Chapter 4:

The world of the gods

Elyon - Gods among us

Rodrigo had never traveled so far before. He had worked as a bodyguard for merchant caravans, but he had never ventured beyond what was known as the Kingdom of León. Arriving in Turtuxa was a very strange experience.

The city of Turtuxa was located within what was known as the "Caliphate of Córdoba." To get there, Tania had first directed them to the Kingdom of Castile, and then she led them south to enter the Caliphate of Córdoba through a city called Madinat-Salim, which served as an entry point between Castile and the Moorish kingdom.

Here, Rodrigo saw for the first time a fully Muslim city, but he could tell that Christians lived there too. He believed that Muslims forced everyone to worship their pagan god, but he realized that was not the case.

They didn't stay there for long; they only rested for the night and then set off to the east, to the city of Turtuxa, which was formerly known as Tortosa. Tania's objective was to take a ship bound for an island called Ibiza, which was exactly where she lived.

The city of Turtuxa was impressive. At the top of a mountain stood a majestic palace that was said to have been built by a former caliph of Córdoba: Abd ar-Rahman III. Enormous mosques and minarets adorned the entire city, which also boasted many gardens and well-paved streets.

In its streets, there was a thriving commerce throughout the city, with people buying and selling in various markets, including food, animals, spices, perfumes, books, and more; it bore no resemblance to the poor cities in León or the Kingdom of Castile.

This city, which wasn't even the capital of the caliphate, appeared more impressive than León or Burgos, the capitals of the Kingdom of León and Castile; a testament to the economic power of the Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula. Rodrigo couldn't help but feel a certain hatred when he saw these people happy and completely isolated from the situation that he and his people were living with the constant Moorish attacks on their lands.

—Our ship will depart in two days— Tania commented as she joined Rodrigo and Ana again. She had gone to secure a place on a merchant ship that was traveling to that island.

Both Ibiza and Majorca were within the Caliphate of Córdoba, making it easier to travel from there to those islands. In earlier times, they would have traveled to Barcelona, but the city had been devastated the previous year and was still recovering.

—Hey, would you like to take a walk around the city, Rui?— Ana asked Rodrigo.

Rodrigo was sitting on a bed in the room that Tania had rented as their accommodation while they waited for the ship. It was a modest inn with two beds and was located on the second floor.

The room was small but fairly clean. In front of the beds, there was a small table illuminated by a beam of midday light entering through the window.

—No, I think I'll stay here. I have a lot to think about— Rodrigo replied with a somewhat somber expression.

—You should cheer up more— Ana said with a smile, looking out the window. A group of houses could be seen through it, as well as a nearby minaret from which prayers were being recited.

—I don't feel comfortable here because, well, my family, you know— Rodrigo replied.

—Do you think all these people are to blame for what Al-Mansur did in your hometown?— Ana asked.

—Well, they're from the same group: invaders— Rodrigo replied, annoyed.

—Unlike Tania, I haven't lived as long, but before I was born, these lands were inhabited by groups of people who worshipped local gods. I believe that only those people called Basques are the remnants of those groups— Ana responded.

—All the others are a mixture of Celts, Romans, Phoenicians, and Goths. They all did the same and have always done the same, Rui. It's part of the nature of living beings to want to dominate others. Not just humans, but gods are the same— Ana explained while looking out the window without much enthusiasm.

—Why do you want to justify the attack of those damned Moors on my home?— Rodrigo replied angrily.

Ana turned to Rodrigo with a serious and piercing gaze. Her blue eyes sparkled as if they had an inner light. Her expression was quite serious, yet beautiful.

—Ordinary humans are not to blame for the ambitions of their leaders— Ana replied.

—Why do you say that?— Rodrigo asked.

—I want you to look out the window— Ana said, turning to look outside again.

Rodrigo stood up and leaned out. Ana then pointed to a beggar in the street asking for money.

—What benefit will that poor man have from the conquests of the Sultan of Córdoba?— Ana asked.

Rodrigo remained silent.

—None. He had the misfortune of being born in poverty and will die in poverty, whether he's Spanish, Muslim, or from another kingdom— Ana answered herself.

Ana then pointed to a Berber man who was being insulted by another group of Arabs.

—Is that man to blame for being born darker-skinned and in North Africa, to be seen as a second-class person?— Ana asked.

Rodrigo continued to remain silent.

—Listen, Rui. Not only here but everywhere, those who have power exercise it. The injustices that this Al-Mansur commits in your land will not benefit the people below— Ana commented melancholically.

