1299 AD; Cholua, Mexico, Temple of Quetzalcoatl
Harry lay sprawled over a bed of feather filled pillows and blankets on top of the smooth stones of the temple floor. He was currently staring at his hands, almost hypnotized by the strangeness of having black-scaled hands with green pads. Those pads were soft and slightly squishy like a cats, he thought. He could probably walk as silent as one to. Fortunately he still appeared to have an opposable thumb even if his fingernails had all become two-inch long talons. It would be damn hard to do anything without an opposable thumb. He would've been left reliant on the Aztecs to do things for him and he wasn't too fond of that idea. By modern standards, well 21st century standards, they were savages. They practiced human sacrifice like it was a normal everyday thing, which for them he supposed it was. Also some of the books he had read even stated that some priests were known to eat people as part of certain rituals! And besides that making Harry want to vomit it also tugged all the wrong cords of Harry's upbringing.
Harry couldn't help the way he ended up actually gagging at the thought of eating another human being, even if he wasn't truly human anymore. It was just too horrifying for him to contemplate. So instead of looking at the men in the room with him and seeing something so horrifying, he focused instead on this new body and the personalities of the two Priests. So far he found Acatl-tzin to be a far more pleasing person than Ixayacatl-tzin. Ixayacatl-tzin reminded him a bit too much of his Uncle and Dudley to let Harry be comfortable around him, whereas Acatl-tzin seemed very down-to-earth. Of course it didn't hurt that Harry's magic seemed to be responding to Acatl-tzin as well.
"Young one," Acatl-tzin had a gentle voice as he approached Harry. "May we seek answers from you?"
Harry turned to glance at the two head priests standing only a few feet away. "What did you want?"
Acatl-tzin glanced quickly at his counterpart who glared at the dragon with obvious disdain. Ixayacatl-tzin was acting like a spoiled child, as far as Aacatl-tzin was concerned. He was disappointed that the Gods seemed to have birthed this young God to be a true child of Lord Death. Which was unlike previous Dragon Gods who had always had a strong presence of Quetzalcoatl's power. "It is merely that we wish to know why your power more closely matches Lord Death's than Quetzalcoatl's own?"
"Ah," Harry sighed and let his forked tongue flick out over his lips. "Before I was a dragon…Before…I was once known as The Boy Who Lived and later I earned the title The Master of Death."
Acatl-tzin was startled. He was unsure what he had been expecting to hear but the young Lord stating that he had been a Death God of his own was startling. "I do not understand."
"It is a long story, Acatl-tzin," said Harry, his voice filled with sorrow and a deep longing. "It started before I was born, before my parents were even born. It began with a child growing up amidst war. A child who decided that the complete genocide of his Father's people would be the only thing to please him. But it also started before even the child, the Dark Lord Voldemort, was born. Back a thousand years to the founder of his line. It began with Salazar Syltherin, head of the house of Snakes…"
The two priests found themselves unwillingly entranced by the story their young God was weaving. A tale of anger, war, love, vengeance and hope. The tale of the rise and fall of a man who wished to be a God and the rise of a hero born to be the God to defeat him. It was a story unlike anything either had heard before, one they knew they would remember until their dying days. One that made them clearly understand why this soul had been chosen to be reborn for the Aztec people. And though neither asked, they couldn't help but wonder if some of the other great warriors from the story might be reborn as well. Perhaps the Grim Lord, or perhaps the Twin Tricksters, the Red King and his wife the Wise Woman or mayhap even the Dark Warrior or the Old Man of the Heavens? They would have to watch the other eggs and write down the young God's tale so that those who came after could also watch for one of those souls mentioned in the story.
"My Lord," Acatl-tzin looked upon the young God with a feeling of awe that eclipsed even what he had felt upon watching the God be birthed. "Do you wish to still be known as Ha'ari Pawter," Acatl-tzin couldn't help but stumble over the unusual names.
Harry looked again at his new hands and then down the long length of his body. He didn't look at all like the lean young man he had been, although he could feel that body waiting in the back of his mind, almost as if he could reach out and touch it. Breath moved through its lungs. He could see through its eyes. But he wasn't in that body, he was in this larger body. Harry let out a sad hissing laugh, "It would be silly to continue using that name at this time."
