Chapter 13:

Confrontation

Elyon - Gods among us


The gods gathered in Tania and Rodrigo's room to discuss what the goddess of fire and Anpiel had been talking about the previous night. Nervousness and concern hung in the air.

Tania explained the doubts she had been harboring since the beginning of the mission, which Ana and Epona admitted to having as well.

Why would Loki escape from a prison in Yggdrasil, and why haven't any of the Norse gods attempted to arrest him? Moreover, why did he escape precisely now? How did he escape? Isn't it supposed to be during Ragnarok that Loki wages a war in Asgard, not on Earth? All these doubts accumulated in the room.

Then, Ana stood up and said, —I will go and talk to Athena. I won't let any of you die on this mission—

—I can't let you go alone. What if Athena wants to kill you or something?— Tania said as she got up to stop her.

—She's not that kind of villain. I know her— the dark-haired goddess replied.

—It's my duty to accompany you, Miss Ana— the angel responded while remaining seated with his hands clasped together. —Certainly, I must support you both, but I can't overlook any detail of this mission— he said.

—Making a deal with a level one criminal is a transgression punishable by death according to the laws in Lel. I won't mention anything about this to my superiors, but it's necessary for you to know the situation we're dealing with. I also can't allow you to join that deity's squad based on a mere hypothetical case— he continued with a serious expression.

Ana fell silent.

—I would never join her again, alright, Anpiel?— the angry goddess said after a brief moment.

—I'm not asking you to, ma'am. I apologize for the inconvenience, but this is an order as your supervisor— the angel replied.

—Alright— Ana answered.

—Let me accompany you as well— Rodrigo said.

—No, Rui, not this time— Ana said as she averted her gaze.

—Please, I promised to protect you; it's the least I can do— the young man continued to insist.

—Athena would put your head on her spear before you could look her in the eyes— Epona replied.

—Still, I'm willing to give my life for her. Now that I've lost my family and the village where I lived, the only thing that moves me is to support both of you. And if there's at least something I can do, I will do it, regardless of the consequences— Rodrigo said as he got up.

—Rui...— Ana said, looking at the determined young man.

—You're crazy, Rodrigo— Tania said.

—You don't understand, Tania, it's looooove— Epona said, looking at Rodrigo.

The young man blushed but continued to insist that it was his duty.

—Let him go with you, Ana— Epona said.

—I wish I could find someone willing to give their life for me in a situation that they know beforehand exceeds all odds of survival— the blonde goddess continued.

Ana looked at Rodrigo as he stood up and stood by her side.

—You're a very interesting person, Mr. Rodrigo— Anpiel said, putting his hand on the young man's shoulder with a determined look.

Ana smiled at him.

—Let's go then— she said.

—Good luck, and come back alive— Tania bid them farewell.

—And if you screw it, get the shit out of there, guys— Epona said with a sarcastic smirk.

—As if we were horses like you, defecating every two minutes— Ana said as she closed the door.

Ana could only hear the curses of the blonde goddess from inside the room.

It was five in the morning, and Ana was still sore from the alcohol, but her concern had made her wake up early, just like everyone else. The sun hadn't risen yet, so the streets still looked somewhat deserted and dark.

—It's Sunday— Anpiel said, —so people will wake up to the bells of the cathedral to go to mass—

—That works in our favor in case there's any altercation— Ana replied.

They finally arrived at the hostel where Athena had told them she was staying. They entered and asked the owner about a guest matching the description of the goddess. They all headed to the third room on the first floor and knocked on the door.

A voice from inside said, —Come in—

It was a spacious room, with a large bed and a dining table. The cleanliness of the place left much to be desired.

Athena was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed. She was wearing a strapless toga that barely covered her body. Her arms and legs were gently defined with muscles.

—I was expecting you last night, but I suppose you couldn't say no to a good drinking session, could you?— the Greek goddess said with a wicked smile.

—We didn't come here to talk about that. We are here for information, and that's it— Ana said firmly while standing in the doorway.

—I would be a bad host if I didn't offer you something to eat— Athena said as she got up. Her clothing left little to the imagination.

—Not interested— Ana bluntly replied.

—Come on, Ana; we haven't seen each other in...— the goddess insisted.

—I said no!— Ana said angrily.

Athena stopped then. Ana was breathing deeply with her eyes closed.

—I want information, and then we'll leave. This never happened; we never saw you, and we know nothing about your whereabouts. Is that a deal?— Ana said.

Athena smiled.

—Fair enough, Ana. I suppose you know that Anath is quite neurotic, right?— Athena replied as she returned to sit on her bed.

Ana nodded.

—Well, do you think she wouldn't find out about all the years you spent with me?— the Greek goddess said with a wicked smile.

Ana fell silent.

—Anath wants you dead, Ana. She believes you might talk about me under torture or even join my army because of our history. Tannit, too; Anath sees her as weak-willed and a coward. She wants both of you to die on this mission— Athena said, pointing at Ana.

The expression on Ana's face changed, and she turned pale. Rodrigo took hold of her arm as he listened to the goddess struggling to breathe.

—Epona did nothing to deserve death, but she'll just be collateral damage. Besides, the fact that two goddesses from Lel die in Odin's territory will provoke an intervention in Yggdrasil. Guess who released Loki in the first place?— the olive-skinned goddess continued.

—One of the Elohim has the ability to travel between dimensions. She released Loki without any problem under the orders of... Elyon— the goddess said with a wicked smile as she watched Ana lose her composure.

—I knew it! You want to manipulate me into going against Lel's orders!— Ana raised her voice furiously. In the distance, people could be heard shouting for silence.

—I have no reason to lie to you, Ana, and I have nothing more to say. Do you understand?— Athena said as she got up and looked out the window.

—But...— Athena started immediately, —it's not just Loki who's in Jutlandia. Two of his children are there as well, along with a Jotun. You'll need your totemas to win. If the Malak by your side were in Lel right now and explained the situation, they would surely return with them, but I bet they won't give them to you. Or you could give it a try— Athena said.

Then, Athena turned to them with her sinister eyes and said with a smile, —Or maybe I'm wrong—

Ana fell silent, and after a moment, she thanked Athena and closed the door. The three of them descended in silence and continued to the inn without saying a word. They finally entered Tania's room, where she was sitting quietly while Epona read a book.

—I'm glad to see you returned safely— the fiery-haired goddess said.

—I have something to tell you— Ana commented somberly.

The dark-haired goddess relayed what Athena had told her. Silence continued to fill the room.

—The only way we can know if the story is true or not— Anpiel said, —is if your totemas are handed over to me upon learning about the current situation. That means I have to go to Lel— the angel explained.

—I think that's the best course of action— Tania said with a somber expression.

Anpiel took Epona's totema and threw it to her. The goddess caught it, though she almost dropped it.

—Asshole, don't go around throwing something as valuable as this!— the blonde goddess responded angrily.

—As if it makes any real difference with your abilities— the angel sarcastically retorted.

The others laughed.

—Well, I hope to return soon, before you reach Jutlandia. I'll observe from Lel and teleport there— the angel said.

—Good luck, Anpiel— Ana and Tania said.

—Take care— Rodrigo added.

—As for me, I hope you don't come back— Epona said, pouting.

At that moment, white wings appeared on the Malak's back. Then, they became engulfed in light and immediately disappeared.

—Well, I think it's time to get going. If Anath wants us dead, we'll present her with Loki's head and tell her, 'Don't underestimate us, Whoranat'— Tania said, rising with a determined look.

—Now everything is in Anpiel's hands. I hope he returns with our totemas— Ana said.

They had a brief breakfast at the tavern and then set off from the city of Toulouse towards Normandy.