Elyon - Gods among us
Epona lay unconscious in Mithras' arms. The Persian god had struck the back of the goddess' neck with the hilt of his knife to calm her down. However, her condition continued to worsen due to the injuries on her body and the tremendous stress she had been exposed to.
Still, her condition seemed only slightly more stable than Tania's, who lay unconscious in Maahes' arms. Her body temperature wouldn't drop, and they couldn't stop her internal bleeding.
At that moment, the sky darkened, and a powerful deafening sound echoed. The planet began to tremble violently. Areopagus, which was already emitting smoke, now started to spew volcanic explosions and magma, causing everyone to retreat to avoid being bathed in the lava sea that was about to descend. Not only Areopagus erupted, but all the volcanoes on the planet. The ground began to break and split into pieces. Red lightning bolts began to fall from the sky, even in cloudless areas. The two moons of the planet were clearly visible, colored blood-red, in the sky.
—This is bad, I sense an abyssal power— Mithras said, worried, while carrying Epona in his arms.
—If this continues, time will move even faster, and that sword will fall upon the malak's chest— Montu said worriedly, carrying Sol and Anpiel on his back, both still unconscious. The sword Chronoxiphos had followed Anpiel as if it were anchored to him.
—That damned sword is following us— Maahes said angrily, carrying Tania on his back.
Suddenly, an immensely strong gravitational pressure began emanating from Areopagus. The planet Mars started to crack, and mountains tore apart; their debris was drawn towards the gravitational point emanating from the same spot. Upon contact with it, the debris dissolved as if in a blender.
—The power is so strong that it even created a small black hole— Montu shouted, concerned.
—Impossible, not even Athena's power reaches these levels,— Mithras said, worried.
—We must help them, but we also have to return to Pallas so they can be treated— Maahes said, concerned.
—Idiot! Only Athena and Horus can enter the labyrinth; we would be hopelessly lost there— Mithras said, frustrated.
—Besides, that sword will kill the malak in a few minutes— Montu added.
Mithras bit his lip in frustration. —I feel terrible for being so weak— he said.
—I... will fight— Tania began to murmur.
—Tania, are you awake?— Maahes asked, surprised, as he had her resting on his back.
—Please, let me fight against... Ares— she continued, though her temperature kept rising. Her face was covered in blood and reddened due to the high temperatures her body was experiencing.
—No way!— Maahes responded, worried.
—And I... will shield Anpiel— Epona began to murmur.
—What's wrong with these girls?— Mithras said, scared.
—If I receive Chronoxiphos instead of him... I will have... been useful... please— Epona murmured in Mithras' arms.
The surface of Mars began to emit lava and toxic gases. The planet was shrinking, ready to implode. The heat and gravity it emanated were terrible.
At that moment, heat rays began to burst from the cracks generated in the planet, causing explosions everywhere. The sword Chronoxiphos began to sway back and forth, pointing at Anpiel's heart.
—Please... please... let me— both Tania and Epona repeated, murmuring their prayer.
Both goddesses began to struggle with all their might to free themselves from Mithras' and Maahes' arms.
—No! Don't you understand that you will die if you continue like this?!— Mithras shouted angrily.
—I will gladly die for Rodrigo— Tania shouted as she freed herself from Maahes' arms.
—I will give my life for Anpiel— Epona also shouted as she broke free from Mithras' grasp.
—Enough, you two! You're just useless obstacles!— the voice of a woman was heard, and everyone turned to look. It was Ninshubur, who was flying in front of them.
—Who the hell are you?— Mithras yelled.
—Ninshubur, the servant of the great Ishtar— said the goddess, still fluttering her beautiful white wings and looking defiant.
Mithras assumed a fighting stance. —So, there are still Ares' men left?— the god asked.
Ninshubur sighed. —I haven't come to fight you; I've come to help— the goddess said.
—What do you mean?— Montu asked.
Ninshubur took out a vial of ambrosia from her clothes. —Take this— she said, throwing it to Mithras.
—Why?— the Persian god asked, catching the vial.
—Don't get me wrong; I'm not doing this for myself. I'm just following Milady's orders— the goddess replied grumpily.
Mithras ran to embrace Epona and gave her a sip of ambrosia. Then, he threw the vial to Maahes, who did the same with Tania. Finally, the Egyptian god tossed it to Montu, who made Sol and Anpiel drink from it. The vial was just enough for the four of them.
