s arm. “Keep away from the politics for some time. Don’t come near the Palace, or near Itzcoatl, if you can help it.”

Historical fiction and Tenochtitlan

27 October 2012 Comments (6)

I am happy to announce the release of another new book

The Emperor’s Second Wife

the third book of The Rise of the Aztecs series.

In 1419, having conquered Texcoco and its provinces, the Tepanecs were the undeniable masters of the whole Mexican Valley, spreading further and further, strong and invincible. Curiously indifferent, they took the coastal towns, including Coatlinchan, but the altepetl of Texcoco they had given to their worthwhile allies, the Aztecs of Tenochtitlan.

Yet, Tezozomoc , the Tepanec Emperor, who, through his enormously long and fruitful life, had achieved all that, was growing very old. His death was imminent and there were many who awaited this event with eagerness.

In Tenochtitlan the opinions varied. While benefiting from its newly gained stance with their mighty overlords, having received the rich Texcoco as a gift for good behavior, some of the leading Aztecs were not happy with the way their city was turning into yet another Tepanec province. The rich pickings may not have been worth the loss of independence.

So, by the time Nezahualcoyotl , the surviving heir to Texcoco throne, reached Tenochtitlan, after spending some time hiding in the Highlands, the island-nation was ready to receive him, quite cordially at that. Busy expanding, building another causeway and the water construction, the Aztecs still tried to keep the Tepanecs happy, but it all was destined to change.

Back in the Aztec Capital, the troubles were brewing. While benefiting from its neutrality in the Texcoco-Tepanec War, many influential Mexica-Aztecs grew wary of the way their city was becoming absorbed in the mighty Tepanec Empire.

Upon their arrival in the great island-city, Kuini and Coyotl are quick to discover that something dangerous is about to happen, and that they are expected to take a part in it.

An excerpt from “The Emperor’s Second Wife

Only when they turned another corner and he could hear no footsteps but their own, did he allow his senses to shift to the young man walking beside him. Another First Son of another Emperor? The heir to Tenochtitlan’s throne? No, it could not be true. Tenochtitlan already had an Emperor, a mere child according to Father, and Father would know. If this youth was the First Son, he would have become the Emperor upon his own father’s death, wouldn’t he?

“You are not the First Son,” he said finally as the clamor of the marketplace grew stronger.

“Of course I am.” The lifted eyebrows of his companion made Kuini want to smash the broad face into a bloody mess. Coyotl was the First Son, and the heir, and he was never arrogant or haughty.

“How come you are not the Emperor then?”

The merry laughter was his answer. “You are such a provincial. It is not that simple, you know?”

“It is simple enough in civilized places like Texcoco.”

“Oh, stop bringing up this stupid new province of ours.”

Kuini clenched his fists. “Texcoco is not your province. This altepetl is more civilized, more beautiful, more magnificent than yours will ever be. Without your betrayal they would never have lost. They were victorious for more summers than your petty altepetl ever existed.”

To his surprise, Tlacaelel did not take offense. “So you are from Texcoco, aren’t you? I would never have guessed. You look like a Tepanec, but you speak like a foreigner. And your tattoos look completely savage.” He shrugged. “Whatever the reasons, your Texcoco is our province now, and they deserved that. Pitiful losers and worthless warriors.” The deeply set eyes measured Kuini once again. “So what are you doing here in Tenochtitlan?”

Taking a deep breath to control his temper, Kuini clasped his lips. “Nothing. I just came to look around.”

“And?”

“And nothing. So far, I ran into too many hostile warriors and strange royal family arrangements.” He studied his companion in his turn, taking in the broad, well-developed frame and the muscled arms. “If you were the First Son you wouldn’t be going around looking like a warrior, picking fights. That warrior was right. You would be escorted and well protected.”

“Would I?” Tlacaelel laughed again. “You obviously know nothing about Palaces and royal families. The Emperor, his wives, and his heir are moving about escorted. The rest of the royal family can do as they please.” The broad face darkened. “As long as they don’t stand in someone’s way.”

