Chapter 34:

Ana's past

Elyon - Gods among us

Rodrigo woke up at 4:30 in the morning. Despite having lived with Ana and Tania for over two months, he hadn't lost his habit of waking up early. He would always take a stroll around Ibiza while waiting for his companions to wake up, which usually happened after 8 a.m.

After using the bathroom, he went to the main hall of the luxurious room they were staying in. There, he saw Ana sitting in the same armchair where Epona had been sitting. In fact, the horse goddess had fallen asleep in Ana's lap. Since there were no windows, they couldn't tell if it was dark or bright outside. Only a few lamps placed on the walls illuminated the room. Although it was unclear whether it was day or night, the room appeared darker than when they had arrived.

The light from the lamps made Ana's face and eyes shine, and she looked incredibly beautiful. However, her expression showed concern and melancholy, and she seemed lost in her gaze as if she didn't see anything. Rodrigo, remembering that Ana had said she wanted to be alone to process the fact that he was a tannin, decided to ignore her and go back to bed. But Ana heard him and turned to look at him.

—Rui— she said. Her eyes were red, and tears stained her face. Ana had been crying all night, possibly with Epona.

Rodrigo couldn't ignore her, so he stopped and turned towards her. —Good morning, Ana— he replied.

—For me, it's still night— Ana said, and she chuckled softly, trying to put a smile on her face.

Then an awkward silence fell upon them, until Ana broke it by saying, —Hey, I... I want to talk to you, if you don't mind—

Rodrigo nodded and sat in the other armchair facing her. Ana, who had Epona's head resting on her lap, discreetly moved her aside and let her rest on the couch. Then she got up and sat next to Rodrigo.

—First, I want to apologize for what happened at the hospital. It wasn't my intention to discriminate against you or belittle you. It's just that I've always heard stories about how evil tannins were, so I felt nervous— she said.

—No problem— Rodrigo replied.

—Why are you always so quiet and non-confrontational? You should, I don't know, be mad at me for what I said— Ana said, looking at him with an annoyed expression.

—No, really, Ana, it's okay. I'm used to not fitting in with groups— Rodrigo responded.

Ana then rested her head on Rodrigo's shoulder. —I understand. Not fitting in with a group is horrible; that's why I felt bad. Since I met you, I've sensed that you have experienced isolation and sadness, but you keep moving forward. I felt a bit envious, to be honest— the goddess said.

Rodrigo felt a tinge of melancholy as he briefly remembered his past when children would shout, —He's a demon, go away!—

—I know there is a lot of pain in your heart, and you feel powerless for not being able to avenge your family or for feeling weaker than all of us, but you never express anything. You keep it inside and put on a smile and keep going. I try to be like that too, or at least I learned to be like that because I have a lot of pain that I find difficult to express— the goddess continued.

Rodrigo felt sadness welling up, and he began to sob as he remembered his mother.

Ana took his hand. "Our hands were the first thing we connected together," the goddess said.

—Life is a horrible place, but we must fight to make it better, at least a little bit, a small grain of sand. Even if it takes eons to fix life, we must improve it little by little so that more people don't suffer what we have suffered— Ana continued.

—I believe that too— Rodrigo replied.

—I want you to listen to me, Rui. I want to tell you about myself and my past. At least I owe you that for my previous behavior towards you— the goddess said.

—Of course, you can trust me— Rodrigo said.

—Good— Ana said as she lifted her head from Rodrigo's shoulder.

The goddess fell silent for a moment, and her face started to show frustration and pain.

—Well, you've heard that some people have called me 'Morrigan,' right?— Ana asked.

—Yes, I heard that Loki used that name— Rodrigo replied.

Ana stood up and paced around the room nervously.

—Morrigan is not a goddess or a person; it's the assimilation of me and my two sisters, Badb and Macha— the goddess said, still looking off into the distance.

—My sisters and I are from a realm called Tuatha Dé Danann, where the Irish gods were born and lived. We made contact with the humans living on the island of Ireland and started to make them worship us. That's how we gained strength and influence in the ancient world— Ana explained as she continued to pace around the room.

