Chapter 40:

Arriving to Mars

Elyon - Gods among us


—I don't feel like wearing these clothes, they look like Moorish attire— Rodrigo said to Ana and Epona, who had gotten him a set of combat garments. They consisted of a turban, a black cloak, and an orange tunic with a dark-colored belt.

Ana and Epona were wearing their totemas.

—We have to travel through space, which means we need to move much faster than the speed of light. We won't be able to do it without our totemas— Ana said moments before showing Rodrigo the outfit she had bought for him.

—Space? You mean outside of Earth?— Rodrigo asked nervously.

—Yes, we're talking about distances that would take light thousands of years to travel. Moving at divine speed allows you to travel at levels that matter itself couldn't withstand, but our bodies won't suffer any consequences— Epona explained.

—But I'm just learning to fly, I can't move as fast as you're saying— Rodrigo replied.

—I'll carry you in my arms, Rui; don't worry— Ana reassured him.

Rodrigo looked at the outfit the goddesses had bought for him, and he didn't like it much. It reminded him a bit of the warriors of Almanzor and made him feel somewhat nauseous.

—Just put on the damn suit and stop wasting time— Tania said with a weary expression, clearly annoyed. The goddess had dark circles under her eyes. She was also wearing her totema.

Rodrigo sighed and nodded.

—At least she's speaking to me again— he thought.

The four gods arrived at the central garden, where Sol and Mithras were already waiting for them. There were also two individuals dressed in Egyptian attire. Rodrigo remembered seeing them at the banquet the night before.

Behind them stood Khine, the African god wearing a mask and not uttering a word, along with a squadron of about a hundred Malakim, all wearing their fiery armors and swords.

"Epona, guys, we were w... waiting for you," Sol said.

The blond god looked exactly the same as always. This was because he never took off his totema. However, it was intriguing to see that the rays of light from his head gave him a crown-like golden shape. Sol was dressed in an orange tunic and a dark blue cloak. The bandage on his right arm remained the same, completely covering any possible leakage of his skin.

—We're just missing Athena and Horus— Mithras said, also wearing his totema. Like Sol, Mithras always wore his totema in an almost religious manner. He wore a red Phrygian hat, a tunic, and breeches of the same color. He also wore an aquamarine blue cloak and had a curved sword sheathed at his waist.

At that moment, the two men dressed in Egyptian headdresses approached Rodrigo and the others.

—Nice to meet you, Miss Tania, Miss Ana, Miss Epona, and Mr. Rodrigo. We are the elite disciples of the great Horus— the Egyptian men said in unison.

—My name is Maahes, an Egyptian war god— the first man said.

The god wore a conical crown adorned with feathers on his head. His face was covered with a lion mask, and his hair was golden, giving him the appearance of a real lion from the African savannah. His chest was bare except for a golden and black Egyptian necklace called usej. He wore a golden skirt and had two knives on each side of his belt.

—And my name is Montu, another Egyptian god of war— the second man said.

This second deity wore a crown with two enormous golden feathers, and his face was covered with the mask of a white falcon. He had short, bluish-black hair that reached his neck. His attire was similar to Maahes', except he didn't carry knives but a massive staff.

—We were waiting for everyone to inform you that Lord Horus will be delayed, but he will still join the battle— both Egyptian men said in unison.

—No wonder I don't see him. And what about my teacher... Athena?— Ana asked.

—Unfortunately, she will also be delayed— a voice came from behind Rodrigo and the others.

When everyone turned to look, they realized it was Asclepius and Merlin who were slowly approaching the group.

—Teacher Asclepius, teacher Merlin, did you come to accompany us as well?— Rodrigo asked, bowing.

—No, we are not warriors, but we have come to wish you good luck— Asclepius said.

Myrddin then approached Ana and greeted her. The goddess returned the gesture.

—Remember, Ana— Myrddin commented, —you can only use that attack if you run out of manna, understood?—

—Yes, teacher, and I appreciate your teachings on how to withstand the sacred element as well. Once we're done, I will continue with your lessons— Ana replied, giving a slight bow.

Asclepius approached Rodrigo and placed his hand on his shoulder.

—Rodrigo, you haven't been able to align all your chakras yet, but you will be able to partially use your tannin powers. However, remember not to force your body, or something unfortunate might happen, understood?— Asclepius said to the young man.

