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by Giovanni Paniccia

In Mystara we have:
A Katapec people.
Crystal Pyramids
Tabi studying Katapec civilisation
Matazumi, a floating skull
Oltecs and Azcans

In Earth (real world) we have:
Azcans, Incas, Mayan, etc etc
Montezuma, with a name sounding very like Matazumi
Crystal Skulls

So, here is my idea about Katapec people and their Crystal Pyramids.

Katapecs originally were an offshoot tribe of Oltecs, like Azcans was.
They were nomads. They loved to travel in jungles, from place to place.
Until they found a strange jungle plant.
This plant, if smoked, allows the user to travel in the Astral Plane, with an astral self and also with his spirit (like peyotl from Coaxaca's Little Peyotl House in Oenkmar - see Gaz10, page 28).
Katapecs discovered the great powers of the plant because local tribes of rakastas kept it taboo.
(I need your help here, as I missed the Dragon issue with Bruce's article about rakastyne subraces: is there any ocelot variety?)
Katapecs decided not to move away from the natural growing fields of Astral Plant.
Rakastas felled humans were breaking an important, religious taboo, and so a war started.
Humans were victorious, and rakastas reduced in slavery.
For some years rakastas lived as slave of their human masters. They learned lots of human ways. They learned to build stone pyramids, houses, temples, calendars. They learned the great powers of Otzitiotl (the Sun Prince Ixion, by the name Katapecs known for Him) and raised from a "shamanic" mysticism to an organised religion.
Astral Plant addicts discovered a strange plant power. In astral plane remained a strong imago of the traveller spirit. Or, some could think, a sliver of the spirit itself remained trapped in the astral.
So, after the death of an addict, his spirit was unable to rest as it should.
But, under the protection of the Sun Prince
They discovered the proprieties because if a dead body was not directly lighted a restless spirit raised from the body, bringing death and terror.
It was a protection from Otzitiotl, but it worked also with torches or bonfires during the night.
So it was that Katapecs started building crystal resting places for their dead. And the great Crystal Pyramids flourished.
The Katapec civilisation survived long time, with great stone towns and Crystal Pyramids, with a dominant human class and a rakastyne slave class.
Keeping torches lighted during the night was a primary job, as spirits would rise should no light bath their resting bodies. But it was also an obnoxious job, one for a slave, not a job for a noble class human.
So it was that all night torch lighting job was rakasta done. Until rakastas upraised and decided to turn off all torches and fires in the town.
Spirits raised and searched for humans victims. Because all spirits were humans (do you remember?: rakastas did never use the Astral Plant, because the keep it taboo).
So, spirits killed all humans, and leaved rakastas, as the felt them little more than animals.
Rakastas, now the only Katapecs, started a new living. They was now themselves lieges.
After many years, tabi started to explore Katapecs towns. They found a rakastyne people living there. And they did not remember much about Crystal Pyramids origins. They just explained to their tabi visitors that a Crystal Pyramid is a building sacred to Otzitiotl, because his shining motes could reach inside, where ceremonies were done.
A tabi wanted to know more, and explored the inside. Knowing some Oltec symbol he learned a lot about spirits kept inside Crystal Pyramids. And he specked about it with his master, a nagpa studying necromancy at the Onyx Tower. The nagpa, seeing an easier way to control some undead, researched a simple conjuration spell to call for a spirit servant from the Crystal Pyramids. But the young student was not so smart as he believed! He called for Matazumi, one of the former human Katapecs. But he had no control at all over the druj spirit he called. So it was that Matazumi was geased and now he is Serraine Librarian.