"Then perhaps you would allow me to give you a new name," said Acatl-tzin as he moved to Harry's side. Acatl-tzin paused and looked up into Harry's golden eyes.
"Sure, Acatl-tzin. Give me a new name." Harry smiled fondly down at the other man.
Licking suddenly dry lips Acatl-tzin looked at the young God, taking in the dark shimmering scales. "Itzcóatl. The Obsidian Serpent, son of Mictlantecuhtli."
Harry smiled, long white fangs gleaming from the blood red of his mouth. "Wicked."
1326 CE; Tenochtitlán, Mexico, Temple of Mictlantecuhtli
Tenochtitlán had been settled for a year now. Harry, now known as Itzcóatl, had followed the Aztecs from Cholua to the new city. While it wasn't as large or as impressive as modern London had been, in it's own way it was even more impressive. He had stood beside Acatl-tzin as the new pyramid temple for Mictlantecuhtli had been built. It was that pyramid that he primarily called home now, although that would one day change. Ixayacatl-tzin had long since given up on Itzcóatl staying as the guardian of his own temple. Being the Master of Death prior to being reborn as a dragon had left Harry more comfortable with the quiet strength of Acatl-tzin and the other priests of Lord Death than he did with the pompous Ixayacatl-tzin.
As a dragon Itzcóatl was a predator, he killed other creatures for food (That had taken a while to accept. After all it was one thing to pick up a steak at the market and another to tear out the flank of a living animal with your teeth), he fought and even killed humans, both muggles and wizards alike, who threatened the safety of the Temple and the people that sought his protection. He had learned quickly that in this body he was venomous. It hadn't even taken long to figure out that it wasn't normal venom that he produced but the venom of a basilisk. The same venom that had still been in his blood prior to being reborn among the Aztecs. Of course as fate was often fickle and seemed to enjoy throwing contrary things into his path he had also quickly learned that his tears were the tears of the Phoenix, the same tears that had saved him from the venom of the basilisk. So he was again a representative of life and death and after it was known that his tears could heal people had started to journey to the Temple of Mictlantecuhtli from all across the Triple Alliance. At first he had tried to heal them all but there were just too many of them and after a while Itzcóatl had had to start saying 'no' and sending them to other Temples and the healers there. He did not want to foster bad blood between the Temples more than his mere presence already did.
Still the people became enamored of him and before long he found them making plans to build him his own Temple. A Temple that was both a place of death and life. Itzcóatl had tried to convince Acatl-tzin that such a temple was not needed, but the Priest had simply smiled, patted him on the shoulder and wandered away, humming the Teddy Bears Picnic song under his breath. And Itzcóatl truly despised himself for teaching some of the songs he knew from his own time to the children who came to the temple to see him, especially if his friend would use them to tease him. Still, Itzcóatl could not complain about his life among the Aztecs. It wasn't what he had wanted out of his life when he had been little Harry living in the cupboard under the stairs, but it wasn't a bad life. He had made friends among the people here and had even to some degree curbed their enthusiasm for human sacrifice, although he was saddened that he hadn't stopped it altogether. Priests from other Temples would often come to visit him asking for tears that they could store for offerings and for healings, and Itzcóatl was loathed to say 'no.'
The tears were soon to be considered more priceless than gold, which was often considered the skin of Quetzalcoatl, as they could heal a person from the brink of death. But Itzcóatl and Acatl-tzin had requested that anyone who was that ill be brought before Itzcóatl so that the Gods could approve of the healing as Lord Death did not like to be cheated. Scribe Priests had come as well to learn from him the tale of his creation and of the war with the Dark Serpent. Itzcóatl had smiled fiercely when he told them about Voldemort and how the evil man's chosen name meant 'Flight from Death.' The Priests had been confused until Itzcóatl had explained that Voldemort had been so afraid of Death that he had done the unthinkable and actually split his soul into pieces in an attempt to become a God. Itzcóatl had very carefully left out the details on how the Horcrux were created and had explained that the process had not made Voldemort a God but a creature that was neither human nor demon. All the Head Priests from the different temples had come to hear the story as well and like Acatl-tzin had become swept up in the tale that Itzcóatl wove. They seemed to understand Itzcóatl's warning about avoiding death. It seemed the Aztec's were far more accepting of the Last Great Adventure, as Dumbledore used to call it. They also all seemed to take a liking to a different person from Itzcóatl's old life and Itzcóatl had overheard them speaking to each other about who they hoped might be born next and if that person might come to be a part of their temple. It was nice to see that his friends were remembered and nearly loved by the people who now were a part of Itzcóatl's life. He might never see his friends and family again, but he was able to see a bit of them now among the Aztecs.
