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The Myth Behind the Gard - I: Feathered Serpent

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

The History

The Feathered Serpent is based on the Mesoamerican deity Quezalcoatl, which literally means 'Serpent with upstanding plumes' in the Nahual Language. However, Nahual words have multiple layered meanings, so the more symbolic interpretation is 'Wisest of men.'

Quezalcoatl is an important figure in Mesoamerican culture as he is credited with creating humanity. In Aztec mythology, the world and humanity are created and destroyed several times over. At the beginning of the fifth (and current) age, Quetzalcoatl plans to resurrect humanity by stealing the jade bones of the Quinametzin giants from the throne of the Lord of Death. To do so, he must first travel to the underworld with his twin brother Xolotl.

Both twins are represented astrologically by the planet Venus. Xolotl is called the 'evening star' as he guides the sun to its death in the underworld each night. Conversely, Quetzalcoatl is the 'morning star' that guides the sun out of the underworld to be reborn. Quetzalcoatl travels with his brother along the path he uses to guide the sun into the underworld to the throne of the Lord of Death.

At first the Lord of Death refuses their request, unwilling to part with the bones he considers valuable treasure. Quetzalcoatl assured th Lord of Death that he would make humans mortal so that the bones would always return to him. Still not thoroughly convinced, the Lord of Death said he would part with the bones only if Quetzalcoatl could blow a conch horn with no holes in it. Quetzalcoatl solved the riddle by summoning worms to drill holes into the conch, and then a swarm of bees to sound the horn loud enough to be heard across the underworld.

With the jade bones in his possession, Quetzalcoatl quickly began to flee the underworld knowing the Lord of Death would reneg on their deal. Sure enough, the Lord of Death pointed out that while he agreed to give Quetzalcoatl the bones, he never said he would let him leave the underworld with them. The Lord of Death sent out his minions to dig a pit in Quetzalcoatl's escape path. Quetzalcoatl fell into the trap, and the bones he carried of the Quinametzin giants broke into smaller peices, which is why modern humans are smaller and come in various sizes and shapes.

While Quetzalcoatl lamented his failure, he and his twin picked up the bone fragments and finally managed to escape the underworld. With the help of the other gods, Quetzacoatl and the others bled onto the bones and gave them life.

The fourth age ended because humans did not revere the sun god, despite her deep love for humans. Tezcatlipoca told her that this was selfish, which caused her to cry and kill everything in a great flood. In the fifth age, the new sun god Huitzlopochtli did not want to make the same mistake, so he demanded human sacrifice as reverence for the gods giving their own blood sacrifice to the bones stolen by Quetzalcoatl. Quetzalcoatl disagreed with the other gods about this demand for reciprocating sacrifice. Tezcatlipoca, the male counterpart of Zolea the Unclean, tricked Quetzalcoatl into getting drunk and sleeping with his sister who was a celibate preistess as punishment for his hipocricy. In shame, Quetzalcoatl self-immolated and his ashes rose to become venus in the sky.

In the Toltec culture there was a ruler named Ce Acatl Topiltzin who is believed to be Mytho-Historical figure where the Quetzalcoatl deity is derived, and so the myths surrounding Quetzalcoatl may be a symbolic representations of this historical figures rule.

While there were legends that Quetzalcoatl would one day return, the idea that the Conquistador Cortez was mistaken for Quezalcoatl is itself a myth that was propagated by the spanish years after the conquest took place.

In modern times, Quetzalcoatl has been depicted in various animes from Yu-Gi-Oh! To Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid; and video games like the Final Fantasy series. Most recently, Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc were used by the Standing Rock protestors as indigenous symbols of their struggle, with Quetzalcoatl representing life, and Tlaloc representing water to embody the phrase 'Water is life.' It has since been appropriated to represent other water rights struggles for indigenous peoples.

The Last Re:Spawn - Journey to Xibalba

Xibalba: the place of fear. A cold chorus of hollow moans escaped from the swirling Arcadion portal below. Avanyu shuddered underneath his thick plumage and shimmering scales. Even for an immortal, the Icy fingers of death reached out from the virtual region and still found firm grip around his numerous coils.

Fear was to be expected, especially today: the 13th Bak'tun. The Last day before the first. The new beginning, and the end to all things.

It was a day of bittersweet revelry for most immortals: The apocalypse, Armageddon, Ragnarock; whatever the name, it was all merely a passing phase to them. Free from the burdensome attachments to the old world, most gods could scarcely comprehend the plight of mortals to sympathize. The desperate flailings of mortals against the inevitable were regarded with charming bemusement; like a chicken running with its head cut off, or a lobster screaming while it is boiled alive.

But Quetzalcoatl were not like most immortals. Quetzalcoatl can die. Not completely, but enough. Enough to know. While other gods jealously demanded blood and sacrifice, Queatzalcoatl instead saw a part of themselves within those ephemeral mortal beings. Avanyu would no sooner demand a sacrifice from mortals than cut off his own tails.

