Chapter 92:

The Great Lakes

Elyon - Gods among us

—That rabbit has been following us all the way— Rodrigo commented, pointing to a white hare that was coming along with the group of deities.

Rodrigo, Tania, Anpiel, and Susanoo had walked a little less than ten days, from the cold tundras of northern Vinland near Taltheilei. Finally, the cold began to wane slightly, and they had reached the Great Lakes area.

The scenery couldn't be more surreal. The great lakes were gigantic bodies of crystal clear water, so clear that the entire scene reflected in them. Green, ochre, and orange pine forests rose throughout the area, while sounds from hundreds of birds could be heard. The gods had passed through countless villages made with tipi tents, but they had not wanted to stop in any. The news they received upon splitting up had terrified them, and they felt the need to hurry in their mission, their mission to become stronger.

Ten days ago, still in Taltheilei, just as both groups were about to separate, Anpiel mentioned that they should inform Pallas about what had happened and what they should do with Bellona.

—Kill her— Menrva said bluntly, continuing to sit on the unconscious, naked body of the Roman goddess.

—I think we should ask Athena for information on this— Anpiel commented again, producing the communication crystal with the planet ruled by the Greek goddess.

At this, Menrva wore a somber face.

—You may not get a response, Anpiel— the goddess said.

Everyone remembered what Epona had said about Menrva's words and swallowed hard as they watched Anpiel try to communicate to the planet Pallas.

Minutes passed, and there was no answer. Everyone then knew the worst... Pallas had really disappeared.

—My master Athena entrusted me with the mission of bringing you to Vinland and taking care of you here; helping you become stronger because she knew that Pallas would be invaded and destroyed by Lel— the Etruscan goddess finally said, placing her face between her knees.

Ana then fell to her knees. —Is my teacher Athena...?— the goddess asked, but was interrupted by the Etruscan goddess.

—We still don't know what happened, but I'm sure she must still be alive!— Menrva said with an angry face.

Melancholy overtook everyone present. Tania thought of Nabu, who had helped her protect Ibiza; Rodrigo thought of Asclepius; and Ana thought of Myrddin and the companion she had made on Mars, Ishtar, and her companion.

—I'm sorry, I should have said it earlier, but I was afraid you would stay protecting Pallas instead of comming here— Menrva said, then looked down at the great lake below them. —For me, it was the hardest decision to leave my recently found master to protect you—

—What do we do?— asked Tania. —Do we go back to Asgard and try to locate Athena?—

—I believe our duty in this mission— surprisingly interrupted Susanoo, —is to become totemo stronger. If our enemies attacked, we must rescue our friends or avenge their deaths. Those are our only options, and for that, we will have to face beings stronger than Athena-sama—

—Wow, you hardly ever speak, but you're absolutely right— Epona commented.

—We cannot let feelings of defeat take over us— continued the Oriental god.

—You're right, Susanoo, we must continue. We to Haida Gwaii and you to the south. I promise we'll meet again, safe and sound in Tula— said Menrva as she rose from Bellona's body.

—So, what do we do with this traitor?— asked Ana.

—I guess she can't do anything without her totema anymore. Why don't we take it away and leave her tied up here? I don't think she poses a threat to us anymore, especially since we destroyed her communication crystal— suggested Rodrigo.

—Always looking to spare lives, Rodrigo— Tania commented disappointedly.

—I'm sorry, Tania, but... I don't want to take anyone's life ever again— said the young tannin melancholically, to which the Punic goddess smiled.

—You're naive, kid— Loki replied. —If you spare that woman's life, she'll do everything to get revenge. Didn't you hear she's one of those who see that stupid Anath as a religious figure? Killing her is the best thing we can do—

—I agree with Loki— commented Menrva.

—Rodrigo, unfortunately, I also agree with that divine scum— added Tania.

—I'm not in favor of violence, but what guarantee do we have that she won't attack us again?— Anpiel then commented.

Epona and Ana said nothing and kept silent. But it was clear that they wanted to share Rodrigo's opinion.

—Alright, it's decided— said Menrva, summoning her golden spear. —Let's make this a democracy, like in the old Rome—

The Etruscan goddess pointed her spear at the unconscious Bellona's head, but Rodrigo insisted.

—We're supposed to be better than Lel, right?— he said.

—Rodrigo, sometimes we have to make tough decisions for the sake of others— Tania said melancholically.

—I support Rui— Ana finally said.

—And so do I— Epona added, emboldened by Ana's decision.

—Mina-san— said Susanoo, —killing someone sleeping or unconscious is cowardly. If Bellona-san wishes to confront us again, don't deny her the opportunity; and if that happens, take her life. She's our enemy, but that doesn't mean we should take away her honor— Susanoo retorted with a slightly annoyed tone.

—You hardly ever speak, and when you do, it's just to contradict me— Menrva replied irritably.

—Gomen, Menrva-san— Susanoo commented, giving a slight bow to the Etruscan goddess.

—Though... you're right, it would be cowardly of us— the Etruscan goddess finally commented, making her spear disappear.

—So, what do we do with her?— Tania asked.

—Like Rodrigo said, tie her up with adamantium chains and leave her here— the Etruscan goddess replied.

—I don't have adamantium among my things— Ana replied embarrassedly.

—I do, but I insist, it's a terrible idea— Loki responded, summoning dark ocher chains. These, when they hit the ground, made a very loud noise.

—Alright, Loki— Menrva said. —Tie her up, and let's divide the ambrosia to end this brief meeting—

As the two groups left, Bellona was left sat on the ground, naked, with her body fully chained. The goddess was atop the cliff overlooking the lake where the fight took place.

