Ancient Aztec Patolli
Late Afternoon. A tour bus from Mexico City pulls up to the ruins at Tula, which are the remains of Tollan, the center of the ancient Toltec empire . . .
"We've got exactly 2 hours here for free wandering of the ruins. The bus leaves promptly at 6:00 -- don't be late!", the tour guide intones as you pile out of the bus.
"Ah! Tollan, the old Toltec capital", you muse as you stroll over to the ruins. "To think that Montezuma himself came here to meditate among these same fallen stones even at the height of the Aztec empire . . . even he sought the ancient glory and wisdom here".
Your mind begins to wander, then your feet begin to wander and soon you are lost in scenes of ancient Toltec and Aztec cities. Of course along with this, you also lose track of the tour bus, the other tourists, and all common sense (which is typical!) . . .
Cr A C K!!! The deafening clash of thunder startles you from your 'trance' -- "Woah . . . This sky seems a little threatening . . . Where is that bus!? . . ."
Rain begins to fall, softly at first, then stronger, then in a pounding torrent. No bus in sight. "Dang! I've done it again. Daydreamed myself lost. Well . . . it's over there . . . somewhere . . . but I'm not going to make it in this rain" You slide quickly under an overhang on one of the ruins and crouch onto some dry ground. "This will quit in a bit", you comfort yourself.
And it does. But that you are not aware of its ceasing, for you have dozed-off and the creeping night envelops you in your hiding place.
Cr A C K!!! You awaken violently from your sleep. "Whatsa . ." You sit up, rub your eyes, and shrink in horror at the aberration that materializes out of the night air -- a grinning skeleton sitting in front of a wall of skulls! You scream uncontrollably . . again, and again . . . then the thing screams at you instead:
"Put a lid on it will ya! You humans . . . always screaming . . . Do you feel better now? . . . I sure don't. What if I went around screaming in your ear? . . . Oh the noise . . ."
"W h h o o o are y - y -ou?!," you stutter as you interrupt the demon's mumblings.
"I am Tezcatlipoca, in your language 'Smoking Mirror', in the form of Mictlantecuhtli, the god of death."
"M .. m. . my d . . d. ..death?" you squeak.
Smoking Mirror smiles cunningly.
"No, not exactly . . . now that my enemy Quetzalcoatl has returned, I have no such power". "No, now I simply roam the earth at night blown by the Wind of Knifes"
"Knifes. . .," you query, "nn . . not that little rain?"
"No, No, Lower down!, Lower down!" Smoking Mirror replies "But enough of this. Now just *who* are you?".
"Oh . . . nobody . . . just a silly tourist . . . you meekly reply. "B . . . u . . . but
I need to go now. It's been nice meeting you, . . . err . . . Mr. Smoking Mirror, sir."
But you find you can't move. The Skeleton grins wider, only this time it is an icy grin, and those demon eyes take on a very menacing look.
"Well now, I can't kill you, but I could make you -very- uncomfortable until the dawn, when Quetzalcoatl's star rises in the east to save 'silly little tourists' like yourself. But hey, let's not get nasty and unpleasant here. Look, all I want is to play a few friendly games of Patolli -- it's been soooo long since I've had someone to play with".
"Patolli?? What's that?"
"Ahhhh! A novice" . . . the happy grin is back again, and even wider. "Don't worry, I'll teach you all *you* need to know. Now what have you got on you that you can bet?"
You pull the stuff out of your pockets and it falls on the ground . . . a pack of gum, a pocketknife, a library card, a few scattered coins, a couple of crumpled bills . . .
"Ah Well, not exactly a treasure . . .," Smoking Mirror sighs, "But It'll have to do. Hmm . . . is that a *Library Card*!!? . . . now there's something I'd love to relieve you of . . ."
Hey wait a minute here, didn't your mother teach you not to gamble with strangers? ;-)