Princess Anyanctla

Chapter 5

5

Within a week after the Initiation at the Temple of Coatlicue, Aztec Warriors were battling Spanish Soldiers, in the streets of Tenochtitlan. The fighting was fierce. Many were lying dead.

Aztec women stood on the roofs of buildings. The Princess Anyanctla and the other Maidens from the Initiation fought among them. The Women used slings to hurl stones down on the Spaniards. Some Spaniards shot back, killing some women; including one who'd attended the Initiation. Those who didn't die continued raining down stones.

The fighting was fiercest in the Temple Complex. Aztecs armed with spears, bows and arrows, and clubs edged with sharpened obsidian, assaulted the heavily fortified Palace where the Spaniards were quartered. The Spaniards defended their fortification, with firearms, steel weapons, and 16th century cannon.

The Warriors were joined by the fighting Women, including Princess Anyanctla and the Maidens from the Initiation.

Many Aztecs lay dead and the killing continued.

As the fighting went on, both Aztecs and Spaniards began turning their attention to the roof of the Palace. The battle gradually subsided until all was quiet. Everyone on both sides was looking at the roof.

Emperor Moctezuma stood upon the parapet of the roof, dressed in all his Kingly Regalia. He was surrounded by Cortez and a small Squad of Spaniards.

The Aztecs all knelt in obeisance to the King.

Now Moctuzuma, Emperor of all Mexico spoke. "Why do I see my people here in arms against the Palace of my father? Is it that you think your Sovereign a prisoner, and wish to release him? If so, you have acted rightly!

"But you are mistaken! I am no prisoner! The strangers are my guests! I remain with them only from choice, and can leave them when I wish. This is unnecessary!"

There was a murmur running through the crowd. Aztec Nobles stood.

One Warrior said, "He chooses to remain with them when so many of us have died?"

The King spoke again. "They will depart of their own accord, if you will open a way for them!"

Now many Aztecs stood, but none of them moved aside.

Now the King's voice spoke more strongly. "Return to your homes then! Lay down your arms!"

Every Warrior in the Complex remained in place, and held onto his weapon.

The King shouted, "Show me your obedience! I have a right to it!"

The crowd began murmuring.

The King announced, "The white men shall go back to their own land; and all shall be well again, here within Tenochtitlan!"

The murmuring became stronger.

Now a Nobleman called out. "My Lord Moctezuma!"

The murmuring instantly ceased.

The man continued. "I regret to tell you this; for you are my friend, and I love you in my heart; but you no longer have any right to our obedience!"

There was a gasp of shock from the crowd.

The man explained. "A decision has been made, by the Council of Chieftains! You have been deposed!"

Now a murmur of shock went through the crowd.

"The Spaniards have bewitched you, and turned you into a coward!"

The in the crowd, Princess Anyanctla put her hands over her ears, not wanting to hear such horrible words.

The man continued to speak. "Your nephew Cuahutemoc has been chosen King in your place!"

The crowd turned and looked at Prince Cuahutemoc, a Company Commander who stood among his Warriors. The Imperial Prince looked away from the King in embarrassment.

Cuahutemoc's Warriors began shouting at Moctezuma. "Coward! Traitor!"

Moctezuma was furious. He began cursing in the Aztec language.

Now Prince Cuahutemoc issued his first order as King. "Death to all the Spaniards, and to all their friends!"

The fighting began again.

A small group of Warriors hurled stones at the Spaniards who were guarding Moctezuma. The Spaniards raised their shields to protect Moctezuma; but one of the stones struck him, and the King went down.

The fighting stopped again.

Everyone on both sides looked distressed as the Spaniards carried Moctezuma away from the parapet and he was gone from their sight.

The fighting resumed and more were killed.

About an hour later, a Spaniard ran out of the Palace shouting.

"Moctezuma es muerto!"

The Spaniards begin repeating the message to each other, looking distressed.

The Aztecs were also repeated the message. "Moctezuma is dead! Moctezuma is dead!"

At the far side of the Complex, Princess Anyanctla and the other Maidens stood away from the battle, weeping.

She said, "This would not have happened, if the High Priest had sacrificed us all, like we asked."

Handmaid Haltlec said, "He couldn't. The Sacrifices were defiled by that coward Honatl."

Anyanctla said, "There are no cowards here now."

Later that same day, as sunset was approaching, Princess Anyanctla and handmaid Haltlec stood at the foot of the steps, to the Temple of Coatlicue. Some dead Warriors lay nearby, and all Tenochtitlan was filled with the sound of battle.

The High Priest descended the steps, accompanied by about two dozen Lesser Priests. That day, they wore no priestly robes. All of them were armed for battle.

