Chapter 46:

The defeat of Tania

Elyon - Gods among us

Ana and Tania had been flying for a couple of hours when they arrived at a huge city in the middle of the Martian desert. They had advanced ahead of Khine and the malakim, who stayed behind to confront a group of monsters that were waiting for them hidden among the mountains.

—We must continue forward and trust in their strength— Tania said to Ana, who was the one most resistant to the idea of not helping them.

They had finally arrived alone at what appeared to be a city. There were white buildings that resembled condominiums. They were all aligned along a road that looked like the main street of the city. Ana and Tania were surprised to see such a magnificent city on the surface of Mars. It seemed to make the fragile structures in Pallas look rustic.

—Wow, these people really like luxury, it seems— Tania said as she walked, observing the ostentatious residences.

—Yes, I expected that Ares, being... well, you know, a god of bloody and strategy-less war, wouldn't be capable of creating a civilization of this kind— Ana responded.

The city appeared completely empty. Most likely, the inhabitants had been evacuated to avoid participating in the war. Igigi and malakim, along with their respective families, probably lived here.

The goddesses continued walking until they reached what they assumed was the main square. It was rectangular, and in the middle, they could see a gigantic fountain with a huge statue of a vulture. Water sprouted from its mouth, nourishing the structure. But the most surprising thing was that, to their left, stood an Egyptian sphinx. It was white with golden accents and was gigantic. The face of the structure had an eerie gaze, like that of a face crying with a serious expression. The structure was so large that the goddesses couldn't see its full height.

—Well, I wouldn't be surprised if Areopagus is nearby— Tania said as she admired the sphinx.

—I'm sorry to tell you, but Areopagus is very far from here. This city is the villa for the servants and personnel of our lord, the great Ares— a voice spoke from atop the sphinx. The figure couldn't be seen due to the height of the structure.

—Who goes there?— Tania asked.

—Show yourself!— Ana ordered.

The man jumped down from the top of the great sphinx and landed on the ground with one hand on the floor. He had very dark skin and strong reddish hair, almost the color of sunset, tied in braids. His eyes were red, the same color as his hair. He wore a golden crown and had his chest bare, with a golden skirt-like armor and white fabric coming out from its sides. His wrists and ankles were adorned with gold bands, and he also wore a large yellow cape on his back.

—Greetings, beauties. My name is Mahrem, the Ethiopian god of war, and I am also the seventh Keres. I now carry my totema because I don't underestimate you in the slightest— the god said as he stood up.

—I am Tania, and this girl here is Ana. We introduce ourselves since you had the manners to do so— the fire-haired goddess responded.

—Tania and Ana? That's odd. I was sure you were the goddess Tannit and Morrigan— the Ethiopian god said.

—Again with that name— Ana said as she covered her face with her left hand.

—These are our human names, and we would like you to use them to refer to us— Tania replied to the African god.

—Of course, Tania and Ana. Those will be the names on the tombstones I raise when you have died in this place— Mahrem responded.

—How considerate!— Ana said sarcastically.

The god bent over and conjured two sharply curved swords in his hands, resembling sickles.

—These swords are called shotelai— he said. —With them, I will swiftly decapitate you so you won't suffer much—

Ana placed her hand on Tania's shoulder.

—Leave this guy to me. You keep searching for Areopagus. We can't trust the information from this individual— the goddess with black hair said.

—Will you be alright?— Tania asked.

—Of course, I have become very strong with my intensive training. This guy means nothing to me— Ana replied.

—Alright, I leave it in your hands— Tania responded as she turned her back to Ana to leave.

—I see you have an excess of confidence, but I won't let anyone leave here— Mahrem responded as he threw one of his swords towards Tania.

But before the sword could even get close to the Punic goddess, Ana had intercepted it with her shield formed by her dark wings. Then, applying some pressure, she destroyed it.

—How could you destroy my sacred sword?— the Ethiopian god asked.

—Mahrem, right? I already told you, I am much stronger than you— Ana sincerely responded.

—Then try to avoid this!— the god shouted as he lunged towards Ana's neck, spinning to gain momentum. However, his sword struck the goddess's neck, but it couldn't even leave a bruise.

—These are sacred swords! The weakness of a Saturn goddess like Morrigan!— the frustrated god shouted.

—Weren't you going to call me Ana?— the Celtic goddess asked.

—Yes, the sacred element is my weakness, as long as it's at the level required to defeat me. Your divine level is too low, and I'm sorry, but I'll have to defeat you here— the Celtic goddess continued.

The Ethiopian god jumped backward and started spinning like a top, shouting:
Yeduri āwilo nifasi

The ethiopian god spun so fiercely that a tornado formed at his feet, causing everything around him to crumble. The massive sphinx behind him fell apart despite its gigantic size.

—Well, destroying this square seems like a waste— Ana retorted.

The god continued spinning more and more violently. The tornado turned into a massive white line that blinded the sight. And then, it disappeared. Mahrem appeared in front of Ana like a lightning bolt, his sword unsheathed. The god then shouted: —Nech'i negodigwadi yimetali

The accumulated energy was released, creating several white whirlwinds that destroyed everything around them. The once-beautiful square now looked like ruins of an ancient civilization. However, Ana simply leaped over the attack to avoid it.

