The twins took to the game of Pok ah’ Tok’ with a passion, and played long hours every day. They cleared the old playing field where their fathers had performed amazing feats of skill, and practiced daily. But soon enough the Lords of Xibalba heard them:

“Who is that, playing again above our heads? Have they no shame, jumping about up there? Do they not know that we killed Jun Junajpu and Wuqub Junajpu because they showed us no respect? Go call them!” said Jun Kame and Wuqub Kame.

The Lords sent for the messengers and told them: “This is what you must say, when you arrive there: ‘The Lords command them to come and play with us here, in seven days’ time.’ This you must say when you arrive there.”

The messengers took the wide road, the one that runs straight to the twins’ house, and they went right in where grandmother Ixmukane was. While the twins were playing Pok ah’ Tok’, the messengers from Xibalba arrived.

“They must truly come, say the Lords,” spoke the messengers from Xibalba, and they appointed a day for this to happen: “In seven days’ time we must see them there, playing,” they said to Ixmukane.

“Very well, messengers, I will send for them,” she said. The messengers left then, they went back to Xibalba. She was instantly distraught, grandmother Ixmukane.  

“Who will I send to call my grandchildren? And aren’t these the same messengers that came long ago, when their fathers were called away to their death?” said Ixmukane, weeping piteously alone in her house.

Then a louse fell right in front of her, she immediately grabbed it and put it on the palm of her hand. The louse wiggled as it walked.

“You, creature, maybe you want to run my errand, maybe I can send you: my grandchildren must be called in from the playing field,” she told the louse. “You will say to them when you arrive, ‘Messengers came just now to your grandmother from Xibalba, saying that in seven days’ time you must be there to play Pok ah’ Tok’.’ Your grandmother has ordered this to be said to you,” she instructed the louse to say when it went as a courier.

The louse went straight off, wiggling as it went. It chanced to pass by a young frog sitting on the side of the road. Tamasul was the frog’s name.

“Where are you going?” the frog asked the louse.

“I have a message inside, I’m going to where the twins are,” it said to Tamasul.

“Very good, but I can see you aren’t going very fast,” the frog told the louse, “Don’t you want me to swallow you? You’ll see that I go much faster, and we will get there sooner.”

“All right!” said the louse to the frog. And at that moment it was swallowed by the frog. The frog went on a good ways, but they didn’t really get very far. Then he met a big snake, Saqikas was her name.

“Where are you going, young Tamasul?” the frog was asked by the snake.

“I’m a messenger. I carry a message inside,” the frog answered.

“But you’re not in a hurry, from what I see. I would get there much faster,” the snake said. “Come in!” The frog was instantly swallowed by Saqikas. And that is how snakes acquired their food, and they swallow frogs to this day.  

Then the snake went on, much faster. But in turn, she was seen by Wak, a big bird, who swallowed her right up. Since then, hawks acquired their given food, and they eat snakes in the mountains.

Wak arrived at the edge of the playing field. He settled on the side of the Pok ah’ Tok’ field, where Junajpu and Xbalamke were playing very happily. Wak sang out his call:

“Wak k’o, wak k’o!”

“Who is calling? Let our blowpipes come,” the twins said. They quickly shot at Wak, hitting him in the eye with a pellet, and he came circling down to the ground. They ran to grab him, and asked him:

“Where do you come from?”

“I have a message inside, but first you must heal my eye and then I will tell you,” answered Wak.

“All right!” they said. They took a bit of rubber from the ball they were playing with, and put it in Wak’s eye. “Blood of sacrifice”, this is called. Wak’s sight was soon restored.

“Speak, then!” they said to Wak.

Right away he vomited the big snake.

“Speak!” they said to the snake.

“Very well,” she said, and vomited the frog.

“What is your errand? Speak up at once!” they told the frog in turn.

“I have a message inside,” answered the frog. Then he tried to vomit, but he vomited nothing, only filled his mouth with drool. He tried again, but vomited nothing. Then the twins went to beat him.

“You’re a liar,” they told him. They kicked his thighs and broke the bones in his hips. He tried again, but only saliva came out of his mouth. Then they tore the frog’s mouth, the twins tore it and looked inside the mouth and there was the louse stuck in between the frog’s teeth. It had stayed in the mouth, it wasn’t swallowed but only seemed to have been swallowed. Thus was the frog tricked. So it isn’t clear what the frogs’ given food is, and since it doesn’t move fast, it became the snakes’ food.