—Don't worry, teacher, I will fight with the power I managed to awaken— Rodrigo replied.
Asclepius and Merlin nodded.

Mithras and Sol, on the other hand, stood in front of Epona and smiled at her.

—We would like to give you some advice, Epona, but we know you are strong enough to defend yourself— Mithras said to the blonde goddess, who smiled back at them.

—I will do my best— the equine goddess replied.

Sol then walked to the center of the group.

—Well... if there are no further setbacks, I will open the portal to leave Pallas— Sol said.

In front of the god stood the labrys that Athena used to open the dimensional gate. He lifted it up towards the sky. It was so bright that a blinding light emanated from it. At that moment, everyone began to shine, and quickly, Rodrigo, Ana, Epona, Tania, Sol, Mithras, Maahes, Montu, Khine, and the one hundred Malakim disappeared.

They found themselves traveling through an enormous maze with translucent walls, revealing the outer space beyond. The maze was immense, much larger than the planet Pallas. All the travelers felt themselves moving automatically as they journeyed through the maze. It was as if their bodies knew exactly which paths to take.

—This maze has trillions of different paths, and they change every yoctosecond, so we can only traverse it in less time than that— Sol said as they were all in motion.

—But doesn't speaking take more than a second?— Rodrigo asked.

—Rui, haven't you realized it? When our divine level is active, we don't actually speak; we have been communicating telepathically. You move your lips as a reflex, but you do it so quickly that no sound could come out like that— Ana responded.

—A... a yoctosecond on the planet Pallas with divine energy at a minimum can feel like two hours, so relax. Th... the labrys that Athena left was already programmed to exit this combination right at this moment— Sol said.

—So, it's possible that we might feel like half an hour has passed when we come out— the solar god continued to explain.

Tania felt that half an hour was taking an eternity.

—Just when we come out, I have to decapitate Rodrigo— she thought nervously and melancholically.

—I have to do it; no more people should die because of me. I have to do it, I have to do it— Tania repeated to herself over and over in her mind.

The goddess then bit her lips in anger and clenched her fists tightly.

—Rodrigo is just a tannin; I shouldn't have any compassion for him. I have to do it, I have to do it, and this nightmare will end— the fiery-haired goddess kept repeating to herself.

—A... Alright, we will get out of this maze in ten, nine, eight, seven...— Sol counted while Tania felt like she was hallucinating.

—Just a quick strike; Rodrigo won't even suffer, and he will be able to rest in peace with his mother— Tania continued torturing herself with her thoughts.

—Six...—

—Ana and Epona will hate me, but I'm used to being alone. I will lose them, but I will save many lives— Tania continued thinking.

—Five...—

—And if they condemn me to die, I don't care. I decided that I will die today. I can't continue carrying this burden; I want to rest— Tania kept thinking.

—Four...—

—And I will be free; my soul will dissolve and become space energy. My body will turn into stardust. My life of suffering will come to an end today— Tania continued thinking.

—Three...—

—Just a little longer, Tania, just a little longer, and you will be free— Tania kept thinking.

—Two...—

—Forgive me, Rodrigo, truly... forgive me, but I have to do it. Soon, I will join you in nonexistence— Tania continued thinking as tears streamed from her eyes.

Ana looked at the fiery-haired goddess and saw that her eyes were watery and completely red.

—A... And we're outside!— Sol shouted.

A blinding light dazzled all the travelers, and when they reappeared, they were floating in the middle of outer space.

—Do it!— Tania thought.

At that moment, the goddess formed her hand into a sword shape, which became surrounded by flames. Swiftly, Tania made a quick cut on the back of Rodrigo's neck to decapitate him.

Everyone turned horrified to see Tania attacking Rodrigo, but they could only be spectators of the act... except for Ana, who had sensed this for some time and had pushed the young man, taking the attack in her own back.

—What the hell is wrong with you, Tania?!— Ana shouted agonizingly at the red-haired goddess.

—Get out of the way, Ana, I must kill him!— Tania yelled.

But Ana pressed her body, preventing the lunar goddess from removing her hand from her back. The pain overwhelmed Ana, but she continued to hold on tightly.

The other gods restrained Tania, and she began to cry. Ana allowed Tania to remove her hand from her back, and she crumpled in pain.

