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The Omens of Moctezuma

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Based on a drawing from a while ago, and made to keep up the practice of digital painting (with a wacom tablet plus photoshop), here's my latest illustration, titled "THE OMENS OF MOCTEZUMA" - based on characters which I created between 2003-2004, when I was 9-10 years old, and in turn inspired on mexica/aztec & spanish tales concerning the first contacts between the conquistadores & the mexican civilization, the first conflicts, the proccess of war and the early colonial period, loosely following descriptions from Bernardino de Sahagún's Florentine Codex and adapting it to a personal symbolism, as well drawing some inspiration from the Revelation of John of Patmos (the "four horrors" here ascribed are parallels to the four horsemen of the Apocalypse).

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The occasion of the Fall of Tenochtitlán (city of Mexico, practically the capital of the Mexica Excan Tlahtoloyan - the Triple Alliance, formed by the altepetl or city-states of Tenochtitlán, Texcoco & Tlacopan. Widely known as "Aztec Civilization") and the characters present here all play a major role in my still unpublished work of fiction, a planned comic book series still on development proccess (and shall remain as so in years to come) tentatively named as the CUETZPALIN Mythos, but also named sometimes as IN LAK'ECH. The main story itself takes place on a planet earth-like settlement beginning in August 2008 (when the series' protagonist, 14 years old student William Mattoni, fuses with the consciousness of Moctezuma Xocoyotzin, one of the last Mexican rulers, and acquires the power to transform himself into a kind of lizard-like inhuman called Cuetzpalin), but the fall of Tenochtitlán to the conquistadors in 1520 plays a major role, defining its background - the meaning of the post-colonial mayan phrase In Lak'ech Ala K'in, meaning "you're another me", is also recurring in the series, not only because of the relation between William & his other conscience, Moctezuma, but also because of William's approach to animal rights: the acknowledgment of the sentience and individual value of each non-human animals as "individuals with self-awareness, will and subject to rights". In other words William is a 14 years old vegan who has power to transform into a super-fast lizardman and who's got the consciousness of one of the last Aztec rulers mixed with his own. Getting to the details of the illustration in specific, here's a description of it's composition & characters:

In the years preceding the first sightings of the silver-clad foreigners over the waters, while they were in contact with the Chontal Mayas, Huey Tlatoani Moctezuma Xocoyotzin has had a series of omens foreseeing the dismantling of the powerful State which he and his predecessors before him helped to build - of course, via the tributes of captured soldiers, slaves and constant labor of its own working class, besides the assured destructive discipline of its gigantic military contingent, not to mention its own religious class, that since the institutionalization of the cult of Huitzilopochtli, under the first cihuacoatl, Tlacaelel, has become directly involved with State & military affairs. Before ascending to power in 1502, Moctezuma fought as Tlaccatecatl (cutter of men, a position rhoughly equivalent to "general") and later ascended to the position of Tlacochcalcatl (man from the house of darts, a position rhoughly equivalent to "high general") in times of great hardship, dispute & conflict, such as the expansion wars against the Zapotecas & Mixtecas from the south, but also against the far away Taino, Chibcha & Tairona confederations, not to mention the bloody 12 years lasting war against the far southern Tahuantinsuyu, at the time under Topa Inca Yupanqui. Since Tlacaelel stated in 1420 that all the Cuetzpalin (immortal inhuman reptiles with several abilities, regarded as demigods from previous Sun Eras, reportedly living among the hunahu - humans - since at least the Third Sun Era, supposedly the era when Teotihuacan was built and when the Quinametzin - giants - still roamed through Anahuac) of Anahuac should integrate the Mexica military, the Mexica counted with a devastating military force that led to its enormous expansion within brief years. The only force able to face the cuetzpalin (who despite inhumans and mostly military also attained mexica citizenship) up to their strength were the Incas' yacarcae (necromancers), amaru (dragons), chasqui (dragon riders, some also yacarcae) and the deadly Yana phuyu ("Dark Clouds" in quechua, equaled by the mexica to the legendary centzonmimixcoa, "four hundred alike Mixcoatl", beings of darkness and sons of Tupaq, the elemental god of darkness, incarnated on the Inca ruler, Sapa Inca Topa Yupanqui, and sometimes thought to be the Tepaneca Teotl Mixcoatl, god of hunt and the clouds, worshipped by the ancestors of the Mexica before Huitzilopochtli). In the wars against Tahuantinsuyu, between 1481 and 1493, many Cuetzpalin have died, but the conflicts stopped as Topa Inca's death (reportedly caused by one of his concubines, Chuqui Occlo, but actually orchestrated by his sister and main wife Mama Occlo) left a dispute of power between his possible successors, Tito Cusi Huallpa (later Huayna Capac, his legitimate but less favorite son) and Capac Huari (his secondary, yet favorite and "stronger, more magically skilled" son), forcing the military to retreat from Taino, Tairona & Chibcha territory (Colombia, Panama and Central America) where the conflicts against the Mexica previously took place. Nine years later Moctezuma would become the Tlatoani and restore policies of war and expansion, which were met with ease, in a relatively successful term.

