The Feathered Serpent of Mictlan
Rating: R to NC-17
Disclaimer: I do not own any version of the Harry Potter series or the Temeraire series. I make no profit from this work of fiction.
Warnings: Graphic Violence, AU
Summery: Harry unexpectedly finds himself reborn centuries past as a dragon worshipped as a God. Long ages pass and around him the world changes and new friendships are forged.
2009 AD; Undisclosed Location Mexico, Temple of Quetzalcoatl
After years of living in damp old Briton and spending seven years of schooling in Scotland, Harry found he was not a great fan of high humidity and heat combined. It left him soaked in sweat and flushed an unbecoming shade of red. The sweat dripping down his spine made his cloths stick to his flesh in a decidedly itchy manner. It was getting to be incredibly frustrating that even with cooling charms on his cloths, he still felt like he was trapped in a sauna.
Besides the heat and humidity Harry loved his job. He loved being out here in the jungle or in the deserts of Egypt with Bill and the other Curse Breakers, going through unexplored tombs and temple ruins. He loved the complexity of the curses, wards and spellwork they found. He loved seeing the depth and passion put into the buildings and the art within. It was like stepping into a new world. The closest he had ever been to the feeling before was when Hagrid brought him to Daigon Alley when he was eleven.
Still, despite the heat and the bugs, Merlin but he couldn't forget the bugs, he was having a hell of a good time. The temple they were currently working on de-cursing was almost completely intact. Like the great city of Machu Pichu, it had remained untouched since it had been abandoned. There were in fact signs that the priests and the worshippers had simply dropped what they carried and walked off into the forest, never to be seen again. They hadn't yet figured out why that happened and until they did the muggle repelling wards would remain intact.
"Hey, Harry," called out Bill. "I've got some more parseltongue carvings on the east wall over here!"
Standing up, Harry brushed the dirt of his trousers and made his way around the side of the temple. It would take a bit of walking to get to the east side of the large step pyramid where Bill had set to work, but Harry was used to it. It was the reason he was even here. As the only person on the Gringotts staff who was a parselmouth, his work here was vital. They had already found seven different wards all built around the tongue of the serpent. Without Harry the curse breakers working the sight would have likely ended up in the local magical hospital with severe magical trauma. Even with him here there had been a couple of cases where one of the non-cruse breaker employees had stumbled upon a strange cruse. Two people had already been turned in Quetzal birds and another had been transfigured into rather lovely snake. The birds-people had ended up flying off shortly after being cursed and their was a pair of goblins chasing after them still, the current bets placed it taking another three to eight days before Grindlehook and Steelclaw caught them. The snake fortunately was held in a nice aquarium in Harry's tent where he could make sure it remained healthy until they could get the curse broken.
When he came around the corner to where Bill was squatting next to the wall of the pyramid, Harry noticed that Bill was already trying to copy down the engraved curse, or what was likely to be another curse. Without reading it Harry couldn't be sure what it was. He had already found two small sets of engravings on some of the smaller buildings, also in parseltounge. But those had been more like a story, a translation of what was already written in the normal Aztec language on the walls. Tales of Gods and great warriors, tales of sacrifice. Some of the tales were gruesome in there detail of the sacrifices made to the Gods and made Harry a little nauseous. In some ways Harry preferred working the Egyptian jobs, they were somewhat more civilized even if their curses were just as dangerous. Learning about how some of the priests for the Aztec Death Gods actually cannibalized people still gave Harry nightmares and reminded him a little too much of the War. Fenrir Grayback, Harry thought, would have done well with the Aztecs.
"This it," Harry asked as he went to his knees next to Bill.
The oldest Weasley son looked away from his sketchbook to smile at Harry, the scars on his face tugging at the corners of his mouth, making the smile a little lopsided. Even with the scars Bill was still one of the best looking men Harry had ever met, like all the Weasleys his smile was brilliant at warming that cold spot in Harry's chest. "This is it. It looks like it's longer than the others we've found and there are images of Quetzalcoatl and Mictlantecuhtli interspaced within the parseltongue script."
"Really," Harry leaned closer to the temple, his fingers reaching out to gently trace the parseltongue carved into the old temple walls. "It's a story."
"No curse? Great." Bill made a quick note in the journal next to the sketch he had been making. "What does it say?"
