Chapter 26:

The Tannin

Elyon - Gods among us

Rodrigo, still hunched over, stared defiantly at Jormungandr, his mouth foaming. The pupils of his eyes narrowed into thin lines.

—Who determined that Tannin are evil?— Athena asked, while she continued to press her spear against Tania's throat.

—Do you want to kill someone just because they were born different from you?— the Greek goddess asked again.

—Well, did you know that the Tannin rebelled and fought against Elyon for the supremacy of the divine world?— Tania replied angrily.

—They are beings that only desire destruction and killing innocents; their deadly abilities have brought sadness and pain to life itself— the fiery-haired goddess continued, shouting at Athena.

Ana bit her lips, unable to say anything, as she watched Tania and Athena argue. The Greek goddess had already released her arm.

—And have you ever heard their side of the story? Have you lived among them? Did you know how they felt?— the Greek goddess asked.

—I have killed several of them in my life. For example, a group of Tannin calling themselves Giants attacked Olympus. One of them, named Enceladus, was killed by me when I crushed him with an island— Athena commented.

—Have you ever fought alongside them or were you just told to hate them?— the goddess continued.

—Would you kill one of your friends just for being... 'different'?— she asked.

Tania fell silent, unsure of what to say.

At the same time, Rodrigo launched himself towards the face of the gigantic serpent, and with his fists infused with white energy, he began to strike it repeatedly, causing Jormungandr to slowly retreat.

The colossal serpent monster tried to impale Rodrigo with one of its horns, but he grabbed it and broke it, delivering a powerful blow to Loki's son, causing his head to fall to the ground again.

—How can a Tannin exist that uses sacred powers? This has never been seen before!— Loki shouted furiously.

—At this moment, even without consciousness, Rui is fighting for us— Ana said timidly.

—I believe in Rodrigo too, Ana— Epona said as she struggled to stand up again.

Tania continued to remain silent and tried to avoid looking at them.

—In ancient times, before Elyon sat on the throne of Lel and proclaimed himself the 'King of the Gods,' Tannin and other deities lived in harmony in their respective pantheons— Athena said.

—The only way to bridge differences is to coexist with them and get to know them. Don't let the nonsense your superiors told you influence your decisions. Learn to make your own choices, do you understand?— the Greek goddess said as she removed the spear from Tania's throat.

Tania crossed her arms and pouted, averting her gaze from the goddesses.

—Do whatever you want— she said. —But at the first sign of trouble, I'll take care of him—

At that moment, an ice shard shot towards Rodrigo. Ana quickly detected it and deflected it with her legendary sword.

—Don't be a sore loser, Loki, and show yourself, you damn coward!— the freckled goddess shouted furiously.

Rodrigo, clenching his fists together, delivered a crushing blow to the monster's head, causing it to fall to the ground, spewing blood and venom. It was becoming increasingly difficult for him to get back up.

From Jormungandr's body, more poisonous gas started to emerge, forcing the goddesses to retreat. Rodrigo, undeterred, moved through the gas and continued striking the serpent with his fists emanating white light.

Seeing that he couldn't win, Loki's son attempted to release his poisonous gas towards Ana, who was closest to the fight. However, Rodrigo struck the monster's snout from above with such force that it closed its mouth and swallowed its own gas.

The enormous serpent began to sway and fell to the ground, causing a tremor upon impact. Rodrigo also landed on the ground, screaming as if he were a wild animal that had just killed its prey.

—Rui, are you okay?— Ana asked, trying to approach Rodrigo, who looked at her with uncertain eyes.

Suddenly, Rodrigo vomited blood and collapsed to the ground. Ana tried to run towards him, but Athena stopped her.

—His blood is poisonous right now, don't touch him!— she shouted.

Rodrigo fell to the ground, and his serpentine aspects began to fade. His breathing was heavy, and his temperature started to rise significantly.

—His body is not accustomed to this— said the goddess Athena, continuing to restrain Ana.

—We need to do something— said the goddess with black hair.

Atenea approached Rodrigo, cradled him in her arms, and gave him some ambrosia. Rodrigo regained consciousness, coughing.

—Do you remember what happened?— the Greek goddess asked Rodrigo. The young man looked around as if he didn't know what had happened.

—I can't remember what happened after I got trapped in that serpent's gas— Rodrigo said, placing a hand on his face.

—Rui, are you okay?— Ana asked as she approached Rodrigo.

—He's fine; his blood has returned to normal— said Athena.

—What happened?— Rodrigo asked, as Epona also approached. Tania kept her distance.

Ana tried to speak, but Athena spoke instead.

—You defeated that monster with a hidden power, but you need to train it— the Greek goddess told him.

—You were amazing, Rui!— Ana said.

—And you saved my life, Rodrigo. Thank you very much— Epona added.

—I'm glad to know that I ended up being useful and could help you— Rodrigo said with a smile.

The goddesses, except for Tania, returned the smile.

At that moment, Loki appeared before Rodrigo and the others. He was still covered in his grayish cloak, his face concealed.

—Damn kids, I can't believe you defeated my men. I'll have to risk my life to kill at least one of you— the Norse god said furiously.

Athena sat down on the ground.

—What do you gain by fighting against us? Are you still following orders from Lel?— she asked.

—That's none of your concern— the god replied.

—And do you know that Celtic gods will come after your head?— the Greek goddess asked again.

—That's none of your concern!— Loki said irritably.

—Since I couldn't sacrifice you, I will have to kill at least one of you to achieve my plan, so come on, all of you, come at me— the Norse god continued.

—I will be your opponent— Tania said, stepping forward.

—Agreed— Loki responded as he removed his gray cloak.

He was a man with dark hair and violet eyes, sporting a small goatee. He wore a purple and black helmet that covered his eyes with two enormous horn-like protrusions, a dark cape fastened to his shoulders with a brooch bearing the rune 'ᛚ', and a black and purple Viking armor, a black skirt, and dark boots with brown folds.

—You will be my sacrifice— the god Loki said, smiling.

Tania then prepared her claws and lunged at Loki, but he made a few hand movements and shouted, —Fimbul-vetr

And in an instant, the goddess found herself trapped in a gigantic ice stalagmite.

—One down— Loki said.