In the Courts of the Sun - 30



Koh repeated the name. There was something chilling about hearing it here, now, in her voice.

Now we are slaves, she said. I focused back on the board. Now it was as big as In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the entire Western Hemisphere, and populations rolled over the continents like loose beads in a platter. She described cities that doubled in size every few peace seasons, like ground fungi, and dark In the Courts of the Sun - 30 double roots with wet, giant worms slithering over them. I told her what I guessed she was imagining and she repeated the word: Railroads. She moved from December 24, 1917, into 1918, on the dates of In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the earthquakes that had destroyed Ciudad Guatemala. She described the roots multiplying, and gnarling and sprouting and oozing bitumen. Dark running ticks would crawl over them, sucking the Earthtoadesss blood, and the In the Courts of the Sun - 30 trees would shrivel in their breath. After the ninth katun of the last baktun the stinking ticks multiplied into vast enameled herds, red and blue and yellow, and some In the Courts of the Sun - 30 of them sprouted wings. I told her I thought she was imagining roads and cars and airplanes. She described clusters of quartz crystals that grew overnight, and vomited white flies over the In the Courts of the Sun - 30 cracked blue-green bowl. I wasnt sure what she meant by that. She set her sapphire down on 11 Howler, 4 Whiteness, in the fifth uinal of the first tun of the eighteenth katun In the Courts of the Sun - 30 of the thirteenth and last baktun.

Your name-day, she said. I clicked Correct.

She moved it to February 4, 1976the day of the last big Guate city earthquakeand then farther out into the last baktun In the Courts of the Sun - 30. Eleven Motion, Koh said. A blowgun-snake with mouth and anus joined vomits a dust-mote into the God of Zeros fire, and the sands fuse to crystal knives. The Maya In the Courts of the Sun - 30 date corresponded to June 2, 2009, the day of the collider blast in Huajapan de Leon. I started to tell her a little bit about it, but she moved on, tapping her lead In the Courts of the Sun - 30 opal outward, to 6 Razor, 6 Yellowribs.

They fight themselves here, she said, in the game-city in the northern coral flats.

Disney World, I said.

And what exactly will happen on that sun?

I described In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the day as well as possible.

She moved on. We came to the edge of the world at the extreme west rim of the board and the bin named 4 Overlord, 3 Yellowribs In the Courts of the Sun - 30, that is, December 21, 2012, at the limit of time.

A hidden ahau turns his men against his own, she said. He has a crooked skull.

I clicked yes. Still, that didnt seem In the Courts of the Sun - 30 like a lot of information.

No, wait, she said. He is not an ahau. He is only using an ahaus voice. His name is Trumpet Vine.

Whoa, I thought. Well, thats In the Courts of the Sun - 30 pretty specific in its way. The only problem was that Id never heard of anything named Trumpet Vine.

Hmm.

The Ixian term shed used, taal chaconib, meant something like hummingbird chocolate flower. And In the Courts of the Sun - 30 it definitely meant trumpet vine, ^ Campsis radicans. But the thing was, the word was more common as an adjective, as an idiom for a salmon-pink color. That is, one thinks of trumpet vines In the Courts of the Sun - 30 as red, but the wild species we had was pink, or salmon pink. So maybe she just meant light red.

Can you over me tell me where he is? I In the Courts of the Sun - 30 asked, but shed already moved on, tapping her runner beyond the last day, into no-name time. Damn it. I snuck a look at her. Gamers learn to hide mental fatigue. But In the Courts of the Sun - 30 they also learn to sniff it out. So even though Koh didnt show more than a hint of that pinched dryness you get in too-long-focused eyes, and maybe a slight swelling in In the Courts of the Sun - 30 one or two thin veins visible through the melanin-free side of her face, I still got an impression that she might collapse. A single bead of sweat crawled out of In the Courts of the Sun - 30 her oiled hairline. On the board and, it seemed, around us, multitudes of inchoate shapes tumbled and howled with a sound like some tribe of giant nonhuman mammals in some huge In the Courts of the Sun - 30 stone hall. Ahead of us there was something like an edge, and beyond that, a zone that wasnt fog or darkness, but something like the area outside your field of vision, the In the Courts of the Sun - 30 80 percent of the sphere around your head where not only cant you see, but you cant even really visualize what it would be like to see there. You strain to look up In the Courts of the Sun - 30, say, past the widows peak above your nose, and theres something like a bank of brown fog, but then, beyond that, there isnt even blackness but just a sort of nothing that In the Courts of the Sun - 30 your brain isnt wired to imagine.