“So which son is your current Emperor?”

“The second,” said Tlacaelel lightly.

“Then why did the second son become the Emperor? Was the first one that unfitting?” Delighted, Kuini saw the deeply set eyes darkening with rage.

“You are still pushing it, aren’t you foreigner?”

“I’m curious.”

“Well, you will have to go and figure it out all by yourself. Go back to the Plaza and ask the people around. I predict by the nightfall you will learn a thing or two.”

Pleased with his companion’s obvious loss of temper and, therefore, loss of dignity, Kuini grinned.

“Weren’t we supposed to fight somewhere near your marketplace?”

Tlacaelel’s glare made him feel vindicated. “Yes! I was about to kill you, and this place will do.”

Historical fiction and the Aztecs

18 September 2012 Comments (4)

I am happy to announce the release of my new book

The Highlander

the first of The Rise of the Aztecs series.

My “Pre-Aztec” series ended toward the second half of the 14th century, leaving Mexican Valley under the stern rule of the Tepanec Empire; empire which spread around Lake Texcoco, encompassing it, holding many provinces and city-states in its firm grip.

A few decades passed and some of the city-states began feeling they could do with more independency. The tribute the Tepanecs demanded could be difficult to pay and some of the large cities felt the sting to their pride as well.

So in these series the action shifts to the other side of Lake Texcoco in time for the turbulent Mexican Valley’s history to start boiling.

The year is 1409 and the war is brewing, because Texcoco, a very large, very aristocratic city-state decided to stop paying the Tepanecs the required tribute.

But will the Aztecs help their old allies against the mighty Tepanecs?

Kuini, the young highlander who belongs to neither side and who shouldn’t be there in the first place but for his unexplained attraction to the might and the politics of the Lowlands, is trying to understand it all.

As the story progresses and his troubles are mounting, he learns much more than he wanted to know about the Lowlanders’ politics and about his own dark family secrets.

Born in the Highlands, Kuini thought his life was simple. You hunt and you fight, defending your towns against the raids of the Lowlanders and then raiding their lands in turn. His father was the Warriors’ Leader, and he wanted to be just like him.

Yet, Texcoco, the mighty Capital of the Lowlands, seemed incredibly beautiful, sparkling, its pyramids magnificent. A friendship with the Lowlander boy, the First Son of the Texcoco Emperor, seemed harmless in the beginning. They were just boys, and their clandestine meetings were always fun, providing great entertainment.

However, on the day Kuini agrees to finally enter the magnificent city, it would all change. He expected to get into trouble, but he could not foresee the extent of the trouble and, worst of all, he did not expect to uncover hidden secrets concerning his own family.

An excerpt from “The Highlander

She glared at him, attractive in her righteous anger.

“So, where are you from?” he asked, mostly to keep her from turning and storming away. She looked like she might do just that.

As she pondered her answer, he studied her face. Shaped in a sort of rectangle, her wide, sculpted cheekbones narrowed toward her gently pointed chin. A beautifully carved, perfectly polished, wooden mask, with a generously applied layer of copper, and two large obsidians for eyes.

“It doesn’t matter where I come from. I can find my way home,” she said finally. “And I do thank you for saving me. You were very brave.” Her face twisted. “They are such savages, those Aztecs.”

“Are all of them like that?” he asked, curious, yet not liking the word savages.

“Most of them, yes. Warriors, commoners, they are all the same. A wild, unpredictable lot.”

“That Chief Warlord of theirs looked like a sensible man,” commented Kuini thoughtfully, remembering the broad, noble-looking face.

“Oh, he is the most unpredictable of them all! He has had the reputation for ruthlessness and unpredictability for summers upon summers, since before any of us were even born.”

“Did he come to join your upcoming war against the Tepanecs?”

