A merciful boon from a merciless god
Tepiltzin fell into a dark despair. Knowing his cause was lost, he prayed for the only mercy his god might give, death. At last, he was granted a vision, and he obeyed. He made his way to the thickest part of the jungle.
The moon maintained its vigil as the east began to pale with dawn. He thought he went to his death; but, as the sun broke the horizon, washing away the pale moon, Tepiltzin fell to the ground, his body wracked with pain. Claws ripped through the skin of his fingers and toes. His canine teeth elongated, splitting the gums. His skin burned with an unbearable heat as the spots began to form and grow fur. His skull stretched and reformed. Every drop of blood that fell on to his obsidian blades hit like acid. At last, the pain receding, Tepiltzin stood stealthy and alert, the spirit image of his god, a Jaguar.
Tepiltzin (tay PiL tsEn) “privileged son”, was the first-born of a warrior priest. On the night of his birth, a full moon shone off the dark water and the first blood drawn during his purification caused smoke to rise off the obsidian blade. His priest father, seeing these omens, was pleased that his patron had smiled so on his newborn son and thus dedicated him to the same god Tezcatlipoca (tes Ka tli’ po:ka)“Smoking Mirror”: the god of night, temptation, chaos and war.
His father taught him the rituals and magic of the priests and to keep the flames of the Old Ones burning; but, it was to the path of the warrior that Tepiltzin took to naturally. His father, disappointed in this choice, nonetheless supported his son and assured him a place appropriate to his station. His eventual induction into the ranks of the Jaguar warriors was never in doubt.
Warriors of the Moon
The Jaguar Warriors represent the North and the Moon. Their god is blood thirsty and will use deception to instigate war to feed his blood lust. Though most do not outwardly oppose the coming reign of Quetzalcoatl, they believe that his end to war and sacrifice will weaken and eventually destroy them.
In spite of the questionable way in which Tepiltzin garnered his place among the Jaguar Forces he was an asset to their ranks. His participation easily turned the tide of any battle. He quickly mastered the skills and tactics needed to gather information and discover their enemies’ weaknesses. His strength was unmatched and his mastery of the Maquahuitl (ma KAY KWA ohtl) unequaled. As his pride grew, so too did his blood lust. His ferocity in battle and his tendency to kill rather than take prisoners led to rumors among the enemy’s ranks that the god Tezcatlipoca himself had stood with the opposing army on the battlefield.
Tepiltzin would allow no one else to harvest the obsidian for his weapons. He had learned well, from his father, to identify the pieces in which the volcano had trapped the most magic and sought them out. He expertly chipped every stone to a razor’s edge with a sole intent, to serve his patron god and the city over which he presided. Tepiltzin knew his patron’s reign was coming to an end. The thought infuriated him. For centuries, the gods had shared rule. Each, in his own time, reigned supreme over the valley. Now was the time of Tezcatlipoca. Soon his sun would fade and the new sun of Quetzalcoatl would rise and with it a time of peace, free from human sacrifice. Tepiltzin viewed Quetzalcoatl as a mewling weakling who displayed the coddling attributes of an elderly grandfather rather than the fortitude of a god. Yet, fortune had been kind. Tezcatlipoca had risen before Quetzalcoatl. Tepiltzin planned to see that he never set.
Tepiltzin dove into the pools surrounding the volcano. The best, most magical, obsidian could only be found in the coolest depths. Nothing less would serve. From these prize pieces he would fashion the weapons to destroy a god. As he focused his magic to his purpose he foolishly neglected his other senses, his instinct failing him for the first time. The beast seemed to emerge and form from the volcanic stone itself. Growing into an impossibly large serpent, it writhed and coiled around Tepiltzin. He struggled against the beast, striking at it with raw obsidian, as he fought his way up. As he broke the surface of the water, the creature dissipated back to nothingness. He treaded water. Searching, he began to doubt his sanity. Finding no sign of the serpent, he wondered if it had existed at all. As he pulled himself onto the shore, his doubt gave way to horror. His right foot had been taken by the beast.
Tepiltzin is an expert with the Maquahuitl (ma KAY KWA ohtl) “hungry wood”, A wooden war club edged in razor sharp obsidian. He is also very handy with a Quauhololli (ka WAH ol lE), a heavy mace made of stone. He prefers to reserve his obsidian daggers for ritual and magical use but can use them quite efficiently in battle when necessary.
Tepiltzin’s armor is lined with cotton and covered in Jaguar skins. He wears a helm is in the shape and coloring of a jaguar’s head with his face peering through the jaws. His shield is edged in brightly colored feathers and bears an obsidian mirror etched with the image of the Jaguar. He has replaced his right foot with an exact replica which he has expertly carved from obsidian.
Skills of the Jaguar Warrior:
The Jaguar Warriors specialize in gathering information and discovering an enemy’s weakness. They use deception and evasion to accomplish their reconnaissance missions. They are experts in military tactics.
Through his father’s teachings Tepiltzin became adept in the practices of ritual and ceremony. He was also educated in the ways of magic denied to most warriors. His obsession with having only the finest and strongest weapons has led to an exceptional talent for stone chipping and carving. This talent was further honed when he sought to craft an exact replica of his missing foot. The hunting, skinning and tanning skills that are common to all men of the culture have served Tepiltzin well and he practices these skills to obtain the materials for his armor.
After Tepiltzin’s first transformation new skills began to emerge. He gained a natural eye for camouflage and could “hide in plain sight”. He was so intimidating that few, even his fellow warriors, dared to challenge him (it is unclear if this was a skill he developed or if others simply fear what he is). His ability to sense danger and to predict the weather (and on rare occasions future events) were not studied but simply grew stronger with each transformation.
Even in human form Tepiltzin’s eyes have a feral quality. Despite his lameness, he moves quickly and silently. His insatiable blood lust is mercilessly visited upon even the least of his enemies. His ability to sense danger and predict weather and the future unnerves even those closes to him.
His demeanor is aloof “even among friends” and will only fleetingly tolerate companionship. He rarely speaks and then only in a double talk that baffles friend and foe alike. It is not uncommon for a person to happily agree to do his bidding and walk away believing it was their own idea.
Tepiltzin is unable to control his transformation into the Jaguar each day, returning to human form only after the sun has set. He is proud of his “gift” and makes no attempt to hide his transformations (though few can bear to watch the painful process).