And this is the cliffside, she said. It meant there was nothing else.

Pause.

Well, thats a drag, I thought. I stifled a monohiccup. I felt In the Courts of the Sun - 30 queasy. The dwarf waddled over and took out the standing stones and cleared away the pebbles. There was a last long pause while Koh looked down at the empty board. My eyes In the Courts of the Sun - 30 were so tired that my vision was getting bluish. When Koh turned away the dwarf washed the board down with balche, salt, and water, tapped it five times to let its uayob know In the Courts of the Sun - 30 we were leaving, replaced the cover, and scattered fresh geranium petals over it. She got a wet cloth out of one of her jars and snuffed out the stumps of In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the rushlights.

I blinked. There was light in the room. It was the blue light that Id thought was in my eyes. It was still weak but it was strong enough for me to see In the Courts of the Sun - 30 that the waxy stuff that covered the walls and screens and ceiling, and that had looked black in the firelight, wasnt paper or leaves or feathers. It was a mosaic of In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the wings of blue morpho butterflies. They were little circular sections, laboriously trimmed out of the center of the wings and sewn onto the canvas backing, tens of thousands of iridescent lapis-lazuli In the Courts of the Sun - 30-blue disks rippling in otherwise undetectable air currents. Supposedly, here in the northwest, morphos were the uayob of slain warriors, and they could only be collected after theyd died naturally In the Courts of the Sun - 30. Sometimes the collectors followed dying ones for days. How long had it taken? I wondered. How many lives worth of man-hours had been spent on this room? The light swelled. It seemed to In the Courts of the Sun - 30 be falling down from the oculus like snow, so slowly that I thought I could see individual photons. The blue deepened to that unimaginable liquid morpho ultramarine, that structural blue that In the Courts of the Sun - 30 isnt a pigment, that comes from the interference of their billions of angled scales and vanishes under a drop of water, and it deepened beyond that, as though we were sinking in In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the tropical ocean, becoming so saturated it was as though Id never seen the color blue before.

The dwarf stopped what she was doing and scurried out, as though shed gotten one of In the Courts of the Sun - 30 her telepathic signals.

I guess thats it, I thought. I took in a breath to start the usual thank-you speech but Koh interrupted me with a wait where you are In the Courts of the Sun - 30 gesture.

She closed her eyes. It felt like the most intimate thing shed done since I got here.

We sat.

So, I wondered, do we count that as a failure In the Courts of the Sun - 30? She did get us there, I guess . . . still, that wasnt enough to really go after anyone . . . was it? I dont

I need to play that through again, Koh said. With a full measure of Salters and In the Courts of the Sun - 30 Steermans dusts.

I didnt know what to say so, as I do too rarely, I shut up.

Hmm, well, she seems to consider that a failure. Still, at least she has In the Courts of the Sun - 30 confidence. It was kind of like how Tarod said that wed need another 10 20 ply to be sure wed bring the Doomster into range. We couldnt do it, of course, because In the Courts of the Sun - 30 there wasnt that much computing power on the planet, but at least he knew it wasnt impossible.

Well, maybe we can do it this way. She thinks

I heard something faint and looked up. The In the Courts of the Sun - 30 Penguin woman was back, whispering something in Kohs light ear.

I sat.

