Chapter 37:

The twelve Keres of Ares

Elyon - Gods among us

There are celestial bodies in the sky that, unlike stars, do not remain motionless but move in a predictable manner, similar to the sun and the moon. The ancients believed that they represented their gods and called them Wanderers. The Greeks, following this tradition, called these celestial bodies 'Planetes Asteres' from the word 'planáo,' which means to roam or travel, and 'aster,' which means star or celestial body.

The first to document these celestial bodies in writing were the ancient Sumerians and Akkadians. They named these celestial bodies after their deities. One of these planets, distinctly red, was synonymous with massacre, blood, and violence, and was named 'Nergal' after their god of war and pestilence. Later, the Greeks renamed this celestial body 'Ares,' and the Romans called it 'Mars.'

Right on this celestial body, the god Ares had created a small kingdom of deserting war gods. They were not in hiding because they had reached a non-aggression agreement with Lel, and as long as they did not violate it, there would be no orders against them. They could not be on Earth, so they settled on a nearby planet that evoked their warlike past.

In ancient times, with the rise of Elyon to power, the pantheons of gods who began making agreements among themselves started to create guilds. These guilds were classified according to the functions of these deities and divine beings. There were guilds for gods of the skies and atmospheric phenomena, the sea, the sky, fire, marriage, craftsmanship, animals, civilization, and, of course, war.

When Elyon signed peace among several divine realms and reached the resolution to create a monotheistic religion, Christianity, to prevent further conflicts among them, several members of the war guild protested and rebelled. Needless to say, they were easily crushed, and all the rebels were expelled from Lel.

The rebellious gods lost everything, their privileges, the resources for a comfortable life, and, of course, all their totemas were deactivated and left as 'dead.' Unable to return to their original realms, they created wandering realms throughout various parts of the multiverse. Mars had been the last place where they had settled.

There were also frictions within these war gods; some stayed in this wandering realm, while others deserted and rejoined Lel or joined the ranks of Athena. The inhabitants of this realm were not only gods but also malakim, nephilim, and even behemoth.

Nergal, who united all the deserting groups since his rebellion and established this nomadic realm, was assassinated in a coup, and now they were led by Ares, the Greek god of war.

However, unlike Nergal, Ares sought a better relationship with Lel, and they had been able to reach a non-aggression agreement and finally obtain permission to settle on Mars. Since some of these gods had cult roots on that planet, emanations of faith granted them greater strength, even though their totemas were currently dead.

Nevertheless, Ares sought to return to Lel with all the rights and privileges that the gods have there and to have their totemas activated again. But this negotiation had not made any progress until recently.

Anath had promised Ares certain relocation rights for war gods if they brought the heads of some rebellious goddesses. Although these goddesses had a reputation in Lel, it was evident that they alone could not defeat all the war gods, especially the elite group that Ares had formed: the Keres.

However, Ares was a coward, and although the proposition to kill those two goddesses had initially seemed tempting, now that he knew they had joined forces with Orniskem, he trembled with fear. In all the years he had lived on Olympus, he had never been able to defeat Athena, and she also had an army ready to fight.

Ares had to make the decision to attack those two goddesses and declare war on Athena, considering the great losses this could entail, or worse, his utter defeat. It was the test that Lel imposed on him to return.

Abundant ambrosia, thermal baths, beautiful nymphs. The temptation to regain all that was immense. On Mars, there was only a reddish sky and constant sandstorms. There were no plants or animals. The gravity was so low it felt like being underwater. And although they had created some comforts within the planet using alternate dimensions, it was not the same.

The Olympus was so beautiful, and he had been unable to set foot there for centuries!

The god Ares returned to the planet Mars in a massive chariot pulled by two beautiful dark horses. He returned from Lel, and after being informed of the whereabouts of the goddesses Tannit and Morrigan, his countenance was grim.

The chariot landed near a massive mountain on the planet, which they had named Areopagus, in honor of a temple in the human realm, also atop a mountain. Although in the original Areopagus, Ares had been found guilty of killing one of Poseidon's sons, he also loved the name as it was called: 'Hill of Ares.'

The Greek god discreetly opened his left hand, where he held a spherical golden object, looked at it, and suddenly closed his hand and closed his eyes. Quickly, when the chariot stopped, he stood up and opened the carriage door.

—Lord Ares, what a joy to have you back— said a man who was waiting for him alongside an escort of malakim armed with fiery swords.

