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The game

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At the start of a game, there is a ceremony, with music and drumming and players in exquisitely worked stone headdress. It symbolises the duality of life and death, or victory in war, or the harvest. In a way it doesn't matter; the struggle doesn't begin until the game starts.

When the hero twins played the lords of death, there was no crowd to see the ceremony. There was no opposing team to intimidate with the wealth of their feathers and the size of their yoke, either. They performed the ceremony anyway. Just the two of them, in the empty ball court. Then they divested themselves of most of their formal ball player equipage, keeping only the handstones, knee pads and loincloths used in play.

They scored eight times in the first twenty minutes, and seven more in the next twenty -Xablanque missed a shot. They gradually got tired - running to retrieve the great rubber ball was a regular workout and by the end of the hour were down to below once-every-five-minutes.
After six hours they were staggering. Hunahpu suggested a break for dinner and his brother insisted that they take turns, so that they didn't stop playing.

By the end of the week they had a routine down, sleeping, eating, hunting and scoring point after point in the empty ballcourt. The ceremonial headdresses sat untouched and gathering dust.

On average they scored over one hundred and fifty points a day. Very occasionally, they would get a hoop shot, but there was no one to accept that this was victory, so they played on, gathering bruises from sloppy shots and unexpected ricochets.

In the nineteenth year of the game, a tired Xablanque responded slightly too slowly to a bounce and broke his nose. Disgustingly, the wound went septic. He lingered for months before he died. Hunahpu, grief-stricken, exhausted with caring for his brother through his final illness and still endlessly hip-checking the ball, died soon afterwards. The lords of death had won another game.