Chapter 99:

Spider Grandmother

Elyon - Gods among us

—Before we leave, I'd like to talk to you about Anath's intentions— said Odin as he stood in the Haida forest. Freyr and Tyr stood beside him.

Menrva, along with Ana, Epona, and Freyja, stood in front of the king of the Norse gods. Both groups were ready to depart; while Odin would head east to Nitassinan, Menrva and her team would go south to the region of the Hisatsinom, where the Spider Grandmother ruled.

Ana had her arms wrapped around Epona's waist, and the equine goddess still looked downcast. She had noticeably lost weight, her hair looked whiter, and her face had gained some wrinkles. Epona had always looked like a twenty-year-old girl, but now she appeared to be in her forties.

—I lived in Tula for a few months— Odin continued. —As you know, I arrived on a ship that brought the last supplies to the village that Leif Erikson founded in Vinland. When the Skræling attacked us, most fled, but I chose to venture further south until I reached the magnificent city of Tula—

—We would have preferred to meet you before Susanoo and Tania ventured south— Menrva said sarcastically, —to have better information about Tula—

—Well, in Tula, a little over a month ago, Anath arrived with her escort of malakim, so I killed one and impersonated him— Odin continued. —It seems Anath has the kings of Tula threatened, and long ago demanded that a reigning king of the city be sacrificed—

—So, was the man who attacked us just a puppet of Anath?— Ana inquired.

—Are you talking about the king of Tula, Tezcatlipoca? Not necessarily, but he is definitely a man threatened by Lel— Odin replied.

—I see. And why does she want to kill Rodrigo?— Ana asked.

—From what I've learned, Rodrigo looks identical to the king who ruled Tula, and who was considered a threat to Lel— Odin commented.

Ana and Menrva were shocked.

—So, is Rodrigo actually an ancient king of Tula who escaped to the European continent?— Menrva asked in surprise.

—It's possible— Odin said, arms crossed.

—Does that mean... Rodrigo might stay in Tula as its rightful king?— Ana asked wistfully. Both gods saw Epona grow sadder.

—Regardless— Odin interrupted, —before going to the Haida realm, Anath passed through a desert village near where you're going, named Aztlán. She seems to be on good terms with the king of that warrior village—

—Does that mean we'll have to confront this king before seeing the Spider Grandmother?— Menrva asked nervously. Epona then curled up, trembling in Ana's lap.

—I'm sorry to say it, but I thought it should be mentioned— Odin confessed, apologizing to Ana and Epona.

—It's better to know that than to run into a wall— Menrva remarked.

Odin then produced a scroll and handed it to Menrva.

—Take this. It's a map from here to Tula. The point marked 'Chaco' is the city you need to visit— Odin said. Menrva took the scroll and stored it.

—I saw your previous map, the one given to you by Sedna; this one is more up to date— the father of the Norse gods added.

Menrva then thanked him with a slight bow.

—Father— Freyja began speaking, —they won't go alone because I'll accompany them— She knelt before her king.

—Little sister, can you fight with your totema broken? ♬— Freyr asked with concern.

—I'll try to find a blacksmith in the area. Don't worry about such trifles, brother— Freyja replied with a smile.

—Well, that's all I can tell you. Remember, if you need extra help, I'll send Vidar or Heimdall or Thrúd to assist you— the king of Asgard replied.

—Thank you, Lord Odin, and we wish you a safe journey— Menrva said, bowing again.

Freyr hugged Freyja, wished her luck, and handed her his communication sphere.

—If something goes wrong, don't hesitate to contact me or Heimdall ♬— the handsome Norse god commented.

—But won't you be without a communication mechanism?— Freyja asked with concern.

—I'm sure that in Adlivun they'll have one that communicates with Asgard. Don't worry about it, little sister ♬— Freyr reassured with a smile.

The father of Asgard and Tyr waved goodbye and disappeared into the forest.

—Now it's our turn to move— Menrva finally said, noticing Loki hiding in the forest, as he didn't want to meet Odin's gaze. The goddess signaled them to retreat.

Fifteen days had passed since then. The gods had moved slowly to avoid Epona walk too much. Ana used the cabin so everyone could rest at night, especially Epona, who got tired very quickly. The goddess hardly ate, despite Loki's culinary skills, who surprisingly was a good cook. Ana never left Epona's side, even to go to the bathroom, and even bathed the goddess. Epona felt more and more like a burden to the team and often thought of leaving them. But the thought of dying in foreign lands without support and seeing 'that' monstrosity again prevented her from making that decision.

—I'm... I'm sorry for being a burden, Ana— Epona said one day as Ana bathed her in a river.

—You're not a burden, Epona. Once we find the old woman, you'll get better, and you might even see Rui again— Ana replied cheerfully, trying to put on a brave face.

—But now I look like an old woman— said the saddened goddess, looking at her reflection in the river.

—He'll surely reject me— Epona sobbed.

—Rui would never reject you, Epona. He's not like that— Ana said, trying to comfort her.