—So, you were a traitor!— Mithras shouted furiously as he unsheathed his sword, which had the form of a curved knife.

At that moment, both Epona and Ana saw the horrible scar on Tania's cheek, which she used her hair to hide, but it was now impossible to ignore it as they struggled with Mithras.

—That cut... wasn't there before— Epona exclaimed in surprise.

—You can't even follow a simple order, pathetic loser— everyone heard the voice of a woman. It was the woman who had appeared in Tania's dreams.

—Please, don't kill them, please! Kill me instead, but not them!— Tania cried inconsolably.

Everyone looked around, but they couldn't see anyone. The voice was heard telepathically.

—You broke your promise, Tannit. You couldn't act normally and aroused the suspicions of your friends; it was your fault, and now you must pay— the voice of the woman continued.

—Please, no! Give me another chance!— Tania pleaded.

—Stop!— another voice spoke up.

—That voice, is it you, Nabu?— Mithras asked.

—Yes, it is. I want you to release Tania and not harm her— the voice commanded.

—But she tri... tried to kill one of us— Sol responded, intrigued.

—This bitch you are hearing is called Baalat, and she is one of the Elohim of Elyon. As Tania was once part of Lel, it was easy for Baalat to intervene in her dreams. She has been blackmailing Tania from the beginning, threatening to destroy the village where she lives, knowing the emotional burden she carries— Nabu's voice explained.

—But did you tell her about us, Tania?!— Baalat shouted angrily.

—No!— Tania said with a choked voice, her eyes filled with tears.

—That's right, she didn't tell me anything; she wanted to shoulder this burden alone. But I am her therapist, and I was able to identify the patterns and understand exactly what she was going through. Unfortunately, I couldn't help you with your problems, Tania. I had to use these weeks to decipher the message in your dream, find out who was behind it, and, of course, put a protective spell on Ibiza— Nabu's voice replied.

—Is everyone safe?— Tania shouted.

—Yes, Tania. I had to leave earlier to set up a barrier around your village, before Baalat grew suspicious. Now, no malakim can enter that place while I'm here to defend it— Nabu said.

Nabu was lying on the beaches of Ibiza, surrounded by books and a beer can, as he spoke. He was dressed as a fisherman, so no one could identify him as an enemy; he had even trimmed his beard to resemble that of an average Muslim.

—And by the way, I'm sunbathing. Tania, these beaches here are beautiful, and the people miss you and hope for your return. Don't turn your back on those who love you, and learn to trust your friends more— Nabu said.

—Do you think your shitty barrier can stop me?— Baalat asked angrily.

—Don't worry, Baalat. I'm live-streaming a video showcasing the wonders of Ibiza to my ex-wife and friends, some of whom happen to be members of Lel's allies. If you or your malakim enter here, it will be known, and you will be accused of breaking the law of non-intervention in the human world. After all, I'm just a traveler who wanted to soak up the sun— Nabu said as he continued to relax on the beach.

—Fuck you, Nabu!— Baalat shouted and cut off the transmission.

—Clear, Tania. You can proceed. Good luck in your battle— Nabu said with a reconciliatory tone.

—Thank you, Nabu. I'm a million times grateful— Tania replied.

—Don't worry, you owe me one. I hope to see you again in Pallas, and this time, I will help you with your traumas. Goodbye and give it your all, little one— Nabu bid farewell.

Tania fell to her knees and began to cry. Then she saw Rodrigo and Epona tending to Ana's wound and she bowed her head.

—Forgive me, please, forgive me— she said, sobbing.

—We knew you were planning something, Tania— Ana said.

—And we should have talked to you too— Epona added.

—I am despicable, aren't I, Rodrigo? I understand what you felt when the Moors destroyed your village, and I, hypocritically, told you not to feel anything for them. Now, I almost killed you out of my selfishness. Forgive me, Rodrigo— Tania said, crying.

—Tania, please, trust me and your friends— Rodrigo responded.

—Do you hate me?— Tania asked nervously, looking into Rodrigo's eyes.

—No, I would have done the same if I could, but I know I can rely on you all, and as Nabu said, your village is waiting for you. The lady with back pain, the child who cut his finger, the fisherman trying to revive his marriage, the children with colds. You always helped people. You are a wonderful person, just trust us and fight for them, okay?— Rodrigo replied as he bent down to lift Tania up.