The whispering went on and on. My sense of time wasnt back to normal yet, but I was sure it In the Courts of the Sun - 30 was more than ten minutes. Koh asked a few things in single-hand signs that I didnt understand. She looked at me in a way that мейд me a little nervous In the Courts of the Sun - 30. Finally, the dwarf left. Koh settled back into a formal position and looked at me again in a way that мейд me look down at the place where the board had been.

Do you In the Courts of the Sun - 30 know howwell, Im sure you knowhow in Greek tragedies, all the action happens offstage? And the only things that happen onstage are like, say, a messenger comes in and says something In the Courts of the Sun - 30 like, My queen! The Thessalonians are defeated! Well, the first time I read those plays I thought it was all pretty stagey and unrealistic. But the more I saw of In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the world and things, especially things here, that is, here in the Olden Times, the more I realized that stuff actually is kind of realistic. Queens and dukes and ahauob and whoever really In the Courts of the Sun - 30 did spend most of their time sitting in their offices and getting third-hand reports and sending out couriers and generally staying out of the action.

Im told that the Harpy 14 Woundeds compound In the Courts of the Sun - 30 has been raided, Koh said. She didnt exactly glare at me but there was a flatness in her tone that I thought was more than just exhaustion from the Game In the Courts of the Sun - 30. She was mad.

^ Baach? I asked. What? It was an unforgivably rude way to speak to her, but I guess I was regressing to our twenty-first-century lack of manners.

14 Wounded In the Courts of the Sun - 30 is outside in the courtyard with your men.

What happened to the rest of the Ixian bloods? I asked.

For all we know they are also on their way here, she said In the Courts of the Sun - 30.

I started to uncross my legs. I under you should

She turned her хэнд over, meaning Shut up, before I could say go out and see them.

I am told it was the Swallowtail In the Courts of the Sun - 30 Clan who entered the house, she said.

Its those Oxwitzan Ягуар fuckwads, I thought. Those boats that had been following us in the gulf. Theyd probably gotten here right after us, pleaded their In the Courts of the Sun - 30 case in front of their foster cousins in the Puma Synod, and gotten them to shut 14 down. And there was about a 100 percent chance that the Ixian Ocelots had put them up to In the Courts of the Sun - 30 it. Hell.

I am told there are more of them on their way here, she said. Apparently, the Harpies whod gotten away were trying to claim temporary asylum here, in the In the Courts of the Sun - 30 Rattlers quarter.

Damn, shes angry, I thought. And it wasnt just because the Rattlers children werent eager to take in any more refugees, although they werent, despite the fact that the universal In the Courts of the Sun - 30 hospitality ruleof which this whole vigil festival thing was kind of an overblown extensionbasically obligated them to. The problem was that this incident was likely to scotch any chance of repairing relations In the Courts of the Sun - 30 between the Rattlers and the two synods.

Well, okay, I thought. Change of plans. Dont get discouraged. Its not important how far away your goal isjust that youre moving toward it In the Courts of the Sun - 30.

We still have a little time. 14s small potatoes. Right? The synods might go after some minor foreign trader right before High Holy Week, but they wouldnt stir up anything with the Rattlers In the Courts of the Sun - 30 until after the vigil. Would they?

Okay. Think.

There was no way to get out on the sly. Wed have to stay in the Rattlers quarter until after the eclipse and In the Courts of the Sun - 30 then come up with some way to force our way out.

And Koh had just better bite on the asylum offer. Shell take it, I thought. She has to.

