Chapter 67:

Athena, the one with gray eyes

Elyon - Gods among us

—Wake up, Epona, wake up— the goddess of horses heard from afar, while she only saw darkness.

At that moment, Epona opened her eyes. She was lying on the ground, and Ana was sitting next to her, trying to wake her with her hand.

—You finally woke up, are you okay?— Ana asked the weakened goddess.

Epona sat up and placed her hand on her face. —My body hurts terribly, what happened?— the goddess of horses inquired.

—Seems like someone saved us. Could it have been my teacher?— Ana wondered, looking towards where Ares and Athena were fighting.

—No, it was... Rodrigo— Epona replied.

—Rui? Rui is here?— Ana asked eagerly.

—I felt him, felt the warmth of his energy; how he held me in his arms. I don't know, but I can remember it as if I lived it, even though I was unconscious. His scent, his warmth, his pure aura...— Epona said, surprised.

—I think the important thing now is to find him if he's still here— the Irish goddess said, her face filled with excitement.

—And Tania and Anpiel, are they alright?— Epona asked.

—Tania has been here for a while, didn't you see her?— Ana replied.

Epona turned and saw Tania standing with her back to them, shielding both goddesses. She had a serious expression, observing the fight between Athena and Ares without missing any detail.

—I'm okay, Anpiel is unconscious over there, but I don't think there are more than a few seconds left before the Chronoxiphos sword pierces his heart— the Punic goddess replied with a touch of sorrow.

—I'll protect Anpiel with my life!— Epona exclaimed as she got up and prepared to go to where the angel lay unconscious.

—Don't sacrifice your life needlessly, Epona. Even if you stand in front of him, you won't prevent the attack. Didn't you hear what that girl who brought us the ambrosia said?— Tania retorted, annoyed.

—She's right about that, Epona— Ana added.

—It was my fault— Epona replied in a melancholic tone.

—It wasn't your fault; don't blame yourself for something that was never under your control— Ana said, furious.

—Epona, I'm guilty of many atrocities, I even tried to kill Rodrigo. I know that one day I'll face the judgment of the gods and accept their verdict. But no one was to blame for what happened to Anpiel. He made the decision to support and help us, and we will do everything in our power to save him. We can only trust Athena right now— Tania reassured her.

Epona closed her eyes and nodded. —Have faith in my teacher, Epona— Ana said, placing her hand on her shoulder.

—Is this your beloved Rodrigo?— Ishtar interrupted, arriving with the young tannin on her shoulder, carrying Ninshubur on the other.

—Rodrigo? So it was him that I felt— Epona said as she ran towards the young tannin and tried to embrace him, but she was stopped by the Mesopotamian goddess.

—This boy became a tannin, and it seems he still doesn't know how to control his transformation. If you touch his blood, you could be in serious danger— Ishtar warned Epona.

—Ambrosia is what can restore him to normal, right?— Epona asked, approaching Ishtar.

—Indeed, but we have no ambrosia left at the moment. We consumed it all— the Mesopotamian goddess replied.

—Then only I can save him— Epona said, determined, as she approached Rodrigo.

—Don't get close to him, girl!— Ishtar shouted.

But the equine goddess grabbed the young tannin's arm and held his face with her hands. To the astonishment of everyone present, Epona kissed him.

—You're insane!— Ishtar yelled.

Ana remained frozen at the sight before her. Tania, who hadn't turned to look, finally turned her head to see the spectacle.

Epona pulled her lips away from Rodrigo's. The goddess had never kissed anyone before and felt a little embarrassed.

—I kept some ambrosia under my tongue just in case something like this happened— Epona said as she fell backward to the ground, releasing Rodrigo.

Ana quickly caught Rodrigo to prevent him from falling to the ground. She looked at Epona with a mixture of surprise and curiosity while the goddess smiled as she lay there.

Ishtar quickly released Ninshubur and grabbed Epona by her hair, pushing her finger into the goddess's mouth.

—Vomit right now!— she yelled.

Furious, Epona pushed Ishtar away. —I'm fine, nothing happened to me. Rodrigo's saliva can't harm me... because I love him— she said with a smile.

Ana was shocked by her friend's words. Jealousy began to consume her heart. Deep down, a dark thought about her friend crossed her mind, but she quickly dismissed it.

