Elyon - Gods among us
No one knew how many days had passed when Tania woke up on the floor of a dark and damp room, where the squeaking of mice was constantly heard.
What little the goddess could see was a narrow room with red bricks. The smell in the surroundings was nauseating, a mix of dampness, blood, and feces. Tania felt like vomiting but held back.
When she tried to get up, she felt a massive dizziness in her body and fell to her knees. She realized they had drained almost all of her ichor, and she was in a godproof prison, similar to the situation in Onondaga when they were captured by Sawiskera.
—Being imprisoned twice in quick succession doesn't speak well of my reputation as a warrior— she thought as she rested her chin on the floor. But upon doing so, she realized the floor was stained with blood and excrement and quickly got up with a look of disgust.
—What kind of place is this?— yelled the goddess, trying to stand up but falling back down against her will.
—Are you awake, ch'úupal?— a sweet and somewhat childish female voice echoed in the dungeon.
Tania turned to where she heard the voice and saw a silhouette that looked like a woman, but from her hair seemed to sprout bunny ears.
—Who are you? Where are we?— asked Tania, realizing even speaking exhausted her, making her voice fainter. The goddess, reluctantly, had to lay her head on the floor to avoid feeling dizzier.
—Oh no, ch'úupal! You're lying over all that poop! Here, I'll give you a sheet— said the person next to her, pulling a reddish sheet out of what seemed to be a bag. The girl then approached Tania, lifted her head, and placed the sheet under it. She then laid her down, gradually extending the fabric to cover the goddess from the dirty floor.
—I put a sheet under you earlier when you were asleep, but it's all stained and dirty now— said the girl, who Tania now recognized as looking like a rabbit but with a human silhouette.
—Thank you...— began Tania, not knowing how to address her because she didn't know her name.
—My name is Tu'ul-Uj, but you can call me Tul— replied the mysterious rabbit-looking person.
—Thank you, Tul— said Tania, and at that moment, the goddess's stomach growled.
—Don't worry, I'm prepared for everything!— said the rabbit person, pulling a potato from her bag.
Tania didn't recognize the tuber, but she was so hungry that she took it without thinking and began to eat.
—You are very hungry, ch'úupal. I'm glad I could help— commented the rabbit person with a smile on her face.
Tania, after eating half the potato, stopped and offered it back.
—It's the food they gave you, right? I can't eat it all— she commented.
—No, ch'úupal, you're in a worse situation than me— replied Tul, and then she started to cough.
Tania noticed blood coming out of her mouth. She also saw Tul's red eyes. Even though they looked like a rabbit's, they were completely human but appeared very tired and sad. The goddess realized that the person next to her was dying.
—Don't lie, Tul. Clearly, you're in a worse situation than me. Tell me, how long have you been locked up here?— Tania asked.
—I don't know, I lost count after two months— replied Tul, then eyed the potato.
—You're not going to eat it, ch'úupal?— she asked.
—No, Tul, go ahead. Eat it— Tania responded.
Tul, with a big smile, ate the potato very quickly.
—She must have saved that for when I wake up— Tania thought.
—Can I know your name, ch'úupal?— the rabbit person asked after eating the tuber.
—My name is Tania, and I come from the other side of the ocean—, answered the punic goddess.
Tul's eyes shone with intensity, and a big smile appeared on her face.
—Really?! Where are you from? Please tell me, ch'úupal!— Tul exclaimed, almost shouting, when there was a dull noise in the distance, the sound of metal clashing. It was a guard hitting the cell door.
—Quiet, you damn rabbit— the man said in his native language, which neither of them understood, but they intuited he was reprimanding them.
—Sorry, when I get excited, I can't control my voice— Tul said apologetically, putting on a sad face as her ears drooped, covering her face.
Tania smiled and tried to sit on the sheet. The potato had given her some energy to do so.
—I'm from a kingdom called Cordoba. It's a place with huge mountains, deserts, forests, and many castles and mosques. People there craft beautiful jewelry and rugs— Tania shared.
—What's a mosque? A temple?— Tul asked excitedly, her ears perking up again.
—Yes, they're temples, but their rooftops are shaped like this— Tania said, using her hands to mimic the shape of the Muslim domes. Tul was captivated, hanging onto every word.
The two talked more, with Tania describing the landscapes of Spain, North Africa, and Europe. Tul was enthralled to the point of tears.