—Alright, you're fine now. I guess I don't have a reason to stay here— Ishtar's helper said. To her surprise, Mithras, Montu, and Maahes prostrated themselves before her.
—Thank you! Really, thank you!— the three of them said in unison.
—I didn't do it for you— the goddess said, blushing and crossing her arms to avoid looking at them.
—Even so, even if Anpiel regains consciousness, that sword Chronoxiphos will pierce his heart—Montu said disappointedly.
—Lord Mithras!— a voice was heard in the distance.
The gods turned to look, and they saw the group of malakim who had traveled with them. Some of them sadly died in the battles, but most had survived.
—We are aware of the situation, and we've come to help— one of them said as he stood in front of Anpiel, who was still being supported by Montu.
Gradually, all the malakim came together to protect Anpiel from the attack of Chronoxiphos, which was just minutes away.
—Enough, don't sacrifice your lives— Maahes shouted furiously.
—Lord Maahes, it's the only thing we can do— a malak replied, and the others nodded in agreement.
—It's pointless— Ninshubur said.
—What do you mean?— Mithras asked.
The goddess then pointed her finger at the sword. —That sword won't stop until it pierces its target. Even if Elyon stood between them, the sword would still hit its mark— she said.
—Our only option is to defeat Ares, but with that immense power, I doubt it— Mithras replied.
—Nevertheless, we will make the effort— the malak leader said, and the others nodded.
At that moment, Tania and Epona woke up and got up. Sol and Anpiel also began to show signs of life.
—Guys, are you okay?— Mithras asked.
—What happened?— Tania asked, rubbing her head. Her bleeding and hemorrhaging had finally stopped.
—Is that Ares' power?— Epona asked. The wounds caused by Khonsu had also disappeared.
—I'm a... alive— Sol said, looking at his hands. Like Epona, his wounds from the crucifixion had healed.
—Where am I? What happened?— Anpiel asked as he got up, but he was surprised to see an entire army of malakim standing in front of him, their backs turned.
—Anpiel...— Epona said, tears starting to stream down her face.
—Miss Epona! What happened?— Anpiel asked, still confused. Suddenly, he became aware of the enormous power surrounding the place, and he began to feel scared.
—We'll talk later, Anpiel. For now, we need to stop that abomination!— Tania shouted as she stood up.
Mithras gently tapped Epona on the back. —Won't you thank that girl for saving your life?— he asked the goddess of horses.
—It's not necessary— Ninshubur replied.
Epona quickly bowed to the goddess. —I don't know who you are, but thank you for saving my friends and me. I'm grateful— the horse goddess said.
—It was nothing, really— Ninshubur replied.
—Wait a minute, you're the girl who was with Ishtar— Tania said, giving Ninshubur a challenging look.
—Wait, Tania! It's alright— Maahes shouted, taking the lioness goddess by the arm.
Both goddesses locked eyes for a moment, but their moment was interrupted by a loud explosion coming from the palace of Areopagus.
—And it keeps increasing— Montu said, worried.
—How can such a monstrosity exist?— Maahes asked, concerned.
—Forgive my impertinence, but what does this army of malakim mean in front of me?— Anpiel asked, puzzled.
—We are protecting you, Sir Anpiel— a malak replied.
—From what?— the angel asked.
At that moment, Anpiel saw the sword floating above him.
—Don't tell me that's... a Chronoxiphos— Anpiel said, worried.
—Indeed, malak. We've come to rescue you, but the owner of that sword is Ares, and unless we defeat him, we won't be able to save you— Mithras replied.
—I apologize for the inconvenience my small presence has caused you— Anpiel said, worried.
—Those two girls over there decided to sacrifice everything to save you— Mithras commented, pointing to Tania and Epona, who were now standing together.
—Epona? Impossible! She only does things if there's alcohol involved— Anpiel sarcastically replied.
—I missed you too, you damn bastard— Epona responded with a smile, which made Anpiel blush.
—Are you sure it's Epona? Are you not an angel impersonating her?— the malak asked, surprised.
Meanwhile, inside the palace of Areopagus, Athena jumped to avoid some red spears that flew towards her. Suddenly, a shadow appeared beside her, and the goddess screamed: —Aegis aspida, prostatepste me— Her aegis quickly turned into a shield, preventing the shadow's attack, but it was strong enough to throw the goddess against a wall and break it.
—Athena, you're no longer a match for me— the shadow said as Athena struggled to get up, her forehead bleeding, and she coughed.
