Chapter 65:

Desperation facing an impossible mission

Elyon - Gods among us

Athena fell on top of a few remaining mountains, which were enduring the agonizing and slow end of the planet Mars. The goddess convulsed, foam coming out of her mouth, and her pupils had disappeared. Her condition made it impossible for her to stand.

—Athena!— everyone shouted as they saw their leader incapacitated and motionless against Ares' power. Horus, who had also been thrown by the Greek goddess, felt nearby.

—You guys, go tend to Athena and Horus. I'll take care of that monster— Tania shouted, at the same time, she launched herself at the god of war, while the others screamed for her to stop.

Ares saw her and laughed.

Uph-arimat Eshar!— Tania yelled as she extended her fiery claws, trying to slash Ares, but the god didn't even make an effort to move. Upon impact, her hand shattered, blood oozing from the wounds, leaving the Carthaginian goddess in shock.

—Can't you see that, with your level, you can't even faze me?— Ares said, threatening to grab Tania's face with his claw. However, Epona, in her horse form, arrived just in time and headbutted the god's hand, deflecting the attack.

—Don't let him touch you with his claws, or the same will happen to you as it did to Athena— Ninshubur warned.

Ares then unleashed his divine power, hurling Tania and Epona out of his sight, and turned his attention to Ninshubur.

—I never expected Ishtar's bitch to betray me, but this can be fixed— Ares said, smiling as he flew at high speed towards the servant of Ishtar, too fast for the others to see his movement.

—Run!— Mithras shouted as Ares opened his hand to crush Ninshubur's head. The goddess was petrified with terror, unable to do anything.

However, just before the god could touch her, two swords intercepted him and Ninshubur. One was a massive sword with a dark gleam on its blade, while the other took the shape of a sickle. It was Ana and Ishtar who had arrived at the battlefield, holding their swords in an X shape to block Ares' attack.

—Are you alright, Nin?— Ishtar smiled at the goddess.

Ninshubur was astonished at the sight of her mistress, but her expression quickly changed to joy, and tears of happiness welled up in her eyes. —Yes, I am now, Milady— she replied.

—We arrived just in time!— Ana said, exerting force to resist Ares' attack.

—Now we'll take care of this— Ishtar added.

Both goddesses pushed back the god of war and positioned themselves for an attack.

—Ana!— everyone shouted when they saw her.

—I apologize for worrying you, but now it's my turn to fight— the goddess said, smiling at the others, but a hint of concern appeared on her face. —Where is Rui?— she asked, and an uncomfortable silence fell over the group.

—We don't know what happened to him. He entered the palace with Athena and Horus, but he never came out. I fear the worst— Tania said pessimistically as she got up from the ground.

—He's alive!— Epona exclaimed.

—How do you know?— Tania asked.

—I just know it, my heart tells me— the goddess of horses replied.

Ana felt relieved. —I... I'm sure he's fine. I believe in him— the Irish goddess said.

Ares began to laugh as red spears appeared behind him.

—All of you talk a lot, but you're just weak goddesses who will serve to test my new abilities— said the god as he made a motion to throw spears towards Ana and Ishtar.

Crag Dubán!— Ana shouted, creating a shield in front of her, while Ishtar twirled her sword like a whirlwind, managing to deflect and evade the god of war's attack.

—Wow, this sword is even stronger than before! Thanks, Tania!— Ishtar exclaimed, continuing to fend off the attacks from the god of war.

—I already told you, I can copy any weapon in contact with me, but don't get complacent, and repair your weapon as soon as possible. If I become unconscious, your sword will also be lost— Ana replied.

—I'll keep that in mind, Ana— Ishtar smiled.

Súil Balor!— Ana shouted, summoning the one-eyed giant behind her. It fired a powerful crimson shot from its eye, which was caught by the gigantic sword of the Irish goddess.

—This will be my most powerful attack!— Ana declared and charged towards Ares, hitting him directly with her sword. Although the god defended himself with his arms, Ana couldn't push him back.

Nin An!— Ishtar then exclaimed, her body shining with a divine white light.

—I won't be left behind, Ana— the Mesopotamian goddess said, and her sword began to shine white like lightning.

—This is Ishtar's most powerful attack: 'Zi-sha-ghal Nigh-si-sá'— Ishtar announced.

Like a comet, she launched herself towards Ares, holding her sword with both hands, emanating colorful sparks as she flew. The collision of their swords made both goddesses shout loudly. The impact caused Ares to lose ground, and he was thrown quite far by the combined attack of both goddesses.

Ana and Ishtar were panting heavily. Those attacks had cost them almost all their manna. However, they were surprised to see that Ares, who was slowly flying towards them, had only suffered a few scratches.