“Speak!” they said to the louse. Then it gave its message:

“Your grandmother sends word, young ones: ‘Go and call them. Messengers have come seeking you from Xibalba, sent by Jun Kame and Wuqub Kame. “In seven days they must come so we can play, they must bring their gear: ball, belts, arm bands and leather skirts. Here they will be taught a lesson!” say the Lords as they send their words.’ This is what your grandmother says, and for that reason I came. Sincerely this is what she says as she weeps and calls for you, and so I came.”

“Can this be true?” the twins asked themselves when they heard. They went back right away, they came to Ixmukane but only to tell her what must be done.

“We must go, dear grandmother, we only came to advise you. This is the sign of our word, which each of us will leave here. We are going to plant some corn stalks in the middle of our house, that is where we will plant them. It will be a sign of our death if they dry up. ‘Have they died, then?’ you will say if they wither. But when they bloom again, ‘They are alive!’ you will say, dear grandma; and you, mother dear, do not weep. This sign of our existence remains with you,” they said.

And so they did: Junajpu planted one stalk, the other was planted by Xbalamke. They planted them in the house, not up the mountain, not on moist soil but in dry soil; in the middle of the courtyard in their house, they left them planted.

They went away, then, each with their blowpipe, and went down to Xibalba. They ran quickly down some steps and came to a gully of clouded waters, where the birds called Molaj were gathered waiting for them. They passed, unharmed, and then over a river of putrid water and over a river of blood. These were all places where the children would be defeated, thought the Xibalbans; but they passed over on their blowpipes, and their feet did not even touch them.

They came then to the place of the crossroads, but they already knew of the four roads to Xibalba: a black road, a white road, a red road, a green road. They sent an animal, Xan was its name. It would collect information for them, they sent it with this instruction:

 “You will go and bite them one by one. First you will bite the one sitting in the first place, until you have bitten them all,” they said to Xan ”Your reward will be the sucking of blood from people on the roads.”

Xan went then down the black road, arriving directly behind the mannequins, the wooden figures that were seated in the first places and covered with ornaments; Xan stung the first one, but it didn’t speak.

Xan went on stinging and when it bit the second figure that was sitting there, it said nothing as well. Then it bit the third. The one sitting in the third place was Jun Kame.

“Ouch!” he said when he was stung. “Ouch!” said Jun Kame.

“What happened, Jun Kame?” said the one in the fourth place.

“Something bit me, I don’t know what…”

And the one sitting in the fourth place in line said also, “Ouch! Who bit me?”

“What happened to you, Wuqub Kame?” said Jun Kame from the third seat.

Then the one in the fifth place in line cried, “Something bit me, I don’t know what… Ouch! Ouch!”

And Wuqub Kame asked him, “What has stung you, Xikiripat?”

Then the one in the sixth seat was stung by Xan. “Ouch!”

“What is it, Kuchuma Kik’?” Xikiripat asked him.

“Something has stung me,” Kuchuma Kik’ answered.

Then the seventh one seated was stung. “Ouch!” he exclaimed.

“What happened, Ajal Puj?” Kuchuma Kik’ asked him.

“I don’t know, something has stung me,” he answered.

The one in the eighth seat was stung at that very instant, and he cried, “Ouch!” 

“What happened, Ajal Q’ana,” Ajal Puj asked him.

“Something stung me, I can’t tell what,” he answered.

Then the ninth seated in line was stung. “Ouch!” he exclaimed.

“What happened, Ch’amiya Baq?” Ajal Q’ana asked him.

“Something stung me, I don’t know what,” he answered.

Then the tenth one seated was stung. “Ouch!”

“What happened, Ch’amiya Jolom?” Ch’amiya Baq asked him.

“Something, I don’t know what, stung me,” he answered.

The eleventh seated in line was stung, and cried out.

“What happened, Xik?” Ch’amiya Jolom asked him.

“Something stung me, I don’t know what,” he answered.

Then the twelfth seated in line was stung. “Ouch!” he said.

“What happened, Patan?” Xik asked him.

“Something stung me, I don’t know what,” he answered.

Then the thirteenth seated in line was stung. “Ouch!”

“What happened, Kik’ Re?” asked Patan.

“Something stung me, I don’t know what,” he answered.

Right then the fourteenth seated in line was stung. “Ouch! I don’t know what stung me!” he said.

“Kik’ Rixk’aq?” Kik’ Re said his name.

And so they revealed their names, each other’s identities one by one. They made themselves known, named their names each by the one superior to him in rank, each named by the one seated at his side. Not one name was omitted, they all spoke their names when they were stung by Xan. But Xan was not a true mosquito, only a hair from Junajpu’s shin, which he sent to bite them and overhear all their names.