"Quetzalcoatl, the Lord of the star of the dawn, went into Mictlan, the realm of the dead and from the bones of the old races he created the first dragons in his image. Pleased with their appearance he walked further into Mictlan to speak with Mictlantecuhtli, Lord Death. Together they wove the fabric of magic together to give life to the dragons." Harry paused to read further, his magic thrumming under his skin, out from his chest to the tips of his fingers, which traced over the words. "Quetzalcoatl reached down and pulled a blade of gold and obsidian from his belt, slicing open a small wound on his penis. The blood of the God rose up and poured forth from the wound, bathing the bones and imbuing them with life even as Mictlantecuhtli used his own magic to reach out into the Underworld and beyond. His power reached out to call forth the souls of dead heroes and priests who might lay claim to the newborn bodies. At their feet the bones stirred and around them a shell was woven. Mictlantecuhtli then spoke, his voice cold as death and hot as fresh spilt blood and told Quetzalcoatl that the dragons could not be born in Mictlan and must to brought into the world of the living, into the life of the sun. "
Harry turned and looked over at Bill who had placed a hand on Harry's shoulder as he leaned forward to gaze at the writing which was beginning to go beneath Harry's fingers. "Do you think you could try repeating that in something other than parseltongue, Harry?"
"Did I –" Harry stopped as the glow from the words beneath his fingers grew brighter. Crying out at the sudden bright light, Harry turned his face away and tried the cover his eyes, but his hand wouldn't budge from the temple wall. Before the bright white light engulfed his vision Harry noted Bill jerking backwards, crying out in pain as well. Harry's own cry of pain turned to curses as he realized he had somehow triggered a magic spell. A spell that could potentially kill them both. But before he could figure out what kind of spell had been triggered the world around him dissolved into darkness.
1299 AD; Cholua, Mexico, Temple of Quetzalcoatl
Acatl-tzin, head priest of Mictlantecuhtli, stood alongside Ixayacatl-tzin, the head priest of Quetzalcoatl. Today was an auspicious day. The Gods had spoken and a new dragon-child would be born. Acatl-tzin had gone into the depths of the earth beneath Mictlantecuhtli's temple to inscribe the magic ruins in blood on the egg shell before wrapping it in the ceremonial cloth to hide it from the light as it was brought out of the temple and handed over to Ixayacatl-tzin at the entry way. The act was meant to repeat Mictlantecuhtli and Quetzalcoatl creating the egg and passing the soul into it before Quetzalcoatl brought the egg out of the Underworld and into his light where he could breath life into the sleeping child. Ixayacatl-tzin had taken the egg from Acatl-tzin with an obvious reverence. In his hands the egg had been brought up to the top of Quetzalcoatl's pyramid to be bathed in the light of the sun. For five generations the egg, one of the last of Quetzalcoatl and Mictlantecuhtli's precious children, had been stored deep in the heart of Mictlantechutli's temple, waiting as a dead thing for Quetzalcoatl's blood to stir in it's veins as Mictlantecuhtli called forth it's soul. Acatl-tzin was excited to see the birth of one of his Gods children. Each birth heralded a time of change in the world. Some were ill turns and some spoke of great fortune. While Acatl-tzin might die before the change occurred, he was none-the-less here to see it's beginning.
Behind where he stood with Ixayacatl-tzin, the steps of the pyramid went down into a courtyard filled with people waiting for the birth. At the front stood the royal family, their eyes sharp as a hawks on the line of the sun as it began to rise. Like Acatl-tzin they were waiting for the first light to touch the blood ruins painted on the shell in Acatl-tzin's own blood. For they knew, as Acatl-tzin did, that the egg could only hatch at dawn's first light. The spell to awaken the soul inside could only work if the dawns first light touch the runes. And so they waited, eyes locked on the ever rising light of the sun.
As the sun rose up from the edge of the world, higher and higher into the sky, its light rising to frame the pyramid, the runes began to glow. As the runes began to glow brighter and brighter the egg began to shake. The dragon inside was breathing. Acatl-tzin could feel its power growing stronger as the runes glowed brighter. Life was filling the egg but Acatl-tzin could feel the touch of Mictlantecuhtli coming from the egg. He was certain the touch of his God's power should have been washed away by the sun, but if anything as the sun rose to its zinith, the power of Quetzalcoatl leveled out, while the power of Lord Death grew stronger. Ixayacatl-tzin's face looked sour as he felt the power of life and death balancing out inside the being that was supposed to belong to his temple. Like the temple of Mictlantecuhtli, the temple of Quetzalcoatl was not the most powerful in the Mexica empire. This ceremony which happened perhaps once every one hundred years was a last sign to the other temples that these two Gods could not be discounted, that they still held great power in the Fifth World.