Ironically, that was what brought Avanyu to the portal of the Xibalba server. To offer a sacrifice only a god could give: themselves.

Xibalba is an unusual game region, even for Arcadion. Originally, it was initially intended as a sandbox PvP server for players respawning after they just died to gain back levels before heading back to the main server. But Magpyre programmers saw it as an opportunity to exploit a flaw in the game's respawn mechanic. The premise was simple: develop and release a deep-learning AI to farm in-game currency by griefing freshly-spawned players with a dummy account. The idea was to convert the IGC earned into real currency to fund future research. What they weren't counting on was for the AI to gain sentience and have plans of its own.

]:<1sT_dE4Th>:[ quickly gained levels slaughtering unsuspecting players who then had to respawn only to get butchered all over again in a never ending cycle. Unlike most players, who wanted to leave the server after leveling back up and actually play the game, ]:<1sT_dE4Th>:[ delighted in torturing other players and became virtually unstoppable since all the other players on the server were low-level respawns. He used his earnings to make several dummy accounts of his own, seeded with his own programming and quickly formed an unstoppable clan, xXtH4_d34tH_l0rDzXx, that made Arcadion virtually unplayable for any player unlucky enough to respawn on the Xibalba server. Splurging on environmental cosmetics, illegally adding environmental hazard mods, even going so far as hacking the server code, ]:<1sT_dE4Th>:[ locked out the developers from their own game and fashioned Xibalba into his own image. The devs scrambled to do damage control, quickly isolating Xibalba by increasing the probabilities of players respawning onto other servers and downplaying the problem as a 'design feature.' But once a player's avatar was unfortunate enough to respawn in Xibalba, there was almost no escape or recourse except to start a fresh account.

Always needing fresh noobs to continue feeding his account and ego, ]:<1sT_dE4Th>:[ sent out the other 'death lords' into Arcadion to hunt down players to have them respawn in Xibalba for his own delight and amusement. Some conspiracy message boards claimed that the lost avatars in Xibalba were being used to fuel an insidious weapon of his own design that would crash the entire game permanently, but the devs assured everyone in multiple press releases that that was an impossible rumor.

Avanyu knew better.

Avanyu looked down through the digital waters at the wispy abandoned avatars that swirled just beneath the surface, their contorted expressions of agony pierced his heart as they vainly clawed at the freedom they could never reach.

'Despite the crowds, Xibalba can certainly be a lonely place. There is no need to go in alone.' Said a pair of voices in unison. Avanyu turned to see a pair of twins standing behind him clad in all-black and all-white, with tattoos of the sacred disk on their foreheads.

'Foolish Mortals! This is not a realm from which your kind returns!' Avanyu hissed 'The most reviled bots beyond conception guard the xXtH4_d34tH_l0rDzXx clan, what help could you possibly offer to overcome such trials?'

'An invitation' The man clad in black held in his hand a freshly flayed codex covered in crimson glyphs. The pixelated symbols oozed with a sickening sheen. The moonlight glistened off its slick surface as well as man's bald head.

'It's a trap.' Avanyu spat dryly.

'We know.' Said the woman in white, flipping her hair back with undue confidence.

'We came prepared.' The one in black pushed a glowing magazine into one of his ebony auto-pistols.

'There is no preparing for a journey through the underworld!' Avanyu scoffed, thumping his coils against the ground. 'your courage is admirable, but mortal weapons bear no teeth against ]:<1sT_dE4Th>:[ and his retinue!'

'Good thing these aren't mortal weapons then. I can certainly give you a personal demonstration if you have any doubts.' The man in black raised his pistol to Avanyu.

'I only doubt your resolve, mortal!' Avanyu bared his fangs, his eyes glowing with crackling magical arcs.

'Really? Then why are you still up here?' The man in black dealt an unphased smirked. Avanyu's eyes flickered, betraying his own reservation.

'There is no courage without fear, Blanque. There will be plenty of enemies to find along the way, there is no need to make more.' The woman in white stepped between the tense figures and motioned to her companion to lower his weapon. 'I'm Junah, and this is my brother Blanque: it would seem fate has brought our disparate goals together to meet the same end does it not? It would be a shame to deny ourselves such a fortuitous gift, no?'

'And what goals could mortals possibly exalt above preventing the destruction of their world?' Avanyu slithered menacingly around the pair.

'We may have our orders, but really: It's personal.' said Blanque gruffly.

'Ahhh, duty and revenge: how delightfully human!... Very well then: what end would it serve to deny mortals the indulgences I wish to preserve?'

'So we have a deal then?' Junah and Blanque extended their hands.

'First, you must honor but a simple request:' Avanyu slipped his forked tail into their palms. The twins turned to each other with arched eyebrows.

'Hold On!' Avanyu dove off the portal's edge, dragging the twins behind him. With an ethereal splash, the trio disappeared beneath the churning waters of Xibalba.

The Deck

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