Warrior Lord - stone decorative block on the Popul Na, the War Council House, North Acropolis.

The Communiques of K'AN YIL, Lord-General Of Cobá.

Chapter I - Prelude to Battle

K'an Yil heard the warriors calling out from the top of the pyramid above him. The reinforcements from home, from Cobá, were advancing up the sacbé, the sacred causeway from the heart of Ruffled Wind Portal to this one here: Blue Bird House Portal. K'an Yil arose and strode out of the war council house, signalling his standard bearer to follow. K'an Yil did not show it, but he was extremely relieved that the columns from Cobá were here so quickly. His message to the king must have touched a nerve.
As he approached the edge of the great platform that held the triad of pyramid temples behind him, he saw the battalions of Cobá warriors. He watched silently as they passed in review and returned the salute as they recognized his tasseled battle standard. Then the battalions turned their attention to the huge eastern acropolis and saluted the formal battle standards arrayed on the portico that the alliance had built on the Solstice Pyramid.
K'an Yil noticed immediately that the battle standard of the king was not among the battalions. But he did not betray any disappointment; he had not expected the king to come up to the dangerous portals of Yaxuná.
Only seven days before, K'an Yil , the lord-general of the combined forces of Cobá and Uxmal had sent a fast courier back down the sacbé with a warning to the lord king of Cobá. His message read:

from Lord-general K'an Yil, Supreme Commander of Yaxuná:
greetings Lord King, dear brother

"At the time of the new moon, strong reconnaissance forces from Chichén Itzá attacked and temporarily besieged the rock citadel of Xcan Ha, which my lord knows as our fortress to the northwest of our garrison here at Yaxuná. This crisis is past, for I did send strong forces immediately to lift the siege. However, if I may be bold to inform you, the long term danger is not past. We have built up our forces from the allied cities for the two years since the completion of the sacbé, but forces from the Itzá confederacy at Chichén Itzá have kept pace. We have seen the arrival of large contingents from Tiho and Dzibilchaltun, and Izamal consistently reinforces the garrison. We see fires on their portal mountains many times during the moon period. Their reconnaissance and ambuscades are becoming more frequent and are threatening the communications to our sacred city and to Uxmal. I order counter raids to the north, but the need to protect our communications and outposts stretches our available force. Therefore, to mount our planned attack on Chichén Itzá in the coming season between the planting, I humbly request the attack troops hastened up to Yaxuná now during this harvest season, rather than later." KY
In a separate and secret message to the king, the lord-general was more frank and explicit:

Dear brother,
"Those Serpent warriors damn near overran Xcan Ha. And they crossed over the sacbé on the second day of the moon and attacked the eastern citadel. You better send up those troops now. Even better, you should come up to the garrison with them to see conditions and boost the morale. The raids I send out as a counter to the Serpents are a joke. They outnumber us in the area between the cities. I'll be lucky to hold this old town until those stinking, chanting priest-warriors from Uxmal get here. I don't have to tell you that the ominous season of Jaguar-Venus, within whose propitious time we are to attack Chichén Itzá, is also the most probable time to expect an attack from them. Dear brother, if you do not wish to see the serpent warriors on your doorstep, send me those reinforcements now." KY

When the lord-general went up to Xcan Ha in person, he had not liked what he saw. The reconnaissance raid from Chichén Itzá had almost forced their way into the citadel and only last minute defensive walls, thrown up in great haste and desperation, had thwarted the attackers. He ordered an observation and signalling tower built and the main approaches to the citadel made into a labyrinth. He could hardly reinforce them here, but the fall of this outpost would have a serious effect on morale. He considered putting one of the major battle standards here, but he could not afford to lose it­which he suspected would happen­and he could not afford all the ritual that it would entail. He did not hold out much hope for the garrison and everyone at Xcan Ha knew what he was thinking, "These men are doomed. "

Note: K'an Yil captured several high ranking serpent warriors during the construction of the sacbé. Sakauil

