This time the action shifts to Mesoamerica.
Having witnessed the fall of the ancient Cliff Dwellers-Anasazi, the main characters, Tecpatl and Sakuna, are now have to deal with an entirely different situation.
It is the middle of the 14th century and the mighty Tepanecs are ruling the whole Mexican Valley.
Every city-state, every village, every settlement fears them, careful to send a tribute each month when the moon is full. The Aztecs, relatively safe upon their small isolated island, are also careful to behave. No nation dares to angry the mighty Tepanecs.
Yet, the trouble, when begin, is coming from within. The old Emperor dies, leaving peculiar instructions. The Second Son is to rule the Empire. He is the one to succeed the beautiful marble throne of Azcapotzalco. But the First Son, who have to reconcile himself with ruling a distant unimportant city-state, is not happy.
As the story unfolds, the main characters from At Road’s End, are finding themselves caught in the maelstrom, doing their best against the forces that are threatening their lives and their family along with the whole Tepanec Empire.
An excerpt from The Young Jaguar
She was pleased, he could see that. Her eyes glittered against the flickering light of the torch. A long tendril slipped from the fashionably pulled hair, sliding down her high brow, fluttering against the gentle curve of her cheekbone. He wanted to reach out and touch it. He closed his eyes.
“It’s good you came.” The husky voice rang near his face, soft and warm. “My father will be here shortly. He’ll know what to do.”
“Here?” He straightened abruptly, causing the slave to spill some of the ointment. “Not the Revered First Son surely!”
She laughed, straightened up, and the magic was gone. “Yes the Revered First Son. How many fathers do you think I have?” Her grin widened, became unbearably smug.
”I have to go,” he said, too frightened to get angry with her.
“Calm down. Don’t panic. I agree you are in not the best of conditions to meet the mighty Emperor, but it will happen tonight. So make the best of it.”
“Your father is not the Emperor.”
“He will be.”
He fought his rising panic. “Why would he bother meeting me? I’m not even a warrior yet. I’m not of any significance.” He swallowed. “How does he know I’m here?”
“I sent him word.”
“What did you want me to do? Make you climb down and over the wall with this cracked head of yours? You came here uninvited, remember? Now you have to face the consequences.” She leaned forward once again, but there was nothing girlish or soft in her features this time. The large eyes bore at him, strangely alight. “Many important events are happening all around us. Didn’t you notice that? And I think it’s time you grew up. You and your friend were used to climbing walls and running around the markets, I can tell. But this time you went too far. There is no going back this time, you see? The crime of breaking into the Palace is punishable by death. But you knew that, of course.” Her smile was as cold as the tiles of the marble floor. “You knew it, but you did it all the same. Well, now you can only try to make the best of it. My father needs good warriors. You will make such one. But you will have to be loyal, completely loyal. Do you understand me? He may help you out of your trouble–I hope he will–but he’ll expect much loyalty in return. Loyalty and hard work, of course. You can give him both. Oh, you can be sure to be rewarded for these. I’ll make sure you will be.”
There was a promise in her eyes. How quickly she was changing. One moment girlish and playful, the next–cold and threatening, then again so playful his imagination went wild. He took a deep breath.
“I can still climb down this balcony, you know?”
She was taken aback, surprised. “You wouldn’t!”
“Want to see?” He rose to his feet, slow and reeling, but managing not to fall.
“If you step onto this balcony, I’ll scream.” Her voice took a shrill tone.
They glared at each other.