The Blood of Four Gods
 
 
 
Thick moss silenced their footfalls as Cozamalotl and Tototl picked their way deeper into the cloud forest. Tototl held his obsidian-tipped spear easily in one hand, and Cozamalotl carried their small bag of provisions.

Worry and fear ate at Cozamalotl's belly. She wished that they could move faster, but she was afraid to miss the tiny blossom they were looking for. She was thankful that Tototl had agreed to come along to protect her--she wasn't sure if she would have been brave enough to face the cloud forest alone.

The lovers stopped for when the sun was almost directly overhead. Tototl kissed the back of Cozamalotl's hand, then he peered into the shadows. "We're already deeper into the cloud forest than I've ever been. Do you have any idea where we might find your flower?"  
Cozmalotl examined the forest around them. The ever-present mist cloaked the trees in mystery, and the sunbeams that managed to wind through the canopy glowed in the silvery shadows. Butterflies danced around rainbow-tinted flowers. It would be beautiful if she was in any mood to appreciate it. 

But it was dangerous here, too. Jaguars prowled in the branches, the most colorful plants were often poisonous, and the gods themselves hid among the leaves, watching and waiting for anyone who dared venture into their territory to incur their wrath.

"I'm not sure." Cozamalotl shook her head. There plenty of flowers, but none of the coaxihuitl blossoms that could heal her mother's fever. "I thought I might pray for guidance." 

Tototl shrugged and took a bite of his tamale. "I suppose it can't hurt." 

Cozamalotl stepped away from him, into a wide patch of sunlight. She climbed up onto the rotting trunk of the great tree that had once dominated this patch of the canopy. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, stilling her thoughts. "Xochiquetzal, goddess of flowers, please guide us. I seek a coaxihuitl blossom to heal my mother." 

She opened her eyes and gasped. The goddess stood before her, clad in a dress of flowers and surrounded by flocks of red and green butterflies and blue and purple birds. 

Cozamalotl stepped back and nearly tumbled from the trunk. She stared at Xochiquetzal in awe. 

A coaxihuitl vine wound around her right arm, and a fragile bunch of white blossoms clung to her shoulder. Her black hair shone in the sunlight and the fog billowed around her ankles. The goddess was more beautiful than Cozamalotl could have dreamed. 

Xochiquetzal plucked a flower from her shoulder and smelled it. "What do you offer me in return for this?" 

"Anything," Cozamalotl breathed, reaching for the flower. 

The goddess arched a perfect eyebrow. "Anything?" 

"Yes. It's to save my mother's life." 

"Very well." The goddess's smile turned cold. "I'll take him." She pointed to Tototl. 

"What? No!" Cozamalotl shouted, but it was too late.

Tototl transformed into a quetzal bird. Brilliant blue feathers covered his back and arms as his body shrank. Red feathers sprouted on his chest, his legs became short and scaly, and two iridescent two-foot-long tail feathers flowed down from his back. His topknot transformed into a majestic frill and his nose curved into a delicate yellow beak. Only his eyes remained unchanged. He screamed Cozamalotl's name once, then his voice was gone, replaced by a sad, "Kyow, kyow." 

He hovered in the sunlight for a moment, even more beautiful than the goddess. Then he flew up and vanished into the canopy. 
Cozamalotl fell to her knees, her flower clutched in her fingers. The goddess brushed away her tears with hands that smelled like freshly-turned soil. "Take that to your mother." 

When Cozamalotl's eyes finally cleared, she was alone and the sunlight was fading. She stood up, grabbed Tototl's fallen spear and her bag, and stumbled back home. 


The flower was full of sweet clear nectar. Cozamalotl sipped it. It was sweet and cool, and made her feel steadier. The goddess hadn't given her a false flower, then. 

She poured the remaining nectar between her mother's dry, ashen lips, and her color improved and her breathing grew easier. 
Cozamalotl walked outside and stared up at the stars. As glad as she was at her mother's recovery, her heart did not lighten. She thought of her life without Tototl in it and felt hollow--empty. Her chest ached. The stars twinkled, cold and uncaring. They were no help. 

She had no one to turn to. 

She went back inside and knelt by her mother's side. "I have done a foolish thing, Mother," Cozamalotl whispered. "I must go and fix it." She kissed her mother's forehead. "Be well." 

Cozamalotl tucked the coaxihuitl flower behind her ear, grabbed Tototl's spear, and headed back out into the night. Her knees shook as she reached the edge of the cloud forest. It looked like another world in the moonlight. 