Thus prepared, the twins Junajpu and Xbalamke went on and arrived at the place where the Lords of Xibalba were waiting. “Greet the Lords,” a courtier instructed them, “the ones seated.”

The twins approached the first and second seats, took a look and said, “These are no Lords, they are just mannequins, just wooden figures.” They went on then to the third and fourth seats, and spoke their greetings to them and to all the rest: “Good day, Lord Jun Kame! Good day, Lord Wuqub Kame! Good day, Lord Xikiripat! Good day, Lord Kuchuma Kik’! Good day, Lord Ajal Puj! Good day, Lord Ajal Q’ana! Good day, Lord Ch’amiya Baq! Good day, Lord Ch’amiya Jolom! Good day, Lord Xik! Good day, Lord Patan! Good day, Lord Kik’ Re! Good day, Lord Kik’ Rixk’aq!” they said to each in turn.

All were identified, they said all the names; not a single one escaped them. The Lords were appalled. They never expected the twins to know their names.

“Sit down there!” the Lords told them, gesturing towards the stone bench for them to sit on; but they refused.

“That is no seat for us, that bench is nothing but a burning rock!” Junajpu and Xbalamke said. They were not defeated.

“Very well! Go, then, to that house,” the Lords said. The twins went right into the House of Darkness, and they were not defeated there, either. This was the first trial of Xibalba, the place where they were led to. Here would begin their defeat, thought the Xibalbans.

First, then, they entered the House of Darkness, and directly they were given a splinter of resinous wood. It was already burning when the messenger of Jun Kame brought it, as well as a cigar for each of them.

“This is your torch, says the Lord; but you must return it at dawn, along with the cigars, when the watchers come to collect them, so the Lord has said,” the messenger instructed.

“Very well!” the twins answered. But they did not keep the resinous wood alight, and only substituted the flames with macaw tail feathers which appeared to the watchers as burning wood. As for the cigars, they merely put fireflies on the tips and made them glow all night.

“We have defeated them!” said the watchers. But the resinous wood had not been consumed, it was returned just as it had been given. And the cigars had not even been lit, they were just as delivered, and thus were they returned to the Lords.

“Who are these children? Where have they come from? Who begot them, who gave them life? In truth, our hearts burn in rage because what they are doing to us is not right. They are different, their nature is other,” they said to themselves.

Then the Lords all sent for the twins. “Let us go and play, children,” they said to them. Jun Kame and Wuqub Kame questioned them. 

“Where have you come from? Tell us, at once, children,” the Xibalban Lords asked.

“Who knows where we come from! We don’t know,” they answered simply, revealing nothing.

“Very well, then! Let us play ball, children,” said the Xibalbans.

“Very well!” they answered.

“We will use our ball,” said the Xibalbans.

“No! We will use ours,” said the twins.

“Absolutely not! We will use ours,” said the Xibalbans.

“Very well, then!” the twins answered.

“So be it! This one is just decorated,” said the Xibalbans.

“Not decorated! We say it’s nothing but a skull,” the twins answered.

“That’s not so!” said the Xibalbans.

“Very well!” answered Junajpu.

The Xibalbans threw the ball, and it came straight to Junajpu’s girdle. But to the Xibalbans’ surprise, the white quartz razor leaped out of the ball and went bouncing, clattering down the playing field.

“What is this?” asked Junajpu and Xbalamke. If what you want is our death, you shouldn’t have invited us. Why did you send your messengers? Please excuse us, truly, we are going home,” said the twins.

What the Xibalbans had expected was for the twins to die right there, slashed by the quartz, defeated. But it didn’t happen that way. It was the Xibalbans who were defeated by the twins.

“Don’t go, children! We must play, and we will use your ball,” they pleaded.

“Very well!” the twins answered. They took out their ball, and put it on the playing field. Then there was a question regarding the winners’ trophy.

“What will our prize be?” asked the Xibalbans.

“You decide,” answered the twins.

“We will win four gourds of flowers,” said the Xibalbans.

“Very well! What sort of flowers?” the twins inquired.

“One gourd of red petals, one of white petals, one gourd of yellow petals, and one of large petals,” the Xibalbans recited.

“Very well!” answered the twins.

When they began to play, both teams seemed equally matched. The twins made many plays, but deliberately let themselves be beaten. The Xibalbans were very happy.

“We have done well, we have beaten them at the first game,” whispered one Xibalban Lord to another.

“Where will they go to get the flowers?” a third asked, smugly.

“Truly, tomorrow early you must bring us the flowers we have won,” the Xibalbans said aloud to Junajpu and Xbalamke.