Late at nights, K'an Yil had been reading reports from his brother of the decay descending upon his ancestral city, Naranjo. The city workers were refusing to put up more buildings and monuments, the wars were eating up the most vigorous men, now the droughts of the past few years were forcing migrations of the peasantry and the wars were driving out the bureaucrats. In the last siege, thousands had fled down the rivers to Cerros and Altun Ha.
K'an Yil traced his lineage to the royal family of Naranjo, an ancient city deep in the southern heartland. He had been reading of the great battles surrounding his ancestral city and knew that warrior generals and warrior kings, distant cousins of his, were now also engaged in savage warfare. He knew that a new flood of his cousins­probably all bureaucrats and artists, no warriors­would be coming north to flee the horrors of the combat. And more than likely bring the wars of the superpowers along with them. As if enough war to last several lifetimes were not here already in the North.

But now he had other concerns. At the time of the attack on Xcan Ha, Chichén warriors also cut over the sacbé and attacked his strong eastern outpost on the Yax Ha, his eastern citadel. He sent a fast detachment of his best fighters to reestablish the communication down the sacbé and this force surprised the Chichén warriors in ambush and killed or captured almost all of them. He was looking forward to sacrificing these enemies for making his life difficult.

K'an Yil remembered the day that the sacbe had been completed. For months the last few miles of the sacbe had seemed impossible. The enemy had resisted them almost every stepand many of his people weredead on the way. The work had taken twelve years to complete. They had started out secretly and the first few miles they had not built, so that traders, visitors, and spies could not see the beginning of the construction. They would build and dedicate it later. There was time enough for the enemy to guess the intentions of Cobá: the audacious thrust of a sacbe all the way to Yaxuná. Then the enemy would be provoked, they would curse and tremble with fear at the power and might of Cobá.
But now two years into the construction KY was having some doubts. Itzá warriors had taken to ambushing the work parties and carrying away auxiliaries. the commander of the project had not yet come up with good counter measures and KY thought he could come up with a better system. He organized elite hunter groups as counter ambush squads, who would go out half a day in front and to the sides of the construction and lay in wait for the enemy. He set out a heavy force to guard the back door and only guarded the communications, rather than string out a garrison force all the way along the length of the causeway. He came up with other innovations.

Coming back from his reverie, K'an Yil felt somewhat relieved that he had reinforcements from Cobá. Now he was anxiously awaiting the main body of troops that were due from Uxmal. He had already received some of their advanced elements and they were elite fighters with some high officers to help in command and planning. But the main body was late and he needed them soon. He had received some disquieting reports that small forces of Chichén warriors were seen to the west and southwest. These warriors could be harassing the Uxmal column and delaying their arrival in Yaxuná. He was thinking, "I need them soon."