—Someday the Emirate of Córdoba will fall, and its inhabitants will be treated the same way your family was treated. The world is always in that sickening and devastating cycle, unfortunately— the goddess continued her explanation.

—Even so, I don't feel good about it— Rodrigo responded with a somber look.

—I know, and I understand you. I just wanted you to consider it and learn to hate the guilty individuals, not the people who are part of that leader's group— Ana said, putting her hand on his shoulder as Rodrigo sat back on the bed.

—I'll buy you something nice— Ana said as she left the room, while Rodrigo remained in silence, still tormented by his thoughts.

Two days later, they arrived in Ibiza, a small village of white houses arranged almost symmetrically along the shore. The roofs were red, and there were plenty of trees around the city. Small seafood and fruit markets stood near the port where the ship docked. Rodrigo, Ana, and Tania disembarked along with a small group of people who were more merchants than local residents.

The local merchants, upon seeing Tania, began greeting her. They spoke in a strange language that Rodrigo couldn't identify. The red-haired girl returned the greeting with a genuine smile, one that Rodrigo noticed wasn't fake like the ones she put on elsewhere.

Tania indicated that she didn't live in the village but on the outskirts, so they had to walk from the port to the town's exit, where a group of mountains formed some curious caves. She claimed that, as gods don't age, she couldn't afford to stay in a city or town for long and preferred to live on the outskirts.

After walking for about thirty minutes, they arrived at the cave, which was Tania's home. It was well-equipped with tables, chairs, an improvised kitchen, a bathroom with a natural pool, and the upper part had a huge opening where she could see the town of Ibiza from there.

The cave was adorned with numerous lit candles to provide illumination. Outside, the cave had a large mahogany door with a small bell. Some children were standing near the door.

The children spoke in that strange language, so Rodrigo didn't understand what they were saying, but Tania leaned down and caressed the head of one while responding to them in that same strange language, which sounded similar to Arabic.

With Tania's words, the children happily returned to the village. Tania then stood up again and opened the door to her cave.

—Well then, welcome to my home— Tania said, raising her arms.—Make yourselves comfortable—

—May I take a bath?— Rodrigo asked sheepishly.

—Oh yes, let me show you where it is the bathtube— Tania replied and gave him directions.

Rodrigo, upon entering the bathroom and seeing the large pool, quickly undressed and took a dip. It was so relaxing, as the water was cool while it was quite hot in Ibiza during the summer. The young man hadn't been able to take a proper shower since the incident in Coimbra, so he felt like he smelled awful, covered in sweat and blood.

To his surprise, Ana also entered the bathroom completely naked and dove into the pool. Rodrigo blushed and had an involuntary erection as he tried to keep as far away from the girl as possible. It was the first time he had seen a naked woman.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Rodrigo asked embarrassedly.

"Taking a bath?" Ana responded intrigued.

"But you're a girl, you can't be in here when I am," Rodrigo continued saying as he tried to leave the pool while covering his private parts.

"You're not human, stop following their stupid rules," Ana replied, annoyed.

At that moment, Tania entered the bathroom and grabbed Ana by the ear, pulling her out of the pool.

"Stop being immature, Crowface" the furious red-haired goddess yelled at her.

"But I want to bathe too, and there's enough space for everyone here!" Ana replied angrily as she was dragged out of the bathroom by Tania.

"Keep bathing, Rodrigo, ignore this exhibitionist," Tania said as she left the room, trying not to look at the young man.

Intrigued, Rodrigo returned to the pool and continued washing himself.

Hours later, after Rodrigo and Ana had bathed, they both traveled to the village to get some groceries like potatoes, fish, and spices. Tania cooked them, and they ate the meal with a glass of wine, which Tania also prepared inside the cave.

—Well, I think it's time we talk about who we are, okay?— Tania said.

The young man nodded.

Tania took a deep breath and remained silent for a while, then looked at Ana.

—And it's clear that she will be the one to explain everything to you— she said.

—I knew it!— Ana said, annoyed. —I'm the one who will end up looking bad in front of Rui, right?—

Tania made a sarcastic face, and Ana huffed.

—Alright, Rui, listen carefully. In this world, the humans who live here have always worshipped deities since the beginning of their existence. They have represented these beings in cave paintings or erected huge monuments in their honor. Those gods... are us— Ana said as she stood up in front of Rodrigo.

The young man made a face of disbelief.

