Prologue

The Yucatan Peninsula,

Mexico,

1000 AD

         The hypnotic pounding of the drums reverberated off the temple walls. The temple priest, resplendent in his jaguar skin robes and jade adornments swayed back and forth in time to the rhythm. In front of him, in a stupor lay the sacrificial victim. In the priest’s hand was a knife. Its handle was made of bone, and the blade was obsidian. It was night. The wicked looking obsidian blade caught the light of the torches and seemed to throw shards of fire every where. In the sky, the moon was blood red. The lunar eclipse was nearing its climax.  At the foot of the temple, lay the bodies of the night’s pervious sacrificial victims, more than a dozen. The ritual would continue until the demon gods of the underworld spat the moon back out. The temple priest chanted softly offering his prayers and the souls of the victims as the necessary sacrifice for the sky gods in their endless battle with the demon gods of the underworld for control of the life giving rain. Below the temple, in the main square, the roar of the crowd grew louder. It seemed to be competing with the drums. At once, the beating of the drums stopped and the temple priest drove the knife down into the chest of the victim. With a loud crunch, the obsidian blade broke through the sternum. The victim’s body jerked once then lay still. The temple priest reached into the victim’s chest, pulled out his beating heart and held it up for the crowd to see. The multitude assembled at the base of the temple bellowed its approval. Two temple acolytes stepped forward and picked up the body of the victim by the arms and legs. Carrying the victim between them, they walked to the edge of the steep stone staircase that led up to the sacrificial altar from the plaza, and threw the body down the steps. In the sky overhead, the moon began to lose its crimson hue. The sky gods had won their battle. The rains would come again. Neither the temple priest, nor the acolytes, nor the crowd below really understood what the lunar eclipse was, nor how or why it happened. They only understood that the sky gods resided in the stars and that the stars ruled their lives and shaped their destiny, as the stars would shape the destiny of the whole human race.

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