YaxPax relaxed for a moment. It was the first time in several days that they had taken a break from building the tower that the Lord General had ordered. He looked around and saw that the workers on the labyrinth were still piling up stones to make the main entrance more difficult to storm.
YaxPax remembered how the Chichén warriors had assaulted the main gate and almost broke through. He had placed the battle standard of the commander in a rock crevice so that it stood above the battle and he had taken up large stones, and protected by a low, rude wall, heaved them down on the heads of the serpent warriors. That was eight days ago. Today he had heard that they were to be reinforced by some elite guys just up from Cobá. Those guys thought they were hot. Wait until they saw the situation here. They would foul their loincloths, right up to their feather headdresses.
YaxPax did not have the greatest regard for the Cobá fighters, even though they had come and conquered his city in the time of his father. But they did not really conquer the city so much as kill off the king and his family and pull down some of the buildings the new dynasty had built. And it wasn't that the people of Yaxuná cared that much about the king, because the king's grandfather had usurped the throne when that noble family had treacherously allied with some Tutul Xiu warrior priests and some noble families of the Itza and overthrew the legitimate dynasty of Yaxuná.
The old dynasty had ruled for as long as anyone could remember or write down, perhaps 10 katuns. YaxPax had to admit though that his father thought the new dynasty had been good for the city, for trade had increased, with salt-laden caravans for the south, and jade and flint for the north had begun to stop at Yaxuná again. And now that Cobá had taken over the city, the place was overrun with warriors and bureaucrats, and even more trade from the coasts were staging through the city. Now if they didn't have all this trouble with Chichén Itzá, maybe he could get in on the trade, get some money and some allies, and eventually take back his home and reinstall the old, old dynasty, the dynasty that had built all the old temples and did not fight wars.
He dreamt of a return to the days when the great magic portals had been built by the legitimate kings, when the warriors of Yaxuná had held the whole central part of the peninsula, and Yaxuná traders had brought salt and, in some years, even dried maize to the famine areas in the south. Those were the years when the southern folk were fighting constantly and destroying each other's food, even in the bad years and all the prayers to Chak-the-raingod fell on deaf ears.
But now it was even worse. YaxPax had heard reports of whole cities in the south falling apart from the famines and wars, how they were conquered and never rebuilt. So far these were the small cities. But he had heard that big cities were now weakening. He heard that the far off king of Palenque had been captured by Toniná. He had heard of Palenque before, but Toniná seemed legendary to him. It was like a fantasy story, a kingdom where the warriors left their families when they were small and dedicated themselves only to warfare. Well, YaxPax was going to be a great warrior himself, but only to become a rich trader and bring back the old royal house of Yaxuná.
YaxPax had learned to read and write, even though writing had fallen out of favor. No one wrote in stone at Yaxuná, but he had been to Cobá and had seen the stone writing there and also at Chichén Itzá. But now he heard that writing had been restricted to only a few and no wrote on the walls anymore. But he wanted to be a trader and writing was very important, if not for anything besides keeping track of his money.

Note: YaxPax is the standard bearer for the commander of Xcan Ha. During the catastrophe at that citadel, he dismantles the battle standard and without the box he brings it back to Yaxuná. During the battle he saw the great battle beasts of the warring parties and the beast who lived in his battle standard spoke to him, told him to carry the standard back to Yaxuná to be buried near the cenote in the western suburbs, to be resurrected at a later time. The modern villagers find this battle standard during the modern excavations.

stretched face skin, flayed enemy face skin. Pakals. tok pakal=flint shields.

Kan' Yil's brother Butz Yip dies in the first battle and is buried with a severed enemy head. They bounce the enemy down the steps of 6f3.

K'an Yil's last communique read:

The enemy is attacking in force. We have recognized elements from several Itzá cities, including Dzibilchaltun, Tiho, Izamal, Aké, , and of course, Chichén Itzá. The battle is fierce, with serpent warriors of Chichén Itzá taking the leading role, but elite warriors from the other cities are also in the battle dance. We must remember to punish these cities when we go to destroy them. Someday we shall meet in the great place at Dzibilchaltun and tear down their portal. "Meet you next year at the Temple of the Seven Dolls. "
The main force from the Puuc cities arrived very late and are used up by fighting their way across the Mani trail. Chichén forces harassed them from the vicinity of Sotuta and we were forced to send out a column to attack the harassing force from the rear at Mopila. Only then did they scatter and allow the free passage of the Puuc forces into our lines here.
The Puuc forces have been very good once they got into our fortress, but I'm afraid they were not used to marching and fighting as the enemy forced them to do. The Chak warriors of Kabah and Sayil have proved to be the most valuable for their aggressive attitude. They enjoy going out on reconnaissance and capturing the enemy. They have captured so many of the enemy that I have set aside one of the staircases in the Eastern Acropolis as a sacrificial place for them. The entire garrison gets great enjoyment and a tremendous morale boost just visiting their encampment n for their rituals and spectacles. Their good morale and fighting spirit is rubbing off on the rest of the troops from the allied cities and even on our own warriors.
After first thinking that Xcan Ha was a lost cause, I have changed my mind. They have completed a signalling and observation tower and we have set up a system of signals to our lookout on the north pyramid. I have had the luxury of reinforcing that citadel with some of our elite force from Cobá and detailed your nephew, lord commander Butz-Yip to establish his battle standard there alongside the proxy standards of Yaxuná and Cobá. I feel confident about the outpost for the first time since we came up here before this year's burning for the milpas. I send now this message in haste for we have received a signal from the tower at Xcan Ha that they have seen considerable movement in the milpa clearings to their north and east. Perhaps this is the assault that we have anticipated. May they break their teeth and beaks upon the rocks of Xcan Ha. KY