A soft "Kyow, kyow," greeted her. She looked up and saw a quetzal bird perched on a branch above her head. 

Hope surged in her breast. "Tototl?" she called. 

The bird swooped down and flew around her, then started to lead her back to her home. She could almost hear Tototl lecturing her on the dangers of the cloud forest at night. 

"But I have to convince her to change you back! I don't want to live without you. Oh, Tototl, I'm so sorry! I'm such a fool. I have to fix it." 

"Kyow!" 

In spite of everything, Cozamalotl laughed. "Fine. I'll wait until the morning." 

Tototl landed on her shoulder. His vibrant feathers were warm and soft, and she could feel his tiny heart beating as he nuzzled against her neck. 


Cozamalotl woke before dawn and hurried to the cloud forest. She clutched Tototl's spear awkwardly as she ran. Tototl flew beside her, his plumage glistening even in the predawn darkness. 

She retraced their steps back to the fallen tree. 

Xochiquetzal was waiting for her. The goddess perched high in the canopy, reclining like a jaguar among the branches, resplendent in the misty morning sunshine. 

She laughed as Tototl landed on Cozamalotl's shoulder. "Your lover was to become part of my retinue, but it seems that his heart belongs to you alone." 

She floated down from her perch and reached out to pet Tototl's crest. He flinched away from her touch. The goddess chuckled. "His loyalty is admirable. Foolish, but admirable."  

Cozamalotl's hands clenched around her spear. "I want you to change him back." 

Xochiquetzal held out her hand and a purple butterfly landed on her finger. "Why should I? Isn't his new form beautiful to your eyes?" 

Cozamalotl pictured thrusting her spear into the goddess's belly, spilling her divine blood on the ground as birds and butterflies scattered. Then she imagined what the goddess would do in her wrath. She forced her fingers to relax. She bowed her head. "Please, tell me what I must do to convince you to change him back." 

Xochiquetzal sighed. "Fine." She tapped a finger against the black obsidian spearhead, and four bright red butterflies landed on it. Another landed on Cozamalotl's hand. Its feet tickled. "If you can wet this blade with the blood of all four gods of the sun before the blossom I gave you wilts, then I will transform your lover back into a man. 

"However, if you fail, your lover will become a bird in mind as well as body, and your mother's illness will return." 

Cozamalotl's knees buckled, and she clung to the spear to stay upright. The task was impossible. Cozamalotl was so clumsy with the spear that she doubted her ability to hurt a man, let alone a god. How could she wound the four most powerful gods? 

"Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc, and Huitzilopochtli," Xochiquetzal said. "Their blood will free your lover." 

"But how can I obtain it?" Cozamalotl blinked back tears. 

Xochiquetzal shrugged. "You'll think of something. You must be clever, child. Good luck." The goddess vanished, leaving behind a cloud of butterflies that quickly dispersed. 

Cozamalotl's grip on the spear failed, and she collapsed to her knees. As she fell, the spear twisted and the obsidian blade bit into her cheek. The shallow cut stung. Her blood dripped onto the shiny black spearhead. 

Tototl nuzzled against her other cheek and nibbled on her ear. 

He was trying to comfort her. The thought snapped Cozamalotl out of her self-pity. She had to be strong. For Tototl. Strong and clever. 
 
Tezcatlipoca had created the first sun, and he had been first on Xochiquetzal's list. Cozamalotl would win his blood first. 

Jaguars were sacred to Tezcatlipoca. If she could sacrifice a jaguar to him, maybe he would come to her. The great cats slept during the day. If she could find one before sunset, it would be vulnerable. She held out her hand and Tototl hopped onto it. His unchanged brown eyes met hers. She pushed away the wave of guilt that threatened to overwhelm her. She had work to do. 

"Can you fly through the canopy and find a jaguar?" 

Tototl bobbed his magnificent head, and he flew away. 

What could she offer Tezcatlipoca in exchange for his blood? She hoped that sacrificing the jaguar would be enough.  
Tototl returned faster than she expected. She shuddered as she realized how near the jaguar must be sleeping. He led her to a tree and flew up to its lowest branch. 

Even with Tototl guiding her eyes, the jaguar was still almost impossible to spot in the misty shadows. 

The jaguar looked back down at her. Its eyes were the deep green of the leaves. 

Cozamalotl's hand flew to her cheek. Warm blood coated her fingers. The jaguar must have smelled it. 

