|Warrior Lord - stone decorative block on the Popul Na, the War Council House, North Acropolis.|
|THE BATTLE FOR BLUE BIRD HOUSE:
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:
"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:
"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.
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.
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
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.
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,
The boxing of the battle standards. The breakout to the east, fighting the rearguard down the sacbe.