Today Itzcóatl was watching Acatl-tzin study the body of a child that appeared to have been killed under unusual circumstances. While death was not an unknown thing among the Aztec children, there being no hospitals like in the 21st century, this child's life had not been an offering to a God and the signs that there was significant trauma prior to death seemed to be upsetting Acatl-tzin. Many people found the older man to be someone to be avoided. He was not politically powerful enough to warrant a great deal of flattering and his dislike for power fights was well known. Acatl-tzin cared nothing for those who would fight to be the Ruler beyond what his duty as Head Priest of one of the Death Gods required. He was a man far more comfortable dealing with the dead than the living. Harry often wondered if that was one of the reasons he so enjoyed the other man's company, that and that Acatl-tzin reminded him a bit of Snape. Acatl-tzin had a sharp tongue when warranted but today he was strangely silent.
"It is not a pleasant death," Itzcóatl looked down at the small broken body and felt the tears begin to fill his eyes. Tears were always so much quicker to come for children.
"No," Acatl-tzin looked away from the child to where Itzcóatl had moved to lean over the child, letting his tears drop onto the wounds, washing away the damage. "It is almost as if a spirit had been called forth to kill the child."
"Perhaps," Itzcóatl look sadly at Acatl-tzin. "It is far more likely to have been a mortal that did this."
Acatl-tzin nodded, not liking the confirmation of Itzcóatl's words. "Are you certain, Itzcóatl-tzin?"
"It is a sad thing, but a certainty that no being other than a mortal has touched the child. There is no other power lingering around her than the touch of death calling her soul to the Underworld."
"Lord Quauhtli will not be pleased. We have little information to go on as to who killed his daughter." Acatl-tzin gently reached out to brush a strand of dark hair out of the child's face. "Would you be willing to Call her forward that we may speak to her?"
"Have you asked Lord Death?"
Acatl-tzin nodded and moved away from the body towards the doorway to the courtyard beyond. "He has said nothing I did not expect. He will not keep you from Calling her if she is returned to him."
"Very well." Itzcóatl arched his long spine and rolled into a sprawl across the sun warmed stones of the courtyard. "Summon those you must and tonight I shall Call Citlalmina to us. Just remind them I cannot guarantee she will have the answers they seek."
Acatl-tzin agreed and quickly moved off to find a younger priest to send out with the notice, leaving Itzcóatl alone in the courtyard. The scent of the dead bodies awaiting the rituals to be preformed before they could be returned to the earth was masked by the heavy scent of the flowers and the trees that were all around the city and in the Temples courtyard. Itzcóatl was thankful for them as the scent of a decomposing body waiting to be prepared was not at all pleasant.
Around him the priests went about their duties, occasionally stopping to touch him as they passed. This need they had to touch him had startled Itzcóatl at first but as the years went by he found it a pleasant reassurance that his humans were safe and nearby. It was strange at first how he had come to memorize he persons specific touch and scent. Now, even if he wasn't scenting the air he could tell who was in the Temple simply based on their individual touch. Acatl-tzin for example always placed his hand on Itzcóatl's shoulder, stroking it in long smooth moves before tapping his shoulder twice. Acatl-tzin's second, Itzli, always rested his hand on Itzcóatl's ribs for three seconds and the others all had their own place they preferred to touch him, but all of them seemed to gain reassurance in their place in the Temple and the world simply by being allowed that touch. The new priests were always tentative at first, as if he would turn around and snatch them up in his jaws. Itzcóatl always found that amusing because it never seemed to fail that the first of the new priests to touch him would be pressured into it and once they had done so it was as if a light had turned on in their heads. The fear they had felt at leaving their teaching schools and their parents homes would vanish and they would walk off with new purpose.