Ana was the one most affected by Epona's condition. She could hardly sleep as Epona screamed in terror at night. Sometimes, the Celtic goddess would hear a voice that only she could hear, and it would distress her deeply. Ana's appearance wasn't much better; her eyes showed deep circles, and she was tired all the time.

—Here, Ana. Viking energy— Loki offered, giving her an energy drink called Posca, which was nothing more than wine mixed with honey and cilantro. But the goddess had become addicted to it to stay awake.

Fortunately, all the tribes they encountered along the way were kind and offered them shelter. Menrva's greatest fear had been running out of her supply of mead mixed with ambrosia, which had indeed happened during her fight against Anath.

From crossing icy tundras, they began to see green valleys and mountains filled with forests and beautiful lakes. Almost all the terrain was untouched, and they loved watching the large bald eagles flying in the sky and the herds of buffalo crossing the prairies. If Epona's condition had been better, the journey would have been much more uplifting and satisfying.

However, as they traveled further south, the air began to feel drier. They changed their outfits to something more casual, like what they usually wore in Europe, though Freyja never really changed her outfit, and Menrva simply wore a Roman-style white dress.
Loki, on the other hand, finally took off his totema. He wore a dark cape tied to his shoulder and a light brown set of shirt and skirt, typical of many vikings of that time when not at war. His long, dark hair was pulled back.

Finally, the mountains began to appear less and less vegetated, leading them to a vast desert with peculiar rock formations. They pressed on until they reached Chaco, a vast city of round houses all aligned to giant desert canyons created by the area's erosion. The city was also built into the rocky canyon walls. Houses protruded from these structures, connected by brick and stone staircases.

However, guarding the city's massive wall, which had paintings of birds on it, were guards. Getting in would not be easy, and the last thing the gods wanted was to upset the locals, as this could lead to rejection by their gods. The guards wore curious colored masks and carried large spears.

—What do we do?— Menrva asked in frustration.

Freyja started laughing.

—The entrance is guarded by men, and we all know what men always have on their minds— the goddess remarked with an amused look.

—Good thing you told me earlier you weren't a whore— Loki retorted.

—It's not about being a whore, Loki. It's about knowing how to use what you have— Freyja snapped back.

She then adjusted her bust to enhance her cleavage and removed the large cape she wore. Freyja began walking toward the guards, feigning distress as though the desert heat was overwhelming her.

As the guards approached and began questioning her, Freyja didn't understand their words but gestured drinking motions while trying to draw their attention to her chest, making herself look helpless and thirsty.

The guards seemed nervous and discussed among themselves. Freyja, discerning the weakest of them, touched his hand.

—Water?— she pleaded. The guard, though his face was hidden behind a mask, was clearly excited.

Eventually, the men rushed to open the gate for the goddess. Suddenly, she stood up and began to sensually touch her body.

—My friends also want water— she said, signaling the other goddesses to approach.

Loki began to enter as well, but Menrva stopped him.

—I don't think they'd be interested in you— she remarked.

Loki laughed and transformed his body into a very voluptuous woman.

—I'm a trickster, dear. I can turn into a woman whenever I want— he said.

He still wore the same clothing, but now in a female version with a shorter skirt and a more pronounced neckline. Clearly, Loki knew what he was doing.

—Did you have to make your breasts so big? Pervert— Menrva commented with a look of disapproval.

The goddesses then walked toward Freyja, and the guards became even more excited. Being deities, their beauty far exceeded that of mortal women. Freyja even let droplets of water fall into her cleavage as she drank.

After finishing the bucket of water, the goddess approached the one she had identified as the weakest guard, took his hand, and asked: —Gogyeng Sowuhti?—

The soldiers clearly understood this word; it was the name by which they referred to the Spider Grandmother.

The soldiers turned serious and denied the goddesses' request. However, Freyja sat down on the desert ground and almost revealed her charms. The soldiers were so thrilled that they agreed to take them, of course, under escort.

Freyja then stood up, took the soldier's mask, and sensually removed it while making sure her chest touched the man's body, and she whispered in his ear: —Thank you, darling—

The guard seemed to be on cloud nine, though his peers were clearly envious.

The guards then escorted the goddesses through Chaco. Up to this point, it was the most impressive city they had seen in the New World. The city was constructed with colored bricks, homes carved into the grand canyon's walls, hallways filled with bustling markets and life, and endless doors and staircases. At the end was a vast esplanade where an elderly woman sat, guarded by several soldiers wearing dark masks adorned with colorful feathers.

The soldiers approached the woman and spoke a few words in their language, so the woman greeted them and asked in a clear divine language: —I am whom you seek, the Spider Grandmother. What do foreign deities want in my territory?— the woman inquired.

The goddesses felt relieved that she was the Spider Grandmother, and then, Ana stepped ahead of Menrva and put her face to the ground.

—My friend has seen a being of death and we want to know if you can heal her from her fears— said the goddess.

The elder looked at Epona, then realized they were referring to that girl. The woman then rose from her throne and approached Ana, lifting her up.

—We do not allow such degradations here. Stand up!— commanded the elder, before moving next to Epona.