I beg you In the Courts of the Sun - 30 over me to come to Ix, I said. My father 2 Jeweled Skull now offers you





[54]


Eight days later, at the start of the second ninth of the day10:32 A.M.every human inhabitant of In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the holy valley of Teotihuacan was outdoors, looking upward, waiting for the Chewer to ambush the sun. The only unoccupied surfaces were the taluds and tableros of the mulob. Bloods, slaves, traders, crafters In the Courts of the Sun - 30, pilgrims, porters, captives, children, old women, young women, babiesand even people who couldnt see or stand, and even the dying, in fact even the recently deadwere assembled in their In the Courts of the Sun - 30 ranks and orders and packed into plazas and rooftop gardens. Old men sat on their sons shoulders and young men wore stiltlike sandals or teetered on tall stools. Every initiated male held whatever In the Courts of the Sun - 30 noisemaker was traditional to his clan and allowed to his senioritydrums, horns, maracas, ocarinas, clay bells, stone bells, castanets, sticks, clappers, bullroarers, rasps, whistles, flutes, and a hundred other gadgets, every one of them In the Courts of the Sun - 30 brand-spanking-new.

There were no fires in the valley. In fact, there were no fires in the entire altiplano. And even beyond the empires farthest reach, hearthstones had In the Courts of the Sun - 30 been doused and scattered. In most of the Western Hemisphere, and probably in all of Mesoamerica, every torch, rushlight, coal, cigar, and miscellaneous flame had been extinguished. Last night it was overcast, and there In the Courts of the Sun - 30 was no moon, and as we мейд our final preparations in one of the Rattlers courtyards, it felt likewell, despite the fact that we were in the center of what was In the Courts of the Sun - 30 at the moment the densest concentration of people in the world, we could just as easily have been deep underground in a vast phosphorless cavern. Between the Sonoran Desert and the Andes In the Courts of the Sun - 30, the continent was as dark as it had been before hominids infected it, thirty thousand years ago.

All but a few vessels and pots had been drilled or smashed. Blankets and clothing had In the Courts of the Sun - 30 been stained, slashed, or unwoven. Pictographic inscriptions had been canceled with streaks of blue ink. Livestock and slaves had been killed, and thousands of old, sick, or just pious people had In the Courts of the Sun - 30 killed themselves. Everyone, or at least everyone except me and maybe a handful of other skep-tics, was terrified that this might be the final death of their sun. And I In the Courts of the Sun - 30 was terrified too, of course, just not about that.

From our perch up here on the snout of the Rattlers multhat is, about halfway up the front of the pyramid, facing east toward the In the Courts of the Sun - 30 fetish market across the southern end of the main axiswe could feel the heat rising off the bodies, the melange of their breaths, sour air from the ulcerated throats of the captives in In the Courts of the Sun - 30 their wicker standing-cages, the black air from the elders tobacco, cancerated lungs. The sky was clear, and luckily for us there was only a little breeze. It was a In the Courts of the Sun - 30 perfect day for the end of time. I shifted from foot to foot. A loose end of gut cord from my combat sandal was hooking into the skin of my shin, but I didnt In the Courts of the Sun - 30 want to bend down to deal with it. That sort of thing wasnt done. I wobbled forward. Hun Xoc held out an arm and eased me back upright.

We were In the Courts of the Sun - 30 facing west, in the center of our core group of Harpy bloods. Hun Xoc was on my left, and Armadillo Shit was behind me. His job was literally to watch my back. We were In the Courts of the Sun - 30 in the center of a group of eleven other Harpy bloods and twenty-two Harpy nonbloods. 12 Cayman was in the vanguard, ready to move to the rear in case In the Courts of the Sun - 30 of attack.

We all wore blue outer mantas that identified us as aspirants to the Rattler Society. Under them we had on as much armor as we could get away with without looking suspicious. That In the Courts of the Sun - 30 is, we each wore wicker shin and arm guards and a vest мейд of two layers of thick canvas quilting, each filled with wood chips, which could stop most blades In the Courts of the Sun - 30. Each of us had a short mace or a club strapped to the inside of one thigh and a rolled-up wicker shield strapped to the other. We also had a In the Courts of the Sun - 30 three-part spear, hanging from weak, easily breakable threads in the center of our backs, under our mantas. Next to it we each had a rolled-up wicker shield, which wed had мейд specially for In the Courts of the Sun - 30 this action. Each one had three cross-pieces that folded down and a pair of strong hide straps that let you hold it with both arms. Still, I wished In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the shields were bigger. They might be our weak link.