The girl shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe not. With those Aztecs, one never knows.” She peered at him, lifting one pointed eyebrow. “And what are you so excited about? Those are your Tepanecs we would be warring against.”

“I’m no Tepanec!” he cried. “Why does everyone keep assuming that?”

“No Tepanec? But you do look like one. Except for the tattoos of the savages.” She frowned. “And I heard you saying to the Aztec that you are from Tepanecapan.”

“Where is this Tepanecapan?”

“Here in Texcoco. Where else?” She narrowed her eyes. “You are not from there, are you?”

He tensed. “It doesn’t matter where I am from. I have to get out of the city. Can you show me to the Great Pyramid? I’ll find my way from there.”

She studied him carefully. “All right. I’m kind of lost too, but the Great Pyramid is a good landmark. We’ll find it together. I’ll know my way from there too.”

“All right.” He pressed his palms against his forehead. The clubs pounding inside his skull grew worse by the moment. “Let’s go.”

“So you won’t tell me where you come from?” the girl asked as they made their way back toward the main road.

“No.”

“Then I won’t tell you where I’m from either.”

He glanced at her, amused once again. “There is nothing to tell. You are from Texcoco, it’s obvious.”

She lifted her eyebrows. “Texcoco is not a village. There are four large districts here. Tepanecapan is one of them. Where do you think I live? Guess!” He liked the way her eyes danced.

“In this same Tepanecapan.” He said laughing. “Or anyway, somewhere away from this marketplace. Aren’t you supposed to know your way around here?”

“Oh, this is the first time I came here on foot, silly. I visit the marketplace from time to time, but in a litter. With servants.”

He grinned. “Of course.”

“You don’t believe me?” She stopped abruptly, all sorts of expressions chasing each other across her face. He was hard put not to laugh the way her eyes flickered, undecided, offended and amused at once. There was something about this girl, something frolicsome and mischievous.

The Rise of the Aztecs Part V, Texcoco, The Acolhua Capital

7 September 2012 Comments (3)

In ‘The Rise of the Aztec Part IV’, we left the Aztecs prospering, developing their island-city, in good grace with their overlords, the Tepanecs, and generally well off.

With the growing trade Tenochtitlan began to evolve into a real altepetl. The increasing amount of independent campaigns gained the city more floating farmlands and some footholds on the mainland.

At 1402, raiding the towns and cities of Lake Chalco, the Mexica warriors were so successful, it made their powerful neighbors worried. With the Chalco taken and its ruler fleeing and the ecstatic Aztec warriors feeling invincible, the Tepanecs frowned and told their most prized mercenaries to cease, ordering them to leave the almost-defeated Chalcoans alone. Reluctantly, the Aztecs obeyed. They were still in no position to argue.

And so the 14th century ended and the 15th began with the Mexican Valley and the great Texcoco Lake prospering and under the Tepanec control.

And all was well. Or so it seemed.

On the eastern side of the Great Lake sprawled a large, influential altepetl of Acolhua people, a sister culture of the Tepanecs and the Aztecs alike. It bore the same name as the Lake Texcoco itself, boasting rich history and the pureness of their blood. Acolhua noblewomen were highly sought after by any respectable aristocrat or ruler from all around the Mexican Valley (for instance, Acamapichtli, Tenochtitlan’s first emperor, had an Acolhua princess for a mother. Otherwise he would not be offered the exalted position he had been offered).

Well, as the time passed the altepetl of Texcoco expanded slowly by determinedly, by the beginning of the 15th century ruling five large provinces, controlling the eastern side of the Great Lake up to the Highlands, their historical enemies. Gradually it turned into a cultural center of the whole region, with plentiful markets and magnificent temples and palaces – an elegant, beautiful, educated city. The capital of the eastern side of Texcoco Lake, really. If not the whole Mexican Valley! Such was the mood at the aristocratic city, and the surrounding Acolhua provinces seemed to be sharing this sentiment.

