“Once my father found me, I stayed in seclusion with one of the healers and a confidant.” Moctezuma continued as if nothing had happened. “I think that is the real reason my father wishes me to rule. He understands the suffering I’ve experienced and knows I will use my past to help others, to provide a more united front for our people and end the squabbling of who is better.”
Huemac merely nodded. He would eradicate anyone who opposed him—not give peace a chance. Peace didn’t work. History had proven that time and time again. Peace merely prolonged the inevitable takeover by greedy disease-infested interlopers.
Still, he refrained from looking Moctezuma directly in the eye. The exchange had left him surprisingly shaken and he didn’t trust his voice not to quaver and betray his true emotions. Belatedly, he swore again. Metztli had done much of the same thing earlier, hadn’t she? Did the siblings share the same gift or was it just the force of their personalities?
Icy tendrils of fear crawled through his belly. No could know his plans.
“So you understand why this is so important? The last thing I want to do is be the harbinger of war.”
“Truly you do not believe that ancient prophecy?”
Moctezuma raised an elegant shoulder. “Just as the birth of Christ was foretold, so is war.”
Another long moment passed. Huemac was almost certain Moctezuma had seen the plot.
A servant, in a long flowing tunic and pale cotton pants the color of dry sand, hurried across the garden. As soon as he was within three feet of Moctezuma, he dropped to his knees and touched his forehead to the stones in front of the demigod’s feet. “Tecutli—Lord, your presence is needed before the priests.” Though muffled, the servant’s voice was clear and crisp.
“Ehua—rise, Ichtaca.” Moctezuma said.
The servant did, but remained in a submissive posture, head bowed and hands clasped behind his back.
“Tell the priests I will arrive in due time. I am aware of the hour.”
Ichtaca bowed his head, backed away several paces before turning and leaving the garden.
Moctezuma glanced at the sky. The sun was still high in the cloudless blue sky, but it had passed its zenith. “I must see to my duties, Huemac. Perhaps before the ceremony, we can both shirk our duties for a time and go fishing.”
A real smile touched the corners of Huemac’s mouth. “Perhaps.”
Without another word, Moctezuma left the garden in a puff of green mist.
Huemac stared at the vacant spot with a mixture of contempt and fear. Just what had the demigod seen when he looked into Huemac’s eyes?