Huemac, a half-breed, covets ultimate power, but he needs two things—access to the royal family and an ancient artifact. He attains the former by seducing the Emperor’s sister, and then steals the latter.
Moctezuma, the newly crowned Emperor, comes from a long line of powerful gods known as Sin-Eaters. He desires peace among his people, but an ancient prophecy warns of war.
Huemac discovers the incantation to activate the fabled Athame of Souls, a mythical weapon capable of entrapping souls. His quest to rule is within his grasp. Only one thing stands in his way—Moctezuma.
Grudgingly he had to admit Atl had been right about the view. It was breathtaking. He fisted his hands on his hips as he scanned the valley. “All of this belongs to our people. Can you imagine the power involved? The sheer magnitude of power our ancestors wielded.” Power he craved more than his next breath.
She shrugged. “Many days I have thanked the gods that I am the youngest. I have no desire to be bound to the politics and tedium of running the kingdom. It is much better that my brothers and parents think I am a pampered pretty princess,”
Huemac paused. Had she really just said that? He studied her a moment. “No, my love. I do believe people underestimate you.”
She nodded. “Exactly.” She briefly held his gaze before looking away again. “You have some ulterior motive for bringing me to the Valley of the Fallen.”
He raised her hand and kissed her fingertips. She was just a little too close to the truth. “I cannot lie, I have.” He offered a smile. “There have been rumors of a magnificent sunset from here.”
Her gaze never wavered from his. “And this has nothing to do with exploring the caves to see what ancient secrets we can find?”
Hopefully his surprise didn’t show on his face. “I love a good adventure, do you agree?”
She clapped her hands and bounced as a child would. “I so love exploring what the ancients did.” Catching his hand once more, she drew him toward the cave entrance. “So many of the old ways have been lost, but a few of the ancients are still around, and after the next new moon I will go to learn from one of them.” Metztli rubbed her thumb and forefinger together as they entered the darkness. A moment later a small flame flickered between her fingers.
For a moment, Huemac was awed by her magick but he resented the ease with which she conjured the flame. That was just one more reason to ensure that his people stayed pure and ceased mingling with humans. He stood next to her and surveyed the antechamber.
The low ceilings offered just enough clearance so neither would have to stoop. The rough-hewn walls were covered in lichen and matted spiderwebs.
Metztli cupped the flame within her palms, formed a light the size of a lemon, then lightly tossed the orb in the air. It hung there, illuminating the cavern and the passages at either side. She beamed when she turned to him. “Which way should we go?”