Chapter 80:

Adventure in Denendeh

Elyon - Gods among us

Upon passing through the door in the freezing dungeon, Rodrigo and his group appeared at the entrance of a huge tipi tent, lined with buffalo skin, and supported by wooden poles.

The tent was on a huge plateau of a large green grass prairie. In fact, it was the only thing that could be seen outside. There were no mountains, lakes, trees, nothing. Above them, a slightly blue sky opened.

—I don't feel the presence of anyone— Tania commented, as she looked around the vast plain, almost like a huge desert, similar to a pampa.

—I think we need to look for a sign of life all over this huge planet— Menrva commented, looking around.

—Well, since none of this concerns me anymore, this is my goodbye— Loki said in a mocking manner, and with a jump, he disappeared before the eyes of the members of Orniskem.

—Damn it! The bastard is escaping— Tania shouted furiously.

—Quick, don't let him escape!— Ana replied.

Then, everyone began to search for Loki in the surroundings, but he had already disappeared using teleportation.

—That jerk can exchange his body with any object that's around, even microbes or bacteria. We will never be able to find him if he hid at the cellular level— Menrva commented.

—Are you suggesting that we stop looking for him?— Anpiel asked, confused.

—It's not like we can do much— replied the Etruscan goddess.

—We should prioritize finding the exit to this huge valley first— she continued.

Ana and Tania looked at her defiantly, but Epona's thoughts darkened even more.

—I knew this would happen, she's already betraying us— she thought.

—That wasn't part of the deal!— Tania shouted furiously at the Etruscan goddess.

—Listen, he'll surely show up again— Menrva said, trying to reassure the goddesses.

—And when he does, we'll shackle him again— she added.

Both goddesses were still arguing when, from the sky, Loki fell to the ground chained. Everyone looked around, surprised to see where the Norse god had fallen from and who had captured him.

—Who are you?— a voice was heard in the sky.

When everyone looked up at the firmament, they saw a female figure with a helmet with feathers. Due to the brightness of the environment, she could not be seen well.

—Are you, Bellona?— Menrva asked, puzzled.

—Indeed— the woman said and landed on the ground like lightning.

The goddess was slender with a lightly tanned skin, short black hair, and eyes the same color. She wore a golden Roman military helmet, adorned with several red feathers. She was dressed in a bronze-colored armor with a red cape, covering part of her chest; a small carmine skirt, and Egyptian sandals with long heels.

—Menrva? Is that you? Are you men from Ares?— the newly appeared goddess asked, puzzled with a twinkle in her eyes.

—No, we are members of Orniskem, just like you. Under the orders of master Athena— Menrva said, excited.

—Wow, that's good news for me— Bellona replied.

—So you changed sides? I understand. Who wouldn't fall in love with the beautiful blue eyes of the great Athena?— the Roman goddess continued, while a passionate look could be seen on her face.

—And her captivating smile— replied the blushing Etruscan goddess.

—And those athletic, well-toned legs— the goddess in the golden helmet continued describing.

Both goddesses sighed as if they were in love. Everyone else looked at them with a bit of secondhand embarrassment.

When Bellona realized they were looking at her that way, she cleared her throat and stood in a striking pose, with her hands open covering part of her face, and her body turned with her legs wide open.

—Sorry for not introducing myself formally. I am the Roman goddess of war: Bellona, and a member of Orniskem— the goddess said in a voice that tried to sound heroic.

—I am Tania— the goddess of fiery hair hastily replied.

—We thank you for capturing that individual— the Punic goddess commented as she pointed to Loki.

—This one? I thought he wanted to attack me from behind and I stopped him— the Roman goddess commented.

—Anyway, nice to meet you. Athena told me a lot about you and Ana, Epona, and Robert— she continued.

—Rodrigo!— corrected the young Tannin.

Everyone started laughing, although Bellona did not understand.

—And well, and you men, who are you?— Bellona asked.

—My name is Anpiel and I am a malak serving Tania and Ana— replied the angel, bowing in his greeting.

—And serving me as well— Epona added.

—Keep dreaming, Epona— retorted the malak without losing his posture.

Everyone laughed again, but Bellona still didn't understand the joke.

—And my name is Susanoo-no-Mikoto, I am a god from the distant land of Yamato— replied the Oriental god, making a deep bow before the goddess.

—I have no idea where that is, but nice to meet you— Bellona replied with such a sweet smile that it brightened everyone's hearts.

—And that scum you caught is Loki— Tania explained, pointing to the Norse god.

—I would appreciate it if you untied me so I could formally introduce myself— said the Norse god in a bad mood.

—Oh yes, sorry. I'll untie you right away— Bellona commented, but everyone quickly shouted in disagreement to the action.