Ares stepped out of the chariot with grace and elegance. His skin was olive-colored, and his hair and eyes were as dark as night. He had a very handsome face and a prominent Greek nose. He wore a crimson red Thracian armor and carried his hoplite war helmet, also in the Thracian style, in his left hand. On his back, he carried an enormous spear, and on his right side, he had a sheathed sword.

—Gather all the Keres immediately in the combat hall, Zalmoxis— Ares said as he walked toward his palace, and the malakim bowed to him.

—Right away, my lord— said the man named Zalmoxis.

The sky was red, and a sandstorm was raging, further exacerbating Ares' discomfort as he approached his palace. It was a three-story white and gold building with various Greek columns supporting its roofs. The front of the building had a huge mahogany porch guarded by two malakim.

As Ares approached, the malakim bowed and opened the door. Inside, there was a gigantic room with a long, red carpet. The enormous chamber was surrounded by Greek-style columns, and neither its walls nor its ceiling could be glimpsed. The reddish carpet and the torches lit on the columns created a sense of being in an isolated place, like a labyrinth of columns.

—Prepare my bath— Ares ordered some maidens who were in his service. The women nodded.

In the bath, there was a massive pool fed by horse and bird-shaped faucets. The water was warm, as Mars was an unusually cold planet. Ares remained there, contemplating the actions he should take.

What if he were to bring the head of his sister Athena before Anath? Wouldn't that be an even greater reward? Perhaps he could be declared an Anunnaki of Olympus now that his father had plans to retire?

Ah, how beautiful those times were in the grand bath of Olympus, where Ares could rape as many nymphs as he pleased, and being the son of Zeus, no one would question his actions. Here, every member counted, and he had to respect them for it; he couldn't afford to provoke an exodus of his men and personnel. But, undoubtedly, he wanted to return to his old life.

Ares was dressed by his nymph servants in a Greek toga with a large red seal adorned with a bird, and he made his way to the combat hall. Inside, there was a massive rectangular table with an eccentric chair at the end of the aisle, where Ares sat defiantly. The chair was red and had a sculpted bird of prey on the top.

On the table, there were twelve chairs, occupied by seven men and five women. One of the men was the person who had welcomed Ares into his carriage.

Everyone turned to look at the Greek god as he sat on his throne.

—I have summoned you all here— said the god of war, —because I have decided to accept Lel's proposal and kill those two rebellious goddesses who have become a new problem for them—

—My lord Ares, inviting your twelve Keres to kill two insignificant goddesses, especially me, is an insult to the group— said the woman seated to the left of Ares. The letter 'Ι' was visible on her chair, which represented the number one in the ancient Greek alphabet.

The woman wore a red conical crown and a crimson veil covering her head. Several black curls protruded from it, resting on her forehead. She had beautiful blue eyes, moderately slanted, almost as if she had a mocking smile.

—How dare you question our lord Ares, Menrva?— responded a dark-skinned man sitting in a chair marked with the letter 'ΙΠ,' which represented the number four in the ancient Greek alphabet.

The man wore a silver African crown, and his mouth was not visible as he had a kind of silver cone covering his neck and mouth. He was adorned with piercings and silver ornaments all over his body. Small circular protrusions emerged from his skin. His eyes were white, as were his eyebrows and hair. He had an intimidating presence and looked very strong.

—Menrva has a point, Ogun. Although I don't complain. I want to decapitate those bitches and rape their corpses— said another of the men seated in a chair with the inscription 'ΔΙ,' representing the number eleven in the ancient Greek alphabet.

The god appeared as a young boy of about sixteen. He wore a blue Egyptian crown, and a braid emerged from it. His skin was tanned, and his eyes were painted, highlighting their blue color. He wore an Egyptian menat necklace and carried a staff with a whip and a scepter as its end. He was wrapped in bandages as if he were a mummy or someone injured, and they were uneven, revealing parts of his body.

—Shut up, Khonsu, you're a disgusting deviant— said a woman seated in a chair with the symbol 'ΙΙΙ,' which means three in the ancient Greek alphabet.

The goddess had olive skin and brown hair ending in a braid. She also wore a golden diadem on her forehead and a simple long blue dress with yellow accents and long sleeves.

—I don't know why we have to put up with a brat like Khonsu at this decision-making table. Selardi is right to be annoyed by his attitude— said another goddess at the table. Her chair was marked with 'ΠΙ,' which meant six in the ancient Greek alphabet.