—But our realm entered into conflict with a group of enemy gods who wore ram masks and inhabited our world before us. They called themselves the Fomorians and were led by a giant with a single eye named Balor. Both realms were in conflict for a long time, with battles going back and forth. However, Tuatha Dé Danann, who had established a strong connection with the humans of Ireland, gained incredible power to face this threat, which led us to prepare for the final battle against the forces of the Fomorians— Ana continued.

—Our king, Nauda, who had overthrown a Fomorian servant from our kingdom, summoned the most powerful warriors of Tuatha Dé Danann, including the god Lugh, who is the current Anunnaki of Ireland. But they knew that, even with the strength they had gained from the humans and the courage of the gods, victory over their enemies could be unlikely. So they decided to contact a former Anunnaki named... Dagda—

At that moment, Rodrigo saw Ana's face contort, and she struggled to say that name she had mentioned: 'Dagda.' Instinctively, Rodrigo took Ana's hand in both of his hands.

The goddess took a deep breath and continued.

—Dagda was, and had always been, the Anunnaki of Tuatha Dé Danann, but since he was a hermit who disliked bureaucracy, he had distanced himself from his duties and put Nauda on the throne. But this battle was so important that his intervention was necessary. He was the most powerful god of Tuatha Dé Danann, so he made a condition— Ana swallowed hard.

—He wanted me... to mate with him and participate in the battle— Ana said.

Rodrigo remained silent.

—I didn't used to live with my Irish siblings either, and even though I was a warrior goddess, I was always a solitary person. My two sisters and I lived outside the realm, and I used to descend to the human world to have fun and face powerful enemies. I can't say that my actions, along with those of my sisters, were right, but still, I...— Ana paused and swallowed again.

—Dagda made me uncomfortable. He always harassed me, said dirty things whenever he saw me. His presence always bothered me. He was seen as a wise virtuous and perfect being, but I hated him. A big part of my interest in isolating myself was because of him. Now Dagda wanted to mate with me and have me participate in the battle. Since it wasn't a problem for my siblings in Tuatha Dé Danann, they agreed— Ana continued.

—It was around the time when humans celebrate 'All Saints' Day.' Dagda spied on me while I was bathing with my sisters and took advantage of when I was alone. He approached me and started... saying things... I asked him to leave, but he threatened me. He said it was... my duty to Tuatha Dé Danann. He touched me, he...— Ana started sobbing. Rodrigo stood up and embraced her. They sat there, embraced, on the couch.

—Thank you, Rui— Ana said.

—I was scared. I was afraid he would kill me or my sisters. My strength was no match for his. I agreed to help them in the war— the goddess said.

—Dagda presented me to Tuatha Dé Danann as his wife and declared this date as a sacred day for humans, stating that they should... well, perform human sacrifices in our honor. So that first All Saints' Day was a bloodbath on Earth. It was enough to instill great faith in the members of Tuatha Dé Danann. It's not an exaggeration to say that we won the battle and expelled the Fomorians, although our king died and was replaced by Lugh, who ultimately was nothing more than another puppet of Dagda—

—I became Dagda's imprisoned wife. He raped me every night, tortured me... But I was a goddess of war; I had to be strong, always wear a semblance of victory. Showing weakness was for those poor losers. I was the wild and powerful goddess—

—Wars continued until one day I couldn't take it anymore, and I escaped. I ran away... sought refuge with the ancient enemies of Tuatha Dé Danann: the Fomorians. I convinced them to fight against my brothers again. I wanted revenge, I wanted them death. I hated everything, Rui; I wanted to burn Tuatha Dé Danann with my own hands—

—But without my sisters, I wasn't Morrigan, and we couldn't do anything. It was a massacre. Dagda grabbed me by the throat and started to strangle me. He said he would torture me and my sisters for my disobedience, but I managed to escape, Rui... I ran away and left my sisters behind... I hid in the human world—

The goddess fell silent, sobbing uncontrollably.

—I'm the worst, Rui; I abandoned my sisters. I don't know what has happened to them, I fear the worst— the goddess said. Rodrigo tried to comfort her.

—I met Athena in the human world, and she helped me overcome that past. When I separated from her, I contacted Lel to find a job. They assigned me Ireland as part of their staff, but since I have no dealings with Tuatha Dé Danann, I use a malak as an intermediary— the goddess continued.