When the figure in the shadow became visible, it was Ares himself, but his armor had changed to something sinister, black with red accents. His helmet now resembled a boar with intensely red eyes. Black wings adorned his back, and his hands had taken on a metallic form ending in sharp points. His weapons had disappeared as well.
—At this moment, I am the amalgamation of my two sons and myself; in my right hand, I have the power of Deimos, and in my left hand, the power of Phobos. With the power to hurt you with either of them, it will be enough to end you, sister— the evil god said with a monstrous voice.
—Was that your plan then? An assimilation with your sons?" Athena asked.
—Yes. My power was too low to achieve it, so the great goddess Anath gave me a Hikaptha sphere. It absorbed all the damage from my Keres, and finally, from your friend Horus, to give me the power I needed to withstand this transformation— Ares replied, laughing.
—So, you used your men for your selfish purpose— Athena said.
—Selfish? Their lives served to make room for me in Lel again and to create the most powerful being in the universe— the god of war continued.
Athena began to laugh.
—What's so funny, you damn bitch?— Ares asked furiously.
—The most powerful being in the universe? Don't make me laugh. Your power would only be a nuisance to hundreds of people I know— Athena replied defiantly.
Ares created a red sphere in his left hand and threw it at Athena, who quickly used her shield to defend herself, and the sphere bounced back due to the impact.
—I am no longer Ares. My full name is Ares Enyalius, the god of destruction!— Ares shouted furiously, creating more red spheres and throwing them at Athena, who evaded them all with her aegis shield.
—All that power, and you can't even destroy me. And you dare to boast such a title?— Athena asked, laughing as she got up again.
Ares screamed in anger and once again tried to strike the goddess with his claws, but her shield remained impenetrable. Athena then charged her spear with energy and tried to strike Ares, but her attack had no effect on the god, who endured it as if it were nothing and quickly grabbed the goddess's spear.
—Is that the power you're so proud of, big sister?— Ares asked mockingly. He then slammed Athena into the ground, creating a massive crater with the impact. He followed up by stomping on her, but Athena recreated her aegis shield on her back to defend herself.
—That damn shield is a real nuisance!— Ares shouted furiously.
Athena got up and jumped out of the hole where she had been buried. —In Samarkand, men played a game they called chess; and at this moment, neither you nor I can win. They called it a 'stalemate'— Athena said, taking a deep breath.
—Don't you remember that the reason they came is going to die in a few more minutes if this fight continues?— Ares said smiling.
—Still, I never said I would give up— Athena replied.
—Well then, how about we change the combat scenario, big sister?— Ares asked.
—What do you mean?— Athena asked.
Ares then began to emanate a red aura all over his body. Athena, upon seeing this, quickly shouted, —Shit!— and protected herself with her aegis shield.
A muffled atomic explosion emanated from Ares' body, completely destroying the entire palace in Areopagus and the mountain on which it was built. The explosion was so devastating that it split the planet Mars in half, leaving only a group of asteroids floating between the two remaining parts of the planet.
—We almost got hit by that enormous explosion!— Epona exclaimed, astonished as they watched the debris of the planet. She, along with Tania, Anpiel, and the other gods and malakim, had managed to avoid the impact just in time. Everyone looked stunned at the enormous power of Ares.
Athena, likewise, managed to withstand the attack using her shield as a defense, in addition to having Horus on her arm, who was still unconscious. The goddess panted heavily, since resisting such attacks of such magnitude consumed part of her ichor.
—Excellent, I see everyone is here to witness the birth of the new emperor of the universe, Enyalius, the god of destruction— Ares said, laughing as he raised his arms to the sky.
Ares then created several black birds made from the feathers of his wings, saying: —Stymfalídes Órnithes— The birds, resembling dark metal vultures with red eyes, flew towards everyone present at incredible speed, and there was little they could do to avoid the attack.
Athena, upon seeing this, released Horus and rushed towards Tania, Epona, Anpiel, and the others at top speed. Using her aegis shield as a defense, she managed to strike several birds, destroying them. But at that very moment, Ares appeared behind the Greek goddess.
—Let's see if your aegis can withstand so many attacks at once, big sister— Ares said.
The god of war quickly used his right claw to pierce Athena's belly with a single strike, tearing it apart. The goddess's eyes went dim at that moment, as everyone present looked on in horror.
Less than five minutes left until Anpiel's execution.