In 1409, a new Acolhua emperor, Ixtlilxochitl, came to power and his doubts as to the rightfulness of the situation became obvious when he began withholding some of the monthly payments due to the Tepanec Empire.

Why should his educated, powerful city be second to anyone? he seemed to be asking himself. His magnificent altepetl paying a tribute to the brutal Tepanec? Ridiculous!

To make himself perfectly clear he took an additional title, The Lord of the Chichimecs, the way the first historical Texcoco first ruler was called and waited warily.

Busy elsewhere, the Tepanecs watched warily yet still calmly, doing nothing. But the new Acolhua Emperor hadn’t finished making his point. His next move was to displace his Chief Wife, of course the Tepanec princess and one of Tezozomoc’s favorite daughters, in favor of another of his wives, the Mexican princess, the sister of Tenochtitlan’s Emperor, Huitzilihuitl.

Well, this did the trick. The furious roar of Tezozomoc, the Tepanec Emperor, could be heard from the distant lands of the Mayans all the way to the Highlands on the other side of the lake. It was scary enough to make Acolhua Emperor send the immediately doubled tribute with an abject apology. But not to switch back between his wives.

For five more years Texcoco paid, scowling under the direful frown of the furious Tepanecs. Then, in 1414, Ixtlilxchitl felt that enough was enough. He took a title of the Universal Ruler and began gathering warrior forces from all over his provinces, reading for the invasion of the furious Tepanecs that would not make him wait, he knew.

The amount of warriors gathered on the eastern shores of Texcoco altepetl was staggering. The provinces yielded more than thousand men and so Ixtlilxchitl deployed his forces and waited for the nearing Tepanec invasion, with his 15 years old son and a heir, Nezahualcoyotl – the most known and famous emperor of the future – by his side.

But there was one problem that made Ixtlilxchitl frown, and maybe even curse under his breath. The Aztecs, Texcoco old friends and allies of many campaigns, began to behave cagey, refusing to declare themselves. Cozy upon their island, Tenochtitlan talked politely and vaguely, refraining from sending any warriors forces to either of the hostile sides. The Tepanecs frowned, while the Acolhua rebels cursed, feeling betrayed.

In the next post, The Rise of the Aztecs Part VI, Tipping The Balance’, we will see what the Aztecs were up to and what happened to those who rebelled against the Tepanecs.

An excerpt from “The Highlander

Coyotl watched the Aztec Warlord, consumed with curiosity. The torches blinked wearily, casting their shadows across the great hall and the people feasting around low tables. It was nearing midnight, but the visitors did not indicate an inclination to break the festivities, following their leader in his merry, careless mood of enjoyment.
The imperial meals would end earlier than that, reflected Coyotl, standing beside the Emperor’s reed chair, bidden into the revered presence. Not to dine with the honored guests, not yet, but to listen and watch, which was more than enough for a youth of fifteen summers, even if an official heir.

He watched the Aztec sitting upon the other chair, amiable and at ease, eating heartily but hardly drinking any octli, clearly preferring to wash his food down with plenty of water. Such an imposing man. Tall and broad, the Aztec seemed to fill the room with his presence, the easy confidence spilling out of his large, well-spaced eyes, the air of arrogant self-assurance enveloping him, making one’s nerves prickle. Where had he seen eyes like that before? wondered Coyotl, watching the broad face breaking into a polite smile.

“Revered Huitzilihuitl, the Emperor of Tenochtitlan and its provinces, would be more than happy to do his best in settling the dispute between his most trusted friends and allies and the distant Tepanecs,” the Aztec was saying. He picked another tamale stuffed with rabbit meat. “Oh, those are delicious!” he exclaimed. “Texcoco is, unarguably, the most luxurious altepetl of the Lowlands.”

Coyotl could see his father’s jaw tightening as the Emperor tried to hide his impatience. He didn’t want to discuss the luxury of his capital, and he most certainly didn’t want the Aztecs to try to settle his dispute with the Tepanecs. What he wanted was quite the opposite.