The Puma bloods on the opposite mul were in full dress armor and carried tall parade javelins that, despite their ornamental eccentric-flint spearpoints, could In the Courts of the Sun - 30 still do a lot of damage. As I think I mentioned, the Pumas hated the Rattlers Children, and at the first sign of a fight theyd take the opportunity to In the Courts of the Sun - 30 cleanse as many of the Rattlers Children as possible. And the Pumas were still hosting some Ixian Ocelots. And who knew whether theyd heard anything? Word traveled a lot faster than people. Somebody back In the Courts of the Sun - 30 home might have realized that 2JS was up to something and sent a message here, and put the Pumas on the lookout for any Ixian Harpies. On top of everything else In the Courts of the Sun - 30 we might have bounties on our skins.

Look, Hun Xoc signed by tapping on my left arm.

I followed his eyes forward and down. Three vingtaines of Swallowtail javelinmen in red In the Courts of the Sun - 30 quilted armor had just pushed through the crowd and stationed themselves between the plaza and the fetish market, blocking most of the entrance to the main axis.

Damn it, I thought. Well, thatll put In the Courts of the Sun - 30 a crimp in our schedule.

Koh must see them. Doesnt she?

I snuck a look over my shoulder. Behind us the top third of the Star Rattlers ornate mul wedged In the Courts of the Sun - 30 into the thin sky. Its staircase was packed with converts and aspirants. Sixty arms above us, at the lip of the sanctuary, the fifty-two senior sucklers and adders to Star Rattler stood in In the Courts of the Sun - 30 an immobile row. They were all dressed, almost identically, as men, with blue Chaakish eye masks, like fat glassless goggles, to help them see through the Black Chewers breath, and big scaled In the Courts of the Sun - 30 helmets and platform sandals. Above them, at the apex of the mul, framed by the mouth of the sanctuary, there was a glimpse of a tall headdress that belonged In the Courts of the Sun - 30 to Lady Yellow, the senior sun adderess of the Orb Weaver Synod. I guess she was kind of the mother superior. Supposedly she was a hundred and eight years old.

I counted five figures in In the Courts of the Sun - 30 from the north corner and picked out Lady Koh. Stupidly, I got a flash of pride spotting her in the lineup. Her face, or what I could see of In the Courts of the Sun - 30 it, was impassive.

It was hard to believe we were really going forward. How did Koh know the whole thing wasnt some kind of trap? Well, at least she knew from her cross-examination of In the Courts of the Sun - 30 me that I wasnt lying. In fact, Id bet she considered me as under her control. Well, maybe I was. Still, she cant know whats going to happen when In the Courts of the Sun - 30 she gets to Ix.

Or can she? Maybe shes worked out more of her own future than shes letting on.

Maybe she wants to take over the Game drugs operation so she In the Courts of the Sun - 30 can start her own empire.

Hmm. Well, maybe that would be okay. Why not? Go ahead, set your sights a little higher. Still, dont worry about that right now. Okay. One thing at a time In the Courts of the Sun - 30. A, B, C. And A, right now, is the Swallowtail squad.

She must see them, I thought. Should we just try to go past them anyway? Or should we In the Courts of the Sun - 30 change the route? And if we do, will we be able to signal it to her?

No, dont do it, I thought. Better just follow the plan. Get to the first rendezvous at the pharmacopoeia In the Courts of the Sun - 30 and then change if you have to.

Hun Xoc touched my arm again. I snapped my head around. Face front, soldier.

You know, I thought, really the creepiest thing In the Courts of the Sun - 30 about thisor the most singular thing, anywaywas that despite the temptation, not a single member of the crowd мейд a premature sound. Well, theyd been practicing for five days, I thought. Id In the Courts of the Sun - 30 been whispering for so long that I wondered if my vocal cords would still work. For the last five days it had seemed that the only living thing you heard was the birds.

