Chapter 97:

The Iroquois Kingdom

Elyon - Gods among us

—My disciple who fought against the Great Water Serpent was called Gunnodoyak, who, despite being a human, had managed to awaken his divine power and control thunder— Hé-no explained to the Orniskem group.

The Iroquois god was in his cave with the four members of Orniskem. They were eating a large stewed turkey with cooked corn cobs and fruit. Meanwhile, the servants brought jars of water for them to drink fresh water.

—However, my disciple tried to confront this serpent, but he had no chance against it and ended up being impaled by one of her poisonous fangs— the god of thunder continued, recounting the life of his deceased disciple.

—At that moment, I arrived and attacked the serpent to save him. I fled from there with him on my back, not caring what his poisoned blood could do to my body— the Iroquois god continued.

Tania then remembered the kiss that Epona gave Rodrigo while in his tannin state. It was really impossible for the equine goddess to have been unharmed after tasting Rodrigo's poisoned saliva, but what if Rodrigo was really different? After all, he controlled sacred power, which should be impossible for any tannin to control.

—I sheltered in this cave, cleaned all the poison from my disciple, and extracted his poisoned blood. When I made sure he was completely clean, I conducted a ritual to bring back his soul from the Kanien'keháka. But when he came back to life, his consciousness had disappeared— Hé-no explained.

—What do you mean his consciousness disappeared?— Rodrigo asked, while he couldn't help but see Tania's remorseful expression.

—When someone dies for a long time, whether god or human, their soul can return to the body, but not their consciousness. Something happens in consciousness that turns it into void, and the body ends up being just an empty shell— the Iroquois god commented.

—If that's true, even the power of resurrection might be useless— Rodrigo said.

For a moment, the young tannin remembered his teachings about Jesus Christ when he was a child, like how He was resurrected on the third day.

—If He was dead for so long, then his consciousness must have died then, right?— the young tannin wondered to himself.

—I, some time ago— Tania interrupted, —met one of my sister Astarte's lovers. He was the protective god of Sidon and was called Eshmun. Before becoming a god, he was an effeminate human boy, but my sister desired him because of his beauty—

Tania continued talking about the boy.

—He, because of his condition, didn't desire my sister, so, to avoid her harassing him, he castrated himself, causing his death from blood loss. Although he came back to life thanks to my sister's power, an act that helped him awaken his divine power. However, he once told me what happened when he died— the goddess said.

—What happened?— Rodrigo asked in surprise.

—He said he was in an empty world, all white, and after floating aimlessly, he saw something calling him. He couldn't describe it, but it scared him a lot. Fortunately, before he could get close, he came back to life— Tania shared.

—Yes, we have also heard the stories of beings that roam the empty world, but the people who meet them and live to tell about it, when resurrected in time, their mental health never returns to what it was— Hé-no shared.

—Sometimes they appear in a matter of minutes, sometimes it can take hours or days, it's completely random— he added.

—Now that I remember, before I was born, my Okasan... mother, died in childbirth— Susanoo shared.

—My father ventured to Yomi to retrieve her soul, but although he could find her spirit, her consciousness had shattered and only a monstrous shell remained, a diabolical being that caused terror and fear. My father fled from there, although he was able to rescue me and my siblings from that underworld— the Oriental god concluded.

—Eshmun... also became a monstrous shell like you say. That creature destroyed his sanity, and his soul became corrupted— Tania added melancholically.

—Anyway— Hé-no said, —I'm very grateful that you helped me defeat the Great Water Serpent and finally avenge the death of my disciple Gunnodoyak. I am completely in debt to you— Hé-no said, and bowing, paid his respects.

—We couldn't have done it without your thunder powers, Hé-no-sama— Susanoo added.

—So, not wanting to offend your hospitality, we would like to visit the Iroquois kingdom tomorrow to continue our journey south— Anpiel mentioned.

—Of course, I will give my recommendation to Sawiskera so that you can access his kingdom safely— Hé-no replied.

—It seems there will be no problems with the Iroquois kingdom then, despite being an ally of Lel, we can pass unnoticed— Tania hoped with optimism.

Hé-no's servants brought mats for everyone to sleep on, and they all slept in the large room until morning.

The next morning, early around 6 AM, Hé-no woke up his tenants, though only Rodrigo was awake. Tania, as the other two Orniskem members, were still sleeping. The god accompanied them outside the cave, and repeating the trick from the previous day, he split the waterfall in two and created a cloud bridge, this time lower than the day before.

The bridge reached the other side of Lake Ontario, and the gods crossed the bridge. Rodrigo couldn't help but notice the lake of purple hue, caused by the serpent's poison. As the decapitated corpse of the terrible monster floated in the water, so too did thousands of dead fish, birds, and other animals. The tannin felt pity for what had occurred, and also felt sorrow for having blood just as poisonous that could cause an ecocide of such magnitude.

—I must be careful not to bleed— he thought.

—Unfortunately— Hé-no commented, —we won't be able to clean this large lake until the poison's effect has worn off. It's truly a great pain what these aberrations do to our animal and plant brothers— the Iroquois god said with a pained expression.

—I wish we were stronger to get the snake out of there and kill it in a deserted area— Tania said sadly.