Next installment unfinished:

Notes for Chapter II The Battle for Blue Bird House

Note: During the battle, the disciplined battle dance of the Itzá. The syncopated war chants that animated the mystical combat of the battle beast of the cities, fighting over the battle standards of the antagonists. The crucial part of the battle: the demoralization of the defenders upon the loss of their battle standard. In fact, they lost their main battle standard in the fight in the city. And the fall of the citadel follows upon the loss of another important standard within the siege walls.

The battle onthe siege wall.
Burial 13. Kan Yil's brother.

from Lord-general K'an Yil, Supreme Commander of Yaxuná:
greetings Lord King, dear brother

I send this message in much distress, for I am confident it shall not reach your eyes. I warn you to prepare our city for an attack from the west. Yaxuná shall fall and my battle palanquin taken. Our hope here is to fall in battle and not be captured. The ancestor bundles on the eastern acropolis have been taken and many of our warriors sacrificed. The Chak warriors of Kabah and Sayil have clothed themselves in glory and I believe that their story will be told even in the warrior halls of Chichén Itzá. But they too have fallen on the ramparts and temple stairs of the eastern acropolis. We could hear their screams of rage and pain all last night and we could only endure the taunts and lurid threats in silence as we listened to the first of our comrades being sacrificed across the great plaza. We finally began sacrificing our own captives with as much pain and torment as possible, so as to drown out those screams from our companions. And to drown the guilt of our failure to save them and to drown the fear of what awaits us now.

Note: the battle for the eastern acropolis: no time to set up a siege wall,
a lot of warriors available; this is an important portal, with the alliance review stand and some ancestor bundles here, but the north acopolis looks like it can be better defended. there is an attack on the eastern acropolis an the battle can be heard from pocox Na. So Kan Yil sends out a sortie to relieve the pressure of the attack and his forces slam into the war dancers of Chichen. they break almost to the steps of the portico building. that is the high tide of Yaxuna/coba. They capture many Itza warriors and drag them back as they are pressed back from the eastern acropolis. But the sortie works as chichen breaks off the attack on the eastern. They next day chichen seperates its forces and attacks both citadels at the same time. Kan Yil can see the attack on the eastern is going badly, and the attack on him is just a spoiling attack to prevent him from sallying forth. But he sends a column out anyway, out the back way, away from the attack on his ramparts facing the eastern.
This force takes the chichen warriors by surprise and again he sends out a column by the front gate and they assault the jaguar warriors in front of the great council house. They can hear the cheers of the force on the eastern acropolis. They can use all the good news they can get, for now it is apparant just how outnumbered they really are. So far there is no attack on the central acropolis, and they have not sallied. But then they were the contingents from Uxmal.

The warriors from Kabah and the small Puuc cities have fought well. They had been seperated during the heat of battle and some had ended up with him in the north complex. He was glad they were here. He was proud to fight the final battle with their decimated regiments by his side. He thought, "Perhaps, with a few of these good men, and some of my household guard, I can carry the battle standard, and my own standard, away from this siege. Perhaps, we can carry out the ancestor bundles that we brought here when we conquered this forsaken place. Perhaps we can break out to the sacbe. How can I signal the breakout to the east group?

The boxing of the battle standards. The breakout to the east, fighting the rearguard down the sacbe.

Next installment:

Chapter III The Fall of Cobá.