The great cat pounced. Cozamalotl cried out and thrust her spear up in front of her face. 

The spear point sunk into the jaguar's chest as the impact knocked her to the ground. The jaguar snapped at her with its glistening teeth. Its hot breath smelled like blood and death and its great paws clawed against her ribs. Tototl dove and pecked at its eyes. 
She tried to thrust the spear deeper into the beast, but the spear haft was slippery with blood. Pain shot through her body with each blow. She screamed and gripped the spear as hard as she could. 

The jaguar's clawing grew weaker, then stopped. 

Cozamalotl pushed it off of her and stared up at the canopy. Her breath came in ragged sobs. She rolled over, onto her hands and knees. She was bleeding from deep scratches on her side, and her whole body ached from the force of the jaguar's impact, but she was alive. 

She'd been lucky. 

Tototl landed on the jaguar's lifeless body. He stomped on its flank with his tiny foot. His eyes shone with frustration. 

Cozamalotl bowed her head and prayed, "Tezcatlipoca, Great Smoking Mirror, god of the first sun, hear me. I offer you this jaguar as sacrifice." 

The jaguar's eyes opened. Instead of green, they were the same shiny black as the obsidian spear point that had killed it. Its lips curled into an unnatural smile. "What do you wish of me, little one? You are not one of my acolytes." 

"I need a boon, Great Lord. Xochiquetzal has cursed my lover and trapped him in the body of a quetzal bird." 

The jaguar's head turned and he looked up at Tototl. "What did he do to deserve such a curse?" 

"He did nothing. The fault was mine. I--I said something foolish." Cozamalotl stared at the ground between her hands. It was muddy with blood. Her stomach threatened to heave, but she fought her bile down. 

"What boon do you seek of me?" Tezcatlipoca asked. 

"I need to wet my spear in your blood." 

Tezcatlipoca laughed. "Well, little one. You have done that yourself, you have no need of me." 

"But you were not in the jaguar when I killed it." 

Tezcatlipoca closed his eyes. "But I am in it now. Stand up and pull your spear out now, child." 

Cozamalotl struggled to her feet and pulled the spear out. Her hands trembled. She closed her eyes and bowed her head. "Thank you, Great Lord." 

"You are welcome." The voice came from behind her, and Cozamalotl spun around, holding the spear in front of her. 

Tezcatlipoca chuckled at her. His face was streaked with black and yellow paint, and his right leg was supported by a snake instead of a foot. A huge panel of obsidian glistened from his chest. He nodded to her, then faded into the mist. 

Cozamalotl looked over at Tototl. "Thank you for finding the jaguar." 

Tototl cocked his head and said, "Kyow." 

He sounded worried. 


Cozamalotl could hear water in the distance, and she needed to clean her wounds, so she limped toward the sound. Tototl fluttered along beside her. 

The sound grew to a dull roar, and she gasped in wonder and delight when she saw the waterfall. Rainbows danced in the wide pool at its base. The water was crystal clear and cool. Cozamalotl took a grateful drink, then carefully washed her wounds. 

A goggle-eyed, fanged face appeared next to her reflection in the water. "Why do you sacrifice your blood to my sacred pool?"

Cozamalotl froze. Of course such a beautiful spot would be sacred to Tlaloc. He was a god of water. But he didn't seem offended--he seemed pleased with her sacrifice. She bowed her head. "Great Lord, I seek a boon from you. My lover is cursed, and I need to wet my spear in your blood to free him." 

Tlaloc writhed beneath the surface, but the water remained still. "My very blood? That is a great boon." 

"I know, Great Lord. Please, what can I offer you for it?" 

The god closed his huge eyes and tilted his head. "You need my blood to free your lover?"

Cozamalotl nodded. She wanted to speak as little as possible--she couldn't afford to say anything foolish. 

"Will you become his wife?" 

Cozamalotl's eyes flicked to Tototl, and her cheeks grew hot. Tototl met her eyes and bobbed his head. "That has always been my plan, Great Lord." 

"After you marry, you will have children?" 

"Yes." Bringing a child into the world was a great honor. 

"Pledge your firstborn son to me." 

Cozamalotl blinked. It would be easy to promise now, but very difficult when the time came to give up her child. She knew to be careful what she said to gods, now. 

She looked at Tototl's long tail feathers, then she met his eyes. They were calm--trusting. He would abide by any decision that she made. She reached out and stroked his red-feathered chest. 