From these events, slightly less than ten days had passed. Heading south, Rodrigo's team had finally reached the Great Lakes area, where Queen Sedna had told them a deity named Wenabozho ruled. However, crossing the lakes, they would enter Iroquois territory, an ally of Tula, and therefore, possibly an ally of Lel. But, a white rabbit had been following them for two days, a situation Rodrigo took into account.

—It's just a cute little rabbit— Tania joked, bending down to look at it.

When she extended her hand, surprisingly, the rabbit didn't run away or try to bite her. Tania began to pet it, speaking to it as if it were a child.

—I think Tania-san needs to have children— commented Susanoo, after seeing how Tania had picked up the rabbit and tickled its belly, making all sorts of childish noises.

However, Rodrigo was happy to see Tania ever more smiling and joyful, especially when she acted so ridiculously.

—But isn't it strange for a wild rabbit to let strangers touch it?— asked Anpiel, when suddenly they heard the rabbit begin to laugh.

—Enough, enough, woman, I can't take the laughter anymore— said the rabbit in the clear divine language, and jumped out of Tania's hands.

—Are you a deity?!— Rodrigo asked in surprise.

At that, the rabbit turned into a very handsome man with red eyes. He had long, white hair and several feathers on his head. His face was painted red, his chest was bare, and he wore pants, a loincloth, both in khaki, and leather moccasins.

—Thanks for the caresses, young woman, I feel much better now— the man said, laughing, floating in the air as if on a cloud. Everyone was surprised that he could float despite the anti-divinity barrier.

—Were you... a man?— Tania said in horror, making a disgusted gesture realizing she had unintentionally caressed an adult man.

The man was laughing when Tania approached him angrily.

—Why didn't you tell me to stop?— she asked.

—What person would be uncomfortable being touched by a woman as beautiful as you? I enjoyed every second of your hands' movements— the man replied with a pleased smile.

Tania blushed and began to shout that he was a pervert.

Rodrigo realized that when it came to love and sex, Tania was still very naive, as she was as red as a cherry.

—Don't you tell me you didn't like touching my virile body?— the man continued to tease. —That can be fixed— he said.

Then the man transformed into a very beautiful and sensual woman. Since he didn't change clothes, her beautiful, round breasts were completely exposed, a sight that left Rodrigo stunned. Anpiel quickly covered his eyes.

—I'm sure Epona won't like that, Mr. Rodrigo— she said.

The woman, now, floated closer to Tania. —Do you like me better this way?— she asked.

Tania, still blushing and embarrassed, pushed the woman out of her sight, while she just laughed heartily.

—Who the hell are you?— Tania yelled, still visibly embarrassed.

The woman then sat in the air, crossing her legs.

—I am the great Nanabozho, queen of these lands— the woman said.

—Excuse me, Miss Nanabozho— replied Anpiel. —We were informed that there was a leader in these lands named Wenabozho, and Queen Sedna recommended us to speak to him— he said.

—Oh, so you want to speak to Wenabozho? You should have said so!— the woman replied. Immediately, the goddess turned back into a man.

—Now I am Wenabozho, how can I assist you?— he asked.

—Wait, what the hell are you?— Tania asked, still shocked. —Man, woman?—

Wenabozho began to laugh.

—I am whatever I want to be, simple as that. Does it matter?— the god asked.

—I suppose not— replied Anpiel, and Susanoo nodded. Tania was still in shock, and Rodrigo didn't really care much.

—Well, foreign young deities, what has Queen Sedna sent you to my territories for?— the god continued, floating in the air as if lying down.

—Great Wenabozho— Anpiel began. —Our goal is to reach the kingdom of Tula, and we ask for your support to cross your territory safely and quickly, if possible— the angel pleaded.

—Actually, you've almost crossed my entire territory. You entered it about seven days ago, and I've been following you since, taking various forms— the god said. —You just need to cross the Great Lake, and you'll be in Iroquois territory— he added, pointing to the vast lake in front of them.

—It would have been a better idea if you had spoken or said something to us seven days ago, don't you think?— Tania said, still annoyed.

—I saw that you were good people; you never tried to attack or bother my people. In fact, I wouldn't have appeared in this form if this beautiful girl hadn't touched me with her sensual hands— the god continued, enjoying Tania's embarrassed reactions.

—We appreciate your words, great Wenabozho— said Anpiel.

—Surely you'll need to cross the Great Lake, Ontario, in a canoe— the god said. —However, my people don't navigate it because a gigantic serpent lives there; so if you kill the serpent, you can cross—

—I suppose it must be a Tannin— Tania wondered.

—I'm not familiar with your terms, but even if you destroy the serpent, the Iroquois will likely catch you crossing, and they have very strong warrior deities as well— the god continued.

The god then turned back into a woman. Anpiel quickly covered Rodrigo's eyes again.

—Before attacking the serpent, I recommend you head south along this lake. There you'll find a gigantic waterfall. Behind it, an Iroquois deity named Hé-no lives. If you get his support to defeat the serpent, he'll surely let you enter the Iroquois kingdom— the goddess explained, still floating like a cloud in the sky.

—It doesn't sound like a tough mission— Tania expressed with a hint of disappointment.

—Do you think so?— the Anishinaabe goddess asked, fluttering over Tania.

—The Iroquois have been fighting against that disaster for years and have never been able to harm it. It might be easier in the divine realm, but on Earth, it's very tough— she concluded.

—Well, I think it's a great opportunity— Susanoo commented, drawing his katana and pointing it at the great lake. —Today, I will claim the head of a Ryujin—