Chapter 21:

Beginning of the fight in Aarhus

Elyon - Gods among us

After two hours of travel, Rodrigo and the goddesses finally arrived in the city of Aarhus, which was besieged by Sweyn's men. Arrows rained from the sky, fire ravaged the field despite the cold weather began to punish soldier's bodies, and there were several corpses on the ground pierced with spears and arrows. They witnessed the massacre from the top of a hill.

The city of Aarhus was protected by a wall made of logs and timber, very different from the walls that existed in European cities. From here, archers rained arrows to stop Sweyn's men, who were on the outskirts. Siege situations are generally boring. Most enemy soldiers sit around the city, cutting off supplies, while the people begin to suffer from hunger and disease. However, Sweyn, advised by Loki, was desperate to win. Many of the prince's enemies were not killed on the battlefield; they were captured and hanged near his camp. Several trees with hanging corpses could be seen, with flies and crows fluttering above them.

The prince looked imposing dressed as a Viking general, with a silver metal helmet covering his eyes. He also wore a chainmail and a purple cape, which were difficult to obtain as they came from the city of Constantinople in the Eastern Roman Empire. By his side were several Vikings in armor similar to his own. In addition to the cape, the prince's helmet had details of two wings, imposing his superiority. Behind the prince stood a man in grayish robes, mounted on a black horse.

—Well, we have arrived— said Athena.

—However, I will not intervene in this fight. I only ask that you do not kill Loki. Let me talk to him first— continued the Greek goddess.

—Why won't you fight, teacher?— Ana asked.

—I want to see your fighting potential, do you understand?— Athena continued.

—I have no problem with that. I just want to find that giant and kill him— Tania said.

—I'll try not to disappoint you this time— Epona responded.

Ana turned to look at Rodrigo.

—Rui, stay with Athena. We will take care of this— she said with a concerned look.

—I will fight too— Rodrigo replied.

—Rui, you don't possess a totema. I can't let you fight— Ana said angrily.

The freckled goddess looked at him with an angry gaze, trying to prevent Rodrigo from fighting. The young man felt bad remembering that Ana had almost sacrificed her life for him.

—Let him fight— Athena said.

—I can't, teacher!— Ana responded angrily.

—Ana, if I don't fight, I will never know my limits, and I won't be able to protect you in the future. Besides, you're not the only one who's angry— Rodrigo replied with a determined look.

—He's not going to die, Ana. Stop being overprotective— Tania said.

—Don't you trust Rodrigo, Ana?— Epona asked.

Ana continued with an angry face and turned her back on Rodrigo.

—Do whatever you want— she said and walked down the hill.

Athena dismounted from her horse and, using her magical abilities, conjured a table, a chair, and wine.

—Well, good luck, guys. I'll watch the fight from here— said the Greek goddess with a smile as she sat down.

—Alright, let's go— Tania said. Rodrigo and Epona nodded.

The four of them descended the hill and began searching for where Loki might be, but to no avail. The god had concealed his divine power and could appear like any other human.

Corpses, badly injured people, decapitated heads. The smell of death was dreadful. Rodrigo felt disgust as he remembered his hometown.

—Is this all humans know how to do?— he wondered.

A group of guards spotted Rodrigo and his companions. They drew their weapons and assumed an attack position.

—What business do you have here?— they asked.

But they didn't understand Danish, so they couldn't respond.

—They must be spies from the Roman Empire. Kill them!— another one shouted.

The soldiers then launched their attack when suddenly a voice stopped them. It was a man in grayish robes on a black horse.

—I have matters to discuss with these kids, withdraw— the man said, and the soldiers nodded.

—Are you Loki?— Tania asked.

—And you must be misses Tannit, Morrigan, Epona, and... Who is this boy?— Loki asked.

—We didn't come to talk— Tania said angrily.

—Yesterday one of your men massacred dozens of people, and we have come to seek vengeance for it— she replied.

—I have already taken care of educating that jotun, but what's done is done— the god of lies said.

