Subsubsection: 7 January 2016 (fighting the gods at Tikal) Up Subsection: High Lord of Earth Subsubsection: 3 February 2016 (Fighting Malcolm Kane and the Darkness Device) 

20 January 2016 (on to Teotihuacan)

At the top of the pyramid, the temple itself is empty, but there’s a sloping passage leading into the pyramid itself. After many branches and dead ends, the group comes to a chamber containing an altar, on which is a carved wooden stick about four and a half feet long. Thorfin takes it, and with his magical sensitivity can perceive not only the way out but a blob of darkness away to the west.
Further exploration leads to a larger chamber, with a blood-stained altar and an enthroned skeleton, wearing much the same clothing as the spirit above. It raises a hand and speaks on a hoarse voice, asking whether they have brought the Palenque Vase. They have not, and it continues: “You seek the temple of Huitzilopochtli, perhaps to make his power yours. I have seen another with that dream, and sent him on his way to meet his fate. I will do the same for you – you will find the temple in the place where man becomes a god, Teotihuacan. But beware, for Huitzilopochtli is an angry god, and if you are found wanting he will destroy you and all your works, as he did mine…”
It stops moving. Stephen notices that the blood on the alter is pretty recent, perhaps a week or so old.
The team leaves the passages. Teotihuacan is not far from Mexico City, which would be consistent with the direction Thorfin perceived with the staff; a bit of triangulation and navigational calculation suggests that it is indeed the place he’s perceiving, some 650 miles away.
During her scouting when the team arrived at Tikal, Diamond spotted a clearing nearby that looked like an airfield. The team heads that way now, cutting through the jungle but taking care as they get close; this proves to be a good idea, as Stephen spots a tripwire that leads to a claymore mine; it’s been placed according to the book (in fact he reckons exactly according to the book), and disarming it is an easy process.
Moving closer in, the team spots a twin-turboprop aircraft, a small fuel dump, and a couple of other structures, all concealed from aerial observation. There are two guards, sitting in the shade under the wing swapping lies about their exploits with women. After some thought, Stephen kills one of them with a rifle shot; the other leaps up, bangs his head on the wing, and sprays Uzi fire wildly, puncturing several of the fuel drums. Diamond’s shots finish him off.
The fuel leaks aren’t serious, and there are no other guards. The plane is fuelled, and very plush, in comprehensively bad taste. The team gets aboard and Diamond sets off for Mexico City.
The flight doesn’t last long, though, as the plane is intercepted near the Mexican border by a pair of F-5s. They’re required to land at an air base and Thorfin engages in long explanations. This ends up with the Mexican authorities (and some “not from the CIA honest” advisors) keeping the plane, and the team being provided transport on to Mexico City, where they spend the night.
The Mexican Air Force rolled a critical success on its state of alertness.
In the morning, the local paper talks of nightmares of blood and sacrifice. The team heads on by Jeep to Teotihuacan, where there’s an oppressive sense of hatred of, well, everything. The structures here seem recent, rather than the ruins described in the guidebook, and people dressed in ancient robes walk around, apparently getting on with their lives.
A young man in white robes greets them, and introduces himself as Topili. He shows them into the market, talking about the corn that is the bounty of the gods, and how the gods must be placated. In the market there is no corn, but a series of stone tablets like the ones in the White Rose, and an altar with a man bound to it; two priests hold his arms, while another builds a fire on his chest. Diamond and Stephen open fire, but the priests and victim vanish, leaving only a blackened altar. The crowds ignore all this, but Topili is clearly annoyed, and says something about the wise man seeking to make himself pleasing to the gods before fading away.
A party consisting of two non-religious English people, an Ayslish Dwarf with Buddhist tendencies and a Jewish Cyberpapal heretic finds itself in theological unanimity.
Moving on, the party passes through an arena, where Topili reappears, challenging to team to “test the strength of the gods you worship” and fight his four champions. Gunfire proves more effective than obsidian daggers at range. One of the “champions” has a brief moment of what might be clarity – “what am I doing here? I’m a student at the university!” – but Stephen has no moral qualms about shooting him down when he returns to the attack. Diamond shoots Topili in the head and gut, and he disappears in rage again.
The group ignores the other buildings and heads on to the Pyramid of the Moon; lightning arcs across the sky, and wind and rain brew up out of nowhere, but over the top of all this noise is manic laughter from the human figure standing on top of the temple. “I was a match for you when I was a normal man – now I am a High Lord! I will cut out your living hearts and present them to my Darkness Device as a gift!” There’s more monologuing, but the phrase “when the final stela in the pattern is planted” seems particularly important.
The team opens fire, but Kane effortlessly evades their attacks. Climbing the pyramid is hard in the wind and rain, but they start to move upwards, with Diamond keeping pace in the air.
 Subsubsection: 7 January 2016 (fighting the gods at Tikal) Up Subsection: High Lord of Earth Subsubsection: 3 February 2016 (Fighting Malcolm Kane and the Darkness Device)