—Now it's my turn— Ana said while still in the air, summoning her sword Dyrnwyn. She gripped it with both hands and descended to the ground, delivering a powerful strike to the Ethiopian god. The impact created a trail of dark energy that completely destroyed the grand sphinx. Its face fell to the ground, looking terrifying.

—So... strong...— the Ethiopian god uttered, his body split from his right shoulder to his waist. His severed parts fell beside each other as the god lost consciousness. Ana made her sword disappear.

—Was he too weak, or have I become too strong?— the goddess wondered as she turned to see if she could still spot Tania. But the Punic goddess was completely motionless a few meters away from her.

—Tania?— Ana asked as she walked towards the fire-haired goddess.

Tania was standing, trembling and sweating. Her eyes were narrowed, and her skin had turned pale.

—Leave me alone! I didn't know!— she screamed, still in a state of shock.

—Tania, what's happening to you?— Ana asked, concerned, as she held her on her shoulders, trying to bring her back to her senses.

—It's no use, Morrigan. She is trapped in my nightmares— a man's voice echoed from a distance.
The sight that Ana beheld left her stunned. It was a tall man, his body covered with the still bloody skin of a bull. Ribs and intestines protruded from the monstrous god's bull tunic, obscuring his face.

—I see that Mahrem was no match for you. It's a shame, but I have no interest in fighting you. My mission was simply to stop Tannit, the most dangerous of the entering gods— the terrifying god said calmly.

—Who are you? Answer!— Ana shouted angrily, assuming a combat stance and summoning her sword Dyrnwyn.

—I am Gurzil, the second Keres of Ares and a Berber god. I know this little girl very well since she was a child, and I know her weaknesses. Right now, she must be facing her traumas, and I doubt she can overcome them— the god said as he turned his back to Ana and slowly retreated.

—Undo that or I'll kill you!— Ana yelled, creating a shockwave in the form of a dark beam of light with her sword, which traveled along the ground to strike the god. However, he remained unharmed.

—Perhaps we will meet again in the future, Morrigan, of course, if you manage to survive— Gurzil continued, disappearing.

—You wretch!— Ana shouted in frustration, returning to Tania and shaking her vigorously to bring her back to consciousness.

—Tania! Wake up! You're stronger than this! Wake up!— the Irish goddess cried out to Tania.
But Tania remained in the same state: pale and cold sweat streaming down her face.

—Forgive me! It wasn't me!— she continued to scream in horror. Her screams grew more and more agonized. Then, the Punic goddess fell to her knees and started channeling her power. Mars began to shake violently, while powerful flames erupted from Tania's body, causing Ana to leap backward to avoid them.

—No, Tania! If you unleash too much power, time will move faster. This dimension is draining our divine power, and yours is too elevated right now— Ana shouted.

But Tania couldn't hear her friend. The sky across Mars turned red, and flames began to erupt from the ground like geysers.

—Don't worry, Morrigan. We will kill both of you here so that your suffering ends— Ana heard a woman's voice behind her.

Ana turned and saw two women accompanied by a retinue of malakim. The first woman was tanned-skinned with pink eyes and brown hair. She wore a crown with beak-shaped horns and had a rather sensual armor that covered her back and protected her breasts. She also had a red skirt with two openings for her legs. She had a pair of white wings and wielded a crescent-shaped sword.

The second woman was also tanned-skinned, but she had beautiful green eyes and blonde hair. She also wore a horned crown, but it was smaller, with horns resembling those of a bull. She donned a long blue dress that reached her feet and was held up by a thin strap on her left shoulder. The right side of her breast was almost visible through the tight-fitting dress.

—My name is Ninshubur— said the blonde woman, raising her arm and placing her other hand over her heart as if reciting.

—I am the humble servant of the greatest warrior goddess. The queen of the heavens, the conqueror of the underworld, the destroyer of mountains, the morning star, the queen of Uruk, and the guardian of the Mes; the magnificent and exalted Inanna, also known as Ishtar! The sixth Keres of the great Ares— the goddess said, pointing to the other woman with an open hand.

The first woman, called Ishtar, placed her foot on the shattered statue of a lion, simultaneously placing her sword on the ground and spreading her wings while wearing a huge smile on her face.

—Yes, it is I, the great Ishtar! Thank you for the applause, thank you— the winged goddess said as all the malakim applauded and cheered with excitement.

—What's wrong with that girl?— Ana thought.

—Morrigan, you must be thrilled to face me— Ishtar continued.

—Sorry, but I don't know you— Ana responded sharply.

Ishtar, Ninshubur, and the malakim fell silent, frustration evident on their faces.

—How can you not know the great queen of Uruk from ancient Sumeria? You ignorant peasant— Ninshubur exclaimed in frustration.

—I'm a little over 500 years old. I don't know Mesopotamian gods from over 2,000 years ago— Ana replied.

—Old... me?— Ishtar said with a look of immense frustration.

The goddess turned to the malakim. —Men— she said, —I want you to bring me the head of this blasphemer. And don't worry about the girl throwing a tantrum with fire. The more her power increases, the faster time will progress. Leave her in her nightmares— Ishtar shouted at her men, and they all nodded.

The malakim lunged towards Ana, who was waiting for them with her sword drawn.

—Tania, you must wake up now. Otherwise, Anpiel will die and become another thorn in your coffin— Ana said to Tania, hoping she would listen.