Tania, on the other hand, was surprised by those words. —When did those two become so intimate?— she wondered.

Ishtar let go of Epona, sat on the ground, and placed Ninshubur on her lap, still shaking her head disapprovingly at what she had witnessed.

—You really are crazy— Ishtar retorted, still looking surprised.

At that moment, Rodrigo started coughing, and Ana quickly felt his body temperature dropping.

—Rui, Rui, are you okay?— Ana shouted, shaking the young tannin to wake him up.

—Ana? What happened?— Rodrigo asked, surprised.

—You were unconscious, and this girl found you— the goddess said, pointing to Ishtar.

Epona then sat on the ground and brought her face close to Rodrigo's.

—Welcome back, dear Rodrigo— Epona said, smiling at the young man. It should be noted that the goddess had a completely flushed face.

Rodrigo couldn't help blushing as well. —I'm glad you're okay, Rodrigo— Tania said, turning her attention back to the fight between Athena and Ares.

—Thank you, girls— Rodrigo replied.

—Susanoo, the man who took care of you while you were unconscious, asked me to look after you. He wanted you to become stronger so you could face him again— Ishtar told Rodrigo.

—Oh yes, I remember he helped me escape from the maze, and then I don't remember what happened— Rodrigo said.

—Rodrigo-san turned into a Ryujin and tore Ares-sama's arm off— Susanoo said.

The oriental god was sitting in a lotus position on a debris of the planet Mars, which was floating near the group. Next to him, the god Khine was still unconscious.

—When did you arrive?— Ishtar asked Susanoo.

—I've always been here, Ishtar-san just didn't notice my presence— the oriental god replied.

—I thought you would leave— Ishtar said, to which Susanoo started trying to ignore the statement.

—Ah, yes. You can't escape from Mars because of Ares's dimensional shield— Ishtar said, smiling sarcastically.

—Etto... watashi wa... I mean, I decided to join your team to... become stronger— Susanoo replied with a red face, trying to avoid eye contact with the Mesopotamian goddess.

—Besides, this man is part of your team; I couldn't just leave him behind— Susanoo continued, pointing at Khine.

Everyone was surprised; most of them had forgotten about Khine's existence. Since he didn't speak, he was often seen as a mere decoration by the others.

—Are you Rodrigo's friend who helped him? Of course, you're welcome with us!— Ana said to Susanoo, who continued blushing and trying to avoid the goddess's gaze.

—Thank you for taking care of Rodrigo— Epona added with a smile.

—Domo... domo... it was... nothing," Susanoo continued to say, avoiding the gaze of both goddesses.

At that moment, the Chronoxiphos sword stopped swinging and pointed directly at Anpiel's heart, who remained unconscious.

—Damn it, I forgot, time's up!— Ana shouted.

—No, Anpiel!— Epona cried out and ran towards where the angel was. The sword then shot straight towards the malak's heart.

Moments before, when Rodrigo was still unconscious, Athena and Ares were locked in a fierce gaze on the battlefield. The god of war had lost an arm and his helmet, and he was naked, covered in blood.

On the other hand, Athena had fully recovered, but this time with her eyes silver instead of blue. The goddess was not carrying her characteristic spear and only looked at the god of war with tranquility and serenity in her eyes.

—Athena, the one with gray eyes. I've heard that title before. Some fools in Athens worshiped you with that name along with Athena the virgin— Ares said to the goddess.

—That's right, Ares. Right now, your chances of winning are 0.00000000000000000001288405093%— the goddess said in an almost robotic manner.

—Do you think I should be afraid of your eyes like that? Don't make me laugh, big sister— Ares shouted, creating a red spear in his hand and throwing it at Athena.

Athena saw the spear and, still in motion, evaded it and touched it with her finger in a certain point, causing it to shatter into pieces.

—Your technique has a gravitational point right in the center. If I touch it with minimal effort, it won't be able to maintain balance and will break— Athena replied.

—Don't act so conceited!— Ares yelled, raising his hand and surrounding it with red energy to attack the goddess.

Athena evaded the attack with minimal movement, then buried her right hand, shaped like a sword, into the god of war's abdomen, piercing him as if it were butter.

Ares screamed in pain, and Athena quickly withdrew her hand from his chest, giving a small jump and kicking Ares with ease. The god fell on his back a few meters away from Athena, vomiting blood.