—Later, I learned that despite the immense power of Tuatha Dé Danann, Lel had taken over Ireland using a group of warriors called the Milesians, and they had defeated Dagda, Lugh, and all my siblings. Then, they accepted the Christianization of their humans. And I am in charge of overseeing that, but I have no direct contact with them. In fact, I don't want any—

—That's why I hate being in Ireland, especially near that All Saints' Day. I hate it, Rui, I hate it— Ana said. Rodrigo tried to calm her once again.

—You're not pathetic, Ana. You didn't abandon your sisters. It's not something you can easily overcome even after several centuries. A warrior goddess like you isn't pathetic. You're not weak, useless, or a loser. You've faced immense challenges. You haven't lost everything. And you didn't push me away when you found out who I am. I could never hate you, Ana— Rodrigo reassured her.

But Ana continued to sob, saying, —I want to kill Dagda, Rui. That's what I desire, but I have to be stronger. Would you hate me for being a hypocrite if I asked you to stop your quest for revenge when I'm just like you?—

—No, Ana, I could never hate you— Rodrigo replied.

Then, Ana looked at Rodrigo with bloodshot eyes. Her sweet gaze had turned ominous and dark.

—Kill that moorish bastard, Rui... take revenge— Ana said.

—But isn't it forbidden?— Rodrigo asked.

—Is it a crime to seek justice?— Ana responded with another question. —They tell us not to seek revenge, they tell us to forgive. No, we must seek justice when no one else will. Why should we let that scum continue to live and torture thousands of people?— Ana's face had taken on a macabre expression, and Rodrigo could feel the hatred in her words.

—After seeing the world a bit, witnessing how a war started because of an intolerant king— Rodrigo commented, —I realized that humans, and even the gods, are all the same. Beings filled with emotions and conflicts who only wish to shape the world according to themselves, regardless of who they trample upon—

—People who amass power do so only to free themselves from the rules of civilization and seek to satisfy their worldly and vile pleasures. That's why, even though I still hate Almanzor, I can no longer desire to kill him because he's just another monster created by this sad and competitive world— Rodrigo concluded.

Ana looked at Rodrigo with surprise. —I had never heard you speak so eloquently, Rui— she said.

—I just thought about it, or maybe I'm telling myself that to avoid continuing my crusade of hatred. But I won't oppose or hate you if you kill that man you mentioned— Rodrigo replied.

Ana smiled as she closed her eyes and wiped away her tears. —Thank you, Rui. I needed to get this off my chest— she said and immediately stood up.

—Are you okay with this, Epona?— Ana asked the equine goddess who was still lying on the couch.

The goddess, who had only pretended to be asleep, opened her eyes and sat up immediately. —Oh, I was waiting for the cuddling session to begin— Epona said with a sarcastic look.

—He's my disciple, you pervert— Ana replied with a smug smile. Rodrigo felt relieved that the goddess was feeling more relaxed now.

—Well, as I told you before, facing a group of gods who have fallen into disgrace and now disguise themselves as vile fairies to continue bleeding the Irish people and indirectly be worshipped sounds sad and pathetic— the equine goddess expressed.

—Disguising themselves as fairies? What is a fairy?— Rodrigo asked.

—Oh, you've surely heard of them. They're called 'anjanas' or 'janas' in Iberia— Epona replied.

—Oh, yes, malevolent spirits that kidnap children and play tricks— Rodrigo responded.

—In Ireland, those fairies are called Aes sídhe; in Britain, pixies; in Scandinavia, elves; and in southern Europe, nymphs. It generally refers to spirits within the realms of the gods known as 'ruah'— Ana continued explaining.

—Yes, the Ana's siblings, to keep their cult alive, they have used their ruah, fairies, to intervene in the human world and make people fear them, continuing to view mounds as their palaces. Since they are so insignificant, Lel simply ignored this— Epona further explained.

—So, technically, they are still causing harm in Ireland?— Rodrigo asked.

—Technically— Ana replied. —However, besides seeking revenge and finding out the whereabouts of my sisters, I'm interested in one of the treasures that my siblings guarded— she responded.

—A treasure?— Rodrigo asked.

—Yes, there were four legendary treasures in Tuatha Dé Danann, but there's one that interests me as a collector of weapons. It's the legendary sword of our former king Nauda, the Claíomh Solais. If I am to avenge myself on Dagda, I will need that weapon to defeat him— the dark-haired goddess answered with a determined look.