You In the Courts of the Sun - 30 could feel the crowds shivering. You could smell the anticipation in their sweat. The mass of life rustled and creaked, like a jungle in that quiet phase of the night just In the Courts of the Sun - 30 before the predawn chorus. Their hands hovered over their instruments. But nobody whistled, or tapped, or even dropped a rattle. I wondered whether any other city this size in the history of In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the world had, or would, ever create this kind of unity in its population. Even animals seemed impressed by the silence, so that the occasional scrawk of a gull or a blackbird or the In the Courts of the Sun - 30 bark of a dog in a pen seemed halfhearted, just a little dust in the groove. Every so often a baby would squeal, and, immediately, it would be muffled. And probably suffocated In the Courts of the Sun - 30, I thought.

Bastards. Despite the colors and the freshness and the collective goodwill, it was still a dire, horrible day. Even if you didnt know anything about the placesay youd In the Courts of the Sun - 30 just stepped out of a teleporteryoud instinctively feel that the city was at a tipping point. It felt like a doctors waiting room, with all of us waiting for the receptionist to In the Courts of the Sun - 30 call our names and say, in as neutral a tone as possible, that they had the results of our test.

Of course, from a twenty-first-century perspective I suppose it In the Courts of the Sun - 30 was all actually pretty silly. After all, it was just another eclipse. But on another leveland even when I tried to cultivate some emotional distanceI kept feeling there was a certain sanity behind the whole In the Courts of the Sun - 30 thing. In the twenty-first century people just went barreling ahead, and then when something bad happened they couldnt believe it. Here, at least, everyone wasnt pretending that everything was always In the Courts of the Sun - 30 A-OK.

I snuck a look to the right, toward the center of the city. The great main axis stretched off to the north. The city seethed with newly woven streamers In the Courts of the Sun - 30 and long strips of spoonbill feathers raised on a hundred thousand bamboo poles, all orange to attract the sun, curling in the weak breeze like the polyps of octocorals. Underneath the banners, each In the Courts of the Sun - 30 of the thousands of bloods standing in the choice real estate of the teocalli district had a small circular shield over his left shoulder, and each shield had a featherwork design In the Courts of the Sun - 30, bright, simple, geometric, and slightly different from all the others, all facing the same directionwestlike a field of sunflowers. The effect was so heraldic that you could imagine we were medieval In the Courts of the Sun - 30 knights, meeting for a tournament on the Field of the Cloth of Gold. There wasnt a single person with an uncovered head or a bare face. Even the slaves wore rags wrapped around In the Courts of the Sun - 30 their upper lips. Higher-ups were so encrusted with jade and spondylus shells, and with such long-feathered headdresses, that they seemed to have exoskeletons and antennae. It was like the In the Courts of the Sun - 30 people in this town might as well have been pinned in place, in drawers labeled by greathouse lineage, dependent clan, subclan, sub-subclan, serving clan, and slave clan, and every individual in that slave clan In the Courts of the Sun - 30. Id say it was regimented except that, unlike uniforms in a modern military review, no two peoples markings were exactly alike.

I let my фокус crawl north along the axis until In the Courts of the Sun - 30 it found two plazas that reflected the flat blue of the sky. The sunken courts near the Ocelots mul had been filled with water, like swimming pools. One was stocked In the Courts of the Sun - 30 with axolotl, water lilies, and jabiru storks, which were sacred to the Jade Hag. The water in the other pool was bare. Supposedly it was laced with ololiuqui, so that the captives In the Courts of the Sun - 30 whod be thrown into it later on would drown without struggling. There was a row of squat offering platforms along its western bank, and on one of them you could just make In the Courts of the Sun - 30 out a dash of turquoise that might have been the five Ixian Ocelots who were 9 Fanged Hummingbirds delegation to the festival. At least wed managed to avoid them this far, I thought In the Courts of the Sun - 30.