When the Priests reached the foot of the steps, Princess Anyanctla spoke.

"My Lord High Priest."

He and all the Priests halted.

She said, "Our King, my Lord Moctezuma is dead. We come to respectfully request that you complete the Sacrifices; to prevent something even worse from happening."

The High Priest told her, "That is not possible. The sacrifices were defiled by a cowardly act."

"My Lord." Princess Anyanctla told him, "Half of us have died in battle. There are no cowards standing here. We have all volunteered to die."

"That might still anger Coatlicue." He said, "Wait until the Victory Celebration. Then you may all do the Decapitation Dance, without causing trouble."

"My Lord." She told him, "If we are not sacrificed now, there may be no victory to celebrate.

Handmaid Haltlec added her voice. "She is right my Lord."

The other Maidens murmured in agreement.

He told them all, "Even so; there is not enough time for the ceremony now."

Now a Lesser Priest spoke. "My Lord. Would the Arrow Sacrifice be sufficient?"

"Only at times of urgent necessity."

The High Priest thought over his words. Then he announced. "Prepare for the Arrow Sacrifice!"

The Maidens formed into a line facing the Temple. The Princess Anyanctla and Handmaid Haltlec stood together at the right end of the line.

The Lesser Priests stood in a line facing the Maidens, armed with bows and arrows.

Now the High Priest spoke. "If any of you Maidens are unwilling to die now, you may depart."

All the Maidens remained standing in line.

The High Priest stood behind the Lesser Priests at the foot of the Temple steps.

He ordered, "Begin."

Each Lesser Priest aimed his arrow at the breasts of the Maiden facing him, and drew his bow tight.

The Maidens Chanted. "Coatlicue! Coatlicue! Coatlicue!..." They continued to chant the Goddess' name.

The Lesser Priests shot the arrows. Each Maiden was struck in her breast with an arrow. They all cried out in a chorus of screams and fell to the ground, except for Princess Anyanctla and Handmaid Haltlec.

Anyanctla and Haltlec remained standing with the arrows stuck deep in their breasts. Then each young woman took a deep breath. Those arrows popped out of their breasts.

The Maidens were all lying dead, with the arrows sticking out of their breasts; except for Anyanctla and Haltlec, who stood beside them unhurt. The arrows that were shot into them now lay broken at their feet.

Anyanctla, Haltlec, the High Priest and Lesser Priests all looked very uneasy.

The High Priest told them all, "It is enough for now."

The Lesser Priests all hurried away toward the battle.

The High Priest now came over to the Princess Anyanctla and Haltlec.

He told them, "Coatlicue has decided to postpone your Sacrifices, until after the Spaniards are defeated. Now come with me. I have an important task for both of you."

"My Lord." She told him, "Neither of us are cowards. We volunteer to die."

He told them both. "That might still anger Coatlicue. Wait until the Victory Celebration. Then you may both do the Decapitation Dance, without causing trouble."

"My Lord." The Princess continued. "If we are not sacrificed now, there may be no victory to celebrate."

Lady Haltlec added her voice. "She is right my Lord."

He said, "Even so; there is not enough time for the ceremony now."

He nodded to the other Priests, who all hurried away toward the battle.

Then he told Anyanctla and Haltlec, "Come with me now. I have an important task for both of you."

He then led them both to the City's Waterfront.

In the orange light of the setting sun, Anyanctla and Haltlec were seated in a canoe. The High Priest stood on the wharf above them, holding a large sealed ceramic jar. The jar was as tall, as the length of his forearm.

He told them, "There are very important sacred writings inside this jar. I want you to hide it someplace safe, until the Spaniards are defeated."

He handed the jar to the Princess who placed it on the bottom of the canoe. She and Haltlec covered the jar with a heavy blanket. Then both handmaids paddled off into the twilight, while the High Priest watched anxiously.

Out on the dark waters of Lake Texcoco that night, Princess Anyanctla and handmaid Haltlec were in the canoe, paddling swiftly. The outlines of the torch-lit City were behind them.

Lady Haltlec said, "By the time we return, the Spaniards might be defeated."

Princess Anyanctla said, "That is very possible."

"If they are, then no more sacrifices will be needed."

"The Decapitation Dance will still need to be performed."

"Then I will appoint a substitute." Haltlec said, "In my father's house we have a Mayan slave girl. She is very beautiful and pious. I will appoint her to be my substitute. Substitutions are always accepted as sacrifices, at joyous celebrations."

Anyanctla told her, "You have nothing to fear. At our Initiation, I was swallowed alive by Coatlicue. I was dying inside her belly; and I saw Paradise. I was about to enter, when the defilement occurred. Paradise is beautiful. You have nothing to fear."

