In The Rise of the Aztecs Part I, we left the Tepanecs immersed in the dilemma. What to do with their newly acquired neighbors known as Mexica-people-from-Aztlan or the Aztecs. The despised newcomers got themselves into a trouble all right, angering their previous patrons of Culhuacan. To flay a princess, of all things! Azcapotzalco’s Tepanecs shook their heads. Clearly the troublesome newcomers had no finesse. No finesse at all.
But those Aztecs were great warriors; there was no argument about that. The Tepanecs began seeing the possibilities.
First they had launched series of raids against their neighbors in trouble, to make them understand which nation around Texcoco Lake was the most powerful to be reckoned with. Just in case it was not clear enough yet.
Then, after humbling the most warlike of their neighbors quite thoroughly, they promptly took them under Azcapotzalco’s protection, against the wrath of Culhuacan.
The small Mexica-Aztec nation was safe for now, but there was a price to pay. The Aztecs were to supply their new patrons with an unlimited amount of warriors whenever demanded. And the Tepanecs didn’t make them wait. While the Aztecs were busy founding their new capital upon the muddy island of the vast Texcoco Lake, the demands began trickling in. The emperor of Azcapotzalco had decided to turn on their historical rival – Culhuacan.
Reinforced by a horde of the warlike new allies, Azcapotzalco’s warriors had pounced on its sister-city, in less than ten summers succeeding in taking over all of their trading routes and depended towns and villages. The surrounding districts and settlements, which had paid a tribute to Culhuacan up to these days, began sending their yearly payments to Azcapotzalco instead.
The Tepanecs’ empire was expanding.
An excerpt from “The Young Jaguar”
The heavyset man nodded and relaxed almost visibly. He was getting past his prime, reflected Tecpatl. Of an old this formidable man would not be readable under any circumstances.
The urge to escape the Palace welled. He thought of the spaciousness of his own gardens, of the meal that was sure to contain every delicious snack he had had ever indicated as his favorite, of the ardent, exuberant welcome-home which was sure to await him. He could see her, dressed in the best of her clothes, bathed and groomed, waiting for him, exalted and impatient. Still beautiful, still desirable, still in love with him, still unruly and not fitting, just like fifteen summers ago, when he had met her for the first time.
“You are sure the new Emperor will give you all the commands you desire.” The older man made it a statement.
Tecpatl forced his mind to concentrate. “I hope he will trust me as had his father before him.”
“How long will it take to make Culhuacan crumble?”
“Not very long. Their warriors grew soft. They are not worthy enemy anymore.” Relieved to steer from the dangerous ground of politics, he added: “I’ll be happy to finish them off and re-open the war against the Mayans.”
“Not the Aztecs?”
“Oh, the Aztecs make good warriors. But they are barbarians. They are few and unimportant. Culhuacan is the worthy enemy. They are our equals, our peers.”
The face of the elder man remained still but something in the depths of the narrow eyes changed. “You do wise staying away from the palace affairs. You are a warrior and you better keep it that way…”