At the midpoint of the main axis the swollen haw of the Hurricane mul dwarfed everything else. Its peak was about twice the height above us that we were above the plaza In the Courts of the Sun - 30, high enough so that on a hazy day, or in the offering smoke, you could really believe the sucklers on it were being swallowed by hungry clouds. But today Chacals sharp eyes could pick out In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the whole scene, the lesser synod members on the second-from-top level, with the row of giant megaphones, like alphorns, twenty arms long, resting on their shoulders, and now, on In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the highest level, the tall red-orange headdresses of the Puma Synod, just emerging from the four mouths of the teocalli.

The crowds rustled. The distorting perspective of the receding levels In the Courts of the Sun - 30 of the pyramid мейд the Synod seem like inaccessible giants farther away than the shell of the sky. Teotihuacan didnt have kings, and the archonic offices passed between different members of the In the Courts of the Sun - 30 two councils. When they appeared in public, they were heavily masked, and no one outside the council was supposed to know who they were. But Koh had it from good sources that In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the current archon of the Swallowtails was an elderly Puma named Turd Curl. Shed also said to watch for the person who was likely to be Turd Curls successor, a Puma In the Courts of the Sun - 30 blood named Severed Right Хэнд. Supposedly he was only thirteen years oldbut already he was considered the up-and-comer. They said hed been born with fur and fangs, and that he In the Courts of the Sun - 30 always knew, without being taught, how to transform into his feline self. They said he only ate humans, captives younger than he was. But that was probably just propaganda. Koh had said his colors were In the Courts of the Sun - 30 yellow and lilac.

I followed the angle of the great muls stairs down to where it met a freshly built wooden mul. Fifty-two sacrifices, each exactly nine years and twenty In the Courts of the Sun - 30-nine days old, had been keeping a vigil inside it for five days. When it was set on fire theyd help carry all the other offerings and present them to In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the newborn sun. About two hundred arms southeast of the pagoda there was a tiny minor mul in a sort of orange-and-black checkerboard pattern. The Pumas pharmacopoeia, the monastery garden where In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the Pumas grew and distilled their components of the Game drug. Our target.

According to Koh, the Swallowtail sucklers knew exactly how long the totality of the eclipse would lastabout eighteen and a half In the Courts of the Sun - 30 minutesand theyd try to increase the illusion of their power by cutting it as close as possible. Theyd wait until only one or two hundred beats before the sun would reemerge, and In the Courts of the Sun - 30 then, Turd Curl would signal. On the level below him fifty-two of his sucklers would start swinging bullroarers мейд from the femurs of their predecessors. On the level below that In the Courts of the Sun - 30 two hundred and sixty of their acolytes would blow their giant horns, and on the levels below, and spreading through the known world, the men would strike up their instruments and the In the Courts of the Sun - 30 women and children would shout or chant, Marhoani, marhoani, Go away, go away, and babies would get chili powder blown in their eyes to make them cry, and even dogs would In the Courts of the Sun - 30 get kicked in the ribs, and everyone would make as much noise as possible until the Chewer was driven off. Then the head sucklers would light the new fire from the sun In the Courts of the Sun - 30 itself, using a huge and reportedly magnificent concave mirror ground and polished from hcmatite. Theyd send the fire down the mul to the pavilion of the new sun, that is, the bonfire In the Courts of the Sun - 30. All through the rest of the day and night the charge holders of the four thousand towns would troop past the bonfire, light their torches, and take the fresh fire and tales In the Courts of the Sun - 30 of the capitals grandeur back to their homelands. And the vast majority would believe it was thanks to the Puma Synods leadership that they were able to rescue the sun.

Or that In the Courts of the Sun - 30 was the Swallowtails plan. Koh and I had other ideas.