—What's done is done, young Tania; you shouldn't regret your decisions— Hé-no reassured, and they continued their way to the other side of the lake.

On the other side, behind a tall wooden palisade with logs ending in sharp points, the guards protecting the entrance gate stopped the Orniskem group. The soldiers dressed very similarly to Hé-no's servants who had stayed to guard the cave.

—State your business in Onondaga— one of the guards said in Seneca, then noticed Hé-no, and quickly apologized to the god.

—Don't worry, you're just doing your job— Hé-no said with a kind smile. The guards then opened the gate without further ado.

However, as the gods entered, Tania looked up from the palisade and realized that dozens of very powerful gods were watching their every move. Then, the goddess remembered Wenabozho's words about the surveillance of that region.

—I'm starting to believe something bad will happen— she thought worriedly.

A small advance of soldiers, all dressed like the soldiers outside the city, greeted Hé-no and the members of Orniskem.

—Lord Hé-no— said one of the soldiers in Seneca, —The great Sawiskera wants to see you first before letting these foreigners into our city—

—I understand— commented Hé-no and turned to the members of Orniskem.

—It seems that the great Sawiskera requires my presence first. Do not worry, I will speak of your feats from yesterday, and he will surely let you pass with honors— said the god, and then he left with one of the soldiers.

The members of Orniskem stood there, surrounded by the soldiers.

—It's obvious that if we try to escape or cause a commotion, those guards on the palisade will hunt us down— Tania whispered discreetly to the other members of her team. The goddess spoke in Galician, knowing that nobody in that region would understand that language.

—I noticed them too— Rodrigo commented. —They all seem very strong— The young man also spoke in Galician to answer Tania.

—All we can do is hope that Hé-no convinces Sawiskera that we're not a threat— replied Anpiel, also in Galician.

—Do they know we are from Orn... Blackbirds? I didn't tell Hé-no because of that— Tania mentioned.

Tania had avoided saying the word "Orniskem" since, no matter the language, this word would sound the same, being a word based on two foreign languages.

—Let's hope not— replied Anpiel.

After about fifteen minutes, Hé-no returned with a joyful expression, although his eyes were always closed so one might think that was his default expression.

—The great Sawiskera wants to meet the men who destroyed the Ontario threat!— said Hé-no. —He will reward you accordingly—

—That's fabulous!— Rodrigo exclaimed excitedly, but received a discreet nudge from Tania.

—Remember— the goddess whispered in Galician to the young Tannin.

—Any problems?— Hé-no asked upon hearing a word he couldn't identify.

—No, none at all— Tania replied quickly with a big smile.

Then, the gods were escorted by Hé-no and the group of soldiers to a gigantic wooden house. It was elongated with a semi-circular roof, resembling a barn. As they walked, they noticed that the entire city was built with tipi-like huts, made to quickly move the capital elsewhere if necessary.

The members of Orniskem entered the large house, which from the inside looked like a ceremonial center and living area; there were beds, tables, chairs, where hundreds of people were busy with activities. Everyone turned to look at Hé-no and the foreign men and fell silent.

Although there had been a bustle a few moments ago, everything went silent when they entered and walked to the end of the large house.

Sitting on a chair covered in animal skins was a tan man with a headdress of white feathers and a large khaki-colored tunic, which covered parts of his chest and legs; beneath the tunic, he wore a white shirt with red geometric designs. The man was smiling and an aura of peace surrounded him.

—Great Sawiskera, I have brought the heroes who saved Lake Ontario from the Great Water Serpent, Djodi'kwado— said Hé-no in Seneca.

All members of Orniskem bowed to the man on the throne as he looked at them curiously.

—I am aware of your actions in Ontario— Sawiskera commented. —I heard that the lake is now poisoned and thousands of animal species died due to your recklessness— the Iroquois chief told the members of Orniskem in divine language.

The members of Orniskem then felt the presence of several gods watching them from afar. Some from within the great palace, others from the windows. Undoubtedly, it was a trap.

—Wait, Lord Sawiskera— Hé-no interrupted angrily. —These men helped me kill that calamity—

—At what cost, Hé-no?— Sawiskera replied.

—The lake has become unusable, and they have condemned my people to starve due to their recklessness. Foreigners have no right to intervene in our conflicts— Sawiskera answered with a raised voice but still maintaining his peaceful and joyful demeanor.

—Sir, if someone is to be punished then, punish me!— Hé-no said furiously.

—I'm sorry, Hé-no, but as much as you try, you won't be able to defend these invaders— replied Sawiskera, raising his hand.

—Guards, seize this scum and take them to the punishment hill— the god ordered in Seneca.

The guards, pointing their spears and bows, began to push them out, leaving Hé-no utterly dismayed by his leader's attitude.

—If you want to join them, you are welcome— Sawiskera told Hé-no in Seneca.

—But these men are wanted by the Mississippi empire. Tomorrow, their elite soldiers will be here to take them to be executed in Cahokia— he added.

—Since when do we bow to those savages from Cahokia?— Hé-no said angrily to Sawiskera.

—Much has happened in your absence, Hé-no— said Sawiskera with his usual smile.

—But it might be that another calamity will attack this village, and you won't be prepared to defend them— the Iroquois leader continued, and a malevolent smile could be seen on his face for the first time.

Hé-no then froze in terror at the words of his leader.