“You know,” said Betty, her eyes narrowed, “You’re an unusually arrogant human. I can admit I find that admirable. It takes real stones to wear someone’s skin in front of their friends and family.”
Nash watched as the two gods sped up the wall. He could have followed them, maybe. But he wasn’t that fast, and he suspected Betty could handle the situation. He turned back towards the young man who had arrived with the dog. Legba’s servant coughed nervously. “You aren’t going to beat me, are you, sir? I just walk Legba. I didn’t mean to offend.”
“Now?” asked Djehuty, frowning. I gave him an unapologetic smile. “The emissaries will be here in a matter of days. This war can end, but we need you here, Bastet. Your strength is one of the things that forces them to respect us.” He tugged the feathers on his head, frowning at me as he preened. “Surely your village will be safe for a few days more on its own?”
Nash slowly stood up. His body was aching from the drug that Huitzilopochtli had used on him, but each movement, each beat of his heart, seemed to reinvigorate him. He looked down at the iron of the chain around his wrist. He reached down to break it.
“In the flesh,” said Itzpapalotl. He smiled. Bare bones glittered and clattered in the moonlight, faint rouge dappling the cheeks, as the waves slowly lapped at the shore. Nash’s fists clenched and unclenched, watching the strange god stand. Itzpapalotl’s stance was lazy and relaxed, a hand on one cheek, hollow eyes staring at him. The long moment of tension held, but Itzpapalotl did not attack him again. Nash didn’t relax.
The change in the city was shocking. When Nash had entered the Aztec’s Bloody Crescent, the air had been full of tension. Anger. Fear. All of that had vanished in the short time that Nash had been inside. The low, throbbing drums had been replaced with smaller, higher pitched ones, which beat out a rapid and catchy tempo. Dancers spiraled and twisted through the streets, carrying streamers and torches with them, drawing lines. Night remained over the city, though it couldn’t be later than two in the afternoon. He was still in the midst of the Aztec’s world.
The slaves were led towards a great paddock. It was little more than an enclosure of sheet metal. It wouldn’t have stopped a determined child, let alone one of the monsters or heroes among the Vemana. The chains, the walls, they were all just a reminder of the thing that was really keeping them trapped. The gaze of the gods above, three of the great gods of the Aztec, made it clear. There was to be no escape from this place. Nash looked casually around the paddock, and faded towards its back. The gods gaze would not stop him.