"What if my first son is unsuited for temple life?" she asked.

"Then I will accept him as a sacrifice." 

Cozamalotl's stomach twisted. She imagined her son--a boy with Tototl's deep eyes and broad cheeks--on Tlaloc's alter with his heart sliced out. 

But without Tlaloc's blood, she would have no children at all. It was a fair trade. But Cozamalotl couldn't make it. "Please, Great Lord, I cannot agree. What if I bear no sons? I would be forever in your debt." 

Tlaloc rose from the water and pressed an ear to Cozamalotl's belly. "There is much strength in you, for you to pass on to your children." He plunged his hands into her flesh, up to his forearms. 

Cozamalotl screamed. Tototl lunged from his branch, but froze under Tlaloc's glare. Cozamalotl's flesh shifted as the god moved inside of her. 

"Your first pregnancy will bear twins," Tlaloc intoned, his fingers around her womb. "One will be a warrior, the other a priest. I give them to you, and you will give your strength to them before they come back to me. I guarantee them glory." 

"What about happiness?" Cozamalotl's voice was choked and weak. Tlaloc could rip her into pieces if she displeased him. 

"Happiness they must seek on their own." 

"What if I refuse?" 

Tlaloc grinned. His sharp teeth glistened. "You won't." 

Cozamalotl bowed her head and fought back a wave of despair. She vowed to do all she could to give her sons happiness. "My firstborn sons will be yours, Great Lord." 

Tlaloc pressed his long tongue to the tip of her spear. A single drop of blood welled up. "Name them Atoyaatl and Chimalli." 

Tlaloc dove back into the pool and vanished without a single ripple. 

Cozamalotl wiped away her tears. She stroked Tototl's feathered head. "I just promised our sons to a god." 

Tototl gently nipped her finger. 

Cozamalotl smiled. "I love you, too." She looked up at the sky. The light was fading. Tlaloc's pool would be as good a place to camp as any. The god had an interest in her welfare, now. She smiled shakily up at the sky as the stars slowly emerged. "We're halfway there." 

 
She woke up cold, wet, and hardly able to move. She groaned and sat up slowly. Her body was past feeling hunger, but she forced herself to eat, even though looking at food made her stomach churn. She needed to keep her strength up. 

The sky was still dark, though edged with gray and pink in the east. Tototl was still sleeping with his head tucked under his wing. 

She examined the coaxihuitl blossom. The petals were beginning to droop around the edges, and the leaves had already fallen off of the vine. If she was lucky, she might have until sundown. 

Quetzalcoatl was the god of the dawn. This would be the best time to appeal to him. She needed to catch some small animal to sacrifice to him. A frog would work. A snake would be better. She moved toward the water's edge as quickly as she could. She spotted a green frog sitting on a rock and lunged for it. 

It plopped into the water almost a foot ahead of her reaching fingers. 

Cozamalotl trudged around the pond, scowling. Her whole body hurt. She looked for another frog. 

Something blue flashed out of the corner of her eye. Tototl cried triumphantly, and flew clumsily over to her, clutching a struggling frog in his talons. 

His eyes were no longer fully human. The whites had turned black overnight, so that only his brown pupils separated his eyes from the beady black of any other quetzal. 

Cozamalotl bit back a cry. Alarming Tototl wouldn't help matters. He knew that they were running out of time. 

She caught the frog and held its tiny body in her hands. Killing it with the spear would be awkward. 

She bit her lip. She'd never killed anything larger than a bug before yesterday. And the jaguar had been attacking her. The frog kicked in her hands. It was incapable of harming her. She blinked back tears and swallowed, hard. 

She slammed the frog's head into a rock, and it went limp and still. 

"Great Quetzalcoatl, god of the morning star, lord of the second sun, hear me. I offer you this frog--" her voice broke into a sob, but she forced out the words, "as a sacrifice." 

"It is a worthy sacrifice." Quetzalcoatl's voice was soft and sibilant. He leaned down and wiped a tear from her cheek. "Sacrifices should never be easy." A forked tongue flicked between his teeth. His face was both that of a snake and a man. His hair was the color of sunlight, and over it he wore an elaborate feather headdress. Feathers of all colors covered his robe. "What do you wish of me?" 

"My lover is under a curse, and I need to wet my spear in your blood to free him." 