All began to go wrong, however, when his sister, Papantzin (a Cuetzpalin, like him. Both of them were born in 1466 and possessed super speed, what helped them to ascend throughout Mexica nobility), lady of Tlacopan, died in 1509. Her death, however, has immediately followed the persecution of a glowing speedster (later acknowledged as citlalpopoca, nahuatl for "comet") which Moctezuma considered a provocation, to hide the actual killer of his sister, who was slain at the palace of Texcoco, where her husband, Nezahualpilli (also a Cuetzpalin), ruled. Locals identified the killer as a demonic blue bird with horns. Around 1518, Papantzin would return, in her hunahu disguise (the cuetzpalin when old enough use their parasite-like brains to take over human bodies, which they call as ixiptla - impersonators - and in doing so can take on the sacrificial human's identity and possessions. This played a crucial role in the divinization and fear of the Cuetzpalin by the hunahu and also on the sovereignty of the Mexica Excan Tlahtoloyan over other human States, but also led to phobia, hate, discrimination and according to some resistance by human groups), foreseeing the coming of the silver-clad, white-skinned children of the sun, flying over the waters and bearing the cross. That sounded, according to Moctezuma, a sign that the Inca would return (they also claimed to the children of the sun, while riding the amaru dragons they also flew over the waters, and the chakana was a cross symbol they used to represent the interaction between the underworld of Uku Pacha, the world of Kay Pacha and the upper world of Hanan Pacha. The missing descriptions were the white skinned and silver-clad), failing to see it wasn't the Inca. The mysterious return of Papantzin and her sporadic sightings, always in her catatonic hunahu ixiptla form rather than her previously healthy original Cuetzpalin form has been just the first of those omens. One day, atop his palace, he's seen a comet riding through the skies, while a mother cried loud for the death of her son. Another, a blue bird with horns and a mirror attached to its face was brought before him by servants he didn't remember, and after removing the mirror and looking at it, he's seen the horrors which would befall upon Tenochtitlán & the Mexica:

  • PESTILENCE - the foreigners would bring disease and infect with black spots & degeneration the Cuetzpalin & hunahu Mexica, besides other peoples of Anahuac. An undead-looking rat-like monstrous humanoid (in the illustration, on the inferior left corner) was its vector. It's a symbolic representation of the diseases brought by the spanish, both the physical and the spiritual ones, including the roman catholic apostolic christianity.

  • FEAR - never before seen kinds of magic would ally with the missing centzonmimixcoa and suck out the courage and vitality of the Mexica warriors. Its vector was a caped man, with a hat, bearing a cross, and whose words would mock their faith (in the illustration, the wizard-like, violet-blue caped demon on the inferior right corner). It's a symbolic representation of the fear instigated by a monotheist religion rooted in servitude and blind following of rules, as opposed to the fear instigated by the Mexica polytheist religion rooted in combat, bloodshed and sacrifice, that acknowledged the hardships of life by facing them rather than by standing still at life, waiting for the promises of salvation in an afterlife.

  • WAR - never before seen kinds of magic would be employed by horned men fused to deer, with fire-breathing arms and armor (in the illustration, the horned horse-faced centaur on the superior left corner), which breath could destroy buildings in one blow. It's a symbolic representation of the war technology employed by the spanish, the usage of gunpowder that struck down many skilled Mexican warriors.

  • CONQUEST - the end would be signaled by a centzonmimixcoa, a shadow demon armed with a fire-breathing weapon and clad in silver and gold, bearing the cross of the dead man, who values gold more than his own life, and who will enslave every one, cuetzpalin, hunahu, men, women, children, the elder ones, in order to attain more gold (in the illustration, the black demon warrior between fear and war, standing at the right of the bird, and next to the cross flag). It's a symbolic representation of the colonizers & encomienderos' cruelty, lust for gold, materialistic desires and the colonial management's alienation.

    Overwhelmed by this bad omen, Moctezuma has put the mirror back on the bird, while tried to reach his divinators in order to express the meaning of his vision. When they got there, however, the bird and the people who brought it disappeared. This bird is a far more ancient entity who's been a historical enemy of the Cuetzpalin since the First and Second Sun Eras, and his name was revealed by Moctezuma to be ENIGMA. In the second sun era (29th to 17th Centuries b.c) he was a Ta'tal, a general of the Ors Ohorela which absolute leader was Tupaq himself. "Citlalpopoca", the speedster who would yet race and defeat Moctezuma one last time in 1520, is regarded as a brother of Enigma for being equally a Ta'tal (despite the Enigma is a Chronpuchian, a race of bird-like humanoid daemons while Kometa, Citlalpopoca's original name, is a cyborg Hawlien, a kind also known by the Inca as Yakuruna). In the illustration, Kometa can be spotted running across the sky, from behind the burning Huey Teocalli (Great house of the gods, or Great Temple, the iconic main pyramid of Tenochtitlán, dedicated to the gods Huitzilopochtli & Tlaloc)
These omens foresaw a proccess which would change the world forever, and which stains and scars remain up to this day.

Hope you enjoyed it! Any feedback is welcome
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