“We will, and then we must play again,” the twins challenged. They were taken then to pass the night in the House of Sharp Crystals, the second trial of Xibalba.

The Lords’ intention was that they be shredded by the grinding and slashing shards. Their hearts desired these deaths, quickly.

But the twins didn’t die. They spoke to the screeching shards and instructed them. “Be still! Yours will be all kinds of animal meats.” And the shards moved no more and were quiet. The twins spent the night calmly in the House of Sharp Crystals and from there they summoned the ants.

“Leafcutter ants, warrior ants! Come, all of you. Go and fetch us flower petals, red, white, yellow, and some large ones, the prize which the Lords have won.”

“Very well!” all the ants replied as one, and went off to gather flowers from Jun Kame and Wuqub Kame’s own garden.

However, the Xibalban Lords had already warned the nightjars, keepers of their garden. “Can you guard our flowers? Do not let them be stolen, because we have defeated the children and where else could they acquire the prize we have won from them? No other place! So guard them for us during this one night.”


“Very well!” the keepers answered. But these poor guardians felt nothing, and spent their time singing on the branches of trees in the garden, hopping from one here to there, saying their names in song:

“Xpurpuweq, xpurpuweq!” one of them sang.

“Pujuy, pujuy!” said the one called Pujuy in its song.

The keepers of Jun Kame and Wuqub Kame’s garden never noticed the ants that came in to steal the treasure they were guarding. The ants circled and swarmed, carrying the flowers. Some ran up the plants and cut off the petals, others gathered them under the plants. Meanwhile, the keepers sang on. They didn’t even notice when their own tail feathers were cut, their wing feathers cut. It was a great gathering of flowers, cut, fallen, and collected. The four gourds were quickly filled and were ready at daybreak. 

Soon the messengers appeared and said to the twins, “The Lord Jun Kame orders for you to come, and bring at once what they have won.”

“Very well!” they answered. They took with them the flowers, they took the four gourds when they came before the Lords. Very fragrant flowers they brought.   

So the Xibalbans were defeated again: simple ants sent by the twins, one night alone was enough for them to fill the four gourds. So were all the Xibalbans chastised. The Lords’ faces paled when they saw the flowers, and they instantly sent for the keepers.

“Why did you let our flowers be stolen? These, our flowers. Look at them!” they said to the keepers.

“We didn’t notice, Lord, we didn’t even feel when they cut our tail feathers,” the birds answered. Right away their beaks were slashed off, as punishment for having allowed the theft of what they were guarding. And this is why Xpurpuweq and Pujuy have tiny beaks to this day.




The twins and the Xibalbans went down to the Pok ah’ Tok’ field but played only to a draw. When the game ended, the players agreed on a next one.

“At dawn, again,” the Xibalbans said.

“Very well!” answered the twins, “it shall be done.”

They entered then the House of Ice. The cold was unbearable, hail falling inside, the terrible House of Ice. But through the workings of the twins, through their prowess, the ice melted in an instant. The cold was extinguished. They didn’t die, they were alive when day came. The Xibalbans wanted them to die, but that did not happen; the twins were sound when dawn came. The couriers were already hanging there, waiting, and quickly left bearing the news.

“Why are they not yet dead?” said the Lord of Xibalba. They were all much amazed by what the children Junajpu and Xbalamke could do.

The following night they were pushed into the House of Jaguars, full of those huge spotted panthers, the House of Jaguars.

“You will not eat us! This is what belongs to you,” the twins said to the jaguars. They quickly tossed them a lot of bones and the cats began fighting over them.

“Are they done? Have their hearts been eaten?” wondered one of the watchers.

“They have finally been defeated, I hear their bones shattering,” said another.

Everyone was very happy about this, but the twins were not dead. They came out of the House of Jaguars early the next morning, fine as they were when they went in.

“What sort of people are these? Where do they come from?” asked all the Xibalbans.

Then they had to go into the fire, the House of Fire, where there was nothing inside but thick logs burning like kindling, endless fire. But the twins were not affected there, either, and were perfectly healthy when day came.

They had been expected to die quickly in any of the places they were sent to, but it didn’t turn out that way and the Xibalbans were devastated.

They finally delivered them into the House of Bats, a house full of large, deadly, ferocious flying animals. Their razor-toothed, pointed snouts were instruments of death, they annihilated anything that came before them, instantly. So when the twins went into that house, they were very careful and slept inside their blowpipes.

It wasn’t the bats in the house that took their head. A bat of death came down from above and defeated them, one of them. Though in truth it finally served to show who they really were, and the power they had access to.