Bellona was again left paralyzed, not understanding the situation.

—You better leave him that way, Bellona, that guy is a shady bastard— Tania commented, still pointing to Loki.

—But Athena told me he was one of the gods of Asgard she had made contact with— Bellona continued, puzzled.

—Let's just say it's a bit more complex than that— Epona replied.

—Well, I'm sorry, but I'll have to leave you like this— Bellona told Loki.

Loki huffed in bad temper.

—And tell us, Bellona, what are you doing here, and why are you not in Adlivun or in Vinland?— Anpiel asked.

Bellona blushed and put her hand on her neck, explaining everything with an embarrassed smile.

She revealed how her boat had been shipwrecked, how her communication crystal had been lost in the ocean, how she had arrived on the coasts of the Dene territories, and how she had managed to reach the heavenly kingdom of Denendeh; but that she had been lost in this plain for several days.

—So basically, it was a mere coincidence that you guys appeared here while I was crossing this hut for the fiftieth time— the goddess said, embarrassed.

—Does this mean that we will be lost in this plain too?— Rodrigo asked nervously.

—To be honest, I've been sailing the skies of this place for several days, and I always end up appearing in front of this hut; as if there was a magical magnetism that always made me return here— the Roman goddess replied.

—It must be a labyrinth system to protect Denendeh from invaders— Menrva added.

—Similar to the one that exists in Pallas?— Ana asked, frightened.

—It's possible— Menrva replied.

—Although Athena's protection system is caused by a legendary weapon. If these gods have similar technology, it is possible that we may never get out of here— replied the Etruscan goddess pessimistically.

—Will we have to return to Adlivun? Again through that devilish cave?— Epona asked.

—If you enter that hut, you will appear again outside of it, as if you had never entered— Bellona replied.

—That was the first thing I tried— she added.

Loki began to laugh.

—What a pathetic group you are, that you are defeated so easily in a poor and mere beginner's illusion like the one of this world— the Norse god said cynically.

—Do you know how to get out of this maze?— Menrva asked.

—I might, if you untie me I could have answers— Loki replied.

—If you untie him, that bastard will escape and we will be stuck here— Tania retorted angrily.

At that, the Punic goddess lifted Loki by the hair and stared him down.

—If you don't help us get out, you will know what suffering in life is— she said defiantly.

—I doubt you can make me suffer more than what I have already lived— Loki defied.

Tania ignited one of her hands in fire.

—I can assure you that you will— she said.

—Wait, Tania-san— Susanoo interrupted. —Loki-san is right— he said.

—Are you also siding with that individual?— Tania asked, puzzled.

—No— the Oriental god replied.

—He is right about the illusions, but this does not mean that only he can escape from here, since it is a spell made with mist, a skill that mixes heat with cold; therefore, someone who uses the water element could glimpse how to escape— he commented.

Susanoo drew his katana and made a cut in the air. At the point where he cut, a different world was momentarily visible, where blurry lakes and mountains could be discerned.

—I see, I hadn't realized that this illusion is caused by fog— Epona said, surprised.

—I've seen similar abilities in Avalon, now that I think about it— explained the goddess.

Tania then created water droplets from her hand and fired them, but they did not achieve the effect she expected.

—It can only be done with sharp water attacks, which will help to dissipate this illusory fog— commented the Oriental god, while making several water droplets emanate from the ground, which gathered to create liquid spheres that floated next to Susanoo.

—Ike!— Susanoo shouted, and the droplets took on the shapes of water needles and moved at full speed across the plain.

For a moment, they could really see the world where they were, which was beautiful. There were enormous blue mountains with snow on the tips, which could be seen in the distance, separated from the rocky land where they actually were; and a lake with such pure and crystalline water that everyone was amazed by its emerald blue color.

The world quickly disappeared before their eyes and everything became a huge green meadow again.

—There are thousands of kilometers around, it's impossible for us to go to each quadrant and cut through the fog to find a way out— Epona commented frustrated.

—Susanoo, what if you make it rain swords like you did when we faced each other?— Rodrigo asked.

—That's an excellent idea, Rodrigo-san— answered the Oriental god and, immediately, he spun his katana, which brought black clouds to the sky, darkening it.

Rain began to fall in torrents on the plain. Then, water spheres covered everyone as protection, just as the raindrops began to turn into swords, tearing everything around them. The real world's scenario reappeared before them, almost clearly, as the rain did not allow a perfect vision of the situation.

—Excellent, Susanoo, with this we can find the way out of this labyrinth— commented Tania, giving a thumbs up to the Oriental god.

—Okay, let's split into four groups to find the way out— Menrva said.