Two days ago, Koh had мейд her move. Just after noon, without notifying her fellow adderesses, shed called forty-eight of her closest In the Courts of the Sun - 30 followers together and issued a warning about the eclipse. The Sky Eel, she said, had told her that this time, the Black Chewer would not be persuaded to regurgitate this sun In the Courts of the Sun - 30, but would steal the ball, that is, swallow the sun for good. The Eel, that is, Star Rattler, would give birth to a new sun, she said, and since that sun In the Courts of the Sun - 30 would be unrelated to the cat lineages, over the next katun the Sky Eels children would be privileged above all others. But before that, in order to cleanse the dying world, the Rattler was In the Courts of the Sun - 30 planning to open a cloud gourd and release an army of what they called dadacanob, long beesthat is, yellowjackets, Vespula squamosa, a major nuisance and minor killer in these partsto sting In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the eyes of everyone in Teotihuacan who hadnt followed the Rattler. Everyone but the Rattlers Children would be condemned to darkness. After that the Sky Eel would tell Koh where to lead In the Courts of the Sun - 30 its followers and would extend its protection to a new Rattler city in the Red Land, that is, the southeast. Meanwhile, messengers visited the leaders of twenty-four Koh-affiliated households In the Courts of the Sun - 30 and gave them the location of the rendezvous point: Flayed Hill. As soon as they heard the voice of the yellowjackets, they should gather their families and their most valuable possessions and In the Courts of the Sun - 30 start marching east.

That last part мейд me a little uneasy. Somehow wed gone from talking about her own household and a few followers to close to five thousand people. Would there be In the Courts of the Sun - 30 enough food for them in the Harpy towns? For that matter, would there be enough food and water along the way? How many of them would die on the trek?

Dont worry about In the Courts of the Sun - 30 it, I told myself. Just keep a low profile, score the drugs, ship them back to Ix, and get the fizook out of here.

Koh had immediately been called into In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the presence of Lady Yellow, who was something like the orders mother superior. It meant that at least one of her forty-eight confidants was informing on her. Lady Yellow told Koh that In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the society was planning to vote on her membership. If Koh were blackballed, shed be expected to drown herself. Later, an informant in the Aura Glory Synod got word to her that the Synods In the Courts of the Sun - 30 considering inviting her to present herself to themthat is, forcing her to turn herself in for what would inevitably be torture and execution.

By noon on the day of In the Courts of the Sun - 30 the silence ordinary people were repeating what shed said in whispers, in the well courts and markets of Teotihuacan. It was a rumor, an order, and a rallying cry : ^ The next sun is In the Courts of the Sun - 30 Star Rattlers. Everyone in the city and probably everyone in the Valley of Mexico had heard about it, from Turd Curl to the lowliest night-soil collector. And, as is usual with In the Courts of the Sun - 30 such things, it was already getting exaggerated. The world was dissolving. The sky was falling. The city was going to ooze into a hole in the zero earth. And on, and on In the Courts of the Sun - 30, and on.

Still, nobody wanted to do anything to stir up trouble before the eclipse. It was partly because it would look like a sign of weakness, but also because everybody, from top In the Courts of the Sun - 30 to bottom, took the silence period very seriously. Besides, when the sun did reappear, Koh would be discredited and easy to attack.

Of course, the Synods knew the sun was going to come In the Courts of the Sun - 30 out again. They knew almost everything about solar eclipses, not just the saros intervals of eighteen years and eleven and one-third days but whether theyd be partial or total and how In the Courts of the Sun - 30 long they would last. And they tried to make sure the masses knew as little as possible. Like psychiatrists the ruling class had to keep you feeling that they were making you In the Courts of the Sun - 30 better but that the situation was still dire enough for you to have to keep coming back.

When the eclipse ended, the Pumas would come for ustheyd kill Koh and most of In the Courts of the Sun - 30 us, if they could. Before they got to us, I had to steal their component of the Game drugs and everyone had to get to the rendevous point. Oh, and then In the Courts of the Sun - 30 if we all survived, I would learn the nine-stone game and get my notes on everything entombed back in Ix. I still didnt know how the trumpet vine had In the Courts of the Sun - 30 destroyed Disney World, but that was a problem for another day. Lets call it a long shot.





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