Yawning, Itzcóatl shifted and rolled his large body around on the stones, letting more of his body warm in the sun. Other than the poor young girl Acatl-tzin had been working on, the day was quite peaceful. The scents and sounds of the city were circling around him like a strange song, lulling him into a pleasant afternoon nap.
By the time he woke from his mid-day nap, Itzli and two of the younger priests were bringing him a roasted goat, still whole. While it was certainly better than the freshly slaughtered animal they had brought him after his hatching, it still wasn't the bangers and mash or shepard's pie that he was more used to eating. Rising up Itzcóatl stretched himself out like a large cat, jaws opening wide and snapping shut at the end of a deep yawn.
"Has everything been prepared for tonight, Itzli," asked Itzcóatl.
"Acatl-tzin has everything prepared and Quauhtli-tzin and his party has arrived. Acatl-tzin has brought them to the viewing chamber." Itzli waved the other priests carrying the roast goat forward. "Eat now, Itzcóatl-tzin and then you may join them."
"So pushy, Itzli." Itzcóatl rolled his eyes but accepted the food. Reaching out he lifted the goat up towards his jaws, the lower jaw splitting wide like a snakes allowing Itzcóatl to swallow the goat whole. The feeling of his lower jaw parting and then closing together again was still strange even after all these years. Harry was used to strange though. Hell, his whole life has been strange, so this was nothing new. "Alright then. I best join them."
The room that Acatl-tzin had moved Citalmina's body to was just off the courtyard and had been built large enough for Itzcóatl to fit inside. Oft times he would use it as a bed chamber on the cold, wet nights but it was also used to hold the final ceremony to lead the souls of the dead into Mictlan. He was not surprised to find that Acatl-tzin was sitting by Quauhtli-tzin, his aide Yaotl and an older woman, likely Quauhtli's wife or sister, and two small children, all of whom were drinking warm chocolate.
Acatl-tzin turned and smiled at Itzcóatl as he carefully moved into the room, avoiding the child's body and the grieving family. "I see you have awakened, Itzcóatl-tzin."
"Yes, it was a pleasant day for a long nap in the sun. Had a lovely roasted goat for dinner. Remind me to thank the old lady Ahuiliztil for that, by the way."
The crying woman looked up at Itzcóatl with a mixture of awe, confusion and fear. Itzcóatl smiled at her. "Ahuiliztli always makes the best roasted goat," Itzcóatl said with a sigh. "At least once every month she cooks it for me and has her sons bring it as an offering." That seemed to removed the fear from the woman's eyes and she gave him a small shy smile in return.
"This can be hard, my Lady. Citlalmina will be back before you, but she will only be a spirit. She cannot touch you and she cannot stay."
She nodded sadly. "One cannot cheat Mictlantecuhtli."
"Very true," Itzcóatl smiled sadly because it was not always true. "If you are prepared, I will call her to you."
Itzcóatl moved further into the room to look down upon the young girl whose life had been so cruelly taken. He was glad to see that Acatl-tzin had hidden the worst of the damage so that her family would not have to see what unspeakable things had been done to her. She was a pretty little thing, really. Large dark eyes, long black hair, that Itzcóatl felt should have a little crown of flower resting atop it. Smiling he reached out and carefully cupped the top of her head in his palm and whispered too softly for anyone else to hear. When his hand moved away a circlet of flowers rested atop her head.
"Citlalmina, little shooting star, I call to you. I, Itzcóatl, the Obsidian Serpent, son of Mictlantecuhtli call you back to the Fifth World," his words came out soft but echoed through the room, heavy with the power of his magic and the approval of Lord Death.
Quauhtli and his party jumped in their seats as the body seemed to let out a breath. Acatl-tzin ok another long drink of his chocolate. Standing before the little girls body was the ghost of the little girl, wispy as the morning mists. The woman cried out, reaching towards the ghost.
"Citlalmina," Itzcóatl interrupted. "I know you want to be with your Mother but there is something we need to speak about. It will be hard and painful to remember but I need you to think back to yesterday evening, after you had gone to bed."
The ghost wavered, fading in and out as her eyes widened. "I don't want to…"
"I know, little shooting star." Itzcóatl said. "I know it is scary, but I promise you nothing can hurt you now. You are under my protection. So can you tell me what happened? Who hurt you?"