Quetzalcoatl eyed Tototl, who was perched on a branch above them. "He is a very fine bird. His colors are lovely. All those beautiful feathers will go to waste if he turns back into a man." He ran his hand over his headdress. "I could use some new feathers, and there are none finer than those of a quetzal." 

Tototl groomed his wings and three iridescent feathers drifted toward the ground. Cozamalotl caught them and handed them to Quetzalcoatl. 

He examined them. "These are impressive, but not the best that a quetzal has to offer." 

"But he'll die without his tail feathers," Cozamalotl said. 

"Only if he remains trapped as a bird." The god extended his hand to Tototl. "Do you believe that she can save you?" 

Tototl looked at Cozamalotl, then wrapped one of his feet around his two long, beautiful tail feathers, and pulled. 

Cozamalotl winced at the ripping sound as the feathers parted from his body. Blood seeped from his tail. He flew to Cozamalotl's shoulder, his balance unsteady. His eyes were almost completely black, now. He pressed the feathers into her hand. 

Quetzalcoatl examined one, then the other. "This is the finest feather I have ever held." He handed the other back to Cozamalotl. "You may keep this one." 

She clutched the feather to her heart as Quetzalcoatl pricked his tongue on her spear. Then the god melted into the morning sunlight. 


Tototl's wing was warm against Cozamalotl's cheek, and her shoulder was sticky with his blood. She had braided his second feather into her hair. It brushed against her arm as she limped through the cloud forest. She'd tucked Xochiquetzal's flower back behind her ear. 

Shadows shortened, and the sun shone high overhead. Cozamalotl would call to Huitzilopochtli at noon. Neither she nor Tototl had the energy to catch another frog, and Cozamalotl didn't think she could bring herself to kill another one. Her own blood would have to do. 

She slit her left palm on her spear and let her blood drip down the shaft. "Huitzilopochtli, Great Left-Handed Hummingbird, Lord of all Sorcerers, hear me. I offer you my blood as a sacrifice." 

The god dove down from the sun, straight overhead. For a moment, he blazed so bright that it burned Cozamalotl's eyes. Then the light faded, and Cozamalotl's dazzled vision adjusted. 

Huitzilopochtli's green wings blurred from their speed, and Cozamalotl could feel their vibration in her bones. Strong arms emerged beneath his wings, and his hands twisted and pulled at each other. He seemed incapable of stillness. His face was thin and wise, and his dark eyes seemed to look straight into her soul. "You called. I have come." He spoke quickly and deliberately. 

"My lover is under a curse, and I need to wet my spear in your blood to break it." 

Huitzilopochtli cocked his head, then flew around her faster than her eyes could follow. He darted back and forth, examining her from every angle. "What do you offer? I only want the most valuable thing you have." 

Cozamalotl's stomach sank. It was a riddle. What was the most valuable thing she had to offer? She'd already promised her firstborn sons, as well as her hand in marriage. She'd accidentally traded Tototl for her mother's health, and she and Tototl had both sacrificed their physical strength already. She had no possessions worthy of a god. 

Huitzilopochtli's eyes gleamed. 

What did she have to offer? She stared down at her hands. 

She could dedicate herself to him. But was her service the most valuable thing she had? 

In two days, she'd faced five gods. How many other people could say that? She had to be worth something. She bowed low, hoping her hubris wouldn't destroy them. "I offer myself to you, Great Lord." 

"Mmm. Yourself. Yes. Very clever. But you are not suited to serve my temple. And I do not want you in my bed." 

Tototl made a strange strangled noise. 

Huitzilopochtli darted up to him. "I said I didn't want her in my bed. Don't worry." 

Tototl cooed softly at the god. 

"Smart, you say?" Huitzilopochtli said. "You would say that. Biased." He darted back toward her and examined her hands. "You think I should train her as a sorcerer?" 

Tototl bobbed his head. 

"I could be a sorcerer?" Cozamalotl said. She had never dreamed of being more than a wife and mother. 
Huitzilopochtli buzzed back and forth. "Sorcery is mostly making deals. Trading with spirits, bargaining with gods. That's something you have a bit of practice with, yes?" 

"Yes," Cozamalotl said. She imagined working with the gods all of the time. It would be challenging. But rewarding. It was a worthy calling. She nodded. "I would be honored if you would train me." 

"You must sacrifice part of yourself," Huitzilopochtli said. "All sorcerers give a piece of themselves to me. I will take your left hand." 