—It can't be, our strongest combined attacks did nothing to him— Ana said in surprise.

—I knew he was a monster, but now he's beyond our imagination— Ishtar added, biting her lip in frustration.

—I'm starting to get tired of you all. I'll make you disappear with a single attack!— Ares shouted as he emitted two red balls in the palms of his hands, which merged to create a gigantic crimson energy sphere. —I orgí tis Spártis!— Ares roared.

Ares threw the energy sphere, but just before it hit the two goddesses, Tania, in her manticore transformation, stood between them and shouted: —Esh Kela - Safar: Beth-resh!

With her fists, she threw an enormous fireball, which collided with Ares' energy, and both began to try to destroy each other, causing red thunder and earthquakes on the planet.

Tania screamed in pain and rage, trying to use all her power in that attack, but Ares was controlling the situation with one hand.

Then, Tania shouted: —Now, Epona!—

The Celtic goddess, still in the form of a horse, leaped into the clash of fire with a cry of —Ép tascip!

Upon entering, the goddess absorbed the tremendous power emanating there and began pushing it like a comet, hurtling towards Ares.

—What's happening? I can't stop the attack!— Ares shouted in surprise.

Epona, who was still flying towards the god of war, struck him directly in the abdomen with the absorbed energy, causing a massive explosion.

—Of course, now I understand. Epona can absorb attacks because she's an Earth— Sol commented in surprise. The god remembered how she was able to take his energy when they faced Jonsu on the peak of Areopagus.

Epona reverted to her human form and was thrown back by the force of the explosion. Meanwhile, Tania fell to her knees on the ground, having used almost all her manna.

—These girls are... simply incredible— Mithras said, amazed.

—I knew... that Epona and the others would become the hope of this world— Sol said excitedly.

Maahes and Montu, who were attending to Athena and Horus, saw the explosion in the distance and were astonished.

The explosion subsided, and Ares appeared, but this time he had blood in his mouth and some bruises on his body.

—You wretched scum, don't you understand your position?— the furious god of war shouted, summoning the birds from the feathers of his wings again.

—These birds, called the Stymphalian Birds, will lead you straight to your death!— he declared as he signaled the birds to attack.

Tania, Ana, Epona, and Ishtar, who were together, prepared to fight the birds, but at that moment, the feathered creatures stopped.

—Controlling birds is my specialty, Ares!— Anpiel shouted, raising one of her hands.

—As long as I'm here, no bird can attack us— he declared.

The Stymphalian Birds turned towards Ares and lunged at him. They flew like airborne daggers and began to injure the god with their steel beaks and wings. Furious, Ares exploded them into pieces with his immense destructive power that emanated every time he increased his divine power.

—How does it feel, Ares, to be injured by a mere Malak? Tell me?— Anpiel taunted with a huge smile of pride as Ares glared at them all with a grim and hateful look.

Meanwhile, still within the labyrinthine dimension Ares had constructed in Areopagus, Susanoo stood up after being unconscious for a few minutes. Fortunately, Ogun still lay unconscious next to him, as did Khine.

—I need to get out of this maze as soon as possible— he thought as he got up and placed the Soninke god on his back. Fortunately, his ichor had already healed his injuries.

At that moment, Susanoo heard footsteps behind him.

—Someone is approaching— he thought, placing his hand on the hilt of his katana, preparing to attack. But, to his surprise, it was Rodrigo who appeared, still lost in the labyrinth.

—Oh no! I've returned to where I started!— Rodrigo exclaimed in disappointment.

—Rodrigo-san, can't you escape the maze yet?— Susanoo asked in surprise.

—I've tried everything, but I can't find a way out. Now I'm back here— Rodrigo replied.

Susanoo covered his face with his right hand.

—I think I should seriously consider keeping him as my rival— the disappointed Oriental god said.

—I see that both of you were able to defeat that god of the forge. You're very strong— Rodrigo said, astonished.

—Domo, Rodrigo-san, but a great part of my victory I owe to Khine-sama. Now, follow me, and I'll lead you to the maze's exit— Susanoo said.

Rodrigo nodded, and Susanoo began to run, with Rodrigo following closely behind. As the Oriental god had been through these passages before, he knew the way like the back of his hand.

However, when they reached the entrance to Ares' throne room, Susanoo realized that it was destroyed and damaged, trapping them in this dimension, as someone had destroyed the entrance from the other side.

—Shimata! Someone must have destroyed the entrance to Ares-sama's throne— Susanoo said, disappointed.

—What do we do now?— Rodrigo asked.

—I have no idea, Rodrigo-san. I've heard rumors of gods who can destroy dimensional walls, but I'm not one of them— Susanoo replied, frustrated.