All that night the bats were screeching, “Kilitz’ kilitz’!” They kept it up and kept it up, until suddenly the sound stopped. Not one of the bats was moving, then one came and perched on the end of the blowpipe.

Inside, Xbalamke said to her brother, “Junajpu, how much longer do you think it will be till daybreak?”

“Who knows how much longer!” he answered. “I’m going to see!”

Junajpu was anxious for the dawn, so he carefully rose up out of the blowpipe and showed his head. In an instant the bat of death sliced it off and his body lay there limp, decapitated.

“What happened? Hasn’t day come?” asked Xbalamke down below. But Junajpu didn’t move. “What happened? Have you gone, Junajpu? What have you done?”

But Junajpu only wheezed, and never moved.

Xbalamke cried in despair, “Oh, we are defeated!”

Jun Kame and Wuqub Kame ordered the head to be placed on the Pok ah’ Tok’ field, and all the Xibalbans came happily to ogle it and jeer.

Xbalamke, meanwhile, called all the animals: the coati, the wild boar, all the small animals and big animals. During the night, when it was still dark she asked each one, “What is the food each one of you eats? This is my command to you: bring me here whatever you eat!”

“Very well!” they said, and went off to bring a sample of their own. They all came back with their food, some only brought rotten things, some brought leaves from cornstalks, some only stones, others only earth. The small animals and the large ones all had endless kinds of foods, but none was satisfactory.

At last the coati, who had lingered behind, came down pushing something before him. It was a large pumpkin, which he rolled along with his snout.

“This will do very well!” cried Xbalamke, and took it to make a replacement for Junajpu’s head. Uk’u’x Kaj himself, Jun Raqan, descended to the House of Bats and right away they began to carve his eyes. The brain, so he could think, Uk’ux Kaj brought from Heaven. And although it was not easy to complete the face, it turned out very well. The skin took on a lovely appearance, and he came to speak.

By then dawn was coming, the horizon was tinting red.

“Grandfather, Grandfather, make it dark again!” Xbalamke and Uk’ux Kaj begged the deity of the dawn.

“Very well!” said the ancient one and spread soot across the sky. It went dark again, as if it were truly the night.

Four times more the grandfather painted the horizon with soot. People say now, “The possum is painting with soot,” when the horizon is tinted red and blue, in memory of this happening.

“Is it all right?” they asked Junajpu finally.

“Yes, it’s very good!” he answered, and began rolling his head as if it were truly real. Then they made their plans and agreed on certain points.

“Maybe you shouldn’t really play, just pretend; I will throw and block and kick and do everything,” Xbalamke told him. Then she called a hare to her side and instructed it: “You will wait there, in the middle of the tomato patch at the edge of the playing field, hidden from sight. When the ball bounces into the patch,” she continued, “you run out on the field right away; I will do the rest.” The hare acknowledged its instructions and waited out the rest of the night close by.

Dawn finally came, and there were the twins, in good health once again. When they came out to play, Junajpu’s head had already been placed above the marker of the Pok ah’ Tok’ field.

“We have won! You are finished! Give up! You are defeated!” the Xibalbans yelled at them.

Junajpu laughed and called out, “Throw that head down as a ball. It feels no pain, we will knock it about ourselves,” he said.

The Lords of Xibalba quickly threw the head, now a ball, and Xbalamke leapt out to intercept it. The ball hit directly against her girdle, she whirled and sent it out of the playing field. It bounced once, twice and reached the tomato patch; the hare came out instantly and went hopping away down the field, with the Xibalban players after it. A whole noisy mob jumped up and ran chasing the hare, in the end all the Xibalbans.

Right away the twins went to rescue Junajpu’s head from the tomato patch and put Xbalamke’s pumpkin dummy in its place.  Junajpu’s head was now his real head, and the twins were very happy.

Meanwhile, the Xibalbans were still out looking for the ball. The twins stepped from the tomato patch onto the playing field with the pumpkin-head ball and called to them: “Come back! We have found the ball, here it is!” They were bouncing it about when the Xibalbans returned.

“Where was it? How could we not see it at all?” they complained. The four began to play again, and the score was tied for both sides. Then Xbalamke aimed the pumpkin at a spot before the Lords, and it split open when it hit the ground. The pumpkin seeds flew out into the light there in front of them.

“What is this? Where did they get it? Who brought it to them?” asked the Xibalbans. And thus the Lords of Death were defeated by Junajpu and Xbalamke. The children were subjected to great trials, but did not die despite everything that was done to them.