Her left hand curled into a fist. She stared down at it. Life would be difficult with only one hand. Grinding corn and weaving would both be nearly impossible. But would she need to do those things if she was a sorcerer? Still, the thought of no longer being whole sent chills of terror through her soul. 

If she didn't get Huitzilopochtli's blood, her mother's illness would return, and Tototl would remain a bird and bleed to death. 

She held out her arm. 

"Mm. Very well." Huitzilopochtli took her left hand between his palms. He was still. Sharp, burning pain shot through Cozamalotl's fingers. Huitzilopochtli's hands glowed brighter than the sun, and Cozamalotl squeezed her eyes shut. The pain escalated, spread through her palm. 

She screamed. 

The light faded, and the pain vanished. Huitzilopochtli released her. 

A hand-shaped shadow, the color of smoke, curled at end of her left arm. She reached out and tried to touch Tototl with it, but it passed through him and pain sliced up her arm. Cozamalotl bit back a scream.  

Huitzilopochtli swooped down and pricked his tongue on the spear. "You will come back here for training. Come tomorrow. Early. Much to do. Not an easy path." 

He vanished back into the sun. 

Tototl looked down at his still-feathered body. "Kyow." 

Cozamalotl stroked his wing with her right hand. Had Xochiquetzal lied to them? Had she gone through all of that for nothing? She refused to look at the ghostly shadow where her left hand had been. "I have done as you asked!" she shouted. "It's time for you to fulfill your end of the bargain!" 

"You must thrust the spear through his breast." 

Cozamalotl jumped as Xochiquetzal stepped out of the shadows. 

"You have done well," the goddess said. Her smile was heart-wrenchingly beautiful.  

Cozamalotl looked from the spear to Tototl, then back to Xochiquetzal. She imagined him transforming back and falling dead at her feet. "You didn't tell me that I'd have to stab him." 

Xochiquetzal shrugged. "I saw no reason to worry you with the minor details." 

Cozamalotl carefully lifted Tototl from her shoulder and sat him on the ground. His bird-like eyes met hers with complete trust. 
Worry wormed its way into her gut. Goddesses didn't like to lose. She couldn't trust Xochiquetzal. Cozamalotl turned to the goddess. "If you are lying to me, and he dies, both Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli will be displeased." 

Xochiquetzal tilted her head to one side and chuckled. "Very well. You have indeed grown clever." She stepped forward and pricked her own tongue on Cozamalotl's spear. "By my blood, he will come to no harm." 

The blood glistened red against the black obsidian, and Cozamalotl's left hand tingled. She sensed truth in the goddess's promise. 
Cozamalotl held the spear in an awkward, single-handed grip and thrust it through Tototl's chest. 

When the spear point touched him, his body transformed back into his familiar human form. 

She pulled the spear out. The wound closed, leaving a jagged white scar over his heart. His face was waxy and pale, but it was his own again. 

Tototl sat up and threw his arms around her. The weight of him was solid and real, and the heaviness lifted from Cozamalotl's heart. 
He buried his face in her hair. "Thank you." His breath tickled her ear. He pulled back and examined her shadow hand. "Does it hurt?" 

Cozamalotl shook her head. "It's fine." She blinked back tears and clung to him. He was warm and solid and human. She pressed her lips to his. The shape of her life had changed in the past days, but she still had him. She traced his cheek. "I don't know how to begin to apologize to you." 

He caught her hand and kissed her fingers. "There is no need. Just think of the story that we'll have to tell our grandchildren." He touched the feather in her hair. "You are going to be a great sorcerer." 

Xochiquetzal cleared her throat and held out her hand. "Give me the coaxihuitl blossom." 

Cozamalotl stepped from Tototl's embrace and handed the flower back to Xochiquetzal, who wound the vine around the haft of Cozamalotl's spear. The vine grew into the wood and spiraled down its length, and the spear transformed into a sorcerer's staff. The goddess pressed it into Cozamalotl's shadow hand. The contact made her arm ache, but it was nothing compared to the pain she'd felt when she tried to touch Tototl, and she could feel the smooth wood against her palm. 

Cozamalotl looked at the staff. "This is a generous gift." 

"It is. Remember that, in the future. For I will be seeing you again, sorcerer." Xochiquetzal vanished back into the shadows. 
Cozamalotl looked up at the sinking sun. They had just enough time to get back to the village before sunset. And tomorrow, she'd return to begin her training. She had so much to tell her mother. She squeezed Tototl's hand. "Let's go home."