—A long time ago— Ana continued, —the gods used to be constantly at war, and some discovered that the faith of humans gave us more power. So, several of us came to this world to make them demonstrate their devotion to us—

—The greater their test of faith, the greater the power the gods obtained. Some gods started holy wars among humans, or human sacrifices, or genocides— the goddess explained.

The dark-haired girl took a deep breath.

—Now, this part may be controversial for you— she said.

Rodrigo felt that everything was controversial. When he was a child, he had been told that the gods worshipped in ancient Iberian Peninsula were demons, and now this girl was telling him that she was one of those demons. Inside, he couldn't believe it.

—Rui, Christianity... isn't real. Neither is Islam or Judaism. Some religions like Buddhism were also attempts at the same thing. The gods seek to abolish human religions— Ana continued explaining, blushing slightly.

Rodrigo continued to look at her with eyes of uncertainty. If she said that Christianity was false, then it was the biggest proof that his companions were demons. In that moment, the young man felt very worried and nervous.

—The king of the gods, Elyon, fought against a very powerful enemy who used the power of human faith. Fortunately, the enemy was defeated and sealed a long time ago. However, the gods continued to fight among themselves, causing great sacrifices among gods and humans— Ana explained.

—Tired of so much bloodshed, the gods began to seek peace among themselves and decided, almost unanimously, to stop using humans as power farms— Ana continued explaining.

Rodrigo started to ignore what Ana was saying, trying to convince himself that these girls were good, that they were possibly just misinformed. Tania pinched him to recover his attention and continued to hear what Ana was telling him.

—So, Elyon experimented with a religion that didn't worship any real deity and brought this faith to a small village within the region of Canaan. These are the Jewish people that you know— the goddess continued her explanation.

—Later on, attempts were made to give humans a better life by spreading messages of brotherhood and humility through Christianity and Islam. The goal was to make humans unite and stop fighting, while achieving peace in the world of the gods— the goddess explained.

Rodrigo had stopped paying attention to what Ana was saying and started to feel sleepy, eventually falling asleep.

—Of course, not all gods have agreed, and some, like the Norse gods, and especially the gods in India, have posed significant obstacles to our king's peace project. And to make matters worse, despite these religions being created to seek human peace, humans found ways to divide themselves and cause massacres and genocides among each other— she added.

—Christians killing Jews, Muslims killing Christians, and so on. However, since we cannot intervene in their conflicts, we have only limited ourselves to observing how they have created a hellish existence for themselves— Ana concluded and sat back down.

Rodrigo was asleep. Tania pinched him again to wake him up.

—Did I bore you, Rui?— Ana asked, slightly annoyed, as Rodrigo jumped in his seat from the pinch of the red-haired goddess.

—No, no... not at all— Rodrigo nervously replied.

Ana sighed deeply and continued with her explanation.

—Tania and I are goddesses tasked with observing humanity, but our function is literally to prevent any strange god from intervening in this world. That's why we were assigned to regions corresponding to our ancient pantheons— Ana explained.

—I should be on the island of Ireland, but... I don't like being there for long periods with the conflicts between my people and the Vikings, so I spend some of my time with Tania. It saddens me not being able to defend them— Ana continued explaining, a tinge of sadness and pain evident on her face.

Rodrigo tried to pay attention to Ana's words to avoid further annoyance. After all, upsetting a lady, even if she is mistaken in her way of thinking, wouldn't be fitting for a gentleman.

—We also have to ensure the progress of Christianity and Islam— Tania interjected. —Both religions are the peace project of our king, Elyon. We have some 'flexibility,' such as playing in favor of certain wars or inspiring people in dreams as angels. But we can't do more than that—

—Yes— Ana nodded. —I can use some influence to help the Christians in Ireland and defend them against the Vikings. However, behind those armies, there are monsters like Thor or Odin, and I have very little ability to mount a strong defense against them. Nonetheless, my people are strong and have held their ground so far—

Rodrigo finally spoke up.

—Excuse me, ladies, but I really don't understand anything—

—Sleeping through half the conversation doesn't help either— Tania replied, annoyed.

—Well, Rui, don't worry— Ana responded. —I understand that this is a lot of information for you. We can leave it at that while you try to process all of this. I just wanted to add one thing, our classifications, so that you understand what or who you are—

And then Rodrigo saw it. Ana waved her fingers, and a kind of magical whiteboard appeared. The dark-haired goddess began to draw a sort of chart.

