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He never hated his magic until it compelled him to kill.
From the broken shadows of his temple, the priest watched an encroacher attempt to work his doomed magic. Brilliant ruby pooled in the pocked basin of the altar and overflowed, streaming across the hand-carved stone in vibrant filigree. The blood glowed like molten rock hot from the earth's heart, releasing magic into the night.
The once all-powerful priest shuddered, his skin crawling with the caress of power. His nostrils flared to catch the tantalizing scent of sweet copper. Such temptation. He tightened his grip on the starved jaguar pacing within him. Such power.
The city once known as the Mouth of Creation had kept his secrets for a thousand years. Now he must kill this man to protect that forbidden knowledge. Keeping to the shadows, the priest called out, "As Gatekeeper of Chi'Ch'ul, I command you to leave my city or die."
The man whirled and whipped the bloody heart behind his back. At least this one's victim had been a goat and not human. "Nobody else should know the name of my dig. Who are you working for?"
The priest stepped into the moonlight, and the other man recoiled. With the jaguar prowling the cage of his body, he knew all too well the image he made: eyes gleaming like golden lamps, jaguar spots dotting his arms and blending with the tribal tattoos on his upper body, angular cheekbones and sharp forehead compounded by the stark topknot pulling his hair back from his face. The man had discovered the city, unburied it stone by stone. He could not help but recognize a priest of what had once been a grand and powerful nation. "My city has already been destroyed. Would you destroy the world as well?"
"I have powerful, rich friends," the man said, backing away slowly. "Name your price."
So be it. Small golden lights began buzzing around the priest and his bones throbbed with magic. "Nothing you can offer will stay my hand. As long as I live, these sacred waters shall lie still and silent. My curse demands your death. The Gates must remain locked until the Return."
Ignoring his threats, the man smiled with elation. "We were right! I knew it. After all these years, I finally found the center of the world!"
The balls of light blazed brighter. A golden swirling wave obliterated his vision. Bones cracked and twisted. His scream of pain rumbled bass, a jaguar's roar piercing the night. Tail lashing, the jaguar crouched in a pile of torn denim. The sharp stink of his prey's fear burned his nose. It had been a very long time since he'd hunted. The big cat knew his purpose. He was only called forth to kill.