The goddess wore a crown with red spikes and a suit that resembled a very sensual armor, leaving little to the imagination. Additionally, two beautiful white wings could be seen on her back. Her eyes were violet, and she had purple mascara. Her light brown hair cascaded in waves down her back.

—Come and shut me up, Ishtar, you cheap whore— Khonsu responded to the goddess while angrily pounding the table.

—I would separate that filthy head of yours from your body before you even had a chance to defecate out of fear— Ishtar retorted.

—Guys, let's stop fighting in front of our lord Ares, please— responded the man who welcomed Ares at the entrance. His chair had the symbol 'ΙΔ,' representing the number nine in the ancient Greek alphabet. He had weathered skin, black hair, and a thick beard. He wore a simple white tunic.

—Always the asslicker of Zalmoxis trying to ruin the fun, just because he's a filthy Thracian and a poor Nephilim, he thinks he owes his life to Ares— Khonsu said mockingly.

Ares slammed his right foot on the table, making a loud noise.

—I'm tired of your gossiping like old women— he said.

—If I'm gathering you all here, it's because those two goddesses are not alone; now they're part of Athena's rebellious group—

—Wait a minute, Lord Ares, do you intend for us to confront Athena and her band of rebels?—Ogun asked.

—Are you scared, weakling?— Khonsu challenged.

—You wouldn't last two seconds against Athena, you pathetic little boy— Ishtar said as she put her feet on the table and leaned back in her chair.

—Enough, Khonsu!— Ares shouted.

Khonsu crossed his arms and turned his face away from the god of war.

—I have thought about it, and killing Athena would be very beneficial for us. Tell me, wouldn't you like to be accepted again by Lel and its pantheons? Delicious food, servants, huge palaces, luxuries, and everything we can no longer enjoy on this shitty planet— Ares said as he stood up, trying to convince the others.

The gods began to murmur and nod. This planet was terrible, and they would prefer to be on Earth a thousand times over. If they received forgiveness from Lel, they could once again enjoy the pleasures of their respective worlds.

—I want to cross swords with Athena, Lord Ares. I have desired that for many centuries— said the goddess Menrva as she moistened her lip with her tongue.

—But I understand that they outnumber us— responded a god seated in a chair marked with the symbol 'ΠΙΙ,' which meant seven in the ancient Greek alphabet. The man had red hair styled in braids and dark skin. He wore a golden crown and had his chest bare, covering his legs with a blue and white skirt.

—However, we will fight on this planet, Mahrem. Here, my power will be magnified because it has been associated with this celestial body since ancient times, and some of you as well— Ares replied as he walked around the rectangular table.

—I agree too— Ishtar said, raising her arm.

The other gods nodded.

—But how are we going to attract their attention here— Selardi asked.

—Anath has given me a good idea. I've brought one of her friends who risked his life to help them, and we will put him in the highest part of this planet. So, they will have to come because I know just how pathetic they are— Ares responded.

—That's great! If we fight here, we can crush them in the end— Zalmoxis said excitedly.

—We'll be like ten times stronger than them— Khonsu taunted.

—That's right— Ares said. —I will send my message to that bitch of a sister to make her come. No matter how many they are, we will crush them—

—Yes— they all responded.

—With nothing more to say, I declare this meeting adjourned— Ares said as his Keres stood up.

However, one of them, who had the symbol 'ΙΙ' on his chair, which meant two in the ancient Greek alphabet, remained standing, watching Ares as he continued to sit on his throne.

—Is there something you need, Gurzil?— the Greek god of war asked.

—If you permit me, sir— the deity responded, —I know that girl, Tannit, since she was a child. We are not from the same pantheon, but we are acquainted. I know something about her that we could easily exploit to our advantage—

Gurzil's appearance was chilling. His face and back were not visible as he carried the mantle of a bull still dripping with blood, and his entrails and bones could be seen protruding from that cloak. The deity emitted a repulsive odor. His body was covered in tattoos, and he only wore a loincloth to cover his private parts. Red eyes could be seen peering out from the darkness created by his thick cloak, and he carried a rusted axe covered in petrified blood.

—Interesting, you are a Berber god, aren't you?— Ares asked.

—Yes, my lord, we are well acquainted with the Punic gods— Gurzil said.

Ares and Gurzil continued to converse with each other as darkness fell upon Mars.