A hauntingly beautiful song echoed from inside the egg, filling the area with the wonder of creation. As the song reached upwards, filling his heart with a burst of life and joy the shell of the egg began to crack. As they crowd watched a small chunk of the egg fell away and the rounded tip of the dragons nose poked out taking it's first breath. Like all the other watchers Acatl-tzin had been expecting to see the jade green that was described in all the records of previous Quetzal Dragons. Instead the nose he could see was the dark obsidian black of his ritual blades. It was most unprecedented, but then so was the way life and death filled the air around the egg.
For nearly an hour they waited for the dragon to begin moving again and when it did they were not disappointed. A long slash cut through from the inside like the finest blade had been used. The shell pressed outward by the slash as if the baby dragon inside was pressing it's feet against the shell and a moment later the shell cracked in half from the first crack all the way to the slash mark. The figure that spilled out of the egg was a long coil of obsidian scales. As the body began to move a leather wing covered in fine red and gold feathers on the backside stretched up flashing the brilliant green underside. The wing dripped with the thick yolk of the egg and a long neck dripping in the same thick goo rose up from the coiled body. The head of the dragon was vaguely snake-like with a crest of the same red and gold feathers at the back of the skull. The eyes of the dragon were large and a piercing gold that reminded Acatl-tzin of a great bird of prey watching a mouse. The hatchling watched them for a moment before it's jaws stretched open wide in a yawn. Like the face suggested the teeth inside the jaws were very much those of a venomous snake. The jaws closed with a sudden snap and Acatl-tzin realized the great golden eyes were watching him.
"We great you great child of Quetzalcoatl." The dragon and Acatl-tzin turned to looked at Ixayacatl-tzin who was standing before the dragon, bowing to it. The dragon blinked and looked over Ixayacatl-tzin before dismissing him and looking around the rest of the pyramid and the people gathered below.
As it stood to look further over the side of the pyramid the size of the young god became even more impressive. It black scales gleamed in the light of the sun like a thousand obsidian shards and finally Acatl-tzin was able to see that, like the underside of its wings, its belly was a brilliant emerald green. Its body was long and serpentine with long graceful legs. As it moved Acatl-tzin was aware of a slight tapping nose, sharp in the sudden silence and Acatl-tzin realized that on its back feet it had a large curved claw that was moving up and down like a man tapping his finger against his table.
"Where am I," the young dragons voice was soft and filled with confusion. A gentle voice like the first brush of the spring sun but with the heavy weight of Mictlan hiding in its shadows.
"This is the temple pyramid of Quetzalcoatl in Cholua," replied Acatl-tzin.
The dragon blinked and before they could stop him he climbed down the pyramid, mumbling to himself in a language Acatl-tzin did not recognize. /"Merlin's balls! It's the same bloody temple….Fuck my life."/
"Great One," called Ixayacatl-tzin.
The dragon ignored him and continued to circle around the pyramid, gracefully moving around the startled and awed onlookers, before climbing back up and turning to face Acatl-tzin. "What is your name?"
Pined by the haunting gaze, Acatl-tzin bowed before replying. "I am Acatl-tzin, High priest of Mictlancuhtli, Lord Death."
"Well, that would explain why you taste of death."
Acatl-tzin looked up startled only to find the dragon gazing at him in amusement. "My Lord-"
"Ugh," groaned the dragon, "I don't suppose you could not call me that? I don't particularly care for 'Lords.' They tend to be bloody annoying little fuckwits."
Acatl-tzin blinked, startled and unsure how to handle this most unusual Godling. "As you wish. Are you…hungry? The histories say that a young Godling is hungry upon being birthed into the Fifth World."
The black head tilted thoughtfully, golden eyes gazing off into the distance. "I think so…yeah. You wouldn't happen to have any fish and chips, would you?"
AN: Thank you everyone who read even though the formatting got wacky in the middle. I have tried to fix it but it just refused to work. So I have decided to re-type the whole chapter and change the parseltongue out of bold in the hopes it will correct the issue. Also chapter 2 is in the works right now. I'll try to update at least once a month, but at some points it may take a little longer, both due to real life issue (family, holidays, etc) and to continued research into the Aztecs and the Temeraire timeline. I want to ensure as accurate a portrayal as possible.