Rodrigo helped the red-haired goddess to her feet, and at that moment, Tania saw Sol administering a little ambrosia to Ana to heal her back wound.

—Ana, forgive me too— Tania said, full of regret.

—We'll talk about this later, Tania. Just focus on coming back alive, alright?— Ana responded.

Then, Ana noticed the scar on her friend's cheek more closely.

—That scar... was that woman?— Ana inquired.

Tania nodded.

Ana shook her head and took a deep breath.

—You don't have to carry everything alone, my friend— Ana said furiously. —But I assure you, I hate your disgusting family even more now—

Tania stood up with Rodrigo's help, and he told her, —Don't shoulder everything on your own, Tania—

At that moment, Mithras positioned himself behind Tania and pressed his knife against her neck.

—Can we trust you? Are you being threatened or monitored by someone in Lel?— Mithras asked, still holding his unsheathed knife.

—A few moments ago, I was prepared for you to kill me, but I can't do that anymore. I want to go back, I want to see my loved ones, I want to be with Ana, Rodrigo, and Epona. I will fight alongside you, and if I deserve punishment afterwards, I will gladly accept it— Tania said with a melancholic look.

Mithras sheathed his knife.

—We will keep an eye on you— he said, turning his back.

—W-Well, after the intermission, we should head to Mars— Sol commented.

—According to the ce... celestial map, Mars is located at coordinates 144,16,248,4 in universe 7; dimension 4,662, reality 517,482. So, we'll have to enter through some w... wormholes. Please, f-follow me, and we'll arrive in a matter of minutes— the god added.

Everyone nodded.

Rodrigo turned to look at Tania, who felt embarrassed and averted her gaze. Nevertheless, the young man smiled at her.

Sol created a kind of chariot made of red energy, pulled by four crimson-colored horses, also made of pure energy, so they appeared translucent. The god spoke the coordinates to his horses in Latin, and they started moving at a very fast pace, while the entire Orniskem team rode in what looked like a carriage.

Rodrigo was amazed by the universe. It was more fascinating than seeing the starry night on Earth. He couldn't believe how many colors and celestial bodies surrounded him. Traveling through wormholes was also mesmerizing because everything turned dark for seconds and then the colors of space reappeared. It was very cold, but he could endure it.

Finally, they arrived at Mars in about fifteen Earth minutes. Rodrigo couldn't help but look at Earth in the distance and felt a sense of nostalgia.

Around Mars, there was a translucent barrier with only a tube-like entrance.

—A di... dimensional shield. They want us all to enter from a single side— Sol said.

—I've seen how everyone enters through dimensions as if nothing happens. Can't we do the same?— Rodrigo asked.

—N-No— Sol responded.

—Pocket dimensions are one-way paths, meaning any divine being can enter but not exit. Dimensional shields like this one or the one around Pallas don't al... allow you to enter or exit. We'll be trapped until we defeat the one who cr... created the barrier, which I assume is Ares— Sol explained.

—Won't we be trapped if we enter through there?— Tania asked, trying to reassume her role as the leader of the small group.

—It's a trap, obviously, but let's trust the predictions of our lady Athena and defeat those cowards— Mithras said.

—Agreed— they all nodded.

—Ares has twelve war gods in his service. We, excluding the malakim, are nine. Of course, we also have to wait for Lady Athena and Lord Horus to join, which will give us a total of eleven of us against thirteen strong enemies. Listen, don't fight against the malakim and save your icor and manna," Mithras said.

—We will take care of the enemy's malakim— the angel leader said.

—If he deploys behemoth, igigi, and nephilim, we will have to fight them too, but let's trust in the strength of our malakim first— Mithras continued.

The malakim shouted with energy.
—We must also rescue a malak named Anpiel. It is vital to our success. Don't forget that— Mithras continued.

Everyone nodded.

—We'll rescue you soon, Anpiel!— Epona exclaimed cheerfully.

—Very well, let's bring a true war to these cowards. Let's show them why Orniskem is superior!— Mithras shouted.

Everyone cheered and began heading towards the entrance of the barrier.

Meanwhile, on Mars, Ares was sitting on his throne when a malak approached him and informed him that Athena's men were heading towards the entrance of Mars. Ares rose from his throne and, with a movement of his left arm, lifted his cape.

—Then today will be the day we return to Lel— he said with a smile.