“I trust our old friends and allies would not hesitate in supporting their most faithful neighbors should the Tepanecs choose the warpath,” said the Emperor coldly. “In their gathering their forces, drawing more and more of the independent altepetls into this dispute, the Tepanecs demonstrated their warlike intentions.”

“Oh, our Revered Emperor is sure to find the way to reach a peaceful solution,” answered the Aztec, non-committal, picking another tamale. “Tezozomoc, the Tepanec Emperor, is a very old man. He is making a show of aggression, but he would not dare to invade your shores.”

“I’m afraid Revered Huitzilihuitl is underestimating the greediness of the Tepanec ruler. He would not rest until putting all the lands around our Great Lake under his crushing yoke. Is my spiritual brother, the Revered Huitzilihuitl, not weary of the Tepanec oppression? Is he still content greeting their tribute collectors every full moon? The tribute Tenochtitlan pays is not as heavy as it was forced to pay during the Revered Acamapichtli’s reign – the young Huitzilihuitl was brilliant in his ways to reduce the amount of goods required by Azcapotzalco – still, it must be an unnecessary burden. You were Revered Acamapichtli’s first Chief Warlord. How could you forget the insults of the arrogant Tepanecs?”

The Aztec’s face froze as the perpetual amusement left the broad features. “My personal history with the treacherous Tezozomoc goes deeper than the common knowledge would have. I remember the insults of the past, and my heart bleeds recalling the efforts of the most revered emperor in Tenochtitlan’s history.” The man sighed grimly. “However, Revered Huitzilihuitl is a prudent ruler. We cannot face the Tepanec Empire on the battlefield, not yet. We may win a victory or two, but we would not win this war. Tezozomoc is farsighted. Whether we like it or not, whether we are prepared to admit it, he is a brilliant leader, and his resources in supplies and manpower are enormous. Neither Tenochtitlan, nor Texcoco would be able to sustain this war to achieve a final victory.”

The man shrugged. “Maybe in twenty or so summers. Maybe when Tezozomoc is dead. Tenochtitlan is working its way toward the final independence, but it does so carefully, the way the Revered Acamapichtli has done.” The penetrating gaze of the large eyes straightened, faced the Texcoco Emperor as an equal would. “I would advise your altepetl to do the same. Both of our capitals need patience.”

Coyotl almost gasped at the effrontery of the guest. Did this Aztec Warlord presume to advise the Acolhua Emperor? Inconceivable! Even among the fierce Aztecs such arrogance would be surprising. Only the Tepanecs might presume patronizing Texcoco people. Why, the man even looked like a Tepanec, he thought, seething. With these broad features of his and those widely spaced eyes. Where had he seen such a face before?

He saw a maid hovering nearby, carrying no tray. Hesitating, the woman sought Coyotl’s gaze, eyes imploring. He frowned, but the maid kept stealing glances, clearly anxious to catch his attention.
Coyotl hesitated. He wanted to hear where this argument would lead, how his father would put this insolent Aztec in his place, yet now he recognized the maid as one of Iztac’s personal slaves. He frowned, remembering that he had forgotten to talk to his mother about the girl’s temple training. It was too late to bother the Emperor’s Chief Wife now, but the anxious face of the girl’s maid made him uneasy. Something was wrong.

 

The Rise of the Aztecs Part III, Tenochtitlan, The Aztec Capital

26 February 2012 Comments (1)

“… When we saw so many cities and villages built in the water and other great towns on dry land we were amazed and said that it was like the enchantments… great towers and cues and buildings rising from the water, and all built of masonry. And some of our soldiers even asked whether the things that we saw were not a dream…”

Bernal Diaz del Castillo, The Conquest of New Spain

In The Rise of the Aztecs Part I we dealt with the incident of the flayed princess and the first time the Aztecs made their powerful neighbors angry.

