Day after day, the twin brothers, Jun and Wuqub,
ran back and forth playing ball.
One day, their vigorous game disturbed the lords of the underworld,
who challenged the twins to a match.
But when the brothers arrived,
the lords trapped and killed them，
hanging Jun’s head from a tree as a trophy.
The tree soon sprouted massive fruit,
which caught the attention of one of the lords’ daughters.
When she reached for it,
the skull of Jun spat on her hand
and impregnated her.
Fleeing of her father’s wrath,
she sought refuge with her mother-in-law
and gave birth to twin sons:
Junajpu and Ixb’alanke.
Junajpu 和 Ixb’alanke
The second generation of twins discovered their father’s ballgame equipment,
which their grandmother had hidden, and began to play.
Soon enough, the messengers from the underworld arrived
to issue another challenge.
Knowing what had happened to their fathers,
the twins nevertheless answered the call,
trekking through deep caverns
and across rivers filled with scorpions, blood, and pus,
until they reached the great city
from which the lords of the underworld controlled every aspect of nature
and caused suffering for humans.
The twins pressed on,
searching for the lords who had challenged them.
The lords had hidden among statues of themselves to confuse their guests,
but the brothers sent a mosquito ahead of them.
When it stung the figures,
the lords cried out, revealing themselves.
They forced the twins to spend the night in the House of Darkness.
They gave them a torch,
but warned they must return it unburnt
or face death.
As the darkness closed in,
the quick-thinking brothers adorned the torch
with red macaw feathers and fireflies.
Come morning, the lords were shocked
to see the torch lit, but unburnt.
They insisted on playing the game with their own ball.
The twins agreed,
only to find that the lords had hidden a weapon inside the ball,
which chased them around the court, trying to kill them.
The twins survived that first round,
but by now they were sure this would be no ordinary match.
They played many more rounds,
and each time the twins scored no better than a tie,
leaving them to face whatever supernatural trial
the lords set for them before picking up the game again.
They survived the House of Cold by lighting a fire,
and the House of Jaguars by feeding bones to the beasts.
But in the House of Bats,
a bat bit off Junajpu’s head.
Certain they now had the advantage,
the lords called for another round of the ballgame,
hanging Junajpu’s head over the court.
The quick-thinking Ixb’alanke called the animals to him.
A turtle brought him a chilacayote squash,
and he carved it into the likeness of a head.
While the lords chased the ball,
he swapped it with the head.
With Junajpu’s head back on his body,
the twins played harder than ever.
Finally, they won the game,
hitting the hanging squash so it shattered on the ground.
The twins knew their treacherous hosts
would not take the loss well.
To protect themselves, they enlisted a pair of seers.
Sure enough, the lords burned the brothers in an oven,
but the seers made sure their remains were thrown in the river,
which restored them to life.
The brothers then came before the lords
disguised as two disheveled children
and began to dance and perform miracles.
For their final trick, Ixb’alanke pretended to kill Junajpu,
then resurrect him.
The lords were so delighted
that they demanded the same trick be performed on them.
Still in disguise, the brothers were only too happy to oblige,
and began killing the lords one by one.
As the surviving lords realized who stood before them
and that no resurrection was forthcoming,
they begged for mercy, and the twins spoke their curse.
Henceforth, the lords would have no sacrifices
and no power over the surface world.
Their days of terrorizing humans were over.
While the hero twins were vanquishing the lords of the underworld,
Chak Ek’ was busing plotting revenge on his brother,
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