—Ch'úupal, I wish I could see that world... but I think I'll die here. Thank you for sharing those stories with me— said the rabbit-like being, becoming sad again.
—Don't say that; you'll see, we'll get out of here— Tania assured.
Tul smiled and thanked her for the sentiment.
—And how did you end up here?— Tania inquired, noticing Tul's hesitation.
—I'm from further south, from the kingdom of Mayapan. I always wanted to leave my mundane life and see the world— Tul began. —I'm the disciple of the moon goddess, Ixchel—
—Mayapan? That's further south of the Tula kingdom, right?— Tania questioned.
—Oh yes, we live in the midst of the jungle and by the vast ocean— the rabbit-like being replied with enthusiasm.
—It sounds beautiful— Tania mused.
—It is, but I wanted to see the world. I heard that in the north, there was a handsome rabbit man, and I wanted to meet him. I think his name was Buenabozo, or something— Tul said with a smile.
At that, Tania had bittersweet memories of Wenabozho trying to touch her and put on a stern face.
—No, I don't think you missed out on much— the Punic goddess said, catching Tul's puzzled look.
—Well, I had reached the Chichimeca territories, but they wouldn't let me cross and attacked me. I tried to defend myself, but for some reason, I ended up in this cell. So, ch'úupal, I can't tell you where we are. I don't know either— Tul confessed with a hint of melancholy.
A guard then peeked into the cell with a torch, illuminating the two imprisoned goddesses. Tania could finally see Tul clearly. She indeed had a human body, completely covered in fur. Her face was entirely human, though her mouth resembled a rabbit's.
She wore a blue vest that left her breasts exposed, with seashells covering her nipples. Her feet were wrapped in cloths to avoid stepping in excrement. Though Tania sensed Tul's inherent beauty, her current state was unkempt and dirty. By her side was a large, tattered bag.
—Look! The foreign god's daughter has awakened!— the guard exclaimed before running off. Neither Tania nor Tul knew what this meant, but they sensed it was significant.
—What do you think that's about?— Tania asked.
—I guess it's about you waking up— Tul supposed.
—That's right, how long was I out?— Tania inquired.
—I think about three days. I can't really keep track of time here, so I can't say for sure— Tul confessed with regret.
Moments later, the cell door opened, and a human figure entered, donning green wings and a hawk mask. Tania couldn't help but sense a similarity to Horus.
—So you're Anath's younger sister, outsider?— the hawk-man inquired.
—Where I come from, we introduce ourselves before asking questions— Tania retorted.
However, the man immediately kicked her, making her feel as if her bones were breaking due to her low ichor levels.
—This is karma for hurting Loki when he was in the same condition as me— Tania thought.
—You're not in a position to rebuke me, outsider. But if you're that 'Tannit' she spoke of, your life might be spared right now— the hawk-man remarked.
The little energy the potato had provided Tania was now gone. Lying on the ground, spitting blood, she looked up at the man and asked: —Where are my friends?—
The hawk-man was about to kick Tania again when Tul stepped between them. —You were asked a question, K'aas xiib— Tul declared.
—Get out of the way, damn rabbit. You have no worth— the hawk god retorted.
But Tul didn't move an inch and stared defiantly at the man with her red eyes.
—Don't worry about me, Tul— Tania said, trying to get up again. One of her teeth hung in her mouth, connected by a thread of blood, and she was panting heavily.
The man then started to laugh.
—You two are as good as dead already. What harm could you do to me?— he remarked with a smirk visible even through his mask.
—You'd be in trouble with Lel if you killed this Tannit, wouldn't you?— Tania said defiantly to the hawk-man.
—So you don't deny it, huh?— he commented.
—I want to know where my friends are— Tania demanded again.
—They will be sacrificed tomorrow in my presence, along with dozens of war prisoners. You better forget about them now and return to your palaces on the other side of the world— the hawk god stated.
Tania just glared at him.
The man turned and addressed the two goddesses:
—And by the way, I am Heshuka, the emperor of this empire; so from now on, you will address me as 'My Lord'. Consider it an honor that I personally came to see you, scum— he declared as he exited the cell, with the guards shutting the door behind him.
Then, Heshuka could be heard speaking to the guards in Pawnee: —Give that girl plenty of food; don't let her die for anything in the world— to which the guards nodded in agreement.
Tania then collapsed again, and Tul tried to move her, but Tania had lost too much ichor from Heshuka's kick and once again fell unconscious.