Her body wavered out of sight for a moment before coming back into focus again. "I was sleeping…there was a noise. Footsteps." Citlalmina's eyes went wide, her body vibrating with fear as she looked to her Father's left. "Uncle Yaotl was in my room and he touched me! Daddy told me no one but my husband was supposed to touch me there!" Her ghostly formed stepped back into Itzcóatl's side. "I tried to scream and he hit me. He kept hitting me and I bit him when he touched me again and then…then it was dark."
Itzcóatl was hissing deep in his throat, long fangs barred and venom dripping to the floor. Quauhtli had jumped to his feet and spun to face the man who had raped and killed his daughter. With a cry of rage Quauhtli launched himself at Yaotl, drawing his dagger. Acatl-tzin quickly pushed the woman and her children into the safety of Itzcóatl's coils as the two men fought. Although Quauhtli was older he was also built more like a warrior whereas Yaotl was short and lean. Still Yaotl fought like a man knowing his death was waiting and Quauhtli fought like a man possessed by the need for vengeance. Two such dangerous forces facing off against each other, but only one would be left standing.
In the end Yaotl was left bleeding to death on the floor only feet away from the young girl he had murdered and her family was huddled around her spirit as Itzcóatl moved over him. He leaned down, his head hovering over Yaotl's, his voice coming out in a hiss that was dangerously close to parseltongue. "Your death is certain, Yaotl. Will you confess your sins to me or wait to face Lord Death?"
Yaotl opened his mouth but only a gurgle of blood came out before he stopped breathing. Itzcóatl let out an angry hiss as he felt the man's soul exit his body and attempt to flee. Fortunately for Citlalmina, one of Lord Death's servants was waiting to snag Yaotl's soul and deliver it to the very thrown of Mictlantecuhtli. Although Citlalmina and her family could not see them, Itzcóatl and Acatl-tzin could. Itzcóatl watched the ghost of a man who could do such evil to a child be pulled down to face the ultimate justice before turning to look over at the broken family safely contained in his coils.
"You may remain here for another hour before I must send Citlalmina back into Mictlantecuhtli's care."
Whipping at teary eyes the child's Mother smiled at him. "Thank you, Itzcóatl-tzin."
If there was one good thing about being tossed back in time, it was that he could do more to protect people than he could before.
AN: I apologize for the weird formatting of the last chapter. It took a while to find a way to fix it but it should look correct now. Also, I have to say thank you for all the wonderful reviews. I am glad that everyone is enjoying it so much. This one does take longer to write as I am busy trying to look up historical information to make this as accurate as possible. I did get a few questions and I'll try to answer them as best I can. I can't answer all of them as it would spoil future chapters.
1. Will Harry stop the falling of the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans before the European invaders? I have thought this over long and hard. I worked out two different plot summaries for future chapters based on both their fall and their survival. I want to give you an answer but I think in the long run you'll enjoy reading about it more.
2. Will Harry be part of other major events around the globe? He will certainly be a big part of future events. Both within the Aztec Empire and the meeting with the Spanish and in the future with Temeraire and the British.
3. Can Harry still do magic? He can indeed still do magic and we will see him use it more in the future chapters.
4. Who will you be pairing Harry with? It'll be a long road for Harry before he gets to have that relationship and it'll cause him and the other(s) a bit of a hassle as homosexuality wasn't smiled upon during this era. Plus Harry is basically being worshiped as a pagan God isn't going to change that (at least not for the British). In the end though Harry, Tharkay, Temeraire and Laurence will have a strong friendship and maybe something more. I've not fully decided on that part yet.
Also you'll probably wonder (or have already guessed) who the Grim Lord, the Twin Tricksters, the Red King and his wife the Wise Woman, the Dark Warrior, and the Old Man of the Heavens are. So in case you haven't picked up who they are supposed to be I'll explain. The Grim Lord is Sirius Black. The Twin Tricksters are, of course, Fred and George Weasley. The Red King is Ron Weasley. The Wise Woman is Hermione Granger-Weasley. The Dark Warrior is Severus Snape, and the Old Man of the Heavens is Dumbledore.
Also the 'tzin' at the end of names is meant as a title of respect for a person and their position in the hierarchy of the Empire.