—Brother, right now I can statistically predict trillions of probabilities based on your heart rate, movements, habits, way of walking and breathing, and your combat style. I can read all that information and precisely determine your next move. Moreover, I can predict the points where you concentrate your weight, your center of gravity. Everything. That's the power of my gray eyes— Athena said again in a robotic manner.

—That... that's impossible. Is it like Apollo's prophetic gift?— Ares asked.

—No, it's much better— Athena replied.

Ares created a huge red sphere in his hand, shouting: —I orgí tis Spártis!

The god of war threw the attack with all his might at his sister. But she simply touched the power with her hand at a certain point, causing it to disappear.

Ares, who had prepared for this possibility, had created several red spears around him. Just as Athena destroyed his power, the god of war threw them at her.

With elegant movements, Athena touched some of the spears, disintegrating them. Others, which she determined wouldn't touch her, fell to the ground.

Ares couldn't even believe what had happened. Just as Athena, with her hand again in the shape of a sword, struck the god of war's kidney, piercing it and quickly ripping it out. A massive gush of blood erupted from Ares, while the goddess threw the kidney into the void and returned to her original position with a short and elegant jump.

—I am... stronger than you!— Ares shouted.

—It's irrelevant— Athena replied.

Ares fell to his knees, and in that moment, his screams of agony turned into a macabre laughter.

—I still have an ace up my sleeve— the god said as he turned to look at his sister.

The god of war's fingers began to stretch like small whips, and they lunged towards the goddess.

—You've never seen this before; therefore, you couldn't predict it— Ares shouted, but Athena's expression remained unchanged.

With elegant movements, the Greek goddess gracefully evaded the attack, using minimal rotations as if she were dancing. She positioned herself next to her brother's arm and, with her hand shaped like a sword, severed it.

Ares screamed in pain. —Impossible! How could you predict that?— he gasped in agony.

—A cowardly technique like that was in the range of probabilities that you might attempt it. I simply anticipated your surprise and acted as I should— Athena replied.

—No, sister, wait, have mercy! Don't kill me!— Ares began to cry, crawling on the ground without his two functioning arms.

—Don't worry, brother. I don't plan to kill you. Just weaken you enough for Chronoxiphos to disappear— Athena responded.

—If it's about Chronoxiphos, I can make it disappear, I swear!— Ares said nervously, attempting to smile.

—There's an 83.6789320912% chance you'll break that promise, so I've decided not to take any risks— Athena retorted.

—Wait, sister! Forgive me!— the god of war pleaded.

At that moment, Athena leaped with a small jump towards Ares and buried her hand, shaped like a sword, in the god's neck. Then, with a slashing motion, she decapitated him. Ares' head fell to the ground while his body collapsed, devoid of energy.

Chronoxiphos, in that moment, aimed at Anpiel, but Epona, who ran to stop it, was grabbed by the hair by Tania, who positioned herself in place of the equine goddess and threw Epona aside.

—If someone has to die today, it should be me, Epona— Tania said, opening her arms to receive the sword.

—But you said it was pointless!— Epona screamed in terror, to which Tania only responded with a smile.

Ana, Epona, Rodrigo, and the others shouted in horror, but at that moment, the sword disappeared, just millimeters before touching the goddess' chest.

—It... it disappeared!... it disappeared!— Epona cried out excitedly.

—My teacher did it!— Ana shouted joyously.

Tania smiled and relaxed her stance. —I knew this would happen— she said calmly.

—If you knew it would happen, then why did you stop me?— Epona yelled furiously.

—She's lying; I've known her for a long time, and she always likes to act tough— Ana replied.

Tania started to smile, and suddenly, to the astonishment of everyone, the goddess burst into laughter. It was not common to see Tania showing such emotions of joy. Internally, Ana felt happy that her friend was experiencing this kind of happiness for the first time.

Athena returned her eyes to their normal state, and as if she had relieved herself of a great burden, she relaxed her body. She then walked over to where Ares' decapitated head lay and held it by the hair. Ares hadn't lost consciousness yet.

—Well, little brother, I left 0.1% of your ichor intact. A single blow could kill you, so you understand that you're at my mercy. Now, I want to know why Anath made us fight— the goddess said, while Ares' head sweated with terror.