I. Elyon: King of the gods.

II. Elohim: Protectors of Elyon.

III. Anunnaki: Leader gods.

IV. Katteres: Higher gods.

V. Grigori: Higher gods delegated to observe humans.

VI. Igigi: Intermediate and lower gods.

VII. Nephilim: Demigods, offspring of gods and humans.

VIII. Malakim: Messenger and soldier angels.

IX. Behemoth: Beasts and monsters.

X. Ruah: Mischievous low-level spirits.

—The gods are classified into these ranks— Ana continued. —Tania and I are grigori, as we observe humans, while we believe you are a nephilim—

—Neph, nephilim... what?— Rodrigo blushed. —I'm sorry, but I can't read— he said apologetically.

—It's understandable— Tania said. —In this human world, few people can read—

—Don't worry, we'll teach you— Ana said with a reassuring smile. Rodrigo thought they might humiliate him for not knowing how to read, but they were more understanding than he expected.

—And another very important thing— Tania interrupted again, sitting at the table. —You need to learn to fight to be able to defend yourself—

—Malakim enemies of Viking and Indian armies often circulate in these regions, seeking to destabilize the monotheistic realms of Elyon. It's necessary for you to know how to confront them because it's possible that we won't always be able to be with you. Besides, I suppose we have to take you to Lel so that you can be assigned a job— concluded the red-haired goddess.

—Lel?— Rodrigo asked.

—Yes, Lel. The royal palace of Elyon— the red-haired goddess replied. —That's where our central government is located, and it's where we receive our orders from—

—Yes, from the voice of Whoranat," Ana said sarcastically.

—Do you mean Bitchanat— Tania retorted.

Both goddesses laughed. Rodrigo didn't know what was going on; he assumed it was a secret code between them.

—Don't worry, don't worry, you'll meet her— Ana said, amused.

—Anath is Elyon's right-hand and serves as the supreme commander, as the king of the gods rarely makes public appearances—

—And she's a bitch— Tania said sarcastically.

—And a whore, a real whore— Ana replied, smiling.

Rodrigo realized that the goddesses were behaving like teenagers with their jokes; he couldn't help but be reminded of the banter with his friends.

—Well, starting tomorrow, we'll begin your training, Rui— Ana said, getting up and putting her hand on Rodrigo's shoulder. —If I leave you with the bloodthirsty lioness over there, you won't last five minutes—

—I'm not a war goddess like you, you Crowhead— Tania retorted.

The goddesses continued to exchange insults, and Rodrigo found it amusing. He couldn't believe that such divine beings could behave like teenagers.

However, he still hadn't fully accepted the concept of Christianity. Within his mind, he felt that if what they said was true, Elyon could possibly be YHWH, Jesus Christ, or just an angel among Them. To him, these girls were angels like Archangel Michael or Gabriel.

That night, they lit a bonfire outside the cave. Ana entertained them with stories from her lands, about legendary heroes like Cú Chulainn, who had killed a king's dog and had to act as his personal dog. They drank, danced, had fun, and eventually fell asleep by the firelight.

Rodrigo woke up at four in the morning, as he always did, but was surprised to see Ana and Tania still asleep. Tania snored like a lioness. So the young man decided to take a walk in the area to see the flora and fauna.

It was six-thirty in the morning, and the goddesses were still asleep. Rodrigo was bored, not knowing what to do. He always had a strict schedule as a caravan guard, and they would always depart very early in the morning to avoid thieves as much as possible

It was eight in the morning, and the goddesses were still asleep.

—Wake up early for training, yeah, right— Rodrigo thought to himself.

He took another stroll around the surroundings, enjoying the beach and the waves to relax.

He returned at nine in the morning. Tania had already woken up and was preparing breakfast.

—Did you really believe that drunkard would wake up early?— Tania said when she saw Rodrigo walking through the cave.

Finally, after ten in the morning, Ana started to wake up.

—Oh, Rui, I'm sorry, I overslept!— she said as she sat up.

—Don't worry, I woke up not long ago as well— Rodrigo replied.

—Liar— Tania said. —He's been wandering around since four in the morning—

—Well, after breakfast, we'll have a short lesson, okay?— Ana responded, still sounding sleepy.

Tania had baked bread, and they accompanied it with cheese and beer that she also prepared at her home. Rodrigo began to realize that the goddesses were truly, incredibly beautiful, as if they were women who lived in palaces. He began to notice that, despite having seen so many people, he had never seen women with such perfect figures and beautiful eye colors like theirs.

—Are they engaged or do they have couples?— that question crossed his mind.

Ana was slightly shorter than Tania, and her figure was leaner than the Berber goddess. However, Ana's breasts were much smaller, while Tania was quite well-endowed in that aspect.

Syed Al Wasee