The elder checked her eyes, ears, listened to her heart, made her raise her arms, and looked at her tongue. After that, the woman returned to her throne and sat down.

—Yes, I can help her— said the elder. —Your friend has suffered a terrible trauma from malevolent spirits similar to Coyote—

—Really? Thank you!— Ana exclaimed excitedly.

—But in return, we want something from you— the elder responded.

The goddesses swallowed hard, hoping it wouldn't be a difficult task.

—Recently, there has been a migration of warriors from the west called Diné. We want you to massacre them all— the elder declared. —They, unlike us, are nomads who only know theft and are constantly at war, causing many problems for our kingdom—

Ana didn't like the idea of getting involved in matters that only concerned the towns they visited, especially committing genocide. But she was so desperate she was willing to accept any proposition.

However, before she could say 'yes', Menrva spoke up:

—Great Spider Grandmother, before we make a deal, we want a guarantee that you can help my friend. Also, we are peaceful deities and don't want to get involved in armed conflicts with your neighbors, as our ultimate goal is always the peace of society— she stated.

With that, Menrva too bowed her head to the ground.

—Ask us anything, just not violence against your neighbors— she requested.

The Grandmother then started to laugh.

—I thought you were like the previous gods who crossed these territories, but I must admit I like you— she remarked.

At that moment, behind the elder's throne, a man appeared. He wore a completely white mask with colorful feathers on top. His mask minimally depicted a human face with an open mouth, and he wore a long white robe. His skin was also painted completely white, and a light emanated from his back.

—I am the Speaking God, but you can call me 'Haashchʼééłtiʼí'; and I am the protector deity of the Diné— the masked man declared.

—I think... I'll call you Speaking God— Menrva said sheepishly.

The Spider Grandmother then began conversing with the masked man in their language, incomprehensible to the goddesses. Finally, the elder turned to the goddesses and declared: —The ritual will take eight days to prepare and another eight days to perform. During this time, you will be honored guests in the city of Chaco—

—Thank you— said Ana. But at that moment, Menrva and Freyja approached the Irish goddess.

—Ana— Menrva began to speak, —I think this place is safe. Stay here with Epona and Loki. We will continue south to meet with Tania and Susanoo—

—I understand— Ana replied.

Menrva, then, turned back and saw the old woman and made her a reverence.

—Grandmother Spider— she said, —I appreciate your hospitality, but both my blonde-haired companion and I must head south. I kindly ask that you take care of my friends—

Grandmother Spider then looked at her with surprise.

—Do the two of you intend to cross the desert? The territories in the south are lawless lands, and they are inhabited by a wicked god named 'Coyote'— the goddess replied.

Menrva then blushed.

—You see, we lied about not being warrior goddesses, but we truly didn't want to start a conflict against you or your neighbors— she said.

—I believe you don't understand the danger you're facing— the old woman remarked. —Even if you manage to avoid Coyote, you'll enter a group of realms called Chichimecas. They are realms of warrior gods from the underworld. They serve as a natural barrier to the southern kingdom, called Tula. It's a militarized kingdom where the most powerful gods of the region reside—

—It's to Tula where we're headed, our friends must be heading there at this moment and we need to assist them— Menrva replied.

—Well, if that's your decision, I won't stop you any longer, although I would've preferred if we could've offered you a bit more Hisatsinom hospitality— the goddess said.

—Helping our friend is more than enough— Menrva replied, and both she and Freyja gave a slight bow.

Ana then hugged the two goddesses very emotionally.

—Thank you for everything, I'm so grateful— she said with tears in her eyes.

—It's the least I could do for the disciple of my teacher— Menrva replied as she continued to be embraced by the Irish goddess.

—I'll always be grateful to you for helping Father Odin, and also, for protecting Gungnir from the hands of that wretched Anath— Freyja replied.

The three goddesses stopped hugging and Ana looked at them with a grateful face.

—Please, take care— she said.

Both goddesses nodded.

Menrva then turned to Epona and hugged her.

—Epona— she said, —thank you for trusting me. I promise to bring Rodrigo back here, safe and sound—

—Recover soon, girl— Freyja commented with a smile. Epona nervously nodded as the Etruscan goddess released her from the embrace.

—Loki— Freyja stared at the god who now looked like a woman. —Take good care of them, okay?—

—I'll do whatever I want!— Loki retorted, crossing her arms.

—I don't know what the hell these girls did to you, but you've seemed so different lately that I've even felt fond of you— Freyja commented, glancing at Ana.

—But you're married, so you shouldn't try to seduce that girl. Her heart is too pure for the likes of you— the goddess smirked.

—What the hell are you talking about?— Loki inquired, to which Freyja laughed mysteriously.

—I've seen the way you look at her; but don't. You'd be a bad influence— she advised, bidding farewell to the dark god. He looked away, still arms crossed.

Menrva also bid Loki farewell, thanking him for his support in this mission.

As they exited, the soldier whom Freyja had charmed was saying an animated goodbye. She gave him an awkward smile in return.

Both goddesses left Chaco and continued their journey southward, to the desert of Coyote.