Then, in The Rise of the Aztecs Part II, they had made it to their swampy little island, relatively safe under the stern gaze of the Mexican Valley’s masters, the Tepanecs.

So now we arrive to the end of the 14th century, when the Aztecs were somewhat better off. Not allowed to campaign on their own, they still thrived, fighting under the Tepanec leadership, relatively safe upon their muddy island. Required to pay tribute every full moon, they contributed to riches of the powerful Azcapotzalco, the Tepanec Capital. The tribute was reported to be ‘oppressive and capricious’.

The island location has its benefits, separated from the mainland by a certain amount of water and thus safe from any military surprises. Yet, this location has its disadvantages as well. Bringing materials to the rapidly growing city was difficult. Most of the houses were reed-and-cane built and the markets were poor, while the city could not even dream of building a worthwhile temple or, gods forbid, a pyramid. Large slabs of stone and marble were impossible to bring by canoes.

But the Aztecs were not only a warlike nation. They turned out to be ambitious engineers as well. So, when Acamapichtli, a young and very vigorous ruler, was brought to lead the growing island nation, the Mexica energetic people launched into several breathtaking projects all at once.

First of all, the island was enlarged artificially, with much dirt and rock. Then a causeway was built to connect it with the mainland, making it possible for the large chunks of materials to be brought into Tenochtitlan, allowing the construction of the Great Pyramid’s second stage. Houses of cane and reed were replaced by the stone ones, temples constructed, laws made.

The agriculture was a problem. The island was too small to cultivate enough crops to support the rapidly growing population. Cultivating of many chinampas, the ‘floating gardens’, had helped. Yet the Aztecs needed more land. So far they were masters of their island only. They needed a permission to campaign on their own.

Well, Acamapichtli was a great diplomat. Careful not to provoke the Tepanec overlords, Tenochtitlan paid its taxes in time and when Azcapotzalco wanted a present in a form of a floating garden of beautiful flowers, a special chinampa was made in a hurry and floated over the lake straight to the shores of the Tepanec’s Capital.

Toward the beginning of the 15th century, after many such gestures and negotiations, the Aztecs were allowed to campaign on their own, provided their warriors kept reinforcing the Tepanec forces with the same vigor as before. The northern settlements of Texcoco Lake, such as Xochimilco were attacked immediately and many of their lake-shores chinampas captures and put to a great use.

Tenochtitlan was growing rapidly.

An excerpt from “The Jaguar Warrior

Her eyes flashed.

“I was glad, very glad! My husband is a great ruler and he is just beginning his journey. Tenochtitlan will be the greatest altepetl in the whole Valley one day. It will make Azcapotzalco look small. But by then Azcapotzalco may very well be just a cluster of ruins.”

He stared into her eyes, mesmerized. What she said was completely ridiculous, yet for a moment he could not but believe her. Her eyes shone with such power, radiating her hatred but more than that. Was she having a premonition?

He shuddered.

“What you say does not make sense. Acamapichtli is a very impressive man, I admit that. But he is leading a small nation that is stuck on the muddy island. His city has nowhere to grow. This altepetl cannot evolve beyond some mediocre status. You have no place to grow.”

“Oh, but you know so little. And you were never very bright, anyway. But Acamapichtli is wise, so very wise. Wiser than my father even. And he is patient. He plans for twenty, two, three-times twenty summers from now and he works to that end. His has grand visions and he his ability to apply his ideas is breathtaking. He invests all his energy in his plans, but he does so smartly and patiently. You just wait and see.”

He watched her animated face. Two red spots colored the high cheekbones now and the large eyes shone brightly, almost excitedly. He had never seen her like that. Yet what she said made his skin crawl.

“It feels too familiar,” he said tiredly, difficult to tear his gaze off her glowing eyes. “But you should know better than trying to use me again. I cannot be trusted. In the end I will not betray my people. You should know it better than anyone.”

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