—I'll go with Loki to prevent him from escaping again— she said.

Epona quickly stepped forward and raised her hand.

—I would like Ana and me to take care of watching this guy— she responded.

At that moment, Menrva felt rejection from the equine goddess, and she couldn't help but distort her face.

—Don't you trust me, Epona?— Menrva asked, surprised.

—It's... I... we have something to talk to him about— the equine goddess nervously responded.

Both goddesses looked each other in the eyes for a moment, until Menrva closed hers, turned halfway around and sighed.

—Okay, I leave that guy to you— she said.

Menrva and Bellona went north, Anpiel and Susanoo south. Meanwhile, Ana and Tania approached Epona.

—Don't you trust Menrva?— Ana asked Epona.

—To be honest... no— the equine goddess responded categorically.

Loki began to laugh stealthily.

—I wouldn't like to leave you with this trash— Tania commented.

—That's why I asked to go with Ana, she's already defeated him before— Epona responded.

—Okay, Epona. I'll sacrifice myself to go with you and that guy— the Irish goddess responded.

—Alright, Rodrigo, we're going together— Tania said, while the young tannin nodded.

—Epona, Ana, be careful— Rodrigo told the goddesses, giving them a thumbs up.

Both goddesses responded with the same gesture.

Tania and Rodrigo headed east, while Epona and Ana, who put Loki on her back, marched west.
The equine goddess and the Irish goddess flew over a gigantic lake, which, despite the heavy rain falling on it, could still be seen as blue and crystalline, as if it was incapable of reflecting the color of the sky.

—Loki, tell me, do you have any agreement with Menrva?— Epona asked.

—Why would I talk if I'm treated like a prisoner?— the Nordic god sarcastically responded.

—I think you don't clearly understand your position here, Loki— Ana responded. —You know I could kill you if I wanted to— she added.

—Well, you will never know where Father Odin is— Loki responded in a mocking way.

—I don't give a fuck about Odin— Epona responded categorically.

—Me neither— Ana added.

—We just came to accompany Rodrigo in his search for his past— she commented.

—Ahhh, so the two of you came to follow your man?— Loki sarcastically commented.

—Are you battling your jealousy, or have you decided to share such a specimen?— he asked mockingly.

Epona tried to say something, but Ana quickly replied: —He's just our companion, stop trying to sow discord between us—

Loki laughed discreetly while Epona turned as red as a strawberry. Ana couldn't help but notice, but she said nothing.

—Ana, wait, look at that giant tree— Epona said hurriedly, pointing to a tree whose top couldn't be fully seen with the naked eye.

—It looks like the top of that pine goes above the dimensional barrier where we are. That could be the way out of here— Ana noted.

Both goddesses arrived at the giant tree after crossing the great lake, and looked at it intently. Indeed, it was impossible to see the end of the top from the ground.

—Epona, call the others. In the meantime, we'll go up— said the Irish goddess.

Epona began to mentally communicate with everyone, while both goddesses flew over the great tree, which looked like a gigantic pine.

—Look, Ana— Epona said as she flew together with the Irish goddess vertically on the big tree.

—There's a kind of cloud tunnel up there. It could be the way out!— Ana shouted excitedly.

The tunnel opened above the rain clouds that Susanoo had invoked. Ana and Epona went through it, just as the water bubbles that were protecting them burst.

The two goddesses appeared in a world with a sea of clouds, with huge green islands full of trees, pines, lakes, and mountains; which floated majestically on the horizon. The sky was light blue, and there was a huge amount of white clouds in it.

—Who's there?!— a warning shout was heard in the area.

At that moment, several gray wolves enclosed the two goddesses in a circle formation. They quickly raised their hands to indicate they did not come to wage war.

—Who are you? How did you cross the lower world?— one of them asked.

—It's strange to see talking wolves— Epona quietly said to Ana.

—The one who turns into a mare thinks seeing talking wolves is strange?— Ana replied in the same tone.

—Answer!— the wolf shouted again. —Are you allies of the beavers?— he asked.

—We are from the other side of the terrestrial continent, and we come in peace— Ana firmly responded, continuing to raise her hands.

At that moment, from the hole, a huge swarm of beavers appeared flying, as if it were a beehive.

—Damn, I knew it!— the wolf shouted, and at that moment, a melee between wolves and beavers took place.

The wolves were launching shockwaves from their jaws, while the beavers were fluttering energy balls from their tails.

Epona and Ana ran from there, taking advantage of the confusion.

—Now I understand, that labyrinth was made to prevent these beings from rising to their world— Ana commented as both goddesses took refuge behind a stone hill.

—What could have happened to Rodrigo and the others?— Epona asked, puzzled.