—We have to try. My friends are on the other side, I'm sure of it— Rodrigo shouted and began to attempt to break the entrance, but it wouldn't budge. Blood dripped from his fists as he continued to strike with desperation.

—Wait, Rodrigo-san. How did your totema get to this planet?— Susanoo asked.

—I don't know, I think he said something about teleportation— Rodrigo replied.

—Can he teleport out of this dimension?— Susanoo asked.

—Previously, in our fight and when I met Epona, I could only do it by sensing the divine power or remembering the place where I wanted to appear. But I don't know how to do it to another place if I don't know what it's like or feel a presence— the young Tannin answered.

Susanoo placed Khine on the ground and approached the destroyed doorway that led to the exit of that dimension. He noticed a small hole that allowed a glimpse of the other side.

—A slight crack has opened, Rodrigo-san, try looking at it!— Susanoo said, pointing to the small opening with his index finger.

Rodrigo peered through and saw what he believed to be magma and a red sky with some mountains.

—If you can make that image in your mind, maybe we can get out of here— Susanoo commented.

—I'll try— Rodrigo replied.

Seeing the scene through the small crack, Rodrigo attempted to invoke his power of teleportation. Suddenly, small waves of air emanated from beneath him. Quickly, Susanoo grabbed the young Tannin's shoulder and Khine's hand.

At that moment, the three gods managed to escape from Ares' maze, appearing on the other side of the doorway. However, they landed on a sea of lava and immediately fled from it.

—Why did you teleport us onto a sea of lava?— Susanoo asked angrily.

—Sorry, I just teleported and that was it— Rodrigo replied, blushing.

—You could see mountains through the crack! You could have teleported us there, but why the lava?!— Susanoo continued, frustrated.

—Well, the good thing is we made it out, right?— Rodrigo said with a big smile.

Susanoo covered his face with his hand. —I can't believe my rival is this incompetent— he said, frustrated.

Immediately, both gods noticed something terrible. Ares' power was enormous, but they couldn't sense anyone's presence.

—It's that way, Rodrigo-san— Susanoo said, pointing towards a group of volcanic mountains in the distance.

Rodrigo felt a heaviness in his chest. He couldn't sense Ana, Epona, Tania, or anyone. He couldn't feel anyone's presence.

—What could have happened?— he wondered anxiously.

The young Tannin and the Oriental god, carrying Khine, flew towards the group of mountains while watching the planet being destroyed by Ares' power.

—This planet will disappear soon— Susanoo said.

—If the planet explodes... will it blow us to pieces?— Rodrigo nervously asked.

—Hai, it's possible— Susanoo replied. —The only way to escape from here is to defeat Ares-sama and make this dimension disappear—

Rodrigo then remembered what Ana told him. Alternate dimensions can only exist until their creator desires it or loses consciousness. Defeating Ares was necessary for their survival.

At that moment, both gods arrived at the battlefield. Rodrigo saw Ana, Tania, Epona, and Ishtar, whom Rodrigo didn't know, lying on the ground, covered in wounds and bleeding. They had faces filled with pain and suffering.

Further away, Anpiel was with several Malakim, also on the ground, along with Mithras and Sol. Far from them, Maahes and Montu were unconscious, both protecting the unconscious bodies of Horus and Athena.

—What the hell happened here?!— Rodrigo asked, shouting furiously.

At that moment, Ares descended from the skies, like a majestic being, and stood right in front of Rodrigo and Susanoo.

—Well, well, missing guests! The boy they warned me about, a potential Tannin, and the treacherous Oriental— Ares said with a smile.

—What the hell happened here?— Rodrigo shouted again, seething with anger.

—Oh, don't get so worked up, boy. Did you like these girls? Tell me?" Ares asked, smiling as he lifted the unconscious bodies of Ana and Epona by their hair.

—Are these the two you like, or do you prefer the two brunettes?— Ares asked sarcastically.

—Rodrigo-san, don't lose your cool now— Susanoo said, trying to reason with the young Tannin.

But Rodrigo was furious. He clenched his fists in anger and looked at the god of war with a gaze bordering on madness.

—Let them go!— Rodrigo shouted defiantly, locking eyes with Ares.

—What did you say, boy?— Ares asked.

At that moment, Rodrigo's eyes turned yellow, his skin covered in scales, and fangs emerged from his mouth. With lightning speed, the young Tannin struck Ares' face with all his might, making the god of war stagger back and spit blood from the punch.

Then, Rodrigo shouted madly: —I told you to let them go, you son of a bitch!—

The sword over Anpiel's body continued to float, making more swinging motions as it pointed towards the angel's heart. There were less than two minutes left before Anpiel's execution.