Itzomaltocoatl Chimahuazlili Acapalpitzin Keeper of the House of Darkness and Second Zlontlital of the Order of the Jaguar Warriors
A warrior-mystic from a faraway land.
According to the harmonious motions of the celestial world, the Keeper of the House of Darkness in Huantepec would be named Itzomaltocoatl Chimahuazlili Acapalpitzin. The stars are never wrong; Itzomaltocoatl’s parents named him Itzomaltocoatl, and that is the only way it ever could have been. It is no coincidence that Itzomaltocoatl would act as the Keeper of the House of Darkness—that had been decided long before even his great grandparents had been conceived by anyone other than the stars above.
The ways of the Huanta people are strange, even to the other tribes of the Cuzcan subcontinent. Many revere them for their wisdom as well as their mastery of metallurgy and astrology, but just as many disregard them as lazy and obsessed with their own overcomplicated and meaningless cosmology. The Huanta believe that time is not a stream but a vast, motionless pond. The passage of time is merely an illusion of the ego as it searches for a meaning or purpose on the level of simple human understanding. The truth of the universe is far greater than a collection of parts with various disparate goals—it is a single entity at all times and places, harmonious with itself. The Huanta seek enlightenment by relinquishing their desires and simply acting as a part of the universe no different or separate from any other part.
While many in Huantapec are trained to watch the sky, Itzomaltocoatl was trained to serve the Huanta on Earth. As Keeper of the House of Darkness, Itzomaltocoatl was trained at a young age in the use of tumba, a sort of knuckleduster with metal claws on the inside of the hand. He learned in the tradition of the famous Jaguar Warriors of Huantapec, which pushes the body beyond its maximum abilities into the realm of the supernatural. This is achieved through rigorous physical and mental training, and requires a degree of spiritual enlightenment.
Itzomaltocoatl’s dedication went far beyond what was expected of the Keeper of the House of Darkness, revealing him to be the second Zlontlital of the Order, only the eighth Zlontlital in the Order’s history.
Because he had two positions, he was allowed to take two wives. He was unable to choose the first, a woman ten years his senior named Tacuelhitli. Since his identity as Second Zlontlital had not been anticipated, he had some say in choosing his second wife. He chose the sister of his best friend and comrade in arms Quequauhtzin Toatzinapacal, Keeper of the House of Snakes, as a personal favor. Her name was Malintzin.
Unfortunately, the two spent little time together before Huantapec was forced into war with the ever expanding Mixctla Empire. The Mixctla of Tlatepan were known for worshipping demons and for bloody mass sacrifices atop towering ziggurats. Taxes were paid to the Mixctla in the form of human sacrifices. They cut the hearts from their victims, removed their heads and let the bodies tumble down the steep pyramids into the street.
The Jaguar warriors were the heart of the armies of Huantapec, so the Mixctla cut them out as soon as they were able. In a single preemptive surprise attack by the elite Eagle Warriors of the Mixctla the Jaguar Warriors were almost entirely obliterated, along with much of the city of Huantapec. Itzomaltocoatl was taken as a prisoner to the Mixctla capital of Tlatepan to be sacrificed in a ceremony celebrating the victory.
The sacrifices were stripped naked and their hands and feet were bound. They were made to climb the towering ziggurat at the center of the city. By the time they reached the top, one by one, they would be exhausted from the climb and hardly able to move. At this point, they would fight to the death with five Eagle Warriors, who would inevitably win, remove the sacrifices heart and head, throwing the body off the ziggurat. The sacrifices were told that if they defeated any of the Eagle Warriors then their life would be spared, the Eagle Warrior taking their place as the sacrifice.
Itzomaltocoatl struggled up the ziggurat amid the cheers and screams of the crowd and the bodies of earlier sacrifices hurtling down toward him. By the time he reached the top his body was ready to give out, but unknown to the Eagle Warriors at the top, his mind was unbent. They were covered in sweat from the effort of slaughtering the sacrifices before Itzomaltocoatl, but not so exhausted to be worried about another sacrifice struggling to the highest platform, hands and feet bound. As he rolled onto the platform the first Eagle Warrior approached, jagged macuahuitl raised.
Itzomaltocoatl was prepared, and acted as he was destined to act. He swept the feet of the warrior from the ground and crushed his windpipe with an elbow. A second warrior fired an arrow, but Itzomaltocoatl caught it and planted it in the chest of a third. Moments later, Itzomaltocoatl had suffered a broken arm and was pierced through by four arrows, but in his good hand he held the heart of the last of the five warriors at the top.
This was not what was expected. Itzomaltocoatl was free to go, according to the law of the land, but he did not expect that to happen. Riots broke out in the confusion below, and Itzomaltocoatl escaped Tlatepan amid the chaos. Over the next few days he was hunted across the jungle by Eagle Warriors. By pure happenstance he was hiding in a coastal village when it was raided by a party of far ranging Volsungs. His pursuers rushed to confront the invaders, and Itzomaltocoatl took that opportunity to help the Volsungs vanquish the warriors. When the battle was over, he asked them to take him far away from the Cuzcan subcontinent.
They brought him to Volsung, but he disliked the cold climate. Eventually Itzomaltocoatl found himself in the extreme south of Oceania, in a small fishing village named Driftwood where he became known as Tocoatl. He sought to heal his wounds and continue his training so that he would one day avenge his Order and drive the Mixctla from Huantapec.
Then a dragon stole his heart.