Haltlec spoke sharply, "I have just been betrothed!"

Two nights after they'd left Tenochtitlan, Princess Anyanctla was seated alone in the canoe, as she paddled across Lake Texcoco at night, back toward the torch-lit outlines the City. The sealed jar was gone. The shrunken head of Lady Haltlec now hung on her belt.

Princess Anyanctla thought, She was never able to keep a secret. She might have revealed the location of the sacred writings. I can always keep a secret, and a vow. I will not choose a substitute.

As she continued paddling, she heard the sound of a loud, distant, booming drum, coming from the City.

Anyanctla paddled more swiftly.

An hour later she reached the Causeway that went east, between Tenochtitlan on the island to Tacuba on the mainland. The Spaniards were fleeing along the Causeway, fighting every Aztec Warrior from the City. Priests and Warrior Women had joined in the fighting. Many lay dead along the causeway.

Many canoes with Warriors came up to the side of the Causeway. The Warriors jumped out of the canoes, rushed up the side of the Causeway, and joined in the battle.

Princess Anyanctla arrived in her canoe, with a few Warriors.

One of them had told her, "The Spaniards tried to sneak out of the City by night; but they were seen. Now they will all die."

"Good." She'd told him, "I would like to kill one of them myself."

As soon as her canoe reached the Causeway, Anyanctla jumped out with her Warrior passengers. She took the dagger out of her belt, and climbed with them up to the thickest part of the battle.

Right in front of her, a Spaniard armed with a sword, fought a Warrior armed with a spear. The Spaniard killed the Warrior.

As the Warrior fell, Princess Anyanctla jumped onto the Spaniard, knocking him down and cutting his throat.

The High Priest was fighting nearby. He saw the Princess and called out.

"Princess! Are the writings safely hidden?"

"Yes!" She called out, "Only I know where they are!"

Now she saw Cortez himself rapidly approaching on a horse, fleeing with the Spaniards along the Causeway, holding a pistol.

Princess Anyanctla raised the dead warrior's spear in both hands and rushed toward the Commander of all the Spanish Forces. Cortez shot Princess Anyanctla through the heart as he rushed by.

She cried out and collapsed, engulfed by total black silence.

Princess Anyanctla felt herself moving. The blackness was no longer total. She saw formless black shadows drifting across very dark empty grey, as she moved forward through the darkness, which was gradually illuminated by a dim, flickering red light from below.

The red light revealed that she was approaching a framework of crosses; which stood atop one another, stretching out both horizontally and vertically, toward infinity.

She moved up to and then into the framework, where men, women and children were nailed to crosses. She moved rapidly, passing multitudes of crucified people, dressed in diverse garments, from all times and places in history.

Then, somewhere in the middle of the framework, Anyanctla slowed down, and then stopped in front of an empty cross.

She was spun around, and slammed back against the empty cross; to which her outstretched arms and legs were nailed, with spikes through her wrists and ankles. She screamed in horror and agony.

Princess Anyanctla found herself facing handmaid Miltlana, who was nailed to the cross directly in front of her. She hung there in silent agony. To her left, Honatl was crucified. Haltlec was nailed to the cross on her right.

They were surrounded, above, below, and all around them, by crucified Aztecs; including Warriors, Noblemen, Priests, other Maidens, and Spanish Soldiers. Each one hung in silent agony, on a separate cross.

Anyanctla stopped screaming and struggling. She went limp like the others, and hung there like them, in silent agony.

She and the others hung there for hours. They hung there for days; for weeks; for months and for years. She hung there so long, that she couldn't remember when she'd been an Aztec Princess. She couldn't remember any time when she hadn't been crucified.

Then in a moment, things changed. The living Goddess Coatlicue moved among the crosses, and they all remembered everything. Both of the Goddess' heads were biting people off their crosses one by one, and swallowing them while they screamed and struggled, as she slowly moved along.

Now Coatlicue came up to Princess Anyanctla and her companions. She bit the handmaid Honatl off the cross to her left, and Haltlec off the cross to her right, swallowing them as they screamed and struggled.

Then one of the Goddess' heads looked into the eyes of her servant Anyanctla, flicking her forked tongue. Her other head bit Miltlana off her cross, and then devoured the squirming, squealing handmaid. The head of Coatlicue, that faced Anyanctla, spoke to the Princess.

"Do not be afraid." She told her faithful servant, "I will return to my faithful people. Your task will be completed. The sacred writings will be restored. The Sacrifices will be completed. The Decapitation Dance will be performed; and I will defend my faithful people."

Then Coatlicue opened her mouth, engulfing the Princess. Anyanctla's mind vanished, and she was aware of nothing.


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