—Now, you say you're not here to talk. What business do you have with me then? Are you going to arrest me?— he continued.

—That's none of your concern— the fiery-haired goddess said angrily.

Loki started laughing.

—So, you're still working for a government that betrayed you, or have you now made an alliance with Athena upon learning of it? If I bring your heads to Anath, I'm sure to be rewarded— Loki said playfully.

Tania then dismounted her horse.

—Where is the giant from yesterday? I have unfinished business with him— the goddess said as she brushed her hair back.

Loki laughed again.

—I don't understand. If you're now working with Athena, why do you want to confront me? What will you gain from it?— the evil god continued asking.

Tania then drew her totema and showed it to Loki.

—Impossible! How did you get that?— Loki asked, frightened.

—No, this time it won't be like yesterday. Today, we're going to destroy you— Tania said furiously.

Rodrigo and the others nodded.

—Well, but I still have unfinished business, and I'm not interested in a hand-to-hand fight with you— Loki said as he pulled out a pocket dimension.

—Now, if you'll excuse me, I must retreat—

Then, the evil god released his dimension, and the entire battlefield was enclosed in an alternate dimension; all the soldiers were frozen in time.

Ana launched an attack at Loki, but he teleported out of her sight while his laughter echoed.

At that moment, Loki's hooded men began to appear, surrounding Rodrigo and his companions. There were hundreds of them.

The men removed their robes, revealing themselves as tall men, over two meters in height. Some had bluish skin and white hair, while others had red skin and black hair. They had handsome faces, but their bodies were large and powerful.

The men started pounding the ground, creating ice and fire attacks that the gods evaded. They were jotun that Loki had brought as his personal bodyguards.

—Do you think you can stop us with this trash?— Tania shouted to the vanished Loki.

—Let's see if you earn the honor of fighting against me— the god of lies said as his body remained unseen.

—I'll give you ten seconds—

Tania unsheathed her fire claws, Ana drew her sword, and Epona went into combat mode. The three of them launched themselves at the men.

Tania tore apart several with a single strike of her claws; Ana decapitated and sliced through many as well; Epona destroyed them with her fists and kicks.

Rodrigo was amazed at the power of the goddesses.

—Five seconds and no totemas— Tania said as hundreds of jotun lay dead on the ground.

—Don't underestimate us— Ana and Epona shouted.

Loki continued to laugh.

—Congratulations, girls. You've entered phase two: Individual combat— the dark god replied.

At that moment, circles of light with a rune drawn beneath Tania and Ana appeared, and before they could do anything, they teleported away. Rodrigo was left alone with Epona.

—You two are the weakest, aren't you? You will be my main sacrifice— the voice of the god of lies echoed.

Suddenly, a gigantic circle appeared in the air, and a monstrous serpent began emerging from it.

—My son Jormungandr wants to welcome you. I hope you get along with him— Loki's voice said, laughing.

Epona was shocked for a moment.

—It... it's... a tannin!— the goddess of horses exclaimed.

—What do you mean?— Rodrigo asked.

—They're gods, beings, and serpentine monsters that control the power of death, and their venom is capable of killing gods— she continued, perplexed, as she watched that grotesque creature violently emerging from the hole. It was so massive that even though most of its body remained within the portal, the enormous extent of its being outside had already covered several kilometers of distance.

The monster was a red serpent with horns and seemed to have small, grotesque claws. Its eyes were monstrous and yellow, and a purple liquid dripped from its mouth, burning the ground like acid.

Rodrigo then remembered Anpiel talking to him about these creatures. He hadn't expected to actually see one because they sounded like legendary beings, but there it was, so large that Rodrigo couldn't even imagine its true size.

Epona was terrified, her legs trembling with fear, and her eyes almost white. —Only a Jupiter can fight against these monsters— she said, deathly afraid.

—How long will it take for your friends to rescue you? By the time they show up, will they have already become food for my handsome son? It's time to place bets— the Norse god taunted.

—I'm going to defend Ep and fight this beast, even if it costs me my life— Rodrigo thought as he prepared to battle.